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….

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

When the Consolations of God are Small — A Sijo Poem

When the Consolations of God are Small
Job 15:28-29

The wicked dwell in desolate cities
Ready to become heaps
They are what they are
Neither shall their substance continue

But why must I come forth like a flower
Cut down in sight of His holy mountain?

9/6/2014

This is a sijo I wrote last year, using a random passage of the Old Testament as a poetry prompt. I used a Korean sijo by Kim Inhu (1510-1560) as a model, and the phrase in the poem ‘They are what they are’ was inspired by a similar line in Kim’s poem. Shared on Poetry Pantry #254 on Poets United

Catsong: for Niki

what if my heart is too long or too tall?
what if my cat is too light or too small?

this calico tabby is mine
no matter that her nails are too sharp

the chill moonlight is mine also
to collect in alabaster jars

Dec. 11, 2012

This sijo was written in honor of my elderly cat, Niki. She lived outdoors until the day she decided she didn’t like the other outdoor cats and insisted on coming into the house.  I used a poem by Shin Heum as a model, and that poem provided some elements, including the moonlight.

I shared this sijo on Poetry Pantry #143. I made the video last night, with the assistance of Niki the cat. I’ve thought for some time that YouTube gives poets a chance to give poetry readings on line, when we can’t manage to do ones in public.

 

Writing Sijo
The sijo is written in three lines, though in English each of the three lines is usually broken into two, to keep them from being too long. The first line usually states the theme, the second elaborates on it, and the third line contains a twist on the theme, or a resolution. The lines average 14 to 16 syllables, with the poem as a whole having about forty-one to forty-nine.

My method for writing a sijo is this: I copy out one classic Korean sijo (in English translation) and look at it, count the syllables and such. Then I pick something— usually from a book— to inspire my theme, as I did with the Bible passage in the first poem and my cat Niki in the second.

Challenge: write your own sijo poem. Use a random page from the first book to the left of your computer as a poetry prompt.

Facebook page Sijo Poetry: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sijo-Poetry/392044370990201

My new Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4813575.Nissa_Annakindt

Why We Wish That Other Political Party Would Just Go Away

majmunNo matter which political party you happen to favor— and even if you are not all too attached to that party, thinking it is corrupt— chances are that sometimes you get sick of ‘that other party’. They are wrong-headed, with wrong ideas and wrong policies, and you believe they will never change. But what is it about the parties of today that make that attitude happen?

Let’s think for a moment about how a democratic republic with two major political parties functions— or fails to function. What do the parties need to have for the system to work?

  1. The parties need to have different ideas, ideology or philosophy from one another. Well, we certainly have that. One party wants smaller government, the other wants government big enough to make things ‘fair’. One party wants ‘reproductive freedom’ operations available through all nine months of pregnancy, the other wants to value human life from conception until natural death. Sometimes it seems the differences are killing us. But what would it be like if there weren’t any differences? If the two parties didn’t have different ideas/philosophies, there would be no such thing as a party that votes one way on an issue because they thought their way was moral and right. Without that, why would parties vote differently? Either for personal reasons— ‘our guy Joe wrote that bill, and we all like Joe so we support it’— or for corrupt reasons. In other words, we vote that way because of the bribes we took.
  2. The parties need to have ideas in common. We don’t have enough of that right now. Let’s think back to the year 1958. At that time, both Democrats and Republicans would agree that both Communism and National Socialism/Fascism were bad things. They agreed that the Constitution of the United States was good and functioned pretty well. People from both parties agreed that if a politician or other leader got caught in adultery, he should resign. Marriage was a good thing, not an ‘outmoded institution’ or a government benefit program. And when people looked at a man and his wife taking their children to church services and to Sunday school every single week, the vast majority from both parties thought that was a good and responsible way to live. Even in areas that were very controversial at the time— such as whether the racial segregation system of the southern states should continue— there was at least the agreement that Negroes ought to be treated kindly. The difference of opinion was on whether segregation could be done kindly, and it was the unkind things done during the civil rights protests to the protesters— most especially the bombing that killed 4 young girls in their church— that killed off the segregation idea for good.
  3. The ‘ideas in common’ need to outweigh the ‘different ideas’. This is the problem we have now. One side is making a principle of rejecting most of what the other side thinks of as right and good. You can’t even wish someone ‘Merry Christmas’ without getting accused of forcing your religion down someone’s throat. When you say ‘is there some way we can agree to disagree?’ the response is ‘but those other guys are hateful and evil!’ In the political realm, the Constitution, as it is written and as the Founding Fathers intended it, is no longer common ground but something only one party tends to believe in. The other one either believes in the ‘new Constitution’ created by modern court decisions, or flat-out says the Constitution we have is outmoded and needs to be replaced by something more like what the cool countries in Western Europe have.

