Writing Poetry – Accessible or Organic?

April 29, 2016

recuerdeme

In the MFA program at University of N.C. Wilmington, I was told to make my poetry accessible and understandable. It has occurred to me that this is strange advice actually. Are the Imagists accessible and understandable? Personally, I feel that if it is easily accessible then why not just write prose?

I read back through many of my poems and find them very raw, very organic; many come straight to the page from my sub-conscious. They are written in order to make sense of an insensible world. Every word set down is stripped down to its essence, describing an emotion I had no words for. I pour the images that I receive from my subconscious to the page.

Instead of trying to explain to you or even to describe to myself the feeling(s), these poems say it all. If they confuse you, make you uncomfortable, make you feel something – that is what I was feeling at the time I wrote it.

Try to not understand the words. Let the image I paint form in your head and feel what I feel. For instance, in The Grounding Fence (which the younger generation in the MFA program tore apart), you can actually feel what I feel during a panic attack.

It is useless to attempt to make sense of the words I write; that was not my intention in writing them.

I hope you enjoy these poems; I hope you come to understand how important poetry has been to me in healing.

Karen

My collection of poems, Recuerdeme, is available in print and digital format.

The Grounding Fence

by Karen Y. Hamilton

 

Her mind rests upon the fringes of normality,

waiting and watchful.

The fence it rests on contains the white

and black of the universe.

 

Now and then it teeters totters tips

one way or another

slipping through spaces

of surreal dreams.

 

She is there here everywhere no where.

The fence grounds her

and she holds on while

the storm gathers.

 

She is resting on the fringe,

dangling leather straps,

worn and tattered.

She rests.

Writing Your Life Challenge Prompt #4

There is within your life a central theme – life change.

life-is-about-change

Make a list of the crucial events in your life. Start with your birth (did something extraordinary happen when you were born?) and then move on through your childhood, young adult years, middle age, etc. From those events, can you choose one that impacted your life the most?

Choose one of the events from your Lists. When you have isolated an event, look at it from all angles and write down its key points.

EVENTS IN YOUR LIFE: Here are a few to get you started: • an illness or a death in the family • the arrival of a sibling • the ethnic group you grew up in • the religious group you grew up in • a certain relationship with a peer • a failure or success at school • a decision you made to do or not do something • an external event such as a fire, flood, tornado, auto accident • marriage • children • career choices • spiritual experiences • divorce

These are but a few of the major events that turn a person’s life to one direction or the other. The list you make may be many pages long or relatively short. This depends on the individual. You may add to this list as you remember things. Include everything you can think of that had any impact on your life.

prompt 4

You may have more than one pivotal moment.

The older you are, the more dividing lines you will have!

Try using a cluster map to help you map it out. Each one of the clusters can become a paragraph in your story!

  • How old were you?
  • What was happening in the world at that time?
  • What was the value or moral code that existed at that time and how did it affect the event?
  • How did all of these factors come together to create your epiphany?

Join the Writing Your Life group on Facebook!
View previous prompts here.

Writing Your Life Challenge Prompt #3

f925407353b2aaefee1a0c3b31be5fc1
As with Favorites, Firsts lead you into deeper territory. The first anything is usually a memorable experience and quite often marks a change in our lives.

Try to write at least a paragraph for each suggested topic.

Remember, these paragraphs can be fitted into your larger memoir.  Remember! Use your five senses!

firsts

first sample

Challenge: Make a list of your Firsts. Choose one of them to write at least a paragraph about.

 

Join the Writing Your Life 2016 group on Facebook!

Click here for PREVIOUS PROMPTS.

Writing Your Life Challenge Prompt #2

Favorite-Things1January 8, 2016 Favorites

Writing about a favorite thing, person, or place gives you short vignettes that you can add to your larger memoir. Perhaps the paragraph about your favorite house will fit in with your overall theme of moving and loss.

Practice writing about each favorite – even if it seems silly – the act of remembering and writing will keep your creative energy flowing. Try to write at least a full paragraph about each thing. Remember! Use your five senses!

Here are just a few favorites – I’m sure you can think of some of your own!

sample favorites

A SAMPLE FAVORITES PARAGRAPH

This short paragraph was from a memory of my former mother-in-law’s favorite pastime with her father when she was growing up on Coney Island.  It is written in the third person.

sample favorites paragraph

Prompt #2: Make a list of your favorite things. Choose one of them to write at least a paragraph about.

these are a few of my favorite things

Join the Writing Your Life 2016 group on Facebook!

Click here for PREVIOUS PROMPTS.

Writing Your Life Week of January 1st

January 1, 2016 Prompt

Prepare a timeline of events that span your birth to age 18.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you will never get your memoir written unless you start! Start anywhere but START!

I find it easiest when teaching writing classes to begin with lists, progress to sentences then paragraphs, and finally put it all together.  I suggest that you do the same.

Make list after list after list – this way you will never have a reason to cry Writer’s Block because your list of writing ideas is right on hand.

The most important list is the TIMELINE. This timeline will serve as your anchor as you write your stories. You can return to it over and over again to spark your memory or find details to add to your stories.

sample timeline

What do you add to your timeline? Choose a year and think about all that happened in that year: you were born, a sibling was born, someone was hospitalized, a world event happened, you lost someone or found someone, you started a new job, a new school, etc. Do a search on the Internet to find out what was happening in that year and add it to your timeline.

