10/31/19

For Your Enjoyment: "All Hallows" by Louise Glück



Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

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All Hallows by Louise Glück is a lovely descriptive poem in which the poet subtly cultivates a sense of foreboding before landing itself in Ghostville. The "fields picked clean", wheat is "bound", the moon has teeth even. A hand is offered in payment in the second stanza to which a soul emerges from a tree, ostensibly to take that offering—but to what end? Dun-dun-DUNNNNN. Have a great Halloween everyone!

Potential Writing Exercise: Write a descriptive piece set in the deep fall (not long before winter) which involves only one character being witnessed by your omniscient writer doing one thing near the end of your piece. Build up your atmosphere with words which are often used in violence or to describe morbid/violent/deathly things or events, even if (and especially if) the thing being described is not a dark one at all.


Fall Writing Exercise Series #61: Six Word Shootout with Jethro 08


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#61
Six Word Shootout with Jethro 08

For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes the following six words. While it perfectly sets you up for a sestina, feel free to write whatever you'd like (but ya know, give that sestina a shot!). Also feel free to make slight alterations to the required words if you want to avoid that eye-pokey repetition you can find in sestinas sometimes.

Required Words: Call, Red, Rush, Drip, Flow, Narrow

Bonus Exercise: Many memorable poems and stories include at least one explosive detail or scene, so include something literally exploding in your piece. 
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull.
















10/30/19

Fall Writing Exercise Series #60 Title Mania Plus Siouxsie 09


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
#60
Title Mania Plus Siouxsie 09

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.


Titles:
  1. Happiness According to the Government Pamphlet
  2. Too Dull to Slice a Tomato
  3. Almost July
  4. Tearing Newspaper Into Thin Strips
  5. Adjacent

Bonus Exercise: 5 Random Constraints
(I recommend picking any required words or lines before writing with a little surplus for options, but with your chosen title in mind)
  1. Your first paragraph must include a three-word sentence.
  2. You must include at least six words which begin with the letter combination "Pr".
  3. You must include one sentence (or at least 5 consecutive words) from the poem "Phrases" by Arthur Rimbaud.
  4. You must include one sea creature.
  5. You must describe the sound of something breaking.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try "The Singles" of Siouxsie and the Banshees.






10/29/19

The Publishing Life: Over 50 Literary Journals or Contests With Deadlines on October 31 or November 1 of 2019

The Publishing Life: Over 50 Literary Journal or Contests With Deadlines on October 31 or November 1 of 2019
End of October Deadlines 2019!

So we've had all fall to knock out dozens of pieces with the Fall Writing Exercise Series or from the Tasty Triolet Exercise or one of the various "Complete-a-Piece" guided exercises or existing poems, and we've taken the time to polish and research various journals, but there just never is enough time for everything. Well, it's now or never for submitting to a lot of journals who are closing their submission windows for the year or even until next fall! There are also dozens of contests with deadlines upcoming as well.

The following literary journals, magazine, reviews, contest etc have submission deadlines for poetry, prose (short fiction or short non fiction essays) either on October 31st or November 1st. There are a lot of them, so I'm trying to keep it as sleek as possible, if there's text instead of a link that means the information took some digging or for some reason doesn't have an accessible link. There is also a journal that charges $5 for a regular submission which seems very excessive to me, but maybe they have their reasons, so I included them as well with the cost bolded. Some journals charge a little though, which isn't out of the ordinary. I also indicate if a journal has a theme and which genres they have a deadline approaching for.


P= Poetry | F= Fiction | FF= Flash Fiction | NF= Non fiction

580 Split 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | "Message Undeliverable" theme
What they say about themselves

Ambit Magazine (UK)
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: £2.50 ($3.22) | P | N/A
What they say about themselves

Apeiron Review 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves: "Apeiron Review is a Pennsylvania based literary magazine currently only published online. We publish poetry, prose and photography from all over the world. We want something real, something beautiful, something ugly, and something that sings to the far reaches of our being. Make us laugh or make us cry, but we want something visceral."