The problem, then, is the massive degree of difference between the two sides and the lack of common ground. What is to be done? Other than civil war, the only hope is to calmly and reasonably attempt to educate— not propagandize or ‘spin’— others in our point-of-view and the reasons behind it. We may not be able to convince others to adopt our positions on ‘abortion rights’ or ‘marriage equality’, but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is to help the other side understand our point of view directly, instead of hearing about it only through slanted news stories created by their own side. Perhaps, little by little, if we listen to one another, new common ground can be created. We need this. Because if our country keeps on getting more divided, we all lose.

becoming a dragonfly

IM000921

becoming a dragonfly

and this is my life
since becoming a dragonfly i float
in the windows of the nobles to steal
their jewels
which i give to the old priest
who feeds the poor
and gives them rosaries
made with his old bent hands
and Job’s tears

over all of this the emperor
watches and smiles
fearing only the assassination attempts
made by the moon
that is his life
which shines and sparkles
but cannot fly
or find solitude

May 13, 2015
free verse composed using keywords: dragonfly, jewels, emperor, moon
‘Job’s tears’ is a plant whose seeds have been used as rosary beads.

This poem is being shared on Poets United’s Poetry Pantry #252 Please stop by their site to view the other poems.

Notes:

Recently I purchased a couple of books on how to write poetry. I’ve been writing poetry seriously since 1988, but wanted to expand my knowledge. One of the books I got was Writing Poetry from the Inside Out by Sandford Lyne.  The book has its drawbacks— the author was into ‘spirituality’ in an annoyingly post-Christian way— but it has one useful technique for writing poetry, which is the use of keywords (which I’ve blogged about before.)

This poem is one I wrote using keywords from Lyne’s book. I must admit that, being me, I didn’t use one of the four-keyword groups Lyne provided but did some mix-and-match between groups.

I ended up with two major characters— the poet-become-dragonfly who becomes a jewel thief, and the emperor. The dragonfly has an association with an old and holy priest, while the emperor fears assassination attempts by the moon. (And in my poetic worlds, inanimate objects can assassinate you just as well as anyone else can.)


 

surly petunia

Since last week I got 2 new downloads of my poetry book ‘surly petunia’ on Smashwords. No sales on Kindle and no reviews either place, though.

surly petunia on Smashwords (free): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/480237

surly petunia on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NZ96EYE

Do YOU have a poetry book available? Please feel free to add one link to it in your comment.

When the Death Penalty is Necessary

bostonbomberYesterday the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for his crime. Which brings the question of the death penalty to mind. We know the PBS/Progressive/Europeanish faction hates the death penalty, largely because their role models, the Western European nanny-states, have banned it and declared it ‘uncivilized’. But just because fools hate something doesn’t mean wise men have to be for it.

I used to consider myself anti-death-penalty. My home state of Michigan outlawed the death penalty some time in the 1850s, and that’s pretty much OK with me. But as I’ve matured and thought things over, I have to account for the fact that many good and decent people of the past have accepted the death penalty as a sad necessity for an ordered society. In the laws of the Old Testament of the Bible, many acts called for the death penalty. Jesus Christ never banned it— even though he himself was executed. Saint Paul, author of many of the epistles of the New Testament, also eventually an execution victim, never objected to it. As an intelligent person I believe I must take into account that just because many modern people believe the only decent approach is to ban the death penalty, there are many people who are/were intelligent, thoughtful and good who thought the death penalty was right.

