Sunday, September 19, 2021

Poetry Pen Pals

Have you ever had a Pen Pal?  If you don’t know what that is, people actually used to write and exchange letters with one another whether they knew them or not.  You could find someone to write to in advertisements in magazines or newspapers.  Or, perhaps you did stay in contact this way with someone you actually knew.  I used to write letters to my Grandmother and some friends I had in Germany at one time.  I lost touch with the friends and my Grandmother passed away many years ago.

Now, we can stay in touch with social media, emails, texts and yes even letters!  Over the years, I have critiqued and reviewed the works of many poets with my Poetry Critique Service.  I also published a monthly free ezine, The Poetry Market Ezine, for 20 years specifically offering poetry resources just for poets.  I have made the acquaintances of a few poets this way keeping in touch with them not with letters but usually via email and sometimes even mail which usually involves exchanging poetry books and the like.

Of course as a Poet you should read the other works of other poets.  Usually that’s going to include classic poets and the contemporary famous poets.  But, you should also read work of your contemporaries.  And by that, I mean fellow poets publishing in the same magazines you are or simply publishing elsewhere.  It truly will give your own work a new perspective.  I also enjoy finding out what my poet friends are working on and/or reading.  It’s quite inspirational and also fun to chat or email with them about it all as well.

Next time you are looking for poems to read, why not try reading the works or touching base with a poet whose name you recognize or maybe one who has published your own work.  Or, if you read a poem you like by a fellow poet, shoot them an email and let them know your thoughts.  

It’s a super way to connect through poetry.  Plus, Poets supporting Poets simply means that poetry will stay alive and carry on!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Ah, Inspiration!

I am a big believer in inspiration.  I have always subscribed to the philosophy of learning by doing.  Same, with being inspired to write a poem or story.  

I never quite know when an idea might strike!  I have to tell you I have some rather odd memos in my phone.  

The other day I was in a bank checking something and they left me alone for a while to get a key and because the service was s l o w all I could do was look around and imagine all the possibilities for this, that or the other happening in a story or maybe poem set there.  I refrained from taking pictures or a memo while there because how might that look?  Being in a new setting can really get your writing juices going.

With inspiring thoughts, it’s better if I get struck by one during the day or at least when I’m awake.  I do keep pen and paper nearby if I need to jot something down in the dark.  I have done that before and most of the time I can translate my handwriting at night.  

When the moment comes, I will write on wrappers, scrap paper, napkins if I can’t get to my phone depending on where I am.  Sometimes, you can’t have your phone with you, etc.

An inspired piece to me has such a better flow than something that is forced.  What experiences have inspired you lately?

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Read to Write

 If you’re a writer/poet, do you also like to read?  I do!  I read all the time.  I read books, e-books, articles, newspapers, magazines, practically anything I can get my hands on.  I enjoy going to book stores and wandering around!  I enjoy finding books for sale in boutique stores or even used book stores.  What fun!  It’s even more fun, to discover a book I really want to read.

I read a variety of types of writing:  non-fiction, biographies, mysteries, thrillers, adventure, sci fi, fantasy, and poetry.  Besides liking to read, I find that reading all these different things helps me to be a better writer/poet.

I can’t imagine trying to be a writer/poet and never reading anyone else’s works.  I can imagine you not reading something similar to your own so you don’t inadvertently get lost in their storyline instead of your own.

Reading makes me a better writer and poet.  If I read something written in a new way (for me) that gives me permission, so to speak, to write that way, too.  You can also learn technique this way - it’s great for people like me who like to learn by doing and not by reading endless textbooks, attending endless classes or taking endless tests (I’ve done all of it for College and Grad school and didn’t particularly like any of it especially if it had to do with Math!).  

It’s so easy to obtain materials to read:  online, library, thrift store or from sharing books with friends.  What kinds of books do you like to read?  How does reading make you a better writer/poet?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Your Poem Editing Process

 Okay, so you’ve written a poem.  So, what’s next?  Do you immediately type it up and mail it out or upload it for submission?  Or do you take it to a writers group for feedback?  Do you print it out and frame it on your wall, or give it to someone as a gift?  Once the poem is written, what exactly do you do with it?

For me, unless I’ve written a poem for hire or I’ve written it to enter in a contest or to meet a publication deadline, I let it sit.  Yes, sit!  It sits in my notebook if it’s hand written or it sits on my computer if I typed it.  I then move on to something else.  

It may be months or even years before I get back to that particular poem again.  Yes, really!  I suppose I love to write (almost as much as I like to swim) so I write a lot.  Once I get back to the poem again, that’s when I edit it for typos, subject, line spaces, line breaks, word count, form, style and so on.  I dissect it, I suppose, at that point.  After that, I polish it up and then and only then is it ready to send out into the world if I find a place where I want to send it or a book I want to include it in.

