WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY: “Got Change?”

Image: UConn/Pinterest
Image: UConn/Pinterest

While eating lunch today, I took in a few minutes of news—probably not the best option for one’s digestive system, heh?

Reports of serious world-wide conflicts, domestic abuse wrought by sports icons, the rampant spread of Ebola in third world countries, the ambush and murder of police officers, increased racial violence…on and on it went. My reactions? Fear, a sense of hopelessness and two all-pervading question: what has happened to cause such discord and what am I supposed to do to make a difference? Clearly, diplomatic relations haven’t produced much effect, nor have sanctions or war.

I think of Gandhi–a man of peaceful, non-violent resistance. I think of Francis, the saint and the pope—men of prayer. I think of Martin Luther and Mother Teresa—persons of action. And I think of Matthew Arnold, Maya Angelou, Rudyard Kipling, Langston Hughes and hundreds, if not thousands of other poets, famous and little known, whose work has influenced us as societies and individuals to make changes for the better.

On September 27th, The Bardo Group will join forces with poets world-wide in celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Here is a snippet/an invitation from their website that explains this movement:

Do you want to join other poets, musicians, and artists around the USA
and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for serious social, environmental and political change?

Image: julieflyglare.com
Image: julieflyglare.com

In preparation for Saturday’s kick-off, we would like to invite you to bring a poem or reflection of your own which gives your readers, each other, pause for reflection and the courage to support change. If we can touch but one person, it is worth the effort.

Here are a few suggestions we might draw upon:

• Plead a cause that is most important to you;
• Choose a poet or artist whose work invites change and write of them;
• Evaluate what changes you wish to make on a personal level.

I think of the popularity of “random acts of kindness” and the difference that a simple moment of thoughtfulness can make in another’s day and how that multiplies. Though our personal influence seems so limited, we do have the power to create change.

Someone once asked Mother Teresa how she could really expect to save everyone who was in a state of desperation. Her simple response: “One person at a time.” May our efforts effect that spark of positive change in our troubled world, or in one troubled life.

If you would like to share your work, please access Mister Linky, below, and copy and paste the direct URL to your post into the spaces provided.

Image: wellspiritconsulting.com
Image: wellspiritconsulting.com

Thank youl

– Victoria Slotto

© 2014, poem and photograph, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012

Editorial note: With this post, we put closure on Writers’ Fourth Wednesday until further notice. Thank you for joining us and much appreciation for Victoria’s leadership with this event over the past several years.

Flight Off of Half Dome

 

Half Dome--Yosemite
Half Dome–Yosemite

 

 

Flight Off of Half Dome

An etheree

Walk
alone
in autumn
below the blue
canopy of sky.
Leaves crunch beneath your feet.
Where do crickets go on cold
fall days wrapped up in brilliant hues?
Why do the horses romp in sunlit
fields of green with wind whipping through their manes?

Where do crickets go on chilled winter days?
Yosemite-place of the gaping
mouth-belonged to the Miwok
until the white man came.
“Manifest Destiny”
they called it—God’s will.
The valley was
theirs to romp
in sun-
light.

Mi-
wok fled
in autumn
under the black
night sky in silent
flight off Half-Dome or through
wet leaves that could not crunch. Their
tears fell into the dark chasm
drowning the crickets who hid beneath
scarlet shrouds of all that came before death.

The Miwok Indians, guardians of Yosemite and Tuolome Meadows were driven from their homeland under the guise of “Manifest Destiny.” There was an etching at the Nevada Museum of Art when we had a Yosemite exhibit titled “Flight Off of Half Dome” depicting their “eviction” as falling from the rock.

“Etheree” is a form in which the poet increases from one to ten syllables per line and then in reverse for as many stanzas as desired.

– Victoria Slotto

© 2014, poem and photograph, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY: In the Wilderness, of the Wilderness

Photo: oregonlive.com
Photo: oregonlive.com

Starting August 31 at The Bardo Group, we are celebrating Wilderness Week  (details HERE) hosted by Pricilla Galasso(scillagrace). We thought that this would be a great leaping off place for Writers’ Fourth Wednesday invitation to creativity. We hope you link in your related work here and during our International Wilderness Week celebrations.

Think of how many poets and writers have been influenced by what I would call raw nature. Thoreau fled to Walden, Basho walked the shores of Japan, Gary Snyder and John Muir touted the environmental cause in the uninhabited regions of the Northwest, while Mary Oliver revels in the beauty of Massachusetts and the Northeast. Wordsworth, Audubon, Emerson…the list could go on and on.

