Rejection Affection

Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

If there is one thing that is truly unique in the world of writing, it’s what happens when you get a rejection letter. The rejection letter itself, that simple piece of paper with a couple paragraphs (or email, as the case may be with most rejections coming in an email form letter) is actually something quite spectacular. It’s a sense of belonging. A sense of accomplishment. Why rejection is a compliment is funny to nonwriters, but to us, it’s like a trophy.

For me, my rejection letter came 3 months and 11 days after I submitted my poetry manuscript to Milkweed Editions. It arrived on a Friday morning, 6 days after I had ‘quit’ my job and I was still reeling from that feeling. I took my news of my rejection to my writing group, and to the chorus of “Congratulations” my writing friends reminded me that a rejection is a good thing.

Yes, it’s truly strange to be congratulated on ‘failing’, so to speak, but what nonwriters don’t understand is that it is a badge of honor to have that letter. It means someone has read your work. It means you were brave enough to send something out. It means you are trying.

This is my second….. nope wait I forgot the short story……… this is my 5th rejection letter. But for an actual manuscript. My poetry manuscript wasn’t quite what Milkweed Editions was looking for, but that’s okay. It’s my first real manuscript. My first rejection letter came from a query letter. This is an actual manuscript!

But it doesn’t mean I’m lost. In fact, just yesterday, but an amazing twist of fate, someone on Twitter, contacted me and asked me to submit some of my work to their journal. Oh. My. Gosh. Someone actually wanted me to send them my work. Now that is an honor. I mean, sure, I have my lovely ladies reading my work, but sometimes you wonder how biased it is. No offense Dona, Mel, Sera, Maddie(Piper) et al. but I do think you are biased.  I mean, you know me. But to have an unknown editor want you to submit. Whew! Mr. Streeby, I am truly honored. (and my ego has been supremely boosted)

Ah yes, rejections will keep coming in, but it’s a good thing. I have my very first rejection letter somewhere in one of my writing files. It’s an actual print letter. And one day I will frame it a la Richard Castle in the episode The Old Haunt……. I think that’s right. It’s an honor, and now I can edit the said manuscript and fix it for another publishing house because inevitably, I have found serious flaws and grammatical mistakes the minute I sent the darn thing off. Ah, perpetual editing comes when you can edit your own work. Mels, said it best the other day, but I forgot how she phrased it. It was good.

And I have new things to add. Infatuations with an Eskimo, working in a kitchen, which I have ‘quit’, but am more on a  temporary leave of absence due to stress causing major health problems to creep back in. So I do have ideas for writing about kitchen life. Sorry Chef dear, but I can’t not write about a crazy kitchen!

So, if you have had a rejection letter, first of,  “Good for you!” I’m proud of you, whoever you are. It’s an honor because someone read your work. Keep up the good work. We are all rooting for you in our own way. It’s nice to have friends and family root for me.

Kate

Advertisements

Merry Christmas, Writers, Poets, and Friends Alike

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Hello, Dearies, and Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas (for you British lovelies), and Happy Holidays! Talk about a whirlwind year. For all of us. Writers alike; people in general. Life has changed dramatically and will probably never be the same.

My life has continued to be a zoo. A tired zoo. The tigers and lions need a serious dose of coffee all the time! I have been on crazy mode all this week with KP (kitchen patrol, for those who don’t know White Christmas or military terms)

I have been having late nights and ups and downs; burns and cuts. And a world of writing ideas. I never knew what kind of people worked in a kitchen. I never knew how a kitchen even functioned. While I still am a total newbie and this is my ‘first rodeo’ (my chef rolled his eyes a that statement. I guess he has never lived anywhere near the country) I  am slowly learning how things function. I had our new sous chef ask me how long I have been in the kitchen world and I replied, “Since November 20th.”  I have to laugh. Just over a month.

Christmas came too fast this year and I haven’t had much time to enjoy it like I usually do, which has dampened my spirits some. A lot. But I have three days off, including today, which is Christmas Eve, so that helps. I have Christmas ideas in my head and I am working on my Hallmark new story. Basically you have Noelle, a personal assistant to a retired judge and his wife who own a large mansion. Noelle Snow has been decorating the house up to the nines, or rafters, because the whole entire family of the judge and his wife’s are coming home for Christmas. Including one of their favorite grandsons who just so happens to disapprove of Noelle and all she has done for the Carson’s, even though they have never met in person.  Well, of course Noelle is going to win him over! It is Hallmark after all. Of course there is going to be Christmas music, and gingerbread cookies with kids, and snow, and maybe a sleigh ride. Lights everywhere.  A house decorated with a Christmas tree in every room. And Noelle? Well she happens to always have Christmas music playing in her room. Why wouldn’t she?  Did you see her name?  Can you just hear the disapproving tone of a handsome lawyer grandson when he says “Miss Snow.”?  Too perfect.

