Friday, August 26, 2011

A New Poetic Form for Poetry Friday...And How To Sucker Punch Your Fear of Writing

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Howdy, Campers!

Happy Poetry Friday--and thanks, Irene Latham, for hosting today's poetry round-up!


Before you read today's post, be sure to check out JoAnn's interview with Donna Gephart last Friday. You'll want to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Donna's acclaimed (and funny!) novel, How to Survive Middle School.  The entry deadline is tonight, August 26th at 11 p.m. Central Standard Time.
The topic rumbling around TeachingAuthors lately is, What Are Your Writing Fears and What Do You Do About Them?

Fears? Who me?

Okay.  I do have a fear.  But only one.  And it's a teeny-tiny, gentle, kindly, whispering voice in my brain:  ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? YOU CAN'T DO THIS!  YOU COULD NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS DO THIS!  YOU ARE A COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT IMBECILE WHO DOESN'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO SPELL THE WORD IMBECILE WITHOUT ASKING GOOGLE "HOW DO YOU SPELL IMBOCILE?"--NEVER MIND WRITE A POEM OR A STORY OR A BLOG POST!                                 
The voices in my head...courtesy MorgueFile.com
After petting the head of this still, small voice and sliding it a warm saucer of milk, what do I do (I mean, after barreling into my closet and shutting the door)?  I get someone to whip me into submission.

Er...what I meant to say is that I respond well to deadlines.  (We've
written about deadlines before...)

Because for me, it's simple: the key is to report in to someone.  It works with what and how much I eat and it works with what and when I write. This does NOT mean that I don't feel the fear every single solitary time I have to sit down and write.  I do.  It just means that I SIT DOWN (eventually).  It means that I put, as author Jane Yolen so poetically words it, my BIC--my butt in the chair.

So who do I report to?  My critique group, which meets every other week and keeps me writing fiction, and my fellow author and best friend, who expects my new poem in his email in-box every day before the stroke of midnight.  Gulp.
Yep--every blue ribbon, thunder-storming, curtain-raising, rat-infested, drool-worthy, wrong-side-of-the-tracks, downtown day since April 1, 2010. (Many of these words come from the book, Better Than Great by Arthur Plotnik, which I ran out and bought after it was recommended by fellow blogger Esther Hershenhorn in her recent post.)

And some days it all pays off!  Look what I came up with when I walked through the fear and wrote my poem (and sent it off before midnight) on August 18!
WRITING WORKOUT: WRITING A LINGO
I'm so excited!  I came up with a new form of poetry: a Lingo.
Here's the definition of a Lingo (sorry it's so long and detailed): A Lingo is poem based on the lexicon of a particular field of interest. Period.

It's interesting that fellow blogger Carmela Martino included this graphic in Wednesday's post--I think she must be a psychic...

...just look at the topic of today's Lingo!

I was in a hurry to write a poem last week and said to my husband, "Let me just run upstairs and knock out a poem."  The words "knock out a poem" buzzed in my head as I began to write, and so, after studying several dictionaries of boxing terms
, I wrote the following Lingo poem:
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LET ME JUST RUN UPSTAIRS AND KNOCK OUT A POEM, I SAID
by April Halprin Wayland

There's a big purse tonight—a lot at stake,

I bob and weave in the ring,
baiting, provoking it, daring it,
showboating with a bolo punch.

I move in close, looking for the right words,

the right combination,
wanting to knock it out quick
suddenly I'm lost, I'm no-wheres-ville,
I'm on the ropes, trapped,
in a dangerous situation.

I move away, try to take a break
but this thing is after me,
below the belt dirty fighting,
punching, elbowing,
headbutting, hitting my face with uppercuts,
ribs with hooks, forearm in my throat


and I'm just pawing at it, too timid—
it bashes my nose, slices near my eye,
blood streams down,
ref calls for a break,
my corner man cleans me off,
patches me up,

sends me out again.

Oof!
A low blow, a rabbit punch, 
I do the peek-a-boo,
gloves high in front of my face,
then feint left
and it opens up so I counter punch,
landing a straight right,
a Sunday punch

and it's down,

down for the count,
it's kissing the canvas
a KO.

Poem's done.
.
2011 April Halprin Wayland, all rights reserved

Now it's your turn!  

1) Email a friend and tell her to expect a poem from you before midnight tonight.  

2) Then turn off the fear and get into the play mode.  

3) Think of some galaxy of interest--maybe a world you know nothing about--horse racers, quilters, auto mechanics, saxophone players, or antique bottle collectors.  Then, Google something like, "antique bottle collector glossary" and VIOLA!  (In fact, here's a directory of all sorts of collectibles glossaries.)

4) Look through the glossary and pull out the most interesting words.

5) Lay out all those fabulous words as if someone had just given you a thousand Legos ®.
photo courtesy Emily Neal--who's sorting a windfall of Legos® with happy kids
6) Play with these words!  Discover a poem!  Rewrite it.  

7) Send this rough draft to your email buddy because you promised you would.

7) Let it marinate overnight or over a few days. Read it to your cat.   Polish it.

8) Send your Lingo to http://www.teachingauthors.com/ in our comments section--I'd love to see what world you've wandered into and how your Lingo turned out!

"Yet somehow, we write; and most of the time, we like what we write. The dark place seems less dark when we get there. It was only the journey that was fearful." Susan Shaughnessy

8 comments:

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Wonderful recommendations. I like how concrete and specific you can really get in your posts - very action-packed and goal directed. I also loved the part about the voices in your heads and feeding them milk. Mine would perhaps respond more to cheese and the occasional red wine. ;-) Thank you for sharing all this.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Myra ~ thanks for YOUR very specific comments! Yeah,my voices are like wild cats/kittens...and hey, send me a Lingo!

Carmela Martino said...

Wow, who knew I was psychic! And I love the idea of your new form, April. It's a real knock-out!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Ha! Thanks, Carmela!

Mary Lee said...

Getting through the fear and the uncertainty and hushing those voices in our heads (whether with milk or wine and cheese)...so true for so many things, not just writing.

Thanks for a great post -- lots to think about -- I want to try a "lingo" and then see how they might work out for some fourth graders I just met last week!!!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Mary Lee! I'd love to hear how and if you modified the Lingo for 4th graders--please keep us updated. And if they come up with any, post 'em here!

Thanks for stopping by!

Lee Wind said...

What fun! Now I want to do a lingo about kidlitcon 2011! hmmm...

April Halprin Wayland said...

Lee! I can't wait to hear what you come up with!