I’m Not Myself These Days

All rejections aside, because they are very good at putting doubt in your head, sometimes I’m not sure where I’m going. I was reading Ada Limon’s Sharks in the Rivers today and her poetry has a very good way of either making me feel accepted or completely lost. Today was the latter of the two. Not lost as to what she’s saying, but lost as to how I feel.

I’m slowly regaining myself from my leave of absence, but at the same time, I’m not back to my full self. “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself , you see.”

 

How do I not feel guilty for not wanting to do things for other people? I asked Mrs. B. today. “Baby steps.” was all she replied with. I guess if I can’t even bring myself to go to the library, my ultimate favorite place to go, then I’m just not myself these days.

I bake once a week at work, pasting myself into another world; I spend the rest of the week in a state of suspended animation. Wake, drink coffee, exist, try to write, drink coffee, try to write, go to bed too late, repeat. It’s not the healthiest of lifestyles, but I’m so tired all the time that it’s all I can focus on. That and feeling guilty that I haven’t sat down and tried to submit anything else this week. Next week, I think. Or when my poetry gets better. I was turned down to the journal I submitted to, not because it was bad, but the selection of poems wasn’t what they wanted for this issue. It’s not a rejection so much as a ‘maybe next time’, kind of thing. It could have been a flat out ‘No.’

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash
Having a seat on the swing of life — Start to see the world in the colors you choose.

How do I even know what to send into magazines? How does anyone? How do I even know myself?  All very existential questions requiring way too much coffee to answer. (let me get another cup and try to ignore answering that question.)

I always feel restless when it’s late January going into spring. Spring is seriously not long away, I mean, it’s now February! So I feel rushed for no other reason than I just feel rushed.

I read a line from someone who I can’t trust, who has threatened me, who a part of me hates with a fire, but his words made me stop and ponder a bit ago.

a woman, who simply has to breath[e] on any barrier she wishes to pass and watch as it all crumbles.”

I honestly never thought I could have that much power. Maybe because I feel like everyone else has the power to crumble my world. I feel like I have power when I’m not in my Chef’s kitchen, but when I’m there I forget that “I am woman, hear me roar” power and I go back to my meek self. Hence, I’m not myself these days.

Maybe I should go read some more Ada Limon.

Kate

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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

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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Current Poetry Reads and Consuming Poetry

My lovely friend Dona has told me I am the poet tender in our writing group, while another person is her poet tender in her other group. I take that as high praise as, while I adore poetry, don’t feel I am that well versed in it. However, I seem to be the one collecting the poetry books and reading the poetry, and currently, reading, writing and consuming poetry. So maybe I am.   I am far from being an expert, which my father says is a has been drip under pressure…. get it? Ex and a spurt?… haha, your joke for the day.  Anyways, I don’t know most forms, though I can give you some basic, and I don’t do meter or metre… whichever one it is…… and I can barely do rhyming schemes. I try, I really do, but I’m best at free verse. I can’t even do blank verse very well, though I have tried. For those who don’t know, blank verse is unrhymed iambic pentameter.

As a poetry writing, reading, consuming whatever, I am currently consuming poetry. I’m reading it daily and hourly and weekly. I went on a poetry ordering binge in my library recently. After receiving those books, I binged again. I can only order ten books at a time. Ten! Who thought that up? Writers need more than the ten books they can order. I need to order at least twenty things at all times. And I only can have twenty things out at one time. Seriously, this library system up here needs to know how writers work! But I seriously digress.  So I have been consuming poetry at every point of the day. I should mention that I am also listening to a lot of music that has marvelous lyrics, which is poetry. The jazz doesn’t count, as it’s all instrumental, but seriously, Miles Davis is a poet with his horn. Oh, gosh I could swoon.

Here is a current list of what I have read and am reading.

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon. I can’t say enough about that book other than I swoon.

 

Patient Zero by Tomas Q. Morin.  This guy has become my newest favorite, not to mention a muse in a poem.

 

Elegy for a Broken Machine : poems by Patrick Phillips.  Quirky, irreverent, spot on.

 

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald.  Strange enough to make me cringe, but I like it.

 

Essential Bukowski : poetry by Charles Bukowski.  This guy is certainly edgy. But I like it. A lot.

 

Catalog ofUunabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay.  Unique and kind of edgy and sing songy and and and…

 

The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall.  I haven’t quite decided if I like these or not. Some yes, some no.

 

So these are just a sampling of what I have out. I actually have a couple more, but I don’t like them. At all. So I won’t be mean and list the authors. I also haven’t listed the three Billy Collins books I recently took back, because, well I have raved about the man enough, haven’t I? And I have a stack of more books coming soon, I hope. So, happy reading time. Overwhelming reading sometimes.  I think my writing is changing. For the better I hope.

What are some poetry books you recommend? Or authors you like. I love getting recommendations because, well, I’m consuming it!

