What Did You Start Writing?

hands on computer keyboardWhen you first started writing, what form did you use–short stories, poetry, memoir, or a novel?

In middle school, I chose short stories and I still like to write them. Next I wrote a few novels, and then poetry. In the afternoon writing class I teach, we are writing a Haiku twice a month based on a photo members take turns bringing to class.

My preferences for short stories and poetry affect my novel writing. The shorter forms make it necessary to be aware of exactly the right words to use and to eliminate too much detail. I’ve discovered that when building character in a novel, choosing the right words is more complicated. One has to think about interspersing physical description, feelings, thoughts, and how to show a deeper, rather than a superficial character.

In my novel, Norman in the Painting, I think I’ve created minor characters that have more personality than the protagonist. I’ve written a post-a-note to remind myself to deepen Jill. She’s the center of the action, readers learn about her values by her dialogue and by the decisions she makes. However I sense she’s hiding something or resisting a close relationship with the reader. I’ll have to figure out why.

What is your favorite form to write?

Poetry and Poets Quotes

Poetry by Goethe with pic“If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.” David Carradine

“Painting is poetry which is seen and not heard & Poetry is a painting which is heard but not seen.” Leonardo Da Vinci

“Poetry is the art which is technically within the grasp of everyone: a piece of paper and a pencil and one is ready.” Eugenio Montale

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” Dead Poets Society

Dead poest society standing on desks“Prose = words in their best order: Poetry = the best words in the best order.”

“A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.” Jean Cocteau

“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.” William Butler Yeats

“Dancing is the poetry of the foot.” John Dryden

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Robert Frost

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” Carl Sandburg

Basho Haiku

Basho HaikuMatsuo Munefusa (Basho), 1644 — 1694, became well known in the intellectual Edo part of  Japan, which is now modern Tokyo. He had a future in the military since he was born into a samurai family, but he preferred to live in poverty as a wanderer. At times he’d return to a hut made of plantain leaves, basho, which he took as his name. His haiku helped to transform the verse form from a social pastime into a Japanese poetry genre.  One of his familiar haiku is

 

 

an ancient pond

a frog jumps in

the splash of water

Generally, haiku uses the 5-7-5 form, meaning five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. Some haiku ignores that pattern and the typical topic of nature, earth, the natural world.

One of my Basho favorites is:

lark on the moon, singing–

sweet song

of non-attachment

Punctuation is controversial. The form can use a capital for the first letter and a period at the end or it can be written with no capitals and no period. The latter makes the poem appear to float. The concept is that the image starts in the mind, and the hand moves over the paper before any writing appears as if the process is ongoing in space and time and the haiku is just a small part of a larger whole. With small letters and no full stop, the haiku imitates a timeless, spaceless poetic process that wouldn’t be as effective if capitals and periods were used.

Here is one of Basho’s that shows his preference for nature over humans:

all my friends
viewing the moon –
an ugly bunch

Another Baso with a different opinion than we would have:

sparrows in eves
mice in ceiling –
celestial music.

Here’s a haiku I wrote:

hello sweet kitty

you greet my return each day

smiling face I love

I’d like to read your haiku. You can write it in the comment section below.

Interview with Poet Joan Green

FrontCover of Written Across the GenresHIJoan Green wrote a poem called “Our Talking Cat” for my anthology, Written Across the Genres. Her poem is comprised of 16 haiku that tell the story of how their cat learned to say her husband’s name. Joan earned a BA from UC Berkeley and holds an elementary teaching credential. She loves to volunteer, travel, hike, read, write, and listen to classical music.

Here is an interview with Joan Green:

Julaina: Who is your favorite author and genre?

Joan: It’s difficult for me to single out a favorite author, but I do enjoy reading good mysteries and historical literature.

Julaina: Why do you write?

Joan: Writing is in part an emotional release for me.

Julaina: Where do you like to write?

Joan: I usually write while holed up in my den. However, my haiku poems often come to me in the wee hours of the morning when I’m half asleep.

Julaina:  What are you working on now?

Joan: Although I’ve been preoccupied with poetry more recently, I still want to complete the family history memoir I started some time ago.

Julaina: I remember the wonderful letters from your father when he was in the war that will be included in that memoir. Good luck with finishing the project. Thanks for stopping by for my questions.

Senryu, Similar to Haiku

poets cornerThe Shadow Poetry link http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/haiku/haiku.html

explains the differences between Haiku and Senryu.  Kathy Lippard Cobb wrote the information and included samples of each. She states that senryu deals with human nature, satire, humor, and political issues. Debates about what is or is not senryu is confusing. When poets submit a poem that could be haiku or senryu, they often let the editor decide which it is. The two forms are similar structurally but different in tone.

See Cobb’s article for more detail and examples.

 

 

 

 

Haiku Samples

Haiku sample traditional Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. It is comprised of 3 phrases. Traditional haiku form is a total of 17 syllables with the first line having 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the last line has 5. The one on the far left by Earle J. Stone follows the traditional pattern. Often, the third line is a surprise. It might be about something different from the first two lines, perhaps a new perspective.

Contemporary haiku in English often ignores the 5-syllable, 7-syllable, 5-syllable format. Haiku not traditional

Deserted beach
will it stay or go
the driftwood!

His short apology,
and how the chocolates after
cling and cling.

Sundial garden
father’s peach tree
growing in his ashes.

Free Haiku is available on https://www.haikucandy.com

Anthony Rutledge has authored thousands of Haiku and selected some to share online at the above site. He offers an unusual service for personal or commercial use. You can sign up to have a Haiku added at the end of your emails (you can cancel at any time).

