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Stories From the Edge of Blindness

In 2002, Retinitis Pigmentosa changed my life. This is my story of a slow approach to darkness.

Month

August 2018

Stuck in My Head

I was lucky to grow up in 2 musical households.  My Mom was taught, by her professional jazz musician father, to play the piano at age 4.  My Dad played the guitar and was always singing.  He has a song for every occasion, big or small. Random songs often pop into his head and  he’ll start singing, no matter where we are.  He has a good voice.  You’d think by now I would have heard all the songs he has to offer, but he is still surprising me with new ones.   Continue reading “Stuck in My Head”

Bog Means God in Serbian ~ Susan Richardson

I rarely offer explanations about my poems; I feel that once I put them out into the world, they cease to belong to me and the meaning becomes that of the reader. In this case, I am breaking my own rule.

When it comes to WP and comments, I am the master of typos. Months ago, in a comments conversation with my friend Bojana, I typed the word bog rather than what I was actually trying to type. I apologized profusely, and in response, Bojana typed the words,” Bog means God in Serbian”. It gave me the chills and I knew one day it would become a poem. This is the poem it became.

A Poem in Foxglove Journal

I am thrilled to have my poem, “Reluctant Diver”, in Foxglove Journal today.  My huge thanks go out to editor Elizabeth Gibson!

The World Owes You Nothing, Darling

Sarah’s exquisite voice in all of its strength and grace!!!!!

On the Way to the Barre

I wrote this blog post yesterday morning in the bath, and jotted it down on the train. I was still glowing from my recent trip to Paris and coming back to a huge class of 40 eager ballet students, even ending class with a can-can. I didn’t get a chance to post it last night and today I was feeling the post-Paris blues, and it cheered me up.

You’re Doing It Wrong. I know, I know, I don’t usually say you’re “wrong”. People have too many negative messages in their heads for me to add any more. Even in ballet class I usually say “you can do it better this way”, or something to that effect, but this time I’m telling you you’re doing it wrong because it’s the stinky truth.

I know you know this, but my dear, the world was not made for you, and other people were…

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Beware the Adjective

I have had the good fortune, in my writing life, of having mentors who chose to share parcels of writing advice that I keep with me as I travel this crazy path I have chosen.  I know I will have more wisdom imparted to me as the years pass, that I will seek it out from other writers and editors.  I have realized that, although being a writer is such an isolated act, we cannot do it alone or completely without guidance.  We all have our own writing process and practice, our individual voices, but we also need each other.  I thought I would write some posts and share some of the things that have been passed on to me; spread the proverbial wealth.  The things I share may be things that are obvious to most, but maybe there is someone who will read this and benefit, someone like me, who didn’t take the traditional writing education route.

In 2015, I started writing (poetry) seriously, after a very long dry spell, and decided to start sending my work out into the world again.  I had been pretty prolific in my early 20’s, writing a lot and sending my work out a lot, even getting a few things published, but then I stopped and 20 years went by.  When I began the process of researching magazines and journals, I looked for places that were open to emerging writers and had the good fortune of finding a journal with a poetry editor who would change my writing life.  Heather was the first editor to whom I submitted after my long hiatus, and to my absolute joy and surprise, she accepted 3 of my poems for publication.  We formed a friendship and she went on to start her own journal and to publish more of my poems, but she didn’t accept everything I sent her.

For her own journal, she would occasionally put out a themed call for submissions, and one of those themes was mental illness. In response, I wrote a poem about depression, which I felt was full of rich description and feeling.  She rejected it.  I can’t deny I was a bit surprised, but because I was fortunate to have become friends with Heather, she gave me a critique, and along with it a piece of advice that I will never forget.  She told me that a mentor of hers had offered up this phrase, “Beware the adjective”.

I was slightly horrified.  She wanted me to what?  To strip the adjectives from my poem?  But, the adjectives were what made the poem come alive…..or so I thought. I went back to my poem, and with much hesitation, took out the adjectives.  As I rewrote the piece and figured out how to say what I wanted without relying on adjectives, I saw the poem come to life and take on a sense of motion that the adjectives had actually slowed.

In usual form, I went wild with this new information and proceeded to strip adjectives from all of my poems, rewriting like mad.  It was actually fun and exciting to see how my poetry changed, but I had to get my feet back on the ground  and realize that Heather wasn’t suggesting I completely strip the adjectives from my poetry, just tread carefully around them.  Adjectives can be great when used sparingly in poems, but they can also get in the way of what a poem is really trying to say.

The poem she rejected is called, “Peach Pit Heart” and the revised version, relieved of the burden of (some of) its adjectives, was later published in Literary Juice, and again recently on Morality Park.

I am still working on my relationship with adjectives, but, “Beware the Adjective”, is something I will forever have in my writing arsenal.  If it seems too harsh, perhaps, “tread lightly around the adjective” will work better for you.

 

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