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Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

A True Senryu Story

This form made me giggle and immediately brought up a senryu story:

 

My big Poodle hates rain

Stares at me:

“Do something! My feet are all wet!”

 

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Mary's Senryu

Assuming it’s still Senryu if it’s fantasy.

Hero’s Journey

A magical quest
journey for the talisman
a clichéd hero

Make Visible: Focus on Form: Senryu

Welcome to Focus on Form. For the next three weeks, we poets will be writing a poem in the same form and sharing it here on the blog.

My first experience with Senryu poetry was when I posted what I thought was a Haiku and was told it was Senryu instead.  It’s a Senryu because it includes a man-made object (my glasses), even though it’s about the weather; and also because of its sarcastic tone.

Untitled

The June rain
Leaves drops on my glasses
I can’t see summer from here.

June 7, 2008
© 2008 Anne Westlund

 

Senryū (川柳?, literally ‘river willow’) is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer total morae (or “on“, often translated as syllables, but see the article on onji for distinctions). Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious. Unlike haiku, senryū do not include a kireji (cutting word), and do not generally include a kigo, or season word.

Senryū is named after Edo period haikai poet Senryū Karai (柄井川柳, 1718-1790), whose collection Haifūyanagidaru (誹風柳多留?) launched the genre into the public consciousness. A typical example from the collection:

泥棒を dorobō wo

捕えてみれば toraete mireba

我が子なり wagako nari

The robber,

when I catch,

my own son

(Excerpted from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senryu)

The first step to writing Senryu poems is to think of a theme and what message is to be conveyed. Taking ideas from family life and experiences with friends and coworkers is a good place to start.

Once the theme is established, the next step is to begin jotting down ideas and phrases.  Build on those ideas until they form three lines and add up to 17 syllables or less. Senryu poetry seems easy to write but in actuality it is not easy to convey a complete message in three short lines.

The first line should set up the setting, and the subject should be the focus of the second line; the third line should use action to sum up the poem. This is a simple way to approach writing Senryu. With more practice and reading examples the writing process will become more natural.

One thing to remember when writing this form of poetry is that it is not complex. Senryu uses simple language and incorporates humor.  Here are a few more examples written by modern poets:

As if it were spring
the green mold
on the cheese

© Garry Gay

rush hour-
the blonde in the Porsche peels
an orange

©Robert Bauer

(excerpted from How To Write Senryu Poetry by Sarah Carter, http://www.howtodothings.com/hobbies/how-to-write-senryu-poetry)

Give it a try!  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Poetic Muselings come up with.

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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Farewell, Ray

Photo of Ray Bradbury.

The writing world lost one of its most gifted writers when Ray Bradbury passed away on June 6th. He was one of my literary heroes. Not only could he captivate me with strong story lines and amazing characters from his brilliant imagination, his style reads to me like poetry. It has a magical quality to it that strikes a deep chord in my soul.

I will miss him for that, as will many others. If you ever need a dose of literary Red Bull to energize your writing, get yourself a  copy of his book Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You. I promise you won’t regret it.

Sand in the Desert: Putting Together a Poetry Collection

I am a way-back science fiction fan, but until November,  2010, I had never

written a science fiction story. The

The cover for my forthcoming poetry collection

truth is I had a phobia about it, mainly about the world-building, which in the abstract intimidated me.

Around September or October of 2010 I decided I would simply go for it and write a science fiction novel for NaNo.  I started with the world-building: the planet, the aliens, the Terran Federation, the aliens’ society, values, arts, politics (or lack thereof). I’d been mulling over several things for years: a society based on personal responsibility, and one where the “normal” relationships contained multiple partners and included same-sex relationships.  I continued happily outlining the society and the people. I noted down about a page about the plot, including the main character, his father, and a couple of others.  I decided to write a YA/MG sci fi novel.

For various reasons which I will not fully divulge, in case any of y’all decide to read the book, I needed my aliens to be distinctive but not outlandish. I needed them to have skin color that could be found here on earth, yet still be distinctive, so for this and a number of other reasons, one of them being that I was damned sick of the good guys always being white, I made my aliens, my main character, and his father Black.

I also wanted to participate in Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides November Chapbook challenge, so I conceived of a poet to tie the two together. One of my alien characters is a scholar, and my main character ends up studying the poems of my imaginary poet. Raketh Namar, the author of the poems, exists in the universe of the novel some five thousand years before the action of the book on planet Aleyne. Raketh Namar, the poet, was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty. Raketh Frey, the main character in the novel, studies these poems during the course of the action. Eight of the poems, noted in the acknowledgments, appear in the book.

In the universe of the novel, this collection of poems was translated into English Common Speech by two of the other characters in the novel, Ardaval Namar and Gavin Frey, the father of my main character, Raketh Frey. Aleynis do not translate their sacred texts, and this translation is therefore unusual.

 Having written the poems, I wanted to put together the collection and publish it, but having dilly-dallied for some time, I decided to self-publish. At the present time, I have a cover, designed by Karen Cioffi, and Michele Graf has edited the collection, including some valuable suggestions about the order of the poems.

