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You are dismissed….

http://giuliozambon.blogspot.com/2012/06/dismissive-people-power-and-all-that.html

Sometimes, going about my poetic life, I feel like I am on a badly-written episode of “Big Bang Theory,” where the speakers have seemingly forgotten that the humor-punch in the show is that these characters are anal retentive because they possess a superior intelligence…they aren’t just anal for sake of being anal, and most importantly, anal-ness is not the same thing as intelligence. Without intelligence, anal-retentiveness is just, well, annoying.

This sounds harsh!

The writer of the link posted above would agree with me.  Mired in facts, that’s what we are. Think about this. The “stuff” of Huckleberry Finn was available and accessible to everyone, but only Mark Twain could have written it. When I am in a large group setting, I am always seeking the Mark Twain of the group. Or in a pinch, becoming him. But if that is the case, the episode of Big Bang Theory I am stuck in is a REALLY bad one! I have four siblings and I am not known as the funny one.

I like what the writer of the above-linked blogpost has to say about the difference in true intelligence and the collecting of rote facts within the brain. Our schools should recognize and promote creativity and attempt to challenge those who can make connections and relationships out of facts. Otherwise, knowing who invented the sausage is about as worthless as a southerner’s fishing stories (and far less interesting).

Rote people tend to flock together like sardines in edible form, and they tend to make up their own rules and to become very dismissive of those who think outside their cans. My “rote” acquaintances like to cut me off mid-sentence. If you aren’t going to name drop their favorite theological term within five seconds or assume the inferior position they need to keep their lists in order, then they are not listening to you. I mean, God has a plan, and it’s all about them getting stuck in the airport. But what I think they do not realize is I am obviously even more dismissive of the fact-checkers than they are of me. It’s just they are never going to realize it. We were all, I believe, born to create, to take risks, to live fully, to know God at a level deeper than an acrostic of His attributes.

Sing it with me…You’re so vain…I bet you think this song is about you, don’t you? don’t you? don’t you?

 

 

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Maya, Maya, and more Maya…Please!

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/04/10/maya-angelou-how-i-write.html

Here is a link to an interview with Maya Angelou. I am always struck by the humility of her writing and her answers to interview questions. Maya quintessentially demonstrates the quiet, steely strength in humility.

I learned in this interview that Ms. Angelou writes from a hotel room. There’s an idea! I need to move to a city with a Hyatt. The hotel rooms in my little town are less luxurious and probably less clean than my house after the teenager has had a Funyon party with five of his stinkiest friends.

Quietness. Humility. Don’t force words. Don’t strangle truth. Don’t forget who you are and that to love is a greater thing than to write about love. I think that is what Maya’s poetry exudes in lesson-form. The rest is just beautiful.

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A Day in the Life…

People really do wonder what I do all day, or I like to pretend they do because it feeds my wood pile of self-absorption I suppose. Today was a pretty typical day for me. I woke up a bit later than usual at 7:15, groped around like a clumsy blind person for morning coffee, took a few sips and decided NOPE not making it to Pilates at 8:15. My hair was a bird’s nest. I have naturally curly hair and it tends to change into whatever shape I decided to sleep in and stay there. I actually have to do my hair to go to the YMCA, or maybe undo would be a more appropriate term.

After a couple cups of coffee I surfed the net then settled into an essay written by Wendell Berry at Christian Century. I realized early into the essay that in order to finish it I would have to subscribe so of course I did. Then I read the daily poems at Poetry Daily and Verse Daily and turned on my Pandora and commenced to write a poem. In between writing the poem I checked Facebook, updated my Google Calendar, and caught up with Gwyneth over at GOOP which motivated me to suddenly wonder what half a million dollars would buy a person in the housing market of Santa Barbara. I also wrote a personal letter which  if I ever print it out to mail it will take up four pages single-spaced ( I won’t) and tidied up the house for the realtor who called to say she was stopping by this afternoon to take photographs of the rooms of the house. I also read through my own poems in random fashion which is my editing process.

After lunch with my husband I put on exercise clothes and spent forty minutes running on the treadmill. Then off to the grocery store for today’s dinner which is crock pot potato soup. I picked up my son from school, cut open a cantaloupe for him , scooped out the seeds and acted like this is something he will never be able to do for himself…which gets me to now, updating my blog.

