By Sue Edgerton
TOPEKA - Just hours after celebrating her retirement from 39 years of nursing with coworkers, friends, and family on Feb. 6, Topeka poet, Annette Hope Billings settled into a comfy chair at Oddfellow’s Fine Books and Collectables, 117 SW 6th Ave., in Topeka. She took up a pen filled and overflowing with love, gratitude, and blessings and went to work autographing copies of her recently published book of poetry A Net Full of Hope.
This ‘inaugural‘ book-signing coincided with Topeka’s First Friday Art Walk. It was, for Billings, “an utterly amazing experience.”
She speaks passionately about her lifelong affinity with art and writing, about the loving labor of coaxing this work ever closer to its Jan. 29 publication, about the glee and excitement of holding the finished volume in her hands for the first time, and about the intimate joy of handing such a cherished gift to each reader.
Along with the list of gracious acknowledgements to others, including her daughter, Tiffany, her grandchildren, and her life partner, Dawn, the book’s dedication is to her mother “Mattie Frances Billings, who taught me to stand in immense love, to walk in infinite grace, and, in lieu of a shadow, to cast a net full of hope.”
Poet and novelist Max Yoho writes of A Net Full of Hope, “Here is so much wisdom and courage; so much love, compassion and honesty. Annette has wrapped it all in an eye-twinkle of orneriness.”
Billings longed to write full time, but she assumed she would work in nursing until she reached “retirement age.” Instead, she decided to “take her turn to retire” as opposed to “waiting her turn to retire;” trusting Art (yes, with a capital letter) to take care of her needs. And it seems it will. She plans to re-release an earlier work, Hope’s Wife, which she self-published in 2002.
She is also working on two new projects Descant for Daughters and At Dawn. She is rapidly adding public readings, book-signings and speaking engagements to her calendar. She will be at The Body, Mind, Spirit Fair at the Kansas Expo Center Mar. 7-8, and she will be at The Merchant, for the Topeka First Friday Art Walk/Poetry Crawl on April 3. She also continues to co-host the monthly open-mic poetry readings, First Tuesdays with the Speakeasy Poets at Skivies Bar and Grill.
Autographed copies of A Net Full of Hope are available from the author for $15.95 by e-mail to [email protected] Topeka retailers carrying the book are Oddfellow’s Fine Books and Collectables and Creative Corners Gallery & Gifts, 115 SE 6th Ave. For information on purchasing books and e-books on Amazon, and for more about the author visit Facebook.com/anetfullofhope or http://www.anetfullofhope.com/.