All About Writing

Archive for the 'poetry' Category

05 April

Featured Lit Journal — 32 Poems

Today’s featured lit mag is 32 Poems. This is a very unique journal, with some instruction, poetry giveaway, news, and lots of good poetry. Thanks!

02 April

What is National Poetry Month?

Garden Path With Reader On Bench, originally uploaded by aeschylus18917.

Here find one of the greatest poetry sites online . This is a link to their National Poetry Month page:

You can also order a poster about the month. It’s great for teachers.

01 April

National Poetry Month

Cherry Blossom
, originally uploaded by davidyuweb.

It is that time again! One of my favorite months for the beauty shared, and beauty revisited. I will feature poets’ blogs this month in honor of the occasion.


30 March

Ruby and Sapphire

Chopin With Cherries: A Tribute In Verse

I am so happy to announce one of my poems, “Ruby and Sapphire”, from Chopin With Cherries: A Tribute in Verse, was featured on the Chopin With Cherries blog.. This same poem was translated into Polish in WYSPA Literary Magazine.

15 May

Writing by the Columbia

Hanging out in Astoria., originally uploaded by lordog.

Writing by the Columbia

by Kerri Buckley

You don’t always get to change or choose locations for writing a book, but last summer I moved to Astoria, Oregon, to write in a room that overlooked the Columbia River — the huge, legendary, Lewis and Clark marine highway. The Columbia spills into a bay that connects to the Pacific, and the view of the sunset from my room was spectacular. At night I could literally see ships pass in the night, and small fishing boats illuminated as they bobbed on the river. Not only could I watch the river, but four miles across were the misty blue mountains of Washington.

This view was everything to me as I worked. I put together my first collection of poetry with the river always in sight and in mind. The room was a few stories up in a hundred-year old building on a hill, and I’d frequently look up from my computer or paper to see factory-sized ships painted in bright colors floating up or down river.

Sometimes I’d jump in my car, grab a chai, park facing the river and write for hours. When I needed a break, the path along the river was the perfect diversion–full of bicycles, dogs and wild flowers. The fishing boats drifted in and out; sea-lions yelped their constant barks to one another, and the sky over the river changed color and hue from moment to moment—from clear to a cold, mysterious fog. And then, shortly, a rainbow arced down into the river through sun-filtered clouds.

There was always a breeze, and through the window in my room, I could hear strains of The Magic Flute, or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as the musicians and performers of the Astoria Music Festival rehearsed at the nearby Liberty Theater. The Liberty, opened in 1925, was grand inspiration itself, beautiful, elegant, and undergoing extensive and careful renovation. I could cross the street to a flower shop, walk a few steps and duck through the alley to The Rusty Cup, a coffee shop next to the Liberty that always welcomed writers, artists and creative projects. Sunday mornings I could hear the crowds down below at the Sunday Market, and the distant bells of the trolley. Always, though, there was the river–the perfect writing companion: moving, changing, reflective as I wrote, revised and rewrote.

This essay appeared in the “Write This” section of Seattle Writergrrls UNCAPPED ZINE in 2005.
28 April

National Poetry Month Guest Poet Alle C. Hall

Escaped from a poster, originally uploaded by jeanmarcrocfort.

The Life and Death of Relationship Series:

Catholic High wisdom:
“Half an inch, no thrusting.” Kept
most of them virgins.

Back seat drive-in fun.
Teenage filly takes break; male
Keeps motor running.

“Guys just want one thing.”
About now she could do with
in the least, one thing.

Unrolling on him
Who’d ‘a thought a condom could
Be so damn sexy?

She dreams of her gown,
He, the proposal. So who
Lives in this union?

Big eyes, bigger breasts
Plays neuro-linguist in
Latest James Bond flick

She breaks up with him.
In surprise, he drops his bag
and cries, “My popcorn!”**

Winner of the 2008 Richard Hugo House New Works Competition, Alle C. Hall’s comic haiku and nonfiction appears in or on Creative Nonfiction, BUST, Literary Mama, Literary Café Radio,, and Swivel. A newly minted blogger
(About Childhood; , she started out freelancing for The Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger, where she worked up to Contributing Writer and for whom she interviewed Leonard Nimoy. Some day, her now-young children kids will think she is really cool.

**A slightly different version of “VII” originally published in The Moment of Truth: Women’s Funniest Romantic Catastrophes (Seal Press, 2002).