We will start with your childhood years – birth to 18 years. Spend this week filling in as much as you can of this timeline. When you are finished filling in the timeline, circle the very important events (those that had a hand in shaping who you are today). These are events you can come back to and perhaps turn into full memoirs. If you are very industrious, go ahead and write a few paragraphs about one or more of the events in your timeline.

  • All of these prompts are meant to keep you writing. Try not to think about grammar, etc. as you write. Right now we are trying to just get the memories on paper (or computer).
  • Save everything you write on your computer and/or in a folder. (I highly suggest printing and saving your work in hard copy just in case your computer crashes!)
  • Next year, we can work on putting everything together! For now, just get those memories out of you!

 Resources

On This Day http://www.onthisday.com/

The People History http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/  Find the fashion, politics, news, population stats, etc. for a particular year or decade here.

Join the Writing Your Life 2016 group on Facebook!

Memoir Writing Challenge 2016

Are-You-Up-For-The-Challenge

I so love a challenge! In this coming new year, I have decided to stop telling others to write their memoirs and start writing my own. The great thing about a public challenge is that others do it with you and keep you motivated (hopefully) to continue on.

So, I am hoping you will join me in this memoir writing challenge. I’ll post a prompt each week. You’ll have a whole week to write something…a paragraph, a poem, a full page, maybe even several pages!

Along the way, I’ll be here if you need a nudge to break through writer’s block. I encourage you to share your writing … you don’t have to, of course.

writing your life challenge

Pop on over to the Facebook page for the Writing Your Life Challenge 2016 for extra inspiration. I’ll post the prompt for each week there and here, so you can visit either one.

Ready to get started? The first prompt will be posted January 1, 2016.

BMW fire

Excuse my use of this blog to complain…as most of you know, my BMW caught fire and burned to a crisp for no discernible reason.

12074588_10153706209209485_3316780241245611701_n 12112354_10153706209109485_2889903882516000087_n 12112382_10153706209164485_2073918053363504878_n 12115957_10153706209264485_979276803629309576_n

BMW claims this is not their problem and then sent me a letter offering me $4000 off the purchase of a new BMW. They say this letter is a “good customer reward” and has nothing to do with me asking them for help after their car blew up in my driveway.

When I asked them to just send me the $3500 I still owe on the car (after the insurance paid off most of it), they tell me they can’t do that.

Now, shouldn’t a car manufacturer take responsibility of some sort when their vehicles have the nasty tendency of spontaneously combusting?

Make Money Teaching Writing Workshops

Welcome! I hope that you will find teaching and lecturing on lifewriting (memoir writing) as rewarding as I have! I think you will. It is so rewarding to be your own boss – whether you offer workshops to supplement your income or as a full time job, you will find yourself astounded on a daily basis at the incredible rewards that come when you are spending time with some amazing people. As you learn things in this course, feel free to rearrange and change whatever you like. If you have suggestions that I have not thought of, I would love to hear them!

In 1999, I began teaching memoir and journaling classes. I have taught workshops at bookstores, senior centers, libraries, community centers, and to individual groups. You can do this to and be a part of preserving history while making money. While teaching Memoir Writing workshops has the potential to become full-time work, it is more likely that you are taking this course to supplement your income or simply because you love lifewriting. Whatever the reason, you won’t be sorry you decided to join hundreds of people around the world who are earning money and hearing amazing lifestories.

Learn how to plan, run, and advertise your memoir writing workshops! You’ll find lots of samples for scheduling and marketing. My bonus to you is an ebook with sample handouts you can use in your workshop.

As a bonus for participating in this course, you will receive a free copy of my book, Lifetales: A Workbook for Writing Your Lifetales. This is a 135 page workbook that contains articles and tips on memoir writing, as well as all of the handouts (and more!) that you received in this course. The Lifetales Workbook, written by me, is the book that I use in my own memoir workshop. This book generally sells for $15 online, but you get it completely FREE as a downloadable PDF with the purchase of this course.

Register for the full course at Udemy Coupon Code MW9
Use coupon code MW9 to get $20 off the price and pay only $9.

Let’s have a look at what this course will cover….

We’ll cover what memoir writing is and how it differs from autobiography. We’ll have a look at the business side of teaching workshops: overcoming your fear of speaking, advertising, finding venues, materials you need, and how to set fees for your workshops.

In Part 4, we’ll talk about what takes place IN the classroom: how to set up the room, what to teach, sample lessons, and other in class matters.

Finally, we’ll close out the course with some information on what to do after the workshop ends and ways to encourage your students to publish their work.

Part One: What is Memoir?
The differences between memoir and autobiography
Why should you teach memoir writing?
What participants get out of workshopping
What you get out of workshopping
Sample Workshops – Includes Sample Scheduling handouts that give you sample topics to explore for different workshops and a sample six week schedule outline. You will also find the six week schedule expanded to include step-by-step outline of what you can teach in each session along with suggested exercises for that session.
Overcoming Anxiety

Part Two: Before Workshop
Business Basics
Advertising your workshop
Materials you need for workshop
Finding venues for workshop
Setting fees for your workshop
Duration of workshops

Part Three: Marketing the Workshop
Advertising & Marketing Materials (with samples!)
Press Releases
Interviews
Social Media

Part Four: During the Workshop
Arranging the classroom
What to Teach in Workshop
Introductions
Peer reviewing
Lessons You Can Use!
Constructing the Memoir

Part Five: After the Workshop

Extending the workshop
Following up with participants and venues
Recommended Books and Articles on Autobiography
Promotional Materials you can use in Marketing
Recommended Memoirs you can use in class

Register for the full course at Udemy Coupon Code MW9