Happy National Poetry Month!

Happy #NationalPoetryMonth from the corner of my bedroom! I’ll be participating in #CampNaNoWrimo this month and can’t wait for the 7th installment of “A Dose of Poetry” this Thursday night. Come the the Georgian Court University Library April 6th, 20th, and 27th to celebrate with us! 7-9:30pm. 📖🖋✏️👩🏻‍💻👩🏻‍🏫

Customizing Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m here to tell you that there’s no better feeling than NaNoWriMo fueled months. I assume most of you probably know about the National Novel Writing Month challenge that takes place every November? The basic gist of it is, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But have you heard of Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo takes place two months out of the year, once in April and once in July. The main difference between NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo is that it’s completely customizable. You can choose what kind of project you want to work on: a novel, poetry, a play, etc., and you can also choose between setting a word count goal, page goal, lines, hours, and so on.

Because I find myself in the midst of working on two projects, I’ve decided to set a word count goal with the intention of working on both projects as I have been the past two months. I’ve come up with a very clever title…

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…just kidding. I know “Progress” isn’t all that exciting, but it is the goal!

I’ve gone with a small word count goal of 10,000 words because I will be simultaneously running my second year of “A Dose of Poetry” during the month of April…

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…and I’ll also be working my full time job. I think if I manage to meet this goal I will be beyond thrilled.

Maybe you’re wondering why participating in this type of challenge would be helpful to your writing? If nothing else, the community that comes alive on social media during these times is simply wonderful. It’s a great way to get connected with #amwriting folks all the while making progress with your creative projects!

Okay, who’s with me? Only thirteen days until the fun begins. (Sign up here.) Stock up on coffee! Chat with me on Twitter @AWritersWay.

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Until next time,

Christine

 

 

Inspired? Do it.

A little less than a month ago, I was sitting in my living room with my boyfriend and we were writing. He was working on his novel and I was working on a new poem. This particular poem that I was working on felt a lot like I was digging for a piece of myself that was hidden and strongly attached to my insides. None the less, I found it, grabbed onto it, and yanked it out pulling some anxiety along for the ride.

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This isn’t the first time that has happened over the past few months. With honest writing comes a certain level of anxiety. When you dig up traumatic parts of your life, it shakes you. Not to mention, you’re putting it on a page that you will most likely read to someone or have someone read. While I’ve been powering through, I found myself incredibly drained after this instance. All of a sudden I was dealing with old anxiety issues, ones that I thought I had already defeated. Then it dawned on me…balance. The key to everything in my life is balance. Maybe you feel the same way?

I sat in the living room talking to my boyfriend about what had just happened in my brain, talking about balance. Then, I remembered a dream. A dream I had probably a little more than a year ago.

[Note: I’m a superstitious human, so you might be a little confused moving forward. Sorry.]

I proceeded to tell my boyfriend about the dream and followed it up with, “Why don’t I write about that? I can write poetry and write that too, can’t I?”

Being the encouraging human that he is, he of course supported me.

Suddenly I was filled with a breath of fresh air. It was almost like I hadn’t taken in breath like this in years. I practically ran out the door in that moment on a quest for a new journal. (Everyone needs a new journal for a new project, right?) Since then, I’ve been writing. I’ve been working on my poetry and working on this new project. Guess what? It feels great. I felt inspired, I followed my instincts, and I’m so happy I did.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone ever looks at the “Writing” tab on my blog, but today I added this…

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Sorry, I’m superstitious and so afraid that the ideas will run away scared…

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…more to come soon!

All in all, if you’re inspired…DO IT! Don’t think about it, just do it! Write. Write. Write.

Until next time,

Christine

P.S. Guess who’s in the process of applying to MFA programs? This girl.

“Write while the heat is in you.” -Thoreau

Happy New Year & Happy “Christine will write more than 9 blog posts this year.”

Before I begin, an old picture of fire brought to you by Valentine’s Day 2016:

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I tend to not give myself a lot of credit. Not just in conversation, but in my own head. Over my Christmas break I was suffering from a really nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection and I lost my voice. Forced to use a pen and paper (marker and legal pad to be exact) as a means to communication, I found myself uplifted despite the pile of tissues. In dialogue with my roommates, they noticed my positive spirit emerging.

