I stumbled across this article thanks to a friend sharing it earlier today.
The advice offered is helpful for new and old bloggers alike, especially given the dynamic world in which we live and blog. Things are changing all the time, so any constructive advice is a great thing!
A couple of friends on Facebook tagged me in this challenge last night:
For those authors out there, list 10 other authors/individuals who’ve made an impression on you or who have helped influence your writing in some manner.
This is the sort of tag challenge I enjoy, because it gives me an opportunity to acknowledge some of the influences who have helped me to become the writer that I am today.
I’m a total bookworm, and I know I’ve read many, many magnificent books in my time. They’ve all contributed to my imagination, my understanding of the world, and the wellspring of ideas that flow through my brain and into my words.
The ten I’ve listed here are authors whose work I have consciously aspired to honour in my own writing, either stylistically or in the themes and ideas I regularly explore.
None of the names on this list will surprise anyone who knows me. Those who have read my work probably won’t be too surprised either – not because I have copied them, but because of the “trace evidence” in various poems or stories I have written.
This list is presented in no particular order, because I couldn’t possibly rank them. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I’m the first to admit that I’m fussy about the poetry I read. I want to experience something moving and powerful in a unique style. I want imagery, colour and movement. I want depth, and I want to be able to feel and hear the poet’s soul. It may be considered “old-school” by some, but I still want to find the music of rhythm and rhyme among the various techniques that a poet uses to deliver their ideas.
So, when I tell you that these are the poets you should be reading, please understand that this is not just a nod to people I like or who have pretty book covers. These people don’t just write poetry— they are poets, and they take their craft seriously. These poets can really take a reader beyond themselves, open a reader’s mind, and influence them so that they see things in a completely new way.
These Six 21st Century Poets You Should Be Reading are not listed in any order of preference. If you want to explore their work further, simply click on the cover of each book.
Author of ‘Sediments’.
Shanti’s poetry is rich and sensory, full of imagery that draws the reader into the emotion and wellsprings of the poet’s mind.
Drawing on mythological themes and elements of Biblical allegory, although it is by no means religious poetry, Shanti explores her place in time, relationships, and the universe through themes of belonging, human vulnerability, equality, and home. She is a master of contrast and balance, weighing sensitivity against images of those things that overwhelm, and confidence in belonging despite her humility, framed within a very real sense of awareness of the immeasurable breadth and depth of the universe.
Patrick Williams Author of ‘Lethal As Love’.
Patrick Williams’ poems are beautiful in the simplicity and honesty of the feelings they convey, even though the feelings they communicate are at times complex and conflicted. There is no pretence or affectation in Williams’ writing, nor is there any strict observance of rhythm, rhyme or other particular poetic techniques. Instead, he uses language and form to evoke a strong sense of love and longing that is almost tangible as he leads the reader on a journey through the highs and lows of the love he so powerfully communicates in these poems.
Some of this poetry is quite erotic, so it’s definitely only for an adult audience, but there’s nothing gratuitous or tawdry about it. One could learn quite a lot about how to love deeply and sensuously from reading ‘Lethal as Love’, but there is also a more sombre lesson to be heeded: nothing lasts forever. It is clear from ‘Lethal as Love’, though, that the pleasure and passion were definitely worth the pain.
Sarah Northwood Author of ‘The Truths We Tell’.
Sarah Northwood gives voice to thoughts and feelings commonly experienced, but often not so thoughtfully expressed, by people in all walks of life.
Northwood explores the ways in which we respond to the situations and feelings that challenge us and those things that fill and complete us. The reality of being haunted by regret and the “what ifs” of life is contrasted with the whimsy of fleeting happiness and the irresistible, transforming power of love.
Through all of this is the reminder that life is what it is: “Feeling the breeze on her cheek she knew, the wind can never be the sun.” (Unique)
Joseph Ferguson Author of ‘Reflections of a Scurvy Bastard’
Ferguson writes with a very strong sense of realism and a degree of world-weariness in his profound poems that work like snapshots of different events and memories. He has a gift for creating vivid images that transport the reader to another time and place, and making it seem absolutely real.
When Joseph Ferguson’s poetry is recognised as ‘classic’ and he is regaled world-wide as a master poet, it shall come as no surprise to me.
Shelby Leigh Author of ‘It Starts Like This’
Leigh’s poetry is thoughtful and often intense in its exploration of love, loss, anger, loneliness and grief, and is highly relatable for anyone who has experienced the breakdown of a relationship or been let down by someone they trusted.
Her poetry and expression are accessible and easily understood, and Leigh’s imagery is often quite stark and raw, but that is where her strengths as a poet lie.
Joanne Van Leerdam Author of ‘Leaf’, ‘Nova’, ‘Stained Glass’ and ‘The Passing Of The Night’.
Yes, that’s me, and those are my own books. Obviously, I write the type of poetry I want to read. Don’t take my word for it, though – I have compiled this description with quotations from different Amazon reviewers.
“Joanne Van Leerdam is a master poet who combines an old-worldly feel to her poetry with a modern flavor.”
“Joanne Van Leerdam’s poems are about the emotional fragility of human existence, about the brittleness of love and about living with love lost. She expresses both the sense of frailty and the strength of resilience in her reflections, as if a lonely survivor on a faraway island.”
“Many of her poems are conventional in structure, with a regular rhyme scheme, traditional yet so sensitive and vulnerable that they emerge as special, standing out like novae in the vast night sky.
Her poems don’t crash through the door, flourishing their creative uniqueness, but in a quiet voice Van Leerdam almost whispers to us to let her poems come in as she both exposes the emotional pains of life and provides comfort for them.”
I’d love to know if you are encouraged to try any of these poets’ works, and if you do, what you think of them. You’re always welcome to leave a comment on this, or any other, post.
