After a two-year hiatus, I’m returning to Esalen

I'm kicking off the holiday season by going back to Esalen in Big Sur California tomorrow to take a five-day poetry workshop with Joseph Millar. But I've made up my mind already. Just being back at Esalen after a two-plus-year break is all that matters. Of course I love being there to write. But what I really I love is just being there - period. I've worked with Joseph many times before, usually when he leads poetry workshops with Ellen Bass and his wife Dorianne Laux - a fantastic trio of poetry brilliance. He also helped edit a lot of the poems that appear in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. He has a wonderful gift for honing in on the good and what can be improved about the poems he hears and reads. Here's a little information about Joseph that I lifted from his website: Joseph Millar's first collection, Overtime, was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012. Millar grew up in Pen … [Read more...]

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You’re invited

On December 12 at 4 pm I'll be reading poems with two of my fellow poets, Chanel Brenner and Alexis Rhone Fancher. Our topic is Writing Healing Poetry  Turning Grief into Art.  Each of us write about the deaths of our sons. We'll be at Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center in Venice CA that offers public poetry readings, free workshops, and a bookstore. It's website states: "Beyond Baroque is one of the United States' leading independent Literary | Arts Centers and public spaces dedicated to expanding the public's knowledge of poetry, literature and art through cultural events and community interaction. Founded in 1968, Beyond Baroque is based out of the original City Hall building in Venice, California. The Center offers a diverse variety of literary and arts programming including readings, workshops, new music and education." This will not be my first time reading there. When I attended writing workshops with Jack Grapes, the last class in a series was always held at Beyond Bar … [Read more...]

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A couple PAD poems

I'm knee deep into poem writing these days. Here's a couple from the first four days of the November 2015 poem a day - PAD - chapbook challenge. I haven't done a careful edit of these yet, but you'll get the idea what I was up against given the prompts. I always enjoy Robert Lee Brewer's prompts. They are designed to stretch our skills and give us a topic we can have fun with - or not. Day 2 Write a surrender poem. A person can surrender to the authorities or a mob, but people can also surrender to a feeling or to music. Or leftover Halloween candy (at least, “my friend” has had that problem). I hope you surrender to your poetic impulse. It was almost 11 pm when he arrived at Grand Central. Tall, lean, perfectly quaffed in a hand-tailored sports jacket. But not to look too stuffy he wore it with jeans, an open collared blue shirt, polished tan wing tips, and carried a scuffed old briefcase. He walked through the station without looking side to side, with an air of con … [Read more...]

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Please join the November PAD Chapbook Challenge with me

For the last several years I’ve participated in the Writer’s Digest poem a day chapbook challenge in November and April. It is managed by the WD poetry editor Robert Lee Brewer. The prompts are always very interesting. The challenge is work but a lot of fun.   So, in case you’d like to join me, here are Robert’s guidelines. Please sign up and you’ll receive a prompt from Robert every day from November 1 to November 30. I’ll be sharing some my poems here throughout the month. Here's Robert: Here are the basics of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Beginning on November 1 (Atlanta, Georgia time), I will share a prompt and poem each day of November on this blog. Poets are then challenged to write a poem each day (no matter where you live on the planet) within 24 hours (or so) from when the prompt is posted. Don’t worry: If you fall behind or start late, you CAN play catch up. Poets do NOT have to register anywhere to participate. In fact, poets don’t even nee … [Read more...]

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How I’m finding my muse again

I’ve had a tough time getting back to my writing routine since completing my recent consulting job. While consulting I did manage to write a journal entry almost everyday, but that was the extent of my writing practice. Besides the grueling proposal work I lived out-of-town in a hotel and ate bland uninteresting food – for about four months. I had hardly anytime to do anything else besides work. There were no muses in that hotel room, believe me. The first thing I did when I got home was sleep. I napped several times a day for two weeks, until I finally felt like myself again. Although I worked out in the early mornings as usual, not long after breakfast I needed my first nap. Finally I started to look for something to kick-start my writing, to bring back my muse. I had put my list of poetry prompts into my Dropbox folder so I’d have it handy while I was away, but I never once opened that file. I didn’t even update it with the prompts that came by email every Wednesday. So that … [Read more...]

