Friday Update June 19th

0619150741This is a post for the Birth of a Novel blog hop.

My writing week:

Pretty good. On Monday I submitted poems to a poetry magazine, something I haven’t done since last fall. I wrote poems every morning from Monday to Thursday. I also finished a short story I had been working on a couple of months ago.

This last was quite a surprise to me. I’ve had severe struggles with writer’s block which have lead to me not being able to finish novels or short stories.

What is different this time is that I have been working to accept myself as a successful poet rather than seeing myself as a failed novelist and short story writer. Somehow that made a difference.

In other news, my mama cat Umberto decided yesterday it was time to move her kitten. The new home she chose for baby girl kitten Norbert was my favorite chair— a recliner which I also sleep in at night. So I woke up this morning to find Umberto nursing her kitten on my chest. That’s what happens when you have a mama’s baby cat who loves to hang out with her person, and that cat has a baby. She’s torn between staying with baby and getting attention from her person. (She went into labor on my lap, but I persuaded her to move to the kitten box by the time she actually gave birth.)

birth of a novel

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Your Skin Color is Not Your Uniform

Thinking about the violent riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, I am saddened at how far we have to go into making a color-blind society where we are judged by the content of our character (if any) and not by our skin tone.

It has been illegal to have skin color preferences in hiring for longer than most Americans have been alive (with the exception of affirmative action based preferences). It ought not to matter. But for political reasons skin color divisions are being kept alive and well.

When we hear reports of incidents between police and suspects, isn’t it crazy to hear that the suspect shot by police had a ‘black’ skin color and the police officer who did the shooting had a ‘white’ skin color? Wouldn’t it be equally valid to report that the suspect had a blue shirt color and the police officer had a tan shirt color? Or that the suspect wore size 11 shoes and the police officer size 9s?

And imagine people listening to that last news report. “You just can’t trust those size 11 people,” says one man. “Those size 9 police officers just never give a size 11 man a break.”

And to think that all of one skin color group has to have the same opinion of such an incident— and that this whole skin color group needs to be placated or some of them will go out into the street and do property damage….. What a sad world we have.

But don’t go blaming people based on their skin tone here. It’s not the people, it’s certain political leaders that want to make careers for themselves as spokespersons for a ‘disadvantaged’ skin color. An example of this is Al Sharpton, allegedly a Christian minister but instead of spreading the Gospel he goes from place to place spreading skin color divisions. Other, only locally known men do likewise. Because without the skin color divisions, ‘black’ people would not need ‘black’ leaders, but could support ordinary candidates of any skin color based on their policies rather than their skin tone, just like ‘white’ people get to do.

One time I researched hard-core racist groups for a story I was writing. I came across the skinhead saying ‘Your skin is your uniform.’ This is bull.

In wartime we use uniforms to tell the two sides apart. But we are not in a skin color war. And if we were, what use would our skin be as a uniform? For most of us our skin color does tend to change based on sun exposure. And ‘black’ people can have such light skin that they are not easily distinguished from ‘white’ people.

Looking at a person’s skin color doesn’t give you accurate information about that person’s ethnic identity, economic level, education, religious convictions or politics. You have to actually talk to a person to find things like that out. And isn’t that what we should be doing more of— talking to one another to learn more about each individual’s uniqueness, rather than to score points off of one another as is the custom of the times?

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socks are underwear, after all!

socksareunderwear
socks are underwear, after all!

eating spaghetti with a cattle prod
the small byzantine child asks
mother may i keep this fish head
it followed me home

& the mother
a neophyte carpet prostitute, says
yes, but only if you
drink your opium
all gone

(c) 1990 Nissa Annakindt

Shared on Poets United‘s Poetry Pantry #256


Back in the day when I and this poem were a lot younger, absurd poems came much easier to me. These days I have to work to be that weird. Back when I first started writing poetry seriously, I submitted a lot of poems to various poetry markets, and was published. This particular poem was published in HEATHENzine’s Aug/Sept 1990 edition.

For a number of years I didn’t submit poems, but I’m starting again. I’m planning to submit a group of poems to Scifikuest, which publishes science fiction and horror themed haiku, sijo and other minimalist forms.

