Monday, September 30, 2019

A CHAT WITH WENDY BOURKE: WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THAT POETRY!!


Today, poetry pals, we are chatting with Wendy Bourke, of Words and Words and Whatnot, who has been contemplating the question: What to do with all that poetry! I am sure we all have a ton of it, tucked away in journals and drawers. Wendy and I chatted about some ideas that may prove useful. We hope to hear what you do with your poetry in the comments!
  



  
Sherry: Thanks for thinking of this topic, Wendy. I am sure all of us have reams of poems, in drawers and totes, on cd’s and thumb drives. What to do with it all?

Wendy:  While trying to get a handle on organizing the mountain of poetry I have produced throughout my life, I came upon the following piece, that I had written in 2016


~ poetry ~

I wandered, in the hustling, unfamiliar city
on whizzing roads, through concrete mazes
in peaceful, bright spirits and spacey hazes,
that, often, accompanies a dreamy ramble through
the frenzy and the fuss that modernity confers …
as image after image, on the shifting canvas,
gifted me with snippets of scent and sound,
abracadabra’ed with bits of memory and emotion ...
impressions ... that bloomed like garland blossoms
strung together, with words that floated, as free
and natural, as notes of birdsong on a breeze

~ poetry ~



City Scene


And as I read this poem, plucked from a pile of many, many other poems, I thought to myself: 'for poets, poetry is everywhere ... figuratively ... and literally' ~ smiles ~

The first couple of years that I blogged, I saved my poems in scrapbooks ~ mistake ~ for a myriad of reasons I won't waste time going into here. Then, when I finally switched to putting them in binders, I filed them chronologically ... which worked fine ... for about a year. Who can remember if a poem was penned in 2008 or 2013? I found myself back-and-forthing through good poems and poems in need of a redo – over and over and over. And I got to the point (which is where I am now ... drowning in a sea of poems) where it became clear, that I really have to give some thought to my archiving options, before putting any more effort into yet another badly thought out direction.

It occurred to me that it might be helpful to share some methods I've employed (in my endless trial-and-error approach) that I have found beneficial ... and ask for input and info from fellow poets, about what has worked for them. Basically I want to hit the pause button and review and inquire into: 'What to do with all that poetry!'

Sherry: Let’s dive right in to this thorny topic!

Wendy: Keeping my poetry organized has been a real job, and I have often been dissappointed with the end results. I have read comments from other poets saying they have just about given up organizing their poetry.

Sherry: I hear you! I must have had a thousand poems written before I started blogging, and have written 2800 more online, according to Blogger. I have poems in notebooks, in drawers, loose in a tote. I began to get worried that when I die, my kids might inadvertently (or advertently, lol) send my life’s work to the landfill. Later, in this discussion, I will tell you how I resolved this.

Wendy: Well, let's begin at the beginning, Sherry ... which is publishing our poetry. Getting published by poetry publishers is very, very hard. I recently heard back from a publisher that had asked for submissions of one poem-per-poet. I was rejected, of course, but I took solace in the fact that so were the 5,538 'other' poets.

An organized approach can help. I once believed that volume-volume-volume was a good strategy, but (at least in my case) I have not found that to be very effective. That said, it really does make a difference if you put in the time, and read the kind of poetry that a potential publisher publishes. If it doesn't sound like a fit to your work, it won't be published.

I have found themed anthologies, or journals with a themed prompt, offer a much better chance of success. Also, new publishers (who do not have 20 years of email subscribers) are less overwhelmed with submissions.  Organizations that are supported by membership fees such as The Tanka Society of America and The Ontario Poetry Society usually guarantee inclusion of at least one piece (though they ask for several to choose from).

Smaller pieces, such as Japanese and other, often niche, small-form poems, have several publication vehicles and include more pieces (therefore, much more publishing opportunity) in their hard copy and e-zine offerings. Occasionally a poetry forum will put together an anthology from poems that have appeared on their site – as was the case, fairly recently, with the d'Verse Anthology: Chiaroscuro. 



