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Welcome to the second week of the online book club with poetry participation. laurasalas and I are taking turns hosting this conversation and poetry playtime. You can pop over to Laura's blog to read last week's conversation if you missed it.

I chose Chapter 7 from Writing the Life Poetic because I have always been fascinated by the original poem, 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (by Wallace Stevens) and the many variations it has spawned. I confess, I've wanted to do my own take on it but have been a bit too lazy.

These are very short chapters so if you haven't read this one yet, you have time to go read it and come back. Really. It's just a couple of pages long. I'll wait.

What stood out to me in this chapter is the phrase, "Writing poetry is discovering ways of looking." It's all about learning to be here, now, and in the moment during days when we are usually busy racing around trying to get more things done in less time. If you are going to look at something in 13 different ways you're going to stay with it for a while, long enough to slow down and get up close and personal. And while you're looking at whatever has captured your poetic mind, you may (and will likely) wander away from the original subject. And that's okay.

I think one of the reasons I love writing poetry is that the nature of it forces me to slow down and be more in the moment.

This chapter advises that when you want to write about a particular subject and you're feeling stuck that you can utilize one or more of the various ways of "looking" at the subject to jumpstart your poem. I won't list all the ways of looking. They're in the book. :)

I'm not going to try and use all 13 ways of looking that are listed in the book but I'm going to pick one and do a poem around it. I think I'll go with #2, which says, "If it moves, how does it move? In what direction? Using what energy source? Toward or away from what? If it doesn't move, describe the quality of its stillness."

I'll leave my poem in the comments (as soon as I write it.) I hope you'll play along. You can do the same exercise I'm doing, or if you have the book, feel free to pick a different way of looking at your subject.

This is just rough draft play time. No need to stress over this. Have fun!

If you want to be prepared for next week, Laura will be doing chapter 9.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


March 30th, 2011 11:59 pm (UTC)
10 ways of looking at my cat, Spike:

Someone's been splattering orange paint on that cat.
Hiss, bap, she runs off her ex.
Cat snuggles, kneads, purrs, when I move, growls.
Cat sneaks through weeds, wild turkey face to face. Streak!
Cat rolls, sweetly purring, on her back. I'm not sucker enough to pat that belly.
A spike of orange down a black face.
Cat stalks over to the dog and cleans its ears.
One ear is clipped because cat was supposed to stay feral.
Calico cat batting a blue ball around the deck. Dog watching, panting.
Catitude: green eyes glaring.
So many mice, so little time.
Calico cat controlling the dog food bowl.
Black tail sticking up in the weeds as the queen progresses around the kingdom.

I'm not sure any of them work.

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
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