Archive for September 2010

The Foundling Review   Leave a comment

Raw Ground beef

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http://www.foundlingreview.com/July2010Issue3Peterson.html

The great thing about the Foundling Review, for a writer, is that they have what they call the writer’s corner at the end of every piece, where the writer can do briefly what I try to do here on this blog, talk about where the piece came from, and how it was written. After the poem, “Love Thy Neighbor“, and my bio, it says this in the writer’s corner:

This poem was written while watching Bobby Flay grill lobster tails on the Food Network, and trying to think of a new way to serve hamburger meat.

Seriously. As a mom, you buy a lot of hamburger meat. As a mom, you grow tired of hamburgers, Hamburger Helper, and meatloaf. But what else are you going to buy that will feed you, your spouse, and three kids? Steak? Not on my budget. So I am pretty much always trying to find new ways to use ground beef. Or ground turkey. Or hot dogs. Or tuna in a can. You get the idea.

So, I watch a lot of Food Network. And I get a lot of Bobby Flay grilling up stuff I can’t afford.  Which makes me just want to mash that ground chuck into little patties, throw them on the pan, and go write a little something while they sizzle. This poem is the product of that. Thank you Bobby Flay. Thank you very much.

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Poor Mojo’s Almanac, Again   Leave a comment

Madam Satan

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http://www.poormojo.org/cgi-bin/gennie.pl?Fiction+480+bi

Recently, Poor Mojo’s published a poem of mine, which I blogged about the other day, but in April they published some flash fiction of mine, titled “The Birth of Madam Satan“. It was another piece inspired by  photos I found on Black and WTF, one of nuns smoking cigarettes, another of a woman in a mask holding a sign that read “I Am Madam Satan”. I put them side by side as writing prompts for a flash challenge at Scrawl, and this is what I came up with. A tale of a good boy gone horribly wrong when his illusions on what it means to be good shatter. Just a tad different from what Cecil B. De Mille had in mind in his movie, but it still makes for a good story. I’m glad Poor Moho’s thought so too.

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out Black and WTF yet, I highly recommend it, if not for writing prompts, then for just plain fun!

Girls With Insurance   1 comment

Cigarette

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http://frsh.in/60

I have worked with a number of great editors in my writing career, bu Dawn Corrigan over at GWI is one of my favorites. She saw great potential in my flash, “Breaking it Down”, but was not afraid to point out its flaws and make suggestions that made the piece even better without bruising the fragile writer‘s ego.

She was also perceptive enough to recognize that not everything in this story is fiction, and asked if I would rather have it published as non fiction. My answer was no, because then the neighbor in Breaking it Down was still my neighbor in real life, and while I seriously doubted she’d be reading the story, there was always the slim possibility that a visitor to my home might shout out to her “hey, you’re the neighbor with the fat shoulders!” if they saw her sitting out on her stoop, paperback in one hand, smoke in the other.

If the story had been published today, I might very well publish it as non fiction. There are fictitious elements to it, yes, but I’ve moved on, both physically and emotionally, from that time in my life,  and am more secure in who I am that I am willing to admit the darker sides of my life, to truly own my life, and not care as much who sees it. Rereading this story after so many months has made me realize how much I’ve changed since then. I get a little thrill of joy rereading it, not just because it’s well written, but because it’s therapeutic to look back, and appreciate what you had then, and have now.

So today, nonfiction. Put real people in your stories, without disguising them, without fear of hurt feelings or recriminations. Let your stories speak freely.

The Velvet Chamber   Leave a comment

Snow White Poisoned Apple

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http://talesfromthevelvetchamber.blogspot.com/2010/04/flash-fiction.html

In all my time working in libraries, the 398s have consistently been my favorite call numbers to browse. Fairly tales, folk tales, legends, they all have an allure to me that I can’t fully explain. I love reading how such tales evolved over time, for example, Goldilocks was originally an old woman and a thief before the Victorian era when she became a cute little blond with her bloomers showing. Who knew?

This fascination shows up time and again in my writing, and the piece of flash fiction that Tales from the Velvet Chamber posted earlier this year is no exception. Snow White: Sadist, (TVC has it under the original title, Snow White is Bored), explores the mind of our classic soprano Dr. Doolittle, why she would open the door, consistently, for random people just happening by a cabin in the darkest wood, where no one ever goes. Why she would choose to overlook, time and again, the warnings of the dwarfs, and put herself in jeopardy. My spin is boredom, and the wrong animal confidant.

The deadline for this project, by the way, is the end  of October. Here’s what she’s looking for:

Stories that radically revise stereotypes of “bad women” in the Bible, in myth and in fairy-tales. Stories that aren’t afraid to be literary, transgressive, dark, and sexy. Think: Lilith, Medea, the Wicked Stepmother, the Evil Witch, Pandora, Eve, crones, sibyls, fates, muses. Contemporary adaptations are fine. Mythical adapations equally welcome.