 Poem Archives


Sherry: Poets United did a small anthology too, back in 2011. Anthologies are a lot of work, but very satisfying to members.

Many of us write mostly for ourselves and each other, and don’t bother submitting poems (though many of the more serious poets do, of course.) I have been more than happy that anyone comes along to read my poems on-site, LOL. I haven’t submitted work very often. I have work in only a half dozen anthologies.

But self-publishing is a great option, and I do know quite a bit about that.

Wendy: Self Published Books are a truly viable and, I am told, affordable option, which is why I'd love to learn more.  Also, 'one-of' photo books that celebrate a grandchild or a wedding can be a lovely, and very personal, memento.

Sherry: I am all about self-publishing. I had a cancer scare some years back, (thankfully the tumor was benign), and my one regret then was that I had not archived my work. Since getting the all-clear,  I have been using the self-publishing house lulu.com (there are many) to put my work into solid form for posterity. These companies offer affordable options, a choice of layouts and templates, hard cover and soft cover, coil or perfect bound, and I can assure you the result is an affordable, bookstore quality product.

I don’t try to sell mine, but many poets do, some very successfully. I create my books mainly as an archive, though a few are available for sale. 

But one has the option of making their books available at both lulu.com and Amazon. You pay as you go, per volume, order as many or few as you like. They are reasonably priced, so you can add your margin to the actual cost of the book and not only reclaim your initial cost, but make a small profit, if that is your objective.

Also, you can put a link on your blog, your readers can click on it, and it takes them right to the publishing house and/or Amazon, where a reader can purchase the book directly. The writer doesn’t have to do anything but tuck away the small profits as they come in.

Wendy: Wow! That is awesome information, Sherry. Thanks for taking the time to lay that out so thoroughly for us. I feel like I'm ready to wade into the self-publishing waters now.

Sherry: All year long, as I am blogging, I enter each poem in a template (for poetry, I use the 6x9 inch US trade perfect bound paperback template). At the end of each year, I have a book of that year's poems to edit and publish. A 225-page book of poems (text only) costs about 10 dollars for paperback, more expensive for hardcover. The books are bookstore quality. I’ve been doing this for years.




I also have done some special editions of selected poems and stories, and plan a few more. And I have made some wonderful photo-books as gifts for loved ones. I enjoy doing those the most. They are much more expensive, but absolutely wonderful to give as a gift.






I have a small shelf of my own books now, and I feel satisfied that I have honoured my work in this way. (On the far left are three large photo books. Note coil bindings are also available. But the best format is publisher perfect bound, which I use for the poetry books.)

Wendy: Golly you've got a real handle on this thing, Sherry ... beautiful bookstore quality books that hold your life's work and lovely gifts for loved ones to treasure.

In addition to going the self-publishing route though, I think I will probably continue with my binders for several reasons:

  • I like the flexibility to be able to rejig pieces that I don't feel are quite ready for publication.
  • I like to be able to move pages around, so that similar themed poems are facing each other and I get a good idea of how a book would lay out, when published.
  • I like to be able to include small coloured photographs, pertinent emails and comments and personal notes (i.e. I wrote this poem the last night we spent at the lake) that might give more meaning to the poem for others, as they come upon them.

Sherry: Oh, they sound like a treasure trove of memories. I envy you them!!!

Wendy: In a way, I guess, I think of my poetry binders almost like a journal of my poetry journey.  If anyone reading this has not yet committed to hard copies of your work, I would urge you to give it some thought. Having worked as a University Academic Secretary for decades, I have  lost track of the number of technical advances that have rendered the previous data storage device unretrievable.




Personalized Binder


As far as personalized binders go, I am a big fan. Online companies, like Zazzle, offer a plethora of imaged binders (everything from old tomes that look like something out of the middle ages to garden scenes to forests) which they personalize to your specifications. Of course, you can send in a photo you've taken and they will use that. 

