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Archive for the ‘Make Visible’ Category

Make Visible: Workshop Poems

write-picTo continue our series on the Muse Online Writers Conference and our Poetry Workshop last fall, I present to you two poems that were written during the conference.

Even though the Poetic Muselings were “teaching” or facilitating the Poetry Workshop, we also “learned” from each other and the participants.  I always come up with new writing when I attend MuseCon and this time was no exception.  Here are two poems that literally wouldn’t have existed if not for our workshop and MuseCon.

  • 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. ~Margaret Fieland

This is the prompt I used for my Persona Poem:

– The loneliest keys on the keyboard that never get used

Typewriter Keys

Typewriter Keys (Photo credit: jon|k)

A Question


I have a question.
Why am I so neglected?
You like E and A
and I far too much.
You never type Quasimodo or Quack
Or even misspell, using Q for K.
I’m in a quandary.

There’s not much I can do,
the letter Q
on your keyboard,
lonely, upset, tired.
I know I shouldn’t quomplain,
but I do.


© Anne Westlund


  • Ekphrasis / Picture Poem

An Ekphrasis or Picture Poem is a poem inspired by a work of art.  I was inspired by Visual 5, a collage by Lin Neiswender.

Visit to the Beauty Shop

Like a chorus of blondes
they tell me my hair is fried
from at-home color

These hairdressers
all perfectly coiffed
like angels of desire
swoop in and mutter over
my split ends

In need of proper maintenance,
conditioning and decent upstanding
expensive $$ permanent color

I don’t know whether to laugh
or cry

I’ll stick to my box color
I’ll stick to my free hair cuts
thank you very much!

The choir shrieks off-key
paling against the vagaries
of economy

So much for a “free” consultation
I don’t leave a tip.

© Anne Westlund


Please check out the Muse Online Writers Conference and sign up for next year’s conference here:

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director


Make Visible: Jennifer Ruth Jackson

write-picFrom the shadows of the Muse Online Writers Conference emerges an outstanding poet, Jennifer Ruth Jackson.  We were delighted to have these particular poets in our poetry class at the conference.  They all displayed enthusiasm and grace in tackling new forms.

Without further ado, here is Jennifer Ruth Jackson:


Who I am

My name is Jennifer Ruth Jackson.  I’m a wife, writer, crafter, and murderer of stick figures.  I have written poetry most of my life and short fiction is climbing up there.  I love horror/fantasy but am not tied to any genre.  My work is forthcoming/published in Strange Horizons, Paper Nautilus, Kaleidoscope Magazine, and more.  Oh, and I’m disabled.

The Muse Online Writers Conference

I believed, at first, the Poetic Muselings were playing a joke on us conference newbies.  A poem based on anagrams.  Sure, right, uh huh.  Then we’re supposed to describe them in alternating lines.  Good one, ladies!  Oh, wait, they weren’t joking.  Crud.

I wasn’t the most cheerful attendee when the first homework assignment came at us.  Usually, I enjoy playing with different poetic forms but this one seemed so, restrictive.  I didn’t think I was even going to make it through.  But, I did.  I found words that worked and tinkered around until it sat fairly well.  And then I let everyone share their thoughts on it with me.  That is where things really began to shine.

The people who worked with me and for me during that workshop (and entire conference) were the best assets to the whole operation.  I received incredible feedback, met people much more talented and insightful than myself, tried new things, and got what everyone has always told me a “great conference is supposed to give”.  I even found a new writing partner.

I took multiple workshops (and lurked in others) and was always surprised by how much there was to take in.  The offerings were so numerous that I never lacked for something to do.   If you attend this year, you are certain to see me there.

My Writing Advice

I can’t tell you anything you haven’t already heard but, if I have to repeat something, it had better be something darn good and something I apply to my own life/craft.

So, here it is:  Be true.  True to your readers who are looking for the wounds, the passion, the excitement, the connection to something larger than themselves.  True to your writing by creating worlds that resonate with you and don’t just chase a trend.  And, hardest of all, be true to yourself and every messy, silly, embarrassing, enchanting thing that comes with it.

