Friday, April 11, 2014

Week #2/National Poetry Month

     Today I visited one of my favorite haunts in Palm Beach Gardens––The Book Exchange & Comic Book Store––on Northlake Boulevard in North Palm Beach, Florida.
     It's been a few months since I pushed through their single-entry door, and now as always I take care my entrance because immediately I face book stands, shelves, and glass-fronted cases––some with first-edition or antique books. I set my iPhone's timer to one hour for browsing, realizing that's not nearly enough time for walking up and down, around and behind their plethora of used books. Genres and subjects are marked on shelf edges, and children's and young adults' literature have their respective nooks. From wall hooks, straw baskets hang for the customer's convenience of stashing finds from among the narrow alleys. I search for a deep and wide basket because I favor hardbacks, which take up more space and have more heft than paperbacks.
     Today I headed for the poetry section, to continue tipping my hat to April's designation as National Poetry Month. Whoa! What a motherlode I found. What a motherlode I bought. To wit:

  • Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright
  • The Mail from Anywhere by Brad Leithauser
  • Essays and Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Selected Poems of May Sarton, ed. SSHilsinger/LBrynes
  • Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, ed. Ted Hughes
  • Karol Wojtyla: Collected Poems, translated by JPeterkiewicz
  • The Oxford Book of Garden Verse, and 
  • Vignettes in Violet by Marion Perham Gale, dated 1928.
     I'll be busy for awhile, doing you-know-what. I promise I'll not be tempted to stray from my New Year's promise of reading catch-up from last year. Believe that, and it's a belated April Fool's on you, my dear readers.  Smile.

Friday, April 4, 2014

National Poetry Month

    April is National Poetry Month as designated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. During April's thirty days, schools, poets, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and festivals are encouraged to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.
     I read what the Academy had to say about this month's event, and was pleased to find a suggested list of thirty things we can do to celebrate poetry. A really good list, I might add, so check out Poets.org from the Academy of American Poets to find one or more areas you can incorporate into your salute of this wonderful genre.
     For myself, I was drawn to postage stamps featuring the image of an American poet. On further reading, I found the idea of petitioning the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee something good, sustaining, and rooted. To be eligible, the notice reads, suggested poets must have been deceased for at least ten years, and must be American or of American descent. It's definitely worth checking into, and I'll keep you posted (no pun intended).
     It's worth checking out Poets.org (linked above) for your take on what you might find as a creative way to enjoy and promote April as National Poetry Month.

Friday, March 21, 2014

World Poetry Day

 
Each year on March 21st is World Poetry Day. Today I offer a Baker's Dozen of Poetry Wisdom to celebrate this Day. I hope you enjoy them. I pray you make note of each word by each  author.



1. Poetry is music written for the human voice.  Maya Angelou
2. I have nothing to say / and I am saying it and that is / poetry.  John Cage
3. Poets paint with words, painters speak with works.  Annibale Carracci
4. Good poems are the best teachers.  Mary Oliver
5. Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down. Robert Frost
6. We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.  John Fowles
7. Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.  Christopher Fry
8. A poem should be wordless / As the flight of birds.  Archibald MacLeish
9. Poetry is an expression, through human language restored to its essential rhythm, of the mysteriousness of existence.  Stéphane Mallarmé
10. Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.  John Wain
11. Poetry is idealized grammar.  Oscar Wilde
12. Stanzas are rooms, and a poem of them, a house.  Robert Wallace
13. Poems are not language but the content of the language.  Mary Oliver

How about that! Thank you for reading. Thank you for taking some of these wise words under your belt.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gibberish

     From time to time, the writing group I belong to will select a topic intended for the "humor bones." Its purpose is to edge out taking ourselves tooo seriously by a topic designed for wit, which can be done in any genre. Recently, such a straw was drawn. Here's to shaking up my stream of consciousness on Gibberish.

