Sunday, November 30, 2014

"I have been eating poetry" - Mark Strand

                                                                                                          Rene Magritte

In honor of Mark Strand  1934-2014

Canadian-born American poet, essayist, and translator, Strand was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990.  He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for his collection, Blizzard of One.  

He wrote several epitaph poems. The Remains, comes from his 1970 collection Darker.

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.
What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.
My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds.
How can I sing? Time tells me what I am.
I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

Humor flowed through his poems also.

Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Get into Mischief!

"Why should I ask God to make me good when I want to be naughty?" asked the little girl.
All the wise men of the world are put to silence by this childish query.  A parliament of philosophers will not resolve it.  When we set out in search of an answer we are . . . lost.  
                                           - William Macneile Dixon

Children need to practice a bit of mischevous behavior to cultivate curiosity and inspire humor.  When the situation doesn't cause harm or damage, devious thinking initiates creative ways to solve problems. 

Use memories of childhood impishness to implement writing by adding something out of the ordinary that has a texture of mischevous.  

Recall a time you were creatively naughty. 

Write to cause trouble in a playful way. Have you developed a prank that does not cause damage but excites and incites fun?

Let your curiosity travel to an imagination playground. Write to push the limits and get into mischief.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Questions for Now

Over seven billion people exist on the planet. Everyone tries to figure out how to live, love, eat, survive and co-exist with one another. We live in a great "something." Struggles for that something give meaning to our lives.

How would you write about our current era?  

Would you call it a re-awakening for change? Have we become more aware of what needs attention: pollution reduction, resource protection, energy efficiency, and self-sufficiency?

Do we live in an age of universal chaos?  

Stay upbeat and have creativity match challenges in writing about our era.   Consider inventions or suggestions you would develop to assist with our life process.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Turkey Day!

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Thanksgiving provides time to celebrate gratitude for life's gifts: family, friendships, and discoveries in each moment. We live in a world of chaos but have the ability to bring balance through writing. 

Give thanks for each challenge as it turns into an exploration. Make laughter a priority.

Celebrate your creativity today. Write into a thankful mood for all the happenings that get you down. Grow buoyant, float and fly. A bit of humor conquers all.

Appreciate what's offered regardless of the form. Share your attention to detail and have a grateful day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Writing

"My thanksgiving is perpetual…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Thanks by W.S. Merwin 


with the night falling we are saying thank you 
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings 
we are running out of the glass rooms 
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky 
and say thank you 
we are standing by the water thanking it 
smiling by the windows looking out 
in our directions . . .

Celebrate the Best Holiday of the year in writing!

What's your Gratitude about? Where will it take you? 

Write several lines about Thanksgiving.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Write Into Unfinished Efforts

"... readers of creative nonfiction are not so much interested in your life, but what you think of your life, the steps you have taken to understand it. It is what makes a book memorable; it is what sticks." -Ira Sukrungruang

Life story writing delves into a composite of strengths and struggles. It takes insight and courage to confront mistakes and failings with permission to let them trickle onto the page. Self-understanding results from acknowledging areas of vulnerability. 

How is it possible to provide a patchwork of self without gathering unpleasant choices to write about? Missteps lead to the joy of dance.

Everyone suffers from what Thomas Merton calls the "trembling self." Individuals are not always heroic and right.  Delving into troubling notions begins the eternal search for "how am I" in addition to the "who."

Write to discover ways beyond taking revenge, taking sides or sharing war stories. Artifacts of courage include unfinished efforts.

Consider your unfinished efforts.  Write into, around and through an issue that causes a "trembling self." Take notice of how you get in the way of your self-discoveries in this situation. Write from another perspective that differs from your own. Make notes of insights that result.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Art of Winter

"The creative act is courageous, an ancient gesture, a dynamic exploration of the dark mystery that is human existence."   
- Adriana Diaz from The Soul of Creativity.

Winter paints a structure of strength in trees and foliage.  Silence snuggles in its morning cloak and pads through the neighborhood.  Along the railings of bridges, spider webs sport their graffiti sparkled by frost. Leaves continue to fall and land with a crackle and cackle.

This time of change provides an opportunity to delve into the basics. The slower pace stimulates a search inward.

Nature reveals the landscape in an array of bare bones.  As auxins drain into the roots, squirrels scamper to store their cache of nuts. Everything moves into its simple form as a gesture for us to follow.

Nature's art swirls.  Creation continues in the silent exhalation of trees sculptured by the season's change. Creativity thrives in the spaces among branches.

There's a need for moments in reverence and joy to celebrate the change a winter outlook provides. The words of winter entice with their requests for ways to adorn the emptiness. 

