Sunday, December 28, 2014

Week 43: Nine of Mentors - Is this Coincidence or Mystical?

Just yesterday I was mentioning that a manuscript that  I have submitted this year was in fact not quite right. That it needed to be retooled. So today I do what, draw the Nine of Mentors?  Is this some kind of joke?  Coincidence? Maybe it's actually a case of attempted mystical interference in my writing.

The Nine of Mentors asks me to take not of that manuscript or poetry collection that is causing me anxiety and nightmares.  Well I haven't gotten to the nightmares stage yet, but the anxiety has been there and most recently I've tried to lessen it by ignoring it and working on other writing.

Yesterday, I did consider that a part of the problem was that some of the pieces are too loosely connected - making a reading of the total collection at certain points disjointed, I entertained the notion that some of the pieces needed to come out and be replaced by others; poems not yet written.

As I consider this today with the influence of the Nine of Mentors, I am feeling that I've been offered a key or solution to this and I need not leave this work on the side burner; the one that was never turned on.

While I have and number of balls in the air at the same time, I should pull this back on to the fire and and heat things up again. It is after all, closer to complete than the other projects. One more ball in the air to juggle won't kill me.

I could in fact consider that there is not one collection with some extras poems, but  perhaps two legitimate collections with some extras. That both will need additional material but perhaps I have the strong making of two independent themes that are on their way to completion rather than one that is not working.

The nine of mentors is telling me that  I don't need an idle project going nowhere, My To-Do list this week will include reevaluating these poems and what can perhaps be regrouped and remain artistically relevant.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fantasy and The Birth of Creative Work

Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable. ~ Carl Jung

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week 42: The Nine of Letterpresses - Joy in Artistic Accomplishments

Drawing the Nine of Letterpresses card is a bit like a journey to Fantasy Island (some will be too young to know this television show) where people paid good money to be flown to this island where the props and everything were put together to accommodate the paying guest's grand fantasy.

The Nine of Letterpresses seems to want me to experience that feeling of success that comes with the conclusion of a significant artistic goal.

I've heard of athletes who would before a big game run through their head that swing for the fence or the long TD pass deep into the end-zone to hit their receiver. In one respect it sounds kind of corny but if you think about it we are all thinking about all the roadblocks to our success. Is this not negative fantasizing?  Maybe by doing this (negative stuff) we are reinforcing roadblocks to completing that manuscript Maybe we are thinking about all the reasons we can't possibly win a contest.

I am seeing value in envisioning the completion of a manuscript - even the publication. A release party, readings, Should we not  be as willing to see, feel, taste success as we are to contemplate those reasons to fall flat on our face?

An smaller victories....  publication of individual poems, readings, positive acknowledgements from peers, these all are real reasons to cheer ourselves on.

But we must believe in ourselves. That starts by replacing the bad karma with the good. That requires us to see our self at the culmination of our most significant artistic goals.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Week 41: Dorothy Parker

What I think of when Dorothy Parker comes  to my mind is her wit. An accomplished that seemed very comfortable in her skin. I was not aware how versatile her talents ran. That she wrote across genre and was involved in Hollywood as well and received an academy award nomination.

Dorthy was a collaborator and in this context she sets an example that we can look for ways to work with others. Also, that we need to acknowledge others that have played a role in helping s with our successes.  Learn to count our victories no matter how small. Be thankful for them but do not allow ourselves to get a big head about them.

Ego in art is not especially flattering.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 40: Langston Hughes - Stand for Equality in life and art

Langston Hughes - a notable poet of color is perhaps a most appropriate poet tarot card to draw at this time. The recent news of violence in cities across the country cry out for witness. Hughes tackled racial injustice in America long before the civil rights movement had steam.

I should be reflecting on how I judge the work or lifestyles of fellow artists. How I give witness in my own work.

There is much room for tolerance in this country and do I play a positive role model in this? If Not, How can I do better?

While these time are challenging - equality is a 24-7 job, 7 days a week, 12 months a year. No breaks for holidays or vacation.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 39: Emily Dickinson Searching the Soul

Reflecting on the Poet Tarot Card for this week takes me deep within my soul in search of something but I don;t know exactly what it is. Dickinson was certainly no stranger to soul searching. Much of her writing seems to reflect this deep reflective journey that seemed endless.

Her life seemed to center so much on her own being that  I believe she provides an example of how one can become comfortable in their own skin. How they can utilize their time alone in greater artistic pursuit.

While I am not single and must keep a balance in my life I can surly look at the example of Dickinson to examine the the ideas that cancome through introspective examination.

Dickinson gives me permission to step back from the busy every day life and focus upon my art, my writing, Write, read, indulge in a glass of wine or a sweet. Take a walk, watch the birds, the clouds, ask God to reveal more clearly what I am about.

I should plan a retreat even if only a weekend at home. Where I write and read  and reflect and turn off . everything else. Go deep into my soul and let that guide my writing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week 38 - John Berryman

Drawing the John Berryman card is a bit scary to say the least.  What I already know of Berryman is that he struggled in life. A lot.

Berryman like a number of poets in his prime turned inward and a good deal of his poetry reflected his struggles.

Berryman is challenging me to look inward too. Have the courage to allow your work to be influenced by your emotional struggles. In The Dream Song Berryman developed an alter ego whom he used to ding deep into his own psyche and reflect on.  Can I do this? Do I have the courage to tackle such writing?

What truth might I learn about myself? Do I utilize my own struggles in my poetry? What is holding me back?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week 37 - Two of Muses

How committed am I to my art?  That's what the Two of Muses is asking me. I of course want to reply - I'm very committed. As I deeply reflect on this question I can name a number of reasons that I could answer not enough. In truth I'm somewhere in-between.

