Tag Archives: The Rag Tree

Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

7:46 a.m. — Atlanta

bopping to Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues) with Three Dog Night

Hullo, all. A happy Valentine’s whether you are a lover or a hater. Let’s find you some fun stuff [vital noun, covers a multitude of possibilities, and tells you I have not had my second cup of coffee):

1] I read the first find a year ago. Our friend The Rag Tree posted a link last March to a wonderful New Zealand blog of The International Institute of Modern Letters. In particular his link is to New Zealand poet Brian Turner and the best list of tips for writing poetry I have found. Think of his list as poetry commandments.

The blog, modernlettuce, says about itself ‘Here we aim to post exercise ideas from our workshops, along with occasional thoughts about writers and writing’.

Two for one!

2] How Plateauing Occurs: Pace vs. Potential. How about that for a title?! I found the article interesting to read, as we all hit plateaus. The author’s P.S. states:  All this nonsense about how we ‘can’t remember names, can’t draw, can’t cook, can’t dance, can’t write’ is just that: nonsense! It’s a life that’s being lived at pace, not potential. The plateau is a great place to be for most of the time, but sometimes, go up in the mountains. It’s heady up there! This serves as the author’s thesis, as well.

The blog, Write to Done, is one I follow, for articles like this one,  although it focuses on writing generally, rather than poetry. Their Chief editor, Mary Jaksch, says: Write to Done is a place where we can all grow as writers. It’s  a place to share some of what we’ve learned as writers, with new (and experienced) writers looking to improve their craft and their art. That’s what Write To Done is about, at its core: the craft and the art of writing.

Again, two for one. I might stop while I am ahead, on the theory that you have articles to read plus web sites to explore. Something funny? 3]

when the muse strikes

when the muse strikes

“Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at”

Laughing? Good.

4] Special Valentine’s entry: One last one, but this only works if you know Les Mis. Two lieutenants in the South Korean Air Force wrote, produced, and directed a parody in order to publicise a problem with having enough men to clear the air strips of snow. Watch the entire thing through the credits. It’s funny, clever, charming. Think of it: Les Mis as a battle against snow, love story and all.

I shall see you tomorrow for the prompts roundup; next Tuesday for a prompt; and next Thursday for more links, or any announcements which might appear.

Happy exploring and writing, everyone.




Posted by on 14/02/2013 in poetry, writing


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Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

7:52 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Mumford & Sons — Google Play has their album Babel on sale for $3.99!

Well, I had a topic. Hello, all. I did. I had a topic, but when I looked for my notes, yesterday, they were nowhere to be seen. I saw them only a few days ago. They are in a finite item: my Thursday Thoughts notebook. Now they aren’t. That means a little tap dancing, and that would be why ViV’s suggestion of ‘Your Serendipity,’ as part of the title, is apt.

We’re going to pull from the grab bag, which means we might find things a couple of years old. Ignore dates; I will check that everything and everyone is still around, if needed.

1] We start with a link to an article Risk & Point of View, by Chicks Dig Poetry. This is a topic we all have some interest in. Whether that’s you, or not, the article is well-written and presented. The author states ‘But I think point of view is undervalued as a determinant of tension. The POV you choose helps shape the risks your poem can take‘. Sounds like you should read it, doesn’t it? Go on over.

2] Next, we have a link for the enjoyment of your ear and eye, 10 spoken word performances, folded like lyrical origami gathered by TED talks. There’s quite a variety, but aside from enjoyment, I find these performances helpful to me for how they play with the sound of words, and the repetition of sounds. It doesn’t even matter whether I like, or don’t like, a performance. I can still learn something about writing poetry.

3] A visit to our regular, The Rag Tree, is third. The premise of his article is that ‘Language in many respects is identity, the way that we think; it defines us in the world. And speaking a language is power, the ability to communicate, to become involved in community‘. He gives two more reasons for learning a new language, but the bonus is his links to a couple of Scottish Gaelic sites. I found myself over at the BBC one, dutifully repeating phrases and feeling delighted. Gaelic is a language that has baffled me and I don’t much like baffled. Now I can learn some rudiments.

