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

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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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A Dose of Poetry

After a few months of planning, I’m happy that I can finally share some exciting news with all of you. In honor of National Poetry Month, I will be hosting four poetry workshops at Georgian Court University Library. Every Thursday night in April we will have a great presentation, followed by creative writing exercises and an opportunity to share your own poetry. Please share the flyer below with friends, family, and all of the creative folk you know!

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The Tale Of The Anxious Novelist

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” –Flannery O’Connor

I guess it’s time to talk novels. Why? Because I’ve begun writing one again.

It hit me like a sledgehammer to the face on January 2nd. I know it may seem pretty harsh to describe it that way, but it was incredibly unsettling and powerful. It filled me with anxiety and anger within five minutes of its birth. So much so, that there are parts of the day that I simply don’t remember.

I’ve talked about the development of character names in the past. It normally hinders my creative flow, but within minutes I had the names of the three main characters written down. Some secondary character names followed soon after.

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back to it…a life with characters living in my head, scenarios appearing, a new setting to explore. Writing poetry is a completely different experience. It’s often a series of short bursts. You get an idea, you write it down, you revise, and it’s complete. Of course, I know myself a little better than all that. There really is no escape for me. I can try to ignore it, pretend the ideas aren’t there, but living like that usually results in misery of some sort.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m being so negative, but I promise you I’m just trying to paint a realistic picture. That’s why I started this post with the quote by Flannery O’Connor. If there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s my confidence in knowing that I am a writer. Sometimes I’m a poet, sometimes I’m a novelist, and sometimes (because of my job) I’m a pop culture journalist. Still, always a writer. Most of my days consist of wearing different hats, so I know it’s possible to mix all different types of writing into my schedule.

What helps is the faith I have in this new project. The way the idea came to me was more powerful than anything I’ve ever written. While the whole day was filled with an uncomfortable feeling, my gut told me that I would remember the day ten years down the road, and for a good reason. The strange feelings have since calmed down and formed into something easier to live with. Over the past week, I’ve started to see certain parts of the setting and plot more clearly. I’ve dabbled in writing realistic fiction before, but it is definitely new territory for me. None the less, I’m embracing the “plunge into reality,” and have accepted that there will be moments quite “shocking to the system.”

So, cheers! Here I go again.

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Farewell TwoThousandFifStine 

 2015 has been the most challenging, rewarding year of my life. As I reflect over the ups, downs, and everything in between I can’t help but be incredibly thankful for it all. Thank you to every single person who played a part in my year. (You know who you are.) I’ll never forget the love, laughter, and good times that were had. Farewell TwoThousandFifStine…it’s time to welcome 2016 with the words of T.S. Eliot. 
 

From Thoreau, To Emerson, and now Whitman! 

  
I’ve always written poetry here and there, but I’ve been living and breathing it since March of this year. I carry a journal with me constantly so I always have a place to put my new ideas or to work on unfinished poems. I’m starting my third journal tonight. 

My last journal came with me to Concord, MA and I’m hoping to take this one on some new adventures. It’s so weird looking at a shiny brand new one. As you can see, they get pretty worn and beat up over time. I prefer them looking used and tossed around a bit to be honest. 

From a Thoreau quote, to Emerson, and now Whitman! Each quote has described a different chapter of this year for me, and I’m looking forward to this new one. 
Until next time,

Christine