7 November 2020

There was this and then moments later there were all kinds of wonderful headlines! Thanks everyone for keeping the faith and working and being strong. Now the real work begins.


7 November 2020

(August) Poetry Postcard Festival 2020

So many months at home. So many postcards. So many poems going out in the mailbox and quite a number coming into my mailbox too! Here’s the two groups of cards (two “groups” or “months” worth) that I have received to date.

I started the festival early this year, in April. I had misgivings because April is not August but it is Poetry Month and I had committed to writing a poem every day as I usually do in April for NaPoWriMo. I laid this down as my caveat for starting early, because I post those publicly each day. But I figured, the recipients of these cards may not be expecting a card in April and well, no one really looks at my blog. I figured it would all be good.

So I started writing. I’d been home since March 4, the first couple weeks of that with some illness. In April there wasn’t much to do except online work “stuff” and sitting outside to paint and watch the world. I started carrying a pocket sized notebook and actually writing down phrases or ideas that came to me although normally I compose on the computer. I have often jotted a digital note or done a voice recording of an idea on my phone but there was something nice about scribbling down an idea. I quickly realized that the process was much better if I at least tried to be legible in my scribbling.

In the past I have written in a form or with a theme for NaPoWriMo or Poetry Postcards. This year I had no set ideas along those lines. What developed really surprised me. My poems developed a trend of being double sonnets. Like, I could not fit a great number of these daily poems onto the back of a postcard at all. I started using blank postcards, perhaps with a little watercolor swirling on the front, and putting the start of the poem on the front and continuing it on the back. For someone who tends to sonnet length and haiku, this was amazing. One was even three sonnet-lengths long, two being all 5 syllable lines and one being all 7 syllable lines! Where the heck do these things come from?

Now, we are encouraged in Poetry Postcard Fest to write “spontaneously” on each card – to write that day’s poem directly on the card. I confess, I have never done this. I write directly into BBEdit on the computer, in a file for that month’s poems. No more editing than one might do scratching out a word as you’ve just written it. No later fussing. This gets backed up a couple ways. I copy it directly onto the card. No edits. The address gets put on the card. A stamp. I wander downstairs, scan the front and back of the card and carry it out to the waiting mailbox.

Rarely, perhaps a couple times in any postcard/poetry month I might write something I think is a little too personal or one I feel uncomfortable sharing. Usually I can put it aside and write out something else in a short while. Or I will write a second poem or set of haiku using something about the first one.

I look forward to the daily ritual of writing, copying it out onto a card, making a digital copy and then bringing it out to the mailbox. I love going outside late at night and this is a wonderful excuse to go out – to mail off a handwritten poem to someone who doesn’t expect to get this particular poem. Oh yes, I know they hope to get something in their mailbox! Who doesn’t?

I wrote daily in April, most of May, a part of June and then it seemed I needed a break. I waited for August and it was hard to pick up the pieces of the process because that excitement had been in April. It was all right and will be again. I chatted with the other poets and sent a few cards and got close to the actual place where I was on the second list of names. And so I started writing again with the sense of deadline and someone waiting. And I started getting more cards in my own mailbox as people started their August Month of Poetry Postcards which lingers on into September. We were all needing some support and strength and it was good to talk about our lives and the world.

I have a tradition of writing a special poem for August 31 and sending it to everyone in my group. Day 31 still gets their own poem though! I used part of my free time in August to think about that and work on it. After I’d addressed all those cards I thought about all the different people in all the different places they were going. I hoped that my first cards had made it to them safely, maybe even that they’d been enjoyed along the way as well as by the recipient. I send a card to my two local postmasters as thanks for their help and to some bonus folks out of PoPo. That is something I really enjoy doing.

In September I took a rather intensive online watercolor class which sort of kicked my butt and head for two weeks about painting with intention. In theory, this is hard when you start and then should get easier. As the class was ending I realized there was a poetry class available about spontaneous writing and that seemed to fit into the deep thinking I was doing about intentionality and flow so I took the leap and signed up for that. I’m not sure what will become of me but I will carry on and have already signed up for August Poetry Postcard Fest 2021.

Signing up for the future is like planting bulbs – a pure sign of hope in the world!

(August) Poetry Postcard Festival 2020

World Watercolor Month – the first week

Not sure what distracted me – I painted but I didn’t post here. Starting with Day one and moving on down to Day Eight. The third and fourth photos are postcards both done on Day Three. Now let’s get back on track with this, shall we?

World Watercolor Month – the first week

World Watercolor Month – Day One

Work by definition has to be when you woulda liked to have gone out and painted in the afternoon but by the time you can it’s thundering and lightning and raining.

Went anyway.

Not my favorite of recent paintings but hey, wipers and darkish.

