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Things I wish I could write a poem about but can’t.  Yet.

tiepolo_mandolinwhat if classic poets had a slumber party?
how I feel during the mandolin part of Maggie Mae
getting stabbed by your underwire
being upside down – beyond our apriopic sensors
women’s bathroom etiquette
dyslexia, but I’m not dyslesxic. I just know quite a few.
jr. high moments v. senior moments (e.g., should I call him? v. why did I pick up the phone?)
If Buddha lived today, would he ride a Harley?
what’s in this container at the back of the fridge?
koan answers
how siblings fight (nuh-uh! uh-huh! Mom!)
princess hair (or mermaid hair)
wave dynamics
stealing Robbie Robertson’s bottle of rain
writing without chocolate

First I’ll say how awesome (!) it was to attend a book signing for one of our own. I get to read Jerry’s work-in-progress almost every week at group, and I know he writes well. It was great to see that skill and work come to fruition: getting his novel published.

While at the signing, I sat next to a man who was blind. I sat next to him mostly because he was sitting on a very cushy-looking settee and, compared to an hour on metal folding chair, there was no contest. (Ok, he was also attractive in a 50-ish, ponytail kind-of way.) We chatted before Jerry spoke and talked about our preferred fiction genres, styles, and authors. I asked him if he could read and how did he read. He smiled and said that he could indeed read, read a lot, and currently used an optical character recognition (OCR) machine for books and OCR software on his computer. He told me how much better it is today compared to when he attended school and college, always requiring a reader (“Not that I don’t greatly appreciate what they did for me…”) and how much easier it is today and how he prefers having more control over his reading instruments.

I asked if the OCR had different voices to choose from and other options; did he prefer a woman’s voice or something like Jerry’s (deep, male, radio voice)? He explained that he did have a preferred voice among the many it had to choose from, and he would not pick a voice like Jerry’s (LOL), but more important to him was his ability to control the speed. Dramatic texture was not nearly as important to him as speed. I found this interesting, as I would have thought voice-acting skill was important.

Now that I’m doing some research on the web on OCR, I realize a couple things. He knows reading his way , and so he calls it reading. Why would he call it anything else? Just because he doesn’t use his eyes the way do — he still receives information from a book or magazine and processes it verbally. I had a bit of a perspective shift. We are so egocentric, aren’t we? The other thing I realized is that my preference for dramatic reading may stem from the choices I have. I have used “books on tape/CD” for long drives, and I have been acutely aware and judgmental of poor readings. For example, Lance Armstrong’s biography recording is done by a professional actor/reader. It’s so well done, that when I heard Lance speak after I finished the bio, I thought he sounded wrong. Contrast that to John Glenn’s biography recording. While he’s certainly lived an interesting life, he’s not a skilled or dramatic reader, and I don’t think he should have read his story himself. I found myself distracted from the content by his wooden delivery. I put books I read myself and recorded books into two different catagories. This is not a distinction this man can make.

Early's Fall by Jerry Peterson

Early's Fall by Jerry Peterson

Today is Jerry Peterson’s author event – a book signing at Booked for Murder in Madison for his novel Early’s Fall.

Visit Jerry Peterson Books for information about a great writer and a synopsis of the book.

Twitter away, folks. See you there at 2:00!

Because I don’t go to church or participate in any organized spiritual or fraternal groups, I didn’t think that I performed or was attached to any rituals. Recently, though, I spent a little time lately examining my activities and intentions. Quotidian rituals include making the bed every day, compulsively checking that the garage door is closed (three times check and say, “door’s closed”), brushing and flossing my teeth, and applying eye cream at night. There are certainly activities I wish were daily-without fail and more intentional: walking, meditation, performing acts of charity or kindness, and
(the circumlogical) daily intention.

Examining my activities for rituals showed me less about the ritual and more about my self than I would admit before now. The compulsive activities MUST be done. I experimented a few times — try to leave the bed unmade. One time I got as far as sitting in the car before I went back into the house and made the bed. I’ve driven back from the end of the block if I can’t remember ritually closing the garage door. Deliberately refusing these rituals left me feeling vulnerable and exposed; incomplete and unable to free my attention. Perhaps that’s the real value of ritual. it allows you to bundle your angst or anxieties into a tightly controlled activity — it’s an agreement you make with your psyche for a mechanism to facilitate compartmentalization.

