Where I am Alive is a collection of poems written over a long span of lucky years. Margot Welch has kept track of her time. Writing informally since she was very young, the liberation of old age has enabled her at last to write poems. But, like our world, she has changed so much; her perspectives on childhood, parenting, troubles, love, loss, consistency, chaos and wrong have sharpened. Thus her poems are lyrical and fearful, somber and resilient, in a way maybe disguised meditations on the impact of Time – its weight and the ways it limits and frees us to see our current worlds through different lenses, old, new, and evolving.
In her work and her writing, Margot has consistently focused on hearing and giving voice to others. Having spent professional decades in clinical, community, and school settings, at 50 she wrote a doctoral thesis (Harvard Graduate School of Education) that gave voice to the realities of social service work with populations referred to, in ’80s and ’90s, as “multi-problem.” In these settings, where burnout is high, she set out to listen to the voices of those she called “thrivers,” strong frontline workers who love and are in fact sustained by challenge, by what they do. In substantial reports to practitioners who attended or participated in her national university conferences and workshops, she wrote substantive summary reports and quarterly newsletters (“Field Notes”), hosting regular professional development gatherings with school and community service providers who routinely shared strengths and challenges but rarely had opportunities to meet and share their work together. Hearing voices of all sorts, one might say, has always inspired her.
Born in Cincinnati, she’s lived – with degrees from Bennington, Berkeley, Tufts, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education – Margot has lived 57 years in Cambridge, Mass.
Her first book, Promising Futures: The Unexpected Rewards of Engaged Philanthropy (2006) focused on interviews she had with privileged philanthropists whose personal lives changed dramatically as they centered their long-term commitments and attachments on youth in sorely under-resourced schools. She treasures life-long learning. And, in what she calls “the room of poems,” she does not turn her head from what she hears, crafting her own and others’ stories as poems, where she feels most alive.