World Watercolor Month – Day One

Almost the end of November

Did you wonder where I was? Yup, November brings NaNoWriMo. I knew there were some days at the beginning of the month that no writing or at least little writing would be possible – a wedding and some other things but I wasn’t prepared for the struggle of what would happen next. I had no idea. Which is why, frankly, no writing to get to the end of this story had been happening.

But now, when I could be working on it, even house chores seemed more appealing. I tried new tacks such as hand-writing notes to myself about things that might happen next. I wrote a sketch of a big thing that I knew, or hoped, was going to happen. I dabbled quite briefly with a different idea I had, thinking it was a short story and putting it back in the drawer when it seemed much larger.

I had a few big word count days and a whole lot of low word count days. Which adds up to a half-NaNo but which did indeed bring me almost to the very end.

Here I will say that despite the help that hand writing notes (fountain pen and tiny softcover Moleskines, how writerly, eh?) the power of digital tools is immense. November first, at our local launch party, a big storm came up just before I was packing it in. There was a tiny power blip. My BBEdit screen, non-responsive. I ended up screenshotting it just to save the few inches of paragraphs that were visible, a tiny bit of what I’d done. Came home and finally had to shut down the computer. I chose re-open windows of programs that were open, not holding out any hope for the unsaved document. But there, BBEdit (because it doesn’t suck) opened, opening two other windows and the unsaved document in its entirety.

I so love the Barebones Software guys that when I discovered there was a paid upgrade available that night, I gladly plopped my money down for it and sent them a big thank you.

I also love that as I worked on what a character was reacting to and feeling, I could cut and paste the whole ending-to-date into a new document and change it over into something that seemed better, more coherent and tweak it, free from the rest of what had been written. It finally got added back, replacing the old not-quite-right part. Yeah cut and paste!

So here we are at the end of November, and there’s a new pile of words for this book. I’m good with it.

Almost the end of November

Day Thirty, NaPoWriMo

It’s good to jot down words:
a line of conversation,
two words or three that
appear on the windshield
during the drive to work
good to capture them in
the dailyness of life
snatching them from
wherever words and ideas go
when they decide you’ve
ignored them too long
or aren’t paying attention.
Listening and looking for them,
muse-like they appear regularly
and, having paper and pen
at the ready, they stay.
The day to day after day
of describing and remembering
is an adventure without
known destination. The road
turns or brinks a hill
and there you are watching
birds boiling up on
paper-scrap wings to
a sky yet unseen.

Thank you to all my April NaPoWriMo visitors, readers and commentators. Hope you had a great month and thanks for sharing my thirty newly written poems!

Day Twenty-nine, NaPoWriMo

I can tell I’ve been listening to the lays of Bilbo.

Here, small works,
the labor of the world,
are known, that day by day
we hurry through
both chores and song
and lightly running
pass down one path
then next and next
penultimate unknown
a day is reached
and then the last
how many paths til
that rest place found
Neither knowing nor telling
the days lead on.
Sit! Stay then,
telling tales and singing
here where life lies
and sweet work of living
guessing what may be
past the hill’s edge
there where the clouds fly

This morning Mom and I went to visit the Cohoes Falls and then breakfast and then some pokemoning.

Day 28, NaPoWriMo

I’m off topic from my own prompts today…

So alike, mother and daughter,
that as the mother scolds her
for sins of inattention and
fidgeting and whining
and perhaps a tantrumI
I can easily imagine the
little girl, using the
same words and tone
to upbraid her mother
you can’t always have
your own way, she’d say,
you won’t get it by pouting,
as she holds out a spoonful
of applesauce to the elder lips
which tremble at the mere
possibility of no.
And so it goes on, her
fidgeting and whining
the mother scolding and
distractedly fixing
her daughter’s earring
until they both focus on
something else in the
food court and leave
on a singular mission
of fulfilling desires.

Day Twenty-seven, NaPoWriMo

Jumped? No.
Not at all.
Falling? Not exactly.
Allowed myself to fall?
Gave myself willingly
to the spring surge,
the tidal pull?
More than likely.
Look the wrong way
and it plows down
and sweeps you away
Not necessarily
surprised but still…
Turn upstream and see
that last bit of ice
that dark wave of
night-long rain coming
Be ready to lift
your joyous feet.

Cohoes Falls, today.

Day Twenty-six, NaPoWriMo

Those sitting with hills
brushing their hair with wind
having a cloud ceiling.
These are the folk, trusted
and thought to be brave
facing the dangers they find
and ignoring the phantoms.
The birds bring them news
and the seasons, in turn,
bring them joy and wisdom
bearing new changes and gifts
Those sitting with hills
have gentle hands, knowing
life to be tender, a baby
or kitten or fish to hold
and then when done
to set it free, smiling.