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SUSAN JOHNSTON OWEN-JAZZ / SITE OWNER/MUSICIAN, WRITER,ARTIST, ELEMENTARY AND SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER (RETIRED)
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Poetry may seem easy, but it is perhaps the most difficult on the emotions. Every poem must have a driving force which pushes the energy and flow. Occasionally I write light, silly poems for fun, but usually they're dark or deep. Claiming that they're not about me is only partially true. They'd have no impetus if they had no inner drive. Poems, good poems, are heart driven, anger evoked or written from passion about anything; even a tree. Poems are a look into the soul. They're little pictures or letters from the heart. Usually a first line will get into my mind and my mood will move it forward. They're tweaked several times making sure that the rhythm and beat are smooth. I see poetry as music, lyrics to my emotions. One thing I know for sure, I can't write a first draft on a computer. Very rarely will the flow get moving. I'm more likely to write while sitting in a comfy chair or lying on my bed. I could write anywhere at all if an idea strikes and I get lost in thought. The computer is too impersonal for me, there's no interaction, with the words, pen or page. It may sound silly but my journals are one thing I spend good money to buy. They have to be leather bound and my pen has to be of a particular type. Yes, I can write on any scrap of paper, but lose get lost. It's a personal quirk, but I don't usually get blocked working this way. When my comfort level is high I'm able to concentrate.
BREAKING THE BLOCK-PART 1
I don’t know if I’ve been blocked or lost a bit of freedom I used to have when writing because of the rules. I’m one to write free verse and not much for rhyming.
When I do get blocked I fall back on ABC poems, Tankas, Cinquains, couplets to break the block.
I wrote these quickly to get myself out of a rut. The last poem is the result of just playing with words for awhile. I tend to be dark sometimes. I hope somebody will keep this to help when they get frustrated. I studied at American Zoetrope which is run by The Coppollas, because I was invited into an office by a well established writer. You could not just put up poem after poem; you had to critique five poems and be critiqued before you could put up another. This can be brutal if your skin isn’t like rawhide.
My writing for a living is “Freelance”, where I’m given an assignment and a topic. I’m always doing facts finding. After retiring from teaching, I wasn’t good at that, so I chose to write. It’s a long arduous climb, and like anything worthwhile you have to study what you’re doing.
This writing is just for me. If someone appreciates it, I’m happy. There’s no desire to tell someone how to write; just passing along some hard learned lessons.
About six years ago I started to take poetry seriously. I’d always given my hand to writing it, but realized it had many flaws. Although there are more than 55 types of poems, there are rules. You can ignore them, but your thoughts are important for you to get across; so use a few.
The use of the word “and” is a big no, no.
Another suggestion is a thesaurus. If you’re writing about the moon, don’t repeat that word over and over.
Note, the word moon is not used more than once
Moonlight Dreams As the moon rises tonight, once again miles divide us. Although we are not near, the beauty of the sky is our connection to share.
My heart is longing to be near the glory of you. The magical Luna lights a path to join lover’s souls. Twilight falls gently as a kiss.
An ABC poem is a type of poem that has five lines that create a mood, picture, or evokes feelings. These poems are five lines long. The words at the beginning of lines 1 through 4 are in alphabetical order and are made up of words, phrases or clauses. Line 5 is one sentence long and begins with any letter.
A Japanese poem consisting of 31 syllables in 5 lines, with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 in the others.
Line 1: one word
(subject or noun)
Line 2: two words
(adjectives) that describe line 1
Line 3: three words
(action verbs) that relate to line 1
Line 4: four words
(feelings or a complete sentence) that relates to line 1
Line 5: one word
(synonym of line 1 or a word that sums it up)
two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit.
Poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter.
She gathered her wits to face them,
The wait was unbearable now.
Under glowing stage lights she let out a deep sigh.
Victory might be achieved, she began.
The dance they’d see gloriously came from her heart.
Here comes the dawn of a new day,
Daunted by a night of no sleep.
Each chore needed its’ completion,
Faithfully waits for her action.
Decision; go back to sleep.
After their last encounter,
before the end of loves dance,
came feelings of insecurity.
Disheartening any hope of a chance,
two lovers walk in opposite ways, separation bound to last.
Once in awhile her heart will reach out,
forging in search of a soul mate.
Gathering strength should she once again fail,
happiness will find her when she no longer looks.
She’ll never settle, not her style.
CINQUAINS- I THINK THESE ARE FUN
Most feet detest
Running barefoot on beaches,
If they like,
You can probably trust
Worth uncomfortable clothes?
My body reacts poorly,
Turns knees weak
Steals the conscious mind.
Cause lost sleep
Need to be outlawed
TO BE CONTINUED
FAMOUS POEMS AND POETS
A Dream Within a Dream-Edgar Allen Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on that sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
THE SECRET ROSE
Far-off, most secret, and inviolate Rose,
Enfold me in my hour of hours; where those
Who sought thee in the Holy Sepulchre,
Or in the wine-vat, dwell beyond the stir
And tumult of defeated dreams; and deep
Among pale eyelids, heavy with the sleep
Men have named beauty. Thy great leaves enfold
The ancient beards, the helms of ruby and gold
Of the crowned Magi; and the king whose eyes
Saw the Pierced Hands and Rood of elder rise
In Druid vapour and make the torches dim;
Till vain frenzy woke and he died; and him
Who met Fand walking among flaming dew
By a grey shore where the wind never blew,
And lost the world and Emer for a kiss;
And him who drove the gods out of their liss,
And till a hundred morns had flowered red
Feasted, and wept the barrows of his dead;
And the proud dreaming king who flung the crown
And sorrow away, and calling bard and clown
Dwelt among wine-stained wanderers in deep woods;
And him who sold tillage, and house, and goods,
And sought through lands and islands numberless years,
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
How Do I Love Thee?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Advice To A Son
Never trust a white man, Never kill a Jew, Never sign a contract, Never rent a pew. Don't enlist in armies; Nor marry many wives; Never write for magazines; Never scratch your hives. Always put paper on the seat, Don't believe in wars, Keep yourself both clean and neat, Never marry whores. Never pay a blackmailer, Never go to law, Never trust a publisher, Or you'll sleep on straw. All your friends will leave you All your friends will die So lead a clean and wholesome life And join them in the sky.
