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I hope everyone is just about thawed out now and enjoying spring. I barely made it through the kids’ Spring Break last week. While we are enjoying warm breezes here, we are also breathing in all the pretty yellow pollen. My head is just about to blow up. Generally, though, I love Spring. It definitely puts some more energy in my writing flow. And April is chock full of fun and treats for writers and readers.

I’ve been seeing lots of chatter on the Twitter about Scriptfrenzy, brought to us by the kind people who plot NaNoWriMo every year. The goal is a 100-page script finished in 30 days, which is undoubtedly harder than it sounds. Kudos to all you wild souls in a frenzy right now :) It has to be a great way to learn the genre. I want to try my hand at a play, but am not starting another project now. I always liked reading plays and scripts, which is sort of odd (maybe? At least for a non-thespian, I think). I remember devouring “Plays” magazines and drama collections when I was in elementary school. Then, of course, I learned about Shakespeare, as well as geniuses like Ibsen and Miller. I even did a thesis paper on Lillian Hellman in my junior year. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to be a playwright, though that was when I was sure I would be a Pulitzer-prize winning  journalist by, um, now. Screenplay writing seems to be a whole other beast that I know little about. I did try “writing a movie” with a friend in ninth grade, which was going to star River Phoenix. Sadly, that can never happen, so my Hollywood dreams faded away.

I have been writing some poems for the April Poem-A-Day challenge over at Poetic Asides. April is, of course, Poetry Month. I always thought it was because  Shakespeare was born in April, but I could be wrong. Either way, it is a good month to read and write poetry of all types. Apparently there is also a NaPoWriMo which I did not know about, though 2011 is the ninth year. Though I usually write poems only when “inspired,” I sort of like using the prompts Robert Brewer comes up with daily. I have not written all of them, but it has been a nice writing stretch while I ignore the WIP and focus on work. Poems are relatively quick and easy, though they also force us to use other thinking muscles. Personally, poetry has always been my relaxing writing, when I just want to expand on a thought or event, though sometimes I have written in anger or other forms of stress. Sometimes getting the poem out helps relieve that, as I am sure most poets would agree.

One of the prompts was to write about a “type of person” which can mean anyone from a teacher, a nail-biter or a Type-A person. Any interpretation welcome. I am doing some research on hoarders and have had a slight obsession with this type of person for a few years now. Frankly, this is because I fear becoming one of them, as I sit at my desk piled with books, papers and bills in a house cluttered with a wide variety of clothes, toys and books (OK- I may be a book hoarder). I admit to having sentimental attachment to a few inanimate objects, and I am an obsessive recycler/reuser. I actually am related to borderline hoarders (only they call themselves “collectors”) and I have been helping my mother clean through years of collected stuff. So, naturally, hoarding is on my mind these days. I know that I am not *that bad* (yet) but I still get the cold sweats when I see some of those shows. So this was my rough draft poem on the subject:

HOARDER
It starts with the little things,
of course. Or maybe the big stuff
gets you first. Takes up room.
Then the smaller pieces add up,
Fill in spaces.
It’s not like you plan on it,
it’s just a fact. A part of life.
It makes sense.
You never know when you may
need the back of a pin, this magazine,
or one of those jelly jars.
Just the right size.
And you would never want anything
to go to waste.
That would throw you for a loop.
You’d never be able to get rid of
the image, never erase
gnawing, guilty thoughts:
plastic floating on glass, choking life,
taking over, never ending, leeching, trash.
All your fault.
At least you know it’s all here, somewhere,
safe. You can find it, if you need it.
It’s easier this way.
 

Poetry Month is almost over and I have been writing away, trying to catch up on the Poem-A-Day challenge. I wanted to point out the upcoming Poem in Your Pocket Day which is April 30th, but now I am hooked on this story:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6652066.html?industryid=47144

Lulu, the print-on-demand self-publishing company that you may be familiar with already, has purchased the domain http://www.poetry.com and created a whole new site built around the old name. It looks to me like a decent resource, complete with free contests that users vote on (and actually award $$), but also a well-played marketing move to encourage amateur poets like myself to invest in a self-published collection. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; poetry has a long tradition of self-published poets. It worked for Walt Whitman, among many others. There is of course, a darker [and slightly juicy] side to this story. You  may be familiar with the original Poetry.com site which has been featured on such prestigious lists as Winning Writers’ “Contests to Avoid” and Professor Roy’s Amazingly Bad Poetry Journal. This is the site connected to the infamous National Library of Poetry, and several other aliases, which scammed innocent poets into paying for anthologies and awards that seldom materialized.The site has basically been considered a joke among literary and writing circles, though some others may have harsher words for it. It has even inspired parody contests for Bad Poetry.

