So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts

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?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Guest Post by Michael Diebert, Poetry Editor at Chattahoochee Review

Today we are honored to have Michael Diebert as our guest on Writers Circle around the Table. He has written a most interesting post for us. Be sure to read this if you are a poet. Thanks, Michael, for taking time to guest on our blog.

Salvage and Reconstruction: Thoughts on a Poem in Progress
By Michael Diebert

Two years ago, when poet Andrew Hudgins led a workshop at the college where I teach, he showed us work he'd been doing on a poem.  He had written it in blank verse, unrhymed and rhymed iambic tetrameter, and with two- and three-beat accentual lines.  He'd even cast it as a prose poem.  As the forms dictated, he’d added words, took them out, moved them to other lines, and indeed redefined the line for each occasion.  The impulse was largely metrical and musical, but if form dictates content, he was also tinkering with meaning.  His patience astounded me.  After all that work, he concluded it was probably a failed poem, a good subject for a lecture such as the one he was giving.

Recently, I have been working on a poem modeled after Bob Hicok's poem "A primer."   Hicok's poem is a relatively succinct 44 lines.  Mine currently stands at about three single-spaced handwritten pages.  It is a shambolic stab at Tennessee facts and history, a chagrined interrogation of my hometown.  I am trying to be funny, and I'm falling flat.  I am trying to be probing and exact and fair.  I am trying to, as usual, account for the unusual and the otherwise overlooked.  In its current form, the poem is untenable; only recently have I realized this. I still like it, and I still think I'm onto something.  After my usual practice of putting the poem away for a while to let it marinate and age, what do I do now?  I have rewritten and expanded it at least twice, to little avail.  The same flailing, the same chest-beating is there. 

Within the last two weeks, though, I've started to go the other way, toward not just cutting but concision.  This is, I admit, not my usual strategy--I pride myself (and chide myself) on my masochistic desire to write through a problem, to add volume first and worry about depth later.  But fueled by a couple of other recent poems where I've striven for economy and precision, I am now trying to capture in fewer than 20 lines what I've been shooting for in 100-plus lines.  One benefit in trying to write this poem long is that I now see whole lines I want to keep!  This means the poem has probably been there all along, just not in the form I envisioned and, indeed, have labored so mightily to realize.  There are usable parts; it's just taken me a while to discover them.
If we poets are priests, marrying form to content, beauty to truth, then surely we are also scavengers, hovering raven-like over the broken bones of our failed drafts, using what's usable.  Or we are salvage artists in a junkyard, looking for an intact carburetor, a front bucket seat with fabric that hasn't faded, all for the purpose of reconstituting, of making them new and workable again.  To salvage is to save. 
Our workshop at Writers Circle on July 25 will be devoted to the art of poetic salvage.  We will work with your own failed or stuck poems, poems with usable parts or recoverable bones; we will work to identify these pieces and construct new organisms.  Please email me either 1) a whole poem or 2) a document of poem parts no later than Tuesday, July 21 and I will make copies for the group.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Creating a Poetry Book - hard work but seems easy for Scott Owens

I am in process of putting together a second poetry chapbook, this one with the theme of love and loss. I asked my friend, Maren Mitchell, author of Beat Chronic Pain, an Insider’s Guide, and a well-published poet, to look at my collection and give me her thoughts on the poems I had chosen.
I think that judging your own poems for a book is the hardest thing! She made me realize that all the poems can’t be downers, but that I must use some upbeat work as well. She talked about the ending, the last poem in the book.

In selecting poems for a manuscript, they should transition well, one into the next. According to NancySimpson who helped me with my first chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, published by Finishing Line Press in 2009, even the repetition of a word in the next poem helps keep the story moving along.
Poet Scott Owens

Recently I enjoyed reading Scott Owens’ latest poetry collection, The Eye of the Beholder. Never have I read so many poems that made me feel as deeply as Scott’s words did. The entire book is filled with love – finding love, keeping love, being amazed at love, losing love. I felt pain and sadness and I felt warmth and joy. His honesty in portraying his desire for his wife; his openness in showing how two lovers can live on and on, even as time changes them physically, but does not dim his adoration for her. What I really like about Scott’s poetry is that I understand what he means to communicate, at least what he tells me in his work, although you might relate in an entirely different way.

In the poem, Since You Went Away, I relate to the abject loneliness expressed in these words:
“I try to sleep diagonally across the bed
to use all the space I always claimed to be   
in short supply, but in the morning
I’m crowded to one side again,
my right arm thrown across the empty

Friends ask me if I miss you, what I do without you.
I tell them I’m fine. But I’m tired
of going places and not knowing why,
and I’m tired of this space
beside me growing, wanting to be filled. 

Scott Owens will teach a workshop at Writers Circle studio September 13. He will read at Writers Night out that evening. Check out our schedule page for more information. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kathryn Stripling Byer - The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest from Press 53

Kathryn Stripling Byer

How wonderful that all the fans of Kathryn Stripling Byer, first woman poet laureate of North Carolina, can now buy The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest from Press 53. This is the second edition of the award-winning book that was first printed in 1986. I'm not bragging, but I have an autographed copy of that first edition. 

Kathryn and I share a similar background having both grown up on farms in south Georgia. Her poems speak to me as if she were my sister, and I'm sure they will speak to you when you get your copy of this book.

Kathryn Byer has become one of the most important women in the literary world of western North Carolina, and a beloved poet throughout the country and in foreign countries as well.
Click on this link to see more about this book and the poet.

2005 NCWN Fall Conference, from left, me, Janice Moore, Nancy Simpson, Shirley Uphouse and Kathryn Byer

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday workshop with Maureen sent us home filled with motivation and inspiration

Thanks to Maureen Ryan Griffin for a wonderful workshop Saturday at Writers Circle. Everyone of us came away with tons of ideas for writing and motivation to stop procrastinating. Delicious Memories was the title of the course and I was amazed to see how many poems and essays are written about food. We wrote about food. I wrote an Ode to Real Butter. We wrote a persona poem. This was fun.
We learned new ways to create a poem or essay. Maureen has such a gift for inspiring others.
Her book, Spinning Words into Gold, has been one I revisit often and she will soon have a new book on writing.

Maureen Ryan Griffin, author and poet

I was sorry that the Georgia Poetry Society's meeting at Young Harris College was also on Saturday and I could not attend.
I want to thank Michelle Keller for making delicious bread and muffins for us today. Very good food for a class on food.

Next year, Maureen will teach again at Writers Circle and the date is June 10, 2012. Put that date on your calendar now. YOu will not want to miss it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Business of Writing

Writing, submitting,  publishing, marketing, writing, submitting, publishing, marketing, on and on it goes.That is the writing business. I'm not sure I'm cut out for the business.
I love to write - poetry, non-fiction, fiction, in my journal, letters, articles - but submitting my work is WORK.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if all we had to do was write? That is what many of us do - we just write. We don't even revise. We just write and keep our writing to ourselves.
That is so, so easy. I have tons of writing I've done over the years. I have notebooks filled with stories I've forgotten, some are non-fiction pieces and some are short stories. I still have a poem I wrote in high school. My teacher, Miss Feagan, wanted me to submit it to a magazine. But, even then, I didn't want to do the business of writing.
I think I understand those writers and poets who died and then became famous. They did it the easy way. Emily Dickinson had the joy of writing, but she left behind all the business of writing.