Archive for July 2011

Existere   Leave a comment

Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), National Galle...

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To find out more about Existere, and order a copy of the issue, click here

It’s official. Canadians like me, or at least like my poetry. They’ve proven it, when Existere, Journal of Arts and Literature, published my poem, “We Were Made for a Garden”, in their Fall/Winter2010 issue.

It’s a beautiful print journal, and the issue came just in time for a long sad weekend away at a funeral. I enjoyed everything in it, not just my poem, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, I had the hardest time getting my credit union to deposit the check that came with it. Oh well, Paypal next time.

The poem is a little love poem to someone who came and went with me for a season, very much like a garden actually, right between husbands 1 and 2. The good thing about poems like this is they remind you of happy times with no regrets. It was just that kind of relationship. There’s also a reference in the poem to Jackson Pollock‘s Lavender Mist, so it makes me look all artsy and stuff in the process, without being overt about it like the Georgia O’Keefe or Charles Sheeler poem.

One of the greatest dates of my life was going to see the movie Pollock with this person at the Madison Arts Cinema. There are still a few really small cinemas here in Connecticut, the one in Madison, the one in Niantic, the one in Mystic to be specific. I don’t get down to Madison very often, but the one in Mystic is a favorite place to go see the movies I really want to see, on the few nights I get to go out and be a grown up.

It also helps that, to me, Lavender Mist looks like a garden freshly dug, with lots of potential milling about underneath the soil. So everything tied in really well together, and made a lovely little love poem. I’m glad Existere picked it up, and I can take the issue off my shelf and reread it again and again, to remind myself of happy days, and to give me the courage to grasp the potential of my life today. Which is teeming.

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Poetrybay   Leave a comment

Georgia O'Keeffe

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To read the poem, click here

To learn more about the painting, watch here

One of my very, very first publishing creds. I met George Wallace while I was still in school, going to hear him read in Groton at the UConn campus. At that time he introduced me to Poetrybay and invited me to submit work, which I did. We’ve since become good friends, and have read together on a couple of occasions.

The poem, “On Georgia O’Keeffe‘s Goat Horn and Red”, is based on am O’Keeffe painting I had printed on a tile in my living room at the time. It was written for an assignment in my Writing Poetry class with the fantastic Daniel Donaghy, who had asked us to write a poem based on art work. Unfortunately, he wanted something less abstract, and so I had to write my Charles Sheeler poem for the grade, but that’s another blog post.

The poem in itself is simple, abstract, capturing what I saw in O’Keeffe’s work without getting too deep. Getting in deep came much later in my work. It was cathartic to get into the mix of orange and red swirls, bought at the Recycle Shop in Montville CT to match my newly painted living room’s blue walls with orange trim, a color scheme chosen by my new boyfriend at the time who eventually became husband number 2.

I later sold the tile on Ebay when husband #2 lost his job and I was desperate to pay the mortgage, then lost the house, the living room anyway. But again, another story.

Hmmm, perhaps it’s time to write a deeper poem.

 

 

Elimae 2007   Leave a comment

Domestic goat.

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To read this oldie but goodie, click here

The journal elimae holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first places to publish me back in 07 when I decided to really get serious about writing and publishing.

The poem, “Was God, Cooked Dinner that Night” holds a special place in my heart because it was written shortly after I joined Scrawl and participated in my first flash exercise. The prompts were goat, bolt, and motion.  My father was still raising goats, I’d already written a goat poem about that the previous year, so this time I felt obliged to create a brand new story, a poem straight from my head, with little to do with the heart. And, according to Coop Renner over at elimae, it worked.

Try it for yourself. Write something about a goat, a bolt, and motion.

Inwood Indiana 2011   Leave a comment

Indiana Route Marker

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To buy a copy of the latest issue, click here

To read the issue free online, click here

A misanthrope is someone who hates and mistrusts humanity. Imagine being married to and having kids with a guy like that. That’s what I did in the 3 dollar poem, “Mr. Misanthrope”, that Inwood Indiana just published in their Breaking Curfew issue.

The poem’s title is also a friendly homage to the Beatles’ song, “Mean Mr. Mustard” who was, if you think about it, a misanthrope. And a dirty, dirty man.

What I’ve learned about novel writing, thus far   Leave a comment

A woman typing on a laptop

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So, by working on it here and there, I’ve come up to about 16,000 words which, to me, is amazing and scary and just weird. I’ve never written this much in my life about one thing. Zombies. Who knew?

I’m not done by any means, but I’ve learned a thing or two thus far, and thought today I’d pass them along.

1. Outlining. It’s not for sissies.

I’ve always been a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl, both in life and in writing. This works, sort of, for poems, flash fiction, and short stories. It doesn’t work at all in marriages, mortgages, and novel writing. Seat of my pants style, it was hard to get into any sort of routine going. If I wasn’t “Inspired”, or it had been a number of days, (weeks…months…) since I’d written, it was hard to get back into the flow of the story, I would spend all of my limited writing time trying to figure out where exactly I was going.

I don’t always stick to the outline, my writing still takes interesting turns on its own. Now, however, I can sit down, check on my outline where I left off and where I’d like to go, and actually spend my writing hour doing just that, writing.

