Please sign my guest book

Hi everyone,

I have a favor to ask. If you haven’t signed my guest book, I would love to have you add your name. I don’t know how many visitors to my blog think to check out my website but I’m pretty proud of the job that Kathy Temean did to create it.

Here’s the link you need. http://www.davidlharrison.com Once you’re there, click on GUEST BOOK and leave a note. It’s easy.

Don’t forget that time is running out for posting your poem this month. I’ll cut off submissions at noon CST on July 25.

I’m glad you are enjoying the Featured Guest spots so far of the poets who attended my workshop in Honesdale last month. My thanks to Jeanne Poland, Joy Acey, and Ken Slesarik. We still have five to go so stay tuned.

David

Ken Slesarik tomorrow

Hi everyone,

Many of you are already fans and friends of my Featured Guest, Ken Slesarik. When he’s not teaching, you can often find him writing poetry for young people. His poems have been used in fundraisers, cookbooks, and school functions. Once in a while Ken performs at a coffee shop or bookstore, and his principal also turns to him to do mini-workshps on poetry and creative writing. He’s an active member of SCBWI and belongs to two critique groups. He’s at work on a humorous collection of desert wildlife poems as well as a collection of Yeti-Big Foot poems.

I’ve featured Ken twice before. It was a pleasure to have him join our Founders poetry workshop in Honesdale last month to meet in person. His post from July 2010 attracted a lot of comments from readers so I’m reposting that article today. Tomorrow you’ll read his latest remarks. Now, here’s Ken.

Why I Write Poetry
July 7, 2010
By Ken Slesarik

It was the day after my 40th birthday and what should have been a peaceful transition into middle age for me began a five month ordeal. I woke just after 6am with a tremendous pain and ringing in my left ear. Scared and confused I did what most grown men would have done and called my mother. Mom suggested I take something for the pain and get myself to the emergency room.

After an almost seven hour wait the doctor examined my ear, said the drum was completely shattered and asked if I listen to extremely loud music or have been on the receiving end of any blows to the ear. I explained that I went to bed in slight discomfort and woke in extreme pain. Leaving the hospital I was optimistic. With prescriptions for pain and infection in hand I promptly scheduled a follow up visit with a specialist.

The medications I took faithfully and it’s true much of the pain was gone but there was one thing that the meds couldn’t touch. Have you ever heard the sweet sound of a teapot whistling? It’s quite pleasant for about the first twenty minutes. You see, I had a constant, often loud ringing in my ear, never ceasing, twenty four hours of every day, every moment, and every second.

Within a week of my emergency room visit I noticed a slight pimple on the left side of my face, near my ear. In a few short hours it grew to the size of a small egg and protruded from my face. This resulted in another hospital visit where the doctor enquired if I had been taking my antibiotic as prescribed.

The next four months were the worst in my life as several new and reoccurring infections popped up in various places on my body and gradually the pain meds did not work as well. It seemed as if I was on an endless cycle of doctor visits and stronger antibiotics. as the doctors agreed that they could not even think about reconstructing my eardrum until the infections were under control.

I became depressed; sleep deprived, and lost weight. For the first time in my life I could empathize with the person who might consider taking their own life. Before this time I would think such a person was weak and if I wasn’t raising a son who had already lost his mother to suicide I would have seriously considered that option.

The ringing was simply dreadful and I was slowly losing hope as I tried to function in my new job as a special education teacher. Most of my sixth grade students had behavior issues to begin with and took full advantage of the fact that I could not hear out of my left side. It was pure torture.

After a few months my mother came down from San Diego to care for me and I would often cry, curse or lose my temper. I remember being constantly agitated and looking for a fight.

The thing that transpired next literally changed my life. During a particularly painful weekend of anger and self pity my sister handed me some paper and a pen and asked me to write a poem about our dad as I would occasionally write family poems and other silly rhymes before my ear woes.

After snapping at her I decided to try. The next forty minutes went by fast as I wrote three of the most crappy poems you can imagine as well as several short rhymes. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I realized I had been so engrossed in the creative process that I was completely detached from the ringing, that awful, awful ringing. I remember thanking God as it was truly a beautiful moment and a short reprieve in over four months of suffering and chaos. It gave me hope, something to cling to and a little joy amongst the pain.

Within days of this one of the specialists recommended more tests and blood work and a few days later I got the call with my results. It seemed I had contracted an extremely rare staph infection quite likely during my first ER visit. This infection was fast spreading and non-responsive to any known antibiotics but it did respond to one type of medication. So I took that round of meds, all the infections went away and they reconstructed my eardrum with skin from my canal.

It’s been over four years since that defining moment and the best I can describe it is that my brain associates so much pleasure and the absence of pain to writing rhyming poetry. I set a goal that weekend to always improve, write at least one respectable poem a week and at least one a month that would make Shel Silverstein proud.

Ted
By K. Thomas Slesarik

Ted the cannibalistic tick
is not so good at arithmetic.
He eats those ticks, yes quite a few,
then loses count before he’s through.
It’s so uncouth to eat your kind,
but don’t tell Ted, he doesn’t mind.
Dear Ted, my pleading don’t ignore,
it’s fine to be a carnivore
but this advice it should suffice,
learn to count and switch to lice.

