Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just Show Up

I spent a few days this week away. My own private writer's retreat. Worked on some poems for the Southern Breeze Poetry Workshop in June. Roughed out a proposal for a second devo book for my publisher in Scotland. Then finally forced myself to sit down and work on the elephant in the room. The WIP that desperately needs finishing. I've only rewritten the darn thing five or six times already. Tried picture book format, tried third person narration, tried first person narration. Tried present tense instead of past. Chunked it all and started over as straight nonfiction. Finally found my stride. It feels right. That's a good feeling.

I kept telling myself, "You just have to show up. Sit down and write, and eventually you'll figure it out."

Just show up. I can't remember which prolific writer said that was the secret to his success. Someone we would probably all recognize.

So, I'm trying to show up. And perhaps seeing some progress.

And learning that music "does" help with the creative process. I never was allowed to have music playing when I did homework, so I never learned to work with noise in the background. My totally awesome critique partner burned me a CD of opera. And lo and behold, I can work with music in the background if I can't understand the words. I discovered that Gregorian chants work pretty well, too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poetry on a Red Dirt Road

I read a poem this week from Your Daily Poem, and memories rushed over me like creek water after a storm. So my post today is a few rambling thoughts from the past, along with Kay M. Sanders' wonderful poem.

My grandmother, the whole family called her Mama, lived on a red dirt road. Mama laughed a lot. I remember standing in her kitchen with my cousins, our greased hands pulling taffy until it turned white. Its sweet flavor was unlike any store-bought candy. Our mouths watered and our teeth stuck together. The only way out of that clench was to suck on the wad until you could pry your jaws apart.

Mama liked to show us how limber she was. She could put her palms on the floor without bending her knees even when she was in her sixties. She could write with her left hand as well as she could with her right. That's where I learned what ambidextrous meant.

She could often be found sitting at her old black upright piano, pounding out sixteen versions of "The Sweet Bye and Bye."

She was quite a lady and this poem made me think of her.

There's more Poetry Friday at Random Noodling.

Let Me Have That Red Dirt Road
by Kay M. Sanders

You can have this modern, cement bridge, with its supports and side rails,
the way it begins long before the creek comes into view
and continues long after the creek has been left behind.

Let me have that old plank bridge I feared as a child,
so close to the creek I could hear the water licking its lips,
see vines straggle from bent-over trees like an old man’s beard
dragging in his red-eye gravy.

A stylish brick church stands there now,
its windows stained and pure, organ throned on high,
the building humming an air-conditioned tune.

Peel away these brick additions and let me have
that old clapboard church encased within,
windows open to catch the breeze,

air filled with the rustle of funeral-home fans,
piano chords so lusty the vase of flowers marches
to Zion right along with the congregation.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poetry and Potluck

I'm not a culinary genius by any stretch of the imagination. Although I can make a mean pot of soup with whatever happens to be left in the cupboard.

Tonight I managed to open a jar of spaghetti sauce and thaw a pound of ground meat, in the microwave, of course. I never seem to have the forethought to let anything thaw in its own good time.

Yesterday I cooked frozen pizza. Oh, they were organic, but still all you do is open a box and throw it on the oven shelf.

The night before that I stopped on the way home and picked up a couple of already baked potatoes and brought them home. Then I stuffed them with spinach leaves and leftovers from the rotisserie chicken bought at the grocery store the night before.

I did manage to grill steaks over the weekend, so I'm not hopeless. There was a time that I cooked for six every night. Sometimes I even spent a day cooking for the entire month, but I was younger and had more energy and hungry mouths to feed.

Cooking has never been an art form for me, but for some, it's pure poetry. Jama Rattigan is one of those people. I think dinner at Jama's house must be an amazing event. Jama's blog, Alphabet Soup, offers" food for thought and fine whining." During the month of April, she has invited some wonderful poets to share their poems and a favorite recipe. Stop by and savor the flavors.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poetry Friday: Heavenly Playground

With Easter approaching, I find myself turning to some poems that lift my heart, that turn the ordinary things of life into something extraordinary. Though, I'm sure we all agree poetry does that most of the time anyway. This is one of my favorites. I love the pure fun of it. It comes from British poet and speaker, Adrian Plass. You may enjoy this interview with the poet.

For more Poetry Friday, stop in at Madigan Reads.

