The Idea of Her- Kwame Dawes

I cannot say enough about the poet whose work I’m sharing today. This award winning poet, author, professor, and co-founder of Calabash International Literary Festival  was born in Jamaica. Kwame Dawes, I just love him. Even his prose is poetic and he manages to evoke emotions in his work that makes me want to see the world through his eyes. But I suppose I have to settle for viewing it through his writing. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this is the piece that inspired my poem Invaded. Reading it reminded me of the emotion I was trying to capture in my own piece. He has managed to capture the lament of loss that fills your senses. 

 I hope that you all enjoy this piece and seek out more of his work. 

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For days he carries an unending fatigue in him;
sleep he avoids at night to avoid the idea of her,
to avoid the way his body turns on its belly to grind
out the persistent longing. He wakes on the hour
to stare at the low glow of dogwood blossoms,
to sip water, to slake the graveled throat. In the day,
he walks in dreams, her breath against him, the dumb
circle of fog blunting any strength to turn away
the feel of her. She is in his skin, settled in him
though he cannot speak of it. He catches the scent
of passing women. His eyes assess the curve and trim
of their backsides. He compares, then resents
these futile infidelities—their impotence.
He can smell her in the air, a clinging fragrance

Update- Writing Routine

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A while back I was lamenting my lack of writing routine. Well, thanks to some excellent advice  (Thank you Quanie!) I have made real progress in establishing a writing routine. As of now, I  am writing at least an hour a night. I try to write between 8pm and midnight; the time varies based on how my night goes and I typically write longer than an hour but I now have a time frame where I’m committed to sitting down and writing. I know that seems really late but I am such a night owl that I’m more productive during the night hours. It’s really been working! I’ve been using the time to write my blog posts, revise my WIP and work on finishing some poetry pieces.

Eventually, I’ll need to devise a separate time for editing and revisions but for now I’m satisfied with having nailed down a time where I can dedicate to my writing. Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions! Happy writing!

The Best Laid Plans

Okay, so in March I told you all that I planned to start using a blog planner to start planning my posts. My original post indicated that I would use the planner, an amazing free one that I downloaded from Lambert’s Lately, for all of this month’s posts. I absolutely recommend taking a look at it. I have a few sheets in one of my binders but haven’t used them yet.

Well, epic fail! Lol! What I actually did was write several (maybe six) post ideas on a regular legal pad. These ideas were jotted down and then I  considered whether they were actually fruitful. My plan was to write about each of these topics but I’ve fallen off track. I cannot even find the notebook with the ideas jotted down at this point.

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However, I did plan all of my posts for last month. Seriously! I just did it in my regular everyday planner. It wasn’t as in-depth as I’d originally thought to do but I usually just type whatever floats from my head before sharing poems. Or I simply post them with an image. I found that I loved knowing what I needed to post for such a post rich month like April when I am committed to sharing the work of so many poets. For this month, having the ideas/topics down has been a bit hit or miss for me. As you may be able to see, I have already posted two of those ideas. This is one that I remembered that I needed to share Sunday night when I should have been grading.

I ordered a blog planner which can be seen on the left in the picture above. I’ve used it once so far. While planning posts didn’t really work out this month the way that I’d hoped. I’m sure that I will give it another try next month. With my “on the blog” planning sheets.

Do any of you use a blog planner? Or plan your posts? What are your tips for successful planning and execution?

Playing His Heart Out- Sharon Chmielarz

    

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Lately, I have become enamored with poems about grief. All kinds of grief poems whether elegies, epitaphs, prose poems whatever. I have been exploring these pieces and their restorative power of helping soothe grief. I mean all types of grief. Strong grief that lingers, the tiny griefs of everyday life and the fleeting grief that accompanies finishing something marvelously delicious.

The past two weeks were especially difficult but, then again. I never expect to have an easy Mother’s day weekend ever again. Although it was languishing in my inbox for weeks  (my sincerest thanks to American Life of Poetry Column 566)this piece reminded me that I can be okay with that without being embarrassed or feeling compelled to do or feel differently.

I am not really writing any new pieces or anything until I’ve completed grading for the semester. Fortunately, I can see the end of the tunnel and hope to be finished by Monday morning at the latest. Grading puts a damper on writing consistently. So until then, I am allowing myself to peek into the writing of others and hoping to get back to my own soon!

That day we were trapped
between chartreuse living
room walls and the godly
cleanliness of afghans
saving sofas and chairs.

