sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Author Archive

Writing Narrative Poetry

nitesky7A couple of months ago, I signed up for the first of four parts of an online course in mythic structure. We’re now partway through part two, and I find myself working on a long, narrative poem about a warrior who goes to Hell to seek revenge for his slain fellows.  I started this particular poem as a homework assignment, and in spite of my feeling that the poem was complete in itself, the comments by my fellow students (“what happens next?”) led me to continue it.  I don’t usually write horror stories — in fact, I’ve never written one — but the poem does have its grisly elements. Here’s the first stanza from Part II:

Jovan  strode down a narrow path
where walls gave off an eerie light
and crunch of bones beneath his feet
sent screams of souls to demon’s blight.

If I had to write about this in prose, I doubt I would have come up with anything close to this, but somehow writing in rhyme freed me.   The  poem is the longest I’ve written, and it’s far from finished.  It’s about 26 four-line stanzas so far.

I worked on a number of poems for part one of this course, including another where a soul goes down to hell.

Of all the story structure types I’ve studied, this one — the hero’s journey — feels the most natural. I read lots of Robin Hood, King Arthur, fairy tales, Greek and Roman mythology, and the like growing up, and apparently absorbed a lot about about the scaffolding without being aware of it.  All in all, a fascinating subject, and a rich source, for me, of poetic inspiration.

The Gates of Hell

He stood before the gates of hell
to bargain with a shade.
He drew a breath, then struck the bell
and drew his heavy blade.
The gate was formed from primal fire,
glowed with a steady flame.
But in that hell, his heart’s desire,
and on his head, the blame.
The shadow slipped between the glow
that formed the fiery gate.
Dar raised his sword to strike his foe.
The shadow murmured, “Wait.
“If you would see your love once more,
then listen now to me.
While men have entered hell before,
no man has broken free.”
“And yet I, too, must take a chance,
so shadow, stand aside.
The shadow bowed, and with a glance,
let hell’s gates open wide.
“I’m going now to meet my love.
Though I’ll remain in hell,
my story will be know above.”
Then did the death-bells knell.

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon turned tragic this past Monday when two bombs went off near the finish line of the race. Two of our kids were downtown when it happened. Both are, thank God, safe, but others were not so lucky. Our hearts go out to all.

Boston Marathon

Boston_Marathon_2010_in_Wellesley

Participants in the 2010 Boston Marathon in Wellesley, just after the halfway mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blank page accuses me

but I’m wordless,
my mind stuck in the moment
I heard the explosion,

the second glass shattered,

viewing stands collapsed,
runners crashed to the street
from the bomb’s blast

A pressure cooker,
a timer,
nails and such

from the hardware store

Anyone could buy
at the Ace on the corner

put together in the garage.
No one would suspect a thing.

We have the method,
but not the motive:
neither who nor why,
and it leaves us wrecked.

We toss and turn,
wake at 2 AM,
imagined footsteps
clomp by our door.

Only a dream,

a stand-in for the worry
we are vulnerable,
fragile,

and anyone
with a few dollars,
a little know-how,
a stain on their soul,

could, in a moment,
change our lives forever.

 

 

 

How to Generate Rhymes

I love to write rhymed poetry, and as I have started on another collection of science fiction poetry set in the Aleyne universe, I’m planning to write a fair number of story-poems, a format which lends itself to rhyme.

paintmt1

PSYCHEDELIC MOUNTAIN

I have my own algorithm for generating rhymes (more about that later), but I also make use of an online rhyming dictionary and an online thesaurus.

There are as many ways to write rhymed poetry as there are writers, but one of my personal favorites is a rhyme scheme which rhymes only two lines of a four line stanza, either the first and third or the second and fourth. It’s both less overwhelmingly sing-songy and easier to write.

Here’s my algorithm for generating rhymes

As a crossword puzzle fan, I realized early on that, aside from single letters, only certain sound combinations could start words:

consonant plus “R” sound:  br, cr, dr, etc.

consonate plus “L” sound: bl, cl, etc

and a few others: ch, sh, ch,  s + almost all the other two-letter combos, s+l,

and a couple of consonants plus “w” sound: kw (quick),  etc

The key,  of course, is to concentrate on how the word sounds and now how it’s spelled:
Thus, to find all words of one syllable rhyming with “ack”:

b + ack : back
bl + ack:  black
br + ack:  brack (not a word)
bw + ack bwack (not a word)

etc.