My life is not exciting enough for GOOP or Facebook. As writers, we have to create fertile environments for creative flow to happen. It doesn’t always happen, but we have to keep the possibility open, the spaces clear.

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A Submittable Day

Today was a good day, in “bird by bird”  terms. I wrote a very good poem, the kind that just falls out of me sometimes, and it’s painless so I wonder where that came from? It’s like I know I have been to the secret well and I am left wondering how did I get there?

Next, it was on to the tedium of http://www.submittable.com.

It took me longer to find two poems, collect them into a single file, proof them a million times and send them off to a poetry contest than it did to write the incredible poem. I must take heart, though, because tomorrow the incredible poem may reveal itself as quite ordinary ( or less) and the hard work of editing and submitting the poems may pay off as another rung on the publishing ladder for me.

Nothing is as it seems or so it seems.

Here is a link  :

http://www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds/handinhand.aspx

which offers encouragement to writers. I plan to revisit this site for inspiration and motivation to keep writing the good write.

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The Imagist Poem

Probably because I was a poet first, then I “grew up” and became a journalist, my return at middle age to poetry has been somewhat  the journey of a lumberjack with a dull saw through a forest of rotting trees. In other, more literal words, I have had to work my brain backwards through a very established prose voice into the internal mechanisms of lyric. This has required a brief, but fierce love affair with the Imagists.

Imagism happened in the early 20th Century as a reaction to the overt floweriness and wordiness of Victorian poetry. Imagism was one of the forks in the road of Modernism. It’s fun to explore Imagism by deploying Imagism. The quickest way to make an apple look different is to peel said apple down to its core. That is one of  Ezra Pound’s “rules” on Imagism–direct treatment of the object itself, either objectively or subjectively. No talking around the thing….only discourse on the thing itself.

The second of Pound’s rules is that under no circumstances should the poet ever waste or misuse a word. If the word isn’t necessary to the meaning of the poem or the creation of the image in the poem, then the word doesn’t belong. Imagist poems are sparse.

Pound’s third rule supports the second rule because the rhythm and meter of the poem are dictated by the absolute aversion to use of unnecessary words. So therefore, there is no substitution of a three syllable word for a two-syllable word in order to achieve pentameter. Rhythms follow the pattern of the metronome, not a specific amount of beats per measure. Modernist poetry appears in no recognizable form, and yet the great poems of this time appeal to the reader’s internal longing for a form. Imagist poetry works without working.

Today’s reading audience is much more comfortable with prose than with lyrical or imagistic poetry. An imagist poem requires a leap of faith into the unknown…a getting from the not getting, so to speak. My most recently published poem “World Without Grace” takes a stab at the writing of an Imagistic poem. I write them or attempt to write them because it is so much more satisfying and so much more challenging to write than the typical prose-poem. An imagist poem runs great risk of being misunderstood because the reader has to work harder, especially when the reader encounters an imagist poem written by the lesser-skilled imagist poet like myself. Sometimes the meaning is murky because I lacked the ability to create in a few sparse words the poem I sought to create. Often times that is the case.

This particular poem is fairly simple to comprehend if the title is absorbed as part of the poem. If the title is distanced from the text of the poem, readers get confused by what I was trying to say.  This poem did not totally succeed without punctuation and capitalization. I like to think I was experimenting with free flow imagery, but perhaps I was just being a lazy editor of my own work. Certainly, the gift to the world of a poem that no one understands can be a “world without grace” to the giver of the gift. To anyone who read this poem and doesn’t get it, I would suggest you put my poem down and find yourself some Ezra Pound. In the hands of a master, Imagism can be a very satisfying experience.

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Easter Poem published

http://burnsidewriters.com/2013/03/30/world-without-grace/

 

I am honored to have one of my poems featured on Easter weekend at Burnside Writers Collective.

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Lines that birth poems and haunt lives

There are certain poets who have the gift of creating that one line around which an immortal poem circles and without which it would be just an ordinary poem. Of all poets, Yeats is the master of this. Of course, Yeats is the master of many aspects of writing poetry. I often wonder why God didn’t select Yeats to write the Bible. I mean no sacrilege here…I just love Yeats that much!

