The Poet’s Insights: ‘The Artist’

The poet tells the story behind her poem, ‘The Artist’.

Advertisements

‘The Artist’ is one of my favourite poems from ‘Leaf’, my first published book of poetry.

 

2016-07-16-15-09-161.jpg
The inspiration for this poem came from my long-time friend Nicky, who is an gifted artist.
Nicky was one of the people who really pushed me to pursue publication of my poetry. She is an infinite source of encouragement and support, but more than that, she is a loyal and constant friend and confidant.

I should preface this story by pointing out that I’ve never been good at drawing or painting. My grandfather was an artist. My sister once painted a brilliant life-size portrait of Charlie Chaplin that covered her bedroom door for years. My mother could draw animals, people, and groovy designs with a ball point pen and make them look fantastic.

And then, there’s me. The only thing I can draw is cash from an ATM, and the occasional stick figure.

One day, Nicky showed me one of her beautiful paintings, which she had just completed. I gazed at it for a while, and sighed,”I wished I could do that.”

The Artists Plain

Without missing a beat, she replied, “You do. You just do it with words.”

That came as a real revelation to me. At that point in my life, I just wrote poetry for myself, and shared the ones I liked with a couple of friends. I didn’t really consider myself a poet as such, nor did I think I’d ever be published.

With those words, she inspired this poem.

The Artist.

ScreenHunter_439 Apr. 11 11.03

As a poem, I believe it hass integrity. It feels and sounds good when reading it aloud, and the rhythm works well with the ideas of making brush strokes and splashing a bit of paint around. At the end, it’s a reflection of that moment when the artist stands back and is surprised by what she finds on the easel in front of her.

The artist in the poem is definitely me. Like the artworks in the poem, some of my writing is vivid and colourful, while other pieces are dark and tear-smudged. Even a poem that appears to be fictional, like ‘Misery’ – which has been included in a fairy tale anthology! – is deeply rooted in my own reality.

I have very great affection for ‘The Artist’ for the truth it tells about my own experience as a poet, but I also love the fact that it will always be about my friendship with Nicky, too. Without her inspiration and encouragement, I might still just have a bunch of notebooks full of poems that nobody else would ever read.

Leaf 2nd Ed eBook Cover 6x9 350ppi

I first told ‘The Artist’s story when Nicky spoke at my book launch for ‘Leaf’ in June, 2016. Completely unaware of the story behind the poem or the fact that she had inspired it, Nicky chose ‘The Artist’ as the poem she would like to read to the guests. When she finished her reading and speech, I followed with the account of the poem’s inspiration. It was a beautiful moment in time that highlighted the wonderful thing that we share in our friendship.

 

Joey'sMapleLeafTatt

I hope you enjoyed ‘The Artist’ and the story behind it. If you appreciated this post, please click “like” below so that others find it more easily. You’re also welcome to leave a comment.
Thank you in advance.

 

Beowulf: A Marvellous Story, Magnificently Told.

Beowulf, a centuries-old epic poem, is a marvellous story, magnificently told.

Beowulf is the oldest poem that we have in an English language. It is a medieval Anglo-Saxon epic poem that tells of the adventures of the hero, a great warrior named Beowulf, who crossed the sea from Sweden and helped the Danes fight the monster Grendel. ‘Beowulf’ is based on an early Germanic tale that relates events which would have happened after the fall of the Roman Empire and before these tribes moved into Britain. It celebrates a culture that glorifies strength, courage, and heroic achievements. These stories were told in verse by poet-singers called scops as a popular form of entertainment.

imagesAfter being passed down as an oral tradition for centuries, Beowulf was written down somewhere between the eighth and tenth centuries in Old English, the language that the Anglo-Saxons spoke in Britain. We don’t know who wrote it, or exactly when or where it was written down, or if the characters in the poem really existed. The single manuscript that still exists was written in two different people’s handwriting. The poem could be one traditional tale, or a combination of a number of folk tales into one great story. There was a Swedish king named Hygelac who died in 521AD, so it is possible that some or all of the characters were based on real people.

