Linda Studley

Can't Put the Pen Down…

Archive for the tag “poetry”

Summer of the Horse – a review

 

I used to be a voracious reader; often having two or even three books ‘on the go’ at any given time. Every night I’d read myself to sleep. I’d read for ten minutes while the cookies baked; packed a book in the vehicle to pass the time if I had to wait longer than two minutes for anything. Books were something into which I immersed myself, a respite from reality, a foray into the unknown. But lately my eyesight has not been cooperative of these forays. After half an hour the print blurs and I find myself straining to at least reach a ‘good place’ to stop until my eyes will focus again. Frustrated, I explored the world of e-books. At least I could increase the font size on the screen. Unfortunately, the screen is too small and reading a book when the lines are 4 words long with only 4 or 5 lines visible is ultimately unsatisfying. The e-reader is hard to hold too. Thin and sleek may look nice and fit into your purse, but it’s not comfortable to hold for any length of time.

So, slowly, my reading has dropped off. When something doesn’t satisfy anymore one tends to drift away from it. But this morning I read for an hour and a half. My eyes straining to get through each ensuing sentence, I couldn’t put the book down until finally I just couldn’t see the words anymore. Now here I am writing about the experience (with a large monitor jacked up to 200% zoom I might add) waiting for my eyes to adjust so I can go back and read some summer of the horse imagemore.

What is the object of this obsession you might ask? It’s my newly acquired copy of Donna Kane’s book “Summer of the Horse”. I was privileged to be present at her book launch last evening and, enthralled by her reading of two excerpts from the book, I purchased a copy, eager to dive into a book where the words did not just convey information; they sparkled with all the potential of the English language to be beautiful, evocative, and engaging.

I was not disappointed. I’m only about a quarter of the way through the “Summer of the Horse” but I’m thoroughly hooked and enchanted. Writing poetry has become an essential extension of my life, and my mantra has always been “Be brave, be honest”. Donna has always done that in her poetry, and now she is doing it in her creative non-fiction.

Run, do not walk, to the Dawson Creek Art Gallery and purchase a copy of “Summer of the Horse”. I haven’t even finished it yet and I know you will love it.

My Mother’s Garden

Sometimes, in dreams, I wander
half remembered woods.
Sunlight casts flickering shadows of light
over the forest floor.

I am searching for the flowers;
the wild flowers and the tame flowers.
Flowers from every garden she ever grew,
blooming together in unlikely harmony.
I stoop, I pick, I fill my arms with the fat, fragrant blossoms.

Especially the blue ones.
She loved the blue ones.
I am picking this bouquet for her.
My life is a procession of flowers and memories.
A patchwork of the things she taught me
as we worked in her garden
Weeding, culling, training the vines
in the way they should go.
Training me
in the way I should go.

And I know she’s gone
but still I wander half forgotten woods,
content in the cognitive dissonance of dreams
that one day I’ll hand her that bouquet and
she’ll smile and say
“Well done.”

Arizona

Doves croon in the courtyard.

Desert blue pales to the horizon.

Palms, all smooth and shaggy;

all graceful and gawky,

sentinel the sky in silhouette.

Cacti bristle from sand and gravel.

Paddle and rod and barrel.

Green and red and yellow.

Quill and needle and barb.

Plump paddles, prickly pear pile-up.

Firestick tumble – fire crackers suspended in mid explosion.

Massive, ruinous saguaro – viejo – venerable one.

Arizona.

 

#184

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Shadows

Words are just the beginning.
Behind them lie more important matters
like motivation, expectation, emotion.
And to make matters more confusing, words
can sound the same yet mean something
totally different.
Not your garden variety homonym where
both ants and aunts enjoy the flowers.
I speak of shadow words,
unspoken longing and loneliness,
envy and ennui, malice and menace.
Context will not help you here and you have but a split
second to assess, decide,
react, respond. The art
of conversation in nefarious hands
becomes an art worthy of
Sun Tzu rather than Lao Tzu,
more war than poetry.
So if we need to talk,
cast no shadows across my words
and I will cast none upon yours.

#153

The Power of Words

Antithetical beliefs can divide even friends.
Gain hope in justice, kindness, love…
Mankind needs optimistic poetry.
Quiet reason silences the untenable violence
when xenophobes yell zealotry.

#125

How to Read Another Person’s Poetry

With anticipation of magic,
imagery, and thought provoking
plot twists and double entendres.

