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Thursday Thoughts: Being Thankful and Paying Forward

8:40 am — Atlanta

I promised you a break today, dear readers. No more haranguing on words to avoid…until next Thursday. And I was going to share with you some bookmarkable sites, but have had to shift my focus a little because of a number of things that happened this past week.

The Big Poetry Giveaway is over and I won four of the many I entered, so that winging their ways towards me are five poetry books. I am excited, as [except for one] these are poets I have not read, but are well-spoken of. New poems to read. Delicious.

You may have noticed, or not, that I have two new badges on my sidebar. The one for 50 favourite blogs in poetry, I stumbled across accidentally. I was interested in the title when I spotted it on someone’s blog, and curious to see whether I could find still more blogs to follow, because, of course, I don’t have enough already. I make my way down the list and am stunned…gobsmacked…speechless…you get the idea…to see my name and blog listed. Not that I don’t think I have a good blog, but there are many blogs out there and mine has not been around that long. I gave you the link in case you too are curious and do not have enough blogs to follow.

And, I was honoured, recently, by being nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by Eric Quinn, of the blog The Rag Tree. I was stunned by the award and what he says: From Hong Kong with insight, this teacher avoids all the clichés: neither pedantic, boring, nor burned out, she carries on the craft she has practiced for decades. This blog is a clearinghouse of information on writing, poetry, prompts, giveaways, style, tips, and ideas. And all of it wonderfully, logically organized… a labor of love. Anyone who practices even a few of her exercises will benefit enormously. A++ I got quite teary. He reached me in my soft spot — he graded me! No, his words on my teaching, which I realised some weeks ago, I have carried from the classroom to my blog, were what touched me the most. I haven’t retired it seems.

Then I read the rules and had minor panic attacks. Oh yes, strings come with this award, hefty ones. Here are the rules:

1.    Thank the person who honored you and give a link to their blog: Okay, did this when I responded to Eric’s blog post. Coming from him this is an honour.

2.    Tell 7 random facts about yourself. What? Wait…I’ll get back to this.

3.    Pass the award to 15 new-found bloggers. Wow! Fifteen bloggers I want not only to give the award to, but to unleash them on you, dear readers. I’ll get back to this. Although, if I could I would reaward The Rag Tree. While, his blog is not new-found to me, it might be for many of you. And it is the most versatile blog I have seen. Not only that, but the writing is worth reading both from the point of content and style. Where else can you find someone holding forth intelligently and cogently on astronomy, linguistics and Gilgamesh? And, he writes poetry.

4.    Contact each blogger onto whom you pass the award and let them know. Okay, seems the polite thing to do in case they do not wish to be unleashed. The logistics might be interesting. Must ask Eric how he went about this.

5.    Let the giver of the award know you accept it or not. I believe I said: Oy! There are rules? For nominees? Just checking…but I do accept, formally.

I notice sharing this with you has taken an entire blog post. It looks to me like you might get another Thursday reprieve. I owe you seven random facts about myself. Crikey! And I must scour my collection of blogs for 15 to unleash, or, rather, nominate.

I will see you tomorrow for prompts roundup. I saw some fun ones for us to play with. On Tuesday I have a fun exercise while you are recovering from ballad writing. You are all writing ballads, yes? Happy writing.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on 05/05/2011 in poetry, writing

 

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Monday Mantras: On Hold Until the New Year

9:25 am, Monday, 13 December, 2010 – Atlanta

I do believe in coincidences: I believe when they happen I should check them out, or pay attention. Last week my son asked if I was going to blog over Christmas. He knew I was traveling to my mom’s and things would be busy preparing for a big family Christmas. I blithely answered: Oh yes, and he was briefly silent. Then I came across an article in Suzannah Freeman’s blog Write it Sideways. The article she wrote is “How to Avoid Blogging Burnout During the Holidays“. I read with interest. I blog and there are about to be holidays.

