Writing poems in April

As I usually do every year, I’m again writing poems for Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenge. And as usual I’ll share a few that I’ve written so far. Here are the prompts and my first attempts at poems for days 5, 6, and 8. Remember these are first drafts, so please be kind.   5. Pick an element (like from the periodic table), make it the title of your poem (or part of the title), and then, write the poem. Anything goes from hydrogen to oganesson. (For me, this was like a found poem.) Platinum Chemical element with symbol Pt And atomic element number 78, My favorite metal, Platinum, is primordial, Which means it has existed in its current form, Since before the earth was born. It is transition metal and solid With a noble stature. Platinum has remarkable resistance To corrosion A good thing for holding Precious stones in its hands. For it is precious itself, Gray-white in color It is dense, malleable, ductile And highly unreactive, Making it t … [Read more...]

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Getting back into the writing groove

Our Grand Canyon adventure and my husband’s healing process have taken me far afield from my writing life. Everything just seemed to stop on November 16. Interesting that I had carefully packed some paper and a pen so I could write a journal entry after my walk down the Grand Canyon that day. Unfortunately I never used them after hearing the news of my husband’s injuries and the challenge I faced in getting back to the rim and to the Flagstaff Medical Center to be with him. However, in this past week I’ve sat myself down at my writing desk and managed to write a couple of poems in response to Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenge – that ended on November 30. And it felt good to “poem” (as Brewer likes to say) again. I am also putting together a new chapbook that I’ll submit for the Frost Place contest that’s due on January 1. Though I’m not back to my writing in full force yet – as you can see from how long it’s been since I wrote my last post here, I’m getting back slowly. … [Read more...]

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Election day thoughts

Maybe Robert Lee Brewer meant to give us prompts associated with the election of Donald Trump on Tuesday. But whether he did or not, I turned yesterday's and today's  November 2016 Poem A Day challenge prompts into poems about the election results. I'm still in mourning. I'm still in shock. And I feel it's a poet's role to put our thoughts down on the page - especially at times like this. As a poetry friend wrote me yesterday: 'Regardless of how you feel about the election results, I think it is important to remember we need POETS now more than ever. That poetry is both power and peace. It is up to poets to “build a citizen of something new.”' The prompts for November 9 and 10, respectively are: Take the phrase “Call Me (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write the poem. Possible titles include: “Call Me Al,” “Call Me Crazy,” “Call Me Batman,” “Call Me at 3 O’clock in the Morning,” etc. Call Me Sad Th … [Read more...]

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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...]

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Two newly published poems

I've had several poems published over the last couple of months. I wrote the first in response to one of Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Wednesday prompts. I think it's the first one of his I ever responded to. The prompt asked us to: "...write a box poem. This poem is either about a box or includes a box somewhere in the poem (or title). Don’t be afraid to poem outside the box this week (sorry, I had to say it)." Thank you Editor Ted Badger for including my poem in your Lucidity Poetry Journal International (a venue for understandable verse). Things in Boxes He left a black canvas box filled with his music recordings next to his bed, the cassette tapes neatly packed in order of performance. And on his closet shelf we found a cardboard box filled with little games, cars, toys, 1984 Olympic souvenirs, and Russian buttons and buckles his uncle brought back for him. He fit these favorite things together like an intricate puzzle, before he left his body for u … [Read more...]

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The April PAD challenge ends today

I feel so accomplished. I finished Robert Lee Brewer's April 2016 poem-a-day (PAD) challenge – 30 days of prompts from the Poetic Asides editor at Writer's Digest. Robert's prompts are a little out there but always a challenge, meant to find the quirkiness in my brain. Here are a few of my favorite ones this month, with my poem responses. 6. Write an ekphrastic poem. An ekphrastic poem is a poem inspired by art. You can pick your own favorite piece of art if you wish. Or you can use one of the examples below: Frieda Kahlo How could I not write about Frieda Kahlo? That little dark-haired woman With eyebrows that kiss at the center of her forehead Just above her nose, And a mustache hint on her upper lips. Here she lies prone on sand and shells, A vessel to promote life, The roots and leaves growing wildly From her open chest. I’ve also seen her with a necklace of thorns The blood seeping slowly down her neck. 16. Write a poem about (or at) a food establishment. … [Read more...]

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A couple more PAD poems

Today I completed Day 14's poem. I'm almost half-way through Robert Lee Brewer's November 2015 Poem a Day chapbook challenge. Though I'm not ecstatic about my product, I am happy that I'm writing a poem a day. My long-term consulting job and vacation took me out of my writing routine. This challenge seems to be helping me get back to it. Day 9 Write a work poem. For some folks, writing is work (great, huh?). For others, work is teaching, engineering, or delivering pizzas. Still others, dream of having work to help them pay the bills or go to all ages shows. Some don’t want work, don’t need work, and are glad to be free of the rat race. There are people who work out, work on problems, and well, I’ll let you work out how to handle your poem today. Three things saved my life after my son died: writing, working out, and working. No, I don’t consider writing work. It’s my healing balm, whether I’m creating a poem or ranting in my journal, the more I write the better I feel. … [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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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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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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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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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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Poems for Cynthia

I have been holding these poems in very close. They are personal and sad, all about my friend who died at the end of December. I wrote them in response to Robert Lee Brewer’s November 2013 Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge. Here’s the dedication I wrote: This chapbook is dedicated to my cherished friend Cynthia Rayvis Godofsky November 5, 1946 – December 28, 2013 At the outset I decided to write a poem about Cynthia adhering to the daily prompt no matter what it was, hoping that my words might help keep her alive at least until the end of the challenge. Thankfully I was successful in weaving Cynthia into each daily prompt, and she kept rallying throughout the month. As you will see from these poems, she had a lot of love in her life and constant loving care during her last days. I’m sure that love helped keep her alive almost a month after the challenge ended. I thank Cynthia and her family for being my muses for this November 2013 PAD Chapbook Challenge (all poems written from … [Read more...]

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My writing life is heating up

Here’s what’s going on. This week I learned that one of my poems was accepted to appear in the Story Circle Network’s 2103 Anthology, and that the proposal Eleanor Vincent and I wrote to present a workshop at SCN’s 2014 conference was accepted. Our workshop is called “Telling Healing Stories: Writing a Compelling Memoir.” Added to the excitement is that the conference takes place in Austin Texas next April 11 through 13. I’ve always wanted to travel there, so here’s my chance. I also began attending a weekly poetry workshop – recommended by my writing friend, Chanel Brenner (see her guest post here). My first assignment was to bring in six copies of my portal poem – which means that I read the first version of it at the first meeting and then I am required to rewrite and share the rewrites at each of our next five meetings. This poem had to be a first draft and one that makes me cringe when I read it. So I picked one I wrote at Esalen last summer that really got slammed by one of … [Read more...]

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The April Poem A Day Challenge is back

I'm participating in Robert Lee Brewer's* month-long Poem A Day Challenge, as I've done each November and April for the last several years. At this point my poems are just drafts, but it's fun just to get something down that I can tinker with once the challenge is over. Robert's prompts are always interesting. Here's a few poems I've written so far, following the days' prompts. 3. Write a tentative poem. The poem could be about a tentative date, a tentative person, a tentative situation. The narrator could be tentative. The subject could be tentative. She once said, I’ll pencil you in. I bristled. In fact, I erased her from my calendar and datebook entirely. I’ve also erased her from my mind. 4. Take the phrase “Hold That (Blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and write the poem. Possible titles include “Hold That Thought,” “Hold That Space,” “Hold That Poem,” or whatever else holds your attention. Hold T … [Read more...]

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