Tag Archives: James Penha

Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

11:54 a.m. — San Antonio

Okay, so I said this column (?) would be down for the summer, but I wanted to thank a couple of people and not tack it onto the roundup, or Tuesday’s Tryouts.

Many of you are aware that I spent the past weekend in Rhode Island [a wonderful state with the friendliest people], celebrating the Origami Poems Project 3rd anniversary with the two women responsible for the continuation of this unusual Press, and honouring Jack Penha, best friend, mentor, author, editor of The New Verse News, and much, much more, and Tom Chandler, Poet Laureate Emeritus of Rhode Island.

The two women who set up the event, and who take care of all of their poets as they would a family, Jan Keough  and Lynnie Gobeille, deserve their own celebrating and honouring for bringing off such a successful event and for all they do to send free poetry out into the world.

Jan and Lynnie, along with all the other events they sponsor, the reading of poetry, the selecting of poets and poems, the printing of the micro chapbooks, the folding of the chapbooks and then, the disseminating of the chapbooks all over Rhode Island, have been working on this event for months, making sure everything would run perfectly and everyone be happy.

It did and we were. The venue was the Wickford Art Gallery, a small square building on the water. Inside all is light-filled and the walls covered with gorgeous photographs and paintings. In the centre, roughly forty chairs were set up, facing a lectern with a mic. Behind the chairs, stood a table serving wine and chocolate, throughout [I ask you: what could be better?]. To one side stood a table where the two honourees signed books afterwards.

Listening to seven poets read is a magical way to spend an afternoon.

Everything was wonderful, from first to last. Not a hitch, although I know Jan and Lynnie worried until the last person left. Their care of and for us and for poetry is one of the things that made the afternoon so special.

I point you in the direction of the Origami Poems Project every now and then. I will keep nudging. This is a special project. Check it out. Read some of the micro-chapbooks. They are all there, online. Learn how the chapbooks are folded from a single sheet of A4 paper. Consider submitting your own poems.

Thank you, Jan and Lynnie, for the magic.


Posted by on 28/06/2012 in poetry


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Come and Get it! Freeforall! It’s Friday!

8:30 a.m. — San Antonio

Here we are again. Hello, all. Let us start with our week of wonderful possibilities.

Donna and ‘The Poetry Mixtape’ is in the second week of a two week break. Donna is still blogging and has been giving us her day at the writing workshops. You will find music, books, mini-discussions, tips, lots of interesting stuff, especially if you have wondered what writers do at workshops. For anyone who has not visited Donna’s blog, Put Words Together. Make Meaning, I will leave a link here so you can visit and explore.

Joseph Harker gives us Reverie Twenty-Four: OBEY. Whom? you ask. You will have to wander over to find out, but are Joseph’s exercises ever not intriguing? Correct, so go.

Over at Adele’s, The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog the topic is fabulous fruit and Adele tells us My advice is to nibble on a piece of fruit while you’re writing. I have some watermelon in the icebox. It could get messy, but I can see how that would work with my mind while I write. We are given several directions in which we can go. I want to try each one. I may end up with a fruit basket. Adele’s prompts are always more than the sum of their parts. To read all the possibilities, and to be given links to corresponding poetry, visit.

Over at Poetic Bloomings we are burning. Visit to read what our hosts say and to read their poems in response to the prompt. Marie Elena and Walt have a plea for their blooming poets, [you know who you are] so stop by their home page, as well.

Have you whirled? At The Sunday Whirl, Brenda and The Whirl give us our wordle words from a list at school and the final thirteenth [it’s baker’s dozen time] from Paula on The Whirl’s Facebook page. Visit to see the wordle and to read what others have done.

Carry On Tuesday gives us the opening line of Walter de la Mare’s poem ‘The Listeners,’ and me a strong memory flash. In sixth grade, my choral group won gold with this poem. Head over to read the line and for a link to read the poem.

It’s that time: Limerick-off Mondays. Go to Mad Kane’s Humor Blog. Stay to shoot the breeze. She calls it a humour blog for a reason. Go for the laugh. It’s healthy. It doesn’t much matter if you don’t want to write a limerick; reading them brightens a day. Fact.

