Real Poets

cliche

I mentioned one of my favorite InstaPoets, Atticus, to a fellow poet the other day and I promptly got a HuffPost link to an article questioning his authenticity. The article stirred up some strong emotions I have on the subject.

In a nutshell, anything that gets people interested in poetry gets a nod from me! Who can judge what is “real” poetry? One of my biggest pet peeves in the writing world is the air of superiority that demands scholarly stanzas marching in line like broken men molded into saluting soldiers.

As you may infer from my seething alliterations, I was once wounded in the battlefield of “real” poets. I was barely out of my teens and decided to join a local writers group for what I thought would be a great place for encouragement and support of my budding art.

My grandmother died not long after I joined and I wrote a poem about her which included her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It was difficult to express the loss and pain I felt from losing the most gentle and loving person I had known in my life. I wrote something about a storm and lost tiger cubs… I was so nervous to share my poem with the group, but I worked up the courage to read it aloud.

A seasoned writer and published poet, proceeded to rip my poem to shreds, saying it was full of cliches. A few other “real” poets nodded in agreement and suggested I rewrite the poem. Their criticism was all it took for my ever-present inner critic to rapid-fire a stream of negative comments like, “I told you so!” “You’re not a writer. You will never be a real poet.” “Don’t quit your day job!” I believed those “real” poets and I listened to my crippling critic. I never went back to that writers’ group and I didn’t attempt to write poetry again for several years.

I shake my head in disbelief when I think of all the wasted years that I could have done what turned out to be my greatest passion.

Fortunately, my interest in writing and poetry continued even though my confidence was shattered. I never stopped learning. I took college English and writing classes, attended writing workshops and conferences, read several books on writing including two perennial favorites: Stephen King on Writing and Bird by Bird.

When I finally decided to write and share poetry again, I made a promise to myself that I would never again let anyone’s opinion (including my own) stop me. So, when I see criticism of a poet’s work, it brings those memories flooding back and makes me feel a little defensive.

Who cares if it’s cliche? Seriously! If you don’t like a poet’s writing, move along to the next one. Now, that I’m a grandmother, I have earned the right to share what grandmothers say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

We all have different styles of writing we like. For example, I don’t like horror, (sorry Stephen King, I do love your book on writing) but I don’t criticize it, I just focus on reading and writing what I do like, which is mostly romance. Yes, I admit it, I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. Thank you Nicholas Sparks (another writer who has been criticized for creating formulaic, commercialized art.)

I also enjoy uplifting writing and quotes. Atticus covers all those bases! He has over a million followers, proof that a lot of readers like his style. To each their own. The important thing is people are getting interested in poetry again, which not long ago was considered a dying art.

I’m excited about the influx of newcomers into the poetry world joining those who have been inspired to start writing again. Bravo to platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube for providing creative ways to share our art.

Write on!

==============
Write Any Way
by Vautaw

So it’s cliche,

write anyway.

So it’s not grammatically correct,

write anyway.

So it doesn’t rhyme,

write anyway.

Don’t let judgmental “experts”

distort your perception of poetry

or silence the part of your soul

that longs to make sense of life.

Just write

any way!

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Hunger

Mother Teresa

I am honored to have a few of my poems included in the latest Bards Against Hunger anthology. I love to write poems for good causes and eradicating hunger is one of the best causes I can think of. Proceeds from the sell of this book will go to The Homeless Advocacy Center of Anderson and Madison County.

YOU are invited to join us for the book launch which will be November 17, 2018 from 1-3 p.m. at the Elwood Public Library. The launch will also serve as a food drive for the Anderson Preparatory Food bank. Suggested items for donation includes: Any non-perishable food items that are not past the expiration date. Cans of fruit, vegetables, spaghetti-o’s, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, oatmeal, fruit snacks, granola bars, etc.