All I have left to do is to hop over to CreateSpace and  put the whole thing into their system, and after that I have to decide on a price.

Here is one of the poems, one that does not appear in the book:

Ode to My Father

When I was very small child

he was as tall

as the stars.

When I was boy-high

he had shrunk

to the height of a large tree

When I became a man,

he shrank to the size

of a fist.

When I became a father,

he rose again.

His head touched the sky.

Now he is gone.

I take my small son

and point heavenward.

“There is your grandfather

Editor's POV: How to Submit your Work

Lin Neiswender’s Post about Publication Leads was great. She reiterated that there ARE places to send our work, and that we writers and poets are a community; when we share resources, advice, ideas, and our hearts, we all benefit. We are the Poetic Muselings, with a published book of poetry, because others before us opened the doors, reached out to help us, and now we are continuing the process.

I’ve been Poetry Editor for Apollo’s Lyre e-zine for almost two years, having inherited a marvelous forum that I’ve made my own. We publish poets and poems from all over the world, from highly credentialed folks, and those who are courageously sending their work out for the first time — some of it decades old, but unseen by other eyes. I love this unpaid job, the discovery of a fresh voice, vivid imagery, the teasing of form. Our readers must love the publication, too, because they’ve commented about how particular poems inspired them to send their work for consideration.

We get LOTS of poems, and often the decision of what to publish is very difficult. When I first read the incoming items, I do a quick scan of the poem. Some grab me immediately, a huge “YES!!!” bounces in my head. I tag these stars, so they stand out. I don’t pay attention to the bio info yet — I just know I want to find a spot for these words in a future issue.

The next category are those where the poet didn’t follow any of the guidelines:

Soldiers at Yorktown (Graf, 2005)

— a maximum of FORTY (40) lines of poetry, excluding stanza breaks

— spread out in up to FOUR poems

— subject line: Poetry, YOUR NAME, # of poems, # of lines total

—  poem and bio  in the body of the email. No attachments

— at a minimum, the use of “//” to designate stanza breaks.

(I also ask for “/” at the end of each line of poetry, but that seems to confuse people.)

— People may send in their work whenever, so long as it doesn’t exceed 40 lines and four poems in any three month period. In the guidelines page of Apollo’s Lyre, I lay out this information, with examples.

Ignore these and your poems are likely to be returned or ignored, depending on the circumstances. Send something with a blank subject line, or an attachment (unless I’ve specifically requested it), and it will travel directly to “Trash”. Do yourself a favor and make it easier for the editor or publisher not to say “NO”.

I’ve received emails from some folks who send (I kid you not!):

— one long email, with over 250 lines of poetry, in multiple poems

— one long email with ONE poem of over 200 lines

— one poem per email, with over a dozen emails received in a short period of time.

— collections of poems (often a dozen or more, with around 100 lines or so)

These leave me with the feeling that I’m looking in someone’s closet, and it’s my job to decide what they should wear. Don’t send me “everything” — send me your very best poem(s).

The next part is trickier, and always amazes me, since it gives the impression that the person submitting didn’t care where or to whom, and assumed we’d figure it out:

— maybe because my name is so often misspelled, I triple-check the editor’s name, spelling, title, etc., before sending anything out. So, when I see my name spelled in any of a multitude of variations, it says someone didn’t proofread before mailing, or didn’t pay attention.

— recently, I got a spate of poems addressed to me as well as about a hundred of the poet’s nearest and dearest editors — with all of our names listed in the cc’s. This really tells me that someone was hunting with a shotgun, not a rifle, hoping to hit and slow down at least one of us without extra effort.

We’re talking about email, people! It’s not like they were worried about postage! What would an employer say to a letter like this? “To Whom It May Concern: I would really like to work for your company, but I don’t think I should have to do any research about what you do, or what you ask for. I don’t have to follow any of your rules, since I’m so incredible you’ll be in a bidding war for my services. Oh, yes, I don’t have much in the way of publishing credits, but that shouldn’t worry you.Please call me back tomorrow. Sincerely, Princess Poet OR Frog Prince.”

Believe me, every time you send your work out in the world, you are applying for a job, that of writer.

If you don’t follow general guidelines, you leave the impression you might be difficult to work with. This leads me to a third category of poems — those with potential, maybe some minor fixing or clarification to bring out their souls.

This pile is reviewed several times, under different circumstances. Some poems take more concentration to grasp, and are worth the effort. Some may need a bit of rearrangement of images, or a shift to present tense, reduction of “ing” words and unneeded articles. Poetry doesn’t have to have complete sentences, cover all gaps. I read these poems aloud for cadence, rhyme, awkwardness or smoothness of sounds.

Before you send anything in — even (in my opinion) novels or non-fiction, but especially poems — read it aloud. Hear what you’ve written, listen to how the sounds complement, contrast, enhance your intent. Where do you breathe? Is it clear from the poem? I know that my Mac desktop computer, and my Windows 7 laptop, have a text-to-voice program that will read your words to you. Usually this is part of “accessibility” options. Turn it on and try it.