Bangalore Review 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | Environment/Nature theme
What they say about themselves

Barely South 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-FF-NF-FNF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Bat City Review
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Brick (CAN)
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Capilano Review
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F | N/A
What they say about themselves

Chautauqua
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-FF-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Cream City Review
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Crosswind Poetry Journal 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: $5 submission fee | P | N/A
What they say about themselves

Cutthroat
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F | N/A
What they say about themselves: A muscular swimmer in the literary stream, CUTTHROAT is published twice a year, online as well as in print. Founded in 2005 by Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root, Cuthroat has been in business now for 14 years.  We publish excellent writing with an edge by prominent as well as emerging writers.  We offer two literary prizes annually: The Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and The Rick DeMarinis Short Fiction Prize (both w/ a $1300 first prize & $250 second prize). The 2018 submission period is: July 15th-October 1st.  Our online submission manager, accepts online submissions and payments! We publish one print edition and one online issue per year.  These are separate magazines.

deLuge Literary Review
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Dime Show Review
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-FF-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

ellipsis 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves: ellipsis…literature and art is a nationally and internationally recognized journal published by the students of Westminster College, featuring poetry and creative writing by Westminster students and guest contributors. Past ellipsis… contributors include Karen an-Hwei Lee, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Monica Berlin, Nickole Brown, BJ Buckley, Lisa Fishman, Karen Garthe, Matthew Gavin Frank, Elton Glazer, William Greenway, Andrea Hollander, Elizabeth Murawski, Bianca Stone, and Elaine Terranova.

Emry's Journal 
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: $2 | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

Evansville Review
The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves: The Evansville Review is an annual literary journal published by the students at the University of Evansville. Our award-winning journal includes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, plays, and interviews by a wide range of authors, from emerging writers to Nobel Prize recipients. Past issues have included work by Joyce Carol Oates, Arthur Miller, John Updike, Joseph Brodsky, Elia Kazan, Edward Albee, Willis Barnstone, Shirley Ann Grau, X. J. Kennedy, and Tarfia Faizullah. Poems which first appeared in The Evansville Review were selected to be included in The Best American Poetry 2001 and in The Pushcart Prize XXVI, 2002.

Gulf Stream Literary Magazine
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | NF | N/A
What they say about themselves

The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: $2-P/$3-F-NF | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves


The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: $3 | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves: We are a nonprofit literary organization supporting writers at all stages of their careers. Although we welcome experimental or unusual approaches to literature, our goal is to promote finely crafted work with an expressive and meaningful voice. We pay our contributors upon publication because we feel that too much art is taken for granted.





Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves


The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: $3 | P-F-NF | N/A
What they say about themselves: South 85 Journal is an online literary journal run by the Converse College Low-Residency MFA Program. We publish fiction, non-fiction, poetry, reviews, and art by new, emerging, and well-established writers and artists. While we consider all quality work that follow the submission guidelines, we are especially interested in pieces that demonstrate a strong voice and/or a sense of place. So, write like mad, and if it’s good, we want to see it.



The journal's submission opportunity link
Cost/Genres/Theme: Free | FF | N/A
What they say about themselves: We post new stories at least once a week for nine months
of the year. Our summer break runs from late May until late August.
Over the break we put up our annual, The Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short
Fictions of the year.


It is also a time of many contest deadlines. 
Here's a quick list of those approaching contest deadlines.

APR/Honickman Prize (First book poetry)

Autumn House Press Poetry Chapbook contest

Black Lawrence Press Chapbook contest (poetry/fiction) 

Brick Road Press Poetry Book Contest 

Comstock Review Jessie Bryce Niles 2019 Chapbook 
Contest (poetry)

CRAFT $3k Flash Fiction Contest

Finishing Line Press Open Poetry Chapbook Contest



Meridian Short Prose Prize

Negative Capability Press 100 Word Story Contest 

Pithead Chapel Larry Brown Short Story Contest

Raleigh Review Flash Fiction contest

Red Dragonfly Press Emergence Chapbook Contest/The 
David Martinson - Meadowhawk Prize

Reed Magazine (Poetry, Fiction, Non Fiction Contests) 



Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Poetry Chapbook Contest




Happy submitting!

Fall Writing Exercise Series #59: Beginning & Ending with Bubble Gum 09


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
#59

Beginning & Ending with Bubble Gum 09
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which begins with one image, scenario, line of dialog or place and ends with another, and an optional additional requirement.



Begin WithA bubble gum bubble popping.

