Harriet Bina of rural Marion doesn’t consider her poetry very refined. She has always enjoyed literature, but she didn’t pay much attention to grammar lessons, and she says her vocabulary isn’t as expansive as other poets’.
“I kind of wish I’d paid a little closer attention in English class,” she said.
So when she and other volunteers planned to produce bookmarks for school students, detailing the experiences of Father Emil Kapaun in the Korean War, she hoped someone else would step up to write a poem to go on the bookmarks.
“We were doing it for the kids,” Bina said.
When nobody came forward, she decided to write a poem herself. She wrote the poem in a day, although she spent more time polishing her word choice.
She wrote the poem in 2003.Whenever she mails a bill out-of-state, she includes a copy of her poem, hoping to reach people who haven’t heard Kapaun’s story.
It was the first of seven poems related to Kapaun she has completed so far. Other poems tell of:
- Kapaun’s story beginning with his ordination.
- Chase Kear’s healing, credited as a miracle which Kapaun interceded in. Kear suffered life-threatening injuries in a pole-vaulting accident.
- A pilgrimage to Kapaun’s home church in Pilsen.
- Kapaun posthumously receiving the Medal of Honor.
- John Moore bringing a carved wooden cross from New Mexico to Pilsen.
- The carving of a statue of Kapaun outside the church in Pilsen.
“Each one of these I do to tell the story,” she said. “Before I write every poem, I pray to the Holy Spirit that what I write will touch someone and teach them about his story.”
When Kear read Bina’s poem about him, he asked how she knew what pole-vaulting was like, because the poem captured it well. Bina said she had pondered what it was like while watching her grandchildren pole-vault.
She is working on an eighth poem, about Avery Gerleman. Gerleman’s healing is cited as another miracle Kapaun interceded in. She recovered from life-threatening symptoms that doctors were certain would be fatal. She spent 87 days in a hospital, much of it in an induced coma.
Bina hasn’t completed the poem yet, because she doesn’t know how it should end.