Friday, January 9, 2015

13 Ways of Looking at Plotting ~ and Happy Poetry Friday!

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Howdy, Campers!

Happy Poetry Friday!  A poem by Paul Bennett and the link to Tabatha's Poetry Friday post are below.

In TeachingAuthors' opening round for 2015, we are each asking ourselves, "What Are We 'Plotting' for 2015?"

Mary Ann started us out, sharing how she does or does not plot."Planning and plotting are not the same thing," she writes. "Plotting is knowing what happens first, then next, then next and at the end. I never know more than one of those things before I start writing.  I've stopped worrying about it."

Thank you, Mary Ann. I haven't a clue how to plot.  When I sit down to write, I'm never sure if I'm starting a poem, a song, a verse novel or a picture book.  I might be inspired by a color or a phrase from the news. Of course I know that everyone doesn't plot their stories methodically, but it's great relief to be reminded of this!

A group photo of the TeachingAuthors.
from morguefile.com
We are each snowflakes in the way we approach writing and life; and beyond this, I think that we are different from moment to moment, year to year, in crisis and celebration.

For example, until recently, I would say I'm fairly disciplined.  I've been writing a poem every day since April 1, 2010 (1,743 poems), I brawl with L.A. traffic every two weeks to meet with my marvelous critique group, I write in amiable silence with three or four other writers weekly, and I have a goal or two tucked away in my writer's smock--a couple of picture books, a novel in verse, a collection of poetry, a Pulitzer Prize.

But when my mother began to fade, particularly this last year, it was all I could do to hold onto my writer's smock.  Why? Partly because of the increased responsibility, and partly because of the foggy lethargy which set in.
Yeah...kinda like this.
from morguefile.com
There is so much to do, now that Mom has died.  So, I've stopped attending my critique group, stopped writing books, stopped meeting with other authors at my friend's sunny kitchen table.

I still write a poem a day, though.

So, What am I Plotting in 2015?  Nothing.

Well, writing a poem a day.  But beyond that?  I haven't a clue.

I'm reading Loving Grief by Paul Bennett, a book in brief chapters, each of which ends in a poem, written after the death of his wife.  In the chapter, Coming to a Stop, he writes that the three times over a period of months his legs would no longer carry him forward.  He stopped. On a street, in an airport, on a hiking trail.  Later, he wrote, "those incidents of coming to a stop, those moments of stillness, struck me as early invitations from deep within myself to start new."

Here is the poem which ends that chapter:

Well. I was going to post the poem, until I read the copyright page (oops) which states that I cannot post it without permission.  So I won't.

What I will do is to post my own poem about stopping in my life.  Please note that each person experiences a death uniquely. I don't feel as if I'm in deep grief right now. Still:

STOPPING BY THE WOODS
by April Halprin Wayland

No snow.
No woods.

But I pause.
To hear the hawk.
To breathe my breath.
To hold this stone.

Alone.

poem (c) 2015 April Halprin Wayland.  All rights reserved.

I think I'm listening for the music to cue my next step.

I'll be ready.


(So...the title of this blog?  You were expecting a parody of
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird?)

posted with affection by April Halprin Wayland

22 comments:

Sally Murphy said...

Sorry to hear about your mom, but I love your idea of stopping. No plans (beyond the poem a day), but time to see what comes next. Your poem expresses this beautifully.

Irene Latham said...

You know, I think one of the hardest things about being a writer is giving ourselves permission NOT to write sometimes. Being quiet, listening, attending to living... it's like the white space around the words in the poem -- necessary. xo

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Oh, April! I love your poem and your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings with us. I think stopping from time to time is a necessary step, even though it might not feel like forward movement. We do what we can. I'm glad you're still writing your poems. xox

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thank you, April, for - as always - sharing a sentiment my heart knows so well.
Sherwin Nuland wrote in HOW WE DIE that the more personal we are willing to be sharing our lives and their details, the more universal we are.
You've touched a chord in all of us.
And, if I may say so, I so appreciate being thought of as a snowflake. :)
Hugs.

Jane Heitman Healy said...

So sorry for the loss of your mother. This post & poem is beautiful, April. You will know when you can put the stone down. Peace & comfort.

Carmela Martino said...

I so agree with Irene--we writers so often struggle with giving ourselves permission to NOT write. I'm glad you're honoring your own needs at this time. Do be gentle with yourself, my friend.

Tabatha said...

So much to appreciate about this post...your honesty, grace, wisdom, the book that you shared... Thanks, April! Hugs to you.

Toby Speed said...

Beautiful poem and post, April. Good for you, giving yourself permission to stop what needs to stop now, and for continuing to write your poems.

LInda Baie said...

I'm sorry about your mother, April. What a lovely sharing of feelings. Some of these past years I've had to stop and my one little word last year was 'wander', full of stops & then 'wandering' down another path. Your poem says a lot to me. Thank you, April

Bobbi Miller said...

Such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for your wisdom.

Buffy Silverman said...

We are changed by each experience of loss, and giving yourself time to pause, hear, and breathe sounds like what you need to do now. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful post, April.

Doraine Bennett said...

A beautiful poem, April. I agree with Irene about giving ourselves permission. So glad you are walking gently, listening for the next step. I'm going to check into that book for a friend who just lost her husband. I've been looking for just the right thing to send her. This sounds perfect. And I love the way your sense of humor comes through the sober realities of "plodding" forward.

Margaret Simon said...

Such a heartfelt post and profound poem. So sorry for your loss. I hope 2015 will bring you hope in your future as a writer. Just a little blip in the road. You will find your way again.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear All,

I know you forgive me for not responding to each of you individually, as I would forgive you. :-)

Thank you, thank you for affirming these feelings and that "still small voice within."

Irene--you said, "it's like the white space around the words in the poem – necessary"...and that's exactly what it feels like.

Linda--you said, "my one little word last year was 'wander'", which is interesting, as I choose a word that guides me each day...and just this year I decided to follow a friend's lead and choose a word to guide my year--is that what you do?

The word I've chosen for this year I also borrowed from my friend. It's "beloved."

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear All,

I know you forgive me for not responding to each of you individually, as I would forgive you. :-)

Thank you, thank you for affirming these feelings and that "still small voice within."

Irene--you said, "it's like the white space around the words in the poem – necessary"...and that's exactly what it feels like.

Linda--you said, "my one little word last year was 'wander'", which is interesting, as I choose a word that guides me each day...and just this year I decided to follow a friend's lead and choose a word to guide my year--is that what you do?

The word I've chosen for this year I also borrowed from my friend. It's "beloved."

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

What a bittersweet post filled with hope and anticipation of things to come. Very sorry to hear about your mother. May the fog clear up this 2015 to bring you more light and love. :)

judy kay Slowey-Sly said...

April, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I understand the feelings you are having. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Myra and Judy Kay ~

It's so affirming to read your comments. Thank you <3

Ruth said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. Grief takes a lot of energy. Beautiful poem!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Ruth,

I love your comment that grief takes a lot of energy. Yes, yes. My friend has found that when people are grieving, they tend to get into accidents, possibly because though they THINK they are fine, just fine, their subconscious is working out the new landscape, trying to put things in perspective...

jan godown annino said...

Dear April,

Thank you for sharing so much -
Paul Bennett's book, which I didn't know,
your exquisite poem,
a small portion of your ongoing aftermath journey in the loss of your Mother, & for sharing it in your beautiful writing style, telling a story.
It's a post that glimmers despite the subject.
Healing wishes & bouyant thoughts for 2015 with affection reflected back at 'ya.

ps snowflake caption is perfect

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear Jan,

Thank you for commenting on this post...and on the snowflake caption :-)