End Withthe line of dialog "Look at the sunset and count backwards from fifty."


Extra Credit RequirementsInclude the description of something the color orange; and the words: "Octagon" "Heron" "Mule" and "Siphon".


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If you'd like some background music, try Nigerian Human Rights activist and pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre Fela Kuti's 1971 album "Why Black Man Dey Suffer"



10/28/19

For Your Enjoyment: "Merely, In an Unforeseen Moment" by Gaylord Brewer in the newest issue of Kestrel (41, Summer 2019)

            In three days I begin my
            journey home from the north.
            No, I do not invoke the
            well-worn historical hardships,
            body broken on the trail,
            dream reduced to a mocking
            ice, reckoning of dust.
            No fortune gained or lost here.
            But it would be a sad thing
            if the ferry cantered into
            the cold blackness of the fjord,
            or either plane erupted
            into a minuscule comet of flame.
            Or merely, in an unforeseen
            moment between now
            and then, I placed hand
            on chest and never woke up.
            Sad not to touch you,
            or see my home, or lose any
            odds of being a different man.
            No sadness to me, of course.
            I would no longer exist.
            And to you, sad only as a faded
            cloth, a blurred face until
            you also pass to a darkness
            that does not remember or forget.
            Thinking does no good.
            I’ve my lucky claw, my virgin
            salt, my witch’s promise.
            I count the hours until
            I pack my bag, until the boat
            motors into the dark passage,
            until I take my chances.

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The poem "Merely, In an Unforeseen Moment" by Gaylord Brewer appears in the newest Kestrel: A Journal of Literature and Arts, Issue 41, Summer 2019. Click here to subscribe because it's an awesome journal and every bit worth the measly $20 they charge for a 2-issue full year subscription.

I've been a fan of Gaylord Brewer since 2007. I know because that was the first year that I made a concerted effort to start reading as widely as I could in literary journals. Libraries were my friend. I bought dozens to add to the few I was perennially subscribed too, swooping them up wherever I could find them. There was usually a little section in Borders or Barnes and Noble with ten or fewer journals, but it was something. I ordered a bunch of tiny journals from their cheesy or basic websites, I entered contests that included a subscription for the entry fee and even ended up winning one (thanks Allegheny Review!). By the end of the year I'd found a number of poets that published relatively frequently, the most prolific publisher certainly seemed to be Lyn Lifshin, but another poet that stood out numerous times was Gaylord Brewer. He writes with a straightforward stripped down style, but is by no means minimalistic. His poems often employ medium-length lines, a narrative of some sort, and witty observations without being distractingly a 'funny poet' like Hal Sirowitz (no knock on the guy, his poems are hilarious and often poignant). He's closer to someone like a Lawrence Raab or Stephen Dunn. He also has appeared in the same journals as me a few times, which I personally count as a feather in my cap. But enough about me liking Gaylord Brewer's writing, let's get to the poem at hand, "Merely, In an Unforeseen Moment" which appears in Issue 41 Summer 2019 of Kestrel.

The opening is not-too-subtly invoking the diaries of arctic explorers and gold-rushing Klondike miners with plots in the Yukon, with the term "journey" doing a lot of heavy lifting for that inference, but "from the north" is also reminiscent of someone returning from "the wild". I love that Brewer immediately addresses that lofty tone and undercuts the heightened drama of the opening line. Then the poem moves to possible demises in a manner which made me think of the poem, "Otherwise" by Jane Kenyon, with Brewer enumerating some of the potential 'otherwises' which might befall him on his journey.

I could be looking too into it, but I feel like the lines "Sad not to touch you, / or see my home, or lose any / odds of being a different man" are a nod to Stanley Kunitz's wonderful poem "Touch Me" which ends with the powerful lines "Darling, do you remember / the man you married? Touch me, remind me who I am". Brewer's poem turns into the final stretch with "Thinking does no good." The poet has moved through numerous relatable fears of travelling, and, after acknowledging their possibilities dusts his hands of the danger, being wholly out of his hands anyway. 


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Possible writing exercises:

1) Write a short poem that meditates on numerous way in which you might perish on a regular day, with some sort of a twist. Perhaps you explain the various ways disaster was narrowly (or widely) averted, or you imagine some force or magical being that keeps you safe from those dangers or whatever you'd like.

