Listening To Bob Dylan

American folk and rock singer Bob Dylan, who was born on the 24th of may in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. — Image by © 91040/dpa/Corbis

Recently I have taken to liking Bob Dylan and his music. Not all of it, but a select few. I find it funny since I used to inwardly scoff at his music. Possibly because he was popular during the Vietnam War. Why that should make any difference at all doesn’t make any sense since I particularly like music from the 60s and 70s. Maybe it’s because I can actually appreciate the story being told in one of his many songs, whereas before, I was more interested in the beat. I didn’t know how connected to stories in songs I would get over the years of writing.

The first song I remember being introduced to was ‘Lay, Lady, Lay‘, and at the time I didn’t even know it was Dylan. But I fell in love with it. Over the years I’ve slowly added to my small collection of his songs. The stories in all of them are magical and as a writer, I can appreciate the condensed tale told.  I actually wonder if contemporary folk music appeals to the writer in us due to the story being told? I can honestly say that country music that has a story, I do have to quantify it, appeals to me. I like songs without a story, in fact, most of what I listen to wouldn’t qualify as much of a story and more of a ‘feeling’.  But if I start really thinking about songs that grab and hold me, they tell a story.

Thinking about Bob Dylan always reminds me of something I read in Poemcrazy where Susan Wooldridge was talking about him carrying around an armload of words. Turns out, it wasn’t Bob Dylan she was talking about, but Dylan Thomas, the poet. While I have a book of his poetry, I’m not as familiar with his works, so somehow I thought it was  Bob Dylan. While I had the person wrong, I still picture Bob Dylan carrying around armloads of words, racing to get to his black typewriter, up winding stairs in a small garret at an Irish inn on dreary, wet Irish days.

The actual quote about Dylan Thomas from Poemcrazy is as follows:

Dylan Thomas loved the words he heard and saw around him in Wales. “When I experience anything,” he once said, “I experience it as a thing and a word at the same time, both equally amazing.” Writing one ballad, he said, was like carrying around an armload of words to a table upstairs and wondering if he’d get there in time.

My image is certainly fanciful at best in regards to Bob Dylan. Who knows if he used a typewriter or wrote his music in Ireland.  I know I’m probably completely wrong, but if you listen to his words you feel the lyrical quality, and I can’t help but imagine the songwriter is this way. In Ireland. Go figure.

I carry boatloads of words in my head constantly. I have lost countless poems or starts of poems by not having paper at hand when I need it. I have a small pocket journal I have just for this reason, but like my camera when I don’t have it I need it and when I do have it I don’t need it, my writing is the same way. I never write when I have paper at hand. I write when I am scrambling frantically for any scrap piece of paper at hand. Netflix flyers, bill envelopes, receipts, margins of something and various other odd places. I have a folder/envelope of scraps of paper with the starts of poems. I have been meaning to transcribe them onto a document, or into one notebook, but I have yet to sit down and do anything with it. The question of, ‘Will I ever really use that and do I need to compile it all down?’ frequently hits my mind.

There is a panic that starts when I can’t find paper. I try to repeat the lines over and over in my head in the hopes that I will remember it for the next five minutes till I find paper, but inevitably I am asked a question, interrupted or just don’t have a moment to grab a paper and pencil.  It’s aggravating like that itch you can’t scratch. Knowing that the lines were just there. If only there was a way to scoop all those words up in a bucket that holds onto them until you can come back to collect them.

I try to make sure I keep a notebook, journal or index card with me whenever I go out. Of course, because I have that ready, I rarely write out in public.

In no particular order, Bob Dylan songs I currently love are, Lay, Lady, Lay, The Girl From The North Country, Mr. Tamborine Man, To Fall in Love With You, and Shelter From The Storm.

My one Dylan Thomas poem I currently keep rereading due to a friend’s young wife having cancer and is recovering from a stroke, is Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.

 

Imagining Opening Shots to Music

In Poemcrazy, Susan talks about seeing things and having them be ‘opening shots’, like in films where you have that first opening scene.  While I don’t pay attention always to opening scenes, I make up my own in my head when I hear music that I like. Recently the song used for the Behr paint has been stuck in my head.  The song, “Imagine Color” by Kasper Ramone makes think of New York in the 1940s and you see this panorama of buildings in greys panning to an artist swirling paint over canvas and you start sing the city come alive with different color.