24 April

Guest Poet David Biespiel

, originally uploaded by eyelightfilms.






Bad Marriages

by David Biespiel


Even a man who always comes home forgets the sense of it. He lets the

……….halls glint with agony and pleasure.

He lets light into windows through the veils of give-and-take, lets the

……….bath prick him like a thousand tacks.


In the insomniac’s hour he prowls the cellar with his warrior’s luck,

……….smoking the birthday dope,

Smearing the irregular cave of his mind and the faces and the ticking

……….clocks and the girlish thighs


He touched in a season of first love, early summer, the sky of the city

……….illuminated with improvised musk, a spree of sheets,

And suddenly she’s removed her dress. And suddenly the squares of

……….darkness dissolve.


Even a man who can’t come home looks in vain through gates of

……….sporadic gardens, sacred

As dragging a leg, tormented as a rood beam, under which he

……….sometimes stops and breathes


Harder than he meant to. He’s a city cut in half, man on the one side,


As rain, home on the other—


He’s like a passion flower looking up

At buildings and bridges, gates and windows,


And through one he sees a closed passional

With the downcast and the sufferers and the promiscuous weariness,


And he thinks a pastry would be nice. —All of which the stoned man

……….sniffs in his brain

Until the password for sleep comes on, and the stairs creek with the

……….volley of his steps,


And the city of marriages collapses in ruins, and the maple volunteers

……….are a light emptiness,

And the thrushes begin their early adjurations along the leaf-ruined

……….gutters, July decaying like a desert of the drowned,


Drier than a complaint, ending like a book underlined in red in the

……….meaningful sections,

The confused words with the clear words, To Be Continued with The

…….... End, enduring like a dead wind.

Garden Gate & Courtyard, Venice, originally uploaded by Rita Crane Photography ~ returning soon!.
About Poet David Biespiel: Originally from Texas, he lives in Portland, Oregon, is the director at the Attic Writer’s Workshop, and teaches as Oregon State University, Wake Forest University, and Pacific Lutheran University’s M.F.A. Program. He was the Editor for Poetry Northwest from 2005 to 2010, and has son several prestigious awards for his poetry, including a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, the William Stafford Memorial Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature. This poem appears in his newest book of poetry The Book Of Men And Women (University of Washington Press).


About Photographer Laurence Manly: Originally from Dublin, Ireland, he spent ten years living in the USA, first in Providence, Rhode Island, and then for eight years in Los Angeles where he toiled in the movie business.Moved back to Ireland, and now lives in England with his partner Elaine and their two lovely daughters.


About Photographer Rita Crane: You can see her prints in art galleries in Northern California. Currently showing at Kevin Milligan Gallery in Danville (East Bay) and several galleries in Mendocino County.
16 April

Constructing A Villanelle by K. Alma Peterson

Sea Fan, originally uploaded by Super Cab Driver.

Notes on the construction of “Undiminished” (a villanelle):




by K. Alma Peterson



In the shallows the furrowed brain coral reports

its deathwash to the scoured beach     sea fans

snapped off      sea whips    lacy delicate sorts


confirm the incremental cruelty of watercourse

over and against the grooves     thinkless pans  

wherein our coral brains to shallow resort


rockslap     foam fringe gathers waveworn

in backchannels    while the pendant sea fans

whip delicately and snap the likes of us shorn


who’d leave them in their morgue    but of course

we fill our pockets to the sagging end

the furrowed brain coral over eons the corpses


smooth and blacken      far-off depositors

clog the Caribbean sink       laughing you contend

the snappish whips don’t require a lacy form


so against your blistered mouth the sugar calciforms

happily you’ve feasted since cane knows when

our furrowed brains in hallowed ruts of dead coral

snap to     the indelicate sea sailwhips the racy sort



I like to think of writing poems a process of investigation and construction, a sort of archaeological dig and assembly of the pieces, or underwater dive and recovery mission. The investigation starts with an idea, phrase, image, or remnant of a dream, and then goes off on all sorts of tangents that those things suggest.

The fact that in the villanelle some lines, or variations of them, repeat throughout the poem, and other lines appear only once, made me think of an ocean beach with various life forms being washed up on shore and others moving back and forth with the action of the waves. Rearranging the words and phrases in the repeating lines also seemed appropriate to the action of water on objects in and around it. Changing a word slightly, e.g. “lacy” to “racy” suggests how looking through water as a kind of lens can change the way things are perceived. Unless a villanelle has repeating lines that really do bear repeating, I prefer to really mix up the line, and usually the meaning of the line.

