Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Past (not very) tense

I pulled down my "Selected Poems of Federico Garcia Lorca" paperback tonight, and started thumbing through the pages.  Apparently, many many moons ago, I ripped up pieces of paper and stuck them in where I thought there were things I should note.  Things I clearly wanted to revisit and remember.  What a lovely trip down memory lane.  I remember going through this Lorca phase my sophomore year of college.  I remember how I had red plastic cat-eyed glasses and a fondness for Doc Martens.  I remember the boy I had a crush on in my Poetry 253 class.  Most of all I remember being happy.  It was a good time and place for me.  Perhaps I will go back before bed and re-read some of Lorca's poems (because they are magnificent).  But for right now, I am very content just dwelling on my memories that have nothing to do with Spanish poets, and everything to do with poetry.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brainstorming

Here's the thing, I know the word "brainstorm" seems rather trite and overused, but to me it is a vivid word and brings to mind some crazy images that are big and bold.  I rather like it, both as a noun and a verb.  Anyway, I am digressing.  (SHOCKER!)  Okay, bringing it on back to the topic at hand...

While drinking coffee and doing more doodling in my notebook than writing (shock #2 of the day, right?) it occurred to me that I have been mulling over objects more so than concepts as of late.  To clarify, I keep pulling up images of items - - antique pocket watches, abandoned lighthouses, and yellowed maps.  Not so much how I normally roll with brainstorming ideas for new poems.  Usually I go off of sheer feeling and emotion.  It could be anything that brings on what I call "The Feeling" - - but this has most definitely not been the case recently.

This should be an adventure to say the least.  We'll see how it turns out.  This is yet another one of those things that can go one of two ways...you know what I mean.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Seriously?", she asked with a raised eyebrow.

At last count I have 21 poems out for review to five different places.  Holy. Shit.

First, I kind of want to pat myself on the back for keeping up with my goal of one submission per month.  So "go me"!  Second, I kind of want to tear all of my hair out because this waiting business is for the birds.  Seriously, I know that I have touched on this topic before, but it does not make me any less impatient.  I have a hard time waiting for that self-addressed stamped envelope to boomerang back.  I can handle a rejection letter with much grace and aplomb (no really, I totally can).  I am simply very uncomfortable thinking about what goes on between the time someone opens my submission envelope and my SASE is returned.  Who is reading my stuff?  What do they think?  Am I conveying emotion?  Am I making connections with readers?  SO. STRESSFUL.  I mean, I am a creative person!  (Read: overactive imagination.)  I am able to go from zero to worst-case-scenario is less than 5 seconds!  It is way too easy for me to dream up the most horrible situation, including raging editors and giggling editorial assistants who scoff at my feeble attempts to publish.  Sigh.

Oh well.  There will always be hazelnut coffee and the interwebs to keep me sufficiently distracted for a bit longer.  Ending pity party sequence - now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Must be genetic...

I don't know if I have ever been more proud of my daughter.  This moment of pride has nothing to do with goals scored in a soccer game or high marks on a report card.  It doesn't even have anything to do with nailing her lines in the all school assembly (which she did and I was thoroughly impressed).  It has everything to do with what she wrote down for her "I'm Thankful" assignment at school...
It reads:  Sadie.  I am thank for great teachers and dogs that can play.  Books and white boards, markers.  Thank you for my lovely mom and dad.  I'm thankful for trees and paper that lets us draw, water that I can spill on my paper.  I love my tears I can cry with. 

"I love my tears I can cry with" and "thankful for trees and paper that lets us draw, water that I can spill on my paper"  !!!!  Yes!  Amazing!  She's seven, and so comfortable thinking outside the box when it comes to writing.  My only hope is that this never goes away for her.  Even if she never thinks of writing books or poetry, the ability to express yourself in terms just one off of the mark is something to be proud of and held dear.

Go on kiddo and get down with your poetic self!  It must be in the genes....

(Side note:  I am also very proud that she recognizes her teachers and is thankful for them - - I am VERY thankful for them, too.  It's also nice that she acknowledges books.  Can I get a "woot woot" for the books?)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's a little off topic. Eh, who cares.

Let's see, this particular tangent started because I was brainstorming ideas for a (relevant) blog post and got distracted in one of the most random texting relays to date.  I thought to myself, "Jenn, you have the most random friends.  Is this really the weirdest round of texts you've received?"  So, 20 minutes into going through the incoming and outgoing text messages on my phone, I have realized that I do not have the most ridiculous friends...I have some of the most AMAZING friends.  Truthfully, I cannot comprehend why these beautiful and wonderful people continue to talk to me, considering the things that come out of my mouth (usually at the most inappropriate times).  Examples of awesome friendship demonstrated below...

Outbox: 
  • Sigh.  It's fine.  I'll just polish off these bottled margaritas myself and then sing and dance to bad 80's music alone in my dining room.  It's okay.  I'm embracing my middle agedness gracefully.
  • This is one of those High Heels vs. Chuck Taylor's things.  You = wine.  Me = margaritas.  Our Venn diagram overlaps at Boulevard.
  • The highlight of my day so far was when I ordered a roast beef sandwich at Subway and the lady was all, "good girl!".  WTF? I am not a pet doing a trick - - I ordered a friggin' sandwich!
  • What the hell are you doing in Cleveland?!?!?
  • What? Everybody has at least one thing - I just happen to do three- - song lyrics, walking thesaurus, and Confucious say.  I could do Yoda and be very annoying.  Very annoying is Yoda....
  • Oh man - I feel like everyone is going to start looking like James Spader circa 1985.  This does not bode well.  
  • Bahahaha!  Honey Badgers believe...

Inbox:
  • Hate you.  I really wanted that sandwich.
  • Omg. Please.  This is either going to end in awesome, disaster, or both.
  • You get no Elvis souvenirs bc/I fly through MINNEAPOLIS not MEMPHIS on the way home.  Boo.
  • You did miss the memo.  The douche fork look is very in now. (I am trying new nouns + douche...)
  • Pereson?  If it's not in the dictionary, we're defining it.  Perhaps someone with cuffed jeans, glasses, and wears a tie?
  • Also, I walked in on a man in the bathroom.  It was awkward. 
  • Toad the wet sprocket!!!!!


See - - told ya I had fantastic friends.  Feeling a bit jealous?  Yeah, I can imagine.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Creative overload (...oh, God....help)

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and you just want to do every-little-frickin-thing?  Yeah.  I woke up and immediately wanted to create something.  Everything.  Right now.

I mean, I had a fiery vengeance to work on new poems, rework old poems, do some more writing for the photography book I've been asked to co-author, and to doodle some new cartoons, and to mod podge the shit out of some collages.  I wanted to be consumed by creativity and OWN IT.

Then, I spent the next hour on Facebook and Google+.  (sigh...)  I'm still itchy, though.  Ready to tear through some poetry like my life depends on it.  But I also want to make collages...  and look through photos for inspiration... and finish that book of poems by Malcolm Lowry.

I mean, the trouble here could be that I've been awake since 6:30 a.m. and have emptied an entire pot of coffee by myself.  Whatever.  I'm going to Hobby Lobby....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ruminations on...well, Rumi

I have recently been reading the book, "Open Secret: Versions of Rumi" by, John Moyne and Coleman Barks.  Okay, really brief lesson.  Rumi was born in 1207 in what is now Afghanistan and lived until 1273.  For most of his life, he was believed to be a teacher.  End lesson.

The remarkable thing about his work is that he doesn't say anything I don't already know, but it is so stunningly simple and clear that it just blows my mind!  Example 1, "When I am with you, we stay up all night.  When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.  Praise God for these two insomnias!  And the difference between them."  Example 2, "Who sees inside from outside?  Who finds hundreds of mysteries even where minds are deranged?  See through his eyes what he sees.  Who then is looking out from his eyes?"  Okay, last one, "The clear bead at the center changes everything.  There are no edges to my loving now.  I've heard it said there's a window that opens from one mind to another, but if there's no wall, there's no need for fitting the window, or the latch."

What he ACTUALLY says on paper is nothing fancy, no remarkable alliteration, no $50 words - - but what he is REALLY saying is quite profound.  I suppose the challenge is to recognize the meaningful in what most would deem meaningless.  That is pretty darned close to how I feel about poetry as a whole.  It is something oft overlooked and thought of as nonsense or useless.  However, it can be emotional, important, and lasting.

At any rate, I am liking what I have read so far of Rumi's works and am looking forward to finishing up this particular book.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

blank page = Aaaggghhhhh!

Dear readers:

I have come to realize that there are not many things I fear more than seeing a completely blank page.  Terrifying.  Full body shudders.

Honestly, the things I fear more than this are legit fears - - something awful happening to my husband or daughter, losing my ability to churn out sarcasm and witty retorts  - - you know NORMAL fears.

The more I think about it - - it's probably not the blank page that actually scares me - - it is the idea that I won't come up with anything to put down on said page.  Being completely unable to fill it up with meaningful words.  THAT would be friggin' horrible.  Would make my life just DANDY.  (Note: sarcasm is still intact at this point.)

I am guessing by now you have probably realized that I am going through a bit of a "dry spell" with my writing and that this little nugget of a post is me working out some psychoanalytic shenanigans in hopes of getting my groove back.

with frustrated eye rolls and long winded sighs,

Jenn

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yes, I'm crazy. But it's part of the job description.

Something to know about me is that I am simply brimming with eccentricities, superstitions, and odd compulsions.  However, I feel like this is not only an accepted part of Jenn the mother, wife, friend, etc., but also a part of what it is to be a writer, period.  I find it amazing that those of us who feel the need to create by way of writing can see our similarities in these far reaching and unconventional ways, no matter our color or creed, and acknowledge that these are the unconventional fibers binding us.  

Personally, I will admit to a preference for writing in purple or blue ink on either college ruled or graph paper before I even contemplate turning on my laptop.  I definitely have a three-ring-binder with folders, y'all.  Holla!  I also have a strong belief in using postcards for bookmarks - - and almost never an actual bookmark.  Don't ask me why, couldn't explain it if you did.  This might just put some of you out there on overload - - but I am a chronic binding breaker. GASP!  I wreck my paperbacks like it is my job.  And these are just a few of my low level reading/writing related "things".  Let's not even get started on the regular day-to-day stuff...I could be here all damned day.

BUT - - when I read things like how Pablo Neruda always wrote in green ink because it was his personal color of hope, or how Nabokov wrote on index cards at a lectern in his socks, or how Flannery O'Connor made sure to turn her desk away from any windows, or how Kent Haruf will remove his glasses, pull a stocking cap down over his eyes, and type the first draft single-spaced on an old manual typewriter - - suddenly I feel like one of the gang.  These are my people.  No judgments.  No questions.  Total understanding that if these oddities are what it takes to churn out such mind-blowing pieces of work, so be it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wordsmithing, part deux.

Please pardon my absence from the blog this past week, I was suffering from some kind of warped flu-like cold thing.  It was awful.  (Though probably not so awful for my husband because I was taking day/nyquil.  Cold meds + Jenn = A hilarious kind of insane.)  At any rate.  I'm back.

