Art by Khaled Al-Boushi
I started the Word Play workshops years ago. I wanted people who write a little — or people who are maybe a little afraid to write, or people who have a hard time finding space in their lives to write — to be able to play with language and memory or imagination. I wanted to create a safe and supportive space to draw thoughts and images and stories out of you. I wanted to give you a chance to get what you know — or think, or want to figure out — onto paper. I wanted to hear your voices speak those words out loud to a room full of receptive ears.
I’ve been mostly invisible in this blog space for a little while. Sometimes, I just have to crawl inside and do things for myself for a while. I just returned from a week in western Michigan, where I did two readings and a rich and freewheeling Q&A. I put to work all the techniques I taught my “Reading to an Audience” class a few weeks ago. While in Michigan, I wrote the beginnings of a few poems, and since I’ve returned, have fiddled with some others that were started long ago. I also put on my artist “outfit” again, and have been enjoying having some of my artwork on display in Santa Fe this month.
…but it’s turning to fall, and my acupuncturist tells me this season is a time of grief. I want to reach back out and welcome you into the writing circle, whether you want to celebrate or to explore the sadder feelings. You’ll love Word Play, and it will love you. Eight glorious sessions, Wednesday afternoons, devoted to letting you be expressive. I hope you’ll be able to be part of the group. You can find sign up info right here. If you want to pay by check, or have questions, just email me — email@example.com.
Anyway, I’ve probably been needing to hear from you…
“Disruption” by Lauren Camp (from The Matter Series)
When I am not writing, I am making art. When I am not making art, I am writing. Or making dinner, or doing any of the other very normal things people do.
I also produce a radio program. And I also teach. (In fact, I have an exciting new performance-based class coming up next week… see the sidebar to right.)
This is a lot of jobs and creative pursuits to juggle, but each feeds the others in some way, and I’m grateful for the diversity most of the time.
My solo art exhibit opens this Friday, 5-7PM! Come see most of my new work in a wonderful alternative space. I’ll be prepared to explain how I create these new works (…or maybe better yet, why), and will be curious for your reactions. Please join me!
If you are entering the business of submissions, you need to know some terms. The most important one to abide is “simultaneous submissions.”
Journals either embrace them — or hate them.
If a journal’s guidelines say they accept simultaneous submissions, this means you could go ahead and send those same poems, or some of those same poems, to another journal for their consideration as well. It gives you permission. It is not a requirement. Continue reading
The other night I went to a concert that was part New Orleans stride and part raucous, interstellar noise. Ten musicians on the stage whittled sound from horns, strings, keys and skins, and sometimes (not often) they were quiet; other times, they surrounded us in endless vibrations.
Poems and stories make music, rhythm, and strange noises on the page, but how do you, as the writer, offer this when you read the work to others? Being truthful to the piece you’ve written is not as easy as you’d think. Line breaks, punctuation choices, dialogue… interpreting these “on-the-page” tools for the microphone takes a different skill set.
You might not know where to back off, where to push it, how to enhance your voice to give the audience what they need, or where the tone needs some modifying…
In a few weeks, I’ll be leading a brand new three-day workshop in Santa Fe called Reading to an Audience. We won’t be hollering, but I won’t let you whisper, either. Come learn the best way to make sure people hear your words. Learn how to scathe or seduce the largest or smallest audience with your language and your voice. See the sidebar at right for class dates and a link to register.
“Wedge” by Lauren Camp (rolled cotton fabric strips; rusted nails; weathered wood; 20″ x 13″ x 3″)
I want to try to cohere some thoughts on “relationships.” I just realized that every single thing I write deals in such correlations — the relationship of one word to the next, of the line to what follows, of comma to phrase, of truth to what I choose to tell, of silence to action.
I remember when I figured out that my artwork was all about depth, even if it was also about jazz or the messages women carry, or even just numerous shades of gold. Looking at every piece I’ve ever made, visually, I also realize that these works are all about relationships.
And perhaps …I now think, depth and relationships are the same. Continue reading
It is not foolish. It is IMPORTANT to read your work aloud. You have to hear the word choices and how well they fit together. You have to hear the rhythm, and the places where the rhythm you have created fails.
Read to anyone, or no one. Be a bard and announce your words to the walls of your apartment. Whisper the poem to the dog. Read to a group of avid fans. Whatever you choose, you must MUST must read aloud at various points in the revision process.
Even better, ask someone else to read your poem to you. Someone who has never seen or heard the poem before. This will help you hear the sticky places in the poem — and with this information, you can set about finding fixes for those.
That’s it — one small, easy revision tip — and my thought for the day.