Monday, March 28, 2011

On the Spot Poetry Marathon

If there are any poets out there who go through an impasse, can't get back in the groove, couldn't find a metaphor if it walked right past you like the girl in the red dress, then I make a recommendation.  A spontaneous poetry challenge.  I was chatting online with my long time writing partner, Brian (I've known him for ten years, we've been having writing meetings of over 5 years) who has moved from South Carolina to Durham, NC. 
He happened to mention he'd written a poem a month or so ago.  Right now he doesn't have time for writing with his heavy course load in college where he's going for a degree in ancient languages.  So I encouraged  him to send it on.  I read it while he waited. Then I reminded a half finished poem I'd written a few months ago.  So I went and dug it out, rewrote it and forwarded it to him along with my comments to him. This started a marathon which is still going on!
Wow.  His first offering was the beginning of an epic poem, The Bastards of Amon.  It was so powerful, so rich in texture and imagery, language and emotion, I was inspired.  By the end of the weekend I completed the first poem and wrote two more. I also started the layout out a poetry chap I've had in mind for over a year. And to top it off,  I started a beeswax collage for the cover of  Lunar Moth Lessons.  I haven't produced a poetry book for two or three years so this is a miracle in itself.
Brian has now written four parts to his poem and I feel as if I'm back in my writing group, where the tangential conversations lead into everything from politics, to philosophy, language and word, duende and awareness, each exchange driving us onward to renewed efforts and different insights charged up by the emotion put forth in the poems.  It is very different from our usual methods where we had at least a week to review and critique each other's work and to produce something new, a poem, a chapter, a story.  I don't know if we ever would have thought of this other than in such a spontaneous matter.
Now I feel like a poet again - it;'s been a long and lonely time as far as that goes.  And it feels very rewarding to be back on track. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Out Out Hermit and magical realism

Trying to write but lately it's been feeling a lot more like work and isn't flowing like it was before.  
This is most likely due to the hectic few weeks at work at the brain injury center with lots of time away from the office. First, there was a conference in Columbia, SC with a  decent talk on  technology for those with brain injury. On the fun side, we took some of our clients to an outing to see "Limitless" which was quite good except for the rushed and unexplained ending of how all things suddenly worked out for the hero, without any explanations on how he pulled it off.  Big no no in the novel world.  Doesn't work in the movies either, as far as I'm concerned.
Then I spent part of a Saturday volunteering at the Run for Thought which raises money for brain injury survivors. And yesterday we had another outing to the Harley Davidson store and Quaker State and Lube, 19 of us, only 5 of us staff.  Wow, it was hectic, to say the least but I never knew how impressive a Harley Davidson store was. 
So in my free time, I've done a little editing on other writer;s work and am planning my roadtrip to see Salman Rushdie speak at Duke Univ. in April,. I've worked a bit on Fireworks, most of a new chapter, but there are scientific kinks to work out. In between doing research, and thanks to the inspiration form stories in publications like Danse Macabre, sein und werden, and Mad Hatter's Review, I worked on reviving Two Ruffians and a Rat, with a new twist. It's a challenge to get back into the pace and style, but I like the characters and the style  so hope I can get back into the mindset. Now, this one requires research too. Why do I do this to myself?
Ther4e are lots of practical issues to attend to now with the house, my garden, etc. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Emerging out of hermit status?

While the weekend started in my customary way... writing, it soon veered off the hermit path after a single  poem.  Due to the gorgeous weather and need for warm weather clothing, I did a mini thrift store haunt, starting at Junior League where everything you could stuff in large paper bag was only $8.  I found five things for me, including a jacket perfect for steampunk using some of my old SCA metallic buttons, five things for Kendall and a book on the Voyager 1 & 2 space programs.  Then onto L's on Augusta where I picked up another steampunk jacket this one a soft gray which I've had my eye on for months at 1/2 off and some tops for work, then onto Goodwill where they must have just put out there spring items, because I came away with 15 items for 22 bucks.  I did spring $4.25 for a funky trendy cotton skirt because that's the only fabric I like to wear when the temps get over 90 degrees.   Normally, I hate clothes shopping.  I don't have the patience, but usually twice a year at the first smell of spring or fall I try and go out and find matching items all at once to wear for the entire upcoming 2 seasons.  My only disappointment was that skirts were in short supply and I much prefer skirts to even capri slacks in the summer.  My average cost of each item was under $1.00!  Can't beat that.
On Sunday Lindy, Vicki, Julia and I went downtown, Lindy and I ate at the new Carolina Ale House - yummy with great service and headed to the St. Patrick's Day, Return of the Green, bagpipes bring tears to my eyes still.  WE topped it off with a beer at a new little corner pub called, On the Roxx in the West End. 
In between I did a bit of writing, working on Fireworks.  So all in all a busy weekend.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Valenitne Wolfe and Marcus at Oh Cha

