Thursday, April 30, 2015

Notes on the 2015 PAD Challenge

I can't believe today is the last day of April and consequently, the last day of Robert Lee Brewer's 2015 PAD Challenge. I thought I would reflect on doing the challenge since it has been my major writing project this month. This topic also fits with this week's Wordsmith Studio 3rd Anniversary Blog Hop so I am killing two birds with one post.

This has been my most successful PAD challenge as far as consistency and number of poems completed. As I'm writing this, I have posted 26 poems for the challenge. I expect to complete the poem for Day 30 so that will give me 27. I missed doing a few when I was on vacation last week. I still have time to catch up. I may but it's OK if I don't.

Here are a few of the things that worked to my benefit:

  1. I looked forward to the prompt each day. I made a habit of looking at it early in the day and writing it down [Note: I do my first drafts with pencil and paper]. 
  2. No drama after reading the prompt. No cursing, screaming, crying, wailing or hitting my head against the desk. Maybe a few deep breaths, which I consider drama prevention, and a "You can do this" or two.
  3. I was patient. If I didn't have an idea right away, I didn't panic. I'd write down ideas, play with words even write down a few lines until I had something I wanted to work with. When I completed a piece, I didn't hurry to post it.
  4. I was flexible. Because I didn't hurry to post, I continued to make revisions. Sometimes another  idea came to me during the day and I ended up with a completely different poem.
  5. I let myself enjoy the challenge and its challenges.

I established some good habits this month, and I hope to keep the momentum going. Time for another challenge!


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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

International Jazz Day

No Language Barrier

Speak to us
in notes and beats.
Fingers on keys or
hands holding sticks.

We tap our toes,
bob our heads,
snap our fingers
to let you know
we understand
what's being said.

This Thursday, April 30 is International Jazz Day. Paris, France is this year's Global Host City. You can watch the webcast of the All-Star Global Concert on the International Jazz Day website. Don't forget to support your local jazz scene on this day and every day! If you are in the Kansas city area, check out the American Jazz Museum.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wordsmith Studio Homecoming 2015

Wordsmith Studio's 3rd Anniversary continues with Week #2 of our blog hop. This week's prompt relates to the overall theme of the anniversary--Homecoming. The twist for the blog hop is to relate Homecoming to your writing experiences. I'm going to approach this topic using two subjects that I write about frequently--grief and jazz.

I have mentioned before that my poetry writing journey began out of a grief experience. Years before that, I started attending a grief support group. I had never been one to talk about my feelings so I was what is known as a delayed griever. In other words, I had experienced several losses and not really dealt with them.  When my mother died, the pot boiled over and I found a wonderful group, with which I now volunteer (How's that for doing a 360?)

I have told the group a number of times that I firmly believe that I would have never started writing poetry if I had not done the grief work. It taught we the value of telling my story and gave me permission to do so. It also taught me that there are strong emotions tied to many memories and when you go back to those events you may feel those emotions. I learned that that is OK and that I can deal with those situations.

The jazz poetry takes me back in time in a couple of different ways. When I was growing up, television was filled with variety shows and talk shows. Jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and countless others often were on multiple shows in a week, perhaps even a day. They already were icons. When I watch clips on You Tube,  I have firsthand memories of some of those shows. My interest in jazz also has allowed me to meet some of these performers when they were younger, to learn of their struggles and the contributions that they made to the music to reach iconic status.

Often, I am surprised by the memories that my writing triggers. In fact, I have had one of those experiences during this month's Poem-A-Day Challenge. I'll probably have another before the month is over. That's OK. I've learned to let the writing lead the way.


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I'm going to take next week off. I'll jump back into the blog hop Sunday, April 26.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Catching Up for Wordsmith Studio's 3rd Anniversary

As part of Wordsmith Studio's 3rd Anniversary, the group is hosting a blog hop. The blog hop is in the capable hands of Wordsmith Studio Advisory Group member Elissa Field and re-starts every Wednesday this month. She is sharing prompts for blog posts or you can use a favorite post from within the last month.

The first prompt is a Q&A to let people know about your writing. Here goes!

Are you a WSSer (a member of Wordsmith)?