Many times I'm quite committed. But there are other times I let silly little things get in the way. Facebook, video game, some TV program that turned out to be not that good.

I need to better schedule my time. I need to prioritize. When I do these things and I get done what I've planned, Facebook or anything else I do is okay diversion. It's alright to allow myself to do even fluff stuff if I am otherwise being as committed to my writing as I've pledged myself to be.

Carve out time to write in evenings and weekends. If I faithfully do this - and make efficient use of that time, then I can achieve what I want to with my writing. The first step is being honest with myself about my time commitment. My second, is to be realistic about my goals. If I am planning to complete an 80 page manuscript, I can't do it in 6 month is I write hit and miss maybe to days a week.

It's time for me to reevaluate my writing schedule.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Carry the beautiful with you

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. -  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 36: Emerson - Embracing the unique you through art

Ralph Waldo Emerson asks, When was the last time I embraced being a rebel? 

One of my favorite Emerson quotes implores us, " Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Emerson is one of those people I probably do not think about as much as I should. A different era and all but he embraced creativity and really is an excellent role model for artists of all stripes.

It's easy for us to find artists that inspire us and find ourselves trying to emulate what it is about their work that we like. And while this can help us to grow as a writer or painter or photographer. But there is a point in which I believe Emerson's advice is prudent for us all. As scary as it is leaving the beaten path, it is forging a new direction that takes our work to another level and provides us with our own uniqueness.

I think Emerson himself embraced by example mentoring.  He was both teacher and always a student. Always curious, always striving to learn always willing to impart his experiences on others.

I have examined those poets/writers both living and dead which inform my process, my attitudes and are the foundation around which I have chosen to grow as a poet. These choices are are mine but it must be my choice too to find what separates me them as well. To use the best advice, the best example I can take from them and find an altogether new ways, new views, new pathways to achieve my own imprint in poetry.

This week I plan to explore:

  • ways to expand my knowledge
  • find time to give back to the writing community
  • embracing the spiritual side of nature
  • to seek the positive in others especially those with different cultural experiences/backgrounds
This week I will embrace my own uniqueness as scary as that might seem.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week 35: The Six of Muses - Everything is writable...

The Six Of Muses reminds me to look back at my life, m past, m family, my friends, my experiences. These all things provide a trove of material to write from. You don't even have to show these things to anyone if they are about family and you feel uneasy, but they may provide a path towards addressing some thing with  greater ease.

Sylvia Plath would turn just about every experience into writing, be it a poem or story. Summer jobs, places she vacationed, people she knew, her struggles with both mother and father all found ways of influencing her work.

Let your memory and past experiences lead the way into new work and see where it takes you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week 34 - The Four of Letterpresses - Looking for ways to learn

This week the Four of Letterpresses is directing me towards
garnering greater information.

Everyone can learn something new that is helpful and This weeks card is stressing finding ways or sources to improve yourself at your art. These could come in the form of workshops, one on one instruction. Look for opportunities at Libraries or bookstores that sometimes sponsor events.

Right now I am being coached by another writer. Something I would do every fall if the finances would permit but I try and do it at least every other year in the fall.

I need to be on the lookout for throughout the year for other opportunities.

At times I have been able to audit  master classes from time to time. These are always a wealth of information.  In recent years I have been able to do so with Dean Young and Terrance Hayes. Two fascinating and prominent contemporary poets..

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week 33 - Sylvia Plath - Again!

So Sylvia has come back to me.... I drew her in Week 10 and evidently she has something new for me to learn. What will it be?

I wonder if deep down inside there is a poem I am not writing for fear. Is this why Sylvia has again surfaced in my deck of Poet Tarot Cards?

I always feel at home with Sylvia's work. I read so much about her and her work, I may know her better than any other poet. I've always liked the confessional style that she, Anne Sexton and Sharon Olds are so known for.

Plath clearly was blessed with the ability to write from a very internalized place. I am thinking there may be something deep down that I am supposed to write but have not  done so yet.

This week I will explore this thought further.

Week 32 - Ace of Letterpresses

The Ace of Letterpresses asks me what do I really know about  being an editor or publisher? What can I learn about the business side of writing beyond the writing itself?

Some things come to my mind....
 * formatting for a press or ebook
 * marketing ideas
 * working on producing a journal

The Ace of Letterpress asks me to consider being more familiar with the business side of my art. Perhaps looking for ways to volunteer that wold give me more experience.

It's a thought!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Week 31 - Ace of Quills

"Balance," the Ace of Quills tells me. Balance all your activities, your life in such a way that you can in fact act on your enthusiasm and write.

I need to be consistent in that I am writing every day, even if some days I must steal 20 minutes here or there.  Sure - scheduling  an hour  or two or three on some days is great but I need to make sure that on a daily basis I've carved out twenty minutes somewhere even if it is out of my lunch hour to write. Even if it is a free write. No write is NOT and Option.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 30: Nine of Muses

Celebrating when my creativity and output are in perfect  alignment with the rest of my life... Yes, that is what the nine of Muses is calling me to do. Well it hasn't seemed like that in a while. <sigh>

Presently I've felt stressed and unbalanced it just about every aspect of my life. Yes, I'd love to celebrate this feat... but I need to get there again.

I have felt like that balance has been there before, but not  for a long time and I can't exactly  put my finger on it and say every thing was clicking like this in August of 2013 or ______________(insert any other date here).

Yes, I want things to flow smoothly.  I'd love to be absent the frenzy. I've never enjoyed drama except on stage or theater.

