Children’s poet Raven Howell is with us today!

  Thank you for joining Raven Howell's WOW! Women of Writing tour of Santa’s Slip Up about when Santa shows up on Halloween on accident.   In addition Ravel has written us a special essay on how to write rhyming poetry. As a poet who never writes in rhyme, this Choices author needs this lesson in rhyme very badly. Here's Raven:   Tricks of the Trade to Writing Rhyme By Raven Howell So how about that iambic tetrameter? Ha! Nothing like scaring off a prospective poet or young author who is trying to learn the ins and outs of rhyming. Writing rhyme should be fun and you don’t want to start off intimidated. There are many ways to accomplish good rhyme. I recited rhyme before I learned to write it, and remember being surrounded by word books and rhyming stories during my childhood years. When I learned to write, my favorite thing to do was to make up my own poems, stories, rhymes, and plays. I’ve been writing professionally full time for the … [Read more...]

My new poetry chapbook has been released

Cyberwit.net has published my second chapbook called Then and Now. Two years ago they published Moving On. What a great surprize when they offered to publish a second book. Amazon posted the following review of one of the poems: Not Out of the Woods This poem conveys a sense of worry, uncertainty, and emotional distress experienced by the narrator in relation to someone they care about. The language used is straightforward and direct, reflecting the narrator's immediate thoughts and concerns. The opening lines set the tone by quoting the doctor's assessment that the person in question is "not out of the woods yet." This phrase is commonly used to describe a critical or precarious situation, suggesting that the individual's condition remains serious. The narrator describes the person as still lying in bed, mostly sleeping and nonresponsive. The mention of the person's inability to remember their son's name or location indicates a decline in cognitive function, … [Read more...]

Election poems

Although the election results are not yet final, the results now look a lot more favorable than the conspiracy theories the GOP predicted before November 8. I wrote a few poems about how Trump and his cronies behaved, and now I'm so glad I patiently awaited the real results. Here's some examples: The mid-term election day Is Tuesday November 8. And I’m scared that Trump And his crazy-minded Followers are going to Take over our congress – Both the house and The senate if we don’t Get enough Democrats Out to vote. We’ve had a record number of pre-voters already, but even if there are more Democrat than Republican votes, the MAGA folks will cry fraud – even before the polls close. We had a polling place here Last week and only fifty Out one thirty-five of our Residents came to vote. They just don’t seem To care about the outcome Or the majority of them Are forever Trumpers. I just can’t stand it. Now the GOP is suing To eliminate thousands Of mail in … [Read more...]

A poem for Uvalde, Texas

President Biden Said losing a child Is like tearing A piece out of your soul. I know. I lost a son. And yesterday nineteen Sets of parents In Uvalde, Texas Lost their precious Little boys and girls too. No amount of prayers Will ever take away Their pain. I know. My pain Stays in my heart After twenty-three years. And that we allowed it To happen. That we didn’t restrict An eighteen-year-old From buying An assault weapon, Designed and intended Only to be used In battlefields And not to bloody Schools or grocery stores Or places of worship. We must stop These horrors – The killing of Innocent people Just wanting To live normal lives. We must stop The pain and The pieces of our souls From tearing away. … [Read more...]

Life through poetry

I'm still writing a  poem everyday. One that takes ten minutes or less to write. Thought I'd share a couple here today, and I'd love your feedback. Here's yesterday's poem: This day, December 17, Sixty years ago I got married. Wearing a short white dress With three/quarter sleeves And a tiny veil, I said my vows to Carl Kress, My first husband. I knew for sure The night before As I cried myself To sleep That this marriage would fail. But I went through With it anyway. That day was a beautiful And happy day, But as soon as it Turned into night At the Beverly Hills Hotel My happiness with that man Was over for good. I wish I could find a photo of that dress, but unfortunately I cannot- perhaps as a sign that that was an event to forget about. Here's a dress kind of like it. I recently finished Sue Monk Kidd's The Book of Longings about a fictional wife of Jesus. Here's the poem I wrote about it. The question today is Did Jesus have a wife? And if he did Would it have changed … [Read more...]

