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"Poetry is the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." Leonard Cohen

Saturday, September 6, 2014


While poetry's my main game
So much has happened
More than in verse I can name

But, I will put some things here
for those who want to see
Hope my writing makes my life clear

Actually, I took part in a blog tour recently that explains much more eloquently and quickly than I could now, what I've been up to and how I feel about it so here that is...again...

The tour included four questions we needed to answer and they were very helpful at least to me in explaining what it is I do and  why...

1.What are you currently working on?

 This almost feels like the proverbial loaded question and one I am perpetually trying to answer. I have mentioned recently, more than once, that I feel as if I've arrived relatively late to the game of writing poetry and because of that, I feel  as if I'm playing a game of catch up sometimes.

I love writing, that's always been true. It's only been the last half dozen years that I've realized I love having my writing—especially poetry—read, and/or, heard, or both. To that end, I know that I need to get my work published and so I guess what I'm currently working on is perfecting my craft in various areas so that I can become published in the journals that I feel will best suit my work.

Why these journals? Because ultimately, if I become published in enough quality journals, and/or win enough contests or awards, I should theoretically have enough clout to get a chapbook published and eventually a full-size poetry book.

How is it working out so far? Not bad. Some wins contest-wise, and quite a few publications (placed in the Free Fall literary journal so was published there -  and paid!; plus had my work "etched in stone" by winning a neighbourhood sidewalk contest, and again, received an honourarium!)...Still not as many as I'd like of course but...I like to think I'm on my I'm staying the course...

Winner, 2013 Tom Howard Prize for Poetry | "Table for Three"
Winner, 2013 Tom Howard Poetry Contest

one of Edmonton's ubiquitous bunnies on our front lawn
our aging wolf border-collie cross, Farley

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Since genre refers to a distinctive style or category and I'm not sure I've discovered what mine is yet, it would be difficult for me to say how mine differs from others of any genre.

Poets and others talk about writers finding their unique voice and I think that's something I'm still striving to do; find the language I'm comfortable using, and yet choosing words that best suit what it is I'm trying to say, in the most effective way.

I know that when I've had my work critiqued (which is happening more often of late, and is something I appreciate and try to experience whenever possible) it's been pointed out rather consistently that I write about death and loss in a way that "is deeply personal yet accessible" (quote from recent critique).

It wouldn't be a stretch to say my work is often dark, and also frequently deals with the disenfranchised—the mentally ill, the homeless, the suicidal—those living on the fringes of society, marginalized.  It's rare that I write poems that are considered uplifting, and it's not because I lead an unhappy life -- quite the opposite -- it's just not where my poetic muse tends to take me.

OH, EXCEPT, EXCEPT...I DO HAVE ONE SET OF INSPIRATIONS THAT TEND TO LEAD ME TO A FUN, SUNNY, OPTIMISTIC PLACE...Did I suspect I'd be an uber-grandma? I don't know that I gave it much thought before hand...Am I? Definitely. Hopefully not in an annoying way, but in the "I would throw myself under a bus for any one of these boys" way, but in lieu of that...I am the laid-back grandma that you can tell anything, that loves to laugh but is also pretty strict...go figure.

This James at 3...

The newest "J" - Jude at "0" as he G'pa says
And Jack is 5 (in the shot, I think maybe only 4)

Why do I write/create what I do?

This question seems a natural progression from the last, in a way, especially since I've always found writing therapeutic and have kept a journal for almost five decades.

I also take photographs (amateur-see some examples throughout the tour) and have from time to time painted and done other craft-type things, and still do on occasion.

For much of my mid-life, I spent a great deal of time very ill, lots of it hospitalized. Once in the hospital, during a group therapy session, I was blocked, couldn't talk, couldn't cry, nothing. Finally a doctor I trusted told me that when I left group I was to go to the physical therapy area and do something creative.

For the first time ever, I went and mixed clay, and made a mask of a crying baby...a terra-cotta, life-size, chubby-faced, recognizable, baby - with tears running down its face. I don't generally have this skill but that day I did; it was as if I was possessed. The next time I was in group, I wept. The next, the doctor I trusted told me there was no law against talking and crying, and I learned to do that too...

This is a long way around about saying why I write the things I do.  Much of it comes from that dark place inside of me; and I use writing to get at that and write it out.

I believe writers, poets -- me anyhow -- have a responsibility to bear witness to what is going on in the world and write about it in some form. The poem that follows this blog tour...SINS OF THE FATHERS, is just such reportage. I think if I couldn't write about some of these things, I would slip across the line into crazy land way too easily. That probably sounds melodramatic and likely is; I'm pretty cognizant of my mental health status and watchful of its care as well, but I confess, writing is key to keeping me healthy, in my view. Phew. Sorry, did not mean for the tour to take a detour by the asylum but such is the nature of my trips I'm guessing. At least, that's what seems to happen whenever I'm given free rein.