Have you ever submitted poems to a magazine? It’s a good idea to try, I think. Not the big high-level markets like Poetry magazine, but the smaller ones that are more open to beginning and not-yet-published poets. I get a copy of the annual book Poet’s Market every few years. I then check out the web site for each magazine I’m considering submitting to. Sometimes their requirements change or they are not open for submissions during some months.


Poets— do you read poetry books? And do you review them on Amazon.com and/or Goodreads?

It ought to be a given— if you write poetry, you should read the work of other poets, and not just online. Not enough people buy poetry books these days, or read them from libraries. But how can we expect our own poetry to be valued when we don’t show that we value other poet’s work by reading their books?

In the modern world, any poet can self-publish a poetry book or chapbook using CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, and other resources, and you don’t have to pay. But in order to get the books read, poets need to have their book reviewed at places like Amazon.com or Goodreads, and on people’s blogs. There is a group over at Goodreads that helps with that. It’s called Poetry Readers Challenge and group members have a goal of reading and reviewing 20 poetry books a year. I joined the group myself, and hope others will do the same.


And that’s My Poetic Life for this Sunday. How is your own poetic life going?

Birth of a Novel blog hop: Friday update

Over at Charity’s Writing Journey they’ve got a Friday blog hop where you update the world on your writing progress and then visit others on the hop. I’m up for that. Because otherwise I’d do nothing all day but look after 10 new kittens from 3 mama cats that have recently appeared in my life (I have barn cats).

My writing: I’m working to accept that I’m primarily a poet, not a novelist. So I’m resolving to write poetry every day and have done so every day this week. I haven’t gotten to it today yet.

I also started a short story and have worked on it for two days. The rough draft is going to be pretty rough, but that’s OK.

I’m also reading more poetry. I’ve joined a group over at Goodreads where we vow to read and review 20 poetry books in a year.

So that’s how my writing is going. Pretty good. Now if only I could close that portal to hell in my basement so the basement floor won’t get so wet….

Writing a Collom Lune

Step one in the adventure of writing a Collom lune— discover what a Collom lune is. Which involves knowing what a regular lune is. The lune is a poetic form— like the sonnet, haiku and rispetto. The lune was created by poet Robert Kelly, and is a poem with 5 syllables in the first line, 3 in the second, and 5 in the third. There are no other rules, unlike haiku.

Enter the poet Jack Collom. He was teaching a class of children to write poetry, and misremembered the rules for the lune. He had his students counting words, not syllables.

The Collom lune is also a tercet (three-line poem) but has 3 words in the first line, 5 in the second, and 3 in the third. There are no other rules.

While some readers may think of the Collom lune as something to use in a homeschooling lesson on poetry writing, the Collom lune can do more than that. It is a great poem for the serious poet to try.

In most poetry, it’s the syllable that’s important. That goes for an iambic pentameter poem as well as for a haiku or a sijo. By using word count, the poet can achieve interesting effects by using both multisyllable and one syllable words. I have written poems consisting of three or four Collom lunes together.

To write the Collom lune, I start with a group of keywords to give me ideas. I write down three lines that I hope end up in the 3-5-3 word structure, but I’m not too fussy. If the word count’s not quite right, I revise.

Like Jack Collom, I am a misrememberer. My first attempt at a Collom lune was 5-3-5, which I call a reverse Collom lune.

Collom lune examples:

When the sun’s
rays hit the shades, it
lights up lines

written by a schoolchild

An envelope labelled
loose change holds coins meant
for loose teeth

Robert Lee Brewer, Poetic Asides columnist

Fireflies weave light
threads through corn, bean fields.
Sparkling tapestry rises.

‘Willy’

Challenge:
for poets, writers who are not poets, homeschooled kids, Barack Obama, and everyone else

Write a Collom lune today, using one of the following words as one of your keywords:

butterfly
teapot
past
Obamacare

Feel free to share your Collom lune as a comment on this blog. Or share it on your own blog and put a link to it as a comment here. Or, if it turns out REALLY well, DON’T share it online, save it so you can submit it to a poetry market (which consider blogging a poem to be a form of previous publication, which is why I haven’t shared one of the few Collom lunes I’ve written here.)

