RoadWriter

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

Archive for the category “Inspiration”

Waiting to hear on a proposal for a workshop

I got email from the Mass Poetry festival letting me know they’d received my workshop proposal. Fortunately they copied the email I sent them, because I forgot to save a copy.

I don’t know if they will go for it, but, hey, at least I sent it in.

Workshop

Even if we don’t suffer from writer’s block, we often dismiss our ideas before they have a chance to develop. How many times has a line of poetry popped into your mind only to be dismissed? A subject you dismissed as trite or as something you’d never write about? What are you afraid to tackle?

Don’t let your inner editor choke you off before you start. This workshop will include a series of exercises designed to free your inner muse.
Equipment Needs

  • Table for Presenters
  • Chairs for Presenters
  • Dry erase board
  • Paper and pencils

Target Audience: Anyone who wants to dig deeper and free themselves from their own critical thinking.What makes this distinctive and compelling? We’re all inclined to doubt the worth of our own work and to not pay attention to what it is we want/need to write. We will use group writing exercises as a warm-up to generating poetry, brainstorm starting lines for poems, write poems from various points-of-view: ex mother-in-law, best friend from high school, glass of water on your nightstand, unused computer keys. Anything goes.

This workshop is meant to be fun, to generate some ideas the participants to take away, and to start to develop some techniques they can use to get started when inspiration fails to strike.

Publicity & Audience Development Plan *I blog monthly on writersonthemove.com, twice monthly on poetic-muselings.net, and on my own blog, as well as guest blogging. I would use these to promote the workshop.

I’d promote on facebook and twitter, try for an article in my local papers, community tv station, and on internet and regular radio as well as emailing my list of contacts about the workshop.

Have you produced this or a similar program before? If so when and where? *I am one of the six Poetic Muselings. We presented a workshop, “Poetry: Not just for writing verse,” at the Muse Online Writers Conference this October.

 

 

 

 

TaCaMeFiMo, NaNoWriMo, and Reality

I decided to start a new kind of “month” — “Take Care Of Me First” month, or TaCaMeFiMo (TAH-CAH-MEE-FEE-MO) — and invite everyone who reads this to join me. Details below, but first, a bit of background:

The idea was to do this concurrently with crazy November writing ambitions: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month); the November PAD (Poem A Day, through Poetic Asides) Chapbook Challenge; NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Yes, I planned carefully how to be a NaNo Rebel, working in the various projects as adjunct to the new novel.

The paradox: do it all in support of my BIG GOAL — to step back from major projects I’ve handled with groups of writers and others, and take care of my own health and sanity needs FIRST:

– Establish functional sleep habits.
– Take my buns and the rest of my body to the health club five days per week and continue the healing process from my accident two years ago.
– Let go of the 25 lbs. I gained back.
– Work on strength and flexibility.
– Establish constructive eating patterns to reach and maintain a sane weight.
– Laugh and play more.
– Reduce my incessant worrying about the future, and second-guessing decisions from the past.
– Pace myself! Limit the time spent on writing projects, and fill the space with healthy stuff.
– Embrace and cherish what is wonderful in my life. Live in the “now”.

I began to plot this out in my “Never Forget Your Dreams” planner book (from Refuse To Choose, Barbara Sher’s amazing blueprint for “Scanners”). The ideas flowed and I realized I have ways of dealing with pieces of all of the projects I want to handle (or at least start) without having to dive fully into almost any of them. Yes, shamelessly, I would weave the silk into a net that surrounds me and this experiment in living what’s important:

1. Write my NaNoWriMo as a joint project with my husband; we did this in 2006; I won by completing 52,000 words within the time frame. He came up with the story idea, characters he wanted, plot and story line, and I wrote the book, adding scenes, all the words that made it to the page, massaging it when necessary.

So far this year, we’ve talked through the basic story line, have the title, main characters, villains, supporting cast, location, main story line and critical subtext identified. We know the triggering event, lots of possibilities for high and low points, and have a general idea of the ending. Like last time, Hubby’s imagination supplies most of this. I’ll throw in conflict, intrigue, twists, and whatever else strikes me during the writing phase.

In my NaNoRebel garb, I decided that the female main character would do a few more unscripted things during the month — write in her journal, plan out the portions of a book she’s writing about her travels, create a month of poems for another book she’s rewriting, and track her plan for gaining control of her life, one good step at a time — all while engaged in living the story being written.

