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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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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Thursday Thoughts: Useful Things to Know

8:47 am, Thursday 3 February, 2011 – Atlanta

Goodday! I hope everyone is dry and safe.

Today I want to give you links to a half-dozen items that are useful to read, or are of interest. First, I forgot to link The Rag Tree’s poem on submissions which, given three Thursdays on the topic, I thought you would enjoy reading. I am sending you to the page but have a browse around his blog, as his interests are widespread: Gilgamesh, grammar, a new world…

I stumbled, as is my wont, across another list of publishing resources in Poets & Writers.

There has been an interesting development in our writing world. A Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry has been published recently. If you go over to The Poetry Foundation you can download and read it. There is much of interest. To read a commentary on the strengths and weaknesses and hopes that the code embodies, check writer/editor Dave Bonta’s post.

Another article of interest is at Olivia Tejeda’s site Away With Words…The article addresses gender inequality in print and the findings of a group, VIDA,  established for the purpose of looking into the subject.

And, finally, a shout out for a new writing network. I am calling it that rather than a website because in many ways it mimics Facebook, but is designed for writers. They have just started, so there will be a shaking out and some of us keep losing our way around, but it’s fun to have a community and a place to meet. Check Writing Our Way Home. Join! You don’t have to do anything but you will have a “room”.

That’s it for today. Back to mantras next Thursday. Tomorrow: Friday’s roundup of this week’s prompts around the blogosphere.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 03/02/2011 in poetry, writing


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Thrsday Thoughts Part 2: More Questions Than Answers

9:28 am, Thursday, 20 January, 2011 – Atlanta

I have my coffee by me and have reread what I wrote last week, to make sure I follow roughly the same track. For those who have not read it, or who are a little fuzzy about what I said, you can go here. The curious serendipity that is life occurred again, as over the past week I came across an interview, a poem, and a couple of posts on the same question: Do I submit my poetry, or not? Part 2 is going back to that question, because I ended the week with more questions than answers. If I haven’t spent too long with the topic, I will go on to talk about resources, but that may become a part 3.

The topic has been a hot topic for a while. A few months ago Robert Lee Brewer, of Writer’s Digest, and a number of other members of the poetry community discussed the topic on twitter [#poettalk] with no real conclusion reached, but a lot of questions raised and a lot of confused writers, who, like me, want to know what the rules are now. And, therein lies the problem. In the pre-internet days, writers either wrote for themselves, or they wrote for themselves and for their work to be published, so that the truths their poetry told could reach others.

The internet has been a great leveler, which, in itself, raises questions and problems.  Anyone who writes, bad or good, can put their poems out there. I have, as I read through many, many blogs over the past four months come across some bad writing, but I have also come across poetry  that I find stunning, that moves me, that speaks a truth to me, and that I may not have ever seen if not for blogs.  So, posting in blogs, allows more opportunity for people to post their writing, no matter the quality and that’s wonderful for them, and allows more readers to read good poetry they might otherwise never have discovered.

Then why not have us all post, get our truths out there and be happy? That might be a place we reach some day, but it’s not where we are yet. I know that I submit because I want affirmation from the people who should know good poetry [publishers and editors], and their audiences, who become my audiences, if I am published. I want to work to a standard that requires me to hone and craft and continually [continuously?] work and rework my poems. That becomes another question. With posting, and even with all the ezines that have sprung up, because anyone can start an ezine if they wish, who sets the standards? Do we need standards set? Who says what a good poem is and what a bad, or weak, poem is? Do we need that?

For those who wish to post and submit, there is the dicey question of which poems to post. Of every poem I write, especially in response to the many wonderful prompts around, I ask myself whether it might be a poem I want to submit. I don’t like that I have to struggle with that question, but I am posting more. Magazines and journals seem more and more crystallized on the point that if a poem has been on a blog and been read, it, in effect, has had its first publication. And, I do see the editors’ and publishers’ point: when they publish a poem, they want to be the first to let readers see it. However, I also think that more and more writers will self-publish, and that the stigma that used to attach to that is lessening in some quarters.

There’s another question. Is having self-publishing made easy by the internet a good thing? I have two chapbooks that say yes. I would not have read them if they weren’t published at all. With the sheer volume of poetry being submitted now, there are many more poets, who might have been published in the days of snail mail, who find it much harder now to get their work out to an audience.

James, at a gnarled oak, says, in a comment on last Thursday’s post: This is something I go round and round with. I’ve also been in several categories. Lately, I’ve been developing a philosophy of submitting. Anymore, I am unlikely to submit to a journal/zine/site that does not a) take electronic submissions, b) publish online or at least have some kind of useful web presence, c) take simultaneous submissions, and d) allow submissions that have previously been posted on a personal site. I generally prefer to publish on my site. I enjoy the immediacy of it (even if the poem has been in revision for months or years) and I like the fact that people read my stuff and I (sometimes) get feedback. Occasionally, I’ve had to ask myself if my best stuff should appear first on my site where my readers can enjoy it or is it best to go elsewhere. Perhaps a balance is best and that’s why I do submit, but I focus submissions toward venues whose submission policies align with my idea of how submissions should be done.

You see, I knew once I got going this would be long and it has raised more questions than given answers. I am going to go give my poor brain more coffee. Let me finish with a point made by the writer over at The Rag Tree. I am going to give you his last point, but go on over and visit, because he has six other points worth reading. 7) A writer has only two obligations: to write as well as he or she can and to tell the truth. If you believe this, then you are writing for your community, whether it be the one that surrounds you, sympathetic souls on the other side of the world, or people who won’t be born for a thousand years. You may be published or not (or only in a minor way), but what counts are your words (not you) and the healing they bring. Many good people have died as a result of telling the truth as they see it.

I look forward to comments on this entry and will continue next Thursday with wrapping up if it looks like something needs wrapping and then, resources. Yes, I did mention a poem on the topic. Next week I will give you the link.

Tomorrow is Friday’s weekly roundup. See you there.

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Posted by on 20/01/2011 in poetry, writing


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