So, today, I invite you to join your voice in poetry or prose to that of so many who have turned to untamed nature for inspiration. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

• Choose a photo or painting of a nature artist and write an Ekphrastic poem about the work of art. (Ansel Adams, Bierstadt…)

• Go into the wilderness and let your surroundings speak to your pen. • Choose specific flora or fauna about which to write. • Take a classical myth that has a wilderness theme and write about it.

• Read the work of a wilderness poet or writer and let their words inspire yours.

• Write of an undeveloped area in your own country or region, a place you’ve visited or would like to visit.

• Perhaps you would like to contrast urban and rural living or develop a patch of the wild in a city. • Write an environmentally themed poem or short essay.

• Write a children’s poem to open them to the wonders of nature.

• Oh, and did I mention, take yourself into the wilderness?!

Photo: wilderness.org
Photo: wilderness.org

 

If you would like to share your work with us (and I hope you will) use Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post, or add your link in the comments.

To access Mister Linky (below in green):

• Write your submission and post it on your blog.

• Copy and paste the URL to your submission along with your identifier in the spaces provided by Mister. Linky.

• Visit and comment on other participants, as time allows.

• Enjoy the process. It is not a challenge, but rather an invitation.

I’m fortunate to live in a mostly rural area in the Sierra Nevada, about 30-40 minutes from beautiful Lake Tahoe. And I’m ashamed to say I’m lucky if I get there once a year. I’m glad for this opportunity to change that in the near future.

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on September 24. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

Tasting Life Twice and Other Writerly Considerations


We’re just priming the pump today for

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday.

Join us tomorrow for Victoria Slotto’s inspirational writing prompt.

Please feel free to link your response to Victoria’s post tomorrow to. Mister Linky will stay open for 72 hours.

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Illustrations: Anais Nin, Writing Is Like Sex* (https://www.facebook.com/writingislikesex); Epic Novels, Literary Word Count Info Graphics; Tim H. Vine, Rejection slip bingo

The Seed–a Sestina

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.
John 12, 24

Photo: women24.com
Photo: women24.com

The Seed

Such joy we find, in spring, to plant a seed,

to tuck it deep within expectant earth
to wait, in hope, for summers verdant growth,
the offspring of apparent winter death,
a promise that we, too, shall know rebirth
when we, at last, have spent this fragile life.

You ask me why we long for lasting life?
Perhaps you’ve never sown a lowly seed
then seen that nature nurtures its rebirth
unnoticed, ‘neath the skin of Mother Earth.
So small this grain—defying endless death
while flaunting its capacity for growth.

Each seed, endowed with all required for growth
still needs attention to sustain its life,
thus lending meaning to apparent death.
They languish for both sun and rain, these seeds,
and nutrients—the gift of fertile earth,
then time is all that’s wanting for rebirth.

Does not your soul expect its own rebirth?
Does grace not foster spirit’s gentle growth?
And it is not our goal while here one earth
to search for meaning in these days of life?
Tend carefully the soil that bears the seed
and have no fear of your impending death.

The seed, itself, surrenders to its death
so that a flower or tree may know rebirth.
Such beauty shall be born of humble seed
embarking on a journey of new growth.
Thus is the cycle known to every life
that’s clothed in form while dwelling here on earth.

Too short the days we wander here on earth,
too soon we face inevitable death,
so each and every moment of this life
give cause to ponder our sublime rebirth,
to free ourselves for such abundant growth
that we fulfill the mission of the seed.

While here on earth prepare for this rebirth,
for it’s through death we shall achieve new growth.
In losing life you flourish, tiny seed.

The Sestina:

A sestina is, for me, a fun, but challenging form to play with. It is a double tritina, using six, rather than three line-ending words. The secret is to choose words along a thematic line, then see where they take you. Should you want to give the form a whirl, this is the pattern: ABCDEF; FAEBDC; CFDABE; ECBFAD; DEACFB; BDFECA. A tercet concludes the rhyme scheme: ECA for ends of lines, BDF in the middle—thus, BE, DC, FA. Just for fun, try writing it using a meter, such as iambic pentameter.

– Victoria C. Slotto

© 2014, poem, Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved; photo credit as indicated

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on July 23. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

 

Nurture

The ants rush toward sweetness. I take away the melon, but first I spill a little melon juice on the counter.
Mary Oliver
Sand Dabs, Eight

Nurture

A drop of Buddhist grace seeps in my core.
I hesitate then spray to check those ants
but guilt ensues, weighs heavily in my soul,
Yet, should spider dare invade, I squash.

Last week I wept—a neighbor’s trees chopped down.
I wept for feathers scattered in our yard,
for eggs unhatched, abandoned in their nest,
for grazing cows and sheep, doomed to be slain.

