Wednesday, April 1, 2009

National Poetry Month

Along with rain showers (and early flowers) April brings us National Poetry Month. One way to honor the month is to participate in napowrimo, or National Poetry Writing Month, where the goal is to write a poem a day. I have tried this in past years--it is a challenge but also a wonderful exercise. After all, the more you write, the more you find you have to say, and the better you learn to say it. The site readwritepoem discusses napowrimo further and gives an exercise for today here.

Another way to celebrate poetry this month is to read it! Sites where you can get your poetry fix include:
Poetry Daily
American Life in Poetry
The Writer's Almanac

Monday, March 30, 2009

Finding the Writer Within

I had the opportunity to attend the second in the series called Finding the Writer Within at the Woodford County Library. George Ella Lyon gave a talk/reading followed by a workshop about writing in the voice of a child or adolescent. George Ella, an accomplished and beloved writer, is also a generous and compelling teacher.

One of the exercises was responding to a set of questions asked to draw out memories and details from our younger selves. I was surprised at the responses these questions elicited, and I was reminded that the interview process is a wonderful tool to gain access to information, about ourselves as well as fictional characters.

Finding the Writer Within continues through July, when each month a prominent local author will present a public lecture and a workshop about a topic important to them.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Opportunities for Poets

I am passing along some information related to unique ways of sharing your poetry with the world. First, this from a Kentucky press release:

The Kentucky State Parks are celebrating their 85th anniversary this year and are encouraging guests to help celebrate by getting outdoors and visit the parks. For those of you who like to write about your outdoor experiences, the parks system has a poetry contest for you.

The Kentucky State Parks 85th Anniversary Poetry Contest has three age categories – 11 and under, 12-18 and 19 and over. Any style may be used but poets are asked to use a theme that is some way related to the natural, cultural or historical aspects of state parks.

The deadline for submitting an entry is Nov. 2, 2009, with the winners to be announced by the end of the year. The top prize in each age category is a $50 Kentucky State Park gift card. There will also be prizes for 2nd and 3rd place in each age category. All winners and honorable mentions ages 18 and under will receive a free admission coupon to a state park fort, museum or historic site of their choice.

Winning poems will be posted on the state park web site.

Poems have to be in writing (two copies please) and mailed to the Kentucky Department of Parks, c/o Poetry Contest, 500 Mero Street – 10th floor, Frankfort, Ky. 40601.

There is a limit on length and all works must include a title and be the original work of the entrant. A complete list of rules as well as the official entry form, which must accompany all entries, is available at

Second, check out The Guardian's monthly poetry workshop, where "Every month, a different poet sets an exercise, chooses the most interesting responses from readers and offers an appraisal of them."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ekphrastic Poetry

As part of the LexArts Showcase Weekend, on Saturday, February 7, from 1:00-3:00 p.m., I will be leading a workshop called “Ekphrastic Poetry: Responding to Art through Poetry” at the Carnegie Center. Here’s the blurb from the brochure:

Ekphrasis is writing inspired by art -- usually paintings, photographs, or statues. In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to launch our own poems in reaction to works of art. Through hands-on writing, looking at examples of ekphrastic poems, and discussion, we’ll broaden the separate experiences of poetry and visual art by marrying the two.

Here’s an ekphrastic poem to whet your appetite.

In the morning of the LexArts Showcase Weekend, Lynn Pruett will be leading “Fiction/Collage: Words in Pictures, Pictures into Words” (10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.). Both workshops are free.

The Carnegie Center’s Winter Session starts this week and is filled with many other offerings. To find one (or more) for you, check out the winter schedule.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Reflecting on the Work of 2008

I'm going about this backwards, having looked forward to the year ahead in my post yesterday. Call it memory, call it flashback, call it the writer's business to mix up time.

At the end of 2007, I received an artist enrichment grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to begin writing my second collection of poems. I recently finished my final report reflecting on the activities and artistic growth of the past year. Admittedly, I was a little nervous to review the year, to examine carefully the work I accomplished...and that which I did not. The approach I took was to let the poems develop organically through the year, without thematic direction (although I had outlined expected themes in the original proposal) because you just can't force a poem to be something it's not. Although some of the themes and images did not develop, many did, and, to my delight, new themes and images surfaced. During the year, I did not always feel like I was making progress, though a couple poems immediately felt like "breakthrough" poems. With the recent introspective period, I discovered the year had resulted in many significant changes and growth in my work. Perhaps most noticeably, I see a lightness, even humor, in the new poems, which is not present in the poems of my first manuscript.

Grateful beyond measure for the many benefits the grant provided, I look forward to completing the project and to continued growth as a writer.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

O Pioneer!

By way of Lori-Lyn, I learned about the word of the year project featured on Christine Kane's blog. Essentially, rather than make traditional resolutions (which are traditionally not so successful), you choose a word to carry through the year as a touchstone, a word that guides you through the year. This is a concept that appeals to me, perhaps partially because my daily work is done with words. What better instrument to nudge me into and through the changes (bidden or unbidden) in my life?

After perusing the list of suggested words, a number of them seemed like possibilities--gratitude, creativity, confidence, patience--but only one immediately rang like a bell. Pioneer. I let the word roll around within me for the last few days; more and more it seemed like my word for 2009. It is suggestive of the places I want to go this year...and of the spirit I want to embrace. It even seems like the runner-up words belong under the umbrella of 'pioneer.'

To more fully connect to the word, I looked up its definitions in the dictionary, as I often do when I'm trying to get the language of a poem exactly right (I've learned much about even the simplest and most common words by reviewing their meanings). I was reminded that as a verb, pioneer means:
1a. To open up (an area) or prepare (a way): rockets that pioneered outer space. b. To settle (a region). 2. To initiate or participate in the development of: surgeons who pioneered organ transplants.
It feels like 2009 is going to be a trailblazing year.