Of mice and men and trying again

Gheyn-muisjeWhen we last left our heroine, it was mid-March and she was going to try to post once a week going forward. But, as Robert Burns said, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley…,” and my plans went pretty agley for a few months.

However, I’m willing to try again. I think it will take a bit to get back to once-a-week, as I’m under deadline for a couple of writing projects (including a rewrite of a paper on animals and uplift…which is fun, but totally off-topic for this blog), but I will promise to be here more regularly, as lots of exciting things are coming up.

Speaking of which, the one thing I want to do in this post is encourage poets, especially people who haven’t tried this before, to join the August Poetry Postcard Festival this year. As long-time readers know, this event has made August my fave month. It’s a truly freeing experience as a writer, and as a human being – well, I love getting mail (who doesn’t?) and getting see the work of some truly phenomenal poets. If you’d like to know more about the experience:

  • Here’s where you sign up
  • Here’s a blog post ruminating on last year’s fest
  • You can find one of Paul Nelson’s lovely mini-essays on the effect of writing poetry this way – freely, spontaneously, and with the internal editor set to “off” – here
  • And a guest blog post by Paul on postcard poems, the origin of this event, and why it matters

Wood Mouse
I’m really looking forward to this year’s fest. I hope you’ll join the community, too –

Ina

Advertisements

Slacking…and a kitten

1024px-RELAXED_CATIt’s a pity that the use of the term “slacking” has gotten so…well, slack, since it regained popularity in the late 70s/early 80s. But for lack of a better term, I’ll use it here: I have been slacking on this blog. There’s a lot of things behind said slacking, some Inevitable Life Stuff (ILS, should be a thing), some personal angst, some real life health issues.

Being in the process of recommitting to creative writing (long story, I’ll tell it once I can have a sense of humor about it), I’m hoping to post once a week and keep it up until even my mighty pen can’t cut through the crises that will pile up (because ILS, you know?). And for my first post of2015, what better than to start with World Poetry Day?

Someone who has not been slacking, poetically or otherwise, is lovely Linda Hofke, who wrote a better post than I could about the day today. So I’m just going to link to it here with no further comment:

http://lind-guistics.blogspot.de/2015/03/world-poetry-day-2015-is-today.html

And to make sure your World Poetry Day goes well, here is a kitten, slacking1024px-Wikipedians_cat:

On the links once more

Pebble Beach Golf Links, hole 7I think it says something about me as a writer (or as a person) that I find it more interesting to read about other writers than to write about my life or the writing process. I’m once again in possession of articles about writing that I feel much more obligated to share with other writers than whatever is going on in my own life, writing or otherwise.

I used to read a poem at the end of each biology section when I was a TA. Part of me thought I was crazy, but another part of my recognized the way that good poems work, with parts that each contribute to a larger whole, rather like a human body. And when you have a classroom full of premedical students, well, that just seems like an obvious audience. Glad to say that if I was crazy, I was also not alone: Maybe poetry and science aren’t so far apart after all

Cadena de barco para anclado

Kepayo, cc 3 license

I love Billy Collins – he’s not my fave poet laureate (that honor still goes to Ted Kooser) but I do like his lightness of touch and his ability to speak to basic human conditions. There’s a lovely little interview with him in the Washington Post. What I happened to love best were his thoughts on memorizing poetry; my mother made me memorize many, many poems (a lot of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems, which I’m afraid have been permanently embedded in my brain, leaving less room for what I’ve done with my car keys or whether I checked out 6 or 7 library books), and I think he’s right about what a gift that is.

An interview with the poetry coordinator of the Geraldine Dodge Foundation, Michele Russo, caught my eye for a couple of reasons. She calls herself more of a hobbyist poet but I recognize many of the signs of having a worthwhile job while still writing some, including joining workshops just to get oneself writing. If you don’t know about the Foundation and/or want to read a charming interview, this is a lovely read for you.

Broad chain closeup

Kepayo, cc 2 license

And last but definitely not least, we move away from poetry. This blog is followed by several people who are “self-published” or “indie published.” A letter by Roger Sutton (editor in chief at The Horn Book) about why he doesn’t review self-published books has been making the rounds on FB and twitter, and I’m curious…what do you all think about his reasons for not reviewing these books? (Here’s what Ron Charles of the WaPo thinks). He says that this is not nearly as much of a problem in other genres of self-published books as it is in children’s lit – do you think that’s right? Do you think we’re missing things by these books not being reviewed, and if so, what?

Only three more, I promise

Okay, I actually have three more links that I really want to share:

Lear Table and Chair 3Right Hand Pointing’s Issue 77 is, as promised, hilarious. The poem by Matthew Allen Thompson alone just made my evening.

Page 12 plum - Abundance, Burbank, German Prune, October Purple.jpg

Creative Bloomings has a lovely interview with a poet who has joined us in the past at inourbooks.com, Pearl Ketover Prilik (aka “Dr. Pearl”). I enjoyed reading it, and I also liked seeing how Pearl has built her creative writing over the time since we spoke with her. Plus it includes one of my favorite poems by Dr. Pearl: “Girls In Plum Sweaters.”

Lastly, continuing on the “I’m not talking about that NoCar poet laureate thingy” tradition, there’s a nice article in the NYT from a few days ago talking about the wide variety of poet laureates (and the requirements to become one) around the US. [Note to self: if this is an ambition, need to move to a state where every third person is not a poet]

So now I really am going to give the links a break for a while. Back to regularly scheduled programming. Unless you have a link to something really great which we really ought to share. In which case, drop me a line or tell me about it in the comments. Otherwise, this is it. Really. I can stop any time.
A garden party (taken from life) (HS85-10-8754)

Some Good Reads (and a kitten)

I don’t like creating posts that are “just” links. Over the last few days though, some confluence of good friends and good fortune has provided me with a variety of links to articles which were all, in their own way, really interesting. At least, in my humble opinion. So I figured, share the good stuff with our lovely readers. Thus:

Birth of the poetDear Editor, Dear Writer, Please Stop! A funny, reasonably concise summary of things writers wish editors wouldn’t do and vice versa. Some nice advice here.

Betty Adcock: of poets laureat I swore – I SWORE – I wasn’t going to say a word about the North Carolina governor’s appointment (and subsequent self-dis-appointment) of Valerie Macon as the state’s poet laureate. But Betty Adcock says so clearly what needed to be said that I thought, in case you weren’t already bored to death of the whole story, that this link (which  Ed Madden brought to Facebook) was worth passing on.

Best New Poets has their 2014 list of 50 best new poets out. A few of them I’ve read and loved (Corey Miller’s “Willow Lake Mine” is phenomenal, and while I haven’t read the Benjamin Goldberg poem mentioned, what I have read of his work is phenomenal), which I’m hoping is a good sign for this collection.

CascdiaIf you’re in Cascadia (as a NoCal gal, it’s unclear whether I count, but I thrive healthwise in Seattle. If it weren’t for my sun-loving spouse we’d be up there now. Of course, he’d say if it weren’t for his fog-head wife, we’d be in SoCal, so it’s always something…), the dates for the Cascadia Poetry Festival have been set. I know a few people who’ve gone and who loved it, so if you’re a Cascadian, this might be just what you need to refresh your spirit and meet other writers.

And in case links weren’t enough to make your day, well, here is a kitten:

Kitti cat

A kitten.

 

 

Friday Surprise: How To Be A Young Writer

2013-01-25 00 11 48 (3)

This is my desk. I blame the elves.

This year,  I gave myself a birthday present: the time to read all I want this month. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get mad if the dishes are not “done” every evening or the tax forms languish. Admittedly, it looks like my desk was attacked by demented elves, but I refuse to worry about it until February.

I have read all the poems that have been posted in the Brighter Light contest so far. And then I started thinking about other poems by writers under the age of 20 – young writers. I read through copies of “Stone Soup” and Highlights for Children.” I found more kids’ poetry in collections from the library and our books at home.

What struck me was the originality of these poems. I found myself saying, Wow I would never have thought of that, over and over. Take this poem:

Cheetah

A cheetah has metal girder teeth
it goes hurling down through the jungle
throwing out its fear*

Panthera leo -zoo -yawning-8aNow, I have heard cat’s teeth compared to many things: lions teeth to daggers, tigers’ to sabers, kittens’ teeth to needles. But cheetahs’ teeth and metal building girders! How wonderful to think of that!

Or take this stanza from Sylviya’s poem (she’s the young writer in the Yellow Ninja team) about hair:

Black is shiny like the blouse
my mommy never wears.
Shiny, glossy, smooth
like our kitten’s fur
when I squeeze her
to get some kisses.

I have all the usual associations with black: knights, stallions, nighttime, sadness. Sylvi on the other hand thinks of an unworn blouse – this says so much, so specifically, about how she feels about her mother, and their relationship, and beauty, that feel as if I am standing with her as she sees her mother’s hair.

