Archive for the ‘online journals’ Tag

The Potomac Journal 2013   Leave a comment

The Orange Chorus

The Orange Chorus (Photo credit: FreeWine)

 

To read the poem, click here:

 

http://thepotomacjournal.com/issue13/Poetry/Peterson.html

 

My poem Greek Chorus was recently published in The Potomac Journal’s winter issue. It was great to see this poem in print for two reasons. First and foremost, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten something published. Life has been pretty hectic with the big move to Michigan and a new routine, so I haven’t been submitting as much as I have in years past. So it was a big help to jump start my motivation to get submitting and writing again to see this poem up at the Potomac.

 

This poem also reminds me a lot of what I left behind. I wrote it after a particularly bad episode during my illness last year kept me in the hospital for the weekend and prevented me from attending a Dire Literary Series event in Cambridge Mass. Joking with friends who attended, I said next time I’ll just have them escort me in an ambulance and I can read from a gurney before being wheeled back to the ambulance. A close friend of mine replied, “That seems doable, they have hospitals in Boston, right?” It was a line too good to NOT put into a poem!

 

Greek Chorus reminds me how far I’ve come personally, and how much I’ve been able to overcome in a short period of time. As difficult as the past few years have been, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s given me plenty of inspiration, as well as the strength and patience to be a better person than when I was diagnosed. I thank the Potomac Journal for picking it up when they did, and giving me the opportunity to reflect upon it.

 

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Readers make Writers   Leave a comment

Paul Bunyan and his cradle.

Paul Bunyan and his cradle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

The first piece of advice I give any aspiring writer is to read. A lot. Every day. Read a variety of things, fiction, nonfiction, books, magazines, blogs, whatever you can get a hand on, for at least an hour a day.

 

Why? Because even if the writing isn’t very good, you can learn something from it and become inspired in your own writing. If the sentence structure is poor, if there are misspelt words, if the plot is lacking, you’ll probably sit there and say, “I can do better than that!” Hold on to that thought, and once the hour is done, go for it! Write on the same topic, make it better, make it yours.

 

When the writing is good, take notes. Ask questions of the piece. What makes you enjoy the writing? Try to mimic these techniques. Don’t plagiarize the content. Ever.  Play around with the style and themes, try to build on them and make them your own.

 

And, finally, it’s good to research and read on topics you’d love to write about. This is just as important in fiction and poetry as it is in nonfiction. For example, I never know when I’ll stumble across a new unique word that I can use as a poetry title. I’m currently reading Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s new novel, The Long Earth. In it, one of the characters uses the word tracklements, which are the accompanying foodstuffs used on or around the main course. It’s a fantastic word, and I wrote it down immediately on my vocabulary list.

 

I’m also reading up on the folklore of Michigan and the surrounding areas, especially the tall tales relating to Paul Bunyan. I have an idea of a story deconstructing Paul Bunyan’s myth in light of modern issues such as deforestation and global warming. I’m always looking for folktales I’ve never heard of before, or to learn something new about the ones I thought I knew, both for my own enjoyment and to use as springboards for new short stories.

 

What about you? What are you reading, and how does what you read affect what you write? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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!

 

A Few Lines Magazine 2012   Leave a comment

 

Refridgerator with character

Who knows what lurks in the fridge? 

 

 

 

 

 

There are times when the influence of the poets that have come before you become very apparent in your work. You write a poem or a story, and you can see Emily Dickinson or Wallace Stevens or Robert Frost in there, somewhere. In my poem, To My Recent Ex, recently published by A Few Lines Magazine, there is a glimmer of William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say”.

 

 

 

There are two very different camps when it comes to the interpretation of Williams’ poem. Some believe it to be a simple and moving look into a loving relationship. The other camp, where I stand, sees the chill and formality within it. Forgiveness is not asked, it is demanded. Ending with the word cold implies, to me, a chilly relationship, where communication is handled solely by notes left on the fridge.

 

 

 

My poem was written at a time when my soon to be ex-husband and I were communicating in like manner, though with us it was texting, we no longer shared a fridge. The isolation in Williams’ poem resonated with me, and I wanted to take it farther, more graphic, more cynical.

 

 

 

And so, instead of sweet fruit, the persona in my poem eats a bowl of spaghetti past its prime instead. The results are stomach turning, in more ways than one.