And do we know for sure grain feels no pain?
That brainless lobsters know no suffering
when dropped in boiling pots for our delight?
Does life exist to feed on other lives?

But soon enough I, too, shall go away—
my life snuffed out much like a candle’s flame.
And so the cycle’s endless rhythm flows,
as well it must make room for seedling’s growth.

Photo: Teri Herzog
Photo: Teri Herzog

– Victoria C. Slotto

© 2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photographs as indicated 

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on July 23. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

Writer’s Fourth Wednesday–The Art of Touch

When introducing school-age children to the world of visual art back when I was a docent at the Nevada Museum of Art, I used to like to ask them, “What tools do artists use?” Typical answers include, “Paint, canvases, clay, ink…” and, indeed, it’s logical that these are the first things that come to mind for most of us. But then, standing before a painting or sculpture, I invited the children to take their responses a step further and, in so doing, we entered the sphere of the elements and principles of art.

As a would-be artist, I’ve learned that the elements and principles of art are tools can serve poets and writers, as well as visual artists. These tools include color, line, shape, space, texture, perspective, balance, contrast, movement, form, pattern, value, emphasis, rhythm and unity. Can you see how visual artists reach into their tool boxes and grab one or more of these to produce a painting or sculpture that will appeal to the eye and will elicit an emotional response? And how they might enrich your own work?

Photo: David Slotto

Today, I’d like to discuss Texture.

Texture refers to the surface quality, whether actual or implied, of artwork. Actual or tactile texture is present when, if you were to touch the piece, you would feel its roughness or smoothness. Implied texture is achieved through illusory techniques that allow your imagination to tell you how an object in the painting would feel.

To create rough texture in a painting, the artist uses heavy applications of paint with a brush or palette knife and layers it on the surface of the painting. This process is called impasto. Simulated or implied texture occurs when the artist creates the impression of smoothness or roughness. To do this he uses color and value contrasts, a dry brush technique, or broken lines. Collage is an art form that emphasizes texture through use of contrasting materials such as fabric, paper, wood, paint, fiber and natural objects.

For this Writers’ Fourth Wednesday, I invite you, as word artisans, to create textural poetry or prose.

  • You may choose to focus on texture as the subject of your poem, exploring and reproducing the rough texture of tree bark or wood, the smooth feel of a baby’s or lover’s body, the cool gloss of ice or the warm fuzz of a cuddly kitten.

  • Or select words that are textural when spoken, perhaps including a recording of your spoken verse.

  • Another option is to select a piece of art that is textured and write to that. Some artists known for texture include the masters Rembrandt and Titian, Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh, or abstract expressionists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.

  • Perhaps you have a painting, sculpture or photograph of your own that you would like to showcase.

Image Credit: theguardian.com
Image Credit: theguardian.com

I hope you enjoy bringing the sense of touch to your writing and look forward to reading your contributions, should you chose to share them. Above all, have fun adding texture to your creative tool box.

To link simply write your piece and post it on your website or blog, then copy the direct URL of your work into Mr. LInky.

2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photographs as indicated 

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Victoria’s poetry collection is  Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on July 23. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

whoever said life isn’t easy, nailed it

Artist: Cheryl Kellar Used with permission
Artist: Cheryl Kellar
Used with permission

i shall swim in aqua seas,
flounder in roiling seas,
writhe in darkest doubt
alone.

This morning two sparrows chased a black crow from their nest, sheltered among palm fronds. Their babies survived.

when earth begins to bleed,
i shall dance in wild flames,
thirst for crimson nights
long gone.

Death lingers in my thoughts today. I find downy feathers at the base of an old oak tree. Mama dove mourns in a low-hanging branch.

i fly my chariot across blue skies,
approach sun’s brilliant orange
until, like Phaeton, heat
consumes.

Tornadoes and floods level land in the South, claim lives, devastate families who begin, already, to reclaim their existence.

I shall swim in aqua seas,
grasp hold of blue balloons
to fly above earth
once more.

This poem was originally posted on my blog to a prompt offered  for dVerse Poetics, based on the art of Cheryl Kellar. 

For a change I decided to play a bit with form. Perhaps “Descending Meter” could be a name for it. It consists of 4-line stanzas of 7-6-5-2, interspersed with short prose observations.

In the writings of Ovid, Phaeton, a son of Apollo, asked his father to grant him one wish, swearing to do so on the river Styx. Apollo agreed. Phaeton requested that, for just one day, he be allowed to drive the chariot of the sun across the heavens. Of course, Apollo tried to talk his son out of it, knowing it would consume him. Phaeton, however, insisted. Because of his oath, Apollo granted his son’s wish with the expected outcome. I suppose the lessons are: be careful what you wish for, and, don’t promise anything before knowing what it will entail.

