If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

On Writing Poetry



To rhyme or not to rhyme, that is the question. Sorry about that Shakespeare. I have been writing poetry off and on since I was a teenager – more off than on until I started college as a nontraditional student in my early forties. It was then I took my first English class since high school. English 101. The professor, Vivian Pemberton, suggested I submit an essay I’d written to ICON, the literary magazine of the Trumbull branch of Kent State University. In the essay, “Saying Goodbye”, I wrote about my son’s last hours of life the year before. It was accepted and every semester after that, I submitted not essays but poems. Most of the magazine contained poetry, a few pieces of art work and the occasional essay.

So what is poetry? Robert Frost said “Poetry is the kind of thing poets write.” It’s not that Frost couldn’t have expounded at length, it’s that poetry is not always easy to define. It eludes simple explanations.  It’s a form of writing that creates an emotional response, a piece of work that makes some connection to the reader. To be better understood, a poem needs to be read and studied to allow the poem to grow in your mind. It is much like music in that respect. Some poems are as simple as a well-known tune with no deeper meaning. Others have more depth and only develop more meaning for a reader the more often they are read and studied.

Much of last month I spent on writing new poems or editing and revising older poems for The Ohio Poetry Day contests – about 30 different contests under one blanket. For a flat fee of $10.00, a poet could enter as many of them as they chose or were qualified to enter. A few contests are only for Ohio poets, but almost all are open to anywhere in the English speaking world. Some poems come from as far away as Australia, the UK, Canada, and include many states other than Ohio. This year I entered twenty-one contests a day before the deadline of May 31st. Did I ever mention I’m a terrible procrastinator?

Although writing poetry seems far different from writing prose like blogs and the mysteries I write, they do have elements in common like finding the perfect word to convey a feeling or a picture, or to adequately express an emotion. Some poems are easy to understand and relate to, especially the rhyming or humorous poems. Others take more time and reading to understand what the poet is trying to convey and just as many can be interpreted in different ways to fit the reader’s interpretation.

             

Of course, that is where poetry varies from writing prose in which the author wants the reader to get what they’re saying and not have to reread and ponder the meaning of a sentence or paragraph. Mysteries especially need to keep the reader eagerly reading and not pausing in thought, although I’ll admit to enjoying a particularly good and evocative description of either a person or a scene in a well-written mystery especially if it’s well done. In Jane Langton’s book, Divine Inspiration, I love her simple offbeat descriptions like “After the fire Mrs. Frederick came forward with her arms full of money. ‘The best,’ she said to James Castle, ‘Get the very best.’” This is so much better than saying the very rich woman to describe her, isn’t it?” This book - as in all of Langton’s books - is filled with descriptions that are almost poetical like her description of this receptionist. “The dragon glared at him.  Little streams of smoke leaked from her reptilian jaw.” Because it has a musical theme, I found “catapulting counterpoint” and “the lingering scent of perfumed sopranos and clean-shaven tenors,” -quite delicious descriptions. In fact, it’s her descriptions and humor as well as her plots and rich characters that make Jane Langton one of my favorite mystery writers.  

Although writing a poem seems simple, after all how can writing a page or two of lines even begin to compare with a chapter of a novel a writer is working on? In truth, except for the occasional short poem that almost seems to write itself, it takes a lot of work to write a poem. I can spend as much time, and often more, on writing one poem as I can on writing a short story or chapter in my current work in process. I’m not talking about the numerous revisions and polishing, of course.  But just like my mysteries, my poetry goes through numerous revisions and rereading so that months or years later, I’m still apt to make changes here and there. I also believe writing poetry is a good discipline for the mind because the difference from prose makes it challenging. Some people work crossword puzzles or Sudoku to exercise the brain, I choose poetry.

Do you write poetry?

What other things to you use to exercise your brain?




11 comments:

Paula Gail Benson said...

What a great tradition, Gloria. I imagine it blends well with your gardening during this time of year. I hope you receive news of winning one or more of the contests.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Paula. Since I started entering these contests, I've placed in at least one or more. It gives me a real high. It's so subjective. I've entered a poem in a contest one year and don't place. Then another year I enter the same poem completely unchanged in another contest and it places. Last year a poem I'd entered in several contests the previous few years won 2nd place out of almost a hundred entries. I won $50.00, a large amount for a poem.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I wrote poetry that was published in high school and college literary magazines. I only wrote a few poems while I was working and have given up on it.

For now I’ll stick with writing novels, although I might again take a fling at either short stories or poetry if the right idea grabs my interest.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

I hope you hear good news from the poetry contest!

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I think many teenagers write poetry, I know my oldest son did, but somehow later it falls by the wayside. Maybe because the daily grind of adulthood doesn't have the muse of teenage angst.

Thank you, Shari. I never hear until sometime in the fall when they're getting ready for a weekend of activities celebrating poetry and the winners. Since it's not anywhere close, I never go.

Ann G said...

I very nearly didn't sign up for my first Open University Creative writing course, because it included writing poetry. I phoned up the course head and asked if it was possible to skip the poetry assignments, and was talked into giving it a try.

I'm glad I did, and in the end I wrote a few poems I am pleased with. But oh, it was hard work. So much harder than writing stories.

I hope your poems do well in the contest, Gloria

:-)

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Ann. I'm glad you took the challenge, and I hope you saved those poems.

Patg said...

Well, as you know Gloria, poetry is completely lost on me. It is the pondering of another's meaning that I don't like and that it allows me to interpret. My perspective on many things is off beat from the norm and I rarely see things as others do.
What I love in pros are those paragraph long sentences, properly punctuated, and very clear in meaning. I read them no matter the excitment of the flow, just to savor them. OTOH, too often in genre fiction editors seem to want short, little choppy sentences that border on 'see spot run'.
Patg

KM said...

Poetry is out of my league, I think. I enjoy other people's poetry, but don't feel much inclination to write any myself, and doubt I could if I tried. It's wonderful that you can use it to express intense feelings and thoughts.

I was at a book signing today (moderately successful--sold a few) One of the other people signing had a book of poetry, & she did a brief reading.

Gloria Alden said...

Pat, I'm so glad to hear you like long sentences, too. At least if they're properly done. I think it's probably best if there are some short sentences alternating, though. All the short choppy sentences are most likely due to the prevailing short attention span and Twittering by so many.

KM, not everyone enjoys poetry, and quite truthfully I don't like all poetry. I prefer poetry that is easy to understand, and I especially like humorous poetry.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, even selling only two books at a book signing is good, especially if you're with other writers.