So, we've done this before, but I think it's time for another segment on wordsmithing.  If you'll take a stroll down memory lane with me, you'll recall that we've already talked about sestinas and haikus.  Today, I think we'll talk about the acrostic poem.  Basically, this is a poem where the first letter of each word of each line spells out a message of sorts.  Kind of like an acronym.  Acrostic, acronym - - you still with me?  Good.  Let's keep moving.  I like to work on this kind of a poem just get my head in the game.  It really helps me pull out some key phrases that I might use for a completely different poem.  Now, a person could just choose one word to work from -or- you could go for a whole phrase.  I think we'll start slow today and go with the word "Bottom".  I like to try and keep each line related to the word I'm working from, but you don't HAVE to.  There really aren't any rules with writing.  There are no Poetry Police lurking around the corner.  (Word selected from the Random Word Generator found at http://watchout4snakes.com/CreativityTools/RandomWord/RandomWord.aspx.)

Okay, here we go...

Bottom - 

By the grace of all angles in Heaven, you will know one thing before this is over.

Out of the darkest recesses within your fear, no thought is too scary for the two of us.  

Those who love and need you.  Who will cry for you.  Will hold you.  If you want.  If you choose. 

Tell us the time is now.  Tell us you are ready.

On your mark we will get ready.  Be set.  Go where you take us. 

My love for you is unending.  One simple thing to know.  Use it like a shield, a beacon.  Never an anchor.

BAM!  Acrostic poem.  Done and done.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gadget - - gotta get it.

Do you remember when magnetic poetry first came out and it was all the rage?  Then they started making the "kits" for sexual innuendos and love and even a kids version?  I LOVED THOSE THINGS!!  (I mean, I loved the regular magnetic poetry kits until I was of an appropriate age and then I found the "dirty" versions hilarious.)   At any rate, I used to think that these things were just a kitschy little fad.  They were fun at other people's homes, but I didn't own any and I certainly never thought about them as serious writing prompts.  Until about a month ago.

I don't know about you, but I very much enjoy iGoogle.  Within iGoogle there is a gadget called, "Magnet Poetry".  Now, keep in mind that it is not as robust as having an entire magnetic poetry kit, but each time you open up your iGoogle home page you will receive about 10-15 pieces including nouns, verbs, -ing, -s, etc., and FYI - - if I am in a rutty little dry spell, it's a pretty handy little idea generator!  Who knew!  Gotta love them gadgets.  (Great, now I have the Inspector Gadget song stuck in my head...Go Gadget Go!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yeah - probably have to do something like this. (...and soon)

I love tattoos.  A lot.  I love the ornate black and white ones, the funny ones, the punny ones, portraits, old sailor tattoos, and everything in between.  Just recently, I stumbled upon this little gem and have become very inspired.  I have been thinking for a while now about getting something that appropriately expresses my love of the written word and keep coming up short.  There are hundreds of quotes that I love - - but I either don't love 'em enough to commit to my body permanently, or they just aren't quite right.  But this, or a variation of this idea, is something I can fully get behind.  Absolutely.

I present to you, "The Bookworm". 


Found through Google images - kylecrowell.com.  If you know who should get proper credit for this - - by all means, let me know!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Literary rejection is like dating...

I have received another "thanks, but no thanks" letter.  This makes three in total.  Sigh.  I mean, if were to compare this single incident to the world of dating -- it would be nothing.  A simple blip on the radar of love.  I had countless crushes and boyfriends that clearly weren't the real deal before finally stumbling (I might have been tipsy) into the man that would become my husband.  So I'll just consider this particular rejection another bad date of the literary world.  Though they could have at least taken me to a nicer restaurant before dumping me...sheesh.  Oh, well.  Onward, people!  I have poems to write and face to save...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My summer reading list - - not a total bust, but close.

Today was my daughter's first day of school, and it made me realize that summer is quickly drawing to a close.  Though I don't feel sad about ending the mind melting 100* temps, I do feel a little guilty about not making further headway on my "it's summer - - time to read until your eyes fall out" list.

I usually try to mix a little new fiction, a little brain candy/romance novels, a little poetry, maybe a little horror/thriller, and I like to throw in a few re-reads.   This might seem like a daunting feat, but considering I generally read one or two books a week, it's not all that intimidating.  The part I feel guilty about, is the large amount of re-reading I did, and the very small amount of new works I took in.  For easy browsing, I've provided lists below to demonstrate this disproportionate relationship:

New Fiction:
Smokin' Seventeen, by Janet Evanovich
Dracula in Love, by Karen Essex
Undead and Undermined, by MaryJanice Davidson
Dead Reckoning, by Charlaine Harris
(No, really.  This is about all of the new literature I took in.  Sad, right?)

Re-reads:
Howl, by Allen Ginsberg
Bet Me, by Jenny Crusie
Mindfield, by Gregory Corso
The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran
The Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King
The Crack in Everything, by Alicia Ostriker
You Suck, by Christopher Moore
Now and Then, by Robert B. Parker
Sign of Seven Trilogy, by Nora Roberts
The Circle Trilogy, by Nora Roberts
(and so on...please note that most of these are from my own bookshelves) 

So, I've decided that in these last few weeks of summer I am going to read only new things - - no more re-reading!  DONE AND DONE. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's a story about coming of age, rage, and annoyance.

The other day, while minding my own business at the bus stop waiting to go home after a long hard day at the work place, this young man with whom I have chatted once before comes up to me and begins to show symptoms of verbal diarrhea.  He says, "Ohmigod, how are you? Long time, no see!  What have you been up to?  I've been trying to get back into the work world.  Damn the man, this economy, and this fucking system."  All in one long exhalation.  Then I simply reply, "I've been good.  Just going along to get along."  Apparently my mistake was in replying because holy crap, he just wouldn't stop!  He proceeds to tell me all about how he is getting back to his painting, and how he is going through this surrealist/Dada-ist phase, blah, blah, blah, etc.  All while smoking (sort of - not really inhaling), profusely sweating, and constantly touching his lips.  Weird.  I knew I was sunk when I turned around to see this obviously drunk and toothless man give me the "sorry man, no help here" shoulder shrug.  Awesome.