Finally all settled in

A few more poems about how my life is going since I moved. And I'm happy to say the final boxes have been unpacked, the stuff has been all put away, and the last piece of furniture - a chair and ottoman - has been recovered and moved in. Now I have no more excuses for not getting my writing work done.   I’ve been stalling Lallygagging over breakfast Reading the next Old New Yorker From my pile, Reading the news, Taking the trash out, Filing away last month’s Journal entries into My secret folder. Finally here I am Writing my daily Ten-minute poem Which stinks, by the way. And is much too short And void of meaning Or details. But still I keep my fingers moving The advice I got early on When I didn’t have An idea in my head To write about.   I must be getting religious I bought a kosher Mezuzah scroll To fill the empty Mezuzah We bought in Israel. I never knew it was missing We just put it up in our old house Thinking it was a blessing. So I found the scroll on … [Read more...]

New poems to go with a new life

The big news is that I'm getting my house ready to sell. I decided last month that I need to move out of the house I shared with Bob for over forty-two years. It's just too big and lonely and filled with all the memories of the years we spent here with each other and our boys. It's time to start anew. And to live where I can meet some other people - I'm thinking a senior independent living community. I cannot stand how lonely my life is now. So the scary part is, the house will go up for sale at the end of this week. And I worry that no one else will love it as much as I do and will not want to buy it. I'll keep you posted  on that. But I'm sure you know, I'm still writing my daily poem. Here are some new ones. Remember they are only drafts that get written in no more than ten minutes or so. Someday, I'll revisit them when/if I decide to publish another chapbook. Enjoy! I find myself Talking about “we” And “our” lately. I can’t let go Of him even In small … [Read more...]

Introducing “Moving On”

My new poetry chapbook, called Moving On, published on January 30, 2021, arrived in my mail box this week. Here it is: It's kind of cool how this book came about. I wasn't looking for a publisher. In fact that was the  last thing on my mind while my husband was so ill and since his death. Instead the publisher - Cyberwit.net - from India - sought me out. He had read one of my poems in a Story Circle Network journal in the True Words section and offered to publish sixty to seventy of my poems in a chapbook. How could I turn that down? Because of what was happening in my life I took longer that he wanted to get the poems together, edit them, and send them off, but finally I did it. I love this description of Moving On: "The poems are full of lyrical force and show freshness of style. No doubt, this is a significant work. The poems have great power of observation and originality of imagination." Here's a little sneak peek: Buddha “The dead we can imagine to be … [Read more...]

Three more poems

Thankfully I can still write my daily short poems. It's a way for me to look inside a bit and record my thoughts and goings on since my husband Bob died. Today would have been his eighty-fourth birthday. I can't even begin to tell you how much a miss celebrating with him as I did for the last fifty-three years. Here are three newish draft poems. My Days Even when I add A chore or two To shake up my day It still ends The same way. Eating dinner in front Of the television As I watch a movie. I watch one each night Some good, some bad But it’s a diversion Which I need more And more of these days. I don’t know how To get out of this rut. And when I study it Real closely, I don’t think I ever will. My husband is gone And the void he left In my life will never Go away. And nowadays I want to yell and scream At him for leaving me. Even though he couldn’t help Getting so sick,. He needed to get well And not leave me this way.   My Mercedes Is … [Read more...]

It’s hard to live after death

For the last several months I’ve written a little poem every day. Something that would take no more than ten minutes to compose. I’ve kept that up even through out my husband Bob’s illness and in the days since he died. Writing, as you probably know, keeps me alive. It lets me put my pain on the page. Here are a few of my most recent poems written since Bob died.   I don’t know how I am managing To walk, to live in this house To even breathe My husband of over fifty years Died last night. He just stopped breathing And thinking And talking And eating and walking He just stopped all the things That one does to live. He was done with all that He left me alone To find a way to live without him To learn to walk again Without him. And I wonder If I’ll ever be able To do that unless he’s By my side.   I decided not To see him dead, Which meant I couldn’t touch him One last time. I had seen him The day before he died During a FaceTime … [Read more...]