Pandora’s Jar

My mystery kept her up all hours.
While her husband slept oblivious,
she caressed my contours with gentle hands.
Her breath, excited in the darkness,
shot through me like an arrow of misery.
Evils stirred inside me with every touch.
Sick, slimy things that snaked through me
whispered, “Soon”.

I struggled against the drowning panic,
knowing one day she’d hold the key
and release everything I tried to keep inside.
Realization and dread would finally quell
her innocent curiosity gone awry,
with only hope to comfort her kind.

But I miss the nights of being hers, just the same.

Mary Harrsch Pandora

Mary Harrsch Pandora

Darkness Reign

Dark genre sins
dance beneath moon and pen
Raking redness
across a million backs
And regress ink

to smeared, wet syllables


Designers rank

Stephane GinerDarkGenre



Spinning straw to silk
Spindle golden needle thread
Once unrelenting
Through patient hands, steady wheel
To become butterfly wings


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



Make Visible: Memories

The Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, seen from th...

The Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, seen from the southeast side of the bridge. This is a 7×1 panoramic stich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make Visible:  Memories

Poetry is about remembering, remembering a moment in time.  Like a photograph, a poem preserves moments that can never be experienced again, at least not in the same way.  This helps the writer as much or more than the reader.  There may be moments you want to remember, not just with a photograph.  Of course, we don’t have photos for all of the important events of our lives.

Task:  Write a poem about a city or town that figures prominently in the story of your life.

Try it!

I wrote this poem for a Powell’s poetry contest.  I guess they were looking for something more avant-garde because it didn’t win.  Here’s my memory of Portland, OR:

Memories of Portland

At OMSI we learned about the space race
Watched metal balls drop, spin and disappear
And entered a giant red heart
Leaving it, heartbeats ringing in our ears
Excited by it all.

We always ended up at the Oyster Bar
Suspicious of anything with a shell
Crustacean or mollusk
I settled on clam chowder and crackers
While my family feasted on gifts from the sea.

Only in later years
Did I enjoy the simplicity of the Japanese Gardens
Observing a perfectly reenacted tea ceremony
From a distance, while the rain fell
Boulders as islands, surrounded by seas of white rock.

In my college days I could appreciate
That land mass, Powell’s, full of books
More than I could ever read in a lifetime
Losing myself in the Gold Room
Taking home a stack of books a foot high.

© Anne Westlund



“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



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Make Visible: Rewards

Here is an idea to motivate yourself using rewards, rocks and index cards.  I adapted this idea from a post on The Simple Dollar.


Step One:  Index Cards


First, you get 20 index cards for each of your goals, ones you have trouble motivating yourself to do.  The three goals I picked out were exercise, homework and reading.  Make a number of Xs on each card.  For something that takes a lot of time, like homework I only have three Xs, for exercise, 10 Xs and for reading 12 Xs per card.  Then every time you do a step towards your goal, say go for a walk, you punch a hole in the index card.  When you have the card full you give yourself a reward of your own choosing.


Step Two:  Rocks


I like a visual reminder of how far I’ve come.  So every time I punch a hole in one of the index cards I give myself a rock and put it in a glass vase.  I have different color rocks for each goal and a small green pearl every time I fill a card.  I got the rocks at a dollar store.


Step 3:  Rewards


When I fill an index card with punched-out holes I give myself a reward.  They are inexpensive gifts I give myself.  Every other card has 2 rewards and every 5 cards has an extra reward.


Step 4:  Review


Every so often review how far you’ve come and what goals you are still having difficulty with.  I haven’t been doing well on homework, but have been doing great on exercising!  If you try this motivational method, let me know how it works for you.


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



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Make Visible: End of the Year Self-Evaluation for Writers 2012

I’m taking time off the internet this week.  While this is making me a little anxious, it’s also giving me plenty of time to think.  I’m checking in to submit this today.  Here is a blog post from this time last year.


The end of the year is a fantastic time to evaluate one’s writing life with an eye to the future.  It’s a time to look at the big picture and see if you have met, exceeded, or fallen short of your self-created writing goals for the year.  This self-evaluation was inspired by the Graduate School post, Check in With Yourself: End of Semester Self-Evaluation.  I’ve found that doing a regular self-evaluation is a great tool for reflection on my graduate school experiences.  This evaluation is not an excuse for you to beat yourself up; instead it will allow you to get a clearer picture of your writing life.