2. 100 Words – a daily no-more-than-one-hundred-word piece, sharply focused, on one of my blogs:

Poetic-Muselings.net (2 posts) — on my scheduled posting day.

Gluten-Free Travel by Graf (4 posts) — long dormant and lonely.

RoadWriter (12 posts) – my blog the Tripod cyber-trolls destroyed a couple of years ago. I started a new version on wordpress a year ago with my domain name, and grappled with its purpose. Recently (when I let go of trying to know) I got a clear sense of what I want to do, and how I want to do it: use the 100 Words posts to sketch out, idea by idea, what I have, and what I need, to pull together Heart, Soul, And Rough Edges, my book of poems, prose, and pictures about our decade of living and traveling all over the US and Canada.

TaCaMeFiMo (12 posts) — the new one, not yet built, to track and share the journey to Finally Taking Care of Me First. I figured posts on this new blog would run a bit over 100 Words at the beginning, so this would give a word count cushion of a few hundred . . . maybe.

AHA! See? That’s 3,000 words right there!

3. Poem A Day (PAD) Challenge month. My MC will write poems, some may actually work in this NaNo novel. Most of the effort will focus on poems for the rewrite of my 2008 NaNo — The Guilt Ghost: Conversations With My Mother Now That She’s Dead — as a Novel in Verse.

My colleague, Margaret Fieland, wrote her NaNo last year as a scifi book, and did the PAD Challenge. Relocated, her NaNo, and Sand in the Desert, her book of thirty poems, were published this year. Is it inspiration or idea stealing to want to copy her success?

Figuring roughly 50 words/poem, times 30 days = 1500 words! Add that to “100 Words”, and the total word count for NaNo drops to about 45,500.

Time to schedule all of this into the calendar:

1. TaCaMeFiMo time first. Between the health club, breakfast, errands, and appointments, mornings are full. Hmm. Quality (and quantity) time with Hubby and Harlee the Wonder Poodle — a couple of hours per day, at least. More stretch and home PT time (up to one hour daily, broken into six ten-minute chunks). Go to bed by 10:30 pm; get at least eight hours of rest; prep time to make it happen = an extra 30 min in the evening.

2. Other commitments — previously-scheduled get-togethers with friends, postponed from Muse madness (4 evenings); two Oregon Ducks football games (my birthday present to hubby); two Oregon Ducks women’s volleyball games I promised to go to, after the Muse Conference was over; Open Mic Poetry Reading I’m helping with, as well as being a semi-featured reader (one afternoon and evening); Holiday Market Book Event where I’ll be signing copies of LIFELINES on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (prep, travel, set up, signing, breakdown = ten hours); monthly meetings I’ve invited others to attend, so must be there, too (four evenings).

Dropped out of the schedule — five other commitments, including a poetry workshop with the Oregon Poet Laureate, a memorial reading for those we’ve lost in the past couple of years; the Slam series I’d love to attend and try my hand at; the Third Saturday Reading Series, where I got my first break at open mic, and to launch LIFELINES. My Book Club, again.

3. Playing the numbers game . . . for writing:

– 20 days of intense NaNo writing = 2,300 words to reach 45,500. @ 500 wpm = 90 hrs = 4.5 hrs/NaNo writing session

– 20 days to write poems, playing catch-up a few times during the month; I always fall behind. Guesstimate @ 1 – 1.5 hr/poem = 30 – 45 hrs = 2 hrs/poetry writing session

– 10 days to write 30 posts for “100 Words”; I know I won’t do it daily. @ 45 min/post = 22 hrs = 2.2 hrs/blog writing session

This oh-so-sensible schedule = about 145 writing hours for the month = about 5 hrs/day, factored in a 30 day month. But, as you can see with 1 and 2 above, there aren’t a lot of days to spend 5 hrs on writing, let alone, all 30 days.

So, here I sit, two days late with my scheduled post for Poetic Muselings. I wrote a version of this a couple of weeks ago. Felt smug. Then squirmy. Then sighed.

TaCaMeFe won out — in order to take care of me first, much of the rest has to slide into December. I’ll keep my notes for the new site and post ideas, as well as what I do during this month; maybe before the end of November, I’ll get the domain name and capture a site. I love my idea of “100 Words” and hope to start that on Dec. 1, too.

