Enter the World of Haibun

The torii of Itsukushima Shrine, the site's mo...

I learned a new literary term yesterday, haibun, when I was reading a story by another writer in a group I belong to. It turns out that haibun is a relatively new literary form that combines prose and poetry, notably haiku. It’s been around since 17th century Japan but is relatively new to Westerners.

According to Wiki, “A haibun may record a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive and objective manner or may occupy a wholly fictional or dream-like space. The accompanying haiku may have a direct or subtle relationship with the prose and encompass or hint at the gist of what is recorded in the prose sections.”

So I thought I’d try writing one. Here it is.

Master of Pain

A friend can block pain like turning off a light switch. I ask him, how does he do it? Easy, he says. I focus my mind completely on the task at hand, so deeply that I block out everything else. I’ve been able to do this since I was a young boy.

That explains it. How he achieved so much on playing fields, working through pain to win gold. Great success in board rooms with marriage crumbling around him. Calm and collected in storm of chaos while others cry like croaking ravens. I’m envious.  Why can’t I do that?

Hand grips glass tightly

He likes to watch birds soaring

Feelings numb like hand

Later I find out he was once a twelve-year-old, giving CPR to his dying father.
Maybe I don’t need that light switch after all.

©2012 Lin Neiswender

Imagery: Day and Night

English: Rita Dove in 2004 Polski: Rita Dove w...

Image via Wikipedia

Day and night are frequently used to create mood in poetry. Here are a few of my favorite poems that make use of day/night imagery.

In the poem below, the change from day to dark echoes the change in the narrator’s situation, the beginning of a relationship. The images of the sun rolling up her rug and night strewing salt are potent ones, and echo the domestic setting of the poem.

Flirtation
by Rita Dove

After all, there’s no need
to say anything

at first. An orange, peeled

like a tulip on a wedgewood plate
Anything can happen.

Outside the sun
has rolled up her rugs

and night strewn salt
across the sky. My heart

is humming a tune
I haven’t heard in years!

Quiet’s cool flesh—
let’s sniff and eat it.

There are ways
to make of the moment

a topiary
so the pleasure’s in

walking through.

Here is another favorite of mine:
This one uses vivid imagery to bring the story to life. The nighttime and darkness are an essential part of the story — it wouldn’t have been nearly as romantic if it had taken place in the daytime.

The Highwayman
by Alfred Noyes

Alfred NoyesThe wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding–
Riding–riding–
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like moldy hay,
But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say–

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching–
Marching–marching–
King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side.
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast.
“Now keep good watch!” and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say–
Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good.
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood.
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him–with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood.
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew gray to hear
How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the pur
ple moor,
A highwayman comes riding–
Riding–riding–
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And here’s one of mine. I find far more of my poems make use of night time imagery than they do of daytime.

In Sleep
by Margaret Fieland

Shadows creep up stairs,
whispers echo in a hall,
footsteps slither
under a door.

A floor creaks.
Blood thumps
in my ears, drowns
cries of murmuring wind.

I cross a vacant cafe
where demons dine on ashes,
enter an empty room,
rest on a floor.

Splinters stab my palms.
I’m dragged down to dark.

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So, You're a Creative Genius… Now What?: A review

“I contend that if you’re not actively creating something, you’re not entirely alive.” ~Carl King

You’re inspired, you’ve released your creative genius. What do you do with it? This is where Carl King’s book, So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?, comes into power.

I first tuned into this book by following links about introverts, ending up on Carl King’s blog post 10 Myths About Introverts (a good read, but another topic). I liked King’s way of thinking, and saw that he had a book. The publisher, MWP, has a sample from the book on their website. I devoured all seventeen sample pages, and filled up a page in my bliss book with quotes and inspirations from that alone. I was sold, and bought the book next chance I got.

King doesn’t mince words. Every sentence, every page, has impact. You won’t find repetition or filler here. He has a quirky humor, and tells it straight.

This book covers so many topics relating to creativity. From your personal workspace (spacestation), to social interactions, the business, and daily routines. It’s a survival guide for the creative soul. About making the most of that wonderful brain you’ve got, not wasting your imagination and creativity.