Here’s one of my favorite poems. In the seven-line stanzas below, the third and seventh lines rhyme.

 

 The True Nature of Housework

The clack and the clatter
of pots and pans
rattle and ruin the peace.
Sit under the window,
it sounds like a band
that’s quite out of tune.
Will noise never cease?

The gurgle of water
that drips down the drain
says the faucet continues to leak.
The doors on the cupboards
are coming unhinged.
I can clearly hear
the kitchen door squeak.

The plates he just washed
he’ll plunk down with a plop,
creating a crack or a chip.
The dishwasher door
is still open, I know
and I’ll bet there’s a plate
that sits poised on the lip.

The silver’s all tarnished
and needs to be wiped
with pink polish and a clean rag
It’s been just like that
for the last month at least.
It looks like it came from
a rag picker‘s bag.

I sit staring out at the
peaceful blue lake
and try not to think of the mess.
If I sit here and listen
I’ll just grind my teeth.
I’m going inside;
then I won’t have to guess.

Shakespeare in the Park

The Sheep Meadow fills the area north of the 6...

The Sheep Meadow fills the area north of the 65th Street sunken Transverse Road and west of the disused Central Drive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the biggest influences on my poetic ear was due to Joe Papp‘s free Shakespeare in the park.  I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. After Joe Papp won the right to put on the plays in Central Park, we never missed a performance. Even after I moved to the Boston area in 1978, I would occasionally get back to New York to see a play.

One of the reasons was that Sammy Silverman, the attorney who won Joe the permission he needed, was a long-time friend of my father. My dad, Louis C. Fieland, was an attorney, and he and Sammy went way back. How far? Alas, I don’t remember, and my father — and Sammy — are long gone.

After Sammy won the case, we all — my family, Sammy and his wife Claire — attended every performance. We could do this because Sammy and my family were sponsors. That meant we got tickets in exchange for contributing money. The tickets were free for everyone, but sponsors didn’t have to wait in line. Considering the popularity of the plays, this was a great gift.

The Pied Piper versus Goliath: Joe Papp and the fight for public theater

It was 1959 and Joe Papp was having a bad year. Not only had he lost his job at CBS, but also New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses had refused to issue Joe the permit he needed to present New York Shakespeare Festival‘s summer season of Shakespeare in the park, a permit that Joe had obtained without difficulty for the three previous summers.  The commissioner wanted Joe to charge admission. Joe refused. Joe’s vision was of free public theater. Not only did he not want to charge admission, he thought that the city should provide the funds he needed to continue his performances. The war was on.

Joe Papp, more than almost any other man, transformed the face of American theater. Joe, the son of immigrant parents, had only a high school education and didn’t go to an acting school. What Joe had, though, was a vision, optimism, and persistence. He’d need plenty of all of them.

In 1959, Robert Moses was the king of urban planning and Joe Papp was nobody. What chance did Joe have against Moses? Moses had refused to issue Joe a permit unless Joe charged admission. Joe almost gave in, but when Moses demanded Joe charge $1.00 to $2.00 a ticket, Joe refused.

And that’s when Joe got lucky. His attorney, Samuel Silverman had once worked as corporate counsel to the city and knew that Joe could bring an “article 78” proceeding against Moses. An article 78 proceeding could be brought against an official who had exceeded or abused his power. Silverman told Joe he could make a good case that Moses was being arbitrary in denying the Festival use of a public park when other groups obtained permits and in demanding the Festival, a non-profit group that didn’t want to charge anything, charge admission to their performances.

But summer was fast approaching. On May 18, Silverman brought suit against Moses on the Festival’s behalf. On June 2nd, the court found for Moses. Joe was ready to give up but Silverman persuaded him to appeal the court’s decision, and this time the court found for the Festival. Joe had won.

