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”

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 5: Three for Thursday on Monday (and other symptoms of insanity)

Today’s poetic device, as defined by William Packard in his book, The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices, is

Dramatic Poetry:  Poetry that involves two or more notes or TONES or VOICES, as opposed to lyric poetry which involves a single note or tone or voice.  Dramatic poetry is not often represented in standard anthologies for English or American poetry because most dramatic verse is written for the theater.

I wrote a poem several years ago that I have entitled many things, but the final version ended up with the title, “Interrupted Monologues.”  I wrote this poem to be read through twice. The first time, Part I is to be read first, then Part II. The second time through, the lines are to be read straight across the page, as if the voices are interrupting each other, or finishing each others’ sentences.  Because it is written in columns, I cannot post it here in its true form, so I am providing a link herein, so that you can see the poem on the page.  You can hear the poem read (along with a poem written by Anthony Abbott, and a poem written by Gary Metheny) in the video below.

Here is the link for the poem itself:  Interrupted Monologues

Thanks for viewing and reading.

April 4 Poem

Today’s device:

Confessional Poetry: Poetry that reveals crucial material about the personal life of the poet. The term was coined by critic M.L. Rosenthal to describe a loose movement in contemporary American poetry that began to focus on intimate details of the poet’s own psychic biography.

from The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices (by William Packard).

I want to take the opportunity here to say that I love my mother and I loved my father, may he rest in peace.  While that fact is not completely irrelevant, it is also not controlling.  Pastor Scott W. Gustafson wrote in his book, Biblical Amnesia, the following:

This commandment [to honor one’s father and mother] is the only one that has a promise associated with it.  The promise says that, if the 12 tribes of Israel honor their mothers and fathers, they will live a long time in the land that God is giving them.  Israel was, in fact, relatively successful in keeping this commandment.  The Bible itself is testimony that they honored their mothers and fathers.  The Bible tells stories of their mothers and fathers.  It does not lie about these people.  We see them “warts and all.” Yet, the Bible interprets these people in relatively positive ways.

[emphasis mine]

In poetry, we see people “warts and all” too.  I could write much more on the topic, but I prefer not to do so.  Only this:  There is redemption and forgiveness in poetry, but there is also lamentation; all of those things are legitimate.  Before there can be any of those things, however, there has to be emotional truth.  This poem attempts to describe the truth as seen by a 12 year old girl.  It was first published in Cairn, vol. XXXV. Continue reading “April 4 Poem”

“It’s Trying to Be a Sonnet…”

For several years, I have conducted poetry workshops for children in the schools in my area.  Some years I am only invited to do one or two; other years are busier.  Often, I am asked by either teacher or student to explain why I write more free verse poetry than formal poetry.  I suppose the answer is, I don’t know.    As the definition provided above from the Poetry Archive site, as well as the title of this post, indicate, it isn’t necessarily up to me.  From the Poetry Archive:

What free verse claims to be free from is the constraints of regular metre and fixed forms. This makes the poem free to find its own shape according to what the poet – or the poem – wants to say, but still allows him or her to use rhyme, alliteration, rhythms or cadences (etc) to achieve the effects that s/he feels are appropriate.

[emphasis mine] Continue reading ““It’s Trying to Be a Sonnet…””

Knowing and Taming The Enemies

One of the most frustrating things for a writer is not writing.  In my case, I sometimes sit down at my desk or in one of my favorite chairs with good intentions, but the phone rings or I remember the clothes in the dryer or I decide to check out The Weather Channel … in other words, nothing happens.   Why not?

For me, the reasons vary, and it depends on what I am trying to write.

I somehow ritually rid myself of the fear of putting down a terrible poem.  In my world, I no longer write terrible poems – they are “drafts.”  My friend Scott Douglass once said to me, “I have yet to meet the perfect poem.”  Scott meets a great many poems, not only as a poet himself, but also as an editor and publisher, so I found his statement to be quite comforting.  I still do. Continue reading “Knowing and Taming The Enemies”

Wrapping up “Project June,” still obsessing about sleep.

142016In my last post, I pondered whether the absence of creating poetry while on my almost month-long writing retreat might be contributing to my inability to sleep.  My dear friend and fellow poet, Ann, was absolutely right when she wrote in a comment to that post that it sounded as if it was time to write a poem.  She also hit upon the fact that editing and revising are not the same as creating, and I can admit that a good portion of my time here has been devoted to the revision process … which is, as Ann pointed out, emotionally somewhat removed from the project.

A couple of weeks ago, while not sleeping, I came across a program on the Discovery Health channel about dreaming.  It was while watching this program that I got the title for that poem it was time to write.   When I got the first draft of this poem written last week, having to tinker with it was a nice respite from wrestling with revising the snaking prose that had already laid claim to its territory.

The last couple of weeks, I have utterly given in to my natural body clock, staying up until 3:00 or 4:00 and sleeping until 10:00 or 11:00 (when I could sleep at all).  I resent this condition in myself.  However, there’s nothing to be done for it, and since I have been completely on my own here, why not give in?  And yet, there is tension even in that “harmless” surrender.  Thus the poem.  Here is a stanza from the poem, which is still a draft, and is entitled Six Years of Dreaming.  On that Discovery Health channel program, it was said that the average person will spend six years of their lives dreaming.  Stanza 3:

Sleep has come to do an intervention
bringing with him
common sense, conventional wisdom
intuition … history.  All the self-righteous
and smug know-it-alls.
Naturally, I am repulsed.

It is still a draft, but I like the doing of it … and I slept great last night.  Tomorrow I head home, back to my family and, therefore, back to more reasonable and loving expectations.