I’ve been to the health club once, on Nov. 1, for my Tai Chi class. Today I have to go there to do my workout routine so personal trainer (who I hired for 30 minute sessions to get me going) won’t fire me next week. I promised us both I’d do it twice a week.

My Dragon voice-recognition program will get going a bit later today, to bring the first words of NaNo to the page. I’m four days behind. Same with Poems. NaNo takes priority for writing time, and I’ll get as much done as I can, working around it, for poems.

Now, after way too many words here, I will go downstairs to spend time with Hubby and Harlee. After I figure out what will thaw out in time for dinner. Forgot to factor that in!

Watch for another installment of this in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck, and think about what you can do to Take Care of Yourself First, starting now. Today. Really. Share your ideas and successes. We are all in this together . . . and I plan to add these words to my NaNo count, since I completely rewrote the post.

Michele

 

 

Mary's Muse Conference Experience

Last week was the annual Muse Online Writers Conference. The Muselings have a history with this conference.

Our group emerged from this conference, we learned the tools to create our poetry collection LIFELINES. We pitched our book to publishers at a later Muse Conference, and it was during Muse Con of last year that we got our acceptance letter. We owe the success of this group and our book to Muse Conference.

And this year we paid it forward. For the first time, the Poetic Muselings presented a workshop. Poetry: Not Just for Writing Verses.

It was a great experience all around. We talked poetry, wrote poetry, critiqued poetry. Hopefully those that attended learned something and made their own connections to continue in the days ahead.

On Saturday’s topic, Michele brought up some questions to help us look at how poetry can enhance our other writing. It made me take a look at the relationship between my two types of writing. Sometimes I try to keep them in two separate boxes, a poet in one moment and a fiction writer in another. But they are both a part of me, and they definitely bleed into each other.

One thing I’m still working on is taking my strengths from each form and applying them to the other. I need to be more descriptive in my fiction, and use more story in my poetry. My best writing has elements of both.

I spent most of my week in our poetry forum, but I also dabbled in some of the other workshops. One of my favorites of the week was Creating a Writerly Logo. I learned the importance of choosing good font and color, spacing and shapes. It was a lot of fun coming up with a logo that represented both sides of my writing.

Here is my final result:

 

 

If you have different hobbies, or write different styles or genres, how do they overlap?

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Reach for the Light – Responding to Other Work

Aurora borealis in Alaska

Aurora borealis in Alaska (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve posted this before, on other blogs, but letting it re-inspire me now. Especially needed after my last post.

I was challenged to write a response to a song. I chose one that’s always resonated with me, and wrote back to it, made it my own. At the time, I was struggling with finishing my first book. Now that I’m struggling to finish a second, I need to listen to it again.

Song lyrics in orange, interspersed with my own thoughts at the time:

Reach for the light**

Deep in the night the winds blow cold,
And in a heartbeat, the fear takes hold.

The fear can freeze me—
fear of failure, rejection, even success.

Deep in the storm, there’s a place that’s soft and still,
Where the road waits to be taken, if you only will.

The potential is in me,
all I have to do is find the iron will within.

The voices inside you can lead you so astray,
Believe in what you dream,
don’t turn away, don’t you turn away.

I must overcome the doubts that haunt me;
I’ve wanted this my entire life, I won’t give it up.

Reach for the light,
you might touch the sky.
Stand on a mountain top, and see yourself flying.
Reach for the light,
To capture a star,
Come out of the darkness and find out who you are.

I know who I am—I am a writer.
So many dream but don’t follow through.
I can never be published if I don’t finish writing the book.

Somewhere in time the truth shines through,
And the spirit knows what it has to do.

This is my purpose in life; without it, I am not complete.
Time will show my dedication. Time will bring success.

Somewhere in you there’s a power with no name,
It can rise to meet the moment and burn like a flame.

My muse will lead me if I give it the chance;
I simply need to set her free.

And you can be stronger than any fear you know,
Hold onto what you see don’t let it go, don’t you let it go.

I’ve made it this far. I have it in me.
Nothing will stop me.

<refrain>

There’s no turning back.
Your destiny is calling.
Listen to the thunder roar,
And let your heart break free.

Whether I chose this path, or it chose me, it is the path I’m meant to be on.
The thunder of my accomplishments shall roar, and my heart shall break free from fear.

Oooh, Reach for the light!