But Joe’s troubles still weren’t over. Moses agreed to issue the permit, provided, that is, the festival could come up for $20,000 in expenses for the city to prepare the site for the Festival’s performances.

Here Joe had a stroke of genius. He asked Moses for the money, and Moses, much to everyone’s surprise, asked the New York City Board of Estimate for $20,000 for the Festival. On June 25th the board said yes. Joe was on his way.

Joe Papp went on to much more. Eventually, the city built the festival a permanent home, the Delacorte Theater, in Central Park. The Festival acquired winter quarters in the old Astor Library on Lafayette Street, where Joe gave young, promising playwrights a chance to put on their plays.

Joe Papp transformed the face of American Theater, giving many actors and other theater professionals their start.  And if you go to New York this summer, you will be able to stand on line for a chance to get a free ticket to see Shakespeare in the Park, all thanks to Joe Papp, a man who had a dream and the belief in himself to go along with it.

Looking back on November: Poem a day

Again this year I participated in Robert Lee Brewer’s November Poem A Day challenge. The poems are supposed to form a chapbook, but I wasn’t aiming for that. I simply wanted to write poetry.

My muse has been in an un-serious mood most of the month. I’ve done a lot of rhyming and a lot of, well …

Here are a couple of poems:

Poetic Formless

Dust like stars. Any storm in a port. The eye of my apple. Dust the bite.  Blind a turned eye. Fuse a blow. Worm an open can. A death worse than fate. Ice the break. Knot the tie. A society of pillars.

Moons with rock piles made of diamonds, worlds of water where huge ships sail, never reaching shore, jungles full of purple cows, green tigers, and yellow elephants, dragons, fairies two feet tall, ten-foot-tall giants, magic wands, movies that turn themselves on with a blink of an eye.

My car sprouts helicopter wings. I look down on the cars lined up on route 95 as it winds through downtown Providence, and I open my mouth and sing, loudly, beautifully on pitch, remembering all the words.

The Truth about Truth

I desire a Truth
in my Christmas stocking.
Instead, in my head,
I hear a voice mocking.

“Truth’s much too fat
to be hung from a ledge
above a hot fire.”
Alas, though I pledge

she’ll never get burned,
she just shakes her large head.
Perhaps I will dream her
tonight in my bed.

She’ll plop on my blanket,
speak low in my ear.
I hope I’ll be able
to shut up and hear.

When He’s Gone

Alas, my laptop, Joe, is dead.
He tripped and fell right on his head.
The light went off. I almost cried,
the night my laptop, Joseph, died.

I had another laptop, Lou.
Unfortunately, he’s finished, too.
I spilled some coffee on his head,
and now my laptop, Lou, is dead.

Alas, I fear I’ll be offline
until November 12 at nine
AM when I return to work,
and leap onto my desktop, Kirk.

So for a time, I bid adieu
while I consider what to do:
to buy another or repair
or find someone who has a spare.

 

 

Waiting to hear on a proposal for a workshop

744908720_2654497633_0I got email from the Mass Poetry festival letting me know they’d received my workshop proposal. Fortunately they copied the email I sent them, because I forgot to save a copy.

I don’t know if they will go for it, but, hey, at least I sent it in.

Workshop

Even if we don’t suffer from writer’s block, we often dismiss our ideas before they have a chance to develop. How many times has a line of poetry popped into your mind only to be dismissed? A subject you dismissed as trite or as something you’d never write about? What are you afraid to tackle?

Don’t let your inner editor choke you off before you start. This workshop will include a series of exercises designed to free your inner muse.
Equipment Needs

  • Table for Presenters
  • Chairs for Presenters
  • Dry erase board
  • Paper and pencils

Target Audience: Anyone who wants to dig deeper and free themselves from their own critical thinking.What makes this distinctive and compelling? We’re all inclined to doubt the worth of our own work and to not pay attention to what it is we want/need to write. We will use group writing exercises as a warm-up to generating poetry, brainstorm starting lines for poems, write poems from various points-of-view: ex mother-in-law, best friend from high school, glass of water on your nightstand, unused computer keys. Anything goes.

This workshop is meant to be fun, to generate some ideas the participants to take away, and to start to develop some techniques they can use to get started when inspiration fails to strike.