These binders are in the $40.00 range. (Mine were given to me as gifts from my family.)  A binder with a clear window cover (that you can fill yourself) is a much cheaper option at around $10.00. I also am a big fan of clear sheet protectors (around $12.00 per 100). If you opt not to use them, you'll have to 3-hole punch your page, and that, with any pieces you may have taped to it, can quickly take on a tattered, messy appearance.  I use double-sided tape (as many glues eventually dry, discolour and leach through the paper). I also insert thin card stock sheets between the pages of poetry. It just gives a nicer feel to what would, otherwise, be very wobbly pages. All of these supplies can be found at any Office Supply Store.

Before filling your binders, you should decide how you want to organize it. Chronologically (which has its pros and cons), by subject matter (such as nature, for example – blog labels are made for this), or perhaps (as I did) by my favourites (my 2 pink floral binders house the poems that mean the most to me (and here, movable pages really pay off, as time goes by ... lol)



Binder as a Working Journal


I think the main idea is that the poetry that you are most happy with, proud of, and that says something about who you are, should be archived in a special way and not left to languish amongst the do-overs ... or worse: can't be found at all.  However you choose to archive your poetry, it should clearly indicate that it is poetry ... and not just a box (or binder) of papers.

Sherry: That is very key! (Am thinking of the landfill as the Last Resort of my work. Ack!) 

Wendy: We put so much of ourselves into our poetry. We owe it to ourselves, to our family and friends, and to our descendants (who – you never know – might have a poetic bend and be curious about what Great-great-great grandma or grandpa wrote) ... Well, a poet can dream ...

Sherry: Yes, we dream, we dream……..my family tends to act as if my poetry is a slightly embarrassing aberration we don't talk about, but maybe once I’m gone, they’ll pop one of the covers. Smiles.

Thanks for this informative chat, Wendy. Friends, we would love to hear from you. Do you archive your work? In what format? Have you tried any of these options and, if so, how satisfied are you with the results? Let us know in your comments, okay?

And do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows, it might be you!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Poetry Pantry #495




NOTES FROM MARY AND SHERRY

FROM MARY:

"Hi Friends -  This is the 495th Poetry Pantry.  Believe it or not, Poetry Pantry has been going since 7/27/2010.  Every Sunday, except for our very occasional breaks.  Amazing, isn’t it?  I went back and looked at the first Pantry to see if anyone who posted in that first Pantry is still active here at Poets United.  I was there.  Sherry Blue Sky was there.  Eileen O’Neill and Carrie Burtt were there. The rest of the people who participated in that first Pantry, including the founder of Poets United - Robert Lloyd - are seemingly no longer active in the blogosphere. Anyway, it was fun to look back.  

So you see I have been around at Poets United from the beginning — first as a participant, then as a contributor, and (after Robert Lloyd left) as an administrator as well as contributor!  I have contributed at other poetry venues as well, including Toads and D’Verse.  I was the administrator at the now defunct Poetry Jam (I loved that small site) for a time as well, with its once-a-week prompt!

Being part of the poetry blogosphere has been a big part of my life for many years now.  I wrote poetry before, but with my discovery of the blogosphere my interest grew, as did the number of poems that I wrote!  It was a wonderful journey.  I lived and breathed poetry. And wrote and wrote.

Fast forward ahead to 2019.  Friends, for everything there is a season. For every beginning is an eventual ending.  I find that it is no longer easy for me to write GOOD poetry, and my interest in poetry has lessened in recent years, so I have decided to step down as a Poets United administrator / contributor at the end of October.  But, don’t worry, friends!  Poets United will continue on and evolve under the direction of a great staff who will make sure of that.  And, ha, I may even be around here when the spirit moves me.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in Poets United over the years and made it such a successful site.  A special thanks to Sherry who has accompanied me on this journey from the beginning and who has, throughout all the years, done so much (in every area) for the site and who was always willing to help out anywhere when needed. She has always been a real 'trooper' who worked tirelessly for our site.  And thanks to the other dedicated staff we have who will continue to carry on.  I have had a wonderful time!"

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FROM SHERRY:

"Kids, when I found Poets United in 2010, my poetry took wing.  I owe a debt of gratitude to this site and to each one of you who has touched my poetic journey.  Since 2010, Poets United has been the biggest part of my life and my identity.  I have taken great pride and satisfaction in my role, supporting poets and the love of poetry.