One of the things she talks about is the audience. Never mind the time I will have to find to write one blog. How about the time you need to read however many blogs you follow. I know that on a normal schedule, the blogs I read faithfully are the ones that arrive in my inbox. They make it easy for me. The ones I read the next most faithfully are the ones who have weekly prompts. And, the ones I would like to get to but it’s hit and miss so far, are all the rest. How many blogs do you follow? Are you going to be able to check them, or do anything other than skim them, until after New Year’s?

Suzannah suggests scaling back, and keeping the posts short. So, starting next Monday, I shall. You may see a few word lists, Wordles and images for a couple of weeks. I will take Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and that takes us into a weekend. Today, rather than give you mantras to ponder at a time of year when you are juggling several things and your brain may be frantically shouting at you all the things you need to get done, I will give you a general suggestion for focus in the next few weeks and a shoutout.

First the Shoutout: Fiona Robyn, writer of the blog A Handful of Stones, wants to try an idea similar to NaNoWriMo, but with short pieces. She says “a river of stones is an international project to encourage people to engage with the world through writing a short observational piece every day during January”. Whether you write prose or poetry, this works. You can spend a month writing short pieces that you can later turn into poems, short or longer, as the muse takes you.

 

And, for the next few weeks, this craziness of Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not, happens every year. Look for the small nuggets, the scenes, the images that happen only now and jot them into your journal. You can only collect these ideas, scenes, and images once a year, so look closely. Look at things you have not looked at closely before because your mind assigns it to the craziness of the season. Maybe there is something you missed that would make a great poem. I might just post this paragraph for the next couple of weeks :)

Tomorrow: an exercise in colour.

 

 
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Posted by on 13/12/2010 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts

12:02pm, Thursday, 18 November, 2010 – Atlanta

The site Confident Writing is about:

“How to find your writing voice, develop a writing practice, and get creative with confidence. How to find your writing voice, develop a writing practice, and get creative with confidence.” Joanna Paterson runs it with great care and thought for a writer’s needs. She likes to offer group writing projects and the one she has going now is titled “The Gift of Blogging Confidence. The question asked is:

What has blogging given you the confidence to write or create and then *share*… that you wouldn’t otherwise have done?

Today’s blog will answer that question for myself and I have provided a link to the home page which has a link to the group writing, among others, so that if any of you wish to visit the site you may, and if you wish to participate in any of the writing offered by the site, you will have the opportunity. I have the site’s home link over on my sidebar, as well.

What has blogging given me the confidence to share? Myself, in the form of my thoughts and ideas on a topic that is part of who I am: poetry. I am a loner by inclination. I find the thought of agoraphobia tempting. With online ordering and delivery, I don’t ever have to step out my front door. Tempting. If I didn’t enjoy going places with my husband and also didn’t know better, I might stay in my nest. But I do know that without human interaction, we do not grow and thrive. I like people, but I am not good at social stuff and avoid social situations when possible, more and more as I grow older. My nest is very comfortable. And the web, in many forms, allows me to communicate with people, to interact with them, to touch their lives, even.

What has blogging given me the confidence to write? Call them letters, or messages in bottles [the blog], or, my way of interacting with people. I love writing for a specific audience, especially one interested in that part of me that is part of who I am: poetry. I am a retired teacher, and part of what I love about blogging is that I can continue to teach, in the form of these letters to my audience. I love it when people respond to something I have written for them, even, or especially, when I do not know them. Each response from someone reading what I have written, gives me more confidence in my words, my thoughts, and, ultimately, myself.

What has blogging given me the confidence to create? Bonds, letters, an online teaching persona, essays, exercises, poetry, interactions, myself.

Blitzkrieg

 

Poems arrive with no warning,
lightning strikes storming invading
words phrases whole lines
piling up while they try to escape
through my ears my eyes my mouth
impatient for life for freedom.
I insist they wait …come through
with some semblance of order
through my fingertips controlling
the pen spilling blue words
onto the page …and they breathe.

published in Lunarosity, 2004

 

hard copy blogging

Tomorrow: Exercises in imagery.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on 18/11/2010 in writing

 

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Friday Freeforall: Bits and Pieces

Tapping a Pencil

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

2:07pm, Friday (sing), 12 November, 2010 – Atlanta

Okay, wrapping up the week and tying up any loose bits. I realised, on receiving a comment from the author of a new blog I am following [that she had not seen me on the Poetic Asides Poem a Day], that despite what I have been telling you about setting time limits, I do not work well to a prompt for a daily piece of work. Nine minutes, yes. Twenty-four hours, forget it. So today, I have done the first three prompts. Now, I am only nine days behind.