At this point, I have yet to speak more than my first nine words.  He keeps plowing through his circular thoughts and then begins to talk about poetry.  Even better.  He tells me about how he has four books of poetry published - - well, self published anyway - - and was asked to host a poetry slam at a local coffee house.  Then he turns to me and says, "do you know what a poetry slam is?"  Yes, child.  I know what a slam is.  What I really say to him is, "Yes, I am familiar with what a poetry slam is.  I went to the University to study poetry and creative writing and did a few rounds at the open mic nights during college, and I am actually still writing."  Then he flies right over this piece of personal information to tell me how he is also trying to get back to writing, because he just really wants to give back to the kids who are struggling right now with finding themselves and when he was in high school he was very inspired by his creative writing teacher, who is quite well known in the community.  "Deb McGinn" he says, "do you know of her?" he asks me, dripping with condescension.  Again, yes, child.  I know her.  What I really say is , "I do know her.  She was also my creative writing teacher in high school.  She is an incredibly inspiring woman.  We were both pretty lucky to have her."  This is where things go downhill.  Quickly.

Looking very excited, he asks me what year I graduated from Lincoln High.  (Go Links!)  I tell him, because I am not ashamed, that I graduated in 2000.  His face registers visible shock and he says, "Whoa.  Old skool."  OLD SKOOL!!!  What the hell?  I am not even 30 yet - - OLD SKOOL!!!  Gah.  So, I shove my eyes back in my head, because I am sure the bug eyed demon look I've got going on isn't attractive at all, and politely ask him what year he graduated.  He replies with, "2008."  Of course.  I have spent the last 15 minutes listening to a 21 year old tell me about how hard life is, and how he has four books of poetry published, and is hosting a poetry slam.  He doesn't know this, but I have officially ended this conversation.  We're done here.  You don't get to flaunt your four published books AND get to call me old without repercussions. 

Gentle readers, this is the point where I had to make a decision.  Do I fake a smile and see if I can wiggle my way into his poetry slam?  Do I ask him about his publishing experience?  Do I try to crawl back in to the writing community by this particular channel?  NO.  The answer is unequivocally, NO.  This boy is one tent short of a circus and I ain't buying a ticket.  I will just keep on keeping on in my own way.  So, yeah.  Best day ever.  I got showed up by one of the crazies AND called old for the first time.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I am the Coco Chanel of words.

I had a fairly productive weekend in terms of getting some lovely phrases and ideas down on paper.  Quite pleased with myself, really.  Borderline smug even.  The problem is that I had about five different pieces started, but couldn't quite wrap my head around how to "finish" them.  Well, since I can be quite bright from time to time, I thought it might be interesting if I just put all of my starts into one long document and then sew them all together like a patchwork quilt of sorts.  Basically, I am taking my scraps of silk and turning them into freakin' haute couture.  My first draft currently has a few holes, but I think with a little Love and Care I can get a good and sturdy poem out of it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sigh...another one bites the dust.

Yes, dear readers, that's right.  I have received yet another "thanks, but no thanks" note.  Really, this sounds worse that it is.  I've only been rejected twice - - it's not like this note is going to be added to my secretly hidden stockpile of 102 previous rejection notes, only to become more fuel on the fire of my self-loathing.  No, no, no.  This is just another little note saying that they didn't want to publish these few poems at this time.  I can live with this.  No really, it's not eating me up inside at all.  Although, this eerie sense of calm could be coming from the cold medicine....(Note to self: take cold medicine before opening those returned self addressed stamped envelopes.)

Here's the rub, folks.  I just like to write.  In fact, I just love to write.  It took me six years after graduating college to figure out that if I don't ease up on the iron fist I have around my poetry and let people read my stuff -- nothing will come of it.  Sure, I'll always get simple pleasure out of writing down the oddities in my head.  But I will never experience what it feels like to have a perfect stranger be moved or touched by my writing if I don't let it out of the cage, so to speak. 

So, yeah.  I'll just keep writing, and just keep submitting, and just keep hoping for the best.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Poetry + Art = Party...sort of. Math was never my strong suit.

I've been stewing on this idea for a while now.  I keep thinking about how cool it would be to take a handful of poetic phrases (from yours truly, of course) and turn them into some sort of awesome typography or collage-like art.  I need to dwell on this a bit longer.  It might be one of those things that if done right, will be wicked awesome.  But if done wrong, well, it could be a big ol' hot mess.  Just think, I could use words AND images.  This might be a really good experimental project for an upcoming weekend.  Or, another really good reason to go to Hobby Lobby at any time.  Either way...makes me happy, and that folks, is what we call a "win-win".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'll have the 'Lost Track of Time' with a side of 'Lame Sauce', please?

It is honestly July 19th?  What?  How did that happen?  Well, I suppose it is time for some brutal honesty, dear readers.  I haven't started a single new poem this month.  Not even one line.  It's official -- I am an asshat.  A complete failure of epic proportions.  My plan at this point is to take some of my previously rejected poems and send them in to new and as of yet unsolicited publications.

This is all fine and good if we are going to simply gloss over the fact that I HAVEN'T PUT ANYTHING NEW DOWN ON PAPER!  I am riding a massive wave of guilt and self-loathing.  Last night is when it finally clicked in my head that I am approaching the end of the month (because I was writing out my mortgage payment) and I was all, "Oh My God!  It's the 18th.  That means I haven't written anything in weeks!"  and my daughter was all, "I didn't know it was the 18th either.  But, I am a good forgetter....(insert her mini person shoulder shrug here)"  Well, if she forgot and I forgot  - - I am just going to run with the excuse that my house is a vortex of time and as previously mentioned, I will just gloss over the fact that I am an asshat. 

