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Author Archives: margo roby

About margo roby

I spent the first twenty years of my life in Hong Kong, where my parents met and married and stayed. I spent the second twenty years of my life following my army husband around the world with our two children. The second twenty overlapped with the third by two years. My husband’s last posting was Jakarta, Indonesia and when he retired he joined me teaching at the international school. We lived there twenty years and I discovered writing poetry. Now we are living in Atlanta. My husband teaches at the international school and I retired from teaching, so I can concentrate my energy on my poetry.

Poetics Serendipity

7:56 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to the Weather Channel, and Gordon Lightfoot singing Crossroads

Hello, everyone. Are we all (the U.S. all) watching the cold front bearing down from Canada? We’re supposed to drop forty degrees here, tonight, and not go up, tomorrow. That’s quite a plunge. I may be able to pull out some winter clothing. Let’s see what I have to keep you occupied should you be stuck indoors.

1] At Write to Done, Bryan Collins gives us 7 Barriers to Writing You Can Leap Over Today. There are so many of this type of article out there that I give new ones a close read but, I am also a proponent of reminders. Every now and then we need to read this type of post. Collins writes with clarity, succinctness and humour. When he quoted Stephen King, he had me.

2] The Write Life presents us with The 100 Best Websites for Writing. Collected by Carrie Smith, it’s quite a collection; you may want to pull out the coffee mug and get comfortable. Smith says, in her introduction:

We’ve broken the list into eight categories: blogging, creativity and craft, entrepreneurship, freelancing, literary agents, marketing, publishing, and writing communities. The sites are listed in alphabetical order within each category, and the numbers are included for easy tracking rather than as a ranking.

Whether you’re keen to find better-paying freelance writing jobs or self-publish your NaNoWriMo project, build your email list or strengthen your SEO skills, these sites will help you reach your goals.

3] Diane Lockward, on her site Blogalicious (you still haven’t signed up for her newsletter, why?) talks to us about Seven Snazzy Online Journals. One of the more difficult parts of writing is where to submit, especially with online journals, which often have a short shelf life. As she says, Online journals are not all created equal and, quite frankly, some of them are dreadful. There’s no sense in submitting your lovely poems to a journal you wouldn’t be proud to have them in. Before telling us about the seven journals, Lockward discusses what makes an online journal a good one.

4] I can’t remember whether I have posted someone’s blog post (as opposed to an online article) as a must read. I ‘met’ poet Ian Badcoe, recently, in an online poetry group. I found the post, Publishing the other self… to be intriguing in the points raised by Badcoe. His initial premise: I wonder whether the whole idea of “self publishing” being different from “publishing” isn’t a historical artefact left over from the time that publishing was difficult. He goes on to list what makes a publisher, compares it to a self-publishing outfit, YouTube, reminds us of Sturgeon’s Law (well, you’re going to have to read the article), then suggests a direction poets can take that might legitimise self-publishing. As he reminds us, self-published books are (rightly or wrongly) regarded with suspicion.

That should do nicely. I will see you tomorrow for the roundup of this week’s prompts; Tuesday for my prompt; and next Thursday for more links and things.

Happy writing, everyone.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on 12/02/2015 in links, poetry, writing

 

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Poem Tryouts: What’s in a Word?

7:45 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to E Ho’i I Ka Pili sung by Keali’i Reichel

Hello, all. How are you? Well, or as well as can be, I hope. Let’s play with a word. It has been a while, but it’s one of my favourite exercises. The words I choose are ones that come to me while I am reading, watching TV, playing video games, anything but purposely looking for an interesting word. The word will be in front of me and start a train of thought, or, by some remote mechanism triggered by what I am doing, it will pop into my head and start the train of thought. The words are always ones I know well, but that, when I head for the dictionary, make me think ‘Huh. I didn’t know that meaning’.

Today’s word, cast, before I even reached the dictionary, had produced this: cast on/cast off; acting cast; cast stones, a glance, pots, your lot, a fishing line, dice; forecast; typecast; broken arm, or leg, cast. To this I added cast, as in a shade of colour and a cast in the eye, both from a brief etymology entry. The OED tells us there are 42 distinct noun meanings… distinct… and 83 verbal ones, not to mention sub-definitions.

My favourite online dictionary, both for thoroughness and the way they structure the presentation of a word is  freedictionary.com, so that’s where I am sending you for your resource.

As with previous words we have played with, there are many ways you can go:

1] Don’t go to the dictionary but spend some time ruminating over the word; you might even freewrite your ruminations. Think about the denotations and connotations of the word cast, for you. Choose one, or a thread, around which to cast your poem (I couldn’t resist).

2] Go to the dictionary link I have given you. Cast your eyes (I know, I know, but it’s that kind of word) down the page. You will notice they have a fair number of the amount of meanings the OED mentions. Choose one, or two, that sparks an idea and go with it.

3] Scroll down further to the Thesaurus section. Wander through this richness and choose one of the meanings of cast, along with its several synonyms and write a poem using as many of the different words as you can — without the poem sounding silly. For example, using several of: dart, dash, fling, heave, hurl, hurtle, launch, pitch, shoot, shy, sling, throw, toss.

4] Similar to #3, make your way to the Thesaurus section and choose six to eight different synonym meanings and use them in a poem. This one is my particular favourite as an exercise. You might end up with a list like: stamp, hurtle, shape, contrive, stray, range, press. All of these are in the Thesaurus for cast.

5] Compose a poem remixed from words and phrases on the page.

6] Follow your own idea.

Have fun. I look forward to seeing how you play with this word. I’m heading back to the dictionary. I’ll see you Thursday for links and things; Friday for the week’s prompts roundup; and next Tuesday for another of my prompts.

Happy writing, everyone.

 
45 Comments

Posted by on 10/02/2015 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Poem Surprise: Time 12:05 in the Afternoon

1:08 p.m. — Atlanta

Hello!  I am occasionally so swept away by a prompt that I write a poem in under an hour rather than my usual month to two months (years?). Misky tipped me off to the prompt and this is the best way to tip you off, without having to wait until next Friday’s roundup.

Get yourself over to the Found Poetry Review. Even if you do not like writing found poems, go. FPR has a link to one of the coolest things I have seen: a text clock that displays the current time by automatically pulling in public domain texts from Project Gutenberg.

If you look at the text clock page, you will know what type of thing I started with. I chose to write an erasure poem and the words and phrases come from each paragraph.

Erasing Time

He called the hunter time, acknowledged
one consolation: no change, nothing
since, with troubled eyes, he watched,

unable to understand the power,
the figure in the corner, unpinning
the beauty of her face where each voice

chimed the curfew, the swallows
and the herons slept, the ferns and wild
hyacinths damp with evening dew,

and the summer starlight was the silence
of coming night. No sound broke the stillness,
save the song of the grasshopper.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on 07/02/2015 in poems, poetry

 

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Poetry Freeforall: Grab One and Run

first photo 307:53 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Mayberry sung by Rascal Flatts

Hello, everyone. I may be (who knows) brief today. Having put stuff off all week, I have an eclectic mix of must-get-dones: wash my hair, call my mother, walk to the local grocery, down the street, and buy a birthday card and sustaining breakfast for my husband, who turns 65 tomorrow. I’m thinking bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, lemon, Spanish onion… good stuff. Meanwhile, you first.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie I can’t help but notice that Jen is writing almost all the prompts. I hope, for her sake this is temporary. The prompt that caught my eye this week is Tuesday’s photo Cumulus Fields. Check out their other prompts for the week.sunday whirl

At The Sunday Whirl,  Brenda asks us to leave our links in the comments of her blog. Then, wordle. If you join The Sunday Whirls Facebook page, you can get the week’s list a couple of days early.

pink girl ink

Pink.Girl.Ink. Stacy has a novel possible source of inspiration: bumper stickers. She has, as always, several suggestions, but the one that got me going is the list of a few stickers that she gives us. I discovered that I was writing a found poem, even as I read through. If you like that idea, Google ‘bumper stickers’ and add to the list. Then start your remix.

The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog, asks us to try our hand at a list poem.adele kenny Head over to read the full prompt and for Adele’s suggestions and tips. As Adele says, list poems can seem easy, but a good list poem is a whole ‘nother thing.

Make tracks to Mad Kane’s Humor Blog. One advantage to writing a limerick, or two, is they are short. You can post them in comments on the blog, or on Mad Kane’s Facebook page. Go over and check it out, to read and laugh, and maybe write.magpie

Magpie Tales has a photograph that will take many of you to memories back when. Some of you were those people. Did I feel a wince? Remember that you do not have to write about the whole, or write about the image directly. Head over.Poetry Jam

At Poetry Jam, Mary gives us a prompt to do with journeys. Visit to read what she suggests and for the example poem she gives us.FPR-200

At the Found Poetry Review we are given the annual Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter as our source material. Go over to see what the prompt says and for a link.

Poets & Writers gives us three prompts every week. One for non-fiction, one for fiction, and one for poetry. My contention is that all the prompts work for poetry. They also all work for prose. This week’s topics are messing with your favorites, glitter bomb, and last line/first line. Visit to find out what the prompts are about.IGWRTButtonrsz

At imaginary garden with real toads Ella has a fascinating take on a creation poem: I want a poem that shares your embryonic state before the birth of your poem… I think to bring your poetry out of the dark abyss, perhaps we need another element to induce our birth. I want you to take the place where you were born… To find out Ella’s complete idea go play with the toads.

At Poets United Midweek Motif Susan has quite a challenge: treat cancer poetically. Visit to read the poems and quotations Susan has chosen. See what she has to say on the topic and the other bits of inspiration she has for us.sasha

At The Happy Amateur Sasha is introducing us to Wikems. Don’t know what a wikem is? Head on over and see what Sasha does with zoetrope.

dverseOver at dVerse Claudia is meeting the bar literally and figuratively. She has a fun idea she calls connecting the dots. Go see what it’s about. Head to the bar. They love visitors.

So many fun things to play with. I shall see you Tuesday for my prompt; Thursday for links and such; and Friday for more prompt site roundups. Let’s see, do I have time for…

Happy writing, everyone.

 

 
9 Comments

Posted by on 06/02/2015 in exercises, links, poetry

 

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Poetics Serendipity

8:51 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to The House You’re Building sung by Audrey Assad

Hello, everyone. Shall we get to it? I had a bit of a lie in and my brain isn’t even up to talking about the weather (and that’s one of my favourite topics — for real). Let’s see what we have.

1] First up, an announcement. There was much popping of metaphorical corks earlier this week when Robert Lee Brewer announced the winners of his November PAD chapbook contest. I heard the corks because two of the top five are people I know and whose names you have seen on this blog’s Tuesdays, often. Out of one hundred manuscripts, here are the top five:

  1. A Good Passion, by Barbara Young
  2. A Nest of Shadormas, by William Preston
  3. The Staircase Before You, by Jess(i)e Marino
  4. Lives Other Than Our Own, by James Von Hendy
  5. 1991 Winter, by Marilyn Braendeholm

Particular congratulations to Barbara and Marilyn (aka Misky).

For those of you who don’t know who Robert is and why this is a rather big deal, here’s his writer’s bio: Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

2] I don’t know how many of you know Magma. They say of themselves: Like all the best poetry, Magma is always surprising. Every issue of Magma has a different editor, either members of our board or a prominent poet acting as a guest editor. It’s that fresh eye in each issue which gives Magma its unique variety. Magma publishes three times a year and, while they are UK based, they welcome all contributions (submissions). Their theme for the next issue is conversation. Visit them to see what they are about and whether you might not like to send in some poems.

3] I love this interview with poet Dana Gioia: Collaborating With Language. I found it in an issue of The Writer magazine and posted it back in 2013. I delighted in reading it again, thus decided you would too.

4] Finally, an excellent article, brought to us by Jessica Strawser, in Writer’s Digest: 5 Unexpected Lessons From Inside the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, written by Dina Nayeri.

Forgive my brevity. My computer is acting up and I want to get this posted fast. I will see you tomorrow for the week’s roundup of prompts; Tuesday for my prompt; and next Thursday for more links and such.

Happy writing, everyone.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on 05/02/2015 in links, poetry, writing

 

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Poem Tryouts: Misperceptions

7:45 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Called Out in the Dark, sung by Snow Patrol

Hello, all. It’s 22F outside, negligible in the face of the NE US, but damn cold anyway. I am finally winter bundled, as I type. I usually have a prompt in mind, but this time I’ve been dithering between two. I’m not sure why I couldn’t make up my mind which of the two to offer. I went with a third.

Sometime last year, my son and I were having a phone conversation. I’m not sure how Biros came up. I must have been talking about my first pens. When I mentioned the Biro as my first ballpoint, there was a brief silence and Houston said ‘Biros are pens? I thought they were notepads’. In what context had they come up for him previously? Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where Adams’ posits a planet for lost ballpoints: the planet Biros. (In his defence, he was very young when he read the series) Houston allowed as how he might have to reread Hitchhiker with this new image in mind.

Misperceptions change interpretations. The previous statement allows you a wide scope for material for a poem. Begin by recalling times when you thought one thing about the meaning of a word and drew a conclusion, or made a judgment (no matter how inconsequential), based on your perception. How long did you carry the incorrect meaning? How did you find out the correct meaning? How did the new meaning change your interpretation of a situation, or event?

You can write a poem about the misperception itself, or you can take the idea onto a broader stage. What happens when we have a misperception and make a judgment based on it? How does the ensuing discovery of the actuality change the original interpretation and what consequences are there? Do you have an instance that would make a good poem?

I feel like I’m being vague in my instructions, but that’s happened before and I know you all always find a poem. So, go forth and write.

I will see you Thursday for links and whatnot; Friday, for the week’s roundup of prompts; and next Tuesday for another of my prompts.

Happy writing, all.

 
30 Comments

Posted by on 03/02/2015 in exercises, poetry

 

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Poetry Freeforall: One Month Down

first photo 308:18 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Poems sung by Mandy Patinkin

Hello, everyone. Massachusetts, are you with us? Have you dug out from under? I love to follow the Weather Channel when a storm is on and I couldn’t help but notice that this storm had no interest in any place other than Massachusetts. It was strange to watch it circling the state.

Let’s see how successfully techy I can be. I received a request from Tawnya Smith (who many of us know as Yousei) to post a submission opportunity. Tawnya is the Poetry Editor for The Mayo Review, the literary journal at her university. I took a screen-shot which appears to have worked well (and which, I notice, allows you to see what I’m up to with all the tabs). Note that the deadline is next Friday.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie  The prompt that caught my eye this week is the image of the woman and lily pads. Check out their other prompts for the week.sunday whirl

At The Sunday Whirl,  Brenda is having problems with her linking service, so be sure to read her note to us. Then, wordle. If you join The Sunday Whirls Facebook page, you can get the week’s list a couple of days early.

pink girl ink

Pink.Girl.Ink. Stacy is asking for one of my favourites: postcard poetry. By now, you know she always has suggestions and alternatives, so hie yourself over.

The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog, asks us to try our hand at lunes, one syllable based and one, word based. Head over to read the full prompt and for Adele’s suggestions and tips.

Make tracks to Mad Kane’s Humor Blog. One advantage to writing a limerick, or two, is they are short. You can post them in comments on the blog, or on Mad Kane’s Facebook page. Go over and check it out, to read and laugh, and maybe write.magpie

Magpie Tales has a photograph that is somewhat surreal, partly because it’s a close-up. It’s pretty cool. Remember that you do not have to write about the whole, or write about the image directly. Head over.Poetry Jam

At Poetry Jam, Peggy gives several choices for a seasonal poem: this season, somewhere. Visit to see her photographs and read her ideas.FPR-200

At the Found Poetry Review we are given the annual Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter as our source material. Go over to see what the prompt says and for a link.

Poets & Writers gives us three prompts every week. One for non-fiction, one for fiction, and one for poetry. My contention is that all the prompts work for poetry. They also all work for prose. This week’s topics are messing with your favorites, glitter bomb, and snowtastrophe. Visit to find out what the prompts are about.IGWRTButtonrsz

Hannah is here to transform our day with the beauty of nature. At imaginary garden with real toads Hannah gives us lavender. Go play with the toads.

Poets United Midweek Motif gives us humour. Visit to read the poems and quotations Susan has chosen. See what she has to say on the topic and the other bits of inspiration she has for us.sasha

NEW ENTRANT: Yay! Sasha Alexandra (who many of us have known for a long time) enters the fray. She will be posting every Thursday at The Happy Amateur and is taking on Wikems. Don’t know what a wikem is? Head on over. You’ll like them.

 

dverseOver at dVerse Tony Maude challenges us to a form… his adaptation of a cinquain. These are hard, and therefore satisfying, to do well. Head to the bar. They love visitors; I smell hot apple brandy.

So many fun things to play with. I shall see you Tuesday for my prompt; Thursday for links and such; and Friday for more prompt site roundups.

Happy writing, everyone.

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 30/01/2015 in exercises, links, poetry

 

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