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

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.

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/

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.

The Beauty of Imperfection in Writing

There is beauty in imperfection. In this pre-Colombian figure, the right arm is missing, but it’s still beautiful. Michelangelo would often leave a small bit of sculpture unfinished, like on his David he did not polish the very top of the head. This is the aftermath of a crippling self-doubt. He knew as an artist he could never be perfect. Kafka told his friend to burn his manuscripts.

So why do we have a feeling of inadequacy from time to time about out own work? Nothing is perfect in the world. Why should our writing be? Leonardo DaVinci said art is never finished, only abandoned.

As writers, we have to transform a blank page or screen into something other people will want to read. This is not always easy. No wonder sometimes we fail. Failure is inevitable.

This is an imperfect world and we need to let go of the idea of perfection. We can aspire to good writing, but it will never be perfect. Some people will like our writing. Some people won’t. Regardless, we should keep writing as best we can.

I will keep blogging on Thursdays and if I have announcements, they will be 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.

Journaling

A piece of writing begins with a germ of an idea, an inspiration, a straw dog. Some people use their journals to spark ideas.

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In addition to being a good starting point for a writer, journaling has other benefits. According to Leslie

Andrus-Hacia, a clinical psychiatrist Writing is a brain-based porthole leading to a balanced and calm

state of being … through writing, both right-and left-brain hemispheres communicate, synthesizing

information that ultimately results in greater mental coherence.”* Other benefits of journaling include

memory support and increasing communication skills.

I like to journal on my IPhone. I always have it with me and I loaded Microsoft Word onto it so I can

access the files from my IPad or MacBook. Whenever I get an idea or scrap of a thought, I enter it into

my Phone Journal. I review my notes once a week to see if there is anything I want to flesh out into a

poem. It’s a good system for collecting odd thoughts that otherwise would just escape you.

Sometimes those odd thoughts turn into your best work.

I published a new collection of poems earlier this year. Many were from thoughts in my journal.

Check it out:

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

*Family Health and Wellness