Archive for the ‘Mentors’ Category

Some of the Easiest Characters Around

June 15, 2012 9 comments
Jack Russell Terrier with ball.

Jack Russell Terrier with ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever struggled to come up that character to add comic relief to a story? What about the little kid who holds the hearts of everyone in a five mile radius with the look on his face and the expression in his eyes? Or, the old lady down the street who is always there with a kind word and an understanding presence?

These are all common characters, so common they’ve become near stereotypes. But how do you create freshness to a stereotype without removing what makes them appealing and affective?

Use a different model for your character. Let’s say you’ve chosen to have an old lady for your story. She’s going to live next door to the family you’re writing about. Let’s also assume that that’s all you know about this character.

One way to get a fresh perspective on this character is to change your own perspective. The only thing you know for certain is that this character is old and lives nearby. With this in mind think of others that could be old and live nearby.

  1. An aged golden retriever that’s been faithful and gentle all her life. Her slightly coppery locks have grayed. Her step is more measured now. Her ability to rush is curtailed with age. She is always available for a hug, and she thinks nothing of spending an afternoon with anyone who needs a companion, to sooth and ease a hurt.
  2. An older Scot Terrier that doesn’t take guff from anyone for any reason. Female she might be, but tough, and knows her own mind. Short legs don’t keep her from taking long walks each day; even if they tire easily, she’ll push through to the end.
  3. An older mare that’s birthed her last foal and been put to graze and grow complacent in her last years. She stands at the fence looking to the west, her eyes seeing the wild herds that used to roam the plains and mountains, whose king stallion stands guard at the edge of his circled harem.

You choice of character models are endless, when you realize that all creatures as they age share common traits. By removing the “animal” from the model and concentrating on the behavior, the visible traits, your own story character takes on a new dimension. You could find these characters in your own home.

Remember that comic relief character? Can you think of models to give you a handle on such a role in your story? Here are three that might work.

  1. A Jack Russell Terrier. That’s the hyper pup on springs. If you don’t laugh at the antics of one of these little clowns, there’s no hope for your character.
  2. Chickens are comic creatures, often overlooked for their relief value. Watch a small flock during evening feeding of veggie scraps. Or, watch them tussle over the use of the swing or perch. They also have personalities.
  3. Wild birds during nesting season. They are a hoot; stealing each other’s nesting materials, poking each other, squabbling, all while trying to attract a mate.

Writers must look outside their usual views in order to keep their perspectives out of stereotype territory. One of the surest ways of doing that is to create different criteria for developing characters. Substituting aspects and traits of animals is one of the easiest methods for ensuing uniqueness.

Give yourself time in the park to watch those creatures that frequent it; ducks and geese on the pond, squirrels racing from tree to tree, or birds arguing back and forth. Go to a quiet wooded area and sit down next to a small stream. Wait in silence. You’ll find more inspiration that you know what to do with if you’re patient.

Come back and tell me of your adventures. Let me know how this process works for you. We can always discuss what you learn along the way.

Until then, a bientot,






Two for the Money, Two for the Show

May 22, 2012 4 comments

This morning has been one of entertainment and revelation, as well as finding two more writers I want to get to know much better now that I know so little about them. Odd phrasing, I know, but true, nonetheless.

I met John Jakesthrough a short article he did for the June issue of The

Cover of "North and South (North and Sout...

Cover via Amazon

WriterMagazine. Though I’ve dabbled in his books, I never stopped to pay attention to the one behind the words. That privilege came with his article.

Jakes talks about how plot, while important, seldom brings someone back for a second reading of a book. Rather, it is a character that calls the reader back for another look into the life represented within the confines of the book’s covers. That reasoning is one I can agree with without reservation.

At fifteen, Louis Bromfield’s marvelous novel “The Rains Came” leaped off the school library’s shelf and into my waiting hands. This story for more mature

Cover of "The Rains Came"

Cover of The Rains Came

audiences both surprised my composition teacher and dismayed her. She felt I wouldn’t be able to grasp the complexity of its story, characters, and plotline at a mere 15 years old.

I devoured this story of colonialist India with it’s coming revolution for sovereignty and its interwoven native characters and English colonials, its love stories—both adulterous and forbidden inter-racial unions, and its political statements. I couldn’t put it down. The depth of the story spoke volumes to me. I wanted more and took the time to find just that.