– Victoria C. Slotto

2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photographs as indicated 

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on June 25. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

Write in the Moment

What a gift it is–those moments when I remember to notice life in detail. To stop and watch the diamonds scattered across the grass in early morning hours, to catch the sun, back-lighting the soft white fuzz of my dogs or breath in the scents of earth and jasmine in our garden. I wish that I could learn to be aware in each and every moment–that I could learn to silence the mindless conversations I have with myself, to let go of fears about the future or regrets about the past, to ignore gnawing worries about what others think.

 

Photo: David Slotto
Photo: David Slotto

An exercise I’ve used before that has been the source of many poems is this: at the end of every day (or even as the day progresses) jot down, in detail, some things that you notice. I usually try to create a list of ten. Here’s an example:

1. In the West, large white clouds hang heavy on the mountains. Someone has painted their underbellies with a wash of Payne’s gray.
2. Sparky lies curled at my feet, head erect like a Sphinx, but his eyes are at half-mast.
3. A hummingbird perches on the feeder outside my window. I think he’s in love with his reflection.

What are you noticing today? Is there a poem waiting for you to bring it forth?

– Victoria C. Slotto

© 2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; © 2014, photograph, David Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on May 28. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog.If you find Mister Linky too combersom to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

Cultural Connections–International Museum Day

“Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”. Internation Council of Museums 

Image: George Andrews
Image: George Andrews

Yesterday the world community celebrated International Museum Day. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established this event to occur each year on or about May 18th. In 2013, 35,000 museums from 143 countries on five continents participated, welcoming guests to their venues, without charge.

The theme for this year’s celebration, as established by the ICOM is “Museum collections make connections.”

Until last year I had the great pleasure of serving as a docent at the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA), Nevada’s only accredited art museum. The role of the docent is, as the name implies, to lead the public in tours of the museum’s offerings, and to teach participants about various exhibits. This requires numerous hours of on-going training in the rotating exhibits and offers opportunities to meet (in the case of an art museum) artists, curators and collectors of art.

When I attended a National Docent Symposium a few years ago, I became more aware of how many types of museums were represented: those dealing with history, collections such as cars (the National Automobile Museum is here in Reno), zoos, botanical gardens, sports, entertainment, children discovery centers, occupations, science cultures…the list goes on and on.

Photo: Palm Springs Life
Photo: Palm Springs Life

I found the greatest joy in introducing children to the world of art—to watch them respond to the principles and elements of art such as color and texture, to learn to use art as a launching pad for story-telling and poetry, to learn to use their senses to jump into a painting and explore what it might taste like, smell like, feel like. I planned age-based activities and each tour was followed by an art experience.

In keeping with this year’s theme, museums offer a chance to experience other cultures and to understand the point of view of the forces behind the exhibits. They teach responsibility for the environment, diversity, and offer families the opportunity to share.

In honor of the spirit behind International Museum Day, please consider paying a visit to a museum of your choice. Perhaps the idea of becoming a docent will appeal to you if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity. Docents are educators, though it is not necessary to have a background in education, or even in your field of interest, thanks to the intense initial training program and on-going education.

It was hard for me to resign my position. It was a passion for me. But life circumstances change and sometimes the time commitment becomes unattainable. I find it dangerous to visit NMA now—I want to jump back into the role that is no longer realistic. But when I tour with friends or my husband, I find the docent in me taking over. I devise questions I would ask the school children, activities I would have them do.

To learn more about museums in your area just google “Museums (your town).” You will be surprised. And rewarded.

– Victoria Slotto

© 2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photo credits as indicated above

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Tomorrow Victoria’s Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

Writer, READ!

Photo: NPR.org
Photo: NPR.org

Every writer knows the importance of reading and the impact it has on our own skills. Because I write literary fiction and poetry, I gravitate towards the same in my reading choices. However, I’ve discovered that it’s critical to pay attention to what is going on in life at the moment and plunge into different genres to achieve some sort of balance.

Here’s an example. A few years ago, I began to read the novel “Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova. Beautifully written and intense, it’s the fictional story of a brilliant woman’s descent into dementia. The reading group I attend here in the desert was to discuss it at its next meeting. However,I knew I didn’t have the psychic energy to continue. Although I had worked with dementia my entire nursing career and have,myself, written a flash fiction piece from the first person point of view of a woman with dementia, I was at the time immersed in dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s–my now 93-year-old mother. I simply couldn’t bear the sadness.

