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


     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.