I went to the public library to find more books by this author. I came away with his Pulitzer winner, “Autumn Leaves” and counted myself fortunate that it was available. I’d discovered a world beyond kid’s literature. I could read something again with the depth and knowledge of Tennyson, Homer, and Shakespeare and get away from what was “acceptable” for my age bracket.

I understood perfectly what John Jakes spoke about. I’ve reread Bromfield’s books half a dozen times since that first introduction. Now I can look forward to reading Jakes’ marvelous volumes of “The Kent Chronicles” and “North and South,” along with anything else I can find.

English: Joyce Maynard at the 2010 Texas Book ...

Once I put way The Writer, I found Canteen Magazine online. I was looking for a new market. I found much more than that. I perused a past issue, while I sorted through the offerings, and came across one of the best writer’s articles I’ve read in months.

Of course, I’d heard of Joyce Maynard but never read her books. There are so many books out there and so little time, I hadn’t yet come to hers; a situation about to change soon.

In her article A Storytelling Life, October 3, 2011, (from Issue Two), Joyce talked of her mother and the early training in storytelling that she obtained by continual exposure. Joyce says:

“THERE YOU HAVE IT. My legacy. Daughter of a master storyteller—for whom allegiance to the truth took second position after reverence for good drama—I took to heart the lessons of two stories told to me when I was very young. One was of the princess locked in a room each night with a pile of straw, instructed to spin it into gold. That was what a writer had to do, I knew: Study a pile of dry sticks and grass, and figure out a way to make it glittering and precious. But the legend I loved even more came from Arabian Nights. It concerned Scheherazade, a young woman condemned to death, who kept a man from killing her by telling him a new and irresistible story every night. Spinning a tale well, I figured, could actually save a person’s life. Possibly mine.”

Throughout the article, phrases spring out to grip the throat of the reader, forcing one’s full attention to the detail given in spare, sharp words. Hers is an example of living without adverbs, of allowing the story to be about character while placing them on a train called “story line” and taken for a ride to allow the reader to see the characters from all sides. Her sentences flow into one another with such ease of statement that one is seldom aware of individual bits of punctuation, while the words place vivid images into the mind without effort.

Maynard explains: “But I learned more than craft under my mother’s ceaseless tutelage. She instructed me in the essence of what well-told stories are meant to accomplish—the idea that the joy of writing well might actually redeem and even trump the raw material of painful experience, thereby revealing deeply meaningful truths to the reader. Days when I’d come home from school, upset by some injustice or the hurtful behavior of a friend, my mother’s words of consolation seldom varied. “Never mind,” she said. “You can always write about it.”

Along with John Jakes article, Maynard’s example of what’s important to any kind of writing will have a special place in my new reference notebook. Take an opportunity to read these articles for yourself. You can find them at:

The Writer Magazine:

Canteen Magazine:

And if you happen to come across others that are of special note, drop the link in a comment here for everyone to share.

Happy reading, all, and happy learning. A bientot,


Interview with Poet Walt Wojtanik

May 7, 2012 76 comments

I have a treat for you all. I’m visiting today with someone whom I’ve come to know over the past few years, though not as well as I’d like. Poet or playwright, Walt Wojtanik is someone to emulate, especially in this world of verse and meter.

Walt has made a place for himself in the world of poetry and in the hearts of those who’ve come to know him, even a little. On his poetry site “Poetic Bloomings,” that he co-administers with Marie Elena Good, he describes himself as a hibiscus.

I can see that about him; a large, brilliant carmine blossom, waving from its post at the end of branch, daring others to do as much, always teetering on the verge of romance or insight. And while the blossom might be short-lived, the impact of its existence is not. Walt’s poetry always touches the reader, whether with romance, humor, or philosophy.

This hard-working poet writes so prolifically that his cache of work boggles the mind. During the Poetic Asides PAD challenges, he contributes three or more new poems per day, all while administering multiple websites and taking care of the rest of his life. For the 2010 PAD challenge, he was selected as the Poet Laureate; a well-deserved title.

Hello, Walt. I want to thank you for doing this interview. I have some small idea of how busy you are with your own work, and I appreciate you taking time out to spend with us.

Walt: Thanks for the invitation to chat, Claudette. I’m flattered that you would deem my work as worthy.

Claudsy: It’s my pleasure. When I first met you, you were doing the Micro Poetry page on Facebook. I admit to being intimidated by you and all of the “Old-timers” that contributed regularly. Would you tell us about your work habits when it comes to poetry?

