Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Flarf

Yeah, I know it’s not the first Wednesday of the month, but I’m sharing a form with you anyway, just because I can. :-D

The Flarf is the brain child of Gary Sullivan, and started out as a scam on a contest sponsored by the Poetry.com site. I’m sure he was as surprised as anyone when it became a whole movement.

What makes a Flarf both fun and easy is the fact you take your raw material from the internet, specifically a Google search. Simply use two unrelated terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "beautiful + corpse" and piece together your poem by cutting and pasting from the search results page.

You can also write a Flarf based on your Twitter or Facebook feeds, but I chose the more traditional Google search. The terms I used were "kitten + apocalypse".


Kitten Apocalypse

The world will end by kittens
and I want to explain how this will happen
in a lot of depth but
I have not made the video!

Mass resurrection
brings all dead party
and raid members back to life.
Beware.. The kittens have gone crazy!
To me, they are truly evil.

Do you see kittens staring at you?
Do they look sinister/evil!?
Avoid the radioactive zombie kittens
in a post apocalyptic nightmare!
Zombies, don't mess with angry kittens!

Kittens are the new ninjas.
Check out this vicious cat killing spree!
Meet Hiromi, the shy artist;
her cat Vince, who has a secret;
her best friend Kitty with all the visions

It's the kitten apocalypse! ..
. Animated zombie kittens!
Zombie kittens are attacking!
Why the hell are you still reading?

Apocalypse warning,
kittens involved.
If you see these,
you're probably screwed.

No one suspected
the zombie apocalypse
would look so cute.


If you’d like to learn more about the Flarf, try one of these links:

Poets.org - A Brief Guide to Flarf Poetry
The Truth About Lies - How to Write a Flarf

And since the quiz I included with the original post (many years ago) is no longer valid, I thought I'd include a short video to help illustrate my poem. :-)




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Words

Do you remember, back in your high school English class, having to dissect a poem? Your teacher would pick something by Keats or Wordsworth or Longfellow and tell you to write 500 or 1000 words on what the author really meant when he wrote that poem. I don’t know why they do that. No one really knows what the author means except the author themselves. And most of the poets that are studied in school have been dead for a long time.



The poem I’m featuring today was one I wrote in high school. Because I wrote it a few weeks after I broke up with my first boyfriend, everyone assumed I wrote it for him. I even had a couple of his friends come up to me and tell me to leave him alone, he’d moved on. But the truth is, I didn’t write it for anyone. It’s just a poem about words - there’s no hidden meaning. I got to thinking about words and how they can mean something different from what you intended. And then I kind of segued into story mode just to make it longer.

Anyway, here it is in all its glory. :-D

WORDS

Words to share with lovers
their meanings old as time,
and words I never said to you,
I thought them only mine;
words that can work magic,
that mend a broken heart;
words that seem to give you
another brand new start.
I wish that I had told you
the words I had in mind.
It might have made a difference
if we were given time.
The world's a mess because of words
that no-one thought to say,
and now I think that it's too late,
those words are here to stay.
I wish that we could build new words,
their meanings deep and true,
and I would take back words I said
and change them just for you.
You do not understand my words,
you never did it seems,
for words have double meanings
and I was filled with dreams;
I spoke too fast, I wasn't sure
of words I could not say,
and so I kept them deep inside
and now they're there to stay.
If I thought words could bring you back
I'd chatter day and night,
but it's too late for both of us
to make the wrong words right.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Poetry Anyone?

Once upon a time I participated in something called the PAD challenge run by Writer’s Digest. It was held during the month of April, National Poetry Month, and the idea was to write a Poem A Day using the prompts they’d supply. One of these prompts was for something called a sestina. With all the poetry I’ve written over the years, I’d never heard of a sestina before. It was a little challenging, and by the time I was done I was starting to wonder how many other poetry forms were there out there that I’d never heard of.

Turns out there were a lot!

For the next couple of years I had a separate blog for poetry and I’d share a new form with an original example each week. Sometimes I’d feature other poems, but mostly it was all about the forms. Then some person I’d never heard of sent me an email accusing me of using her information (not her poems) without citing her as a source.

So I dutifully went back through my posts and found two instances where the information was similar - not the same, just similar - to what she had on her site. I’m actually surprised there weren’t more. Although I used a variety of sources, sometimes there are only so many ways you can say: This is a Japanese form and the syllable count is...