I know that balance is a good thing. I've actually felt  balance in my life at times and it seems to make things better across the board. At home, at the office.  In family life, artistic life. In terms of how I feel health-wise. My level of energy  is higher then. My  blood sugar numbers level off to be more stable within a tighter range. My emotions are less in flux.

It is at times when things are in balance that I generally  feel better about my writing. My production is up but so too is the quality of that output. I think confidence has a lot to do with it.

I'm a Capricorn and I am not crazy about change. I also always want to feel organized and in control but wanting to will not automatically translate into fining that organized state.  I can do a mean to-do list. Sometimes that list can grow so long and actually overwhelm me.

Oh Nine of Muses, I stand convicted of teetering off balance presently. Let me make October a month that harmony, the stars, the universe all seem point me to a grounding that balances every aspect of my life.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 29: Seven of Muses

While I have a dream Journal I've lately missed quite a few entries.
The Seven of muses is admonishing me for the loss of potential writing ideas.

Dreams & nightmares offer a powerful source for artwork, and how many really good opportunities have I let slip by?  I was diligent about it for a while and then I hit a spell where I would wake up and find it difficult to piece details together. It was a little frightening as I thought perhaps it was a memory issue. For some unknown reason this problem stopped about a week ago and I've been dreaming big time the past week but had  gotten out of the habit of recording  the intricate little details of these dreams.

Resolved... I must do better about this.

I must also go periodically to my dream journal and be open to what it asks of me artistically. It is an opening to a place in my soul that is sealed and that seal is not easily opened.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 28 - Five of Mentors

For Week twenty-eight I'm back to a suits card. This one, the Five of Mentors.

This card calls into question issues between creative entities.  For example collaborative works of artists. I've not really had a lot of collaborative experiences so this is difficult to assess how I handle these sort of things and maybe more to think about what those possibilities might look like. Could I be congenial under the circumstance?

I think in a joint artistic effort I could a positive contributor. This card reminds me of watching  the TV Runway show and how some of the designers in collaborative works become spoiled drama queens.

Keeping a flexible artistic vision is likely a good practice no matter if you are working with others, work-shopping in a group or working alone. I need to always keep an open mind - especially to things completely new.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 27 - Edger Allan Poe

Drawing a new card for the week, but one that is being revisited.  Poe first came to me in week 5 and he's back.

In week five working with the Poet Tarot Card Deck it was still pretty new to me. Drawing cards at random is of course kind of exciting but I remember thinking  something like "Poe, really? Why me?"

I've never been a Poe fan. Nor a big fan of rhyme. At least strong repetitious use of it in poems. I've not really been into bizarre or grotesque writing.  So drawing this card I was hard pressed to feel it would offer me positive insight into art/writing. So naturally I had to ask,"What's in this for me?"

The week 5 Poe card did cause me to think about what imprisons me. Do I feel imprisoned by my writing? Do I feel there is something else that imprisons me and if so how might it impact my writing or life otherwise?

I did decide that there were emotional tide swings  between introvert and extrovert tendencies to sometimes held me captive. Here we are 22 weeks later and I feel those some shifts are at work within me. I suppose I should expect that these are likely as much creatures of habit as anything else and as such they will not change overnight. They will not likely change without some thought process taking place about it on a routine bases. Perhaps this is the reason I was to be revisited by Poe so soon.

I need to explore in what ways the introvert/extrovert thing hinders me. That is the place to start because I need to discern if there really is a problem that needs to be solved. For example is it really a bad thing to be introverted?  And if I am able at different times to have tendencies in both directions is there not some balance to this?

So my dear Poe, you've come back to haunt me. I will revisit this week my introvert/extrovert tendencies and examine if they do imprison or hinder me in some way(s).  Additionally, I will examine how I am doing in stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Thank you Mr. Poe, That will be all for now.

Quote of the Day e e cummings

“Unless you love someone, nothing else makes sense.” 
~e e cummings

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Quote Of The Day - e e cummings

“I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance”
 ~e e cummings

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Week #26 - e e cummings

This week I have a return visitor.  Mr. Cummings who I drew on week twelve is I believe the first repeat card for me and I can only include that he has something  else in tor for me to learn.

Cummings was not always appreciated by the public and some felt that childish or foolish with his lower case writing and lack of punctuation. Many felt him simple and yet today I believe we would say these things were experimental and that he was fundamentally a risk taker.

I think there are times I've felt foolish with respect to some of my own work and certainly this has lead to second guessing myself. What if e e cummings had called into question his work? He must have known some were critical of his unorthodox style. Did he care? If there was a shred of evidence that he cared what people thought, he did not let it detract from his work.

  • Am I willing to take unorthodox risks with my writing?
  • Can I truly not worry about what others think? 
  • What if I choose to take ownership of all my work, accepting the bad as an inevitable road I must walk down to find the good in my work. Know that if I keep writing that in the end the good writing will win out and this is what others will remember of my writing. 
Read some more of Cumming's work this week think of what others might have been critical of, but find the good in his work.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week #25 - Two of Mentors

A new week, a new Tarot Card.  And so this week the Two of Mentors is addressing  my creativity. Recently, (week 22) the Ace of Mentors called my attention to the need to seek more interaction with other artists and find ways to both solicit critical reaction to my work and reciprocate with others.

The two of Mentors seems to be mindful that this can be both helpful and problematic. This week I'm cautioned to not take such criticism about my work to heart and let it  get to me. Such views are opinions and they may have validity and worthy of consideration  but they are simply one other view than my own and neither is right or wrong. Nor should I have any expectation that suggestions I make to others go any further.

Perhaps the most difficult advice is that of self trust. I feel this is especially meant for me to hear this weekend because in journaling earlier this morning I realized that this weekend I've been in a funk and it has been largely due to not being as trusting of my voice as I need to be.

