Pushing Poems

Maybe it was the effect of having to complete a poetry manuscript by October 1st, which I did (yay for being on Milkweed Editions desks) or just spending the entire summer writing poetry, but lately, I am finding that to finish a poem takes an incredible effort. I’m having to push it out; flipping things, starting over, banging my head on my notebook.

I’ve never been in the position where a subject, poetry, in this case, has consumed my life and where I would go so far as to call myself a poet. I’ve never focused solely on one area and pushed at it for months on end. Oh sure, I’ve been writing off and on for years, but never like I am now where I think about writing every single day of my life. If I’m not thinking about writing, I am actually writing. Every day something spurs on a poem prompt, though not all actually become something. Because I have started trying to work with blank verse again (unrhymed iambic pentameter) my writing has slowed a bit as blank verse is hard. I think it’s easier to work in rhyme with iambic pentameter (maybe my mind is fuzzy because if I recall, sonnets are not easy).

The hard part though seems to be finishing anything I start. I get almost to the end, then it’s like the idea drabbles off and I’m left with a ‘dangling participle’… Joking, that’s a line from Sylvester Stalone’s Oscar film. But the poem is dangling by a thread and I don’t know where to take it. Or there is the case of trying to write a poem about how war and fighting has changed so much from the Revolutionary or World Wars where there was a front and a line in the sand and whatnot, but the poem has started about five different times, in different ways, and I just can’t seem to make it go anywhere. I think the idea is good, but it’s just not going anywhere. Sometimes I have to just tuck the idea away for another time, and oh gosh if there aren’t tons of ideas in the backs of my journals that I forget to look at, and come back to it later. I just recently found about ten ideas I need/want to work on from just the last 2 months journal entries. Gosh, I’d hate to see what I’ve missed if I go back to the last three years in my journals.

I even went back so far, recently, to find poems I’d finished and type them up. I don’t know if I can use them for anything right now, but maybe. I have found that I really, really forget about poetry once it’s finished. That “door on the lid really” closes.

But right now, oh gosh, I’m pounding a nail into concrete trying to pound out that poem.

(hey, that’s a good prompt…)

Kate

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Disney Beats – Day 14

So my forays into the Write 31 Days October challenge went by the wayside on the 13th of the month. I think I burned myself out and just could not force myself to write. It was literally like trying to eat when you don’t feel good. But that doesn’t mean I can’t finish. It just might take me longer.

My sister got her first Disney soundtrack back when Oliver and Company came out. Cassette tape… I think we played that thing all the time. Even when we were taking baths that lasted 2+ hours. We loved that tape. Then came The Little Mermaid.  Once we knew that we could have music from any Disney animated film, it was no holds barred. We played them all. Compact discs made it that much easier and we went through those fun princess years of Disney all the time. I can probably sing every song from every movie from Oliver to Hercules, not counting all the earlier ones that we got later on.

Tell me a girl from the 80s that can’t sing every song from the Little Mermaid and I’ll show you someone that doesn’t know their pop culture. It is seriously insane how well we all know that music.

Disney music has always been a great love of mine since those first Disney movies that had good music. I’d say Mary Poppins was probably the first one I seriously remember, but I think Sleeping Beauty came next. Besides, the best part about Sleeping Beauty was that the prince had a name and could dance like ooh la la.

To this day, I still pay close attention to any Disney Musical, deeming it good (Moana rocks) or mediocre (Tangled could have been better). The music is still one of those things I love to put on, like any good musical, and start belting it out. Yes, I can belt it out and if it’s summer, I apologize, I love it so much.  It’s good, clean, wonderful lyrics.

What was your first Disney soundtrack you fell in love with? If you didn’t, well, you don’t know what you are missing. You’re Welcome….. (Moana)

Kate

The 70s Are My Favorite Era In Music History – Day 13

I feel I should write about spooky songs, beings that today is a Friday the 13th, but honestly, I don’t know that many spooky songs.

I was a child of the 80s, meaning I was born then, a GenY child, grew up in the 90s and was exposed to all kinds of music through my childhood. Without meaning to, I learned about the music of the 70s by accident. I used to listen to this light rock station when I lived in the Central Valley of California in my early formative years of music. I was given a small boombox with tapedeck, an extra blank tape and there you have it. I think it even came with a microphone to hold. I used to record and make my own things, my sister and I would talk; it was a lot of fun.  But where I had my most fun was I would turn on this nice station. I was monitored when it came to how noisy the music I listened to was, not being allowed rock, but this station was okay.

