Saturday, August 3, 2013

Virginia Poet Laureate 2006-2008 Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda: "The Childhood of a Multi-Artist."

Christal Cooper – 809 Words
Facebook at Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Feature on Virginia Poet Laureate 2006-2008 Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda:
“The Childhood of a Multi-Artist”

         Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda is a multi-artist in every possible genre:  painter, sculptor, poet, and teacher.  She has won numerous awards, grants, and nominations for her work in the arts and teaching, some of which include: five grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts,  six Pushcart Prize nominations; multiple awards in Pen Women competitions; the Fairfax County Public Schools’ Hodgson Award in English; a National Scholastic Teacher Portfolio Award; and an Outstanding Scholarship and Service award from George Mason University.

              Kreiter-Foronda credits her passion and success in the arts to her mother, Lucile Kreiter, and father, Victor Kreiter Sr., both educators:  her mother was a school teacher, and her father was her high school principal.  Kreiter-Foronda was born in Central Virginia in 1946 and was reared in the foothills of Southwest Virginia, with her sister Betsy and brother Victor Kreiter, Jr.

              I felt solace living in a rural setting where children scaled trees and played in sandboxes, their imaginations ignited by make-believe.  The old timey cars I pushed through the sand weren’t real, but I pretended they existed and derived pleasure from their fanciful journeys to faraway places.”                                                                                         
She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and never veered from this path.

       “At an early age, I used to set up cardboard boxes in our garage and pretend that these were students’ desks.  I taught make-believe students how to write, draw, create stick figures, as well as how to add and to subtract.”

The family moved to the Richmond area, where their mother took her children on field trips during the weekends, usually museums, one of which was the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which was Kreiter-Foronda’s favorite place to go. It was here that she learned about Egyptian mummies, tombs, and pyramids. 

Her mother also taught her the art of listening – and read poems to her every night, which gave her the experience of musicality of verse. By the time she was four years old she was writing her own rhyming poems.  During the summers her mother would have her participate in artistic activities, including drawing and finger-painting classes, which usually entailed making greeting cards for family and friends.  Her mother was also her fifth and sixth grade teacher.
       “She taught me about a variety of sites throughout the world suitable for inspiring artistic renderings.  I still have a drawing of the Taj Mahal, which I created in her class for a world history report.”

       One of the projects she engaged in at a craft class was creating puppets using favorite cartoon characters.

       “In fact, a handmade puppet of Donald Duck sits in the entrance to my art studio as an indelible reminder of my early dream to become an artist.”

       Kreiter-Foronda also has precious memories of visiting her maternal grandmother, who lived in a farmhouse with the traditional parlor that housed a majestic grand piano.

       “After listening to my mother play classical pieces on the same piano, I begged her to let me take lessons one day.  Despite a tight budget, my parents found the funds to turn my dream into reality.”

Finally, as a ninth grader she was scheduled to give a solo performance in the Richmond area, but the performance never occurred because it was discovered that her piano teacher had disappeared, and to this day he has never been found.  Her teacher’s disappearance took a toll on Kreiter-Foronda, and she gave up her dream of being a concert pianist.
       “If I were to relive that moment, I would have forged ahead and not let this setback alter my direction.  However, there’s something good that emerges from our disappointments.”

       And the good was that she transferred her passions for the piano to journalism.  She landed a job working as a Youth Page correspondent for the now-defunct Richmond News-Leader.

       That same year, at the age of 16, she almost died due to an illness.  Once again, out of the will to survive, she delved even deeper into writing and started fiction writing.

       “I often sat in my room on Saturdays at a card table writing short stories.”

       She suffered another loss when her family doctor, who had saved her, died.  Once again, in order to cope she wrote poetry to help her through the emotional stress.  Some of those poems are included in her poetry book collection, Death Comes Riding.

       When she looks back on her childhood and teenage years, she recognizes the most valuable lessons her mother taught her:  to dream and to develop the skills to make as many dreams as possible come true.

       The most valuable lesson I learned from this wonderful woman is to set lifelong goals.  I did exactly that in striving to become both an artist and writer.”

       Contact Kreiter-Foronda at or for more information. 

Photo Description and Copyright Information.

Photo 1.   Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 2.   Victor and Lucile Kreiter.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 3.   Victor Jr, Betsy, Carolyn, Lucile, and Victor Sr.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 4.   Victor Jr, Betsy, and Carolyn.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 5.   Carolyn, Victor Sr, and Lucile.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 6.   Donald Duck puppet.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 7.   Twin Oaks Farmhouse in Southside, Virginia.

Photo 8.   Carolyn playing the piano.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 9.   Carolyn when she was a Youth Page Correspondent.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 10.  Carolyn, 16, with her horse.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 11.  Death Comes Riding jacket cover.

Photo 12.  Lucile Kreiter.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Photo 13.  Carolyn.  Copyright by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda. 

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