Friday, April 30, 2010


On my final post I thought I'd leave you with one of my favorite hobbies (or so it seems)

Revise, Revise, Revise. (Tip #10 from Kara Zeihl-UWEC Junior-2000)

The first completed draft of your poem is only the beginning. Poets often go through several drafts of a poem before considering the work "done."

To revise:

• Put your poem away for a few days, and then come back to it. When you re-read it, does anything seem confusing? Hard to follow? Do you see anything that needs improvement that you overlooked the first time? Often, when you are in the act of writing, you may leave out important details because you are so familiar with the topic. Re-reading a poem helps you to see it from the "outsider's perspective" of a reader.

• Show your poem to others and ask for criticism. Don't be content with a response like, "That's a nice poem." You won't learn anything from that kind of response. Instead, find people who will tell you specific things you need to improve in your poem.

Good advice Ms. Ziehl and thank you for your tips to insure our poetry comes to life.

And, thanks to those who came along with me on this poetry adventure. I do hope you’ve learned something through all the teaching (thank you Mr. Taylor). And, I hope one or more of the posts inspired you to write a piece of poetry.

Poetry begins as a tiny seed planted inside your soul and soon blossoms into a love you can’t quench until you write another magical poem.

Love ya,

PS: See you next year for another Poemapalooza!!!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Know Your Goal.

Kara Ziehl(UWEC Junior-2000)

If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there?

You need to know what you are trying to accomplish before you begin any project. Writing a poem is no exception.

Before you begin, ask yourself what you want your poem to "do." Do you want your poem to describe an event in your life, protest a social injustice, or describe the beauty of nature? Once your know the goal of your poem, you can conform your writing to that goal. Take each main element in your poem and make it serve the main purpose of the poem.

Yes, Ms. Ziehl, poems do come from life. The one I'm sharing today is the piece I wrote on the first anniversary of my father's death.

The day you died, we wondered if
the world would stop turning? We
knew we’d see it different somehow.
As this year passed without you, the
time hasn’t erased our deep sorrow.
You are missed more than you can
imagine. Our hearts overflow with
many happy memories spent with
you. We love you, Dad!
The Fudge family

Love ya,

PS: Come back tomorrow for the final day of Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Good Morning Everyone:

Throughout the month of April you've learned poetry comes in all kinds of forms and fashions. Today I want to share another fun way to write a poem.

HAIKU (hikoo is how it's pronounced) - 1. a Japanese three line poem of usually 17 syllables. 2. an English imitation of this.

Here are three examples of ones I've written. After you've finished reading mine - why not try your hand at writing a Haiku yourself. Not too many words, but in the end you've said so much.

Waters flow downstream,
Cascading to meet the river.
Where does it ever end?

At peace, the forest rests.
Creatures, life, nature.
Simple, yet profound.

Our God, the Majestic One
in all the earth. Praise Him.
He is awesome.

Love ya,

PS: Be sure to check in on Thursday and Friday because they are the last two days of my month long Poemapalooza. I hope you've enjoyed this journey as much as I have.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Donn Taylor

Last week I wrote that too many poems today have the poet's self as both the subject and the speaking voice of the poem, and that this approach limits the poem's interest to a broader audience. I then described and illustrated two methods of writing poetry outside "the box of self": making the speaker of the poem someone other than the poet, and making the subject of the poem someone or something other than the poet.

Today I'll name and illustrate three other methods of writing outside the box. The first of these is a partial contradiction: to begin with the self, but then expand into a general principle. (This can also be done with a fictional narrator.)

This illustrative poem began sixteen years ago with a minor personal catastrophe: a blocked artery gave me a small blind spot in one eye just below the focal point. If I close the other eye and look at a white wall, the blind spot appears purple, and it is shaped like a lizard. This generated a poem that begins with that intensely personal experience but opens out into a subject of more general, perhaps universal, interest.

REPTILES (© 2008)

This purple lizard-shadow in my eye,
Where vision used to be
Till some intruder blocked an artery,
Implants a ragged scar to vilify
Each perfect pattern with its roughly fret
Reptilian silhouette.

Thus, once, another alien came to bate
Or mar our inner sight---
To blend, with all that's beautiful, a blight.
To canker every good we contemplate,
He left a loathsome gift, with hue of coal:
His cobra in our soul.

A second method is to develop metaphors that violate natural laws, as happens in the following poem:

HORIZON (© 2008)

In two dimensions, all agree:
This circle marks our boundary.
A third dimension coincides,
Yet simultaneously divides.

For some conceive the world a bowl
Centered on the acquisitive soul;
Whatever falls within the brim
Flows inward and accrues to them.

But others find the world a sphere,
Themselves at pole; and they, from there,
Flow outward toward the planet's girth
With gifts of self, enriching Earth.

A third method is to reach back into Medieval and Renaissance times for the mode of allegorical landscape, sometimes called psychological landscape. In allegory, many things that occur in the literal level of the poem also have figurative significance, and the figurative meanings connect with each other to form a systematic second level of meaning. Reading allegory requires a good bit of reflection and meditation. The title of this poem, "A Fair Field..." alludes to the Medieval Christian poem Piers Plowman, in which a tower represents heaven, a dungeon represents hell, and between the two lies "A faire feld ful of folk," which represents the world.

“A FAIR FIELD....” (© 2008)

“I don’t look that way often,” says my neighbor.
“This field demands attention. At my feet
So many wonders glitter that my eyes
Draw down to earth---each blade of grass
An emblem, life triumphant, and this trumpet vine
Circles its bush and vaults into the treetops,
Binding in gleaming green of symbiosis,
Blazing in orange bloom. That single squirrel
Scampering, arcing, leaping across the lawn---
Instinctive ecstacy and pride of life---
Is miracle enough to ground my thoughts
In duty here. What tragedy to lose
Even one species! Thus my day is filled
With deep concern to keep right ratios
Of worms, wolves, and woolies. So that strange
Enigma yonder can’t compete. That’s why
I don’t look that way often. When I do,
It seems a mirror where I see myself.”

He finds this path I journey on too narrow,
Hedged on either side by poisoned thorns
Of “Thou shalt not.” Yet from this place I see
His field entire, but in a different light
Revealing all its pleasures and much more
Beyond, above. And while these hedges guide,
My path lies clear before, inviting me
A few more reasoned steps before it turns
In ways I can’t yet see, or drops away
Though valleys of a depth I don’t yet know---
Perhaps, at times, to unimagined heights.
It’s mine to follow, confident, secure
In destination. Light is different here:
That’s not a mirror but a window there,
To show vague shapes and tantalizing forms
Of glorious things beyond, assurances
That there, all turnings done, at journey’s end
The mystic window will become a door.

To summarize these last three posts: Sound is an important structure of poetry, and should not be neglected. We can write poetry outside the box of self by making the speaker of the poem someone besides the poet, making the subject something besides the poet, beginning with the self and expanding into a general principle, using metaphors that violate natural laws, and asking a bit more of our readers by resurrecting Renaissance allegory. Other methods not discussed include writing narrative poems and building poems on dialogue between historical or fictional characters.