5984380533_2816ee14a5_bAdult writers spend a lot of time trying to peek around the edges of all the rules we’ve learned and ways we’ve been taught to think. We have heard the overused metaphors, memorized the tens of thousands of rules of plotting, and tried every poetic form…until we have forgotten what the world looks like to us.  Adults envy young writers, I think; we are so used to comparing happiness to a warm puppy that we forget that happiness can also be a new Band-Aid, or a herd of manta rays, or a battered leather jacket with a broken zipper.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean that poets shouldn’t read other poets, that essayists should never read novels, or that fiction writers should live in huts in the woods with no windows or visitors. We can learn a lot about how language works, how form works, what structures can work for stories, by reading and experiencing many things. But how do we do this and still keep our fresh perspective – our own voices?

What we can do is…write. A lot.

Ggb in soap bubble 1If you’re a younger writer, writing now means that you’ve started a thread that will connect you to the writer you will be as an adult. For an adult, writing a lot gets the “junk” out of our systems, so we can uncover the pure shimmering connections to our former selves. We can write ourselves into to the world in which it’s fun to pop glass bubbles, where spiders’s legs are as fine as spun glass and tap dance skitter-skatter, where there’s beauty in wearing our helmets and where bicycles have invisible wings, where birdhouses are farms or fairy homes or as safe as warmth, and where dragons love rocks and pebbles make our planet, where we are both ourselves and baby turtles,and where adults and children are connected by words, and birds, and love.**

So, I say, go to it.  Go, you yourself, and write ~ ina

*by Darren Coyles, aged 7, first published in Children as Writers:21st Year 1979, republished in Beauty of the Beast, ed. Jack Prelutsky, Knopf, 1997

**All of these images came from the Brighter Light challenge entries. There are many more than I could list and each one is as wonderful.

A directory of our teams

ChildAdultSunWe’re having a lovely time here with Andrea’s Brighter Light challenge. For those of you on a team or who have been following along, we’ve created a directory of all the teams (I’ve added links that teams have suggested that show something about where they’re from; if you’ve given me a link to your team’s blog, I’ve posted that as well). You can search this directory at any time to remind yourself about who is on a given team and where they hail from.

Oh, and challenge participants: if there’s a link I missed or you’d like to add, just let me know. Also, there’s a copy pinned to the Notice Board so you can remind yourself about any of the teams at any time ~ ina

Brighter Light teams

1. The Seasons
Ina and son Kash
San Francisco Area, California, US
http://baytrail.abag.ca.gov/vtour/map3/access/Btpalto/Btpalto.htm

2. Sunshine Elves
Amanda and daughter
Queensland, Australia
http://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/

3. The Yellow Ninjas
Mariya and daughter Silviya
Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria

http://bulgariatravel.org/en/official_tourism_portal/

4. The Brothers Dragonosaurus
Sharon and her two grandsons (J-JAR 1.5 and J-JAR 3.5)
Alberta, Canada
http://dragonsareus.blogspot.ca/

5. The Awesome Earworms.
Linda H and her daughter
the Rems-Murr-Kreis in Germany
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rems-Murr-Kreis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabia

6. The Erie Dearies
Marie Elena and her granddaughter Sophie
Lake Erie area, Toledo, OH

7. Icicles
Guðríður and her son Þorlákur
From Akureyri in northern Iceland
http://www.iceland.is/
http://www.livefromiceland.is/webcams/akureyri/

8. The Sparkly Snowflakes
Pearl and her grand girls (!) Halle Lynn and Rori Cate
Lido Beach, New York and Newton, Massachusetts, US

http://sparklysnowflakes.blogspot.com/

9. The Chain Letters
JLynn, her son and many other helper-elves!
Chain O’Lakes area, Illinois, US
http://www.pbase.com/gerdakettner/chain_olakes_state_park

10. Alabama Tarheels
Nancy and Alyssea
Hickory, North Carolina and Florence, Alabama; USA

11. The Vikings
Søs and Ingrid
From Denmark

http://bronshojbasket.dk/cms/ShowContentPage.aspx?ContentPageID=25

12. Pragon
Claudette and Sidse
Northern Rocky Mountains, US and Sejer Island, Denmark

http://trailinginspirations.wordpress.com/

http://www.sejeroeskole.skoleintra.dk/Infoweb/Designskabelon7/Rammeside.asp?Action=&Side=&Klasse=&Id=&Startside=&ForumID=

13. The Northstar Wolves
Michele and her daughters Mikayla and Samantha
Minnesota, US
http://www.exploreminnesota.com/index.aspx

14. Queen Flower and the Princesses Sugar
Jacqueline and her two daughters
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

http://maccandace.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/enchanted-by-encanto/

http://www.go-arizona.com/Phoenix/Photos-Videos/
http://www.phxtaco.com/

15. The Poetry Writers

Barbara and her student Raybert

Stamford, CT, US

Beautiful Stamford (Google Image Search)

Parent and child of elephas namadicus