Poetry writing and Asperger’s Syndrome/autism

Snapshot_20160304 (2)I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I am a published poet. (Picture above shows me holding a poetry magazine that recently published one of my poems.) And sometimes that is a great comfort to me.

A couple of years back, I applied for Social Security Disability and had to prove, not that I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but that I’ve had it all my life, including before I turned 21. The government expert— who knew all about autism spectrum disorders since he’d worked with institutionalized autistics— told me that if I was a creative person I could not have an autism spectrum disorder. Which is funny since most of the Aspies I have met online are either writers or artists.

Writing poetry— and getting it published— helps me cope. Even though being a poet is famous for not helping the financial bottom line. And I was wondering if other people with Asperger’s, autism or other disabilities might benefit from taking up poetry. After all, writing a short poem is possible no matter how disorganized or autistic you are, so long as you are verbal or can communicate via computer. And it’s a short enough project that even I can get poems finished— I did one this morning.

I had the idea of writing a book on how to write poetry— or how I write poetry— aimed specifically towards people with autism spectrum disorders. Both those who want to write just as therapy or a creative hobby, and those who want to submit poems to poetry magazines as I do.

I am thinking of calling it Constructing Poetry: A Guide for those With Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. I’ve already written some notes and a partial first chapter.

I doubt a book like that would find a big audience. It’s a very niche concept, and will probably only sell to Aspies and autistics and the parents and teachers of same. But— I’m going to include some of my poems in the book. Probably more than the 24 I have in my chapbook, surly petuniaAnd I bet it will sell better, as well.

I’m hoping to get some feedback from people who have autism spectrum disorders, What would you like to see in such a book? Have you ever tried writing poetry? What parts of it were easy and what parts were hard? In a very secondary way, I’d like to hear from parents and teachers of folks with autism spectrum disorders as well.

So— now I’d like your feedback on my book project. Good idea or bad? Would you or anyone you know buy it?

To keep up with the latest on the project, go to my FB author page: Nissa Annakindt, poet, Aspie and cat person.

tamburina danco/Fortnight for Freedom day 1


Fortnight for Freedom— a time of fasting and prayer for the restoration of Religious Freedom in the USA.

Poem shared at Poetry Pantry #257 at Poets United (which is not, actually, an English football team).

poem                                                         translation
tamburina danco                              tambourine dance

en la pin-arbaro                                        in the pine woods
la fraulaj tamburinoj                                the unmarried tambourines
dancas kamparan dancon                       dance a country dance
kaj esperas                                                 and hope

sed la fraulaj                                               but the unmarried
tamburoj                                                     drums
vendas drogojn                                          sell drugs
al la pluveroj                                              to the raindrops
kaj tute ne                                                   and don’t at all
rimarkas                                                      notice
la tamburinojn                                           the tambourines


The poem this week is in Esperanto. This was inspired by a suggestion in Sandford Lyne’s Writing Poetry From the Inside Out, that foreign-born poets translate the keywords into their own language. No, I am not a native of the mythical Esperantujo [Esperanto-land] nor is Esperanto my native language. But I love playing with words and I don’t always care what language I get them from.

The Esperanto poem contains a word play that cannot be translated. Esperanto uses a lot of affixes— suffixes and prefixes— to build words. One common affix is -in- which indicated female gender. So— hundo is dog, and hundino is a female dog.

The word for ‘tambourine’ is tamburino, which reminded me that the word for drum is tamburo. One could interpret the word tamburino as ‘female drum’ although the -in- in tamburino has nothing to do with female gender. But I took the interpretation of tamburino as female drum and ran with it.

Esperanto Information: http://www.esperanto.net/info/index_en.html

Free language lessons in Esperanto: http://en.lernu.net/

Fortnight for Freedom


I am a convert to the Catholic faith. (Yes, I know that gay women are supposed to LEAVE the Church, not join it. I’m independent that way.) And so when the Catholic bishops announce an annual period of prayer and fasting for religious freedom, and my Catholic internet buddies participate, I mark the occasion on my blog.

A lot of people don’t get why religious freedom is an issue for Catholics (and others) because many people don’t know what religious freedom is. There have been political figures who’ve called on Catholics and other Christians to change their basic beliefs and replace their Bibles with rewritten versions that conform to the politicians’ core beliefs. And yet they don’t admit that what they are doing erases the traditional concept of religious freedom.

You may agree or disagree with this concept— after all, thoughts are still free, since thoughts are hard to detect and punish. But if you want a little more info on Fortnight for Freedom, here is the link: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/

This blog will be covering the Fortnight for Freedom. I’m hoping to blog each day about it, and also include links to other people’s Fortnight for Freedom blog posts.

