"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage


Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Time for Praise - Writing Odes


“I just think that praise is such an intense passion with our species,..The drive to thank someone for a gift, friendship or whatever it is, that has made a huge difference to us. It’s part of the reciprocal contract, I guess, and surely it’s one of the things art is for. I would think it’s for that reason for many of us to write love poems, positive poems.” - Sharon Olds
“Ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and belongs to the long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. Originally accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic poets to convey their strongest sentiments, the ode can be generalized as a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present.
There are three typical types of odes: the Pindaric, Horatian, and Irregular. The Pindaric is named for the ancient Greek poet Pindar, who is credited with inventing the ode. Pindaric odes were performed with a chorus and dancers, and often composed to celebrate athletic victories. They contain a formal opening, or strophe, of complex metrical structure, followed by an antistrophe, which mirrors the opening, and an epode, the final closing section of a different length and composed with a different metrical structure


Ode on My Episiotomy  


Kimberly Johnson, 1971

Forget pearls, lace-edged kerchiefs, roomy pleats—
this is my most matronly adornment:
stitches purling up the middle of me
to shut my seam, the one that jagged gaped
upon my fecund, unspeakable dark,
my indecorum needled together
with torquemadan efficiency.  
But O!  the dream of the dropped stitch!  the loophole
through which that unruly within might thread,
catch with a small snag, pull the fray, unknit 
the knots unnoticed, and undoily me.
 
Don’t lock up the parlor yet; such pleasure 
in unraveling, I may take up the sharps

and darn myself to ladylike again.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3/17 Open Mic at Art Truckee with Tahoe School of Music in Support of Sierra Poetry Festival

Please let your writer friends and students know about this super fun and diverse open mic this Friday at Art Truckee, the historic theater space in downtown Truckee from 7-9 pm.  This open mic features talented groups and individual musicians and this month we are hoping to bring in as many writers of all genres to expand the diversity of arts! And Green Beer (and other beverages) are available at the wine bar.

At this event you can support the Sierra Poetry Festival on April 1st in Grass Valley on the Sierra College Campus by learning about the readings and workshops being offered!   Sands Hall will be teaching a songwriting workshop, and other poets will be offering a range of readings, workshops, and activities.
Here is the open mic event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/121716808344284/

And here is the Sierra Poetry Festival event on FB:

Please spread the word and come to our open mic and share your work - use it as a deadline!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Make a strong first impression in 3 opening paragraphs - and other revision tips

“The risk of crossing boundaries is not just limited to trespassing on another's privacy: the ultimate challenge may lie in breaking through our reluctance to move into the tender and vulnerable places of our own lives. As writers, we must be willing to take those risks, not for journalistic reasons of the truth as fact, but for the sake of shaping the work into an art that transcends the circumstances about which we are writing. Writing hard truths with candor and compassion legitimizes and validates not only one's personal experience but, when artfully done, offers a passageway to universal truths that can illuminate and liberate.” – Kaylene Johnson



Tonight six brave writers joined the Tangled Roots Writing Revision workshop, a 4 month series to study craft and strengthen fiction and non-fiction pieces. Using Nancy Kress's book Beginnings, Middles, & Ends as a guide for our theme tonight, we explored the opening chapters of our work and considered Kress's thesis: what if you only have three paragraphs to make a good first impression? 

Four qualities make an opening interesting and original: character, conflict, specificity, and credibility.
  • Your opening should give your reader a character to focus on
  •  Conflict arises because something is not going as expected, or someone is experiencing disturbing emotions, or something is about to change
  • Effective use of details distinguishes publishable manuscripts from those that “aren’t right for us” by anchoring your story, set your opening apart from all others, and convince the reader that you know what you are talking about.
  •  Credibility comes from credible prose that is in control of words, sentences, paragraphs by using: understanding of diction, economy of words, sentence construction and variety, and tone

Monday, February 20, 2017

New 6 week generative writing workshop starts 3/6!

“Words, like sensations, are blind facts which, put together, produce a feeling no part of which was in the data.” – RP Blackmur

Writing with other writers feeds the creative impulse.  Generating new material with encouragement to take risk and experiment in content as well as craft is what we do in the Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop. 

A new 6 week series runs 3/6 - 4/17 (no class 4/10): A fun and generative workshop.  Do you wish you wrote more? Want to feel a sense of community when you write? Want to start or finish a book? Craft, technique, and prompts for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  A kick in the butt for your writing life! 


Connect with a community and improve your writing practice. Tea and chocolate provided. Mondays from 6-8 pm. $150. Downtown Truckee.  No class 4/10.  All levels of experience welcome!



Monday, January 23, 2017

And tonight I wanted to read a sonnet that fights

“First fight. Then fiddle”
I love the sonnet form, how it can be used to ponder an argument, using the turn and the 14 line constraint to strengthen the paradox or conflict. This wonderful sonnet by Gwendolyn Brooks was chosen by Robert Pinsky in response to the 2016 election for a piece in Slate.com.    

 (Gwendolyn Brooks, from The Womanhood, 1949)
                       4

First fight. Then fiddle. Ply the slipping string
With feathery sorcery; muzzle the note
With hurting love; the music that they wrote
Bewitch, bewilder. Qualify to sing
Threadwise. Devise no salt, no hempen thing
For the dear instrument to bear. Devote
The bow to silks and honey. Be remote
A while from malice and from murdering.
But first to arms, to armor. Carry hate
In front of you and harmony behind.
Be deaf to music and to beauty blind.
Win war. Rise bloody, maybe not too late
For having first to civilize a space
Wherein to play your violin with grace.
According to Robert Pinsky, "Gwendolyn Brooks’ sonnet from her sequence The Womanhood uses that form to present the relation between art and battle, with their related priorities and demands: a practical, urgent struggle for a black woman poet of Brooks’ lifetime. “To arms, to armor,” she writes, with her fluent mastery of the sonnet form enacting a victory."
Read the four poems from the past that Robert Pinsky collected for readers at Slate.com in response to the 2016 election.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Four Thursday nights in February: The Business of Writing: How to Be a Writer Who Publishes

This 4 week class at Sierra College Truckee Campus features guest speakers from our community and surrounding areas who are successful journalists, editors, published authors, marketing and ad copy writers, novelists, researchers, and free-lancers. In intimate discussion you'll be able to hear the details of how they developed the business side of their writing career, ask questions about your own projects and get resources for how to follow through from idea to book.

Through info-packed presentations and discussion, handouts with resources and talks with visiting authors, you’ll learn the ins and outs of writing and publishing. Discover tips for working with an editor, freelancing, managing your author platform including blogging and social media, writing query letters and navigating the many details of the publishing world, and maybe a few secrets of the trade. We’ll also cover opportunities at conferences, workshops and retreats, how to be a good reader at events, the painless way to handle submissions and rejections and how to get involved and promoting yourself in the literary community.

Friday, January 13, 2017

New generative creative writing workshop starts January 16th

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect." - Audre Lorde

Because of our beautiful winter storm this past week or two, you didn't miss our first meeting. The new 1/16 - 2/20 Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop starts this Monday 1/16! A fun and generative workshop.  Do you wish you wrote more? Want to feel a sense of community when you write? Want to start a book or finish a book? Want to become a craftier writer?

With a different focus on technique and creativity each week, we discuss, read, and write from a series of progressive prompts.  You will write new surprising material each week.

Craft, technique, and prompts for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. A kick in the butt for your writing life! Connect with a community and improve your writing practice. Tea and chocolate provided. Mondays from 6:00 to 8 pm. $150. Downtown Truckee.