Spring Poem For the Sake of Breathing, Written After a Walk to Foster Island- James Masao Mitsui

Today, I’m sharing a piece written by one of my former poetry professors. I have a volume of his poetry in my collection and coming across this piece made me decide to spend more time with his works. 

Hope you all enjoy! 



The sky wants the water to turn grey,

but if I notice how waves

 

play with the clumps of yellow flags,

or the way turtles share logs,

 

or even try to understand a friend’s decision

to walk onto a glacier

 

and end her life—I will be ready

for any poems that have been waiting.

 

The horizon opens as I walk,

escorted by swans and Canada geese.

 

I need to stop backpedaling into the present.

In my old life people would straighten

 

the truth, but the river

flows in curves.

 

The names of my father and my mother

rest next to each other in Greenwood Cemetery.

 

The distance between me and the mountains

measures an uneven thought: I feel like an orphan.

 

An early moon is just a piece of change

in the softening sky.

 

Light is such an actress. Time to seek

Hopper’s wish to simply paint sunlight

 

on the wooden wall of a house. I am growing

older. Maru in Japanese means

 

the ship

will make it back home.

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Starting in the Middle

I have a bunch of story ideas. They are semi-organized; meaning that most of them have character lists and sketches and are in their own folders. Some of them are no longer viable or interesting to me and some of them will become subplots in other stories but one of them is a must write. The working title is “The Funeral” and I initially started working on it based on an observation one cool, overcast morning in D.C. in 2001/2. 

Don’t be ‘a writer.’ Be writing. 

                     -William Faulkner 

The story is a mixture of that initial observation and quite a few outrageous occurrences. Unfortunately, I have had quite a bit of experience with funerals and they have included some weird moments so I hope to insert that feeling.  One of my cousins, who’s like a sister, and I have the tendency to laugh at funerals. We’ve done it so many times that it’s probably second nature at this point. That’s another underlying theme that I want to infuse into the story; the unexpected hilarity of family gatherings. I am intrigued by the idea that outrageous things happen even in times of sorrow.

I have switched the heroine three times in drafting/working on the story but I’m convinced that I finally have the right one. The supporting characters have remained the same for the most part and they are all extremely entertaining. I have index cards with dialogue and interesting tidbits to insert But in revisiting the story I realized that I will be crafting it from scratch because I lost three to five pages in the great hard drive crash of 2012. What I do have though is the original folder: full of ideas, character sketches, and my initial observations and I’m so excited about building this story.

I’ve decided that this is one of my projects for this year and I am not waiting for November to get started. I look forward to sharing bits of it with you as it’s created. Do any of you have a story that just won’t leave you alone? One that you just have to write?

I Promise 

Today’s post is a bit different and although I have it categorized as a rant, it really isn’t one at all. Okay, so I am sure that you all have come across other bloggers and sites specifically ones that are geared towards writers. Well, I am a huge fan of those sites. Simply because I love to learn and I love seeing what else is out there in the world. 

For those reasons I am on the mailing lists of many, many,many “writing clubs.” It could also be because I am addicted to worksheets. I think it’s a product of growing up in a certain era. Pinterest allows you to find so many useful writing tools and I love to have copies on hand to use as I develop characters, plots, and scenes and that’s usually how I come across these resources. However, one negative of belonging to these “clubs” is that they often lead to the new thing which is writing courses. Some of which are very pricy. I completely get why these services are offered and I know that there are people who want/need/desire them.

Let me just say that I am not bashing them at all. I know that there is a need and everyone shouldn’t have to enroll in graduate school to learn the skills they want. So, it is great that these services and classes are out there. 

But…that is not what I’m about. At all! 

So today, I am making the solemn vow that I  promise to never offer or sell you writing courses. I know, I know “never say never” but this is a near certainty. 

Here’s why:

1.) I teach writing courses for a living at several colleges and universities. This little spot on the web is where I find my bliss. I am not trying to merge the two unless it becomes absolutely necessary. 

2.) If you ask me for tips, I’m more than happy to share any and everything that I’ve learned. 

3.) I have an MFA and a MA in Creative Writing and English respectively and I am still crafting my own lane for writing. I know many people with neither who are brilliant writers and are more qualified to offer such advice. 

4.) As I continue to build my brand, I know the direction that I want to head in. Since I’m committed to publishing I don’t want to teach courses outside of my day job and workshops. 

5.) See number one again 

Elegy for my Husband- Toi Derricotte

As a poet who often writes grief poetry, Toi Derricotte’s “Elegy for my Husband” struck a chord in me that I am still battling with. Some poets are able to craft elegies that give you glimpses into their grief but also manage to give you insight into who the person they are mourning was. They manage to convey just who and what they lost and this poem does that very well.  This poem is an amazing testament to those who work to build elegies and to mold their grief into words.

 

wordle

 

Bruce Derricotte, June 22, 1928 – June 21, 2011

 

What was there is no longer there:

Not the blood running its wires of flame through the whole length

Not the memories, the texts written in the language of the flat hills

No, not the memories, the porch swing and the father crying

The genteel and elegant aunt bleeding out on the highway

(Too black for the white ambulance to pick up)

Who had sent back lacquered plates from China

Who had given away her best ivory comb that one time she was angry

Not the muscles, the ones the white girls longed to touch

But must not (for your mother warned

You would be lynched in that all-white Ohio town you grew up in)

Not that same town where you were the only, the one good black boy

All that is gone

Not the muscles running, the baseball flying into your mitt

Not the hand that laid itself over my heart and saved me

Not the eyes that held the long gold tunnel I believed in

Not the restrained hand in love and in anger

Not the holding back

Not the taut holding

 

 

 

 

 

Secondhand Books Need Love, Too

In February, I spent a few days in New Orleans and one of my favorite things about the house where I stayed was that it had a mini library. There were shelves of books in the hallway that just added to the loved look of the house. 


I think that as someone who loves books, I’m always excited to see books in homes. Books make homes look lived in, they add so much to a house: aesthetic pleasure, add color and culture, and the proximity to books might make for committed readers. 

Books add character!

 As I’ve stated previously, in the future, I hope to build my dream library instead of merely having shelves in several rooms and boxes of books in other places. 

However, I recently realized that another the thing that I also love is buying books that someone else has already loved. I donate books and I love adopting previously owned books. I am also donating a huge box of books to my favorite local secondhand book shop

I am currently toying with the idea of a giveaway for a recently acquired, new book that I have no intention of reading. I’m going to give it away because I don’t think it should sit on my desk when someone could read and love it. 

My Dream Writer’s Conference Panel

I was inspired to create this post by Eventbrite and since it falls right in line with something that I have been working on lately (more on that in a later post) I thought it would be perfect as my first post of May. With the amazing opportunity to create my dream book conference panel, I was inspired to put together the following incredible conference. 

 Since I have an affinity for Southern literature, which isn’t at all surprising considering that my family are Southerners, I would have the conference at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. 

My conference would consist of different sessions. Ta’Nehisi Coates would moderate and Alex Haley would be the keynote speaker. 


One session would be “Classic Voices” and would feature some of my favorite authors and poets with:

Zora Neale Hurston

Maya Angelou

Lucille Clifton

Langston Hughes 

Gwendolyn Brooks


The next session would be “Southern Ladies” with: 

Lee Smith

Harper Lee

I would also want to feature several of my favorite fictional characters so I would have the “True Character” session with: 

Atticus, Scout, Jem, Boo and Cal from To Kill A Mockingbird

Delia from “Sweat”

Missy May from “The Gilded Six Bits”

Laiyah from Mine to Have and Mine to Keep 

The entire Serendipitous Love gang especially Charlie and Nix! 

Iris and Rob from The Truth

Fire from Waiting in Vain 

Then because I love mystery there would be a session devoted to that genre “Don’t Forget to Look Behind You” with:

Chester Himes

Agatha Christie

Rachel Howzell Hall

Attica Locke

The “Voices of the Diaspora” session would feature my favorite Caribbean writers with:

Colin Channer

Kwane Dawes

Edwidge Danticat 

Since I love romance there would be a session titled  “A Love Thing” with:

Christina C. Jones

E. Lynn Harris

Tè Russ

AshleyNicole

And finally, there would be a session with a few women writers that I admire for their various writing styles and topics with:

Susan Straight 

Leslie Esdaile Banks

Claudia Rankine

What do you think? Would you attend this conference? Who would be on your panel? 

If you are planning your own event and are looking for a resource to help you organize or are searching for local conferences click on this link for Eventbrite. 

https://www.eventbrite.com/l/conferences/