<refrain x 2>

Yeah! Yes reach for the light.

If I don’t reach for the light, for my dreams, then the light may as well go out.

will finish my book. I will get published. I will reach for the light.

** Music: James Horner. Lyrics: Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. Singer: Steve Winwood

Have you ever used music to inspire you? Take a song or poem, and write a response to it. Write it in your own words to make it personal, or counter it in some way.

 

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Remembering 9-11

WTC pre WFC 1984 from boat Hudson NYC

WTC pre WFC 1984 from boat Hudson NYC (Photo credit: Ibfraz)

I spent the last several days watching TV specials on the tragedy of 9/11. Some were new, some old, but all touched my heart strings. It gave me hope for humanity to see the EMT’s, doctors and nurses, Police Officers, Firemen and ordinary people rising to greater heights caring for the injured and getting them out of harm’s way. It reminds me that good can come from horrible events, but some memories will be with us forever. The survivors and the slain will always be in my heart.

I thought it might be healing to write poems about that day. You can write on any aspect of the events or people and post it as a comment.  Here is mine:

 

All Fall Down

 

Shining towers in early morning sun,

So strong, so beautiful, something meant

to last a hundred years

All fall down, vanishing in hours.

 

Clouds of destruction

roar down the street

An American Pyroclastic flow

Choking throats and sealing eyelids.

 

Screams, prayers, curses

Sounds and images of people

Running or walking or crawling, others in ambulances

Race toward what they hoped will be safety.

 

So much heroism, bravery, compassion

So much loss, so much pain.

Raw grief of survivors mingles with our own

What happened? Who did this?

Looking for someone to blame.

Fighting the inclination to condemn

A whole religion for the acts of a few.

 

Every year we honor those we lost

Pray that the families could put

Their lives back together with time

And that there is enough

Healing to go around.

 

©2012 Lin Neiswender

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lisa Gentile, Mentor and Moxie Maverick

We’re delighted to spend some time today with
Lisa Gentile,
the “Moxie Maverick”,
career coach, writer, poet, creative artist,
and mentor to
the Poetic Muselings.

 Michele: Well, Lisa, we’ve had a bit of history since meeting in cyberspace at the October 2007 Muse Online Writers Conference. So much has changed for all of us! Your poetry workshop in 2008 was so powerful, it literally burned out your internet connection on that last day of chats. As I tap-danced my way through a room full of writers from all over the world, we decided to let you know what we were taking back with us from the intense week. Last November, Lifelines was published, the culmination of our efforts following the workshop.

 Did you ever think we’d be having this conversation, in this way, and this time?

Lisa: I had no idea what I was starting when I signed into that first workshop. I never expected that we would later meet up in various states. Now it makes perfect sense that  we are writing to each other, with each other, and in one another’s spaces.

 What do you think helped us succeed when so many drop by the wayside?

It seemed to me that you all immediately appreciated the potential of your sharing. Our workshop exercises asked you to step back and really listen to your work, yourselves, and each other. But you trusted each other, or at least wanted the possible outcomes enough to take risks together.

 We learned so much from you — what might we have taught you in return?

I was humbled to hold an early version of your manuscript, which would eventually become Lifelines, in my hands. It was the culmination of your shared perseverance and vulnerability. I was grateful to have witnessed its creation, even from afar. You taught me to remain open-minded with respect to what others may achieve.

As you know, I see connections in even the not-so-obvious places. When people “take root” in each others’ lives, all kinds of things are possible.

For me, connection has always meant to witness another person, to see, acknowledge and respect what’s important to them. I like how Dr. Brené Brown defines connection as ‘the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when  they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’ I find her use of the word ‘sustenance’ compelling. It seems like an important part of the connection between the Poetic Muselings that became Lifelines.

Tell us about Moxie Mavericks — how does one “become” one? And why should one?

Moxie Mavericks is the name of my company, my professional life coaching practice. Moxie means gumption, derring-do, etc. But for me it’s a family value with which I was raised. I come from several generations of people who stand by their principles, whether they make us heroes, antiheroes, or observers. We enjoy each other’s stories. And those stories don’t even have to be spectacular, as long as they are real. We simply witness each other’s moxie when we see it. So people with similar values tend to feel at home here.

