The Practice of Creativity

National Poetry Month: Featured Writer-Mariah Wheeler

Posted on: April 26, 2013

Mariah Wheeler is a creative spark in the small, but vibrant town of Pittsboro, North Carolina where I reside. Her Joyful Jewel Gallery is in the heart of downtown Pittsboro and has become a destination to explore, marvel and buy works from over 150 local artists. Her deep passion for art and supporting artists has enriched the community.

Writers always need fresh ways to tap into their imaginations. Three years ago, Mariah, along with poet Sheridan Bushnell, conceived of the idea of inviting writers to come to the gallery and write about art. Their idea developed into the much anticipated annual ‘Vision and Voice’ event where writers are asked to read what they wrote after their visit and the corresponding artists are asked to display their objects and say a few words about the art-making process.

Engaging with art objects, in this event, provides a unique opportunity to stretch one’s aesthetic sensibilities. I’ve participated in ‘Vision and Voice’ since the beginning and each time I’ve been amazed at how focusing on a work of art challenges my own assumptions about what I can write. In looking closely at a piece of art, I find myself asking different questions (about plot, character and setting) than when I usually sit down to write. The ‘Vision and Voice’ event also supports an enriching cross-fertilization of ideas and collaborative engagement between writers and artists that doesn’t often happen.

Mariah’s poem ‘A Hat is Better than a TV’ was inspired by hats made by Brooks, a fiber artist. Brooks makes all kinds of textile wonders and sells them at the Joyful Jewel. Mariah modeled the hats while Brooks read the poem. The audience loved it!  I’m so glad that Mariah is letting me pass on the sweetness, whimsy and insight of this poem to you.


Mariah Wheeler

A Hat is Better Than A TV



I am invited to Kazi Jane’s 2nd birthday party, and
I’m in the pink along with:
Cotton Candy Kisses
Giggles, Games, and Balloons
Glow Worm Tea Cakes
A Grandmother’s Love
















The military calls me, and
I’m at the ready:
The medals have already been earned and attached
I can divert attention at the last minute
(the enemy is dazzled & confused)
Hiding in trees or in a meadow is possible
I am just too cute to shoot




The Queen is found to be an imposter, and
I visit Buckingham:
A Palace Guard (in a similar hat) recognizes me as Queen
A stately fascinator is ready for me to wear after my coronation,
and it has room for the crown jewels on the crown
I feel like Dudley Moore as Amadeus when riding in the parade


mariah4I decide to safari in Africa, and
my camouflage allows:
Closeness with elephants and giraffes
A gazelle’s invitation to dance
Frolicking in the dirt (which remains invisible on my head)
A bird to find a nesting site complete with fuzz for the nest


mariah5I’m in my own hat, and
standing out in the crowd, I:
Bring fun to strangers by eliciting their smiles
Know that blue matches my eyes and I feel pretty.
Am reminded of Christmas tinsel and break out in song
Have a bad hair day and still look good


I say “A Hat is Better Than a TV” because:
Imagination has a prop ready for action
It can go with me, in a useful way, when I’m outdoors
I can take it with me wherever I go
Because Dreams accumulate underneath a hat
and nothing happens underneath a TV

Author Reflection: I am proprietor of the Joyful Jewel, where every day I see the great beauty that local hands guided by an undefinable muse are creating every day.

These hats by Brooks make me laugh and get my imagination going.  They do the same for any patron who tries one on.

For more about Mariah and the magical Joyful Jewel, see here. To see more about Brooks and her creations, see here.



1 Response to "National Poetry Month: Featured Writer-Mariah Wheeler"

Thanks soooo much Michele for your words – and of course, for appreciating these hats! Peace, Mariah

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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