As I’ve traveled the path of submitting my writing, both fiction and poetry, in the hopes for publication, I really liked how King compared us to salesman. The salesman gets fired every day. “And at the end of the day, even if you do a great job, you get fired. Because you’re paid to wake up and look for work each and every day.” Definitely something I can relate to. But then he turns it around, shows how we can learn from this state of being. “The flip side of this paradox is that a salesman is never unemployed, because he creates his own destiny.”

I recommend this book for anyone whose hobby or work is creative.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: writers groups.

So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?: A review

“I contend that if you’re not actively creating something, you’re not entirely alive.” ~Carl King

You’re inspired, you’ve released your creative genius. What do you do with it? This is where Carl King’s book, So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?, comes into power.

I first tuned into this book by following links about introverts, ending up on Carl King’s blog post 10 Myths About Introverts (a good read, but another topic). I liked King’s way of thinking, and saw that he had a book. The publisher, MWP, has a sample from the book on their website. I devoured all seventeen sample pages, and filled up a page in my bliss book with quotes and inspirations from that alone. I was sold, and bought the book next chance I got.

King doesn’t mince words. Every sentence, every page, has impact. You won’t find repetition or filler here. He has a quirky humor, and tells it straight.

This book covers so many topics relating to creativity. From your personal workspace (spacestation), to social interactions, the business, and daily routines. It’s a survival guide for the creative soul. About making the most of that wonderful brain you’ve got, not wasting your imagination and creativity.

As I’ve traveled the path of submitting my writing, both fiction and poetry, in the hopes for publication, I really liked how King compared us to salesman. The salesman gets fired every day. “And at the end of the day, even if you do a great job, you get fired. Because you’re paid to wake up and look for work each and every day.” Definitely something I can relate to. But then he turns it around, shows how we can learn from this state of being. “The flip side of this paradox is that a salesman is never unemployed, because he creates his own destiny.”

I recommend this book for anyone whose hobby or work is creative.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: writers groups.

Make Visible: By Art Inspired

 Art sometimes inspires me to write poetry. Below are two paintings and the poems they inspired. Please read Lin’s post A New Way of Looking: Ekphrasis for an introduction to this idea. It is often not enough to just see a painting and write; sometimes research into the subject or the artist is helpful.  I researched James Joyce for the poem, “Joyce.”  The painting was incorrectly titled “Joyce in the City” on another website, where I was inspired to write the poem.  The correct name for the painting is Paris Street, Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte, 1877.

Paris Street, Rainy Day

Joyce

Plotting out your novel
in the rain,
or so I imagine.
I struggled with Ulysses,
didn’t get past the first five pages
to be honest.

You wouldn’t kneel
at your mother’s bedside,
standing up against Catholicism
even in death.

Your get rich quick schemes
failed, until you acquired a patron.
Still you squandered the money
every chance
on wine.

We’ll never know much about
your daughter,
the letters burned
by an overzealous relative.

Many eye surgeries later,
Joyce and an umbrella,
woman on his arm,
in the rain.

The second painting, The Little Deer by Frida Kahlo, 1946, also inspired a poem.  I dug a little deeper into the research for this painting.  The surrealism of the painting is reflected in this poem, “A Painting.”

The Little Deer

A Painting

You let your guard down
Didn’t see the hunter’s orange vest
Or didn’t care
Can the mute speak?
Still you run through the woods
You should be dead
A stag with the face of a woman
countenance as mysterious as the Mona Lisa’s
Run, deer, run
As if the plague were after you
As if followed by Roman soldiers
Aching to martyr.

What can you take away from this?  If you need inspiration, look online for paintings to inspire your writing.  They can be modern art, classical, fine art, or even photographs.  You don’t have to research the subject of the painting or photograph or the artist, but  it adds depth to the final work.

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Inspiration Shared

As promised, today’s post is a poem written by Eileen Peterson, entered in our recent “Favorite Poet / Poem / and Why?” contest.

My Dream House

(after the style of Don Blanding

By Eileen Dawson Peterson

 

Word pictures draw the shape before my eyes
of  a “Vagabond’s House” in some far paradise.

And wistfully I see that dream take shape
with every beam, and chair and drape.

My dream house could not be as bold
though just as dear as Drifter’s Gold.

Mine would instead be clean and low and bright,
a cottage built of clapboard boards of white.

With a roof  that’s neither flat nor peaked high,
of rough-hewn wooden shakes to signify

the country, cottage-look that I hold dear,
with a broad front porch, and another in the rear.

