Back to Class: Poetry Exercises

Standard

With all the different writing classes I’ve taken over the years, I’ve somehow never taken one on poetry. Which is interesting because my love of writing started with poetry. I very quickly realized it was pretty bad though. In my humble opinion I’ve improved a lot, mainly through reading more poetry and a few instructional texts. I still feel that some more instruction and education on the craft could definitely help me. So I enrolled, for free of course in Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop, an online course conducted by California Institute of Arts.

I’m up to the third week and so far it’s really gone down to the basics. Even with the instructional texts I’ve used in the past, I skipped over a lot of the beginning stuff. I skimmed over a lot of it and skipped almost, if not all the exercises, to get to the parts I thought were really interesting.  Participating in this course, I’m more committed to actually putting in the work, which means doing all the exercises even if they seem juvenile. Here’s a couple I’ve completed so far:

Week one–Poetic Lines

This exercise was for the lessons on lines. The following text was presented in a block of text I had to add in my own line breaks.

tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace

from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time;

and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.

out, out, brief candle! life’s but a walking shadow,

a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage

and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot,

full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The piece is an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Check it out, my version made the lines just a bit longer.

Week Two-Abstraction and Image

For this exercise we were supposed write a poem describing an object. The instructions said to be as literal and vivid as possible, and not to use any figures of speech. Not sure how vivid my image is but I like it. I’ll likely keep working it and who knows where it might end up.

 

Clear glass heavy in my hand.

Filled with dark liquid and ice

popping ever so often

as the whiskey melts it down.

A sip, cold

goes down with a slight burn.

Advertisements

Post Festival Sale

Standard

So the poetry festival came and went, along with some stormy weather that’s sticking around. It wasn’t a complete waste though, I was able to make a few sales Saturday before the downpour that cleared out the festival. Even one after, my best customer. (Thanks again Gonzo) Sunday I waited out the rain and went late. There wasn’t much of a turnout but I enjoyed the day just hanging out, listening to performances and even won a free raffle. I just have one little issue, more left to sell than I expected. So in honor of my first poetry festival as a vendor and the opening of my online shop, coming soon, I’m having a Post Festival Sale. I threw together some packaged deals in themed bundles.

 

Post Poetry Festival Sale Bundles

Deluxe Festival Bundle-$40

20160801_212047.jpg

Includes one of every item I had on sale at the poetry festival.

  • Dante’s Tall tales, short fiction pieces from Devilish Dante’s Domain
  • One copy of both Pocket Poetry books, Drunken Poems and Life & Death
  • “Clouds” painting
  • One of each poetry postcard featuring “The Dream”, “Clouds”, “Enjoy the Ride”, and “Black rose”
  • A top, mirror and buttons featuring poem lines.

Buy Now Button

20160801_204859.jpg

Pocketbook Bundle-$15

  • One copy of Life & Death
  • One copy of Drunken Poems
  • 2-1.25″ Buttons
  • 1-3″ Button
  • 1- top
  • 1-mirror


Buy Now Button

20160801_204739.jpg

Drunken Poems Bundle-$10

  • One copy of Drunken Poems
  • 2-1.25″ Buttons
  • 1-3″ Button
  • 1- top
  • 1-mirror


Buy Now Button

20160801_204414.jpg

Postcard Bundle-$5

  • One of each of my poetry postcards featuring “The Dream”, “Clouds”, “Enjoy the Ride”, and Black rose
  • Button featuring a line from “Enjoy the Ride”


Buy Now Button

Prices do not include shipping & handling fees; additional $3 for Deluxe bundle, all others $2.

Bundle prices are discounted and there’s a limited supply of some items, get them while you can. If you are interested in individual items feel free to contact me by email at lexc13@live.com, individual photos are available in my previous post. I am in the process of setting up a full online store and should have it up and running soon.

Words for Sale at the Poetry Festival

Standard
6th Annual New York Poetry Festival

6th Annual New York Poetry Festival

 

I’ve been looking for ways to get my writing into the hands of readers. The New York City Poetry Festival sounded perfect, so I will be there as a vendor. I’ll be selling small pocketbooks of poetry, postcards, handmade bookmarks, buttons, etc. (Most items are still in production, will update with pictures as they become available.)

It takes place the last weekend of the month, July 30th & 31st, on Governors Island. I can’t wait and hope to see you all there too.

Visit the Poetry Festival website for more info and directions.  You can also follow the Facebook page or on twitter, @nycpofest.

 

 

 

Available for Sale at Poetry Festival

 

20160707_081822.jpg

Drunken Poems Pocket book

 

 

 

Cloud Poem painting

Cloud Poem painting

 

 

wooden bookmarks

Wooden bookmarks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing One More Contest

Standard

So I recently entered a writing contest where instead of judges the writers competing vote for winners. It seems like a very good idea, I guess it is. But of course I’m bitter because yet again I didn’t win. Like I said the concept is kind of cool. Not only do participants vote but they also can comment on the work. It seems like a great system, writers voting on other writers work and also being able to get much needed feedback. Unfortunately, I’m really disappointed with the result, and not just because I lost, okay maybe I wouldn’t be critical if I had made it past the first round of voting, or at least placed in the first hundred or so. But really I think I have some legitimate points about why it was a disappointing experience.

So writers are given six other entries to rate and your entry is sent to six other contestants. The rankings are tallied, the top third rated entries move up to the second round unless you get less than four . Seems a good number of people enter but do not participate in voting. I did not make it past round one. My entry was only ranked by four people and sadly I didn’t do well. Its seemed unfair to me those other two rankings might have brought up my score. But I checked out the top ranked poems and they seems to get all around higher scores even if they were ones that were moved to next round for lack of votes.