I am reworking some writing and it is important for me to hear (listen closely) to the sounds of my writing - just putting words on a page is the easy part. finding the right words is more difficult and even better and more of a challenge is to have the best words and sounds!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week # 24 - The Queen of Letterpresses - Elizabeth I

For this week, I am guided by the Queen of Letterpresses, Elizabeth I.  My first  thought upon drawing this card was WTF?  I did not realize that this 16th century queen was so well educated that she translated many classical works into English and was a quite a patron of the arts. It seems that  much of Shakespeare's success can be attributed to Elizabeth's support for his theater company.

I'm called upon this week to consider what role my writing should have financially on my life now and in the future.

Think about my own patronage of the arts. Do I support others in their artistic efforts?

As for myself... where can I depend upon support. Not just financial but support in the form of encouragement.  I admit I do not think much about this but perhaps it's appropriate to consider what my near and long term goals are.

How might I insert myself more prominently withing the local arts community?

I need to to think about my attitudes towards wealth and arts. I need to learn more about Queen Elizabeth I. She sounds more fascinating then I might have thought.    

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week #23 Three of Letterpresses - Don't get too comfortable in isolation

Again, I'm behind.  I drew the Three of Letterpresses last Sunday and I'm just now doing my poet. I'm behind maybe three weeks on my Confession Tuesday over at Stickpoet so I'm in much better shape here. Saying that will make me feel ever so slightly better until I do my next Confession Tuesday.

This Tarot card seems to have less urgency to me. This is because it wants me t think about marketing ideas related to my art. Also to consider cross-discipline business models.

I've not spent any extensive amount of time specifically of  marketing because all of my published material thus far has been in journals. So on one hand the urgency seems non-existent.

Perhaps this is narrow minded because I do hope to publish and I suppose it is better to start at the beginning with a game plan as opposed to trying do design a workable path to successful marketing along the journey. Some of the suggestions offered....

  • find a group of artists/writers in your community to meet with  and marketing angles.
  • if you cant find one locally then consider starting one
  • find an online forum with a focus on submitting, branding, and marketing creative work
This is feeling a little overwhelming.  Looking for a meet-up group or trying to start one. Still, I can see the value of beginning sooner then later. 

Just as last week it was about networking with other people to workshop material, this week it's about exchanging ideas and problem solving where marketing our art is involved. Both pf these are urging me to come out of my comfort area.  The fact that these are coming together like this must have some significance.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Week #22 Ace of Mentors (posting late this week - sorry)

I suppose in many professions colleagues will talk shop. Exchange ideas, experiences, etc. Drawing the Ace of Mentors sort of brought this to my mind because what the Ace of Mentors is all about is the critical exchanges between artists. By critical I mean in a positive light. Giving constructive feedback.

In taking inventory of myself in light of the emphasis of importance by the Ace of Mentors I have to say that at one time I had a network of several individuals who I could count on to provide critical view - a workshop type approach to my work and I would reciprocate. There was not a formal structure to this but it worked. We had a writing group in common, however it was not the group as such that participated in this but a couple of individuals.

I can be pretty self critical and I don't mind others providing  constructive criticism as well. In fact there are an abundance of people I could share work to and they would tend to  respond with nice flowery responses. Saying, "Oh, I like that" doesn't work for me. If you truly like something  tell me why you like it, but if something isn't working for you  I want to know that  and maybe why or what about it sucks.

I have missed this exchange of work and discussion. The Ace of Mentors is reminding me just how critical this is to artists. We look at our work with a very narrow vision. Others can give us alternative perspectives. I'm not saying that in the past I have always made changes because of another's shared assessment, but if I haven't, the decision has been made with at least the knowledge of other perspectives. To stick with something in a case like this means I have at least chosen to do so after examining more/other possibilities.

My resolve over the next  couple of months is to seek one or more poets that would consider swapping  material to workshop. Either in person or on line.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Conflict and Creativity - Part 2

When I last posted here (on Tuesday 7-29) I did not  know what  kind of week I would have.  But do we ever?  The unexpected death of my dog Berry sent my week into a tailspin and I had intended to do this post on Thursday, but today is the first day I felt that I could tackle it.

It also changed my planned focus a bit. On of the areas that I planned to talk about was creative problem solving. Now I know that I was going to say that I have been experimenting with mind mapping recently and I am seeing it  more and more as a way to maybe focus on initiating new creative projects. Mind mapping is not new, but  I'm not sure how many people are actually utilizing in their lives.

There are a number of programs for you PC and even smart phone that allow you the use of a template to diagram out your ideas. This can also be done on a white board or a plane piece of paper.

I'm working on a new manuscript project now. It's themed, and rather the culling  a variety of poems & poetry drafts together to search for a theme to thread together, I've decided to map out a draft of what this thread of my new manuscript might look like it before I tackle poems for it.  Now I could do the same when pulling together existing work, and you may well have done something like this by taking all you available work and grouping them into individual piles on the floor - then arrange them and look for where you might have holes to feel in. Like everything else about poetry, there is no right or wrong way to approach these things. But mind mapping lets you approach it from overhead. It's like looking at you neighborhood in a satellite view on Google maps, you see how one home or street relates to another. In this case, you can envision how one poem or a number of poems might relate to each other or a particular section of the manuscript.

I'm experimenting with this creative approach and I'm not married to it, I don;t have to do this each time or forever. But then again, I may find that  this is a great way to resolve that internal conflict of what do I do next, and how do I know when I'm finished?