Consider your responses to these questions.  It might help to actually write them down.

Consider the last year:

  • How did my year begin?
  • What were my submission plans, writing goals, and marketing plans (if applicable)?
  • Did I allocate enough time for writing, typing and editing my work?
  • Were my expectations met?
  • What surprised me this year?
  • If I could do anything over, what would I choose?  What would I do differently?
  • What are my writing strengths and witnesses?
  • How might I address these weaknesses?
  • How can I augment these strengths?
  • What have I learned this year?  About writing?  About subjects of interest to me?  Personally?

After thoughtful consideration, what can you conclude about your year?  What will you do differently next year?

Some ideas to think about for 2013:

  • Set aside regular times to write.  Be flexible.  If you are a morning person write in the mornings, if not, write in the afternoons or evenings.  Consider investing in writing prompt books or get writing prompts off the internet, so you are not stuck for ideas.  Remember, writers write!
  • Consider collaborating on a writing project with a writing friend or online critique group.  Collaborating is a great way to support one another while holding each other accountable.
  • Take time at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013 to revisit your writing goals.  Are they too ambitious or not ambitious enough?  Can you break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps?  If you haven’t made any writing goals, is it time to do so?  Think about sharing your writing goals with supportive family members and friends.  Do you have any deadlines looming?  Make a note of those and give yourself time to meet them.
  • Reflect on any Works in Progress (WIPs) you have?  Is it time to let your WIPs go or is it time to breathe new life into a WIP?
  • Every year is a new beginning.  A new year is a great time to establish good writing habits and to reflect on the past year.  It’s also a good time to congratulate yourself on what you accomplished in 2012 and realize what you did right. See you in 2013!


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



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Make Visible: When There’s Nothing to Say

write-picI’ve fallen into a funk these last few weeks.  I  haven’t been writing or embroidering or doing other creative stuff.  I haven’t been doing any of my classwork.  I still haven’t finished the November PAD (poem-a-day) or much else for that matter.

A couple days ago there was a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where many small children and some adults perished.  I don’t know whether to be angry at such violence or hopeful at the acts of heroism and compassion that I’ve heard about.  I just feel numb.

This mini mid-life crisis I’m going through isn’t the same as being blocked.  It has very little to do with the shooting and is my own experience.  It’s like driving in a fog where you can only see a couple of feet in front of you.

So what have I been doing?  I’ve been doing a little reading, “Finding Your Own North Star,” by Martha Beck and watching a few movies.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and ruminating.  None of this is productive and as an efficient Virgo I find this very distressing.

I recognize that these fallow or down periods can lead to better things. Sometimes what’s needed is a period of composting, of processing events and feelings.  Like the pauses in music or the space between words.  I went to choral concert last night (to get more in the holiday spirit) with my boyfriend.  We were going to visit afterwards, but then I realized, I have nothing to say. So I dropped him off at his house and went on my “merry” way.

Happy Holidays to all!




“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
~Robert Bresson, French Film Director


Make Visible: Gratitude

write-picThis is a post on gratitude, following Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.

This is my Gratitude and Receiving Notebook.  I don’t keep up with it the way I should.  It’s fun to look back and see what I’m grateful for and what I received on that day.

The whole concept of a Gratitude Notebook is to write down five things you are grateful for that already exist in your own life.  This is to get you out of the endless loop of always wanting more and to cherish this moment and what you already have.  This applies to things, people and animals, and experiences too.

I used to just do gratitudes.  Then I got the idea from The Receiving Project to keep track of what I received as well.  The idea behind Receiving is that if you notice the gifts the Universe is sending you each day, you will develop an attitude of reception and more good things will come to you.  Gratitude along with Receiving is powerful magic!

Here’s what it says on the homepage for The Receiving Project:

Welcome to The Receiving Project!

Your next step in the Law of Attraction.

The Receiving Project is a Free 32 day E-Course designed to help you learn how to receive all the amazing gifts that are waiting for you.

Are you a “giver”, giving of yourself and time, but have a hard time when other’s want to appreciate you? Is it a challenge to receive from The Universe?

Are you receiving the experiences that you want in your life?  When you are ready to make a real change in your life, join The Receiving Project!

By signing up  for The Receiving Project you will receive:

  • The experience of learning to receive abundance, inspiration, prosperity, support and love.
  • 32 days of emails full of wisdom, guidance and gifts to help you through the process
  • Opportunities to bust through the blocks that hold you back from manifesting and receiving all you want

OK, so by now you probably think this is all mumbo-jumbo.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  All I know is that when I focus on what I’m grateful for and what the Universe is sending me the world seems warmer and brighter.  That has to be a good thing!


Anatomy of a Gratitude:

October 25th, 2012:


  1. nature (must have gone on a walk that day)
  2. movies (Hot Fuzz)
  3. my cooking skills
  4. leftovers to make soup (chicken noodle soup)
  5. IGA (local grocery store)



  • funny movie
  • good soup
  • blackberry jam toast
  • cuddly kitty
  • great salad

It’s the little things that make life worth living!


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



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Make Visible: A New Addition

write-picMy creativity extends beyond poetry to crafts.  I just got a “new addition” to my creative arsenal, a sewing machine!  It’s not really new, in fact it’s a 40-year-old Kenmore, all metal construction.  I haven’t sewn since I was 13.  I’ve already done a bunch of straight stitches and figured out how to stitch in the opposite direction.  I haven’t filled a bobbin yet or threaded the top and bottom of the sewing machine.  I plan to do crafts to start with, like aprons and potholders.  Here’s to my new hobby, sewing!  Below:  the Kenmore, a book to help me, and some fabric to start with.

1972/73 Kenmore

“Sew Everything Workshop”

100% Cotton Fabric










“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director



Make Visible: September Facebook Poetry Challenge

write-picThis September I had the pleasure and privilege to share an original poem-a-day challenge on Facebook with my friends Michelle Hedgecock, Margaret Fieland, Lotus Vele, Becky La Bella, Cai Von Kugler and David Robbins.  Dave is a chat buddy of mine from New York State.  Dave floated the idea of a poetry challenge and I went along with it.  I’m glad I did!  I  managed to write, type and post 30 new poems to Facebook in September.  I also enjoyed reading and commenting everyone else’s poems.  Make visible, indeed!


Here is one of the poems I wrote during this challenge:

Butcher Shop

settles in my bones
like the cold,
stays there.

Your words are sharper
than a butcher’s cleaver
reducing me to roasts, chops,
and cold cuts.

I don’t know if it’s my own helplessness
I’m wallowing in,
or yours.

I can do one thing well,
walk in a circle every day,
stopping only
long enough
just long enough
to be buried
in 6 feet of freshly turned earth.

No, I’m not dead yet.

A stone cold heifer
just bones left now
munching on grass
dripping blood—

pooling at my hooves.

©  Anne Westlund


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

Make Visible: Staying Alive: Book Review


I don’t often write book reviews.  I must recommend, highly, this collection of poetry:  Staying Alive:  Real Poems for Unreal Times edited by Neil Astley.  The poetry collection was published by Miramax Books originally in 2002.

41pKDDpQnsL._SX292_BO1,204,203,200_--Staying Alive - Anne

The poems contained are in several categories:

Body and Soul,
Dead or Alive,
Growing up,
Man and beast,
In and out of love,
My people,
War and peace,
Disappearing acts,
[Me, the Earth, the Universe],
and the Art of poetry.

While the editor seems to like poetry with meter, there are plenty of un-rhyming poems in the collection as well.  Although there are a few classic authors included; the collection is comprised of mostly contemporary poets, including international ones.

It’s just a beautiful book that one can dip into and find a gem on almost every page.  I’ve read it once through and am slowly reading it again and marking which are my favorites.  Staying Alive is 496 pages long, so this should take me awhile!

You can buy it from Amazon here:

For an example, here are the first two poems, two of my favorites:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Living by Denise Levertov

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.



“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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