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Poem Tryouts: The Right Words

8:23 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to John Grant singing You & Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy writing, everyone.

 
31 Comments

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

 

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Poetics Serendipity

7:32 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Wild World sung by Cat Stevens

Hello, all, and a happy halfway through the week. I notice that most everyone has cooler weather, except the south south-western US. Feel free to share. While I’m waiting, here are some links to explore:

1] Hot off the presses: Penguin’s Vintage Books arm has signed several authors (Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Anne Tyler, Howard Jacobson…) to write novels inspired by several of Shakespeare’s plays. Watch this video to see which plays and hear from the authors about the Hogarth Shakespeare series. The video is a little over four minutes.

2] The semi-colon is the most misunderstood and misused of the punctuation marks (although apostrophes are catching up). It’s also one of my favourites because no other mark implies the same relationship. The Writer’s Circle gives us Finally! An Easy Way To Know When (And How) To Use A Semicolon! at the end of which they have included a TED talk. I found their presentation, in the written part, to be admirably clear and fun to read.

3] Diane Lockward’s October newsletter is out. It’s always worth a read with its poetry, prompt, tips on the craft, and links.

4] This last is for Philly folks, or people who don’t mind driving into Philadelphia. Peter Murphy, of Murphy – Writing Stockton University, is holding a writers’ happy hour and invites anyone in the area to join them for an informal evening of socializing and camaraderie. Draw inspiration and support that comes from being a part of a larger community of writers. The date is October 21st and you’ll find more information on his site. I’ve given you the page with the October events.

Enjoy and I will see you again on Tuesday for our next prompt and Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, everyone.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on 01/10/2015 in links, poetry, writing

 

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Poetics Serendipity

8:22 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the click of keyboard keys as Skip slays monsters in WOW

Hello, all. I hope everything is well. Weather-wise we in the Southwest continue to fight off high temperatures. It hasn’t been that bad this summer, as most days have clouds. We’re learning the tricks of keeping a car cool while parked in a parking lot at two in the afternoon. Let’s see what I can pull out of the grab bag, today.

1] Just in: the Huff Post Blog gives us photographs of 15 Book Pillows to Keep You Cozy While You Read. I am tempted by Animal Farm and The Little Prince. I would love Catcher in the Rye if I didn’t think of Campbell’s soup when I look at it. Go have a look. One cannot have too many pillows.

2] My favourite newsletter, and the one I have followed the longest, is Diane Lockward’s Blogalicious. The most recent contains an article on Poetry Readings: The Good, the Bad, and the Hideous (hard to resist checking that out, isn’t it?). With an eye towards more successful poetry readings, in general, Diane gives us some thoughts on the role of the host, the poet, and the audience on how they can each contribute towards a successful reading.

3] The third offering is a little untidy looking because I am sending you to a Facebook page. The photograph is from Litographs and should be the mantra of anyone who writes poetry (maybe, in the form of a book pillow). For those who have not run into Litographs, they are the people who make t-shirts, totes and such (tattoos have been added, recently!) from the words of novels and plays. I am giving you a link to that, as well, because it’s August which means December is around the corner. Be sure to use the zoom function. Plan to spend time, once you start perusing.

The PC is connected. It’s positioning is a little weird until we get the desk set up (I didn’t mention the desk?), but I’ll give it a try, come Tuesday, with our next prompt; also, Thursday with links; Friday coming soon.

Happy writing, all.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on 20/08/2015 in poems, poetry

 

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Poetics Serendipity

9:11 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Robbie Williams singing Straighten Up and Fly Right

Hello, everyone. I hope all is well out there. I have a couple of links for your browsing pleasure, then I am off to pack a car. The Robys start their move (all four weeks of it — ack).

Didn’t even know I was gone did you? I got side-tracked by laundry, which segued into making piles of papers, before my eyes lit on my computer… Oh, right, post. Aieee!

