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Look both ways before proceeding (Spiritual Journey First Thursday)

January 2018 seems like just yesterday in some ways—and like a long time ago in others. As I look back and ahead, here in the middle of the year, I see several trends.

FOCUS

My one-little-word for 2018 is FOCUS. I began to put that word into action early in the year by cutting out some activities and routines. One of them, you Poetry Fridayers may have noticed, was to withdraw from posting a weekly poem and linking up with Poetry Fridays. Indeed, my poetry-writing has taken a back seat to other things this year.

Graphic art interest

The interest in doodling, drawing, and lettering that was ignited when I discovered Bible art journaling last spring, has continued to grow. Joining Instagram earlier this year (@vi_nez), has challenged me to grow even more as I’ve discovered amazing artists whose work I admire. It seems to me that at some level, drawing uses similar mental, emotional and intellectual brain pathways as writing (especially writing poetry) and so my urge to create has been absorbed in this new-to-me art form.

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In June I took part in a flower-drawing challenge (we were given the names of 15 flowers to draw; lettering/words were at our discretion if at all). I chose a Christian quality as a title for each of my flowers. Here are four that I did.

Finish what I start

One writing project that I continue to work on is a novel—a sequel to the Bible fiction I published in 2012. That book (Destiny’s Hands) fictionalizes the story of the Bible character Bezalel. He was singled out for the job of making the Tabernacle and crafting all its worship accessories (along with many helpers—see Exodus 31:1-11). In Destiny’s Hands, I follow Bezalel from the Egyptian craft guild, where he works for Pharaoh, to the time he receives his assignment from Moses.

In the sequel (my working title is Under the Cloud), I follow his sister (a purely fictional character) through the rest of the exodus, taking her and her family to the border of the Promised Land.

I’ve worked on this project for several years and still don’t feel I’ve researched enough. But a while ago I decided enough of that, better get writing. I am about two thirds of the way through (53,000 words Monday) what I’ve planned. I’ve been beavering away at that project for most of this winter, doing 90 minutes a day four days a week.

During the summer months I’m going to shelve that project but am determined to take it down again when we get back from our travels. My goal, at this point, is to simply finish a first draft. It may never get published, but I will finish writing it.

Vacation

Our summer vacationing starts next week with trips planned to see our children and grandchildren and hopefully take a meander through Canada’s maritime provinces after the summer rush. We’ll see.

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Early in the year I was part of an artist mentoring group. In that group we were encouraged to create a vision board. Here is a photo of mine. It addresses various aspects of life and I think it might be time to update it.

I’m loving the creative shot-in-the-arm I’ve received from taking up art journaling, drawing, and lettering. It’s a lot of fun to learn new things! At this point I have no ambitions for this new venture but to learn it. My writing I hold loosely too. I put all these things under the umbrella of a Bible verse I chose for the year:

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. … One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

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spiritualjourneyfirst-thursday-copyThis post is part of Spiritual Journey Thursday, a link-up with other bloggers who write about their lives and work from a spiritual perspective. Doraine Bennett is hosting our link-up this month. Visit her at her blog Dori Reads.

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Duty revisited

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Image: Pixabay

Duty revisited

Forget what I said earlier about Duty
being a stern mother
and a tiny house
where I kept stubbing my toe
on “You shoulds.”

Lately Duty has become
a pool noodle
that keeps me happy
playing in the safe shallows
instead of risking
the big surf of the deep,

a tether
that won’t let my ball
arc dangerously through the air
and maybe get bruised on the rim.

I haven’t opened the freezer lately either
to check on the state of my dreams.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt – Inspiration:
This prompt for this poem was the following on the Poetic Asides blog on November 18, 2013:

“For today’s prompt, write a “forget what I said earlier” poem. This poem could be a response to a poem you wrote earlier in the challenge (or just earlier in general). Or it could cover one of those moments–I have them all the time–when you say something that ends up proving wrong or that you wish you’d taken back.”

The poem that “Duty Revisited” talks back to is…

DUTY

Duty is a stern mother:
Do your homework first.
Finish the cleaning before you read.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Don’t be late!