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Calling all poets

Having just released Volume 3 of The Great American Poetry Show, it's time to start submitting to Volume 4. I've been working as co-editor of this poetry anthology for many years - this last release took five years from start to release - reading and evaluating hundreds of poems. However, the publisher and co-editor, Larry Ziman, always makes the final decisions about which poems eventually go into the anthology. Please visit the TGAPS website to submit (we accept previously published and simultaneous submissions) and/or order any of our three volumes. And if you do get a copy, please let us know what you think.   … [Read more...]

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Lily Iona MacKenzie and her views about poetry

Please welcome Lily Iona MacKenzie on her second stop of her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. Her new novel Fling! was just released and can be purchased through her publisher Pen-L Publishing as well as the Amazon link given below. Lily also writes reviews, essays, memoir, short fiction, and poetry. Here she relates her thoughts about poetry and perception and exploring the world from various angles like we do in photography. I find her ideas very interesting since I like to write poems that reflect the scenes I photograph. Please take a look at her poems in the collection published in 2011, called All This.               POETRY AND PERCEPTION by Lily Iona MacKenzie Many of my poems reflect a continuing interest in perception and how we try to capture fleeting moments with language. The art that comes closest to what I'm trying to do in poetry is photography, the exploration of things in the world (and in ourselves) from various angles. The attempt to penetrate surfaces … [Read more...]

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Through My Eyes by Regina A. Walker

I have always loved New York - the sounds, the smells, the people, the sights. I love it even more after experiencing Regina Walker's new book - Through My Eyes, a photo journal in photography and poems. I wrote on Facebook the other day, "Everyone needs this book." I think the beauty of the images and words in it will grab you as much as they do me. My fellow poet and dear friend, Keith Alan Hamilton, wrote the Foreword. He says, "...I think you will find in this book the combination of her imagery and words go way beyond the magical, as well as the mystical...." Her publisher, William S. Peters, Sr. at Inner Child Press also raves about her work, "The first time i had the opportunity   to   view   Regina’s   work   through   her   lens,   i   was   tremendously intrigued by her eye and her ability to Capture a unique perspective of the subtleness of life all about us. Over time i knew i had to get more involved with her work. . . my soul screamed it’s  necessity  for  it    . … [Read more...]

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My life changed in an instant

I started my long-awaited consulting job this past Wednesday and with that my life’s daily routines  changed in an instant. I get up more than an hour earlier so I’ll have enough time to workout before I have to be at work – at 7:30 am!!!! Also, the amount of time I have to train for the Boston Overnight walk in June has been cut in half. I drive to work rather than walk downstairs to my home office. I need to be dressed in business clothes with makeup on rather than in my grubbies and no makeup when I work at home. I haven’t watched any television for the last several days – I sure miss my daily dose of Jeopardy – nor have I read one word of any of the books stacked on my beside table. But most important of all, most of my writing time has been snatched away. So far I’m clinging to daily journaling – usually right before I go to sleep, but my other writing has stopped. I was going great with the April Poem A Day prompts – until this week. Though the prompts stopped … [Read more...]

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I’m writing poetry this month

I'm writing poems while a group of beta readers reviews my  novel draft. And I'm loving it. Again this April I'm taking the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem A Day challenge, though not especially concerned about entering the challenge. I'm a little poetry rusty after spending so much time this past year revising my novel. I'm satisfied just to have a poem prompt to write to every day. I'm in it for the practice. That said, here's a couple that might pass muster (with Brewer's prompts). I'd love your thoughts. 4. Write a departure poem. Many people depart to school and/or work every day, and they depart on a plane, train, or automobile–some even walk or ride a bike. Of course, that’s keeping things rather physical; there are also emotional and psychological departures. You may even decide to make a departure from your normal writing style in tone or structure today. The Long Departure On the platform she, in a flowing white dress with gloves, shoes, and hat to ma … [Read more...]