Okay so I didn’t win, didn’t make it to second round. At least I would get some feedback but that was even more disappointing.  So only four of the other contestants did voted on my work, but only three actually made any comments. One only praised the work, yet ranked the it pretty low. Another mostly praised the writing, except for pointing out that one particular poem was too repetitive. Okay I can deal with that, but really that’s it. The last a long comment but I don’t think it was very helpful. Reading it I was kind of like what the fuck and it didn’t make much sense to me. The first poem they commented on they obviously didn’t get. It was a funny poem about waking up in a race car bed after a night of drinking. “The rhyme was too obvious you should go for the image instead of the rhyme.” It was that way on purpose it was silly, cute and funny. Also they didn’t understand what a race car bed was, “is it the back of a car or a bed with covers that have race cars on them? But in the next sentence, “the imagery is clear and precise.” Yeah so they didn’t get that at all. After that I didn’t really bother to pay attention to the rest of the comments.

I guess some of the writers who’s work I commented on might have felt the same way. But it still felt like a waste. Have to keep trying, though. It was an experience, I tried and I’ll drink to that.

 

 

Fitting Poetry In Everyday

Standard

For the past year or so I have wanted to get back into writing poetry. However, it’s been a while and I feel kind of rusty. I figured the best way to get back into the flow would be to read more poetry. In high school I took a great deal of interest in poetry reading and writing, but eventually my excitement for poetry faded. I decided to move on to other types of writing and never seemed to find my way back. Other than one or two, I can’t really name poets that I like, inspire me, or that I want to aspire to. To get myself going, I asked around members of online groups for others favorite poets, especially contemporary ones. Armed with a list I hit up the library checking out more than I could carry. I resolved to read at least a couple of poems everyday. However, it was a task I found in reality was just not happening.

I realize now that in the past I had lots of free time on my hands. At lunch during high school, I would frequently visit a neighborhood bookstore buying anthologies of poetry for a dollar or two. I’d spend the rest of my break sitting around reading them. Then I had days where I would just wander around the city finding hidden secluded places to read. I’m pretty sure those days ended right after high school granWith all the demands on my time now I can’t even remember to pick up a book of poetry most days. Plus the fast pace of life and trying to keep up with several commitments at once I feel like I don’t have time for it either. I’ve always had this perception of poetry reading as a leisurely activity that needs to be done with no distractions. But my world will always be filled with distractions and I’m not going to be living the life of leisure anytime soon.

Luckily, I think I found a way to get past all of this and get in poetry everyday. I signed up for daily poem emails, one from the Poetry Foundation and the other Poetry.org. Now everyday without thinking about it I am reminded to stop for a minute and read a poem. It may be rushed some days, a quick scan as I clean out my inbox for the day, but at least it’s in there. Usually I’ll save the ones I like in a folder, hopefully to go over again later. One of the best parts of the emails is finding writers that I may have never thought to read or even heard of.  Most of my adult life now I’ve let poetry take a backseat to higher priority obligations, but it’s something that always comes back to mind as something I should have always put more effort into. I know poetry may never be a profitable endeavor but that has never been the purpose of it. I just enjoyed it.

Poetry Writing Excercise

Standard

On my usual pursuit of free events I found another one from my new favorite, Gotham Writers Workshops. As part of their fall open house, last night I attended a one hour poetry class. Part of the class called for a writing exercise, to write about the world around an object, person, etc., basically describing it without actually naming it. Here’s what I came up with:

Day in Day out ripping away at my scalp
Hiding in the darkness to calm the migraines
Frustration building as nothing gets better
Yet here I come back for comfort and security
Day in Day out knowing you’re not going anywhere

So what do you think? I’m impressed with myself especially since I haven’t done much poetry writing in a long time. It actually came to me pretty quickly and easily. Well okay I did go back and edit some. (I had extra time) Even so the more important thing is I got writing and it was actually a really fun class. Carter, our instructor, was probably the only teacher that made poetry actually sound as fun as it should be. He was also funny and entertaining enough to make me think twice about signing up for the course. Then I remembered I don’t have money.  Well there’s always another time, I hope.

Tonight

Standard

I’ve fallen in love with you

for the night.

Looking into your drunken eyes

for tonight.

Behind my own obstructed eyes

for the night.

I could be with you forever

for tonight.

Embracing you eternally

for the night.

Loving you for who you are

for tonight.

We are as one entity

for the night.

I know you better than any

for tonight.

Only because you’re buying my drinks

for the night.

Inspired by Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

Standard

The Fabulous Mambo King
By Alexis M. Collazo

The Fabulous Mambo King,
Cesar Castillo.
Singing his beautiful boleros.
His machismo enticing women.
All night, every night,
Dancing across the stage.
Swinging his hips to the beats,
The Rumba, the Pachenga,
the Mambo, the Cha Cha Cha.

The Fabulous Mambo King.
Serenading all the ladies.
Miss Vanna Vane on his arm.
Drinks for all on his bill,
Festive songs flowing all night long.
Brother by his side,
With his trumpet playing,
Beautiful Maria of my Soul.
Over and over and over.

The Infamous Mambo King,
Leftover from the old days.
Haunted by ghost of his lost brother.
Memories invading Hotel Splendor,
Recollections of the Mambo U.S.A tour,
Playing on I Love Lucy with Mr. Arnez,
The girls who he wished to have loved.
Luisa, Gloria, Elena, Lydia
Maria, Ana, Margarita, and Delores.

The Infamous Mambo King.
No longer so fabulous.
Loneliness dragging in his bones,
Eating away at his body,
Whiskey eating his brain.
Long gone are the days of the Mambo,
Of the dance halls and fine women.
Old records collect dust forgotten,
While Cesar takes his last drink,
And writes his last words,

Beautiful Maria of my Soul