Dr. Seuss wrote some books and created a golden goose on an equally golden nest with straw gathered by sympathetic fish from a canal made by troubled souls––and then some––behind Elk Lodge #219. But I digress.
This goose, in a land of moose near the waters of Who Knows Where, took flight one bright autumn morn to seek her next of kin only to discover she was a figment of Seuss's imagination and his bank account. She returned to the golden nest in a land of moose knowing there were no next of kin or bank account to be found. Ever.
Seuss and goose watched from the house around the bend of jagged rocks near the waters of Who Knows Where, which goose wanted mightily to know so as to set its coordinates on her pitifully small brain, but Seuss would not comply. Why? Because goose and the sympathetic fish who built her nest did not comprehend Lithuanian––simple as that.
This gibberish was written (with a donated plume from goose) for you, dear enlightened reader, and you need to understand there might not be a logical ending to this balderdash––hereinafter referred to as epistle––quilled under circumstances beyond my or your control. Another mumbo-jumbo tale will unfold (goose prefers "hatch"), of that you can be sure, but thankfully not today.
     What fun I had with this. It was meant to be fun, and it was. It reminded me of college art classes when the professor would assign a series of timed thumb-nail sketches. My right brain and I, like the little engine(s) that could, churned out sketch after sketch. Good, bad, or mediocre––it didn't matter. What mattered was the ability to take in something, and to render it for later reworking into a more substantive form or style.
     The same thing happened with this exercise. It took a few minutes to pen this. It felt good. I laughed aloud as I wrote it, and my engines were turned on for hours after. The spontaneity and stream of consciousness worked for longer and better other outcomes by day's end. Thank you, writing group. I'm going to do this more often.
     I'll toss into the ring a few one-word topics: ROWDY, FRINGES, FESTER, or you could try your hand at GIBBERISH. Remember, you can do them in any genre. 
     I invite you to take one or all and run with it/them as an exercise. Send one or all to me. I'd love to read what you did, and––who knows––one might merit a prize!!!!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Writing Alongside Music

     Do you write alongside music? Do you write with music streaming from another room? How does it work for you––or doesn't it?
     Music carries me through the day––from early morning coffee (New Age) to winding down for sleep with violin and piano melodies. Dione, John, Lang, jazz, and a mix of classic '60's and '70's  help while I prepare dinner. When I need an energy boost, there's something contemporary to be found on Sirius Radio.
     I take my iPhone out to the Cathedral of my garden where it serves up background music for the myriad birds, rustling leaves, and buzzing bees (two hives). Nothing gyrating or pulsing, just favorites off my Playlist to encourage enjoyment of and reverence for the natural world.
     This year marks my fifth year of piano instruction. I've come to the ivory and ebony late in life. The learning, the listening, the act of two hands training to act in disciplined independence is immensely rewarding. I listen to Mozart, Beethoven, and contemporary pianists with a new ear. Music, especially piano music, uplifts me, and I wonder why the nuances, the subtleties of music listening had escaped me for so long.
Illustration by Izar Cohen
     Sitting at my computer a few weeks back, in what felt like the zillionth draft of a story, I became aware of gliding as a feather through the tedium of it. GlidingFeatherInconceivable!
     There was a difference from previous rewrite times, and the difference was I was proofing/editing with background music. Nothing emotional, loud, or grating. No. The music was soft and harmonious. An invitation to my creative muse.
     I leaned back in my chair. I was not performing a mindless task. Yet, I was productive in the task at hand. The music didn't distract me. Rather, it inspired my focus. Revelation, chance, or fact?
     I bring to your attention an article published in The Wall Street Journal (2/18/2013) titled "Music Ability Helps Reading." Check it out. I've also found other studies in the same vein prove the same outcome.
     Since the opportune discovery of writing alongside music, I've begun to do more of the same. I've decided discordant notes do NOT work, nor do arias or high-pitched lyrics––too heart pounding, too distracting. But when I chose to have backdrop music in my fiction and poetry writing, and reading––and by that I mean harmonious music, music in the tempo of my story and/or characters––it reveals itself to be a part-to-part relationship. And what I think is a good partnership.
     I'll end as I began: Do you write or read alongside music? Do you write or read with music streaming from another room? How does it work for you––or doesn't it? Do let me know, please.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pinterest

     Last night I launched my older sister by thirteen years into the Pinterest world via long-distance telephone.  "Baby steps," I repeated like a mantra every time she tripped and felt frustrated.
     "Right," she said, "baby steps. I'm baffled, but okay. I can do this."
     Patience persevered on both ends of instruction. She is launched and excited, while knowing she's only begun her learning curve. She'll get there in small steps for two reasons: 1) she feels left out of this dynamic social media site all her friends preen about, and 2) because she's fascinated with the possibility that hand-selected, colorful images will tell the world what she is about.