Kate

Drowning in Poetry

I think the title of this post is overly dramatic, and while it might sound negative, drowning in writing poetry has actually been really good for me. I have stuck strictly to writing poetry for the past several weeks due to my ambitious plans to submit in the fall, though I have to admit, meeting someone who has made my life a whole lot brighter, has helped continue on with the poetry theme. It doesn’t take much to write at least one line of poetry, but a whole one that is decent is another matter. I have this personal opinion that you need to be in a relationship, coming out of one, just starting one, or directly relating to one to write good poetry. This is just my own personal opinion and what works for me. Some of my best poetry came from my angst with Boris.

Lord that man made me crazy. Still does sometimes.

I think the emotional aspect of another person, be it lover, mother, father, sibling, uncle, friend, etc. relationships mold one’s writing. And the connection with another person makes poems powerful. Sure,  you can write about inanimate objects, Mary Oliver comes to mind with her nature poetry, but it’s still a personal connection to the world. Reading Ada Limon lately, there are so many personal connections with people in her work, that you see the emotional aspect.

So for me, some of my best work has come out of angst, be it in a relationship or out of one.  I was never in a personal relationship with Boris, though I love the man dearly. He just caused a lot of turmoil in my life. Not being in a relationship with Boris caused a lot of turmoil in my life. Ha ha. Ha ha. I’m conflicted, I know.

Currently, while it hasn’t cropped up much, a new relationship, or the promise of one, has boosted my poetry. In the fall it was a hope that I might be with someone that now I could just murder. Those poems from the fall, while good, and I like them, annoy the heck out of me because I can’t stand the person from the fall. I mean, if I could legally hit him over the head…. I should probably be careful, the government is watching…

Well new possibilities, whom we will name Danny Boy at this point, are improving upon my writing. So while drowning in poems might be a weird good thing to say, I am writing as much as I can, when I can.

I should also add that music plays a huge role in writing poetry for me. Maybe because it is all poems as well, set to music, that I gravitate towards it. I listen to music as much as I can, and a lot of it can bring up feelings and thoughts that keep me writing away. Currently, Drake’s ‘One Dance’ and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” are churning out a lot of thoughts.

What about you other poets? Do you find relationships or music improve upon your poetry writing?

And just because I’m in a good mood, here are some poetry prompts I’ve found on Pinterest, where you can follow my board at daydreamwriting. Okay, these aren’t specifically ‘prompts’, but they do conjure up poem ideas.

Kate

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Entering Into Poetry Manuscript Crazy Feeling

I had a brilliant idea two weeks ago. I am going to collect my poetry into a manuscript for submitting in the fall.

Cue crickets chirping and questioning looks.

I get it. Even I’m sitting here thinking, ‘wow I’m ambitiously optimistic.’ Considering I’ve only ever submitted my poetry to Writer’s Digest Poem A Day things. I’ve never sent my poetry out into the world. I have designs on doing that. I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. But after reading Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon, I looked at the publisher and thought I would look them up. Then I found out they have open submissions for 60-page manuscripts in September.  I have four months to get a manuscript together. So far I have 33 decent poems. (I undervalue all of my writing) All unpublished, all unsubmitted except for Writer’s Digest. Even I’m not sure if I’m crazy or not.

Yes, I doubt myself all the time. I know I enjoy my own poetry, but everyone enjoys their own poetry. I think that’s a given. If you don’t like your own, well… I can’t help you. Really. I have enough issues with my own. I think it all stems from comparing myself to what I consider, great writers. Ada Limon is my new favorite (though I’ve been reading her for a year) along with my standards of Billy Collins.  I should probably stop raving about him. I have poetry books I feel I need, but all are pricier than I can afford after splurging recently and getting my dog his painkillers (talking pricey) The splurge was not the painkillers. 😛

Anyways, I compare myself to ‘great writers’ thinking that I’m ho hum. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. My writing group is fantastic about listening to my poetry. I think I have found my ‘voice’ so to speak (haha) in regards to style. And I’ve only just started getting comfortable with not always being nice in my poetry. I’ve started swearing some, because sometimes you just need to use the word ‘fuck’ and it fits. Sometimes you just have to swear.

Getting to the raw aspect of poetry is the challenge too. Maybe that’s why while I like Mary Oliver‘s poetry, it’s too pretty for my tastes. This coming from someone that likes to write nature poetry. But she’s just not my thing at the point. Hence Ada Limon; or Clint Smith, though I don’t have his book yet. If you click this link, you can read his poem My Jump Shot. It’s down a few poems. I heard him read it recently when he spoke with Billy Collins at Drake University.  Oh. My. Gosh. I love it. (coming from a girl who did not have a single sports gene in her.)

I think this is also why I don’t write a lot of rhyming poetry. It’s too pretty, so to speak when it comes to angst. Or at least in my opinion. That and really, rhyming poetry is freaking hard sometimes.

