Aren’t Poets just Word People?


Some of us are visual, too. (I began college as an art major but got side-tracked by something more important.)

And remember that whole artsy-fartsy thing poets have going on? We need an outlet.

“Voila!”  Enter: Visual Poetry!

Visual Poetry delights the eye and excites the mind. It “blurs the distinction between art and text.” It is conceptual and editorial. While there are myriad definitions one thing stands clear about visual poetry–

“typographic elements are secondary to visual elements, are minimal, or in some cases are absent altogether from the work.”

Today I share some of mine with you. If you are wondering, I use several different image-capturing devices and photo-editing techniques.

Reading in Bed

reading in bed 3

Before the Funeral

Before the funeral





I’m Hooked!

For those of us who feel what we see and write, visual poetry startles our imagination.  It’s a playground medium where art connects with words, concepts, culture, emotions–

It’s endless.

What do you think? Have you ever tried visual poetry?

Letting go of Free-Verse

Me + Form = Slacker

My menu bar sports a tab titled “Forms.” I had good intentions when I added that tab. It’s handy to have a personal reference and hunting the internet for a specific form can be frustrating.

I’m feeling guilty for neglecting it (a little) Because I kind of love forms.

Forms are not the old codgerly crackpots you may envision.

I won my first ever writing contest by crafting a Shakespearean sonnet back when my boys were toddlers. I was going through a divorce at the time and was taking any job I could to get some income. Five nights a week, I was an aide in a group home for young men. Twice a week, we drove them to an art program at the Park District. While they were in class, I sat in the stairwell with my yellow legal pad and scratched out words that eventually became the winner of our community college writing contest. Consequently, I feel an emotional affinity for forms. Forms have made me more disciplined in my word choices, pacing, and prosody building.

I enjoy the practice and the rush of poetic wind when I complete one.

Confused formless poems

Without form many poems are stuck in the traffic of verbs and nouns and phrases. Slowly, meandering in the free-verse lane. Crying out for form. Form would give them structure and depth.

Formless poem


But, which form should you choose?

Oftentimes, if you search for a specific form, the explanation is like reading a calculus equation but with words-overwhelming and boring. (Sorry math geeks.)

Get out of the Free-Verse Lane

Just recently Robert Brewer at Poetic Asides posted a LIST OF 50 POETIC FORMS FOR POETS including descriptions even I can understand and follow. So helpful! He also gives poets opportunities to write a poem in that form, post it, and receive feedback from other poets. (Everyone needs a little encouragement.)

A few of my other favorite places to find descriptions of forms are: The Poetry Foundation, Creative Bloomings, DVerse, and Poetry Soup. Even Wikipedia has a list.

Most of the time, I drive my poetry car in the free-form (free-verse) lane but sometimes it’s nice to hang out at the oasis. It’s a treat to pull over, grab a cool beverage, and shift words into a new rhythm or rhyme.

I encourage you to occasionally slow your horse cart or Maserati, pull over, smell the daisies, and embrace the form. Play in it. Fill it with your empty poems. Leave free-verse behind for a few days.

You’ll surprise yourself.

A Form-Fitting Question

Do you have a favorite form site? Or do you find yourself searching several sites to understand the rules of a specific form?

Where do you and your poems fit?

Golden Shovel

Recently, Poetic Asides (Robert Brewer) hosted a challenge to write a Golden Shovel poem. This was a new form to me.

Here are the rules:

· Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
· Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
· Keep the end words in order.
· Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
· The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

Robert sorted through 700 comments. You can imagine my glee at finding my name on the top ten list. I’ve only made that list once before so perhaps I was a little giddy. Congrats to all the winners!



“Things I’ve learned along the wrong path”
by J.lynn Sheridan

The pining of the evening winds tell
another story—the capture of lovers and all
their secrets never explored because the
things that really matter are forgotten–truth,
beauty, and purity—the trinity of passion. But
when truth hurts and beauty fails to tell
of its suffering, only purity remains. It
stands alone as the plumb line without slant.

From Emily Dickinson #1129

Virtual Blog Tour Stop Over

The tour requests to Land


The virtual blog tour has a layover at Writing on the Sun today.

I was invited by Michelle Pond, my pal poet from MA Poet (FocusinI Keep You With Meg on life with a lens and a verse.) Michelle is in my writing group, Wordsmith Studio.

What I appreciate about her poetry is that she is not afraid to delve into difficult subjects.

Her chapbook, I Keep You With Me, attests to her skill at writing about grief.

Click to purchase her chapbook for .99 on your Kindle or Kindle for PC. You’ll understand what I mean.


Welcome to Writing on the Sun

The tour is simple. It is really just a series of three questions that I answer and then I send the tour on its way.

1. Why do I write what I do?

Easy Peasy.

As it pertains to this blog, poetry is how I connect, explore, and sort life.

Also, I think in verse. Which sometimes makes it hard to write in sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. But, that won’t stop me from . . .  (see #3b.)

2. How does my writing process work?


If I’m creating plot, characterization, or “what ifs,” I  play inside that sand box in the mornings and in the wee hours of the night.

If I’m editing, that waits until the afternoon.

If I’m doing something visual, (see answer #3c) that’s a evening/night thing.

However, interspersed between creative spurts, I dabble in my research to reset my brain. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Truthfully, research is my Achilles heal in that I grab both achilles heals and disappear in that rabbit hole faster than a March Hare.

A right and left brain phenomenon? I don’t know. It just works that way with me.

Got it?


Neither do I. Sometimes the order flip flops. With no warning. It’s quite unnerving to wake up with my face in (see #3c) and go to sleep with my brain in 3b mode, which aggravates my insomniac sleeping patterns.

3. What am I working on?

a. I began a new blog awhile back. The Slow Forget. I pass on info about Dementia and then sometimes I write a poem about my mom’s journey in that neverland of memory. I’m interested in utilizing Nina Amir’s method of Blogging a Book. But, not sure how to approach it yet.

b. I’m tidying up my first novel. It is still to be determined if it ever sees the light of day. Beta reader is reading. (I think) I’m toying with the synopsis still but with trepidation cuz if Beta says story stinks, then I need a total revamp of story and synopsis, which is almost as difficult to write as story itself. Then I need to decide if money is important because I may need to hire an editor. But, already, the new WIP has some traction. This time I’m going to use Scrivener to write it so I’m watching the How-to videos to learn.

c. I’m taking a more serious interest in Visual Poetry. Actually, it’s something I’ve toyed with for a long time but just now am roaming the literary journals to begin submitting some of the my work. If I get bit by the brave bug, I’ll post some here.

d.The other thing I do is read. And read. And read. I decided I read so much that I became a professional reader on NetGalley, which really means I am privileged to read advanced copies of books and write reviews. For fun.

Tickets! please take my tickets!

I’m offering free tickets to the blog tour to the following writers, who are also members of Wordsmith Studio. Please stop over at their place for some tea and pleasant reading.

Gerry Wilson

Gerry W

Gerry Wilson is a fiction writer, wife, mother of four sons, grandmother seven times over (four boys and three girls), and step-grandmom to three more boys, including a set of fraternal twins.

A life-long Mississippian, Gerry’s work is sometimes “Southern,” but not always. Her short fiction has appeared in Prime Number Magazine Volumes 19 and 37, Prime Number Editors’ Choice Anthology 2012, Good Housekeeping Magazine, and a number of other journals and magazines. The opening chapter of a novel, Spirit Lamp, won a “best of” award in Jane Hamilton’s fiction workshop at Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise (2011). Besides Ms. Hamilton, Gerry has studied fiction writing with Antonya Nelson, Ann Hood, Connie May Fowler, Dorothy Allison, and Ron Hansen. She’s currently querying her second novel, working on a third, and polishing up a short story collection.

Gerry and her husband live in Jackson, Mississippi, with their neurotic Siamese cat, Oliver.

To learn more about her, visit The Writerly Life and her writer’s page on Facebook. Her Twitter handle is @gerrywil.

Elissa Field


Elissa Field lives in Florida where she where she balances her time as a busy writer, teacher and mother of two sons. She has had short fiction published in venues including Conjunctions online. She is seeking an agent for her first novel, while at work finishing a second, and often shares writing resources, posts on process and reading lists at her blog. Her Twitter handle is @elissafield


Who Needs Poetry? Maybe not you.

The New York times ran a piece this week entitled:

Poetry: Who Needs It?

(by William Logan)

It’s a fair question. Kind of like me asking–On-line gaming: Who needs it? (My son is gasping)

Or Curling: What’s the brouhaha? (Husband’s turn to snarl)

But, we’re talking about the arts and the arts always induce a pinched suck-in-your-cheeks sour mouth gawk.

I read the article relishing that most of The NY Times readers would gloss over the post wearing their finest Sour Worm face. I always enjoy a good poetry article for that look alone. Imagining the multitudes of twisted lips.

Eye pops

I scanned the article and two statements popped out at me.

The first:

“The idea that poetry must be popular is simply a mistake.”

What a daring sobering comforting comment. Under the guise of altruism, poets, at times, manufacture a false concept that they should procreate an abundance of verse in efforts to universalize their craft while at the same time embracing or even flaunting their obscurity and “weirdness.”

They fabricate the idea that all the world needs is a daily reading of Pablo Neruda and the earth will heave a collective sigh, clasp multi-cultured politically incorrect hands and sing Kumbayah.

Or, more simply, all we need to do is slip a personal poem in a lovely garden and the sun will shine eternally.

gossamer eyes

Then when the nightly news reveals increasing Middle East threats and national tergiversations of “phony scandals,” “Al-Qaeda is on the run,” and “not a smidgen of corruption,” we shake our coupletted fists and spew odes of smite and ballads of shame–They just don’t understand. What the world needs now is love love love. A penny for the healing powers of my poetry?

Passion or Pride?

They (we) claim to be a passionate clan but after awhile, don’t the jumbled ramblings of this dichotomy begin to sound like prideful whining?

I think so.

The truth is poets “dig” being a little different than the average bear. And the truth is poetry is not a panacea for the world’s woes.

We can’t make the claim that one poem will heal a world. A poem is not a poem to all. It’s a private experience.

And thus I end this post with the second statement that caught my eye.

“Poetry is what language alone can do.”

For me, this answers the author’s question–Poetry: Who Needs it?

Those who feel language.

That’s who.


Three Minus One/Return to Zero

 Three Minus One

One of the endearing and fruitful aspects about being a poet/writer is when opportunities to contribute to endeavors and projects that serve to help others comes along.

I am overjoyed to be a part of a book that does just that.

Three Minus One is the companion anthology to the movie Return to Zero (more on that later) and I’m more than overwhelmed to be a contributing author. In fact, all the contributors to this book have at one time experienced the lost of a child.

Telling our stories through narrative or poetry is healing.

Reading the stories and poems is also healing because connection and sharing are twin companions to healing.

Pain can be like a virus if left to languish alone so I urge you to please consider purchasing a copy for yourself or a friend.


Return to Zero

Tomorrow, May 17, the film Return to Zero, will premiere on the Lifetime Channel. The movie stars Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein and is based on the true story of the writer/producer Sean Hanish and his wife.

Here is the intro on the IMBD blurb:

RETURN TO ZERO is based on the true story of a successful couple preparing for the arrival of their first child. Just weeks before their due date they discover that their son has died in the womb and will be stillborn.

3 to 1

This story is very similar to mine. Years ago, I miscarried at six months. It’s a heartbreaking ordeal and at that time, grieving wasn’t acceptable.

I hope this movie will change the perception that grief for a lost child before it is born, is petty and self-indulgent. I also hope it begins the conversation of how losing a child in utero can disrupt a family and how important it is share your pain.

If you have lost a child or if you know someone who has, I encourage you to tune in tomorrow night 7 p.m. Central time/8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific.

Thanks to the Lifetime Channel for airing this difficult yet important message.

The companion book, Three Minus One, is available in paperback as well as a Kindle version, if you prefer.

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