2) Every day is like a video game level. You begin the day again each time a danger takes your life and you replay the level without the explicit knowledge of the day, only having a vague sense of warning when it comes to the dangers that have killed you in the past. That's the premise, but you figure out what the impetus for your story. What changes and makes that particular day/level interesting?

3) Write a piece that takes its title from the poem. Some suggestions would be "Historical Hardships" "Reckoning of Dust" "Into the Cold Blackness of the Fjord" "A Minuscule Comet of Flame" "A Blurred Face" "A Darkness That Does Not Remember" "My Lucky Claw, My Virgin, Salt, My Witch’s Promise" but there are many great options.

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About the Journal:

Kestrel: A Journal of Literature and Art is the literary journal produced by Fairmont State University in West Virginia. It is mainly a print publication but they do post selected pieces from each issue on their website, of which "Merely, In an Unforeseen Moment" is one. Their aesthetic is eclectic and they do like some surreal writing, but in general they lean toward the accessible side of writing as opposed to more academic or difficult writing. They are closed to submissions at the moment, but only for a few days, as they open to submissions for their Summer 2020 issue on November 1, 2019. 

Here are their submission guidelines from Submittable:

Poetry: Kestrel welcomes poems of all genres, styles, and traditions, including experimental and hybrid forms, as well as poetry in translation. Send 3-5 of your best poems during one of our reading periods.
Fiction: Kestrel is open to any genre of short fiction that questions assumptions and moves us to reconsider everyday life. We enjoy stories with believable plots, developed characters, consistent points-of-view, vivid and symbolic settings, true dialogue, and thought-provoking themes, though we also enjoy experimental writing that makes new the expected conventions. 5,000 words maximum.
Non-Fiction: Creative nonfiction, memoir, or literary essays are preferred. Subject matter may vary but attention to writing as craft and art is paramount; the attention to diction, syntax, and detail should delight and surprise. We appreciate writing that makes a subject's complexity understandable and its familiarity new. We expect non-fiction to be non-fiction.
Reviews: Please query via email. See featured reviews at www.fairmontstate.edu/kestrel.
Visual Art: Submissions to Kestrel may be made in any medium. Image resolution should be at least 300 dpi and in .jpg format. We publish full-color and black and white images. Kestrel may use images for publicity purposes.
Only previously unpublished work by writers will be considered. Kestrel retains first North American rights only. Contributors receive two copies.  Address your submission to the appropriate editor (fiction, poetry, nonfiction, visual art).
Simultaneous submissions are accepted; immediate notification of a manuscript accepted elsewhere is expected, preferably via email at kestrel@fairmontstate.edu.
Allow three months for our response before inquiring about your submission, and restrict yourself to one submission per calendar year.
 All accepted work is for the print publication; select work may be featured on our website.


Fall Writing Exercise Series #58: 3x5x10+ Wordbank 09


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#58
3x5x10+ Wordbank 09
For today's writing exercise complete the following steps.

1) Pick one word from each of three groups and write a sentence that includes all of the words, feel free to change tense, pluralize, gerund etc. 
2) Repeat the process ten (10) times using different combinations. No dawdling!
3) Now write five (5) sentences that are five words or fewer in length that use any two (2) words.
4) Now write three (3) sentences that use four or more of the words.
5) Now write a piece of fiction or poetry that uses at least three (3) of those sentences. Try to use as many of the (good) sentences as you can, or parts of the sentences if the whole thing doesn't fit or works better altered.


Word Bank 1:
  • Beetle
  • Porsche
  • Kneel
  • Revolve
  • Taupe
Wordbank 2:
  • Revved
  • Emerald
  • Foggy
  • Hydraulic
  • Umbrella
Wordbank 3:
  • Chevy
  • Floored
  • Ocelot
  • Chunk
  • Salty

Bonus writing exercise: Include in your story or poem a street sign with three or more bullet holes.
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Want some unobtrusive background writing music? Try the cosmic groove album Stone Flute by Herbie Mann.















10/27/19

Fall Writing Exercise Series #57: Ekphrastic Journey


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.


#57
Ekphrastic Journey

For today, we're going to write a poem or prose piece inspired by another piece of art or an ekphrastic piece. The piece of art in question is this image from the series "365 Days of Street Photography in Mexico City" by Danish photographer FREDERIK TROVATTEN.