Poetic Asides: The Lune: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/poets/poetic-form-lune

fly agaric/Scrivener as a Poet’s Tool

fly agaricfly agaric

this is a picture
of a mushroom
which is poison
it is however quite delicious
choose large ones for grilling
and grease the skillet well
& die

(c) 1990

Shared on Poetry Pantry #255 at Poet’s United.

Notes:

I call this one an ‘encyclopedia poem’ because I created it based on randomly opening a volume of my 1950s edition Encyclopedia Britannica. Doing this, I came across an illustrated page depicting a variety of mushrooms. The fly agaric was one of them, and the notes at the bottom of the page mentioned that the mushroom was poisonous.

I made the graphic of the poem using ‘Paint’ which is under the ‘accessories’ label in my computer. In addition to using it here, I shared it on my Twitter account and on my Facebook page. (Do feel free to retweet/share my graphic.)

Scrivener as a Tool for Poets

You may— or may not— know about Scrivener, a computer program for writers. I used it to create a place to store my poetry. I created a Scrivener project called Poetry. I created folders for each year in which I had written poetry. I created separate documents in these folders for each poem. Yes, even the haiku. The title of the poem is the title of the file. For haiku, which traditionally don’t have titles, I use the first line as a title.

Yesterday as I was sorting through my files thinking about what poems I could submit to some of the poetry markets, I realized I needed to code my poem titles so I knew which ones had been published. This is my code:

+ published in a self-published poetry book/chapbook
* published in a poetry magazine
~ blogged

So if ‘dangerous waters’ has been published in a poetry magazine and one of my books, and I shared it on one of my blogs, the title would be: +*~ dangerous waters, and I could see instantly that it had already been published and so cannot be submitted to markets that don’t accept previously published work.

One advantage of Scrivener is that it makes it absurdly easy to create a book for self-publication. I was able to format my ebook-chapbook ‘surly petunia’ just by pressing a few buttons and it was accepted by Smashwords with no formatting problems. I then submitted the same file to Kindle Direct Publishing and, again, no problems. The print version I think takes more work but I’ll have to look up what exactly I need to do to create the needed file for that.

#IWSG – The Enduring Shame of being a Poet

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2Writers can dream up all sorts of reasons to be insecure. Here’s one I’m experiencing— it seems I have become the wrong kind of writer— a poet. A published poet since 1989, but still— a poet.

I knew from early on what kind of writer I was going to be— a novelist. Not only that, a genre novelist. No self-involved university-approved literary fiction for me!  I was going to write the sort of things that could be published, and that I could be paid for.

But being a poet— not practical at all! Becoming a poet is like being the kind of person who takes out a fortune in student loans and then majors in philosophy or women’s studies. There’s no future in it. Unless you WANT to become a destitute bum.

And so about the third year of writing poetry and submitting it, I stopped the poetry focus and poured all my attention into working on novel-beginnings for novels destined never to have ends. Which wasn’t particularly practical in an economic sense, either. But being an unpublished novelist seems more practical than being a published poet.

I have continued in writing poetry, and have self-published a couple of poetry books. The first of them, a chapbook called surly petunia, I have reissued as an ebook which is free on Smashwords and 99 cents on Amazon.com (at least until someone tells Amazon.com about the lower Smashwords price.)  I’ve also submitted to two poetry ‘zines last year and had an acceptance at Chiron Review.

My goals this year call for writing a new poem every day (I write mostly short poems, both free-form and using forms such as sijo, haiku and Collum lunes), putting a new chapbook or book of poems together, and participating in the weekly ‘Poetry Pantry’ blog event at Poet’s United. I’m hoping to accept my identity as a poet, if not that as a destitute bum.

I also continue my novel work. I’m coming to accept the disorganized ‘pantser’ method that is natural to me and write scenes and scene fragments in no particular order and to no plan, rather than trying to outline everything first. And I’m also incorporating poetry into my prose. In my current work-in-progress,’The Road North’, one of the two major characters is a young poet with Down’s Syndrome, and he writes poems in the short diary he’s keeping as he and his friend travel to a place of relative safety during the zombie apocalypse.

My message today to other writers is to be open to accept the type of writer you are, instead of holding out for the writer you think you should be.

This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop, which is the first Wednesday of every month.

Please, check out my brand-new author page at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4813575.Nissa_Annakindt