Poem Tryouts: Look Out

9:43 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to George Ezra sing Budapest — talk about fascinating — Wikipedia this child and listen to his voice while staring at his portrait. Surreal.

What? Oh, hi. I got caught up in George. Shall we write? Short and sweet, as a friend said earlier this morning.

I was going to do a borrowed prompt, but I looked out my window just now and changed my mind. Look out a window now. NOW, not in a bit. If you have to walk to one, carry paper and pen. Jot down everything you see. If something, in particular, catches your eye, focus on it, that one thing, and write a poem. Otherwise, write your scene.

Sometimes, we get caught up in the personal and forget about what draws people into a piece of writing, the visual context provided. We need anchors to what we read, and the visual is one of the strongest. If you happen to have an audio, or other sensory thing going on, throw it in, too.

Go to it. Give me your window. The window, by the way, does not have to be part of the poem. Neither do you.

I will see you for links, Thursday (let me know if you have anything you want mentioned); and we’ll go for the borrowed prompt on Tuesday.

Happy writing, everyone.

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Posted by on 13/10/2015 in exercises, poems, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

8:12 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Spirit in the Sky sung by Norman Greenbaum (one hit wonder)

Hail. I thought I’d try a different salutation. Fall continues to fall on most of the northern hemisphere. Some places are even rushing into winter. Me, here? Oh no. Let me dive into links before I become maudlin, again.

1] My grammar nerdly self was excited enough by the semi-colon, but this week I have the exclamation point. This punctuation mark I forbade use of, by my students, unless an actual exclamation was involved: Oh! Damn! Nuts! Look out! Aha! You get the point. If what you are writing is exclamatory, the words should tell the reader. If you have to use an exclamation point as emphasis, you haven’t chosen the right words, or the thing isn’t due a mark, at all. Check out How To Use An Exclamation Point Properly (& How Not To Use It) written by Julia McCoy, for Grammarly.

2] It’s time to check in with Poets & Writers with their Tools for Writers, where they occasionally update opportunities for submissions and jobs in the literary world. Scroll down and look to the right column when you get to the page.

3] Let’s round off with a cartoon from The Writer’s Circle’s Facebook page.

Nice and light, this week. I shall see you Tuesday for a prompt, possibly borrowed. We haven’t done one of those in a while. I’ll go  riffle through my books. And, I shall see you next Thursday for links and such.

Happy national poetry day and happy writing.


Posted by on 08/10/2015 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: Influences of Life

9:10 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Abba sing Waterloo

Hello, everyone. Enjoying the Fall or Spring weather? Good. Keep doing so. South Texas isn’t there yet, although the mornings are cooler and stay that way longer, before we climb into the high 80s, low 90s. (she wept into her morning coffee, thinking of autumn in Atlanta…)

Although this isn’t one of my word prompts, I became curious, just now, as to the etymology of influence. Given what I was planning to write, I was fascinated by what I found. Originally Latin for inflow, it quickly became associated with the influence of the stars on human destiny, the flowing of their ethereal fluid, as it were. The sense of an indirect or imperceptible action that causes change, came later.

Okay, the idea. Think of, jot down, people, or things, that caused you to do something you might otherwise not have done. Or, to not do something you might have done. Is there one that caused a chain of events? My mother joined the CIA and moved to Hong Kong, to get away from the influence of her strong-willed mother. That put her out there shortly before my dad’s company sent him out on a tour. (sidebar — this always amuses me, especially as they both went to college in the same city, but met in HK).

Straightforward. I don’t think you’ll need my influence (snicker) as to a direction to take the poem, but you can write about the influence itself, or the results of the influence, or take a tangent from your thinking, should your brain lead you that way.

I look forward to reading the poems — last week’s were a lot of fun, by the way — and will see you Thursday for links (feel free to send me any you come across) and next Tuesday for another prompt.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 06/10/2015 in exercises, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

7:32 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Wild World sung by Cat Stevens

Hello, all, and a happy halfway through the week. I notice that most everyone has cooler weather, except the south south-western US. Feel free to share. While I’m waiting, here are some links to explore:

1] Hot off the presses: Penguin’s Vintage Books arm has signed several authors (Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Tyler, Howard Jacobson…) to write novels inspired by several of Shakespeare’s plays. Watch this video to see which plays and hear from the authors about the Hogarth Shakespeare series. The video is a little over four minutes.

2] The semi-colon is the most misunderstood and misused of the punctuation marks (although apostrophes are catching up). It’s also one of my favourites because no other mark implies the same relationship. The Writer’s Circle gives us Finally! An Easy Way To Know When (And How) To Use A Semicolon! at the end of which they have included a TED talk. I found their presentation, in the written part, to be admirably clear and fun to read.

3] Diane Lockward’s October newsletter is out. It’s always worth a read with its poetry, prompt, tips on the craft, and links.

4] This last is for Philly folks, or people who don’t mind driving into Philadelphia. Peter Murphy, of Murphy – Writing Stockton University, is holding a writers’ happy hour and invites anyone in the area to join them for an informal evening of socializing and camaraderie. Draw inspiration and support that comes from being a part of a larger community of writers. The date is October 21st and you’ll find more information on his site. I’ve given you the page with the October events.

