These days, Flower Conroy is enjoying a good life with her wife Vicki in Key West. But like many LGBT people, she didn't always have such an easy time of it. As a teen in New Jersey she endured constant bullying.
"The quarterback of the football team yanked my pants down in gym class," Conroy told SFGN. "Girls I didn’t know would threaten to beat me up after school. People I thought were my friends would also threaten to beat me up. I was odd."
She remembers standing out because she dressed differently and wrote poetry. "I developed physically at an early age and was accused of being promiscuous as a result," she said. "Even though I had no idea what half the things I was being accused of doing were!" And yet, Conroy notes, it could have been worse.
She now expresses her feelings about all she's lived through by writing poetry. To date she has published two volumes of her work, "Escape to Nowhere" and "The Awful Suicidal Swans," both of which are available at Amazon.
"I think what inspires me to write is what inspires many writers—a need to make sense of this strange living," she said. "To understand these vessels we move through, with their eyes and fingers and liquids and transformations. These emotions that wrack us. To record what is happening around and/or within."
"It began with a wrist, the wrist touched a hand, the hand held itself to the fire," Conroy writes in her poem "How Did the Everlasting Begin?"
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"When a reader walks away from my poetry, I want he/she to feel something perhaps they can’t even reconcile," Conroy explains. "That it stirred something below the surface, that they’ve thought of something in a new way.
Conroy tells us that her childhood home life was a refuge from the traumas she endured at school. Unlike many kids, Conroy had a role model who made it easier for her to come out, her Aunt Po.
"I remember my father calling me into the kitchen and handing me the phone because Po wanted to tell me something," Conroy recalled. "When she said she was in a relationship with a woman, I was relieved because someone close to me had similar feelings as I did about others of the same sex."
This made it easy for her to come out when she embraced her lesbian identity.
"If I had a coming out, it would have to have been when I made the phone call to my mother after my divorce," Conroy said. "I told her I would now be living with Vicki. I don’t think my mother was shocked. If anything, she was concerned for my well-being as any incredible, supportive parent would be."
Conroy said that she derives inspiration from everything.
"I'm currently working on two new poetry projects," she said. "One is a series of animal elegies, which may or may not be elegies and are or are not be about animals, and a longer poem broken into interconnected fragments, grappling with addiction, death, sex and food."
As with her earlier works, these new poems are derived from things she's seen, heard and experienced. "The addiction piece, unfortunately, evolved out of my response to a picture of my cousin in which someone is helping her shoot heroin into her arm," she said. "This poem has woken some ghosts—living and dead."
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Conroy is also looking for a home for "You've Been Bit By a Dangerous Snake," a full length manuscript.
"I always have to give a shout out to my first mentor, Cat Doty," she said. "She believed in me as a poet and for that I am eternally thankful.
She added that she finds it easy to work in her adopted hometown.
"Key West has accepted me with open arms," she said. "The community is one of the most generous communities I’ve ever encountered. It was on this little isle that I finally felt like I could be myself—my crazy, wacky, weird self—and no one blinked an eye."
Look for Flower Conroy's poetry at Amazon: