Boyhood

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The sweetest moments
Are found in
The middle of the night
With you.

Even when you
Are trying
To rub my hand to
Make me “go to sweep.”

Or when you are
Running around like
A wild animal
You bring me joy.

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Something New for National Poetry Month

As most of you reading this know, I love poetry and National Poetry Month. I try to plan events on campus and in my community for the month and this year is no different. I have some things scheduled this year on two campuses and I can’t wait to share them with you (if I can pull them off).

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But one thing that I want to share right now is that next month, I’m teaching a poetry workshop! Yayyy!!!! Yes, I have taught poetry before and I love sharing my love of the form with my students but this is different. I’m super excited because during this workshop, I’ll be working with high school students and I’m going to be trying some new techniques. It’s an idea that I picked up from reading a book by one of my absolute favorite authors, Christina C. Jones.

My plan is to get the students to write however they best express themselves. To get them to develop their poetry in whatever way works for them regardless of technique. I will be teaching them literary devices, different styles of poems and showing them examples of punctuation in poetry but that’s it. I won’t say to them, that’s now how poetry is written. I can’t wait to see how it works out.

The Talking Back of Miss Valentine Jones: Poem # one- June Jordan

Sometimes poems are filled with cultural connotations. Things from your past that are as strong as a punch to the gut. For me, this one is packed with reminders of my upbringing and my experiences as a young girl, teenager and young woman. I try to share the work of a variety of poets and on Monday, I realized that I’d never posted anything by this poet.

I hope you enjoy the language of this piece. Words by the one and only June Jordan.

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well I wanted to braid my hair
bathe and bedeck my
self so fine
so fully aforethought for
your pleasure
see:
I wanted to travel and read
and runaround fantastic
into war and peace:
I wanted to
surf
dive
fly
climb
conquer
and be conquered
THEN
I wanted to pickup the phone
and find you asking me
if I might possibly be alone
some night
(so I could answer cool
as the jewels I would wear
on bareskin for you
digmedaddy delectation:)
“WHEN
you comin ova?”
But I had to remember to write down
margarine on the list
and shoepolish and a can of
sliced pineapple in casea company
and a quarta skim milk cause Teresa’s
gaining weight and don’ nobody groove on
that much
girl
and next I hadta sort for darks and lights before
the laundry hit the water which I had
to kinda keep an eye on be-
cause if the big hose jumps the sink again that
Mrs. Thompson gointa come upstairs
and brain me with a mop don’ smell too
nice even though she hang
it headfirst out the winda
and I had to check
on William like to
burn hisself to death with fever
boy so thin be
callin all day “Momma! Sing to me?”
“Ma! Am I gone die?” and me not
wake enough to sit beside him longer than
to wipeaway the sweat or change the sheets/
his shirt and feed him orange
juice before I fall out of sleep and
Sweet My Jesus ain but one can
left
and we not thru the afternoon
and now
you (temporarily) shownup with a thing
you says’ a poem and you
call it
“Will The Real Miss Black America Standup?”

                       guilty po’ mouth
                       about duty beauties of my
                       headrag
                       boozeup doozies about
                       never mind
                       cause love is blind

well
I can’t use it

and the very next bodacious Blackman
call me queen
because my life ain shit
because (in any case) he ain been here to share it
with me
(dish for dish and do for do and
dream for dream)
I’m gone scream him out my house
be-
cause what I wanted was
to braid my hair/bathe and bedeck my
self so fully be-
cause what I wanted was
your love
not pity
be-
cause what I wanted was
your love
your love

New Resources

Here it is! A new list of resources that I’m either using on planning to implement into my writing routine within the next month or so. I am an Etsy addict so some of the resources can be found there. I am also loving Pinterest and I will be maintaining a presence there as well. I hope that you find something useful for you and your writing routine.

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1.) May Carroll Moore- How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book http://howtoplanwriteanddevelopabook.blogspot.com/?m=1: this site is great just for providing insight into planning, writing and structuring your writing. One of the things that I love is that she focuses on things that I don’t really consider in my writing but I find useful as I work on revising. Posts about emotional peaks, writing tools, story arcs and sensory details all combine for an informative and insightful resource.

 

2.) The Nectar Collective: this is the site that I used when reevaluating what I wanted to accomplish with the blog and how to grow it. If you are a blogger, this is an invaluable resource, in my opinion. Melyssa has some great resources and they were helpful in allowing me to focus on my vision for the blog.

 

3.) Pinterest writing tools: As a result of reviewing The Nectar Collective’s resources I realized that I wasn’t maximizing my Pinterest use. I have now created some writing tools pages and pins and I’ve found some great things. I’m hoping to have the link to my Pinterest up pretty soon but follow me @ AbsoluteBe (I think).

 

4.) Self-editing for Fiction Writers: I just finished an editing course that didn’t use this book but once I stumbled across this I knew that it would become essential to my writing library. It is chock full of exercises and helpful information. If you’re like me, you are a reluctant editor. This will help curb your trepidation and make editing not seem like such a chore.

 

5.) Outline Your Novel/Structure You Novel workbook collection: So I cannot say enough about these books. I am not a planner but these books helped me set my prospective NaNoWriMo project and to outline the project even though I didn’t finish it. They are so helpful in plotting.

I also have the Structure Your Novel book and I think that K.M. Weiland really hits the mark with the workbooks in her series.

6.) AWP: I’m a member of AWP and their resources are amazing! From The Chronicle to the jobs, workshops, retreats and residency listing the site is just wonderful. As a writer and a working instructor; I find something new and interesting every time I visit.