2. Attempt to Set a Routine, but Accept that Life Happens

I have three children. Finding time to write where I’m not distracted is tough. In the summer, when I’m not working, it’s easier, I try to write during nap time. But we don’t always have nap time. Sometimes we’re at an event for the day, and no writing gets done. And that’s okay. Sometimes I need a break. Burning out is never good, for anyone.

Another great thing is using the gifts of time I sometimes get. Earlier this year, I had to attend a funeral sans children in another town. I brought my laptop and wrote in the hotel after attending the wake, and again in the morning before the funeral. This summer, I had the opportunity to use a friend’s cabin for a couple days, sans kids. Again, I took my laptop, and got a lot of work done. Speaking of laptops

3. Set aside an internet free computer/laptop just for writing.

It is hard, when the world is only a click away, to get any kind of work done, I don’t care what it is. I try to write on the main computer of the house, I get stuck digging for treasure, or chatting with friends, or refusing crap from Farmville. My laptop is ancient, it has very little battery life, and no built in modem. And that’s the way I like it. (OK, more battery life would be nice, but I digress.) If there’s something along the way I’d like to research, I make a note of it, or I grab my Droid real quick. Then I put the phone down and get back to work.

4. Love your characters. Even the unlovable ones.

This can be hard. In my novel, Divorcing the Corpse, there are some pretty ugly characters, and I’m not just talking about the zombies. You’ve got to find a way to like at least something about everyone you create. One thing I’ve done that has worked with the villain of the story, I asked a very “close personal friend” to help me name him. That way, when I write about the bad guy, I do it with a smile on my face, thinking of my “close personal friend”. The story gets written, someone gets added to the acknowledgments page, everyone’s happy.

5. Have Fun

No, writing a novel is not easy. No one is saying it is. It requires time, thought, and lots and lots of work. But if you don’t enjoy doing it, the work is going to suffer, and your story isn’t going to be as good. It’ll become as much of a drag for your readers as it has become for you. Put it aside, go write something else for awhile. Remember why you love to write in the first place.  Then come back to it. Maybe.

 

So ok, five things I’ve learned. I’m sure there’s many more, I’m sure I’ve got more to learn. But this is what I got so far, hopefully you can use a little bit of this in your own work. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments. Write on!

 

Wilderness House Literary Review 2011   3 comments

pregnancy tests

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To read the issue, click here 

WHLR very nicely printed five, yes FIVE! of my poems in their latest issue. I feel loved.

Agamous is another one of those three dollar poems. Agamous is a word that can mean asexual, it can also mean a metal free of impurities. In this poem, I play on both definitions to detail the end of a marriage, when one goes through a period of feeling asexual, almost as if the sexual being is ripped, painfully, from one’s identity, a process not unlike the extreme heat and pressure required to purify a metal.

How I Knew is a humorous take on pregnancy, the discovery by a woman that she is with child, and the attempt to explain to her partner exactly what it was that inspired her to purchase the pregnancy test in the first place.  The answer is, of course, unsatisfying and enlightening at the same time.

The next poem is also a humorous poem, and a 3 dollar one as well. The English Major Comes Home is different from the other 3 dollar poems in that the big expensive words come not in the title, but in the poem itself. There are eight of these words in total, including my favorite, windelstraw. I’ve met English majors like this, in fact, if I were totally honest with myself, I guess I was one. Still am.

The last two take a turn in the opposite direction.

Laying it Down/Picking it Up was a poem inspired by the heartbreaking death of a former student of mine. She was only in 6th grade when she died suddenly during what was supposed to be a routine surgery. Later it was discovered that she had undiagnosed leukemia, and would have died soon, tragically, anyway. The memorial service, however, was a beautiful celebration of a wonderful little girl, and I felt it deserved to live on.

The last poem, You Cut Me Deep, is sad, bitter, using a favorite girlhood toy and the folklore of unicorns. What can I say, I’m a student of folklore, I use it a lot. And yes, okay, I haven’t exactly been successful in discerning the wheat from the chaff when it comes to relationships. I do believe I am getting better. Maybe.

So there you go. A pretty successful and wide ranging collection of poems. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry. They’ll all, hopefully, make you think. Enjoy.

 

Pirene’s Fountain 2011   Leave a comment

This image was taken in 1986 by Thierry Noir a...

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To read the poem, click here

Middle school is never easy. It’s especially tough when you’ve always been a little socially awkward. As I was. And, ok, continue to be. I think most writers, most creative people, live within their minds to a degree that interacting with other people isn’t always easy. Add to that an embarrassing childhood illness, and you’ve got a made for tv movie in the making.

Or, in my case, fodder for good poetry. A great example is the poem Pirene‘s Fountain published of mine earlier this year, entitled “When the Wall Came Down”. The wall of course refers to one of the big historical moments during my youth, Perestroika, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Also, great fodder. Especially when you combine it with preteen angst.

Today, make a list of all the defining historical moments of your youth. Thinks about where you were, what you were doing, how it impacted you, how it didn’t. Start brainstorming how one thing mirrored the other, how history could be used as a metaphor for the first person you kissed, the bully that pushed you into the mud, the joy of making the soccer team, the defeat of not gaining a part in the school play.