Just ask my sonnet months. Le Sigh.

Anyways, I am ‘hard’ at work compiling poetry. Some of it is from my November PAD submission, but most are from my poetry filling up all of my notebooks, spilling out and not having a place to go. Who knew I had so much floating around. I keep coming upon more poems and it’s like a mini Christmas thrill. “Ooh, I found another one!”

So, there’s my week. Another week putting off the novel I started, which got all of about 20 pages into a comp book, at the most. Thankfully that has a formula and a plot (yes, from this plotless writer it has a plot!) so I can come back to it at almost any time. But poetry is filling up my waking hours and thoughts.

Kate

A Bird’s Frantic Tattoo – Writing Avian Poetry

Today I have been writing bird poetry. Or poems that relate to birds. I was inspired by listening to the Overdue podcast and it was on Fifty Shades Darker. One of the guys said that here we learned about the birds and bees, but in this case the bees had whips and the birds wore corsets.

I love the imagery of a delicate bird wearing a corset. Being confined so it can’t fly. Okay, love might be the wrong word. Inspirational. So I started writing about that. Unfortunately, the only images I could find when I typed in ‘bird in corset’ was women dressed in corsets and feathery costumes. Or in cages (not sexual).  But it brought the ‘bird in a cage’ feel to my mind, so escapism. I am interested to see where this takes me.

But then I was writing bits and pieces of poetry that relate to birds.

‘I have a sparrow’s heart fluttering, beating a frantic tattoo tucked away in a locked jewel box….’

or

‘The sweet damp spring calls me, a meadowlark robin am I, a trickling chattering blackbird….’

That last one turned into a two-page poem in my journal. Granted, I was using the italic nib on my fountain pen. (it uses up ink and space on a page quickly.) I want to revise it and work on it more.

Anyways, maybe it’s the spring and every morning there are birds everywhere. I hear so many birds because we are in the country and have this habitat that they love. The nesting that is going on. And the other night, I actually think it was last night, I stepped outside and I could smell the damp mist from the mountains mixing with the humid air and the scent of new cottonwoods with their spicy, musky-sweet resinous smell that is so rich and intoxicatingly good. I could hear the creek and feel the cut grass beneath my feet. There were tiny mouse-ear aspen leaves and grape hyacinths blooming. There was this silent explosive feeling to the moment. It was something I wished I could run out in and be a part of. A wild woman Taurus child. I like planting my feet in the earth and taking hold while my mind galavants off into the sky.

Fanciful, yes?

So that is me right now.  This post is a bit ADD and rambly. I should also mention I am reading Ada Limon‘s Bright Dead Things, one of my favorite books. I love this book of poetry and frequently check it out from the library.  I just looked. I’ve checked it out 6 times in the last year.  The second section and the melancholy is calling to me. Life is discouraging now. I can’t go into more than that. But Ada’s words are helping me. (they are also making me want to have my poems in print)

What are you all writing right now? What is inspiring you? I’d love to know.

Oh, and check out Overdue podcast. The two guys, Craig and Andrew, are hilarious as they go through books you should have read or have been meaning to read. And there are spoilers.

Kate

Revamping Poetry

cxyhfbkc0vs-calum-macaulayI was a little undecided about entering into the Writer’s Digest Chapbook Challenge from all of November’s poetry. I just didn’t feel like anything gelled and I was at a loss for how I could put the poetry together into a collection.  Well, then I finally started looking at some of the work and reworking it for readability and I came to the decision, almost a month after November, that I am going to enter. I have been busily typing up the poetry and making it look pretty. That is where the challenge has been.

People always say that reworking a story is hard. And while that may be true, reworking poetry is really hard, trimming the fat and getting rid of excess words. Trying to make it flow and sound nice. You have only so much you can work with without it being prose or heck, a story itself. Not to mention that sometimes what you started with is not that great. I sat there with several of the prompts from November bothering me and not really liking the thrown out poetry that hit the page. I sort of just threw out crap, in a lot of instances. Some was good, some had potential, but most was just fiddle farting around with words. Some, well some are so good that I want to actually submit them to something else. I just haven’t gotten around to doing that.

I have been rushing around trying to write new poetry, fix old, and compile it into a chapbook file. It’s been fun and exhausting. I found a theme; a lot of my poetry centered around my mind and a guy I was interested in this summer. Seeing his life go to shambles as he tries to pick himself up, while still being semi interested in a weird sort of way. There are a lot of things he does that drive me nuts, but oh, I would love a good long kiss from him.  Such is life.

