Not writing scares me….

ghostly.pngWrite what scares you…..

This is a poetry prompt given to me in one of my graduate level classes.

I don’t think it has to be just for poetry.

Experts tell us we should do something that scares us every day. I don’t know. I’ve done quite a lot of things that scare me – crossing the highest bridge in North America, swimming with sharks, – but those are kinds of scary that gives you a rush. Still valid to write about.

But in that assignment and poem, I wrote about a missing girl. Because those are the types of things that do scare me – when children go missing.

I wrote:

Have you seen her pass this way?

Shoe found, white.

Blood on the laces….

 

Write about what scares you….

 

Feel free to share!

 

Old School Inspiration

Yuself Komunyakaa is one of my favorite poets. He writes about love and passion, loss and war – all kinds of war, including the Vietnam war in which he served many years ago. Although he’ll write about, he won’t talk about it.

One of the many mysteries of poets. Sometimes purging our pains in poetry is so much easier than clearing our mind with conversation.

I love reading poetry because it inspires me. Does it inspire you?

 

The Soul’s Soundtrack

When they call him Old School
he clears his throat, squares
his shoulders, & looks straight
into their lit eyes, saying,
“I was born by the damn river
& I’ve been running ever since.”
An echo of Sam Cooke hangs
in bruised air, & for a minute

the silence of fate reigns over
day & night, a tilt of the earth
body & soul caught in a sway
going back to reed & goatskin,

back to trade winds locked
inside an “Amazing Grace”
that will never again sound
the same after Charleston,

South Carolina, & yes, words
follow the river through pine
& oak, muscadine & redbud,
& the extinct Lord God bird
found in an inventory of green
shadows longing for the scent
of woe & beatitude, taking root
in the mossy air of some bayou.

Now Old School can’t stop
going from a sad yes to gold,

into a season’s bloomy creed,
& soon he only hears Martha
& the Vandellas, their dancing
in the streets, through a before
& after. Mississippi John Hurt,
Ma Rainey, Sleepy John Estes,

Son House, Skip James, Joe
Turner, & Sweet Emma,
& he goes till what he feels
wears out his work boots
along the sidewalks, his life
a fist of coins in a coat pocket
to give to the recent homeless
up & down these city blocks.

He knows “We Shall Overcome”

& anthems of the flower children
which came after Sister Rosetta,
Big Mama Thornton, & Bo Diddley.
Now the years add up to a sharp
pain in his left side on Broadway,
but the Five Blind Boys of Alabama
call down an evening mist to soothe.

He believes to harmonize is
to reach, to ascend, to query
ego & hold a note till there’s
only a quiver of blue feather
sat dawn, & a voice goes out
to return as a litany of mock
orange & sweat, as we are sewn
into what we came crying out of,

& when Old School declares,
“You can’t doo-wop a cappella
& let your tongue touch an evil
while fingering a slothful doubt
beside the Church of Coltrane,”
he has traversed the lion’s den
as Eric Dolphy plays a fluted
solo of birds in the pepper trees.

 

Cento – or Collage Poems

In a writing group, we were challenged to write a cento in a given time from poems we were handed. A fun exercise!

Many years ago, in a writing class, I’d taken all the student poems which had a line or two rejected or criticized for whatever reason and placed them together in a poem. I read this in the same class and our Professor recognized what I’d done and appreciated it.

“UnWalden Pond” was published in That’s Going to Hurt a few years ago.

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Centos are fun poems to write. Some publishers require citations for each line. Some publishers do not. I think it’s probably a good idea to keep notes of where you got what and call a cento a collage, patchwork, or otherwise identify it for what it is.

 

Notebook or Computer?

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Dan Brown, Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume, and a number of other authors talk about writing in notebooks.

Blume says she fills it up from start to finish. I have to admit, a have a number of half empty notebooks. I keep them in various places, the car, the bedroom, dining room table, my desk. Then, I move them around, put them elsewhere and begin a new one before I rediscover the one I previously used.

I used to use big composition notebooks. These days I use smaller journal types.

Studies show that writing by long hand in a notebook uses a different part of the brain.

I wrote Grandma’s Last Secret by long hand in a notebook.  I wrote the whole of West End in a notebook before I ever thought of touching the laptop. I feel like there’s a difference for me. And sometimes, the notebook is easier on the eyes, easier on the brain. I don’t feel as much pressure from a pen and paper that I do when I sit in front of the computer.

But I do write on the computer sometimes too. I sit down and I’ll write a story, sometimes, from start to finish on the computer without considering a notebook.

Do you use notebooks? Or computers? or Both?  Feel free to share in our facebook group.

Are you a rule follower?

rules.jpgJudy Blume recounts a story in which she took a writing for children class and they set out the rules involved in writing for young children, then she went and broke all of them.

Rules have purpose, have value. They give us the basics.

Hear me out on this – I believe we need to know the rules. We don’t need to necessarily continue to follow the rules.

Picasso followed the rules. But when he was comfortable and confident, he broke them in order to develop his own style.

Every writer should know the rules of writing. Even if they choose not to follow them.

Friday Motivation

poe.jpgIn the morning, when I’m writing, I have a cup of tea sitting next to the computer as I write. It starts steaming hot and I sip. I set it down and if I get moving on my writing, it slowly grows cold.

My cup sees me in the morning the way no one else does, hair up, sweats on, staring at the screen with the cup pressed between my hands, sometimes next to my lips. What else does my coffee cup see?

What would your coffee cup say about you?

Imagine a story about you or your family from your coffee cup’s point of view.

Found Poems

This being poetry month, I thought I’d talk about poetry and share some poems with you.

When I was first introduced to the “found poem,” it seemed like plagiarism. My mentor suggested, I cite the original author or write “after….” and the name of the author the original text came from.

The Found Poem is just that – found. Take another’s work, words, phrases, or other, and rephrase or reframe forming it into your own fresh and original poem.

My found poem, “The Friendly Isle,” was originally published in DayBreak many years ago.

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While I don’t have any books of poetry out – yet – I do have a number of poems published. Check out my list of publications, and check out the books I do have on Amazon.

Try one of your own and feel free to share here in our facebook group!