The Ultimate Illusion

What do you think the ultimate illusion is? I recently referred to control as the ultimate illusion. In the days since, I’ve changed my mind. Control isn’t so much the ultimate illusion as it is a kind of paradox. There are things over which we have some control, but I doubt we really can ever know the extent of that control. There are other things over which we only appear to have control. Finally, there are things over which we definitely do not have control. The events and encounters that fill our daily lives all fall into one of these three categories, but I submit those categorizations change all the time — whether daily, hourly, or by the second.

I’m always fascinated by hearing or reading artists, writers, and other creatives discuss their process. Everyone wants to know, “What is your process?” I’m amazed and a little curious when the process described is assumed by the audience to be always the same. I’m even more curious when the process described is presented by the artist as being always the same. Same time of day, same amount of time a day, same desk, same chair, same window. I’m amazed because that isn’t how process happens for me. To my way of thinking that isn’t process, so much as it is routine.

Continue reading “The Ultimate Illusion”

Besides that, what am I supposed to wear?

Today is February 24th.  It is 72 degrees and muggy, and there are flying insects swarming and dancing above my front yard.  This is not the kind of winter day that inspires a poem.  It inspires a head scratch.  It’s just plain weird.  Got me grasping at my roots…

Last Winter

Damn cold.
My bones’ wrappings rendered worthless
and the chill goes all the way through.
I marvel that my blood doesn’t thicken
and slow in my very veins.
But here it is December
and the air is as it should be:
stinging and cracking.
The Indian Summer, another typical Carolina autumn,
has abandoned us just of late –
stayed right up through Thanksgiving.
My fingers are blue.
Thank God for Mammaw’s quilt.
Continue reading “Besides that, what am I supposed to wear?”

Begin doing …

I just saw a quote from Walt Disney on a friend’s Facebook page: The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

So much wisdom is so simple.  Simple, but not easy.  My last post here was over 2 months ago!  That sounds so much longer than it seems to me; so much has happened in those 2 months, that chunk of past time is like a blur.  The “doing” part of my life has had very little to “do” with writing, and more to do with being a parent helping a daughter prepare for college.  Her departure is now just a little over a week away.

Not surprisingly, my focus has begun to shift back to writing, to the “plan” for achieving “the goals” I have set for myself.  Certainly, step 1 is to “begin doing.”

To that end, I am considering launching a new site, and it’s an endeavor that has been over ten years in the making.  Let me explain how a new site might help me (and you) begin doing …

I happen to live in an area that is rife with writers.  These writers are not only talented, but are generous with their time, their insights, and their knowledge.  As one of these talented writers once said to me, “None of us do this work alone.”  When I first realized what a wealth of talent and resources existed around me, I began to explore the idea of what I labeled a “Writers’ Energy Exchange.”

In my mind’s eye, it was a physical location where writers could meet informally to work and to assist one another.  Most of us have trusted groups to which we belong, and to whom we can take drafts of poems or whatever we are writing and get some good feedback.  My two poetry groups have been essential for me in my work.  However, I have always thought it would be great to have that kind of feedback on a more spontaneous basis.  “Workshopping” someone else’s stuff is such a two-way street:  when I am given the opportunity to review someone else’s work, even in draft form, invariably I am inspired to work harder and better.

Continue reading “Begin doing …”

April 29, 2010

The last of today’s devices from Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary:  A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices

Tone: The accumulated effect of style, coloration, and texture. Like atmosphere in a short story or like mood in symphonic music, tone in poetry is the result of particular choices which affect the reader’s overall feeling toward a poem.

One of those choices is “context.” If a poem is part of a collection of poems, the poems often work together to set a tone.

A few years ago, I started working on a group of poems based on the concept of self-portraiture.  Each poem was titled “Self Portrait: [here I would name the speaker of the poem].  It was a fun exercise.  I wrote what I thought were credible (if not true) assessments of myself through that person’s eyes.  I tried to pick people who know me well, and also people who only know me in a certain context (for example, “The Doctor”).

I am going to share with you one of these self-portrait poems because, by itself, its tone is entirely left up to the reader. Where I placed it in the collection, however, would set the tone for the reader; do you agree? Thanks for reading! Continue reading “April 29, 2010”

To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 18th

The first of today’s poetic devices from Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Rondel:  A simple song, usually in strict stanzaic form (see STANZA), using REFRAIN, RHYME and METER.

Unfortunately, and, some might argue, unforgivably, Packard does not describe the stanzaic form (or rhyme scheme or meter) in any detail.  I, therefore, had to call in the big guns of Thrall, Hibbard and Holman and consult with my centuries-old A Handbook to Literature (see photo) (I really do have to get the updated version – it’s an essential tool).

Here is the only rondel I have ever written.  Thanks for reading! Continue reading “To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 18th”

To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 17th

The next device from William Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary:  A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices:

Prose Poetry:  Poetry having a high incidence of sight and sound and voice devices, but with no formal line arrangements; prose poems resemble loose paragraphs and are sometimes called vignettes.

So many, many, many poets do prose poetry well.  I am not one of them.  Still, this is what I signed on for, so we shall suffer together, dear readers.

I share a prose poem that has found its way in and out of a full length manuscript of mine over the last couple of years.  Thanks for reading! Continue reading “To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 17th”

To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 16th

Today’s first device from Packard’s A Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices is

Ode: An extended lyric, on a single theme or subject, often of considerable length and usually using recognizable STANZA patterns. The word “ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and the form may have had its origins with Sappho in the middle of the seventh centruy B.C., because her surviving work includes one complete ode and four stanzas of a second ode. The later Greek poet Pindar wrote triumphal odes, and the Roman poet Horace wrote odes as well as SATIRES and EPISTLES.

I am sharing here the first two stanzas of an original poem entitled “Ode to Today.”  It is quite lengthy, so I won’t post the entire poem.  The “single theme or subject” is the kind of sadness that is brought on by loneliness or rejection.  As for recognizable stanza patterns, there are not any; at least, not the way I think Packard means.  The stanzas get “fatter” on the page (the lines get longer) and build to a middle, a crescendo, before they shrink again.  That effect was not anything I tried to achieve consciously, but it is suitable for the poem. Continue reading “To Commemorate the “Lost Day” of April 16th”