A publication that's been accepting my poetry recently:

from the Poetic Pinup Revue in February 2014 - 2 poems published

and from the same publication in May 2014 - 2 more poems published

They do exquisite work, a glossy magazine with excellent crediting to poets, photographers and the front "contents" and in the back "index". As always, thanks to Linda Evans Hofke for referring me to this publication; she thought we'd be a good fit, and it seems we are...

How does your creating/writing process work?

It depends. I try never to be without pad and pen, or pencil, so if an idea, or a thought or phrase occurs to me, I can jot it down.

My husband is two years retired and as I am just getting going in my career, it seems weird that I work (write) much of the time that he has off to himself. He's very supportive though and lets me do pretty much whatever I feel I need to.

He's a morning person, a lark, and I'm a night owl so we're on very different schedules, always have been. But, forty-four years married and five before that "going together" (as we used to say) -- we fit together well, certainly know each others' rhythms and so on.

I like to write especially in the late afternoon, through the evening and late into the night. It seems to take that long in the day for my creative juices to start percolating but I think it's just a vicious circle/cycle I've got going. Stay up super late, sleep in 'til noon, stay up super late, sleep in 'til eleven, etc.

As it is with many of my on-line poet friends, I write to prompts frequently, and find them helpful to stir the muse: Poetic Asides, Creative Bloomings (formerly Poetic Bloomings), the Sunday Whirl, dVerse, the Mag, Poets United, and Margo Roby's site, all have great prompt ideas and have been beneficial both for the prompts and the encouragement from other poets, something I find almost essential in this solitary writing life.

So, that's about the size of it...what I've been up to...I know I mentioned this poem "Sins of the Father" earlier in this item and I also know it's published elsewhere on this blog: I thought I could maybe just link to it but I seem to be having technical troubles so here's a copy of it for your convenience if you're interested...


creaking, shaken by night and fury,
and I feel leaves dying inwards,
amassing green materials
to your desolate stillness.
                                   Pablo Neruda
      (from:Entrance Into the Wood)

The dark chorus sang me awake last night,
their voices harmonizing until Mozart's Requiem
came clear and then I knew it was for you they sang.
Felt the music's strings tugging at my heart's own
but once up that organ became fisted. Checking the news
reminded me of my angst anew, and I could not help but worry.
Your father's sentencing was this day; I felt your soul hovering,
your wings, whisper-soft, near me as I began to hurry
creaking, shaken by night and fury.

Driving to the courthouse, the facts of your case crowd my mind.
It is difficult to think of much else, though such horror
should not bear reliving; I fear until justice is done, I will not be
afforded release, and images of you and your twin,
two years old, starved and beaten, and weighing thirteen pounds
when your heart finally gave out, and your father, a man so hard,
panicked and called the EMT's, too late for you really, but they came,
did their best, got that organ beating, became defacto bodyguards,
and I feel leaves dying inwards .

Of course, the EMT's alerted the police, and both your parents
were arrested then.  Your brother was discovered - healthy,
bouncing on the couch, while the rescue attempts went on.
Inspections at your house exposed the  conditions
in which you and your twin had been living: a urine-soaked mattress,
no toys, no clothes, nothing in the room but that cloth bacterial.
And as malnourished as both you and your sister were,
in the kitchen stood a fridge, filled, stately, almost magisterial
amassing green materials.

So today your father will be sentenced, and I hear he'll get the max
but the mystery of your life and death will become no clearer, I'm afraid.
The letter he shared through his interpreter was pitiful at best,
to tell us, and the court, that he never meant to hurt you or your sister,
that he just made a big mistake, and will be broken-hearted all his life.
It leaves me simmering, leaves me saddened, makes me hate him more, too.
Starving babies, then assaulting them,  as well as all the illness,
leaves me feeling unwell also, wondering how to free you, so you may soar.
I am taken, I am seized,  with a calming sort of chillness
to your desolate stillness.

The story of Baby M has haunted me since its inception in May 2012. There is nothing that bothers me quite so much as child abuse and no abuse that gets to me in the way parental abuse does. This case is so troubling, I have written about it many times. I will never understand these parents, and my heart will never heal from the ache incurred over this baby. The fact that the father was sentenced to 15 years this week was a minor triumph, but it did bring it all back for many of us.


  1. Sharon- what a delight to find your comment on my. It is such a comfort to find you holding a light for the losses. You may write of the darkness but you have something that keeps it from being overwhelming. So glad you have your wonderful grandchildren in your life and a husband gets up in the morning while you sleep. Congrats on your poems finding new homes. Stay well. Teri


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