Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Portable Poetry Workshop Project: Generating Content - Techniques for Generating Content

Jack believes the "original impulse" in our writing can be invigorated or "stimulated" by use of technical moves such as adding plot elements, characterization, or images.  This stimulation can expand or shrink a poem either horizontally or vertically, and can even transform the poem altogether.

"The major problem in creative writing is creative writing."  What do you make of this statement?

My go-to when revising a poem is to add description to open up a line or image.  Some employ word play or tinker with words to give their poem more musicality.  Others try to introduce more action into their poems.  What methods do you use to invigorate your poems?

A poem to end this workshop:  "Art Class" by James Galvin. "Let us begin with a simple line..."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Poetry you wish you'd written

Today, I'm daydreaming about poetry I wish I'd written seeing as I'm having a little difficulty writing it lately.  Wherever I am/I am what is missing.  I keep hearing this in my head and know Mark Strand's "Keeping Things Whole" goes first on this list.

...The secret life 
begins early, is kept alive
by all that's unpopular
in you...
Stephen Dunn's "A Secret Life" was given to me as a little cutout for my pocket by Jack Myers.  This one is a close second to Strand's.

If I took the time to sit and work on a list, I doubt I'd ever leave the chair.  While you're thinking of the poetry you wish you'd written, I'll leave you with words from another I wish I'd written, "The Words Under the Words" by Naomi Shihab Nye:

Answer, if you hear the words under the words
otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges,
difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Portable Poetry Workshop Project: General Considerations - Associational Logic

...that which is "the kind of thinking that dreaming uses as logic when our mind moves from one thing to another through an unconscious process of juxtaposition."

Can we recognize it? Do we write and reveal our process or do we edit it out? Sometimes, I don't even know how I got from one place to another and oftentimes, this poses a problem for me during the revision process. Should I just let it be? I don't know how much logic there is in my poetry at times, although I know when I'm writing, it is making sense at that very moment. ;)

Jack concludes this last section of the first chapter with a noteworthy exercise:

Associating from the senses exercise - the following exercise is called "clustering." It uses the five basic physical senses as conduits to describe in a figurative way what something seems to be to the poet. Jack uses the emotion of fear as the subject and makes associations from there using touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. Below is my example for this exercise:


Touch - like an emerald silk dress with a small snag in the center, like a plum tomato with a moldy soft spot

Smell - week-old bananas, water with too much chlorine

Taste - like a fig that's not sweet enough - your tongue is expects sweetness but settles for the so-so

Sight - green dress above, bleach stain in a towel, a scratch on a camera lens

Sound - a bird that's run into a glass window, an iron steaming

What are you clustering?  I hope it inspires a poem.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

#BookCoverCrush - Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros

Ok, with a little prodding from Evelyn, and after a lot of admiration for her video blogging about her book cover crushes, here is my first stab at it.  And please check out her blog (this is Evelyn Alfred's blog here) to see and hear about her book cover crushes, as she always has great insight from week to week, and is a writer too.

Tell us your secret crush...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Poetry Conveyor Belt

I'm amazed at the rate some people can turn out poems on various social media sites.  I even posted the following on my Twitter this morning: "Some people are conveyor belts of poetry.  I'm more like Lucy at the chocolate factory and I'm ok with that." 

Wrapped chocolates are the finished poems.  They come down my Twitter stream quite rapidly.  I admire the dedication these writers have to their craft.  I do try to write every day, but I can't say I have a wrapped chocolate ready for the eating at the end of each day.  Like Lucy, I tend to go at my own pace, eat a piece of chocolate yet to be wrapped here and there either by placing a poem in my "waiting-to'happen" pile or by chunking it all together (which I try very hard not to do in a fleeting wave of frustration) and continue with my work.  Sometimes, the chocolates I'm wrapping aren't my poems at all but those of others, and I like to stuff them in my shirt and sometimes even my hat for the reading.  The poems I'm reading and writing will all get wrapped eventually, and I may consume one too many calories, but I'm happy with this pace.  Chocolate is to be eaten and enjoyed, and I'm trying to delight in every bit of the process!

How often do you write a "finished" poem? 

Happy wrapping!  Andrea

P.S.  A little over a week and a half left for the book giveaway contest.  See details on how to win your own copy of The Memory of Water by Jack Myers by clicking here:  I want this book!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Diana Mini - 2nd Batch of Film

I just picked up my 2nd batch of photos from my Diana Mini.  I chose Lomography's Color Negative 400 film this time around, and opted to go with the half frame shot.  All in all, out of over 70 photos, I have about a handful and a half of photos to work with.  I wish there were more, but I am happy with the ones I do have.

As I am learning to work with this camera, I think this quote from Scott Adams best sums up how I feel thus far:  "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep."  I've got some keepers and even if they're not art to anyone else, at least they are art to me. ;)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blame the Poets and Yes, Poetry

The August issue of Yes, Poetry is out!  Joanna Valente's introduction to this issue is compelling.  My poem, Blame the Poets, has found an excellent home in it.  You can read it here:  Blame the Poets and Yes, Poetry.

Please don't forget about The Memory of Water book giveaway.  Sign up here:  I want this book!

To sharing poetry!  Andrea

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Memory of Water Giveaway

Those of you who follow along with my blog know the impact Jack Myers has left upon my life and my writing.  His new collection The Memory of Water is one I want to share with you and I am launching a giveaway contest for the month of August. (Please see the contest details at the end of this post.)  A touching review about his book is below along with a link to a few of his poems: 
I will be giving away one copy of The Memory of Water by Jack Myers, at the end of August. For the chance to win this extraordinary collection, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Follow my blog if you're not already.  Follow along with me as I work through my Portable Poetry Workshop Project, inspired by another of Jack's books. 
  2. Leave a comment for me below.
  3. Twitter and/or G+ a link to this post.
The winner will be selected at random and announced Wednesday, August 31st.  

I look forward to sharing Jack's poetry with you, Andrea

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Action vs. Motion

I remember talks I used to have with Jack when I was experiencing "writer's block."  I would tell him I didn't think I could write unless I was miserable, and at my present state of bliss, I could see no future in writing.  Sometimes those memories make me laugh hysterically.  Today I'm caught somewhere in between laughter and tears.

Jack would calm me down in his usual cool and collected manner by first asking me if I would like some tea.  He would then go on to tell me that it wouldn't always be this way, that I would find more things to write about than love, heartbreak, and my parents' divorce.  I'm so happy he was right on that point, but today, I find myself wanting to say to him, "I can't even write because I'm so miserable."

I have turned to pen and paper too many times recently only to give up on what I was writing because I could not get it right.  I then turned to reading which has held my attention for a good while.  Today, I tried to focus on revising past poems and am feeling the same way as with my writing.  I just can't get into that frame of mind again, and I know I have so much that wants to pour itself out.

I read a quote today by Benjamin Franklin that really struck me: " Never confuse motion with action."  I feel like I am sleepwalking through my life as of late.  I really need some tea.