Since then, I have read the book two times; I took it to my Reno book club and led the discussion. I recommend it to many since it puts you in the mind of the person who has dementia as she progresses through the disease. (The author is a neuroscientist with keen insight into the subject.)

Now I enjoy reading the classics,trying to uncover what it is that makes them so timeless. In between, I’ll download something mindless–a good mystery or, rarely, a romance. It’s important to read great writing to enhance our own skills, but even when it’s less than stellar–isn’t it fun to critique?

One of the downsides of writing has, indeed, become the tendency to evaluate writing instead of simply enjoying the experience. But, read on, take note of style winners and losers and learn!

Happy writing. Enjoy the process.

© 2014, poem, Victoria C.Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Tomorrow Victoria’s Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read one-anothers’ work as well, comment and encourage. 

WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY: Color My Moods–Writing with Color

Image: silkhlens.com
Image: silkhlens.com

As a would-be artist and a former museum docent, I enjoy playing with the elements of art in my writing–both in fiction and poetry. A favorite is to use color to create mood. In art, abstract expressionists often use color as the primary tool to convey their “story.” There are many interpretations of the meaning or symbolism accorded to each color. I’m offering a few of my own: Yellow is a happy color and can be used to liven up a scene–to make it joyful, while Red signifies anger, passion, love. Think about it: when you’re feeling intense emotions, such as rage and close your eyes, sometimes your visual field appears red. Blue and Green convey calm and  peace Black represents the unknown or fear while Brown is a grounded, earthy color. Violet or Lavender speak of spirituality while White is used to represent truth and innocence.

Photo: allparentstalk.com
Photo: allparentstalk.com

My interpretation is gleaned, in great part, from a book I use for dream interpretation and it seems to work well for me. Perhaps you will see it differently. Consider that, in Asian countries, red is used for funerals and white for funerals. Both culture and personal life experience influence how we see color. (Reference: The Dream Book by Betty Bethards) I’m including a short description from my novel, Winter is Past, that strives to convey a mood using color. In the dim light, the church, clothed in red, marked the joyous season of Pentecost. The altar was covered in an abundance of flowers—gold, yellow, orange and red gladioli—tongues of flame marking the climax of the Pascal season. Helene’s mood, however, was somber, spiraling into blackness. The red surrounding her spoke to her of blood and death—the death of her spirit. She suppressed a sob…

 

Do you have an example from your own writing you would like to share? How do you see color as it influences mood? We invite you join in, if you like, using Mister Linky at the bottom of this post or simply add your link in the comments secion if you prefer.

Image: tympanus.net
Image: tympanus.net

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done. Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and posts at 12:01 a.m. PST. The next Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is scheduled for May 28.  In (unofficial) concert with the American Academy of Poets, Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams) will host A Poem in Your Pocket on Thursday, April 24. You are invited share your own work or that of a favorite poet. Instructions for sharing will be included in the post, which will go up at 12:01 a.m. P.S.T.

HEADS UP: Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is tomorrow …

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

Poet, novelist and writing coach, Victoria C. Slotto is host. The prompt is about writing with color and it will go up at 12:01 a.m. PST on this blog. We hope you link in your own work – you have seventy-two hours to do so – and share it with us and that you will visit and support other participants.

Photo credit ~ Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved

Drizzle

Photo: cloudmaven
Photo: cloudmaven

As the day evolves
from overcast
to sun to rain again,

the Artisan steps in
and brushes clouds
across blue skies—

wet-on-wet—
then takes a rag
and smears,

sprinkling sadness
into an otherwise
perfect moment.

We are anticipating some rain this weekend in the drought-stricken California desert, so actually it’s a reason for celebration if it makes it over the mountains.

© 2014, poem, Victoria C.Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and posts at 12:01 a.m. PST. The next Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is scheduled for April 26. 

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY: Give Me a Second (Person), if You Please

Photo: Rebecca Waters
Photo: Rebecca Waters

Those of us who write fiction or poetry often struggle in choosing the most appropriate person for our narrator. I chose the first person when I began the initial draft of my first novel. A few years later, when the first draft was all but completed, an agent at a writer’s conference told me that agents and publishers no longer wanted first person, that I would get nowhere with it. Being a naive newbie, I spent a year or more changing it to third person, and then began the arduous task of submission. The feedback I got with my many rejection slips was that the protagonist lacked feeling, was not sympathetic. One morning I woke up with the keen realization that I needed to change it back to first person in order to allow the reader a more intimate and emotional connection with my protagonist. So, one again, I revised. These shifts of person probably cost me three years…perhaps more, because in the meantime I put it aside and wrote another novel in first draft.