If nothing right off strikes you try the following exercises along with the image. s.
  1.  The children are avoiding that road for a reason. And whatever that reason (which you'll explain/describe in detail) they decided to brave the danger for that bag of groceries. Tell us of their harrowing journey.
  2. These two are playing "The Floor is Lava" to keep their mind off of a situation at their home which might otherwise be upsetting them (especially the younger sibling). Tell us the story of their errand and what they're avoiding back home.
  3. The children have been caught away from home when a terrible storm began to set in. Tell the adventure of their journey home.
  4. Not going home, instead these two have just run away from home. Tell us why, what they decided to take for their journey, where they're planning to go etc. If their journey is innocuous or dramatic is up to you.

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If you'd like background writing music try the album Pop Goes the World by the Men with Hats.



10/26/19

Fall Writing Exercise Series #56: Three Things and a Random Title 03


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#56
Three Things and a Random Title 03
For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which contains the following three things, using a title generated by the random title generator linked below. Nice and simple. If you're not intimately familiar with these things do a little reading and see if a piece of info sticks out.


Title:
 Use this title generator. Get a look at the 3 things below that you must use and generate phrases 10 at a time. Try the more button on the generator no more than three times. If you click it a third time, that's it. Pick one of those. This is one of the best title generators I've found. "The Pleasures of Air" is one I got when testing that I may have to try.



  1. Lake Superior
  2. A Padlock
  3. A Jinn



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If you'd like some background music to write to, try lo fi producer KEEM.THE.CIPHER's Cosmos EP.





10/25/19

Fall Writing Exercise Series #55: Six Word Shootout with Lady Day 07


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

#55
Six Word Shootout with Lady Day 07

For today's writing exercise write a piece that includes the following six words. While it perfectly sets you up for a sestina, feel free to write whatever you'd like (but ya know, give that sestina a shot!). Also feel free to make slight alterations to the required words if you want to avoid that eye-pokey repetition you can find in sestinas sometimes.

Required Words: Weak, Swoon, Eclipse, Slight, Tune, Satin

Bonus Exercise: Poems and stories often occur around major events, so set your entire piece during a solar eclipse. 
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If you'd like some background music to write to, try Billy Holliday's 1958 album "Lady in Satin".















10/24/19

Fall Writing Exercise Series #54 Title Mania Plus Defects 08


The Notebooking Daily Fall Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.
#54
Title Mania Plus Defects 08

For today's writing exercise you will write a piece of poetry or prose which uses one of the following as its title. For a bonus challenge use the additional exercise of five random constraints.


Titles:
  1. Brunch, Again
  2. Turning From the Sun 
  3. How to Inflate Your Sense of Self Worth Until You Physically Pop
  4. Flung
  5. Cut Diagonally

Bonus Exercise: 5 Random Constraints
(I recommend picking any required words or lines before writing with a little surplus for options, but with your chosen title in mind)
  1. Your second paragraph must be a line of dialog that is exactly five words long.
  2. You must include at least six words which begin with the letter combination "Tr".
  3. You must include one sentence (or at least 5 consecutive words) from the lyrics to the song "Rings" by Aesop Rock.
  4. You must include one creature that walks on four legs.
  5. You must describe the taste of something salty.

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If you'd like some background music to write to, try the album "The Iron Horse" by The Sound Defects






10/23/19

Complete a Piece: A Triolet So Tasty You Could Eat it


A triolet is a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming ABaAabAB and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth

The triolet is another one of those repeating french formal poems, most closely related to the rondeau. Dating back to the thirteenth century, the triolet had a short heyday in nineteenth century England, one writer in particular championed the form and has numerous well known examples. The easiest way might be to look at a triolet that is already famous with some highlighting. It's tempting to go with Thomas Hardy, because everyone does, but I prefer using examples that use language closer to what we will be using so instead I'll use Wendy Cope's "Valentine" Triolet.

Line 1 is repeated as line 4 and line 7
Line 2 is repeated as line 8 (final line)
Rhymes with line 1
Rhymes with line 2

     Valentine

     My heart has made its mind up
     And I’m afraid it’s you.
     Whatever you’ve got lined up,
     My heart has made its mind up
     And if you can’t be signed up
     This year, next year will do.
     My heart has made its mind up
     And I’m afraid it’s you.