I've also spent time this week thinking about the outside conflicts that encroach on my creativity. I believe it is important that as we live in the world, we not be isolated from our neighborhood, our city, state or nation, or even our neighbors around the world. I'm often looking for harmony and there appears non. The struggle is to be engaged so that you can be an informed person in the political process and yet not feel that you are drug down by what is going on around you. That is a challenge of mammoth proportions.  I will not tell you how you can do it because I have not figured it out - but I can tell you I believe it is important to decide how you want to try to cope with this. How you do it may be something in flux, but I believe we all have to attempt to balance this part of our life. The alternatives are to let the world swallow you or to so totally withdrawn that you become oblivious to the world at large. If we all do that, who will direct this ship we are afloat upon?  I want ti try to .minimize conflict where I can but not ignore it where it matters in our art.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Week #21 - Five of Muses - Conflict and Creativity

This week, the Poet Tarot card I drew asks me to consider how I manage Conflict in my creativity. Also to think about some of my involvements and non-involvements as well as thinking about creative problem solving. WOW!  That's a lot to think about. But I have started to shine a light on some of this.

For example, I've considered that the first part, how I manage conflict in creativity can be split into two separate  questions..   First, the conflict around me that impacts my time, my associations, limitations on resources, etc. Second, the more internal conflict that arises when a poem maybe wants to go one way and I stubbornly try to move it a different way.

On the surface I tend to think that I am free of conflict. And I honestly  have successfully sold myself that bag of goods however, I can honestly say that in the past  I have been conflicted both with people and situations where I have been a participant in a collective of other  poets/artists.  I can look back at those some years later and see that  in some ways I took appropriate steps - at least to a point. While I may have felt I was moving on, I did so by pulling back somewhat in my broader participation - doing reading less often. Going to support others less often. While I don't think I consciously considered exactly what I was doing, I let myself be impacted by my actions in a far bigger way then I was acknowledging to myself.  This is making me rethink the reasons I backed off some things. It can be sobering to realize that something can be going on  in a much larger way then you are recognizing and this happen for several years.

The second or more inter-personal struggle directly with work  is something that can happen day-in-day out.
Honestly I am not as well aware of it as I probably should be. This tells me one of two things...

  • I either am so open to where my poem or work is leading me and there is no second-guessing 
  • Or, I'm resisting what the poem wants so effectively that  I've pushed it  out of the way and have my own stubborn agenda.
If I were to guess, more often then not, it's the second way. There are times when I know I am locked into the poem's own will but those are infrequent.

Honestly, I don't think it is bad to be conflicted with the poem, as long as you are listening to it. For one thing, you will feel better about the work if you feel like you have played a bit of a devil's advocate.

This is only looking a portion of what the Five of Muses is asking me to consider this week,.  I'll address more later in the week.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Art Quote of the Day

Art is a collaboration between God and the 
artist, and the less the artist does the better.
 - Andre Gide 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week # 20 - Ten of Muses - Core Values & Art

The Ten of Muses is quizzing me tonight. On one had I feel like it's shinning a light on me, a bit of an interrogation if yo will.

What evidence is there in your creative work of your core values?  This is a good question because I am a particularly opinionated person. I have an opinion on most everything you can ask me. Go ahead and try...

Q. Hot or Cold.   A. Cold of course!

Q. Baseball of footfall?    A. Absolutely Baseball!

Q. Democrat or Republican?     A.  Democrat.

Q. Coffee or Tea?     A. Coffee

Q. Coke or Pepsi?     A. Definitely Coke.

Okay, you see what I mean?   So then comes the issue of if my values can be discerned by my work.   I know that in terms of my political views more times then not they tend to be subtle at best.  In fact I go through periods when I think I want to say something politically in poetry but then I tend to back away from it feeling the need not to write from a preachy point of view. I won't say that I never allow politics to reflect in my work but for the most part this is not how I back into poems. The same is true with my spirituality.

I don't really know if it is good or bad that  there is not more evidence of my core values in my creativity. On one hand I thing artists should try to write at times with other personas and other views.

It's funny but I think I've hit upon something I don't have a firm opinion on. Should my work reflect deeply held core values? Can I create/write from a position of integrity if I don't incorporate my personal belief system in my writing?  Right now I'm seeing two sides to this question. This is something I need to sleep on.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week #19 - Six of Letterpress - Patron of Arts

Now comes the Six of Letterpress in week 19 asking me to consider the larger community of artists as inter-dependent. Am I supportive of other artists on any tangible level? Do I attend readings or visit galleries? Give others a Shout-out? Attend book launches? Write Reviews?  Support others work by purchasing their work?

I must admit there was a  time when I was better about attending the readings of others. This is an area I need to work on. I do write reviews from time to time and will give a shout-out  on twitter or elsewhere. I am pretty  good about monetarily supporting  the work of others, especially poets (even on a limited budget) so there is a lot of support that I do give to the arts, but there are I see ways that I can improve.

This week I will make the effort to seize opportunities to be there for other artists.

If there is anything to reciprocating Karma then great, but I think I need to do this without anticipating anything in return. I need to do this because the arts need patrons period.

Monday, July 7, 2014

#18 The Eight of Quills - Taking Inventory of Your Work-[habits]

The Eight of Quills surfaced yesterday when I was drawing a new Poet Tarot Card for the week. This card asks us to consider our focus. Focus on our artistic efforts. Are we finishing projects? Are we trying too many things? Are we limiting ourselves to the extent that  we leave good ideas behind to be forgotten?

So the Eight of Quills is asking us to take and inventory of what we are and are not doing. I've always been lead to believe balance is a good thing in our lives... so it would stand to mind that each aspect of our life should stand the test of balance.