My story is to remind us all of the importance of making a careful choice when it comes to first, second or third person. As you know, second person point of view uses the pronoun “you” and its variants to address the protagonist, the reader or a specific person or object. First person point of view allows intimate insight into the mind and emotion of the protagonist but limits the same for secondary and minor characters. It also confines the writer to a specific time and place. Third person, on the other hand, presents the story from the writer’s point of view, allowing her or him to comment on the story and giving omniscience into all the players. A downside is that it restrains the reader from a deeper emotional connection with the protagonist whose reactions always seem just a bit beyond our reach

As for second person point of view in fiction, there are authors such as William Faulkner who may include short sections or chapters in the second person, but I can’t remember reading an entire novel in this voice, although I suspect it has been done. A few years back, an MFA student in my writing critique group wrote quite effective short stories in the second person. Her stories gave me the impression, as expected, that she was speaking directly to me and, at times, instructing me.

It is less rare to encounter poetry in the second person. As poets, we love to address our “audience,” celebrity figures, other poets or teachers who have an influence on us, people we love (or hate), God, mythological figures, people from our past. Consider this poem by the well-known 17th Century poet, Robert Herrick.

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may go marry :
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

– Robert Herrick

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The poem is written in the imperative form, instructive to the reader or listener. I read it recently under the title “To Young Virgins,” which gives a sense of his intended audience, though his underlying message applies to everyone, reminding us that time passes quickly. Another example, this one by Walt Whitman, addresses a city.

CITY OF ORGIES

CITY of my walks and joys!
City whom that I have lived and sung there will one day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you–not your shifting tableaux, your spectacles, repay me,
Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows with goods in them,
Nor to converse with learn’d persons, or bear my share in the soiree or feast;
Not those, but as I pass O Manhattan, your frequent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own–these repay me,
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.

– Walt Whitman (from the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass, it became City of Orgies in the 1867 edition)

And so, for March’s prompt, I invite you to write a poem, flash fiction or even a paragraph in the second person. Many of you do this routinely, so I challenge (not confine) you to a more specific prompt. Consider addressing: • Your favorite poet, one who has influenced your own writing; • A celebrity you would invite to dinner if you had a choice; • An inanimate object; • An entity such as time, a holiday, an event from history; • Rewriting one of your own poems from 1st or 3rd person into second. If you would like to participate in the community opportunity: • Write your poem or prose and post it on your blog or website; • Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and add your name and the direct URL to your submission; • Enjoy your time writing and reading poetry. I will look forward to reading those who drop by. And if you would rather not be a part of the public forum, I hope you’ll try anyway. This is not a contest; it’s only to tickle your muse!

Image: memberswestnet.com
Image: memberswestnet.com

Please share YOUR work in response to the prompt by clicking on the Mister Linky sign (below in green) and then enter your name and paste in the URL to your post. Victoria will visit and comment and so will Jamie Dedes. We hope you’ll also visit one another to read, comment and encourage. Thank you!

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2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page. Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done. Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October.

Old Love

Photo: theCHIVE.com
Photo: theCHIVE.com

Old Love

The Love that’s tinged
by Eros
is easier to write,
to live and
to imagine:
the silken touch
of water—
cool caresses in a Lake—
a kiss that tastes
of wine
and sweat.
Subtle sounds of
breath, and
pounding pulses
and images that linger
in the darkness of
a new-moon night.

But as the days grow old
and we, along with them,
diminish,
winter shadows
cannot overwhelm
enduring Love.
You probe the
memory of
a day gone by
and stroke
a shriveled hand.

Then Spring breaks through
in songs of mockingbirds.

– Victoria C. Slotto

© 2014, poem, Victoria C.Slotto, All rights reserved

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and always posts at 7 p.m. PST.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY ~ Common Sense(s)

I am a visual, hands-on learner. My husband is more auditory. If I’m sitting through a lecture, I need to take notes in order to incorporate the key points being delivered. David will just sit, listen and absorb. It’s disconcerting to both of us when he starts discussing things such as the stock market or how to improve my golf swing and I don’t follow…(and it’s hard to take notes when you’re already in bed.)

People do differ in their favored modes of sensory perception. You may want to touch or taste, while your friend will associate sounds, colors or aromas with a place or event. That’s why it’s important to evaluate descriptions in terms of the senses. Make sure you haven’t just focused on those things that speak to you.

Photo: morethanbranding.com
Photo: morethanbranding.com

Last Thursday at dVerse Poets’ Pub, I offered a prompt, asking those who wished to participate to really pay attention to an object, to dissect it with their senses, to let it tell a story or tease out a long forgotten memory.

