Poem a day samples

I've been starting my writing day off by writing to the Writer's Digest November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge daily prompt. I've found it's a great way to jump-start the rest of my writing for the day. As usual I don't find writing the response very hard. But I've always written my poems rather quickly. That doesn't mean I don't go back to reread and edit them. I just put down the draft quickly. I also like trying to figure out how to respond to some very quirky prompts. Another thing I do before I begin my own writing is read the Writer's Digest poetry editor, Robert Lee Brewer's, poem to his own prompt. They are definitely worth taking a look at - some of his poems are a little quirky too. With him, almost anything goes. And since you haven't joined me in the challenge , I'll bring a few prompts to you.  Although I won't publish my entire poem results from these prompts, I've share a few lines. That's in case I want to submit them elsewhere that won't consider a poem … [Read more...]

Remembering Paul in poems

In twenty more days it will be twenty years since our son Paul died by suicide. Please bear with me for these days. It's going to be hard to live through them. I told someone yesterday that even after so many years the memories of the day we found him dead are still vivid, and the grief is just as ongoing and encompassing. It is with such sadness that I look at this photo of him smiling next to his girlfriend.  It was  probably one of the last times they were together. I wrote a lot of poems about Paul and his death over the years. I still write poems about him. I'll share some here. A Stone Called Son I sleep with a stone. It's gray and small enough To fit in the palm of my hand. One side is smooth, the other Has the word, son, cut into it. And when I put the stone In the crook of my index finger I can read the word with my thumb. I like to place it between my breasts And feel its coolness on my chest. It quiets the pain in my heart And slows down my he … [Read more...]

My reinvention story

How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my age I fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. I studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally with it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism. So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know and where I hardly knew anyone, trying valiantly and unsuccessfully early on to get a writing job. Then I gave up. It was 1962. There were not a lot of jobs for women writers in those days, especially in Los Angeles. Then someone suggested I try the growing aerospace business in southern California. With that, I called Douglas Aircr … [Read more...]

April 2019 poem a day challenge

It's that time of the year again, and already we're twenty-four days into writing a poem a day. This year I got a late start and didn't write a poem a day until Day 4, and I'm still a couple of poems behind. But never mind. Knowing me, I'll catch and finish on time. Plus our prompt maven Robert Lee Brewer, poetry editor at Writer's Digest, gives us a month or two to catch up and polish our poems a bit before selecting a few and submitting them as chapbooks. Right now I don't have any favorites. Hopefully after I finish them all and edit them I'll find some submit. Here are some samples accompanied by the prompt. Prompt 2: On Tuesdays we get a choice of two prompts. The first Tuesday prompts were: Write a worst case poem. What’s the worst that could happen? Write a best case poem. Take the worst and reverse it! Writing a poem like I’m doing now Is the worst case. I’m tired, it’s late in the day But I have to catch up. Today is Day 5 of the April poem a day cha … [Read more...]

Poems for the new year 2019

I have Michael Schaub of the Los Angeles Times to thank for this New Year's Day post. He's picked some wonderful words to greet the new year from five favorite poets. I'm especially taken by his choosing the words of Naomi Shihab Nye and Dorianne Laux. I've worked with both of them in poetry workshops and consider them my mentors. Five hopeful poems to usher in the new year By MICHAEL SCHAUB DEC 31, 2018 | 11:50 AM Filipino revelers watch as fireworks light up the sky to welcome the new year at the seaside Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila in 2017. (Bullit Marquez / Associated Press) Even if you're one of the nine or so people in the world who actually understand what "Auld Lang Syne" means, you have to admit that Robert Burns' traditional New Year's poem is getting a little old. Luckily, there are other poems you can use to pay tribute to the year that's gone by and celebrate the potential of the one to … [Read more...]

