On this episode of the podcast, Addey is joined by Rachel Hetrick–a writer whose debut book, Curse of Infiniti–comes out in November. Addey and Rachel discuss the process of writing the book (the first of a trilogy) and how Rachel decided to self publish.
I used to have an aversion to poetry. To me it was an odd form of writing, prose’s ugly stepsister that no one actually wanted to read. If someone did want to, or actually liked to, read poetry, I always thought they were the artsy types – people who were able to see beauty in places where it wasn’t actually present. The type of people who liked poetry also seemed like the type who went to an art gallery to admire crazy abstract artwork that they somehow found a whole story told within (I can’t say I’ve ever quite understood abstract artwork either).
When I started college, this all changed. As an English Literature major, reading and analyzing poetry is a huge part of what I do. At first, this scared me – I wasn’t sure I could get over that aversion and actually find something to say about the poems we studied in class – but eventually I came to love poetry.
In one of my early British Literature classes, we were tasked with taking one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and finding an unstable word within it. This word was supposed to be one that had numerous meanings. It was a word that, depending on its interpretation, could change the meaning of the entire poem. My word ended up being somewhat of a failure. I got a good grade on my essay, but my focus was too narrow – there were only a couple different interpretations of the word I picked (the word was tempest, I believe) and so it fell a bit short. Going over the assignment in class, however, and hearing the different ways our professor was able to perform this task in an entirely different sonnet made me realize how wonderful poetry could be.
That semester we wrote three essays total, and I wrote two of mine on poems. The class really made me realize how wonderful poetry can be, and it got rid of my aversion to the artform very quickly. I’ve since learned that poetry is a beautiful means of communicating and that poems tell a story in a way that nothing else can. If you have an aversion to poetry like I did, you should give poetry a try. Here are six poets you should read to start off with, but by no means should you stop there!
If you’re familiar with American poetry at all, then you have probably heard of Emily Dickinson. She wrote more, though, than “Because I could not stop for Death – He Kindly stopped for me -” the poem that everyone seems to cover in high school and always associate with Dickinson. Reading her poetry is a real treat with all the different ways she uses punctuation and capitalization – something that for a long time was always fixed when her poetry was published but is now left as is. To start off with, read her poems “1129” and “1053” (none of Dickinson’s poems have titles, but are numbered instead).
Everyone knows Herman Melville for “Moby Dick”- considered the quintessential American novel – but he also was a poet. I am partial to older poets and poetry, probably due to my literature studies, and I love to read Melville’s poetry because of the historical aspect. He’s writing around the time of the Civil War, and his poetry covers different topics that relate to the tensions across America during that time. Read “Shiloh” and “The March into Virginia” for a different look at history.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
I have a book called “The Treasury of American Poetry” that I purchased at a thrift store that has introduced me to tons of new poets and poems that I have fallen in love with. One of the poets in this book is Edna St. Vincent Millay. She writes in sonnet form at times, and other times her poems are only a couple of lines long, but they are all breathtakingly beautiful. Start off with “I Shall Forget You Presently, My Dear” – a poem that I love so much it has been underlined in my book and turned into artwork to hang on my wall.
Ogden Nash is another poet that I was introduced to through “The Treasury of American Poetry.” His poems vary in length, and are all on very interesting topics. To start off with, read “The Anatomy of Happiness” for an amusing take on what it means to be happy.
Langston Hughes is one of those poets who everyone has heard of. He was a hugely influential writer during the Harlem Renaissance and his work is an important part of literary history. I remember studying him in high school and I’ve studied his work again in college. Hughes is a poet who, like Herman Melville, writes about the time in which he was living. Reading Hughes is like taking a glimpse into the past – often the parts of America’s past that are sometimes shocking to look at. One of the poems that stuck with me from high school that Hughes wrote is “I, Too.”
I was lucky enough to meet and get to hear from this amazing Pulitzer Prize-winning poet last December (he is an alum of my university and was published in our literary journal in the 1970s) and his work is spectacular! For some of his most anthologies poems, read “February in Sydney,” and “Facing It,” but to read some of his newest works, take a look at his collection called “The Emperor of Water Clocks.”
Whether you are a tried and true fan of poetry, or tend to stay away from the literary form, poetry is really worth your time. Taking a look at some of the more well known and lesser known poets throughout American history is always a good place to start, and may just make you become a poetry enthusiast.
Originally published on Odyssey.
In season three episode one of the podcast, Addey, Amber, and Nicole played a game of “Never Have I Ever” to introduce (or re-introduce, as it were) listeners to all of our editors. Below are the statements that were guiltily admitted to or denied vehemently:
- Never have I ever written a story the day before it was due for a creative writing class.
- Never have I ever stuck gum under a desk
- Never have I ever sent a mean email in response to a rejection from a literary journal.
- Never have I ever ridden an animal.
- Never have I ever said a brutal comment in a critique group.
- Never have I ever binged an entire series in one day
- Never have I ever lied about my opinion of a story in a critique group.