For so long I wrote with the idea of the piece of writing  before me as my focal point. Sometimes I would put aside a piece to come back to later. This is still the case and I have a whole slew of unfinished drafts as a testimony to this.Some of these are close to to finished. I routinely revisit these poems that are hopeful of seeing the light of day.

Right now, I have a poetry project that desperately needs my attention. I have not  given it the time it deserves. It's a long term project and perhaps knowing that  has been my downfall. Sometimes it is the difficult things, the demanding projects that are the easiest to push to the side because we know they will be a long time in the making and sometimes I think it is these kinds of projects that often in the back of my mind become questionable and with the questions a predisposition that this is something that is more of a dream then something that is attainable.  That sort of ruled a manuscript I was working on. And while it has been sent out into the world, I know it may need more work. I think sending it out however gave me a feeling for the moment of a personal victory.

This week I will be thinking about  all the things I have on the drawing board and consider how best to balance my time to achieve the maximum positive outcomes.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Week # 17 - The Ten of Letterpress - We Are Not Alone

The Ten of Letterpress was actually drawn last weekend. I am just now getting around to post about it as well as the journey  that  has occurred this week as a result of it. I think this card is really a Gratitude Card.  It calls us to not only look inward about out growth as a poet/writer/artist but to look outward as well and consider the people that have been a part of the growth... people that make it possible.

In doing so, the first place I started was my family. From my wife, to each of my children they have over the years in various ways helped with this journey. From my wife who has allowed me the time to write in addition to the broader support by encouragement and sometimes allowing me to bounce ideas off her. An my children, who have each supported/encouraged me, sometimes in ways I don't even think they realize.

There are some local poets/writers that I added to my list. People who I have been in writing groups with, workshoped poems with, Taken classes with - several that have been especially helpful and supportive.

I have also been fortunate to benefit from a half-dozen or so people from long distance. Other  poets who have encouraged, counseled, shared and mentored me.  This particular Poet Tarot card has brought me to the realization that while it may often times seem otherwise, our growth and victories no matter how small or large do not  really  happen in a vacuum. We may at time lock ourselves up in a room and write and rewrite
pouring out heart and soul but there is a wider safety-net out there that we know we can and sometimes do count on.

When I was making my list, I went a bit further (as was suggested) and added some writer/poet/artists icons that have inspired me in the first place to my own creativity.  Here are some of those iconic persons, some living and some dead:

  • Sharon Olds
  • W.S. Merwin
  • Sylvia Plath
  • John Ashbery
  • Anne Sexton
  • Donald Hall
I have to say that in thinking about all this throughout the week, I realized how thankful I am too for being alive and being able to experience the creative process on a day to day basis.  Just as God has provided so many wonder experiences to unfold before our eyes, the human experience to take what is before us and go a step further and make something new based upon those experiences is quite imposing.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Poet's Eyes

“Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of angels.”  - William Carlos Williams

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week #16 - William Carlos Williams

This week I've come off a weekend with time and focus to a much lesser degree on writing then usual. My wife and I celebrating our 40th Anniversary we had two very late nights out at concerts in a row. Besides the minimal attention paid to writing and writing related things like submissions, etc. I've come away with a low level of energy and a slightly defeated view of my writing weekend.  I know that's not a fair assessment because we have to at times spent time with family and we have to at times just step back and not freak out about doing so.

Perhaps drawing William Carlos Williams is exactly what I need to pick myself up and move forward. Here is a man who worked during the day as a doctor and in the evenings took to the pen.  Williams is definitely an excellent example for me and so many other writers that must maintain regular jobs while being dedicate to their writing as well.

Exploring what Williams might be saying to me...

  •  Be an observer. Much like Sylvia Plath, Williams seems to have made sort of a cottage industry of observing the everyday of life and pulling it into his poetry. The Red Wheelbarrow, or This Just To Say are two very excellent examples of his ability to draw from his surroundings in the simplest ways.
  • Right Now Write. All the necessary resources are there, things we see in the world around us, the pen and the paper, and the time.  Take the time and use it well. We have no one but ourselves to blame when we look back and say, "wow, that was a wasted afternoon, or evening, or weekend." We have the keys to our ignition, we can set ourselves in motion or we can piddle time away. No one else can be the responsible person if we aren't taking the responsibility our self. 
  • Am I even near my full potential? Am I settling for two little. 
These are things I need to be thinking about this week as I look to find more balance and commit to staying focused on projects. The good doctor will be my guide this week,

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week # 15 - Eight of Mentors

It's Sunday morning and I'm desperately in need of coffee. A deficiency that I soon plan to correct. But I'm in the studio this morning and I've drawn a new new Poet Tarot card for this week. From the shuffled and fanned out deck I've pulled the Eight of Mentors card.

This card is asking me to take stock in how I provide advise to other poets/artists about their work in critiques offered. It has been a while since I've been especially active in any group critiques and maybe this is telling me something about the lack of this.  I know it's wanting to tell me to be sensitive in any collaborative suggestions of another's work to make certain that  you are not trying to change the author's voice. Let them be true to their own voice. Suggest they look at  things that improve what they are saying but not usurp their message altogether.

When I've done critiques, I don't believe this has been a problem for me. Still, it is goof to again consider the value of what  one poet can offer another when they are revising.

I think that  I need to workshop my own work more. I really stopped doing this when the people all seemed like they were telling me what they though I wanted to hear... "oh that's nice," etc. I'm not a thin skinned person and if I want to know what someone is seeing  or hearing in one of my poems, then I want honesty. I don't expect others to write my work, but if something needs to be tightened or explore saying something a different way, honest is what I want. In the same way that is what I assume they are wanting when reading their work. Suggest, question, but don't usurp the work.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week #14 - Four of Mentors

For the fourteenth week I've gone to my Poet Tarot deck and shuffled and drawn a card at random. The Four of Mentors slid out  between my fingers from the fanned out deck.  As I turned it over and studied it I was taken by the skeleton type keys that were on the card.