As mentioned in my first blog in this series, I would like to encourage aspiring poets to write to a general audience, as Robert Frost and Edwin Arlington Robinson did a century ago. Too much of contemporary poetry has little or no audience outside the graduate schools or other restricted groups. And too often, that avant has little or nothing to garde.

Many thanks also to Janetta for allowing me to visit on her blog. It has been a pleasure for me, and I hope it has been helpful to others.

You are SO welcome, sir. I enjoyed our Tuesday's together. And, I hope next April we can get together again to help inspire people to pen some poetry.


PS: Please go to Donn's website at to find out more about his writing.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I can’t think of a better way to start the week off than with a plethora of prompts (thanks to Robert Lee Brewer from Writer’s Digest Magazine).

And I do hope you've used some of Robert's ideas to write a poem or two in the last three weeks. If you haven’t, take a couple from this week and give poetry a try.

Happy writing!!!!

DAY 20: Two for Tuesday prompt

1. Write a looking back poem. There are a few ways to tackle this one, I guess. The narrator could be reflecting on the past or literally looking back (like over his or her shoulder).
2. Write a poem that doesn't look back. This poem would be kind of the opposite, I suppose. Narrator who refuses to look back or who is literally looking forward (or I suppose another option even is that the narrator is blind or something).

DAY 21: “According to (blank)”

For today's prompt, take the phrase "According to (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Example titles might be: "According to Bob," "According to these instructions," "According to the government," "According to the sun," etc.

DAY 22: Earth poem

For today's prompt, write an Earth poem. You can decide what an Earth poem is. Maybe it's a poem about the planet; maybe it's actually the lowercase earth (a gardening or burial poem?); maybe it's just a poem that happens on (or to) Earth; maybe it's even written in the voice of extraterrestrials (that might be fun). No matter how you decide to roll with it, have a very poetic Earth Day!

DAY 23: Exhaust poem

For today's prompt, write an exhausted poem. The poem can be a first person account of your own exhaustion, or it can describe the exhaustion of someone (or something) else. Heck, I guess it even could be about exhaust, huh?

DAY 24: Evening poem

For today's prompt, write an evening poem. My initial thought is that this poem would somehow involve the night, but upon further reflection, I guess it could be about evening things up or something.

There you have it – another five prompts to help ignite your creativity. Oh, and if you want to read Robert Lee Brewer poems from these prompts and all the others he’s posted, go to

Love ya,

PS: Be sure to come back tomorrow for Tuesdays with Donn Taylor. You won't want to miss his valuable teaching!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!


His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!


By now you know I love, love, love the old hymns. When I read these words, I realize how much they still relate to us still today. And the precious song tells a powerful story. Turn your eyes upon Jesus - your life will never be the same.

Love ya,

Saturday, April 24, 2010



The son I once cradled in my arms
Now cradles his own baby boy.
Brown eyes gaze into blue.
My son smiles, his son gurgles.
I lean close, inhale deeply;
My heart fills with the scent of joy.

Poem written by:
J. Smith

Such sweet words from a brand new grandparent. Thanks again to another Noble Poet for sharing one of your poems.


Friday, April 23, 2010



Poets' strength is the ability to see what other people see everyday in a new way. You don't have to be special or a literary genius to write good poems--all you have to do is take an ordinary object, place, person, or idea, and come up with a new perception of it.

Example: People ride the bus everyday.

Poets' Interpretation: A poet looks at the people on the bus and imagines scenes from their lives. A poet sees a sixty-year old woman and imagines a grandmother who runs marathons. A poet sees a two-year old boy and imagines him painting with ruby nail polish on the toilet seat, and his mother struggling to not respond in anger.

Take the ordinary and turn it on its head. (The word "subvert" literally means "turn upside down".)

(Excerpt written by: Kara Zeihl-UWEC Junior-2000)

Writers, stretch your imagination. Think outside the box. Get out and experience the life God gave you. Okay, I'm done with the cliches. HA!!! But, imagine the world around you with different eyes. You might be surprised what you come up with.

Love ya,

PS: Be sure to visit the blog tomorrow - Saturday is the day I feature Noble Poets!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


BE A PAINTER IN WORDS," says UWEC English professor emerita, poet, and songwriter Peg Lauber. She says poetry should stimulate six senses:

• sight
• hearing
• smell
• touch
• taste
• kinesiology (motion)


• "Sunlight varnishes magnolia branches crimson" (sight)
• "Vacuum cleaner's whir and hum startles my ferret" (hearing)
• "Penguins lumber to their nests" (kinesiology)

Lauber advises her students to produce fresh, striking images ("imaginative"). Be a camera. Make the reader be there with the poet/speaker/narrator.

Yes, professor, as writers we hear this over and over again. We MUST incorporate the senses into our poetry, novels and short stories. This is how we make our words sing!!! Without them, they are simply dribble on a page.

The poem I'm sharing with you today encompasses sight, sound, touch. Enjoy!!


by nettie (4/09)

Christmas morning looms ahead of me. Slumber
is certain to escape my reach. I know it’s down
there. It just has to be. Sleep must have finally
won 'cause the next thing I remember is my sister’s
voice and her knocking on my bedroom door. I jump
out of bed and charge past her and my other siblings,
bounding down the stairs I'm sure my bare feet never
touch a single step. Then I stop. I can't wait another
second. I have to see. I peer through the banister
and there stands my brand new blue Stingray bicycle.
The one I'd wished for, prayed for, begged unmerciful
for. My parents smile as I race over to touch the
special gift they gave me. Thanks Mom and Dad for your
love and making a little girl's dream come true on
Christmas morning 1966.

Love ya,

PS: Tomorrow is another tip to give your poetry a boost.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Here's another idea to help you create poetry. Acrostics. If by chance you're not familiar with the phrase, I've included the definition.

ACROSTIC - 1. a poem or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words. 2. a word puzzle constructed in this way.

Today I've included a couple of my acrostics for your viewing pleasure.

SUBMIT (this is for all the writers reading this)

S - Sending off our work creates in us
U - Unbelievable stress and untold strain
B - But, if you hold on to them until they’re perfect
M - Masterpieces could go unread, unpublished, unloved
I - Instead of touching someone else’s heart.
T - Take a chance – SUBMIT – imagine what can happen.


D - Don't forget to
R - Reach out and
E - Experience life.
A - Aspire to live
M - Masterfully.

Hope you give them a try. Trust me, they're a kick in the pants (right up there with prompts).

Love ya,

PS: Check out tomorrow - more teaching is on the way.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



Donn Taylor

There is a certain sameness about much of the poetry I'm reading or hearing these days. That's because many of us are writing poems about ourselves, with the poet as both the subject and the speaking voice of the poem. That's okay if our objective in writing is self-expression, but less so if we want to interest a broader audience. Because there's no reason anyone else should be interested in me, writing about myself loses me much of that potential audience.

This is what I call "the box of the self," using the well-worn cliché to encourage writing poetry "outside the box." In my classes I teach six methods of doing this, and I'll illustrate two of these today.