Email story in word attachment to laslugocki@gmail.com Subject line: Submission. Documents should be double-spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman. Paragraphs should be indented five spaces. Bio (necessary) and contact information in the upper right hand corner. Stories should not exceed 5,000 words. Please do not send work-in-progress. Final drafts only.

Gloom Cupboard   Leave a comment

Cabin in a vineyard, Croatia

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http://gloomcupboard.com/2010/04/20/poetry-119/

The poem of mine published in Gloom Cupboard earlier this year, entitled Mr. Stephens Buys a Vineyard, came completely out of my imagination.  I know no one named Stephens, though I know a lot of Steves, including my brother, thought I don’t really think this came from any of them. Looking back, I don’t really know what inspired me on this one.

Rereading it after so long, though, I get it. Right now I feel as if I am starting over, hopefully for the very last time, so I can finally relate to this middle-aged man who has left the corporate world behind and put everything he has into rows and rows of grapes, treating them and the earth that nourishes them as the family he’s never had. I feel sorry for Mr. Stephens, he’s got money I don’t have, but I’ve got people who love me, so we’re more than even, I think I actually come out on top in this one.

To all the Mr. Stephens’s out there in the world tonight, thank you for allowing me to dream you up. For the rest of you, take some time before work tomorrow to dream up your own characters, try hard as you can to pull from nothing.

The Legendary   Leave a comment

Sunnyside Trailer park in West Miami, Florida

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http://www.downdirtyword.com/authors/helenpeterson.html#tp

You can follow this link to every little thing I’ve ever published in the Legendary, but for today I’d just like to talk about the two poems published this year, and leave the fiction and nonfiction for another day.

A writer has to draw on everything they know, they have to listen to the language around them, both at home and away.  Both of  these poems, “What it Means to be a Whore’s Daughter”, and “Popcorn Ball Blues” reflect my own listening skills, especially as a child spending her summers in either the Southern US or out West with relatives, grandmas, uncles, that I didn’t get to see the rest of the year, and that talked in words and inflections in ways quite different from the Connecticut Yankees back home.

Not that home didn’t play a part in it as well.  My own feelings of betrayal and heartache birthed the Whore’s Daughter, using the pen and the keyboard to vent as a woman scorned causes, I hope, a lot less bloodshed than taking a sword into the trailer park. Popcorn Ball Blues on the other hand is just plain fun, one of the first flash poems I ever wrote after joining Scrawl back in 2007. They’re polar opposites, these two poems, but they work well together. It’s as if Popcorn was the hot Friday night, and Whore’s Daughter is the morning after, full of regrets.

Enjoy these, and the other work by myself and others in the Legendary. It really is a good read, every issue.

Apparatus Magazine   Leave a comment

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circ...

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http://www.apparatusmagazine.com/V1I10HelenPeterson.html

Apparatus Magazine published two of my poems in April, “Bargain Bin Blues” and “Jack and Me”.  Both poems really owe a lot to my life experiences, but both approach them from very different times in my life, and in different ways.

“Bargain Bin Blues” is all about the soundtrack of my college years in Lynchburg, Virginia. A lot of jam bands, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band, and the campfires and freedoms of a person’s late teens and early twenties, where the rules are few, and so is the money. It doesn’t say in the poem, but the CD in question is the soundtrack for the film White Man’s Burden.

Where Bargain Bin riffs off of the musical soundtrack of my life, Jack and Me is all about the poetry that influenced me in the beginning, specifically that of the Beats. I was in love with Jack Kerouac in high school. Crazy dark-haired alcoholic mama’s boy is an acquired taste for some, but has been a type that has always gotten me into trouble. I blame Jack.

In Gerald Nicosia‘s critical biography Memory Babe, he relates a story about how Jack  at a young age would play a mental game with himself while riding in his father’s car, pretending to mow trees down, counting mailboxes, things like that. I would do the same thing. The character Galatea in On the Road was based on a woman named Helen. My Roman name in Latin class was Galatea. Freaky coincidences that don’t really mean much now, but to an easily swayed sixteen year old it was a sign from above, that I would be a writer. Not just a writer, but a Writer!!!!!

So, time changes everything. I got my dark-haired doe eyed drunk, and it was not a happy ending. Is it ever? I wrote a poem poking fun at myself a little, taking off the rosy glasses that romanticized the short life of a man who in the end was rather sad, and setting an expiration date for my life, many many years into the future. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Now it’s your turn. Has a childhood hero let you down? Have your ideals changed with time, wisdom, responsibilities and paychecks? Write about it, and let me know how it turns out.