Publicity & Audience Development Plan *I blog monthly on writersonthemove.com, twice monthly on poetic-muselings.net, and on my own blog, as well as guest blogging. I would use these to promote the workshop.

I’d promote on facebook and twitter, try for an article in my local papers, community tv station, and on internet and regular radio as well as emailing my list of contacts about the workshop.

Have you produced this or a similar program before? If so when and where? *I am one of the six Poetic Muselings. We presented a workshop, “Poetry: Not just for writing verse,” at the Muse Online Writers Conference this October.

 

 

 

My head is spinning, and more poetry

I’m trying to promote my novel, “Relocated,” so check out this review on askDavid.com:

http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/science-fiction/2539

And check out “Sand in the Desert” as well

http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/inspirational-poetry/2540

In addition to promoting the novel,  I’m editing two others. I got tagged in a blog hop and answered a few questions about one of them,  an adult science fiction novel tentatively entitled “Broken Bonds”:

http://margaretfieland.com/blog1/2012/10/17/the-next-big-thing-blog-hop/

I’ve been playing with digital images again.

Here are a couple of poems I’ve written, two versions of the same gray, dreary day:

 

Almost Day

The rain hangs short of falling
and chill air blows
through my open window.

My novel’s turned dull,
the heroine another blonde,
lucky at everything but love.

I’m down to dregs of coffee,
the flavor burnt and bitter,
sandy grounds populate my cup.

I’ve insufficient motivation
to rise from the table
or boot me out of my fog.

My dog humps open the door
rests her grinning muzzle
on my knee.

Anything short of a downpour
is good weather for canines..
Time to go for a walk


Gray Day

My novel’s heroine  has no class.

paintmt1

l have to give the book a pass.

Rain hangs just short of the grass
I hope the gloomy weather will pass

Chill air blows in the window , alas.
I bang it shut, hope shivering will pass

My smoky fire smells of burnt grass.
Time to walk. Don’t let more time pass.

Rain streams down the  window glass
I have to give walking the dog a pass

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the first chapter of my new novel plus Sand in the Desert free on August 27-28

relocated-200x300sand_in_the_desert_cover_for_kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Monday, August 20th,  the first chapter of my new novel, “Relocated,” was on D. Renee Bagby’s YA First Chapters blog.

Read it here:

http://ya.drb1stchp.com/2012/08/relocated-by-margaret-fieland.html

Sand in the Desert, the book of poetry that I wrote to go with “Relocated,” is free on Kindle on August  27th and 28th. Or borrow it free any time on KDP Select

http://tinyurl.com/SandPoetry

And do check out “Relocated,” available on Amazon and on the publisher’s website, http://tinyurl.com/MuseRelocated

Here’s a link to “Relocated” on the publisher’s webste:

http://tinyurl.com/Relocated

 

More on Limericks

Cover of "The Limerick"

Cover of The Limeric

I love rhyme. I love limericks, and I’ve written quite a few. Here, since I now have the perfect excuse,
are a few new ones.

Here’s one:

There once was a young lad from Kyoto
one evening while viewing a photo
saw a face so grotesque
it resembled a desk
and was sure he had seen Quasimodo.

and another:

One evening while cooking some rice,
a lass went to look for some ice.
When she failed to return,
the rice started to burn.
The poor lass had to cook her rice twice.

A note on meter in limerick:

The feet (metrical feet, not the things at the ends of your legs) for a limerick is typically an anapest
dum, dum, DUM or an amphibrach
dum DUM dum
with the first, third, and fifth lines consisting of three feet of three syllables each, and the third and fourth consisting of two metrical feet.

Edward Lear popularized the limerick,  but in contrast to modern limericks, they contain neither humor nor  a punch line, and the first and last lines were often the same.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Lear

Although Mr. Lear wrote some limericks
I’m thinking they really are gimmericks,
First and last lines the same
make them seem pretty lame.
and of humor there’s nary a glimmerick.

And here’s one about Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick:

Expressing intention to pass
on a third term, the governor of Mass
saw his influence ebb.
It’s all over the web.
Is he planning to seek greener grass?