4] The fourth article, found on the site Write to Done, is an elucidation of how writers can use Google+ to their benefit. The author states, ‘In this post, I’ll be outlining the top tactics for writers to use Google+ to brand themselves, reach their target audience, and create an author platform‘. I can hear people rearing back. Trust me here. Under each business-like heading I found things that apply to groups and individuals of all kinds, whether they plan to post poetry, publish poetry, talk about poetry, critique poetry, or read poetry. Check it out.

5] Visit Debbie Ridpath Ohi for a laugh. I chose a specific that many of us can relate to: Where the hell is my muse? Sob.

Okay, gang. Happy browsing and writing.


Posted by on 24/01/2013 in poetry, writing


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Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

8:57 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, Joan Baez

Good day, everyone. Welcome, new people. I have three places for you to visit today.

1] The first is a blog, Signals to Attend, I started following a few days ago, when the topic caught my eye on Freshly Pressed. Now, I wonder how I have gone through life without the thoughts and articulations of this essayist [alright, a little hyperbole… but only a little]. In this essay, David Marshall writes on the topic of habitual writers versus those who, like me and, as you will read, him, are not.

In the paragraph that had me laughing with the vividness of the analogies Marshall describes himself as My writing ways are less like a daily game of solitaire and more like the guy who, earbuds in, cavorts to a discman on the steps of a fountain across from my school. A solitaire player hopes each row falls-out perfectly, and perhaps expects against hope for the day cards will move without his or her hands. The discman and I are desperate.

Visit, read more, explore.

2] Thanks to Freshly Pressed [I must stop following the scent], I also found the site Which Silk Shirt. This is a site I visit when there are articles specific to craft. In her post ‘Word-Color Freedom,’ Lauren Camp asks How much do you plan a poem, and how much do you leave to chance? A few nights ago eating out with a new teacher and his wife, I was asked pretty much the same question. It led to an interesting discussion of methodology. While I know how I work, articulating it to someone who asked intelligent questions forced me to articulate what I do and how, which made me consider the pros and cons, and generally got me thinking, not a bad thing.

3] I have sent you to The Rag Tree before. As far as I’m concerned everyone should follow him, just to see the way a mind hungry for knowledge works. I never quite know where he will lead me next, but he does have topics that are favourites and one of them is language and its effects. On top of that he writes well.

The title alone, of this post, is hard to resist: ‘How to Eat an Essay–Capers & Copy Style‘. I mean, really… can you? In his discussion of a subject important for us to consider, he plays, considerably, so go on over and play with him. He will give you food for thought. Look around while there. A glance at the list of branches over in the right column will give you some idea of this thinker’s breadth. Reading through some of the branches will give you his depth.

Done. I shall see you tomorrow for this week’s roundup; Tuesday for a prompt on the power of truths; and Thursday, for what comes along.

Enjoy and happy writing, everyone.

P.S. In truth, you will see me again today when I post for Elizabeth’s Musical Notes.


Posted by on 13/09/2012 in poetry, writing


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Your Serendipity @ Thursday Thoughts

8:21 a.m. — Atlanta

Well, hi there, everyone. We have a grab bag of stuff today.

1] A little love for WordPress, by way of Amy Barlow Liberatore, at Sharp Little Pencil:

Quick note:  I’ve been quite vocal (well, I AM an activist, right?) about the “auto-check” option that WordPress foisted on us without notice, flooding our (and our followers’) email boxes because “Keep me posted on follow-up comments via email” was now automatically checked. Complaints flew this way and that; I posted a series, including a “fix” for the “glitch.”

Apparently, many WordPress followers made their voices heard, and together (go, WPbloggers) we AFFECTED CHANGE. This was a wonderful, peaceful activist movement.  Y’ALL DID IT AND Y’ALL ROCK!  Next time you feel a call to action, take it.  You’ll be amazed at what happens.  As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Amen, ma’am.

Me, here. Things do happen, if we make noise.

