Sister Rita Plante publishes poetry collection

September 9, 2021 by

“The Donkey Who Shall Remain Nameless” may be Sister Rita Plante’s first book, but she says it has been in the making since she was a child.

The book is a compilation of her original poetry recently published by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

The book is divided into sections showing her progression as a poet, containing poetry from the 1960s up through the 2020s.

“My poem collection began in the 1960s, when, as a 20-year-old my inner thoughts began pouring out. Among the poems in the book you will see the path my life took,” she said.

“Some poems are to friends and others are written as verses in birthday cards. Some are reactions to what is going on in the world around me and others pure delightful musings from my inner poet.”

Sister Rita said as she approached her 80th birthday, she had folders and folders of her poetry organized by year. She realized she did not want her poetry thrown away.

“I talked to Sister Marcia (Allen) about putting them into a book,” she said. “We’ve been good friends for years and years since we grew up in Plainville. She said yes to the project, so I typed them up and sent them by way of email and she and Sister Gilla Dubé worked together on the project.”

“They were a great team,” Sister Rita said. “Gilla is a great photographer and Marcia is a whiz with words.”

“I have so appreciated reading the evolution of Sister Rita’s poetry from one decade to another. And of her courage to share that evolution with us,” Sister Gilla said.

Sister Rita lives and writes in Silver City, New Mexico, where she has lived for 20 years.

She is a frequent visitor at the hospital, leads groups in prayer, and once a week stands on a street corner and greets passerby with a wish and a prayer for peace and a nonviolent world as she has done ever since the events of 9-11.

In the preface to her work, Sister Rita wrote, “These are my poems, coming straight from my heart. They are my story. At the time I’m writing this I am 79 years old. These poems are 79 years of the life of this quiet poet who wrote her heart out sometimes in tears, sometimes in rage, sometimes in prayer and praise and sometimes in glee. I hope you find yourself in one of the poems and it speaks to your heart.”

Since the book was published, Sister Rita has had already a book signing in Silver City, N.M., and hopes to have a signing when she returns to Concordia this fall.

The book is $15 and is available for purchase from Manna House of Prayer, 323 East 5th St, Concordia, Kansas, 66901.
For more information, call 785/243-4428 or email retreatcenter@mannahouse.org.

The book also can be purchased at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia’s gift shop at the Nazareth Motherhouse. Call 785/243-2113 ext. 1101 or email jwahlmeier@csjkansas.org for more information or at the Concordia Tourism Center.

But what’s the deal with the donkey without a name?

It actually has a dual meaning, Sister Rita laughed.

In “The Last Word,” at the end of her book, Sister Marcia wrote on behalf of the donkey: “And I, the Donkey? Somewhere along the life it seemed that the ‘beast of burden’ became the symbol for this poet. Life moved along, carrying the load, stalling at times and, at other times, moving in rhythm to some inner music.”

However, it also became the code word shared between Sisters Rita , Marcia and Gilla for the U.S. Mail that carried manuscripts and notes back and forth from Silver City to Concordia.

“The manuscript would go back and forth and back and forth, and at that time, the U.S. Mail wasn’t doing too well, so I said to Sister Marcia, ‘We need to send this by donkey.’ That was our little gimmick. When ‘the donkey’ would leave Silver City I’d email her and let her know the donkey was on its way, but it might take a while because the weather was bad in the winter in the mountains but that was our little fiction story along with the serious poetry,” she laughed.

“I asked Sister Marcia if we should give the donkey a name and she emailed me back that ‘the donkey shall remain nameless,’ and that name just stuck,” she said.

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