Sunday, May 15, 2016

Jonathan K. Rice class is open for registration

Jonathan Kevin Rice, editor and publisher of Iodine Poetry Journal, will be a guest instructor at Writers Circle in Hayesville, NC  on Saturday, June 11. Iodine has been widely recognized, and notable poets have graced the pages over the years. 
Jonathan was born in Indiana and grew up in south Florida. He is active in the literary community around Charlotte where he now lives, and we are happy he is coming to the far western area of North Carolina. 

His  latest poetry book is Killing Time, published by Main Street Rag. The poem below is a sample of what you will find in this book.

Tea Towel

She sat at the kitchen table
late in the morning
as the sun angled
across the iron étagère.
Fruit in a bowl were beginning
to overripe. An African violet
bloomed in a small ceramic
pot by the window.
A smooth cotton towel
laid before her as she planned
to embroider black hearts
across the grain of fabric.
She slipped on the brass thimble
traced the broken lifeline
in her palm as she unspooled
soot black thread, took the needle,
and worked them together
to bring an image of permanence,
a sense of meaning through the
impermanence of the morning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Publishing Class is Rescheduled

I had planned to teach a class on publishing at Tri- County College in Murphy NC on May 21. We have to cancel that class and reschedule for July 23.

This class is for anyone who needs advice and tips on finding the  best place to send poetry or short pieces of  prose. We hope to help new writers  become knowledgeable about the frauds and scams in the publishing world so they don't fall victim to unscrupulous people and companies who take advantage of novice writers.

We will discuss what small presses look for and how to find one for  your book. Why pay to publish your book when so many small presses are doing the same thing the big boys have always done, and no matter who with or how you publish, you still have to market your book. 

Questions you should ask before you publish your book - If you don't know what to ask, you might not get what you need.

Visit the Off Site Classes page above and register for this class.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

One Last Poem for April

Poetry can say so much in a few words. But each word is important and must say more than the language we use every day. By writing poetry, I have learned how to read and understand poems by others in a deeper, more meaningful way. I advise my students who write prose, to read poetry and try to write poetry. Poetry is a way to put forth an idea  or a story in a concise manner, to say something in a few words that leave a lasting impression.

The use of metaphor increases the reader's understanding and draws him deeper into the poem. I learned to use at least one metaphor in every poem I write. 

Our Loss
for my brother, Ray

like threads tightly woven
in a fine tapestry --
fiery reds, cool blues, pale yellows.

like the petals of a rosebud
curving close around each other,
maturing, gently falling
to die upon the ground.

like a clump of grass.
Disturb one blade,
affect all that remain.

You were plucked from us,
and now we don't know
which way to lean
when the winds blow.
            ----Glenda Council Beall

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Poetry Month, another poem and another poet

Poetry month is almost over, but we have a few more days to share our most beloved poems.

Today I have one few people have seen. I am posting a poem by my late sister, June Council Hunter. Her husband, Stan, died suddenly in 1975 when she was 48 years old. She sent me a couple of poems she wrote while she was grieving. She wrote honestly and from her heart.

If you have lost a husband or wife, you will relate to her poem. 

              Friday Night

It's late this stormy afternoon
in the mountains of Carolina, in Boone
There are only re-runs on TV.
However, they're really new-runs for me.
Friday was always our special night
though the entertainment might be light.
I can’t bear to listen to our music yet.
I’ll have to settle for the television set.

Hurting here in the dark, I watch half-heartedly.
as a couple caress, and kiss on TV.
                        ---June Council Hunter

I know the loneliness of loss as June did at that time. She was in process of figuring out who she would be now that she was not half of a couple. She missed the affection and loving touch of her handsome husband. He was so young and she was too young to be left with the responsibility of raising two girls. But she found a strength she didn't know she had. She suffered the pain of grief, but had to make a life for herself and her children. I admired her more than anyone.

It was thirty years before she found another man she loved. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating Poetry this month

I don't know if it was because I grew up in the segregated south, but I did not know about the poet Langston Hughes until about ten years ago.

