Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reading and Writing...

Reading always has been one of my favorite activities so I'm happy that Elissa Field chose reading and its relationship to writing as the final prompt for the Wordsmith Studio's 3rd Anniversary Blog Hop. Thanks again, Elissa, for all of the work you've done on the blog hop.

What are you reading?
I have just finished or am in the process of reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, Later Poems: Selected and New by Adrienne Rich and The Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman.

The first to relate to the genre in which I write and the third to my favorite genre to read.

What is your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is mystery. It all started with Sherlock Holmes. I can take my interest in him back to the age of 11 so I think I qualify as a lifelong fan. I'm not a snob, though. I enjoy reading non-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories involving Holmes and Watson. I like to see what other authors do with the classic characters.

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the book Mystery Muses edited by Jim Huang and Austin Lugar. The editors asked 100 mystery writers to write about an author/book that inspired them to write mysteries. It's a great resource for classic and contemporary mysteries, both of which I enjoy.

Do you also have an alternate genre?
Biography or more broadly, non-fiction. If I was studying something in school or just took an interest in a person or subject, I would read as much as I could about them/it.

Are there alternative forms of writing or art that you have found inspiring or even dabbled in?
After I began writing poetry regularly, I found myself spending more and more time at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. I wrote a poem inspired by one of the sculptures and found out a few months later that a poem inspired by visual art is called an Ekphrastic poem. Eventually, I began taking my own photographs and combining them with original poetry to create visual art pieces.

What music inspires your writing?
In 2010, I took a jazz poetry workshop and I was hooked by the end of it. I'm fortunate to live in an area that played a significant role in jazz history and to have the fabulous American Jazz Museum as a resource.

Do you have a favorite book, article or magazine for writing advice?
One of my favorites is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. A favorite quote from the book is:

If  you read a great poem aloud--for example, “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley--and read it the way he set it up and punctuated it, what you are doing is breathing his inspired breath at the moment he wrote that poem. That breath was so powerful it still can be awakened in us over 150 years later.

What do you like to read? How does your reading enhance your writing?


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  1. Poetry is helpful in writing picture books (my genre) so I've been wanting to learn to write it. I can't wait to hear about what you think of the Poetry Handbook. Also, love the excerpt you shared from Writing Down the Bones. "...breathing his inspired breath..." LOVE.

    1. I love that quote, too, and I think it applies to other art forms. When I see a great piece of visual art, I feel like the artist's energy is part of it. The Poetry Handbook is mostly about craft. I read through it and now am going to go back and work my way through it.

  2. I've been writing some poetry lately since I joined a Story Circle Poetry chat group. It has been a rewarding challenge to think poetically. So glad I've been reading your poems over the last few years.

    1. I'm excited that you've taken up this new challenge, Letty. I've always believed in cross training.