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Draft five of my novel is with five beta readers

  Last June I sent Draft Four of my novel-in-progress to five beta readers. This past Sunday I did it again. I sent Draft Five to five different beta readers. I also sent the manuscript to one of the first five beta readers and asked her to let me know if she thinks I created any damage as a result of all the cuts, changes, and rewrites I made to this latest draft - to comply with current guidelines for lengths of novels, I cut almost 9000 words. Hopefully, I left enough in tact that I didn't ruin anything. However, I have a safety net. I have saved every single draft of my novel. I can always add something back in if necessary. You can probably tell from the above, I consider getting my novel out in public both scary and exciting. However, it gives me a much-needed break from it. I've asked my readers to send me their comments by June 30 or sooner, so now I have time to blog, write some new poetry (I plan to participate in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem A Day Challenge t … [Read more...]

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Writing work check-up

On January 5, 2015, I wrote a short writing to-do list for the coming few months. Today, since it's almost the end of January, is a good time to take stock. I'm pleased to report that I'm moving right along on my novel revisions. I've incorporated my red lines and yellow highlights into my online Revision 4 chapter files up to page 124. That means I have only 54 single-spaced hard-copy pages to go. Of course that doesn't mean that I'm finished finished. As I've revised I've tagged many many pages that I need to go back to. Like yesterday for instance. I was working on Chapter Seventeen which required that I add a new subsection at the chapter's end. I wrote it. I stepped back from it, I thought about how John Updike writes incredibly detailed descriptions, and I realized I wrote only the bare bones so far. I need to go back to that little subsection and add and add and add more. Remember the old adage - show don't tell? Well my bare bones only tell. I haven't written the scene t … [Read more...]

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Writing work resolutions for 2015

I’m finally back to real work after a nice long new year’s holiday rest. And it’s about time. Of course I didn’t stay exactly idle. I’ve thought long and hard about how to proceed with my writing life this year, and I've made a preliminary list. I’m sure I'll add more things in the weeks and months to come. Keep slugging away at my novel revisions. I’m about to start Chapter Six – only Twenty-one chapters to go. In other words I’m on page forty-one of one hundred and seventy-nine single-spaces pages. It’s going to be a long haul. Write blog pieces for Choices that are more about my writing work and writing advice for others. Write for other websites: Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, and Cate Russell-Cole’s CommuniCATE Resources for Writers website. I feel so honored that she asked me help her out while she works on her own memoir. Write more poetry. In the last few months I’ve let my poetry writing go by the wayside in favor of working on my novel – that’s not good for my soul. … [Read more...]

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A new poetry project

Poetry has been on my mind this past week. I submitted a new poem to the Writer's Digest poetry contest, and I sent several poems to my friend Keith Alan Hamilton as my first contribution to our joint endeavor of an anthology of poems and smart phone images. I'm also again participating in Robert Lee Brewer's November Chapbook Challenge although as of today I'm about six days behind. Since I won't share the poem I submitted to the contest, here are a couple from my project with Keith. I'd love to know what you think. Morning Walk I walk in the dark of the morning. watching as gray clouds move toward the horizon’s edge, and the sun begins to peek out. It’s almost a tug of war, the dark gray versus the sun’s rays that burst forth to take over the night sky. Then, almost in an instant the sun’s warmth rests on my shoulders and I forget the chill of the dark.                 The Lone Poles The pol … [Read more...]

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Guess the true statement and win Jessica Bell’s thriller, White Lady! (Statement #82)

To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell’s latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true: The following is a line from the book: A blood smear frames the door handle. Unlike my husband, who kills out of necessity, I kill for the mere thrill of seeing fear in my victim’s eyes. I jam my fingers down my throat, convulse and heave as if I were vomiting the intestine of a cow What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within  48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does. Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hou … [Read more...]