Walt: Although I have been writing song lyrics for 43 years, my poetry has only seen resurgence for the past four years.  Attempting the 2009 Poetic Asides April Poem-A-Day Challenge, I began a journey that has brought me to this point in my writing career. It was surely serendipity in every sense of the word.

In being prodded to take on the challenge by a good friend, it had put me in contact with some incredible and very talented people. You mentioned Marie (Marie Elena Good). Three days into April I was ready to give up that foolishness and resign myself to the fact that I was a dreamer thinking I could write anything worth people’s attention. She placed a comment that was supportive and nurturing and kick started my muse into high gear. I built confidence and quite the following from that point.

Writing a poem a day was indeed a challenge, but writing 7 to 10 poems a day bordered on the certifiable. Half way through the first challenge I established my blog THROUGH THE EYES OF A POET’S HEART (link below) to keep my poems organized.

Claudsy: You and Marie Elena (whom I adore) have collaborated on two websites. Both are marvelous for the reader and aspiring poets alike. How did the two of you choose to create Across the Lake, Eerily? Both title and site are terrific.

Walt: I am from Buffalo, New York which sits at the eastern most tip of Lake Erie. Marie Elena is in the Toledo/Maumee, Ohio area which pinpoints the western most tip of the same lake. I had noticed a lot of Marie’s poems had a familiarity to them, as if I had experienced that of which she wrote.

We had determined that this connective body of water was the key. Our backgrounds and upbringings were eerily parallel, and in exploring that fact have become what we fondly call ourselves the “best friends we’ve NEVER met”. So here we are situated “Across Lake Erie” living these “eerily” same lives and the title of the blog came from that.

I presented the idea for it to my “Partner” across the lake. Initially, Marie played the Wayne Campbell (Mike Myer’s WAYNE’S WORLD) card with her “I’m not worthy” attitude. I needed to convince her that she was. And in that, I created a monster! (Love you, Marie!)

Claudsy: I can second that sentiment. She’s one of the loveliest people I know. Now you have Poetic Bloomings, which has carved out an international place in the sun. Poets from many venues congregate there, contribute, and have their own poetry pages, thanks to your beneficence. How much work goes into administering such a website? I ask this for all those other poets out there who might dream of having such a spot of their own.

Walt: Well, for as much as ACROSS THE LAKE, EERILY provided my and Marie’s poetry a place to grow after the Poem-A-Day challenge, we wanted to extend that further to allow our poetic friends and comrades to add their worded brilliance in a similar way that Robert Lee Brewer, the administrator of the Poetic Asides blog, had done.

Plus, it kept all those derelict poets off of the streets between challenges. The POETIC BLOOMINGS name came from a poem I had written for one of the PAD daily prompts where I referred to my poems as the “blooming of my soul”. When Marie suggested we try to assemble the blog, I had already anticipated such an undertaking. Within five minutes, POETIC BLOOMINGS was online. The design and weekly prompts are my responsibility, as is the IN-FORM POET (exposing our poets to a new poetic form) which appears on alternate Wednesdays.

The other half of those days, Marie conducts our WEB-WEDNESDAY INTERIEW in which she chooses one of our contributing poets and shines a light on their work and personal poetry blogs much like we’re doing here. We are looking to add some new features as we begin our second year of propagating poetry with our friends.

Claudsy: Still, you have a family and a life outside of your online activities. Most of us have outside lives. Is there much interference between the two for you, or do you allow that outside life to act as impetus and fodder for your poetry?

Walt: Short answer? Yes! It is a struggle fitting my writing (especially the poetry) into my life. And with the oppressive number of pieces I’ve written, you can imagine the burden that places on my home situation. My daughters (Melissa, 25 and Andrea, 19 going on 39) are my best critics and biggest fans.

I’d like to say my wife is fully on board with it, but I won’t lie to you, she thinks my time could be better spent. But my need to express wins out in the long run, grudgingly. My belief is that inspiration is everywhere you look for it, so a lot of my outside life is reflected in my poems. My first poetry collection – a chapbook entitled, WOOD, explores the relationship between me and my father who was a Master Carpenter (we lived on Wood Street) and battled alcoholism and liver cancer.

Claudsy: That volume of yours packs a punch, on several levels. Could you tell us more about how much of your young life goes into either your poetry or your plays?