Anyway, I reworded my posts and thought no more about it until I got an email from a gentleman with a similar complaint. Really? I checked, and once again the words were not an exact match but pretty similar. On a whim I checked the woman’s site and oh, gee, look at that. His words were an exact match to hers.

That was it for me. I was done. I’d started the blog to share my love of poetry, not to be harassed by small-minded, mean-spirited people. At this point I’d explored over a hundred different forms, but the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth so I pulled the blog.

For the next few years I only wrote poetry occasionally, and didn’t share any of it. Then I shared a couple of special occasion poems. Then Jamie and I did a PAD challenge of our own and it kind of revived my interest again. And now, here we are.

As a new feature on this blog, I’ve decided that Wednesday is going to be poetry day. The first Wednesday of the month (which would be today) I’m going to share a form. The rest of the Wednesdays will be just random poems - some new, some old, maybe even some old favorites culled from my library of really old poetry books.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the forms, for obvious reasons, but I will include links should you care to explore them yourself. So ... I’m going to begin where I began in the beginning, with the sestina.

The sestina was one of the most challenging forms I’ve ever encountered. It has 39 lines in total, divided into six verses of six lines each, and a three line envoi at the end. Sounds easy enough, right? Especially since it doesn’t have to rhyme. But here’s the thing. You start off by coming up with six words, and each of these words is used as a end word of one line in each of the six verses and the order changes in each verse.

For my sestina, I used the words: truth, grave, life, night, death, and stone.

Night Dweller’s Truth

In every breath there is a truth
that overshadows every grave,
a truth not found within a life
that shines its beacon into night,
a knowledge brought about by death
and graven into hardest stone.

A thought that’s carved in precious stone
contains what we perceive as truth,
unsuppressed by certain death,
as cold and alien as the grave,
deep and dark as empty night
just before it bursts to life.

If I’d but know how sweet is life,
not just a pathway strewn with stone,
perhaps I’d not embraced the night
that fills me with its awful truth
and takes me far beyond the grave
out of reach of even death.

And what is that which we call death?
Perhaps another way of life,
the end is more than just the grave,
a fresh turned mound that’s capped with stone.
Perhaps we’ll never know the truth
before we pass into the night.

Come and share this sweetest night
where we can stand abreast of death,
and we will seek the perfect truth
of what is that which we call life
that gathers round us like a stone
and leads us blindly to the grave.

You look at me with visage grave -
accept my words, accept the night,
accept that fate’s not carved in stone.
Turn away from Lady Death,
her promise of the afterlife,
and know what’s in my heart is truth.

We’ll find our truth without the grave
and make our life within the night,
then vanquish death with shattered stone.


If you’d like to learn more or better yet, try your hand at your own sestina, here are a couple of sites that I’ve found helpful in the past:

Baymoon
The Poetry Foundation 
Shmoop

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prompt Me - the Rock

While I dropped the ball on my story last week (I’m still working on it though) I didn’t forget that this is the first Friday of June which means it’s time for another picture prompt!



Who is this girl? What is she doing up on that rock and how did she get up there? And what is that book she’s reading?

More importantly, what does it inspire you to write? A poem? A story? And article on readers who can read anywhere?

Inquiring minds want to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I’ll share it here at the end of the month.

Happy writing!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Light On Her Feet

Once again the last Friday of the month has snuck up on me, although to be fair, May ends Thursday next week so I feel I should be granted some leeway. But a promise is a promise, so ready or not, here we are. :-D

Here’s a reminder of the prompt picture:



As you know, the idea of these prompts is to inspire you to creativity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, or poetry just so long as you write something. In my case I’m working on a short story that seems to keep changing, necessitating me going back and changing the beginning. I may, or may not, finish it later today. Or tonight. Or tomorrow.

In the meantime, the oh-so-talented Jamie DeBree sent me this lovely poem inspired by my prompt. It makes me wish I’d done a poem too - maybe I will eventually. ;-)

Light on Her Feet

Like a bright burning
filament she
dances,
flickering,
mesmerizing,
hypnotizing all
who dare stare into her flame.


While you’re waiting for my story, I suggest you check out Jamie’s on-line serial, Rattlesnake Falls. And if you’re curious about how the characters ended up where they did, drop Jamie a line and if you ask nicely she’ll catch you up.

Now cross your fingers and check back tonight, and if the planets are in the right alignment I just might have my story up too.

See you later.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Of Plots and Plans and Things In Between...