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Keith Alan Hamilton’s photo at Times Square

I'm so excited for my poet and photographer friend, Keith Alan Hamilton. His photo, Transition Flutter-Fly, will be shown at New York City's Times Square this very day. He'll be in the crowd with a butterfly shirt on, so if you're in the vicinity, please go by and say hi. Give him a hug for me too - I wish I could do it myself. I've known Keith for several years. We first met on Facebook when I joined the Poets, Writers, Photographers, Musicians, Artists ~ Networking group he created. We later met for dinner in Boston, and he also visited my husband and me in California. We discussed putting together a book of poems with images. That is still in the works. I've written several blog posts about Keith and his poems and photos (see this one). His devotion to his creativity is catching. Here's Keith's butterfly photo: And here's a photo of Keith so you can easily recognize him:     … [Read more...]

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A poem in three acts

I've mentioned before that I write to Robert Lee Brewer's Wednesday poetry prompts that he posts on his Poetic Asides blog. Robert is one of the Writing Community Editors at "Writer's Digest Magazine." He also provides a prompt a day during his April and November poem a day challenges. Some Wednesdays writing to his prompts comes easy, some days it does not, but I always copy and paste them to a running list of his prompts with my sporadic poem attempts. I also religiously take the PAD challenges - just to keep up my poetry training, if nothing else. Last Wednesday Robert's prompt said: "Write a poem in which you’ve imagined a story for a stranger. Maybe someone you see on public transportation, a couple at the laundromat, or a neighbor. Is the person more fabulous than expected? Fallen upon harder times? Exactly as one might guess?" This one hit home because a couple of years ago I decided to write a series of poems about people I didn't know. I found it to be a very fun exercise … [Read more...]

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Works in progress

Today is a good day for sharing some poems – written in response to Robert Lee Brewer’s weekly prompts on his website Poetic Asides. But please understand that these are all works in progress – if I ever submit them for publication alone or in a collection, they will undergo much-needed editing. Prompts 1. Write a poem about an unstoppable force Can’t Stop Writing I write I’m compelled to write articles, blog posts, my novel, my poems. I cannot stop the force that makes me write and I don’t want to. But it leaves me no peace from my spinning mind and its continual search for the right words in every piece. 2. Write a poem that deals with cruelty More Cruel than Safe We see the young man through a narrow slat in his door. He lies naked on cold cement. A thin quilt covers him. He has no bed or other furnishings. Scratches and cuts cover his body. One gash goes from his wrist to past his elbow, another on his arm‘s underside. Self inflicted wounds, … [Read more...]

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Short Fiction Break

While I'm awaiting feedback on my novel, I've been dabbling in other writing. Of course I'm always writing poems, but I'm now ensconced in editing some of the poems I wrote during our trip to Africa with the goal of putting together a book of images with poems. I've also written a couple of pieces of short fiction, inspired by an article I read in "The New Yorker" a few weeks ago about Lydia Davis, a short story master. According to her Amazon page: "Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections, the most recent of which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the acclaimed translator of a new edition of Swann's Way and is at work on a new translation of Madame Bovary." I immediately bought a copy of The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis.  What intrigues me is that she writes stories of varying lengths - some only a short paragraph or a line or two long. I like writing short poems -- Haiku and Twitter-140-character poems -- so I like the i … [Read more...]

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April PAD challenge poems

To stay on the poetry theme, I’m going to share a few of the poems I wrote during Robert Lee Brewer’s April 2014 poem a day challenge. This year he asked a daily guest judge to determine each day's winner. I haven’t heard any results yet, but no matter. I feel like a winner just having produced thirty poems during the April challenge. Day 7 Write a self-portrait poem. Two Self-portraits Dorianna sits lonely and forlorn in my attic. Her wrinkles deepen her liver spots multiply and enlarge her hair grows dirty white, straggling down to cover her sagging breasts that splay over her bloated belly. The joints of her hands swollen, stiff, grow more immobile by the day. All the while I live downstairs. My face clear, almost devoid of age, my figure svelte and supple, my legs always yearning to keep moving. Here I sit tapping my fingers quickly on the keyboard to keep up with my racing mind. I wonder when Dorianna and I will meet. Day 16 Write an elegy … [Read more...]

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