“You Can Learn A lot of Things from the Flowers” said Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

June is flower month. I love fresh flowers. The one pictured is from a recent trip to Costa Rica. I get a sense of renewal when the green buds first appear in the Northeast in March or early April. This time of year, I often feel depleted in body and mind and the flowers renew me.

I plant flowers to have on my porch and in my yard. My partner often brings me flowers from his farm. I have irises now. I love to take walks in the woods and look at the wildflowers

Now that it’s the beginning of June, I feel grateful for the at the abundance of life growing around me. I recommit myself to simplicity, renewal, and writing. I remind myself to “smell the roses.”

As an artist, I celebrate the creativity I have as an antidote for the destruction and chaos in the world.

I will be blogging on Thursdays, with announcements, as they come, on Tuesdays. Follow me here on WordPress: http://www.eileenpkennedy.com.

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

Sometimes Failure Is Part of the Process

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Experimenting is part of the creative process. Things can change at any stage in a painting’s or manuscript’s development. 

The writing process is an exciting and adventurous process. It sometimes feels electrifying and at other times, downright discouraging.  A writer needs to go in knowing that it might not work.   It means that results don’t matter as much as the process, the joy and the journey.

I try to keep this in mind every time I sit down at a blank page. An athlete has to work out to get to a point where she wins the competition. A writer sometimes has to fail many times before succeeding. It’s part of the journey to that wonderful piece that finally works.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays, and posting announcements, as they come, on Thursdays. Follow me on WordPress at http://www.eileenpkennedy.com

Book Titles

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

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

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/

Derek Walcott on Life

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome. 

–Derek Walcott

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Derek Walcott writes about being comfortable in your own skin. In a world of war and international pandemic, sometimes we have to be our own friend.

As writers, we need to nurture ourselves. There is plenty of rejection and criticism out there for the writer, so being our own cheerleader is sometimes necessary.

We crave praise, awards, good reviews, and the affirmation of the publisher, but if we remember the joy of the creative process, we don’t need the positive feedback of others.

As a poet, I work often alone and in solitude. Books tend to be published quietly also. There may be a book launch, but aside from that, people buy and read our books on their own. This doesn’t mean that our books don’t touch people or have a lasting effect. A writers, we know the books that have made that special impact on us and we have to trust that our writing will have an effect on our readers.

Or as Derek Walcott so aptly put it “…peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life. “

I will be posting on Thursdays about the writing life, with announcements, as they come, on Tuesdays. Follow me at WordPress.

Read to Write

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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.

Langston Hughes and Spring

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

“Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go
Life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

–Langston Hughes

I live in the Northeastern United States and we are leaving winter behind and moving into spring. Green things are starting to pop out of the ground and the trees have small bursts that will be leaves. As a poet, I like to take out what I’ve written over the winter and see what can be used in a manuscript or for a journal submission. So I hold onto my dreams, my writing, and figure out what is worth publishing.

Some writers, like Mary Gordon, write pen on paper. I need a computer. But I need to revisit the joy of writing periodically. I also do this after a long winter. Spring is the time for renewal, to look back at the past, find what’s good, and move forward. It’s a good time to put the best of your work into manuscript form.

I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements as they come up, on Tuesdays.

Using Your Dreams in Your Writing

Photo by Karyme Franu00e7a on Pexels.com

Do you dream at night? Do you remember your dreams? Have you ever used your dreams in your writing? Whatever thoughts, ideas or imaginations your mind comes up with when you sleep can be translated into creative writing.

I find the first step is to write down your dreams. Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed and write them down as soon as you wake up. Some psychologists believe that when farmers went to bed at sundown and rose at sunrise, they would wake up in the night and use the middle of the night as their creative time, including writing time.

Think of your dreams as writing prompts, rather than a whole novel. Although some fiction writers do write down their dreams. It may be a creative idea that is nagging at you to come out. The world is stressful these days, and frightening thoughts might come up, but use them as the start of a poem or story.

William Blakes “Land of Dreams” came from his very lively subconscious:

Awake, awake my little Boy!

Thou wast thy Mother’s only joy:

Why dost thou weep in thy gentle sleep?

Awake! Thy Father does thee keep.

I will blog on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays, when I have them. Follow me on WordPress.

April Is Poetry Month

“Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim.”

–Gerard Manley Hopkins, Pied Beauty

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Beautiful, precious things make life worth living, especially in these difficult times. Poetry is a celebration of the beauty, and sometimes lack of it in life.

It’s important to make beauty in the world, especially when war and violence are a threat. I make beauty, as many poets do, in my poetry. This beauty makes life worth living, even in depressing times. In fact, I try to write through the despair.

And it’s important to remember to be grateful for this beauty. Everyday, in my meditation, I find something, even on bad days, to be grateful for, i.e. the sounds of the spring peepers at my local pond, the small green sprouts of spring, etc. I’m sure you can add to this list.

I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements, as they come along, on Tuesdays.

How Does a Writer Decide on the Next Project?

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

When you finish a manuscript, there is usually a down time for reflection, but then, as a writer, you need to start on a new project. I find this phase challenging because I often have many ideas percolating, but don’t know which one to choose to pursue. It’s a commitment.

There’s not enough time to pursue all my ideas, so the issue is which projects to pursue and which to pass by, maybe forever. So I ask myself, is this the right concept for a poem, narrative for a story?

There’s a project that’s right for you, and only you can find it. I recently published a book of poetry and now I am in search of a project. Check out my book at:

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

I will continue to blog about the writing process on Thursdays and blog announcements, if I have any, on Tuesdays.