Columns wound with roses red as wine
and vibrant as rubies on a valentine.

A porch swing swaying in the breeze
invites my weary body take its ease.

All round the cottage, growing lushly there
clematis vines and roses everywhere

and peonies, iris and rhododendrons bloom,
that in the sun will execute perfume

as sweet and heady as any tropic flower
you’ll find in any south seas bower.

Just room enough for me and for
occasionally a warmly welcomed visitor.

I’ll have a bit of grass, just big enough
for Grandkids to play, though not too rough,

perhaps to kick a soccer ball or roll and play
or simply laze a whole sweet day away.

In my backyard I’ll have a special place,
a little corner just for my embrace.

There I’ll place a chair that’s comfortable and low,
where only ferns and shade flowers grow.

Oh, yes!  A gazing ball, right there, within my view
where lilacs, lilies and Shasta daisies, too

embower my special spot of privacy
There I’ll sit and sip a steaming cup of tea

and fall in love each day once more
with this house of my dreams that I adore

In my living room, open and bright,
with a large bay window to let in the light

I’ll have a fireplace of old red brick,
and carpets soft, and warm, and thick.

On the hearth there’ll be a spot I’ll save
for the cat my precious Grandsons gave.

Mico Cara, “monkey face”, a silly name
which, beautiful thing, he overcame.

And a room prepared so guests can come
where they will always feel at home.

So come, dear friends, sit on my porch with me
and share my lovely sun-filled reverie.

My favorite poem is “Vagabond’s House” by Don Blanding.  I was introduced to Blanding’s work by my High School Creative Writing teacher, Juliette Gibson, in 1952. His work is lyrical and so descriptive that I feel transported to his settings. “Vagabond’s House” particularly grabs me for it’s rhythm and it’s marvelous detail. It makes me want to live in that house. I can smell it’s exotic scents, feel it’s power, see the crowded fullness of it’s rooms, sense the sensuality of Blanding. So, when I bought my first very own house after my divorce, I wrote a poem about it after the style of “Vagabond’s House.” Thanks for this contest! Eileen Dawson Peterson

To Market, to Market- Sending Out Your Poetic Babies

Marketing Plan

So you’ve written a poem. Congratulations and job well done! But now what?

Time to polish your work till it gleams like a new copper penny, and send it out into the world.

Editing is important, as there is always a better, fresher way to word your thoughts,  fix up a place where the rhythm is off or a rhyme could be improved, add this or remove that, or rearrange some lines. Get feedback from people you trust and work until the poem feels right. Then you’re ready for phase three: marketing.

Some markets or contests require you to pay a reading fee, or buy the book of poetry if they publish your poem. My personal preference is not to send to them. Here’s why: they may not be reputable. If it’s a big, well-known market, perhaps it is worth a shot. But if not, you have just given money to someone who will just pocket it and could care less about publishing your poetry, even if it is excellent. That said, time to look at some markets.

“Where?” you cry, “I don’t know any writing markets!” Believe me, there are plenty. I recommend you sign up at Duotrope to get their weekly fiction and poetry market listings. I also recommend you join CRWROPPS Creative Writers Opportunities List at Yahoo Groups, as well as join a local poetry group. You can find some near your area in Meetup.

Read the listing you pick to submit to thoroughly and make sure they accept your kind of poetry. Look for their submissions page and be sure you follow it to the letter. Nothing will get your poem tossed in File 13 faster than thinking their rules don’t apply to you. They have to read a lot of submissions so don’t give them a reason to eliminate you from the get-go.

So what do you need besides a market listing?

First, you need a Bio. Make it a 50-or-so word biography that tells something about you –  something quirky or intriguing is good, funny is even better, as well as any relevant publishing credits. You can go the online ezine route- easier to break into than a print venue- to help you get  enough poems published to give you a good bio.

Second, you need a cover letter or email that you can modify to fit the particular market you are submitting to. Be polite and professional. Try to find out the editor’s name if you can, if not, “Dear Editor” will do.

Be brief and mention the title of the poem you are submitting for consideration and any relevent information about it. End by thanking them for their time. If they asked for contact information, give it. Then include your poem in the format they requested, which may require you to use a certain font or type of document. Sometimes this is in the body of the email, sometimes as an attached WORD or other format document. If they request a typed snail mail submission, be sure your name and email are on the poem unless they tell you otherwise- envelopes and submission letters can get lost.

