Reflections Of A Wise Woman Born In The Depression And Westport Mother Of Four

Author Mark Smollin's Book On His Mother's Poetry, cover illustration by Robert Heindel

The complete collection of Cornelia's poems with generously illustrated spreads

Now available as a 218 page PDF

$5.50 - includes shipping & tax


Cornelia Smollin - Poetic Works, is a tribute to my mother. Publishing her work is a way of showing my gratitude for all the really good stuff she taught me, and the loving our family drew upon. It contains all of her discoverable writings since 1970 until the present and most are illustrated in this 218 page collection.


Cornelia was born during America's first Great Depression and grew up in the seaside town of Spring Lake New Jersey. Her father died when she was thirteen. Her resumé and capabilities are truly amazing for any one life, but even more so for a woman in a patriarchal society, which might be exemplified by her learning to fly a bi-plane. She once described herself to me as being a tom-boy, joining in athletic activities with the boys, some irritated with her prowess to beat them at games. There are a wide variety of jobs she held as a teen including, soda-fountain-clerk, waitress, draftsman to an architect, Monmouth Hotel cashier, and freelance artist. She met my father at Pratt Institute as an Advertising Design major and then became an instructor there. They soon married and started a family in Westport Connecticut.


Eventually we became a family of six, which she administered very effectively and kindly. Mom led by setting a good example. I never heard her swear and she never hit us. She taught me how to paint a house, hammer a nail, gut a fish, cook, and how to sail. Most importantly, I learned how to reason for responsible choices. My mother produced everything to a high level of proficiency with an artist's sensitivity. There were no examples of failure to witness. After beating most of the men at tennis, she would come home from Longshore country Club smiling, her white shoes and shorts dusted with rusty colored clay. Most of the time she wore comfortable casual clothes and red lipstick, but she would transform herself into a thing of fashionable beauty for special occasions in a way we children could hardly recognize her.


In addition to giving the family much attention she was active in the community, going to PTA meetings, town hall meetings, school fundraising events, and voting. My father and mother even build a scale model for a section of Westport to demonstrate the feasibility of building a compound to keep and maintain the city's road maintenance equipment, and they did it out of pocket. As a quilter she lead a group of women who produced an historic Bicentennial Quilt about the history of our community, which was displayed downtown in a window front. I thought of her as Superwoman. Those were the best years, but greater challenges came along in many forms.


Cornelia started writing about the time I graduated from high school. She would write as time allowed on her compact, blue, typewriter. I am not aware of any grand plan for these works and yet she kept at it. Many writings were letters to the local papers about political issues in addition to poetry. Sometimes she would send me a copy of a completed piece,or a clipping from the paper. At one point I think we discussed publishing her poems, but health issues seemed an impediment, so we never made it very far in the process. Time flew by and I decided this has to be done now or never. I started with about sixty pieces and designed the book over the course of a year, then my sister sent me another fifty or so poems I never knew existed, so the whole process took two years. My mother's style of poetry is unique to her. I can hardly give an unbiased review, but friends have laughed and cried while reading it. Perhaps you will enjoy it as well.


I want you to know your writings touched me deeply as I have often had thoughts similar to those you've written of.

–– Barbara Schmerzler, Westport Real Estate Agent, US Homefinders Inc