The first is to let the speaking voice of the poem be someone besides the poet. The only limits here are the poet's imagination. The speaker of the poem might be a biblical or historical character, a fictional character, an animal, a space alien, a bacterium—whatever. (Yes, it might even be a whatever.) In this poem I let the raven from the biblical story of Noah's ark wonder why the dove gets all the favorable publicity. (The theologians among us will see doctrines of grace and works peeping through.)


(Genesis 8)

I'm grateful, yes---he was a nice old guy---
The food and roost were fine, without a doubt
The best I'd known. And then he sent me out---
An honor: first bird back into the sky---
A chance to show my stuff---you bet I'd try
My best---I was grateful to him. ---What lout
Would do less? I flew my tailfeathers out,
Thought nothing of it, flew two weeks, kept dry
Above the flood, alone. But where's the credit
Good works and self-reliance ought to bring?
The dove flopped twice, came slinking back and took
The old guy's charity and then forsook
Him, yet he's made symbol of everything
Graceful, I of gloom---I just don't get it.

Part of the fun was putting the raven's low diction into the sonnet form.

A second method is simply to write about a subject other than the self, as I do in this sonnet about a pioneer woman:

PIONEER (© 2008)

No woods of Carolina ever bore
The weight of loneliness this prairie held.
She stood appalled: impossible to meld
This vastness to her finite flesh, ignore
Her sense of insignificance before
Such massive seas of grassy strangeness, quelled
In heart by brute immensity, repelled
That all she saw were sights she must abhor.
But then a lizard slithered in the dust
To gulp a bug and hide behind a stone.
A grackle pecked nearby, and both were sure
With instinct's certainty. She watched, alone,
And thought, "I guess I'm smart as them." She must,
She knew, if never thrive, at least endure.

One other point from this poem: Words do not have to be pleasant or pretty to be poetic. Those describing the lizard and grackle are distinctly unpleasant, as is the woman's experience that the words describe. For that reason, I would argue that the words are poetic.

Next week we will look at three other methods of writing outside the box of the self.

Donn, thank you so much for sharing your poems and expertise with us each week. See you next Tuesday for Part 2.

Love ya,

PS: To preview Donn's array of poetry and fiction books, please visit his website at

Monday, April 19, 2010

MONDAY MADNESS - Poetry Prompts

Monday Madness is upon us once again. Today I’ve included six prompts (from Robert Lee Brewer at for your writing pleasure. You’ll notice Day 16 is a little over the top, but I thought the subject might produce some interesting poems.

And as always, have fun!!!!!!

Day 12: City Poem

For today's prompt, pick a city, make that the title of your poem, and write a poem. Your poem can praise or belittle the city. Your poem could be about the city or about the people of the city. Your poem could even have seemingly nothing to do with the city. But the simple act of picking a city will set the mood (to a certain degree), so choose wisely.

Day 13: Two for Tuesday

Here are today's two prompts:

1. Write a love poem
2. Write an anti-love poem

Day 14: (blank) Island

For today's prompt, take the phrase "(blank) Island," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. You could do a well-known island, such as "Treasure Island," "Ellis Island," or "Total Drama Island." Or you could make up the name of an island. Or you could even have a long drawn out title, such as "You'll never get me on an island" or "If I were on a deserted island."

Day 15: Deadline Poem

For today's prompt, write a deadline poem. You can interpret what a deadline poem is however you wish. Maybe it's a poem that laments the idea of deadlines. Maybe it's a poem about someone intentionally missing them or who never has problems with them (I wish I were that person). Regardless of how you take it, remember that you have until tomorrow before another prompt will be posted. Consider that your poetic deadline.

Day 16: Death Poem (yes, a little morbid, but could be very interesting)

Maybe it's a little too close to tax day, but today's prompt is to write a death poem. You can write about a specific death or consider death as an idea. In the tradition of Emily Dickinson (and other poets), you could even address Death as an entity. Or you can surprise us with a different spin on the subject.

Day 19: Poem about somebody

For today's prompt, write a poem about somebody and be sure to include the person's name in the title of your poem (no reason to hide the person's identity here). Write a poem about Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, your next door neighbor, your child, or the person standing behind you. I guess you could even technically write a poem about yourself (just make sure you include your name in the title).

Love ya,

PS: Remember - tomorrow is Tuesday with Donn Taylor. Be sure to tune in for more of his valuable teaching on poetry.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Songs truly are poetry set in motion. These old hymns bring back so many happy memories of my childhood in the church I grew up in. When I hear one of them now, I can't help but smile. And, later in the day I catch myself humming the refrain.


Blessèd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.


This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.


Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.


Words: Fanny Crosby (1873)

Love ya,

PS: Remember, tomorrow is Monday Madness!!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I don’t know about you, but I’m having fun, fun, fun with this poetry extravaganza. And as promised, today I’m featuring two more poems from fellow poets (who just happen to be my dear friends, too).



I give my penny-colored hair a final pat,
lean toward the mirror,
slick on my new lipstick, Burnished Copper.
I brush the shoulders of my blouse,
straighten the belt to my skirt,
check my front teeth
for lipstick smudges.

This is the night
I shed my role
of housewife
and mother,
hanging it up
as if it were
a favorite, old bathrobe
on a hook behind the door

and walk out an artist.

Written by: K. Franklin


You may call me a fool.
I’m still learning.
Life’s a school.

When the world weighs heavy,
Where do I go?
How to escape so flawed a soul?

Hidden in Christ.
I am redeemed.
Halleluiah, I am Redeemed!

Written by R. Leverett

Thanks for helping me spread the word about poetry today. Now I'm off to write Sunday's blog, then I'll take the Lord's advice and rest.

Love ya and happy reading,


PS: If you're in the Houston, Texas area, come check out the Monday night writer's group I attend. Their website is

Friday, April 16, 2010


February 11, 2008
by Peter Blocksom

Though the providers of thoughts listed below are primarily poets, their advice is universal to all writers.

We asked several poets two questions: "What is the one technique that makes your work stand out?" and "What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?" Their answers follow.

Laurence Lieberman-Compass of the Dying(University of Arkansas Press)

The Technique: Some time after my first drafts are completed, months or even years, I come back to the material to look for the poems hidden in the handwritten scrawl. I turn to the typewriter when I begin experimenting with forms, usually stanzas employing syllabic or accentual count lines. I never use a computer in working on poems—I want to slow the process down, not speed it up.

The Advice: Marianne Moore wrote to me the following comment that has served me well ever since: "Protest is no match for ardor. . . . Your poems have the gift of praise."

Dana Gioia-Certain Solitudes: On the Poetry of Donald Justice (University of Arkansas Press)

The Technique: Approach revision with the same openness to inspiration with which you began writing the first draft.

Walt McDonald-Blessings the Body Gave (Ohio State University Press)

The Technique: I have the simple faith that words will show me the way. For a while, I feel totally ignorant; I have no idea what's coming. I like that silence: I can feel hair rise on the back of my neck when I type a phrase that intrigues me—a sense of immediate complicity, as if the words and I are up to something.

Karen Swenson-A Daughter's Latitude (Copper Canyon)

The Advice: I was told by Professor Kowenhaven to write 500 words a day; that quantity would lead to quality over time.

