Archive for the ‘music’ Tag

Fall Open Mic Night at the MSU Writing Center   Leave a comment

Microphones

The Mics are OPEN!!!!!

 

Last night I attended my first open mic reading with my husband since we moved to Michigan in September. It took place at the MSU Writing Center in Bessey Hall, on the Michigan State University campus.

 

We had been invited to attend by members of our writers’ workshop at the East Lansing Library. The group is also sponsored by the MSU Writing Center, and meets every other Thursday. We were happy to see that, as with the writers’ workshop, we weren’t the oldest people in the room at the Open Mic. The performers included several poets, some musicians, and a story teller or two. There was free pizza and drinks for everyone, and each person that got up to read received a t shirt. There was also a raffle drawing throughout the night. I won a 25 dollar gift card to Schuler Books in Okemos, which was a pleasant surprise.

 

The students were very open and welcoming to two old timers like us. There was a poet who went by the name Logic, about our age, who seemed to be a regular in local writing circles, who had a rapid fire delivery and had everyone laughing and shaking their heads at the way he would spin truth into poetry.

 

Overall, it was a good night out, and the perfect way to start November, fresh and inspired and ready to take on that novel I’ve been attempting to write for a year and a half. It’s been sitting dormant for about six months, so it’s time to get writing again!

 

How are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Any great open mics or writers’ workshops in your area? I’d love to hear about them!

 

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Inwood Indiana 2011   Leave a comment

Indiana Route Marker

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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.

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.

Barnwood International   1 comment

http://web.mac.com/tomkoontz/Site_30/Peterson.html

Barnwood published two poems of mine this year, “Searching for Suzanne on Youtube” and “Dying is an Art”, both poems inspired by the art of someone else. The first one is actually a tribute to two people, Leonard Cohen wrote the song Suzanne, but it’s Nina Simone’s cover of the song that inspired me to write. A lot of people, when I began to workshop this poem, questioned my use of Youtube, whether social media of any kind belonged in poetry. It’s an interesting debate, one I would welcome continuing in this venue, but ultimately I decided using Youtube set the timing of the poem at a date later than the initial recording in a way that added emotion to the discovery, without spelling out that it was the year 2010.

“Dying is an Art…” uses a quote from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus” as its title. Reading her poem, and writing down the quote, opened up for me a topic that I had not heretofore written about with success, though I had tried many times. It was an incident in my life that was too emotional to write about head on, even years afterward. Plath has always been a favorite of mine, and I’ve read Lady Lazarus many times before the inspiration hit me to build on it with my own personal experiences with suicide.

As a writing prompt today, write out your favorite poem written by someone else, and see if you can find parallels in your own life. Write them out, and feel free to share.

Battered Suitcase   Leave a comment

Алина никогда не моет посуду, если ей сказать:...

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http://www.vagabondagepress.com/00901/V3I2PT7.html

Battered Suitcase is an online journal run by Vagabondage Press that has a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first places that published me  when I was starting out. They’ve done me the honor of accepting another poem, this one entitled “When Even the Neighbor’s Cat Feels Sorry for Me”, a good one for today, when I am down in the dumps.

This was a napowrimo poem. What is napowrimo? National Poetry Writing Month, the month of April, when I, and a number of other poets in the US, challenge ourselves and one another to write a poem a day, for the whole month. It’s a momentum I wish I could maintain all year. During April of 2009, I had just moved into a new place, had chosen to end my reproductive years, and was looking at a relationship in decline.  On this particular day, I hadn’t found my poem yet, was washing dishes, listening to the Beatles, when “Fool on the Hill” came on. Music is a huge influence on my writing, as are tasks that have a rhythm to them, such as scrubbing dishes. Close your eyes and think of it, the sounds and movements. Scrub scrub, rinse, stack, scrub scrub rinse stack. Sccrit, scrrit, woosh, clanck, scrrit sccrit, woosh, clanck.

The beauty of ordinary things, washing dishes, humming a tune, is good therapy to cure the blues. You either write a poem or take a nap afterwards, but either way, you’re feeling good. It all swirls away down the drain with the tortilla crumbs.  Take some time today to become aware of the rhythms of your own domesticity, and put it down on paper.