By the very nature of her name, Autumn Winter understands there are seasons to life. And no, her middle name is not Spring. “It’s Haili,” the Iowa School for the Deaf (ISD) 2018 graduate states with a half-grin and good-natured eye roll.
It was the experience writing about her grandmother’s last season of life which earned her an invitation to be published in Futures, a book of submitted works chosen by America Library of Poetry (ALP).
Winter wrote, “Remembering Grandmother,” when she was a junior at ISD and enrolled into a Lewis Central Schools creative writing class. ISD and Lewis Central School District partner, enabling ISD students to take a variety of electives and advanced classes. In turn, ISD offers American Sign Language and metals technology to Lewis Central students. Under Lewis Central teacher Lauren Nielsen, Winter created her poem. Last year when Winter was a senior, she worked with ISD teachers Megan (Minatra) Shama and Beth Chadwick to fine-tune the piece.
Shama submitted the work to the national contest sponsored by ALP. According to the Houlton, Maine-based organization, Futures is a literary compilation of submissions from across the country. Fewer than 20% of authors submitting works to the contest are invited to be published in the book.
Winter said writing the poem was therapeutic as she grieved her grandmother’s death. “Writing helped me express my feelings in a story,” she said. “I also wrote it to honor her. She and I were very close before she died.” Playing cards, reminiscing with old family photos and cooking are some favorite memories Winters made with her grandmother.
Winter is from Manning, Iowa. She enrolled into ISD as a 6th grade student because “I like communicating directly with my teacher and talking one-on-one with friends,” she said. “ISD is like my third family.” She considers her second family the interpreter who worked with her when she attended IKM-Manning CSD, and remains close with her.
During her high school years at ISD, Winter was a key player on the volleyball, basketball, track and academic competition teams. Currently, she attends the Iowa School for the Deaf Post-Senior Learning for Ultimate Success program. In this transition program just for students who are deaf or hard or hearing, Winter learns life skills, advocacy, and can receive tutoring for the classes she is taking at Iowa Western Community College. Eventually, she would like to work in a health field. She has been offered a job at Kohl’s, and volunteers as a school aide. She is considering applying for a second part-time job.
“If you want something, you can’t give up,” she says of goals she has for herself. “Even when it’s hard. I will keep going. I will reach my goals.”
by Autumn Winter
Strolling into the filthy attic
Seeing the little girl wandering,
Vanishing into the darkness.
I pursued her softly and I saw
She was playing the piano,
I dropped to my knees weakly remembering
The sound of how my grandma
Played piano every time I saw her.
I continue seeing myself trying to
Learn how to play the piano
That made us laugh passionately,
I remained on my knees feeling
So alone without her.