Poem Tryouts: To Labour or Not to Labour

9:04 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Queen singing We Are the Champions — gets the blood going, it does

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules kil...

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Hercules killing the Nemean Lion 1548, from The Labours of Hercules (1542-1548). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, everyone. Ready for a little reading? This prompt requires a bit, but I have found you a good source place to make that part easy. Many of you will have read the mythological Labours of Hercules at some point, probably middle school, or you may have read Agatha Christie’s The Labours of Hercules, a slim volume of Hercule Poirot short stories, wherein he chooses his last twelve cases based on each Labour from the myth.

We have choices. They pretty much all require reading the mythical tales and Wikipedia, bless its heart, has a nice short, easy version. When you arrive on the page, you will see the Labours listed. If you are in a hurry, click on the one that stirs a tickle in your mind. Otherwise, read, or skim, the myths. As you do so, let your brain run a commentary, and jot down anything — anything — that pops up.

When Poirot chooses his last cases based on the myths, he picks them because he sees a link (note: I am trying not to use the word metaphor, which sends some of you screaming for the hills). For example, one mythical labour is about a Nemean lion. Poirot’s case involves Pekingeses, the lion dogs of China. You are looking for your own interpretations. They can have to do with the title of the myth, or the story. The links can be as tenuous as you like. If your mind thought it, based on your reading, it’s valid.

You can stick with a single myth, or do a mashup.

You can write an original poem, or a found one.

You can make a list of your own twelve Labours and then create a poem with one of them.

You can write about a current event through the lens of one of the Labours.

If your brain is resisting, consider the original meaning of labour: strive, exert oneself, suffer, be in distress, to work out, toil, work. You get the idea; labouring is something that involves a level of difficulty [and no fun]. Use this as a starting point.

I tend to forget, but if you have questions, for Heaven’s sake, ask. Go forth and labour mightily. I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for the last introductions of the prompt sites we use (we have a newcomer); and next Tuesday for a borrowed prompt.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 16/09/2014 in exercises, poetry


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Poetry Freeforall: More Introductions

7:47 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to The Mamas and The Papas singing Twelve Thirty

Hello all. It’s Friday, in case you were in any doubt, or had lost track. This will be our last Friday for close-ups. Any of my regulars who have not had a close-up, it’s because you are straightforward and there are no sidebars to your prompts. Next week I will list the regulars who were not put under the magnifier and talk about them briefly. The following week we’re back to normal with the Freeforall.

1] IGWRTButtonrszFirst up is Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. Aside from the enchanting title, the garden is full of possibilities. I think their set-up may be even more complex than dVerse’s. It is well worth your time to wander through their tabs and check out the whole. Meanwhile, here is what they say about their mission: A variety of prompts and challenges are posted on a five-week turn around system. They will vary in complexity and you can choose to respond to them any way you wish, a poem, an essay or simply by way of comment or discussion, so long as it is within the parameters of the  challenge. They are meant to educate us in the world of writing, art and poetry.

The challenges and prompts we offer have parameters in regards to form, theme, subject and/or method. We ask that participants respect the time taken by our individual contributors to research, set up their post and visit the links of all who join in by entering into the spirit of the challenge and following the guidelines laid down. Our purpose is to stretch our abilities as writers, and to experiment with new ways of writing.

Visit and scroll down the list on the left, checking out the different types of prompts you are likely to run into.

2] Next up is Poets United and their Midweek Motif. I love this particular prompt and it’s because of the word motif, PUsomething that is a major technique to look for in the analysis of lit. I can spot a motif from a mile away. I love them and what they do for a piece of writing. How is a motif different from just giving us a word? It widens the possibilities for how we use it. Yes, we can take a word and broaden our interpretation of how to use it in a poem, but will we remember to do so? Calling their prompt a motif reminds us of more possibilities for what we do and how we do it.

3] Finally, we have Creative BloomingsFlashy Fiction Friday. We’re holding our breaths on this one, as the appearance of prompts is spotty and seems to have fallen on the shoulders of one person. I have noticed that people seem to have stopped visiting. Remember, November approaches. You need to start getting in the mood. Its name makes it rather self-evident and I separate it from next week’s group because it is our only narrative prompt site.

Okay, six to go. We will see them next week. If you have a prompt site you think I need to include in the list let me know. Remember that I have a tab with more prompt sites. These are the places that have so many visitors, I figure they’re on each person’s speed dial [and my list was getting a little long].

I shall see you Tuesday for a prompt full of labours; Thursday for links; and next Friday for the final six prompt sites.

Happy writing, y’all.