This card reminds me that occasionally I can put my writing away. Place it in a folder or closet or drawer and let it rest figuratively. Let each of us have a rest from one another. I control the keys to my work. Take a break from a poem draft or a project, refill my creative well, but I am in control and I decide when the time is right to revisit the work.

The Four of Mentors seems to be reminding me that sometimes when I need is a little distance from my work.Besides recharging my energy sometimes it's a whole different perspective that I need, something that a few days or weeks or even months  can provide. At any rate the writing will be there when we are ready to be reunited.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week #13 - The Seven of Quills

The Seven of Quills card comes to me at an interesting time.  She speaks to me about the element of competition inherent in the arts.

While I don't really think that much about competition in terms of my routine submission to various journals I can see that there is in fact a limited amount of space available in each publication and that in a way I am vying for a coveted spot each time I submit.

I usually would associate the competitive level more specifically with actual competitions for poems or collections of poetry. I have not historically been heavily invested in such contests but it's interesting that I should draw this card now as I will have over a 30 day period entered three contests. I rarely enter more than one or two in a whole year.

Things to think about:

  • Each time I enter a contest or submit material - be mindful that there are others working  just as hard to produce work that  they wish to be seen by others.  Be appreciative for each success but not boastful. Every artist has failures as well as successes, it is all a part of the process. Recognize that winning or losing, work was required to get to this point.
  • With each success you have, remember  friends, family, mentors who have helped you along the way. Nobody creates art in a vacuum. It may seem like it at times, but at some point we have to come up for air and it is encouragement, belief, and trust that  provide the oxygen.  

Bringing Back Sexy.

I read an article by Mike Hanski today has brought me to a better understanding  on what developing a magical creative life might be like.

In his own soul searching Mike concluded that children (who after all are the masters of creativity) usually have one thing going for them in the creative routines. They have a strong supportive community.  His example is that you come home from school with some art on a paper plate and you are met by patents and or family  who fuss over it and it get attached to the refrigerator for all to continue to fuss over. As we get older what happens to that core of enthusiastic support? He asks, who is your support system now? 

Ouch! Something happened over the years that were left behind from grade school. Life got more serious. The nurturing fan club called family no longer is interested in perpetrating your creative efforts and if they have any interest at all will generally take a more critical view of what you do. So what is one to do when he/she is up to their elbows in pottery clay, has acrylic paint on their cheek, or has poured out their soul onto paper in ink? It seems that artists would benefit from a collective of like individuals that support us even in out outlandish efforts of creativity. It's not likely that you are going  to reshape your family members  back into this core of support. No, we need to go beyond this and find like minded individuals to form such support structures for our work. It can be people who have an appreciation for the arts in general or individuals that  are active in our same art form.  The beauty is that we can be that  source of energy and enthusiasm for each other. A reciprocal supporter.

Mike's examination of the valuable lessons of childhood and creativity took him to some other  conclusions. He believes our creativity would be benefited by the following:

  • De-structure  your life.  Add variety and spontaneity to your daily life.
  • Turn off electronics. Use it wisely and don't  let it become an umbilical cord you depend on.
  • Be reckless. I'm not talking  about your driving, I'm talking about moving beyond comfort. Taking risks.
  • Rekindle the wonder in life. Try something new, go places you've never been. Drive home a different route. Look around you and discover new things. 
I'm pretty certain that Mike Hanski has got it right. He has found the key essentials to rediscovering  the creativity that has been siphoned from us over the years.  Now, to implement this in my day to day life. 

Now, you are wondering what  has any of this to do with sexy?  Creativity is the new Sexy! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Be About Making

If a poet is anybody, he is somebody to whom things made matter very little - somebody who is obsessed by Making. - e e cummings

Week #12 - e e cummings tarot card

Drawing a new Poet Tarot card, I shuffled the deck, fanned it out and selected from the fan e.e. cummings for this week. As I write this post I am already asking myself what it is that he might teach me.

If there is one think about Cummings I can already identify with it would be his tendency to write poetry void of punctuation. While I don't always do so, it is not uncommon for me to  cast punctuation to the end. Many of the later works of W.S. Merwin are too free of punctuation. I would say that my influence in this regard comes from Merwin and not Cummings, but  I feel him today smiling while nodding with approval.

Cummings appears to me to be one of two things if he was nothing  else...
first, a risk taker and second, one who managed to be void of concerns about what everyone else thought.

These are both things I admire and wish for my own artistic adventures.  It seems the ability to put aside worries about what others are thinking is of strategic importance to risk taking. If you cannot freely disassociate yourself with critics then you will likely worry yourself into a frenzy, an act that cannot be healthy of allow you to sustain your risk taking for very long.

This week I will contemplate who or what  inspires me to take risks with projects? How can I harness this inspiration to risk reaching further from my comfort zone

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week #11 - Gwendolyn Brooks

So this week another poet card was drawn. I continue to be amazed at the appearance of the Poet cards as opposed to the Suits which greatly outnumber the Poet cards.

Gwendolyn Brooks makes her appearance this week.

The Queen of Muses, Brooks impresses me as a more earthy influence then Plath of this past week. A bit of a counter balance.

I have to ask myself this week how I can bring a voice of tolerance, victims of injustice, the poor, people whose voices are often lost or drowned out by the everyday grind of life?

*Side Note:  A new Tarot Card was added to the deck today before this drawing. Pablo Neruda has joined the poets. At some future point I can count on drawing his card.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Learning Patience and Persistence

"I have a vision of the poems I would write, but do not. When will they come?" - Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Oh, how I've been here...