Mavericks are the sorts who get very serious about creating personal meaning in their lives. They are, by definition, out on the very edge of the frontier. It’s important to note that the landscape might be internal. People have special needs when they shift to maverick mode. It gets lonely out/in there. Very often others in their lives don’t see the singular vision that a maverick might have or initially understand the actions he or she chooses. So in coaching we build a space where mavericks can get customized support and feel safe to experiment with ideas.

We all have access to moxie and can be a maverick. It’s in there.

I know you are passionate about the concept of transition in an individual’s life. What does this mean to you? What are you seeing that’s so exciting?

People usually expect life coaching to be about defining their dreams, about setting and reaching goals, and about overcoming challenges like procrastination. Indeed, these are some of the tactical aspects of the work we do in coaching. But what I see over and over in my clients is a desire to make meaning out of a transition, to understand what’s being lost and gained by moving. In some cases, if we rush into goal setting we miss the opportunity to slow down and reflect. Forced goals lack authenticity. They are burdensome rather than enriching. Giving clients space and time for this reflection has deepened and enlivened the experiences my clients and I share.

As we talked recently, I envisioned transition as trying to figure out what you need to put in your backpack for a journey — and more importantly, what you must take out and leave out in order to make a transition. That’s the hard part — letting go of what only weighs you down. Any guidance on this? 

We often don’t know that we are entering the journey of a transition when it begins. Sometimes we realize we are far from “home” only when we feel lost. Something has changed but we don’t know what. We also might not know where we are going next. So it can be tricky to pack in advance. Either way, it helps to have a stash of compassion, for oneself and for others. We are all doing the best we can. We need to be patient with ourselves. This is how we can safely look at what’s holding us down. I won’t pretend that it’s easy work. The second handy item is appreciation for ourselves and others. I work with clients on spotting signature strengths–the ones that offer us the most pleasure and personal meaning when expressed. They make for an internal compass of sorts, one that can be recalibrated as interests change.

Where are you going with projects and other aspects of your life these days? 

People have been asking for retreats so I’m working that out. I understand more fully now how they might be of service. This fall two plays that my husband, Nick, and I wrote will be performed at the San Francisco Fringe Festival. Our program is called “Weird Romance”. We have a wonderful director, cast, and crew bringing our characters to life. It’s quite a treat to have others see your imagination walking and talking under the lights. We love hearing the audience laugh.

And what about your future? What’s coming up? 

I am exploring the vulnerability of stillness. It’s a wild ride.

You can’t get away from here without a few words about one of the strangest boat stories I’ve heard in years — and I’m a (somewhat) experienced sailor!

What is the project that made you take to the seas, what’s happening with it now, and where do you see it going?

You are talking about Spirit of the Sea, a new youth sailing program for which I volunteer. This year we acquired a very special boat as our flagship, S/V Ocean Watch. In February we splashed her, cleaned her up, and sailed her from Anacortes, WA, to San Francisco, CA.

We take youth sailing on the San Francisco Bay at not cost to them. Just participating in the sailing of a boat and experiencing the marine environment can be powerful to our youth. But we’re taking it a step further by offering activities that incorporate experiential education, citizen science, and service learning to connect these kids with critical thinking, mentors, and possible career paths. We hope to instill these young sailors with a sense of agency that will transfer to other domains.

“No one makes that trip at that time by choice.” 

That’s exactly what half a dozen insurance agents said.

Why did you do it?

I no longer know why we delivered the boat at that time. To get it done, I suppose. I did it because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail with an incredible group of experienced and moxie-rich sailors, some of whom had become my dear friends. I did it because I had earned it. We had worked hard to get the program to that point and sharing this adventure was a celebration. Also, I was ready for a new way to access information about myself in the world. This is the point of the adventure coaching that I do with some of my clients. This adventure was an opportunity for me to exercise different strengths outside of my daily routine.

Any highlights?

I witnessed first-hand the value of a “game-face” in sailing leadership. It keeps everyone calm and focused. There were many perfect moments. There was a perfect hour of a perfect afternoon. I felt secure with my fellow crew so I was free to marvel at the ever-changing shapes of the waves, patterns of the bubbles, and colors of the waters. And I had some chocolate. I think I felt deeply myself and connected at the same time. But I find that the more I try to look back at these moments squarely, the more they seem to shimmer and dissolve. They are prismatic.

So my work now is to remember how these moments felt and stay open to those sensations in the future.

Was this a transitional journey for you?