1] A couple of weeks ago I gave you Diane Lockward’s links for for magazines that take submissions during the summer, A–>F. I have the other two sections and in the interest of keeping everything together, will give the link for A–>F again. Head to Blogalicious.

Summer journals A–>F

Summer journals G–>P

Summer journals Q–>Z

2] I have a journal I would like to add and that is Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, a small, print journal that has been in existence for thirty-six years. They are theme based, so I am giving you the link to their themes You can see whether this might be your cup of tea.

3] I mentioned this next site in something last week but it deserves its own point, all to itself. WikiArt is a Visual Art  Encyclopaedia. I get lost in it for hours. Talk about a resource.

I was going to add a fourth, when I realised that even if you don’t plan to submit poems for publication, you can still spend a lot of curiosity time wandering around the magazines Diane has listed, reading the theme quotes for Waterways, and the WikiArt(!), well… you may never surface.

I will see you Tuesday for a prompt and I’m pretty sure Thursday is in the cards for more links. Friday is iffy, but I’ll know more as we get closer.

Happy writing, all.

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 11/06/2015 in links, poetry, writing

 

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Poetics Serendipity

8:00 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Brandon Flowers’ new album The Desired Effect — which I just bought

Hello, there. Everyone okay? Staying dry and away from water sources, all my Texans? I don’t visit people’s Facebook walls, as a rule, but yesterday I spent some time checking on all the people I know. More rain coming. Stay safe.

On Tuesday I alluded to my summer program. I usually go dark on Thursdays and Fridays, give you a program of the summer’s prompts ahead of time, and don’t comment. Having the knowledge that summer is here burst on my brain last week (yeh, yeh, back off); I had a modified panic, decided to try a serial prompt, and went into avoidance mode. The new plan is I will post the usual Tuesday prompt. I will still try the serial prompt, based on one topic. I may or may not do Thursdays and Fridays, as they will be the only ‘normal’ part of my life over the next six weeks, as we pack, visit, pack, visit, and pack out, for our final move (as far as we know). We’ll see how I do.

Hah! I just read an email from my Florida brother. Our family has a wide sense of humour. Dark is included. He writes: you can always hire a barge and float your stuff to San Antonio.

Let’s link:

1] Poet (and much more) Diane Lockward, has posted the first in a three-part series. Summer Journals A – F, 2015 details many journals that do read during the summer and some that read only during the summer. Diane includes the number of issues per year, the submission period dates, which journals accept simultaneous submissions, and which ones accept online submissions.

Take a look, then bookmark this invaluable resource.

2] Write to Done: Jenna Dalton has put together an incredible list, 102 Resources to Transform Your Writing. These run from general tips, to burnout, to the writer’s voice, to one of my favourites which tells us why writing tips are bad for us. You can spend hours wandering amongst the 102 possibilities, hence the ‘bad for us’.

On the theory most of us would like to wander through but don’t have time, I may pick a couple of the suggestions as links, in the next several whatevers.

3] This link I may have given you. I have a fairly organised system but it’s growing rather large. I came across the site a couple of weeks ago and was reminded of it recently (thank you, Barb Crary). The site posts prompts. I don’t know who runs it, or how often the prompts are published (it is current, as they mention PoMoSco), but if you are restless and need a quick idea to jumpstart a poem, check Poetry Prompts.

4) Almost forgot. James Brush is accepting submissions for Issue #4 of Gnarled Oak. Head over to read the guidelines. Write. Submit.

Not much in the way of reading but plenty of links. Have fun. I will see you tomorrow for the prompts roundup; next Tuesday for the first in our summer series prompts; and Thursday for more links.

Happy writing, everyone.

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 28/05/2015 in links, poems, poetry, writing

 

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Poetics Serendipity

7:56 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to the Weather Channel, and Gordon Lightfoot singing Crossroads

Hello, everyone. Are we all (the U.S. all) watching the cold front bearing down from Canada? We’re supposed to drop forty degrees here, tonight, and not go up, tomorrow. That’s quite a plunge. I may be able to pull out some winter clothing. Let’s see what I have to keep you occupied should you be stuck indoors.