Since 2016, the political climate and the climate change crisis have weighed on me so heavily that my normally lively spirit has been dampened.  My writing, (always my gauge of how I am doing), has bogged down.

This past year, I have been dealing with extreme fatigue, and vertigo which lasted most of the year.  A couple of times, Mary and I talked about whether it was time to stop, but each time we opted to keep going for all of you.  Now, however, we have enough staff that Mary and I can step away and the site can keep on going.  That is a wonderful thing, for all of us who love it so much.

Mary and I stepped into running Poets United together, and it feels right to me that we should be hopping on our brooms together at Halloween and flying away...But don't worry.  I won't fly too far.  I will still be writing and linking and visiting all of you.  I am hoping that by easing my workload, perhaps my poetry might gain some life again.  We live in hope.

As we continue on this journey together, please know that I will never be farther than a link, or an email, away.  You all know me better than my "real life" people because you have read the deepest parts of my heart.

I want to thank you, Mary, for these years that have been so wonderful.  What an incredibly joyous work experience it has been.  Thank you to the dedicated staff who will carry Poets United into the new year.  And thank you to each one of you who, since 2010, have shared the love of poetry with us.  It has been such a wonderful journey."

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If you haven't read Sherry's feature of a poem by Aboriginal Canadian poet Jeanette Armstrong this past Friday, do be sure to scroll back. Monday Sherry will be having a wonderful chat with one of our loyal and prolific poets.This next Wednesday's Midweek Motif will be Truth/In Honor of Gandhi's Memory.  The theme for next Sunday's Pantry of Prose is "October is Here..." (we'll create pieces set in the month of October).

And now, as we always do on Sundays, let us share poetry.  Link your poem below, and be sure to visit others who link.  Have a wonderful day!


Friday, September 27, 2019

I Wish I'd Written This


HISTORY LESSON

Out of the belly of Christopher’s ship
a mob bursts
Running in all directions
pulling furs off animals
Shooting buffalo
shooting each other
left and right.

Father mean well
Waves his makeshift wand
Forgives saucer-eyed Indians

Red coated knights
gallop across the prairie
to get their men
to build a new world

Pioneers and traders
bring gifts
Smallpox, Seagrams
and Rice Krispies

Civilization has reached
the promise land.

Between the snap crackle and pop
of smokestacks
and multicoloured rivers
swelling with flower powered zee
are farmers sowing skulls and bones
and miners
pulling from gaping holes
green paper faces
of smiling English lady

The colossi
in which they trust
while burying
breathing forests and fields
beneath concrete and steel
stand shaking fists
waiting to mutilate
whole civilizations
ten generations at a blow.

Somewhere among the remains
of skinless animals
is the termination
to a long journey
and unholy search
for the power
glimpsed in a garden
Forever closed
Forever lost


Jeanette Armstrong


This poem offers an Aboriginal view of the colonization of Canada. I find it accurate (and horrifying!) And the frenzy to extract resources has not abated in two hundred years. How appalled First Nations must be, having been respectful caretakers of the land for ten thousand years, watching its swift destruction. To Aboriginal people, Mother Earth is a living being, to the settlers a fount of resources to be extracted. I feel this poem deeply. Our garden is in distress, Mother Earth crying out to us in all of her voices. But who can hear, midst all the fracking, chain saws and drilling?

Born in  1948, Jeanette Armstrong is of Okanagan Syilx ancestry. She has lived on the Penticton native reserve for most of her life; she raised her children there.  Ms Armstrong is a fluent speaker of the Okanagan language, and has studied and practiced traditional ways under the direction of Elders. Her first poem was published at age fifteen.

The author is the great-granddaughter of the First Nations novelist Mourning Dove.

A spokesperson for Indigenous peoples’ rights, and an award-winning writer, novelist, poet and activist, she has always sought to change deeply biased misconceptions related to Aboriginal people.

Her powerful poem titled "Indian Woman" does just that. I had a hard time choosing between the two, but if you would like to read it, click on the link. It is a beauty.