Yes, you can write political poetry

Two op eds - one in the New York Times book review section and one in the Los Angeles Times editorial section - appeared yesterday. The gist in each is that we poets and other artists need to stop avoiding writing or producing other forms of art about politics. We must use our voices to provide the meaning for all that's happening in our world these days - as offensive as it might me. The last time I wrote a poem along these lines was after the buildings collapsed on September 11, 2001 - that is until I did the Robert Lee Brewer poem a day challenge this past November. I found myself writing one political poem after another. That became the most important subject for me in response to a lot of the prompts the Writer's Digest poetry editor put out, and now I feel validated. While Brewer kept admonishing us to  "poem nicely," I even ignored this admonition. And I suspect I'll continue to do so. I've copied both articles verbatim here and hopefully acknowledged the authors and … [Read more...]

Poetry writing in Santa Cruz

I just spent five days in Santa Cruz, CA at a poetry workshop held at 1440 Multiversity. The instructors were one of favorite poets, Sharon Olds, and a poet I wasn't familiar with before, Naomi Shihab Nye.  The entire experience was great. Last year four of us - Linda, Stacy, Maria and myself - worked together at a poetry workshop led by Ellen Bass at Esalen in Big Sur, CA. So we decided to meet up last week at 1440.  Although twenty-six other poets were with us lapping up the wisdom of Sharon and Naomi, we four  spent some wonderful time together. Here are some pictures. And no, I won't be sharing any of the seven poems I wrote while I was there yet. I want to see if I can get any of them published first. … [Read more...]

Keep writing and keep submitting

This has been a good couple of months for my poem submissions. Story Circle Network accepted my poem, "Reaching for a Star," to include in its 2018 anthology, Real Women Write: Sharing Our Stories, Sharing Our Lives to be published in January;  three of my poems  – "Stop and Go," "The Lesson," and "Underarm Dingle-Dangle" will appear in the Poetry Salon anthology to also be published in January, and Story Circle Network’s True Words section in its December journal accepted my poem, "The Wishing Dream," to be published this month. The main lesson is – keep submitting your writing. That’s the only way to make sure your words get out there and get noticed. I won’t publish any poems here that haven’t been published elsewhere before, but since the Poetry Salon asked for previously published work (highly unusual), I can share a couple of those. I wrote Stop and Go while at Esalen at Big Sur, California a couple of years ago and edited it extensively while in a Poetry Salon worksh … [Read more...]

It’s November PAD time again

As usual, I'm writing a poem a day (PAD) from Writer's Digest poetry editor, Robert Lee Brewer's, prompts. During the year he posts a prompt on Wednesdays except in April and November when the prompts come once a day. Our assignment is to put the best into a chapbook and enter it into his chapbook contest at the end of the month. So far I've written a poem a day for fourteen days. I'm not thrilled with the products yet, but plan to keep plugging along. Maybe I can edit them into something passable for the contest. And it's funny that this year I've gotten a little political in my subject matter. Really? Can you blame me? So here are three poems of the fourteen I've written so far this month. I've included the prompts so you'll know where they came from. *** Write a poem with an occupation as the title. For instance, the titles might include: “Governor,” “Teacher,” “Architect,” and “Engineer.” Or go with some of these creative job titles I found: “Director of First Impression … [Read more...]

Got poem?

It's been a while since I've shared some of my poetry with you. The following pieces have been published in the Story Circle Network's True Words section of their quarterly journal. I've had a wonderful response to my poems from Story Circle, certainly motivating me to keep submitting. And, as I've said before, I'll only post  poems here that have been already published so as not to lose an opportunity to get any unpublished ones accepted. So many contests and journals won't accept poems if they have been published elsewhere - even on a personal blog like this. I hope you enjoy these four: Nadia We sat across the table covered with a crisp white cloth. Her face glowed in the light, her radiant smile punctuated by deep, long dimples in each cheek. Simply dressed in black slacks and a white sweater she looked comfortable in her own skin. She spoke confidently in English. And, when speaking her native Italian, she spoke slowly so we could understand her words. At … [Read more...]

