November Musings

I promised myself I’d do at least one post a month. It’s still November right? I mean, for a few hours anyway!  Today I thought I’d write to the banner on my blog: “work, life, poetry.” Let’s see what happens!

Work:  I’m swimming in poetry! I and the other editors for the Heron Clan have been reading poetry for over a month. Submission end today which is good for us because we’ve gotten almost 500 poems. It’s fun and rewarding to read so much good poetry, but it’s a lot of work. I really enjoy the meetings with the other editors as we check votes and discuss the close calls. After we get through them all, then it will get really difficult as we cull the first round into a manageable number of poems for the book.

Life: I have to replace my phone. I’ve been getting notices from my service provider for months that they are making changes to their network (cell towers, G’s, I dunno, some kind of  technical mishegas) and that my phone won’t work when that happens.  The deadline is drawing nigh and I can’t put it off anymore. I have three complaints about this. 1. $. I don’t want to spend it on a new phone. 2. I anticipate a painful transition. 3. I don’t know whether to stay with Android or try the Apple iPhone. Wish me luck!

Poetry:  The official calendar day for giving thanks has past, but gratitude shouldn’t be on a schedule. The more the better.  So here’s my thank you poem – with apologies to those who have read it already, and please forgive the schmaltzy sentiment.

I Give Thanks

I give thanks for my roof and my walls,
the space in-between, thanks for the halls.
I also give thanks for the great outside
for the world offers a wonderful ride.

I give thanks for the sun, moon, stars in the sky,
sound and silence, the shouts and the sighs.
As the Earth turns I really must say
I give thanks for the nights and for the days.

I give thanks for the A, B and C’s
and all the letters through to the Z’s,
all of the words and the punctuation
the numbers and the multiplication.

I give thanks for my hands and my feet
and every time you and I meet.
I give thanks for all you are and all you do.
Blessings and health I pray for you.

Spooky Forms

Just in time for the Halloween season, this haunting image from the IWH Weekly Haiku/Senryu Challenge will inspire your dreams!

An Upside-Down Tanka

Get a roommate, they said.
It will be fun, they said.

The rent is cheap
But he has no boundaries!
Tired of the webs.

A Senyru

This dream is not real.
I will not manifest it.
Afraid to wake up

The Submission Call

Have you been called — tempted or teased — to submit your work for possible publication? Have you done it  —  or are you ignoring the voice because of fear? I’m not going to lie to you. It takes work. It’s scary. But there are rewards! You can win or lose (a contest); you can get accepted or rejected. But when you put yourself and your work out to the world, you declare powerfully: I believe in my work. I believe in myself.

Hippo cheerleader supports you!

Hey,  you know that anthology of poetry I told you about, The Heron Clan? We’re accepting submissions of poetry for volume 7 through the end of November.  How about submitting some of your poems?

Yes, I am on the selection committee, but don’t worry. We read the poems blind. We’ve already received over 200 poems so make sure you’re submitting your best work. How do you know it’s your best work? Aside from checking and rechecking spelling, spacing, and sparkle (!) try looking at it with the eyes of an outsider. Here’s a link to the poetry critique checklist I use in workshops. It might help.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments, or email me at jmowrites@gmail.com. Good luck.

Heron Clan Call for Submission Guidelines

  • Submit 1-3 poems as an email attachment. Include all poems in one document, separated with a page break. Please use a standard 12-point font. Title the document with your name but do not include any biographical information in the document itself.
  • There is no restriction on theme or style.
  • Include poem titles and 100-word bio in email cover letter.
  • There is no fee to submit.
  • Poems must be in English.
  • Contributors receive one copy of the anthology, and the opportunity to buy additional copies at cost.
  • Please indicate in the cover letter which poems have been previously published, along with the appropriate acknowledgment (publication name and date). By submitting previously published work, you assert that you have the necessary rights and permissions for the work to be republished.
  • Submission deadline is November 30, 2019.
  • Email submission to Doug Stuber, editor, katherinejamesbooks@gmail.com

Haiku Challenge

One of the best things one can do as a writer is to encourage other writers. Being creative, as all artists know, is both a joy and a challenge. We all need inspiration and I found some today from Pat at e-Quips who wrote three haiku in response to this:

I Write Her Weekly Haiku/Senryu Challenge #30

Here are the two I came up with.

