Categories
Poetry

Poem in Your Pocket Day

National Poetry Month 2020 soon comes to a close. It’s been a whirlwind of poems that included prompts from NaPoWriMo, aka National Poetry Writing Month, a poetry webslam on the Writers of Kern blog, and numerous virtual poetry postings and readings via Facebook, InstaGram, and Zoom.

Each year, one day in April is deemed “Poem in Your Pocket Day.” This year, it’s April 30. My usual routine for PinYPD is to copy and print some favorite poems, some of my own and others of famous poets, and actually carry them with me. I approach people, friends and strangers alike, and ask them if they’d allow me to read them a poem. (In all the years I’ve done this, no one has ever refused.)

I whip out a poem and read it aloud, then present the paper to them. The responses have been remarkable. Most are surprised and pleased to get to have a poem to keep. Some have said, “I really needed to hear that today.” Some have wept. I’ve found it both heartwarming and encouraging to share the poems.

In this April of social distancing, I’m going to have to find a different way to put poems in folks’ pockets. This blog post is one method. I’ll also share a poem on my Facebook pages because I know poetry speaks to all people, often on different levels and in different layers. It’s a direct connector.

In her poem “What Would Gwendolyn Brooks Do?” (asking in light of today’s world) Parneshia Jones wrote:

 Hold On, she says, two million light years away.

She’s right.
Hold On everybody.
Hold On because the poets are still alive—and writing.
Hold On to the last of the disappearing bees
and that Great Barrier Reef.
Hold On to the one sitting next to you,
not masked behind some keyboard.
The one right next to you.
The ones who live and love right next to you.
Hold On to them.

Yes, the poets are still alive and writing, shining the light on history as we live it, distilling it to its essence, making pictures for our hearts, our souls, our heads, our pockets. Gratitude to the poets.

~ xoA ~

As we close out National Poetry Month 2020, here’s a poem for your pocket. Read it aloud. All poetry is meant to be heard.

 

Remembering ‘72   

  

I want to cross that same river twice

Even though Alice says we can’t

 

That river in Ann Arbor in ‘72

Where I’m behind the wheel

Of my daisy-decorated VW ragtop

 

That river where other drivers

Vee’d their fingers, palm out

Signaled PEACE

 

Where my young daughters

beltless in the back seat

Vee’d their fingers, too

 

Sang out, Peace sign, Mama!

He gave us the peace sign

And we gave it back!

 

I want to cross that river again

Feel the love for mankind

Feel the hope

 

Feel the glow

Of knowing and showing

Peace and Love

 

We can cross that same river, Alice

Are we that much different now?

 

©Annis Cassells. September 2019.

Categories
writing

Yes, People Care

“Who cares?” we ask when the thought occurs to write a memoir. Folks will say, “Nobody will care. Nobody will read this.” I’ve had a goodly number of folks, even those who enrolled in my memoir writing classes make these kinds of comments. They see themselves as “ordinary.”

But the truth is we relish seeing how others’ lives played out, how they overcame obstacles and dealt with their fears and challenges. We have the opportunity to share their joys and triumphs and realize we’ve walked similar paths. We discover new connections to each other.

In 14 years with writing classes and groups, there has only been extreme interest in the lives our classmates’ stories recount. We hear comments like, “I can’t wait to hear more.” and affirmation of choices made and actions taken. Writers, because of their writing and the feedback they get, receive the gift of seeing themselves in a different light.

So, we’re staying at home right now. This may be a good time for introspection and remembering bygone days with their challenges and joys–times much different than today. You may have stories younger family members had not known. Maybe this is when you begin writing down a few of your life stories.

Our coronavirus days written up as memoir will be informative and interesting to future generations. A slice of your life, which is what memoir is, will allow readers a view of just how it was for you in this unusual time of pause and give a face to this global phenomenon. And yes, people will care.

~ xoA ~

 

 

 

 

Categories
writing

Your Authentic Voice

An authentic voice is what makes a personal connection between an author and her readers.  It lets her personality shine through. It signals that writer’s work even when unsigned.

We recognize the sound of a letter or other written piece as our mother’s or that of a good friend. We know the style and language of a favorite author whom we’ve read extensively.

In Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools he quotes his colleague Don Fry’s definition of voice: “Voice is the sum of all the strategies used by the author to create the illusion that the writer is speaking directly to the reader from the page.”

Clark cites some of the indicators of a writer’s voice as level of language, whether the writer normally writes in first or third person, use of metaphors and other figures of speech, and typical sentence length and structure.

A great test for one’s writing voice is oral reading. I recently wrote a sonnet based on a model I’d received in my inbox via a prompt subscription. My poem fulfilled all the requirements of a sonnet, and I was quite pleased. But when I read it aloud to my writer friends, they said, “That just doesn’t sound like you.”

And it didn’t feel like me. So I rewrote the poem in free verse, my usual form. It felt like home–much more satisfying to my readers and me!

A writer’s voice is like her signature, or a stamp on her work.

~ xoA ~