There really is a process to writing poems.  It’s more than just jotting lines down on a napkin or memorizing verses!

How do you work up your poems?  What’s your poetry editing process?

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Poetry on the Road

Do you travel?  Go places?  Run errands?  

I find I enjoy reading and writing poetry on the road, or on the go.  If you write place poems, you can certainly gain from being out and about for ideas, etc.  And traveling or moving about is a great way to find time to read poetry, or whatever else you like to read.

Poetry on the Road, to me, is like carrying around that battered book of poems you simply cannot leave home without and reading a few lines, verses, or pages as you travel.  Or it is like carrying that device, notebook, however you write, with you so you can jot down your thoughts, ideas, and turn them into a poem, or two or three.

It could also be if you attend open mics, or attend literary festivals, book fairs, or other art events.  You can take your poetry “act” on the road so to speak.

What do you take with you on the road or even around town?  What do you write as you move about your day or week?

Go ahead and get out there and take your poetry on the road!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Acting Can Make Your Character Writing Better: Live Your Writing, Dream Your Poems

 When I went to acting school in Washington DC I was taught there are two kinds of acting - technique or method.  My school employed technique but we did study method as well.

Later on, I went to Graduate school and earned my degree in Theatre and Communications.  I always preferred writing over acting.  Studying acting, participating in plays and even writing them helps me now with character dialogue.

I always found that experiences helped me with acting.  It also helps with writing.  

Yes, you can research things you write about and never go and do them, etc.  But, how much more real is your writing if you are able to actually do some of the things, go to some of the places your characters do, within reason, of course.  I think it adds that terrifically special element into your works.  

For instance, I wrote an award nominated mystery series (The Glass River and A Sunless Sea) that each time included local history and real places in the community where I live.  People were excited to have been to the places in the books.  In “A Sunless Sea,” I went up the mountain, Hibriten Mountain, where it is mostly set and that way I could include very real details in my story.  I know that what I learned in Acting has been beneficial to the way I write!

Whatever I do during each day, whatever I get to do, I’m always trying to pay attention to specific details (the man in the tank top, with round holes in his ears filled with green rings, his companion a preppy dressed lady in a fancy designer coat) and I make note of them for later use.  I read a lot, watch a tiny bit of TV, and I pay attention in conversations or around me to absorb all these goings on.  As a result, if I fall deeply asleep I often have very vivid dreams.  My dreams could be movies, I sometimes say and laugh about later.

Take aways from them often help me get through a stuck plot point or give me an idea for a poem. You can dream your way into a good poem, ask my favorite poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge!

Have an adventure when you write!  And pay close attention to your dreams … a special verse may await you!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Writers Gonna Write, Poets Got Poetry

Have you ever heard a Writer or Poet or maybe a Teacher say something about the volume of another author’s work and perhaps mention the lack of their own works in the same sentence?  You know it’s the Quality vs Quantity argument.  And of course it does make sense in most everything.  However, if you are living your life as a Writer or Poet along the lines of say Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet” where you cannot live pretty much if you cannot write, then are you not writing most every day anyway?  And if you are writing every day, what are you doing with your works?

For a long time, years probably, I ran a few of my own zines and such and I would have a few things published here or there.  I would write mostly on the weekends.  Later on, I shifted to writing most evenings and on Saturdays, sometimes on Sundays.  I feel better if I write, and I do have something to say and loads of ideas.  It depends, though, how often and how much I write at a time.  

When I started getting into place poetry, I wrote quite a few chapbooks of poems.  The poems simply flowed.  I write more poems than fiction.  I write non-fiction, too.  I do take time to Edit and Revise most everything multiple times.  Sometimes, my works sit for years before I actually do anything with them beyond editing.  So as it stands, once I achieved a level of writing I was comfortable with I began to get more and more things published, without submitting as much. (I did go to Graduate school for Theater & Playwriting, Speech, and Communications.)

I do write to be read.  I don’t write to take the work and leave it hidden on my computer.  I can do that with my journaling if that’s what I choose to do.  

So if you are any of the words bandied about so often and not necessarily in a nice way:  well-published and/or prolific, does that make you any less of a Writer or Poet than someone who maybe writes one story a year, one or two poems a year, and so on?  It can go the same way in reverse, are you any less of a Writer or Poet because you don’t write very much or it takes you a long time to complete something?

Walt Whitman kept on writing on his book “Leaves of Grass” adding and adding to it until he could not.  You can read it in the Deathbed edition.  It took me two years to read it all.  

How you write is up to you.  How much you write is also up to you.  If you want to share said writings with the world, also up to you.  

My thinking is this:  Write Without Ceasing!  It is the writer’s way.  (You can find a home later for your work, if you so choose!)  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Tools for Writing

What is in your writer’s tool box?  You do have one, right?

