My youngest son has a soft spot for the birds that migrated back north a bit ahead of spring’s long awaited arrival here. He placed four bird feeders in the tree in my front yard this week. Feeders that must be refilled daily because they are drained within hours by the seeming hundreds of birds now gorging themselves at the all-you-can-eat bird seed buffet outside my living room window. (Gives new meaning to the expression “She eats like a bird.”) One of the brilliant images in a recent Visual Bits collection features legions (that’s what I call a really, really big school) of fish leaping from the water alongside a fishing boat, making me wonder if they have a similar fish buffet on board. Take a look at this great series of photos, from Google maps envisioned as Persian rugs to Florian Reischauer’s “Fairy Tale.” (Visual News)
And then, since you’ll be in the mood for great photography, take a look at this Fashion Story in Ningbo, China, an exquisite combination of black and white photography and intriguing architecture. And yes, there’s a beautiful fashion piece to it too. That’s why they call it a Fashion Story in Ningbo, and not a Black and White Photography Story in Ningbo or an Intriguing Architecture Story in Ningbo. (Behance)
This has nothing to do with photography, but I’m sharing this film clip of Jon Hamm and Elmo because it’s about Sculpture, Sesame Street’s word of the day. If a beautiful story from Ningbo won’t make you happy, Elmo certainly will. (Huffington Post)
The Pulitzer Prizes were announced this week, and all of a sudden I find myself feeling like the night before a final exam in my poli sci classes where I was supposed to read a stack of books and realized right around midnight that they were all actually fascinating and I wanted to read them but the eight hours I had left before the exam was insufficient. There is much I’d like to read in this list, from Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son to Sharon Olds’ Stag’s Leap: Poems. Which of the winners and finalists have you read? Did they call them right? (New York Times)
This week also brought more than its share of tragedy. Something we feel pretty passionately about around here is the power of poetry and art to heal. Several institutions in Boston — including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Conservatory, and the Institute of Contemporary Art — waived admissions fees yesterday, offering themselves as a respite.
“All of our hearts are constricted at the horror and cruelty, ” said ICA director Jill Medvedow. “These are ways in which we hope to provide some solace or contemplation. These are all at the edges of the actual pain and suffering and loss that people are living right now. But it’s what we can do.” (Boston Globe)
“Collectively, we’re an almost comically introverted bunch; yet in order to find readers, we’re compelled to morph into crack marketers and self-promoters.” So says Bettina Lanyi, the voice of the “aspiring novelist” in an multi-faceted feature exploring the current “publishing revolution” from the perspective of the various players and experts in the publishing industry: the self-published author, the aspiring novelist, the bookseller, the writing teacher, the librarian, and more. Of particular interest is the common thread that sees the writer as marketing/social media expert and entrepreneur. (Explorer, Washington Post)
Just in time for you to work out your writer-as-businessperson aspirations, Jane Friedman has a helpful post on how to improve your author website. (You have an author website to improve, right?) (Jane Friedman)
And while you’re working out your marketing and business plans between chapters in your forthcoming blockbuster novel, you might also give some thought to editing. David Kudler breaks down the true and false of book editing. And if you don’t want to be told that having your best friend’s mom who used to be a librarian give it a once-over is sufficient, maybe don’t go get yourself in a lather by reading the piece. (Huffington Post Books)
4 Poetry at Work
One of the best things about working from home instead of my former life in corporate America is that I can talk to myself without attracting undue attention from my colleague in the next prairie-dog cubicle. I often talk my way through a complex project, and when I start to hear my own voice over Cat Stevens on Spotify, I know I’m going to make it. This recent study finds talking to yourself is actually helpful, not necessarily a sign of some sort of internal unrest. (Mother Nature Network)
I might have muttered a few things to myself the other night while did push-ups in my office at my editor’s request. I was preparing a post for our poemcrazy book club. One of the things that has impressed me is author Susan Wooldridge’s work with youth in various detention settings, and the way she has been able to help them touch something inside themselves through poetry. Dave Johnson is a poet-in-residence with the New York City Probation Office who started interacting with probationers and poetry around the simple question, “What are you waiting for?” Take a look at this great article on his work building community around words. (New York Daily News)
Perhaps the reason that there is a link between creativity and talking to oneself is complexity of the creative personality, which will often be comprised of various facets that may seem to conflict with one another, presenting a person with something of a “multitude.”
As creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes in his 1996 article for Psychology Today entitled “The Creative Personality, ” creative people “show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual, ” each of them is a “multitude.” (HuffPost Healthy Living)
Does place matter in writing? (I’ll give you a hint: around here, we think it matters a lot.) The Write Practice is talking about place this week, with a great writing prompt to help you see how a sense of place might affect your writing.
Environments affect all people; this has been confirmed in sociological studies of human life, and urban studies in particular. What surrounds us affects how we feel, what we do, what we think and how we channel these thoughts and emotions. This is especially true for artists, as a special group of people more inclined to perception and higher sensibilities. Others perceive just as well, and yet the artist is the one who is going to articulate his inner turbulence. (The Write Practice)
There was a little joke in the background this week about whether or not a particular approach should be considered bossiness or demonstrating leadership skills. This week’s poetry prompt at Writer’s Digest is a great chance for you to write a bossy poem. Well, they would call it an “instructional poem.” (Writer’s Digest)
If you’re really wanting to get into the spirit of National Poetry Month, think about glutting yourself on the Pulitzer Remix 2013 project, a lollapalooza of 85 poets creating found poems from 85 Pulitzer works for a total of over 2500 poems when the project concludes. Start with Lights Out by Jenni B. Baker from The Orphan Master’s Son. (Pulitzer Remix)
With so many original works to draw from, and the varied sensibilities of 85 poets, the Pulitzer Remix is sure to give you a wide spectrum of poetic styles. Every Day Poems does that for me on a smaller scale, with one manageable serving of poetry each morning, but exposing me to a wide and delightful variety of poets and styles. Some mornings I chuckle at the selection, others I ponder for half the day. One of the poems this week left me mulling over the words for hours. See what you think of the shaming stories buried in your liver:
your shaming stories
deep in your liver,
take them with you
to your grave.
She had me at Nina Simone. Anyone claiming her influence automatically gets a listen from me. But then I read this complete interview with singer/songwriter Brooke Campbell and jogged over to her website and let the music play for a couple of hours in the background while I worked. I found her comments about a medical condition that may have resulted from a “lack of self-expression” fascinating. (Caught in the Carousel)
My granddad died just about a year ago at the respectable age of 104. He married for the second time at age 83. I have a special place in my heart for folks who take the second half of their life seriously. Ellaraino, featured in this great video interview with Amy Poehler, has taken the second half of her life pretty seriously in her own right. But listen to the story of her grandmother, who learned to read for the first time at age 85. (85!) (Upworthy)
Should the unlikely day arrive when I have something published, all I ask is that the guy who decides to review it in the New York Times not say that I am no worse off than “blood pudding, haggis or Marmite.” So begins William Logan’s review of two poetry volumes by Britain’s poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy (Rapture: Poems and The Bees: Poems). Do we want to read on? (Okay, I’ll admit it. I read on. And then wondered why a person ever wants to read a review. It got worse than being compared to haggis.) I think I’d have enjoyed the poetry collections more than Mr. Logan’s cranky review. (New York Times)
10 Sound n Motion
Most of the time when I write, I have instrumental music in the background. I find that though music with words can take me into deeper places within myself, the competition with words I am trying to write tends to muck up the odds for coherent sentences. So I will often listen to Yiruma on the piano or Miloš Karadaglić on guitar. My appreciation for Milos, and for wood craft, made this video, The Art of Making: Alma Flamenca, an immediate favorite. I sat back and imagined it was my hand tracing the curves of the guitar body or tightening the strings or setting off a cloud of sawdust with a breath against the sanded edge.
And for a bonus video? I love this short piece, and the way the boy stepped out of a troubled existence and found himself in his art. The editor who left this piece for me said, “I think what breakdancing is for this boy is what poetry can be for me.”
- Summer Break & Take Your Poet to Work Day - July 17, 2021
- Adjustments: A Belated Bicentenary Party for John Keats - March 4, 2021
- The Reindeer Chronicles Book Club: You’re Cutting a Tree in Almería and Getting a Storm in Dusseldorf - February 17, 2021