Walt: You’d be surprised. If you took all my songs, and poems, short stories and stage plays and bound them together, they would tell my life’s story. As a thirteen year old geek, I was writing love songs for girls I hadn’t met yet. My debilitating shyness as I was growing up became the subject of many early pieces and I found them to be cathartic and liberating.

I had taken a Creative Writing class in High School, and the first poem assignment I had written was panned by the instructor and the class. What followed were scathing parodies that brought my cynical eye and sarcasm to the fore. A lot of what show up today came from that one class.

My children’s books were based on Andrea’s relationship with her first grade teacher.  Up, my first play, TAKING UP SPACE was semi-autobiographical. So, I’d say 90% of my youth goes into my work. Can you imagine what I will be able to do once I grow up?

Claudsy: And speaking of those plays, what were they about and do you still write for the stage?

Walt: TAKING UP SPACE is a comedy about a young man who lives his life by the dictates of his precious Space/Science Fiction movies, until a “close encounter” foists realities into his life to open his eyes.

CHANGING WITH THE SEASONS is based on John Keats’ poem, THE HUMAN SEASONS, where he equates different stages of a person’s life with a different season of the year. My SEASONS take the lives of a group of friends from the playgrounds of their youth to their elder years.

SKETCHES IN STILL LIFE is a series of vignettes staged as paintings in an art gallery. All three have earned awards from the Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions and have been staged locally in Buffalo. I actually have drafted another play, am fashioning a musical out of my compositions and have a screen play that is drawing my passion at the moment.  The trick is finding about six more hours in my day.

Claudsy: They all sound fascinating. I wish I could have seen them. I love plays. Even though you started late, you’ve written much about your life through verse. You seem to relish the intimacy of poetry, sometimes with urgency and others with reflection. What moods/emotional states grip you when you’re writing urgently; and when you reflect?

Walt: I can’t speak for other poets. As for me, poetry comes from a place so internal that I don’t write them, they explode out of me, dying to find the light of day. My habit had always been to write for the therapeutic aspect of it and hide them away. POETIC ASIDES rescued me from that for good. Poetry is emotion. It is heart. It lives and breathes and chokes on the marrow of life. It regurgitates and resuscitates. It expresses and soothes. It massages hearts and caresses souls.

Poetry is life. Do you want to know you’re alive? Write a poem with reckless abandon and let someone read it. You feel naked; vulnerable – vindicated and validated. I can write in a pensive mood, reflective mood, out of anger or from a deep and consuming love. It’s funny, I inherited one of my father’s “genies in a bottle”, but I never remember writing inebriate. Maybe I was just that wasted.

Claudsy: Tell us about “I Am Santa Clause.” This is a new and different venture for you.

Walt: Another tidbit from a POETIC ASIDES prompt where I saw myself as this Santa Claus figure flying the Christmas Eve sky to deliver a “frozen wisp of a sigh”, a kiss, to my beloved. The final line has become my tag line and the inspiration for the “I AM SANTA CLAUS” book.

It is intended to be collaboration with a friend from High School who has agreed to illustrate some of the poems to enhance the book. It tells of the “everyman is Santa Claus” part of life. When I say I AM SANTA CLAUS, I’m saying we are ALL Santa Claus.

Claudsy: I can’t wait to see this one come out. What other new plans do you have on your goals list for the rest of this year? Are you going to launch another website for poets or perhaps put out a marvelous poetry collection?

Walt: Marie and I are putting the finishing touches on getting ACROSS THE LAKE, EERILY into print. The Santa Claus project, of course. And I plan on sitting down for at least five minutes this year and do nothing but veg-out. I see that one falling flat on its face. I have enough websites to keep me busy for now. Maybe I’ll start painting again. Who knows? Being alive in the morning would be nice, too!

Claudsy: I can sympathize with that morning daze reference. Ha! I can also tell you that my book list order form is getting longer as we speak. I know your time is short, but if you would tell us, what practical advice would you give new writers, poets or otherwise?

Walt: You were born with all the tools you need to succeed. It’s your job to figure out how to use them. Re-invent yourself. You are who you aspire to be. Enough clichés?

All (of) that IS important to an extent, but let your eyes dictate what your heart sees. Be observant and inspiration will find you. And keep writing. From draft, through revision, to the final product, keep writing. The entire process matters. Robert Lee Brewer had quoted a friend who had said poetry was all about the process, and I have come to believe that completely.