Here’s what I suggested:

You could begin by enlisting the help of your senses. How does it smell, taste, feel to touch? Describe what you see or hear. Does it make you feel a certain way or engage a memory? Where did you find it? Give some environmental details if appropriate. Are there any verbs that pop into mind when you see this thing?

Go ahead, take it a step further. Is it possible that this artifact can be used metaphorically? Does that stale bread remind you of a relationship, or the gravel beneath your bare feet the pain you find along life’s journey? Does it, perhaps, remind you of someone or something in your own life? Personify it, if you like.

I’d like to share with you some examples from the opening chapter of my novel, The Sin of His Father. The protagonist is at the deathbed of his mother. Here’s how I’ve tried to incorporate the senses:

Sight: “The dim light threw his mother’s profile into an eerie silhouette. It was as though someone had let the air out of a grotesque balloon–the parody of an Irish washer woman paraded down Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago on St. Paddy’s day…”

Taste: “…the taste of bitter coffee he’d sipped a few hours earlier crept up his esophagus and caused him to gag.”

Hearing: “Ellen’s roommate breathed slowly before turning in her sleep. That was the only sound Matt heard, aside from his mother’s raspy breathing, the bubbles of the oxygen humidifier and the gentle hiss of the gas escaping around the small prongs sticking in her nose.”

Touch: “He fondled the smooth bowl of the pipe that waited for his attention in the pocket of his jacket and longed to step outside to indulge his habit.”

Smell: “His mother’s fetid breath stroked his cheek. He wanted to flee the close air of the room and take off into the night.”

Attention to sensory descriptions throughout the process of rewriting is an excellent way to enrich your manuscript. Perhaps you will select a key scene from one of your stories or a poem and rewrite it, utilizing as many senses as you can. Or write a new paragraph or poem that focuses on sensory detail. Check out the post at dVerse if you like for some samples of poetry, including Neruda, Keats and myself.

Photo: thepaleodiet.com
Photo: thepaleodiet.com

To Participate as a Group:

  • Write your poem or short prose and post it on your blog or website.
  • Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and add your name and the direct URL to your post.
  • Visit others, if you are able, and see what they came up with. Reading each other’s work is, for me, a great way to learn.

Above all, have fun, enjoy the process.

I look forward to reading your work. Victoria

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and always posts at 7 p.m. PST.

Writing Critique Groups

Photo: inspirewriters.com
Photo: inspirewriters.com

Since the first writing conference I attended (2004, I believe) I have been involved in writing critique groups. It was for that conference that my work was first accepted for work-shopping and I was sure that I had arrived. A published author led the two-day process and there were about nine of us who submitted work to the other members of the group for critique. It became a turning point for me as a writer. I came to accept the fact that my novel was not quite as brilliant as I perceived it to be.

A few of us from that group went on to meet on a regular basis. Since then I’ve participated in several other critique groups. Here are a few things I’ve learned that have been helpful (in my opinion and from my hands-on experience).

  • Don’t submit your work before you’ve finished the first draft. It is important for you to have a clear idea of your story line before opening it to critique.
  • As a group, decide on guidelines at your first meeting. How many members will you have? Will you submit your writing before the meeting? Will you read work aloud at the meeting? How many manuscripts/how many pages will you discuss?
  • Be sure to balance your positive and negative feedback. Your goal is to build up one another, not destroy. One time a fellow-writer told me, “I would never read this novel.” That discouraged me to the point that I gave up working on it for a few months until I figured out that she was trying to tell me that the prologue was a turn-off.
  • Give specific advice. For example, instead of saying “This moves too slowly,” try something like “Consider using active verbs instead of passive voice,” or “That long sentence drags down the narrative–maybe if you wrote that paragraph in a few clipped phrases it would be more suspenseful.” Avoid general statements such as, “That just doesn’t work.”
  • Learn to listen to suggestions without trying to defend yourself. One group that I have been a part of had set the rule of “silence” until all critiques had been given. But take good notes while you listen. I bring a copy of my manuscript and jot down helpful advice in the columns.
  • Understand the differences between genres. If you write literary fiction, for example, don’t expect the same complexity of characters from your friend who writes sci-fi. And visa versa.
  • Don’t revise immediately after your meeting, except for grammatical and spelling errors. Definitely do not make significant plot changes. Remember, your story is YOUR story.
  • At the same time, be open to suggestion. My writing has been much enriched by plot twists or questions posed by members of my critique groups. Ask clarifying questions if needed.
  • There is a time for critique and a time to write. Understand what works best for you and realize that your needs change at different points in the writing process.
  • And finally, be grateful to your fellow writers. It was through this process that I have met some of my dearest friends. Don’t forget to celebrate one another’s successes!