I have been thinking a lot of opening scenes as I listen to music.  Or closing shots sometimes. Like that end of the movie where everything figures itself out okay?  There is a song by Jesse Malin, “Downliner”, and I feel like this is one of those songs where you see people getting out of a car on the sidewalk overlooking a bay on a bright, sunny, windy day, at the end when everyone is coming together and the story is done.

It’s funny how music always creates a story in my head.  “Lay, Lady, Lay” by Bob Dylan has a very 70s western vibe to me and I imagine scenes from Once Upon a Time in the West, or something risque from the 70s.  It fits with the Janet Dailey books I read; romance novels that are, as one person mentioned at my writing group, candy books.  You read candy novels for fun and nothing specific other than you enjoy a bit of fluff.  I figure you could get a toothache if you read too many of those.  (I’ve read enough and my PC Kindle is filled with a few too many.)

I create stories for most of the music I listen to, or I insert it into a story I’m writing, or the song itself is a story. I think I wrote about that years ago when I mentioned the song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” I like a song that has a story behind it.  Probably why I like a lot of folk music. I can see the story.  It’s also the reason I like certain music videos that have a definite story in them, or something that seems to need to be written about.   Maybe this is why I like flash fiction.  It’s a little blip of a story in three and a half minutes; music videos, that is.

Does anyone else ever hear a song and it brings a scene to mind?  Or a story in a music video?  I’d love to know some of your favorites.

Kate

I Read, I’m Not Alone – Writing 101 Day 15

“We read to know we’re not alone.”

— William Nicholson, Shadowlands

  • Tell us about a book that opened your eyes when you were young.
  • Describe a life-changing experience with a book.
  • Where do you like to read?

When I was 13 I fell in love with The Three Musketeers  by Alexander Dumas. I was suddenly thrust into the 14th century of excitement, intrigue, and swashbuckling action. It was my first foray into adult fiction and I couldn’t get enough. I remember it took me three weeks to read the thing, and it just made me start craving more intense books. Sadly, I couldn’t keep with the Musketeer theme. I tried reading The Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo, but I have yet to continue on with those books. I’ve always wanted to finish out the stories, because I love them.

I think The Three Musketeers was what got me started on the swashbuckling/romance/hero man. It made me also want to read more books about France.  A couple years later I was reading Scaramouche and The Scarlett Pimpernel. Both books I fell in love with and as luck would have it, my grandma had all three books in this pretty set. I now have them, though I have never read them again. I keep telling myself that I will get back to it. One day.

Very few books have made a life change for me, but a second one would have to be both Poemcrazy and Billy Collin’s Sailing Alone Around the Room. The former being what has made it possible for me to break out into poetry and not feel silly. The latter really got me thinking about poetry as a narrative without the rhyme. Being able to hit someone with a poem but not needing it to be epic.

Poetry is one of those things people either love or hate. Or for some, don’t get, so they really don’t like it. I love it, and I don’t understand people that don’t get it. My mom doesn’t really get it. She used to write it, and that was fun, but she didn’t like reading it. And her friend who is like an extended aunt to me, doesn’t get poetry. Sigh. Oh well. I had Mrs. B read a bunch  of my sonnets. She loves them, but doesn’t quite get them.

Oh well.

And getting back to reading epic type books. Where do I like to read those? Well, late at night with the covers high and rain on the roof. …….. Okay, that never happens, but I like it. I tend to fall asleep reading these days.

And I don’t have a lot of time to read epic books anymore. I have taken to reading quicker books. I need something I can get done quickly. Books that take me three weeks to read make me nervous.  I want to read them, but then I think about how much time they will take me. When I was young, big books with tiny print made me scared. Now they just make me nervous. I think to myself, “Oh, I don’t have the time!” Hence why I have yet to finish Jane Eyre. I want to. I really do, but it’s long! As is Emma by Jane Austen. Plus it’s Jane Austen. Nothing she writes is what you would say, easy.

But at some point I want to read the rest of the Musketeer books. I want to read Le Compte de la Monte Cristo (I always think of it in French. It sounds better)

Okay so readers, do you like thick, long books? Do any scare you? What is the one book that has changed your life? Is there one book you are afraid to tackle but have always wanted to read? Tell me about it. I’d love to hear.

