Category Archives: poetry

Lamp Shop and more

I attended a workshop led by the inimitable Partridge Boswell, a poet of some growing renown, about revision and beyond, as he called it. It was a ploy to get us in with near finished poetry and to set us up for a public reading at the Lamp Shop, a cozy little bar and local hot spot. The Lamp Shop has been the home for some time of a Spoken Word night on Mondays, conflicting with my group’s regular poetry workshops. Partridge’s deal was to drag us all over there after the third of three revision workshops and get us up on stage.

I would have enjoyed it more if I had not been suffering all day from an attack of hypoglycemia, caused by my reduced need for insulin for my diabetes since I went on a low fat whole food plant based diet in February. My mind was not very functional and I was shaky on my feet, but I pulled myself together enough to read two poems, one very new.

This was the first time I presented poetry to those outside my tiny writers’ community and it was a total shock at how well my work was received. Not only clapping, but a few hoots and cheers resounded at the end. It awoke me out of my stupor enough to smile at least at the welcome response. A man who had read earlier approached me and told me my poems reminded him of Robert Frost. I was floored.

Needless to say, I submitted those poems to a number of journals today, and I can’t wait for the first rejections!

I would be remiss if I did not laud my fellow poets (I almost feel safe in calling myself a poet now!) for the undeniably great work they did too. Everyone performed well, indeed excelled, under the fine tutelage of Partridge. We also got to see him perform, and it awoke in us all a recognition of how far we still have to go!


A Twisted Path to Poetry

I thought I was a novelist, mainly because stories came to me in big chunks. I wrote until I was finished, and would find a novel-length story had materialized. Then I was told by my helpful friends, that I wrote in shorthand, and needed to expand the descriptions in my stories, and they became series. This was not a welcome piece of news, because, well, when I finished writing one of these behemoths, I was done.

I took a creative writing course to see if I could understand my problem. The professor was a poet, so I learned more than I ever cared to about poetry. One of our assignments was to find a poetry form on the Poetry Foundation website, and compose a poem in that form. I found the form of the double dactyl and became notorious in my writers workshop for my skill at making fun of people. For a second assignment I found the pantoum, and used it to good effect on more serious subjects.

A funny thing happened on the way to the election. Donald Trump’s  pussy-grabbing statement raised all sorts of horrors from my past and made me a very uncomfortable person to be around. I snapped at people for no reason, yelled at other drivers and gave them the finger (not nearly so dangerous here in Vermont as some other places), and otherwise engaged in self-destructive behavior. Then one night, I started writing poems. They were helpful in getting some of the anger out of me and onto paper. I relived some terrible moments of my past, and turned them, for better or worse, into poetry.

I have now submitted poetry to a journal, recommended to me by a friend. It’s only one journal, it’s only 6 poems stretched over a couple of weeks, but it’s a start. And fiction finds a small home in my poetry, but not the sort I was writing and not the sort I would want to write a full story about.

In January, a local poet will be teaching a three session poetry craft workshop at my writers workshop. If I’m going to keep doing this, I’m going to have to figure out the rules. But who knows? I may get some burning hunger to write fiction again. Or maybe just get the right offer.



Writing Again, But Poetry?

I intimated some days ago that I was writing again, meaning that I was looking at some of my fantasies for new inspiration. But then a funny thing happened. Donald Trump’s 2005 comment about grabbing pussies made the news and turned my world upside down.

I am a 65 year old woman who lived through many of the trials and tribulations of the 1970s and 80s as a woman rising under the feminist movement of those days. To say that I was subject to sexual harassment is an understatement in the extreme. I was also the victim of one sexual assault and two rapes. I did not report any of them, in two cases because the assailants were members of the legal profession in which I was lowly public defender. I will not further detail the incidents, but it should be clear that a woman making charges against two men high in the legal field would have been laughed out of court. I would have been disbelieved and smeared at a level that is no longer present in our legal system, except from certain judges who seem to think that rapists shouldn’t have their futures damaged by a few minutes of fun. They are the dinosaurs of today.

But back to Trump and the effects of his statement. I, like many women, numbering undoubtedly in the millions, suffered the crimes against me alone, and I built internal walls so that I could continue to function without falling apart or lashing out. Many women of my age built walls of different strengths and sizes, depending on the nature of the abuse they suffered. The everyday indignities of being a woman in a “man’s world” we all built walls against. We smiled, and accepted crudities that would stun today’s woman.

But the walls built to hide rape and assault were stronger and more enveloping. I had indeed buried my injuries so deeply that I had not considered them for years. They were part of my youth, and not worthy of spending time on. I had survived and would continue without ever having to review the pain and horror again. Until Trump….

What has this to do with writing? Just this. I have had anger and despair rising up in me in waves, with pain adding a slight piquancy to the mix. I was in danger of exploding at the least provocation, and I knew for my own sanity I had to find a way to tamp it down. I turned to a form of writing which I have used to deal with issues of depression and suicide in the past few years. I have been writing poems. The original ones were wrenching to me, causing me to desire drink or some other means of escape. I knew I was improving when the poems turned more to the failures of Trump as a human being, and less on the damage he had done. But I finally succeeded in writing a witty poem, denigrating Trump as nastily as I could. And with that, although not healed, I am back on a more even keel.