The poem’s title reflects the relentless nature of repeated elements: in a poem, in nature, in our inclination to link and associate words, images, ideas. Writing a poem, especially in form, requires assemblage; fitting the parts together to make a cohesive whole.

Spaces within the lines, in contrast with words that are pushed together (deathwash, waveworn, rockslap, sailwhips) mimic the action of brain waves, ocean waves, sonic waves, and the like.

The fact that shells are the skeletons of marine creatures brings to mind our own mortality: “we fill our pockets to the sagging end” refers to crowding the poem itself, as well as the way we crowd our surroundings with “stuff.” We are easily distracted by these “shiny objects” which is both pleasurable and worrisome. This villanelle explores competing impulses, and plays with the way we present them, to ourselves and to the world.

K. Alma Peterson


About Poet K. Alma Peterson: Graduated with an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The New Orphic Review, Skidrow Penhouse, Perihelion Review, garrtsiluni, Wicked Alice, and others. In 1999 her poem “Between Us” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rosemount, Minnesota with her husband and cat. “Undiminished” first appeared in her chapbook Befallen, and now is also included in her first book of poetry Was There No Interlude When Light Sprawled the Fen is just out by BlazeVOX Books.
13 April

Handmade Book For Your Poetry

green cherry handmade book, originally uploaded by fuzfrenzy.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, you might like to make a small book. This photo shows handmade paper made with a moulde and deckle (form out of wood like a photo frame with a screen) to dip and squeeze water out of your slurry mix (liquified paper in a blender). You don’t have to do this, though. You can make a simple book in about five minutes to start, and if you want to do more advanced book-making, the book in the video below will show you how.

11 April

National Poetry Month Guest Blogger Matt Love

Happy Birthday!, originally uploaded by Liz Faulkner (back soon).

One Man’s Beach Refuge


by Matt Love



April 1999. National Poetry Month. I begin my three-week unit with seventh and eighth graders attending Neskowin Valley School. I’ve waited all year to teach my favorite subject.


We read poems, write poems, memorize poems, randomly construct poems like the surrealists did, study different forms, techniques, and listen to Jack Kerouac perform his crazy cool American haikus. After reading an Emily Dickinson biography and learning she called her poetry “snow,” I suggest the students name their poetry. Hearing this, they look at me like I’m stupid, and when I suggest they “loaf and invite their soul” on a weekend, one of the seventh grade girls asks if she can do that watching a video.

My material bombs; explosions resound throughout the room but only I can hear them. Students insist on rhyming every poem. They’re bored listening to Kerouac. They have trouble grasping the concept of metaphor. When I ask each student to choose a poem from a collection of nearly fifty books in the library that best captures a mood they’ve recently experienced, and read it aloud, some of the girls recite Mother Hubbard. Some girls write poems on a single subject—pets. One boy projectile vomits in the classroom during one of my dramatic readings. He claims he has the flu and I have to clean it up. Rapidly, I sense nothing of educational or personal value is happening with this unit, assuredly the opposite whenever I taught poetry at the high school level. My sophomores, juniors, and seniors poured it out and poured it on: love, fear, loss, death, angst, hate, pain, lust, losering, and very bad sex.

One afternoon during a lesson investigating the poetic value of popular music, I play David Bowie’s Heroes and ask, “What do you think he’s after when he sings, ‘We can be heroes, for just one day’?” Nobody says a word and I wait, and wait, staked out naked on an anthill splashed with honey and Drambuie. What happens next is a first in my teaching career: I abruptly suspend a lesson in progress because it’s tanking so badly and I’m a teacher in the throes of professional disintegration. I cannot continue even though I have thirty minutes to fill and many more carefully selected pop songs to play, including some of the girls’ wimpy boy band favorites. It doesn’t matter. I’m whipped here. The ship of poetic state hath sunk and this captain honors maritime tradition. “You know,” I say, “I’m going to stop now and we’re going to move on to something else.” No explanation. No excuses. No tirades. Lucky for me, seventh and eighth graders are totally oblivious to a visceral teaching shipwreck in their midst, and they transition smoothly into our next activity, recess, while I collapse into the easy chair. It’s now fourth and thirty-five from my own ten-yard line in the second quarter of a zero to zero football game for the World Championship of Teaching Poetry but I won’t punt. I don’t know how to punt when it comes to poetry, but I have twenty minutes until the students return from recess to invent a new gadget curriculum play.