 

 

 

You can read my poem, and the other great poetry in Issue IV of a Few Lines, by following this link here to the pdf:

 

 

 

http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/4016299/vol1iss4-pdf-may-22-2012-12-13-am-1-4-meg?da=y&dnad=y

 

Jmww 2012   Leave a comment

 

To read Jack and Jill Get a Mortgage, click here: http://jmww.150m.com/PetersonH.html

Jack and Jill (nursery rhyme)

Jack and Jill (nursery rhyme) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I was thrilled, after two years of trying, to finally have a story accepted into jmww this past year. Jack and Jill Get a Mortgage, published in the Winter 2012 issue, is a modern take on the old nursery rhyme, imagining how Jack and Jill might have grown up.

 

I wrote this flash during Hurricane Irene, while I myself was brewing tea with FEMA water and cooking sausages out on the grill. Besides cooking and eating al fresco, there wasn’t much else to do but write while the light was good. I was also in the middle of writing a collection of short stories and poetry based upon nursery rhymes and fairy tales. During a trip to town hall to charge my cell phone, catch up on town news, and fetch a pail of water, it occurred to me that Jack and Jill would be a perfect fit for the situation my family and I were currently in.

 

Rewriting and retelling fairy tales seem to be all the rage these days, look how there’s been two Snow White movies this year. I try to be a little different with mine, find stories and rhymes that may get overlooked by more mainstream writers, and taking the characters and putting them in situations they’d never find themselves in the original stories. It’s great fun to research folktales and legends. You learn more about how we’ve come to think about life, where the tales got their start; it’s interesting to see how these cautionary tales can still be applied to life today, when there are still wolves to avoid and hills to tumble down.

The Legendary 2012   Leave a comment

The Legendary 2012

On a number of occasions over the years, I’ve been honored to be included in the pages of The Legendary, edited by the sassy Katie Moore. This year, in February, she published my poems Eros and Phileo.

Both poems take their titles from two of the three aspects of love as defined by the ancient Greeks. Eros is romantic, physical love, and phileo is fraternal love, it’s why we say Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love. There is a third poem in this series, called Agape, on the last aspect of love, but Katie passed on this one and it was published instead by Dead Mule in April, but that’s for another blog post in a couple of weeks.

I wrote these poems towards the end of a brief relationship. After my divorce, I began to date an old friend, someone I had met 18 years ago in high school, and there were times where it was difficult to separate the 33 year old man from the 16 year old boy in the band room.

Writing these poems made me realize that what both of us were looking for was a return to the innocence we’d lost over the years, and the relationship ended soon after. This is one of the advantages of being a poet. Writing gives clarity to the reality that inspires the writing.

To read Eros and Phileo, as well as everything else of mine that the Legendary has ever published, visit their archives here:

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

The April 2012 Issue of Waterhouse Review is Finally Here!   Leave a comment

Bronze sculpture of Sancho Panza by Lorenzo Co...

Bronze sculpture of Sancho Panza by Lorenzo Coullaut Valera (1876–1932). Detail of the monument to Cervantes (1925–30, 1956–57) at the Plaza de España ("Spain Square") in Madrid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest issue of The Waterhouse Review is up, and I have to say, since I accepted the invitation to become the first poetry editor, every issue seems to get better and better.

 

The current issue is no exception. The cool thing about being an editor is seeing how, even when you didn’t have a theme in mind, one seems to materialize as you begin to read through the latest batch of submissions. I don’t know how it works, but it does. It’s like literary magic, and it’s wonderful to see how an issue comes together, like a crazy waltz that started as the hustle.

 

April 2012 is no exception. Every piece deals in some way with relationships in some way. Whether it’s the humorous lack of communication between doctor, pharmacist, and patient in Jennifer McGowan’s poem Cough Syrup, the surreal maternal relationship between man and spider in MD Joyce’s story Sancho Panza –OR- Dads Are Just Jerks Who Divorce Your Mom, or a woman’s disconnection with everything in Rachel Cox’s Less Than Superhero, this issue has a little bit of something that everyone can identify with in some way, and I like that.

 

For me, the most personal of the bunch is Katie Moore’s poem My Little Runaway. I’ve been the little girl wanting to run away from the safe and the comfortable, not really knowing what I’m getting myself into. And I’ve been the mother who knows her children will never make it out of the yard before turning back.

 

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the latest issue of Waterhouse, see what else I do in my spare time. We are now reading for July, so if you’re a writer who thinks your work might be a good fit for us, please check out our guidelines page and send it along!

 

http://www.waterhousereview.co.uk/