I thought because it was a station that played current things, that everything on it was current. Turns out, it wasn’t. A lot of the light rock stuff played in 1987 was music from the mid 70s, so without even knowing it, I was getting an education on music my parents listened to. My parents did have some music I would play on the record player, but honestly, when you are 5, the only thing you really want to play is kids music on the record player. Except for the classical composition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, but that’s another story.

Flash forward 13+ years when suddenly I had great access to a music catalogue from my now current library. My parents and I started ordering cdsto listen to and I was suddenly thrust into the wide world of music from the 70s. It was incredible. And the other thing was, suddenly I was hearing music I knew as well! I really remember the one I thought was a ‘my era’ song that was not, was Dan Fogleberg’s “Longer”. So 70s. So good.

I have listened to a wide range of music, so wide that I really have a hard time picking out favorite artists, though I have a couple. The music from the 70s was a lot of one hit wonders that were marvelous, but there were others that have entire albums. The 70s mix cds that our family made, our one of the most played sets of music in this house. There was a great collection of music called Super Hits of the ’70s: Have a Nice Day, and it was filled with a lot of the one hit wonder songs. But then I got exposed to the Guess Who, Three Dog Night, Olivia Newton John (which my dad had two of her records and now that I was old enough to get it, listened to her music), Neil DiamondBill Withers, Sam Cook, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchel, Chicago, and probably so many more that I can’t list them.

I can tell you the song more than the artist a lot of the times, and if I had my druthers, I would play more of that era. It’s a good era. The music is fun, sometimes naughty, but mostly clean, told a story and just has a good beat.  I love talking music with people, especially people in my parents or older generation because they get surprised when I know that style of music. I know who they are talking about, a lot of the time, and I know what they mean. (this is why I say I get along with baby boomers. I have spent enough time around people in that age I get them way better than my own generation)

And not only do I know music, I like talking about it. It’s one of my favorite subjects.

So, what era of music is your favorite? Or do you have one, and why?

Kate

James Taylor Is One Of My Fall Jams – Day 12

James Taylor. 1969 . Henry Diltz Photography (via pinterest)

I wrote about James Taylor years ago on this blog, James Taylor is in the House , and how James was my autumn music listening choice. It’s still very similar, though this year, I can’t find my cd (I have yet to mp3 it) and I just haven’t had the time to put it on.

I think there are just some artists that have a propensity for certain times of th eyear. Why is Carole King’s “Tapestry” a hot summer album? Maybe it’s only to me that I feel that. Simon and Garfunkel are definitely fall. Melancholy? Maybe that’s why. Some of the songs of Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and defintely Celtic music, tend to be much more melancholy and that apeals to a more autumnal listening soundtrack.

I haven’t turned on Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway album either and that is fall to me. But as time goes on, and my listening tastes change or are added to, I find that folk music and jazz fill up my more seasonal listening style. Right now is more of a time for Gregory Allen Isokov and Mumford & Sons. Maybe throw in the Lumineers. Bob Dylan. They all have a lyricism that is more poetry and autum inclined. Maybe it’s just my tastes have changed.

That being said, I think I ought to find James Taylor’s Greatest Hits and put it on. Some Walking Man needs to be in my life. Or the song below because well, it speaks to me.

Kate

Spanish Tunes That Are Totally Americanized – Day 11

Away (Enrique Iglesias song)

Away (Enrique Iglesias song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like listening to music in other languages. French is a huge one, but Spanish runs a close second. Probably all due to Enrique Iglesias. But there are other artists that I like two, Fonsi being a new one. I can’t say I have a lot of Spanish tracks in my database, but I have enough.

The thing is, most of what I listen to has a much more American flair than true Spanish songs. Maybe because I like to still semi-understand what I’m listening to, considering I never took that language in school, preferring French, and when you have some English in there, you can sing it.  The thing about this type of music I listen to is that I can dance to it. (my kind of dancing which should never be seen in public) It’s got groove to it. And like any other kind of non-English song, it sounds way sexier in a foreign language. I have no clue what is being said, but it just sounds better, so it’s more fun. Non-Comprehensable = Sexy. Go figure.

I look for random songs that are fun to groove to and attempt to sing. Fonsi’s “Despacito” is sung way too fast for me to have a clue, even with lyrics, what is going on. It’s like they put it on fastplay to sing the song out, but it’s still fun.

Culturally, it’s probably not correct, but hey, I’m a white girl from NorCal. Sue me. It doesn’t hurt that Enrique is gorgeous. And has been. And probably always will be. And hey, he’s like Pitbull’s best bro, right?