This begins the search for mysteries in enrichment and growth that will blossom by spring.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rapid Write

For Thanksgiving week, think about these Six R’s for a Balanced Life:

Respect:  Work on self-esteem from your inside out. Share it with everyone.

Reliance:  Enrich your talents and keep learning with insight.

Responsibility:  Make informed choices. Express gratitude.

Resilience: Don’t let any audience dictate your moods. Stay buoyant.

Renewal: Enjoy moments:  music, laughter, friendships, and fun.

Reverence: Find your dedication to family, friends and discover yourspiritual strength.

Try a rapid write. Start with a different letter of the alphabet. Take 15 minutes to write a wisdom statement extending from six of them.  

Go for it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do you Love to Kre8?

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address

In her book, YOUR CREATIVE BRAIN,  Dr. Shelley Carson shares the psychology and neuroscience of creativity. A Harvard psychologist, Dr. Carson defines creativity as something novel or original and useful or adaptive to some portion of the population. She focuses on the distinction between originality and creativity. Carson indicates that many things are original but aren’t particularly creative. She cites the “word salad” speech of a schizophenic as highly original but it does not appear to have a utility, even to the person uttering the words. 

Psychologists used to believe the left brain analyzed with an involvement of sequential thinking and the right brain handled creativity. The a movement developed toward the front-back brain division. The front brain became the gatekeeper and controlled the input from the back brain. Now we think it’s more complicated that either model. It depends upon which stage of the creative process you’re in.

Dr. Carson feels contentment is the enemy of creativity because the creative mind constantly hungers for stimulation.

Creativity involves novelty-seeking. Studies of cognitive behavior have shown you can change brain activation states, alter neurotransmitter levels and the receptors for those neurotransmitters and receptors. Dr. Carson believes, “if we have the ability to change our brains with cognitive behavior therapy, why not use that power to become more novelty-seeking and more creative?’

She adds, to increase creativity, “keep learning new things. Take courses, read widely, and learn how to play a new instrument or how to cook Tuscan food. Learn, learn, learn! Try not to judge the things you’re learning. Keep an open mind. Everything you learn is a possible element that may make its way into some future creative idea that you can’t even imagine today. And the more open-minded you remain about what you learn, the more likely you are to see how it can be combined with other information to form a novel and original product or idea." 

What could you do to develop a novelty-seeking ability in your life today? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Writers Need Rest

When rushing to create a product, writers often power from idea to solution and avoid the percolation process. Although they accomplish a result, they may have missed insights gained from the incubation period so vital to the creative process. An interval of rest and diversion from thoughts and brain noise helps everyone reach the "Aha" moment with more possibilities. 

During a period of not writing, notions and ideas flicker the synapses in kaleidoscopic fashion. With deadlines approaching, it becomes difficult to let that "nothing" happen. Even a short break will prove valuable. After a respite, a feeling of freshness and invigoration pushes one into the final stage of writing.

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the magic of brain swirl depended on channeling from the Muses. Unknowingly, while leaving it to the Gods, they permitted time for rest to take over. They also enjoyed bacchanalia for diversion. 

Elias Howe, an adapter of the sewing machine, became frustrated with the notion of the sewing needle because he could not determine how to thread and mechanize it. One day he stopped and stared out the window. His mind spun in reverie. 

Later he and told his wife he had a daydream of standing inside a black pot of boiling water in the jungle. A native came to him ready to thrust a spear. He looked up and noticed the spear had a hole in its tip. When he returned to his work, he decided to try a hole in the tip of the needle in his machine. Aha!

Each writer has a different way of accessing this place of rest as a springboard to illumination. 

It takes courage and resolve to rest. Take time from a writing project to investigate your place of silent awareness. Does this work during the moments of tranquility before sleep or in moments upon awakening? 

Do you make discoveries in the flow during yoga, a run or walk? Let breathing exercises push you into a calm and tranquil state. Could some form of meditation provide the rest needed?

Define in writing what a place of rest means to you. During a time of frustration in writing, give yourself the permission to rest. Then write about the results.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cozy into the Blue

Imagine a nap under the sea's comforter,
                 awash in a blanket of blue from nose to toes.

Just a snuggle into the sea
                while clouds perform
                               to relax concerns.

Moments taken to snooze among the ripples.

To let the mind melt into the luxury of sea and sky. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bubbling for Ideas

A stack of bricks, a work shirt billowing on the line: 
epics in the making. Each set of doubts a garden                                            
     - Lance Larsen from the poem, "Chancellor of Shadows"                       

How do you generate ideas for your prose or poetry? At times, inspiration 
may seem mysterious. Connection, collection, and collation promote 
idea development.