Since 1986, Ms Armstrong has been the director of the En'owkin Center, a cultural and educational organization operated by the Okanagan Nation. In 1989 she helped to found the En'owkin School of International Writing, which is the first credit-giving creative writing program in Canada to be managed and operated expressly by and for Native people.



Ms Armstrong is a Professor of Indigenous Studies and a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Philosophy. This appointment in 2013 came with an annual award of $100,000, for five years of research and documentation of Okanagan Syilx oral language literature, indigenous knowledge that has been largely inaccessible till now. Ms Armstrong has worked with fluent language speakers to document knowledge of Syilx governance, land use and health, to make such knowledge more accessible.

“I am extremely passionate about Indigenous research that advances knowledge and will better guide environmental practices,” Ms Armstrong has stated.  "I’m a harvester, all my family are hunters and gatherers. Traditional people continuously practice that. It’s not something that is a was culture; it is an is culture, and restoration of that culture is part of the work that I do. The major part of the work that I’m involved in -- I guess it’s called activism -- is trying to tell people there’s a better way here than what’s going on out there. So that’s the work that I do."

Such an accomplished poet, and person. Wow. "There's a better way." That's for sure!

Ms Armstrong published two children’s books in the early 80’s,  Enwhisteetkwa (or Walk in Water) in 1982 and Neekna and Chemai the following year.

Her first and most famous novel, Slash, on the topic of racism, was published in 1985.  It explores the history of the North American Indian protest movement, in a racist North American society.

Other works include her book of selected poems, BreathTracks. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies. Her second novel, Whispering in Shadows,  traces the life experiences of a young Okanagan activist woman.

Ms Armstrong has also produced such critical works as The Native Creative Process and Land Speaking. 


Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Honey / Bee




 
“Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.”— Robert Green Ingersoll


Mesolithic rock painting of a honey hunter harvesting honey and wax from a bees nest in a tree. At Cuevas de la Araña en Bicorp. (Dating around 8000 to 6000 BC)


“Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt – marvelous error! – that I had a bee hive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.”— Antonio Machado



Midweek Motif ~ Honey / Bee



Recently I read a beautiful poem, 'Where Honey Comes From' by Maggie Smith and Honey/Bee– motif for our poets came instantly.


With honey and bee humans have been having a pretty long hunter-hunted relationship. Is it the same today or has it changed? Let your words buzz.


Your words may be connected to the sweet, sticky fluid that bees make from nectar; to the bee itself; to the flower, storehouse of the nectar; to the honeycomb or even to the deadly humans for we must not forget we are facing bee-loss globally in an increasing rate; among other factors human factor is one that has contributed to this sharp decline. However honey bee is not on the endangered species list yet.


Sharing some honey / bee poems here:

Fame Is A Bee

by Emily Dickinson

Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.


A Bee
by Matsuo Basho

A bee
staggers out
of the peony

Bees
by Norman Rowland Gale

You voluble,
Velvety
Vehement fellows
That play on your
Flying and
Musical cellos,
All goldenly
Girdled you
Senerade clover,
Each artist in
Bass but a
Bibulous rover!

You passionate,
Powdery
Pastoral bandits,
Who gave you your
Roaming and
Rollicking mandates?
Come out of my
Foxglove; come
Out of my roses
You bees with the
Plushy and
Plausible noses!


An extract from Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet :

                       And now you ask in your heart,
"How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from
                that which is not good?"
Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is
            the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the
                       bee.
             For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
     And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
  And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of  
                    pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the        bees.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—

(Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Truth / in honor of Gandhi)



Monday, September 23, 2019

ON POETRY ~ WITH MARIAN KENT AND SUSIE CLEVENGER

Following last week's chat with Shay and Kelli about poetry and blogging, I asked the same questions of two more poets who have been around since we all began writing online with such heat in 2010. Marian Kent, who blogs at runaway sentence, and Susie Clevenger of Confessions of a Laundry Goddess are sharing their thoughts on poetry and blogging and I, for one, am so happy about this! 