Enjoy and I will see you again on Tuesday for our next prompt and Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 01/10/2015 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: This is Where I Want to Be

8:54 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Bohemian Rhapsody sung by Queen

Hello, everyone, new, old-timer, and in between. I hope you are well. Today is our image prompt and I have a place to get lost in for a while. I often use images from the Facebook group, I Require Art. We have the same tastes. In fact, I began following them in order to have a source for images. Then an unexpected thing happened. My Facebook friends enjoyed seeing the paintings I chose. I have almost as much fun seeing who likes what. Sometimes, we even discuss the paintings.

Today’s choice is a recent find and evoked more comment than almost anything I have posted. I remarked that I would like to be there, sitting, looking out over the water, sipping a cup of coffee. Apparently, plenty of people would like to join me. I’ve had to add a guest cottage around the corner.


The painting is Fisherman’s House at Varengeville, by Monet. You can approach the prompt in a number of ways. With each, remember that the painting itself does not have to be part of the poem.

1] Respond emotionally to what you see.

2] Go over the painting jotting down every single thing you note. Look at your notes and find your direction among them.

3] Make the painting part of the poem.

4] Write about your tranquil place. You can do this with, or without, the painting. It depends if you want to use the setting as a character, as in having it to specifically refer to. This might be your anti-tranquil place.

5] Do what your brain started as soon as it saw the painting.

Yes? Good. I shall see you Thursday for links and Tuesday for another prompt (and on your blogs, should you respond to this).

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 29/09/2015 in exercises, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

8:24 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Phil Collins sing A Groovy Kind of Love

Good day, everyone. You say you have things to do and places to be? Let’s get started.

1] I was havering on whether to give you Robert Peake’s ‘Why Poetry Workshops Matter’. He’s a poet who writes on poetry and I love his style, but this particular article isn’t structured to easily read: no paragraphs. It seemed unlike Peake (I discovered that it’s only when clicking through to the article that the paragraphs disappear). Then, I saw a link at the bottom, The Joy of Revision. Of course, as I love the revision process, I checked. Much better.

The first article is an update of the second. The second is properly paragraphed and has additional subject matter of interest. I would add a caveat. In his suggested questions about form, there should be a why after each. Otherwise it sounds like he’s saying this is the way things should be because we’re questioning them. He’s not. In the questions about content, readers and writers should be asking why and how.

2] It’s that time again: Peter Murphy’s Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway. This one I am determined to make some day (at least, one of the several Murphy offers each year). The dates are in January which gives everyone plenty of time to save their pennies. I love this in the description:The Getaway creates an environment that encourages each writer to take creative risks. Peter begins the weekend by singing in his off-key voice which leads participants to realize that if it’s okay for Peter to risk that kind of embarrassment, they can too. Clearly, a born teacher.

For those who live in the area, don’t forget The Collingsworth Book Festival, held on October 3. Peter will be offering a free workshop from 12:301:15 p.m. in the Festival’s Poetry Tent, with the theme Seeing the Sea Anew.

3] Feeling brave? I havered on this one, as well, but when I found I differed (no, not got it wrong — there are a couple I’d argue, but that’s why I don’t do well on multiple choice tests) on a couple of answers, I decided we all needed to read: 10 Outstanding Grammar Tips for Writers: Take the Quiz. I wasn’t sure about the quiz format, either, but the tips are more effective if you have a choice already made. So, take the quiz, read the whys of the answers. If you find it helpful, follow the links to Daily Writing Tips then Grammarly to find the next groups of 10 tips. Only the first ten have the quiz. If I were to choose one to keep by, it would be Grammarly’s.

A nice, hefty bunch of things to go through. Enjoy them and I shall see you Tuesday for our image prompt and Thursday next for more links.

Happy writing, all


Posted by on 24/09/2015 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: Indelible

9:08 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Daylight by Maroon 5

Hello, everyone. All well, I hope. The car fit in the garage, yesterday, for the first time in weeks, thanks to a niece and her husband, who carted off a load of furniture. The house is habitable. Now we fine tune.

The idea for the prompt comes from a poem written by Sara way back in January, in  response to another prompt of mine. That prompt asks for a moment in a movie, or on television, that evoked a response from you. This is similar, but it’s not the response as much as an image, I am interested in. Read the last six lines of the poem then come back.


Okay? Okay. Is there a television show or a movie you cannot rewatch because of an indelible image? There are plenty of shows and movies I don’t watch because my imagination is far too active, but only one I won’t watch and that’s the movie The Great Escape. Possibly if I had watched it as an adult, or at least an older teenager, I would have been okay, but I was twelve and the scene where the escapers hit the fence and are frozen in the lights gave me nightmares and has never left my consciousness.

Think of one such image for yourself and write the image, or write the moment, or write the part of you that cannot deal with the image. Although I am asking for an autobiographical moment, feel free to write in third person and to make up details, as needed.

But I have none, you cry. I’ll take a photograph you saw in the news, or a magazine, even an image so well described in a novel that you remember it and have not reread the novel. For me that would be something from Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Let’s see what you come up with. I look forward to visiting you. Yes, I am finally back (yes, it’s about damn time). I’ll see you Thursday for links and next Tuesday for our image prompt.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 22/09/2015 in exercises, poetry


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