Some new draft poems

I've been writing a poem a day for several months. At first they were about anything  interesting out there. Now for the last four months or so I've chosen to write about things going on in the government, the so-called administration, and our current president. Here are a few samples - definitely still in draft form. What do you think? George Floyd's Legacy Yesterday George Floyd was eulogized By Reverend Al Sharpton. He said “Get your knee off our necks,” Sounding an alarm throughout our land. For hundreds of years we’ve had Our knees on the necks of black and brown People without let up, without pressure Of pain and arrest for doing so. Sharpton’s words hopefully will Bring our nation peace and free Us all from the white supremacy We have thought we were Entitled to. We aren’t. We are no Different from those we’re stepping on. And it’s time for us to act as if All our lives are equal. Thank you, Reverend Al Sharpton, For the power of your … [Read more...]

Poem a day coronavirus rant

I've participated in the Writer's Digest Poem A Day challenge in November and April since 2007. This April I'm having a tough time staying away from the coronavirus pandemic topic and how it's affecting me as I participate in social distancing. As a result many of my poems are about the COVID-19. Here's a small sample from the fourteen I've written so far, and please remember these are just first drafts. Write a new world poem. There are new worlds and there are new worlds. You could write a poem about discovery of an actual planet. Or maybe your new world is actually a state of mind—or a series of books! In a way, I consider each new challenge a bit of a new world. Let’s explore this one together. The outdoors near my home has become a whole new world for me. For years I exercised indoors in a dingy lit gym surrounded by folks I’d see everyday - some saying hi others too intent to break a smile. Now my gym is closed, and those folks are scattered in all … [Read more...]

I love romantic poetry. Don’t you?

Choices is so pleased to host the poet, Valerie Nifora. Her book of romantic poetry, I Asked the Wind, is her first published book, and it comes highly recommended as you can see below. Thank you WOW! Women On Writing for arranging for Valerie Nifora to visit Choices while on her virtual book tour - you must have known we love to read and write poetry as well. Love, the major theme in Valerie's poetry, is also a major theme in her life. Her guest post today shares her thoughts about what her children taught her about love. Yes, it's a miracle indeed. What My Children Taught Me About Love by Valerie Nifora When my first son was born, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Motherhood was not something that I ever thought I would tackle. What I learned in the sleepless nights, skinned knees, fevers and hospital visits, was that I love my sons in a way that I never thought possible. What my children have taught me about love, is it is limitless. It’s amazing how being … [Read more...]

Poem a day samples

I've been starting my writing day off by writing to the Writer's Digest November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge daily prompt. I've found it's a great way to jump-start the rest of my writing for the day. As usual I don't find writing the response very hard. But I've always written my poems rather quickly. That doesn't mean I don't go back to reread and edit them. I just put down the draft quickly. I also like trying to figure out how to respond to some very quirky prompts. Another thing I do before I begin my own writing is read the Writer's Digest poetry editor, Robert Lee Brewer's, poem to his own prompt. They are definitely worth taking a look at - some of his poems are a little quirky too. With him, almost anything goes. And since you haven't joined me in the challenge , I'll bring a few prompts to you.  Although I won't publish my entire poem results from these prompts, I've share a few lines. That's in case I want to submit them elsewhere that won't consider a poem … [Read more...]

Remembering Paul in poems

In twenty more days it will be twenty years since our son Paul died by suicide. Please bear with me for these days. It's going to be hard to live through them. I told someone yesterday that even after so many years the memories of the day we found him dead are still vivid, and the grief is just as ongoing and encompassing. It is with such sadness that I look at this photo of him smiling next to his girlfriend.  It was  probably one of the last times they were together. I wrote a lot of poems about Paul and his death over the years. I still write poems about him. I'll share some here. A Stone Called Son I sleep with a stone. It's gray and small enough To fit in the palm of my hand. One side is smooth, the other Has the word, son, cut into it. And when I put the stone In the crook of my index finger I can read the word with my thumb. I like to place it between my breasts And feel its coolness on my chest. It quiets the pain in my heart And slows down my … [Read more...]