Old English is very different to modern English, so the poem has been translated into modern English so that we can still read and understand the poem today.

Perhaps the most distinctive poetic device in Old English poetry is the kenning. A kenning is a short, metaphorical term which describes a thing without using its name. In ‘Beowulf’, the king is referred to as a “ring-giver”, while Beowulf himself is called “Higlac’s follower”. My favourite from ‘Beowulf’ is “whale-road” as a description for the sea– isn’t that magnificent? While we are still very fond of metaphor, I think it’s a shame we don’t make more use of the kenning. Old English poetry was also characterised by strong rhythm and frequent alliteration. This would have helped the scops learn and remember the tale as an oral tradition, and added a musical element to the recitation, as well as making the story pleasant to listen to for the audience.

Beowulf_Manuscript

Modern translations follow the convention of making frequent and consistent use of both kennings and alliteration. This adds a wonderful sensory element to reading the story of Beowulf, which even today is a thrilling read. It delivers elements of adventure, history, heroism, and macabre storytelling.

The poem is way too long to include in this post, but you can find Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, as a safe-to-download PDF at Scribd.
(Note: you do not have to subscribe or accept any trial memberships to get this file.)

There is also a wonderful reading of the poem in contemporary English on Youtube.

Joey'sMapleLeafTatt

Did you enjoy this post? Please help make it more visible to others by clicking “like” below.

Lyrics and Poetry: what’s the difference?

Many people don’t realise where the term “lyrics” came from.

In my first post related to National Poetry Month, I issued this challenge: “Listen carefully to songs on the radio. You might be surprised how many of them are poetry set to music. ”

Many people don’t realise that’s where the term “lyrics” came from.

A lyric poem is one that focuses on the feelings and thoughts of the poet, rather than describing something (an ode) or telling a story (a ballad). These poems were often set to music, especially that of a lyre – this is where the term “lyrics” for the words of a song came from. So when people talk about the lyrics of a song, it’s a throwback to the origins of the love song in popular poetry, centuries ago.

That’s the sort of poetic wordy-nerdy-ness that makes me ridiculously happy.

One of the most famous lyric poems in the English language is Wordsworth’s poem that is commonly, and somewhat affectionately, called Daffodils – even though that’s not actually its title. It gets quoted – and misquoted – a lot in films, TV shows and books.

Daffodils.jpg

It’s a beautiful poem that transports the reader’s vision to the field of daffodils, but also transports their thoughts into the reader’s mind to explore how the flowers made him think and feel.

As with all older poems, there are some words in it that don’t really get used much anymore:

  • Jocund means joyful or cheerful.
  • Gay – in the context of this poem – means happy.
    (To clarify further, daffodils are, like most things in the plant kingdom, completely uninterested in one’s sexuality. I like to think that this is probably why they’re happier than many people.)
  • Pensive means thoughtful.

Now that those tricky words are sorted, you should be able to make perfect sense of this beautiful poem.

‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

If you’d like to hear a magnificent reading of this poem, I suggest you try the recording by English actress Noma Dumazweni.  The reading by Jeremy Irons is quite nice, too.

 

If you appreciated this post, please click like just below. It really does help to make my blog more visible to other potential readers. Thanks in advance.

 

One Poet’s Approach to Writing Poetry

Today, I’d like to share with you my own approach to writing poetry.

If you’re not really a poetry reader, it may reassure you to know that it’s not always super-formal language and words that are hard to understand.  Sometimes it is- especially if you’re approaching poetry written a hundred  or more  years ago. In my mind, though, making it so elegant and clever that people are resistant to it or almost afraid of it really defeats the purpose. I want the reader to connect with what I’m saying, not feel like I’m some self-important hyper-intellectual with an overactive sense of rhyme.

