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Showing posts from April, 2021

Writers Gotta Read, Right? Poetry

Poetry for me started with Mother Goose, many many decades ago. I still have a fondness for the old nursery rhymes, but of course, there's much more to this particular genre. To help you (and me) celebrate/appreciate Poetry Month, I wrangled together the “list of lists" below. So, hickory, dickory, dock , let's hop to it! (Or should that be hickety, dickety, dock ?) Hickety Dickety Dock 2, by William Wallace Denslow Public Domain   Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, turned to experts for A Real Poet’s Poet: 11 Favorite Poets on What They’re Reading for Poetry Month Bustle offers 14 collections in Here’s Your National Poetry Month Required Reading List New York Public Library’s “Poetry Committee” chimes in with It’s Poetry Month: Here Are NYPL’s Best Poetry Books of 2020 Because I’m a fan of haiku (a little volume of Little Enough is sitting by my desk), here is Read Poetry’s 10 Vivid Haikus to Leave You Breathless   Moving beyond Mother Goose, this Scholastic post lists

A Gallery of Famous English and American Poets

Decades ago, I was shopping in a second-hand store. It may have been Goodwill or Salvation Army. I always shopped for books—old books, and I’ve found some beauties, especially old art magazines from England. But this day, I saw the book featured here: 500 gold-leaf-edged pages of English and American Poets. The publication date is 1874. Most poets had their etched portraits to begin their sections, with more etchings interspersed throughout their poems. The book was $5. I snapped it up without hesitation. I have another of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, 1975, but it’s not anywhere near as precious. I chose a few first stanzas of some of the more popular poems, except for the full poem by Browning because I liked it so much. In addition to Gray, Tennyson, Keats, and Browning, there are poems by sixty-five more, including Wordsworth, Scott,  Whittier, Butler, Longfellow, and Poe. I found only three other women besides Elizabeth Barret Browning: Felicia Hemans, Jean Ingelow, a

Poetry: Read it and Write It

 While I don't read poetry on a regular basis, I do enjoy the occasional collection, and I'm reading one now for review on my personal blog , The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon. I can't say much about the book as I've just started reading a few of the poems, but I'm struck by the honesty of what the author shares. Getting in touch with poetry again reminded me about how often that medium has the power to stir emotion in a way that prose often does not.  I truly believe that it's good for writers to read poetry, even if it's not your medium of choice. We learn something about how to write a story with conciseness, and we learn how to dig deep for those emotional connections we need to make with readers. Those heart-to-heart connections are what keeps a reader engaged over and above plot. Or maybe I should say below plot?  So I encourage you to give poetry a try.  Here are some recent reading recommendations from Simon & Shuster that caught my

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme — That Is the Question

Merriam-Webster defines poetry as verbiage chosen and arranged to affect the reader emotionally through rhythm and sound. It also notes that writing other than what is normally viewed as poetry can be likened to it if the beauty of expression is particularly moving. I like that expanded definition. Poems come in numerous shapes, sizes, and forms. Let's examine a few. Blank verse doesn't rhyme; but its carefully structured, precise rhythm typically follows a duh DUH, duh DUH, duh DUH, duh DUH, duh DUH pattern — known as iambic pentameter. Enough said.  Less structured free verse lacks the rhythm, rhyme, and musical lilt of its blank verse cousin. Simply stated, it isn't encumbered by strict rules but still qualifies as poetry. Epic poems , lengthy (book length) tales depicting the lives and times of characters from the past, include Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey and Longfellow's Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie ,   as well as numerous other long works. The similar

Poet's Journey: Interview with Kim Hansen (Part 2)

Today, we continue our Q&A with poet Kim Hansen. Quick Kim bio: Kim received her MFA in dance and spends time outdoors every day. Writing, especially poems and letters, is another way she explores the relationship of humans moving in our environments. Kim is a massage therapist and Feldenkrais Practitioner and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her astronomer husband and their translator son. You can view Part 1 of her interview here and connect with her on Facebook here  or email her at . Why do you do post your poetry daily on Facebook? Writer Laurie Wagner (teaches Wild Writing classes ) offered the Wild Writers a private Facebook page to share our work if we cared to, and she suggested there is something helpful about putting our words out there. I decided to do everything I could to make the most of those 27 days, so I posted my first piece to that Facebook page. I asked myself what would really push me, and I knew I wanted to put it on my own personal page