I need happy right now. I need ridiculously cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances. I need to write it. Life is too funny and fickle to not have it in your life. I don’t care if I sound like a goody two shoes. Apparently in my job I am the ‘too nice.” I don’t care. If everyone were too nice, the world would be a lot happier place. I have acutally had people ask me if I get up in the morning as perky as I am when I come into work. Haha. Oh the miracles of makeup and a boatload of coffee. It’s nice to think that people think I’m perpetually happy. It’s a far cry from the truth, but I figure they shouldn’t know my problems when I’m out at work. Unfortunately my family gets the brunt of that when I come home. I vent. A lot. But I try to get through every day with a decent attitude.

My not so positive attitude comes out in my poetry. That gets to the heart of my heart. I have something started about being flayed open. Cooking terms. Filleted alive. A pound of flesh. Goodness, that’s depressing.  I get through some days realizing that I have a manuscript on editor’s desks right now! It’s been there for almost three months. I have a manuscript on editor’s desks!  Even saying it still blows my mind. I mean, it’s legit. I am a poet. I may not always have the time, but I am a poet through and through.

It’s rather funny to think about sometimes when right now my life doesn’t even have the time to think. My chef, bless his soul, thinks that me working 40+ hours a week and getting paid overtime will make it so I’m not a poor writer.  Doesn’t he know that the reason writers are poor is because they can’t work if they want to write? Doesn’t he know that half, no wait, three quarters of a writer’s life isn’t writing, but thinking about writing? I have to think days and days to write! I haven’t had times to even think, so writing has been severely killed. Murdered. Knifed to death. (there are a lot of knives in my life right now)

Anyways.  Merry Christmas, darling writers. Readers alike. I’m off to watch a Hallmark film with the family. I think The Holiday is in the near future, but that’s a prerequisite. Oh and Charlie Brown! I need Charlie Brown.

And I know this may sound strange, but I now associate Meatballs, the camp movie, with Christmas and winter. I am going to make that a tradition. My parents don’t know this, but I so love that film now.

Joyeux Noel!

Kate

When A Writer Becomes a Chef de Partie

bank-phrom-349420

Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

My life went from ordinary to whirlwind in moments. An application, an acceptance, and suddenly my simple life of get up, run the house, and write when I could, went to get up and be a prep chef in a brand new restaurant.

My days, and nights (the dreams oh the dreams!) are filled with working in a kitchen for the first time in my life. Writing has definitely taken a backseat, but like you know your kids are there, you still have to pay attention to them. I still write. Poems here and there, and a new story started on Sunday with a boom. A Hallmark-esqe thingy. I have three pages. Whoo-ee! I laugh because I’m notorious for starting things.

Being a prep chef is interesting. I’m learning a lot, I’m in charge of a walkin cooler, can you imagine? I make pizza dough by the pounds (40 yesterday) and I direct traffic. I yell at waitstaff, I find things, I’m a gopher. I have too many bosses and not enough time. I’m getting up early, I’m working late, I’m feeling exhausted all the time. And oh wow, where did some of those muscles come from? I have no idea, but my collegue and I compare bruises all the time. Or where we nicked ourselves with the very sharp knives.

I’ve cut up 20+ chickens and sous vide just as many. I’ve helped prepare for an 80+ person Christmas Party. I’ve joked with the chef, and the staff, and the bartender, and made myself the brunt of jokes. I’m blonde, what do you expect.

It’s been good, it’s been bad, and it’s been strange. But that’s what comes when you go from writing to cooking.

So if I’m a little lax on writing here on this blog, part of that is due to just being busy all the time and my life is cooking, not writing. But I have learned one thing, a kitchen is like a pirate ship. Now that’s a prompt I’m working on.