2] I am tossing around a possible summer format for the Tuesday Tryouts. The following came about through a conversation with Hannah. Next Tuesday, I will post a list of enough prompts to take us through August. You get to see what is in the mix ahead of time. If you are traveling, you can pick and choose which exercises you want to do and write and post when you are able.

It doesn’t matter what poem in response to which exercise is posted when. You might mention which exercise your poem is in response to. I will repeat the list each Tuesday, with a focus on one of the prompts. You may post your poems whenever you like. If you have written an acrostic, and that week I have focused on cinquains, don’t fret, post. If I have already offered an acrostic focus, post there, whatever makes your life easier, for the summer [after that all bets are off, again]. Because it is summer [for most of us] and many of us are moving about, I will be delving into past exercises and repeating the light and easy ones, but adding a twist — we can’t have things that easy.

Does this make some kind of sense? Do tell me what you think I am saying, as that is often not what I mean to say!

3] Cool apps to play with — check these out: Sticky Notes. Google it and you can find applications for the ipad, android, windows 7, mac… If you want to see what it looks like and missed Barbara’s post, go here. I have used it and it is fast and easy. Skitch. This is an annotation application, which makes my heart go pitty-pat. I have found it for the android, mac, and ipad. Google it. Last, is a text layout tool. Check Hannah‘s go at it. Some of your security programs might squawk, but it is clean. I am cavalierly sending you off to Google for the first two, because I don’t know what platform you will want it for, if you do want it.

4] As you all know, there are a ton of articles posted on creativity, writer’s block, and accessing your inner whatever. I am giving this link because I thought the article particularly interesting. One of my side interests is anything to do with brain studies [you can tell?]. The posting ‘Four Ways to Hack into Your Mind‘ comes at creativity based on recent brain studies. When I checked the link a second time, the blog Write to Done appears to be having connection problems. I have left this in anyway, in the hopes the problem clears up. If not, I’ll repost later.

5] Check out a posting from The Rag Tree on supporting our local poets.

6] Finally, check out the Underground New York Public Library. Way cool and great fun.

Have fun with these. I may pull Thursdays for the next three months — something has to go on holiday. However, if you have an announcement you want, or need, to get out to the group, let me know. I’ll work it.

See you tomorrow for the roundup of prompts; next Tuesday for… well, it depends what you say in comments on the proposed, possible, summer format; and next Friday for the Freeforall, again.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 31/05/2012 in poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: More Poetry Links

8:38 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Hello, all. First a couple of links that might help you with the internal rhyme of the ghazal as well as any future rhyming needs. Mike Patrick gives us: and Viv gives us:  It is worth having both to hand as they work in different ways.

And I want to give you Mike’s link to mind-mapping. I am giving you the link to his post about mind-mapping, in case you did not see it: For those of us who mind map, this is a terrific tool.

Okay, as long as I have given three links, I think I shall continue with links [yes, brain dead — I love my vacation, but will be glad when I can think again]

I have sent you to the Rag Tree before. He is always interesting and has a post on something we all deal with every time we choose a word. Here is part of what he says: In the context of the humble word, for instance, semantics draws the distinction between denotation and connotation–between a word’s literal meaning and the emotions and other meanings that the word suggests (and please note, this is a distinction understood by poets practically from the moment of birth ). In other words, a word is never just a word, but a group of meanings and feelings triggered by a principle meaning. Or we could say that a word, once learned, does not remain static, but grows as we acquire its cultural associations and individual emotional responses to its use.

The next link is to a post by Robert Lee Brewer whom many of you know from Poetic Asides. He asks established poets if they had one piece of advice for poets what would it be. The post has value for us all no matter how long we have been writing. Even though nothing was new to me, I needed to reread and be reminded of many things. I don’t think we can read and reread enough. In our busy, often overfull lives it’s of value to remind ourselves about anything to do with our writing.

The next link is to a post written by Annell on Somethings I Think About. The post teaches us how to read a painting and is utterly fascinating. Given that most of us write from an image at some point, this post teaches us where to look, how to look and why. Annell tells us how a painting works when we look at it.