Kate

 

Poetry from Poemcrazy Workshop

Here are three poems from the workshop with Susan Wooldridge.

Using word tickets, word pools, post cards, stolen words and pure magic.  All of these poems here brought tears, full of raw emotion and feelings.  I do hope you enjoy.

I Remember by V. Krueger

I Remember
Hewn stone
Hopscotch on the kitchen floor,
Blue sky, full moons
Strange surprises and early spring
I remember
Frail old people, laughing children
Rambunctious conversations over dinner
The smell of a warm stove and coffee

I remember
Enchanting, silly, lost little girls,
Plates stacked, silver, really?
Dark, dank, scary, stairs to the cellar
I remember
Cold winters, pancakes and syrup
Important dreams
Steaming milk, the smell of diesel.
I remember
Shaggy horses,
The delightful smell of cows,
swish, swish, swish , milk in the pail, a warm barn..



Amnesia, I Have Forgotten What I Was by Katie Lyn Branson

I am Life the dishsoap in the
Spanish home disembodied as my
Mother stands at the kitchen sink
Singing to my sister about shortning
Bread
The sweet, sweet, sweet smell of chocolate
Chip cookies, the chlorine as she cleans the
Sink
Sewing up shadows of compact berries
I remember the expression, No problem
Knocking full of neon light-script
Nom Nom she says, yes yes I’ll have
Another song
The language of the north hand calls me
And I’m the dishes as I set the table
Come back to me potato chips
Crunchy with mustard, sour, salty
Honey tastes, not dainty
Amnesia, I have forgotten what I was
Encounter me in Monaco, a glittering
Firebrat, stunning as a Japanese Geisha
Three lovely syllables form me
Mira, headlights Wildfire
I am leafless trees of burnt umber
Dancing and sensual,
I am a cactus prickly when you prod me
I am a Victorian lady, proper and prim
Every moaning lover calls me home
The agony of eternity’s with them
An ocean full of squares, sharp
The softness of a waterfall full of leaves
Beckons me to the bloodroot of me
The Swamp Dewberry, earthy and sweet
I am so many things knocking at myself
As I chain-smoke my words on paper and
Become a lurking mask of myself
sewing up shadows of a bubble

Ball on the Green by Katie Lyn Branson
I feel like the endless golf ball on the
green, lonely and waiting to be hit from
the club
The luminosity of the sun shines on my
white surface in a desert of green
The rain hits the umbrella, plink plunk thunk
The feather boa around my neck is soft
Tickling my chin
I feel like wearing red and dancing on the
green. The green velvet lawn in July
as you take the weekend to burrow yourself
away and forget what I said to you in a musical moment.
I feel lost waiting for the hit to come
from you sending me spinning and reeling
towards the hole.
Another point for you as you score a
Par four and write it with your little
pencil of grafite
I could erase your marks and write
in my own.
I win! I shout at you.
For once I have the upper hand
Your stalking Jaguar-self won’t scare
me this century
Photograph me as I dance in the rain
over cobblestoned streets, my silken skirts
An Oriental Poppy of endless movement.

Kate

All poetry is copywrited 2015 by V. Krueger and Katie Lyn Branson.  Do not use without permission.

Meeting Susan G. Wooldridge

I lead a very quiet life, so having the chance to meet an author I absolutely love, has been a huge highlight of my year.  I have rambled on a fair amount about Susan Wooldridge, author of Poemcrazy and Foolsgold often enough that I worry I’m going to wear you readers out.  However, when one falls in love with a book or set of books, or in this case, the author, one tends to go on about it quite a lot.

Just recently my local library hosted a free workshop with Susan Wooldridge and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend.  It was all and more than I could have ever imagined, leaving me with some stunning poetry, if I do say so myself, and a host of inspiration. I was able to meet other authors that gather every Saturday, at my library none the less, and it was a wonderful experience.

Susan is even more fun in person than I would have ever thought. I mean, I love her books and her style of writing is wonderful, but she’s actually like that in person! I could gush…. Okay, I kind of am gushing. I may continue through this with much more.

