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.
“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
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.
I woke up last night in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, war on my mind. The new poem I had written that day needed a title. I got out of bed and added the title to the poem.
This act of writing can be a savior in these dark times. The writing is a form of sanity for me. If I am writing about current events or not, it is a way of keeping myself focussed on something positive.
My creative visualizations are on world peace these days. My creative writing takes me anywhere it leads me.
I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays.
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.”
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:
Ok, so your piece has been rejected. As writers, we all go through it. Rejection can be defined as the act of pushing something away. We submit a piece or a manuscript somewhere where we think it will be a fit, and the powers that be don’t see it that way.
One thing I find that helps is knowing that publishing is just a business. A publisher is looking for something specific and your writing may not fit the bill. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it just means it’s not what the publisher is looking for.
Most editors don’t comment on their rejections, but if you do get feedback, you may learn from it. I had an editor tell me I was using too many adjectives and adverbs. I took the advice to heart and started editing them out, and it made my writing stronger.
When a piece has been rejected several times, I try revising it. Language in its uneducated, natural form, reveals if we uncouple our own judgment and explore linguistic vehicles, the piece may be better. In poetry, it sometimes means trying a different format. If it’s a free verse poem, I’ll try something more formal, like a pantoum or sonnet. It sometimes can provide a different, more successful vehicle for the piece.
Another thing I sometimes try is reordering the piece. The last line might not be right. The last line might be found a stanza or two up. Maybe I’ve done too much explaining, and it wants cutting. Or the beginning of the piece might better serve it in the middle.
When I did my last collection, “Touch My Head Softly,” I kept rearranging the order of the poems. Then I realized nothing fit the beginning. So I wound up writing a prose poem to start off the collection.
When I’m going through rejections, I sometimes remind myself why I like to write, and this often makes me feel better. I wrote the poems in Touch My Head Softly, about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties. It helped me to get through my grief by doing this and this became an end in itself.
You can view my collection Touch My Head Softly, at:
Have you ever had the experience of finding someone who wrote a book on a similar topic to yours? It’s not exactly déjà vu, but there is definitely resonance there. I just published a collection of poems about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in his 60’s (Touch My Head Softly, Flutter Press, 2021.) and this book I discovered was about caring for an elderly mother with among other things, dementia (Why Is Grandma Naked?: Caring for Your Aging Parent,Kelsay Books, 2021.) The scenarios are not the same, but many similarities about caretaking and emotions in this situation are similar.
Author Ellen Pober Rittberg, playwright, talk-show host, attorney, writer, approaches the subject of caring for the aging family member, who wants to among other things, take off clothes in inappropriate situations, with humor and grace. My book of poems talks about, when my partner accuses me falsely of infidelity, of how to survive the ordeal of a loved-one in an altered state of reality.
Rittberg describes her journey with her mother as joyous, stressful, life-altering and worth every bit of energy because “we never know how long our parents will be with us.” My poetry is more a backward look at what went on to make sense of the experience. Rittberg talks about the nursing home dilemma, especially relevant post-pandemic, that she faced with her mother and family, My poems deal with the dilemma of the death.
Feel free to take a look at either or both books at:
Everyone has an inner critic. The inner critic is there to protect you from doing dangerous things. But it can also make us too cautious.But writing isn’t dangerous and we should learn to use our inner critic to help us write.
The inner critic serves as a guardian angel to keep you safe and doing something dangerous. When it comes to life and death situations, the anxiety from your inner critic causes you not to act. But you don’t need your inner critic to write.You need to act to write. Have your inner critic give you permission to write.
I just finished a book about my experiences with my partner who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties (Touch My Head Softly, Finishing Line Press, 2021.) It was a hard book to write and i struggled with my inner critic. But the writer in me won out in the end.
Part of the proceeds of the book will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, so it’s all positive. Take a look: