Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On the Eve of OctPoWriMo 2014: Write Poetry & Be Swept Up in Gratitude

On the eve of OctPoWriMo2014, I sat in a Denny’s restaurant, reading from The Best American Poetry 2014.  It is a carefully curated volume of poetry, each poem within a masterpiece among masterpieces.

It was later than I hoped it would be but the evening had run long and I had laughed and cried and sketched and written on-and-off throughout the day as I watched my grandson and fussed over my daughter and marveled at my son’s growing independence.

Finally, I sat down and read a poem of Erin Belieu, “With Birds.”

I have never heard of Ms. Belieu but reading her poem I immediately I felt kinship with her. She and I share interests, we share passion and I imagine as I come to know more of her words I will discover more synchronicity.

Immediately I felt swept up in gratitude.

This is one of the things the experience of poetry has become for me: a gleaning of gratitude for other poets from now and from the past, especially the ones as honored and revered as the ones in this collection I have now devoted to be my companion throughout OctPoWriMo2014.

That’s a big part of OctPoWriMo, afterall: companionship.

We choose to write 31 poems in 31 days. 

We commit to the artform and to one another throughout the month. 

We celebrate each stanza written.

We choose whether or not we continue and I like to think we celebrate both sides of that spectrum - that victory is not in writing daily or even completing 31 poems. The poetry victory is simply in showing up at the page with the poetry when you can with the intention of being present however that ends up looking to you when we sit here, a month from now, on the eve of November.

Maybe then it will be your turn to sit at Denny’s and be swept up in gratitude.

Let’s devote ourselves right now to love one another’s words, heart and especially one another’s showing up.

Some of us will blog and tweet and facebook and some of us will scribble in our notebook away from prying eyes and it is up to each and all of us to be with the each and all of the others.

Even in writing these words I am swept up in gratitude again.

It is the eve of OctPoWriMo2013. 

I am so grateful we are both-we are all - here.

-- Julie Jordan Scott

Monday, September 29, 2014

At the Starting Line

Image by Peter Griffin via publicdomainpictures.net

It's almost here! Are you ready? What kind of preparations have you been doing to get yourself ready for OctPoWriMo?

I could hardly contain my excitement Saturday when I came across a new journal-type book on the bargain aisles at Barnes and Noble. This wasn't just a blank journal, but rather one complete with writing prompts! It's always fun to find new prompts to spark ideas for poems or stories. I also love the daily discipline of writing morning pages (see Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way).

In preparation for sharing new prompts with you, I've delved back into a prompt I picked up several years ago while observing a 7th grade language arts class. The teacher had given the students a homework assignment the previous day and they were sharing their findings. The assignment was to make a list of where poetry hides. This prompt never fails to lead me to new hiding places for poetry (and poetry prompts).

In the remaining days until we get started with OctPoWriMo, I want to challenge you to begin keeping your own list of where poetry hides. This is a great way to spark ideas for new poems and will give you somewhere to turn if (when?) you feel blocked.

Best of luck as we begin this challenge on Wednesday! There's ONE more inspiration post tomorrow, then we'll be off and running! Have fun!

~ Amy McGrath

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Spoken Word Poetry

Spoken word or a slam is the performance end of poetry. This is when a person uses not just the words, but his facial expressions, the very sound of her voice to reinforce the impact of the words. For the timid, this form of poetry may seem to be a bit overwhelming.

When I initially found out about spoken word, I was a teenager living in Fairmont, WV. I had no idea what it entailed, or what it all meant. I just know it seemed incredibly intriguing. It pulled me in, but I didn't think I could do it. I watched the movie Slam starring Saul Williams

I watched Russel Simmon's Def Poets, which was a show that aired on HBO. Hosted by hip hop artist, Mos Def, it felt so raw and urban. And beautiful. I enjoyed it, but I didn't think I would be able to emulate it.

It was during college that I started actually experimenting and trying out spoken word. I'm still quite intimidated by the stage, but it's made my poetry so much richer. Don't be intimidated by reading your poetry out loud and trying spoken word.

If you would be interested in trying spoken word yourself, then here is a video I found that could help you on your way.

Thanks for reading!

Count Down: 2 Days until OctPoWriMo! Are you ready?!

Tamara Woods was raised (fairly happily) in West Virginia, where she began writing poetry at the age of 12. She shares poetry and short stories on her blog PenPaperPad, is a contributing writer for the online ‘zineLefty Pop and writes articles as a full-time freelance writer. She is editor for an upcoming poetry journal collaboration, and hosts #writestuff TweetChat where writers talk about writing. She is a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathmagician.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poetry - Your Muse - And Dance

"Dance came first, the words came later. It was dance that freed my words, freed my soul." ~MDragonwillow

You knew that I would be talking about this, I talk about it every year - at least once. My Muse is just happier with music and dance and gets my poetry flowing!