However, I am very excited about a site I found when I visited this author’s site. Her name is Amy Barlow Liberatore; her site is Sharp Little Pencil; her poetry is fun and clever; and she has several links to places with prompts. I had most of them, but not One Word. It is great for kicking the brain into gear. They give one word and sixty seconds to write, then they cut the writer off. They do allow us to finish a sentence we might be in the middle of. Talk about a rush!

When I originally did the exercise I set this week, the painting I worked with is Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Pitcher. I have lost sight of the original poem my seven words came from, but here is the painting and the poem I wrote from it:

Young Woman with a Pitcher

After Vermeer’s Young Woman at the Window

Painted into the corner of the room
caught mid-thought, mid-ground
between wall and tapestried table she stands,
in the mid-light of early morning

caught, mid-thought mid-ground,
her arm bared, blue sleeve falling back
in the mid-light of early morning
absorbed, her eyelids lowered

her arm bared, blue sleeve falling back
a hand resting on the window frame,
absorbed, her eyelids lowered
looking at nothing, the light.

A hand resting on the window frame
the other on the handle of a pitcher;
looking at nothing, the light
streaming through the partial opening.

The other on the handle of a pitcher
forgotten she stands lost in thought.
Streaming through the partial opening
the light catches her, unaware as

forgotten she stands lost in thought
painted into the corner of the room
the light catches her, unaware as
between wall and tapestried table she stands.

published in Lunarosity 2004

I want to set you a piece of homework, if you will. Next week we will work on a more traditional form of found poetry. It will help if you arrive at Wordgathering with a base. During the weekend, when you read the newspaper [or computer], or read someone’s blog, or as you are reading a magazine, keep your eye out for a story that is a little quirky, a little off the wall, a touch bizarre. Should you not read anything odd you can find stories on the net easily enough. Ideally, you want something between 70 and 90 words. Remember to make note of the source. Do continue to collect words, images, and phrases for your word pool.

Have a good weekend and I will see you Monday.

 

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 12/11/2010 in poetry, writing

 

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Wednesday Writing: Finding poetry, part 2

3:47 pm, Wednesday, 10 November, 2010 – Atlanta

Not a good day. First I start the blog about an hour and a half ago and, when trying to save an image to use, managed to close the whole browser, thereby losing what I had written so far. One can never recreate the exact piece again, ever. Sidenote: this is why you should always write down anything that comes to your mind re poetry. Trust me here. Second, but first chronologically, I got lost in the computer again. I do remember I started the blog: OMG! because for the second time this week I became so engrossed with what I was doing and discovering that when I came up for air, it was 2:30 and I hadn’t eaten since early breakfast. Monday it was writing and research; today I took a huge step and entered the world of twitter. At least, I am standing on the edge. It took me several hours of reading and navigating around to feel I might, might, have a grasp…a sort of hanging by my fingernails grasp. We’ll see what happens.

Of course, I also became sidetracked and discovered a couple more places to add to my sidebar: Magpie Tales which uses images to inspire poetry; Poetry Daily, which is an easy read new poems every day, because aside from always carrying paper and pen, reading poetry is the other must; Three Word Wednesday, which gives prompts a slight twist by giving three words to be used in a poem;and one I am very excited about because of all the possibilities: Poets United, a site designed for poets to have a community.

