SpeakEasy 11: Poetry on the Bay

When I read a poem or a novel, I wonder about the creative process.  What was the inspiration?  How many re-writes.  Who edits?  When is it complete?

Just as Summer blew hot breath on Bellingham, poets Luther Allen and Judy Kleinberg presented SpeakEasy 11:  Poet’s Mind: Concept & Process.

Who could ask for more?  A cool breeze off the bay, perhaps but not a better line up or enthusiastic audience.  This is what we wanted, the poem and the process.  Each poem was projected on a large screen so the audience could see/read the words as the poet read.


I was so engaged in listening that I forgot to take photos of the actual performance.  The evening began with Matthew Brouwer, just back in town from a poetry tour.  His poem “Ode to a Small Town” made me think he’d just been to Fondis, Colorado.  He hadn’t but the words captured the feeling of the fading past of our industrial and rural heritage.

Susan J. Erickson read “Casa Azul”, one of her Frida Kahlo poems in a series about women.  When this is available as a chapbook, be sure to grab a copy.  You won’t want to miss Sue’s well woven words and perceptions of famous women.  She spoke of the writing, the editing and re-editing with her writing group and then with professional poets until the piece gleams, a gem well faceted. Sue said “It takes a village to write a poem.”   (I have the good fortune to be in a critique group with Sue.)

I’d never heard Ryler Dustin before but I’m a fan now.  His poem “Poorly Possessed” took me into the image not only of place but of the heart.  He showed the re-write from the original to the final version.

I’ve known Jeanne Yeasting socially for years.  She knocked my socks off with her prose poem.  Her stage presence is strong, her poetry inviting us to consider another possibility.

Luther Allen, the man behind the SpeakEasy Poetry series, read a sparse, tanka-esque poem “Spring.”  He shared his process of reduction to capture feeling and image.

The artist and poet who helps produce the SpeakEasy series is J.I. Kleinberg.  I woke up thinking about how Judy works this morning.  She writes “found” poems, words tucked within paragraphs or newspaper articles or magazine stories, words in a vertical connection rather than horizontal.  She explained the process and showed pictures of tiny word groupings that eventually tumble together into poetry.

Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson is another poet I was not familiar with and I was fascinated by her dedication to a poetry project of writing a poem every day for a month in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  (Makes me think I might do that with the Lightcatcher.)  Her poem “Other Lovers’ Letters” was engaging.  I heard it one way and then when she talked about the process, I saw at least two more interpretations.

Caleb Barber, another poet new to me, is a writer I’ll look for in the future.  His poem “A Morning at Adrift” caught me.  His reading style is strong, and I just wanted to hear more.

I’ve met Sheila Sondik several times and heard her read.  Last night I was captivated by her dedication to a poetry chapbook of “found” poems written from the novel “The Yearling.”  The copying, cutting, pasting, and rearranging of words into the poem “A Thin Green April” made me hold my breath.

Nancy Pagh closed the evening with “Oars”.  I heard some people say they were attending this event just to hear her.  Now I know why. But when she said she didn’t keep previous copies of poems, that she crumples paper and tosses it in a wastebasket, I was shocked.  No.  Some great word combos may be going to the dump.  Wait.  Don’t do that I wanted to shout.  However, I did speak to her after the performance and she advised me to do it.  I shook my head.  The refusal prompted her to give me another chance. “Here.  Try it.  Throw it away.”  She crumpled the poem she’d just read and it handed me.  You think I threw it away?  Nope.  It’s sitting by my laptop right now, all waded up and ready for trash.  My cat actually tried to nab it this morning.  It has a few teeth marks.  No, I won’t let the cat chew it (he is inclined).   I’m going to “borrow” a line from Nancy’s poem and race away into my own world of creation where I will carefully keep every copy of the re-writes, dated and where I read it at what venue.

The diversity of style, concept, process and presentation inspires me and settles my inner critic a bit.  Just keep on writing, in my own style, with my own obsessions and limitations.  It’s what makes for good entertainment.

Are You Sure You Know Your Rights As Author?

Writing is the fun part. Now, to the business of writing…

Savvy Writers & e-Books online


If you are serious about being a writer, you need to know a bit about the business. Let’s start with your rights as an author and how to read a publishing contract, in case you are not an author-publisher, keeping ALL your rights.

Anne Rooney summed it nicely up: “Publishing is a business and no matter how friendly and reassuring your editor, they want to make as much money out of the deal as they can. If “it’s just the standard contract” you say that’s fine as a starting point, but now you are going to make it suitable to you and your book. If they say “no one has ever objected before” that means either they are lying or no one ever has read the contract properly and taken a professional approach.”

As an author you own the copyright, and you own all the rights…

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17 Smart Ways to Market Your Blog

Uh oh. I better read this. I want you to read my blog, to respond to my blog, to have fun with it.

Savvy Writers & e-Books online



No matter if you are blogging just for fun or if you use it as a content-marketing tool for your books: Your achievement and success will be measured by the amount of readers and blog followers.  A mistake that many people make, is that they write new blog posts and expect that it will be magically promoted on social media right away or gain thousands of visitors on its own. This may be true for established web sites with a huge readership but for smaller web sites or new blogs it is important to spread the word.

Use some or all of these possibilities to promote your blog – and at the same time your books:

Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog.
They can either use the “follow” icon if you have a WordPress blog – or if your blog is included in your…

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Top 10 List of Advice For Aspiring Writers

We love lists of what to do. Do you ever follow a list? Get inspired by a plan?

Savvy Writers & e-Books online


Author Jody Hedlund wrote a fantastic article for aspiring writers: “Beginning novelists often struggle to know how to start a writing career and end up feeling overwhelmed.  There are some basic steps that can make the process more successful.”

Here’s Jody’s top advice to beginners:

1. With the first book, let your creativity have free reign.
2. Finish a book.
3. Study basic fiction-writing techniques.
4. Then write a couple more books.
5. Find a critique partner/group.
6. Enter a writing contest.
Read her full article on Writespassage.blogspot.ca where she explains the reasons behind her advice and her own experiences.
Jody Hedlund’s conclusion: “We never “make it.” We’re never finished learning and growing. We should never stop with one book, while we wait to hear from agents and publishers. We need to write the next and challenge ourselves to make it better than…

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“After Earth” Review

One of the promised summer blockbusters:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZIt20emgLY

OK, so I read the reviews.  This movie sucks is the consensus.  Besides that, it’s just not my kind of flick.  However, it was Michael’s birthday. I decided to set aside my research and my prejudices and go to see whatever he chose.  This was second choice.  We went to the new 16 theatre metaplex across from Barkley Village, had yogurt at TCBY while we waited for showtime.

Will Smith is not the star, he’s the support character to real life and on screen son Jadin Smith.  Not since Tom Hank’s “Cast Away” has an actor held the screen for so long.  So, of course it is an epic hero’s journey.  Joseph Campbell would be proud.

The forest setting is so much like Stimpson Reserve that I was convinced it was in my backyard. Except for all those nasty beasts that attack so I closed my eyes.  It was actually shot in the redwoods of Humboldt County.

Are the music and acoustical effects too loud.  Yes.  I strongly recommend earplugs.  Pretend you’re going to a Bruce Springsteen concert.  I didn’t and just pushed my fingers in my ears.  Louder is not better.

This is not the world’s best movie ever made but it’s also not the worst.  I actually enjoyed it.  A coming of age story of the son’s desire to obtain his father’s approval.  (Is this a real life quest translated into allegory?)

So, if you like Will Smith, if you like sci fi, if you want to get off the streets and into a cool theatre, if you want diversion, go see this movie.  Don’t read the reviews.  Just go and have fun.  Let me know what you think.

The Words linger…

Words, odd combinations of letters, inviting the imagination, the connection between me and thee.  I lost them somewhere.


They bury themselves in sand, tickle my bare feet as the tide washes out.  I miss them but the rain washes them all away.  I do not write for two weeks.

Wordless as I walk the shoreline, peer into tide pools, watch puffins settle on the great Mother Rock.  Seagulls swoop the gray skies.  At 8:36 PM, a shimmer of brightness just above the horizon, a splash of light touching clouds, a shimmer in the skim of water remaining as the tide recedes.

Like the turning of the moon, words return when I least expect them, crowd into dreamtime and waken me with the unexpected.  Starving for words, I drink them down in a scribble.

From this two projects erupt, not one but two, seeming appropriate in the Light of Gemini.

Today, an unexpected confirmation that perhaps other writers also covet but do not even know they wish.  A juxtaposition.  I walk into the dark Pickford Film Center to find my favorite middle seat.  A woman passes, turns and comes back.  “Are you the one who wrote the Noir Poem,” she asks.

“Yes.”  I am so surprised that I don’t even register what she’s saying.  But she liked it, has seen me read in several places.  I am delighted.  Not as an ego bump, but as recognition that my words have touched someone’s memory, that there was resonance and understanding.

I am glad the words have returned.  Now, those two projects call.