- Never have I ever climbed in/out of a window.
- Never have I ever hated one of my fellow editor’s picks for the journal.
- Never have I ever broken a bone.
Pretend we are all hanging out, drinking some hot cider, or maybe a pumpkin spiced latte, and let us know what your answers would be if you played this game by commenting below!
Welcome to season three! In this episode, Addey is joined by Nicole and Amber to kick off the new season with a round of the game “Never Have I Ever” so you can learn a bit more about all of our editors.
We are live with the fall issue of the journal! 2020 has been a year for the books, and this journal is no different. There have been some bumps in the road and some trials to get here, but we are so happy to announce that issue 3.2: mystical, is live and ready for downloading.
We can’t thank each of our wonderful contributors and supporters enough. We are excited for you to read these stories and poems that are perfect for the month of October–a month that undoubtedly brings us all a little mischief and magic.
Visit the store to purchase a copy, or if you’d like to see a sneak preview of the journal, visit the “Current Issue” page. And please share far and wide–we can’t wait for the world to read what is within these pages!
So you want to be a poet. You have decided that you’re going to become the next great Instagram poet and land a lucrative book deal. You want to bring poetry to the masses and maybe even get on stage and perform some spoken word. Great! Poetry is finding its way back into the hands of the general population (and they’re liking it) which makes this little poetry editor’s heart happy. But before you embark on your poetry writing journey, there are probably a few things you should do.
Read some poetry
I know, I know — this one seems painstakingly obvious, but there’s a surprisingly large amount of people who wake up one day and decide they would like to be a poet having never even liked the art form much in the first place. Don’t be like those people. Read some poetry. Figure out if you like villanelles or free verse, modernists or romantics, 21st century or 20th-century poets. Read deep and wide until you feel like you’ve read so many poems you can quote some word for word. Study poets and their lives. Read from underrepresented groups. Meditate on the single word that strikes you in a poem, spend hours thinking about the ending couplet of a sonnet that won’t let you go.
Read some work on crafting poetry
This article is a good start, but there’s a lot of wonderful books on poetry craft. A good place to start is a book called How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch. While not a literal craft book — it is focused on getting its reader to fall in love with poetry, after all, not write it — this book gets into the nitty-gritty of what exactly makes a poem. It’s an excellent read for the aspiring poet and is, as the author puts it, a book of readings. This will definitely help you with that first point above, read some poetry! As Hirsch puts it, “Poets speak of the shock, the swoon, and the bliss of writing, but why not also speak of the shock, the swoon, and the bliss of reading?”
There are numerous other wonderful poetry craft books. If you are interested in writing prose poetry (what’s that, you might ask — well maybe you should read a book all about it!) take a gander at The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry. While you’re at it, go ahead and read all of the Rose Metal Press Field Guides — any writer can use a field guide to help them navigate writing. Or maybe take a look at Poetry and the Fate of the Senses by Susan Stewart to examine poetry through the ages and how it captures our senses in a way no other form can.
Hands down one of the best experiences of my writing career was taking a collaborative poetry class during my senior year of college. This class forced me into collaboration with my writing. We wrote poems as an entire twenty some odd person class, we wrote poems in partnered pairs, we wrote poems with the newspaper, we wrote poems on a recorder back and forth at a picnic table in the Colorado sun.
When you’re new to writing poetry, like I was at the time, collaboration can open your eyes to a whole new way of both reading and writing poetry. This class shaped my beliefs about what is the most essential and beautiful part of poetry. It helped me understand why poetry is such a uniquely wonderful form of writing — one that has been around for hundreds of years and yet can be fresh and new each and every time I open up a new book of poetry.
Maybe take a poetry workshop or class
If you like the idea of collaborating but don’t know where to start, enroll in a class. Check out your local college, community center, or writer’s group. Here in Colorado, we have poetry book stores and co-ops that frequently have events geared towards adding arrows to participants’ poetry quivers. If you’re in an area that doesn’t have a large poetry scene, look into starting a group! There might just be a gaggle of poets you encounter at work, school, or church that you didn’t even realize were fellow writers. Or maybe check out online offerings — I recently attended a workshop online from Iowa City Poetry from several states away, or you could look into enrolling in a Master Class or other online class. There are tons of options if you simply look!
Finally, write some poems
This last part will probably be the hardest, most infuriating step of all. The actual act of writing is hard. It’s even harder when you’re first starting out and don’t yet know what your voice sounds like. Sure, you have a voice. We all do. But each person’s actual, physical voice is different — some are melodic, some are a deep bass, some are a high soprano, some are scratchy, some are grating to the ear. Just like your speaking voice, your writing voice is unique. At first, it may not seem like it. Most writers — poets or otherwise — start out by modeling their writing after other writers. That never really goes away, even after years of writing, but your words start to standout as time goes on and drafts are created, trashed, and created again.