Poetic Resources:

New Poetic Market: Magdalena Lamont: Poetry from the Other Side is an online poetry ‘zine currently accepting submissions. Here is the submission information: http://linalamont.blogspot.com/p/submit-poems-here.html

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

Goodreads poetry group Poetry Readers Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/28172-poetry-readers-challenge  Group encourages members to read and review 20 poetry books a year. If you have a poetry book of your own out, you perhaps know how vital it is to get the book reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon.com. This group makes it easier for that to happen.

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.


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:


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.


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?


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

dangerous waters/Getting Poetry Published


dangerous waters

shark people

wear shark clothes

drive shark cars






shark people

got shark jobs

live in shark zones




in packs


if you get cut

don’t let them smell your blood

Published in Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature, Winter 1989/90

This poem is part of a group of five I submitted to ‘Struggle’— one of my first submissions of my poems anywhere. All five were accepted and published in that issue.

If you are seeking publication for your poems, do what I did then and pick up a copy of the current ‘Poet’s Market’ magazine. But for goodness’ sake don’t start sending your poems out to any markets in the book willy-nilly. Carefully select a few that seem to be publishing the kind of poems you write. Buy a sample copy of the selected magazines and read through them. And be sure that what you send out is among your best finished and polished pieces.

The poetry-writing world has changed since the long-ago days when dangerous waters was published, largely because of the internet. On the positive side, you can look up the markets listed in ‘Poet’s Market’ and get the most up-to-date information on whether they are currently accepting submissions. Some even have online editions of their magazine so you can read some of what they published. Others accept submissions by email, saving you some postage money— important, if you have a poet’s level income.

But the downside is that many of the publications that you may most want to write for don’t published ‘previously published’ poems, and they may explicitly include poems that you have put up on your blog. Now that I’ve started submitting poems again, it’s frustrating to find that some of my best recent poems are ineligible for the markets I most want to send them off to.

As a result of that consideration, my poems for ‘Poetry Pantry’ in the next little while are going to be some of my older, already-published poems. Afterwards, I will have to limit it to poems that I’m not planning on submitting anywhere, or at least not to markets that are that strict about previously published poems.

The poem itself.

At the time I wrote dangerous waters, I had been dabbling in radical political ideas, and been writing poems expressing such views. dangerous waters was not one of those poems, and the ‘shark people’ mentioned in the poem had nothing to do with the standard villains of proletarian ideology. It was more an observation-of-life poem that had nothing to do with politics when written. It is perhaps that factor that makes it the strongest of the five poems I sent in to ‘Struggle’ at that time.

The problem with political poems— or any political writing— is that no matter how bad your work you will get praise from some folks just because they like the political viewpoints expressed. That can be a bad thing for a poet in need of some feedback. I would suggest, if you are an angry young political poet, that you make a point of writing many apolitical poems and submitting them to non-political markets.

To my fellow poets.

If you have been writing poetry a while, and sharing some online and getting good reactions, I’d suggest that you take the next step and try submitting some of your best work to a few carefully selected, appropriate markets. You won’t ever get rich as a published poet— they pay in contributor’s copies, and you will be spending more money buying sample copies and on postage for those markets who don’t accept email submissions. But having a few published poems to your credit is the next step in your poetic career. Go for it!

Shared on Poets United: Poetry Pantry #206


Remembering My Very First Published Poems



It was 1989, and I’d been writing poetry furiously for about a year, and I started to think about that oh-so-scary topic, publication. Since I was in my Youthful Marxist Phase at the time, the entry for ‘Struggle: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature’ really intrigued me. I picked out a batch of my angriest socialist poetic rantings and sent them off.

I did not have high hopes. I’d send out a few other poems and been rejected. But this time I got word back that my poems— all I sent for that batch, I think— had been accepted and would be published in the Winter 1989-90 issue.

StruggleTOCWhen my two contributor’s copies came it was exciting to see my name in the Table of Contents, and the cool communist propaganda art on the cover. I enjoyed reading my five poems in the magazine just as if I hadn’t read them loads of times before.

The poems were:

Democracy (R) USA

Panama’s Child, Christmas Eve 1989

The Parttiming Minimumwaging Blues

Dangerous Waters

And What this Country Needs Is a Good 5 Cent Revolution

Most of these poems I know realize are not the best even from among the works I was producing at the time. But I worked hard on them and I worked hard on getting the poems out there to potential publishers, and it paid off.

I honestly think that ANYONE who writes poetry who keeps on writing poetry, and reading poetry, and trying to improve the level of their work and is willing to send out poems regularly to appropriate markets, will in time get at least a poem or two published. You may not be the most talented poet in the world, but you have an excellent chance to get published SOMEWHERE. So don’t give up. You can do it!




Aside: since there are so many would-be poets out there, I’ve been thinking of offering poetry critiques/reactions of short poems to interested aspiring poets. I would ask about $5 for a critique (or if you have some recent poetry magazines like Poetry or Scifaiquest or Chiron Review lying around I’d accept a copy in payment).  I thought that way I could critique a few poems and get a little money for buying those all-important sample copies of poetry magazines.