Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

National Poetry Month has arrived and these last 2 weeks are filled with lots of poetry related activities:

  • My special art project “Poetry for the Body” where I wrote poetry based upon individual pieces of jewelry I created are now premiered on my website. Click here to view the page. Image below is from the series.
  • Readings of my poetry. I will be at a number of venues week of April 18 & 25. Click here for the complete listing.
  • My workshop on writing poetry, themed “How poetry can uplift your life” April 21, 2016 from 7 –8 PM at the Garwood Library, 411 Third Ave, Garwood, NJ where I will kick off the evening reading some of my poetry. A discussion about poetry will follow. Everyone will have an opportunity to read a poem (your own or one of your favorites) (free, no RSVP needed)



Let’s wrap up National Poetry Month with some quotes for poets. These quotes come from articles in the April Oprah magazine:

Why Poetry Matters

…it shows us ourselves by illuminating the interior lives of others. One cannot read a poem without being aware of the poet’s voice – whether loud or barely a whisper – speaking across the distances, time and space. Poems offer a form of refuge.

They can comfort us when we grieve or can celebrate joy. And poetry helps us remember – keeping alive the cultural legacy of a people.”
Natasha Trethewey – United States Poet Laureate from 2012 – 2014. 

It’s Not a Test

A peom is not a test. Readers of poetry can’t fail. When you read a poem, you can, if you like, cling stubbornly to a ‘wrong’ answer to the question, What does it mean?

Poems aren’t meant to express what can be expressed in everyday language. Like dreams, they come to offer us strange new experiences, or to remind us of those we thought we’d forgotten. They can be understood in the parts of our brain that appreciate sounds, or smell or the experience of awakening and feeling unaccountably anxious.

…Go out in search of poems you like, that can become yours. What they mean to anyone else is irrelevant. They mean what a leaf blowing across the freeway means. They mean what the open eye of a goldfish looking into your eye means. The limitless pleasures of poetry are yours for the taking.”
Laura Kasischke – 2012 recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry

Great advice: “The limitless pleasures of poetry are yours for the taking.” Don’t forget it throughout the rest of the year!

Business writing normally is not an emotionally charged task for a writer. It’s all about aligning facts and creating a story that generates emotions in the reader with the goal to inform or lead to action. However, we write for many different purposes and sometimes, with non-business writing, you as the writer must deal with an emotionally charged topic. This can be the most difficult writing to undertake. 

Writing about emotionally charged topics has two sides to it. First you have to deal with your emotions in having to write the piece, and second, you must find the proper words and voice to craft the piece.

The types of projects that can be difficult to write range from having to create copy for something you don’t like or is opposite your point of view, contacting companies that you’re not satisfied with their services, recommendations for terminated employees, a blog post to get your point of view across for something you feel passionate about but might offend someone, or crafting a letter to a friend in difficulty. As a poet I also have to craft poems for specific occasions and to express intimate sentiments to individuals. Hardly as easy as writing one about the delights of summer!

Here are 10 tips on how to make the task easier: 

1. Write out what you want the piece to accomplish. This will help you stay on topic and not digress.

2. Know your audience. Is it one person? Then your job is easier. Try to get some information on that person and his/her’s orientation to the subject matter. If not an individual, than think as to who would be your readership, what are their points of view, likes, dislikes.

3. Make a list of “hot” words. Ones that you want to use to trip off emotions and ones you must avoid. 

4. Come from an objective, not a subject point of view. Even if you are writing to a friend, starting from the topic’s “big picture” will help you most.

5. Revise, revise, revise. This is the type of writing that takes many passes and revisions. So start with a “brain dump” before you even consider writing the “draft”.

6. If the going is really difficult, you could be dealing with a blocked emotion. Separately write out what you are feeling, either about the topic or the piece.

7. As you reread a version, ask yourself if this is the emotional tone you want to get across.

8. Read it out loud, than read it to someone else to for feedback. What you think it is saying, when someone else is reading it might pick up an entirely different emotion.

9. All of the above are especially important if this is going to be an e-mail or internet posting. Be doubly sure you have crafted it the best way possible before you hit the send button. Remember, cyberspace is unforgiving! 

10. If you are stuck, talk to someone about it. Or read other similar pieces that you’ve written in the past. I sometimes reread a lot of my old poems to get inspired.

I  have written poems about 9/11 and Ground Zero (view my writings in my World Trade Center Journal and I can tell you they were some of the most difficult pieces to do. Each year I also have to write a poem to read at my town’s 9/11 ceremony. How, after 13 years do you keep that emotionally fresh? And how do you make it specific to the 2001 event and yet not “beat a dead horse”? But my most difficult one was to write about an artist friend of mine who passed away. This poem was to be posted on a gallery’s website AND given to his grieving family. All emotionally heavy duty stuff that you will probably never have to deal with. But the method of attacking the topic, getting through the writing, and producing an excellent piece of writing that’s spot on is still the same. I hope these 10 tips will help you the next time you are faced with this type of writing.


Maya Angelou passed away last week. She was a role model to many. To us poets and writers she was much more: a guiding light. We all have access to the same words in the dictionary. But it takes a poet like Maya to turn them into gold! Here is a quote from her to inspire you

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

A Facebook group I frequent recently had a thread about being a poet and writing poetry. A number of comments shocked me. One person wrote that she used to write poetry but stopped and another commented that she used to write but felt now it was too late in her life to take it up again. Well, the 80/90 year old painter known as Grandma Moses started painting in her senior years! There are lots of people that age who write novels, poetry, etc. Another person said something along the lines that since he never was successful in getting published, why bother.


These comments were posted pre Boston Marathon bombing. As a professional writer I have an entirely different point of view. Writing both poetry and prose can be therapeutic. Therefore, I would like to share how anyone, no matter what age or profession, can benefit from taking pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!).

Writing can be the most individual form of therapy that you can encounter. In today’s world, with all its terrors and disappointments, we need a personal and portable way to heal our souls. Recall what it was like to keep a journal as a teenager. It was your friend, your companion. How did you feel when you dashed off a letter to the editor, venting your inner feelings at something that offended you? Or that love letter you finally wrote, pouring out your heart and soul. Didn’t it make you feel so much better that you now expressed your love openly? All these are examples of how writing can be your personal therapist.

There are many types of writing that can give form to your feelings: Journals, poems, songs, essays, a letter to the editor, letter to a friend, letter to a foe (if done tastefully with words you won’t regret!), short stories, personal fairy tales.

The act of writing can:
* Be a way to vent, rage, “get it off your chest,” “let it all out.”
* Give you the feeling that you are being heard.
* Help you give form to nebulous thoughts and feelings.
* Be a process that can lead to insights if you do not try to control it.

After you have put your feelings down in words, you can choose to tear it up, save it to re-read, share it with friends, try to get it published, or post it on a personal Web site.

Here are some tips on how to get started in using writing as personal therapy:

1. Start small – keep a daily journal to record your thoughts and emotions. 
2. Move on to giving your thoughts and feelings more form through a poem or essay. 
3. Get out of your skin – try to write making a more global statement or from another point of view.
4. Write about the human condition – take your problems and place them in a larger perspective.
5. Write a short story having the fictional characters “act out” your problem.- a great way to try “solutions”!

It is the act of writing, not how much you produce or the quality that matters. Remember, you are not trying to become a professional writer. Write when you feel the need or when there is no one around to listen to you. You might feel that your writing is poor or that no one seems to get the meaning. However, if you feel emotionally relieved after writing the piece or it gave you an insight or a solution as you wrote it, than it achieved its goal.