In many cases, the death penalty is clearly an option. Some guy kills his wife and their children, you could execute him or give him life-without-parole or give him life-with-parole and you have the impression of the man that even if you let him out of prison early, he’s not going to go out and kill anyone else.

But there are other circumstances where it seems that the death penalty— if you believe in it at all— is called for. Some of these circumstances mostly apply to the past, while others are still with us today. Here is my look at such circumstances:

  1. Societies that don’t have the concept of prolonged imprisonment as a punishment. This applies to many civilizations of the past. They had prisons, but those prisons were just a holding area to keep someone until the authorities decided what to do with them. If a man spent five years in such a prison, his society wouldn’t look on those five years as a punishment, but as five years in which he escaped being punished. Punishment meant things like being flogged, amputations for some crimes, in some cultures, or death. Without the concept of life imprisonment as a punishment, you couldn’t ban the death penalty without having to face the concept that you’d be letting murderers loose, possibly to kill again.
  2. Nomadic or highly primitive societies without the capacity to build functional prisons. How would a nomadic tribe go about giving a murderer life imprisonment? You’d have to assign a group of men to do nothing but guard the murderer as your tribe moved from place to place. If a tribe did that, they would lose out on the labor power of the men assigned as guards, which would hurt the tribe’s ability to feed itself. If the tribe were attacked, it would have to do without the guards joining in the defense. Even tribes that were not nomadic, in primitive circumstances, could not manage to keep their murderers imprisoned for life. They might have heard of the concept of imprisonment-as-punishment, might even think it is superior, but they don’t have the material ability to carry it out without endangering the tribe’s survival.
  3. Societies with ‘leaky’ prisons. This can happen even in modern times, though normally only in Third World countries, and in rural/remote sections of the country. If criminals can regularly break their confederates out of prison, or bribe the guards and warden to let their confederates out, you can’t really sentence a murderer to life imprisonment as a substitute for the death penalty with any hope that he will still be in prison for any length of time.
  4. Societies with out-of-control liberal judges. We think we have a lot of them here in the US. But imagine if it were worse. Imagine we have enough of such judges that the average person sentenced to life-without-parole would be back on the streets within five years because some judge thought the man’s rights were being violated. If we couldn’t get rid of such judges, keeping the death penalty would be one way to keep some of the worst murderers off the streets— though those same liberal judges would try to get rid of the death penalty.
  5. Killers who kill in prison. The hope we have when we sentence a murderer to life-without-parole is that he will not be able to do any more killing. If an inmate kills within the prison, especially if he has made many violent attacks short of murder while in prison, death may be the best way to get the killing stopped.
  6. Serial killers. These are people who have made a habit of killing. This is the worst type of bad habit imaginable. Locking a serial killer up may stop him killing during his imprisonment, but it will never be safe to let him out. And the crime is so over-the-top evil it’s kind of hard not to consider the death penalty in such cases. That being said, many captured serial killers are model prisoners, not violent, and some cooperate with scientific studies of serial killers. In my opinion, it’s only the worst of the serial killers that need the death penalty.
  7. Killers whose crimes are an act of war. Think of the Oklahoma City Bombing or the Boston Marathon Bombing. These are killers who considered their killing an act of war against our society, and who wanted their crimes to be imitated by others. If enemy soldiers came pouring over our borders, we’d send our military to stop them with deadly force, even though some of those enemy soldiers would certainly die. Killing killers whose crimes were meant as an act of war shows that we take such deeds very seriously.

As a Christian, I don’t delight in the idea of the death of any person, no matter how wicked that person is. We are all sinners, all have done wicked things. And I don’t like the idea of a murderer ending up in hell. I hope every murderer turns to Christ in the end. But I can’t ignore the victims of crime, whose blood cries out for justice, and the possible future victims some of the most dangerous killers might take. I don’t like the thought, but I am beginning to believe that in some cases, such as the Boston Marathon Bombing, the death penalty may be the better way to deal with it.

What do you think about the sentence in the Boston Marathon bombing case? What sentence do you think would be the most just?