Lola Haskins-Extranjera (Story Line Press)

The Advice: My father said, when he saw me for the millionth time scrambling to please, that I needed to learn that no matter what I did, there would be people who just wouldn't like me. When I catch myself adjusting some line, not because I think the change improves the poem, but because I think some critic will like it, I remember Daddy and leave it alone.

Ronald Wallace-The Uses of Adversity (University of Pittsburgh Press)

The Advice: Henry James said, "Write only from experience but you must be one on whom nothing is lost." Dylan Thomas said that he wrote only when he was inspired. But the more he wrote, the inspireder he got. William Stafford, explaining how he managed to be so prolific, said, "Every day I get up and look out the window, and something occurs to me. Something always occurs to me. And if it doesn't, I just lower my standards." The third quote was especially useful to me when I decided to write a sonnet a day for a year.

Lyn Lifshin-Cold Comfort (Black Sparrow)

The Technique: In the Eskimo language, the words to breathe and to make a poem are the same. Remembering that has been wildly helpful to me. It means a freeness to plunge in, almost like doing a finger painting. It's a free flow, suspending fact, meaning, sanity, then seeing, in what pours out uncensored, what can be shaped, fashioned, pared down or enlarged to become a poem.

Carol Muske-Dukes-An Octave Above Thunder (Penguin)

The Technique: Random composition—I work whenever I can, at stoplights, in doctor's waiting rooms, at 3 a.m.

The Advice: During my first year in New York City Daniel Halpern told me that being a writer meant being serious about writing. I came to understand what serious meant—an absolute commitment to the art and craft.

Ruth Daigon-Between One Future and the Next (Papier-Mache Press)

The Advice: I worked with a group of English professors in Connecticut whose favorite expression was "When in doubt, throw it out."

Neal Bowers-Words for the Taking: The Hunt for a Plagiarist (Norton)

The Advice: "Trust the process and the reader." It didn't make a lot of sense to me when my first creative writing teacher, Malcolm Glass, uttered it in 1967. His colorful metaphor of grabbing the tail of a wild hog as it runs by and letting it drag you through the thicket didn't help much. These days, though, I often look back at those unplanned and unpredictable trails my writing makes through the brush, with me hanging on, and I think of Malcolm's wild hog.

Terese Svoboda-Cannibal (New York University Press)

The Advice: Gordon Lish told me, "Don't let what you know stand in your way."

Great advice, fellow poets. Hope everyone enjoyed this as much as I did. Tomorrow, April 16, two of my poet friends will share their poetry with us. Stop in and be inspired.

Love ya,

PS: For more writer's tips - go to

Thursday, April 15, 2010


by: Francine Rivers

From the beloved, best-selling author of Redeeming Love comes a powerful epic that spans continents and generations in an unforgettable story about family and faith, dreams and disappointments, and ultimately the resilience and tenacity of love.

And today, Francine Rivers is here to tell us about her newest book, Her Mother's Hope, and answer questions about her life, writing, and her journey with the Lord.

How did you get started as a writer?

From the time I was a child, I knew I would be a writer. Because I didn’t know what I would write, I majored in English (emphasis in literary writing) and minored in journalism (emphasis on who-what-when-where-why). My parents had always been non-fiction readers. Rick’s family loved all kinds of books – and lots of fiction. Mom Edith loaned me novels and I loved them. On a dare (from Rick) I decided to write a combination of my favorite genres and wrote a “western-gothic-romance”. Romance novels were booming in the general market, publishers were on the look-out for new writers. My first manuscript sold and was published. I was hooked! I followed with eight or nine more (of what I call my B.C. (before Christ) books). They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.

When I turned my life over to Jesus, I couldn’t write for three years. I tried, but nothing worked. I struggled against God over that because writing was my “identity.” It took that period of suffering “writer’s block” to bring me to my senses. God was trying to open my eyes to how writing had become an idol in my life. It was the place I ran to escape, the one area of my life where I thought I was in complete control. (Hardly!) My priorities were all wrong and needed to be put right. God first, husband and children second (we had three children by then) and third-- work. I prayed God would change my heart. My love for writing and reading novels waned and my passion for reading and studying God’s Word grew.

Rick and I began hosting a home Bible study. I began working with Rick in his business. The children came along and played in the office, hiding in the shipping popcorn. Writing ceased to matter. I was in love with Jesus and my husband and children. God never stops with the transformation process. We began studying the book of Hosea, and I sensed God calling me to write again – this time a romance about Jesus’ love for each of us. Redeeming Love was the result. It is the retelling of the Hosea story, set in Gold Rush-era California. After I turned it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would write anything more. I had so many questions about what it means to be a Christian, how to live for God, different issues that still haunted me. I felt God nudging me toward using my writing as a tool to draw closer to Him. I would ask my question, create characters that would play out the different viewpoints and seek God’s perspective. I began work on A Voice in the Wind. Writing has become a way to worship the Lord through story – to show how intimately He wants to be involved in our lives.

Which is your favorite book of those you’ve written?

My favorite book is Redeeming Love. It was my first as a born-again Christian, my statement of faith, and the most exciting year I’ve spent writing anything. I felt God’s presence throughout the months of work, as though He were telling me His story through thousands of Scriptures as well as explaining the inner heart-ache and quest of each “my” characters.

Which book was the hardest to write and why?

The Atonement Child was the most personal and difficult to write because I had to face my own abortion experience. Added to the considerable research I did, and women who shared their experiences with me, I went through an intensive post-traumatic stress Bible study for post-abortive women at our local pregnancy counseling center. Reliving all aspects of my abortion decision and experience was excruciating – but healing. After twenty-six years of being imprisoned by guilt and shame, I was free through the power and love of God. Though the book was the most heart-wrenching to write, it also proved to be the most life changing. I’ve received countless letters from other post-abortive women and have learned my experience is not unique. Our nation is filled with wounded men and women. The character of Hannah is based on my story, Doug is based on Rick’s, and Evie is based on my mother’s.

Christian fiction continues to boom. What would you like to see happen in the field?

I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart. We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market. Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians. I believe God is at work in these areas now. I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly. Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit. Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope. People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Write what you need to read. Write from your heart and. Write truth. Sometimes it hurts to peel away the layers of self-deception and see ourselves in the mirror, but it will also draw us closer to Jesus. And your work may minister to others struggling with the same issues. Read the Bible every day so that it will flow naturally into the story. Study the Bible from beginning to end. It is the most exciting reading in the world. It is also alive – and will help you recognize when you are entering into sin and need to realign yourself with the Lord. Keep your focus on Jesus.

Can you tell us something about your Christian testimony?

I was reared in a Christian home. My parents were active in church, my father an elder, my mother a deaconess. I attended Christian summer camps, youth group and said grace at every meal. I thought being born into a Christian family and raised in the faith made me a Christian. It didn’t. Each person makes their own choice, and it took me years to surrender to Jesus – not until after I’d gone through college, married, had children and started a writing career. Rick and I went to church, but came away dissatisfied and knowing there must be something more. We both had personal issues that brought us close to divorce several times. We wanted our own way and to have control over our own lives. Having control is an illusion. As a child, I’d asked Jesus to be my Savior. What I didn’t understand is I needed to surrender my life to Him and allow Him to be LORD of my life as well.

