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The Timberline Review is a new literary journal, published by Willamette Writers, the first issue of which debuted on August 1st. It contains short fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, and poetry. The Rogue Valley’s own Marisa Petersen was featured in this issue, along with former Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen.

Timberline Review editors Peter R Field and Pam Wells seek “work that has the power to inspire a conversation with the times we live in. We’re searching for bold new work from writers everywhere. Our mission is to find these voices, to listen, and to let them resound from the treetops. Our mission is to support literary freedom.”

Consider submitting, but first subscribe and read the new Timberline Review here: http://timberlinereview.com/subscribe/

Message in a Bottle?

A few of us in the Rogue Valley have been participating all month in the August Postcard Fest, but its not too late for everyone to send a “message in a bottle” into the world. Oregon Humanities invites you to participate in a program called “Dear Stranger,” a letter-exchange program now in its second year. Ben Waterhouse, the creative mind behind the project, explained to me that it is an attempt to increase Oregonians’ contact with one another by writing letters on a pre-selected topic, which coincides with the theme of each quarterly magazine OH publishes.

Find out more about the program on the Oregon Humanities website, including address and permission release form (www.oregonhumanities.org) and join me at a letter writing workshop this Friday, August 28, at the Medford branch of the Jackson County Library 1-2:30 in the Adams Room.

 

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Poet on the Road

I’ve been in Colorado visiting friends and family since early June, and I admit to being a bit homesick by now.

This week, I’ll be co-facilitating a poetry therapy Intensive Training with my friend and mentor, Kay Adams, founder of the Center for Journal Therapy and the Therapeutic Writing Institute, where I’m currently teaching an on line class called Mary Oliver at the Beach. The other facilitator working with us is my friend Susan de Wardt, artist, coach, poetry/journal facilitator, and past president of the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy.

This summer I have met a man who told me quietly that he has written 500 limericks; a woman who said she just might be able to write a poem now that I’ve assured her that it doesn’t have to rhyme; and a group of women from around the country who sat in circle to write memories of landscape with the talented and insightful Kate Thompson and Mary Reynolds-Thompson.

Closer to Home
Until I’m back in the warm embrace of the Rogue Valley (did I say “warm?” Maybe I mean HOT!), I’ll enjoy sharing with you a poem by Medford poet Carol Brockfield.

Carol is past president of the Rogue Valley Unit of the Oregon Poetry Association, and currently serves on the OPA Board. She’s a former editor and in any crit group can be counted on to suggest improvements in stanza shape, punctuation, and other vital components of poetic craft.

Here is Carol’s poem, and her answers to The Big Three:

Things in Jars

(paperclips
rubber bands
screws)

I might keep them in jars
if I kept things in jars

(marbles
seashells
tacks)

Lining the windowsills
tops firmly affixed
contents imprisoned there

naked behind glass walls
staring out at the world
mute with resignation

ready to be put to use
whenever
however

(Q-tips
pencil stubs
buttons)

I put them in boxes
give them some privacy

Carol’s Big Three

1. I really can’t think of anything more interesting (or satisfying) than writing poetry.  When I see a poem it nags at me to write it until I drop whatever else I am doing and comply.

I’ve been doing this since I first could write/print, on old greeting cards, bills, receipts, ledgers–what paper happened to be at hand for me to deface. Let me repeat what I’ve been told: The writing gets easier and better the longer you do it!

2. I absolutely love Billy Collins. Humor has it’s place in poetry, and is much neglected as weightier and more philosophical styles abound. I admire Collins’ quirky viewpoints and confess to being influenced by him. Also, how could any poet in Oregon not say how much they have read and reread William Stafford’s work? (Quite the opposite to Collins!)

3. One of my favorite topics is encouraging beginning writers. (It makes no difference how old you are!) The habit of responding to your feelings and to the world around you in writing rewards and strengthens you. And see the last sentence in my answer to question one: Your writing will become more fulfilling with practice; Just do it! Learn as you go!