1:
We are both angry
Your hairy eyeball and lips
won’t make me back down.

2:
I need a chainsaw
to open my lips and heart
to say “I love you.”

Poet Laureates, Writer’s Block, Joy

Congratulations Joy Harjo! A month ago (I’ve had writer’s block), Ms. Harjo, poet, writer and musician was named the 23rd poet laureate of the United States. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, which gives her the additional distinction of becoming the first Native American to hold the position.  Click here to read her poem, Once the World was Perfect

The term laureate means to be wreathed with laurels as a mark of honor. Like most people, I’ve seen pictures and movies of Greeks and historical figures wearing a crown of laurel wreaths, but I didn’t know until this year when Jaki Shelton Green became the Poet Laureate of North Carolina, that the honor comes with an actual wreath of laurels. Click her name to see the photo! The talented Ms. Green also has the distinction of being the third woman and the first African American to be appointed to the role.  When I went searching for a picture of a laurel wreath to accompany this blog, all I found were men, or blond women, hence the mannequin.

So what exactly is a poet laureate? The national official title is the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.  There are a few official duties, but basically the job is “to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” For more details, visit: http://loc.gov/poetry/about_laureate.html.

You too can be a poet laureate! I encourage you to appoint yourself  poet laureate of  your place of work, your school, your book club, or just your own home. If you are not a poet, then be an advocate for any and all expressions of creativity.

I’ve been planning on writing this post for over a month, but “writer’s block.” The very phrase is synonymous with “excuse” and it’s not really accurate. I’ve had ideas, but I haven’t been able to quiet my mind, set aside the issues and concerns of “real life” and do the work of creating.  Fast forward to last night. I went to dinner to celebrate the birthday of my friend and writing mentor Judy Martel who passed away in July, 2017. A wonderful woman with a wide network of connection, her birthday has become an opportunity for friends and family to gather and remember her.  I remember the lessons  Judy. I’m here.

Now, as the Poet Laureate of my one-bedroom apartment, I am going to promote some poetry, and hopefully some joy.

Just two days ago, I came across the 2019 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest while browsing a list of Calls for Submission. Ms. Ramseyer was the mother of a writer and poet by the name of Bram Seyer. He writes this about her on his blog:  “In the last year of her life my mother, Joan Ramseyer, turned to verse to express the heat of ideas percolating in her mind, like bubbles in a teapot escaping into steam.”  The memorial contest is a way for him to honor her life and celebrate the homey poetry she wrote. The theme this year is JOY! Read the full guidelines here and consider writing and submitting a poem about joy! https://bramseyer.wordpress.com/joan-ramseyer-memorial-poetry-contest/?

I’m not that kind of …

… poet, writer, artist, cook, tailor, ___ fill in the blank.

In a world of almost 8 billion people, everyone wants to be unique, and stand out in a crowd. I get it, but that statement is vague and dismissive. Not only does it raise more questions, it’s a way to end a conversation before it even gets started. I’ve been thinking about this since a poet I was talking to a few months ago, about writing to prompts, said to me, “I’m not that kind of poet.”  Really? Have you tried it? Why? But that was the end of the conversation.

“I’m not that kind of cook,” could mean two things. Either you prefer to cook by winging it and you never follow a recipe, or, that you are not comfortable cooking unless you have a recipe to follow. Both are valid points of view, and each one tells us a different story about you.

“I’m not that kind of poet,” could mean you only write free verse, or it could mean that you stick to classic poetic forms. Either way, I want to know more about your poetry.

These are only two meager examples. There are so many art forms and avocations that people aspire to. Everyone has a story. Be brave. Tell me yours.

~//~

And now in the category, TIWIW (Things I wish I Wrote):

“We poets are a passionate bunch. I don’t go in much for poet stereotypes, but I think this much is true, at least as it applies to our feelings about poetry itself. We care a lot about language and we’re always looking for the best way to do what we do—it’s one of the things I enjoy about us.”  – Camille Rankine

This great quote by Camille Rankine, is from her blog post,  “The Known Unknown: Persona, Empathy, and the Limits of Imagination,” on the Poetry Foundation website. The article is about poetic identity, cultural appropriation, and “the murky moral territory that is writing in persona.”