In fact one of them asked, “Do you feel happy because you’re physically writing?”

Suddenly I realized that she was 100% right. Even though my head was pounding and my body was fighting off a fever, mentally, I was feeling better. The physical act of writing was restoring something inside of me. Then, the ever so obvious reminder popped into my head. What would happen if you gave a poem a shot?

Yes, folks, it’s been a few months of writer’s block for me. The ideas were there, but the fear was back. The fear to let what I truly want to write out of my being onto the page. So, in that moment I could see clear enough and allowed the words from my dear Frost Place Poetry Seminar Sister Tiana Clark (follow the link & read her chapbook) echo in my mind. “Let’s be brave together,” she said. In 2017 I will be brave. I will write what I want to write and I won’t let the opinion of others stop me.

The rest of that day was spent with my other roommate, discussing life, poetry, creativity and all inspiring things. She read 20 pages worth of conversation due to my absent voice and we wrote next to each other for hours. Since then I’ve churned out two poems and I’m happy to report that I am so excited about them. I’m excited about the plan for what I hope will be my first book of poems, and I’m finally feeling passionate again.

Now, back to the picture of the fire. While I was writing today I was reminded of this quote by Thoreau:

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” ― Henry David Thoreau

That is something that I’ve definitely neglected over the past four months. I used to work in a library and I jotted down my ideas almost instantly upon them entering my brain. Even though I work at a desk job now, there’s no reason to not keep the same scraps of paper next to my desk that I used to carry in my pocket. I also stopped keeping those same scraps next to my bed. I’m happy to report they have taken their rightful place on my nightstand once again. I will write while the heat is in me.

In closing, Happy New Year to all of you creative folk out there. Good luck with whatever writing goals you have and feel free to tweet @AWritersWay if you want to chat with me about them.

Until next time,

Christine

 

Note To Self: Feed Your Creative Spirit

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Photo of Anne Sexton

 

You know those signs outside of churches with sayings on them? You must have driven past them a thousand times. They normally have a heart warming saying of some sort or a quote about Jesus not wanting all of us to text and drive. I usually have a minimal reaction to them, though some make me smile or laugh, but I’m mostly unimpressed. That is, until last week. I was driving home from work, and it was a long day, one that left me with little to no energy to do anything after work besides cook dinner and watch TV. That’s when I saw this quote:

“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”

Now, you should know, I’m not a very religious person anymore. It’s totally cool if you are, but events that took place over the past few years led me to find faith in other places besides a church. These days, I get more out of flipping through the pages of “The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman” than I do getting down on my knees and praying to whoever is up there in the sky. However, when I saw that quote I was reminded that we all have different definitions of what faith means to us, and that’s a wonderful thing.

I began thinking about creative folk like me, and all of the things that feed our “writing faith,” if you will. So, would the saying apply when it comes to our writing life self-doubt?

Don’t pretend you don’t have it. We all have it and that’s okay. However, what can we do? In a recent discussion with one of my most trusted advisors, I found myself complaining about how crummy I feel due to the lack of producing enough material for one complete poem. I ranted about how I feel like an intruder when I’m not writing enough. How can I call myself a poet if I’m not dedicating ample time to writing poetry? How can I call myself a poet if I only write down one or two lines and fall asleep on top of my journal?

She then posed the question: “what else feeds that part of you?” I quickly responded that I love reading. If I’m not writing poetry, I certainly should be reading it. Upon saying the words out loud, I almost instantly felt relief. The saying returned to my mind…

“Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”

So that’s where I’m at. I have a lot of unfinished poems piling up, bits of paper taped into my journal with ideas that pop into my brain, but I’m incorporating some discipline back into my life when it comes to reading. So far, it feels good. So far, I don’t hear the demons of self doubt knocking at my door in the middle of the night.

Stay tuned.

-Christine

The Forecast Reads: Poetry With A Chance Of Poetry

I returned from my Frost Place Seminar adventure in New Hampshire about one week ago, and I still have a smile on my face. I suspect that it will stay that way for many months to come as the experience was just that life changing for me. I could have never predicted what an emotional and spiritual journey I would embark on during that week in the mountains, but I’m so thankful that it happened.

During my week long trip, I had the pleasure of staying at the Inn at Sunset Hill. A beautiful bed and breakfast with delicious food and two unforgettable innkeepers named Dick and Sally, who made me feel so at home. (I can’t forget Dudley, their sheepdog. He was pretty great too.)

Each morning I sat in front of a large window and ate breakfast while staring out at the mountains. Views like this were a daily occurrence…

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Then it was off to the White Mountain School for a 2 hour lecture, followed by lunch with the fellow participants, a 3 1/2 hour workshop with your selected group, a break, dinner, and a poetry reading at Robert Frost’s barn. While the schedule changed a bit every day, it was mostly the same which created an organized feel to the entire seminar. I liked knowing what I would be doing every day and I felt comfortable in knowing what each day’s schedule would be like.

Now, when I put it all into a paragraph like that, it seems pretty straight forward and simple, but it wasn’t. The lectures that I mentioned were held by each of the chosen faculty for 2016 and they were mind blowing. Topics had a wide range, from narrative predicaments to exploring classic forms and making them your own. I felt like a student back in school again as I took pages and pages of notes not wanting to forget a single word that was said.

The most beneficial part of the seminar for me was the workshop experience. I was lucky to be put into a group with six very talented individuals, all of which brought a different perspective to the table. My workshop leader was the incredibly inspiring Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.

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Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon reading at Robert Frost’s Barn

I never thought I’d be so fortunate to spend so much time with someone as courageous and determined as she is. She helped me to learn how to explore my craft in a more efficient way and taught me things that I will carry with me every day as I continue writing poetry. I highly recommend grabbing her books. They’re fantastic.

While I seriously adored every member of my group, I also want to give special mention to Tiana Clark. Over the course of one week, Tiana taught me how to be brave with my poetry and encouraged me to write what my heart tells me to write no matter how scared I am. I’ll be forever grateful to her for that. With that said, go pre-order her chapbook here. It’s dynamite.

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Tiana Clark reading at Robert Frost’s Barn.

Each night spent at Robert Frost’s barn, and at his house in general was a dream come true for me. I’ve long admired the poet, mostly for the terrifying nature to his work that is rarely acknowledged. To spend so much time in the places where he walked filled my lungs with the air I had been craving for so long.

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I found what I was looking for during the Frost Place Poetry Seminar. Being away from my comfort zone, my friends, my boyfriend, it was difficult. However, it forced me to completely focus on my craft, my poetry, and with that I felt my mind expanding. This quote rang in my ears about halfway through the week…

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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That’s exactly how I feel about my experience. Thank you to everyone at the Frost Place Poetry Seminar for all of your support, encouragement, and for just being amazing people. I’ll never forget it. As for what lies ahead…the forecast reads: poetry with a chance of poetry.

Until next time,

Christine

The Fig Tree

 

Do you ever find yourself obsessed with a thought? A quote? Perhaps, a poem? Over the past few months, I’ve found myself constantly thinking of a quote by Sylvia Plath. Back in May, I read The Bell Jar for the first time. It was a book that I had wanted to read for years and years, but never got around to it. While I have many thoughts on the book, this isn’t a review, but a post to share this quote with you.

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Here it is…

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

It is a relatable picture, isn’t it? I mean we all have our own figs hanging off of a fig tree. I’m sure you know this already…life can be overwhelming, and while we dedicate a lot of energy and time to certain “figs,” others aren’t given enough attention. You’re probably thinking of something right now that you’d like to pay more attention to or dedicate more time to.

For me, that something is poetry. I’ve been working so much the past few months, I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to writing my poetry or even attending readings for that matter. Thankfully, the end of the month will bring me to my Frost Place Poetry Seminar Adventure. I’ll be gone for one whole week and will surely be fully immersed in poetry.

Thoughts on the quote? Tweet me @AWritersWay.

Until next time,

Christine

Reflecting On National Poetry Month

A few days into May and I’m sitting at my desk, drinking coffee, reflecting on National Poetry Month. It’s taken me a few days to let the full weight of the month absorb into my mind. A hurricane of pencils, scraps of paper, and sheer determination surrounded me for the full 30 days in April. What started out as an incredible first Thursday of the month soon led into three more Thursday nights joined by a group of people just as passionate about poetry as me.

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Yes, each Dose of Poetry event was unique and inspiring in its own way. Below you’ll see a variety of photos from weeks two through four. (Photos from the first week can be found here.) What was truly amazing was how the poets that we were honoring each session heavily influenced the tone of the night. It was interesting to compare the impact that Whitman and Dickinson had amongst the crowd compared to Yeats. Besides that, having so many wonderful voices gathering to share their own work was something that filled me with so much inspiration. I’m truly grateful to everyone who participated.
When I set out to make these poetry events happen, there were some challenges. Determined to not let doubtful comments stop me, I instead allowed them to fuel my spirit. Thankfully, it all paid off. It’s always a coin toss with these kinds of things. Especially at a University library where things can sometimes be poorly attended. However, the numbers remained steady and full each week. I truly appreciated every single person that came to celebrate poetry. With all that said, I can only hope that the future will yield more Doses of Poetry, and that I will be able to plan and host them just as I did last month.
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As if all of that wasn’t enough, I also participated in April’s National Poetry Month challenge 30/30. It may not seem like a lot to write a poem a day, but it certainly is. I still have yet to sort through every single one of the poems I wrote, but I will say that it was an excellent learning experience. The topics varied from day to day, and I began to become inspired by more instances and objects that occurred or appeared during my daily routine. From the sea salt brownies I bought one afternoon, to the black cat sitting in the middle of the street one night when I was driving home…I used it all. I know the best part about the challenge was incorporating the habit of writing a poem everyday into my schedule. It has since spilled over into May and poetry is still very much on my mind all the time.
To close, I want to share some more happy news that’s on the horizon with all of you. I applied and got accepted to the Frost Place 2016 Poetry Seminar! Looking to further my knowledge and work on my craft, I applied unsure whether or not my poetry submissions would be good enough to get in. I was thrilled when they were. I won’t be headed to New Hampshire until the end of July, but it’s something wonderful to look forward to.
Until next time,
Christine

A Dose of Poetry: Week One

Last night, I walked into work with a smile on my face. After six months of planning and working with my fellow library staff/faculty and the English Department, my first poetry event was about to come to life. With my worn out copy of Spring and All in hand, I thought about William Carlos Williams and the imagination. With his words in my mind…

“Only through the imagination is the advance of intelligence possible, to keep beside growing understanding.”

There was no way to predict how the first event would turn out, but I’m happy to report that the turnout was great. In fact, the whole night was just how I imagined it would be…A room full of people, passionate about poetry. The beauty of that is, the different voices you get to hear. We all have our own muses, things that inspire us, but the common thread of it all is, we love poetry.

A big thank you to Dr. Paul Cappucci who presented on Williams, and all of the poetry lovers that attended. I’m so happy that I get to host these events every Thursday this month. My hope is, it will lead to more opportunities like it in the future. Take a look at some of the pictures from the event below, along with some of my mission to let poetry take over the library this month.

 

National Poetry Month Is Coming…

National Poetry Month is almost here, and it seems like I’ve been preparing for it for an entire year. I can safely say I’ve been living and breathing poetry since last April, and I have learned so much about writing and myself. Next month I will be hosting four poetry events at Georgian Court University Library. The series is entitled “A Dose of Poetry,” and it’s going to be an inspiring set of events. I hope you can make it.

Besides that, I attended one of the best open mic events I’ve ever been to last Friday night. Poet Cord Moreski hosts a series entitled “Words on Main” bi-weekly in Asbury Park, NJ. This was the first time I attended one of his events, and I can safely say that it was an inspiring experience. The entire audience was welcoming and just as motivated about poetry as I am. I definitely recommend attending Cord’s events too.

Moving forward, I heard a lot about “30/30,” which is a National Poetry Month challenge where you write 30 poems in 30 days. Quite the challenge, yes, but I would imagine it would be worth it. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo several times, and this is a poetry challenge in the same spirit. I believe it can be done. So, what do you say? Are you up for the challenge too?

Let’s chat about it on Twitter. Tweet me @AWritersWay!

To end, I’ll leave you with some Whitman…

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