It’s curious that when faced with the task of introducing the woman who taught me most successfully the power of prose and the beauty of literature, I’m at a loss for compelling words. In fact, it seems that little could adequately sum up my high school experience with Colleen Whitver.
You probably don’t know this, but I was home-schooled for high school and spent most of my time between the upstairs office of my parents’ cafe, ballet class, and my part time job at a dance shop. During my Junior and Senior years, I participated in a home-school tutorial group which met once a week for a full day of “regular” school with classmates and tutors for each of our courses. The name of the group was Whitver Academy. Yes, that Whitver. Colleen was the namesake of our school and the inspired leader of our studies. Specifically, she was my literature tutor.
In an environment where our time together as a class was very much limited, Colleen made every moment count. She walked me and my classmates through the complexity of Conrad, the conflict of Austen, and the charm of Chaucer while also opening our minds to philosophies and world-views beyond our own. We shared in open, thought-provoking conversations about the various stories and authors that we studied. Many times our discussions bled over to greater topics of life, faith, service, and purpose. I can fairly say that I learned to value not only the importance of literature but also the strength of an open-mind, the significance of discourse, and the impact of good storytelling from Colleen. Not surprisingly, the root of these values have found natural form in Colleen’s home as well. Family, history, art, narrative, hospitality, and community gathering are among the many beautiful things that have influenced her style.
In addition to cultivating young minds, Colleen also cultivates the earth through her relaxed Southern garden, weaves stories through her body of poetry, and explores cultures and history through her small business of vintage jewelry repurposing. Earlier this year, I took an afternoon to catch up with Colleen in her and commercial illustrator/artist husband Harry’s Nashville home over Earl Grey tea and tasty baked goods. It was wholly refreshing and a sweet welcome-home excursion. This woman has spirit and courage and wisdom for days! In addition, her home style reflects all the deep, rich stories of her own history and narrative.
So, please give a warm welcome to Colleen – poet, educator, earth cultivator, and story-teller.
Adventure for Colleen and Harry continues daily. This year they welcomed their first grandson into the world. Colleen is making steps towards publishing a volume of poetry from her life time of work. In addition, she continues to sell pieces from her collection of repurposed jewelry, InVintage Jewelry, from her home. Harry also continues to work as a commercial illustrator, although Colleen wishes he would retire out of that and concentrate more on his fine art projects. Recently, he outfitted his 1977 Citroen 2CV as a portable “plein aire” art studio. There’s never a dull moment in the Whitver household! And you’ll soon learn more about all that in my podcast interview with Colleen.
Until then, here are a few items inspired by Colleen’s style.
SHOP a look inspired by this POST: