Poem Tryouts: If You Could

8:09 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Yellow River sung by Christie (I’ve always loved this song but didn’t know the group singing it, or that they are British)

Hello, everyone. Ready for an image, or two? I came across one, recently, that I immediately fell in love with, then stumbled on one that offers a contrast in perspective. Hang on, while I get them up.

cube setting

by Gustavo Fernandes

Say we live in a time where you can order your own pillar of setting. What would you choose to have depicted in your pillar?

Or, if you want to feel cosier about it, how about a jar you can place on a shelf.

scene in a jar

What is in your jar?

As always, you can approach this in any way your mind takes you. You can be literal, you can be figurative, you can link to something your brain tosses up. You can use both images, or one. You do not have to mention the images from which your poem arises, but you may. I look forward to seeing what happens.

I will see you Thursday for links and Tuesday for a prose based prompt. It’s NaNoWriMo time.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 27/10/2015 in exercises, poetry


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Poetics Serendipity

9:09 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to I Love a Rainy Night sung by Eddie Rabbitt (one of my all time favourite songs)

Hello, everyone. I hope you are well. I am sitting under grey skies, hoping it will rain. While I wait, here are a few things to investigate.

1] How about you find out how well you know the style of a few well-known poets? I enjoyed the short quiz as much for the illustrations as seeing whether I knew my poets’ styles. You’ll find Match the Poetry Quote to the Poet! on the site For Reading Addicts.

2] Now that you are warmed up, let’s head to a visual feast that can keep you distracted for hours. The site Bored Panda has an article on New Zealand artist Brian Dettmer’s work. If you haven’t seen his book sculptures, you’re in for a treat. I’ ve seen one or two, but not a collection like this. The article, ‘Book Surgeon’ Uses Surgical Tools to Make Incredible Book Sculptures is dangerous. Don’t look if you have an appointment you need to get to.

3] Trish Hopkinson had an article out, recently, on tanka submission calls and sites. The calls are for this month, which is close to ending, so I visited a site she suggested, All Things Tanka. If you write in this form, it’s a wonderful site; if you don’t, you might consider giving it a try, because this site is well-crafted and useful. I have sent you to the About Tanka page, but you’ll see it’s easy to navigate to their other pages.

4] Finally, something that made me laugh and which involves bacon. The image is courtesy of Grammarly, but I found it on The Writer’s Circle.

I will see you Tuesday for an image prompt and next Thursday for NaNoWriMo links. It’s that time again.

Happy writing, all


Posted by on 22/10/2015 in links, poetry, writing


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Poem Tryouts: The Right Words

8:23 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to John Grant singing You & Him

Hello, all. My apologies for the non-appearance, Thursday. I was in the throes of a cold. You don’t want me anywhere around when that happens. I be a wretched and woebegone person. After several days of pills and rum toddies, I have emerged from the miasma. Let us write. We are borrowing from Diane Lockward, one of my favourite sources for ideas, both from her newsletter and her book The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop.

Early in the book (craft tip #5), Diane talks about finding the right words, no easy thing, if we want to elevate our poetry a notch, or two. Where to go for the right words? The dictionary is an awfully big ocean. A thesaurus can be helpful, but not necessarily poetic. We want words that sound and look and taste. She suggests keeping speciality catalogues, such as flower and seed catalogues, or any of the food catalogues (that come out about this time of year). These lists are also useful for found poetry, but that’s another road.

Aside from the catalogues, Diane tells us that she will Google an item. She gives as her example, blueberries, which took her to the website for the Gierke Blueberry Farm where she found ‘words like cultivars, domesticated, antioxidant and these lovely names of different kinds of blueberries: Rabbiteye, Primadonna, Sapphire, and Snowchaser.’ Aren’t they gorgeous? Another source is Wikipedia, which we can use in the same way as Google, the difference being, we get one article.

What would I like you to do? Grab pen and paper and sit at your machine. Pick a subject. For the purposes of today — unless you already have an idea — pick something simple like spiders, or snakes, or apples. Your objective is to find and use the best words in the best form to give us a poem about your subject. Or, have fun with a list poem.

For an idea of rich word use, Diane suggests some poems to read. Two of my favourites are Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘Pied Beauty’ and Sharon Olds’ ‘One Year’.

Go forth and seek words. I’ll await the results. See you Thursday for links and such, and Tuesday for our image prompt. Yes, it is already the end of the month.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 20/10/2015 in exercises, poetry


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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.


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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