Once you have been writing poetry for a little while, your work will start to be compared to other writers less and merely influenced by them. The few strong and true fans who are with you through it all will be able to pick your poem out of a figural police station line up. “That one! That’s _____’s poem!” They’ll say when they read a literary magazine you’ve been published in. You’ll get there after much trial and error. It takes time, frustration, tears, and a good amount of sticktoitiveness, but you’ll get there.
So, you want to be a poet
Then go for it. Believe that the world is yearning for your words as much as you are yearning to write. Read some poems, collaborate, study craft, maybe meet some other poets, and start writing. The best poetry starts with an idea and a dream; and ends with putting pen to paper. You can do it!
Originally published in The Creative Cafe on Medium.
Write your story based on this prompt, but the catch is that you can only use 10 words or less!
This week I have a blog and website I would like you to check out. It provides good resources for writers, editors and readers.
I frequent this website to see the new content posted on the daily life of a writer, an editor, their personal experiences within the publishing industry and community. Writers in the Storm blog is all about what other authors and writers have learned and they share it with you.
A lot of writers may feel alone, but they are not. This blog proves that authors, writers, editors, and readers all share experiences and it can shape our view and helps us find the way treading through the literary waters.
So take a time of solace and read an article or blog or two, do you share some of the same experiences?
If you would not like to read the experiences, scroll down to the important information at the end about submissions!
My brother (third-shift worker), 8/10/2020
I woke up with the house shaking, swaying, shifting, my fan cut off in mid-spin, and my tired mind raced with what could be making a deafening howling sound. I ripped the covers off and tried to walk unbalanced to the front living room window. There I saw tree branches whipping the truck, leaves and sticks racing through the road on the wind going by, and whole trees being snapped in half and pulled up from the earth to crash with thunder to the ground. I immediately called you freaking out. Seeing where you were and the amount of damage raging outside was so shocking, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
My next-door neighbor, Barb, 8/10/2020
I was so terrified, I took my dog and we hid in the bathroom, cowering in the tub. Wishing all of the rain, thunder, noise, wind, horror to be washed away. I have survived many storms in Iowa, but this storm truly terrified me, never have I felt my house shake with such force.
Neighbor three streets over, Tom, 8/10/2020
I was watching the news, eating a bowl of ice cream for my afternoon snack. I slowly rocked in the recliner, I am a bit deaf, so the TV is loud enough to drown out my neighbors, the busy street, and anything else. I didn’t notice the storm outside until I heard a crack so loud it made me wonder if the TV was broken. I stood up to get the remote when another crack sounded. I muted the TV and then a bang felt by the entire house, I looked over to the left and a tree rushed down onto the house and my kitchen was gone, just wiped from the side of the house. Nothing is left now but a tarp hanging off the house as a silent reminder: I need to turn down the TV.
Me, Nicole, 8/10/2020
I was in no hurry to make my way more east to my parent’s house. I was to spend the week for my birthday up there, taking a motorcycle class, and getting my license, my small but rewarding birthday gift to myself. I was jamming to music when I noticed to the right, a very large wall of clouds and rain and thunder. There was no rain yet, but if the winds switched, it would be raining in no time. Ellie Mae and Thunder Storm were peacefully sleeping in the back seat and I thought nothing of it and kept driving my steady pace. About 30 minutes go by and a large gust of wind hits me from behind, the semi-truck in front of me swerving all over the road and made me swerve to try and gain control back over my own vehicle too. A large crash from the farm on the left and a storage grain steel building crumbles to the ground, signs bend over, and large billboards, are blown through. With two grips firmly on the wheel and the semi-truck now controlled and pulled over on the side, I slowly crept up to a speed I could manage. My dogs fully alert, Ellie in the passenger seat and Thunder’s two front paws leaning on the armrest and the rest of his body on the backseat, were worried. As corn was pushed to the ground, cars and trucks on the side slowed and forced their way through the wind looking odd, as if some invisible force was holding them back, and some force was pushing me forward. I got to Dubuque safely, I talked to my freaking out brother, who had to chainsaw people out from their houses and to their cars on the street. 14 days later, damage to the roof, foundation, truck, and outside décor has the insurance and city engineer threatening to make my house unlivable as many of the houses behind me are. I only got electricity Monday, the 24, and still no internet. The derecho storm of 2020 in Iowa, will be marked in the brains of those who lived through the land hurricane forever.
Everyone who submitted should have received by now a notification from Green Submissions, please check there. Next week an email will be sent with an acceptance note and revisions/edits for the upcoming fall journal. This theme of mysticism fits so well because one thing after another seems to get stranger and weirder about this year. For those who were not accepted, we are very honored you submitted and were glad to read the talents out there. You can resubmit to the non-themed journal with submissions opening in October. Follow us on social media @borrowedsolace for much more information and updates (we’re even on TikTok and posted a video of what my neighborhood looks like now if you’d like to give us a follow!)
Write a story about this picture in a paragraph or less. Where is this train going? Who are its passengers?