My Voice by Oscar Wilde
Within this restless, hurried, modern world We took our hearts' full pleasure - You and I, And now the white sails of our ship are furled, And spent the lading of our argosy.
Wherefore my cheeks before their time are wan, For very weeping is my gladness fled, Sorrow has paled my young mouth's vermilion, And Ruin draws the curtains of my bed.
But all this crowded life has been to thee No more than lyre, or lute, or subtle spell Of violets, or the music of the sea That sleeps, a mimic echo, in the shell.
A BLUE VALENTINE
Monsignore, Right Reverend Bishop Valentinus, Sometime of Interamna, which is called Ferni, Now of the delightful Court of Heaven, I respectfully salute you, I genuflect And I kiss your episcopal ring.
It is not, Monsignore, The fragrant memory of your holy life, Nor that of your shining and joyous martyrdom, Which causes me now to address you. But since this is your august festival, Monsignore, It seems appropriate to me to state According to a venerable and agreeable custom, That I love a beautiful lady. Her eyes, Monsignore, Are so blue that they put lovely little blue reflections On everything that she looks at, Such as a wall Or the moon Or my heart. It is like the light coming through blue stained glass, Yet not quite like it, For the blueness is not transparent, Only translucent. Her soul's light shines through, But her soul cannot be seen. It is something elusive, whimsical, tender, wanton, infantile, wise And noble. She wears, Monsignore, a blue garment, Made in the manner of the Japanese. It is very blue- I think that her eyes have made it more blue, Sweetly staining it As the pressure of her body has graciously given it form. Loving her, Monsignore, I love all her attributes; But I believe That even if I did not love her I would love the blueness of her eyes, And her blue garment, made in the manner of the Japanese.
Monsignore, I have never before troubled you with a request. The saints whose ears I chiefly worry with my pleas are the most exquisite and maternal Brigid, Gallant Saint Stephen, who puts fire in my blood, And your brother bishop, my patron, The generous and jovial Saint Nicholas of Bari. But, of your courtesy, Monsignore, Do me this favour: When you this morning make your way To the Ivory Throne that bursts into bloom with roses because of her who sits upon it, When you come to pay your devoir to Our Lady, I beg you, say to her: "Madame, a poor poet, one of your singing servants yet on earth, Has asked me to say that at this moment he is especially grateful to you For wearing a blue gown".
Poetry-Be yourself-but get it right. What is right?- grabbing people's attention, hearts and minds.
First, Listen to the best- I’m introducing this with free verse. It appears to be the most used on here.
One of the most controversial-Adult- Not for the prudish or easily shocked. Ginzberg got into a lot of trouble, but woke many minds.
Bob Dydlan and Allen Ginzberg-The Vomit Express
Poets have explained that free verse is, despite its freedom, not entirely free. Free verse displays some elements of form. Most free verse, for example, self-evidently continues to observe a convention of the poetic line in some sense, at least in written representations, though retaining a potential degree of linkage
People either love, hate, or could care less about poetry. It’s easy to understand, the sciences make no sense to me. However, if it is your passion, do it well. If it gets you through hard times, use it. Teenage angst is expressed in many a poem, helped at the moment, but will probably remain in a diary. Hopefully you’ll use this journal as a guide.Many mistakes are made by me, that’s why they have proofreaders and editors.All I’m trying to pass along is some good work, and poetry worth trying, especially when you wish to write and get that big ole block.Counting syllables and rhyming get on my nerves, but poetry is like music; no? flow, it won’t go.
Do you want to be a published poet?Unless you’re a natural, and they’re rare, you have to know a few of the greats and the basics.
Shaking my head, some of the worst has come from my pen. They served a purpose at the time.
I chose two winners for my contest and it wasn’t easy. We all read our work the way we want it to sound, in our minds. Remember, the reader is using their voice and timing. Unless you read it too them, you have to capture their attention at the top. Are you asleep yet? If you don't win, so what. Writers can't get out of bed without thinking about writing. I've written in a restaurant; my husband gets it.
Poetry is a natural part of our lives. It's not just something we have to memorize and recite in front of the class. Losing ourselves in a poem is one of the best ways of finding out who we are. The act of writing brings us to that point of discovery, of discovering on the page something we didn't know we knew until we wrote it. Don't let reality cloud your imagination. Look up at the sky and find once again those long-tailed dragons and sailing ships. Wake up to the world as though you are seeing it each day for the first time. Find the wonder. Question the way things are. Imagine new choices. Write from the child in you.
Style isn't how you write. It's how you do not write like anyone else. You don't need a degree to be a writer. It doesn't take teachers or textbooks to show you how to write. One learns how to write by writing. There is no other way.
Listen to some good poetry- Free verse still has rules.
Definition of Free Verse
Free Verse is a form of Poetry composed of either rhymed or unrhymed lines that have no set fixed metrical pattern. The early 20th-century poets were the first to write what they called "free verse" which allowed them to break from the formula and rigidity of traditional poetry. The poetry of Walt Whitman provides many illustrations of Free Verse including his poem "Song of Myself".