BJ Legros Kelley is a United States poet who resides in the Southwest region of the United States, within the beautiful Sonoran Desert.
Born in Buffalo New York, and living in Tonawanda, New York till she was two and a half years old, BJ spent her youngest years living directly across the street from the Niagra River. The beauty that the Legros Family enjoyed from their home at that time was that of a clear view of the river that bordered Canada. BJ's family at that time consisted of her father, mother, three older sisters, an older brother and a well-loved cousin Johnny, who was three years older than she. Johnny was to BJ her closest older sibling and was thought to be more of a brother to her than a cousin in her early life. John's father Alex also resided in the Legros home, as close to her as a second daddy in her youngest days.
BJ also had a very special aunt who frequented the family home along with her husband Andrew. The poet is very honored to be the namesake of her special Aunt 'Betty', who was always thought of as a second mother to all of the Legros children.
The summer of 1962 the Legros Family, her Uncle Alex, Cousin Johnny, Aunt Betty and Uncle Andy, trekked West in a caravan of three vehicles pulling three trailers to their new home of the state of California. They traversed the entire length of US Route 66, all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica. Though BJ has very few memories of the trip, she has long been a fan of the Mother Road, later making the trip numerous times in her young life with her family as they went 'Back East' to visit friends and family who still resided in New York and Pennsylvania.
BJ's family and her beloved Uncle Alex and Cousin Johnny parted ways when her parents and siblings moved to Northern California, settling in the San Francisco Bay area, while cousin John and his dad settled in Fresno, where the widowed Alex met and married his second wife.
The beloved Aunt Betty and Uncle Andy settled in S Cal, and the children suffered some deep sadness in the space which lay between these special close-knit relatives, especially Betty Jo, who had lost her closest aged sibling. This was a move that resonated throughout the lives of these children. BJ has written about this dear 'brother' yet 'cousin' in some of her poems.
In the fall of 1963, BJ became a big sister to her precious younger sister, whom she has written about in her poems "Little Sister Sunshine' as well as in 'The Little Flower Children'. BJ always considered her baby sister to be her first baby, though she is only four years her senior. Little sister Sunshine was the Legros family's California baby girl, BJ's Blossom of the Sea :)
The Legros family, despite the sadness of living further away from their special relatives, soon settled quite happily in the beautiful Bay Area of the early 1960's, in the city of Milpitas. The city was surrounded by orchard's, beautiful old farms and ranches. The area provided much fishing and game; everything was beautiful, and joy was plentiful. The large family enjoyed bountiful harvests from the earth in their sweet, safe, happy, diverse, and friendly small adopted 'hometown' as they have often recalled it fondly, this was before it was ever known as the Silicon Valley :) Back then, though called 'The City of Milpitas' the children easily traversed the city limits within an hour or less along with their beautiful collie 'Lady' on her walks. The children loved their schools and enjoyed the little church. BJ attended church with her big sisters as a tagalong, while their parents enjoyed a Sunday morning break from the children. It was there, at that church, that BJ first found faith in Jesus as her Savior; in her young mind, 'by accident'. Sunday School was filled with fun and songs, but the church service she found unbearable as she tried not to fidget on the hard wooden pew. Her sister (AKA Lil' Mama), Mary Anne, sent BJ forward, but not for an alter call. Much to the astonishment of the preacher. When she went forward, she rather disrupted the church service, interrupting the pastor in the middle of his sermon, all on a childhood whim. At the confused glance of this pastor, BJ gave him the 'Come hither' motion with her hand as she looked up into his eyes, bidding him to bend down to her. When he did, she whispered in his ear that she wanted to ask Jesus to come and live in her heart. BJ at that time believed this was simply another childhood 'performance.' She was used to acting in small plays presented in their garage 'theater' and directed and managed by older sister Mary. The children in the neighborhood loved to attend their little theater, so, BJ was not expecting anything, but an impromptu performance! She was only five or six years old at that time. The pastor then announced what she had whispered to the whole church and ended the Sunday teaching on that note. As the pastor prayed with her, BJ felt an uncanny joy flood through her heart. She has long remembered that experience. Though she hadn't thought much about God, or Jesus, besides grace before meals and her bedtime child's prayer before sleep at that time, she came to learn, that Jesus took that prayer seriously. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Even though BJ later wandered from that early faith, she often felt that He was always near to her, delivering her safely on when she faced extreme difficulties in the ensuing years. In her mid to late teens, BJ truly found a faith in Him again, as shared in her poem 'Child of the King'.
Though the Legros family faced difficulties, such as the illness of Barbara, they had much joy in their community, they all had many friends. Sadly, this came to an end in July of 1968 when their dad decided it was time to relocate. The traffic was growing worse, the taxes were creeping higher, and so the family home was put up for sale. It sold quickly bringing in a whopping $28,000, and thus providing the funds to buy a new home and begin construction of a brand-new house in their new state of Arizona. The family was incredibly sorrowful as they drove away from that beloved small town of so long ago. Everything changed in a heartbeat.
It was after the move to the desert southwest that BJ began to experience more sorrow than she had ever known. She missed her friends, teachers, school, simply everything she had known in her old hometown. BJ's sister Barbara soon left home and went back to California within three weeks of settling into their new home. Barbara had battled Crohn's Disease from the time that she was thirteen years old, so everyone was worried for her health, as well as losing the sweet companionship of a truly wonderful daughter/sister was incredibly difficult.
Barbabra returned a year later with her new husband. It was then that she realized that BJ was no longer the child she had been before the move. Barbara became very close and a dear friend to BJ, her sister nine years her younger. It was during that time that Barbara introduced the great works of poetry to her young sister. BJ found expressions in the poems from the great poets comforting and helpful in sharing her own heart through poetry.
The Poet was born.
Since that time BJ has written hundreds and hundreds (AND hundreds) of poems. Her sixth-grade poem 'Out in the Desert Late at Night' was highlighted and much honored by her sixth-grade English teacher Mrs. Sears, who posted BJ's poem on the schoolroom window of their classroom until the end of the school year! That was a launching of confidence in Betty Jo's young heart.
Some of her poems have been shared in such publishing's as The Tucson Citizen, The Good News Communications Newspaper where she was offered the position of Editor of Poetry by the editor of that time, Adam Colewell. Regrettably, she turned that position down as she was at that time contemplating a move to another state. She was incredibly busy running a household during that time with her husband with their, at that time, five children.
BJ's works have appeared under several pen names, although not all of her writings are poetic works. Her pen names include Emma Leigh LeChene, as well as Emily Lechene, chosen for the similarity to her paternal grandmother's first and maiden names.
Her works include published chapters in two books in a collaboration with the works of the Author/Editor Cheryl Ellicott of .Sweetwater Still Publishing
BJ has also written poems in various online communities and poetry groups. BJ discovered Poetrysoup in 2020 and has since had her works published in the PoetrySoup anthologies, PS: It's Poetry, as well as PS: It's Still Poetry. She has been involved in poetry contests and has hosted and judged many poetry contests during her time with the wonderful community of PoetrySoup.
BJ lives with her beloved husband of almost 46 years, and they have eight children, some who are biological, some were chosen through adoption. She loves them all to the moon and back <3 The Kelleys are the grandparents of thirteen beautiful grandchildren.