What a unique evening!  Mark, Lindy and I started at Bellacino's, then visited some of the galleries downtown, and finally headed to Oh Cha tea house set on the shores of the Reedy River, where we found all kinds of eclectic individuals: artists, writers, photographers, musicians, steampunk, gothic folks, 1950's style pin-up girls. We had a great time seeing James and Ben, Elizabeth and Tesla & I had a chance to give Ben the beeswax collage I made for him but alas, I forgot to take photos of it. My camera batteries also died so I only was able to get this one photo of the show.
  We were all gathered to see Valentine Wolfe with guest performer, Marcus Hill, who plays Middle Eastern drums. What an innovative performance! They started out with Dead Can Dance and then played everything from torch songs to Baroque to a Tudor piece written by Henry the VIII. Of course they also played some of their songs form their own CD's, Five Nocturnes and The Crimson Masquerade.  Probably one of the most eclectic shows I've ever seen. Braxton has proven me wrong.  When I first met him, I thought only cellists could tease such a range of sounds from their instrument, but all night long, Braxton stretched the limits of what sounds anyone could imagine emanating form a bass. Sarah's operatic voice was perfect for the diverse melodies and the drumming by Marcus put it over the top in the intimate, jam packed tea shop. I could watch Braxton for hours because of way he plays his bass to evoke a range of tones and melodies exploring the pieces with depth, emotion and at time surprise.  The solos were stunning.
Sarah looked as dramatic as always, dressed in one of her own creations and I overheard your women commenting on how they liked men in kilts.And the audience dressed to match. Just about everyone who walked in the door was unique in their own way, yet the room was all inclusive, all welcoming, despite the jam-packed supercharged atmosphere. Everyone there was mesmerized, 100% per cent present in the moment, all eyes on Sarah, Braxton and Marcus.
James mentioned that the experience was like an "art house film," and that it was, I felt like I was in some subculture scene out of a film on the order of The Hunger. I kept expecting Bowie to walk in out of the rain to join the standing room only crowd, and nod to the trio with an appreciative subtle grin of acknowledgment on his face.   

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Feeling like an author - the submission process

The one time I feel more like an author, not writer, is during the submission process.  While I'm writing or editing stories, poetry or novels, I know I'm writing but don't feel like a writer.  It's only during that first transition from the private world in my head and on paper to the public domain of an editor, who is not a friend or writing partner, that I feel like I'm doing my job. 
What could be a tedious, nerve-wracking stage, I find to be exciting, rewarding and it gives me the satisfaction of a professional working at their craft.  Sure there are hours to be spent on Duotrope reading the market requirements and then there's the preparation of manuscripts. And then of course, the time spent reading the magazines themselves to see where my work is a good fit. I don't like to waste my time or another editor's time knowing how many stories and editor reads. So here I am, back in the writing working saddle and feeling a sense of exhilaration and camaraderie with the thousand other writers out there who are stepping out, taking that risk and sending their children out into the world for the first time.
Since I've been away from the submission process a few months, I notice things change in a short time.  I'm amazed at the fast growing number of absurdest, magical realism and fabulist markets. When I was in the most hectic years of publishing Fissure magazine, I received few stories in these subgenres and not many magazines were looking for such off the wall tales. I spent an hour yesterday on Duotrope reading the stories published on some of the online mags and the writing is wild, intelligent, sometimes hilarious and sometimes full of depth and commentary. It appears absurdest writing is becoming more absurd and fabulist writing more fabulous, so I no longer fall into those categories.  Way back when I was writing my Two Ruffians and a Rat series it would have fallen into fabulist writing, but now I think it's fallen through some weird crack. "Yoke Not Yokel" I guess would be magical realism but not sure about "Ruffians."

It's not often I'm distracted from submitting work by wanting to read all the new short stories released from around the world.  There is a massive cornucopia of wit out there now.  I took a break from reading steampunk books and went back to reading Salman Rushdie after this brief foray and as always am blown away.  I'm finally reading, "Midnight's Children", Rushdie's Booker Prize winner. During it's fast chaotic pace, the reader is led through the history of India during its transition form British rule to Independence, under the guise of a tale around one highly unusual boy. The philosophy is what I love in his books along with the commentary on human nature in its many quirks and folds.
Two stories submitted so far today - one more, perhaps two to edit and send off. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yoke not Yokel

My tulips and daffodils are up and the next door neighbor's cherry tree displays burst buds on it already.  We've enjoyed spring for almost two weeks now and it has lightened my mood immensely.  Several art projects are going well, one I can't talk about yet, since it's still in progress and is a gift, but it feels great to be creative with my hands again.
I did however end up with a short story which wrote itself as I tried to sleep Friday night.  It' another absurdist magical realism piece which has to do with fate, hazard and solar flares.
Once again synchronicity hit.
I'd been trying to watch the news on our local channel - (I don't have any cable or satellite TV) and the channel kept going off and on.  It was frustrating.  So I went to work on an art project and forgot about it.  But when I laid down to try and sleep, the story ran rampant in my head to the point I couldn't scribble it in a notebook fast enough sop had to come type at least part of it out. It's commentary on a couple of issues, a bit of science and weird science, a tad of psychology and a dash of philosophy.  It wrote itself fast as this type does, a type of writing I started with a series of odd short stories called "Two Ruffians and a Rat." I've named the new short, "Yoke not Yokel" and it's been a fun trip.  I have little tidying up to do on it today but then may submit as it this one worked in an oddly easy way.
I guess I needed a break from the daily slam schedule on the novel.  The chapters are still coming together in my head as I work with my hands.
I can't wait to post photos of my work on here!  I feel like a cat with lots of colored feathers sticking out of its mouth with a huge grin on its face.    

The Touching Tale of Tawny Frogmouths

 I'm posting this more to save for myself but thought I would share. 
The photos were taken by photographer Ron Nordin when musician Amanda Palmer and her husband, author Neil Gaiman visited the bonorong wildlife sanctuary in Tasmania.  I do believe Amanda is one of the best bloggers I've ever read.  So many of her posts touch my heart.
Directly From Amanda's blog -
These are the tawny frogmouths.
they each had one blind eye, and appeared to be emotionally stuck together like conjoined twins - and in fact each one had the eye that the the other didn’t have.
they were beautiful and sad:

and hungry:

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