1] At Write to Done, Bryan Collins gives us 7 Barriers to Writing You Can Leap Over Today. There are so many of this type of article out there that I give new ones a close read but, I am also a proponent of reminders. Every now and then we need to read this type of post. Collins writes with clarity, succinctness and humour. When he quoted Stephen King, he had me.

2] The Write Life presents us with The 100 Best Websites for Writing. Collected by Carrie Smith, it’s quite a collection; you may want to pull out the coffee mug and get comfortable. Smith says, in her introduction:

We’ve broken the list into eight categories: blogging, creativity and craft, entrepreneurship, freelancing, literary agents, marketing, publishing, and writing communities. The sites are listed in alphabetical order within each category, and the numbers are included for easy tracking rather than as a ranking.

Whether you’re keen to find better-paying freelance writing jobs or self-publish your NaNoWriMo project, build your email list or strengthen your SEO skills, these sites will help you reach your goals.

3] Diane Lockward, on her site Blogalicious (you still haven’t signed up for her newsletter, why?) talks to us about Seven Snazzy Online Journals. One of the more difficult parts of writing is where to submit, especially with online journals, which often have a short shelf life. As she says, Online journals are not all created equal and, quite frankly, some of them are dreadful. There’s no sense in submitting your lovely poems to a journal you wouldn’t be proud to have them in. Before telling us about the seven journals, Lockward discusses what makes an online journal a good one.

4] I can’t remember whether I have posted someone’s blog post (as opposed to an online article) as a must read. I ‘met’ poet Ian Badcoe, recently, in an online poetry group. I found the post, Publishing the other self… to be intriguing in the points raised by Badcoe. His initial premise: I wonder whether the whole idea of “self publishing” being different from “publishing” isn’t a historical artefact left over from the time that publishing was difficult. He goes on to list what makes a publisher, compares it to a self-publishing outfit, YouTube, reminds us of Sturgeon’s Law (well, you’re going to have to read the article), then suggests a direction poets can take that might legitimise self-publishing. As he reminds us, self-published books are (rightly or wrongly) regarded with suspicion.

That should do nicely. I will see you tomorrow for the roundup of this week’s prompts; Tuesday for my prompt; and next Thursday for more links and things.

Happy writing, everyone.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on 12/02/2015 in links, poetry, writing

 

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Poem Tryouts: Opposites Attract

7:55 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s Beautiful Night

Hello, all. We are going to work with an adaptation of a prompt by Gray Jacobik, from Diane Lockward’s book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (of course I own it — you know how I like this kind of book). We have written counterpoint poems before, where the points stand in opposition to each other. This exercise asks us to pair opposites, to have them run through our poems woven, one to the other.

Jacobik tells us that Yeats believed these opposites, or contraries, are what moves history forward, as well as good poems, making sure a noble act was paired with a despicable one, day with night, interior with exterior, the sacred with the profane, the objective with the subjective, and so on. Yin and yang.

She suggests that we consider having opposite moods within a poem, shifts to the opposite pole on the emotional spectrum.

A shift in diction toward words that carry opposite connotations is an area that might be great fun (this is where I tinker for hours). If your words have connotations of lightness of being, ground them with words that carry the opposite feeling. A subtler contrary within diction choices is sound. If your words are light, be sure the words that oppose them are heavy in feel and sound.

Give us imagery (any and all of the senses) that allows us to see the threads working with and against each other to move the poem forward.

If you are in a hurry, pick more obvious pairings such as seasons, time, place, or personality traits. Otherwise, look at the ones Jacobik mentions above, when discussing a Yeats’ poem.