The poem below titled, “Hunger” is one I submitted for this project. It was inspired by someone I have admired as long as I can remember. Someone who gave tirelessly to help the poorest and sickest among us… The one and only Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

One of Mother Teresa’s quotes in particular made me think about hunger in a different light, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

Yes, we must feed the hungry, eradicate hunger from the face of our planet. But, we must go beyond bread by showing kindness and love for each other. Then, the healing of our world will begin.

Mother Teresa also said, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” and “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” It is wonderful to help our community and is much needed, but let us also lift up those in our own family who may be hungry and feel alone, especially during the holidays. Who do you know that is hungry for love? Tell them. Show them. Feed them.

Write On!
WriterKat

Hunger

I hunger for
more than bread.

I hunger for
smiles.

I hunger for
encouragement.

I hunger for
compassion.

I hunger for
connection.

I hunger for
tender touch.

I hunger for
laughter.

I hunger for
love.

bards

Passion and Paper Tigers

passion

Fear preys on passion, but it is a paper tiger. ~Vautaw

I received a check for $25 today from the Poetry Society of Indiana for winning 1st place in the Linda Bannon Memorial Category with a poem I wrote specifically for the contest called, “Overflow“.

In my mind, I wielded the check like a sword to shred the paper tiger that has pursued me since the day I dared to publish my first word. Apparently, it worked, but I know a legion of paper tigers exist for every word I dare to share.

I am taking advantage of this momentary victory and boost of confidence by dreaming big, writing like I am already famous, and visualizing my name among the greatest writers of all time: Hemingway, Vonnegut, Faulkner, Joyce, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Eliot, Bronte, Woolf, Plath, Atwood, Angelou, Christie, Cartland, Steel, Vautaw…

That last one is me, one of my pseudonyms, fits right in doesn’t it?!

Whew, I got that out before the next paper tiger spotted me and fueled my inner critic with enough adrenaline to make me want to escape through the open tab to check my email or scroll social media… anything to avoid the thoughts of inadequacy, of not being good enough to even think of being in the same sentence as the “greats” or “real” writers, of dramatic despair of dying with my words and stories left unsaid…

But, wait, I have my sword. I may not even cash the check. I may post it on my vision board as a reminder of an Amelia Earhart quote, “Fears are just paper tigers“. So, write to your heart’s content. Write the words that you want to share with the world. Write the stories that make your soul shine.

En Garde!

WriterKat

 

No Excuse

Little wins

Little wins create big victories! ~ Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff

I really have no excuse for not stringing words together much beyond my Morning Pages lately. No one cares if I do or don’t. No one but the soul that is currently taking up residence in my fleshy abode and patiently waiting for me to do what I was born to do which, from all the flashing arrows and neon lights in my mind, is… WRITE!

My response to this other worldly prodding is typically some form of resistance from blissing out on Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey or other vegan confections to procrastinating with another personal development/business building program, to the infinite social media scroll.

But today, the Universe wins. I showed up and let my muse dance across the keyboard, despite the steady stream of interruptions that started the moment I sat down. I forgot what an endorphin rush it is to push through the obstacles and finish something as simple as a blog post.  It’s little wins that create big victories!

Write On!

Kathy G

 

 

Keep the Drama on the Page

Maxwell (3)“Keep the drama on the page!” ~ Julia Cameron

Friday, the 13th. A day of drama, real and imagined, that at best distracts you and at worst consumes you. What I have discovered from years of journal writing is that drama is best kept on the page! I became aware of this truth by studying my favorite author, Julia Cameron who coined the phrase, “Keep the drama on the page.”

Before reading Julia’s life-changing book, “The Artist’s Way,” drama would play out in my life in various ways from shouting matches with my spouse to withdrawal and depression. Drama zapped my energy and misaligned my focus. It flooded my mind in a sea of negativity. I had no outlet.

Then I read, “The Artist Way” where I discovered that I didn’t have to be a professional writer to write. I let go of the perfectionism that held me prisoner for so many years. Julia was a welcome warden, a professional writer who encouraged me to write without any preconceived notions or aspiring accolades. “If you write, you are a writer.” Her simple mantra unlocked the guarded gates of my mind so the words could flow and heal my soul. I have been writing ever since.