Our marriage was on the verge of collapse when Rick started his own business. We moved to northern California to be closer to family. We made many outer changes, but no change of the heart. As we moved into our rental house, a little boy came over to help and said, “Have I got a church for you!” We weren’t ready to listen. The lady on the other side of our fence also invited us to the same church. Out of desperation, I went a few weeks later. It was my first experience with “expository teaching.” The pastor taught straight out of the Bible, explaining the historical context, what the scriptures were saying, and what they had to do with me in the present. I drank it in! I took my three children to church. They loved it. Rick resisted (after having a somewhat disheartening experience with a denominational church in Southern California). I asked the pastor if he would be willing to teach a home Bible study. He agreed -- if Rick agreed, which he did. Studying the Bible changed our lives. Our hearts and minds opened to Christ. We both accepted Jesus as Savior and LORD and were baptized in May 1986. Since then, God has been changing our lives from the inside out. The Lord also healed our marriage. We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this year.

Tell us about your current work.

I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations. This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided. Her Mother’s Hope was released on March 16, 2010. Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September. There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog. You may find out more about my new book and more by visiting my web site at

Francine, thank you so much for stopping to chat. You're welcome to come back anytime.

Love ya,

PS: PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at for more information about blog tour management services.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


When something happens in my life, whether happy or sad, I write a poem. Poems help me express my true feelings about a situation. (YES,I’ve actually had to burn a few after reading them.) But in the end, I’ve learned something valuable about myself. And, if I allow others to read what I’ve penned, I believe the person has been given a glimpse into my soul.

But, before you think all of my poems are serious and soul searching. You are mistaken. Some tend toward humorous (surprise, surprise). My mother loved the one I wrote for her 80’s Birthday. “Elvis” did come and sing to her. Another one I wrote graced the wall in a little boy’s room. “Little Cowboy” came with a set of spurs. I even created a fun poem after my husband told me about his fantastic golf shot that day. “Pure Joy” brought a smile to R’s face.

Life brings us so much to write about. I’m beginning to wonder—do we need prompts? HA!!


His family and friends call him Mr. Ray.
He prefers Tiger Jr., but he’ll answer to T.J.
Each and every week, he and his golfing buds at T.S.A.
head to yet another course. A round of golf they play.
Today, they reach the 10th hole – a complicated par three.
Just 100 yards separates the hole from their tee.
T.J. fires with his most powerful and mighty swing.
Twenty-five feet from the hole, the tiny golf ball did cling.
He pulled out his trusty pitching wedge and zeroes in on the hill.
Knowing if he makes the shot, it would be his greatest thrill.
He shoots and to his delight the ball gracefully lands in the hole.
WOW! Unbelievable! A birdie. He’s achieves one of his goals.
At the Wedgewood Golf Course on July 28, 2004,
T.J. hears his friends cheer and the mighty crowd roar.
He bows and picks up his now-prized ball.
Tiger Jr. wonders if the P.G.A. will ever give him a call.

Love ya,

PS: Drum roll please!!! Remember to check in tomorrow, I have another treat in store for my faithful readers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010



Mr. Taylor is visiting with us again today. He is going to help us add sounds to our poetry and I'll guarantee his tips will make your poems stand up and shout.

One of the greatest distinctions between poetry and prose is poetry’s emphasis on the sound of words and the accumulation of sounds in sentences. Paradoxically, though, sound is probably the most neglected aspect of poetry writing today. Consequently, many poets deprive their work of an entire demension of meaning. Poetry should either be read aloud or else the reader should pronounce each word in his mind as he reads through the poem. Only by those means can he experience the beauty of sound.

As Lawrence Perrine explains in his book Sound and Sense, some words actually imitate the sounds they represent (snap, bang, hiss), while the sounds of other words seem to suggest their meaning (flicker, whisper, moan, slush). And the rhythms of poetry can also suggest meaning. The poet can use all of these elements to achieve a dimension rarely found in prose.

Perrine points out the importance of sound in this short poem (“Upon Julia’s Voice”) by Robert Herrick (1591-1674):

So smooth, so sweet, so silv’ry is thy voice,
As, could they hear, the Damned would make no noise,
But listen to thee (walking in thy chamber)
Melting melodious words to Lutes of Amber.

Perrine also provides an example of words and rhythms reinforcing meaning in these lines from a longer poem (The Princess) by Tennyson:

Myriads of rivulets hurrying through the lawn,
The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.

These sound-and-sense effects are usually momentary, but once in a while sound and rhythm can combine as prominent elements in poems of moderate length. This happens in "Panhandle Dust Storm," the lead poem of my book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond (© 2008):

Barn-battering blast of wind and dirt, this three-day storm
Brings terror to tin-roofed sheds, scours paint from walls,
Makes kites of aluminum siding and leaves them bent,
Bow-tied on telephone poles. It stings our skin
With pellets flung in our faces, buries our eyes,
Turns trees into train-whistles mourning their loneliness
In a visible universe shrunken to fifty feet.

Our ears grow exhausted with sound, with skirling and crackle,
Scratch and spatter of gravel against our house--
A snapped antennae wire's whiplash, flaying the roof--
The stutter of fluttering shingles about to take flight.

This swirling of gray-brown dust has stolen the sky.
The stars are all fiction now, the planets extinguished--
Sun and moon dull silvery disks too feeble to glow.
The law of gravity's gone--the earth's in rebellion,
Dissolving itself into space as an ocean of dust-motes.

Sea-surging, this wind comes in waves, assaulting the house
With breakers that pound and recede, then hammer again–
This house now a ship lost at sea, and leaking all over
While dust-streams puddle in corners in every room.

No weapon at hand, no way to fight back at this wind--
We've nothing to do but wait it out inside.
How long? Who knows? Till God grows tired of it all,
This showing a bit of His strength--decides to rest--
Restore repose.

Then soon, in quiet dawn
With winds quiescent on the settled earth,
We'll wake to stillness and a tranquil sky.

To summarize: Sound is essential to the full meaning and value of poetry, so in the reading we should sound each word and line in our minds.

Thank you, Donn. Your contribution is much appreciated. See you next Tuesday for more helpful hints in the world of poetry.

And, as always, check in tomorrow for POETRY-A GLIMPSE INTO YOUR SOUL.

Love ya,

Monday, April 12, 2010


Good Morning:

Another Monday and we all know what that means--PROMPTS. And lots of them.

Last week we ended with Day #4 from Robert Lee Brewer's list of writing prompts (you can also find his list on Let's see what Mr. Brewer has for us this week.

Day 5: TMI poem

For today's prompt, write a TMI poem (or too much information poem). As with all prompts, there are a number of ways to come at this one. You can make it about gossip or revealing too much personal information. You could write an information overload poem.

Day 7: Until (blank)

For today's prompt, take the phrase "Until (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and write the poem. Possibilities include: "Until we meet again," "Until tomorrow," "Until monkeys fly out my butt," or even "Until blank" (why not?). Until we meet again...

Day 8: Tool poem

For today's prompt, pick a tool, make that the title of your poem, and write your poem. There are the more obvious tools, of course: hammer, screwdriver, wrench, etc. But there also less obvious tools and/or specialized tools available as well. Before attacking this poem, you may want to just think about the various possibilities first. Or just write.

