Tag Archives: poetry

Reading Challenge 15: A Book of Poems

I had been dubiously eyeing number 15 from the time I started the reading challenge.The little dilemma is, I really don’t care much for poetry.

I know, gasp! I’m a horrible English major. But to be honest there are so many other forms of writing I would much rather spend time consuming. So when it came to choosing a book of poems, all I could think was that I didn’t know where to start. Until one day I discovered Goodreads has a reader’s choice award. And that these awards are given in categories, which made me curious to see what other people would recommend as good poetry.

Poetry nominees

I initially thought I’d read Lullabies, or another book by this same writer, but promptly discovered my library doesn’t carry it. Which caused me to turn to the runner up, Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Again, I started the book dubiously, thankfully only it seemed small and had short poems and plenty of pictures. But I soon found I liked it more than I would have initially thought. I suppose a large amount of that had to do with its content.

As someone who has devoured Grimm’s fairy tales and feminist literature, this was the perfect fusion of my interests. Heppermann’s poetry is a fusion of these old stories with modern ideas about beauty and relationships and women. It focuses largely on the problems of beauty standards such as eating disorders and an obsession with perfection. On a whole I felt there was a lot of value in these poems, even if they didn’t strike me as perfectly crafted (but what would I know as someone who doesn’t read poetry for fun?).

Heppermann also pointed out that while Grimm and Perrault and other males have been famed for the legacy of fairy tales, it was often women who first told them, and she believes that shapes these stories and their overall messages. I’d never thought of that before, but it makes sense. Certainly there might have been men who told these tales, but I do usually picture a mother sitting with her children telling them old folklore passed down by her mother. It was a beautiful thought to think of modernizing some of these, blending old women’s messages into new ones. So I’m very glad this challenge made me pick up a book I wouldn’t normally have. I think that’s one of the great things about this challenge is being forced outside my comfort zone and actually finding new materials I can enjoy.

Do you enjoy poetry? Any good recommendations?

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

Here is a book challenge I did not make. Click it to find the original source.

1. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read

2. A Book that was Made into a Movie

3. A Book You Pick Soley for the Cover

4. A Book Your Friend Loves

5. A Book Published this Year

9. A Book with a Color in the Title

17. A Book that Will Make You Smarter

22. A Book with Pictures

24. A Book You Loved…Read it Again!

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Goals Needed, Help!

So I want to address some struggles I’ve had lately. I may try to detail them more vividly in a later blog, but for now I’ll just mention I’ve been having a very hard time nailing down any sort of novel idea and feel rather unfocused in terms of my writing direction. This is made all the more difficult by my decision to have a daily writing goal each and every day.

I’ve participated in October Writing diligently, writing 500 words daily and tweeting and logging my word counts without fail. I’ve even written by hand at times when I haven’t had a computer. And this month has showed excellent progress, and yet it hasn’t exactly taken me where I’d hoped.

I had hoped this might get me out of my little writing slump where I feel incapable of coming up with any new ideas or making any progress on current ones. I was wrong. I still have failed to truly rid myself of this troubling problem.

My participation has not faltered. I’ve written at least 500 words everyday. Sometimes it’s been blog posts (some of which have not been published). Sometimes it’s been poetry. Other days it’s been trying to get a bit of novel out one way or another. But I suppose blogging has been one of my bigger projects, and I’ve appreciated having the challenge to allow me to focus.

Nonetheless I still feel something’s missing in spite of my diligence this month. And that is concentration. I’d like to actually buckle down and finish a project. I’d like to stay focused on a goal and see it through. And I know myself well enough to know if I have readership I’ll focus better on something, which is part of the reason blogging has been more successful for me lately (thanks to my wonderful readers).

So, in light of wanting to concentrate more fully, I’d like to ask readers to vote on what they’d like to see more of in this blog. And with that in mind maybe I’ll have more of a goal to work towards.

For a novel excerpt example see here: Braving a New Frontier- First Page Review

For a poetry example see here: Perched upon the Window Sill- a poem

For a writing prompt example see here: One Little Change- a Writing Prompt

For a short story example (also a writing prompt) see here: Soaring- A Writing Prompt

For movie/book thoughts example see here: Easy Analysis: the Reasons Hawthorne Still Shows up in Hollywood

For writing advice see here: What’s in a Name?

For anything not listed in the poll feel free to comment or add your own.

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A Sonnet a Day: Writing Forms Beyond Novels

I’ve had nasty writer’s block.

My blog readers are probably confused because I’ve been posting a lot. So I will clarify.

Writer’s block for me doesn’t eliminate all forms of writing usually. I can often still blog, or journal, or write a poem or something like that. But I can’t become productive on novels because I simply can’t quite get the idea of what to write or none of my previously formed ideas seem good enough.

So, I’ve been stuck in other forms waiting for a brilliant novel idea to hit me (and yes that was a pun). In the meantime, I’ve found myself on a sonnet phase after reading a bunch in my Shakespeare class. It’s actually quite a freeing form if you’re having any sort of issue with love…or anything else for that matter, but particularly affairs of the heart.

What I wanted to post about today though, was keeping regular writing going even if you can’t figure out where your major project might be going. Practice is essential. And so, here a few recommended forms to keep you writing.

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1. Poetry

As with the title of this blog, I wanted to make sure I hit poems as a top one. You don’t even need to feel constrained by the parameters of a sonnet, but could do free verse instead. There are tons of poem forms out there. Just do a haiku if you’re really stumped! You’ll figure it out.

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2. Journaling

Put your day, your thoughts, your current confusions down on paper. Reflect and let go. Great way to both destress and practice this literary art.

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3. Word dumping

This is like journaling but more free. Put everything that comes into your head on paper, no matter what it is. Just word vomit essentially, let it run free. Sometimes this is actually a nice thing to do before you write anything serious, because it clears your head.

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4. Writing prompts

I’ve been actively seeking some out lately. It’s been nice to have someone else come up with the basic idea that I then just have to fill out.

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5. Ask friends for ideas

My writing friend recently sent out a form for close friends to fill out commissioning short stories. They give you a setting, a basic protagonist description, a bit of conflict and you do the rest.

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6. Letters

These can be real letters to be friends. They can be fake. They can be something you’d like to send but can’t. I keep various collections of letters. Some to friends. Some to my self. Some to God. Whatever strikes your fancy.

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7. Freewrites

Find basic ideas that inspire you and go from there. No need to think too much about it. Just look up some beautiful photography, or listen to a song, or go take a walk. Find something you like and go from there.

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8. Writing challenges

I used to do this a lot. I’d make up little mini challenges for myself. Like describing a common object in a new and creative way. Or creating an instantaneous character just from a few minute characteristics or personality traits. I’m almost certain you could find some out there on your own, but creativity is the key.

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9. Blogging! Get those ideas out there. Don’t be shy, think of something you’d like to share and go for it. Pretty obvious if you’re on this site I suppose.

You’ve got this! Just get out there and put your pen to use.

Anyone have any forms they’d like to add? What things do you like to do to keep in practice? What other forms really appeal to you?

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Perched upon the Window Sill- a poem

I’m not much of a poet. I’ll be the first to admit I have no great joy in either studying or performing this medium of expression. I like writing poetic prose, but that’s about it. Nonetheless, I was asked by a friend to write a poem after she heard me say the phrase “Perched upon the Window Sill” in reference to a boy in our class who was refusing to sit anywhere but right at the window, looking out. It made me think back to my bedroom in France, where I would sit and look out at the streets, reflecting on life and other things. I considered writing a sonnet in honor of my Shakespeare class that inspired me, but I felt in the mood for free-verse. So here is my mildly pathetic poem dedicated to my blogging friend.

Perched upon the Window Sill

I sit there perched upon the window sill

Gazing out at the desolate street

Cafes closed up

Tables chained in uneven clusters

Rain glistens on the surface

Drops budding into puddles

Hinting at more to come.

The occasional footsteps echo on cobblestones

A shadowed figure huddled beneath an umbrella

Scuttles by into the gloom.

It’s a good day to be inside.

I am glad of the warmth

Tucked in my tiny chamber

A thick sweater shielding me

A pane of glass to protect me

Only my hand cold

Pressed upon the surface

Separating me from the rain.

This street is a different place

A new world

As though some dark spell has come upon our city

Sleeping Beauty’s enchantment

Quieting the streets.

I glance out and remember like a dream:

Sunshine

Laughter I can hear through open window

Tables full with families, friends

Sitting in the peaceful atmosphere

Of these calm French streets

But life is gone

They say rain brings life

Yet does it?

When all around me

Silence reigns

And people huddle and hide

Within the warmth of their comforting houses.

‘Tis not life.

These clouds steal voices and laughter

Take children from our streets

Replace merriment with sorrow

My eyes trace this familiar road

Curled on the window sill

Back braced against firm wood

Hands folded over knees

Curled in on self

Vulnerable

Alone.

I reflect on happier times

In streets

In life

Of other worlds that might be

Of deeper sorrows than rain

Droplets tap against the glass like fingers

I gaze out

Wondering.

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“My Rambling Brat (In Print)” or the Problems of Perfecting Writing

As a writer I sometimes am extremely self-critical. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the negatives and see only your faults rather than your talents. In many ways it’s in our nature to be critical, especially of ourselves. I am always reluctant to share my writing with others for this reason, frightened to let my books into the world fearing they might not be good enough. Yes, I’m a bit of an obsessive editor who constantly is trying to improve my works. And I never can explain to my eager friends why my book is just not ready yet!

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However, today I realized not only am I not alone in this belief, but published writers long before me have also struggled with these self doubts.

In my American literature class today we were reading Anne Bradstreet, a brilliant Puritan poet from the early 1600’s. She has marvelous poems, and I encourage everyone to take a look at a few of them. However, my favorite remains “The Author to Her Book”.

The story goes that Bradstreet had a book that her brother-in-law published without her permission. My literature professor equated it to friends hacking your facebook when you’re out of the room to post ridiculous things. However, it’s a bit more extreme than that. Bradstreet wrote this poem as a reflection of how she didn’t want it published, comparing her book to an ill-formed child that she is sending out the door hoping only the best for. Read it below and see what you think.

The Author to Her Book

  by Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i' th' house I find.
In this array 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

So here is this brilliant woman worrying about what is going to happen to her book she thinks is “ill-formed” and not ready to be sent out yet. It amazes me to think far greater writers than I have also worried about their works. So I guess I need to worry less and just be brave and send things off. Because I’ll always see my books as rambling brats not yet ready to leave the home.

 
Who are some writers who have inspired you to see value in your own work? What do you do to overcome compulsive editing problems? Any other valuable literary wisdom you can provide?

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