Writing is the dragon that lives underneath my floorboards. The one I incessantly feed for fear it may turn and devour my ass. Writing is the friend who doesn't return my phone calls; the itch I'm unable to scratch; a dinner invitation from a cannibal; elevator music for a narcoleptic. Writing is the hope of lifting all boats by pissing in the ocean. Writing isn't something that makes me happy like a good cup of coffee. It's just something I do because not writing, as I've found, is so much worse.
― Quentin R. Bufogle

This was the inspirational writing quote I sent to my best bud Jamie today, and in the accompanying email I said something to the effect that after careful consideration I have to agree with it. Writing doesn’t always make me happy, but it makes me a lot happier than not writing does.

The daughter was away for a conference this week, which necessitated me having to babysit during the day while her hubby was at work. Monday I was a disorganized mess. But Tuesday I discovered that by planning ahead things went much more smoothly. I even managed to get some writing in during the toddler’s nap time. Wednesday was the same.

I used to get very frazzled whenever I was expecting company, until I learned my aunt’s secret. She planned everything ahead of time, and did as much of the prep work for meals before the company arrived as she could. It’s amazing what a little planning can do.

During my writing time while I was babysitting, I was trying to work on a story but I wasn’t sure where it was going. So I jotted down a few plot points of what I wanted to have happen. That’s not to say I plotted the whole thing out, just a really short plan of the action.

A couple of weeks ago I used mini index cards to jot down the remaining scenes in the novel I’m currently working on, and even a couple of scenes closer to the beginning that I’ll have to go back to so I can fit them in. As plans go it’s not much, but it got me eager to start working on it again.

All of this made me realize that maybe there’s something to planning ahead after all.

Once upon a time I wrote a blog post about pantsers versus plotters. It’s fairly simple. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants - they just sit down and write, having no clear of what’s going to happen until they write it. Plotters, on the other hand, plan everything out ahead of time so there are no surprises.

Back when I was new to writing, I thought everyone was a plotter. So I spent a lot of time on outlines and maps and character sketches and eventually realized that I was spending more time on them (and having more fun in the process) than I was actually writing. My novel kind of stalled and it was years before I got back to it. Actually, my writing stalled - it was a few years before I got back to any of my longer fiction.

The first novel I actually finished was written purely by the seat of my pants. I was goaded convinced by Jamie to try my hand at a blog serial. I let the story progress naturally and most of the time I had no idea what was going to happen next. It was an adventure, albeit sometimes a frustrating one.

I wrote several other novels after that (that book turned into a series, of which I’m about to start number five), all by the seat of my pants. It was decided. I was a confirmed pantser.

But then I began to struggle a bit. My second series, based on that first attempted novel, began to flounder until I discovered all the character sketches, maps, and notes I made originally. While the characters had evolved well past those initial sketches, the notes were invaluable, as were the maps. Using the notes, I created the “scene cards” I mentioned earlier, half-sized index cards with a few words describing a single scene on each one. This will take me to the end of book three.

Maybe planning out a novel isn’t such a bad thing after all. Especially when you’re writing a series. And recalling those story notes I made ... I used to get an idea for a short story and just wing it. But knowing what’s going to happen actually makes it a little easier to write. And notes help jog my not-so-reliable memory when it falters.

So... while I doubt I’ll ever be doing a long-winded, multi-page, detailed outline such as plotters are famous for, neither will I dismiss the idea of a little planning ahead. I guess you could say I’m taking the middle road. “Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.”

I’m not totally a plotter, but neither am I strictly speaking a pantser anymore. I’m somewhere in between. I ... am a tweener!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Prompt Me - Artificial Light

Whoops! I was so busy writing I almost forgot today was Friday and time for a new picture prompt!

I was writing not one, but two stories from last week's Brazen Snake Books prompt, which you can find every Monday on the Snake Bites blog. This one was all about keepsakes and I wrote a poem, then a dark little tale, then had an idea for a sweet romance, then a longer version of the dark tale. All from one prompt!

This month's picture prompt was given its title by the photographer. It was part of a photography challenge she had with a friend, and I quite like the mystery of it.



Who is this woman inside the lightbulb? Why is she in there? Is she a woman, or something else? What is that smoke in there with her?

Don't forget, your creativity can come in any form - fiction, poetry, non-fiction ...

I'd love to see what you come up with, so if you're feeling brave you can email it to me at carolrward(at)gmail(dot)com and if you like, I'll even post it here at the end of the month.

Happy Writing!