Carol added: I understandably enjoy hearing the best local poets read their work. I also attend the Downtowne Coffee House open mic  (second Thursday evenings) to identify new fledgling poets and witness brand-new poets reading for perhaps their first time! I have recently read from my own work to young people (NW Poetics, in Corvallis) and to seniors (Skylark retirement home in Ashland) and find both audiences enthusiastic and receptive.

 More About Carol:

I have contributed to a number of literary journals and anthologies (including Cimarron Review, Chicago Cram, Lavender Review, and Generations of Poetry) and  self-published three themed chapbooks: “She Walks,” about the sudden death of my mother, “Knife in Hand,” about raising meal worms for wild birds, and “At Leaf’s Edge,” the year’s go-around in the garden.  A longer work, “Waiting for the Dark,” is comprised of other poems, older and more recent, written in different locales. I have a much neglected website–leafsedge.wordpress.com–and would be very happy to receive any comments about almost anything: carol.bfield@gmail.com.

Let Me Hear From You!

If you’ve been on the road this summer, send me a note about your travels, especially if you’ve written a poem about it all. I love hearing from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When There’s Nothing to Do, Write About It

Praising Ordinary Days

It’s hot, hot, hot, even here in Colorado, where early evening thunderstorms have caused some local flooding but cool the evenings down just fine. Here, too, we worry about drought and fire. If you want to think more about worry, sign up for my free Poem of the Week which features   ‘s poem “Afraid So” this week. POTW is free, and you can sign up, or read previous posted poems, at my web site www.lindabarneswriting.com

Are You Retired, or Wish You Were?

I had a nice email correspondence with Central Point poet Dewell Byrd. Our paths don’t cross often, but he shared a poem with me that I wanted to pass along to you right away. I love the beautiful, unexpected images he uses here and hope it inspires you to take up your pen.

Early Retirement

It isn’t every day I think of work.

Some days slip by like worn prayer beads

or like bubbles that glisten in the rain

and linger on the blacktop sidewalk

outside my “Man Cave” window.

Most days are filled with the music

of the slow-dance and slide by unnoticed.

 

It isn’t every day I think of work.

Some days are filled with playing tourist

watching a column of leaf-cutters

and lazing iguanas in Cancun

or absorbing the drone of bees

that curtsy on red clover blossoms

half drunk on the nectar of their own gods.

 

It isn’t every day I think of work.

I seldom remember there was a time

before the ache of half-filled days.

I’ll bet they’ve already forgotten my name,

broken my coffee mug.

~Dewell H. Byrd

 

Dewell’s Big Three

I asked Dewell the same 3 questions I’ll pose to every poet featured here.

Why do you write poetry?

When I was volunteering at the precinct polls at age 72 a friend said, “Your notes are too good to linger.  WRITE, NOW.”

Four books of poetry later I continue to write at age 84.

“REFLECTIONS OF THE HEART” is a softbound and an “E” book handled by AMAZON.

“ABE CROSSES THE OHIO RIVER” is sold by me at $15.00 or $10.00 to poets.

Who are your own favorite poets?

I’m currently reading everything, as usual, but return often to Rumi and Whitman… Billy Collins, too.

What would you like to tell other poets?

Don’t try to be a writer.  Just be a person standing on the street corner with dirt under

your fingernails and a pencil behind your ear.  Strophes will find you.

Dewell has given gracious permission to share his email address. Order his books, and send him a note of greeting at  de2byrds@aol.com

Have You Signed Up Yet?

Don’t forget to sign up for the August Post Card Fest? Here’s that link: http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest/

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SEND A CARD/GET A CARD

Last year several of us in the Rogue Valley participated in Paul Nelson’s August Poetry Postcard Fest (http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest/), a wonderful way to flex your McPoetry muscles. You have written McPoems, haven’t you?

What is a McPoem?