Poet's Journey: Interview with Kim Hansen (Part 1)

Today we welcome poet Kim Hansen. Here's a little about Kim: Kim wasn’t sure whether to dance or work for the forestry department, so she received her MFA in dance and spends time outdoors every day. Writing, especially poems and letters, is another way she explores the relationship of humans moving in our environments. Kim is a massage therapist and Feldenkrais Practitioner and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her astronomer husband and their translator son. You can connect with Kim on Facebook here  or email her at In this two-part interview, Kim shares her journey into poetry writing, offers some advice, and talks about what is next for her. What got you started on writing poetry? I wrote poetry in school study halls when my homework was done, and I was looking for a way to spend time while also processing feelings. But that was a long time ago, and other than writing in journals though the years, or getting together with friends for free-writing sessions, I h

Waxing Poetically in Fiction

I am not a poet. Yes, I have written poetry, and some of it might even be palatable, but overall, it would receive no finger snaps upon hearing them. What I do have, however, is poetic license within my fiction and non-fiction writing. Just like fiction, there are elements within poetry that when developed well can heighten the caliber of the work. Some of those elements include voice , imagery , sound , rhythm , and structure ; I'm sure you already see how these elements find their way into fiction, too. We can all agree that fiction writers care about the voices of their characters , especially the voice(s) of the main character(s) that readers follow throughout a novel. What these characters say (and don't say) and how they say it informs readers and helps them to make the characters real in their minds. In developing their characters and the worlds in which they live, fiction writers also care about the use of imagery . This, of course, does not mean to write flowery pr

Ask Us Anything About #Writing with Amy Shamroe and Our Blogging Team

Dani: Dear readers, today we welcome Amy Shamroe to the Blood-Red Pencil. Amy, tell us a bit about your writing project. Amy I have worked in books pretty much my entire adult life (bookseller and book festival organizer). As one might imagine, I have been a voracious reader since I could first read, too.   Despite that, when I was sitting in my living room working on designing an ad for work and an idea of a book popped in my head - not just a book, but a series - I was both excited and scared. Like many I have daydreamed here and there and toyed with ideas, but suddenly I could see my main character and her love interest detective. Her character and personality were so clear, I swear I could hear her voice. And so was the time period - the 1920s. Living through a pandemic now certainly certainly makes that time period so relatable. But it also has so much to work with - the losses from the war combined with the wealth and excess of the new decade. The changes in everything from

Poetry is Just Not My Thing

Even if I admit to being deeply moved by Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb , delivered with such stirring passion at President Biden’s inauguration, poems are still not my thing. And even if I have a favorite poem that I’ll read again and again, specifically The Calf-Path by Sam Foss, poetry does not regularly call me to read or write in any of its forms. Counting syllables to create a meaningful haiku does not feel like fun. Even if I wanted to write more ambitious poems, I’d have to go back and learn the basics all over again. Any little thing I might have learned from my college class has long ago been deleted from memory. For me, National Poetry Month is less exciting than some of the other national month options. Did you know that April is also National Fresh Celery Month? I thought not. I love celery, especially with cream cheese. Or peanut butter. April is also National Humor Month. Humor has carried me through the last year via television comedy and the antics of my cat and do

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Why I bought the book: Magic Lessons is a prequel to the book Practical Magic.  I am ashamed to admit I had never read Practical Magic (which I have now remedied along with book two in the series The Rules of Magic and a third will be out later this year The Book of Magic ). I will likely purchase her entire back list and add her to my top favorite writer list. I had enjoyed the 1998 movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Magic Lessons traces the origin of the Owens bloodline starting with Maria Owens in the 1600s and her mother Rebecca. Rebecca leaves her daughter Maria with a woman named Hannah Owens, so she can chase love. Thus begins the Owens women's fraught entanglement with romantic love which seems doomed to bring them sorrow even as they help other women with their relationship woes. Hannah teaches Maria to always love someone who loves you back. However, like her wild mother, Maria falls for a weak man who leaves her pregnant and alone in the world. Maria follow