Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Haruah: Breath of Heaven   Leave a comment

Northern lights on the road

Image by Tom Olliver via Flickr

To read this poem, click here

2007, when “On the Shores of Gitcheegumee” was published in Haruah: Breath of Heaven, seems like a lifetime ago. Even more distant is the even that inspired this inspirational piece about grieving, loss, and hope.

My grandmother died almost 20 years ago, but the trip to Montana my family took is fresh in my mind to this day. Growing up we made the trek to Montana by van many times, but this particular trip was fraught with roadblocks along the way. The minivan broke down in Michigan, the part needed had to be ordered, the only campground nearby with a spot for us was run by a crazy old man who hated kids.  It was like something out of a movie, but the best, and worst, was yet to come.

At weeks end, we sped across the prairies, not stopping at night, my parents taking turns sleeping. During one of the brief stops along side the road so Mom could wake up and take Dad’s place, we were blessed to see the Northern Lights, my sister and I for the first time. The next day we learned that my grandmother had passed around the time we witnessed Aurora Borealis.

My family, my life, have always been a main source of inspiration for me, and this poem is representative of some of my earliest work, drawing on one of the bigger moments. Over time, of course, I have to delve further, draw from memory buried over time, more subtle. It’s nice to look back and remember a simpler, bittersweet time.

How deep into your own memory do you go for inspiration? Have you simply skimmed the surface in your writing, or have the layers slowly been peeled away? Do some free writing, quickly writing down scraps of memory, phrases, words, see what might be hiding, waiting to come into the light.

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Inwood Indiana   Leave a comment

William Blake's The Body of Abel Found by Adam...

Image via Wikipedia

You can read “Cain: A Life” and “Mother” here

You can buy a copy of Issue 2, Hawthorn Road here

I have been working on my first novel. Well, not a novel, really. Don’t think I have the attention span for a novel yet. Let’s call it a novella. It’s about Cain, son of Adam and Eve, cursed to walk the earth without rest for all of time. It’s also about the people he meets along the way in modern times, mostly in the midwest section of the United States, and how they react to meeting a man who keeps moving, has no moral code good or bad, possibly no soul, and no goals. Slowly witnessing his emptiness allows them to realize, and to fill, the emptiness in their own lives. It’s happy for them, sad for Cain, who must keep moving and has no idea about the good he has done.

I started writing Cain around the end of last year, but I’d had the idea in my head for quite some time. Unfortunately, I can only work on it from time to time, here and there, before life, or other ideas for other stories and poems, overtake it for awhile. I came to a standstill around the time that I was sending out a batch of work, and decided to send what I had so far out, in the hopes that seeing it in print might encourage Cain to emerge.

So, now that it’s out, I’m patiently waiting. If you get a chance to read it, and like it, please don’t be shy about letting me know. Likewise if you hate it. I want to know what you like as well as what you hate, both will help me out a lot in getting the other 90+ pages written.

Mother is a good scary poem, perfect for this time of year. Especially if you suffer from arachnophobia.

Enjoy!

 

Apparatus Magazine   Leave a comment

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circ...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Southword Journal   Leave a comment

http://www.munsterlit.ie/Southword/Issues/18/contents.html

Southword Journal is an online literary zine out of the Munster Literature Center in County Cork, Ireland. Landing a story there was huge for me, because they pay well, and because it was my first Irish publication.

Ireland, especially Dublin, has a special place in my heart, as it was the location of my honeymoon. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the marriage will survive, but my love for Dublin will never die. I’m a huge history buff, a bibliophile, so visiting the National Library and seeing the James Joyce exhibit, visiting the Book of Kells, nothing could have topped the thrill of that for me. Dublin is dripping with culture, good people, great food, and so it was a given that I would write it a love poem or two. This one, “The Honeymoon is Over”, morphed from a prose poem to more of a flash fiction piece. Some people will tell you there’s very little or no difference between the two, but, for me, the language I use in flash is more narrative, less descriptive than my prose poems, although if you follow me at all, you know that very rarely do I write anything that doesn’t have a hint of the narrative in it.

So, I wrote a love story to Dublin, and added around the edges a bittersweet, and very personal, tale of a marriage that was doomed from the start, cursed as it was with addiction and codependency on both sides. It’s a victory march, the beauty of letting go, moving on. So, in many ways, it’s not only a love story between a girl and a city, but a love story between a girl and herself as well.

How about you? Is there a place on the map that inspires you for whatever reason? Tell me about it, write about it with love, and discover some new things about yourself along the way.