Thursday, January 19, 2017

Only Connect

Me, at the apex of my "Hey Jude-loving" days.

I'm happy to say my poem "Dia de los Muertos" won second place in the Member's Only category of the Oregon Poetry Association's Fall 2016 contest. This was a fun piece to write. Since poems for this contest have to be six - twelve lines, I took four haiku I'd written a few years before and linked them together.

As a teacher of creative writing, I love this type of play. Take a line from your journal, a line from your grocery list and a line from a medical bill or a concert program or a Valentine and see what happens when you combine them. Of course some of our greatest works were created by following a carefully drawn road map, but it's also fun to be surprised, to follow some hidden paths and make new discoveries along the way. In my poem, I wouldn't have consciously sat down and made a connection between dry cookies and my brother's silver trumpet, but as I began to weave my haiku together, I found that when I united these images, they expressed something that went beyond the ideas I'd set down in the two separate pieces.

In the Poet's Choice category of the same OPA contest, my longer piece, "Hey Jude, Hey You," won an honorable mention. Once again, in writing this piece, I had the pleasure of making some unexpected connections. I took the song and scribbled away until I found what it meant to me. I actually thought this piece was going to be about my brother, but the poem took me to an entirely different country.

If you're interested in entering an Oregon Poetry Association contest, you can learn more about them at At the same site, you can also order copies of Verseweavers, the OPA's journal of award-winning poems.

Here's to a year of traveling to new places and making new connections!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Certain Women

As I make plans for a new season of women's writing classes, I've been thinking about all of the women who've inspired my work. I've also realized that the list is nearly infinite because it includes famous writers (Jane Austen! Kate Atkinson! Naomi Shihab Nye!) as well as friends, family members, neighbors, students and even cyber friends I don't know all that well who enrich the lives of others by sharing snippets of their personal stories online.

If you live in the Portland area and are looking for creative inspiration from other women, my winter writing classes begin January 9.
Creative Writing for Women: Explore the depths of your imagination and memory. Write from prompts that may lead to new poems, stories, personal essays and other creative pieces. All experience levels are welcome to join this encouraging group.

Mondays, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
January 9 – March 13
TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont
 $80 for all 8 weeks or $12 to drop in
(No class 1/16 & 2/20)