Lulu legitimately paid for the domain name and are trying to change the tarnished image into their own shiny one, but now they are warding off dissatisfied customers and p.o.’d poets who

a.) want their money back

b.) want their poems back  [yes, they got some of the archived poetry along with the domain, though they swear they did not buy the business itself. That company, Watermark Media, is double-dead].

c.) want revenge

d.) All of the above

The comment board on their blog already has ppl writing in all caps what they think about Lulu and poetry.com … I think they should have thought this one through a bit better, though maybe the controversy will be good PR. Hey, it drew me there, and the prize money sure looks tempting. I would just laugh, but many people really fell for the scam and it somewhat marred the image of poetry publications in America. So, I do question how legitimate this move can make that domain name now. Obviously it is optimal for the search engines, but as any former tween celebrity can tell you, it is hard to shake a bad rep, even if you change your name, Lulu.

The prompt yesterday was shockingly not about Earth Day, but rather, work. Now, I could have done a piece about how we all have work to do to improve our ecological karma, but you all know that already, right? So, this one is more personal, because work, and what it means to me, are very much on my mind lately. I did attempt a sonnet, though Shakespeare would probably shudder…

I read the Help Wanted section for fun
Even though there is nothing there for me.
I scan the freelance sites with ambition
that’s not reflected on my resume.
I work at home with kids all around me
and have little to show when I am done.
Between dishes, diapers and the laundry
I squeeze in blogs, poems and sometimes work on
some novels that may never be ready.
In the eyes of many, I’m just a mom.
There are some who know the real me,
writer, teacher, reader, thinker, and some
who are glad I am there every day
willing to put aside work just to play.

I obviously gave up on NaBloPoMo for the month. I fell asleep early one night reading to my daughter. So, then I decided I deserved a weekend off, and now, it’s Tuesday… But, I am still trying to catch up with the Poem a Day Challenge, so the next week will be a spree. Big family weekend coming up, of course, but I think I can, I think I can…

Monday was my birthday, and the prompt was “Rebirth”. I am a huge fan of irony ;)  Robert Lee Brewer also gave us a quick lesson on the Villanelle form, which was new to me so I took it on. I think that traditionally, the form may be a little more lighthearted than mine is, but what can I say? That’s where I was at…

4/20

I was born on this April day
which brings pain for so many
and others mark in their own way.

There are no words that truly say
how it can feel for any
person born on this April day.

I think of people left to pray
for the souls lost in Germany
and others marked the same way.

Think of children who could not play
in Waco, Colorado and many
other places marked in other ways.

Every Spring, I enter the gray,
reflect and then live again. See—
I was born on an April day
that others mark in their own way.

Since I am not finished with a poem today, I will share some other poetry resources from the Interwebs. I am counting this as the list post which was “assigned” Day 2 of the Build a Better Blog Challenge. [Obviously, I am not stressing myself to do that every day too, but I am learning some good hints and tips, just by reading the posts.] OK- in no particular order:

Shadow Poetry

This site has just about everything you could ask for to satisfy your poetic needs, including chapbook publishing. Some of the items are closed except to members, but the Reference pages [terms, poets, handbook, etc], Message boards and slightly addictive Magnet Poetry are free to use. If you are interested in having a chapbook published, check out their service. There are also a bookstore and two magazines available by subscription. They do accept submissions from non-members and you can submit directly through the site.

Winning Writers

This site is the home of the Poetry Contest Insider, which is a thorough database-for-a-fee. They also offer a good list of Free Poetry Contests when you sign up for their e-newsletter. Additionally, they have their own contests running throughout the year, including the Margaret Reid Traditional Verse Poetry Contest [taking entries now] and the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest [enter in August].  Also worth checking out is their page on Poetry Contests to Avoid which lists scams and questionable sites and organizations.

Poets.org

This is the official site from the Academy of American Poets, so I guess  it is kind of obvious. If you are looking for a favorite old poem or information on any American poet, go here. They also are the main source for National Poetry Month [April, btw, in case you missed that], since they started it about 13 years ago. There are resources for educators and readers, event listings and contests. You can also sign up to get a poem in your email daily for the rest of the month. An interesting addition this year is the Free Verse group through Flickr which has readers’ favorite poetry incorporated into photography. Some of the interpretations and images are fantastic. It is definitely fun to browse.