 

npm_2018_poster-e1520635983486

It’s also helpful to understand that there are different types of poetry. Some types, like sonnets, are formal in structure and rhyme pattern, and a poet really has to stick to those rules.  Haiku is said to be one of the most popular types of poetry in the world at the moment, and while it seems quite simple, it still has formal rules that have to be followed. Other types, like free verse, is much more liberated and often easier to understand because those same rules don’t apply.

Some people these days insist that poems shouldn’t rhyme at all – to that, I say– possibly rather loudly and perhaps quite rudely – “Poppycock!”. There is nothing wrong with using rhyme, or any other tool in the poet’s toolbox, as long as meaning is not sacrificed for the sake of making that device work. I write poetry that rhymes, but I also write poetry that doesn’t.

I don’t aim for things to sound pretty and sing-song, or to rhyme neatly, but I do try to use language that sounds beautiful when its read. The important thing is to choose words, and language styles and poetic techniques that suit my subject and deliver the meaning the way I want it to be understood.

I aim for my ideas and feelings to be communicated in a way that makes someone stop and think, and maybe see something or someone in a new way.

Sometimes my writing helps me – and other people – make sense of what’s going on in my head or in my life. It’s the best therapy, because I get to explore and deal with my thoughts and feelings as I work with the ideas, and I always have an outlet to say what’s on my heart and mind.

And sometimes I write poems because it’s the only way I can find to say what other people are afraid to say. I’m happy to provide a voice for others, and I’m always keen to have my readers see situations or experiences from different perspectives.

Let me give you an example. One of my favourite poems among those I’ve written is the one titled ‘Nocturne’. Try reading it aloud, not worrying about the rhythm but just letting the language carry you along.

promo nova nocturne poem

When reading it, you’ll see that it rhymes,  and the lines are of similar length when read aloud. This enabled me to achieve a musical type of rhythm in the words, which suits the idea of a nocturne, given that that’s the name of a piece of music written to be played or listened to at night – which is also when the poem is also set at night, for which the idea of a nocturne is also really appropriate. Despite all of that, it’s still quite plain in its meaning.

I’d love to know what you think of it, so feel free to leave a comment below.

You’re also welcome to jump over to WordyNerdBird Writes and read some of my other poems and stories.

April is National — or, more correctly, International Poetry Month.

Poetry Month is a great opportunity to enjoy great poetry.

npm_2018_poster-e1520635983486

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.

  1. Read a poem that is new to you.
  2. Memorise a poem, or part of one.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. Participate in the Dear Poet project, even if just by enjoying the fantastic videos on the website.
  7. Subscribe to Poem-A-Day, where you will receive a brand new poem  and some insights from the poet each day.
  8. 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.
  9. Write your own poem for someone special.
  10. Listen carefully to songs on the radio. You might be surprised how many of them are poetry set to music.

 

Follow me on
FACEBOOK |TWITTER |INSTAGRAM | GOOGLE+TUMBLR | GOODREADS | WEBSITE

Aftermath.

Today, driving to and from work, I saw the devastation with my own eyes, and my mind took a snapshot that developed into a poem. 

Yesterday I wrote about the fires that had burned around my town on the weekend.

Today, driving to and from work, I saw the devastation with my own eyes, and my mind took a snapshot that developed into a poem.

It’s titled Aftermath and I’d love for you to read it.

Promo Y Aftermath 2018-03-20 17.17.03

 

I took some actual photos, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Deliciously Dark October!

A deliciously dark October is coming your way!

#spooktober #reading

It’s the end of September… which, of course, means writers are preparing to unleash all sorts of deliciously grim and spooky reads on the reading world next month.

I’m playing my part in that for the first time this year. I’ve never really considered writing horror before now, but I’ve certainly written some dark poetry in my time.

The Silver Feather Titled 6x9 Low Res

So I’m branching out with a new creepy short story/novelette  titled ‘The Silver Feather‘ that will appeal to all lovers of horror, Gothic literature and everything Friday the 13th and Halloween.  It’s not specific to those particular days, though, so readers can enjoy it all year.