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One thing you'll notice is that the opening of the poem is also the ending of the poem. So one of the focuses you'll want is to make those lines transform in some way. In Wendy Cope's "Valentine's Triolet" there isn't a ton of that transformation or substitution. For that let's look to a more contemporary triolet in Leslie Timmins' "Triolet for Afghanistan" which appeared in Literary Review of Canada.

     Triolet for Afghanistan

     my country
     is a fractured mirror
     a continuous fire
     a burning garden
     —Asadulla Habib


     At Kag Khana four boys flee
     the peacemakers’ war, the Pashtun lord.
     Sandflies tear their cheeks, scars seed
     at Kag Khana. Four boys flee
     across mountains bereft of the grace of trees
     that will cast them back
     to Kag Khana four shadows to be
     peacemakers, lords of war?

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Notice how Timmins uses enjambment and different punctuation to altar the first refrain from "At Kag Khana four boys flee / [the peacemakers's war]" to "at Kag Khana. Four boys flee / [across mountains]". The poet altars the refrain for the seventh and eighth lines in a similar way in which Jazz musicians will improvise over a medley maintaining it's core notes. The specific location "Kag Khana" remains the same, as does the number of boys, but instead of fleeing boys, they are the returning shadows of those boys who were forced to flee. And the final line maintains "peacemakers", "lords" and "war" but pares down the syllables significantly, leaving only the shadow of that first instance of the line, much as the returning boys are shadows of their former selves. Great poem, right? Setting up a dichotomy or dualism is a great move for a triolet, as you have very limited real estate and must make your point quickly.

Now that you've got a good idea of what a triolet looks like, we're going to write one.

1) Decide on a dish that is either baked or fried, which you can get behind describing. Something you really like. If you don't like anything baked or fried... um, just pretend you do and write a fictional triolet. Most poems are fictional, afterall. Even a good chunk of confessional poems.

2) You've got your dish. Now we need to make it sound delish! Brainstorm phrases, sentences or even just words you'd use to describe the look, smell, taste, feel (that exquisite mouthfeel, or its texture or whatever in hand), and even even its sound if your item has one associated with it. For your favorite 2-4 descriptive words check out Rhymezone and write down a list of 4-6 rhyming words. If there aren't a ton of exact rhymes try their smart rhyme feature to find near and slant rhymes.

3) Is your dish baked or fried? Write down a list of 3-5 good words from the the linked list, if it's fried also grab a couple from here, if it's baked grab one or two from here. For each word, write a few fragments of sentences that either have something to do with cooking or eating your food dish. Make sure there's a variety of placement for that word within your sentence. Include some where the word is in the beginning of the sentence, some in the middle, but most with the word at the end. Variety is the spice of... well, in this case, writing your final poem with more ease.

4) Brainstorm any brands or nicknames for the dish you're describing (if it's commercially available). Do a few searches, and look for other similar dishes, noting a few similarities or differences of any. Write down the ingredients for your dish. Google it if you're not sure.

5) For today's triolet, you're going to write your last two lines first. I know, I know, that's the same as the first two lines, but whatever. We're starting with the last two lines. The last two words: "freshly [fried/baked]". So now that you're 3 syllables into the line there's only five left. How many syllables are there in your dish? Because that's going to slot right in there with "freshly baked/fried" so you have the last syllables of the poem as ____________ freshly [fried/baked]. Now fill out the line with your remaining syllables. Should you feel the need, feel free to tack on a couple extra syllables as the metrics are just another thing that it's fun to toy with when writing formal poetry, and many poets before us have done the same.

At this point your triolet will look like this:

1)  ____________________
2)  ____________________
3)  ____________________
4)  ____________________
5)  ____________________
6) ____________________
7)  ____________________
8)  exercise 5_[your food] freshly [fried/baked].