Claudsy: And the process can be such a satisfying thing in its own right. I’m so happy that you could spend some time with us today, Walt. Thank you again for gracing my small space here. Please drop by any time you feel the need to sprinkle a poem on my word-filled garden.

Walt: Hmmm, poems and gardens? I do like the sound of that…

As Walt exits on poetic journeys of the day, I want to say how proud I am that he shared so much with us today. If you haven’t become acquainted with this man’s verse, do yourself a favor and indulge.

Please go surfing soon among the poetic islands created by Walt Wojtanik. Allow the sun to set as you comb the beaches presented there, as you pick up m multi-colored shells to take home and place in your treasure boxes. Take your mini-vacation at the following resorts and enjoy the treatments you find there.

WOOD, a poetry collection released in 2011.

One of the administrators of Flashy Fiction (


My heart envisions what my eyes refuse to see.


Past and Future: Always in Sight

April 5, 2012 1 comment
National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills

National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills (Photo credit: mySAPL)

When the Poetic Asides prompt rose before me on the screen this morning, my mind began to whirl. With a prompt that simply said “Write about something from before your time,” multitudes of possibilities vied for my attention.

What kind of things from the past? What memories of family stories should I tempt with an escape path? Should I do a poem about an event that occurred just before my birth that I could not have witnessed, but which affected me in a personal way?

The poem that I chose to do is one which speaks to and of times in the dim past; time when gods walked among men and creatures of lore were commonplace; a time, whether mythical or real, continues to form much of the basis of literature today.

I hope you enjoy this small effort of mine. It will soon take its place within a book of poetry that I’m working on titled “Forest Primeval,” after I’ve done a thorough rewrite of it.
In The Beginning

When moss covered your stone walls,

And days crept to the staggered step of age,

Memories became legend,

Legend moved to make myth of history.

Horses flew, Olympus reigned.

Dwarves burrowed deep, hammers ringing against gold,

Forging palace treasures bright.

Giants walked and played with gods on this Earth.

Gods fought, jealous foes did war,

Gods’ magics did turn, slaying their jester.

Fist-held power strangled all,

Lightning struck both bearer and those fleeing.

Winged horses, heroes gone,

Man-eating play things making Earth their home.

Beware, Mighty Ones, servants

Who have power to shape the world they own.

For magic ones did travel,

Living where whim allowed for freedom’s play,

Cared not for old gods’ verdicts,

But for personal power gain in time.

Only time will show what prompt will appear for tomorrow’s test of poetic endeavor. Be sure to stop back by to see what time will bring out into the open.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Poetic Bloomings Wednesday In-Form Poetry Challenge

April 4, 2012 1 comment

These are my efforts in Tanka today. Each follows the proper form of 5-7-5-7-7. Each attempt to tell a complete story in five lines. I hope all will enjoy them.

Poetic Bloomings Wednesday In-Form Poetry Challenge for April 4, 2012—Tanka

Dancers’ Prayers

Drum beats bring dancers,

Prayers rise to Heaven’s gate.

Rain’s presence called forth.

Supplication pleases God

Who delivers needed rain.

Driver’s Mess

When sight fails for speed,
Events scream for attention.
Metalic paint scrapes,
Tempers flare for all to see,
Solving problems with nonsense.

Music’s Power

Strains, soft with whimsy,

Sliding behind closed eyelids,

Relax and write now.

Muse sends song’s delicate voice

To woo the vision within.

I’ll return this evening with my sestina for the day. Happy reading, all.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Opposing Sides

April 3, 2012 1 comment
Poetry Workshop by Pooja Nansi 3

Poetry Workshop by Pooja Nansi 3 (Photo credit: Steel Wool)

Poetic Asides has its Two for Tuesday prompt up this morning for its challenge within a challenge. Apologize or not apologize, that is the prompt.

Isn’t it funny how we do both each day for the unlikeliest of reasons? We’re so conditioned that we even apologize to ourselves for piddly things that have little or no consequence. Or, even better to my way of thinking, is when I apologize to my computer because I’ve either entered an inadvertent command or taken too long to complete a function. Explain that one to me, if you can.

Like most poets who participate in this poetic marathon, I accepted the challenge to create two poems this morning following RB’s prompt. I place them below for your enjoyment.

