Thursday 24 January 2019
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Ann-Marie Adams : Lustrous Words

story by cindy reid    photography by susan deloach

Pearls are formed when an irritant works its way into an oyster. As a defense mechanism, a fluid coats the irritant. Layer upon layer of the coating (nacre) is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed. From pain to beauty, the same journey is reflected in Ann-Marie Adams’ new book series with the first volume Word Strings, Pearls of Wisdom for Everyone, Volume 1 released this fall.

     The project represents a body of work curated over a decade and consists of narrative phrases, quotations and genuine thoughts on life in what the author has dubbed “word strings.” Ann-Marie’s previous creative endeavor was an illustration series titled “Aquabet” which transformed letters of the American alphabet into sea creatures. While this project focused on letters, the Word Strings series focuses on using words to tell stories or provide snapshots on life.

The quotes, phrases and longer poetry of the series were composed and published to provide a reference point when it was difficult to place meaning around a situation in life or to express some emotion. Volume 1 in the series wraps around the central themes of community, transition and discourse. “This particular series is most certainly about life passages.      In fact, it purposely seeks to out recognize life’s imperfection.” Says Ann-Marie, “Life is not a perfect circle. It is as important to acknowledge and accept the jagged edges of living as it is the smooth, sleek lines of our every-day existence.”

     Fundamentally it seemed important to understand the use and application of quotes, poems and literary passages, so Ann-Marie conducted survey research before publishing her series to discover why and how people use quotes, poems and literary passages.

     It turns out people read quotes, poetry and literary passages to:

Inspire 76.18%

Offer a new perspective 58.98%

Teach 48.41%

Spur Ideas 43.06%

Have a conversation with oneself. 29.30%

Explain 28.03%

     That quotes, poems and literary passages are useful because:

     They sometimes echo what we know in our hearts to be true 62.55%

In times of hardship or self-doubt, they can be much needed pick-me-up that gets one motivated. 62.55%

They are distinct distillations of larger texts and concepts. 31.47%

They are easy to remember 26.88%

They affirm what one already knows about oneself 20.89%


Frame: It’s never too late to turn life around and frame a new picture on your wall of life.

Grief: Admit you are plunged in emotion while you pick up the pieces and carry on. There is no success or failure in this. Just be humble enough to welcome in grief.

Hands: By design, you hold the future in your hand, and today is simply a milestone to remind you that you have two hands to grab wonder with.

     The word strings in Volume 1 most certainly reflect a mixed bag of life experiences encountered by living and in dying. The three sections in Volume 1 harken to a time period Ann-Marie spent witnessing her father’s health decline which led to many hospital stays, rehabilitation, moving to an assisted living facility and dying. She says, “Grief and I are very well acquainted. I found framing words around emotions for comfort and inspiration important to processing what was happening around me as well as to simply to acknowledge a state of being, both positively and negatively.”


Place: A physical place may shift and bend with the changing times and trends, but the essence of what makes it wholly a place to return to remains the same. A place is one can always call home even after life pulls you away.

     Three: Things grouped by three, make of these as you please, and know that while things are aglow above us and below, every twinkle and spark is a reminder of the grace and fellowship we share.

December: What’s not to love about a month of stealing kisses under mistletoe, spending time in the kitchen making nog and ramping up the naughty or nice meter? There are elves that do more than sit on shelves.

     “The digital universe offers us the opportunity to connect, have conversations and establish relationships with others. Sometimes sharing is an echo of our own experience, sometimes a much needed pick up or a wake-up call. The digital arena is filled with quotes, poetry and literary passages. It is a collective habit in just about every context to reach out and express our thoughts,” says Ann-Marie. “I wanted to place word strings out there for collective consumption and use. Initially this was done through social shares and blogging which indicated there was merit to sharing my word strings to a wider audience.  The research I conducted simply confirmed that there was a desire for this kind of content in the public domain. I also gleaned present day literary examples that validated the public’s desire to read, use and share in a collective dialogue. Most specifically in the writing of Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Mathieu Cailler, Rupi Kuar and Lang Leav.”


     Quiet: Quiet time spent in contemplation places one on the path in front of him or her. Avoiding silence is a detour.

     Roots: I’ve not always been faithful when the lure of prospects elsewhere seemed far more appealing. I did and do digress. Yet here I am rooted in a way of life bound to meet some end well.

     Storytelling: Life is never ending as long as there is a story to tell. A heart full of memories to share leaves a life in the hands of others to tell.

     Ann-Marie has been involved in numerous academic endeavors and is currently attending law school with plans to teach media law. She says, “My focus over the last two years has been on the acceleration of technology and digital discourse. The use of these channels and tools in the public domain radically impact the nature of fair use, copyright, and trademark as well as freedom of speech and expression. I want to be at the table to discuss how our communications in business and in life continuously shift in an ever-evolving digital landscape.”

Lowcountry Home

     “I am not originally from South Carolina, but I do call it home,” says Ann-Marie.” I am a child of Appalachia, originating in West Virginia with my family home in Tennessee. You see a nod to my family home in Cook’s Valley in the front section of Volume 1 and a thank you in the acknowledgements section to the Lowcountry Women Writer’s group that helped me weed through a great many strings to get to publication.” She continues, “I moved to Port Royal, South Carolina in 2004 because it reminded me of the areas where my family had vacationed here when I was a child. There is significant purpose to my being here. I wanted to be in a place that I recognized as being happy for my family.”

      Ann-Marie says, “My favorite places are definitely the Sands Beach area in Port Royal and Hunting Island State Park. I live just a short distance away from the sands and an easy drive to the state park so I am able to put my feet in the sand just about any day, weather permitting. Coastal life is really about ‘sand time’ for me. My second favorite place is on a porch watching the world go by or simply the local alligator skimming the pond. Just call me Lowcountry porch sitter.”

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