Okay, enough to give you some food for thought, but not too much for halfway through July. I will see you tomorrow for the week’s roundup; and Tuesday, for an open prompt; and Thursday is a day off.

Over the next couple of weeks I will take a couple of days off. My husband will be arriving for a few days and then we will be flying/driving to Atlanta. I will try and let you know but if I don’t appear that’s where I am.

Happy writing, everyone.



Posted by on 21/07/2011 in poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: Language Sites You Should Bookmark

8:22 a.m. — San Antonio

This moving back in time wreaks havoc with the brain. Granted it’s only an hour earlier, but it’s an hour earlier and it’s morning. If what I write is not terribly articulate, you can put it down to that. No, I don’t know what I am going to do in a couple of weeks when I move two hours further west…

So, dear readers, it occurred to me that one of the things I should occasionally have thoughts about are links you might bookmark to build a reference library for your writing. The sites I collect are mostly to do with poetry, language, and blogging [an art in itself]. Today, having finished several Thursdays focused on language usage, I shall talk about some links you may wish to visit and collect for yourself, on language.

The Rag Tree

Keep in mind that as many poets also write narrative, or prose poems, and some write flash fiction, that I will include posts and sites that deal with a more prose than poetry focus.

The first is one such. I will link you to a specific post worth reading and even keeping to hand, but The Rag Tree is also a site worth subscribing to, as he has many interests besides language and writes beautifully and articulately. He titles the piece: ‘Words That Abduct Your Audience’ and starts with, “Gone. That’s right. Nothing says more about you than the way you speak (or write). Here is a list of words that will turn your audience off and make them disappear into space…” While you are there, check out his different categories.

Grammar Monkeys

First, how can you resist the title? Second, whether you have a passion for grammar, or know it is a weakness, this is the site to have. They deal with common mistakes of grammar in a simple, straightforward, understandable manner. I have given you the link to the home page in their title, but I also want to give you links to two posts you should read: 1] ‘Why We Need Grammar‘. I wish I could have written this post, but as they say it better than I can, go read the essay. 2] ‘Nutty non-rules of grammar’. Much as I have said, their conclusion to the points they discuss is do what makes sense, but if you break a rule know what you are doing.

The Elements of Style

How many of you clutched a copy of Strunk and White anytime you wrote something in college, or if you were lucky, in high school? Despite being first published in 1918, they are still the first and last word in proper language usage and now they are online. [Although I still want my paper copies. I have three. Don’t ask.] I’m not sure there is a question they don’t answer.

Hyperbole and a Half

This post is worth a read, as, if it does nothing else, it will make you laugh. It does pertain to language, a misuse I was going to deal with, but I would much rather you see this post on the alot. If you enjoy the author’s humour and illustrations wander around.

Guide to Grammar & Writing

This is an incredibly thorough site with easy to navigate drop down menus. It pays to visit and wander and I have given you the home page link in the title. But, I want to direct your attention specifically to punctuation, as it is one of the most vital tools in a writer’s armoury.

The Oatmeal

Still having problems with the semi-colon. Visit! You will learn how to use one and you will laugh at the examples. What more can you ask?

These sites will provide a good start to our reference library. If any of you have a favourite language site, send it my way and I shall check it out and discuss it in a further Thursday Thoughts.

If you have questions, please ask; I always appreciate comments; and if you think someone would enjoy this [or needs it], click on one of the buttons below.

I shall see you tomorrow for the Friday roundup of prompts and exercises; Tuesday for an open prompt; and next Thursday for a discussion of poetic inversions.

Happy investigating and writing.