Consider all the stimuli received each day. Take time to use all your senses as antennas to locate and pick up bits of conversations, body language, scenes unfolding and opportunities for further investigation.

If you keep a small notebook handy or use a recording device, ideas will land in a safe place. Later you can return to see how they dovetail or grow additional wings. Don't worry about beginnings, middles or ends. Become a collector of life's mysteries and events that unfold around you. 

Stephane Mallarme said, "Poems are not made of ideas, they are made of words. An idea, a possibility, may be in my head - or in the world - for hours or years, with nothing coming of it. Then one day, maybe taking a shower or a walk or driving, into my mind or mouth come a few words in a certain order, or maybe not even words, maybe a shape of grammar, sentence-sound: And then a poem begins, I hope."

Stay on an idea hunt. No matter where you find yourself you can attract them. Take an hour to visit a park, coffee shop or other place where many people gather. 

Watch body language, sounds and add scents and tastes. Observe the seasons and their subtleties. Notice the animals that populate your days.

Look up and observe details others miss. If you begin this observation, a habit will form and you'll always attract bubbles of ideas. Let your ideas-in-training percolate. They will arise when you least expect them.

How will you bubble for ideas today?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Write Your Hero's Journey

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. - Rousseau

Joseph Campbell considers a story of growth, the Hero’s Journey. The process includes, “separation, initiation, return.”

A problem faces the hero. He must leave home and enter the world to overcome the problem. After finding a solution, he returns home or to a new place. 

How would you create your own Hero's Journey of separation, initiation, and return?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Today's Triumph

If you travel 300 million years back in time, you feel frightened 
by dragonflies as big as eagles and cockroaches the size of dogs.

Similarly, if you managed to locate a time machine and returned 
to another phase of your life you'd come across events that upset 
and derailed you back when.  

Revisit one or two of those events in today's freewrite. Dig in and 
discover how with your confidence and courage of today you 
might approach them differently.

Turn what once undermined you into today's triumph.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Off the Trail

"Off the trail" is another name for the Way, and sauntering off the trail is the practice of the wild. This is also where - paradoxically - we do our best work. But we need paths and trails and will always be maintaining them. You must first be on the path, before you can turn and walk into the wild." - Gary Snyder

Develop a metaphor for writing to reveal a path or trail that you maintain.

In what ways could you plant seeds, weed, and care for growth along the route?

Explore the cliffs and use courage to seek hidden caves.

Discover encounters on the path to enrich the passage.

Let surprises nudge the imagination.

Will finding a rhythm in the curves and rocks inspire ideas for writing?

Wander into the wild with words where the sea meets the sky.

Range into new realms of
thoughts and feelings.

Alter sensory experience.

Stretch yourself with surprise.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Energize Your Writing!

Choices. Chances. Changes.  If you make a choice to take a chance your life may change.

Write about  a choice you made.  The chance you took.  What changes occurred?

Now, come up with three As and three Bs and three Ds.

The awe. The amazement. The aura that resulted.

The battle fought. The baggage dumped. The best feeling.

The dare. The dream evaluated. The development.

Pursue threes till you reach past Z.

You're energized! 

Write a poem or develop a philosophy of life.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Nature Walk

If you feel stuck with a writing project, discover ways to cross from one idea to another.
Notice a collage of color. Search for a variety of scents that float on the breeze. Use the tips of fingers to feel the texture of nature's offerings.

Take a chance by discovering a route into the wild you have never considered.

Look up, down and around for the unusual.

Who in the past has traveled this path?

Imagine a mystical creature to greet you.

Ask what if ?

Do you feel a sense of foreboding or an invitation to adventure?

Take a nature walk to stimulate curiosity and imagination.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Write About Rain

 "The poet puts down the title: "Autumn Rain." He finds two or three good lines about Autumn Rain. Then things start to break down. He cannot find anything more to say about Autumn Rain so he starts making up things, he strains, he goes abstract, he starts telling us the meaning of what he has already said. The mistake he is making, of course, is that he feels obligated to go on talking about Autumn Rain, because that, he feels, is the subject. Well, it isn't the subject. You don't know what the subject is, and the moment you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain start talking about something else. In fact, it's a good idea to talk about something else before you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain." ~ Richard Hugo

Start with a clean page or a blank screen. 

Choose to write about rain. 

Begin with all the situations you have experienced. Add scents, tastes, colors.Write whatever comes to mind. Keep going as other thoughts and feelings enter.

Take a break. Look around and out the window.

Start writing again. Let words flow concerning what occurs to you. 

Avoid writing about rain. 

Notice what happens.