Kate

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

Truths About How Hard Writing Is

<a style="background-color:black;color:white;text-decoration:none;padding:4px 6px;font-family:-apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, "San Francisco", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Ubuntu, Roboto, Noto, "Segoe UI", Arial, sans-serif;font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;line-height:1.2;display:inline-block;border-radius:3px;" href="https://unsplash.com/@alvaroserrano?utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=photographer-credit&utm_content=creditBadge" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" title="Download free do whatever you want high-resolution photos from Álvaro Serrano"><span style="display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px;"><svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" style="height:12px;width:auto;position:relative;vertical-align:middle;top:-1px;fill:white;" viewBox="0 0 32 32"><title></title><path d="M20.8 18.1c0 2.7-2.2 4.8-4.8 4.8s-4.8-2.1-4.8-4.8c0-2.7 2.2-4.8 4.8-4.8 2.7.1 4.8 2.2 4.8 4.8zm11.2-7.4v14.9c0 2.3-1.9 4.3-4.3 4.3h-23.4c-2.4 0-4.3-1.9-4.3-4.3v-15c0-2.3 1.9-4.3 4.3-4.3h3.7l.8-2.3c.4-1.1 1.7-2 2.9-2h8.6c1.2 0 2.5.9 2.9 2l.8 2.4h3.7c2.4 0 4.3 1.9 4.3 4.3zm-8.6 7.5c0-4.1-3.3-7.5-7.5-7.5-4.1 0-7.5 3.4-7.5 7.5s3.3 7.5 7.5 7.5c4.2-.1 7.5-3.4 7.5-7.5z"></path></svg></span><span style="display:inline-block;padding:2px 3px;">Álvaro Serrano</span></a>

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

 

Hello, dearies. Sorry, this blog has been a bit bleak this summer. It’s been rather chaotic and I have spent more time writing in my notebook than writing online. (my book review company, BookLookBloggers) finally said, that’s it, you do not have an account with us because you are not blogging or reviewing enough…. My bad.

So I have been focusing on writing my poetry for weeks now; months. I had read that Ada Limon needed just a few more poems for her new book. I can’t say when it was that I read that. Somewhere on her Twitter account a while ago, and I totally get that feeling. I have a 62-page manuscript right now, and technically that’s all I have to have for the publication that I plan to submit to, but I’m not stopping. I feel like once I started focusing solely on poetry, the floodgates opened for the most part.

Poetry doesn’t always come. I struggle sometimes with getting anything out and when I go to my writing group sometimes I sit there for 45 minutes while everyone else is writing and at the end I have maybe started or dabbled in something but the response is “I got nothing.” I have weird blocks where I have all these ideas and I start an idea, or ten, but it never goes anywhere. Recently I had something in my head about being in a western bar and I was just kind of blanked out on that. Partly because I don’t go to western bars. I stay in at night. Drinking coffee.

But last night one of our new breweries was having live music and I have been meaning to get up and have a pint, so I went up. It was technically a total waste of my time because the music wasn’t clear enough to hear, though the tunes were good, and the brewer’s own brew was out….. And I only visited with people in my parent’s age… Pardon the complaining… But the blip of time I was there drinking a porter gave me a few lines to get me over the hump of what I’m writing. It was good research even if that wasn’t the reason I had gone. Sometimes it’s the funniest things that help switch the storyline.

I have a story I started writing a couple of years ago about kid friends who meet later on in life and it was a struggle to get anywhere with it till I had a dream last year that changed the whole narrative. Now it’s actually got a place to go.

I was reading an article last night; The 8 Hard Truths All Aspiring Writer’s Must Accept Despite The Pain. One paragraph explained how we chisel out and poke, prod and eek out the right line, the best sentence, the perfect way to say something. Poetry for me is that. I sit there sometimes and I’ll write a line and go, okay, this isn’t bad, but after reading it over and over you know it just isn’t right.

I wrote a poem in regards to Jack Kerouac the other day and I was really happy with it, but one line kept irking me and I couldn’t figure out why. In the line

‘Lost boy, did all the stars fall down and burn out?’ where the word fall is, I had the word come and it was nice, but it wasn’t just the right thing. Why such a simple word change makes a difference I don’t know, but it does. This is where I get why other poets say trimming the fat on poetry is hard. You have so little to work with that it really is a challenge and a struggle. Does it come more easy to me? Sure, but that doesn’t make writing poetry easy.

I have taken to writing longer narrative type poems, introducing a character that is the writer for the poem, not me, and seriously, one poem takes the oomph out of me for days. It takes days to write it, but afterwards, I’m kind of wandering around feeling like I have run a marathon. Sometimes I only write one poem a week.

This writing thing comes easy to me, but it’s still hard. If that is one thing I could tell nonwriters it’s that. You may think being a writer is glamorous, and there are times when you get an accolade from a friend or colleague and it’s a nice boost, but all those other times when you are in the dark, pounding, scribbling, or fighting to get it out it’s gosh darn hard. Would I give it up? No, but sometimes I wonder where my sanity lies and I wonder if I will ever make it.