Posted by on 16/06/2011 in poetry, writing


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Thursday Thoughts: Pay it Forward

8:37 a.m.–Atlanta

Dear readers, if you were with me last week you know that I am giving you a continued break from my conversation on words to avoid, but have no fear; we shall return to the list next Thursday. We are almost all the way through and can turn our sights in new directions.

microsoft clipart

This week I must fulfill my obligations as a nominee for the Versatile Blogger, as there are laws. This will be a long one so you may want to grab a cup of coffee, turn on some music, or read it in parts.You would not believe how difficult it is to come up with seven random facts about myself. Facts, yes; but what makes one random over another? I decided to wait until I sat at my keyboard and throw out exactly what surfaces in my brain:

1. I speak, read and write Greek. Useful when I lived there, not so much now.
2. Between the ages of 38 and 45, I became a teacher; discovered I can sing; found that while I am phobic about public speaking, I adore acting and became a lead actor in Jakarta’s play group; and started writing poetry. All these came about through moments of serendipity.
3.I love any kind of sausage.
4. I would love to have a borzoi, but will settle happily for a pug. No, they could not be more different.
5. My husband gave me a pistol for a wedding present; I gave him a cut glass decanter. Thirty-nine years later we are still happily married.
6. I hate shoes, or much of anything, on my feet. If I could, I would walk barefoot always.
7. I have a love-hate relationship with technology.

Whew! Next, and this was no easier, I am supposed to nominate fifteen blogs for the Versatile Blogger award. Do you know how difficult that is? The Rag Tree does, as do many other worthy past recipients. I mentioned before that my first choice would be Eric Quinn of The Rag Tree who embodies versatility, but he just received the award and is my nominator. Rats!

It’s not that there are not many good blogs which I read and enjoy; it’s the word versatile. But, my training saved me. I looked up versatile. Some of the lesser known meanings are to be engaged in something, resourceful, turning over in the mind…I can work with that! But I don’t think I will reach fifteen…

My first nominee is Put Words Together. Make Meaning. Donna Vorreyer and her blog answer to all the meanings of versatile, both greater and lesser. Many of you know her through The Poetry Tow Truck that I post every Friday for its prompt. Her prompts are one of three sites I look forward to with anticipation each week. The prompts are thoughtful, interesting and fun. Beyond that, Donna writes stunning poetry and never minds sharing it while still in draft form. I have learned much that helps my own writing, by reading her poetry. And I enjoy the personal parts of her life that she shares occasionally and always with humour and grace.

My next nominee keeps three blogs that I know of. You can find Elizabeth Crawford at 1Sojounal where she invites us to play along with her in finding and using new words; Unraveling, where she shares her photography and the process of her turning the photographs into a different art form; and Soul’s Music, where she posts her poetry. All are worth exploring and, indeed, I want to go back and play with the new words…

Jessie Carty is my next nominee. I am not sure I have ever met anyone with the energy and passion Jessie has. Every second of her life is filled with doing. Her blog offers several attractions: On Mondays, Jessie runs a small group MFA type program; Tuesdays are shoutouts and can lead to new people and places; Wednesdays are reserved for writing about writing; Thursdays are for poem shares; and Fridays Jessie usually gives a status report on her submissions, and I don’t think there is a genre Jessie does not submit work to.

Poets United is the brain child of  Robert Lloyd and is more than a blog. It is a community of writers. There are different functions for each day of the week, such as interviews with members, sharing favourite poets and poems, prompts, blog of the week, poem of the week, and a day for posting member poems. Everything revolves around and is generated for and by members. Earlier this year Robert’s passion to support other poets led to an anthology by the members of Poets United. And, his passion is infectious. If you don’t know the group, stop by and look.

Everyone still with me? I’m exhausted. My thought is to nominate one more and then take a break from this part of the process and come back to it in a couple of weeks. What’s that? You all agree. Well, who am I to gainsay my readers.


This fifth one may not be for everyone and comes under the definition engaged in something. But for all you coffee lovers, this is your blog. Their mission at Coffee | Served Daily, is to document 1000 cups of coffee. They think they will hit 500 in June. On their site you can link to each of the cups of coffee photographed and posted to them by many coffee drinkers and you, too, can become one of them. How can you resist?

Now I am going to get a real cup of coffee. If you think someone will like this post, click the buttons below. I shall see you tomorrow for the week’s roundup of prompts, Tuesday for cascade poems and Thursday for more words to avoid [you know you miss them]. Happy writing.


Posted by on 12/05/2011 in poetry, writing


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