I met poet Joy Acey Frelinger in 2011 when she attended my Highlights Foundation poetry workshop near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Joy, Jeanne Poland, Ken Slesarik, and Cory Corrado were in the same group and I love it that we’ve all stayed in regular contact over these last eight years. That’s Ken and Joy (in red) in the picture.
Yesterday Joy sent me a note about my contribution to Jane Yolen’s new form, which she has dubbed the Tendrillon. Here’s Joy’s note/suggestion.
“I like your reply poem to Jane’s challenge BUT your ending couplet didn’t make much sense to me. I’d like to suggest for the last line:
I’ll drink martinis, very dry.”
And here’s my response.
“Thanks for the suggested revision. I meant my tongue in cheek ending to smack of irony: after over imbibing on wine for so long, my speaker decides to turn to vodka until he gets all that vine out of his system. Your suggestion changes my meaning but is a clearer solution. I’ll mention this on my blog.”
Sometimes when a writer dashes off a line to reflect his meaning, the result isn’t as clear to his reader as it seems in his mind because he knows what he means to convey and the reader has to be told. This may be a good example of it. The floor is open if you care to add your own thoughts to this example or perhaps to speak in general on the subject of clarity of expression. Thanks, Joy, for creating the teaching/learning moment.
Happy September 1st! Four months to go, which means, among numerous other things, four more word of the month challenges in 2017. I hope you’ll join me every month to make the most of these opportunities to stretch our own imaginations as we watch other poets stretch theirs.
Now that I think about it, I suggest STRETCH as our word for September. How’s that suit you?
On another subject, I heard yesterday from Joy Acey. She, Jeanne Poland, and Cory Corrado are enjoying Eileen Spinelli’s poetry retreat at the Barn in Honesdale. I first met all three at my first workshop there in 2011. I’m glad we’ve all remained in touch and those three worthy poets continue to journey to Pennsylvania now and then to refresh, reflect, and write.
BULLETIN: I’m happy to announce that Jeanne Poland (New York) and Rosi Hollinbeck (California) are the first two to register for the workshop in August. Welcome back, Jeanne! Welcome for the first time, Rosi!
It’s now official that I’m conducting a poetry workshop at The Barn near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, August 21-24. Here’s the link. https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/workshops/how-do-poets-get-published-learning-what-it-takes-2016
Please check it out and pass the word. I agreed to take 15-17 people and would like to see the session filled as early as possible so I’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted with the poets who plan to participate.
My thanks to those poets who have attended my previous workshops for sharing their thoughts and making suggestions for the kind of event that will help the most. As a result I’ve introduced some new approaches and look forward to putting them into action.
Here’s an introduction that will be sent out before long. I thought I’d share it with you in advance.
What Rhymes with Trombone?
My music teacher, Mr. Chester Moffatt, didn’t teach me to play the trombone; he showed me how. I learned to play it by practicing what he told me to do. First he showed me how to play the whole note f in bass clef. I practiced it 100 times each day until I learned it. There are seven letters in the musical alphabet and I learned them all the same way. Once I could handle the tools of the trade I was amazed by the endless combinations that became possible. The more Mr. Moffatt showed me how, the longer I practiced. By the time I was practicing up to 4 hours a night, I was first chair in high school band and orchestra, and Missouri All-State orchestra, and the Springfield symphony, and had two dozen students of my own. I started every one of them by showing how to play the whole note f in bass clef.
Learning to write poetry works the same way. No one can teach us to write a poem. They can show us how but we must do the learning by doing. He who would write free verse should learn to write verse. She who would write couplets should learn to write limericks, ballads, and villanelles. The more tools of the trade we master, the closer we come to writing a poem that brings together what we have learned with what we feel and have a passionate need to express. I think of poetry workshops as “Mr. Moffatt” for poets. As your teacher, I’ll show you how. As the writer, you’ll learn by doing. I hope to see you soon. You won’t need a trombone. A pencil works fine.