Poem Tryouts: Word Play

8:11 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Harry Belafonte — easily one of the most singable with singers

Hello, everyone. So, the problem with three day weekends where Monday is the holiday? It’s as if there were no Monday. I wake up Tuesday morning to my brain saying, Hi. Don’t you have a blog? Ack. Parents who waved their children off to school (finally!), take a moment, grab a cup of something, pick you favourite view wherever you are and sit for thirty minutes, not thinking about anything in particular, just knowing you can sit for thirty minutes. Yes, of course, the rest of you can do that, too.

There are no particular rules for word play prompts, which occur when I become fascinated with some aspect of a word, its meaning, its origins, maybe just the sound of it. I would feel as if I were tossing you in the deep end buoy-less if I didn’t, at least, offer possible directions to take.

Our word today is a word whose sound I love: obscure.

You might deal with the meaning of the word as you know it. The poem might, or might not, mention the word in it, but you will have an element of obscurity about some aspect of your poem.

You can play with the word in its verb form and its noun form. Again, you don’t necessarily have to use the word itself.

You can look the word up and use one of its more obscure (snicker) meanings. I am finding it hard to resist: to reduce a vowel to a neutral sound represented by schwa.

You can track its etymology back to its Indo-European roots meaning to cover, and follow the changes down through the Latin for to make dark, unclear, to the Old French for clouded or gloomy and on down.

You can visit this nifty site I found and after losing yourself for a while in all the possibilities (keep scrolling), write a found poem, a remix, or an erasure, from any, or all parts of the page on obscure.

Artists and photographers consider the word chiaroscuro. That’s right, the -scuro part is from the same root.

Do whatever your brain is telling you, but there should probably be a connection to obscureness.

I will see you Thursday for links — don’t forget this is where I can announce things you want announced; Friday for a continued introduction to the prompt sites we use; and Tuesday for the next prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.




Posted by on 02/09/2014 in exercises, links, poetry


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Poetry Prompts Freeforall: Let Me Introduce You

8:10 a.m. — Atlanta

Listening to Iz singing ‘Ama ‘ama

Surprise! Hello, everyone. I know I didn’t announce the restart of the Freeforall but, when Miz Quickly asked me to not forget her September run, I realised a short entry might be a good way to get back into this. As much as I enjoy writing the list each week, it takes the most time and effort. I was putting off starting and needed a nudge. I’m going to give you a few links, with a little more focus, as I reintroduce the sites. With each Friday, I’ll add a couple.

sepia sat Sepia Saturday is a site I added fairly recently, conscious of the high degree of enjoyment you receive from image prompts. They say of themselves: Launched by Alan Burnett and Kat Mortensen in 2009, Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind (they don’t have to be sepia) become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, all we ask is that your sign up to the weekly Linky List, that you try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and that you have fun.

Miz Quickly is a periodic prompt site, but when we have her, we have her for an entire month, so get those pens ready for bunny-bluestarSeptember, when she will be back in action. Here’s what she says:

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Or muses. I do believe in depression, habit, boredom, self-fulfilling prophesy. And Chaos. I believe a poem is a well-constructed box with drawers. Anything can go into it, but if you put all your energy into making the box perfect, the contents will suffer. And if you build a slipshod box…well.

We’re not going to concentrate on building Fabergé eggs. Just some drafts that you can gild and polish later. Now and then, we’ll consider form and function, but most days we’ll be working on the marbles and screws and old silver dimes to stash. Quantities. We want to get you loose-jointed and a little bit crazy. Later, you can work on polish.

FPR-200I added the Found Poetry Review when I realised there are a lot of editors who haven’t caught onto the fact that found poetry is not a fad, or who do not understand found poetry and how it works. That’s how the Review started: Jenni founded the Found Poetry Review in 2011 after receiving a rejection letter in response to her own found poetry submissions, reading “How about next time you try to write something original and not plagiarize someone else’s work for a change!” And when we say “founded,” we mean bought the website domain in the wee hours of the night and felt like it was still a good idea the next morning.

This week’s prompt asks us to play with regional dialects.

Alright, I’m exhausted. I need breakfast. Investigate these three sites. Wander through them. Read what they say. Try one of their prompts. I shall see you Tuesday for a prompt; Thursday for links; and next Friday for more prompt sites.