If you’d like to share a haiku you’ve written, put it into the reply comment here. I’m interested in reading yours. I’ve learned to appreciate haiku more than I have before.

Interview with Poet Marilyn Slade

FrontCover of Written Across the GenresHIPoet Marilyn Slade has two poems published in my anthology, Written Across the Genres. “Traveling to Nowhere” is based on a serious theme whereas in “Waiting Room Connect” readers can enjoy her humor.

Here is the bio she gave me. Marilyn Slade has been described as an immature senior citizen which accounts for her love of humor. She writes Haiku, poetry, short stories, and unfinished novels. She taught a class on a cruise ship to Mexico but it was mistaken for a class in martial arts.

Interview with Poet Marilyn Slade:

Julaina: How did you get the ideas for your poems?

Marilyn: A quirky mind helps when deciding what to write. You can’t control where your mind or imagination will take you.

Julaina: What is a writing day like for you?

Marilyn: Usually feeling the pressure to deliver. I write mostly in evenings when I have open time.

Julaina: What do you enjoy about writing?

Marilyn: Losing myself and all my pains and troubles while I enjoy my fun characters.

Julaina: What is the difficult part of writing?

Marilyn: To set aside distractions or limit the time spent on them so I can finish my memoir, two novels, short stories, and a book of poems.

Julaina: You have several projects going on. Do you have a tip for aspiring writers?

Marilyn: Don’t let yourself get waylaid.

Julaina: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Marilyn: I hope readers will laugh and enjoy my writing and that it will spark in them the impulse to write their own stories or poems.

Julaina:  Thanks, Marilyn. You know I’m a big fan of yours.

Interview with Poet Fred Norman

If you missed my previous post, I recommended Fred Norman’s book, A Hill of Poems which has the Crosses of Lafayette on the cover. Here I will do an interview with him. His poem, “Top Loading Washing Machine” is in my anthology, Written Across the Genres (available on Amazon). At bookstore readings, people tell me they enjoy his poem even more when they hear him read it.

Julaina: Who is your favorite author?

Fred: Lately my favorite author seems to be the writer of the last good book I’ve read. For fiction that would be Chang-Rae Lee, the book is On Such a Full Sea. This is a book for writers as well as readers. It can be read for pleasure, an educational comment on our society with waves of tenseness and an ending that keeps the story fresh in memory for weeks after reading the last word. For the writer, it can be studied to learn how to do successfully what writers often are taught not to do, very long sentences, for instance and relatively little dialogue.

For non-fiction that would be Glenn Greenwald, the book is No Place to Hide. It has to do with Edward Snowden. It reads like a well-written novel, it’s difficult to put down, it stimulates the emotions. You can read this book and learn unpleasant truths or you can ignore this book and live in ignorance, happily, perhaps, but only happy for a while.

In poetry I long ago was hypnotized for life by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”. Oh, that vision of a dream. That Xanadu. Whenever I need a push to write, be it prose or poetry, or sometimes just to dream, I reread this poem.

Julaina: Where do you like to write?

Fred: I prefer writing at home, in my house, in a small room with windows to let in sunlight on a sunny day and to see out into darkness at night, quiet, and absolutely undisturbed by human contact.

Julaina: What are you working on now?

Fred: As you know, I committed myself to using whatever writing skill I have to oppose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. To that I’ve added drones and whatever other illegal and immoral acts our government and military insist on doing. The list is endless. I’m set for life as far as reasons for writing are concerned.

Poetry works well in this endeavor, but as you also know, nobody reads poetry, especially my kind of poetry, so I’m not accomplishing what I set out to do. There are other genres I need to explore. For some of my ideas, the pamphlet is ideal, and there are publishers who specialize in pamphlets. That’s what I’m working on now. Look for the word “Occupy”. Blogging. My website is Crazydove.com. Short stories and essays. They’re next. I should be able to stay busy for a while.

Julaina: Thanks, Fred, for taking time for this interview. And good luck with your projects.

Fred Norman's Book, A Hill of Poems

Fred's book cover Fred Norman’s book, A Hill of Poems, is a collection of the poems he has written and read each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day at the The Crosses of Lafayette in California. The memorial is a visible reminder of the thousands of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The property which can be seen from the freeway was donated by Johnson and Louise Clark. Since the fall of 2006, volunteers install a cross for each soldier, maintain the site, and regularly update a large sign with the number of deaths. The twice yearly events include music, poetry readings, and speeches to pay respect to those who have died and continue to die in these wars.

Fred Norman, born in 1936, is a veteran with ten years of service in the Marines and Air Force. After the military he went to college and majored in Chinese Studies and later obtained an MA in Writing. He has worked for newspapers, taught, and had a job in programming before he retired. He is a poet for peace. All the sales from his book go to maintenance for the Crosses of Lafayette.

My next post will be an interview with Fred about writing.

Quote and Submissions Request for CHOICES, An Anthology

“Sometimes in the waves of change we find our true direction.”   Unknown

This quote was on Facebook by my friend, Frances Caballo.  I’m posting it because I like it but also as a reminder to those of you who would like to submit to my next anthology with the theme Choices. Short stories and essays maximum word count is 2500. Poems about 20 lines or less. Due by August 1st this year.

On the menu of this blog there is a poetry contest page. I’m taking submissions for the contest until the end of the month, June.

I hope to publish the book by the end of 2014. I need time to put it all together unlike my recently published anthology, WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES which my amazing friend, Linda Todd, and I completed in about 3 months. That short time frame was too stressful. Please enter as soon as you can. The email to submit for the book is julainakatsbcglobaldotnet. I put the at and dot words to protect against spam. Substitute the symbols.