I have done something I’ve never done before. I have submitted some of the poems for publication. Accordingly, I can’t share them with you here. But I’ll keep you informed of any acceptances and let you know if, by any slight, slim chance, they are accepted for publication.

Spring is springing!

For many of my fellow allergy sufferers, spring is the worst time of the year. After the long cold winter here in the northeast, we have a positive cornucopia of allergens to deal with, now that all of the March ones that didn’t pop when they should have are coming out to join the April ones in droves. I have a lovely cough that can stop a conversation at ten paces as people look for the diseased one. They look doubtful when I tell them I’m not contagious.

Many of my writer friends are making use of the inspiration of blue skies and days when the high flirts with 70. We all breathe a sigh of relief when the weather people tell us the night time low will be above freezing. Spring poems are coming into our space on Church St. for review and analysis, but today has stopped some short.

Being in the home city of Ben and Jerry’s, we are enjoying the carnival atmosphere of free cone day. Some springs, it has not been smiled on by the weather gods, but they played nice today. Low 60s, blue sky with puffy white clouds, long lines snake down the street. They started at noon, and it is nearly 3:30 as I write, and the line has not shrunk all day. As people get their ice cream, new people join the queue, laughing and chattering away. A poor keyboardist has been playing practically non stop since 11:30. It’s a nice background, but he’s not getting the attention he deserves.

I wonder if I will go join the throng and scare the bejeezus out of them with my foghorn cough. Maybe they’ll move me up the line faster to get rid of me!

A new gig

I have been informed that there will be a bucket for people to put ideas in at the launch party for the 2015 Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop. The plan is for me to read my double dactyls as the first entry in the readings. People will then watch as one of their ideas is pulled out of the bucket, and I will be given one hour to write a double dactyl on that subject. I have a feeling I’m going to regret this. On the other hand, when the poems get started they keep on coming, so I may produce more than one. Who knows?

For any of you in the Burlington, VT, area on Friday, April 3, come to ArtsRiot on Pine Street at 7 pm. We’ll have a blast.

And here, for your delectation, is my most recent attempt:

Cruz Announces

Presidy drezidy
Cruz has announced for the
Ticket republicans
Hope will win big

Green eggs and ham won’t be
Cruz filibuster zags
When he should zig

Daily Prompt: Two Right Feet

It’s simple when you get to an advanced age. Take all your pills and other medications. At least it means I won’t crash come midday, and might make it through the whole day without a tantrum or a snit.  Being a slightly curmudgeonly older person of the female persuasion, I find the idiocies in the world irritating and occasionally enraging. But the second thing I do after meds is to find the subject of a new political double dactyl. I’ve been lucky so far this week. Mitt Romney’s insane usurpation of the democratic memes of income inequality and the failing of the middle class gave a plethora of riches for the satirist. I am waiting until this afternoon to scrutinize the various Republican responses to the State of the Union address for material for new double dactyls.

In fact, I will share with you one of my Mitt double dactyls here:

Mittfully witfully
Under Obama, see,
Rich are all richer and
Grow with the prez

Wage inequality
Democrats’ fault for sure
Mitt Romney says

Which only goes to show that I have too much time on my hands. I’m thinking of starting another blog devoted totally to double dactyls. I might wait until campaigning is in full swing, for that’s where I get my best ideas. Some are quite good and some are “meh” but it’s fun to do.

Needless to say, I do not double dactyl if I’ve forgotten my meds!

More poetry news

We workshopped some more of my poems today, and it appears I have garnered a fan or two. The same gentleman who liked my poems last week has graced me with the title of poet. I am girding my loins to present the three best to the poetry workshop in the very near future. It will be interesting to hear what others think of my use of an archaic form.

One of the poems I wrote for this week was another pantoum, this time addressing the issue of reading poetry that one thinks is inferior. I am told it is a near universal complaint, this doubting of oneself. I was once again stunned by a comment both of the men at today’s workshop made. They think I speak in a cadence that has its roots in poetry. Coulda hit me with a sledgehammer. I believe I talk the way I always have, and certainly no one before has made such a comment. I have been told by my fiction compatriots that I have a distinctive voice. My response is that and a buck might get me a cup of coffee. And not very good coffee at that.

So I am once again in an awkward place. I have always thought my metier was fantasy, and those who have read my first story (still at the editor) believe it is a very good story. But what if I’m really a poet? I know those who claim to be both. But I don’t seem to be able to do both at the same time. When the poems arise spontaneously, it seems to shut off my narrative stream, and vice versa. Maybe I should give over my mornings to poetry and my evenings to fantasy. The afternoons can be whatever is pressing harder. I may have to quit all my volunteering if I am to make my way in both genres.

Where was all this creativity when I was younger and more able to adjust? Bah, humbug.