Waiting for My Life

Originally uploaded by MtGQ

Poet’s Haven

This site is for indy poets to share their work with the web. It is open to anyone, which means that the poems cover just about every topic, style and angst-ridden memory imaginable. You can share your poetry, discuss poetry in general on the forums, get and give critiques, and there are also other articles, reviews, etc. The highlite for me is the Saturday Night with The Poet’s Haven podcast which features readings from live open-mic nights [mostly in Ohio, where they are based]. You can submit a reading to the podcast too here. I actually have a couple old poems floating around on there from a few years ago. I may have to track them down… [BTW: they do protect your copyright- you reserve all rights.]

Giggle Poetry

This is a poetry site for kids, and it is published by Meadowbrook Press, so yes, they push their work, but there are some hilarious poems here. Teachers, and parents can find resources for teaching creative poetry writing to children and kids can read and rate poems, enter contests and play poetry games. The “Smoker’s Epitaph” fill-in-the-blank is a bit creepy, but sure to raise giggles in the youth and young-at-heart [assuming you do not smoke ;) ]

I know there are many other worthwhile sites out there, and I purposefully did not include blogs, but I would love to learn about any you find particularly helpful or inspiring. Now, I must return to my journal, because I am way behind in the PAD Challenge. Is anyone else posting over there at all? Please share if you are! BTW: They are asking folks to post the favorite selection of their own poems done for the challenge so far. I cannot decide which one of mine I would pick. Any votes?

Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides is to “honor” a poet by creating your own version of a favorite poem, or at least by using a title and replacing some words. I believe this would be considered a parody, but in a good way. There are some interesting ones in the comment board.
I have been poetically slacking because I got all caught up in the Amazon Fail thing and because I do have other things to do ;) but this one came to me rather easily. I am debating whether or not I should bother trying to garden this year. I like it, love growing my own, but I have two brown thumbs. My hubby is a natural farmer, but he relies on me too much since he is never home. And usually by August when it is just grossly humid, even in the middle of a drought, we are watching things die from the comfort of our AC’d living room. Anyway, here is my “tribute” to Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”…thanks for reading!

4/15/2009 3:29:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
“With Respect, Mr. Frost”

Spring’s big thing is green,
A hue I’ve hardly seen.
The early leaves may bloom,
But they will be gone soon.
When summer’s months begin
And Hades’ heat sets in,
Although I hope, I know
Nothing green will grow.

ova
orb vivo
old yet neo
other forms too
oval, round, goo
object holding bio
order inside the exo
only will come to
ounce or two
of oxo

Today is Good Friday and the prompt is “Fridays”… that one isn’t coming to me today…maybe next week. This is from Day8 which was “Routines”…not great, but done:

Routine Stream

Balance—
Do not fall.
Keep chin up,
Smile.

Steady—
First round-off.
Straighten legs,
Done.

Repeat—
to hand stand.
Toes pointed,
Breathe.

Release—
Now the flip.
Tuck in knees,
Land.

Well, I am officially behind on the PAD challenge, though since they are pretty relaxed about when you post, I still can catch up. This is my ubiquitous I-just-need-to-post-for-NaBloPoMo-so-I-can-go-to-bed post. I have been using this blog and the poetry basically to escape, because it really isn’t something I “have to do” and it feels good to stretch old muscles, outside of the normal routine. But, meanwhile, I have worries and issues piling up and they are still there…plus, if you read the last one you may have some idea of what my house looks like. The kids are on spring break this week, so I get less time to myself, which of course cuts into writing and work time….yada, yada…

Also I am looking for work, real work, not freelance or sporadic assignments, but steady full-time income… and part of me is wondering how I am going to squeeze yet more in, but necessity calls. I don’t know which is harder to deal with sometimes, rejection for your creativity or rejection for your credentials… its all so frustrating either way. And draining…so goodnight friends. Hopefully, I will dream Shakespeare tonight and wake up with a sonnet in my heart :)

Tuesday’s prompt was a “2 for Tuesday” meaning we got 2 prompts. First- write a “Clean” poem; Second- a “Dirty” poem. That is to be interpreted however you please. Writing both is optional, and I am not sure which one I chose:

It doesn’t matter
how many times
I pick them up
and put them back again.
If I turn my back
or take a break,
they only keep
coming back again.
I put them in boxes
and baskets
and bags again,
but I don’t know why
because they’ll be back again.
I bend up and down
and have been
back and forth again
and again,
but it only goes in
one ear and out again.
So, here I go, again
to pick them all up
before the kids come in…
Oh no!
I threw my back out again!

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