I bought some books and read his work and realized he was a poet with much to write about. I often find myself picking up one of his books and reading this man's poetry.

His parents divorced when he was a child and he was raised by his grandmother until he was 13. Then he went to live with his mother and  stepfather.
In November 1924, he moved to Washington, D. C. Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, (Knopf, 1926) was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter, (Knopf, 1930) won the Harmon gold medal for literature.

I like this poem. 

Mother to Son 
                Langston Hughes (1922)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

What a beautiful message of encouragement from a mother to her son. Her life was as hard as life could be but she would not put up with a son who gave up when life got tough.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

My Life Long Love for Poetry

Poetry has been a part of my life since I was a child. My sister June read poems to my little sister, Gay, and me before we went to sleep at night. One that I remember was Eugene Fields' Wynken, Blynken, and Nod who sailed around the  night sky in a  wooden shoe.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—

Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
   The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,"
            Said Wynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!”
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            And Nod.
It was first called a Dutch Lullaby. It helped put me to sleep.

Rhyming Poetry
My older brothers loved the rhyming poetry they were required to memorize in school. I can hear Max reciting The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, 

This is also one I remember they enjoyed. 

Abou Ben Adhem
By Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

When Ray began reciting verses, Max would join in. Those poems were not written in free verse or blank verse as most of the poetry is written today. They were easier to  memorize because of the  rhyme. I still love these old poems.
Max, now 86 years old, can recite those poems just as  he did when he was a kid. 

Here is  one of my early poems.


In my secret life
I shop on Rodeo Drive
and wear a size five.

In my secret life 
Pacific surf crashes
against my private beach.

In my secret life
I speak fluent French
and vacation in Paris.

In my secret life
I hike the Appalachian Trail
and write a book that sells.

In my secret life
I kayak the Oconee
for film maker, Clint Eastwood.

In my secret life
I live to be one hundred
and die, peaceful in my sleep.

Did you ever memorize a poem and can you still remember it?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April is Poetry Month - Let us Celebrate!

This is what my friend, the poet Scott Owens says about poetry in his poem inspired by Heath’s Orange Moon. He says the art of poetry “is what won’t sit still inside your head / what wakes you up at night / what calls memory back from darkness / what gives words the shape they take / what makes you wonder how much more you could do / and just why you haven’t been doing it.”

Most poets can't help themselves. They must write poetry. I have said that Scott thinks and dreams in poetic verse and language. Poems flow out of him like an artesian well.

In the most recent class I taught at Tri-County Community College, I could not interest my students in poetry. I mean they simply said no. They did not want to write poetry. They were not interested in reading it either even though I told them how much reading poems could help their prose writing. 

I like this statement by Samuel Taylor Coleridge on the subject of writing poetry and prose.

"I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is prose; words in their best order; - poetry; the best words in the best order."   ... Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Choosing the best words is an important part of making a good poem. I think my favorite part of writing a poem is going back, revising and finding the best word I can to put my reader right where I am when I am writing. 

The poem below tells how a handsome young ski instructor in Colorado teased me, a young married woman and a complete novice at snow skiing. I blame most of this on the altitude.

     High in Colorado

He poses, hip cocked in red and blue,
sun-glistened face of Eros turned to me,
a fledgling atop the icy slope. My
breath quickens in foolish adoration

at the sound of my name from his mouth.
Knees bent, I push on poles and slide
down to him, past him, racing for the edge.
"Sit down," he cries.  My legs collapse,

long shoes shoot sidewise.  I try to rise,
but can't.  He twirls, zips toward me,
digs in.  You know a mogul is a South
Georgia girl who falls and can't get up.

He laughs, his teeth like sparkling icicles.
Giddy Aspen air heliums my brain,
overflows my heart that dances in triple time.
He yanks me up, skims powder to the lift.

At sea level, snow dreams
melt into arrogant soap bubbles
as his smiling face yellows
on a faded brochure beneath my ski apparel.
                                         ... Glenda Council Beall

What do you think? Did the words I used help your image of what happened?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Writers Night Out in Blairsville, GA

Fink and Moore read at WNO in Blairsville, GA 

Read more: