Member Rara Avis
In October of 1998, I registered my first "post-retirement" domain, with the intention of using it to cover some of the topics I was then teaching at a local community college. About a month later, and purely on whim, I created a subdirectory on that domain called "poetry" and started designing what would eventually become Passions. Included in that project were about a score of my own poems, dating back to my teenage years.
On December 5, 1998, Passions received its very first submission to the main site, an interesting poem called "Serenade of the Sirens," by one Poet deVine. Two days later, on the seventh, I received our second submission, "Just a Little Longer," by Maria Byrne (also a current Member of the forums) and, a few days later on the 11th, our third poem called "Sleeping Beauty," by Michael Anderson. By the end of that December and the beginning of 1999, Passions boasted 22 Resident Poets.
That first incarnation of Passions still exists, even though on January 3rd I registered the netpoets.com domain and moved the entire site to a new web server. If you point your browser to http://rcarnell.com/poetry/ you will still find the first, original Passions in Poetry pages. Much as changed in the nearly two years that have passed. But much, much more remains the same.
From the very beginning, our First Resident Poet has very much influenced both the design and growth of Passions. Many, many of the most popular features at the main site were the result of long email conversations with both Sharon and Michael, and in a larger sense, the very direction of the Passions was established during those days.
From a technical standpoint, Sharon is not the best poet I've encountered in the two years since starting Passions, though she's certainly in the list of top contenders. She's not the most prolific, though I am constantly amazed (and daunted) at her ability to write on any topic, any conceivable challenge, and quickly come up with very meaningful verse, and I strongly suspect she could give the most prolific a run for their money if she were to try. Sharon is not the most open person I've met in these two years, though her veil of privacy (colored edge to edge with a shimmering coat of humor) is thinner than many and - I believe - grows thinner with each passing day.
Sharon is, however, and without a single doubt, the most caring and compassionate person I've met not just in these two years, but perhaps in my entire life. She has a heart as large and unending as the horizon, and an attitude as bright and colorful as the rainbow that spans it. Unlike many, she adopts not causes, but people. She looks for the good in others, and inevitably finds it. No one is more willing, even eager, to help another human being. And because she truly cares, because she finds the good in everyone, no one is more able to help. Two years after our first on-line conversations, nearly two years after she became our First Resident Poet, Sharon still remains the gauge by which I measure the goals and worth of Passions. If we can remain a fraction as caring, a small measure as willing to help others, then we will have served a purpose.
Sharon, I salute you. Not for 10,000 posts, inspiring as that may be, but for the thousands of people you have influenced, encouraged, and so often helped while making all those posts. Passions is a better place because of the direction you helped give it. These forums are a warmer home because you remain active and a part of them. And I am a better person because I have known you.