Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Writers make good company in person or long distance. In our 80 days together writing about writing I have made the acquaintance of interesting and talented people. Like social exchanges in person we represent a very diverse set of interests and geographic situations. The faithful participants check in twice weekly to report progress on goals which range from studying story architecture to editing novels to posting on twitter. At the same time I have been joining my on line colleagues I have been hanging out at least once a week with poets. One of my goals at the start of the 80 days was to become a regular at the U of A Poetry Center. This goal had been an unstated wish for over a year, and yet I had not worked it into my routine. Now that I made it a conscious part of my practice as a writer I am really happy. Being present for the readings and taking in the atmosphere of the crowds who attend the poetry events is a blast. All this free entertainment that is right up my alley has been waiting for me right around the corner from my home. I am glad I have made it a habit to go because it is a remarkable resource. I will probably work up to taking a workshop eventually.
Although I set no number of books, poems or poets to read during the challenge I have been very active absorbing poetry in print and by app. The Poetry Foundation app and others keep me busy finding new writers from all periods of history. I have developed some favorites in this short time of sampling different kinds of poetic work. Translated poetry is interesting to me. I like hearing it in the original language then in English, to hear the sound before the meaning. Haiku is written by all kinds of people in many languages around the world a great app to learn more about those is The Haiku Foundation’s Haiku app. Shake your iPhone and a new (not your grandfather’s) haiku appears ready to tweet or read. In general I like short pithy poems, but am also fond of epic stories if they contain humor. I am on a general exploratory venture into every poem and all poets. I have thought a lot about the relationship between poetry and music, and how they shape popular culture. I am reading Dorothy Parker Drank Here, a novel about the ghost of the great witty woman. Dorothy Meister presents a funny set of circumstances at the Algonquin Hotel in New York where Mrs. Parker is a haunting the bar as a way of telling about her life and personality. I am enjoying the read, and also noticing what a great device a ghost is to frame a story about anyone in history. I am planning to try it with some of my dead ancestors.
My poetry is chugging along, which I think is an accomplishment. I write almost every day, and expand my subject matter horizons. When I began this adventure I wanted to warm up and work on poetry for a better outcome in this year’s Poetry Month, NaPoWriMo challenge. I feel ready and able to write a poem every day in April, and I am now in the practice of illustrating what I post. I am proud to have developed this habit. It has no unwanted side effects, and I think I can only improve as I practice. Sometimes the inspiration comes from what I am thinking or doing in life, and other times it comes from some distant part of the universe. It always feels good to hit publish. To be in the company of writers is a honor and a privilege I appreciate. Check out my fellow writers and their adventures here.
The Round of Words in 80 Days challenge is a wonderful new experience for me. I joined last week by setting goals I intend to accomplish during the following 80 days. By joining this group I am entering a zone designed to support and entertain writers looking to learn new skills as well as improve on old ones. In the few and far between workshops I have taken in creative writing I did learn from my fellow students in many ways. First, it is comforting to see that many share the exact same creative obstacles and follies. Once we see that writing has certain difficult passages we feel less isolated. It cheers us up to find out others get stuck around the same places that we do. Many of the participants have much more experience and education, which does reflect in the way they put their words together to express themselves. It matters little how large your vocabulary is, or how much you know about crafting dialog for a story if you are out of ideas. We all have to go to the well of creativity and draw water to keep our writing alive. In #ROW80 we share this mutual idea of renewing our source of inspiration. The group is much more powerful than the sum of its parts.
My new devotion to write, read and immerse myself in poetry stems from my ancestry. I have some famous poets in my family tree. This, more than any other accomplishment of my ancestors, has made me think about my own creative legacy. I don’t care to be famous, but think it is very cool to read the handwritten poems of my famous 9th great-grandmother. They are the work of a religious Pilgrim in America, not exactly my cup of tea. I still treasure the poems because they have a life of their own, staying in publication for hundreds of years. I can hear her “voice” because she recorded it (as best she could in the 1600s). She inspires me to refine, discover, and expand my own poetic voice.
I have done the ground work I agreed to do by publishing a poem daily. This is starting to be natural. Usually I do the drawing and poem first thing in the morning, which makes me feel good. I don’t get too critical of the work, I just make an attempt to prime the pump and get a constant flow of words. I will be happy when I become more fluent and need to edit with more thought and specificity. For the present I am pleased just to keep that daily beat. I stay with the images as well as the words while I do my daily routine. I think pondering the colors and the words I have used works to inspire the next day’s creation.
My goal to expose myself to the work of poets with whom I am not familiar is made incredibly easy by the fabulous podcasts and poetry apps available at little or no cost. I have also downloaded a couple of apps that help you create poems, and even record your work. There are many good options to read and to hear. These are a just a few of the new resources for poets and poetry fans:
I am using these and a few other mobile apps to make it easy to find and lean about poets. I particularly like the translated work because the reading is done first in English, followed by the poem in the language in which it was written. I like to hear the sounds and the cadence of the original language after I know what it means. I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy and fun it is to discover poets and enjoy a variety of styles. I like the funny subjects the best.
I skipped the reading last week at the U of A Poetry Center. The schedule arrived in the mail for all the readings, events, classes and workshops to be presented in the spring semester. There is a series called the Poetics and Politics of Water which is very interesting to me. I have marked my calendar to be ready to attend all four parts of this collaboration with the American Indian Studies Program. I am also looking forward to an exhibition of photos from Afghanistan to accompany a presentation on oral folk poetry of the women of the Pashtun tribe, living on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is tremendous technical excellence built into all the work done at the Poetry Center. I cherish to the academic and aesthetic rewards of living very close to this special institution. It is my hope that with the inspiration of my dead poet ancestors and the living poets right around the corner I will be staking a claim to an identity as a writer. A lot can happen in 80 days!!
My strong love of reading has compelled me to do many things, including restricting my book consumption on a 3 book diet last year. My consumer weakness it is for art and books. I never seem to have enough of either one, even though I have more than I can store in my present circumstances. The Kindle has helped me to reduce the space I dedicate to books, but the passion to read everything all the time was not diminished by the diet. If anything I am rebounding since November when I allowed myself to buy books once more. I have loaded up on both print and Kindle books, plus I had a big backlog from the book diet year that I had acquired and not opened. I am back in full force as crazy reading woman, proving once and for all that diets just do not work.
Attending the Tucson Festival of books for the first time was amazing to me. The super well-organized event takes place on the U of A campus in buildings and in various tents set up for the weekend. Windy weather did not deter the visitors or participants from having wonderful time. Presentations for readers as well as writers are given all day both Saturday and Sunday. A giant food court assures that spending the day there will require no sacrifice. I did not eat or attend a session, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the tents I visited. Volunteers make sure the crowd is informed. Families with kids can participate in several ongoing demonstrations, book give aways, and photo ops with favorite characters from children’s literature . I bought some great cookbooks, two of historical significance, from the Assistance League tent and a book of memoirs from an Albuquerque lawyer, Laws and Loves Part I, Real Stories of the Rattlesnake Lawyer. I am a sucker for books that contain the word rattlesnake in the title. I am also planning to attend a free introductory class by the Writer’s Studio in Tucson. I have some desire to write poetry, and this group offers workshops that are convenient and well priced. Who knows, gentle readers, where this may go. Maybe all this reading will help me learn to write. Stay tuned; the plot may thicken.