Hopefully I can do a bit of writing today while I am sitting at home waiting for the plumber.  Because we all now how terribly inspiring that can be for a poet...

Friday, July 15, 2011

So. Hot. Face. Melting.

To those bored enough to be reading a blog on a Friday night (not that I'm judging you):

Currently in Lincoln, NE the weather channel says it is 90* but feels like 102*.  I say it is hotter than f@ck and feels like a volcano spewing hot ovens from Hell!  Never in my life have I been so jealous of those guys in white coats (albeit usually dirty white coats)working in the meat section of my local grocery store.  Just going along and hanging out in a giant refrigerator.  Their obvious brilliance makes me look like a complete douchebag.

Anyway, I have a point - - and the point is that I just can't seem to think about anything other than iced tea, orange sherbet, freezer sections at the grocery store, and ceiling fans right now.  So apologies, no witty commentary on poetry and the writing of said topic this evening.  Stop by later this weekend and if my brain hasn't evaporated (fingers-crossed), I'll have something better for you.  Pinky swear.

ice cubes and cold packs,
Jenn

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Patience is a virgin...I mean viranda...ah, virtuoso....(sigh) a virtue

I have no patience.  None.

I submitted some pieces in early June and now I've resorted to sitting here, staring at my mailbox, tapping my foot and waiting to hear a response.  This particular publication clearly states that it generally takes 6-8 weeks to respond to submissions and I can barely stand it!  GAH!  It is entirely possible that I might throw a bigger fit about waiting so long to hear back from them than I will if they send me a "no" letter.   (Not that I am prone to fit throwing, but if I were...)  On the outside I am like Gibraltar - freakin' rock steady and unflappable.  But on the inside I am like an ├╝ber caffeinated hamster on wheel - spinning wildly out of control and going nowhere, all while making awful high-pitched squeaking noises.  Perhaps I can ratchet this anxiety down by listening to a few select songs:

  • "Please Mr. Postman" by The Marvelettes  (Because it's funny.)
  • "Patience" by Guns 'N Roses (Duh.)
  • "With a Little Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker (Yes, I like the Beatles...but I love this version)
  • "Shut Up and Dance" by Aerosmith  (Really, when all else fails, just dance.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's not being lazy - - it's art, dammit.

There is some truth to the age old cliche of "less is more".  I think a bulk of the reason I love poetry so much is that it uses half the amount of words to convey twice the amount of emotion.  Thus proving that less is more.  (Unless you are talking about french fries or mint chip ice cream.  Then it is never true.  NEVER.)  No, it doesn't mean I am a lazy person.  Dammit, it takes a lot of brain power to think of just the right word at just the right time to get just the feeling you want people to share down on paper (or screen).  It is effing hard.

To further prove my point, I refer you to a particular website... http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/  It is a website of Garfield comic strips that have cleverly removed any and all mention of Garfield.  Again, less is more.  (...and by "more" I mean hilarious.) 

Think about it.  When someone tells you that "your eyes sparkle like the stars that guided ships to new worlds" and that "your hair is as soft as newly spun silk" - - what you really want to hear is a simple "I Love You."  One more time folks, and all together now - -  less is more.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Grammar Police!

This little nugget was found while searching on the interwebs.  My English major soul recognized both the hilarity and the underlying importance of the message.  I then proceeded to laugh so hard I just about peed myself.  Now, I am sharing with you.  ENJOY! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Define "poetry". Use examples.

According to Merriam-Webster online, poetry is, "writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm."

I know there a million examples of poetry out there - and I am talking about more than just quoting lines from Shakespeare or Robert Louis Stevenson.  A person needs to open up a bit and think outside their comfortable boxed definition of poetry.  If poetry really is writing that is imaginative, concentrated, and made up of language specifically chosen and arranged to create an emotional response - - that could be almost anything to anyone!  Seriously.  Song lyrics, movie quotes,  passages from novels - - I cannot even name all of the kinds of things that could be deemed poetic.  But as you might have guessed, here is a start.  Just to get you thinking...Enjoy.

Song lyrics -
'The Light' by Common:  "It don't take a whole day to recognize sunshine."

'Why' by Annie Lennox: "These are the contents of my head, And these are the years that we have spent, And this is what they represent, And this is how I feel, Do you know how I feel?"

'To Make You Feel My Love' by Bob Dylan (and covered by countless others.): "I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue, I'd go crawlin' down the avenue, No, there's nothin' that I wouldn't do, To make you feel my love."

Movie dialogue -
'Chasing Amy' as Holden is confessing his love for Alyssa: "I love you. Very simple, very truly. You're the epitome of every attribute and quality I've ever looked for in another person. I know you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is the furthest thing from an option you'd ever consider. But I had to say it. I can't take this anymore. I can't stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can't look into your eyes without feeling that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels."

'Under the Tuscan Sun' as she is eating a grape in an Italian marketplace: "It even tastes like purple."

'Dead Poets Society' when John Keating is addressing his students: "That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?" (This addition might seem a bit cliche, but dammit, it's a good one.)

Famous quotes -
Salvador Dali: "Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings."

Khalil Gibran: "An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind."

C.S. Lewis: "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh for the love of Pete!

I had a sa-weet post for today, then I made the mistake of attempting to upload a picture.  Things went very, very wrong.  I swear on all things sarcastic that if I see the message "Bad request error 400" just one more time I am going to go all Office Space on this computer (while listening to the 'Damn it feels good to be a gansta' song).  Please note that I am not trying to make an excuse for this lack luster little gem here - - just feel like I should tell you that I didn't come to play with nothing to ante, the interwebs just hate me today.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been so cocky earlier this week when I unjammed the copy machine.  (I totally owned that bitch.  It was amazing.  Deserving of applause.)

