By Linda Lane
She’s soft-spoken, smart and witty, the kind of woman you’d be proud to call your grandmother. She’s Marilyn Jones, southwest Michigan’s Poet Laureate, because Schoolcraft, Vicksburg and Portage all vie to call her their own.
With two poetry books already published, Jones is just releasing her third book called “Are You Ready?” The girl who in fact is lucky enough to call her Grandma, Angel Martin, helped her compile and publish the book.
“This book is a little bit different. It’s not just poems, but includes short stories from my life as well,” Jones explained. “Every time I go to speak at one of the local libraries or clubs, people kept asking me when I was going to publish another book. So, I finally called my biggest cheerleader, my granddaughter Angel, and ask her to help me. She didn’t hesitate a minute and said, “Grandma, let’s do it! You know I’d do anything in the world for you!” And so they did.
Jones has lots of fans around these parts of Michigan. “Oh, she’s one of my favorite people!” Sue Moore exclaimed. “When I grow up, I want to be just like you,” Jan (Krum) McNally told Marilyn Jones at the conclusion of her talk at the Ladies Library meeting in Schoolcraft.
Over 100 people showed up for her 90th birthday party last year, including people she went to high school and college with and many friends and family from the area. Jones was married to her husband for 47 years before he passed away; they had five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In 2009 she fell and severed a knee cap, broke a wrist, and slit a sizable piece of her earlobe. She spent weeks in intensive care, her family warned by doctors that they didn’t think she would make it, and did three months in rehabilitation.
“It really changed my life,” Jones explained. “I had published one book at that time, called “One Lump or Two” because I loved drinking tea. When I had those life-threatening injuries, I asked Angel to publish a second book if I died.” Again Angel didn’t hesitate. “Get well, Grandma, and we’ll do it together!” And they did.
Jones recently fell again and it took another three months in rehabilitation to recuperate. But again, the fall resulted in another book being published.
“When Angel calls me, she often says to me, ‘Are you ready?’ Of course, I always say, ‘Yes! What am I ready for?’” Jones said. And hence the title of her third book. “I couldn’t have done it without her.”
The Schoolcraft Library has sponsored a Tournament of Writers contest for the past three years. Jones has placed in poetry, non-fiction and fiction categories for all three consecutive years, an impressive feat. “I’m in the teenage division,” she quipped. In fact, she won in the Senior category.
For only $10, people can pick up a copy of Jones’s new book and have her autograph it. She will have a book signing event during Schoolcraft’s Christmas Walk on Friday, December 2 from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 3 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Schoolcraft.
Another book signing is planned for Jones and another local author, Barbara Vortman, who also just released her second and third books as well, called “Child of Mine” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” The Schoolcraft Library will host a book signing for the two local authors on December 9, from 10 a.m. to noon in their Community Room.
“Friends ask me where I get my ideas and I don’t really know. Something will trigger a memory. I might start out writing thinking it will be funny and when I’m done, it turns out seriously. Sometimes the stories just take on a life of their own and they kind of write themselves,” Jones explained of her craft.
“It took many years before I realized that I could do something like this. It’s humbling to know that others are interested and enjoy what I have to say.”