Now, part 2 of yesterday’s exercise which called for you to choose seven words from a list of 15, and create a poem.

landscape with the fall of Icarus

I think I have the painting linked but if I don’t you can find it here. I want you to look at the painting and then look closer. Look away and write down everything you can remember. Try to write specifically: nouns and sensory images. Even in a painting you can smell, feel, hear, sometimes taste… as well as see. Look at the painting and add anything you have missed. When you have written down every possible thing you can about the painting, look at what you have jotted down and circle, or underline, images, phrases, words that seem, to you, to be connected. Pull them out and rewrite them. Then order them in a way that sounds like, is ordered like and makes sense as a poem.

Rather than give you mine and have your brain fettered by what I see, I’ll give you one I wrote in response to another painting, but I will do that tomorrow. You have enough to digest with this post. I will also share with you the source of the 15 words.

 
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Posted by on 10/11/2010 in poetry, writing

 

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Tuesday Takeaway

office_chair

3:00 pm, Tuesday, 2 November, 2010 – Atlanta

At the moment my writing poetry, and blogging and facebooking, and research all require my computer, so I read, write, drink my coffee, and think, while sitting in my large brown leather office chair, at my computer in the corner of the living room where I have set up my work nook.

A number of things to check today. While at the computer, I have become adept at checking my facebook app, Market Street, and my email, and Googling a question I have regarding a topic for writing, and looking at poems for submissions and discovering new sites. All at the same time. I am waiting for my brain to explode or implode, but it seems to thrive.

Yesterday, I started two different poetry challenges.  Robert Lee Brewer, of Poetic Asides, has a create a poem a day challenge for the month of November. You can find the guidelines here.  Then, on a new site [new to me as I go careening through blogs trying to swallow/envelop all that I have been missing], belonging to Diane Lockwood of  Blogaliscious [how can one resist?!], I found a link to Molly Fisk [it's rather like the maze at Knossos, following the string so as not to get lost, and no minotaur at the end], who is also offering a poem a day challenge during November. The prompts are given by poet Lisa Cihlar and you can write to Molly at mollyfisk@gmail.com if you wish to join in.

She wrote me a lovely letter, in which she says, “If you write 30 poems in 30 days, you’ll feel like an Olympic athlete. If you write 2 poems in 30 days, you’ll be glad you got two new poems. Even if you don’t write a thing because your life takes a left turn and you just occasionally read other peoples’ poems, it will help your own writing down the line to be with us and part of the family of poets. Please don’t be mean to yourself about productiveness, that is not what I’m about and I encourage you to let go of it too. Write if you can and keep breathing. Have fun!” Again, hard to resist.

I receive a poetry newsletter from Diane Lockwood and I liked her prompt to follow the structure of Anthony Hecht’s poem “Despair”. So, that’s in my notebook, along with a prompt from Confident Writing, to write about blogging…along with several submission requests from the group I follow…but that’s for another blog. This is a lot for you to read and digest and check out.

 
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Posted by on 02/11/2010 in poetry, writing

 

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Friday Freeforall

1:43, 29 October, 2010 – Atlanta

The colour of my tree. What a lovely thing to see each day when I look out through the window beyond my desk. Oddly, its neighbour is still mostly green. I’m hoping my tree will turn red. As a maple, it should go in that direction. That would be something for someone experiencing fall for the first time in twenty years.

For the second day in a row, discovering the ramifications of keeping a blog is keeping me from working on poetry. And I thought all I had to do was write.  Today I learned about creating links [tomorrow I shall try to create some] and uploading images and documents. Note my first image: the tree. Now I have to learn how to make the blog a little snazzier…not something easy when the main point is words, not visuals. I may have to learn to create concrete poetry. I did stray just slightly down the other path and found another blog to follow: franciszka voeltz collects details and likes to collaborate.

