“There are dozens of unfinished or aborted projects in my files, but I can only assume they don’t get done because they’re not robust enough to struggle through the birth process.” – Grant Morrison

I have many unfinished poems. Billy Collins says five or six poems wind up in his trash bin before he gets one that’s a keeper.

The concept of being complete is an interesting one. If you are complete, you don’t have to strive to do anything else. You don’t have to reinvent yourself.

We can change as we develop new skills, new experiences, new outlooks. That’s what makes the writing interesting. We adapt to new circumstances and overcome limitations. This affects our writing.

I wrote a book that was just published by Finishing Line Press:

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

After it was published, I floundered for awhile, trying to write different things, but not really liking any of the new work. Then I started on a new longer poem about the drowning earth. Here’s an excerpt:

The Boat

“Cuando sale la luna, el mar cubre la tierra

When the moon rises, water covers the earth”

                        –Federico García Lorca

I want to begin with the boat.  It was a thing of beauty.

Can one be seduced by a boat? I was.

This project intrigued me and I continue to work on it today. How do you stay engaged with your writing?

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Creating a Rough Draft

When I taught writing, I always had my students to a rough draft before the actual paper. A rough draft should include a clear direction in your paper. When you are required to submit a rough draft, it doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be complete. That means, you shouldn’t be missing any of the major parts of the paper. 

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You should begin with a draft. Write a draft and then walk away and return again. Your second and third draft will probably be better.

When I wrote my recent poetry collection, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021,) I didn’t have a draft. The poems came slowly through the years. If I did have the rough draft of what I wanted the collection to look like, it would have gone much more quickly. It was five years in the making.

My new book can be viewed at:

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

This is the link to my book on Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Is Writing Religion or Profession?

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For me, writing is both. I have been writing since I was eight years old and can’t seem to stop. But I’ve also published three books, derived income from my publishing, which in some circles would make me a professional writer. You just have to write to make it work. It doesn’t have to be brilliant or inspired, it just has to be. You keep going.

You might do many other things besides writing to support yourself, but you still write through it. Stephen King was a high school English teacher. During this time, he wrote his first novel, Tabitha. He kept going despite his busy job.

You are the only one capable of writing your story. It is unique. It belongs to you. Even if you find similarities in the work of other authors who you read, your story is still your story.

I wrote a book of poems about my experiences with my partner dying of Alzheimer’s Disease in his sixties. I even donated part of the proceeds from the book to the Alzheimer’s Association to find a cure.

You can find my book at:

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

You can find my book on Goodreads at:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

How do you revise?

You have a poem that has some interesting ideas or rhythms, but it’s just not making it? Here are some things I do when I revise a poem to work:

Take some of your lines, split them down the middle, and regroup them e.g.:

Here are the shelves of unread books

An immigrant who stands on the edge of the forest

becomes: Here are the shelves on the edge of the forest

An immigrant who stands on unread books.

Or try to take a poem and erase words, e.g.

In first grade

We learned the names of dandelions and birch trees?

Forgot them & relearned them. 

They didn’t make much sense to us,

because we were in New York City

where there weren’t many flowers or trees.

becomes:

Trilliums, sweetgum trees,

forgetting, relearning.

No sense,

New York City,

No flowers or trees.

Try rewriting your poem from a different viewpoint:

Two brothers planted a sequoia in the orchard one afternoon

becomes: All afternoon my brother and I worked in the orchard planting a sequoia.

When I wrote my new book, Touch My Head Softly, I went through many revises:

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

What do you do to revise?

I will be posting on Thursdays, and on Tuesdays, if I have an announcement.

My new poetry collection can be viewed here:

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

Here is the link to my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Are the sources of our strengths as writers in natural conversation?

You may have come to think of writing as a solitary, lonely process. And sometimes it is, especially during the pandemic. But writing is a social exchange. We write, often, to publish and put our writing out into the world. Here other people interact with our words, read it, understand it, and sometimes respond.

As a lifelong writer, I do often write in isolation, but I find my best writing comes from sharing it with other writers, or a mentor, and getting their feedback. How do you use speech to further your writing?

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This is the link to my new book of poems at Finishing Line Press:

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

Here’s the link to my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will blog on Thursdays, and on Tuesdays when I have announcements.

“…we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life,” Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I find myself having writerly thoughts as I am driving, walking, swimming. I pull over and blog on my iPhone if I get a good thought. I used to have a notebook in my car, by my bed stand, but it often disappeared when I needed it. I find I have by IPhone more regularly.