Day 9: Self-portrait poem

For today's prompt, write a self-portrait poem. Other artists study themselves to create compositions (not all of them exactly flattering either), so it is only natural that poets, who are word artists, write self-portrait poems from time to time. In fact, some poets make self-portrait poetry "their main thing." For at least today, make it yours.

Day 11: "The Last (blank)" poem

For today's prompt, take the phrase "The Last (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make that the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Some examples: "The Last Train," "The Last Kiss," "The Last Time I'll Give Directions to a Complete Stranger," "The Last Dance," etc.

There you have it. Another five prompts to get your heart racing, your palms sweating, and if you don't sit down right this very minute to write something, you'll explode prompts. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but take one (or all) of them and have some fun. A masterpiece is waiting to happen.

Love ya,

PS: Yes, I do know how to count. I did leave out Day 6 and Day 10. The reason: I didn't want to overwhelm you with so many prompts in one day, so I picked out the best ones.

PSS: Also, remember to check in tomorrow - it's Tuesdays with Donn Taylor!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


On Sunday morning, as a young child at the First Baptist Church, I sang "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." Through each verse, I found out Jesus was my Friend. Even today, whenever I hear those precious words, I still remember He is my dearest Friend and is always there to carry my burdens. All I have to do is go to Him in prayer.


What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

Words: Joseph Scriven (1857)

Love ya,

PS: Reminders: Tomorrow is Monday Madness. A week of prompts coming your way. Also, if you're out and about Monday night, come to Barnes and Noble in The Woodlands (with poem in hand) and share your poetry with The Write Ingredients Writers Workshop. We'd love to have you!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


For the next three Saturdays, you’re in for a HUGE treat. I’m going to step aside to give you a chance to read poems from other people--poets who are also dear friends of mine. I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.

This first ditty (untitled)came to me shortly after it was mentioned in my blog that centering and rhyming was a thing of the past.

So rhyming is out
She said with a shout
And centering is too
She cried out boo hoo.

Just let the words fly
Who cares about why
Or what we are saying
Duck quacks or mule braying.

This is poetry modern
The new art form that we can publish and put out in the world in any old fashion we choose, be it
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOr long if we prefer.
Get it?
Got it
Want it?


Written by: Al F.


“BROWN Edward. Reg. No. 12320. Rank: Private - Royal Dublin Fusilier 7th Batt. Died home 10th October, 1914. Born: Templemore, Co. Tipperary.”

Da', come home, you've lain too long,
Beneath that cold green turf,
My champion, my dear bold man,
My loss in Ireland's earth.
Leave other heroes fill the graves
For King or England's glory,
You are the one, who sings my song,
Whose heartbeat is my story.

Da', come back, the music's fled
This sepulcher, our home.
Why don't you beat your big bass drum?
Why leave me dance alone?
Jack's fiddle hangs by Jimmy's flute
In silent testimony,
And Ned's too young to understand.
Da', come home and love me.

Written by: YMR

Thanks YMR and Al F. You are both stars in my book.
Love ya,

Friday, April 09, 2010


Michael J. Vaughn, a Writer's Digest contributor) continues today with more teaching and ideas for creating our own concrete poems. Hope you're learning as much as I am. And I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get started writing one.


In Hollander’s 1969 “Swan and Shadow,” he uses the text to create the silhouette of a swan, the surface of a lake and the swan’s upside-down shadow. Hollander relates the words of the poem to their physical location within the image. (The swan’s head, for example, describes “Dusk / Above the / water … ”).

“One certainly needs no artistic talent in order to draw a good bit, and certainly not to rough out a silhouette,” Hollander says. “It’s not a lack of talent, but an absolutely dreadful educational system that prevents everyone from being able to draw a little.”

Through laborious trial-and-error experiments, I’ve devised a process for creating a shape poem, with two inherent biases. First, my process gives precedence to preserving the integrity of the original poem, applying the visual image afterward. Second, my process takes advantage of two modern advances: the image reduction/enlargement capabilities of today’s copiers, and the conveniences offered by computer word-processing programs.

1. Write a poem. Try free verse or prose forms. For this article, I used “Papageno’s Complaint,” a free-verse poem I recently wrote. It was inspired by the bird catcher in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.

2. Imagine a shape. It doesn’t have to reflect the primary subject of the poem. Sometimes it’s more effective to choose a shape that reflects a small detail or provides a subtle comment on the discourse. I chose the object of my character’s occupation: a bird. Because Papageno is a catcher of exotic birds, I settled on a toucan.

3. Find an image. In addition to the Internet, you might try magazines, photo books, children’s coloring books or craft stores. In my case, I found a photo of a toucan at a zoo’s website.

4. Get the right size. Run the lines of your poem together, inserting punctuation as needed, and print it out as a single prose paragraph. Compare the area taken up by your poem and that provided by your image. Use a copy machine to reduce or enlarge the image accordingly.

5. Cut and paste. Cut your poem into one-line strips and paste them over your image with a glue stick, beginning each line at the left margin of the image, and ending it at or slightly past the right margin. If you run out of words before you run out of image—or vice versa—return to the copier, adjust your image size and cut and past again. This is the most arduous step, but it’ll make the final two steps much easier.

6. Head to your computer. Identify your most leftward line. Beginning at flush left, type the entire line; then work your way upward and downward, using your space bar to position each line’s first letter according to its relationship to adjoining letters. For the tip of the beak, “down,” for instance, the letter “d” is directly beneath the “n” in “and.”

7. Edit. Once you’ve typed out the poem, you may want to adjust or change words to polish the silhouette.

Thank you Mr. Vaughn for your knowledge on the subject of concrete poems. And I hope everyone is excited to try their hand at creating one for themselves.

Love ya,

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Have any of you heard of a concrete poems? If you haven't, today your day to learn all about them. I've chosen an article written by Michael J. Vaughn, a Writer's Digest contributor, to explain this different form of poetry to you.


In a shape poem, a poet uses the lines of his text to form the silhouette of an identifiable visual image—generally, an image that represents or comments upon the subject of the poem.

The shape poem goes back to Greek Alexandria of the third century B.C., when poems were written to be presented on objects such as an ax handle, a statue’s wings, an altar—even an egg. English poet George Herbert (1593-1633) led an Elizabethan movement using shape poems strictly for the page: two examples are “Easter Wings” and “The Altar,” written in the shape of, yes, wings and an altar. Lewis Carroll toyed with the notion in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, presenting “The Mouse’s Tale” in the shape of a mouse’s tail. The form continued into the 20th century through the typographical experiments of F.T. Marinetti and his anarchistic Futurism movement, Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1918 Calligrammes collection, the playful tinkering of e.e. cummings, the Chinese ideograms used by Ezra Pound, and various works by members of the Dadaist movement.

In the 1950s, a group of Brazilian poets led by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Augusto de Campos sought to fully integrate the dual role of words as carriers of language and visual art. Using a phrase coined by European artists Max Bill and Öyvind Fahlström, the Brazilian group declared themselves the “concrete poetry” movement. In 1958, they issued a fiery manifesto lamenting the use of “words as mere indifferent vehicles, without life, without personality, without history—taboo-tombs in which convention insists on burying the idea.”

