Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tip Jar for Writers

No no. Thank you!
Via 21TonGiant on Flickr

I came across this post via Random House's Twitter yesterday: 105 Writing Tips from Professional Writers. It's brimming with advice for the beginning writer, the writer facing "writer's block," fiction writing and poetry, and even lifelong learning.

A new favorite tip of mine is one from Margaret Atwood: "A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason."

Do you have a new favorite from this list? What about a tip to add to it?

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The poem I've selected for the week is Ed Roberson's "As at the Far Edge of Circling." I'm reading a book of Roberson's poems this month and while his work is quite different from the poetry I normally read, I am enjoying this little reprieve from the usual, and I find some of his poems take me into a dream-like state...

I'm going to be away from the blogosphere this week, but I'm sending positive thoughts for a lovely week to all! I look forward to seeing everyone and reading your blogs soon.

What does this week hold for you? What writing is speaking to you most right now?

Smile, Andrea

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fill Your Paper...

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart" - William Wordsworth

This is exactly what Karen Gielen has done...Just see the incredible creations she's been sending through the mail to me during this month of letters. I'm in awe of her! And I'm so happy to have her as my pen pal!

I'm going to drink a mug of her "Creativi-tea" every day! Which one speaks to you the most? Have you received anything that inspires you through the mail during this month of letters?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Portable Poetry Workshop: Connecting Content - Thematic Shapes of Poems

pen and paper
Pen and Paper by mlpdesign via Flickr

I know poems have shapes. I've even seen a poem about a rabbit crafted in the shape of a carrot in forum for an online class I was taking. People can get creative with their forms, certainly, but I've never thought about a poem being organized in a thematic shape.

While I don't think a lot of poems are crafted with this in mind, I find it interesting to observe poems with a possible thematic shape in mind. Jack states that in some poems, "the poet's aesthetic sense and the perceptions stemming from the topic create the organizing principle that composes the poem's thematic shape."

The end of the chapter offers writing exercises according to both argumentative and natural shapes. I've shared one from each below along with the example Jack offers:

Argumentative Shapes - Centripetal 
Holding the thesis of your poem in mind, associate images, scenes, and tropes located outside the immediate situation but whose connotations move the material inward toward the unstated central thesis.
An example of this shape is Louis Simpson's "The Silent Piano."

Natural Shapes - Circular
In your closure, return to the same idea that your opining lines suggest, but do so as an "enriched restatement." An example of this shape is one of my favorite poems, Mark Strand's "Keeping Things Whole."


And now, because it is Valentine's Day, a centrifugal thematic shaped poem (I think): The Meaning of Zero: A Love Poem by Amy Uyematsu.

Do you have a favorite Valentine's or Anti-Valentine's Day poem or story?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So Emotional

I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Whitney Houston is gone. Every time I turn on the television and see the news, I can't help but think it isn't real. I'm stunned.

One of the first songs I remember falling in love with is "So Emotional." Whenever one of my good friends and I heard this song come on the radio while hanging out at her grandmother's pool on a hot afternoon, we immediately began screaming out the song with our squeaky little voices trying to compete with Whitney's. No one can compete with her. Music won't be the same without her.

The poem I've selected for this week is in tribute to Whitney: "The Role of Elegy" by Mary Jo Bang.

May her soul rest in peace and her family and loved ones find healing and peace in their hearts after their tragic loss.

What memories does Whitney Houston evoke for you? What was your favorite song of hers?


Some other links I thought I'd share:

An inspiring article on working toward success by Dan Blank: "Being a Success, Without Being a Bestseller"

Many of us can relate with this question: "Can there be a day to celebrate failure?"Read an excerpt from Paige Taggart's poem "Get Your Slip On" via The The Poetry

Are you as crazy about Pinterest? (It has become a bad, bad habit for me!) Check out these boards for book-lovers! And if you have any others you follow and would like to share, please let me know!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Super Bowl Observations

The Giants were victorious against the Patriots this past Saturday! Super Bowl XLVI drew a record-breaking 111.3 million viewers. Some people don't care for football, some people shed tears at the end of the season. I'm not going to go all sports-fanatic-crazy on you, I just want to share three things from my Super Bowl experience this year:

1. I've written in the past about football and writing. I think athletes are similar to writers in many ways. Eli Manning is the perfect example. He's long been in the shadow of his older brother and is largely ignored by sports media. Does it look like it bothers him one bit? No. He's just there to play the game he loves. He works to perfect his game, ignoring the naysayers. He's never given up, no matter the pressure. He's at every practice and every game, no matter the weather or other obstacles he may face. He is like the writer. Doing something he or she loves. Dedicated, no matter what anyone says, no matter the lack of recognition for your talents, you know the drill. The underdog didn't give up. Neither should the writer. Eli received the MVP award for this Super Bowl. There's an MVP award waiting for the writer who doesn't accept defeat.

2. I wasn't all to impressed by the commercials this year. A handful made me chuckle. The Ferris Bueller tease made me wish there were a sequel coming up in the near future. I was disappointed by every other commercial portraying the woman as merely a sex object, and I lost count of how many women in bikinis or underwear I saw. But then there was the Clint Eastwood Chrysler commercial that set everything right. And for that, I am thanking a poet.

3. And we can't overlook Madonna's halftime show. Madge looks like she hasn't aged one bit since the early 90's. My grandmother couldn't help but comment on her appearance either, and it made for the quote of the night: "She sure is pretty, but I bet you she can't cook like we can." As soon as she said this, she gave my grandfather, then my husband, a good stare down. There's always hoping, Grandma! ;)

Did you watch the Superbowl? Why or why not? Anything you did instead?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You Are Not Connected to the Internet. ?

Below is the screen I stare at this morning (because the Blogger app doesn't want to allow me to insert it above.) After months of battling with my Internet provider over poor service, I changed providers. My appointment for new installation was yesterday and we all know how this usually goes, unfortunately.

Because I work from home, I am at the mercy of said Internet providers and sometimes I feel as if they're conspiring against me. Rather than let negativity and piling papers plague my day, I'm seeing the light at the end of this tunnel, even if it's just a fleck.

What does this mean? Tackling some much procrastinated about revisions and working on an idea for a poem that hatched yesterday.

Not being connected to the Internet is keeping me from all the usual distractions to my writing. Today I'm grateful for this screen.

Do you shut down the computer to allow yourself more time to work on what you love? Do you feel the lure of the Internet takes away from or contributes to your productivity?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Consider the Hands that Write This Letter and Other Good Finds Sunday

The poem for this week is Aracelis Girmay's "Consider the Hands that Write This Letter." I find it pairs well with this past week's welcoming of the Month of Letters. Above are two postcards from the incredibly talented Karen Gielen. She's sending me inspiration through the mail!

A few other good finds this week:

If you're in need of a good writing subject, this just might trigger some inspiration: Rare Albino Hummingbird Spotted in Virginia.

Speaking about inspiration, I know it's silly, but somehow Ryan Gosling is now a Literary Agent on Twitter and he's fantastic at romancing the writer to write (and daydream a little)!

A different way to revise one's writing certainly caught my attention while reading an interview with Anne McGovern posted in flashquake's "Five Question Friday" blog feature.

The world may have lost Wislawa Szymborska but her wise writing will forever live on. Case in point, her poem "The Joy of Writing." May she rest in peace.

And lastly, if you are participating in the Month of Letters, Spotify created a playlist for your letter writing.

How has your week been? Any good reading or writing? And who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl if you're watching, or perhaps being forced to watch? For me, it's Eli Manning and The Giants all the way!

Best wishes for a beautiful Sunday, Andrea

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Time For Yourself, Postcards, and More Postcards

Just a few postcards today...
Some observations for today, and I guess we can call them lunch observations since I did all this during my lunch break:

1. It's important to schedule time or yourself, even if you don't feel you're in need of any. I work from home and only interact with people via phone or email so it can get a little glum in my office now and then. So, I took myself to lunch today and decided I'm going to do it once a week. Even if it's just for my tried-and-true tuna sandwich smothered in green chiles and avocado.

2. Who knew postcards could become an obsession? Yikes. I'm participating in the Month of Letters and putting a little poetry spin on it. Short poems on postcards. I'm enjoying picking out poems to go with the image on them. So far, I've sent out "Green Striped Melons" by Jane Hirshfield and "Michiko Nogami (1946-1982)" by Jack Gilbert. I can't wait for the weekend!

3. In my search for postcards, it seems no one really carries them anymore. I got lucky that one of the Barnes & Noble stores in my city still has a few on the rack, but they're not stocking them anymore. (Too late I found this out after driving to the other store across town in hopes of a more plentiful rack.) I went to another small bookstore with no luck, then even made my way to Hallmark, but they've discontinued them as well. Why? These perfect little cards say so much with just one image. Are postcards dead? Am I going to have to start making my own?

4. The mark of a productive day is a chocolate smudge from a York peppermint patty on your keyboard, at least it is for me today.

How has your day been? What does the mark of a productive day look like to you? And if you know of a good place to buy postcards besides Amazon, will you let me know? Please and thank you!

Smile, Andrea