Archive for the ‘poems’ Tag

Napowromo 2013   1 comment

Map of Midwest.

I am here. Writing awesome poetry. 

 

 

 

So, it’s April again. Last year around this time, I was sick, planning a wedding, and working hard to rearrange my life in preparation for a move to the Midwest. There was no way I was going to get any poetry written last year.

 

This year, I’ve got an office mostly to myself during the day, I’m healthy, lawfully wed, and have no plans to move again for at least 20 years, if not longer. It’s a happy place. I have no excuse to not write a poem. Every. Single. Day.

 

And, on April 4th, I’m happy to say that so far, so good. I’ve been focusing on writing fiction this year, so it’s a nice change of pace to start writing some poems for 30 days.

 

I am still working on the David Foster Wallace/ 3 Dollar Word poems project, so I’ve got lots of fun words stocked up as prompts. But I’ve got a lot of life experience from the past year or so to draw from as well. Of the four poems I’ve written so far, only two are big words, the other two are pure inspiration.  I can do this. Yes, yes I can.

 

And so can you! Go out there, get writing!

 

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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.

 

Every Day Poets 2012, Part Deux   1 comment

Posterior wall of the pericardial sac.

Pericardium goes put put patta patta ping!(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Every poet has one, that filler poem you send out just because the guidelines say at least three poems, but you only have two that you really feel are a good fit for the journal. The one you never expect to have published, that, secretly, you admit to yourself isn’t very good. The red headed stepchild of your repertoire, as it were.

 

For a long time my filler poem was one called Poetry Odetry. It was written in about fifteen minutes as an example of alliteration for my students. These guys were members of my after school poetry club, and ranged in age from eight to thirteen, so I wanted something very basic, not fraught with a lot of metaphor or heavy meaning. I just wanted a lot of words that started with the letter P, just like my last name, since the exercise I was going to have the kids do would be to write an alliterative poem around their own last names. It wasn’t something I wrote with the intent of having it published, except for removing a section of the poem where I had a list of P words, I did very little editing before sending it out as my plus three. And that was OK with me.

 

So imagine my surprise when Every Day Poets not only accepted P.O. and published it in November, but used it as an example in Every Day Inspiration. Reasons for the acceptance were cited as it being a fun poem that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which, of course, it doesn’t.

 

That makes me want to take a second look at the poems that haven’t found a home yet, that I think are far and away better than my alliterative exercise. Do they take their themes too far, and border on the melodramatic? Am I saying something in them that’s been done to death?

 

It’s amazing what you can learn from filler poems. Not least of which, that you’re not always the best judge of what in your poetry works, and what doesn’t.

 

Have you had a poem or story accepted that you never thought would ever find a home? Tell me about it in the comments.

 

To read Poetry Odetry, click here: http://www.everydaypoets.com/poetry-odetry-by-helen-r-peterson/

 

To read the Everyday Inspiration post, click here:  http://www.everydaypoets.com/every-day-inspiration-51/

 

 

 

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!

 

Everyday Poets September 2012   1 comment

New interrobang tattoo

Interrobang tattooed on the arm of a fellow punctuation lover. (Photo credit: Emily Lewis)

Last week I talked about my recent move to Michigan. The reason for the move was because my new husband, the short story writer Gavin Broom, had gotten a job with a subsidiary of his company in that state. Gav and I have been friends for many years, both belonging to the same online writers’ workshop. A native of Scotland, he visited the US in August 2011, and we were able to meet face to face for the first time.

The attraction, which had been building gradually via email, text message, and Facebook, blossomed into a full-blown relationship.  Five transatlantic flights later, we decided our carbon footprint had grown wide enough, and he proposed in the baggage claim of Logan International Airport in Boston.

My poem in Everyday Poets on September 28th, Interrobang, deconstructs our relationship. It speaks of the questions that are brought up when one marries for the second, or even third, time. How two people used to having their own way come together as one, forging new ways of arranging a living room, folding clothes, raising children.

An interrobang is a unique form of punctuation, which is used for something that is both a question and an exclamation. I thought it summed up perfectly the feelings one has right before a move, a wedding. That feeling of excitement, with so many possibilities ahead of you that you feel the need to question every one. It’s the first form of punctuation that I’ve ever written a poem around, though I have challenged myself to write more.

To read the poem, follow this link, feel free to rate it and leave a comment!

http://www.everydaypoets.com/interrobang-by-helen-r-peterson/

Everyday Poets 2011   Leave a comment

 

Child 1

Children, flexible in all kinds of ways!  (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

 

As anyone who has read my latest book, Melons and Memory will tell you, my role as a mother is at the very center of my being. More than my roles as a poet, librarian, sister, daughter, wife or friend, I am identified by others as being the mother of my daughter and two sons. The first thought on waking and the last fading off to sleep is how can I improve the lives of my children every day. It’s led to some easy decisions, and to others that were not so easy.

 

 

 

One of those tough decisions was made after my daughter was born. I had suffered from HELPP syndrome, and had had to have an emergency c section as my liver and kidneys began to shut down. She was fine, the healthiest and heaviest of the three, but in the process of giving her life, I almost lost mine. At that point I made the painful decision to have a tubal ligation. While I was still pretty young, I had had three children, I had my girl. The potential for more children was too great a risk to the well being of the children I already had.

 

 

 

Three years later, it’s a decision I’m comfortable with. I see my friends in their pregnancies, hold their infants, and that desire to have another one is no longer there. But in the beginning, it was very difficult to wrap my head around such a permanent decision. So, as I do with all the bumps in my road, I ironed it out with writing.

 

 

 

The poem, “Closing Down the Baby Factory”, was so good, Everyday Poets published it last year, and I’m so glad they did. While the beauty and joys of motherhood are so prevalent in poetry as to almost be cliché, the topic of choosing to let motherhood go rarely gets the airplay it deserves, in poetry or the mainstream media. It’s important that every woman can find herself somewhere in the arts. One of the goals I’ve set for myself in my writing career is to give them that through my own experiences, no matter how sensitive or graphic it might be.