The 'Wild Women of Etna"

The ‘Wild Women of Etna”

We started off our session ‘stealing words’ from the stacks of poetry books Susan brought with her. (on a side note, I want to have half of those books. I didn’t have time to write down all the amazing titles!) Flipping through the books we grabbed words we liked or called to us from these books, writing them down on a sheet of paper.  I grabbed so many words I wanted to keep going and going! I had a huge list.  Here is a sample.

headlights, eternity’s, the expression, No problem, every moaning lover, chain-smoking, neon light-script, leafless trees, cactus, disembodied, dainty, waterful full of leaves, detective, compact berries, gasoline, ocean, Bloodroot, Swamp Dewberry, Victorian, Paint November…..

Then we started throwing words up onto the whiteboard until we had this AMAZING wordpool.

Susan standing with our word pool.

Susan standing with our word pool.

One of our more hilarious moments was talking about the ‘detective (my word) who charged 3.95 a second’. We kept repeating the phrase over and over trying to fling it into our writing.

Susan then had us all loosen up with dancing in the library parking lot. Our library delivery guy saw us all acting like ninnies, and declined to join in. (I don’t blame him. I mean, the Wild Women were at it…. ) We spun around and said our vowels in a song of movement.

We pulled out Susan’s word tickets; words cut from various sources and taped to ‘Admit One’ tickets. If you have read Poemcrazy, you will know what these are. Sadly, I did not get a picture of them.  I need to make my own, but have not gotten around to it yet.

IMG_5659

Our poetry starters, now on my ceiling for further inspiration.

Then we started writing using starter phrases of I remember, I come from, I am not, I am, and so forth.  We used our word pools we had stolen and the words thrown up on the white board. We scribbled away, me with my red fountain pen, writing furiously.

Then came the heart wrenching moment when Susan asked if she could read our poems aloud.  I have to say, while I handed out mine first because I was done, I was quivering inside. Do you know how personal a poem is? If you are a poet, then yes, but for those that do not write it , it can be a nerve wracking experience to have someone read a very rough draft of what you just wrote.

As Erin Andrews said recently on an episode of Dancing with the Stars, ‘this show is sponsored by Kleenix’….

We cried and we laughed, oohed, aahed and were blown away by the stories we told in just moments.  One writer, Robbie, made me want to cry with how beautiful her poetry was. She described this place that I wanted to step into that reminded me of the Melendy Family in Elizabeth Enright‘s  “The Four Story Mistake.”  And Vicki’s poem was so beautiful…. I will include hers within this post as she was gracious enough to allow me to post her poetry to share.

A small break, goodies from the Friends of the Library, then back to work this time  with switched out word tickets and postcards we selected that called to us.  I chose three, that I don’t have a picture of. A Georgia O’Keefe red poppy, an impressionist painting of rain on a cobblestone street in some French city, and a stone sphere on a green lawn in an abstract painting.  Word tickets and postcards transformed us into a sobbing mess.  I was writing, so quietly, filled with this burning ache in my chest.   I ended crying as Susan read my poem.  It was like I had been slammed by pure emotion.  It was amazing, but wow.

She read all of our poetry and it was stunning.  One phrase from one of the poems I loved was “I’m having a silent affair with my land’.  Isn’t that amazing?

"What's that word?"  with Donna May

“What’s that word?” with Donna May

Reading about the "Snow Angel"

Reading about the “Snow Angel”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ended the three hour workshop with requests for Susan to come back and moments of awe. I met some amazing ladies and have been invited to meet for the Saturday writing circle!

Susan handed us our Poetry license and we are all official. She even graciously signed our books. (I now have two books signed by an author. I don’t think I could be more jazzed)

I’m seriously inspired and I have started collecting a sample of obscure poetry books to steal words. I mean, I already have done that, but nothing like what I did  at this workshop.

Susan signing her book Poemcrazy

Susan signing her book Poemcrazy

I will post a separate post of my poetry and Vicki’s poetry.  If I can ever get any of the other ladies to share, I will try and post them in another post.

This was one of the best days ever. I know, I sound gushing…. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a workshop with Susan, I highly recommend it. It was incredible.

Kate

Susan and me.  I wanted to go with her.... She said I can visit any time. I will have to take her up on it.

Susan and me. I wanted to go with her…. She said I can visit any time. I will have to take her up on it.

