Putting together a book of poems

I’ve been putting a poetry manuscript together in response to a submission request from a press asking for books written by women over fifty. I figure I'm well over fifty, so why not? The requirement is to compile a book of sixty to one hundred poems. I've been gathering my poems for the book during the last month or so. I've written a lot of poems - certainly more than the requirements of this submission, but the big question is: how many of them are good enough to put in a manuscript hoping to win a $1000 prize. As of today, I think I've completed the gathering phase. The next step is to organize them. I really had no idea how to do that. I've submitted to chapbook competitions before but never a full-length book. So I went to my poetry book shelf and looked at how some of my favorite poets (Ellen Bass, Billy Collins, Maxine Kunitz, Dorianne Laux, Joseph Millar, etc.) do it. Some just number the sections, some use the title of one of the poems in the section as the title of the sec … [Read more...]

3,186 total views, no views today

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...]

5,418 total views, no views today

My novel is now with beta readers

As of this afternoon I took the leap. I  sent off copies of my novel in progress - actually Revision Three - to five beta readers. It is both an exciting and scary step. Now I plan to wait. I won't make any changes to the book until I've heard back from everyone - hopefully around July 15. In the meantime, I'll catch up on my blogging, write a few poems, maybe put together a poetry chapbook, and perhaps enter a poetry contest or two. I can also spend more time at my hometown beach. Really, the options for a writer are endless. After all beta reader feedback is in: I'll review the comments and criticisms I'll make changes as appropriate and turn them into Revision Four I'll seek out another group of beta readers to critique that revision I'll again review the comments and criticisms once I get their feedback I'll again make changes as appropriate and turn them Revision five And the last step before I make any decisions about publishing: Hire a professional editor to … [Read more...]

6,834 total views, 2 views today

Why poems are in my memoir

I should have posted this during April poetry month, but better late than never. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: a Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide consists of a mix of prose, poetry, and photos. And if I could have put music into it I would have. I originally dreamed about publishing a memoir in poems. I had a finished poetry manuscript early on and since poetry came out almost miraculously from my pen soon after my son died, I thought telling his and my story in poems would be most appropriate. But I was soon convinced the poems could not stand-alone. My book would lack the details, characterization depth, and the thoughts and feelings of my husband Bob and surviving son that were necessary in the telling of our whole family’s story. The poems provided the chapter themes and emotional impact, the prose provided the details and descriptions, and the photos helped to make the story seem more real. Early on I was introd … [Read more...]

4,054 total views, no views today

Why I added photos, poems and quotes in my memoir

One of the first reviewers of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, said, “….The poetry and photographs add an extra dimension that is missing from most memoirs like this since as a reader you get much closer to the reality of what is being described on the page….” (Mark Shelmerdine, CEO, Jeffers Press). Another reviewer said my book is “poetically visceral.” Those statements helped validate any misgivings I had in adding other creative works into my manuscript. I really hadn’t thought of putting photos in my book until my publisher suggested it. And of course I was delighted. At first she suggested photos interspersed within the chapters, but my book didn’t lend itself to that. So I picked out photos in groups: of my son Paul – the main subject of the book, of him and his brother, family photos, views of my office, garden, and one of the memorials to Paul – a bench dedicated to him on the greenbelt outside our home. At the time I had no idea what an impact these photos would hav … [Read more...]

3,664 total views, no views today

A new poem from Esalen

Looking down from the road I spent five days last week writing poems at Esalen, a beautiful site high on a cliff in Big Sur CA. I go to this particular workshop almost every summer. Led by poets Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar, I always learn some lessons about writing poems, I hear excellent poems read by my fellow poets taking the workshop with me, and I never lack for something to write my poems about. This year I wrote six poems using prompts given at the end of each day’s craft talks on: 1) a coming into consciousness poem, 2) a poem with sentiment and no sentimentality, and 3) a poem using various line break and syntax techniques. We also beg our leaders to give us a list of ten words and an assigned phrase with which to create a poem. Once in a while we’re asked to include our pick of a body part, season of the year, or time of day. Writing to a list of words is like solving a puzzle. But sometimes the poems turn out just plain silly. This year I wrote a co … [Read more...]

2,252 total views, no views today

Ventura County Book Fair

Paul's Putting A Face On Suicide poster will go to the fair with me I'll be signing books from ten to four tomorrow at the Ventura County Book Fair, and I'll read about ten minutes at 1:30 pm. The fair will be held in Camarillo California at the The Pleasant Valley Community Park Auditorium, 1605 Burnley Street. So I'd love to see my Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara county friends there. But just in case you can't make it, here are a couple of the poems I plan to read from my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. You might have read them here before, but for me they are timeless. My Jazzman My jazzman beat it out on the mighty eighty-eights, played those riffs, tapped his feet bent his head down to the keys, felt those sounds on his fingertips. Yeah, he was a hot man on those eighty-eights. But all too soon his bag grew dark. He went down, deep down. My jazzman played the blues, lost that spark, closed the lid. And, yeah, you got it right, quit the … [Read more...]

2,678 total views, no views today