Anne Davies is not your typical student writer from Missouri Western. She didn’t major in creative writing at the age of 18 and she didn’t expect to have 50 books published by retirement, along with Netflix tv deals. But Davies has enough passion and introspection to pack a museum.
Davies graduated last December with a general education degree and two minors in creative writing and literature. However, this wasn’t her first time graduating college. Davies worked most of her life with children with disabilities in low income areas. While this work was extremely fulfilling in her life, she felt the pull to return to college to follow her true passion.
“I had a career degree in child and family studies and psychology, which was wonderful and essential, but this is what I always wanted to do,” Davies said. “I’ve had several stages in my life where I have to decide what I want to do when I grow up, and this? This is it. It’s to write.”
While she didn’t realize it until recently, Davies wanted to be a writer her whole life.
“It must be some part of my Britishness, a national self-effacing. You don’t want to say, ‘I’m a writer,’ because that’s awfully braggy. But I remember as a tiny child in a brutal Church of England, my escape was writing. I remember the first story; it was called the "Box with Seventeen Sides". I was about seven. I think I’ve always been a writer.”
Davies isn’t just a dreamer-- her work has been published several times in Reach, Missouri Western’s campus literary journal. Last year she had artwork published, but this year’s issue accepted not one, but three of her poems, resulting in her first formal writing publication.
“I think I was in the mode of wanting to win the lottery, but never buying a ticket. So my anticipation of getting published was not going to be fulfilled because I wasn’t submitting poems,” Davies said. “This time having submitted and getting three published? It’s life changing. It’s inspirational. And my casual approach to writing and submitting has been boosted. It’s now what I want to do.”
Dr. Marianne Kunkel, Missouri Western’s poetry professor, always adored having Davies in her classrooms. She described Davies as determined and open to criticism, important traits in an emerging writer.
“Anne really leans into parts of her identity,” Kunkel said. “Part of it is autobiographical. She’s written a lot that I admire about age and ageism. She tries to find ways to bring in her British and American mixed identity into her work.”
Davies described her main themes as “nature allied to history,” along with her fascination with words and their history. Dr. Kunkel described her poetry as “interdisciplinary.”
“I’ve seen her bring in snippets of music and nursery rhymes,” Kunkel said. “Her writing is compassionate. She’s always writing toward helping us understand her or somebody else. It’s quietly funny, witty, and poignant. She does a good job of mixing what seems funny or light with a very deep reservoir of sadness or fear.”
Davies is currently working on two poetry chapbooks that exactly fit this description: "Grave Musings", inspired by the cemetery she walks her dog past every day, and "Burnt Butter and Other Domestic Disruptions", a poetry book about food with a few recipes mixed in.
While Davies started her writing journey later than the average person, she wants to encourage young writers to chase their dreams early.
“Don’t wait. You always feel there’s more time. I had a poet friend in St. Joe I was always going to catch up with, and there was time, but he died. I missed out on so much. I don’t care how young you are, there is not as much time left as you think available.”
Above all, Davies is grateful for the time she spent at Missouri Western.
“I’ve been very fortunate. I chose to come here and do this for five years of my life, and it wasn’t just a pleasant walk toward getting a degree. It turned out to be challenging and frustrating and fantastic and amazing. I met wonderful people, I met irritating people, it was great! I always felt at home, even though I’m not typical. I still felt that I had peers. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Riding her surge of encouragement, Davies is hoping to publish one of her poetry chapbooks by the end of 2021. Students who worked with Davies all agree that her work deserves to shine.
“Being British, I don’t want to get fluffy and emotional, but [returning to school] changed my life. At my age, there are options, which tend to revolve around getting another cat or learning to crochet, settle down quietly, and I don’t want to do that. I feel like I’m starting a new career. It's absolutely changed me completely.”
Davies certainly has a fanclub of classmates and professors cheering her on.
“I’m just so proud of her and impressed and inspired by the ways she gives back to the community,” Kunkel said. “She’s a great writer, but she also invests in others’ writing, which I think is so admirable.”
Davies will be performing her poetry Tuesday, March 16 at the Mary-Beth Tinker event. Come to Blum 218/219 or join on ZOOM to support her and her budding writing career, and pick up a copy of "Reach" in April to read her recent publications.