Kate

Country Music Was Killed By ‘Bros’ As In Brocountry – Day 10

FGL

Country music was great up until about 5 years ago, though honestly, the best for me was the stuff of the 80s. Back when I really learned to like country music. You know, when the Judds were like everywhere.

But then this whole shift in country, thanks to the likes of Luke Bryan, FGL (Florida Georgia Line), Dierks Bently, and oh, Blake Shelton, kind of killed classic country. I mean, it was already starting to go the likes of more pop songs. Oh heck, country has been much more poppy for several years, but it was still doable. Now, well now it’s all about tight jeans, drinking, girls in said tight jeans drinking, summer nights, flatbeds of the truck and various other weird non country references.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the so-called ‘brocountry’. It’s a sexy genre that your daddy doesn’t like and you can feel a little bit sexy listening to, because honestly when a guy is crooning to shake your thang, it’s kind of fun. Besides, FGL inspired a whole novel of mine that I’ve been working on about a country (brocountry) singer. Hey, a girl has to take an idea and run with it, and if it happens to look like Tyler Hubbard, well so much the better.

I have a nice selection of Brocountry music to listen to, and yeah, while I love what I was grown on; Tricia Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Brooks and Dunn, and like I said, the Judds, I still have a semi-guilty pleasure of semi-bad country.

So, where do you stand on ‘brocountry’? Listen to it? Hate it? Secretly enjoy it? Psst, I won’t tell.  Share the details in the comments.

Kate

Don’t Judge My Pitbull – Day 9

Give Me Everything (Pitbull song)

Give Me Everything (Pitbull song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People are always wondering what other’s have as a guilty pleasure. I can honestly say I have very few guilty pleasures as most of what I like I will share with you. Be it crazy dating shows or dancing shows, cartoons, cheesy films, etc. I don’t have guilt with any of them. But there is one guilty pleasure I have that I don’t mention much, especially to my family.

I love Pitbull. Not the dog, though I do love Cooper, a pitbull mix my friends have. (the dogs are adorable.) I’m talking the rapper. The crazy, arrogant, kind of sexy blue-eyed Cuban American rapper. I love his music, the sexy, overtly sexy music, the rhythm. So far, there hasn’t been a Pitbull song I don’t like. I have him on all my running playlists, I have sole playlists devoted to his music.

I first heard him on an Enrique Iglesias song several years ago, and from then on, I was hooked. I don’t get some of his constant lyrics in a song…. what the heck does ‘dale’ mean? And thank you, Daniel, over on Daniel Is Funny blog, for referencing all the weird things Pitbull sings about. Yes, that would be an amazing drinking game, though I would be soused in two songs…. It’s that bad.  For those interested here is the Pitbull Song Bingo/Drinking Game

All joking aside, which is hard to do because I roll my eyes a lot when I listen to him, I still find myself sucked down into his world of rap that is so much more explicit than I would ever let a younger person listen to. I mean, just recently I fell in love with his “Greenlight” song and it’s gorgeous, in my opinion, but the lyrics make me cringe knowing I wouldn’t let my father know I love the song. Seriously, how much more explicit can you be about sex? But the beat makes me want to get up and dance and go dancing and salsa and cha-cha my way down the street.

Anyways, explicit lyrics are probably the reason I don’t tell people this guilty pleasure. Maddie…. knowing you are going to read this, possibly, don’t judge. Lol, (we are in the same writing group so I see her)  Anyways, does anyone else have a musical guilty pleasure?  Are you willing to share? Oh, I should add that Flo Rida is a bit of a guilty pleasure as well.

Kate

 

Favorite Songs Part 1 – Day 8

Bruce Springsteen, Drammenshallen, Norway

Bruce Springsteen, Drammenshallen, Norway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen has to be one of my all time favorite songs. I cannot explain  how much I like it, but when I hear it, there is like this little piece of me that calms down and suddenly I’m okay.

Recently, Mumford and Sons did a cover of it, a live version, that is beautifully done. Raw, gritty, Mumford-y.  Then I heard the cover by Olaf Arnalds on an episode of Lethal Weapon. Now I’m not one to begrudge a cover, nor am I one to say the original was best, but in this case, no one has it quite like The Boss.

No, I think I will stick with something that truly shouldn’t ever be played around with and changed. Now to only find more Bruce Springsteen songs that are like ‘I’m On Fire’.  Does anyone know? I’ve yet to find one quite like that song of his.