BLAME IT ON THE BEACH


The beach was weird
sassy breeze pushing waves
to throw rocks at our shins
rain and lifeguards
clearing the water
because of marine life
       (unspecified)
All this in bathing suits
never my favorite
but we pranced and played
sat our fine asses in the sand
for waves to wash over
flicked our hair
       (caught glances)
bleated like goats
pronounced the ocean female
laughed and laughed and laughed
cried hey sister ocean
here we are
sassy and strong and shining

Marian Kent  © 8.08.2019

Sherry: I adore the sass in this poem. Tell us about it!

Marian: I'm so glad this resonated for you, Sherry. It is a simple reflection about how it felt at the beach earlier this summer with my daughter. We both had such a good time, feeling unburdened, enjoying a cool and somewhat strange beach day, and really enjoying one another. Putting aside concerns for a few hours. Not caring what anyone might think. Feeling connected, to each other and to our natural environs. Laughing a lot!

Sherry: It sounds perfect!

Talk to us about poetry: When did you start writing poetry? What does poetry mean to you, what do you love about it?

Marian: I started writing poems at a young age, and wrote a lot in college and as a young adult. But then I put writing aside for quite a few years. I'm not really sure exactly why, but I did continue to scribble in a journal during that time. I bet if I looked back at those old books there would be plenty of poem fodder in there. When my kids were very young I started writing poems again, and then I started the runaway sentence, which started as a sort of mom-blog or soapbox, but almost immediately became a poetry blog. Thank goodness, whew.

Poetry for me is a chance to express or make a brief but (hopefully) meaningful observation. I like using words sparingly, making every single word count. I think I'm always trying to find new ways of describing ordinary moments, feelings, experiences that can be recognized and understood by anyone. I'm going for universal in the specific, or for something anyone could recognize in a metaphor. For me, writing poems requires both abstraction and direct communication, a challenge that I really love.

Sherry: And we love reading you!  What impact has blogging had on your work? Has it helped you grow as a poet?

Marian: Blogging has had a tremendous impact on me. For you, too, right? I mean, Sherry, you and I met because of blogging and my life is so much sweeter as a result!

Sherry: Mine, too, kiddo. My writing was drying up for lack of connection with other writers, when I stumbled on Poets United back in 2010. I will be forever grateful for what that connection has done for my life and my writing.

Marian: I'm so grateful for your friendship and for the whole circle of blogging friends around us. I have been really lifted up and supported by our online community.

Sherry: Me, too, Marian. I am more grateful than I can say for these almost-ten so-rich years.

Marian: Our community of poets challenging one another with prompts and providing gentle critique and encouragement and friendship is simply amazing. It is a blessing.

I'm sure without blogging, I would still be writing, but to be accountable to our online group is really meaningful. Responding to prompts, creating prompts, reading the work of others and providing meaningful commentary, it's all a part of growing, I think. My skill has definitely grown and improved over the years, and I have observed the same in many of our friends as well. It's great to witness a writer working to improve her craft, and to take that journey alongside friends is a wonderful thing. I really admire the writing and the practice of so many of our friends here, and get inspiration from you all.

My blog will celebrate ten years next spring. I'm aware that blogging is evolving, maybe going out of fashion. That is bittersweet, but we cannot continue to grow as writers or as people without change. So I'm good with all of it and feel very grateful and excited for whatever comes next. The runaway sentence blog will always ramble on, and I have a few ideas I'm working on to change things up for the coming decade and beyond.
  
Sherry: We will be watching with great anticipation, Marian!







IF YOU WERE STILL

If you were still,
I could watch the
sun set in your eyes.
I could see what leads
you to brush and paint,
to capture a horizon.

If you were still,
I could hear you
talk to the moon.
I would learn your
night language,
the dream song
of the nightingale
delivering starlight.

If you were still,
I could feel poetry
splash on your skin
in a summer rain.
I would know how
words bloom from
the tip of your pen.

If you were still,
I’d lose my way
to imagination.
I wouldn’t know
a dandelion was
a heart where
wishes seed.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Sherry: I so adore those closing lines, “a heart where wishes seed.” Wow.  Tell us a bit about this poem, Susie.