Yes, I have been a member from the beginning. After participating regularly in the Tuesday #wschats on Twitter for about two years, I started helping with the hosting about this time last year. I am primarily a host for the Night Owl chat, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, but I fill in on the Early Bird chat when needed. I also write or take a picture based on the creative prompts posted on the Wordsmith Studio website. 

What medium do you work in?

I write poetry. I began writing poetry out of a grief experience and have published a chapbook called I Keep You with Me. I also write jazz poetry and Ekphrastic poetry, which is poetry inspired by visual art.

What’s the name of your current project?

My current project is participating in Robert Lee Brewer's Poem-A-Day Challenge as part of National Poetry Month. As of this writing, I am 13-for-13. This is definitely the best start I have had in the challenge.

What is your favorite detail, sentence or other bit you’ve written lately?

In response to the Wordsmith Studio Creative Prompt-Trapped, I wrote a poem entitled Books. I have always love to read. Since I like to read mysteries, I have a hard time putting a book down until I know the outcome.

Any obstacles or I-hate-this-chapter moments?

Procrastination and my head. In other words, not sitting down and writing, and letting my inner editor get in the way.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned lately from your writing?

WSS did some word sprints as part of it's New Year's celebration. After participating in those, I set a goal of writing for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. I learned I could accomplish quite a bit in that amount of time. I also was more focused than if I just "sat down to write". I realized it was OK to write gobbledygook to get started.

In what ways do you hope to grow in the next 6 months/year?

Create better images and use stronger words in my poetry.

In what ways do writing friends and communities help you do that?

They help by offering feedback and support. The  #wschat is a great place to get encouragement if you're discouraged or congratulations if something good has happened. People also leave comments on blogs or Facebook posts. I also go to an in-person critique group that is very helpful with feedback. 

What else should we have asked you, or what would you ask other writers?

Some of my Ekphrastic poems are inspired by my own photographs. I combine the two into visual art pieces and have had a few shows in the past couple of years.


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

Settled in my hiding place
Been there for years
Haven’t let anyone find me
Time to seek myself


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Monday, April 6, 2015

A Salute to #wschat

A Salute to #wschat

It's been three years
since Not Bob
introduced us to
the Twitter chat.
Many of us thought,
"What's that?"
Now, I can tell you
what it has become.
A "woohoo" when you
share good news.
Commiseration for
the rejection blues.
Laughter, especially
from the back of the class.
The option to wear or
not wear pants.
A chance to sit in
on author interviews.
Watching the same movie
and tweeting your review.
Time for us
to get together,
talk about writing,
learn to get better.
Happy Anniversary, #wschat!
Remember, we have
 the list if you need a name
for your cat (or band).

Thanks to Janice Sheridan for this week's Wordsmith Studio Creative Prompt: Homecoming--Our 3rd Anniversary. Click on the prompt link to learn  more about Wordsmith Studio. Thanks to Khara House for the anniversary badges!

Weekly #wschat Twitter chats are held Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m Eastern time. You don't have to be a member to join in the chat. Just search  #wschat to find the chat feed and include the same hashtag in your tweets.


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Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Challenge You

April is National Poetry Month, a celebration that was started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.  The Academy has a 30 Ways to Celebrate list on its website that provides a variety of ways to engage with poetry.

For poets, this month is a special time to practice their craft. There are many writing challenges available to get the creative juices flowing. I participate in the Poem-A-Day Challenge on Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. 

As I was getting ready to write this blog post, it occurred to me that the writing challenges could also be valuable to people who say they don't understand or can't connect to poetry. You won't quite get to look over the poets' shoulders as they write, but you'll be pretty close.

For the PAD Challenge, first read the prompt. This is the starting point for each of the poets. Next, you will be able to read hundreds of poems that are the result of this same prompt. I think you will be surprised by the variety of the poems both in form and subject. Some poets will submit multiple poems for the same prompt that are very different from each other. I bet that you will find several to which you relate because they are talking about an experience similar to one you have had, something that happens every day.

I challenge you to participate in a poetry challenge this month either by writing or reading. If you have links to other challenges please feel free to leave them in the comments.


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