Anywho, I sense that my luck might be running short so imma go get my Louisville Slugger and Discman prepped in case this goes south.

I'll have a better one of these to you soon...promise.

(UPDATE:  it took me 25 mins and 3 cache clearings and re-sign ins to get this posted.  Forget my previous deal, it might not get better than this until the rage clears.) 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forehead, meet wall. Repeatedly.

Huge shock and surprise coming up, ladies and gentleman.  The end of the month is quickly approaching, which means my self-imposed deadline is quickly approaching, and I am not ready.  Were you shocked?  All things considered, I should be ready.  I have my four pieces selected, revised once or twice, out to friends for comments, I even know where I am going to submit.  But I am still not ready.  I am, again, terrified and nervous (read: nauseous) about sending these suckers off.   Honest to goodness I thought that after the first go 'round I would be less apprehensive.  Apparently my reserve tank of ego is running a bit low. (Now that is shocking.)

I wish that I could post some of my stuff here for you all to read over and offer comments, but those damned literary publications I am submitting to consider pieces posted to this little old blog as "previously published works".  So basically, I would royally screw myself.  Alas, I shall prevail.  I will go all Scarlett O'Hara in a dress made of curtains on this mother, shake my fist and submit my pieces without fear (okay, with minimal fear).  

Oh, God...just need a few more days...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The game changer

So, let me just take you through my morning:

1.  Woke up to my clock radio playing a song that had every intention of lodging itself in my head all damned day. To thwart that unhappy plan, I promptly starting singing the theme song to "Cheers", because that was so much better.  (Listen, I am not at my whippiest at 6:04am.)

2.  Promptly fell over my 95lb dog while racing out of bed to the bathroom.  Awesome.  Not as if he's stealth-like or anything.  Narrowly avoided smashing my head into the corner of my dresser, so points for that.

3.  Decided that surely coffee could turn things around, because when does coffee make things worse?  Let me tell you.  When it is really farking hot and scalds the roof of your mouth.  Definitely worse.  

4.  Made it through my shower injury free, thank God.

5.  Bad hair day.  No more needs to be said about this.  Yes, it was really that bad.  Good thing none of my friends are hairdressers...I would have Edward Scissor Handed that shit on the double.

I finally made it out the door, all in one piece with all of my faculties functioning.  Since it was an absolutely miraculous morning - - gentle breeze, fluffy clouds, birds chirping - - I walked to work.  That's when I encountered my game changer.  I saw this:

It reads: "The world is amazing and beautiful and so are you"

Suddenly, things didn't seem so awful.  Someone out there thought I was beautiful and put it in a painting - THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.  I am sure of that.  Thanks random artist, you honestly made my day.  In turn, I listened to the Beach Boys and did a little shimmy-shimmy at the crosswalk in appreciation.

Moral of the story - - things will always change on you, it's up to you to change with them.  Guess I learned that life is truly what I decide to make of it.  I can tell you that dancing to "Help Me Rhonda" is a heck of a lot better than whining about my craptacular morning.

These are the kinds of mornings that make for good poems.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top 10 Lists - not just for late night TV anymore

I love lists.  No two ways about it - I am sure this stems from my compulsive nature and need to put things in their correct and organized place.  Our house should have a cross-stitch sampler that reads, "A place for everything and everything in its place...or else."  To my mind, if a regular list is good, a top ten list is even better.  So, like every other normal human being, I throw together top ten lists for fun.  That's right.  I create my own top ten lists and save them just because.  Don't judge me, it's not like I am collecting stray cats and might end up on an episode of "Hoarders".


Today's top ten: Things that bring on the creativity

10. Driving in the middle of nowhere on a perfect sunny day, windows down, radio way way up
9.  The black and white photograph titled, "VJ Day, The Kiss"
8.  Things that I think qualify as "milestone events" in my life
7.  Passages from novels - certain lines of text or dialogue
6.  ANY video of a soldier returning home - gets me  EVERY TIME
5.  Family dynamics both subtle and obvious
3.  Favorite songs (this is another list in and of itself)
2.  Pieces of overheard conversations

and drum roll, please...

1.  Unexpected mood swings (this does not mean that I think myself particularly moody, just to be clear)

There you have it.  Top 10 things that stir my creative wok, so to speak.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I am a poetic pirate

ARRRg!  No, seriously...I have instituted my own version of the three R's when it comes to re-evaluating a rejected poem:  Rethink, Readjust, Resubmit.  Now that I am finally submitting my work to different literary publications I am terrified that I will over think the rejection letter and try to reinvent a poem that may very well be good as is.

That's the gamble - - what one publication will reject, another might seize with both fists - - and there is no way to know just how far you should take your revisions, if any, before resubmission elsewhere.  Perhaps that is why my first step of "rethink" is the most important.  This is creative writing.  Not psychoanalysis Freud style of those rejecting editors.  I have no idea what they were thinking or why, and it's never going to be productive to guess.  Instead,  I need to make sure I spend my time focusing on the worth of a particular piece, adjusting only what seems necessary, and being brave enough to give it another go.

So, yeah.  That's how to be a poetic pirate.  Barge in, blunder around, and steal what you want.  Oh no, sorry, that's wrong.  I meant to say that I should follow my own rules: Rethink, Readjust, Resubmit.  This will be my winning combination.  (...and my best excuse to drink rum, wear an eye patch, and call people lilly-livered scurvy dogs.  It's all a part of the writing process...)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"It's a Haiku." "Bless you."

Ah, haiku.  The poem that sounds like a sneeze.  It seems like it should be pretty easy to do - just 17 total syllables - one line of 5, next one has 7, finish it off with another line of 5.  Well, usually when things sound like they should be easy in theory, they end up being difficult in action.  (Similar to what I remember of dating and learning to drive a stick shift...)  Let's give it a try, shall we?  We shall.  First we pick a topic or two.  Let's go with flowers and gnomes.