Happy writing. Enjoy the process.

Image: teazurs.blogspot.com
Image: teazurs.blogspot.com
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Victoria hosts Writers’ Fourth Wednesday – a challenge to writers and poets –  from January through October each year. The event always posts at 7 p.m. PST. The next Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is scheduled for February 26. Please join us.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY: God Is a Verb–and so Are We!

Many writers, myself included, are in love with words. In some traditions, words acquire a sacred dimension. Creation comes into being through God’s word in the Hebrew scripture. The Word became flesh in Christian belief. I often use the letters of the Hebrew alphabet to lead me into meditation as they are considered to hold the power of creation and are full of symbolic meaning and creative energy.

A few years ago I read a book by Rabbi David Cooper titled “God is a Verb.” His understanding is that God has not ceased the work of creation and that God asks us to become co-creators with him. Rabbi Cooper calls this activity of God God-ing and refers to our participation as, for example, David-ing in his case, or, in mine, Victoria-ing. As each of us uses our talents in art or writing or photography we continue the work of creation. So take your own name, add that –ing and go to it!

Image: history.com
Image: history.com

For today’s post and writing prompt, I’d like to take a look at the role of verbs. When I first ventured into the world of creative writing, one of my major flaws involved an abundant use of passive voice and boring verbs, hyperbolic adjectives and taxing adverbs…perhaps because so much of my early writing emerged in the context of business. Although I haven’t yet “arrived,” participation in critique groups and reading about the art of writing, offered an important insight: active verbs give life to prose and poetry. My earlier attempts to create character and description often fell flat.

Adverbs and adjectives are part of our language for a reason—to add color, texture and other artistic elements to our verbal armory, but discriminating use of these words, peppered with verbs that rock, do make a difference. While there is a role for telling and judicious use of passive voice, success lies in knowing how to achieve balance.

Here are a couple of examples/definitions of what I’m trying to say:

Passive voice—when something is done to the object:
The child was bitten by a bee.

Active voice, the subject is the doer:
The bee bit the child.

And overuse of adjectives and adverbs:
The hefty pass-kicker adroitly kicked the ball between the goal post in spite of the blustery wind.

I’d like to share a poem posted by fellow poet, Jane Hewey on her blog:

Scar Hopping
Copyright: Jane Hewey

Glacial divides bypass
the dusty canyons thrusting
their will. Moons crawl
through midnights; I want
to touch your singular hurt,
wrap it with my hands
and light-soaked cloths.

I would warm it through
your thick white skin, force myself
into its cold-singe. I want
to evoke you out of the scar
like arctic char augured
from an eight inch ice hole.

http://janehewey.wordpress.com/View all posts by janehewey

I’ve added italics to some of the singular verb and verb derivatives (such as gerunds) Jane chose. While she does use descriptors, the verbs add so much to the flow and strength of the poem.

I hope this inspire you to write a poem, flash fiction or essay incorporating a rich use of verbs. You may want to select something from your archives that never quite satisfied you and try to spice it us a bit. Maybe it’s heavy on adverbs and adjectives, even bordering on “purple prose.” Or grab a dictionary and discover a verb or two that’s new to you.

Feel free to share your results, if you like. To join in:

  • Write your poem and post it on your blog or website;
  • Copy and paste the direct URL to your poem to Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post, adding your name or identifier where he prompts you;
  • I’ll visit you and comment and we hope that you will visit and encourage one another
  • Above all, have fun and remember—you are a co-creator!

Special thanks to Jane for allowing me to share her copyrighted poem

Image: tagxedo
Image: foxhugh.com

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(Portions of this post were recently offered at dVerse Poets’ Pub, another site for which I write each month. If you write poetry and are not familiar with this poetry community, it is a source of excellent articles about all things poetic and offers several prompts each week, including a night for Open Links!)

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Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday is hosted by Victoria from January through October and always posts at 7 p.m. PST.

Stars and Midnight Blue

Photo Credit: scienceblogs.com
Photo Credit: scienceblogs.com

i.
white rose in winter
miracles we don’t expect
our God comes to earth

ii.
silent star-filled night
newborn hope envelopes earth
flurries of pure joy.

iii

christmas eve arrives
children with eyes wide-open
stars and midnight blue

– Victoria C. Slotto

The title of this poem comes from a stunning Christmas album by Enya.
© 2013, poem, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editor’s note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.