Hopefully, with a wistful longing
for some word or phrase
that will speak to your heart and set you free.

With acceptance of the consequences
for what the words kindle within
as the poet bravely holds the mirror to your soul.

#88

Artful

Today I need to play a poem
write a picture
paint a song.
Today I need to step outside
and let the world come to me.

 

#59

Editing

Extra words in poems are like the scaffolding
surrounding a building. They support the workers as they go,
helping them rise from one level to the next,
allowing them to bring along their tools and extra materials.

But scaffolding is about the worker
not about the work. It is a buffer
and a barrier, obscuring the work from the world.

It can be a fearful endeavour, this baring one’s soul,
putting it on display for prying eyes to interpret.
It’s hard to be brave when you fear to fall,
it’s hard to be honest when no one has to be honest back, but
never hesitate to tear down the scaffolding that
hides your heart.
Let go of the words the way you’d tear down scaffolding.
 

Poems rise from baring
one’s soul.
Be brave.
Be honest.
Never hide your heart.
Let go of the words.

 

#32

Counterpane Counterpoint

In the dark of the night,
when I switch on my light,
my bedside window is an echo of white.

Like a dim extension
of my room, it blends in,
reality merging with bedroom reflection.

At a glance I don’t know
what is quilt, what is snow,
and out of my bed a poplar tree grows

as the snow sings again
its mirrored refrain,
a white counterpoint to a white counterpane.

Publishing – Things I’ve Learned Along the Way

I promised to talk a bit about the publishing process – so here goes.

Publishing a book of poetry will cost you money up front. You will not be able to find a publishing house that will pay you to publish a book of poetry. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong and if anyone out there has had a publisher hand you a cheque for the privilege of publishing your poetry book please send me their email address immediately, okay? How hard you work at promoting your book will determine whether you earn back your investment or just have a lot of great Christmas presents for family and friends.

Don’t be fooled by online services that will ‘proof’ your book. I proofed a friend’s manuscript once, then it was sent to the ‘publishers’ who ‘proofed’ a bunch of mistakes into it, (sigh). Do your very best to proof (fix the grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors) and edit (polish the poems, look at line breaks, make sure each poem is the best it can be) yourself first, then find someone you trust (who knows shit from chocolate pudding about poetry) to go through and make suggestions. Caveat! Choose someone who is honest, respectful, and doesn’t have a vested interest in undermining your self esteem. I know the last one seems fairly obvious but it’s truly amazing how often we offer up our art to the most undeserving and then expect a fair response.

You will need to check out printing options. This includes local printing companies, online ‘print on demand’ businesses, or just hitting print on your personal printer. Figure out your page count (don’t forget the table of contents), the size you want the book to be, the type of binding, black and white or colour? softcover/hardcover, will it have an ISBN or a UPC? Who will do the cover design/art?… Then ask for printing quotes. Ask for quotes for different amounts of books too, usually there is a discount if you order more copies. I ended up printing my book “Falling Awake and other poems” through Lulu.com. They did a good job at a price that was low enough that I could build a reasonable profit into the price. They also offer an online outlet, so people can purchase my book online. (For Goodness Sake print a single copy first – then if there’s a mistake you’ve only wasted the cost of one book and you can fix it before they hit print on a full run!)

Computer literacy is vital. If you don’t have it, the cost of publishing your own book is going to increase. Whatever outlet you use to print your book, you’ll need to understand how to format, save, and upload your manuscript EXACTLY the way they ask you to. Screw this up and you’ll have a book that looks so unprofessional it might as well be written in crayon. Understand Microsoft Word – take a course if you need to. You may think you’re perfectly adequate in Word, but if you can’t format your document to include page numbers and a table of contents you need to learn more.

Sales do not happen unless you promote your book. Do the launch, do signings and readings, give away a few complementary copies, get interviewed, write a blog, have a website, create a Facebook Page… promotional possibilities are endless, you just have to be open to them. Also, what works for my book may not work for yours. You may have a totally different target audience – so figure out who they are and play to them.  If you’re a normally modest person, promotion can be very difficult. My only advice is – Get over it – if you want to sell your book you need to show people you’re proud of it, that it’s important to you and that it could be important to them. That’s not bragging, that’s being honest. If you don’t believe in your book why would anyone else believe in it (or buy it). Yep, that was my version of a pep talk 😉

Good luck. I’ll post more learned lessons as I remember or experience them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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