I’ve got a book, Touch My Head Softly, coming out soon from Finishing Line Press. There is always work around a new book, with readings and interviews, but I find myself looking toward my new work eagerly. I haven’t really decided on the next collection, but some new ideas are germinating.

Do you think about your writing as you go through your day? Do you write the thoughts down and write from them later?

Here’s the link to my new book on Finishing Line Press:

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

Here’s the link to my new book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I’ll be posting regularly on Thursdays, and on Tuesdays if I have announcements.

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“Poetry is a naked woman, a naked man, and the distance between them.” ― Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti, author of A Coney Island of the Mind, Love in the Days of Rage, and Pictures of the Gone World, died at age 101. He identified as a philosophical anarchist and was part of the beat movement, including Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He co-founded City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco. He was also a fine artist who painted for many years.

He gained notoriety when he published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and was indicted for selling obscene material. This led to a famous censorship case, the People v. Ferlinghetti, that forwarded the cause of stopping convictions for selling books. The failed attempt at prosecuting him led him to joke that “the police took over the advertising account and did a much better job.”

He was a rebellious poet, a courageous publisher, and bookseller who would not be intimidated about selling books. He was a major literary figure and force who will be missed.

My new book of poems, Touch My Head Softly, is just out from Finishing Line Press. Check it out:

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

I will blog on Thursdays, and Tuesdays when I have announcements.

Open the Door to Creativity

Have you ever seen a door and wondered what is on the other side?

The idea that you can create by opening a door goes back centuries. A note was found

in a Latin grammar from the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland in approximately 848

that describes an Irish scribe going outside and writing a poem under trees.

You could open a heart door that would enable you to write about things that you love or your favorite things. The door could be an observation door where you record things you carefully observe.  A memory door could lead you to memories, good or bad, that you have saved away in the back of your mind.  A wonder door could lead you to things you question, or wonder about.  A political door could lead you to write about your concerns in the world.

With the pandemic, the world is in lockdown and there are many closed doors.

We all long for the day with those doors will be open again and life will return to normal.

While we are on lockdown, our minds can wander and explore our thoughts, our wants and our imagination.

My new book, Touch My Head Softly, is now out from Finishing Line Press:

Have you ever seen a door and wondered what is on the other side?

The idea that you can create by opening a door goes back centuries. A note was found

in a Latin grammar from the monastery of St. Gall in Switzerland in approximately 848

that describes an Irish scribe going outside and writing a poem under trees.

You could open a heart door that would enable you to write about things that you love or your favorite things. The door could be an observation door where you record things you carefully observe.  A memory door could lead you to memories, good or bad, that you have saved away in the back of your mind.  A wonder door could lead you to things you question, or wonder about.  A political door could lead you to write about your concerns in the world.

With the pandemic, the world is in lockdown and there are many closed doors.

We all long for the day with those doors will be open again and life will return to normal.

While we are on lockdown, our minds can wander and explore our thoughts, our wants and our imagination.

My new book, Touch My Head Softly, is now out from Finishing Line Press:

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

You can view it on Goodreads at:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

I will be posting every Thursday, and on Tuesdays when I have an announcement.

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Thank you to Lanette Sweeney for Highlighting My New Book on Facebook

I am grateful to Lanette Sweeney, a fellow Finishing Line Press author, for highlighting my new book, Touch My Head Softly, on Facebook. Take a look:

Here is the link to my book:

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

“’Speaking onto the page’ (is) letting our fingers be guided by the mental process we use effortlessly in everyday speaking.” –Peter Elbow, Vernacular Eloquence (Oxford, 2012)

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For any of you who have practiced Elbow’s freewriting technique, “speaking onto the page,” is it a useful method?  Whenever I get stuck, I do this.  I’ve done it in writing groups, speaking into a recorder, or just reading aloud for myself.  It seldom fails to produce some piece of writing.  The writing may not be my best, or may wind up unused, but it’s a way of getting started and perhaps generating something that eventually will be used.

Elbow also recommends this for editing, for writing that winds up ‘correct.’ You can do this while keeping those virtues of natural speech, and getting rid of what’s not suitable for the genre you’re writing in.  This can also add a new infusion to your old writing, by speaking it onto the page, reading it out loud, and hearing what sounds easy. Sometimes when you hear it, it just sounds different than when you read it.  I used this technique in developing my new collection of poetry, Touch My Head Softly.

This is the link to my new collection at Finishing Line Press:

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

This is the link to my new collection on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/