Plath Persistence

I started this week out with the intent, indeed hope that I would achieve some sense of communion with Sylvia Plath. There are times on the past where I've felt strangely aware of her in fleeting moments of thought and writing. I've found however direct or indirectly some basis for concluding that I've been taught some valuable lessons or at least have had some things reinforced as a result of such awareness.

Of course I'd like report that as I nearly reach the end of this week that I've had some whole new and insightful journey accompanied by one of my favorite poets, but this would be to stretch the truth. For me personally this has been a week of headaches and back pain. At some points awareness of myself has been difficult enough.

I have found myself trying desperately to dip into the subconscious but awake and into dreams for some purpose, some enlightenment, some story, some way forward. I've come to believe that this is not always as easy as seeking. I suppose this should come as no surprise as if it were easily achieved, we'd all be doing it, story over.

One thing that has truck me is that even as a young girl, Sylvia was persistent. Her persistent search for for writing material, her persistent socialization and search for a partner (which led her to Ted Hughes). Her persistent search balance between domestic and professional. Above all, and perhaps related to each of these is her search for fulfillment.

There was of course yet another persistent aspect of her life and that was the challenge of the sort of demon/love relationship with her father. Perhaps this was the aspect of fulfillment that drove her the most and would always be beyond reach as long as she lived.

If Sylvia is indeed saying anything to me this week, I believe it is to, keep on keeping on. If exploring my subconscious level is important to my writing, don't stop because it isn't coming easy. If the back pain and the head aches are getting to me, persistence is called for.. push on. Her father issues I can identify with on some level because I had only the most limited contact with my father and he is dead now, and I continually feel haunted by our relationship/non-relationship. I quite likely identify with Sylvia in some way over this.

I could say that I am somewhat disappointed by how my week with Sylvia has gone so far, but I prefer to take comfort in the spirit of persistence that exemplifies so much of Sylvia's life; to that end I am patiently awaiting yet another chapter from Sylvia.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week #10 - Sylvia, Sylvia, a welcome surprise

Yesterday, I drew the Sylvia Plath card from my Poet Tarot Card Deck. There are two reasons this struck me as interesting. One was that on week eight when I drew Anne Sexton I was thinking about the ratio of Poet Cards I have drawn thus far to the overall size of the deck. At that time I thought it could be a very long time before the Plath card came to me. In addition, this weekend Friday to Saturday and Saturday to Sunday I had some rather interesting dreams. After a bit of a dry stretch where I could not recall dreams or they were very non-descriptive, I had two nights in which I was a very active dreamer. Three in one night and one the next night, but the quality of these dreams in terms of content was remarkable.

Sunday morning I was recording notes about these dreams and I thought how some of this might work into future poems. So drawing Sylvia's card has reinforced the thought of exploring  more deeply the subconscious aspects of creativity.

If there is a way to pull something out of the deep subconscious well within, I would count on Sylvia to show me how.

I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still.
  -  Sylvia Plath

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Ace of Muses - Week #9

Sunday & a new Poet Tarot card.  I don't exactly feel that Anne Sexton is finished with me just yet, but I drew an Ace of Muses card and perhaps what wisdom Anne still has to offer in the days ahead can be enhances through the influences of the Ace of Muses.

This week I will explore the following in journal:
  • Future projects
  • Think about how I normally move from idea concrete form... my creative execution if you will. 
  • From where do most of my artistic ideas arise? Are there possibilities I'm overlooking?
  • Do I tend to be more intellect driven or emotion driven? Look at some of my  poems and specifically examine for intellect or emotion. 
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. - Anne Sexton

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Anne Sexton
 In a dream you are never eighty.

This is a particular interesting  quote to me because I cannot recall the last time I had a dream in which I did not appear younger then present.  While I'm not eighty it's a peculiar occurrence that in many of my dreams I will appear much younger then I am... sometimes going back to school years but I almost always conduct myself in the dreams as an adult. Others around me often appear as adult age but not myself.  Sometimes my wife is in them too and we both are much younger but function as adults. Strange phenomena but  when seeing this quote by Sexton it called this to mind.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Anne Sexton - Week #8

I drew for week eight from the Poet Tarot deck and Anne Sexton arose as the poet to turn to this week.  I feel Sexton and I are old friends because some time back I sort of adopted her as my Dead Poet Mentor.  It has not been uncommon for me to  turn to her work when I am looking for inspirations and answers.  Sexton and Plath are two poets with whom I've spend a lot of time with their work as well and biographical material. Still, I'm sure there is much more I can learn from Anne.

Couple of things to consider this week...

  • birthing new projects
  • find balance between assisting others and being open to the assistance from others
  • value honesty in your art
Welcome back Anne... let's talk a lot this week. 

More On Eliot

I've explored Eliot this week and so far what I've found is he is not among my favorite poets.  But I'm willing to keep reading  more of his work, I'm certain there is something to be learned from him.  The Following were poems I read:

  • Hysteria 
  • Cousin Nancy
  • Whispers of Immortality
If anyone has a favorite Eliot  poem they would like to recommend, I'd love to hear.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

King of Quills - Elliot - Week #7

The T.S. Eliot card was drawn today...

This week be thinking  about these things:

  • Conducting myself with intent
  • pushing  language in fresh and innovative directions
  • Think about how I want to define myself as a writer
  • Consider approachability and generosity 

  1. Journal this week on each of these bullet points. One a day Monday through Thursday.
  2. Find three of Eliot's poems  that are totally new to me. 
  3. Choose an Eliot poem to write a poem in response to.