Heavenly Playground
by Adrian Plass

Oh God, I’m not anxious to snuff it,
but when the Grim Reaper reaps me,
I’ll try to rely on
my vision of Zion,
I know how I want it to be.
As soon as you greet me in Heaven,
and ask what I’d like, I shall say,
“I just want a chance
for my spirit to dance,
I want to be able to play.
Tell the angels to build a soft playground,
designed and equipped just for me,
with a vertical slide
that’s abnormally wide,
and oceans of green PVC.
There’ll be reinforced netting to climb on,
and rubberized floors that will bend,
and no one can die,
so I needn’t be shy
if I’m tempted to land on a friend!
I’m gonna go mad in the soft, squashy mangle,
and balmy with balls in the swamp,
coloured and spherical,
I’ll be hysterical!
I’ll have a heavenly romp!
There’ll be cushions and punch bags and tires
in purple and yellow and red,
and a mushroomy thing
that will suddenly sing
if I kick it or sit on its head.
There’ll be fountains of squash and ribina
to feed my continual thirst,
and none of that stuff
about “You’ve had enough,
surely heavenly bladders won’t burst.
I suppose I might be too tall for the entrance,
but Lord, chuck the rules in the bin.
If I am too large,
tell the angel in charge
to let me bow down and come in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poetry and Play

As writers, we play with language. We play with sounds, rhymes, rhythm, phrasing, assonance, dissonance, meaning and logic. We play with plot, characters, themes, goals, journeys, and conclusions. Often, all this playing becomes work. We can hit a blank page or a brick wall. And we have to learn to play all over again.

Author Susan Taylor Brown found herself in this dilemma. She gave herself permission to play for the whole month of March. This month for National Poetry Month, Susan is posting a poem a day, in which she ponders her month of play, lessons she learned about herself, her craft and life in general. Stop by her blog and enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pigs and Poetry

Saturday was my daddy's birthday. He's 84. My two oldest grandkids were here for the weekend, so we all took him to breakfast. My nine-year-old grandson ate and ate and ate. We watched and waited and laughed at the amount of food he consumed. My daddy, who grew up in the backwoods of northern Alabama, finally said, "He eats like a fattening hog." Then he went on to describe the process of penning up a hog in a small space with all the food he can eat. That hog just eats and sleeps and wakes to eat again.

So where is this going here in National Poetry Month?

Bloggers all over the Kidslitosphere are filling the feed buckets with poetry offerings this month.

And I'm happy as a hog in slop. Yeah, I grew up in the South, too.
I'm still in recovery mode from my frenetic last few months of work, so I don't have the energy to write a poem a day, a haiku a day, or give you a poetry pointer a day. I just want to sit in the pen and partake of the abundant offerings. Just eat and sleep poetry for a month.

So, if you stop by my blog this month, I'll direct you to the trough I'm enjoying at the moment. By the end of the month, we'll all be poetry fat and happy.

Start your week with a Poetry Party. Head on over to Live. Love. Explore! where the ultimate hostess, Irene Latham, knows how to throw some poetry around. Irene is the poetry editor at the Birmingham Arts Journal, as well as a wonderful children's author. She'll be offering poetry quotes, trivia, craft tips, publishing resources and free books all month long. Don't miss this one.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poetry Friday: An April Night

Welcome to April and National Poetry Month. For some great ways to celebrate poetry this month browse this page at Explore thirty ways to celebrate. Carry a poem in your pocket. Send a poem to someone you love. Attend a poetry reading. There should be many venues available tis month. Try your hand at writing a poem, even if you have never written one before. Sign up for an e-mail poem a day. There are several websites who offer this service. My favorite is Your Daily Poem.

My contribution today on this first Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month is by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I loved ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. I didn't discover Montgomery's wonderful red-haired imp until I was an adult. When Public Television produced the series, I fell in love with Ann. My daughters and I watched it over and over. In fact when my oldest was getting ready to leave home, we went to a tea room with some friends one day. The music playing was from the movie. We looked at each other and both had tears running down our cheeks. Music and memories and Ann. Oops. Anne with an "e."

I know Ms. Montgomery has her own lovely voice, but when I read this poem, it's that Anne-girl I hear.

Enjoy April.

An April Night

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The moon comes up o'er the deeps of the woods,
And the long, low dingles that hide in the hills,
Where the ancient beeches are moist with buds
Over the pools and the whimpering rills;

And with her the mists, like dryads that creep
From their oaks, or the spirits of pine-hid springs,
Who hold, while the eyes of the world are asleep,
With the wind on the hills their gay revellings.

Down on the marshlands with flicker and glow
Wanders Will-o'-the-Wisp through the night,
Seeking for witch-gold lost long ago
By the glimmer of goblin lantern-light.

The night is a sorceress, dusk-eyed and dear,
Akin to all eerie and elfin things,
Who weaves about us in meadow and mere
The spell of a hundred vanished Springs.

Join Amy at the Poem Farm for more Poetry Friday.