It offered key moments in a larger transition. The engine died one morning at dawn, just before a shift change. So everyone was up, exhausted, and busy. While others tracked the problem and rebuilt parts I stayed on watch alone at the helm. We had no wind so we were especially vulnerable. Even once we started moving again, my job was relatively simple: monitor the radar, watch for hazards, make course adjustments, and scan the horizon through the binoculars. But I was absolutely satisfied. I loved that no one checked on me. As the sun came up I studied the beautiful sky and coastline and faced the notion that I had fulfilled, in one way or another, just about every promise that I had made to myself as a kid. I decided to not even review the list, to just let it all be. Now I’m shifting my focus from doing to being.

They say you never return from a journey to the same place. 

When I left I was thrilled that I didn’t know when I would return. I don’t think I’ve quite yet returned. I am practicing patience and expressing my curiosity.

Your websites are as eclectic as you are, Lisa — so much more to talk about at a later date! 

Glad to see that Spirit of the Sea is a recognized 501 tax-exempt Public Charity  — which means that donations not only go to a very good cause, but are tax deductible. I encourage our readers to look at this site and consider a donation to the worthy cause. (Hint: the price of a couple of lattes could help float the boat.):    www.spiritofthesea.org

Your theater production is a hoot! How I’d love to be in San Francisco on Sept. 8, 9, 11 or 14 to see “Weird Romance”:   http://www.sffringe.org

Thank you so much for joining us today! As always, we appreciate your generosity of spirit, wisdom, humor, and that sense of connection we cherish. Good luck with all your adventures.

Thanks, Michele. My pleasure, and I look forward to sharing more soon.

To learn more about what Lisa does, check out:  www.moxiemavericks.com

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

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)

 

 

Focus on Form: Villanelle

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

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Form

A villanelle is a 19th century form was originally a song/dance sung by a troubadour. The modern form developed in the 19th century.

Rules

A Villanelle is a a nineteen line poem consisting of five tercets and a concluding quatrain. It contains only two rhymes. The first and third line of each of the tercets and the first and final two lines of the concluding quatrain form one, and the middle lines of the tercets and the second line of the quatrain form the second.  In addition, the first and third lines of the first tercet are refrains. Thus. let A1, B1 A2 be the first tercet, and a small a or b indicate a line that rhymes with either the A lines or the B line, the poem lays out as:

A1, B1, A2    a3, b2, A1    a4, b3,A2    a4,b4,A1   a5,b5,A3    ,b5,A1,A2

In addition to the rhymes and the refrain,  in a classic villanelle, the lines themselves should be in iambic pentameter and the repeated lines be repeated without variation.

Tip: pay careful attention to the first stanza, and especially to the end words, as you will need to find a goodly number of rhymes for them.

Examples

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


One Art
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Writeit!) like disaster.

My own try:

This poem comes from Robert Lee Brewer’s PAD challenge for April 18th: take a regional cuisine and make it the title of the poem

Southern Fried Chicken

A chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing
so spicy, crispy, crunchy with a golden crust
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Add salt, paprika for that special zing.
A pinch of jalapeno is a must.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing
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The spicy pepper adds a bit of bling
to penetrate the chicken’s flesh.  I trust
you’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

The oil must be hot so you can bring
the crust to crispness. As we have discussed,
a chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing

Keep clear of boiling oil. It will sting.
If oil becomes too hot it may combust.
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

At last the chicken’s ready, and you spring
to action, find the flavor most robust.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wondrous thing
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Your Turn

Now I open it up to you. I welcome any feedback on my poem, as long as it is constructive and not destructive. Let’s help each other improve.

I’d love to see your own attempts at the form as well. You can post them in the comments here, or on future posts, or link to your poem if it’s on a separate site.

Southern Fried Chicken

A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing
so spicy, crispy, crunchy with a golden crust
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

Add salt, paprika for that special zing.
A pinch of jalapeno is a must.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing

The spicy pepper adds a bit of bling
to penetrate the chicken’s flesh.  I trust
you’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

The oil must be hot so you can bring
the crust to crispness. As we have discussed,
a chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing

Keep clear of boiling oil. It will sting.
If oil becomes too hot it may combust.
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

At last the chicken’s ready, and you spring
to action, find the flavor most robust.
A chicken fried in oil’s a wonderous thing
You’ll take a bite. Your mouth will want to sing.

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