A travel story in poems

Here is the travel story I submitted to the Facebook group, We Love Memoirs' travel story contest. Alas, it didn't win, but I thought I'd share it here anyway. ​It was fun to put together. Also, our African safari in the fall of 2013 was amazing. As usual when I travel, my goal is to write a poem a day. A Travel Story in Poems    Preparing to Go Even while I am on the elliptical reading my New Yorker I wonder: should I add more shirts? should I pick out some silver jewelry? do I need a pair of high heels? While my Pilates trainer says my form is excellent, I visualize the piles of shirts, pants, undies, jackets on the sofa, shoes scattered on the floor, and stuff bought especially for this Kenya and Tanzania trip: insect repellent, bite itch eraser, and a new camera with built in telescopic lens. Even while I do my last stretches I know I have more to do: put my toiletries in travel containers, get out my contact lens solutions, lay out my travel cl … [Read more...]

Can grief be contagious?

I met Martha Clark Scala at one of the first Esalen Institute workshops I took after our son died by suicide. And it was in that workshop where I found my voice in poetry. "Aftermath," the simple poem I wrote resonated such with Martha, that she wrote the following piece about her brother's death. The poem and the article both appeared first in the Summer 2001 issue of "We Need Not Walk Alone," published by The Compassionate Friends, an organization that provides friendship, understanding, and hope to those going through the natural grieving process. Martha and I have been friends ever since. I’m Not Contagious By Martha Clark Scala​ In the two or three weeks immediately following my brother Nick’s death, I received numerous calls, cards, plants, flowers, and offers of help. My loss sat on the front burner of many wonderful people’s stoves for about 21 days. I was in their thoughts, prayers, and blessings. Unfortunately, many issues and events vie for front-burner status … [Read more...]

I’m celebrating National Poetry Month. Are you?

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture. I'm fully involved in the celebration in several ways: Writing a poem a day to Robert Lee Brewer's prompt. He's the poetry edition at Writer's Digest and has been holding poem a day challenges in April and November for years. I just wrote to his fourth day prompt a few minutes ago. Please join me. It's not too late to catch up. (Robert also gives us prompts every Wednesday the rest of the year.) Reading a book a poetry. Currently I'm reading Yevgeny Yevtushenko's little book of selected poems. I had the book in my library several years ago, but it disappeared. So I bought a new copy and am thoroughly loving rereading his poems. He writes vividly - without any flowery words or des … [Read more...]

Now, there’s a poem

If you've been here a time or two, you know I’ve always believed there is a poem out there everywhere. So many of my ideas for poems come from people I see and places I go that I’m really never at a loss for something to write about. I’m constantly saying, “Now, there’s a poem.” Still I like to work with prompts. I keep a list of them that I get from the Writer’s Digest’s poetry editor, Robert Lee Brewer and his Poetic Asides blog. He posts a prompt every Wednesday. Sometimes he’ll combine it with a request that we write in a specific poetry form, e.g., Haiku, Nonet, Luc Bat, Tanka, Ekphrastic, Quatern, Tritina. So I get a prompt, but a poetry lesson as well. Robert writes about things he knows and loves. The words are simple, homey, about his wife and children. I relate to that. He also conducts two poem-a-day challenges a year in April and November. I’ve participated for the last several years. At the end of the month he asks us to submit a chapbook of our best few poems … [Read more...]

A well worthwhile workshop on metaphor

Now that the Women’s March is over, it was time to get back to my writing life. And I didn’t waste a minute to do that. I went to a metaphor workshop yesterday morning – the very next day after the march. And it was well worth it. It helped me look at the metaphors we use every day, and it gave me exercises to use for finding metaphors in my writing – especially my poems. Here I’d like to share a few quotes about metaphors and a poem that we read during the workshop. Sorry, the three short poems I wrote while trying my hand in metaphor are nowhere near ready for public eyes. Quotes: “One of the deepest pleasures of metaphor is that it says both things at once. It runs two tracks simultaneously.” ~Lia Purpura “Similes are stronger than adjectives and metaphors are stronger than similes.” ~Kaveh Akbar “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius.” ~Aristotle … [Read more...]