Topic? Ah, well. The whole wide world, or something small and intimate, is yours. Lockward gives us, ‘In Answer to Amy’s Question What’s a Pickerel,’ by Stanley Plumly, and ‘Anatomy Lesson,’ by Lisken Van Pelt Dus. A fish and matters of the heart are the examples she chose for us. I could not find the text to Van Pelt Dus’ poem so have found another by her that has intriguing, more subtle contraries, ‘Virginia’s Walking Stick‘. Read them if you aren’t sure where you are going. As you go through, find the contraries, remembering that some contraries are stylistic. Otherwise, read them afterwards.

Give this a try. While it’s not an easy exercise, it is a satisfying one and a good stretch. Don’t worry about the contraries so much for your initial draft. Be aware and when you go back in, you can strengthen the threads. I look forward to what you come up with. If it’s a struggle and you have initial work you don’t want to post on your blog, post it in the comments so we can see what you were aiming for.

I will see you Thursday for links; Friday for the week’s roundup of prompts; and Tuesday for our image prompt.

Happy writing, all.

P.S. The italics are Gray Jacobi’s words. Any bolding is mine.

 

 
30 Comments

Posted by on 20/01/2015 in exercises, poetry, writing

 

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Poem Tryouts: Clothing Memories

7:57 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Snow Patrol singing Shut Your Eyes

Hello, all. How are you? All well, I hope. I have shamefully neglected new followers, so welcome to all who have not been welcomed. Please, after looking around, if you have questions, ask. And, do jump in and try a prompt. I regard them as starters for poems, so if all you get is a draft, say so and post anyway. If you want to say something about process, do. If you have questions you want to ask about your poem, ask. Ready for today, everyone? Let’s start.

What does it mean when I borrow a prompt? I rarely [ever?] copy a prompt verbatim. Instead, I put it in my voice. Sometimes I adapt it, but I will always say so if I do. Bottom line is that the prompt is someone else’s and I thank whomever, in this case, Diane Lockward.

Diane Lockward is one of my favourite people to follow. She has a terrific newsletter and her prompts come with craft tips. When she published a book earlier this year, that was all about prompts and tips, I bought it immediately. I love books on writing poetry and I especially love them when they are full of ideas. Her book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop is not just full of prompts, but also mini-essays, tips, from some fifty-six contemporary poets, and a ton of example poems.

The exercise we are going to work with comes as a bonus prompt. As I looked for which prompt I was going to borrow — this was one of the earliest I came to — my mind kept coming back to this exercise, so I stopped looking. Get comfortable. Have stuff to jot on and with. We are going to think about our clothes, not just now but from the first article of clothing we remember.

What is the earliest piece of clothing you remember? Why do you remember it? The earliest I remember is a cowgirl outfit my parents gave me for Christmas. Bright red, it was. The memory is strong because I have seen it often on my parents’ old film reels. The memory of this outfit takes me down two tracks, Christmas mornings, and playing cowboys and Indians with my brother.

Your objective is to list articles of clothing through your life that stick in your mind, and to jot down why you remember each one. I remember my prom dress, a gorgeous deep blue Thai silk. Two accompanying memories: visits to the tailor who made it, and my date. My best friend and I, in a protest against senior boys taking freshman girls [it was a tiny school — we couldn’t afford the competition], invited our fathers to be our dates.

The clothing can be an accessory. Again, from my senior year in high school, I remember the knitted ski cap I wore [to my mother’s despair]. Mind you, we lived in Hong Kong, so while we did have very cold winters, knitted ski caps might have been excessive. I wore the hat indoors, always. Every class, all day. It belonged to my dad.

I still have the crocheted poncho my husband gave me when we were dating — some forty-five years ago. I remember coming into his dorm room where he had it casually hanging on the closet door. I think it was his first gift to me.

The clothing might not be yours, per se. One of my strongest memories associated with an article of clothing is of a baby’s dress, white with tiny roses all over. My daughter, who is about to turn thirty-seven, wore it. I have never been able to let it go.

You get the idea: clothing + memory = story. There are a couple of ways you can tell the story. You can narrate a specific scene as a memory, or as happening now — even if it happened forty years ago. The bonus prompt suggests we let the article of clothing tell the story. You can speak in first person, or third. Not every story that is part of you has to be told from the first person point of view. Sometimes a poem works better if told from the third person.