Before the weekend when I don’t blog [thus ensuring I will work on my poetry, perhaps], let me go back to  advice for beginning, and not so beginning, writers. Almost any writer on writing will tell you: write write write do not stop write do not edit write do not stop write write write. The problem most of us have is that we have a self-censor sitting on one of our shoulders. This censor says That sounds silly. That’s not grammatical. What kind of syntax is that? Did you put a comma in there? Did you spell that long word correctly? What kind of image is that? It doesn’t make sense. Enough of that and you will talk yourself into not writing. If your mind goes blank because you are trying so hard not to self-censor, or your mind just goes blank, don’t stop. Keep writing the last word you wrote over and over again. Your brain won’t like that and will kick back in. The surrealist writers believed that they had to reach a state beyond reality in order to find and write that which is true. What we call free-writing developed from them. Ideally you want to write several pages without stopping. If you can do that you will find when you go back through that your mind and hand have taken you down many paths. You can choose one of the paths to follow knowingly, or choose words and phrases that speak to you and pull them out as a seed to a possible poem. Rather than setting a time, set yourself a number of pages. If you have never done this before, start with two pages and write. If it will help, pick a topic, but then don’t worry or panic if you notice that instead of writing about whales, you are writing about hot air balloons. Your brain made some kind of connection. Go with it. It may take you wondrous places.

Remember: You need to write before you can write well. You need to have written something before you can worry about revision. You have to write before you can craft.

After spending the last hour reading up on copyright and whether I may or may not share a poem here, I will leave with a poem from one of my favourite poets: Robert Frost. Given the sound of the wind in my tree these days the poem is apt. The title is “The Sound of the Trees” and can be found with many other poems at the Poets’ Corner.

The Sound Of Trees

I wonder about the trees:
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice,
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

 
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Posted by on 29/10/2010 in poetry, writing

 

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Thursday Thoughts

3:16, Thursday, 28 October, 2010 – Atlanta

And, where did October go?

I like my Thursday title…allows for straying from the main focus of my blog which is writing. I won’t stray far today, but I want to talk a little about what I spent the majority of the day doing as that will allow me to process the overwhelming amount of information. When I started my computer-based day I had two paths I wanted to follow. I ended up walking down both together, which has made my brain a little crazy. The two paths I wanted to investigate were: Things I can do with my blog; and, Poetry blogs and websites I need to follow. At one point I had twenty tabs open. I started with a blog I follow regularly, Jessie Carty’s. From there, I branched out when I saw a title that intrigued me, or when she recommended a site. As I opened a new page, I would check it quickly and glance down its recommendations column[something I need to learn how to do...], and tab open more pages. At the same time, because I feel I need to read, absorb and learn how to create a good public blog, I was going through WordPress’ extensive and helpful Support section, and opening more tabs.

I ended up bookmarking and following several blogs and websites, either because of a poem by the site’s author, or because of what the author wrote about poetry and their personal writing style. Some blogs and websites that I will follow are: Collin Kelley’s, whose name I found on almost everyone’s site; The Rag Tree, which mixes poetry with prompts [something I am trying to do. Note to self: learn how to upload images]; Rachel Dacus‘ page because I love her poetry; Susan Rich’s site, because it is such fun to spend time in; Sandy Longhorn’s page because I enjoyed reading her entries – I like her style – she sounds fun; Mary Biddinger’s site, because I liked her attitude and even her prose is poetic; Luke Johnson’s because I liked the content; Paul Scot August’s page for his poetry; Kelli Russell’s site for the poetry and what she says; and finally, Big Tent Poetry because it looks like such fun just to visit, but they also provide exercises and a place to collaborate in the form of sharing.

On my WordPress quest I dithered about whether I needed my own domain and decided that needed to wait until I do some more research. I tried several themes but like the clean look of the new theme zBench, and I like the display in the sidebar. I checked headers and had to open a few more pages while I checked graphics. After some time I retreated and decided I like the clean look [how does everyone know so much about technology. I feel like I have been living in a cave for the past twenty years, not just on the other side of the world.]. Then I tried to figure out widgets. I successfully loaded some, but I don’t know how people have long lists of links in their sidebars and I couldn’t discover anything when I skimmed Support for the fifteenth time [the other fourteen questions I had were successfully answered]. I may have to ask one of the authors of a WordPress blog.

I gave passing thought to writing something more specific about poetry and decided my brain wasn’t up to actual thinking today. I will allow the information and creative overload to recede and address something specific tomorrow; or I may find a poem and post it.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 28/10/2010 in poetry, writing

 

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