Why does literature endure? Why do we read it? What makes the words so compelling, we can’t put the book down?
Literature, and the reading of it, has saved many people in difficult situations. Literature can show people at their best. If you’re living through a difficult situation, say prison, this can be an important hope and message. Words can teach, illuminate and inspire us. Nelson Mandella cites the books he read in jail that gave him solace during his long incarceration. He devoured anything he could read on armed combat because he was trying to form a Liberation Army. As a young strategist, he read about boxing when he tried to defeat his opponents in the ring or books on chess when he was competing in chess tournaments. “I had no time to brood. I enjoyed reading and writing letters and that occupied my mind completely…” says Mandela.
Most prisons have a library and prisoners are encouraged to read books. According to most state statutes, prisoners are entitled to legal texts to research their own appeals. In addition to lawl books, almost all libraries have literature. Sometimes there are limits on content, like rape or gun construction, but overall there is much literature available to inmates. Some of the most popular in prisons are Stephen King and Harry Potter novels. Orange is theNew Black and Gone Girl are some of the most popular novels in prisons. Longer novels are also popular, like Ayn Rands The Fountainhead. Biographies of different famous Americans are also sought-after in prison.
We should donate books, and keep books circulating, to The Prison Project. In this way, prisoners will continue to read. It can only help us as writers. I will continue to blog on Thursdays. http://www.eileenpkennedy.com.
How does blogging differ from writing? I guess when I sit down to write a poem or prose piece, I have a more formal block in my head. I think the main thing is that blogging is more spontaneous. You could argue that blogging has changed formal writing. But if you can write, you can blog.
The conventions of writing and blogging are very different. Run-0n sentences and asides don’t work in a blog. Short declarative sentences do.
Print stories are often written in the third person, especially nonfiction. Blogs are mostly in the I, first person.
In books, footnotes are frequently used to tell the backstory on your topic. They take up space. Hyperlinks serve a similar purpose in blogging. No one has to read them unless they click on them and they take very little space.
I enjoy blogging as a variation to my poetry. I will blog on Thursdays about the writing process. Follow me here at WordPress.
I was struggling with writing a poem about a historical incident. I just couldn’t find a way into the poem. I tried locking myself in my study, ignoring the phone when it rang, procrastinating with housework, but nothing worked.
Thena writer friend of mine made a suggestion. Go to the Library. I live in Massachusetts where every town has a town library, but it just didn’t occur to me. I’ve read many articles and blogs on how to focus as a writer, but I hadn’t tried my local library.
I organized my writing materials as best I could, convinced I would leave important things at home that I would need there. I allowed for time to get to and from the library (about eight minutes each way. ) I carried my computer and notes to the car and set off.
When I arrived there, I found a lovely place to sit, a desk with partitions that actually blocked me from other desks. It was quiet and I easily tuned my computer into the wifi, and soon enough I was writinga rough draft. I came to a point where I needed to confirm some historical information, and the reference librarian was at the ready to help.
I wound up bringing the draft home and finishing it there. I recently submitted the poem. I don’t know if it will be accepted, but at least I finished it and it’s off my desk.
I’ll be blogging on Thursdays and doing announcements on Tuesdays as they come along. Follow me.
Writers write in isolation mostly. Sometimes it’s in small groups or workshops, but mostly alone. Sometimes I wait until the last minute to write what I want? Why?
In the end, I try to listen to my inner voice that speaks my true thoughts that ultimately helps me cut through the nonsense that sometimes enters into my writing. Good writing comes from the true self.
I use different methods to get in touch with my inner self. I meditate, move to a coffee shop or library, read a book of an author who is writing something similar to my project. Sometimes just sit quietly.
Join me in imagining and getting in touch with your inner self. Try writing from that one true voice.
I’ll continue to blog on Thursdays. If you’d like me to make an announcement for an upcoming reading, publication or award, get in touch with me here.
Literature is important. In this materialistic era, where the pursuit of money often comes before the public welfare, literature becomes even more important than ever.
Not having literature prevalent in American schools has caused a deficit in education. Dana Gioia states “.. A time of crucial intellectual and emotional development bypass the joys and challenges of literature is a troubling trend.”
At a time when businesses are claiming they can’t find employees who are able to expand their minds to different horizons. They want employees to think out of the box. An education with a wide range of world literature is essential to doing this. Reading literature in childhood, and becoming lifelong readers is essential for broadening the mind.
I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements on Tuesdays as they come along. Follow me here on WordPress.
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 am terrible at titles. I’ve published three books and each one wound up with a different title than I proposed.
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:
A book title should be memorable. It’s the one thing that will lead people back to the book.
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.
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.
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:
Whether writing pen to paper or sending a text or email, writing and reading is different today.
We can listen to a podcast, watch the news on television or our computer, or still read a book or newspaper. But what of the skill of writing? Employers complain that resumes are filled with typos and a well-written resume still draws a better job application response. The written word can be a powerful tool for a business leader affecting employees. Studies show that people disregard messages when they have glaring typos and mistakes.
And what about the power of a hand-written message. When was the last time you got one? Did you read it? Did it affect you? How about a letter sent by snail mail, rather than email or text?
A personalized message has a way of making the person receiving it feel valued and recognized.
It wasn’t sent to the masses, but written especially for the receiver.
Writing has a way of developing relationships between people. I know at holiday times when I get hand-written cards, I always respond positively to them and pay attention, be they a simple,
“Best wishes for the New Year” or a whole report on the last year.
And what of the creative writer? Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way suggest starting the day by handwriting with pen to paper. This is supposed to access the creative side and also gives the artist the freedom to write without rereading or censoring. Many writers use pen and paper as a different way into their writing that their computer keyboard just doesn’t do.
When I wrote my most recent collection of poetry, Touch My Head Softly, I tried all different ways of writing: pen and paper, keyboard, dictating into a recorder, an old typewriter.
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: