Thursday, May 7, 2015

#TwitterFiction Festival: I'm In!

On my desk, amid the clutter, you'll find this quote: "At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you."

The universe was apparently assisting when I sent an idea off to the 2015 Twitter Fiction Festival. I made the first cut -- and then the final cut! I'm happy to announce that I'll be one of the featured writers during the festival next week. Whoo hoo!

What story will I be telling? Here's the basic premise:

Tyler lives in Kansas. His parents (aka SpermDonor and M) are right-wing Kansans who faithfully support the First Baptist Church of the Lamb, going every Wednesday and Sunday. Tyler, days away from high school graduation, is ready to claim life as a girl. But it’s tough being a transgender teen in Olathe, Kansas, and Tyler doesn’t want to come out, horrify the parents and be all alone during the transition. So, before Tyler becomes Taylor (a simple switch from the current name and a homage to Taylor Swift), this smart, sarcastic teen decides to use Twitter to create a new support system – a new family. The question is – does Tyler2Taylor really want a new family or acceptance from the family of origin? Is it possible to live with people for 18 years and not know them? 

Tune in. Tweet on. Find out.

Yes. That's right. My name.
Right there with a few your might recognize.
Life, my friends, is good. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Poetic Present: Linda Penner

I know. I know. It's May. National Poetry Month 2015 is over. BUT, there were a few days where I didn't post. And it's Friday. So it's only right to wrap things up with one more poem!

And what finer topic for our final poem than love?

Linda Penner, our poet of the day, is one of the dear women in my Writers Workshop. She makes me laugh, she inspires me, she teaches me, she surprises me. And, when you read the poem below, don't think I made a typo. Her hubby's name really is Merv.

For Merv on his birthday
by Linda Penner

Seventy years --
darting away
like a hummingbird
hovering here for an instant
a smudge in a distant tree
the next

I've walked years
by your side
or ahead
or behind
occasionally crossed
(like our purposes)

Separate -- but
matched, curiously
as if posed
in tuxedo and slinky black
for a photo
at a formal event

or joined
by an invisible electric thread
that quivers
when you read my mind
when I read yours
like the tiniest marital umbilical
keeping us
when dark threatens
when one of us
floats away

Life novices,
we've bumped and stumbled
through four decades
threaded together,
generous you
feeding body and spirit
as if two arms weren't enough
to give all you wanted

So here,
let me give you something
Take this poem
my bouquet of words and love

It's your birthday

Thursday, April 30, 2015

#npm15 -- Deb Hallowell and we're not done yet ...

Hey ... did you notice I missed a few days there? Life got a little crazy busy. I forgot to post one day, and simply ran out of time the next.

But, never fear, I will give you the full month's worth of poems -- even if it takes me a few days in May! Because I have saved some of the best for last, the work of amazing poets in my Writers Workshop.

Today, this visual beauty by a woman I'm honored to call my friend, the incredibly talented, smart, kind and huggable Deb Hallowell. The words, the birds -- there is beauty in our lives every day, everywhere, just waiting to be recognized:

Monday, April 27, 2015

#npm15 -- Two from You!

Every once in a while, someone will say to me: I don't like poetry. And I wonder, how is that possible? That's like saying you don't like food. There are so many varieties, so many flavors, how can you not like any of them?

Today, a wonderful example of that. Vicki suggested the first poem:

After A While 
by Veronica Shofstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure
that you really are strong
and that you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
with every goodbye you learn...

You like that? Yay! You don't like it? Totally cool. Maybe you'll prefer Erin's suggestion: The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It's a longer poem, so just click on the link to read!

Friday, April 24, 2015

#npm15 -- Among the Things He Does Not Deserve

Here's a quick National Poetry Month creativity exercise for you -- write a list poem. Start with a topic. Any topic. Let's say, life advice. What to do while waiting for a friend at a bar. Reasons you love Sunday. Places you want to go. Places she should have taken you. 

Or, all the things he does not deserve ...

Among the Things He Does Not Deserve
by Dan Albergotti

Greek olives in oil, fine beer, the respect of colleagues,
the rapt attention of an audience, pressed white shirts,
just one last-second victory, sympathy, buttons made
to resemble pearls, a pale daughter, living wages, a father
with Italian blood, pity, the miraculous reversal of time,
a benevolent god, good health, another dog, nothing
cruel and unusual, spring, forgiveness, the benefit
of the doubt, the next line, cold fingers against his chest,
rich bass notes from walnut speakers, inebriation, more ink,
a hanging curve, great art, steady rain on Sunday, the purr
of a young cat, the crab cakes at their favorite little place,
the dull pain in his head, the soft gift of her parted lips. 

From The Boatloads
© BOA Editions, 2008

Coming up next week: Poetry from my writers workshop buddies, and more poems suggested by CI readers. Here's to a great weekend -- go write!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

#npm15 -- My Favorite Poet

Those of you who know me well might guess that my favorite poet is e.e. cummings. Or Robert Frost. Perhaps Dorothy Parker? I love 'em all. But none of them compare with my first and favorite poet: Lillian Sokoloff.
This is from her 90th birthday.
What a cutie!
Let me tell you a story about Mom, who celebrates her 94th birthday today. When she was a young woman, she was offered a job writing greeting cards for Hallmark.

Janet: "Why didn't you take the job, Mom?"
Mom: "I didn't want to write for them, Janet. They had too many rules."

God bless her. Here's a poem from Mom that has been published in several magazines and in The Kansas City Star. She wrote it according to her own rules:

On Criticism
by Lillian Sokoloff

Too quick are we to criticize,
Too slow are we to praise,
The comings and the goings
Of other people's ways.

If only we would stop to think
Before the words come out,
Perhaps a nicer thought would come
For us to talk about.

So next time you are tempted
Unkind things you are about to say,
Stop, reflect, remember,
What you have read today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

#npm15 -- On Turning Sixty

I love coloring books. I don't just color within the lines -- I trace the lines, outline them with a darker color. Creativity with boundaries, with rules, gives me the wonderful freedom of structure.

Given that, it's no wonder that haiku is a favorite of mine, and the poetic form I chose for today:

On Turning Sixty
by Jan Sokoloff Harness

I hold the railing
now when I go down the stairs.
Aware. Not afraid.


Earlier in the month, my friend Connie asked for a poem that I wrote years ago -- she first read it in The Kansas City Star, back in the good old days when the paper still had a Poetry Corner. So here -- by popular request! -- is that poem:

Found Poem: Rural Route 20, Oklahoma
by Jan Sokoloff Harness, June 2006

An unintentional poet summed it up
on a swinging sign
outside an auto parts store
near Tulsa.

Jesus is Lord
Everything is for sale

Amen, brother.
Amen and hallelujah.

Ya gotta love Etsy. Find this here