If you have hopped over to my blog recently you know that I have been making a lot of changes. I am finally claiming my dancing self, completely.

I.am.              The Dancing Muse.              

There I said it.

Dance is an integral part of my writing and poetry process. Today I am going to share some of my favorite music mixes on YouTube that I write and dance to. They inspire me. I can't be still when I am listening to them, even when I'm writing I'll stand at my writing station and bounce, bop, tap, and sway to the music.  No it isn't a desk, it's a rolling kitchen island I have in the dining room because I often would rather stand than sit, though I have a bar stool for when my feet say they've had enough.

Even if I am sitting on the couch typing, as I am now, my feet are moving on the footstool while I rock my shoulders back and forth as I type. The music dances in my blood and my body and fingers (typing) get pulled along.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, that you find yourself up and moving to the music, and then pulled to the page to download the words that are hopping to come out. Even if you detest my music, I hope you find yourself either going through your own music or checking out different mixes on YouTube for you to dance and write your poetry to.

Dance, write, repeat! My Muse loves it!

This is "2 Hours of Celtic Music" and no I don't dance for two hours (though there have been days that I have danced more than two hours over the course of a day) but I often have it playing in the background as I type.


And this is when I really need to stir things up, James Asher - Tigers of the Raj (full album)

I recently (sometime in the last few months) discovered Epic Music Mixes on Youtube and this is one of my favorites. 2-Hours Epic Music Mix | The Power of Epic Music - Full Mix Vol. 2

Hope you have fun listening, dancing, and writing!

Count Down: 3 Days until OctPoWriMo!

Time is going by quickly, are you ready for this poetry challenge, will you be sharing your poetry on your blog? Make sure if you are on Twitter that you share your poem posts with the hashtag #OctPoWriMo so that other participants can find you. You can also share and chat with us on Facebook in our Writing Poetry Group.

Morgan DragonwillowWriting rebel, stress relief explorer, recovering perfectionist, cooking as therapy, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of #OctPoWriMo, and you can find her at, A Poet's Kitchen, cooking up simply delicious meals. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can find her on Google+


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Friday, September 26, 2014

How Do You Do That?

In just FOUR days, we will begin OctPoWriMo 2014! The team here will be posting daily prompts (completely optional, of course!) to help spark ideas. So what do you do once you read the daily prompt? Some of the questions I've been asked are: "How do you start a poem?" "How do you write a poem?" "Does it have to rhyme?" 

Wikihow has a simple approach that is similar to what I do when I write poetry. The article "write a free verse poem" gives four simple steps that can lead to an excellent free verse poem. Another guide that I found is "how to write a free verse poem". 

“No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job.” T. S. Eliot

If you crave structure in your poems, we will often offer suggested forms to try. As always, you can attempt our suggestion, or you can branch out on your own. If you're not familiar with Shadow Poetry, it's an excellent resource that, when combined with Rhyme Zone, can help you generate any form of poetry you've ever heard of (and a few that perhaps you haven't!)

I'm getting excited about writing prompts and taking part in the daily poetry writing challenge right along with you! 

By the way, there's a worldwide poetry event taking place tomorrow (Saturday, September 27) sponsored by 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Check them out and take part in the event in your area! 

~Amy McGrath

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Poetry is.... a collaborative poem-in-the-works with five days to go until OctPoWriMo begins!

In yesterday’s blogpost here at OctPoWriMo, MorganDragonwillow wrote brilliantly about how to write 31 poems in 31 days. Pure. Simple. Direct and heartfelt, her wisdom flowed off the page.

Today, five days from the beginning of OctPoWriMo, I thought it would be fun to dabble in some collaborative curiosity and actually write a poem about what poetry is right here in the comments section.

I’ll kick it off and then you, beloved poet friends, take the podium starting with… 

Poetry is…

Poetry is a moment in time, held, for as long as you want to - and shared with the world when you hit publish or post or send it off to be bound or made into a greeting card or post it on a coffee shop bulletin board.

Poetry is not a competitive sport, a task on the to-do list, an assignment you forgot to finish for the class you need to graduate. 

Poetry is an opportunity to finish what you started.

Poetry is….

Your turn - in the comments tell us your take on what poetry is… starting with…

Poetry is.....

~~Julie Jordan Scott


Count Down: 5 Days until OctPoWriMo!

Time is going by quickly, are you ready for this poetry challenge, will you be sharing your poetry on your blog? Make sure if you are on Twitter that you share your poem posts with the hashtag #OctPoWriMo so that other participants can find you. You can also share and chat with us on Facebook in our Writing Poetry Group.

Make sure you sign up to receive our updates, tips and prompts to share in the poetry adventure!

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