Sometimes, I hit the ground running and don’t write for a few days, but it doesn’t take long for the drama and negativity to seize my mind. Writing is the only way I have found to release the onslaught of fear-based thoughts that threaten to confine me. Morning Pages is the life line that deals with the drama, purges negativity, and gives form to my creativity.

 

 

Legacy Letters and Spiritual Awakenings

I recently attended a Sisterhood Retreat at Camp Chesterfield. I have been curious about that place since finding out about it a few years ago. When a friend casually mentioned Camp Chesterfield during our conversation, I couldn’t believe I had no idea that a spiritual camp existed (since 1886!) just a few miles from my beloved Mounds State Park that I go to all the time.

I wanted to visit Camp Chesterfield immediately, but I hesitated because of my conservative religious doctrine where seances are taboo! Instead, I signed up for their mailing list and went on about my life. When I received the email about the Sisterhood Retreat, I thought it would provide a perfect opportunity to check the place out. So, I signed up with an open mind.

My adult daughter attended opening night with me, but when the spirit of past powerful women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, and Kuan Yin spoke to us through the Mediums, it freaked her out and she refused to return!

I, on the other hand, was fascinated. I mean where else would you ever get the opportunity to hear words of wisdom from saints and women who have paved the way for us to stand on equal ground? Even if it was inspired by the Medium’s meditation on these women, it was divine messages delivered in the most entertaining format I have ever seen. I was spellbound. It literally felt like I was in a vortex. I thought they should record it for millions to watch on YouTube or take their show on the road to enlighten the world!

The whole Sisterhood Retreat was about light and love. The leaders of the event came across with authenticity and authority. Gentle spirits with a fierce passion for helping us be the best version of ourselves we can be. I can best describe it as a spiritual awakening. None of us would ever be the same. We came face to face with the infinite possibilities within us and the calling to shine our light in a world of darkness.

One of the event leaders, Reverend Vicki Corkell, did a presentation on Ethical Wills also known as Legacy Letters which, as a writer, was something I was eager to learn about. How had this not come across my radar before either?!

Rev. Vicki shared some examples of legacy letters with us, including President Obama’s touching letter to his daughters. Her presentation inspired me to create my own legacy letter to my family. I started by writing in the journal we made in the previous workshop!

I’m glad part of my legacy is a passion for learning, a cat’s curiosity, and an open mind to discover the fun experiences and life lessons that awaits on the other side of the comfort zone!

 

Ode to a Frog

Ode to a Frog

April is one of my favorite months of the year. I think of it more as a month of rebirth than January. It is when spring kicks into gear and the world begins to bloom. Every living thing seems to comes out of hibernation. The sun shines longer, birds sing, and it’s National Poetry Month! I love that poetry gets to share the spotlight among the arts.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I would share some poems with you along with the story behind it. The poem featured in this post is one I wrote a few months ago for the annual Mounds State Park Photography and Poetry contest which won the Hybrid Photo/Poetry category. I snapped this photo, among many others, on a visit to Mounds on my birthday. The frog lives among other critters at their visitor center. When I looked at the photo it reminded me the age old tale about a frog that gets a kiss and turns into a prince. It was like the frog was looking at me saying, “Where’s my kiss? But, on second thought maybe not. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” That photo and thought inspired this poem that made me laugh out loud.

Ode to a Frog

Where’s the kiss

you promised me?

To turn me

into the man

you want me

to be.

One who anticipates

your every need

and proposes

on bent knee.

A man who says

I love you

morning, noon,

and night.

One who opens

doors for you,

romances you,

and never picks

a fight.

A man who fixes

everything.

One who works

around the clock

to give you

what you want.

Who goes to

the theater with you

instead of watching

the game.

A man who puts you

before his friends,

even his dog.

Oh, never mind.

I’d rather stay a frog!