6) Now you're going to to figure out line 7. Not line 1 or 4 necessarily, but just seven. This is the crux of the poem, which is to focus on just how dang awesome that baked or fried dish is. You're writing a line which leads into your already composed line 8, and you should include your favorite description from exercise #2. Remember that the end word's last syllable will be the sound that is most prevalent in the poem, and that line is going to appear in one form or another throughout the piece. One good tactic for tweaking the meaning of a line for repetition is to include a comma. By having that pause, often with only slight re-wording you can change that comma to a period in later repetitions and disguise the repetition with enjambment. If that doesn't make sense, say your dish is pecan pie, and your last line is "a crisp pecan pie freshly baked." And you wanted to use the word caramelize in some form, so you go with "The caramelized crunch of nuts atop" knowing that the phrase can be lead into with enjambment from line 6, as well as be the beginning of a sentence, and even broken into a list (of the proper number of syllables no less) by removing the "of".

7) Look at your lines from exercise #3. Now that you have your final 2 lines, this is where you either round out that final sentence (if your line 7 isn't the beginning of a sentence), set up the final lines, but mainly, you provide some sort of a turn if you can. You don't need to know what it's turning from yet, just, start it off with some sort of action or adverb. For the pecan pie, because it leads into both crunch and crisp, the gooeyness of the pecan pie could serve as the turning point, the contrast to the final lines. So something like "The sweet, buttery goo sub-strate." By juxtaposing the textures at the end it provides the poem a sense of movement. This can be done with sweet/salty, hot/cold, or any contrast in the dish, flaky/smooth, whatever your dish has that contrasts, as most good dishes aren't one note.

8) Now that we have the final three lines all figured out, let's decide how they will lead into the poem. Looking quickly at what we've got for the triolet we'll fill in the repetition finally, and find the puzzle pieces that will fit nice and snugly into the poem's form. Your poem will look something like this:

1)  ___line from exercise 6____
2)  ___line from exercise 5_____
3)  ____________________
4)  ___line from exercise 6____
5)  ____________________
6)  ___line from exercise 7__
7)  ___line from exercise 6____
8)  ___line from exercise 5_____.
 It's time to make whatever small tweaks to the line from exercise 6 in line 1's space to make it a proper start of a poem. If it fits as it is, excellent. But if you can make a small tweak to the punctuation or an individual word or something small that will help the poem from feeling too repetitions despite its actual repetition. Same thing for line 2 which is the line from exercise 5. Punctuation/enjambment is one of the best ways to to work that fresh line magic, so in the pecan pie example, the triolet at this point would look like this:

1)  The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
2)   a crisp pecan pie, freshly baked
3)  ____________________(rhymes with atop)
4) The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
5)  ____________________(rhymes with atop)
6)  The sweet, buttery goo sub-strate.
7)  The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
8)  a crisp pecan pie freshly baked.
And now there's just two lines to fill in, and those will be occupied getting from the written line to the written line smoothly. You're doing that good old creative problem solving. You only have so much lumber to patch up your house, and if you're efficient, you can keep that draft out in your first draft. Don't worry if it's a little rough, you'll polish it up in one final exercise. Here is where your research should come in handy. You have nicknames, descriptive phrases, ingredients, rhymes. Use those lists to put together the missing lines. Doing my part to fashion puzzle pieces for the pecan pie poem here's more progression.

 1)  The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
2)   a crisp pecan pie, freshly baked
3)  from your home oven. What could top
4) The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
5)  the caramely mess that holds the slop,
6)  the sweet, buttery goo sub-strate?
7)  The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
8)  a crisp pecan pie freshly baked.
9) Now you have the poem, but there's a little messiness to it. It doesn't quite have enough. You know why? Well, there's likely a few reasons. For me, is caramely too weird? Sub-strate sounded good when I came up with it but now I'm second guessing going geologic with the imagery. Whatever your second-guessing is, before addressing that, you need to add the final piece! You need yourself a title. And what is extra good about this part, is you have essentially another line with no syllable limitations to give that triolet context. 

Leslie Timmins used her title to provide the context of the Afghanistan conflict to the poem, immediately bringing to mind the specific image of UN peacekeepers with their blue helmets or berets. The way I've decided to attack the title is to use it to smooth the transition between lines six and seven. Line seven, despite my best intentions was a little abrupt, being the answer to the question finished in line 6. As this was the intended turning point of the poem, I draw attention to the question. So, using this method, here is a triolet I've written as an example.

     Another Slice, That's What!