Sorry Doesn’t Cut It Anymore”

Why do words of encouragement

Ring hollow, without bringing hope,

Without helping to find solutions?

How can you keep holding me down,

When all I want is to soar among clouds,

White with purity of thought and intent,

Moist with possibility, light as a feather’s touch?

Where can I go to be rid of you, to not ever see you,

Waving at me again each time I window shop,

Each time I brush my teeth or comb my hair?

Why have I believed the excuses all these years,

Never expecting any better treatment from you,

When I expect even less from she who lives within me?

The time for “Sorry” is gone.

Today, I am ridding myself of your excuses.

Today, I am beginning my future without you.

I will not apologize for removing you from my life.

Today, Proboscis, you will leave my sight forever,

And I’ll not ever feel sorry about that!


A quick glance told the story.

She with fists balled,

He with hands raised in supplication.

Fear, rage, and confusion ruled her,

While he tried to explain that which

Filled her with hurt, a sense of betrayal.

She could only react, not hear words.

Hissed argument oozed from the room,

Barely above the whispers of those nearby.

Murmurs rippled from within, telling of joys

Gone, trust broken, futures destroyed.

No apology from him could be adequate now.

No apology will be accepted by her battered heart.

Another love story comes to an end, an eavesdropping

Interlude for those knowing all sides of the triangle.

I’m so happy that so many are stopping by to read these small offerings of a wandering mind. Feel free to leave a comment as you pass through on your way to another whistle stop.

Enjoy your day. If you’d like to read all or part of today’s Poetic Asides entrees, drive down The Street at:

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Mounting Month’s Challenges

April 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Is it a matter of scheduling, I ask myself. Does it matter in what order I work within the framework of the challenges I’ve accepted for this month? By the looks of today’s desk load, order has little to do with writing this month.

Yesterday I played with PA’s poetry prompt challenge: communication. When I left there, I moved over to Poetic Bloomings to see what havoc I could wreak in that venue. The Apr. 1 prompt there was “Superheroes and Capes.”

Still feeling a bit on the obstreperous side, I posted this specially written offering to the world of superheroes. Remember, definition is a matter of perspective.

A Sigh of Sound

Susurration slides past those unintended,

Targeting sweet young ears with soft meaning,

Teasing, taunting, telling of bliss to come.

Whispers waft on a tongue’s breeze, seeking

Vulnerable minds to influence with knowledge

Untrue, compelling a change of heart with power.

Soon his soft whispers would secure those within reach,

Taking control where none was needed, rousing

Testaments to his wisdom, while groveling for pats.

Whispers waft on a tongue’s breeze, seeking

Power from those without special gifts or

An invisibility cloak to shield one’s presence from view.

After an hour’s respite from verse, I took up the third challenge for the day: Robert Brewer’s Author Platform Development Task-A-Day Challenge. I know, I’m a glutton for these things. In this case, though, I will heap praise and appreciation on Robert  in coming months for doing me such a great favor.

For the first time, after four years, I’m settling down to doing this major task for my future’s sake. I’m being given the tools to do it—for free. How much better does it get than that?

I’ve managed to complete the first two days’ worth of tasks. They weren’t onerous, by any means, but they did need thought and honesty with myself about goals, aspirations, skills developed, etc. It’s one thing to tell yourself and others that you can do something. You’re corralling a different animal when you ask yourself how confident you are about each of the items on your list.

I got through it, and along the way I discovered forgotten skills that I haven’t used in a years, but which I can still draw on for future needs. That reaffirmation was definitely worth the time and effort that went into the definitions and lists I created yesterday and this morning.

When I finished with the platform challenge for the day, poetry claimed my attention. The PA Poem-A-Day Challenge for today was the prompt: Visitor.

The aspect of prompt writing that I thoroughly enjoy is that the writer/poet can approach the writing from whatever perspective lies within the body of the prompt. If detailed restrictions aren’t given, the prompt is completely open to interpretation. That’s when the fun roars through the mind, taking the writer with it.

Since “Visitor” has so many possibilities, from so many perspectives, I decided to begin small and work my way up. Here’s what I did this morning. Later today, I’ll add another.

Simply Natural 

Nature surges behind

Walls assigned to ads,

A silent lure to the viewer,

Without words, without money,

Always available to see,

To experience, to awaken

Dulled senses to the world.

I hope you enjoy these prompt responses. To change out the mix of poems, here is another, though not written to prompt other than my own urgings.