There are two other general categories of poems that don’t make it into our publication:

— Those that aren’t quite the quality level yet, perhaps too cliche-driven, forced rhyme, or otherwise not appropriate for Apollo’s Lyre in subject matter. Not all poems are right for all publications. That’s where the search for publishers is important. Read back issues.

— Some incredibly wonderful poems may not be used simply because we don’t have room to publish everything we want, and/or we have other similar poems we’re using. Choosing is hard! Two poems about very similar subjects requires a decision about which one is “best” for us, at the time. I wish the poets success placing the ones I’ve passed on.

I’m as susceptible as anyone else when it comes to being treated fairly, with respect, understanding, and a willingness for a poet to work with me to edit a poem. Usually I’m right with my suggestions, since I’m approaching it with some distance; it isn’t my baby, but I care about it. Sometimes I’m wrong; I just didn’t “get it” about what was intended. When I’ve heard the background, I understand, and might suggest a few words be added to the bio, to help the reader understand, too.

I’m blown away at the talent out there, and here with our blog. I hope some of this helps you get ready for your next batch of outgoing angels. Help them fly to their destination, and not get eaten by the nasty gatekeeping trolls (like me!).

Let us know if you try this, and it works — we’ll spotlight your success. And, if you share other ideas of where to submit poems, we’ll keep an active spot here, giving you credit for it, of course.

Keep writing!

Michele

Forms of the Muse

When we Poetic Muselings first approached the idea of putting together a poetry collection, our initial theme was that of the muses. It didn’t work out, and you can read about that journey here. However, I still think the Muses is a good topic.

The origin of the muse goes back to the nine muses of Greece. There are four different versions of their parentage, so I won’t delve into that. It is said that all tales and songs, all inspired knowledge, come from the Muses. Each has their own specialty and associated emblem. These are the most common names and attributes:

Calliope, muse of epic song, carries a wax tablet. Clio, muse of history, carries a scroll. Euterpe, muse of lyric song, plays a double flute. Thalia, muse of comedy and bucolic (characteristic of the countryside or pastors) poetry, is seen wearing a comic mask and ivy wreath, holding a shepherd’s staff. Melpomene, muse of tragedy, wears a tragic mask and ivy wreath. Terpsichore, muse of dance, is seen dancing while playing a lyre. Erato, muse of erotic poetry, plays a maller lyre. Polyhymnia, muse of sacred song, is depicted veiled and pensive. Urania, muse of astronomy, is pictured with a celestial globe.

The nine canonical Muses. From left to right: ...

The nine canonical Muses. From left to right: Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania, and Melpomene. Drawing of a sarcophagus at the Louvre Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mousa, in addition to being the greek word for “muse”, literally means “song” or “poem”.

In modern day, the word muse has a much broader meaning. It no longer refers to the original nine. Much more personalized, everyone can have their own muse, the source for his/her inspiration.

The muse comes in different forms. For some, it is a creature – perhaps a fairy or a dragon. For others, it is something specific in their life that inspires them – nature, walking, music. Perhaps it is an actual person – a friend, sibling, or spouse that you speak to and come away re-enthused and inspired.

My muse is more likely to show up if I play Celtic music. It can come in the form of a woman, or a dragon, or merely magic in the air that blocks out the rest of the world.

Stephen King has a muse, which he writes about in his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”

There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think this is fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much too look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist (what I get out of mine is mostly surly grunts, unless he’s on duty), but he’s got the inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the midnight oil, because the guy with the cigar and little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life.

Later he writes about the importance of having a regular writing schedule, and how it is for the muse as much as for yourself.

Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hard-headed guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. … Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three. If he does, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping at his cigar and making his magic.

If you’re always waiting for inspiration to write, you won’t get much done. Is it not better to exercise your writing muscles while you wait for your muse to come to you? Even if all you do is stare at a blank screen, you are opening yourself for it to come.

What form does your muse take?

 

 

 

(Bulk of article was originally written for a Writing.com Fantasy Newsletter in 2008)

 

 

Make Visible: Thank You!

In Lin Neiswender’s post, http://poetic-muselings.net/2012/05/29/thank-you-for-the-publication-leads/, she thanked those people who pointed her towards publication opportunities.  In this post I thank the publishers who provided me with publication opportunities in the last couple of months.

 

First of all, my thanks goes to Katherine E. Batten (MacDowell), D.Th and Mark A. Schroll, PhD for publishing my poems and photo in Restoration Earth Journal Volume 2, Issue 1:  http://www.oceanseminarycollege.org/RE_May_2012.pdf.  My work can be found on these document pages:

 

p. 74 “Crime Scene Investigation” (poem)

p. 87 “Princess” (photo)

p. 89 “Live Just for Today” (poem)

 

Secondly, I’d like to thank Matt Fry, publisher of Strange Pulp, a sci-fi/fantasy magazine given away free at the OASIS 25 Convention in Orlando, Florida, May 25-27, 2012.  My fantasy short story, File Under “S”, is published in Strange Pulp.  (Thanks also to Lin for pointing me towards this publication lead.)

 

These publishers have allowed me to share my work with a larger audience.  Once again, thank you!

 

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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