Thanks, Ken.
David

Joy Acey tomorrow

ANNOUNCEMENT: Yesterday morning I did a one-hour Skype session with students in School #24 in Paterson, New Jersey. I’ve been working with three schools in that district to enhance literacy levels through poetry and this is the first of three planned follow-up Skype sessions to my personal visits there this past December. Sitting still in front of my computer for an hour while presenting ideas and answering questions is a bit of a challenge, but I think we made it through in good shape and the kids were delightful. If any of you students, librarian Dorothy Natale, or teachers, Warchol, Caraballo, or Perez are reading this, let me know how you think it went.

Hi everyone,

Joy Acey was a member of my Highlights Foundation poetry workshop in June. I knew Joy from a previous session at Chautauqua in New York so I was glad to see that Joy was coming to Honesdale. Recently you met another member of our group, Jeanne Poland, and tomorrow you’ll hear from Joy. Next up, Ken Slesarik. For now, here’s a bio provided by Joy.

JOY ACEY, The Princess of Poetry, has consistently won prizes for her poetry from the North Carolina Poetry Society and the Poetry Council of North Carolina. She’s published in Footsteps, Main Street Rag, New Review, Kaleidoscope, Urban Hiker, Bay Leaves, Award Winning Poems, Pockets, Ladies Home Journal, Poets for Peace Anthology, Always on Friday and Kids News. She has sold poems to Highlights for Children, High Five. She was on the TV game show Joker’s Wild and won enough to pay for a trip to Australia. She has lived in England and Japan. She has walked across a volcano in Hawaii and a glacier in New Zealand. She has gone swimming with iguanas in the Galapagos and was in Ecuador during a recent revolution. She was a performance artist with the Durham Arts Council, Creative Arts in the Public/Private Schools. She teaches workshops in poetry for people of all ages and abilities. She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband, and a Welsh Springer Spaniel named Spot. She has two grown sons.

Jeanne Poland today

Hi everyone,

When I taught a Highlights Founders poetry workshop recently in Honesdale, I was impressed by the eight poets who attended and worked in harmony and good humor during some long days. I decided to feature each of them in turn, assuming they would agree to being featured. I thought you might enjoy meeting them and hearing from writers who are attending workshops to learn more about their chosen genre and work on their craft.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Jeanne Poland, the first poet to respond to a list of questions I proposed. Jeanne has an interesting background, which you’ll learn about from her responses.  You can also learn more by visiting her website: www.quicksilverpartners.com

Jeanne volunteered to put together an e-book of all eight poets and their work during our time together. She says that she will be ready soon to share her handiwork. I’ve seen it in progress and am impressed. One of the group dubbed themselves “The Energizing Eight.” Another was kind enough to add me as the 9th. So we’re either “The Energizing Nine” or “The Energizing Eight + One.”

JEANNE, HOW AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A POET?

I knew I was a poet when, as an infant, I smiled.
And then I cooooooed.
I heard the cadence, its song of belonging.
And I knew my voice could soothe.
My language brought me home.

“We’ll rock on the water
I’ll cradle you deep
And hold you while angels
Sing you to sleep”
(Chris Williamson)

DESCRIBE YOUR JOURNEY AS A WRITER.

In Catholic Parochial School, writing was premium. I excelled. Creative Juices flowed and won me a scholarship to High School and later to College. As a Catholic nun, I sang acapella and read and wrote in French. Melodies move me and I have honed the skill of using them to motivate others. Whether calligraphy or language, writing transfixes me. Meanwhile, the experience ages me like a fine wine.

WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE AFRAID OF WRITING POETRY?

They have an image problem. Medieval poets were poor and powerless. It still remains to be seen if the Information Technology Age will be kind to poets aka wandering minstrels. Perhaps rappers are the new poets.

HOW CAN AN EMERGING POET GAIN EXPERIENCE AND CONFIDENCE WHEN IT’S SO HARD TO FIND PUBLISHERS OF POETRY?

They need older muses, small intimate critique groups, and kindly attention.
Contemporary poets should try the novelty market, the TV market and the lyrics market. Wordsmiths are needed in the signage markets too.

5 WHICH DO YOU THINK IS EASIER TO WRITE, VERSE OR FREE VERSE?

That distinction depends on the message and the sound.

WHY POETRY? WHY NOT STICK WITH FICTION OR NONFICTION? WHAT ATTRACTS SOME PEOPLE TO WRITE POETRY?

Poetry can be put to music. Prose has a pace and rhythm already.

HOW MUCH DOES A CHILDREN’S POET NEED TO LEARN ABOUT THE GROUND RULES OF POETRY?

As much as a knitter needs to be fluent in “Knit” and “Pearl” patterns and the anatomy and function of the needles.

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT CHILDREN’S POETRY IS IMPORTANT?

It facilitates oral history,
enriches tradition,
creates a liturgy,
soothes the savage beast,
encourages folklore,
and otherwise cultivates humans.
Finally, it speaks to the Gods!
“Be like a child to enter the Kingdom”
“Bring the little ones to me”
“Love them as much as yourself”

Thank you, Jeanne. And thanks for going first! Joy Acey is up next.

David