Haiku #1 - Flowers
Tipped to the sunlight
Smell good like spun sugar rain
Clip then love inside

Haiku #2 - Gnomes
Creepy small with smirk
Pointy hats and too short pants
Scaring me to hell and back

And that's how you write a haiku.  Sort of.  Like I said, sounds easy in theory...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't be an enabler, it's not healthy for either of us!

Dear friends and family:

It occurs to me that I should offer you fair warning.  Please know that I will try to use and abuse you in a way that you might not be ready for.  I might hit you up and ask if you would please read over my writing and give me your reactions, comments, edits, and overwhelming praise (ha, just teasing).  Feel free to tell me "no" if you don't want to for any reason, s'okay.  But should you choose to accept, I'm asking pretty please with sugar on top, DO NOT ENABLE ME.  Do not let me go off half-cocked thinking that I've got something pretty damned awesome, when in reality it just flat out blows.  Trust that I can take the criticism in the spirit in which you offer it - - I mean, I did ask for it. 

Okay, that's it.  High-fives all around. 

Love,
Jenn

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poetry in motion

While sitting at a baseball game tonight, I began debating what song I would choose to play when I got up to bat.  (Note: this is something I do EVERY time I attend a baseball game.)  At first I thought maybe "Centerfield" by John Fogerty but instead opted for "Some Kind of Wonderful" by Grand Funk Railroad, in case you were wondering.  As I ran a list of songs through my head, I kept thinking about the beat and rhythm of course, but I kept coming back to the lyrics.  They tell the story.   

That's the point where my thoughts veered waaaay out of the ball park, as it were.  I began thinking about how the songs I love tell me a story.  A story that I can relate to and moves me in some way - a funny way, a sad way - doesn't matter how, only that it does.  This is how I feel about good poetry.  It should succinctly and creatively tell a story, be accessible, and move the reader.  Essentially, lyrics are poetry set to music. 

Poetry is not only the meter and rhyme, folks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The results are in

Okay guys and dolls - I received a response to my first submission yesterday.  As expected, I was presented with a big fat, "thanks, but no thanks" letter.  This is okay.  Honest Abe, I feel pretty good about it. According to my dad, "it's just a letter Jennifer, not a bomb."  Which is a pretty good way to look at it.  I mean really, it's just a simple "no".  Not like I'm losing any fingers here.  There was no sobbing.  No fist shaking.  No stomping around the house.  Just a sense of "oh, so that's what that feels like."  (FYI - for every guy who mustered up the courage to ask someone out and got turned down - ugh.  You have my sympathies.)  Getting shot down is not a great feeling by any stretch of the imagination, but now I know that this particular literary publication isn't interested in these particular poems.  That doesn't mean somewhere else won't love them to tiny little pieces.  (Did you like my self pep talk?  I thought it was stellar.)

I didn't work on any writing today, just didn't have the heart.  It's like the day after getting dumped and all you really want is mint chip ice cream and Dirty Dancing followed by Footloose.  But, I'll get back on the horse tomorrow.  After all, nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

I am probably more excited than I should be about the fact that "Howl" is now available in my Netflix watch instantly queue.  Huzzah!  Just in case you are unaware, 'Howl' is only one of the most quintessential poems of this era.  If you take any Poetry 101 course in any university, I can guarantee you will read this poem.  It's just a part of the canon now.  Anyway, I digress...This particular poem is hands down my most favorite in the history of everdom.  Written by famous Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1955 (or somewhere around there), it is a vibrant, moving, and stunning piece of work.  (Check it out when you have a minute.)  Needless to say that I will be sitting down not just to watch, but to devour the movie based upon Ginsberg's creation of this piece and the obscenity trial that directly followed its publication.  Just a heads up - the right to freedom of speech and creative expression triumphed in this particular case.

Watching this movie will be a high point in my upcoming weekend, and not just because James Franco is in it. Though it certainly doesn't hurt.  Ah yes, the kingdom of nerdiness is mine and I reign with an iron fist.  (Translation: I will make my husband watch it with me. Mwa ha ha ha.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Roam if you want to...

Perhaps I just needed a good old fashioned drive on a sunny day with the radio way too loud to get back on track.  Because that is just what happened and I turned out some quality phrases.  I mean, c'mon, how can blistering sunshine, wind blowing hair into your eyeballs, and "Roam" by the B52's lead you astray?  It can't.  That my friends is a winning combination.  After unabashedly singing my heart out for all to hear, I arrived back at my house and churned out 2 fairly sturdy pieces of new writing.  Huzzah for me!  I will never again doubt the power of early 90's classics. 

So, 2 new pieces down, next place to submit has been selected, and I am finally on my way to hit this month's goal.  As my parting gift today, I am leaving you with a song to stick in you're head.  "Roam if you want to, roam around the world.  Take it hip to hip..."  YOU'RE WELCOME!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An exercise in wordsmithing...

Last night I made myself get some thoughts down on paper, but not too sure I am in love with them (I mean, I don't even really want to take them out to dinner).  So, I am going to pull out some key words from that failure to launch and try out a sestina in order to see what else might be rolling around in the ol' noggin.

For those who don't know, a sestina is a type of poem where you choose six words, preferably a mixture of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on and you must use each of those words at the end of a sentence for six stanzas, and end it all with a tercet that is three lines and each of those three lines contains two of your chosen words.  Make sense?  Sure it does.  Here is the breakdown:
Stanza 1 word order: 123456
Stanza 2 word order: 615243
Stanza 3 word order: 364125
Stanza 4 word order: 532614
Stanza 5 word order: 451362
Stanza 6 word order: 246531
Tercet: (line one uses 6 and 2) (line two uses 1 and 4) (line three uses 5 and 3)
My six words in order 1-6: ghost, tense, memory, strain, unknown, love
     __________________

I can feel you floating in my heart like a ghost.
Your laughter makes me tense.
My imagination is not big enough for your memory.
Keeping you close; my muscles strain.
Do I remember how you take your coffee? Unknown.
What I do know is we were defined by love.