This is a term first used by my old friend, the late Billy Doody, one-time owner of the Yellow Pages bookstore in Grants Pass. Bill and artist/poet Tee Corinne, sadly also no longer with us, co-hosted a monthly open mic reading at Yellow Pages for five years. I attended nearly every month after first learning of it, and there I found a loving tribe of welcoming poets of every style and ability.

Bill always felt it a lost opportunity to arrive at an open mic gathering without a poem to share. He told me, “If you don’t have a poem you’ve been working on, write a McPoem on the way!”

I don’t promise that every off-the-cuff poem you write will be a gem, but writing spontaneous poetry is a great technique for keeping your imagistic mind in gear. It sharpens your imagination and keeps your focus on the small moments of each day that are seeds of new work.

The Post Card Fest is a terrific McPoem activity. Each day you write a short poem, no larger than one that fits on a postcard (no need to stew, no need to edit, no need to think too much!). Write it on the card, and send it to another poet. All over the country, and across the globe, too, other poets do the same thing each day. To get you started, Paul sends you a list of other poets who have signed up to participate. You’ll receive postcards from those who have your name and address on their lists. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. I didn’t get as many as I sent, but I felt just fine about the several I did receive. Like messages in a bottle, these short poems arrive as mystery gifts, and who doesn’t love to get Real Mail?!

Nelson has been organizing this project for years, and for the first time there is now a $10 charge. Postcards, stamps, and brain power are other resources you’ll need. But it’s really an inexpensive, low-risk ritual I’m committed to. Maybe we’ll get one another’s names on our lists?

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Merry Summer Solstice

Haiku anyone? Angela Decker is seeking submissions. It’s the first day of summer, and in honor of the change of seasons, get out those journals and start composing!

Need some help? Here’s a terrific web site that will give you the 500 essential words for each season. It’s time for peonies, fireworks, and light weight summer clothes.

Send your haiku directly to Angela at decker4@gmail.com and see yourself in print!

 

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Fantastic News!

Today the new Poet Laureate of the United States was announced — California’s wonderful Juan Felipe Herrera! We had the outstanding opportunity to hear and meet Herrera when he was invited to the Rogue Valley in October 2013 by the Chautauqua Poets & Writers program.

How fortunate we are to have the Chautauqua group working on our behalf to bring talented writers to the community. I hope you have attended some of these events, and that you continue to support these efforts.

Find out more about Herrera’s work on his website: http://www.juanfelipepoet.com

Check out more about Ashland Chautauqua Poets & Writers at http://www.chautauquawriters.org

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Celebrating Our Own!

When I agreed to this assignment, I immediately determined that one thing I’d do would be to celebrate and share poems by some of the Rogue Valley’s own poets.

And what better way to begin than by singing the praises of Angela Decker, the spirited woman who launched this column so many months ago and kept it going with eloquence and enthusiasm.

Readers of this column are familiar with Angela’s blogging style, and I hope many have heard her read.

The Big Three

Part of this feature will include brief interviews with each poet. I’ll be asking what I call “The Big Three.” Here are those questions, with Angela’s replies:

1. Why do you write poetry (when you could be doing so many other interesting things!)?

I used to write poems when I was a kid just because it was such a kick to play with words.  I loved the compact neatness of a poem.  Now, I still get a great deal of pleasure in playing with language and telling a small story. There are millions of things to do other than write. Some days I whine about the difficulty of finding the time and energy for poetry, and I swear that I’ll never write another poem.  Of course, I eventually write something because not writing would be worse. Afterward, I think, “What fun. I love poetry.”

2. Who are your own favorite poets?

This isn’t an easy question because I keep finding new poets to adore. My two poetry heroes, the ones I return to again and again, are Gwendolyn Brooks and Lucille Clifton. Brooks says poetry is life distilled, and she and Clifton had such a gift for taking small moments in life, whether beautiful or painful, and turning them into something universal, something we can all lean into.  I’m also a fan of Elizabeth Bishop and Mark Doty for all their big, gorgeous images.