I thought I had seen every M. C. Escher print, but this is a new one. I sat for several minutes looking at it, before I remembered you all… twice![ I had to go back to copy the URL and found myself staring at the image, again.] Visit Magpie Tales for our image prompt and to read how others approached this image.

Shawna, over at rosemary mint, is taking her two week break from connected madness, sort of. I had to laugh when I saw she hasn’t quite pulled the plug. I am giving you her blog’s general link, so you can wander through word lists if you need one. Shawna’s approach to word lists: ‘To participate, write a poem or short passage/story using at least one of the words listed below. Feel free to use word variations (e.g., “chancing” rather than “chance”) as necessary.’

Poetry Jam provides us with a prompt from Mary, who asks us to consider things we shouldn’t have done but did. Head on over and read what she has to say on the subject.

For you alliterationists out there, visit ABC Wednesday. This week’s introduction offers a short travelogue of West Virginia. Visit to read and perhaps participate.

The three words this week for Three Word Wednesday are fog, lenient, and struggle. You might try writing down the first thoughts that come into your head as you read these words, before you go on to visit the site for their definitions. TWW has a particularly good source and I often get ideas from the definitions rather than the given words.

Over at imaginary garden with real toads, we start with Ella’s Edge where she asks us to write an SOS. It’s not quite what you think, so go over and find out what is being saved.  It’s also Fireblossom Friday. Think famous. Go play with the toads.

We Write Poems asks us to play with naming, and, as we all know the power of names, what we are being asked to do is interesting. Go. Find out.

At Poets United, we are invited to consider the labyrinth, but not quite as you may think. Visit to find out what we are asked to try.

At dVerse’s Meeting the Bar, Victoria writes about setting and place, in poetry. As always, explore the pub while you are there. They offer so much on their menu.  You might find several of us propping up the bar. They make us feel welcome.

Patricia K. Lichen, Author, in her Weekend Haiku & Limericks gives us several options to use as resources. An interesting possibility, she suggests, is to look at the comments and pull a poem from them. Visit for the possibilities and because it’s fun to wander through the site.

Flash fiction fans: I’m going to give you the link to the general site of Flashy Fiction, rather than always giving you Friday, as you might come to the site on a different day, thus be offered a different image. Pot luck. Remember that we often get a possible direction along with the image.

The final posting is for Trifecta, I have given you the link to the Instructions page. They have an interesting shtick. Visit and find out what.

If you have questions, ask. If you write in response to any of these, the people whose blogs you visit would love to read your responses. So, post!

Remember: If you have a topic you want me to discuss, tell me. I’ll take on just about anything and if it’s beyond me, I’ll find sources. What niggles? What have you wanted to ask, or know? If you have an announcement you want posted, send it along for Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts. While Thoughts is going down for the summer, I would love to build for Autumn. What do you have for me?

I shall see you at Tuesday Tryouts and talk a little about summer images; then, Friday for the next roundup. I’m off to Rhode Island this weekend to celebrate the Origami Poems Project’s 3rd anniversary and to help honour my mentor, Jack [James] Penha.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 22/06/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

7:36 a.m. –Atlanta

Hello, everyone. How are you? I am trying to restrain myself from breaking into raptures. I have missed you all. Still, I heartily recommend going dark on your blog every now and then. Without its pull and the amount of time and energy spent, I was able to organise my poetry, so that I have all the poems I want to redraft in one spot and I know what needs to be done with each. I did not feel frazzled and frantic during the two weeks and, yet, kept a tenuous thread spun out with The Sunday Whirl, and a couple of other things that kept me more or less in touch. Now, I am reenergised and looking at Tuesday’s Tryout with a benevolent eye.

An assortment today, starting with [1] the winners of the Poetry Giveaway. I shall be sending chapbooks from James Penha, Joseph Harker, and James Brush, to de, Barb, Sasha, Joseph [I know], and Molly Spencer.

[2] So, how many of you will be in driving distance of Wickford, Rhode Island on the 24th of June? The Origami Poetry Project is celebrating its third anniversary. One of the two poets it is honouring is James [Jack] Penha, the other, Rhode Island’s poet laureate, Tom Chandler. This was too good an opportunity for me to pass up. I haven’t seen my friend and mentor in two years [for those who don’t know, Jack opened the door to poetry for me] and I have wanted to meet the women who founded and run the OPP.