Susie: At Real Toads Sanaa Rizvi used Pablo Neruda’s poem, "I Like for You to be Still", as a prompt for our writing. I began to think of all things one could discover in the stillness of a lover or a friend, but also, in the end, if stillness became a command to surrender one’s free spirit, the loss would be unfathomable. It is in stillness and in movement we experience the true beauty of someone. I like to view it as caring with open hands, doing nothing to inhibit free expression.

Sherry: I love that, Susie. Would you share your thoughts about poetry with us? How important is it to you?

Susie: Poetry has been my lifeline. It is a journal of what I feel, hear, see, and experience. I can’t imagine life without it. Even in the first year and a half of my blog, when only one person read it, I wasn’t discouraged, but energized I had an avenue of expression. When I write poetry, I open myself to inspiration. I have a small totem I created that hangs above my desk that centers me, that reminds me even on the days my muse is silent poetry is patient, patient even in times I rail against writer’s block and self criticism.

I begin most of my writing time with a small ceremony. I either open the shades if it is daylight or at night turn on a small glass lamp sitting next to my desk to invite light into my space. I then light incense to calm me, to invite creativity and growth.

I am grateful for my laptop. I am right-handed and writing by hand is becoming more difficult. I have a condition called dupuytren's contracture which forms knotted tissue in my palm. It affects the fine motor coordination, so holding a pen/pencil and writing legibly is a problem.

All the lovely journals I’ve purchased sit empty.

Sherry: Thank heaven for our keyboards!  
Has the online poetry world had an impact on your work, Susie?

Susie: Oh my, yes, it has. My connection to online poets has been such a huge resource to learn from. I have met so many poets who have inspired me and been my mentors. I don't think I would be writing at any acceptable level without it. 

I hadn't written poetry since high school. I look back to the first poems on my blog and shake my head at how poorly written they are. I am so grateful to be part of a community of people who write and love poetry. People who encourage me to continue in the art form I am so passionate about.

Sherry: I admired your work back then with awe, just as I do today, Susie. What a glorious journey it has been!

Thank you, Marian and Susie, for sharing your thoughts on poetry and blogging with us. It has been a wonderful chat looking back on an amazing journey.

Do come back, and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Poetry Pantry #494




I hope you enjoy this image. This is the most beautiful planet! I love all of its wild and amazing creatures so much. 

Did you catch Magaly's Moonlight Musings: the Interactive Edition, on Friday? Friday is getting to be an exciting day of the week at Poets United. Like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get. Smiles.

On Monday, two poets who have been with Poets United right from the beginning, Susie Clevenger and Marian Kent, are weighing in, as Shay and Kelli did last Monday, on poetry and blogging. You won't want to miss it. On Wednesday, Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif will be Honey / Bee. That should make for some sweet poems. Smiles.

But today it is Sunday, and you know what to do. Top up your coffee, and let's settle in for sharing our words, thoughts and hearts, all for the love of poetry. Thanks for being here!



Friday, September 20, 2019

Moonlight Musings: the Interactive Edition, #2

Our last interactive Moonlight Musings was all about negative criticism. This month, we shall trek into the tricky realm of “That’s Not What I Meant”. Or, those times when readers interpret our writings in unexpected (peculiar, bewildering, enlightening,  and even humorous) ways which have very little to do with what we intended to convey.

Let’s write articles about misread words that conjure hysterical interpretations, about grammatical errors (horrors?) which change the meaning of a piece, about descriptions (which we thought brilliant) that end up filling our readers’ minds with images we can hardly recognize.

I particularly would love to read about how you, dear word lover, handle this sort of situation. Do you get irritated? Do you pretend that it isn’t happening? Do you laugh until your rib cage hurts?

Our new articles—written in prose—should be 369 words or fewer.

Add the direct link to your contribution to Mr. Linky. Visit other writers. And if you can, have fun (goodness knows the world needs more of that).

 
the face I make when I’m trying to figure out why (and how) a reader could see something in my writing, which I can’t even begin to glimpse