You don’t literally have to have a tool or tackle box for this, but then again you always could.  It depends on if you write full time while on the go, or maybe you write only at home or at a desk or you rent studio space (or maybe you simply utilize a table at your favorite coffee or dining spot.)

It’s probably good if you have a routine of sorts when writing, so that you know exactly what you need to do so.  Also, a certain time of day or days when you plan to write would also help.

Here is the ideal writing tools I’d have (or have) when writing at home or on the road:

1) flat surface like a desk

2) pen and paper

3) notebook

4) small note book

5) scrap paper

6) self-stick notes

7) tablet

8) laptop, smart phone


10) paper clips, envelopes, stamps

11) stapler, stapler remover, staples

12) self-address stamp with ink

13) printer

14) blue light glasses

15) back scratcher

That’s pretty much it!  Of course you can see I use a mixture of off computer means to write as well as on computer.  I prefer to submit by email or online these days but some places still prefer mail.  To me, being a writer means you need to be versatile in your work, and of course to always be prepared to get that idea down by any means possible so you don’t forget it!

Monday, May 31, 2021

Almost Heaven for Writers

 Although I’m not a writer/poet who enjoys participating in writing retreats, I have found that in order to further my craft I do need to get away from my every day once in a while.  I’m fortunate to live near the mountains or the beach and to one of my favorite places, West Virginia.

In just taking a weekend away, I came up with several new ideas and started on a new poetry manuscript.  Plus I completed a couple of pages for a new short story.  The ideas and inspiration kept on coming.

For writing, you do need to get out there and participate in life or simply get away from your regular routines to help your creative flow and perhaps give more authenticity to your works.  It certainly helps me.

I also came up with another manuscript idea, and a few marketing ideas.  If you’re an indie writer/poet, you of course have to do your own PR most of the time.

It takes time to plan a trip.  And it takes discipline to work on your art as you do.  For me, though, it’s worth it!

Where do you go for your retreat?  Where do you find your inspiration?

(These are pictures I took from a recent trip to West Virginia!)

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Secret Life of Poets

 Do you live and breathe poetry?  You at least read it, don’t you?  How do you live your life as a Poet?

There are so many things that can influence how you write.  Plus, there’s another big I word when it comes to writing:  Inspiration.  What motivates you to write your poems?

For me, I like to take walks in the woods aka forest bathing.  To me, though, it’s really a walk in the woods.  And I like to read - I read poetry almost every day.  I also enjoy talking about poetry with other poets via poetry events, open mics, or when I teach poetry classes.  I read many other things as well:  books, newspapers, ebooks, magazines, billboards, etc.  

For inspiration, though, it’s something entirely different.  Sometimes, I cannot work on my writing and poetry during my normal hours I do so for whatever reason.  It’s then that I look for inspiration at maybe a sporting event, a movie, an art gallery opening, a doctor’s appointment, sitting in the car and waiting, etc.

Ah, yes!  Have you figured it out yet?  

The secret is to my life as a poet, at least for me, is observation!  I am constantly watching, absorbing, experiencing everything.  To me, it’s a key to my writing and realness I wish to convey.  

For you, though, it may be something entirely different.  So if you’re a poet, like me, what’s your secret writing life like?

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Poets Who Teach Poetry

If you’re a poet, you probably love poetry, right?  I haven’t come across any poets who don’t seem to love it, but I’m not thinking of casual poets, I’m thinking of ones who read and write it all the time.  

In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach poetry to students in elementary and middle schools.  It is so rewarding!

I taught a class via Zoom last week and it included not only me reading my poems to them but also talking about why I write poetry.  Plus, the kids also had questions for me.

These were very well-thought out questions, too.  For the first time I was asked Who is your favorite poet, What’s your favorite poem, Do you write other things beside poetry, How long have you been writing poetry, How do you get inspired to write, and so on.  Their teacher had obviously done a great job in teaching them various forms of poetry as well as introducing them to mine using a couple of my place poetry books, “Poetry in LA,” and “Poetry in LA, 2” from my Facebook page @poetryinla. These are local area poems for the most part so the kids find them relatable.

It’s so inspiring to me to see how intently they listened when I read and also how the questions they had of me were so they could learn more about poetry.  They were a wonderful audience!

Since I’ve developed my love of poetry, my goal has always been to encourage others to like it, too.  I enjoy writing so I have a variety of poetry books available as well as poems in a wide range of publications.  I feel this way I can reach a lot of folks with my poems.

Teaching poetry is necessary so that it continues to live on.  Poets are some of the best teachers of poetry there can be!

Poetry Pen Pals

Have you ever had a Pen Pal?  If you don’t know what that is, people actually used to write and exchange letters with one another whether th...