April is National Poetry Month

I started reading poetry in grade school although I didn’t start writing poems until much later. Once in a while I’d write a poem or two when I was upset emotionally or feeling lonely, but not regularly until after my son’s suicide. It was the only way I could deal with my grief. It still is. Reading poetry regularly is a given. During April, National Poetry Month, Knopf sends me a poem a day, and the website Poem-A-Day sends me a poem every day all year round. Sometimes over a dozen poems are in my reading queue. I also write poems regularly - this month especially since I'm participating in a poem a day challenge. Poetry is my favorite writing genre. It's hard to know if my poems live up to Lori Anne Ferrell’s criteria as discussed in her LA Times Op Ed piece below, but many have been published, so they must resonate somewhere. “A book of poetry that's worth $100,000, and so much more” by Lori Anne Ferrell "A few months ago, I was talking to a former student about how s … [Read more...]

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The power of the movie Spotlight 

I loved the movie Spotlight, about a group of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered and reported on the alleged abuse and rape performed by Catholic priests and its ensuing cover-up. The movie’s ensemble cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Live Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy, and Stanley Tucci, has been nominated for six Oscars and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, among others. The movie is so well-written, acted, directed. Really what more can I say? Well there is more. Spotlight was highlighted in the LA Times today because it was screened at a Vatican commission on clerical sex abuse. Here’s what LA Times correspondent, Tom Kington, wrote: “A Vatican commission on clerical sex abuse gathered Thursday for a private screening of “Spotlight,” the Oscar-nominated film about abuse by Boston priests, even as Pope Francis came under fire for failing to act on the crisis. “The extraordin … [Read more...]

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Read about David Kalish and his debut novel right here

WOW Women on Writing has done it again. They have introduced David Kalish and his first novel, The Opposite of Everything, to me and my reading audience. And I'm sure you won't be disappointed.  The Opposite of Everything is David Kalish' debut novel that explores the comic side of tragedy.  Inspired by his own brush with cancer and divorce, author Kalish makes comedy out of his past. Equal parts love story and Job-like allegory, The Opposite of Everything traces the hilarious descent of a man stricken with disease, divorce, and an over-supportive father – and the contrarian strategy he uses to resurrect himself. When Brooklyn journalist Daniel Plotnick learns he has cancer, his fortunes fall faster than you can say “Ten Plagues of Egypt.” His wife can’t cope, his marriage ends in a showdown with police, and his father accidentally pushes him off the George Washington Bridge. Plotnick miraculously survives his terrifying plunge --and comes up with a crazy plan to turn his life … [Read more...]

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A good poetry practice – write in the style of other greats

Early on in my poetry workshops, we practiced writing poems in the style of other poets we liked. I especially liked Frank O’Hara’s homage to Billie Holiday and tried my hand at writing in this style a couple of times. This poem came to mind when Whitney Houston died two weeks ago. Here is Frank O’Hara’s poem for Billie Holiday The Day Lady Died It is 12:20 in New York a Friday three days after Bastille day, yes it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner and I don't know the people who will feed me I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun and have a hamburger and a malted and buy an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets in Ghana are doing these days I go on to the bank and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard) doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do thi … [Read more...]

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Public Speaking – a new career?

This past Saturday morning I spoke at a meeting of our local chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). And as usual, after all my stressing about it and worry that I would totally mess up, my talk went very well. I was “on stage” for forty-five minutes speaking about my writing background, local organizations that provide mental illness and suicide prevention help, how I used writing to get me through the grief of losing a son to suicide, and how I created my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On from my journals, poetry manuscript, and writing workshop pieces. I also read two prose pieces and two poems from the book. I never thought I could hold forth for so long. In fact, when the program chairperson called to set up my presentation we decided to give the group a writing exercise if I didn’t have enough to say in the time I was allotted. Although I had my cheat sheets in front of me and just needed to glance down on them from time to time to make sure I was keepi … [Read more...]

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