National Poetry Month started as a national celebration in the US back in 1996 as an initiative of the Academy of American Poets but has become something that is celebrated more and more internationally, with not just publishers but bookstores, schools, libraries, and poets themselves joining in the celebrations. As you know, I’m a poet, so I’m absolutely in favour of all of that.
As the month progresses, I’ll be sharing some of my poems with a bit of context about why they were written and how I went about crafting my initial idea into a poem that delivered the message I wanted to put out there. I’ll also be sharing some of my favourite poems that I’ve loved for a long time, and introducing you to some new poets that you may not yet have heard of.
If you’re not into poetry, don’t worry – my blog posts won’t be exclusively poetry related. I hope to share some more insights about writing and social media for authors, too.
To encourage you to get involved in small ways, I have compiled a list of ten ways in which you can celebrate Poetry Month this April. Choose one, or choose all– it’s up to you.
Read a poem that is new to you.
Memorise a poem, or part of one.
Support a poet by following their blogs or websites. Follow my blogs – here and at WordyNerdBird Writes where you can read my new writing, including recent poems and one or two from each of my books.
Support a poet on social media by following and sharing their posts. I’ll be posting some more suggestions in the coming week about where you might like to start, but for now, my social media links are at the bottom of the post!
Support a poet by buying a book of poetry. I’ll be posting some suggestions in a day or two, but you can check out last year’s suggestions here! They’re all really good.
Participate in the Dear Poet project, even if just by enjoying the fantastic videos on the website.
Subscribe to Poem-A-Day, where you will receive a brand new poem and some insights from the poet each day.
Put the National Poetry Month poster image on your social media, website, notice board, shop window or anywhere else you think it might make a good impression.
Write your own poem for someone special.
Listen carefully to songs on the radio. You might be surprised how many of them are poetry set to music.
Using a bookmark to keep one’s place in a book when putting it down is common behaviour for readers.
Some, however, do not like to put the book down. It’s far more preferable to just keep on reading right to the end. I’ve been known to lose all track of time, and on more than one occasion I’ve forgotten to eat. It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t reading ‘War and Peace’ at the time.
When you don’t want to put your book down, here are nine great uses for a bookmark:
1. Mark a beautifully written sentence or passage.
2. Keep the place of a quote you want to use.
3. Save the location of a favourite event or conversation in the story.
4. Provide sensory pleasure by playing with the tassel while you read.
5. Fan yourself when the weather – or the story – warms up.
6. Shield your eyes from artificial lighting, or from the sun if you’re reading outdoors.
7. Swat at flies or mosquitoes that might be tempted to buzz or bite while you’re trying to read.
8. Lure someone — parent, sibling, best friend, or significant other, for example– into thinking you haven’t actually been reading all day when there were other things you were supposed to do, by tucking it about 20 pages previous to where you’re currently reading.
9. Hold it up as an unspoken barrier between yourself and anyone who might try to interrupt you. Pretend that it deflects any sound they might make, so that you can just keep on reading.
Horror as a genre is as varied as any other. While everyone raves about Stephen King and Ann Rice – and there’s no doubt, they are what horror writers would aspire to become – it doesn’t mean that anyone who writes differently, or in a less mainstream sub-genre, isn’t worth reading.
Over the past year or so, I’ve read some fabulous horror books and stories by women who were new to me at the time, but they have quickly become some of my favourites.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them before – I’m going to do you a favour and introduce them here. All you need to do to find their books is click on the author’s name.
Jane Jagois a multi-genre author whose novel ‘Who Put Her In?’ has a delicious, slow build and some finely crafted moments of horror. If you’re new to reading horror and unsure of how intense you want it to be, this book would be a great starting point.
D.J. Doyle writes horror stories that are often based in Celtic legend and religion.
Where to start: The Celtic Curse: Banshee
A. Drew is the author of The Dowling House, a story of haunting and possession.
Nikki Landiswrites both paranormal romance and horror. There’s even a little horror in her paranormal romance books, so it’s a win-win if you like both genres.
Where to start: Reaper’s Folly
Lots of people are talking today about New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t always set a lot of importance upon them, but at the beginning of this year I did make some resolutions.
Today, I thought I should revisit them and evaluate my “performance”.
#1. Get 500 followers on Twitter.
Check! I started the year on about 317. Today, I have just over 3100.
#2. Write a review for every book I read.
So, there were two books for which I did not leave a review. They were… how do I say this nicely? The reviews would not have been positive, nor would they have helped to sell any further books.
I did, however, email both authors with my responses and comments. Hopefully they made some changes, hired an editor, and improved the quality of their book.
Goodreads tells me that I read and reviewed 68 books, so that’s a fair effort!
I’m checking that one off, too.
#3. Develop my book blog.
This is something of which I am very proud. Book Squirrel has spent the year featuring books, authors, new releases, and book reviews. On December 15th, Book Squirrel announced the inaugural Golden Squirrel Awards for Indie books of excellence.
This is a definite check!
#4. Publish two more books.
Done! In fact, I added five (Five! How the heck did I manage that?) more books to my author’s shelf, two in a new genre for me, and two novellas in a wonderful collection of reinvented fairy tales. I also have two poems published in two different anthologies, one on forgiveness and one on fairy tales and folklore. Whew!
#5. Be nicer to people.
In all honesty, I’ve tried. I haven’t always succeeded. But when I wrote this on my note almost a year ago, I had no idea just how much grace or forbearance I was going to need in order to survive some of the treatment I’ve received this year, either.
I want to give this a check, but with a “work in progress” disclaimer.
All in all, I think I’ve done okay. Some of these will feed into my resolutions for 2018. I’ll be posting about those tomorrow!
If you have suggestions, or reflections on your own resolutions, I’d love for you to leave a comment below.