East Meets South When Teacher Wins Award for Book

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Veteran English teacher finds peace, comfort and validation in winning award for Zen Fishing.

“When they called my name, I could honestly feel a lump in my throat. I could hardly speak to say ‘Thank you,’” Dorothy K. Fletcher said of her First Place for Published Poetry at the First Annual Promoting Outstanding Writers Competition. “It was all I could do to make my legs work to get me to the podium.”

Fletcher received her award, along with many other writers and artists in other categories, at a gala banquet at the Palencia Club near St. Augustine, Florida. She won for her book of poems and essays, Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures (Ocean Publishing), a celebration of the simple, basic pleasures of the South and the Zen-like quality of its beauty and power.

According to Fletcher, “Living in the South is not just about long, dusty back roads or hell-hot heat. It is also about living in cool evening breezes, near radiant beaches, and with warm, inviting backyards filled with wind chimes and flowers. Is it any wonder that when I contemplate such joyful places that a Zen-like state would descend upon me?”

Fletcher has spent most of her life contemplating such places. “I have lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line since I was seven years old, and since the earliest recollections of my new home, I have often sensed a healing stillness here, especially when I make the time to sit in quiet, meditative places and let the magic of their wonderful moments wash over me. How could I not feel supreme joy in this environment? How could I not feel as if this is where I was always meant to be?”

Fletcher explained that the title Zen Fishing and Other Southern Pleasures comes from one of her favorite Southern pastimes--Zen Fishing.

“Zen Fishing is what I do every chance I get. I go to the surfside near my home and cast my worries upon the waters. I cannot possibly have any issues when all I am about is rods and reels and bait and fish. I stop being a teacher, a wife, a mother or a worried soul. All I am is ‘fishing.’ Many men have known the “Zen-like” secret of fishing. We female, English teacher-types have just discovered its incredible value.”

Dorothy K. Fletcher has lived in Florida most of her 55 years, and 34 of those years she has been guiding students in their quest for writing excellence. “As a teacher, I feel that it is important to be able to do what I expect students to do, and this first place award is certainly a kind of validation for my abilities, I would hope. It’s not that my students don’t believe me when I say that structure matters, or that that discipline and hard work pay off. It will just be a little easier to convince them of my sincerity when I have this lovely trophy on my desk at school.”

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