 

 

Related Posts

I Come From

I come from the highlands

where the wind whistles and

blows through the sweet grass

I come from forests ancient and dark

where emerald moss pads the stoic

boulders and hidden streams gurgle and bubble

I come from the crashing ocean

salt spray and stinging mists

where soft sand and waves tickle your toes

I come from the mountains

where resinous pines and firs

are my incense and perfume

I come from the meadows at night

where you look up to see

millions of lights twinkling down

The stars are my friends

The trees whisper their kinship

The streams  tinkle my name

The ocean calls me home

My home is my family

safe and warm

where I can be me

But I come from. . .

I was reading Poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and one section was on where I come from. Not actually come from, since that was the Bay Area, but where I felt I belonged.  I think that is a broad answer, where I’m from, since I feel like I’m from a lot of places. Or I just happen to like a lot of places.  I wonder if they are one and the same.

I hope you all enjoy. I spit this one out today while eating lunch and scribbling with my fountain pen in my journal.

Writing on

~Kate

Was It Heaven Or Hell

I imagined you here today

Arriving on your black steed

Shining chrome and a high wax gloss

And here I am all dirty and unglamourous

But you didn’t care as you called to me

And my world fell away in a  moment

As everything faded to just you

You and your smile

 It was heaven and hell

For one minute you were here

The next back far away

Your real life much more real than the dream was

But I can still see you

Still  I feel your arms around me

Your mouth on my ear

Whispering how you have missed me

Even though we have never been

A brief taste of heaven

The bitter remains

I’ve been reading Poemcrazy  and Foolsgold by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and somehow her inspirations have helped me open up a bit more in the poetry department.  This was written for someone who means a great deal more to me than I probably ever say.  Hopefully he understands.

Signing off

~Kate

The Insane Poet

Okay, after having e.e. cummings’ complete works for three weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that that man was completely delusional.  Oh, sure, I found a couple of his poems that were very cool, Little Tree being one of them, but honest to god, that man was odd.  No, I did not mean to rhyme there.

A bit cracked in the head?

There is something about writers, and I am one to talk, but there are certain writers whom I think are just not all there.  The funny thing is, the writing world, academic world, and hoity toity world regard them as brilliant.  Seriously?  What is it that makes someone brilliant?  You can’t understand a word they are saying?  Is that what determines what a great writer/poet is?

Sure, I have my own ‘insane’ writers.  I am a huge fan of Emily Dickinson.  Most of the time you really can’t understand what she is saying, but there are brief moments you feel you do.  However, can you really understand any  writer?  For what they write, and this is especially true if they are long dead, is it possible to actually know what they are or were saying?  Do we really know what Shakespeare was talking about in his Sonnets?  And only after going through some of them recently have I wondered at his sexual orientation.  You are reading one of the greatest love story writers around, and you are left to wonder, well, was he straight or not?  Because I’m sorry, but some of those sonnets are not to a woman.  I’m sorry, being a writer, and a woman who loves men, I don’t think I could wax poetic about a woman….

Just saying.

I just wonder why we tout these authors as great when in all reality, do we really even know what they were saying?  And I’m not talking  sayings and word phrasing that was used commonly  200 years ago.  Sir Walter Scott is coming to mind and his Lady of the Lake.  Some of it really doesn’t make a ton of sense, but once you pull out the glossary at the back of the book, you get the just of it. 

Before or after you go crazy?

But e.e. cummings?  I’m still wondering on his love of the parentheses and capital letters at random points, not counting all the word sp-
lits.  Yes, that split was supposed to be there to make a point.  Maybe I should add in a few space-less  words. 

The reason I was adventuring into the world of that poet was because of one of his poems I heard, and then he was mentioned in Poemcrazy : Freeing Your Life With Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge.  Ms. Wooldridge quite enjoys e.e. cummings work.  But then, if you read any of her work, you can kind of see why….  Now I love Poemcrazy.  I just got my copy in the mail today.  Yay.  But  there is a lot in the book I just shake my head at and go, “I do not want to be the crazy lady poet.”  I don’t want to be weird.

Oh well.  This is my own take on it.  Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone by critisizing these authors.  But if I have, well it just goes with the territory.  I’m sure there are a ton of people who do not like Emily Dickinson and Sir Walter Scott.  That’s quite alright.

Signing off
~Kate