One of the most beautiful lines ever written comes from the hand of Yeats in his poem “When You are Old and Gray.” Without this one line, the poem teeters too closely upon sentimentality. With it, the poem is timeless, fresh, brilliant.

Here is the line:             But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you

Wow. Does that not capture the way every woman wants to be loved? That one line, writ by W.B., summarizes the best love stories ever written. It is the whole world in one line. It catapults the poem off the page and into my heart. It’s also perfect iambic pentameter. It’s perfect.

Go find the poem and read it. Again and again. Reading Yeats makes me want to hang it up as a writer because I will never achieve such brilliance, but at the same time Yeats opens the lungs of my soul. Is there a better reason to be alive than you can read Yeats?

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Routine

I have allowed myself to get into the routine of not having a routine. This happens. Life happens. Starting Monday, even in the midst of March Madness, the following WILL happen:

1. Exercise. I have written down a list of classes at the local YMCA that I will attend next week. I have been exercising, but not with others and I miss and need the social time with other girlfriends. I will attend one class every day next week.

2. Writing. This week I will work on finalizing a submission for a first book award that I am pursuing. I will research markets for the book proposal on worship resources and query. I will read at least one book of poetry from a new author this week, and get started on next month’s bookclub title.

3. I will somehow manage to make it through the impending snowstorm that is headed our way this weekend. It’s March, people! I am certain that my foul mood and laziness has something to do with the need for sunshine, shorts, running outside, and all things Spring.

Maybe if I write this all down in simple, declarative sentences I will intimidate myself into accomplishment instead of watching basketball 24/7. Don’t bet on me, friends. 🙂

 

 

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Lack of….

I am thinking of changing the name of this blog to “Musings of the most undisciplined person on earth!”

Today, I started an essay that I plan to submit on the topic of gun control of all subjects. The challenge of this particular journal is that essays must be 750 words or less. For three years once weekly I churned out columns for the local newspaper and I developed the skill of almost thinking in a 500-word count. Give me any topic..go ahead to don’t be shy…and I can extemporaneously crank out 500 words on the subject. Since this journal is attempting to achieve a quality above filling blank space, I suppose I will have to work harder on this piece. The question is when? When am I planning to work harder?

We are taking a long weekend for Big 12 basketball so I won’t work on writing again until Monday. I am soaking up lots of solitude and sun rays today.

I have set my sights on another poetry contest with a deadline of April 1st and have written some poems this week which might work toward that goal. We’ll see…I am giving the poems some time and space so that I can re-evaluate with clarity. Editing one’s poetry is sort of like finding flaws in your own children. Even their pimples and scars you find adorable. Sometimes I make changes to the strengths of my poems while I worship the weaknesses, just like a good mother would.

I am packing lightly for our weekend. One pair of jeans, a supply of  KU Jayhawks shirts, my Kindle, fitness clothes, toiletries, p.j.’s.

In honor of basketball and my weekend I urge readers to find the poem “The Touch” by Judson Mitcham.

I hope to find a link to this poem to make the search easier.

“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” That can certainly apply to the publishing of poetry as well.

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Poetry on Kindle

For the first time in my life…and this feels like a momentous shift in the tides of literature to me…I purchased a book of poetry for my Kindle. Having previously succumbed to the convenience and space-saving efficiency of Whispernet for novels and nonfiction, I still planned to always purchase the ACTUAL book when buying poetry. I revisit poems continuously and I  feel like the visual of the words on an ACTUAL page that a tree had to die for enhances the experience of reading poetry. Plus I love the look of all those poets’ names stacked on my shelves. Makes me feel brainy, and unique, part of some kind of other-worldly club. Plus my poetry books are my friends. Poetry books are like pets–they always accept me unconditionally and welcome me into their little heterocosms and no litter box is ever involved. But yesterday, the cheapo, instant-gratification side of me won out. I recently discovered the poetry of Maurice Manning and yesterday the price of a Kindle version of his book “Common Man” was four dollars cheaper than a soft-back book of the same poems. That, and I knew if I I-clicked the Kindle version, the poems would be at my disposal in a matter of seconds. The jury is still out on reading poetry on the Kindle. I will probably love this book of poems so much that I will go back to amazon.com and purchase the book form so the entire transaction will end up costing me more money. I am conflicted.