Tag Archives: blogging

Poetics Serendipity

christmasdividercorner7:45 a.m. –Atlanta

listening to the whistle and hum of the phone as my sister-in-law and I text about Christmas stuff

Hello, everyone. I seem to have gotten my days a trifle mixed. I tried to jump two days when I signed off my last post, so today is not the roundup. Clearly turning 62 traumatised my brain more than I knew. It fell apart Tuesday, but is hauling itself back together.

I don’t know how many of you travel during the holidays, or have guests, or this is the time of year you decorate big time, but my place looks like a storm hit it. Packing the car should be an interesting exercise, as not only are we hauling all our Christmas things (decorations and presents), but suitcases, and as many pre-move items as we can stuff in. Take a few minutes off with me and visit some places I think are fun and interesting.

1] The first is so cool. That was my initial remark on reading the article after my daughter sent me the link. It is the same remark I made a few minutes ago, as I reread it. ‘At Harvard, Technology Resurrects Long-Silent Voices of Poets,’ by Curt Nickisch, tells us that the voices [of poets] on many of these brittle, early records have been dead — silenced for nearly a century. They’re too damaged to play. That is, until today… We now possess the technology to do something that no other technology can do, which is to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Cool, right?

2] This next is one of those things where, because I find it fascinating, you’re getting it. Someone collected photographs of The Very Weird Handwriting of Very Famous Authors. You can live without the collector’s comments, but I found the photographs have an emotional pull for me. I’m willing to bet many of you will be surprised at the time you take looking at the collected pages. You might even try to decipher some of the more difficult handwriting, or haul out a magnifying glass for tiny writing. Me? I might have.

3] I enjoyed The Top 10 Words Invented by Writers and wish its author, Paul Dickson, had made the list longer, but then I’m slightly nutty when it comes to word origins. Dickson says, in his brief intro, that he is interested: specifically in the question of how a coinage makes it into the larger language, especially at a time when the English language seems to have more than enough words to sustain itself. He gives us the how of his ten favourites.

Side note: As Dickson mentions, Shakespeare had a written vocabulary of over 17,000 words, many of which he coined. Because I liked to impart this information to my kids, I know that Charles Dickens had a written vocabulary of about 12, 000. Native English speakers have a written vocabulary of about 1,200 to 1,500 words.

4] I post this article annually to remind those of us addicted to our blogs that there are ways to survive December. Susannah Windsor Freeman, of the blog Write It Sideways, tells us How to Avoid Blogging Burnout During the Holidays.

I will see you tomorrow for the roundup (truly, this time); Tuesday for a prompt; and then not again until the following Tuesday when we will have an image prompt.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 11/12/2014 in links, poetry, writing


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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.


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.



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.



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.


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.




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.


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


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Tuesday Takeaway


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 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.


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


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