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Posts tagged ‘poetry’

How to write from an animal’s point of view

To kick off National Poetry Month, I’m sharing a poem from my poetry book, “The Dragon & The Dragonfly.”

The idea for the poem came from a prompt to write from an animal’s point of view. I’d just read an article about my favorite author Neil Gaiman’s time in Tasmania helping with a documentary on the Tasmanian Cave Spider, so that’s the creature I chose.

How did the poem come together? Read more

Use rhetorical devices to evoke readers’ emotion

My mom loved puzzles. She spent most of my childhood in our little mom amd pop grocery store, and in between ringing up customers, stocking shelves, and keeping me occupied, she loved to work on puzzles. Crosswords. Cryptograms. Hangman. Word search. Maybe this is where my love of words came from.

I never enjoyed puzzles like Mom did, but it dawned on me a few years ago that writing poetry is my form of puzzle work. I enjoy hunting for just the right word. Sometimes I wonder if the joy I feel when a poem finally comes together is what Mom felt when she successfully completed a crossword.

Another part of puzzling together a poem is the fun I have in playing with rhetorical devices. What are rhetorical devices?  Read more

Using theme-specific language to relay strong emotions in poetry

Recently, I was notified that my poem “Butterfly House” was awarded Honorable Mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. The poem is in my newly released book of poetry, “The Dragon & The Dragonfly” and was one of those poems that came quickly.

I’d decided to celebrate my late husband’s birthday by going to the Butterfly Museum at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. I’d never heard of the museum until the week before when a friend mentioned it. I decided it would be the perfect adventure for the day to honor his transition into his “new” life and to honor my struggle to find my own new life. I say struggle because I wasn’t there yet, but I knew this is what I wanted—to find my way forward.

It was a truly magical experience. At one point, I just stood with my arms outstretched and waited for a butterfly to land on me. Several came and went, but one—a big orange and black monarch—stayed for a while on my hair. Just call me butterfly whisperer. Read more

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