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

 

 

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Copy of I'm in the write mood!

It’s that time of year again! Time to put your writing chops to work. Every year I think I’m going to skip it, but then when November 1st gets here, it feels like a holiday and I get as excited as a child waiting to open Christmas presents!

50,000 words in 30 days, what could I possibly have to say that would take that many words? I originally thought I would do a series of personal development blog posts I’m working on to fill the space, but that historical fiction/time travel book started knocking inside my head asking when the heck I was going to set the characters free that have been taking up space in my cerebral cortex for nearly 20 years!

My goodness, 20 years seems like a lifetime. It is beyond time to tackle this project once and for all. I have attempted it at least a dozen times. I keep getting stuck then abandoning the project, but for the story to keep resurfacing the way it does, I’m thinking it wants to be born and become part of my legacy. We will see! It sure has been incubating long enough. The characters almost seem real to me, like family, and friends from high school waiting patiently for the next reunion!

I think the real reason the story hasn’t been completed yet is simply fear of not being able to tell the story the way I see it in my mind. Not doing the story justice terrifies me. I have even thought of contacting a “real writer” like  James Alexander Thom to share my idea with him in hopes he would write the story or at least help me. He and his lovely wife Dark Rain would bring a rich authenticity to it that I’m not sure I can do.

But, today, I feel strong enough to face my fears and do the warrior word dance. Thank you NaNoWriMo for pushing me out of my comfort zone once again!

Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff,
WriterKat

P.S. If I fall a little short of 50k words by the end of the month, I’m counting this blog post

Meet Me in Montreal

I'm in the write mood! (7)

I followed an email link from Leonard Cohen’s family that led to a star-crossed love song the legendary song writer recorded called Traveling Light. I sometimes feel a pang of jealousy of songs and poems written for a poet’s love interest. I don’t know why it matters, but for some odd reason it does. Perhaps it’s lust to be a writer’s muse or maybe it’s immortality I seek?

Leonard Cohen’s songs get to me. His words and poetic rhythm unlocks a door in my soul where heartbreak, loneliness, and regret reside. His music wafts in and waltzes toxic emotions to the surface so they dissipate rather than destroy me. What a cathartic gift and legacy.

My late spinster aunt loved to listen to Gordon Lightfoot. She had all his CDs and would go to his concerts whenever he was within four hours driving distance. I never understood her fascination with him until now. He must have been her lyrical soul doctor like Leonard Cohen has been for me. God bless the music makers for they set our spirit free.

Hopefully, the stars will align for me to make it to Montreal in November. For someone with no stamps on their passport, like me, what an adventure that would be! What is life if not a daring adventure and celebration of using your gifts to the fullest as Leonard has shown us can be done with style and grace.

What follows is the email I received regarding the upcoming Memorial Tribute for Leonard Cohen. Meet me in Montreal to celebrate the life and music of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our generation!

The Cohen Family presents
TOWER OF SONG:
A MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO
LEONARD COHEN

ELVIS COSTELLO, LANA DEL REY, FEIST, PHILIP GLASS, K.D. LANG,
WESLEY SCHULTZ AND JEREMIAH FRAITES OF THE LUMINEERS, DAMIEN RICE, STING, PATRICK WATSON, ADAM COHEN AND OTHERS TO MARK ANNIVERSARY OF ICON’S PASSING

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6th 7:30 PM
BELL CENTRE, MONTREAL

The family of Leonard Cohen invites fans from around the world to join them, along with renowned musicians, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Quebec in celebrating Cohen’s legacy for Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Nov. 6, 2017.

“My father left me with a list of instructions before he passed: ‘Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event do it in Montreal,’” said singer-songwriter Adam Cohen “I see this concert as a fulfillment of my duties to my father that we gather in Montreal to ring the bells that still can ring.”

The event will benefit the Canada Council for the Arts, the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec, and the Montreal Arts Council.

Tower of Song will mark the first anniversary of Leonard’s passing and commence a week of celebrations honouring Cohen in Montreal. As previously announced, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal’s new exhibit, “Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything,” will open to the public November 9. The exhibit was approved by the late songwriter before his passing and will celebrate Cohen’s life and work. Select media and top tier Tower of Song ticket holders will be invited to a preview of the exhibit on November 7.

TICKETS ON SALE THIS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd AT NOON (EDT) AT EVENKO.CA AND 1-855-310-2525.

Write Through Tragedy

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. (4)

“Write every day, even if your house is on fire and your grandmother just died.” ~ Tom Robbins

I saw this quote on a copywriting course I am taking with Kaia Van Zandt and it stopped me in my tracks. I had to share the quote with my writer friends and talk about how writing has saved my sanity. Both of those things in Tom Robbin’s quote have happened to me.

My grandmother was my rock. I held tight to her as she clung to her faith and somehow by osmosis her faith transferred to me. It is a beautiful thing to leave a legacy of faith. My grandmother (who I am named after) almost always had a notepad in her lap when I would visit, especially in her later years. I often wondered what she wrote in those notebooks. I happened upon one years after she went to be with the Lord. She kept a journal of mostly who came to visit her that day, upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to see the juicy stuff. What was she thinking? That’s what I wanted to know! She was such a quiet person and didn’t go out much except to church. I knew she had to be expressing her thoughts somewhere, but it didn’t appear to be in her journals. She loved to write letters to her family. She had six children that lived in different states so she sent a lot of letters. Writing letters is a lost art!

I’m glad that in addition to her faith, my grandmother modeled a love of writing. It has kept me sane over the years, especially in 2014 when our home, business, vehicles, pets, everything we owned, burned to the ground. Everyone kept asking me how I was staying so calm and optimistic throughout the ordeal. I didn’t really know in the moment, but in hindsight, I can clearly see that it was faith and writing!