On Sunday, June 24th 2012
we ( the OPP)
will be celebrating
Three Years of Free poetry
@ the Wickford Art Galley
an afternoon of poetry honoring
two of our BIGGEST OPP supporters:

James Penha (editor: New Verse News)
& Tom Chandler (Poetic License/Providence Journal).

We have selected six poets to read that evening in appreciation of the kind contribution of these Guest Poets to the OPP.

I will be one of the six and have, consequently, been thrown into a fervour. I used to cut class if I thought I might have to stand up in front of it. I shall spend the intervening time trying to distract myself, but I am honoured. I would love to meet any of you, if you can drive out Wickford way for a couple of hours.

3] I was asked by Bob DiPasquale to mention his site, HumorQ. While it’s not our usual path, it occurred to me that maybe some of you enjoy thinking up captions for cartoons. It’s a different path for the creative brain and anything different helps the usual creative path.

4] This last may seem an odd one, but I am sold on it. How many of you find it difficult to stop for two minutes and relax, take yourself away mentally? I have this site on my top bar so when my eye spots it, I click. Would you believe:

The first time I visited, I was presented with a calming rural scene, calming music, and a calm voice doing a version of guided imagery. I followed all directions and felt amazingly refreshed. After the first time, I was allowed to choose . Mousing toward the bottom of the screen presents six choices of scene. All have water in some form, and all have movement. Whichever scene I pick, is accompanied by ambient sound. I can choose whether I want music, or the voice, or just ambient sounds. Time limits offered are two minutes and ten minutes. Right now, I am in the rushes, hearing the voice of a bird and the occasional insect. I love it. Go look.

An odd little bundle! I shall see you again tomorrow for the Friday roundup of prompts; Tuesday for a form [I am back]; and next Thursday for announcements, or thoughts.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 03/05/2012 in poetry, writing


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Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

7:35 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello, everyone. We have a number of announcements, all inviting us to play in some way, and we do like to play, don’t we? I am going to divide the posting into two. The first is one I mentioned last week: The Great Poetry Giveaway. The second will be the rest of the toys.

Last April for National Poetry Month many poet bloggers had a big poetry giveaway, where about 50 or so bloggers each gave away 2 books [or more] to their readers. Some bloggers gave away subscriptions to poetry journals. The poet Kelli Agodon is the organizer again this year.

For readers who are visiting because they are on the Great Poetry Giveaway trail, welcome. Briefly, I am a writer who thoroughly enjoys keeping a blog because of the wonderful people I meet. The blog has three purposes: on Tuesday I present an exercise which, hopefully, results in a poem; on Thursday I announce whatever the community asks me to announce [like this post]; and on Fridays I give a roundup of the week’s poetry prompt sites.

The rest of my time is spent writing poetry, submitting poetry, having poetry accepted and rejected, and working towards a chapbook.

The official start of the Big Poetry Giveaway is now and will last through April 30, 2011.

Leave a comment, in this post, saying you would like to win a book and your email [so I can get in touch with you if you are one of the winners of the draw], anytime before the end of April, and at the end of the month, I will randomly choose three winners and mail them out the books. I shall put reminders in upcoming posts.

Make sure you enter your email when you leave a comment and note which book you would be interested in winning if you did win [you can leave it up to me, but if you already have one of the books you might want to let me know]. I will pick three winners on May 1st.

Two of the chapbooks are brand new and I enjoyed them so much, I want to ship them out to people who may not know of them [or who do and haven’t bought a copy yet]. The third is one I gave away last year and will continue to do so until it stops printing.

First up is Joseph Harker‘s Greeks Bearing Gifts, ‘exploring different personas from Greek mythology, some of them interpreted in a modern context, or with modern language, or from an unconventional take on the myth’. I keep this book near at hand, both for the enjoyment I receive and for what I learn about writing poetry. This is a young [very young] man to watch.

The second book is No Bones to Carry, an award-winning collection by internationally published poet, James Penha, editor of the ezine New Verse News. This is the collection I gave away last year. I chose this book because its author is my friend and mentor. I have read almost all his poetry books [he also publishes fiction in the form of Indonesian folktales] and this is one of my favourites. His poems cannot fail to move you.