Concrete poetry was originally aimed at using words in an abstract manner, without an allusion to identifiable shapes. But as the movement reached the height of its popularity in the 1960s, it became less abstract and was adopted by conventional poets as a specific poetic form rather than a full visual/literary fusion. Many of them returned to the shape-based forms popular in the third century B.C.

Among the best of the ’60s shape poets was John Hollander, who created his works with a typewriter. As a scholar, editor and accomplished poet—working in many different forms—Hollander also provided a thorough explication of the process in his 1969 collection Types of Shape. Hollander described his process in a 2003 interview with the St. John’s University Humanities Review:

“I would think of the representation of some object in silhouette—a silhouette which wouldn’t have any holes in it—and then draw the outlines, fill in the outlines with typewriter type … and then contemplate the resulting image for anywhere from an hour to several months. The number of characters per line of typing would then give me a metrical form for the lines of verse, not syllabic but graphematic (as a linguist might put it). These numbers, plus the number of indents from flush left, determined the form of each line of the poem.”

WOW! I think that's plenty for today. But don't forget to come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Love ya,

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I don’t know about you, but I believe poetry is a glimpse into a person’s soul. Also, for me, writing poetry takes me on a journey. Sometimes it’s for needed healing. Other times the poem I come up with makes me smile.

Take the first poem I’m sharing with you today. I wrote "ON STAGE" two years ago using a Writer’s Digest prompt. Robert Lee Brewer asked us to write about your past.


Lights dim. The sanctuary came alive
with young children’s murmuring and
scurrying around the makeshift stage.
A voice announced the planned program.
Baton tapped to quiet the excited bunch.
Parents prayed for their own to shush up.
Rows of cherubs lined three or four high.
The smallest youngsters stood in front.
The chords of Jesus Loves Me rang out.
My parents said my hands fidgeted, playing
with the hem of my new frilly dress. At stanzas
end, I had bunched the hem almost to my chest.

"STORM" I penned from another WD prompt (write about a storm). Guess I took this one literally (HA!)


Raindrops begin to cascade,
Down in translucent sheets.
Much needed nourishment
Saturates the hardened earth.
Bright blossoms stand at attention,
Drinking in heaven’s pick-me-up.
Maple leaves move rhythmically,
With the storm’s steady stream.
God’s refreshment they receive
As each dance in perfect harmony.
Soon Glory’s light show moves away,
Leaving fragments of its fury behind.
But I’m safe, nestled in His loving arms.
Tranquility fills the evening breeze.

Hope you enjoyed my poems. I’ve got lots more where those came from. I do love poetry!!

Love ya,

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Did anyone fashion a poem from one of the prompts yesterday? I hope so. And, as promised, I'll share more prompts next Monday.


A funny thing happened to poetry about a hundred years ago. Except that it wasn't very funny.

In really ancient times, several thousand years back, most of the important things written were written in poetry. The idea seems to have been that the most notable events or thoughts should be recorded in the most notable language. A lot has happened since then, and the prevalence of either poetry or prose has varied in different periods. The Renaissance gave us some of the most glorious poetry ever written, though it also brought the invention of the personal essay (Montaigne, Bacon). The creation of modern science in the seventeenth century gave rise to a new kind of prose that we now call technical writing. But, ironically, the writer most influential in its development was John Dryden, the premier English poet of the latter half of that century.

The novel as an art form had its beginnings in the eighteenth century and grew to full fruition in the nineteenth, though poetry (as practiced by writers like Pope, Wordsworth, Tennyson, and others) continued to have large audiences. Even in the early twentieth century, Robert Frost and Edward Arlington Robinson could actually make a living as poets.

But by WW I, the Imagists and other avant garde groups were moving poetry away from the general public and writing to smaller and smaller audiences, growing more esoteric and obscure, until most readers simply went somewhere else.

The result was, so to speak, a divorce of poetry from the audience that had sustained it through recent centuries. And that situation, for the most part, has prevailed through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In a rarified atmosphere with a significant element of narcissism, poets-as-conscious-artists write to other poets-as-conscious-artists, while potential readers in the general public turn to more rewarding media.

My message at Blue Ridge and other writers' conferences is that it doesn't have to be this way. I believe that what has been called a divorce is at worst a legal separation, and that reconciliation is possible. What we need is a phalanx of writers willing to study the elements of poetry, develop their craft, and write significant thoughts in beautiful language.

That's what I'm trying to do in my own poetry, and it's what I'm trying to teach others to do at writers' conferences. I've found that people respond well to readings of good-quality poetry aimed at a general audience. And who can read or hear a good poem without thinking, "I'd like to do that"? We won't make a lot of money with our poetry, but creating beautiful and inspiring things is its own reward. And well-written poems will endure and continue to teach and inspire long after our transient commercial prose is forgotten.

I'm hoping more and more writers will join the phalanx.

Yes, Donn, how can people read a good poem and not want to write one themselves? This is exactly why I'm featuring you (and other poets) this month. Thank you for your informative article today. I can't wait to hear more next Tuesday.


PS: FYI: The 2nd Monday of every month is POETRY night at The Write Ingredients Writing Workshop. We meet at 7:00 PM at Barnes and Noble at the The Woodlands Mall. Check it out and bring a poem or two to share.

**Mr. Donn Taylor is a poet and novelist who holds a PhD in Renaissance literature and has more than 20 years’ experience teaching poetry. His poetry has appeared in Christianity and Literature, The Lamp-Post (Journal of the California C. S. Lewis Society), and other journals, as well as general audience publications such as the Presbyterian Record (Canada). His poetry collection Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond was published in 2008. His fiction includes a suspense novel, The Lazarus File, and a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red. He has also published essays on writing, literary criticism, ethical issues, and U. S. foreign policy. In a prior incarnation, he served in two wars with the U. S. Army. His Web site is

Monday, April 05, 2010


Some of you have watched your favorite college basketball teams in March Madness. Today I'm going to begin Monday Madness. Every Monday I’ll send you some prompts (which are courtesy of Robert Lee Brewer of Writer’s Digest). They're sure to get your creative juices flowing.

Here's his list so far this month (you can also follow his blog on

Day 1: Lonely Poem

Write a lonely poem. The narrator could be lonely. Someone or something in the poem could be lonely. Or the poem itself could try to evoke a feeling of loneliness for the reader. Or, as in challenges past, you could take the poem in a completely unique direction.

Day 2: Water Poem

For today's prompt, write a water poem. The poem could be specifically about water or just include water somewhere within the poem. You could even write about water-based phenomenon, such as rainbows or water spouts.

Day 3: Last night

For today's prompt, I want you to take the phrase "Partly (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make that the title of your poem, and then write the poem. For instance, your poem might be titled "Partly Cloudy," "Partly Crazy," "Partly Out of Touch," or whatever.

Day 4: History Poem

For today's prompt, write a history poem. This could mean a poem about your country's history, the history of an event or a tool, or even your own personal history. Hey, you could even write about the history of a relationship. The history of everything is fair game. Have fun!