Don’t remember a detail? Make it up. This is not autobiographical [and even those are somewhat fictional]; we make up what we need to get the truth of something across.

I shall see you Thursday for links; Friday for this week’s collection of prompts; and next Tuesday for our image prompt.

Happy writing everyone.

 
25 Comments

Posted by on 23/09/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry

 

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Community Centre? Thursday Thoughts

8:11 a.m. — Atlanta

Hello all. If I may, I am going to write out loud at you for a bit, while I try to clarify what I think Thursday’s posting can become. I envision a clearinghouse, something similar to Friday’s roundup of weekly prompts, but Thursday would post announcements from any of you [and myself]. These announcements might be of [1] a newsletter someone has found:

Diane Lockward of the blog Blogalicious [you can resist looking?], puts out a monthly newsletter, one I look forward to with anticipation. Besides a classy layout, the letter looks, sounds, and feels personal. Each letter combines all, or most, of the following: a poem and a connected prompt. Here is an excerpt: The first thing that strikes me about the poem is its long list. I love list poems, so let’s do one this month. For the first draft begin as Woloch does with the words, “And these are my ____________: In the blank space substitute the topic of your list poem, e.g., virtues, wishes, sins, secrets, transgressions, dreams. Then to get started, brainstorm a long list. Work quickly. Let the list be varied.

Also included are a book recommendation; a craft [as in the craft of writing — I first thought scrapbooking, quilting…] tip, which might be a tip from another poet, or a book review; useful links; and maybe a video.

[2] Maybe someone has discovered a website, or prompt site, worth checking out, like Lauren Camp’s Which Silk Shirt. The link I have given you is to a particular post which has an interesting idea: The other day as I was driving past the field at the bottom of my street, bemoaning my busy schedule and how there isn’t enough time to write, I realized that there is always time for at least one line. And looking, there was one line in the field in front of me… and then another as I turned the corner. Visit to read the rest of her post and to explore.

[3] You might want to share submission opportunities. Joseph Harker and Tessa Racht are already looking for submissions for the third issue of their ezine, Curio. Visit and read the first issue. The second is being put together and should be out soon.

The writing community of Writing Our Way Home, lovingly tended by Fiona Robin and Kaspa Thompson, has started their January Stone a Day. If you don’t know about this, visit. Like Lauren Camp’s idea that we can all write a line a day, WOWH‘s Stone a Day posits that we can write that line as a small poem, or leave it as a line. It’s only the 5th of January. You have only missed five lines. Jump in the river.

[4] You may wish to announce that you have a chapbook out, or know of a chapbook you think people might like, especially if it’s from someone we know  and want to support. For example, Joseph Harker has his first chapbook, Greeks Bearing Gifts for sale at LuLu. If you go to the link, you can read a couple of his poems that are in the chapbook.My copy is in the air!

[5] What else? That’s for you to decide. The idea is not that I go out and hunt down items, so much as we all make note of items we want to share with the larger community [not that my reach goes to that many people, but it might extend to a whole other set of people]. You might not have a blog where you make announcements, or you do, but want other audiences. Either way, I would love to see what this can do.

Every week? Not necessarily. If I don’t have, or receive, announcements, then no. If I have one, I will post.

What happens to Thoughts? When I have them, I assure you, I will continue writing posts on them.

I don’t know if Thursday Thoughts will work as a title for my concept, so if anyone out there thinks, She should call it X, feel free to let me know. Hummm — Community Clearinghouse? Maybe.

I shall see you tomorrow for the first Friday Freeforall of the year. Bring on the prompts. Then, Tuesday to Tryout a form. Ouch! Already? Hey! I gave you a few days. The good news is that most of you have tried this form, so will embrace it and write many poems.

Happy writing everyone.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on 05/01/2012 in poetry, writing

 

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