The third book is Birds Nobody Loves: A Book of Vultures & Grackles, by James Brush. I love this collection which, as its title suggest, is about grackles and vultures. I’m not sure how anyone can resist. Let me give you a line that never fails to tickle me:

I always thought they’d like death metal,
but I’ve got it on good authority
vultures prefer smooth jazz.     “Good Authority”

Three writers whose poems I not only enjoyed reading, but enjoy rereading.

Remember: Leave a comment, in this post, saying you would like to win a book and giving me your email, anytime before the end of April, and at the end of the month, I will randomly choose three winners and mail them out the books — no matter where in the world you are. Last year I had a winner in Australia. I shall put reminders in upcoming posts and I shall post links to a list of other participating blogs for you to visit and sign up for their draws, as Kelli posts them.

I shall see you all shortly when I publish the second part of today’s announcements. It will be shorter. Truly.



Posted by on 29/03/2012 in poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: The Poet is Never the Speaker

12:01 pm, Thursday, 6 January, 2011 – Atlanta

I’m not sure why I feel I need to gird myself for this entry. I have been part of all sides: unknowing, unaware child reader, teenage student, adult reader, adult student, teacher, writer.

As a child who loved to read poems, it never occurred to me that the writer of the poem was the speaker. Never, as a child, as I read Stevenson, Frost, Dickinson and others, did I think this is the poet undergoing whatever is happening in the poem. In High School and college I still made the distinction. Eighteen years on I became a teacher and, as much as I loved poetry, I did not understand how it worked, in the same way I have always understood the structures of fiction.

To help me teach both the analysis and the writing of poetry, I asked a colleague, who became my mentor, if I could attend his creative writing  class as a student, for the poetry semester. I came out of that feeling confident about teaching poetry, but the bonus was I came out of there writing poetry. Jack [James Penha] also gave me chapbooks of his and I remember the look of horror on his face when I made the assumption he was the speaker of one of the poems. That was the first time I had muddled my thinking and the first time I heard: The poet is never the speaker, a mantra I told my students for the next eighteen years.

We had many discussions on the subject, Jack and I, while I clarified my thinking. I thought it odd that I had never before had any doubts, but now felt a little confused.  I realize, now, that the confusion arose from the fact I knew when writing a poem that I was part of the poem. But so are all poets because we write what our speakers say. We make the decisions to do with how they will say what we want to share, describe, explain.

Jack tells the story of a poem he wrote about his father who worked in a shipyard during WWII. To make the poem work his father had to die. Weeks later a friend commiserated with him over his father’s death. I imagine Jack’s face was much as when I confused him with his speaker. Jack’s father was alive and well, but for the integrity of the poem, for the poem to work, his father died. Think about it: when working on a poem, when crafting it for submission, or just for the pleasure of the craft, how many times have you had to change a fact, or include something that didn’t happen, for the poem to work.

Does that mean we are never the speakers? That no poem we write is completely what happened, or what we believe? Of course not, but we are the only ones who know. John Keats wrote “When I Have Fears” shortly after his brother died. Are the thoughts expressed his? Probably, but we don’t know if his thoughts are the first two quatrains and he added the third so the poem could be structured as a sonnet. Our audience doesn’t know either; students don’t know. Not 100%. And so, the speaker. We all know, when we read poems, what the speaker thinks, or believes, but unless we talk with the writer, we don’t necessarily know what they tweaked for the poem to work, or, when a writer presents a view not hers because she is interested in writing from the opposing viewpoint.

The speaker also gives us a buffer, stands between us and our readers, can make us feel less vulnerable, can take on a persona or voice that we ourselves may not have, can present a viewpoint we may or may not own. We write to convey a particular truth about people, the world, life. Ultimately the poem is more important than the absolute truth.

Whew! Do, please, add your viewpoint to comments. This is the first time I have not had a roomful of people to discuss this with and I think that’s what feels strange to me. Also not having pictures and asking you for the patience to read a piece this long.

Tomorrow, is the weekly roundup of possibilities.


Posted by on 06/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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