McKee’s Memoir

McKee’s Guns and Gods in my Genes is a rewarding memoir that transports us through important eras of Canada’s and America’s history. Though the author may not have known at the start of his genealogical research that he’d travel over 15,000 miles to complete this memoir, he did publish it in time to honor the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. Since his heritage traces back to his ninth great-grandfather, the Mayflower becomes an important element in McKee’s account.

The book is available in paperback (through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores and libraries) and in email edition (via Kobo). I welcome it as a fascinating addition to accounts of our country’s founding, including the regrettable and bloody wars between the indigenous peoples and the earliest newcomers. 

Of particular interest is McKee’s tracking of his Haskin lineage, traced through his mother’s line via his maternal grandmother, Effie Jane Haskins (d. 1966). This segment of the author’s history carries us back to one Anthony H[o]skins who lived between 1632 and 1707.  The chapter, “The Haskins Family and the Civil War,” introduces us to Lafayette Haskins, the author’s great-grandfather, who enlisted in the 7th Wisconsin Regiment in 1861, at the age of 17. 

As an eager young soldier, Lafayette must have struggled with the awkward guns used in the Civil War. Bullets from these guns could cause irreparable internal damage to soldiers. Yet officers instructed the troops not to help the wounded, as they had to continue their tasks of loading and recharging their rifles as quickly as possible. In spite of dim prospects for survival, Lafayette Haskins, having fallen sick and thereby missing the Battle of Gettysburg, survived to 1925. In this chapter, McKee includes the shocking statistic that, of the 700,00 soldiers who died in this war, many succumbed not from battle itself, but from such diseases as dysentery, pneumonia, measles, typhoid fever or tuberculosis. (pp.127-130)

This chapter is only a tiny sampling of the fascinating and detailed accounts McKee offers. His inclusion of maps, a highly comprehensive and significant genealogical chart, eight tables, and detailed chapter notes at the back, aid the reader through the complexities of the account—vividly descriptive, poetical, and analytical in equal measure.

What Poetry Means to Me

The power of poetry accomplishes so much. It keeps us mindful, helps us heal, and allows us to share so much. In spite of Covid’s restrictions that continue to confine us, poetry breaks down barriers and offers us wide expanses to explore.

Poetry can be celebration, it can be extended lament or a personal song. Poetry is nature, decay, and reconstruction. Poetry offers precision or mere suggestion. Poetry has many horizons. Poetry, for me, is joy.

About Me

Carole Mertz

I write poetry, essays, and stories, with poetry as my main genre. My poetry chapbook, Toward a Peeping Sunrise (2019) is available at Prolific Press My full-length collection Color and Line at Amazon and through Kelsay Books

Born into a Pennsylvania Dutch farming community, the daughter of hard-working parents, and a sister to five siblings, I treasure my early life and my student days in Quakertown, PA. I value my heritage and the blessings I receive from a large extended family.

After studying music, history, and the fine arts in Oberlin College and in Salzburg, Austria (at the Mozarteum), I moved to New York City upon graduation. There I met my husband, raised our son, and ultimately settled with my family in Ohio. I enjoy being considered a Midwestern writer. 

I am Book Review Editor at Dreamers Creative Writing, a Canadian publication. My poetry and book reviews appear in literary journals in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Africa, and India. My poems, essays, and articles are included in various anthologies. As interviewer, my work appeared recently at The Bookends Review, The Compulsive Reader, The Zingara Poetry Review, and in various blogs.

In addition to writing, I’m a professional musician. I enjoy attending concerts and traveling with my husband. Reading remains an enduring pleasure.

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