Suffolk writer churns out poetry

Published 9:46 pm Saturday, September 19, 2009

If there were an award for the most prolific poet in Suffolk, Catherine Warrington King would likely have it wrapped up.

“I’ve written about 600 or so poems,” King said Friday from an overstuffed couch in her Nansemond Parkway home. “The Lord gives me the words … so fast that I can’t write them down.”

King, who has been disabled because of chronic pain for more than 30 years, mostly stays at home writing poetry. She stresses, however, that she’s not alone.

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“I live myself, but not alone,” she said. “The Lord takes care of me. I will continue to write until the Lord calls me home.”

King’s typical poetry subjects include God, public servants and special occasions, but she is careful not to limit herself. Seated in her living room between a shelf of cookbooks and a Raggedy Ann doll on a miniature rocking chair, she describes how she can write about anybody if she knows a little about them.

“You tell me about your parents, and I’ll write something on them,” says King. “I thought too small at first, and then I realized God gave me the gift to write about anyone.”

Before becoming disabled, King was raised in Driver by Clifford and Ellen Warrington. She graduated from Chuckatuck High School in 1960, from Radford University in 1964, and from Key Business College in 1972.

She taught English in local high schools, sang with “The 700 Club” and did graduate work at Christopher Newport University before being forced into retirement by her chronic pain. She raised her two children, John and Ellen. John now has two children of his own, and all her offspring visit often.

Having had several relatives in the police and fire departments, public servants are a frequent topic of her poems.

“Nobody takes the time to thank the policemen and the fire and rescue,” King said. “You just expect they’ll be there.”

However, a dominating theme of King’s poetry is her faith in God, who she says inspires her words. A Christian music station plays on low volume in her home most of the time.

“I’m the one that winds up blessed by my poetry,” King said.

King makes it to church services at Magnolia United Methodist Church most Sundays, where Pastor Doris Madison chooses a poem of King’s for the church bulletin most weeks.

“Nothing gives me more honor than for my pastor to choose one of my poems to put in the church newsletter,” King said. “It’s such a blessing to be able to go to church.”

Other, less frequent topics of King’s poetry include shipwrecks (“I’ve always felt compassion for the people on the Titanic,” she says); animals (“I’ve written about people’s dogs”); and friends (she recently eulogized a friend in the form of a poem, and subsequently was asked by several others to write their eulogies, too.)

It seems King always is writing. She keeps a clipboard of loose leaf paper with her in the house to make sure she has it when God gives her inspiration.

“It’s very easy for me to write,” she said. “When I go back to correct, I very seldom change a word.”

King hopes her poetry will help others worship, just as it helps her.

“If it touches one person, one soul, and it draws them closer to the Lord, then I have not written in vain,” she said.