My Voice

I’ve been thinking about voice a lot lately. Voice, as in writer’s voice, what is it, where does it come from, what influences it. As a writer, I love words and word play, have a good knowledge of English grammar, can speak, read and write French well enough to carry on a conversation, read a book, and appreciate some of the differences in the grammars. I enjoy humor and like writing all kinds of humorous poetry.

Many things have influenced me as a writer, but one of the biggest was my father. An attorney who appeared twice before the Supreme Court, he love the English language and was adamant about correct usage. Every time my sister or I would make a mistake, he would repeat the whole rule and its explanation. Not simply the correction. The whole, blasted thing. He also refused, generally, to give us the meaning of a word; he made us look them up ourselves. At the time I found the whole thing beyond annoying. Now I view it as one of the biggest gifts he could have given me.

He also encouraged us to read widely. I recall reading Damon Runyon and O’Henry among others at about age twelve, and having to look up about one word in every sentence. Talk about vocabulary building! And I can still recall discussions about points of grammar around the dinner table.

The New York Times crossword puzzle was another big influence, in that it led to my developing my own algorithm for generating rhymes. I am an auditory learner, and one day while doing the puzzle, searching for a word where I had the first letter, I realized that there were a very limited selection of sounds that could follow:
Consonant plus L sound: for example C plus L as in clap
Consonant plus R sound: for example C plus L as in crap
For some, Consonant plus W sound:   C plus W sound would be cwap — nope, that one’s not a word.
For S, C, and T: consonant plus H
For letter q: KW is the sound
Special case : S : S plus most of the others: S plus C , S plus C plus L, S plus C plus R…

But NOTE well.  We’re talking about SOUNDS, not spelling. I use C for the K sound.
If you’re visual and this throws you off, this system might not work for you. fat frat flat

I’ve used this algorithm for years. I love to rhyme, and although I now occasionally look up the rhymes using rhymezone.com, I can go through my own algorithm pretty quickly. I do better that way, because it forces me to contemplate each word and whether or not it would fit in the poem.

Although I love music and play the flute and the piccolo, I don’t listen to music as I write, nor do I see images when I listen to music. When I listen to music, I listen to music. It evokes emotions, but I don’t see pictures unreeling in my brain. I know some writers are inspired by music, like to write to music, and the like. I don’t, not in the way most people mean. I do find music to be very freeing when I’m letting my mind wander, contemplate plot, character, or whatever.

I have written several poems that were music-inspired. In  the cases I can remember, I was in my car listening to the radio when a particular song — or songs — got me started on a poem. Here is one of them. The first part of the first stanza was what was happening when the Kenny Chesney song started to play on the radio. I did have to go search out the titles of some of his other songs in order to fill out my conception of the poem. I’m nobly resisting the urge to revise it. It was published in an ezine:

Crack Up

Swish through car-lit darkness
Past squares of light,
street signs sparkling green and white.
Roll down your window,
feel the lemon air
ruffle what’s left of your hair.
Kenny Chesney blaring on the radio
loud enough to silence the thoughts in your head
waiting to be drowned in a cold beer.

Your wheels slide through ghosts of clouds,
past skeleton trees waving bare arms,
past lighted windows with families eating
roast chicken, green beans, potatoes
while the letter from your daughter
crinkles in your back pocket,
your seat belt chafing as
Kenny croons Who you’d Be Today.

The smell of leaf smoke drifts
through the window
as you drive at twenty-five miles per hour
past the cop in the turn-out on your left,
as the rain starts dripping down your windshield
and your windshield wipers quit.
You reach for a beer
as Kenny starts singing Keg in the Closet

Your car drifts into the center of the road
as you drop the empty on the floor,
reach behind you for another,
one hand on the wheel.
The car skids on wet leaves
going around that curve in the road
you forgot was there
and Kenny sings Steamy Windows.

The sweat drips down your neck
as you wrestle with the steering wheel,
brake on the empties,
your seat belt unfastened.
Skid into the tree.
Glass arrows your cheek your eye.
You’re bleeding from your ear.
Somewhere Kenny’s singing How Forever Feels.

 

 

Tag Cloud