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Posts tagged ‘poems’

Why you should overcome the fear of sharing your art

My stomach burns like I just chugged a dregs-of-the-coffee-pot cup of joe that is now eating a hole through my intestines to the center of the earth. Or maybe there’s a mouse on uppers doing a nervous, jittery tango in there. Or maybe both.

Why do I feel this way? Because I’m about to push the “publish” button on my first book of poetry, The Dragon & The Dragonfly.

I’ve been writing poetry off and on for 35 years, published my work in journals, and won numerous awards, so it’s not like I’m a newbie fresh out of school. But the thought of sharing my very personal poetry was making me doubt my decision to create this book, this permanent record of my words, this revealing of my soul.

I think this is a natural feeling shared by most writers and artists. And something that new artists can be especially concerned about—what if Uncle John or Grandma Ellen reads my words?

So how do you get over this fear of exposing too much of yourself? I don’t think you ever do. Any time we put something new out into the world, there’s a certain vulnerability in that but also a sense of freedom. Read more

The importance of place for writers and our characters

 

In honor of my poetry book, The Dragon & The Dragonfly, coming out next week, I wanted to share a poem from the book.

I wrote this poem last year as I was trying to find my footing after my husband died in 2015. It’s a poem about finding my place in the world again.

Writing and reflecting about place made me think about its meaning for us as writers and storytellers.

Place is an integral part of our daily lives and of the lives of our characters, but how often do we really think about our places and what they say about us?

All This Blue

At the casino hotel, I set up my computer
near the stone fireplace while you arrange
candles on the mantel, tease the barkeep
over club soda and bitters.

At Barnes and Noble, I finger pages
of new fiction while you devour books
on everything from Android apps
to Taoist secrets of love.

At the coffee shop, I scribble poems
about endings, not realizing these words
are the start of a long grief, while you read
quantum physics and chat with local police
in pressed blue uniforms.

Winters, we eat endless bowls of soup
at the Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse.
Summers, we lounge against Fay Bainbridge
driftwood, watch Salsbury Point fishermen.

After you die, I try go back
to our places. But I cannot find you
in the park, the clouds, or the sea.
I cannot find you in fireplace flames
or at the end of a fishing line.

But I do find you in the coffee shop—
in the calm of police uniforms,
in my words that grow strong again,
that find meaning in this place
where even time lies down
in the midst of all this blue. Read more

Poems for Las Vegas: poetry in an unsafe world

In a class I attended recently, the teacher said we all have that one thing that wakes us up to a deeper relationship with our soul. Poetry is one of those things for me. Through words, I discover my relationship to the world and try to make sense of the chaos within and around me. But sometimes, words fail.

This happened when I first heard of the Las Vegas shooting earlier this month. No words. Some pain is too deep for language. But eventually, as we begin to absorb what has happened, our words return and we use them to find healing.

My local newspaper put a call out to area poets to help find words of healing. The poems are now available in a book, Poems for Las Vegas. All book royalties will go to the National Compassion Fund, established by Clark County, Nevada, and the National Center for Victims of Crime to assist the victims and families of those affected by the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Recently, I read that in Chinese, the written character for poem is composed of two characters. One means word and the other means temple. Together they mean poem. The wisdom of poetry is in the combination of the sacred and the word as illustrated by the character in Chinese. Read more

Poetry prompt: How to use a favorite poem to create your own

Have you ever read a poem that inspired you in your own writing?

Mary Oliver’s poem, “When Death Comes,” is one such poem for me. I have read it several times over the years. It’s one of those pieces that has stayed with me and became even more resonant over time.

My husband died two years ago so when I re-read Oliver’s poem recently it was from this new perspective of understanding how fleeting our time is here, how every moment is a blessing.

Her work inspired me to write a poem called, “When Love Comes.” I started by following the general form of her poem but then allowed my poem to flourish and take off in its own direction. Though I started off using her form as a guide, I made sure I used my own words and my own ideas.

The result? I like it enough that it’s going to be the final poem for my poetry book to be published later this year.

Below are a few tips for using another poet’s work as a jumping off place for your own poetry: Read more

What I love about writing poetry

For National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share some thoughts on my most favorite and least favorite parts of writing a new poem:

My favorite part of writing a new poem:

  • The idea that invades my mind like twining ivy and won’t let go until the entire poem has been put to paper
  • Making messy lines and blot outs and squiggles with my colored pen on paper as I play with ideas and words
  • Typing all that mess into a fresh, new document on my computer—that feeling of chaos becoming somehow ordered
  • Rereading the poem, feeling both its wholeness and its incompleteness in my mind and body
  • Editing the poem, fussing with words and line breaks, challenging myself to see what can be more specific or fresher
  • Reading the poem for my writing critique group to see my creation through new eyes, discovering where the poem can be improved

My least favorite part of writing a new poem? Read more

Discover the power of word choice

Whether you’re writing prose or poetry, word choice is paramount. The words you choose determine where the emphasis is placed in your line or sentence and, thus, where you draw your reader’s attention.

In honor of National Poetry Month I’ll use a few of my poems as examples of the difference a word can make.

From my poem “Suppose someday I say hot springs:”

 

Original:

will I remember our hike up Sol Duc,
how we riffed fingers over silk moss,
how we stepped stone to stone
over the creek that crossed our path,
how we posed for a photo on the rickety
footbridge dwarfed by fir and red cedar?

Revision:

will I remember our hike up Sol Duc,
how we riffed fingers over silk moss,
how we stepped stone to stone
over the creek that crossed our path,
how we posed for a photo on the rickety
footbridge under fir and red cedar?

As you can see, I changed the bolded word “dwarfed” to a simpler word “under” in the revision. Why? Dwarfed is a more unusual and striking word but, because of this, it draws more attention to itself—attention that I don’t want in that particular place.

My first choice draws my reader’s attention to the footbridge while the revision places the emphasis more on the “we” of the stanza and the trees—which is where I want it. Read more

Writing advice from a Tasmanian cave spider, or how to get your creative juices flowing

Ok, I lied. This post isn’t really about writing advice from a Tasmanian cave spider—more like life advice.

Hang with me for a moment. You’ll see what I mean.

After taking nearly a year off from writing poetry, I had an idea to kick start 2015 with the goal of writing two to three new poems a week for the month of January. But I wasn’t feeling very inspired. Some pretty heavy stuff was going on in my life, and I felt drained.

Then, a gift arrived in the mail.

My blogging partner Carly sent me The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, by Diane Lockward (I hadn’t even mentioned my goal to her…scary how we think alike, isn’t it?)

Now, I’m normally NOT a “prompt” person but being the good friend that I am, I felt I should at least flip through the book so I could extend my sincere gratitude to her. (Wink. Wink). Late one night, I dragged the book to bed with me and the strangest thing happened—the pages reached out and grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Hands down, best poetry craft and prompt book. Ever. Nine of the ten poems I’ve written so far this month were inspired by the book.

But what does this have to do with a Tasmanian cave spider? Read more