The poetry will be compiled into a chapbook titled She and Him: Poems of Them. Yes, the pronouns are not correct, but that’s part of the play on words and the fact that there is discord throughout the poetry collection. I also sort of stole it from the band She and Him with Zooey Deschanel.  Sorry Zooey, but it’s a great title.  There are sadness and melancholy in the poetry. There is sweetness as well. It’s supposed to be an up and down kind of thing that plays on your heart and mind.  I’m excited about submitting the chapbook. I would like more than ten to twelve poems, but I’m starting to run on empty and I only have until the 15th to get it to Robert Brewer at Writer’s Digest.

I’d love to know if others decided to enter the Chapbook Challenge.  Did you find November inspiring? I felt it was a mental cleanout. A wash for my brain. Needless to say, I have felt a little drained. Okay, a lot of drained and I’m still draining my reserves rewriting poetry. It is good and I will be glad to get it over with.

But I conclude; revamping poetry is gosh darn hard at times.

Kate

A Smattering of Sonnets for PAD Chapbook Challenge

English: Shakespeare's sonnet 1

English: Shakespeare’s sonnet 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been knee deep in writing sonnets. Thinking about them, thinking in iambic pentameter, or at least iambic. I have figured it out finally. The iambic thing. Writing sonnets, well it’s a lesson every time I set my pen to paper.

We are nearly done with the challenge, and I am having to play catch up. I wished I could have written one a day, but it’s more like a one ever two days kind of thing, unless absolute inspiration hits me and then I splat one out, and I do mean splat. It hits the paper running and is there without a chance of changing it.

I wanted to include a few here. I told CB Wentworth that I would post some. Her haikus, by the way, have been totally inspiring.

Did anyone else do the PAD Chapbook Challenge by Writer’s Digest? I would love to know if you did.

So because the holiday season is upon us, here is my Festive sonnet—

All Good Cheer

The eggnog sits upon the table top
and whipped cream islands are floating there
We wait for guests to drink the rich stuff up
And clink a glass to wish us all good cheer.

The music plays in subtle waves of sound
And candle light is glowing golden bright
The snow is falling softly to the ground
The peace is here on this, this Christmas night

We wait for Santa bringing gifts of joy
For carols sung in happy songs refrain
A tree for all to reflect and enjoy
As toasts are clinked with a glass of champagne

This Christmas Eve we wish you all good cheer
A pleasure lasting us throughout the year

 

Then my ‘Divided’ sonnet—

Trust is But a Divide

I trusted you in moments like we had
A force of love and friendship here right now
It took me time to see the flaws unsaid
Divided we stand is what I will avow

In time we may forget the lines that break
I stand on lines you stand right there apart
A split on down the middle thoughts we make
Can we go on this way and not depart

If sides must choose I choose my side it’s clear
And you are wrong as wrong as wrong can be
I must not break this stand I take to bear
And you will go and leave me you will see

We once were strong and now we are broken
These words are worse than when they were spoken

And my ‘idea’ sonnet. This one is inspired by a particular holiday film. A classic. If you know it, tell me.

The Idea’s Ideal

A grand idea call for troops to come
We’ll throw a show and make it big, you say
Ideal it is oh ho let’s go have fun
It’s rather good, idea that’s to day

The girls can do their number sparkling blue
We are in army duds and with our caps
We’ll sing to General, he’s our good man true
A rousing cheer for him, the best of chaps

The war has passed us long ago we’ll sing
Let’s clap our hands and give one last applaud
This man is ours salute him for this fling
As snow is falling and we all stand awed

It’s Christmas now so sing a song to joy
For love and hope and friends we all enjoy

 

 

So there are three that are quite fun. I have more, but I want to revise some. And we shall see. I finished up one tonight that has my heart just so happy, despite the sadness I’m putting into it. It’s weird. I am getting to vent some frustration I’m having with Boris.  I put so much emotion into my writings.  Honestly, if you feel your writing is stale, have some angst in your life. It really solidifies feelings.  Anger, hurt, sadness, pain…. love. It all comes out when you write poetry.

So, enjoy. Only two more days of the challenge, then a month of revision. And I still have four more days of Writing 101 to finish up. Aahhhh, I need to get hustling!

Kate

A List Of Poems I Like – Writing 101 Day 2

Okay, so day two for the Writing 101 was ‘Make  a List’.  Well, let’s not waste time just writing a list, so here is a list poem, of sorts. Or my reasons for writing them.

 

Sonnet: why did I ever think I could write you?
Ode: Oh ode, must you be sad? No, but Keats did you best.
Haiku: So brief, you are full of life. Portable and almost cute.
Ballad: I can sing you when an artist makes you great.
Prose: Elegant, me, open and true. You are the best
Sonnet: Beautiful, you are so hard to achieve.
Ode: I could write you to everything and nothing.
Haiku: Your forms are small, execution is great.
Ballad: I can never write you properly, but you are epic.
Prose: My true self is in your form, but I forget you exist.
Poetry: You are who I am, but you are so hard to write sometimes…

 

I kind of like that.

Kate