     The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
     a slice of crisp pecan pie, freshly baked
     from your home oven. What could top
     caramelized crunchy nuts atop
     flaky crust and caramely slop—
     that sweet, buttery goo sub-strate?
     The caramelized crunch of nuts atop
     another slice of crisp pecan pie freshly baked.

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If you're still having a problem putting the pieces together, or need a moment to get out of your head, perhaps a few more published triolets would help with inspiration on ways you can alter the repeating lines.

From The New Verse News, here is a triolet from poet Robert West.

     Triolet to a Rainmaker

     If only you could get this through your head:
        we’re drowning in a bloody flood of guns.
     We need to stem the torrent, count the dead;
     if only you could get that through your head.
     You call for more guns, everywhere, instead.
        Who knows whose daughters might grow up, whose sons,
     if only you could get it through your head
        we’re drowning in a bloody flood of guns?

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Notice West's use of the colon in his first/refrain line? That allows the final two lines to read differently than when they first appear, because that way of breaking the line into essentially two declarative sentences joined by the colon, and then running the lines together with enjambment is a technique you might employ. Being that it's a cooking poem I don't think it'll be as heavy as West's poem, but it's a good example of punctuation altering the refrain. How about this triolet, also, from Literary Review of Canada. They do like their triolets, and for that, we thank them. This is the poem doesn't utilize punctuation to alter its refrain, it doesn't use punctuation at all. Instead it, like Leslie Timmins' Triolet earlier in this article, maintains key words in the repeated phrase, but riffs around them. Here is "Arrival" by Kim Goldberg:

     Arrival

     A land where wolves did howl 'til dawn
     Where muskrats wove each home from reeds
     I don't know why the bees have gone
     Have never heard a wolf at dawn
     The beaver's tail does sound alarm
     no squash will grow from last year's seeds
     On land where wheels now howl 'til dawn
     And townhomes rise where once stood reeds

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Now, I'm not a huge fan of the poet's use of the words "did" and "does" in this poem, I feel they're filler words that allow the phrasing they were wanting to use, but at the same time making the line sound archaic, not like something you'd hear someone say. But notice how she maintained wolf and dawn in the first two, then substitutes out "wolf" for "wheels" but brings back the "howl", and in the other refrain maintained "home" and "reeds". It is good to remember that there is no Triolet or Villanelle or Sestina police. If you wanna alter the rules, go right ahead. If you wanna keep calling it that form is up to you. The further you drift from the original stipulations, the more you open yourself up to criticisms or you may distract your reader/potential editor, but you do what you feel is correct.

And because a triolet article simply would not be complete without that Hardy guy, here's two of his triolets. He is, afterall, the form's essential caretaker, being its most famous practitioner. 

     How Great My Grief

     How great my grief, my joys how few,
     Since first it was my fate to know thee!
     —Have the slow years not brought to view
     How great my grief, my joys how few,
     Nor memory shaped old times anew,
        Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
     How great my grief, my joys how few,
        Since first it was my fate to know thee?

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See that sneaky punctuation in there? The first time the refrain appears it's a statement, the second time it is a rhetorical question. It's also common for multi-syllabic assonance to be employed with triolet's rhymes, for instance here there's "show thee"/"know thee" and in Wendy Cope's poem there's "mind up"/"lined up"/"signed up". Here is another Thomas Hardy triolet, in this one he demonstrates the tactic of breaking the line in the middle with a period and enjambment to alter the refrain.

     Birds at Winter Nightfall

     Around the house the flakes fly faster,
     And all the berries now are gone
     From holly and cotoneaster
     Around the house. The flakes fly!—faster
     Shutting indoors that crumb-outcaster
     We used to see upon the lawn
     Around the house. The flakes fly faster,
     And all the berries now are gone!

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Well, you're done! Or, now's the time to finish it at least in some form. The pieces don't have to fit perfect, they should just fit well. Sand down their sharp edges, their jagged and rough bits. Pare away the unnecessary and don't be afraid to rephrase lines you already are fine with a hundred times as experiment/exercises. See if you can get a line just a little tighter, pack a little more meaning, connotation, description in there. And overall, don't let yourself stop yourself from finishing this poem. You have almost all of the pieces of the puzzle, just finish it up, and worry about giving it a real shine later. Editing is great like that.