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Posted by on 12/09/2014 in exercises, links, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

8:44 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to The Smothers Brothers singing Marching to Pretoria

and recovering from the momentary heart attack I had when I thought WordPress was going to force me to use their new format. No, they just moved the switch back button to the bottom of the page. Hello, all. Yes, yes, it is already Thursday and I have links for you to explore.

1] The first is a place to submit VERY short pieces. The subject line in the email I got from the writers’ resource thing I use, says: Do you tweet? Get your 140 character stories/poems published in Lime Hawk.

The email elaborates: Attention, Tweeters! Can you tell a full story in 140 characters or fewer? Lime Hawk’s new Weekly Word writing prompt offers you a chance to get straight to the point and publish short stories, poems, or sweet little ditties on

Each week, Lime Hawk will pick a word as a prompt. Interpretation is wide open. Tweet what you come up with @limehawkarts. We’ll pick our favorites and publish them on Lime Hawk.

The first word: COCOON

We can’t wait to see what tiny web you spin.

I was interested and checked out the site. Very nice. Visit. Non-tweeters, there are submissions opportunities for all.

2] I would reblog this next one but then I get thrown off as to what else I can write in a reblog. Jeffrey Levine [if his name sounds familiar he is founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Tupelo Press and I have posted links to his articles before] is giving us a workshop on preparing a manuscript. That’s what his articles amount to.

On Making the Poetry Manuscript — New and Improved, Part 1 gives us some background on  the Tupelo Press Writing Conferences. Levine tells us, ‘It’s important to me (and might be to you) to distinguish what Tupelo Press Writing Conferences are about, because great writing is at the heart of any successful publishing career, and because (as you’ll see further on) if you’re to make your manuscript a more successful swimmer in a sea of manuscripts, there are things you need to know.’

He ends the article with an update of the first tip from his original post on putting together a manuscript, from three years ago. Levine will continue updating his tips and, that we don’t fall too far behind, I have included a link to this week’s article, On Making the Poetry Manuscript — New and Improved, Part II. Whether, or not, you plan to publish a manuscript, his tips are well worth reading.

3] I’ve given you plenty to read, so let’s finish with a Debi Ridpath Ohi comic for writers

I will see you tomorrow for prompt site close-ups; Tuesday for a prompt on Labours; and next Thursday for more links.

Happy Writing, all.
PS If the spacing is wonky, it’s because it has been giving me grief. My preview looks okay now [except this PS which I can't get separated... sigh...] but I think it lies.



Posted by on 11/09/2014 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: The Unexpected

8:08 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Run River North‘s new album — I don’t buy albums. That being said, when I first heard Mumford & Sons, I bought their first album and when this group’s first album debuted recently, I bought it based on listening to their song Fight to Keep, which I heard on the Weather Channel

Hi everyone. How are you? Well, I hope. Kids/grandkids back in school, check. Temperatures considering dropping, check. Time on your hands, check. Let’s take a walk.

Really. A walk. If you can walk out your door and do so, go ahead. Maybe, you need to drive a little ways and park. That’s fine. You can’t leave the house? Pick a route to walk through the place as if you were out on a walk. Whichever you choose, pretend you have never walked that route before. If you make a conscious decision to look with new eyes, your brain will listen.

Now, this takes some mental coordination. While looking with new eyes at the things along your route, be open in particular to the unexpected, the ‘Oh! I never noticed that’ or ‘Oh! How unusual’. Keep yourself open at work for moments.

Or — you knew I’d give you an ‘or’ — take a walk through your brain looking for those moments in your life that occasioned that ‘Oh!’ in response to seeing something unexpected.

What about it? Try to capture the feeling you had at the moment of awareness. When I have these moments I feel as if I were still a child seeing things for the first time. The experience of seeing new things, of adding my awareness of them to my life allows me to regard the world with wonder, despite, in spite of, beyond the uglinesses.

You’d like an example moment? One of the strongest, in that the image never goes far down in my memory banks, is a time a dog (not a husky) turned its head to look at me and its eyes were a bright light blue. Just a momentary thing, seemingly slight, but it reminds me that nothing is ever what I expect, or assume,  and that I must be open to that.