Robert, I couldn’t agree more. And I hope everyone reading this post has some fun with these prompts. You might find you DO enjoy writing poetry.

Love ya,

PS: Check in tomorrow for Tuesday with Donn Taylor. Donn will share with you his knowledge and love of poetry. You don’t want to miss it.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Have you ever looked up the definition for the word poem? If you haven’t, here is the meaning of it from the Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus.

POEM: 1. a metrical composition, concerned with feeling or imaginative description. 2. an elevated composition in verse or prose. 3. something with poetic qualities.

1) Verse, lyric, rhyme, song, ode, ballad, sonnet

Some songs are written to convey a persuasive, passionate, and powerful message. For me, The Old Rugged Cross touches all three. Since today is Easter Sunday I wanted to include the words to the beloved hymn.

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.


So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.


In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.


To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.


Words & Music: by George Bennard


PS: Songs are poetry set to music.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


April 3, 2010

In two days we've learned that centered and rhyming poems are obsolete. Who knew? I didn't. But, I found out centering was a no-no AFTER I sent one of my masterpieces to a contest. Trust me, I didn't win and I received quite a scolding for my apparent faux pas.

Since the woman's critique, I have left justified every poem I write. What a difference it's made in my poetry. Moving my words to the left has given me the freedom to express myself in ways I've never experienced before. I no longer worry so much about the mechanics. Now I sit down and write whatever pops into my head. Glory Hallelujah!!!

If you are one of those who centers their poems--I suggest you go to the dark--OH, I mean left side. You too will feel a new found freedom.


PS: And, as promised, here is one of my poems:


What would I do differently?
The writing prompt asked today.
Pondering the searching question.
Finally, the answer. Pray, pray, pray.
I’d spent the last five years grumbling.
Life’s unfair, everything’s out of whack.
Blaming others for my ineptness.
Always the one ready to attack.
Seeking the Lord at my lowest.
Sure everything would be solved.
Funny, my attitude didn’t change.
His refining fire needed to evolve.
Flames lapping at my backside.
Screaming out loud for any relief.
Heavenly Father, where are You?
I’m sinking in this man-made grief.
His answer came amid continued gripes.
The Lord’s words penned cleansed my soul.
The message, His gift, became clear.
Daughter, let go, I AM in control.

Friday, April 02, 2010


April 2, 2010

Here are more helpful hints from Writer's Relief. Hope they are getting your creative juices flowing.

PART 2: Poetry Turnoffs: Styles And Formatting That Make Editors Cringe

Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:17 by Writer's Relief Staff:

Poetry Format: Centering Lines

There is a perception among some newer poets (or at least, there is a perception among literary editors about newer poets) that centering the text of a poem somehow makes it look and feel more poetic. Few editors fall for that ruse, and some have been known to be dismissive of centered poems.

If your poem can be left justified without doing damage to the meaning of the poem, you may want to consider ditching the center justification if it helps your work get published in a well-known literary journal. That said, as with spacing, if there is a reason other than "it looks nice" that your poem must be centered, then by all means, stick to your guns. Hopefully, you’ll be able to connect with an editor who gets your work and will not dismiss your poem simply because of the center justification.

The Best Length For Poems

As the page count of your poems goes up, the chances of your seeing them published go down. One-page poems have the best shot at being placed. And poems that have long lines of text may not be eligible for publication in narrow literary magazines. For more on this issue, read Why Length Matters When Submitting Your Stories And Poems For Publication.

One Final Note About Poetry Format

The above tips are based on the experiences of Writer’s Relief in helping poets publish their poems in literary magazines since 1994. However, we do not advocate writing poetry only for the market. If the muse moves you to write a certain way, you should do what makes you happy, consequences be damned. Writing poetry is a very personal matter, and the decisions you make about your poems should be made with care and authority—regardless of the market.

If you find you are relying too heavily on any of the above, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the kinds of things that editors are publishing in your favorite literary journals. Being familiar with the work of contemporary poets is important to your craft, your muse, and your career. Read more: Seven Techniques You Must Know To Make Editors Notice Your Poetry (in a good way!).

"Writer's Relief, Inc. is a highly recommended author's submission service. Established in 1994, Writer's Relief will help you target the best markets for your creative writing. Visit their Web site at to receive their FREE Writers' Newsflash (today, via e-mail) which contains valuable leads, guidelines, and deadlines for writing in all genres."

Love ya,

PS: FYI: I recommend signing up for their FREE newsletter. Lots of helpful grammer tips, places to submit our writing (fiction, poetry, etc.), and so much more.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


April 1, 2010

Some of you know April is Poetry Month. And, you also know I've mentioned this fact on my blog for the past three years. I've pestered you to join me on this poetic journey, but feel your enthusiasm is lacking when it comes to writing poetry.

So, this year I decided to do things a little different. Every day this month I'm going to post something about the world of poetry. Some days will be helpful hints on how to write and submit a poem (from sources who know more about poetry than I do). Another day or two, I'll add a prompt you can use to jumpstart your verse. I might even share a poem I've written along the way.

What do you say--Let's get started.

Today's article comes from Writer's Relief. Enjoy!

Poetry Turnoffs: Styles And Formatting That Make Editors Cringe

Thursday, 18 March 2010 09:17 by Writer's Relief Staff - Part 1:

At Writer’s Relief we are very tuned in to trends in the publishing industry, and we’ve noticed that some poetry formatting choices act as red flags to editors of literary journals. These red flags tend to make editors view poets as new or amateur. If you’d like to get your poems published in literary magazines, consider these tips before making your submission.

Rhyming Poetry And Contemporary Publishing

As disappointing as the news may be for some poets, very few literary journals are accepting rhyming poems or formal verse poems. From the lack of popular interest in rhyming poetry, it seems that many modern readers have come to regard rhyme as naive, outdated, and contrived. Literary editors of well-known journals are simply not banging down poets’ doors to publish rhyming poetry.

That said, some editors love and publish rhyme. Poets who excel in traditional verse may well find an outlet in literary journals; however, the writing must be exceptional in order to overcome the apparent editorial disinterest in rhyme.

Poetry Format: Double-Spaced Lines

One of the tell tale signs that a writer is new to the craft is unnecessary double-spacing of free verse or rhyming poems. Many double-spaced poems can easily become single-spaced poems without doing significant damage. The new writer may feel uncomfortable changing from double spaces to single spaces, but if you leaf through the pages of a literary magazine, you’ll find that most poems are single-spaced.

That said, some poems simply must be double-spaced. The writer selects double-spacing not just because it “looks nice” but because that format supports the meaning of the poem in some way. You can double-space your poems; just be sure you’re doing it deliberately, with sensitivity and awareness. If you can remove the double spacing without doing damage to the poem, it might be a good idea to do so. The format change will also help you keep the page count down.


"Writer's Relief, Inc. is a highly recommended author's submission service. Established in 1994, Writer's Relief will help you target the best markets for your creative writing. Visit their Web site at to receive their FREE Writers' Newsflash, which contains valuable leads, guidelines, and deadlines for writing in all genres."

Love ya,


PS: Hope everyone enjoyed today's teaching. Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2.