Emma helping me write

Emma helping me write

I don’t have any rituals for writing. I have some preferences, though. I’ve learned i write better after meditation. I write better by following a thread of thought intuitively. The times I’ve set out with a specific subject or occasion, I’ve struggled greatly. I enjoy Celtic music while writing. Most of the time I write directly on the laptop, though without specific location, but there are times I work from notes I’d written on paper. Sometimes Emma helps, but usually she just purrs moral support.

Admittedly, I’m not a “starving artist.” I’m well-paid and well-fed by my day job, so I don’t suffer in that way. Lately, though, I’ve been compelled to do some activities driven by an idea for a poem. My most recent painful experience has been climbing a tree. Yes, at 53, I climbed a tree. (Hey, that’s Seussical!)

When I was young, I climbed trees a lot. In my neighborhood growing up, the main kid-activities were tree-climbing, fort building, and bike riding. Now, however, it’s a real struggle to do any activity with the word “climb” in it. It took me many days to find a tree that was climable: low enough branches, thick, heavy limbs that could support my full-size butt, and limited brush and small branches around it (they whack you in the face). The only way I can describe this drive was, compulsion. I HAD to climb a tree; it had become a personal haj.

I did find one and I wrote extensively about the experience in a poem. The real tree was on Woodland Ave., banking a farm field, but I thought the street name was too overt, so I changed the location to County K. I really like the resulting poem and will submit it for critique to my group in a few weeks. I don’t have any idea what drove this episode, I’m just hoping my next one is less anxiety and boo-boo producing, not more.

Here’s a fun blog that has all the posts written in haiku.

http://lulu-haiku.blogspot.com/

Very clear and economical: three lines and you’re done.

March Haiku

 

Snow fall in late march

robins fluff and flounce confused

what is this white stuff?

 

Squirrels cheek the feed corn

fuel to race around the tree

for spring’s courtship dance.

 

Garage grit and salt

sweep it out week after week

winter’s loathsome chore.

 

©Copyright 2009 Pat Edwards

Golden Retriever Postcard from Zazzle

Golden Retriever Postcard from Zazzle

IMHO, good lyrics are poetry. For example, I’m listening to Paul Simon this morning — his song, Father and Daughter has a wonderfully poetic image in it, “I’m going to stand guard, like a postcard of a golden retriever.” Also, the song always makes me cry; it came out the year my father died and, of course, I still miss him. A great song, like a great poem evokes a response.

My favorite lyricist is Joni Mitchell. Her lyrics can stand on their own as poems in almost every case. Who has ever written a better line than, “I could drink a case of you and still I’d be on my feet…”? While I’m not a drinker, I can appreciate the binge image. Additionally, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp (underappreciated), and Warren Zevon also come to mind for complex, evocative lyrics.

In addition to the slightly warmer temperatures and the rain, robins are scavengening around my bird feeders. Spring is finally here in southern Wisconsin.

I pulled out a folder of stories from college today, stories written for a creative writing class. I read through them to see if anything was salvageable for updating — I haven’t written a short story since college. That’s been a while. Interesting (to me, at least) was the teacher I had for that class: T.C. Boyle. He had just published his first collection (didn’t require we read it, but a lot of us did), Descent of Man and his first novel was on the way. Now that he’s well established, I found his comments about my stories more interesting than my stories. My memory of him as a teacher is fairly vague — other teachers had a greater impact on me. Mostly I remember him as very, very tall, very, very thin, with a strange middle name (Coraghessan), but he told us we could call him “Tom.”

Nothing of my old stories has any potential, but they didn’t seem as immature as I thought they would be.

One of my esteemed collegues from Tuesdays with Story, my writing group said my latest poems were “fighting below my weight class.” God, I hate it when they’re right. I said on a previous blog that they always critique on target. When I submit poems that I’m not happy with; they’re not happy with them either. So, I’m going to line this feedback with silver lamé . (1). My assessment of a good poem is on-track with a reader’s assessment. My gut feeling is a good gauge. (2). The group will always tell me what they felt was missing or lacking in the poem. They tell me if it feels complete, and they tell me what reaction the poem caused. This can help me fix it. (3). This tells me I’m better at writing than these particular poems show. I’ve produced better that they’ve read, and they hold me to a higher standard. Thank you, my fellows. May the muses move in next door and bring ambrosia to your potluck dinners.