"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

Friday, August 18, 2023

New Poetry in the Garden pop up workshops 8/22 and 8/29 for everyone - register now


I'm reading Then the War by Carl Phillips, the Pulitzer Prize winner for 2022. From his poem Little Shields, in Starlight:

Maybe there's no need for us to go anywhere more far
than here, said the dogwood leaves, mistaking speech
for song, to the catalpa leaves, imitation silence.

At the risk of sharing lines of poetry out of context here, I am intrigued by the idea here that asks what the dogwood leaves might say to the catalpa leaves. Or, I ask myself, how would one imitate silence? How does one sing? And then, leaves would know probably about the need for travel. Contradictions such as that between remaining rooted and imagining how far to travel drive tension in Phillips's poems. In our own writing, we can study other writers we admire and bring into our own writing these new techniques and structures.

I love how Phillips' phrasing creates what he calls a muscularity of syntax (or sentence)

"As far as I can tell, anymore, all that poetry at the end of the day is, is patterned language. The relationship between pattern and the meaningful disruption of that pattern gives poetry the muscularity required to become memorable." - Muscularity and Eros: On Syntax, Carl Phillips, At Length Magazine

In Tangled Roots Writing workshops and coaching sessions, as writers we read and write through a lens of tenderness to understand ourselves and others and to apply this depth of meaning to the page.

Poetry in the Garden workshops Tuesday nights August 22nd and 29th 5:30-7 pm
$25 each Tuesday workshop
All levels of experience welcome! This is a generative poetry workshop - join us for one or both evenings.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

August and September workshop series now open for registration!


 Tangled Roots Writing workshops in August and September are now available for sign ups!

I've added a mini-series for Tuesday nights in the garden on August 22nd and 29th from 5:30- 7pm. Many clients have asked for a short focus on poetry, so these two nights we will enjoy tea and chocolate in the garden while we learn to create new expression through poetic form. Playful for all levels of experience!

The next Monday night 6 week series will run 9/11 - 10/16 from 6:30- 8 pm. This series is online and in person in order to offer flexibility for work and family. I've been offering this workshop series for over ten years now and if you haven't yet joined us, this fall may be the time for you to write new crazy-creative material every week. Fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Please call me or email to chat about your writing and goals. I'm available for individual editing and coaching. I offer manuscript review for novels, memoirs, and poetry. You may sign up for a workshop by email or phone call or text.

Happy writing

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Two workshop series for developing your voice in storytelling

“The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.”
George Lakoff, Metaphors We Live By  

Metaphor suggests one’s own ability to make a connection between two seemingly unlike objects and find their commonality. I think these last three words are key to something we often lose sight of in talking about imaginative language. The phrase "find their commonality" suggests that through commonality we create understanding. In fact, doesn't it seem that this purpose is the reason to read fiction, memoir, and whatever else we can find?

The English metaphor derives from the 16th-century Old French métaphore, which comes from the Latin metaphora, "carrying over", in turn from the Greek  (metaphorá), "transfer",]from (metapherō), "to carry over", "to transfer" and that from (meta), "between" + "to bear", "to carry". 

We 'carry over' a way of responding in one sphere of our lives into another. 

Metaphor can happen in the verb, the noun, the adjective, and sometimes the adverb.

Consider how the metaphor creates deeper understanding in these examples of comparison between two concrete things in fiction and poetry: 

The driver was hunched forward, his arms encircling the wheel, his hands hanging down like paper hands. – Desperate Characters, Paula Fox

All around them were official buildings, with the peculiar character of large carnivorous mammals momentarily asleep. – Desperate Characters

Blackbirds sit in bunches. From a distance/ they are quiet as piles of dark grain/ spilled on the road. – Tom Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything

Getting off the bus near the ocean,/ the passengers are left behind as buoys.--Tom Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything

When the mind begins to snap/ you can’t tell it/ from the sound of wind/ rattling empty milkweed pods. --Tom Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything

You are with me when my courage /is as moveable as furniture. --Tom Hennen, Darkness Sticks to Everything  

A playful writing exercise: Write down three things you saw this morning.  Make these images into comparisons – include sensory detail if possible.

For example:

  • an empty bird feeder hanging on a pole

  • a dried out yet aromatic Christmas tree in the driveway buried under snow all winter until now

  • three Heirloom tomatoes on a plate

Here is what I came up with in this exercise in the Monday night creative writing workshop:

  • The empty bird feeder swings from its metal hook, an abandoned lighthouse.

  • Three Heirloom tomatoes wait on a plate like sea anemone watching for little fish prey.

  • A dried out Christmas tree is a woodsy Nautilus sliced open within which rabbits shelter.

How do the comparisons you make reflect who you are as an individual, with a sensibility, vocabulary and life experience original and unique from everyone else in the room?

If you want to learn more ways to play with language and use the tools of craft to develop your voice in stories you are writing, then join us in the Monday night creative writing workshop series or the Book Project workshop series!