If people have a prompt site they like, especially a new one, let me know. I won’t promise they’ll make the list but I would love to check them out.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 29/08/2014 in exercises, links, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

8:39 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to the inner tics of the central air [I have not gotten around to turning on the music -- too many tabs open]

Hi! Ready to stop for a few minutes and go wandering with me? I read an interesting comment in one of the Facebook poetry groups I inhabit. The writer commented that there is no need to read most of the ‘Ten Ways to…’ articles that come out, because they all say the same thing. I have two arguments against that comment. One is that they don’t all say it in the same way and as we all have different brains, one person’s way of saying something about poetry, or work habits, or life, is going to strike us more than someone else’s. Two, I don’t know about your brain, but mine files and forgets, so I never pass up an article that is going to remind me how to get through something because not only will it remind me of things I want to keep to the fore, but the writers might have something new to say.

1] Hence, the first place I am sending you, Overcome Procrastination With These Easy Strategies, by Gail Brenner, a psychologist and writer. Most of us procrastinate. We know it. We admit it. We look at tips to make us not procrastinate. But, I don’t think I have read an article that takes us to the roots of our procrastination. Brenner outlines three possible reasons why we put off writing and posits that once we know why, we can take care of overcoming the problem ourselves. As she says To say you’re procrastinating means that you’re living smack in the middle of the land of “should.” And when has a “should” ever served anyone? In essence, you’re saying, “I’m doing this right now, when I should be doing that.” You’re putting yourself down and rejecting this moment as not good enough.

2] The second article appears on Carve Magazine‘s blog and is something that all of us who submit should read from time to time. It’s one of those ‘Oh, yeh’ articles. Mistakes Writers Make When Submitting to Literary Magazines, by Eva Langston, is thorough and even if some points seem obvious, my brain kept muttering ‘right, right…’. I’m guilty of a couple of the points, but if I don’t remind myself of that, chances are I won’t change my habits. Brain muttering: ‘must submit more and to online journals’.

3] For all of us image people, this next one is pure fun, but might also provide new sources of inspiration. News gives us Ten Illustrators to Follow Now and some of them are really cool. Cheri Lucas Rowlands introduces her finds with From sketches to digital art narratives, here’s a visual journey into the worlds of ten illustrators on And, what a journey. I spent time with all of them, some more than others, but enjoyed my immersion. Go play.

I shall see you Tuesday for a prompt and Thursday for more links. Happy Labour Day weekend to the U.S.ers among you.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 28/08/2014 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: Image Potluck

8:31 a.m.

listening to Three Dog Night singing Pieces of April

chariot VBGbQBU

Hello, all. I see we in the U.S. seem to be under a heatwave. I can hardly complain, given the mild summer up ’til now. However, it can feel free to go away. Today we have our monthly image prompt — I hear the cheers. I know you love the images. An image can be freeing or constraining, depending on how you approach it.

Now, I had promised a pot luck day, today, so you may happily browse the Net for a painting, or a photograph that yells ‘Helloooo!” as you go by. Or, you can look at the photograph I will post for those with no Net time this week and see what it sparks.

Things to remember when using an image as inspiration: The poem does not have to bear any apparent relationship whatsoever to the image that inspires it. In fact, people don’t even have to know your inspiration is an image. Having said that, it’s fun to see from where people are drawing their poems, so consider posting your image.

You don’t have to write about the whole thing. One aspect of the whole might fascinate you. Write about it.

When you study your image, start at the bottom left corner and move to the upper right. It’s the way our brain assimilates images.

If you give the piece a close study, I have found that listing everything I see helps me be consciously aware of all the image is composed of, to include placement and light.

The photograph I am posting comes from my California brother, just yesterday. I felt an immediate emotional connection, which is one reason it’s going up. The subject is a Thracian chariot that has been dug up in Bulgaria. I find it fascinating. Click on it to receive a full-screen image.

I shall see you Thursday for links and Tuesday for our first September prompt [September!].

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 26/08/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

7:52 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Simon Says by the 1910 Fruitgum Company

Hullo, all. Yep, I made it here. WordPress is offering us the choice of the old or the new, so I’ll keep showing up. Let me see what I have in the bag and get some of my first cup of coffee down. I slept in a bit.

1] Over at Write to Done, Jessica Baverstock gives us ‘How to Complete Every Writing Project You Start: Become a Completion Addict‘. She makes the point that we’re addicted to the intoxicating high of new ideas. As I look through my notebook at how many things I have started but forgotten when I moved to another something, she’s right. There is an excitement to starting a new poem, a something that gives new energy to us.

Baverstock presents short, simple steps to carrying out a little brain retraining so we’ll feel more in control of your goals and projects, instead of frantically jumping from one idea to another. You will also recognize and face your fears, a great way to keep them in check.