Write, post, and I will see you Thursday for some links; Friday for a close up of prompt sites; and next Tuesday for our next prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 09/09/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetry Freeforall: Meeting Prompt Sites II

9:31 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Return sung by OK GO

Hello, everyone. I enjoyed last week’s close up of a few of the prompt sites we have in the weekly list, so I thought I would continue, especially as there are several new followers. I won’t go through the entire list closely (I don’t think), but today and maybe next week we’ll look at three or four, before returning to presenting the whole list of weekly possibilities for prompts.

adele kenny

1]  The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog is my favourite of all the sites I put up. I notice that while I wasn’t looking, Adele has redecorated and restructured her site. Under the tabs ‘writing poetry’ and ‘reading poetry aloud’ Adele has a list of tips that are worth printing out and keeping close. Why do I like her site so much for prompts? Adele not only has fresh, interesting ideas, but with each prompt she offers possible ways we can approach an idea, guidelines for writing the poem, tips, and examples by several poets. Hers is a true teaching blog without feeling like we are in a classroom.

2] One of the most interesting sites is that of Poets & Writers. It’s not so much for those who want to write, post and comment then and there, as it is a wonderful resource for collecting ideas, for those of you who, like me, work slowly and like to have a bank of ideas. They present three possibilities each week: creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. This week they offer prompts centred around messages, characters (which can be adapted to thinking about the poem’s speaker), and expectations. Without saying which goes where, all work as a basis for ideas to write poems about. Besides, many of you write fiction and November is fast approaching. You need to start stretching your narrative chops you NaNoWriMo nuts.

3] The pub. I think we had a collective heart attack earlier this year when dVerse told us they might be closing down. dverseInstead they regrouped, restructured and kept the doors open. The site is a wonderfully supportive one and offers [this from their site]:

  • Poetics - is all about inspiration. You will write about a provided prompt, whether music, art, photography, quotes or other challenges. Poetics opens at 3 pm EST on Tuesday.
  • OpenLinkNight – is our large gathering where you link any poem you would like. This is a great place to meet and hear new voices. OLN opens at 3 pm EST on every last Saturday of the month.
  • FormForAll/Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft – is our lab, where you will receive teaching on poetry forms and critique. This is where we hone our skills. FormForAll and Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft opens at 3pm EST on Thursday.

Plus, virtual drinks! As summer draws to an end, I hear the gentle clinking of gimlet glasses. With its lime base, gimlets will keep us from contracting scurvy as we while away our hours honing our craft.

Go explore some more. I will see you Tuesday for a prompt to do with the unexpected; Thursday for links; and Friday for another close up of prompt sites.

Happy writing, all.

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Posted by on 05/09/2014 in exercises, links, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

7:55 a.m. — Atlantasack2

listening to Lisa Loeb singing Love is a Rose

Hello, everyone. I hope all is well with you. Should you need a few minutes of escape, or a different focus before going back to what you were doing before I distracted you, we have a diversity of places in our grab bag to go.

1] The first diversion is for all of us who are lousy sleepers: How Interrupting Your Sleep Can Silence Your Doubts and Boost Your Creativity, by Brian Cormack Carr. The title may be long but we are left in no doubt of Carr’s thesis.What I found most interesting is that Carr says he was unable to carry out the exercise he describes for more than four days (rather than the two weeks called for). Even so, he saw the benefits.

The web site on which this appears, Lateral Action, is one that teaches how to make creativity work with and for entrepreneurship. I often find that its articles, with a little adaptation, work for me and my writing. The site’s curator, Mark McGuiness, is focused on productivity, and so are all of us, even if it’s a single piece of writing. Give the article a read. You can skim parts, but you’ll find some interesting points to take with you.

2] Productivity and Content Curation for the Insanely Busy Blogger — now there’s a mouthful. Again, we have the author’s thesis in the title. We have had articles from Stan and his site, Pushing Social, a few times over the years. His focus is marketing and productivity. There’s that word again. Productivity. I have learned a lot from Stan and found many useful articles for my own life of writing. This particular article is full of toys. Stan lists and gives links to all the online tools he uses. Do you like to be organised? You’ll love some of these. Do you wish you were organised? You’ll also love some of these. If nothing else the invitation is to play with web tools. Always a guaranteed way to procrastinate ;-).

Stan has gotten fancy with his website [I knew it when it was a simple thing] so there will be a couple of slide outs/pop-ups from Stan. I think there were three before I was left alone to read the piece. Going in knowing that I hope lessens the irritation with those things.

3] The final piece is short, a piece from a longer piece, Naomi Shihab Nye on inspiration. A mere three and some minutes of listening.

Go investigate. I have a cento to deconstruct for Miz Quickly. Come to think of it, so do several of you. You say you haven’t started and what’s it about? Here are yesterday’s instructions. You can catch up easily. I shall see you tomorrow for prompt sites; Tuesday for a prompt; and next Thursday for, yep you guessed it, links.
Happy writing, all.

Posted by on 04/09/2014 in links, poetry, writing


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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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