Kate

Celtic Isn’t No Irish Jig – Day 7

I was in my early teenage years when my parents were introduced to Enya and Loreena McKennitt and Clannad. I was not impressed. I thought that music was depressing and sad and cold. It made me cold to listen to it, it made me want to cry, I wondered why the heck my parents were into that kind of stuff. I would roll my eyes when they would put it on, though I did find Clannad to be slightly more bouncy at times, thank God. I just didn’t get the point.

I can’t say when it was that it started to grow on me, but by the time I reached my mid teens, I was hooked. I listened to everything we had, which was several Enya albums, and come to think of it, several Loreena albums. We had The Chieftains, James Galway, Enya, Loreena, and more, though I’m blanking on what. Then I added Altan and more Loreena, and Celtic women, and gosh, all kinds of things. I even started learning to sing the songs that were in Gaelic. (I even went so far as to learning how to make Celtic knots, and wanting to learn Gaelic, and I have a Scottish dictionary…) My friend and I were hooked.

The music has stuck with me over the years, though I have to say that my fascination for Celtic music has waned some. I was instantly hooked recently when I was watching King Arthur Legend of the Sword and the first song came on, The Life sung by Gareth Williams. Reminds me of Billy Boyd singing in The Return of the King. Haunting.

A lot of Celtic music is haunting and sad, a touch depressing and honestly when it is raining, it seriously fits the mood. I find that I don’t need the ‘depressing’ mood when it rains. I have enough depression/discouragement in my life without adding to the mix. Maybe through those semi angst-filled teenage years I needed depressing. I certainly had a lot of lows. But as I get older, the less sad music, the better.

Loreena McKennitt Rome 2017

But I will say, Celtic music is what shifted me more towards folk music and that is an area I have definitely taken to. So while Enya doesn’t get played as much, and I can’t remember the last time I played Clannad (excluding the Christmas tunes that have several Celtic artist’s renditions), I have a healthy respect for the style of music. I think it has inspired me in many ways and helped me along my path.

Now, it’s your turn. Readers, has Celtic music influenced your life? If not that style, what has? Country, Rock, Rap? Tell me in the comments below.

Kate

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Spoon River Gossip Column

How, as a poet, I didn’t know about Spoon River Anthology is beyond me. I just recently found out about the marvelous poems of Edgar Lee Masters by chance as I was listening to a back issue of Poetry Off the Shelf.    It had been 100 years since it had first been published, and the book, despite being somewhat dated in stories, has never gone out of print. Now talk about staying power.

I fell in love with the tragic poems recited in the podcast, but it was once I started reading them that it really became the good stuff. Sitting down and flipping through the Kindle version ( I now know I must get a hardback copy) I felt my heart start to race and the just utter shock at the stories hit me like I was reading a gossip column about the trials of all of Hollywood.  I sit there and I want to share this titillating story with my mother.  “Did you hear?” is running through the back of my head as I read one more snippet of scandal. The horrors, humor, and tragedy just make my heart start to pound and I am flipping the next page (the crackle of a newspaper is nearly at hand!) and I’m on to the next salacious story.

Back when my mother was in Jr. High, (I believe) my aunt did a skit of sorts reading three poems from Spoon River. Lucinda Matlock, Yee Bow, and Elsa Wertman were those recited. Years later, meaning just a few weeks ago, I was telling my mother all about finding Spoon River Anthology and falling in love with it, and her first thing she said to me was, “Why does that sound so familiar?”  I explained the premise and boom, she was back remembering hearing her sister recite the poems. After I downloaded the ebook, she flipped through it, page after page and found those three poems and said those were the ones she remembered here. Boom, and email from my aunt confirmed it. Clearly the poems have such staying power as to stick in the head of a 14 year old girl, who is now much older.

I can totally understand the appeal of such poems, done in such a loose, informal way, that there is no actual meter or rhyming scheme, because the stories themselves talk of life in such a way that you can relate, even if the poems and situations were written one hundred plus years ago. There is till rape, racism, hate, greed, sloth, longing, adultery, pure love, long lasting love, commitment, abortion, murder…… All of our sins are spilled out for us to ooh and ahh over, with no thought that we are just like them. Written in such a way that you eagerly turn to the next story.

I think every high school drama class should perform a rendition of Spoon River Anthology. Take and mix it up with each class. Heck, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I could stand out there and recite a story that has such meaning and emotion embodied in so few words. Heartbreaking and entertaining, I highly recommend Spoon River Anthology for anyone interested in learning about poetry and having it almost completely understandable. And if you enjoy People magazine, well even better. The gossip rags have nothing on Spoon River’s drama.

If you are looking for a free copy, Project Gutenberg has one, as the copy write is out of date, but personally while I downloaded that one, I like the Kindle Dover Thrift Edition.

Kate

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