2] I enjoy WordPress articles [i.e. from WordPress, not articles that appear on WP] and have a couple saved for you. The first is Spring-Clean Your Blog in Five Easy Steps. [Hey, it's almost spring in the lower portion of the globe] I never quite get around to cleaning out my blog, but if I have steps to follow, I am more likely to do at least a couple of things. Ben Huberman [one of my favourite WordPress writers] has five things you can do in the next ten minutes to see immediate results. Ten minutes, people. Let’s get out those brooms and dusters.

3] The second article from WP is Four Features to Publish Your Poems, by Cheri Lucas Rowlands. The features look interesting, but do mean we have to roll up our sleeves and try writing with the text editor [see tab upper right when you have a new post]. I know some of you already use it, but most of us… The features offered allow for some ease in getting a poem to look like a poem on our blogs, without turning ourselves inside out.

Now, off you go to clean, create and complete. I shall see you Tuesday for a potluck image prompt;and Thursday for links, more links.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 21/08/2014 in links, poetry


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Poem Tryouts: Comic Relief

7:48 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons

Hello, all. I hope you are ready for some time with the comic strips, but it’s not their content we are looking at, although you may read as many as makes you happy. We are looking at how their authors structure them. Comic strips are structured like poems. Each window is a stanza; they have a beginning a middle and an end; somewhere between the beginning and the end there is a turn towards the end.  More important, is that the good ones convey some truth about the world, or people, or life, in a very few words and images.

What about epic poems, you ask. Graphic novels.

What I want us to try, is to find a comic we want to use as a starting point, a kick off. You do not need to pay any attention to the content except as a general idea, but you may have a specific thought sparked by what you read. Then, structure your poem much like the comic. If there are other things you notice, repetition, sensory details, tone, anything, incorporate those.

Compose your poem. If you use something from a physical newspaper, tell us the strip’s name and a little about the one you chose; if you find your source on the computer, give us a link to the comic so we can see what started your poem.

You say you are caught by a one window cartoon. That’s fine. You will deal with a stanza-less poem. Look to see how the author structures the message and use those techniques.

For those reading this and asking where on earth they can find a comic strip, I am giving you the site my sister-in-law uses.

I shall probably, possibly, see you Thursday for a couple of links and Tuesday for an image prompt. I know the calendar says pot luck. We’ll make the image the pot luck part.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 19/08/2014 in exercises, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

10:30 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Only the Young by Journey

Hello, everyone. How are you? I am back on Thursday watch early because I seem to have been blessed (?) with WordPress’ new posts’ new appearance. It’s a little unnerving, it’s so clean and tidy. I figured I’d better try it out before Tuesday. If this appears before I’m done, you’ll know I hit the wrong button. A lot of hunting for stuff is involved. Not everything is intuitive.

Now, what have I collected during the summer, for you?

1] Haiku lovers, [Well, hell, there appears to be no see-able cursor. I hope that's me and not them] there is The Haiku Foundation for all things English Language Haiku. Head over to look around and read their complete mission statement, part of which says: THF [instead] is a series of projects organized not for poets per se, but for haiku itself. The realization of these projects will in due course help all haiku poets. Haiku has been very good to all the poets who have been fortunate to have found it. The Haiku Foundation is where poets go when they want to give back.

They have an incredible setup. [cursor back -- must be me -- not liking the new WordPress, at all]

2] The second link is to a thoughtful, fascinating even, essay by Jeffrey Levine, on reading submissions and reading fees. Ignore the dates, but read what he has to say. Here’s an excerpt: So, I might better say, of course we charge a reading fee each time a manuscript is submitted to us for our consideration. Even apart from the question of anonymity, we read every manuscript for every submission period as if it’s the first time the manuscript has ever been sent. It gets a fresh reading every time. We might assume that poets work on their manuscripts: revising poems, substituting poems, revising the order of the poems, etc. So even the “same” manuscript can be new in important ways. But even if no new work has been done on the manuscript, no changes made, even if it were exactly the same, it’s the time and attention given over to reading manuscripts (that each submission deserves) that we charge for.  And what we charge is the equivalent of half a tank of gas. He has a couple of links for us, too.

3] Wait until you have twenty minutes and listen to Professor Anne Curzan, a historian of the English language. She loves words and where they come from, how and when new words become real, and has an interesting perspective on language changing. Listen to What Makes a Word Real? I found it enlightening and highly amusing.

My thanks to Misky who told me to try saving a draft of this post, going away, coming back and re-opening… the old format is back. BUT, I have seen the other and I really did not like it. Ack.

See you Tuesday for the prompt on poems from comic strips.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 14/08/2014 in links, poetry


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