Some recently published poems

I recently had a poem published. So, I've decided to post that, and some of the others published in the last few months. Lately, I've been fooling around with 5-7-5 poems - like Haikus - but not confined to nature subjects. That's been a lot of fun - like writing 140-character poems shown below. Enjoy. Last Chance My last chance for a hug and the words, I love you died with him as he walked down the hall, into his dark room, and forever out of my sight. One Afternoon We turned left on 24th Street, driving slowly as the narrow road wound up and up. There was a light rainfall, just enough to sprinkle our windshield, but not enough to put our wipers on. The hills were bright green, like technicolor, and flecked with dark green clumps of trees and patches of mustard. When the sun appeared, they had an iridescence like mounds of emerald chips. Soon we were in wine country outside of Paso Robles, with rows and rows of budding vines surrounding us. We … [Read more...]

Poetry lessons learned at Esalen, Big Sur, Part 2

As promised from my earlier post, here's Part 2 of the lessons I learned while attending Ellen Bass' Life of Poetry workshop at Esalen, in Big Sur, California, during the first week of December. Please click here to read Part 1. Long-armed poem: The third craft talk was about the "long-armed" poem, where we scoop a lot of disparate material into the poem, but all is related ultimately. To do this, Ellen suggests: Be as open as possible, allowing the world to intrude, allowing in things I don't know Start with disparate things Make a list of words, such as names of foods, books, movies, pieces of clothing. Or gather poems and take a word from each poem. Frank Gaspar, in his long-armed poems starts with a time and place and within that goes other places. But then he comes back to his starting point. Here's a long-armed poem I wrote a couple of years ago that was published In The Words of Womyn International 2016 Anthology. Stop and Go On the drive up the … [Read more...]

Fellow poet, Jennifer Payne, welcome to Choices today!

That I love poetry should be no surprise to my readers here, so it pleases me to no end to host the author of the book of poetry, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, today during her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. Jen has also provided us with her thoughts about meditation, something I've dabbled in over the years and always feel guilty about when I don't do it. I thank Jen for her guest post below.  Exploring Mindfulness by Jen Payne 1. A Meditation on Bugs I hadn't walked five minutes up the trail before they ambushed me. A swarm of gnats dropped down in front of my face like a thin, black veil. Two flies laid claim to my ears bzzzzzzzzzzzzzing in stereo. Their siege left me breathless afraid to inhale. My swatting swat, buzz, swat, buzz, swat, buzz, buzz! was moot. By coincidence, I had recently watched that scene in the movie Eat Pray Love in which the Julia Roberts character successfully sits in meditation for a full hour despite an enthusiastic swarm of … [Read more...]

Poetry lessons learned at Esalen, Big Sur, Part 1

I just spent five days at The Life of Poetry workshop with Ellen Bass and Roxan McDonald at Esalen, in Big Sur California. The workshop structure is to hear a craft talk in the morning and then have about three hours of writing time, before we meet in the afternoons in smaller groups to share and discuss our new poems. Throughout the week I wrote four poems* in keeping with the four craft talks Ellen presented. I'll discuss the first two craft talks today, and continue on with the other two later in the week - so as not to bore you too much. Metaphor: Defined as similarity between things that are otherwise very different. Use of fresh vital images to jar us, to heighten the emotion and achieve intimacy. Through quality of the metaphors, the poet can grab the reader. Try to find metaphors in your junk drawer, your garage, your closet, your throw rug (look at the fibers in the rug rather than whole). Here is an example of a poem with great metaphors: My Father's Tie … [Read more...]

Writing poetry again

I've been writing poems to Writers Digest Poetic Asides blog editor, Robert Lee Brewer's prompts for years at least since 2009 when I first entered his poem a day challenges in November and April. As a result, I have reams of poem-a-day poems, and poems to his Wednesday prompts. Right now, my Wednesday prompt document is eight-three pages and has 27,084 words. So when I decided to declare victory on my novel at least for now, I thought: why not go back to my Brewer poem document and write poems for all the prompts I've skipped over? I missed quite a few in the last few weeks because I was working, and I'm sure there must be many throughout the document as a whole. Another thing I want to look at is: are there any good enough to submit for publishing? As far as I know there is only one the first one on the list that's been published (actually twice). Here's the prompt and poem. For this week's prompt, write a box poem. This poem is either about a box or includes a box … [Read more...]