Jesus Loves

I came upon this phrase I loved,

That appeared at ease,

Poised, a silhouette on the page,

Etched against the white,

Waiting for my adoration,

Innocent of guile.

Its voice called to me,

A siren song heard within breath

Expelled softly, slow

As time upon Earth’s diurnal

Turning, face to sun,

Willing life into creatures here.

Would that allusion came to me

As effortlessly,

To capture the mind’s attention,

To create a vision

Powerful, subtle, within notes

Built of supreme joy.

Have a marvelous week, everyone. Please stop by each day to see what I’ve  added to the collection being created here.

A Poem We Will Go

April 1, 2012 16 comments


The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse and paragraphs, not in lines or stanzas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Poetic Asides’ annual April Poem-a-day Challenge has begun. Today’s prompt dial landed on aspects of communication.

Love poems, rejection poems, personal and impersonal, fast and future, funny, and poignant; words flow from diverse poems worldwide in this marathon of lyricism.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw the prompt this morning was conversation. People communicate on multiple levels the majority of the time. A voice’s tones, a word’s inflection, all communicate a separate message. Otherwise, sarcasm wouldn’t be as cutting as it is.

My mind focused on what one could overhear that says one thing on the auditory level. On the visual level, however, another conversation would take place. Meanings take on a depth that sometimes has to be seen as well as heard.

This was my first post on Poetic Asides (PA) this morning.

Five-Star Dining

“Did you eat?”

“Some hours ago.”

“Oh? Disappointing?”

“I hate dining out now.”

“And why is that? Please tell me.”

“I get no satisfaction now.”

“In what way?”


“Oh. Did you get bored?”

“My server had no taste.”

“Do you need help finding new foods?”

He shook his head as he drew her near,

Nuzzling close.

“You’ve got me spoiled.”

She threw back her head,

Laughing with abandon.

Power came with submission.

“Drink, darling, of my vintage wine.”

He drank deep,

Her essence warm,

Her love new again.

“You’re intoxicating.”

His bloody mouth left her throat.

“You’ve never learned. Home cooking’s best.”

For those who’re connoisseurs of fine poetry, forgive my liberties with form and subject. I had deliberate intent.

There is opportunity later in the day to post more poems for this prompt, and I might do just that given spare time.

I hope you enjoy my efforts throughout this month. Drop by often to see where prompts and personal thoughts take my poetry for this challenge. Be sure to drop in a comment when the spirit or Muse moves you.

© Claudette J. Young 2012

Whether Granted or Not

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

How many writers get grants each year? According to 2007 statistics, of the 2,628 grants awarded that year 1,169 went to literary artists. That means over 44% of artists’ grants awarded went to writers.

What does that figure mean for the average writer? It tells the writer who wants to do a project requiring more than seat-of-the-pants activity and subject research that she has close to a 50% chance of getting financial/material help with her project. To take that chance, the writer must give a well-planned and executed grant proposal.

If you’ve never dealt with grants before, don’t despair. Right now there’s close to a 50-50 chance of getting a much-needed boost for a project. Those are the best odds that anyone can have for anything.

Gigi Rosenberg, in her book “The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing,” gives the newbie a great walk through the entire process, including a look at her own history with the subject. Gigi explains that: “A grant is money that an organization gives away to fund a project its founders believe in. …landing a grant… usually involves writing a proposal or grant application. In your proposal, you have to support your project, and how you intend to spend the funds. You are expected to include a detailed budget and samples of your work. Your application is judged by a panel of your peers—that means other artists—in a competitive process.”

Grants come in all sizes and types, according to project and artist needs. Few funders will bankroll the total project. What the applicant needs to keep in mind is the funding can come from several sources and needn’t rely on only one grant. A series of small awards add up to substantial help.

How you prepare for writing the proposal is as important as to whom the proposal is sent. You have research to do before making your bid for a grant. As with writing a killer novel, preparation is nine-tenths of the work.

Rosenberg and other experts such as Caroll Michels, Jackie Battenfield, and Heather Darcy Bhandari with Jonathan Melber recommend beginning by putting together a support team to help you. This team effort has several purposes. From brainstorming with artist friends who know and can honestly evaluate your work to community members/businesses that might provide assistance in-kind for your proposed project, this team can make or break your ability to pinpoint what you need to concentrate on for our grant proposal.


Art/Work (Photo credit: atduskgreg)

Once you have that information, you can begin sifting through the hundreds of funding agencies to find ones that will fit your needs and your project. It would do little good to write a proposal for a poetry book proposal with CD of readings and then send it to a funder who deals exclusively with visual artists in oils. You want to choose the tightest fits you can before sending for one of funding applications.

If you believe, wholeheartedly, in your project, the research process will also help define that project to the nth degree. Take that time and don’t rush it. Come to terms with your own desires and your expectations for the project before trying to sell it to a funder.

Also, if you can produce one proposal, you can produce more. The only things that change between granting organization proposals are guidelines, forms, and details. Since you’ve done the proper research on your project and those resources already available to you, you can apply for several grants at the same time.

Do you need financial help to travel to gather the information you’ll use for your project—perhaps on site research? Apply for that help. Do you need more education to become the writer you really believe you can be? There are grants out there for that specific purpose. How about your need to get a writer’s website built by a professional? You guessed it. You can get help for that, too.

These are the types of details that you can include in a grant proposal. These are also the kinds of things you need to discover while putting your team together and looking at the long-range project. Only then can you fill in all the pertinent details on those applications.

The grant process takes time. Getting your entire flotilla headed in the right direction requires patience, with yourself and the process. Once you get to the point of sending off your application proposal–making sure to follow the funder’s guidelines to the letter–you get to wait for results.

That waiting time depends on the organization that receives the proposal and what you’re requesting. It could last as long as a few months. When you realize how many funders there are looking for artists to give money to, getting an early rejection for a proposal doesn’t carry much weight. Regroup, apply to another funder and keep believing.

If this path interests you, you can get much-needed help by reading the following books on the subject.

Each of these books has fabulous information, tips, and practical solutions for the artist, regardless of discipline. Take an opportunity to begin reading up on what could keep you writing for a long time. Remember that some grants are specific to fellowships, residences, and retreats. Wouldn’t you like to get away for a couple of weeks to a quiet spot to commune with Muse on that expanding career of yours?

Whether–April Showers with Words

March 28, 2012 6 comments

April will soon control the calendar and some writers’ lives—at least for 30 days. The favorite month of Parisians will take on a poetic ring on many websites across the globe. April is National Poetry Month, giving poets of every stripe impetus to fling words to passersby at every opportunity.

Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides, an uncommonly good poetry blog operated through Writer’s Digest, issues a challenge each year to poets. The poets are set the task of creating a poem per day to a specific writing prompt. Many manage to post several poems per day, escalating the tension for others to “try to match this” on the blog.

Oddly enough, camaraderie is the norm here, with poets commenting on each other’s efforts, supporting and encouraging rather than critiquing. “The Street,” as the blog is known by regular contributors, fosters its patrons as community members with something to say and value to add to the whole. Not many blogs can claim that ability.

Along the same lines, other poetry blogs across cyberville also have their own challenges on a regular basis and will be cranking up the thermostat to get words on the screen and rhyme into the heart.

One of these sites is Poetic Bloomings, operated by Marie Elena Good and Walt Wojtanik. This daily blog has much to offer both poet and reader. Sunday’s writing prompt challenge might visual, emotional, or situational. It could be fiction/non-fiction. Each day has purpose and is filled with contributor participation. It’s a marvelous site all around.

Whether you wander over to The River or go to see the Sea Giraffes, you’ll find poetry everywhere at the click of the mouse. Of course, these sites have poetry all the time, but it gets accentuated at this time of year. Enjoy it.

I’ve chosen to take up Brewer’s gauntlet this time around again. I couldn’t participate last year since I was on the road, but this year will give me a chance to write enough to fill out a nice book of poetry with an eclectic flair, but themed nonetheless. I’m looking forward to it.

Brewer also issued a second challenge this year for those who felt their platforms needed reconstruction work done or those who hadn’t yet built their platforms. It consists of a task per day for the writer to build a viable, effective platform. The goal is a power platform by the end of the month of April.

Yep, you guessed it. I’m signing up for that one, too. Is it just me or does it seem like I just can’t leave a challenge lying on the table without at least giving it a shot? I hate not knowing whether I can do something or not.

Whether April has me showering words across specific blogs or in submissions to publications, I will be part of Ares’ madness come the first. That Fool’s Day could be the beginning of something very good or simply exhausting, but I will learn from it and that’s worth my time.