Last, keep a record of what poem you sent to what venue and when. Also make a note of how soon to expect a reply from the publisher, if given in their submissions page. If you don’t hear by that time, or 3 months if no deadline is given, a polite inquiry is in order.

When it sells, make a note of the publication date and go celebrate! If it gets rejected, make a note of the date and send it right out again to your second choice. Continue till you make a sale or use up all your markets. But remember, new markets come out every month!

So here’s to your first sale! I’d love to hear about it.

Make Visible: Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll Results

Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll Results

 

I’m happy to announce that the cover for “Lifelines” by Lin Neiswender won third place in book/ebook cover art in the Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll.

Also the Poetic Muselings placed third in poets in the same poll.

Our anthology, “Lifelines”, placed tenth in anthologies in the Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll.

 

Thank you, everyone who voted!

 

 

Critters / Critique.org  hosts the annual Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll which honors print & electronic publications published during 2011.

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Persona Poems

English: Gwendolyn Brooks, Miami Book Fair Int...

Gwendolyn Brooks

Persona Poems

Persona poems are poems that are written in a voice other than that of the author, where the author pretends to be someone else. The first one I wrote was in response to a poetry writing exercise. The next one that I recall writing ended up in “Lifelines.” Since then, I’ve created two imaginary poets as part of the science fiction novels I’m writing, and written at least 30 poems by each of them.

Writing a persona poems involves getting inside the head of the narrator (or in my case, the supposed author of the poems). It’s kind of like acting a part in a play, except that the writer is creating their own dialogue.

One thing that surprised me in creating the two poets and writing in their voices was the ease with which I slipped inside their heads. The first poet I created, Raketh Namar, namesake of the main character in my novel Relocated, which will be available from MuseItUp publishing this coming July, was supposed to live and write 5,000 years before the action in the novel, and was the author of one of the most sacred texts of my aliens, the Aleynis. I don’t usually write prayers or write about spiritual subjects, yet I found myself writing them without difficulty.  This past November I created another poet, Constance Trusdatter, a very political poet who lives and writes about 100 years before the action of my current work in progress, another science fiction novel with some of the same characters as the first. I don’t usually write much about politics, yet a good number of Constance’s poems are strongly worded poems about this very subject.

Here is a persona poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, one of my favorite poets.The young girl’s voice, her longing, and her desire to be  bad come through so clearly.

Notice the pattern of two unrhymed lines followed by two lines with end rhymes, and how in the final stanza both pairs of lines rhyme.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172082

a song in the front yard

By Gwendolyn Brooks
I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

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Zen in the Art of Writing: A Review

“You fail only if you stop writing.” ~Ray Bradbury

The above quote has long been my mantra for writing. I keep it at the top of my daily writing document. So, as inspired as I am by this one statement of Bradbury’s, I was delighted to come across an entire book of such words. Zen in the Art of Writing is a collection of essays that Ray Bradbury has written, ranging in publication date from 1961 to 1986. The collection, published in 1990, is still relevant today. The messages just as true.

The essays are as follows:

  • The Joy of Writing
  • Run Fast, Stand Still, Or, The Thing at the Top of the Stairs, Or, New Ghosts from Old Minds
  • How to Keep and Feed a Muse
  • Drunk, and in Charge of a Bicycle
  • Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451
  • Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine
  • On the Shoulders of Giants
  • The Secret Mind
  • Zen in the Art of Writing
  • … On Creativity

In these, Bradbury shares his experiences with life and writing, and shows how entwined the two are. He takes inspiration from his own life, his own passions.

When I picked up this book and started reading, it was impossible to put down. It spoke to my own passions, reignited my zest for writing. A reminder of why I do what I do. He does share advice, some how-to for writers, but what I took most was the underlying celebration of the art. The book’s subtitle is Releasing the Creative Genius Within You, and it lives up to that task.

“When honest love speaks, when true admiration begins, when excitement rises, when hate curls like smoke, you need never doubt that creativity will stay with you for a lifetime.”

~Ray Bradbury, from How to Keep and Feed a Muse

I definitely recommend this book, both for aspiring writers and those who’ve been long in the trenches. It is a joy to read, and will take you back to the roots of not just the how-to write, but the why. If you’ve lost that love, found the passion dimming, rediscover it here.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: More on the Creative Genius.