Duty is a tiny house,
no room for big projects.
I want … ricochets back
You should
Always stubbing my toe on something.

Duty is a pair of old jeans,
comfortable, unpretentious, serviceable,
sturdy, familiar,
safe.

Attention to duty means well-fed children,
happy parents,
a manicured lawn,
a reconciled account,
a shining car,
…a freezer full of dreams.

© 2004 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Personal, Writing

 

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work

And so the work of writing a poem a day begins…

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Image: Pixabay

work

it starts with pen on paper
it’s scribbles and cross-outs and trying again
it’s squeezing eyes shut to focus
it’s herding cat-thoughts
into an orderly, logical line
it’s silence
no music, the door closed
no one dropping into my office to chat

it’s following arrows and numbers
to read through the mess
of what I’ve written to this point
to “hear” what’s next
it’s ideas finally snapping into place
it’s the moment I switch
from writing desk to computer
prop messy sheets on the stand
it’s beginning to type

it’s feeling this thing I’m making
—a sculpture with words—
under my fingers
it’s making keyboard adjustments
as surely as if I used a file on wood
it’s reading to check tautness of ideas
flow of words, it’s tinkering
adding a word here, taking one out there
with an eye on word count

it’s saving, printing
putting it in a folder to cool
it’s going downstairs
flicking on some frivolous TV show
and resting my brain
that is now exhausted and mellow

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Prompt or inspiration:

The poem above was inspired by this April 9, 2015 prompt at Poetic Asides:

For today’s prompt, write a work poem. For some folks, writing is work (great, huh?). For others, work is teaching, engineering, or delivering pizzas. Still others, dream of having work to help them pay the bills or go to all ages shows. Some don’t want work, don’t need work, and are glad to be free of the rat race. There are people who work out, work on problems, and well, I’ll let you work out how to handle your poem today.

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VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some previously written but not-as-yet published poems out of storage. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to type it into comments and share your take on the subject with us. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Personal, Writing

 

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Preserving

Tomorrow is April 1st. As I write that I feel a frisson of excitement. April is National Poetry Month (in Canada, the U.S. and perhaps other places too). This April, as I’ve done during the last several Aprils, I’m planning to drop other projects and works-in-progress and concentrate on poetry. Yes!!

Last year I wrote a poem a day and posted those freshly written puppies here on the blog.

This year I’m planning to do something a little different. I’ll still be posting a poem a day but from my pantry or cold room, so to speak. I have written many poems over the years that I’ve never published or posted anywhere. This April I’m going give some of them their first outing. I may publish a poetry book review or two and some how-to pieces as well.

If I know the poem’s inspiration or prompt, I’ll post that. If you decide to use that prompt to write a poem of your own, you’re most welcome to type your poem into comments so we can all enjoy your take on the subject.

(I’ll still be writing a poem a day. But I won’t be going public with them while they’re still warm from the oven, at least not most days…I’m a slow writer–need time to rethink, revise, work out the kinks, etc.).

Wishing you a wonderful month of preserving.

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Image: Pixabay

Preserving

Near multitude of washed Gem jars
next to the stove with boiling pot
of glass tops, zinc and rubber rings
she stacks the beans to chop-chop-chop.

Stainless steel bowls of new-shelled peas
wait still and mute for boiling bath
three-minute scald then colander scoop
into cold water filled with cubes.

Skins of tomatoes, peaches, beets
slip easily after scalding soak
hands soon stained red, sticky with juice
of roundness slippery as wet soap.

Sliced cucumbers sit overnight
in salty brine before they take
their Million Dollar Pickle bath
tart vinegar, mustard, turmeric.

In steamy kitchen open-mouthed
boxes wait scoop of beans or peas
jars merrily clink in canning pot
our cold room soon is rainbow-raised

with rich wine beets and red chow-chow
yellow peaches, pickles green
a freezer piled with boxes neat
of carrots, broccoli, peas and beans.

I too gather from my life’s plot
dehydrate, freeze, pickle and can
sustenance for my winter’s days
preserve with paper and with pen.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Prompt or inspiration:

I wrote this poem in response to Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” considered one of the top 100 poems of all time. It was linked on Adele Kenny’s blog The Music In It, her post of April 2015 poetry prompts.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at The Poem Farm. Two days ago her blog was 7 years old. On her blogaversary post, she shared her National Poetry Month inspirations for the last several years. I love the many ways and places that people find inspiration for writing!

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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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Just an ordinary walk


In the last few weeks my walking partner, dear hubby, has been finding it more and more painful to walk. Then the doctor told him, no more long walks until you’re better. So for now I am walking on my own.

When I took solitary walks in the past I experienced a wonderful loosening of words and ideas. And it’s happening again, if I’m alert to it.

To help with that, I carry a little notebook and pen to write down words, turns of phrase, and images that I don’t want to forget. Or I hold them in my head. That’s what I did for the poem below. When I got home I free-wrote like crazy to capture everything in prose. Later I worked some of my ideas into …

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“I am a long skinny shadow now, walking down a golden street” (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Just an ordinary walk

On this cold morning I am soft wax
feeling intimidated by impatient cars
swishing, swooshing
swirling beside me.

One turns right in front
of my WALK light, almost clips my toes.
Even in moments of still, distant traffic hums
a far off siren screams.

City birds above me chirp, warble
sing their own bustle, swoop down (peck, peck),
flutter away. They are nonchalant, daring,
savvy to the rhythm of feet and tires (hop, hop).

My nose tests wind gusts, smells
gasoline, diesel, vanilla, a passerby’s peppery
perfume,  chocolate, cinnamon
(something good is baking at Safeway).

I am a long  skinny shadow now walking down a golden street
past a lady in a taupe coat with her silky dog in red
and a grey couple smoking on a bench.
They pull their Lhasa Apso close so I can pass.

I can’t find the book drop at the library.
The security guard points me to it’s green-light lips
“You scan it.” He shows me which bar-code
and the slot sucks the book from my hand.

As I turn toward home, the sun stares
into my eyes, brash. I shade them
with hands balled into gloves, fingers
squeezing warmth from palms.

A kid with a black-and-white backpack strides by
black arms bare under short black sleeves
black jeans, white shoes—so cool
but how can he not feel so cold?

I climb stairs, twist key in the lock—
happy to be home.
It was just an ordinary walk
but forever engraved in this poem.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the queen of poetic forms, Tricia at her blog Miss Rumphius Effect.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Objects, People, Personal, Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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Poetry Friday – Poetry Camp edition

Welcome to Poetry Friday, hosted right here today.

When I found out, way back, that Poetry Camp was going to be happening in Bellingham (a mere 40 miles from where I live), I knew I had to be there. Last weekend it all came to pass!

Sign boards like this one welcomed us to the beautiful Wilson Library on the grounds of Western Washington University Saturday morning.

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A helpful library staff helped us find our way in this warren of a building to a grand marble staircase that took us to the fourth floor foyer. There table upon table of books were on display—all children’s poetry books!

Table upon table of children’s poetry books.

Just beyond the foyer, the vast, high-ceilinged Reading Room was our Poetry Camp mess hall, you might say, and between 8:30 and 9:30 it filled up quite healthily with poet enthusiasts, poets, teachers, librarians etc.

Inside, in addition to many strangers, were friends. It was such fun picking out the people I knew, sort of, having Poetry Friday’d with them for months but peered at their faces only as tiny thumbnails. Here are some you might recognize.

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Poetry Friday poets: Doraine Bennett, April Halprin Wayland, Jeannine Atkins, Robyn Hood Black, and Irene Latham.

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Irene Latham with the irrepressible Joy Acey

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Me with Bridget Magee

The program was well organized and flowed quite flawlessly. After a welcome from our WWU hosts Nancy Johnson and Sylvia Tag, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong presented keynotes.


The morning one introduced the Poetry Friday books, how to use them, and then had contributors read poems from the books.