 

I’ve also got some dark/grim poems lined up for WordyNerdBird Writes during October.

 

Make sure you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – or all three! – as well as WordPress so that you don’t miss these posts!

Seasonal decorations in St Armand, Quebec, October 2015.

The Passing Of The Night 

Most of my poems reflect some element of my own life in an honest and hopefully creative way.
I want people to understand that life is full of challenges and trials as well as moments of victory and celebration. I want people experiencing those trials and challenges to know they are not alone, and that someone else knows what it’s like to go through that.

The Passing Of The NightPoetry isn’t always whimsy and romance. In fact, my poetry is only ever infrequently either of those things. 

Most of my poems reflect some element of my own life in an honest and hopefully creative way. I want people to understand that life is full of challenges and trials as well as moments of victory and celebration. I want people experiencing those trials and challenges to know they are not alone, and that someone else knows what it’s like to go through those things. 

The Passing Of The Night is a new collection of my poems that reflects those truths honestly and, I hope, in beautiful language through varied and interesting imagery. It’s true that there is a piece of my soul on every page. 

People experience all kinds of night: loneliness, grief, depression, anxiety, fear, pain, and countless other darknesses. 

This newly released collection of profound lyrical poems explores the poet’s own experiences and observations of both dark and light, revealing her determination to not only survive, but to conquer whatever tries to overcome her. 

At the end of it all, the poet demonstrates that the smallest sign of light is enough to help a wandering soul find hope in the passing of the night. 

The Passing Of The Night is available on Amazon and all other major digital stores.

National Poetry Month.

Since 1996, April has been a month of celebration of poetry, which also means a celebration of great poets.

I’m all for that.

National Poetry Month 2Since 1996, April has been a month of celebration of poetry, which also means a celebration of great poets.

I’m all for that.

Many people haven’t read any poetry since they were in school. I’d really like to see that change.  There are some beautiful classic poems out there, but there are also some fabulous poets writing magnificent poetry these days, too.

The real power of poetry is the ability to read something and understand someone else’s perspective in a beautiful, profound way. I can read something someone has written from the depths of their heart, and relate to it and know that I’m not the only person who ever feels that way. I write in the hope that someone will read my poetry and have that same experience.

Who of us hasn’t been moved by the powerful words in a song? And what’s a song except poetry that has been given music?

I encourage you to pick up some poetry and read it today. There’s plenty to choose from on my WordyNerdBird Writes blog, which you can read for free.

Or you could pick up one of these great books by clicking on the title link. There’s nothing priced over $3 for the eBook among them. That’s less than a cup of coffee each… bargain!

promo nova cover                    leaf cover image

Nova                                                  Leaf

Promo Stained Glass Cover                         Lyra Shanti Sediments

Stained Glass                                   Sediments

Denise Dianaty The Dance Plays On                    Kevin Cowdall Assorted Bric-a-Brac

The Dance Plays On                  Assorted Bric-a-brac

Shelby Leigh It Starts Like This

It Starts Like This

Stained Glass

Promo Stained Glass Cover

I’ve just released an eBook titled ‘Stained Glass’.

‘Stained Glass’ is a collection of 22 poems for and
about women, by a woman who is striving to live,
love, work and make sense of the world she lives in.

‘Stained Glass’ is poetry that reflects the light and shade of life, and all the colours in between.

The poems celebrate the strength and extraordinary resilience of women through the exploration of diverse issues, including love, loss, social expectations, self-awareness and personal integrity.
In rare moments the glass is rose-coloured; elsewhere, the window is astonishingly clear.
There are 7 brand new poems in this collection.
Some of these poems – roughly one-third – are in ‘Leaf’, and others – another third – are in ‘Nova’.
‘Stained Glass’ will be permanently priced at 99c, and is available on AmazoniBookskobo and other digital stores.