 

7.) A planner: I have recently (last July) started using a planner. I am still not fully using it the way that I hope to but for now it has become an essential part of my weekly planning. I use it the same way as the resource below. I put in blog posts, classes, due dates for assignments, writing deadlines and to-do lists. I hope to begin to include stickers for events and other things.

 

8.) A dry erase board with colorful markers: I think that I have mentioned this before. But this is one of my favorite things. The dry erase board that I use got me through two Masters’ programs. I color code my blog posts, assignments for courses, and any other upcoming events. I walk past the board several times a day so that keeps the due dates fresh in my mind.

 

9.) BrynDonovan.com: http://www.bryndonovan.com/  This is a fairly new resource for me but I’m kind of becoming addicted. The site has useful posts but also has master lists of character traits, personalities, writing prompts and book lists that I’ve found to be a bit intriguing.

 

10.) Write Great Fiction series: I cannot say enough about this series and if you’re a Prime member of Amazon then you can access most of them for free on your Kindle or Kindle app. I have several of the books but I am currently reading Plot & Structure and Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint right now. They aren’t dry reading at all and are pretty helpful if you’re stuck.

 

11.) Funds for Writers: Hope C. Clark’s free site provides listing for literary events (workshops, residencies, and retreats), for contests, jobs and plenty of other information that’s really helpful for writers.

 

12.) Writing the Breakout Novel workbook: I have been using this sparingly for a while but I’m committed to using it more this year. It breaks down different elements essential to novel writing and helps you build them. I’ve marked some character development and subplot chapters to get started with as I continue to revise my past NaNoWriMo projects and my thesis.
Etsy: All of these are downloadable sources found on shops at Etsy. I haven’t tried the top two yet.

 

13.) Sleepy Hollow Press– character and novel planning bundles: I use a lot of character development sheets even though I just became somewhat of plotter. I can see myself using these sheets as a way to develop my characters and to begin planning the stories I work on.

 

14.) Author Zoo– novel planning kits: Here’s another resource that I’m recommending because I plan to try it out. I want to see if I can complete a piece by completely planning it out. So just like the sheets from Sleepy Hollow Press, I think that these will be something that I could implement into my writing routine.

 

15.) Blog planning sheets: to use them or not? So I just found some free worksheets online after I found a few that I loved on Etsy. When I first saw them, I wondered if they would be effective for me and if I would be a more stable blogger if I used them. Well…as I said, I found some free ones online and selected some to start using this month. With planning the remaining blog posts for March.

However, I have also decided to challenge myself to use them in May since next month is National Poetry Month and I will be focusing on all things poetic. I will post the details of my challenge in May and how the sheets work for me(and the blog). But I will be posting later this month about the ones that I’ll be using and what appealed to me about them.

 

The Lost Women- Lucille Clifton

I love Lucille Clifton. I could not be more in love with her work if I wrote it myself. Her words always light a fire in me that I didn’t know needed to be stoked. In honor of Women’s History Month, I am trying to share pieces that are by women or inspired by them. I felt as if this one needed to make an appearance this month. Here is Clifton’s ode to the lost women accompanied by a picture of two of my own lost ones.

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i need to know their names
those women i would have walked with
jauntily the way men go in groups
swinging their arms, and the ones
those sweating women whom i would have joined
after a hard game to chew the fat
what would we have called each other laughing
joking into our beer? where are my gangs,
my teams, my mislaid sisters?
all the women who could have known me,
where in the world are their names?

This Morning- Jo McDougall

As soon as this piece popped up in my inbox…well, as soon as I saw it and took the time to read it. I knew that I had to share it here. It’s a piece on loss from American Life in Poetry. This is why I love poetry! The story develops, the feelings almost palpable for anyone who’s ever lost someone. It’s just beautiful. I hope that you all enjoy.

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As I drove into town
the driver in front of me
runs a stop sign.
A pedestrian pulls down his cap.
A man comes out of his house
to sweep the steps.
Ordinariness
bright as raspberries.

I turn on the radio.
Somebody tells me
the day is sunny and warm.
A woman laughs

and my daughter steps out of the radio.
Grief spreads in my throat like strep.
I had forgotten, I was happy, I maybe
was humming “You Are My Lucky Star,”
a song I may have invented.
Sometimes a red geranium, a dog,
a stone
will carry me away.
But not for long.
Some memory or another of her
catches up with me and stands
like an old nun behind a desk,
ruler in hand.

Reminiscence

This is a very rough draft of a piece that I started this earlier this week. I’m hoping to have it fully tweaked in a few weeks to present it as a gift to my cousin’s husband, their sons and the grandson who never got to meet her.

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They said the pain would lessen
That it wouldn’t always hurt so much
That I would be able to smile again, to feel joy and to move without this heartache stuck in the middle of my chest.
Lies! I thought
At the time, I couldn’t imagine being able to breathe without you
Couldn’t envision going a day without hearing your voice
Or making you smile.

I’m glad that I never believed them
Because even now, somewhere deep inside
I’m still screaming in disbelief
Still waiting for your call
Or for you to come home
Hoping to show you everything you’ve missed;
How our family has grown

Until that moment,
I always thought I would be first.
That I would be ripped from you too soon.
So losing you never crossed my mind.
I believed that you would be here
Left behind
Laughing that huge laugh of yours while
Taking care of our family, feeding bodies and souls

But here I am
Missing everything that made you
You
There is no comfort in knowing that you are
At rest, without pain
When I want you here with me.
But I know that’s impossible
Until it’s my time
I will keep missing you
Until then