What do I really know of love?
It stays around forever like a determined ghost.
I wish it was more than an unidentified unknown.
Thoughts of what we were make me tense.
What was once so easy should not cause this strain.
God, how I love that memory.

Bringing to life this single memory.
Giving me an eternity to love.
Stopping the tears is not an unpleasant strain.
Comforting to the soul, like a ghost.
Forgetting to be tense.
Longing again for the surprise in the unknown.

What a gift I found in the unknown.
Buried underneath the ashes of a memory.
Past or present - - no matter the tense.
It's always love.
Even when my soul flies and I become a shadow or ghost.
I hope you always see; shade your eyes and strain.

My head knows not of my heart and its strain.
Unrequited love is always best served unknown.
Disappearing like a frightened ghost.
Turning dreams into one long memory.
No matter how much I don't want to show love.
Knowing it would cause your smile to falter and go tense.

Please don't be tense.
Shake off the strain.
Remember the love.
There is nothing to fear in the unknown.
All you can do is make another memory.
Wait for another ghost.

My dear love, you make me tense.
You've become a ghost, buckling beneath the strain.
What could've been is a gamble unknown, what was is the best memory.
     __________________

There, that's a sestina. BAM!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting in the mood (...not like that! Get your mind outta the gutter, ya perv.)

My goal is to submit something at least once a month.  I am well aware that this is not the goal of an over achiever.  Right now, this goal and I are only pen pals.  I am thinking of arranging for a phone call to talk with this goal.  (Honestly, I am not even close to meeting this goal for June.)  Not to say that I haven't revised and tweaked some older poems, but definitely nothing new.  Apparently I have hit the "we've been married for a while and I would just rather wear yoga pants and a ponytail" phase with my clever turns of words, instead of the "oh heavens, so dreamy, swoon worthy palpitations will ensue" phase.  My relationship with new poems has hit a dry spell these past few days. 

Getting in "the mood" is my problem.  It is a bit harder than I remember.  In college I could just sit in the hallway between classes and write unfiltered and unawares.  I could slip into the zone at a coffee shop after my last class and before my bar tending shift.  Even during lectures I could take a minute and write whatever flights of whimsy popped into my head because I was writing in a notebook anyway (never mind that it was a notebook full of art history or astronomy facts).  My margins were full of nonsensical fits and starts.  My creativity levels were epic, writing was my focus, and I. WAS. AWESOME.  Now, I am awake at O-dark-thirty to get my family up and ready for work/school, then I go to the work place, then dinner, and then daily recaps, bath time, and....and....and...etc.  (Short pause here for pity party.)

10pm finally rolls around and I'm just not in the mood.  I suppose I could pull out all of the stops:  make some hot tea with honey, dim the lights, play a few selections from my library of inspirational/moving songs (Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin, Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Wonderwall by Oasis, and so on...) and think of all of the things I wish I would have remembered to write down while I was sitting in that godforsaken meeting thinking about my microwaveable lunch! Dammit, and damn you Hot Pockets.

One thing is for certain.  I sure as shit ain't waking up any earlier to get some poems down.  Looks like 10pm is the new writing hour...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pick me! Pick me! I'm not desperate to be published at all!

Well, I've done it.  I've sent nine little pieces of me out into the world to be meticulously weighed and measured by strangers at two upstanding literary institutions.  Awesome.  (Yes, that is sarcasm you detect.)  If this is what accomplishment feels like, let me tell you, I could live without the nausea.

On one hand, submitting my poetry feels a bit like child rearing.  Truthfully -- I incubated these pieces for months, worried about them, named them, and then I have to let them go with strangers.  It's like sending my daughter to daycare for the first time all over again!  Then, on the other hand, I feel a huge sense of relief.  I have done my part and the rest is up to the powers that be.

All I can do at this point is make sure my friends and family are ready for my pending moodiness should I get turned down (Be ready with the pep talks, guys! Not corny ones either - I have a great bullshit detector).  On the outside I'll be full of swagger and moxy saying, "those douche nozzles don't know a moving and provocative poem from a melting Popsicle".  But on the inside I'll be like an acne ridden 13 year old who didn't get picked for couples skate, feeling low and insecure.  Let's hope that doesn't happen...I've been there before.  It's ugly.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So it begins

Ah, where to start. For anyone who has been blessed with the need to create, surely you understand the feeling that beginning to crochet will absolutely improve your artistic senses, that learning Swahili can only increase your creative juices, and so on.  Okay, okay, let's call it what it really is.  Procrastination.  (Gasp!) Since I have already mined my abilities for crocheting (scarves are my limit) and I really can't fit more than a rudimentary grasp of Spanish in my brain - I am exploring free-form writing (cough *blogging* cough).

A brief history might help you understand.  I knew from the ripe age of 16 that I wanted to grow up and be a writer.  A poet to be specific.  My parents were surprisingly supportive of my decision to go to college and study English with an emphasis in creative writing.  (By supportive, I mean they still paid for this crazy education that has no secure job prospects upon graduation.  Thanks you guys!)  Flash forward a few years.  Now I am working full time, married, have a ridiculously awesome daughter - - but I still can't justify calling myself a writer yet.  Because I haven't had the guts to submit my work.  Lame, I know. 

So here I go folks.  I am writing AND submitting poetry like a regulated machine.  Instead of a food journal like any good dieter keeps, I will be keeping tabs on my fantastic voyage (slide slide slippity slide - - if you don't get the reference I suggest you Google Coolio immediately) right here.  Fingers crossed...