Both the morning keynote (theme: Poetry is for any time) and afternoon one (theme: Poetry is for every subject) made wonderful use of the 38 visiting poet contributors. As you’ll see from the little slide show of some of the readers, it was a treat! I felt like a kid again, held spellbound by teachers who could make poetry come alive.

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We also enjoyed breakout sessions.

As a fan of verse novels, it was wonderful to sit at the feet of four pros: Holly Thompson, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill, and Jeannine Atkins.

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Verse Novel presenters Holly Thompson, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill (Jeannine Atkins not in the picture).

Here are some bits from my notes:
Jeannine Atkins: She loves reading history and looking for “details that wake up the story.” She also looks for what she / we have in common with the historical characters she writes about.

Nikki Grimes: “I want to find the crack that will slip into the reader’s heart.”

Stephanie Hemphill: Her process (of research, and finding a connection with the character) is different for each book she’s written.

Holly Thompson: She uses page turns as a sort of stanza break for some of her chapter-length poems. She finds that the white space of poetry is also useful in easing tension and convincing reluctant readers to read.


My second workshop was “Writing for journals,  magazines and anthologies,” ably led by Bridget Magee and Janet Wong.  We were all encouraged to read (Janet: “Read 50 books a week – take your rolling luggage to the library”), write, send out our poems and reward ourselves—for rejections as well as acceptances. Janet reminded us:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

If / when we decide to self-publish, Janet assured us we were then artisanally published by a “small press” or “consortium” (if we collaborate in the publishing process).

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Poetry & Science workshop presenters Jeannine Atkins, Heidi Bee Roemer and Linda Dryfhout.

My afternoon breakout was “Poetry + Science.” Jeannine Atkins, Heidi Bee Roemer and Linda Dryfhout shared their rich experience of writing and teaching science using poetry. (It almost made me wish I could go back into the classroom again—almost.)

The public was also invited to the last event of the day. Jack Prelutsky (first US Children’s Poet Laureate ever) signed books, recited poems and serenaded us. Then he was honored by some delightful poetry reciters from a local elementary school and by fellow poet, Tod Marshall, Washington State’s current Poet Laureate.

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Jack Prelutsky signing.

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Jack Prelutsky singing.

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Jack Prelutsky reciting

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Tod Marshall delivered a wonderful tribute to his fellow poet!

Finally, there was cake. What a perfect way to end a sweet day!

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And now it’s time for today’s dessert—your poems. Please add them to the widget. Happy reading!

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in People, Poetry Friday, Writing

 

Reading a poem

Are you part of a local poetry group that meets for readings and open mics? I’ve been attending our local Fraser Valley Poets Society open mics and other functions for upwards of ten years now! It’s been a great place to share work, get practice in reading, even sell books.

For some of those years I’ve been the group’s webmaster. I still am. That means I try to put up a post on our site’s blog after each reading. This involves taking photos of our events and figuring out what to say about them.

Our most recent open mic was last Monday. I snapped away during the reading and came home with a camera full — images of our readers with a variety of facial expressions and in various poses. All those shots reminded me  of how doing a public reading involves so much more than just parroting the words on the page (or phone).

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Image courtesy Pixabay.com

Reading a poem

Reading a poem’s
more than reading just words
about showers or summer
or hockey or birds.

It’s grimaces, eye flicks
a grin or a frown.
It’s where you are looking
upward or down.

It’s words clearly spoken
precisely intoned
to embellish the writing
you’ve carefully honed.

It’s mystery rhythms
that beat soft to loud
you’re part of the story
enchanting the crowd.

It’s significant pause
of emotional choke,
the punchline delivery
of a well-told joke.

Then hand over the mic
to the next girl or guy
while audience claps,
sighs a satisfied sigh.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

To see the poem, above, together with some of our poets in action, check out the original post on our society blog HERE.

(By the way, if you slip on over, you won’t see me. I did read, but you’ll have to take my word for it as there are no pixels to prove it.)

PF-2This poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the Haiku Stickies Queen herself, Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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