Everyone says I will, but that self-doubt… well it’s a doozy.

Read the article, because it’s pretty cool in its succinctness.

Kate

 

Save

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

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

Dabbling…In and Highlighting NOPW

Writer’s Digest and the Poem a Day (PAD) started and we are here on day 15 with hardly anything to show for it. I started feeling a bit guilty that I wasn’t following along and cranking out a poem for every prompt. Till I got to the halfway point and said, fine, I don’t care. I stopped worrying about it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to play catch up.

Ironically, I was able to crank out 4 poems in 45 minutes the other day with my writing group. Granted, they aren’t that great, though three have promise if I clean them up. I still probably won’t accomplish PAD, but I might be able to dabble in a few more. Sometimes it takes me a while to get back to finding a poem in a simple prompt. This coming from someone that can usually come up with something with just about anything. Give me a picture, let me stare at it for a few minutes, and I can usually start off on the start of a story, or idea. Maybe not a poem, but definitely something.

For some reason though, this time around, the prompts have left me, well, hanging. Maybe it’s me. Today’s prompt is a Two for Tuesday is a Life or Death poem. Honestly, this one hits close to home as I have a friend who’s wife at 30 had a stroke then found out she had cancer. Talk about being hit by a wall.  Talk about a subject that triggers all kinds of things.

But a good segue to bring up something.  For those interested, there is a GoFundMe for my friend and his wife here at, Lift For Lainee, and I also want to bring attention to National Orange Popsicle Week or NOPW which brings awareness to those who have had a stroke at a young age. As they say “We consider a young stroke survivor to have had their stroke under the age of 45 because most statistics show that 45 is considered young for having a stroke. 20-to-64-year-olds make up 31 percent of all strokes.”  Who knew it was kind of rare? I didn’t. And talk about a life changing thing to have to relearn how to walk, or move, or speak, or, well, do just about anything we take for granted. I urge anyone to take a look at NOPW which has a rather cool story as to the name….  You can also check out their Facebook page here NOPW-FB.

Do you know of someone that has suffered a stroke at a young age? Maybe you would be interested in the site and organization.

Also, you can see why life and death have been on my mind, not to mention another dear friend who has had to go back in for another round of chemo. How does one even rationalize death or the word ‘cancer’ and not think of death?  Despite being a believer and knowing where I end up when I die, death still is something I struggle with. Surprisingly, I haven’t experienced much death in my life other than two great- grandparents, one at an early age. It hasn’t been one of those things where I even remember it much. So as friends age, or get sick, it comes to my mind.

I am reminded of Dylan Thomas’ poem do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (which I may or may not have mentioned in a recent post about Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas….)

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

SO good friends who read this blog….. Do not go gentle into that good night….

Kate

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.

 

The Old Pirate – Poem

The Old Pirate

Under the old clock towers on a full moon night
and the asphalt and cobblestones are wet with a shine
he clomps and staggers in cracked leather boots.
He once was a pirate by trade
sailing off to adventures a many
looting and pillaging and carousing around
letting the gold slip and tumble through his fingers
as easily as the rum slipped down his throat
so full of life was he, till it came back to bite.
A rabid dog bite of a drunken haze.
He’s a cloak of invisibility of old man now
worn and tired and rather gray
aged and fat and a little more drunk
ancient adventures lost in delusional bursts
brandishing half empty bottles and shouting
the insanity creeping insidiously in
slumped on the cold stone steps.
He’s less than half the man of long ago
when he was a dashing charming sort.
Now all that’s left is this sad old man
sailing off in memories long forgotten
growing colder under the towers of time
till time eventually stops and he’s frozen
no longer anything but a once told tale
when the morning comes and they heave him so
up into a cart and tossed not into the sea
but to earth interned never to sail again.

 

I was feeling uninspired by the prompts I pulled for writing at my writing group this morning. So Sera graciously offered to pull some for me. I should have requested a random pulling instead of specifically looking for ones…. I know what you did, Sera…., but she pulled ‘full moon, clock towers, he was a pirate, grey silk, adventure, cloak of invisibility.’  I added in my one ‘wet asphalt’ and suddenly I was picturing the ‘wish realm’ version of Captain Hook that was featured recently on Once Upon a Time. But then I thought, what would this old pirate look like in the real world and would he drink himself to death….? Apparently he became that way, though there were some that didn’t realize I killed off this pirate. Hopefully it’s clear.  Enjoy this very random piece of poetry, and very open verse as well.

Kate