Popular Posts

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Architecture For Our Lives

“Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.” – Audre Lorde

Born on Feb. 18, 1934, Lorde was a writer and civil rights activist best known for poetry that deals with issues related to civil rights, feminism, and the exploration of black female identity.   Among her most powerful and oft-quoted writings are the award-winning book of poetry, Coal, and her book on women’s rights, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.         She also wrote and spoke eloquently about battling cancer, a disease from which she died at age 58.

For Saturday’s Poem here is Lorde’s,


It has rained for five days
the world is
a round puddle
of sunless water
where small islands
are only beginning
to cope
a young boy
in my garden
is bailing out water
from his flower patch
when I ask him why
he tells me
young seeds that have not seen sun
and drown easily.

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Providing An "Extra Beat to Life'

“Literature has as one of its principal allures that it tells you something about life that life itself can't tell you. I just thought literature is a thing that human beings do.” – Richard Ford

Born in Mississippi on this date in 1944, Ford is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and short story writer best known for his novels The Sportswriter, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land, and Let Me Be Frank With You.  He also wrote the best-selling short story collection Rock Springs, which has many widely anthologized stories.

The grandson of a railroad engineer, Ford started his adult life working for the railroad before deciding to further pursue his love of literature by studying English Literature at Michigan State University. 
                                             “I started reading literature at 17 or 18, and I felt this extra beat to life,” he said.  “Reading is probably what leads most writers to writing.”  And so he became a writer, although he took a swing at law school first before dropping out to attend a creative writing program at the University of California.  His first books were well received but not big sellers, so he went to work as a sportswriter, a great move since it eventually led to his first bestseller, The Sportswriter.
Journalism and his personality provide plenty for a good writing base.  “My job is to have empathy and curiosity for things that I've never done,” he said.  “Also, I'm a person whom people talk to.” 

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When You're 'Part of the People'

“It's always good to go home. It's strengthening to see your past and know you have someplace to go where you're part of a people.” – John Trudell

Trudell was born into the Dakota Santee nation on this date in 1946.  Author, poet, actor, musician, and political activist (who died in 2015), he spent most of his writing life combining his poetry and his love of music into hundreds of songs – many which spoke to and about nature, many using traditional Native American music.  

During his activist years as a spokesperson and leader for the American Indian Movement, Trudell once said that truth came from the arts.      “When one lives in a society where people can no longer rely on the institutions to tell them the truth,” he said,  “the truth must come from culture and art.”

A powerful book of his works, Lines From a Mined Mind: The Words of John Trudell shares some 25 years of his poetry, lyrics and essays, many shared and still available on YouTube.  Also a successful actor, Trudell performed in Pow Wow Highway, Thunderheart, On Deadly Ground, and the very funny and poignant Smoke Signals.  He also served as adviser to the award-winning documentary Incident at Oglala, a kind of companion piece to the fictional Thunderheart.  Directed by Robert Redford, Incident explores facts related to the 1975 shooting of two FBI agents on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. 
A writer first, Trudell once noted, “Every song I've ever written starts with the words, because I want the music to be the musical extension of the feelings of the words, and not the words being the emotional extension of the feeling of the music.”

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A brief Valentine history

Valentine's Day, some historians believe, originated from St. Valentine, a Roman martyred for refusing to give up Christianity and who died on February 14, 269 AD.     Legend also says Valentine left a farewell note for his jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, signing it "From Your Valentine.”

The date of his death was just one day before a traditional Roman spring holiday called the feast of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on February 15 to honor the god Lupercus, who protected the people and their herds from wolves.   For some reason, known only to ancient Romans who seemed to use almost any excuse to party, dances were held for all   the single young men and women as part of the Lupercalian feast. 

On a sort-of “spin the bottle” variation, a man would draw his dance partner's name from a piece of papyrus placed in a bowl. The man then not only danced with that partner but was also obligated to protect her throughout the next year. In many cases, the partners became sweethearts and were soon married. Gradually, as St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers, the Lupercalian celebration shifted to February 14 – and the two combined into a day marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. 

And, as those who write know, it not only is a day for showing love, but also one of the great days for creating “Writers’ Moments.”         Happy Valentine’s Day!

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Faith That Keeps The World Alive

“Not truth, but faith it is that keeps the world alive.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was born in Maine in February 1892, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry – only the third woman to win the award in that category – in 1923.  And just to show that she wasn’t a “one hit wonder,” she won the Frost Medal for her lifetime contribution to American poetry 20 years later.  In between, she wrote many, many great poems and earned the accolade from fellow poet Richard Wilbur that “She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century.”   Prose writer Thomas Hardy said America had two great attractions:  The skyscraper and the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Millay, who graduated from Vassar and spent much of her adult life in New York, also wrote plays and prose (under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd).  She once said, “A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down.  If it is a good book nothing can hurt him.  If it is a bad book nothing can help him.”  Hers were good, and her poetry was even better. 
            A feminist and activist for human rights, she railed against bigotry and hatred.  “Let us forget such words, and all they mean, as Hatred, Bitterness and Rancor, Greed, Intolerance, Bigotry,” she said.  “Let us renew our faith and pledge to Man, his right to be Himself, and free.”

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's Why We Write

“We write, simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.”—John Steinbeck

Why do writers sit down with pen in hand, or at a typewriter or computer keyboard, and begin the creative process?  The reason, simply, is that  it’s  an immensely challenging – and yet at the same time immensely rewarding – process.

If you’re seeking inspiration, perhaps you’ll find it in the quotes by the one above or in the one by the equally accomplished writer below.   While they spoke their words two generations apart – John Steinbeck in the late 1930s; Anna Quindlen in the late 1990s –  they both seem to be expressing like responses to the question: “Why do writers write?”  
                 Steinbeck’s was a simple, yet powerful single line.  Quindlen’s, while a bit more complex, still speaks volumes (literally and figuratively) in just a few words.

“Once you've read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird or A Wrinkle in Time, you understand that there is really no reason to ever write another novel.  Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has ever had.”—Anna Quindlen

And so on this anniversary of the birth of one of our most famous Presidents, and as Sonny & Cher once so famously wrote and sang, “The beat goes on.”   Happy writing.

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Books as dreams or swords

“All books are either dreams or swords, you can cut, or you can drug, with words.” – Amy Lowell

Pulitzer Prize winner Lowell, whose poetry falls into what has been labeled “The Imagest School,” was born on Feb. 9, 1874, one of the many members of Massachusetts’ Lowell family to make an impact on writing and education.  

Though she sometimes wrote sonnets, Lowell was an early adherent of the "free verse” method of poetry and one of its major champions.       Although she didn’t start writing poetry until age 28 and died young (at age 51), Lowell produced more than a dozen major books of poetry. For a comprehensive look, check out The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, published in 1955.  For Saturday’s Poem, here is Lowell’s 

WHEN night drifts along the streets of the city,
And sifts down between the uneven roofs,
My mind begins to peek and peer.
It plays at ball in old, blue Chinese gardens,
And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples,
Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.
It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,
And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.
How light and laughing my mind is,
When all the good folk have put out their bed-room candles,
And the city is still!

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.