My reinvention story

How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my age I fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. I studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally with it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism. So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know and where I hardly knew anyone, trying valiantly and unsuccessfully early on to get a writing job. Then I gave up. It was 1962. There were not a lot of jobs for women writers in those days, especially in Los Angeles. Then someone suggested I try the growing aerospace business in southern California. With that, I called Douglas … [Read more...]

April 2019 poem a day challenge

It's that time of the year again, and already we're twenty-four days into writing a poem a day. This year I got a late start and didn't write a poem a day until Day 4, and I'm still a couple of poems behind. But never mind. Knowing me, I'll catch and finish on time. Plus our prompt maven Robert Lee Brewer, poetry editor at Writer's Digest, gives us a month or two to catch up and polish our poems a bit before selecting a few and submitting them as chapbooks. Right now I don't have any favorites. Hopefully after I finish them all and edit them I'll find some submit. Here are some samples accompanied by the prompt. Prompt 2: On Tuesdays we get a choice of two prompts. The first Tuesday prompts were: Write a worst case poem. What’s the worst that could happen? Write a best case poem. Take the worst and reverse it! Writing a poem like I’m doing now Is the worst case. I’m tired, it’s late in the day But I have to catch up. Today is Day 5 of the April poem a day … [Read more...]

Poems for the new year 2019

I have Michael Schaub of the Los Angeles Times to thank for this New Year's Day post. He's picked some wonderful words to greet the new year from five favorite poets. I'm especially taken by his choosing the words of Naomi Shihab Nye and Dorianne Laux. I've worked with both of them in poetry workshops and consider them my mentors. Five hopeful poems to usher in the new year By MICHAEL SCHAUB DEC 31, 2018 | 11:50 AM Filipino revelers watch as fireworks light up the sky to welcome the new year at the seaside Mall of Asia in suburban Pasay city south of Manila in 2017. (Bullit Marquez / Associated Press) Even if you're one of the nine or so people in the world who actually understand what "Auld Lang Syne" means, you have to admit that Robert Burns' traditional New Year's poem is getting a little old. Luckily, there are other poems you can use to pay tribute to the year that's gone by and celebrate the potential of the one to … [Read more...]

Yes, you can write political poetry

Two op eds - one in the New York Times book review section and one in the Los Angeles Times editorial section - appeared yesterday. The gist in each is that we poets and other artists need to stop avoiding writing or producing other forms of art about politics. We must use our voices to provide the meaning for all that's happening in our world these days - as offensive as it might me. The last time I wrote a poem along these lines was after the buildings collapsed on September 11, 2001 - that is until I did the Robert Lee Brewer poem a day challenge this past November. I found myself writing one political poem after another. That became the most important subject for me in response to a lot of the prompts the Writer's Digest poetry editor put out, and now I feel validated. While Brewer kept admonishing us to  "poem nicely," I even ignored this admonition. And I suspect I'll continue to do so. I've copied both articles verbatim here and hopefully acknowledged the authors and … [Read more...]

Poetry writing in Santa Cruz

I just spent five days in Santa Cruz, CA at a poetry workshop held at 1440 Multiversity. The instructors were one of favorite poets, Sharon Olds, and a poet I wasn't familiar with before, Naomi Shihab Nye.  The entire experience was great. Last year four of us - Linda, Stacy, Maria and myself - worked together at a poetry workshop led by Ellen Bass at Esalen in Big Sur, CA. So we decided to meet up last week at 1440.  Although twenty-six other poets were with us lapping up the wisdom of Sharon and Naomi, we four  spent some wonderful time together. Here are some pictures. And no, I won't be sharing any of the seven poems I wrote while I was there yet. I want to see if I can get any of them published first. … [Read more...]