They take their seats and I announce “Poetry Madness,” a hike, tomorrow, rain or shine or gale force winds. We shall hike a five-mile round journey of Keatsian proportions down nearby Nestucca Spit to the jaws of the river, to the roiling bar of Nestucca Bay, where bald eagles soar, to become poets ourselves, bards of yore, the unacknowledged legislators of the world! Raw nature will seize us by the throats and strangle the verse forth. We’ll be “mad to be in contact with it” as Whitman wrote, and I’ll quote that line before we begin our march down the sand. If these kids aren’t inspired to embrace poetry after this experience, then literate American civilization is doomed. The students seem mildly interested in my idea, and, well, if it means missing class, then…hell!…we love poetry Matt! That night I spend an hour on the phone pleading with parents to help with carpool. I don’t tell them about the sinking ship.

We hit Bob Straub State Park and Nestucca Spit in the morning on a splendid sunny morning I might as well have ordered from Wordsworth. Before Poetry Madness officially begins, I quote Whitman “…urge and urge and urge…” and then twenty students, six parents, one teacher and three dogs, including Ray, embark on a field trip with no predictable outcome, a teaching first for me. An hour later the students and I sit in a circle at the bar’s edge, where the Pacific Ocean slams into Nestucca Bay. We pull out our journals and list stream-of-consciousness images flooding our minds. We edit them to a favorite five, then to the ultimate crystallized fifteen-syllable image. After that, we read the poems aloud and I keep interrupting the students to recite louder so we can hear them over the sound of the crashing surf. I read last and thank the students for their serious poetic effort.

No more seriousness for one middle school field trip! We must play and play hard. I choose teams and announce each one has forty-five minutes to construct a poetry fort out of driftwood worthy of Walt Whitman’s presence. When finished, invite me over for a poem and a cup of tea. “Ready, go!” I scream. As the students dash around building forts, sometime three or four working together to drag a piece of large driftwood, I get a bonfire raging to roast up hotdogs.

On the hike back up the Spit, a girl discovers a beached seal pup and wants to carry it home and call the authorities. The students plead with her to leave it alone, the mother will return to feed it. If you touch the pup, the students tell her, voices rising, the mother might abandon it. I stand back and say nothing, wishing some mounting peer pressure will win the day. The girl refuses to listen. She’s been like this all year long with students and adults alike. She strides toward the pup, a few kids start screaming at her, and the class turns to me. “Disrupt the disruptor,” the Old Man, a master teacher of forty years taught me about handling a recalcitrant student in situations like this.


I unsheathe the verb.

.“If you pick up that seal, you will kill it. You will as good as put a bullet in its head and watch it die. And all because you never listen to anyone. Because you think you know everything and you know nothing about this. Nothing. Less than nothing. Everyone here knows more about the seal than you do. I respect you care about the animal but your feelings are going to murder this baby. (Pause) Now go ahead and pick it up and we’ll all watch you kill this seal, right now, right on this beach. It’s all any of us will ever remember about you. I’ll even write a poem about it.”

She retreats from the pup and all the kids’ eyes follow her. She walks alone on the way back, occasionally turning around for a brief look. I don’t say a word to her for the rest of the day.



Frustrated with life, teaching, and the inability to become a writer, Matt Love escaped Portland in 1997 at 33 years of age and moved to the Oregon Coast. A year later he became caretaker of the 600-acre Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. During his decade (1998-2008) as caretaker, he helped restore the grounds to fuller ecology, discovered a love for teaching, and reinvented himself as a writer and historian who established Nestucca Spit Press and eventually won the 2009 Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award from Oregon Literary Arts. His new book, Gimme Refuge, is his passionate 177-page account of his teaching career, experience as caretaker, and awakening as an Oregonian. The book also includes 17 original illustrations by Cindy Popp.

Becoming the caretaker of the refuge was the biggest break of my life, said Love. I sincerely doubt I would have found my voice as a writer or developed my unique love for Oregon without this incredible opportunity. It also helped me return to teaching and to embrace and love that profession.


….For more information on Matt Love, or to order Gimme Refuge, please visit this link at Nestucca Spit Press.