I’m So Grateful To Be Named A Finalist in the 2022 International Book Awards in Poetry for Touch My Head Softly -Thank you.

Poetry: General

Finalist
A Ligature For Black Bodies by Denise Miller
Eyewear Publishing

Finalist
Death, With Occasional Smiling by Tony Medina
Indolent Books

Finalist
Stars in the Junkyard by Sharon Berg
Cyberwit

Finalist
Touch My Head Softly by Eileen P. Kennedy
Finishing Line Press

Finalist
Warren by Karina van Berkum
MadHat Press

Finalist
Watermelon Linguistics: New and Selected Poems by Alexis Krasilovsky
Cyberwit

Book Titles

I am terrible at titles. I’ve published three books and each one wound up with a different title than I proposed.

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And I’ve published two poetry collections. Each poem,aside from an occasional haiku, has its own title. Here are some things I’ve learned about titling:

  1. A book title should be memorable. It’s the one thing that will lead people back to the book.
  2. A book title should be short. Shorter is generally better than longer. My first collection of poetry was one word: Banshees: Poems. It was one word, but let people know it was a poetry collection.
  3. A book title should provide information about the book. For my poetry book titles, I list the title and then poems, so that people will know it’s a poetry collection. The textbook I published had a very informative title: Ready to Use Lessons and Activities for the Primary Inclusive Classroom. This is neither short nor particularly memorable, but people knew exactly what it was. This is important with nonfiction. My editor convinced me of this and I think she was right.
  4. A title should set a mood. My second collection of poetry was on a hard subject: Alzheimer’s Disease. I wrote it about my experiences with my partner who died of this dread disease. I called the collection Touch My Head Softly. This gave a softer feel to this difficult topic. Check out this book, my latest, at:

    https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Read to Write

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We have to read to write. It’s that simple. If you want to write a fiction, read good novels. If you want to write poetry, read good poetry.

Reading serves as a form of mentorship, especially if we read as writers, and read good writing. Reading provides rich fertilizer for your own writing.

Writers need to read what they like, what they find stimulating, what other people find stimulating. This will improve a writers writing.

Reading in our genre, and outside of our genre, will give us an idea of the diverse compositional structures that exist and are available for us to use, and use well. For an ode’s structure, read “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” by Keats. For historical fiction, try Real Estate by Kathryn Holzman (Propertius Press, 2020.) For grief or illness poetry, try Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021.) For a memoir try, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper, 2016.)

I will be blogging on Thursdays, with announcements, as they come up, on Tuesdays.

So Grateful for Emily-Jane Hills Oxford’s Review of Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021)

I so appreciate the thoughtful review Emily-Jane Hills Oxford gave my book in Reader’s Favorites:

“This is a passionate and engaging read, one that will strike a chord with many, as Alzheimer’s, like cancer, has affected most families in one way or another. It’s a powerful tribute to who have and are suffering and those who care. Stunningly, sublimely beautiful.”

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Writing the Landscape

One thing I love about winter in the Northeast is the snow. Now the snow is going, and it’s officially spring this week.

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I love the quiet, the writerlyness of the whole thing. But how does this affect my writing? I wrote a collection of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s. We had spent a lot of time in Mexico, so this landscape came into my poems:

“When I think of Oaxaco

I remember the Zocolo

where they sold pipa del agua

and chocolate dripping from paper cups.”

The setting just naturally came into the poem. Does this happen with you?

Take look at my collection:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will continue to blog on Thursdays and do announcements, as they come in, on Tuesdays.

Writer’s Block

Writer’s block, or when an author is unable to produce new work, happens to all writers.

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Try writing something of special interest to you.  Write down all the primary ideas you’d like to write and then write the smaller ideas that make up the big ideas. Then write an outline of these ideas.

Now you have an outline that is a starting point.  Research your topic.  Then write down your own thoughts on the research.  Identify gaps in the research you find. Now you’re ready to write.

When I wrote my last collection of poems, I had many blocks. Some are emotional, such as my partner’s Alzheimer’s that I wrote about in Touch My Head Softly. Or just time barriers, so that when you finally have a chance to write, there’s a lot of pressure to sit down and produce.

But I got through it and published my latest collection earlier this year:

 
 
 

Using Common Interactions in Our Writing

Since the pandemic, I have been much more inclined to interact with strangers. The isolation taught me the power of human interaction. Some of the most interesting interactions have been chance, at the supermarket check out or the farmer’s market. I write at coffee shops and I’ve used some of the dialog I’ve overheard in my writing.

It’s good to interact, connect and appreciate each other. It makes for better writing, remember Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” about the wall between his property and his neighbors. This will make for a better world generally. If you use dialog in your writing, it makes your writing more authentic. It’s also good to meet periodically with writer friends to compare notes and get advice on what you’re submitting, etc. I’m in several writer’s groups.

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I published a collection of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s, and it’s led to many interesting discussions with people I didn’t know who were affected or had loved ones affected by this disease. Check it out:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Thank you for reading. I’ll be posting my blog on Thursdays and announcements on Tuesdays, if I have them.

Writing the Landscape II

Now I am in Costa Rica for a good part of the winter.

The landscape is very different from the Northeast where I live for the balance of the year.

I love the pre-Columbian art here. I’ve shown you an example of one piece. These vessels, figures, tools are dated before the Spanish conquest of Central and South America. These art pieces date back to then Mesoamerican period, around 10,000 BCE. They give clues to the lives of the indigenous.

For me the beauty of the landscape and the local art inspire me. I may not be writing about beauty, or even Costa Rica, but the art gives me insight into the lives of the people, just as my stories aspire to give insight.

I recently published a book of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s Disease. I hope this gives insight to others in contact with people with this disease. Also part of the proceeds of the sale of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association to help find a cure for this dread disease. Check out my book:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Writing the Landscape

One thing I love about winter in the Northeast is the snow. This is the view from my back porch.

I love the quiet, the writerlyness of the whole thing. But how does this affect my writing? I wrote a collection of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s. We had spent a lot of time in Mexico, so this landscape came into my poems:

“When I think of Oaxaco

I remember the Zocolo

where they sold pipa del agua

and chocolate dripping from paper cups.”

The setting just naturally came into the poem. Does this happen with you?

Take look at my collection:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

New Year’s Resolutions

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It’s getting to be New Year’s and the custom is to make resolutions. As writers, it’s important that we have goals. It’s also important to look back and acknowledge what we accomplished. Here are some of my goals for the upcoming year:

.to plant bulbs in my garden.

.to see more of my close friends in small combination

.to read more Japanese poetry

.to teach at least one poetry workshop.

.to write a longer narrative poem.

.to downsize and shed some clothing and books.

I may not get to all of these, and that’s ok, but it helps to have goals.

The feeling of having done everything one wanted is elusive. Accepting one’s limitations and shortcomings is part of the process.

I also look back at the year and acknowledge what I’ve done. I published a book this year about my partner’s death from Alzheimer’s Disease. I donated some of the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association. I also volunteered and taught a poetry workshop in haiku and tanka. I find a sense of calmness and accomplishment about these things. Check out my 2021 book:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/