Create. Freshen. Revise. Repeat.

Is a poem ever complete? This question is one I have struggled with through most of my years of writing poetry. As much as I love revision, it’s worth locking things away or sending them off as complete, because I might go back in and change things again. I have works I considered final at one point or another, only to find myself revising it yet again, years after the fact. I learned that it is okay to do that with poetry; however, we must come to a point where we feel it is time to share with peers and colleagues. Most of the poems I have posted here are considered complete – but I cannot guarantee that a year or ten from now that will still be the case.

A few years ago, I began to assemble a tool a toolkit of sorts that is comprised of tips, tricks, and suggestions from poets I have read over the course of my education, to help my poetry become more complete. In this toolkit, aside from revision techniques, I have added ways to draw more substance with my words, by way of freshening language and creating vivid, tangible images for my readers.

Now that I have the basics for this toolkit, I can take a better look at my work after the fact to see if I created a better poem by following the advice of my peers and the experts. A mantra I use when composing poetry goes like this: “Create. Freshen. Revise. Repeat.” It gets me through the process from start to finish. (more…)

Personal Writing Process

I have written for years. If I had to state an age, I would say I started writing seriously when I was in middle school, writing hopelessly romantic sappy poems to the silly crushes I had then. I remember keeping a journal and writing about how in love I was with boy number 1, 2, 3, and so forth. Ah, to be twelve again. When high school came, I decided to take a creative writing class. I also started to learn the research writing process for a U.S. History course, and found that I really enjoyed the work.

Fast forward to college years, and my writing has improved drastically in many areas. I even discovered that I started developing my own process. As I type that sentence, I think to myself… wow – my own personal writing process. Well, to tell you the truth, we have never thought about it until we started discussing it during a graduate course I completed last year. I have always been one to write a thought that I have passing through my brain, and sometimes I find it difficult to keep them all together. I am the proud owner of many journals and online blog postings, both on my own blog and other websites. I sometimes cannot stand how my thoughts are scattered into so many areas, but I also find comfort in knowing that my work is spread out. It leaves me with room to reorganize as I go. Refining the thoughts in the attic of my mind is a task I find I do daily, but I suppose that is a writer’s life.

My personal writing process always starts the same way – freewriting.  (more…)

Poem: Alternate Universe

A Hot Mess

You see, she used to be popular.
We used to envy Barbie, but now
they call her ‘B’ on the streets,
and she chases that dirty dragon
through grunge of the City of Angels.

Her hair, once wispy platinum
and soft is now dry and broken,
smelling of stale cigarettes… her skin
once had a certain sun-kissed glow,
but now it’s cracked
and peppered with blemishes,
bruises, tracks, and scars.
Her scaly hands clutch
the pack of Marlboros
as if it was all she had left.

We heard her custom convertible
ended up in a mangled pink mess
after a 48-hour binge… she destroyed
that exquisite dream house
in Malibu, and her designer threads
now rest on the bodies
of drug lords and their whores.

I guess she sold them
to pay her debts, to set
her veins on fire, to cloud
her mind – all in an attempt
to escape the pain
of the plastic life she
so carefully crafted.

A Long Poem: Ekphrastic Poetry

For this week’s Writer Wednesday, I want to share with you an ekphrastic poem I composed a few months ago that I have recently refined.

First, let’s define ekphrastic poetry.

Definition of ekphrasis: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.

ekphrasis  [Gk ‘description’]: a literary work of art that seeks to describe or recreate in language a visual work of art (painting, photograph, architecture, sculpture, blown glass, etc.)

The visual arts serve as great inspiration for poets. For the following poem, I derived my inspiration from the famous Norman Rockwell piece, The Love Song, which is on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

rockwell_love_song26
The Love Song, by Norman Rockwell.
Oil on Canvas, 1926.

The Love Song (after Norman Rockwell)

Mr. Jameson and his friend
were about to rehearse –
my favorite part
of the morning.

Tick… tick…

The metronome counts.
Nineteen minutes
past nine –

right on time.

I had eleven
minutes to fantasize,
and I intended
to use each one
before the coo of the clock
brought me back to my broom
and the sink full of dishes.

Even though the house
was never clean
enough for the missus,
and I was behind schedule,
I welcomed the break.

The charming notes
fashioned by the flute
and clarinet
carried me across
the room, sashaying my body
to the window, where I could
I rest my head against
the cool, plaster-covered
stone wall.

The men and their music, they
drenched me in a melody
strangely familiar, but I don’t mind.
I adore their eager, genuine effort
to compose their notes like
they worked parallel to the Gershwins.

Every Thursday morning,
at nineteen minutes past nine,
the jazz takes me
back to that moment…

I clutched my broom
tight to my heart,
and slipped
into my usual reverie.

We were sitting on the edge
of the granite fountain
in the middle
of the park, when he first
asked me to dance.

He held me tight
against his chest,
cheek to cheek, and
invited me to trace
his steps, so delicately,
as we swayed…

he whispered
the love song he wrote for me
into my ear. For that brief moment,
I was his…

until the decrescendo
of the flute and
the clarinet’s swelling rest
allowed the little wooden bird’s
final coo to rush
me back to my broom.

Writer Wednesday: Renga Chain

Inspired by a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast, this poem is a series of haiku formed together, creating what is called a Renga Chain. Enjoy!

Nightfall on the Gulf

The white shore sands sizzle
while the gulf’s frigid water
ushers in the breeze.

Palm trees sway gently,
gulls glide in the sky above –
not a cloud in sight.

Nautical twilight
fades blue to red, then to black.
Now, nothing but stars.

Celestial sky, now
so close – almost touching the
small metallic dots.

The zephyr softens
and the sapphire sea calms.
Waves never reach shore.

Writer Wednesday: More Tankas

Tankas have become a form I enjoy, and the following poem is a tanka (or a series) of awkward moments. We’ve all had them, so why not make them poetic?

Well, That Was Awkward…

1.
“Great first date,” he said.
Her eyes shone bright in the moon’s
light. She leaned up and
pouted her cherry red lips…
but he grabbed her hand instead.

2.
Study hall… silent –
you could hear a pin drop.
That’s when my belly
rumbles, louder than a
diesel truck engine starting.

3.
Walking back to the
bar, heads turn – I must look great!
Glance behind, notice
people staring… the breeze breaks
the bad news – my skirt: tucked in.

4.
He raised his hand in
class – ready, proud to answer
the question… he wins
a prize from teacher. “Thanks, Mom.”
Face flushed with embarrassment.

5.
Ran into colleague.
Never close. “Nice to see you.”
“You too!” We part ways,
say goodbye and leave… only
to walk the same direction.

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