     I declare unabashedly––I love Pinterest!
     My venture into this wonderland of pictures was prompted by spilling-over files of pictorial ideas for home-improvement projects. It took techie skills that left me dry-eyed *..* mostly because I don't own them, but I got the venture up and running. Magazine and newspaper clips, how-to's, notes, cut pictures were trashed, manila folders recycled, and file cabinet space freed up. Jubilation! Pinterest founders should be given one royal pat on the back.
     In the beginning, my philosophy was "100 of 100"--100 boards of no more than 100 pins.  That lasted until I reached 100 boards, and then I looked at what I had wrought. The number of Boards had swelled along with their content. They were all good, mind you, but it hadn't occurred to me that they had become as self-revealing as they did. The growth spurt resulted from a personal mix of serious pursuits, wit, and insight. They represented deep abiding interests. I began to tweak them, and continue to do so.
     But Pinterest is more than an online scrapbook of pictures, or more than a mirror of its creator. Pinterest offers broad learning opportunities about topics, ideas, and interests. All that is required of the Pinner is to open an image to find reams of information. Much like peeling an onion, the Pinner keeps penetrating down to a source, and often that source will offer much more than the zillion pixels found in the online photo.
     If you browse my Pinterest Boards, you'll find headings related to beekeeping (we've two double-stacked hives), piano (proving it's never too late), and pools, porches, and water features––all for the garden.
    For writing purposes, I created insightful boards on how to write something right, where to find a reference, tools to write with, or what my dream library would look like, and even a chuckle or two. A recent post, Hotels for Bibliophiles, sprung from the Board "Booking"a Stay. For more Boards related to literary matters, please feel free to visit book fairs,  home libraryquotes about writing typewritersgrammar and punctuationindie book shops, and more. An introduction to my blog, Flying Pages, can also be found, because blogging along with Pinterest and Facebook are my social media/writing platforms.

Do you use Pinterest? Is it fun for you? If you can, tell me what you like about it? Do you use it to serve your personal interests only, or do you have a professional part of your life involved with it?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ponderings in mid-February

     The Olympic Games of 2014 will finish Sunday. I hum an Alleluia. Every now and then it's good to take a break, and the last two weeks were that. My family awaits the Olympics with great anticipation knowing dust bunnies will collect, sleep-deprived puffy eyes will arrive, and many pizzas will substitute for family dinners.
     But it's time to stop rationalizing why writing goals slipped this month. It's time to re-enter reality, and repower the creative engine. But, oh my, over these last two weeks there was so much to admire, so much talent, and wonderfully-crafted commercials. There were many athletes to root for, plenty to be grateful for, twinges of compassion for Bob Costas, and opportunities for reflection.
     Monday I will pick up fountain pen and notebook to re-ignite the engines. Most likely, I'll begin by jotting down tidbits of this and that––observations, snippets of news pieces, or a new-found word. It's inevitable I'll stall, go to check on the honeybees (now there's a model work ethic!), and Monday is laundry day. Indeed, I predict I will suspend my creative re-entry until an inner voice bellows NOW!
     I write. I am easily distracted. I putter. I lollygag. It all goes together like close siblings––this desire to write, the ability to procrastinate. In a compare/contrast, I wonder if it could it be any different for the Olympic athletes? I don't think so. Pushing through each day of creative writing or athletic practice is a major accomplishment. It takes perseverance, and perseverance incites awe because we all understand what it takes. Discipline, time, sacrifice, self-doubt, loneliness, worry, fear, grinding work, and grueling disappointments. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and chant over and over "I mustn't stop trying." It's a learned process.
     Tomorrow, Sunday, is the day I will suck up as through an intravenous tube what it takes to be a winner, and to push through the days and weeks in front of me with athletic perseverance. I will borrow a page from the Olympic athletes––those who won medals, those who didn't––and hope I can match them. And I will tell you what I have long-ago learned: No one can do it for me.

I leave you with this: We're all in this together––by ourselves.  Lily Tomlin