Langston Hughes and Spring

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“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.

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

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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?

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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.

Writing as an Antidote to a Crumbling World

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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.

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.

The Best Friend of the Writer

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The best friend of the writer can be the writer her or himself. As writers, 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.

We entered into the art of writing for deeper reasons that passing attention and it’s best to get in touch with those internal reasons, rather than looking for external affirmations. That way, when the praise comes, it will be a pleasant reminder of our internal worth as writers, and we truly will be our own best friends.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays and posting announcements on Tuesdays, as they come along.

Poetry As a Way of Life

I recently taught a workshop in poetry writing and I was amazed at how many different people are writing and/or reading poetry these days. I really think of poetry as a way of life, rather than just a genre I use to write.

Mary Oliver said it best, “Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket you put your life into and make something out of that.” The words of a poet are born from the heart of someone who wants to tell a story of the many layers and textures of the complications, suffering, and joys of life. People also want to read these experiences in poems and see their own stories in them. Poetry creates identity and connects us as a world community.

Poetry identifies, gives names—to feelings, desires, and inner complexities. Poets like Audra Lorde knew the hazards of “misnaming” things. She encouraged women, especially black women, to speak out and “to identify yourself, otherwise someone else will do it for you.”

Walt Whitman lived in a time of turmoil, during the United States’ Civil War and assassination of it’s president, Abraham Lincoln (immortalized in O Captain! My Captain!) Many of his poems encourage people to celebrate their shared humanity and inherent commonalities. “I sing the body electric, The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.”

I recently wrote and published a book about my partner’s dying of Alzheimer’s Disease. I was not aware of how many people are affected by this dread disease until I began readings from the collection. It was a shared humanity that people were responding to. Take a look at the collection here:

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

I will continue to blog on Thursdays, with announcements, as they come up, on Tuesdays. If you have something you want me to announce, respond to me here.

I visualize world peace in my meditations in these difficult times.