3. What would you like to tell other poets, or those who aspire to take it up?

I’d say don’t wait for the perfect moment or some shot of inspiration or when the kids are quiet and the dishes are washed. Just write when you can. The best poetry happens when life is happening. Write whenever you have a pen and paper handy. Always have a pen and paper handy!

Poem by Angela Decker

Since it was impossible for me to choose a “favorite” poem of Angela’s, I just picked one that celebrates an old writing tool, and a man who cherishes them.

Typewriter Repairman

After dark, the typewriter repairman is still busy.
A shelf in the corner holds
a Selectric with a broken spring,
an Underwood 5 with a cracked roller,
a Remington convalescing beneath a plastic shroud.

At his work table he gently deconstructs
a Smith-Corona, lifts each key with
a small pocket tool, compresses springs with
ink-blackened hands.

He’s happy in his small room with one light.
Understands why people still fix their typewriters.
It a thrill, really; the careful placement of paper,
the musical whir of the winding knob,
the brimming potential of a freshly inked ribbon.

He likes the old ones best.
Those shiny, black lacquered machines,
beauty queens with glass-topped keys and silver rings.

When the typewriter is fixed, when he’s healed it from the inside out
he’ll check his work with a short standard,
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”
He’ll type this until the carriage returns,
make sure the bell has a nice sustain to it,
the sound should be bright and fade out slowly.

Angela Decker
from Splendid Catastrophe, ©2014

Enjoy more of Angela’s talent at her website http://angeladecker.com and be sure to purchase her book.

Nominate a Poet!

Surely you have a favorite local poet, or perhaps you are a poet yourself. Send me a poem you’d like to see featured in this column, and information on how to contact the writer so s/he can answer The Big Three interview questions.

Remember, all poems shared are under copyright and the poet must give written permission to have the poem published here.

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THIS JUST IN!

Join cellist Daniel Sperry at the Ashland Yoga Center on Friday, June 5th, from 7:30-9 for an evening of poetry and music. Call the Ashland Yoga Center for information (541-238-5144), and check out Daniel Sperry’s poetry and music page at http://cellomansings.com

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Do You Have the Poetry Habit?

I’m thinking of two poetry habits I try to cultivate. The first is the habit of reading poetry.

I’ve met many aspiring poets over the decades, and yet I’m still surprised when they tell me they don’t read much poetry. Many of them remember a special poem that moved them when they studied it in school. And it warms my heart that this can occur, as even more often I find people who dislike poetry because of some school experience.

I don’t mean to distract from anyone’s affection for Shakespearean sonnets, the lyrics and odes of Pope, Donne, Keats; the still-fresh writing of Sappho and T.S. Eliot. But those who wish to write poetry, and to grow in their work, should and must read contemporary work. (Yes, this is just my opinion, but it’s one shared by all of the successful poets I admire.)

I read poetry almost daily. Sometimes I fall into an entire collection, or spend an hour on the internet browsing by topic or poet’s name. Every January, I read, read, read the poetry of William Stafford, because Stafford’s birthday is celebrated each January with readings and commemorative events all around the country.

When I’m preparing to teach a class or workshop, I read dozens of poems for each one I choose to share. And I still surprise myself when I reread favorite poems and find they still move me deeply.

The other poetry habit is, of course, the writing of poems yourself. William Stafford was well known for writing at least one poem every day. In April, poets challenge one another through the NaPoWriMo movement (National Poetry Writing Month). Here in the Rogue Valley, poet and friend Carol Brockfield creates an on line group for anyone who wants to take part in this challenge.

I sign up each year, and once wrote a poem a day for six days! Alas, as you can see, this habit is one I repeatedly try to establish, and although I keep failing, I haven’t given up.

If you have a poetry habit you’d like to share with others, please contact me and tell me about it. Perhaps following this column is a habit you’ve established. Here a few other tips:

1. Subscribe to Poetry Daily’s weekly newsletter at www.poems.com and browse the Poetry Foundation website (www.poetryfoundation.org).
2. Take a look at tumblr for prompts: http://poetryprompts.tumblr.com
3. Go to readings and buy books from your poet friends. Read them!
4. Visit the library and bookstores and seek new “finds” in the poetry section.
5. Pick up a copy of Poets & Writers magazine, or a literary journal and subscribe to any and all you enjoy.
6. Challenge yourself to writing a poem a day or week. Further develop your own habit.

 


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A New Beginning

IS THAT REDUNDANT?

Are there any “old” beginnings? You see, I’ve just begun this first post and I’m already off on a tangent.

My friend, Angela Decker, who wrote this column so well and so devotedly, has moved on to other ventures, and I have inherited “The Cruelest Month” on behalf of the Daily Tidings and the Mail Tribune.

I appreciate the readers who have followed Angela, and will do my best to live up to her excellence, bringing you news of local and regional writing events, with an emphasis on poetry.

In addition, I’ll be posting poems written by local poets, and invite readers to submit to me through this column, or in person should our paths cross as we travel through our writing circles.

For now, I want to begin by asking you to share the link to this blog with others, and spread poetry among your friends, neighbors, family members, and, yes, strangers in line at the grocery store, the bank, the bookstore.

If you are not already a member of Oregon Poetry Association (OPA), please consider joining. Visit the web site at http://oregonpoets.org for details about joining.

I’ve been told that readers of this column like poetry contests. OPA sponsors contests, and member of OPA are automatically members of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS), and NFSPS is comprised of state poetry groups from every state. That’s 50 groups, each with an annual contest.

The 2015 NFSPS Conference will be held June 24-29, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Florida. But you don’t have to go all the way to the East coast to enjoy the benefits of NFSPS. Our very own Charlotte Abernathy, who has won many prizes for her work from both OPA and NFSPS contests over the years, will be coordinating next year’s NFSPS contests. That’s 50 different contests, friends!

The deadline for all NFSPS contests is March 15, 2016, and I’ll mention it again in this column, but make a note of the date right now, and go to the website (http://www.nfsps.com) to browse the variety of themes that various states have offered in the past.

A WORD ABOUT CRITIQUE GROUPS

You’re in at least one, aren’t you? Crit groups are a great way to share your newest work with other poets who can offer feedback and insights that other readers (i.e. your siblings or your spouse) might be unable to provide. Being appreciated at home is nice, but having other poets listen to and read your words can bring suggestions for improvement. In any case, any revisions are entirely up to you, but don’t write alone in your attic garret.

Let me know if you are in a group that is open to new members, or would like to begin a new group in your area, and I’ll try to link you up with others. Poets need one another, and the work of friends can inspire you to strive for your own best efforts.

OPEN MIC POETRY READING JUNE 11TH

The next monthly open mic reading of the Downtowner’s poetry group will be June 11th. Held on the 2nd Thursday of every month, Downtowners, now in it’s 11th year, invites poets old and new to come celebrate and enjoy one another’s work at the Downtowne Coffee House in Talent, Oregon. Signups begin at 6:30 and reading starts at 7 p.m. The coffeehouse is located at 200 Talent Avenue.

Be sure to ask about the contest Downtowners sponsors, too! Cash prizes are awarded each April. Bring a friend, bring a poem (or 2 or 3), and have fun with local writers.

WRAPPING UP

I’ll pause for now, and invite you to send your comments, notes on activities (workshops, readings, contests, crit groups, on line resources, favorite poems, etc.) and your greetings to me. I really would enjoy hearing from you!

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    Linda Barnes

    Linda Barnes began her writing life with a little diary she received at the age of 10. She has degrees in English and psychology and is a former counselor who has “retired” into consulting, teaching, and training in journal writing and poetry ... Read Full
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