We were talking about
anything except Uncle Carl—
gone, how we’d miss him—
when Uncle Gus came down
the hall and stood in

the archway, his wiry
body strapped under a black
accordion. “Haven’t played,”
he said, “for a long time.”
So he played a waltz and I

squirmed in my chair under
the slow flow of grief. He
played a polka and I heard
my sister clapping lightly
for the mourner bending over

the keys. His cheek-bones,
red as Helgoland’s
cliffs on the North Sea. Gulls
whirled and screamed around
the black load on his heart.

A Possible Resource

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This hit my inbox earlier so I just wanted to share it. I laughed when I first saw it in light of yesterday’s post . It seemed perfectly timed to arrived after I tried to make a solid commitment to submitting more pieces.

I know nothing about FanStory except that they are apparently Writers Digest Partners. That’s how I received the email. Based on the above message, it seems like a place to get feedback and to gain a sense of community that you might miss out on without writer friends, a writing group or program.

Hope it’s useful.

The Courage to Submit

sub·mis·sion
səbˈmiSHən/
noun
1. 1.
the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.

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Courtesy of @holygirlswag21 Instagram

The Act of Submission

In the last month, I have been on a submission whirlwind. I submitted some pieces to a new journal, Rad Press, finally tweaked Carolina Soul enough to submit it and submitted another piece to Soar.ForHarriet. One of my goals every year is to submit! submit! submit! Written just like that and I consider the goal accomplished if I submit to at least six different things a year. I know that six doesn’t sound like a lot but at some times it seems overwhelming. Part of that, is trying to find the right home for your writing but more than that  is the actual letting go of the piece.

That yielding to another force or authority…that takes great fortitude! As a writer, I’m learning to deal with rejection and revision but the flying leap that is submitting makes my stomach clench horribly some times. Just the thought of someone taking an editing pen to something as personal as my poetry terrifies me. But such is the life.

As of now, I plan to submit more over the next month or so because I definitely want to gain more exposure but I have been sidetracked by a recent bout of illness and grading (ick). I have also been hit with an idea for a story that I can’t get rid of thanks to a Mother’s Day trip with my maternal grandmother. I promise there will be more on that in another post!

Six different things, what does that mean?

Well, for me it means retreats, residencies, journals, contests, or presses. Anything that requires me to sit down and make sure that I am submitting the right pieces for the event or publication and most importantly,  pieces that reflect who I am as a writer. I try to find the best fit for my writing but I miss sometimes. Okay, a bit. One of the reasons I love blogging is because I get to control my voice. I get to rant a poem or write against whatever has popped into my crazy little world since my last post. A bit of that is lost in submitting your work to others.

As a result, I find that I don’t dedicate nearly as much time as I could doing this but every day there’s something else clamoring for my attention. I have access to a lot of sources so I can easily access databases and look through magazines but that takes time.

Is anyone else out there actively shopping their work? How’s your process going? Are you tracking submissions because I have gotten horrible at that entire process? Any suggestions on how to make he whole thing easier?

Building a Collection

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I’m not sure if I shared this before but one of my goals for the year is to put together a poetry collection. What was I thinking? Lofty aspiration, I know! What I’ve discovered is that in spite of my expensive MFA education I don’t know anything about putting together a collection. At all! I don’t even know if I have enough pieces for a cohesive collection. Or a collection, period. Yes, I have a bunch of poetry but are there poems that will tell a story? Will they give readers a view of my voice as a poet? Do I even read enough poetry to build a collection?

So many questions! But I’m committed. I plan to spend the next three weeks going through my poetry, both complete pieces and those that are in progress, to see if there’s enough to establish a collection. If I have enough pieces then I definitely want to decide on a theme. If that’s at all possible. I also plan to enter some contests in case I can put together something that is remotely decent. I recently read the article “Fractures Through Time: Our Eleventh Annual Look at Debut Poets” in the Jan/Feb 2016 edition of Poets & Writers and this made me I realize how crazy the whole plan really is. It hit me in the face resoundingly that this whole thing will not likely come together this summer. And I have to be okay with that considering that I’m trying to start working on it during a cramped summer break. One of the poets, Morgan Parker, said that her collection took five years to come together. So, it may take a while.

I also plan to read some poetry collections. A lot of them!  The more that I found myself exploring this idea and wondering if it was possible I realized that I need to read more poetry. Recently published collections of it. So I’ve gathered some names and plan to use my free time this summer to dive into a few of them. High on my list are Kevin Young’s Blue Laws, Terrance Hayes’ How to be Drawn, Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, Morgan Parker’s Other People Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds and Saeed Jones’ Prelude to Bruise.

Here’s to hoping that I can make a nice dent in building a collection. Have any of you  built a collection? It doesn’t matter whether it’s poetry or short stories, I will take any advice!