Creativity Workshop, Goals, Music, Poetry, Writing

Leave Your Sleep … and write a poem

In perfect timing for my Creativity Workshop goal this week, I’ve been listening to Natalie Merchant’s newest recording Leave Your Sleep. I have to thank Cynthia Newberry Martin’s lovely post on this 2-cd with accompanying 80-page book for incentive to purchase this.

Natalie’s latest work was seven years in the making. Inspired by poems she read to her daughter, Natalie wrote music and lyrics to twenty-six poems and nursery rhymes in musical styles as varied as Celtic, pop, jazz, bluegrass, reggae, chamber orchestra, R&B, Chinese folk, Balkan, and others. Listening is an amazing adventure.

Some of the 19th and 20th century poets she honored are: E. E. Cummings, Laurence Alma-Tadema, Robert Louis Stephenson, Nathalia Crane, Ogden Nash, and Lydia Huntley Sigourney. A multitude of musical talents accompanied her, as varied as Wynton Marsalis, The Memphis Boys, Hazmat Modine, and Joseph Fire Crow. Recorded in live ensemble, this work is an aural feast.

I’m almost as new to poetry reading as I am poetry writing and must confess I hadn’t heard of most of the poets represented in Leave Your Sleep. But through reading the works of new poet friends (as well as my published poet d-in-l Sarah Chavez) my mental wall is crumbling. This is why I chose to write four poems as one of my workshop goals. I’d like to fell that wall once and for all.

Please enjoy this performance video and visit Natalie Merchant’s site for more videos and to read the poems she selected for this work. Cynthia also has a great interview video in her post.

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Creativity Workshop, Goals, Poetry, Writing

Past and Future Weeks

At least in part, I will discuss my Creativity Workshop progress in every Sunday post for the duration. This past week was introductory, and in that sense, I totally reached my goal. Yay, me!!!

This next week, the first of a block of four, I will write poetry. Since I’ve only written poems in free verse and haiku, my research on Day One will refresh my brain on the many other forms. Then I’ll choose the form I think will best suit the first of my four connected poems. I’ve chosen the four seasons as my theme for these poems, and first up is Summer, which is fast approaching for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Those of you who’ve been subjected to my poetry before on this blog can breathe easy because the rules prevent us from sharing what we write before the end of this workshop … and by then, I’ll have come to my senses. Hopefully.

And now for something completely irrelevant … and unbearably trivial.

I love bacon. I hate frying bacon. (I hate microwaved bacon worse than no bacon at all.) I don’t think perfectionists should take on the job of frying bacon. The task is just too frustrating. The only way to get all the little rippled fat bits cooked before the meaty part turns to leather is to prevent the ripples in the first place. Hence the invention of the bacon press. For some reason, I have never owned one … until now. Actually, I’ve only ordered it, but after it arrives, I expect it to transform my life. Well, the bacon frying part, at least. It will help me not a whit to write poetry.

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Poetry, Writing

Goddess worthy?

I woke up the other morning with a poem tiptoeing in my head. I had spent part of the night in a delicious dream, from which few actual images remained, but the sense of power lingered. I’m not going to analyze this dream … I know, I know, you’re heartbroken. This time, I’m going to take it at face value. It was a Jalal dream.

For those of you who are new around here, Jalal is the main character in The Brevity of Roses, the novel I’ve just taken through another round of editing. He’s very sensual … and a poet. In my dream, he was trying to maneuver a little “alone time” with Renee, another character in the book. She was preoccupied and tried to ignore him, but finally deigned to give him the attention he sought. Her sense of power over him is what I retained after the cat so rudely woke me ten minutes before the alarm.

Since all I had left was the feeling, I shaped that into words and wrote a poem titled Goddess. And then, I laughed … because, if I changed the wording to Jalal’s point of view, this was surely a poem he would have written. Only, he would have misdirected it toward Meredith (the other woman in my novel) who did not possess the personal power of a true goddess. But his desire was in the right place. And though it took him a long time to figure it out, what he wanted was exactly what he needed: a woman who could have written this poem about herself.


I am a goddess.
Let him approach my temple to kneel before me.
Let him drink his fill of my wine.

I am a goddess.
Let him rise to enter my holy of holies.
Let him prostrate and genuflect.

I am a goddess.
Let him utter prayers to grace my ears with praise.
Let him cry out in joy and debt.

Let his spirit flow into me.
Let him acknowledge, at the moment of his death,
I am a goddess.


Poetry, Writing

Snow and a poem

I’m trying to get in the Christmas spirit, hence the temporary theme change and the snow. And yes, I’m aware that the falling snow may cause Firefox to flash a horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the screen. I hope that’s not too annoying. [If you experience any worse problems, let me know and I’ll cancel the snow.] UPDATE:  I’ve obviously ditched the red and green theme and just gone with a Christmasy banner photo.

It’s the weekend, so I’m just slipping in a little poem. Not exactly a cheerful one, but I’ll try to have some happy thoughts for you by Monday.

Equal Measure

On those dark days
I thought of you.
I wept and
I grieved.

It did not work,
my prayer that
our love could
be saved.

What’s fair now,
you said, is
that I must
let go.

On these dark days
You think of me
You weep and
You grieve.

What you gave was
not quite love.
Love is what
I gave.

Now you’re sorry, you said,
but I must
say … so?

Advice, Editing, Fiction, Motivation, My Books, Novel, Poetry, Query, Read, Revision, Tips, Writing

Wrapping up November

Please excuse that my last post has been up for almost four full days. I’ve been busy. Congratulations to those of you who met your NaNoWriMo goals. It’s no surprise that I did not make my NaHoCleMo goal. As I soon realized that 5,000 minutes was akin to setting happycleanthe NaNoWriMo goal to 100,000 words, I knew I wouldn’t. But I did clean and organize three major storage closets and my garage, so I feel pretty good about that. And I’ve reluctantly admitted that my husband was right: I wouldn’t have to sacrifice all that many minutes of my daily writing time  to keep on top of the housework. What can I say? I’ve been a spoiled obsessive.

Besides, it’s true that sometimes the best thing you can do to become inspired is step away from the keyboard now and then. This past month, I sketched out five new story ideas; edited one completed story and worked on another; wrote, or started, three new poems; wrote a brief synopsis and have almost finished a longer one; and tweaked the opening paragraphs of The Brevity of Roses to set the tone better. And speaking of that novel—you know, the one I’ve declared finished three times already—well, it’s getting another facial. That’s indirectly connected to NaHoCleMo too.

When I took my lunch and tea breaks from cleaning, I read insthfclmead of getting online. I read about equal amounts of non-fiction and short stories. I’m slowly making my way through Alice Munro’s Hateship,  Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage right now. Before that I had tried to read a novel, which I will not name, and proclaimed myself a better writer than that published author. Then I started Munro’s book, which had me lamenting that my writing is indeed garbage and I might as well just face the fact that I’ll never be published. But last week I opened a file of an early draft of my novel and realized how far it’s come since then. So, I pulled out a printed copy of my manuscript and started working my way through it, strengthening, clarifying, and enhancing my prose.

I admit that two writing tips I’ve been reluctant to follow, I now find invaluable:

  • Let your work sit for a while before you edit.
  • Edit on a printed copy.

By the way, if you’re good at punctuation, I have a sticky passage I could use some help on. Any takers?





Now, your turn. Tell me, what are you working on? How’s it going?

Important stuff: I’m using new software to publish this post, so I’d like to know if anyone has trouble with the display.