Kids Who Die.

Put together by ColorofChange.org, this video uses "Kids Who Die", the chilling poem by Langston Hughes that was intended to illuminate the wrongs of lynchings during the Jim Crow era.

This video, narrated by Danny Glover, shows how Mr. Hughes' words still hold merit today, especially when projected on the backdrop of Michael Brown and the Ferguson uprising, as well as all the other police vs. black lives tragedies that have occurred in recent times.

Please watch this video. If you are inspired or touched by it, share the link with others.

http://act.colorofchange.org/go/5127?t=1&akid=4643.82806.H-2Nus

Flame: The Snare of Style

I don’t want a style. Or I don’t want to be defined by a particular style. It’s taken years to evolve to this viewpoint, but I prefer each writing project, big or small, to invent itself without preset limits.

Once a writer determines what his or her style is, they are finished. Because then they’ve defined their own boundaries and subconsciously resist crossing them. They hear the voice of restriction resonating inside their heads louder than the voice of creativity. At that point they might as well tap out.

So I want to believe that I don’t have a style. I have poems and books and stories and undefined literary blobs that develop on their own and discover their own voice - their voice, not mine. And I want to maintain this blissful illusion until I die.

Spark: Tips For Organizing Poetry Manuscripts

I have at least three full-length poetry-book manuscripts in various states of completion, so I am constantly evaluating how these potential books are organized. I admit it – I’m somewhat obsessed with how to make them flow better. If I were to use music as an analogy, I desperately want to make sure these books are like a classic album rather of an album full of individual hit singles.

With all my incessant tinkering in mind, I have bookmarked Nancy Chen Long's awesome blog post on "Poetry Manuscripts: Resources for Organizing a Manuscript," which links to a number of promising guides:

http://nancychenlong.blogspot.com/2014/10/resources-for-organizing-poetry.html

The Difference Between Honesty and Brutal Honesty.

There's an old story (not sure if it is 100% true, just reciting what I learned from a book) about Soviet and British diplomats meeting in 1941, when World War Two was looking very bleak for both countries. Tensions were running high as the Germans were approaching Moscow and the Soviets were convinced the British weren't sending them enough help.

The British presented their figures on their war production and why there could be no greater help for the Soviets from them that year.

The Soviet response was, "Your figures are lies."

The meeting broke down in acrimony.

When the conference reconvened after the threat of a British walkout, the Soviets presented figures on their own war production.

The British response was, "I wonder if you could check those figures as they don't tally with the ones we have previously seen."

The conference proceeded and the Soviets admitted there had been an “error” in the calculation of some of their figures.

After the conference, the chief Soviet negotiator met with the British representative and congratulated him on the successful conclusion of negotiations. He asked him why he hadn't called the Soviet statistics lies.

“I did,” said the British negotiator.

___________________________

In writing as well as in life, the difference between honesty and brutal honesty can be the difference between winning a reluctant soul over to your side or repelling someone from your cause forever. Understand the difference, and you can call someone a liar without them even knowing it.

 

Oversharing.

It’s a quandary that many writers face - how to tackle personal subjects in their writing without “oversharing” with readers.

If "oversharing" in your writing concerns you, too - and I’m aware that not everyone experiences this particular anxiety – reviewing these five tips from Erica Dreifus on The Missouri Review’s blog might be helpful.

http://www.missourireview.com/tmr-blog/2015/05/five-ways-for-writers-to-avoid-oversharing/

Secondhand Inspiration: How can more time = less writing?

“More time to write can be just as daunting as no time to write.” Christi Craig contemplates on her blog how the rare anomaly of having too much time set aside for writing can actually impede progress. She also provides some key suggestion of how to overcome this phenomenon. Worth the read.

http://christicraig.com/2015/05/20/ive-got-all-day-to-write-um-now-what/

Resource for Writers: Reading Venues Database

Found on the Poets & Writers website, “this database of venues that host readings and author events includes bookstores, bars, cafes, libraries, literary arts centers, and more. Here you'll find information about how to schedule your own reading, admission fees, audience size, parking and transit information, and more. Save your selections to My P&W and populate a personal Google Map that you use to plan your own reading tour or simply keep track of your favorite reading venues.”

Very useful.

http://www.pw.org/reading_venues

Yet another disjointed idea…

…for a poem or story or rant or whatever the hell it will end up becoming. 

Please stop – these ideas are arriving too fast for me to handle, especially keeping my insomnia and attention deficit in mind. Not to mention the overtime I’ve been working. I'm becoming way too disorganized with these scraps of paper, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, whatever I can jot a phrase down on at the time.

The Beauty of Acceptance.

After many, many rejection notices, I finally hit paydirt in the past few weeks.

My prose poem “No Black People Were Harmed in the Making of this Poem” will appear an upcoming edition of Kansas City Voices, a publication of Whispering Prairie Press. This will be my second time appearing in this journal.

My poem “Trial Separation” will appear in Volume 18 of Steam Ticket, a nationally distributed journal from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

I will also have several poems appearing in an upcoming edition of the Vermillion Literary Project, a student produced journal from the University of South Dakota.

And my poem “On the Occasion of My Untimely Demise” will appear in The Talking Stick, a Minnesota literary journal published by the Jackpine Writers' Bloc. It is produced entirely by Minnesota writers for Minnesota writers since 1995. There will be more news about that poem in a future post.

Huge thanks to the editors of these publications for a chance to contribute. Now it looks like I need to get back to writing before I run out of work to submit! Be good.

Flame: Shame on the USPS

Awhile back I was praising the US Postal Service on this blog for commemorating the late Maya Angelou with a “forever” stamp. Ms. Angelou was a huge influence on my early writing and I truly admired what I know of her personal history.

But the USPS screwed the pooch on this one, in case you haven’t heard. The task was straightforward: combine a picture of Ms. Angelou with one of her more memorable verses. And this is Maya Angelou we are talking about here, a woman who had hundreds of quotables during her lifetime. She was literally a walking quotable. Instead, they coupled her image with text written by Joan Walsh Anglund, a well-known children’s book author.

Takeaway: If you are going to do a tribute for someone, do all you can to make sure that you do it right. That is all.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/chi-is-maya-angelous-forever-stamp-error-comment-20150406-story.html

Three Pieces in A Quiet Courage & Stepping Outside of My Skin.

I’m excited to announce that I have three new microfiction pieces featured in A Quiet Courage, an online literary journal that publishes compelling, poignant, memorable, and well-written microfiction and poetry in 100 words or less.

Deadbeat: https://aquietcourage.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/deadbeat/

Role Model: https://aquietcourage.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/role-model/

Appearances: https://aquietcourage.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/appearances/

Thanks to the editors who deemed my work worthy – much appreciated.

What these pieces have in common: focused, emotional description told in first or second person using the voices of characters that are absolutely nothing like me. This is what I love about writing – it gives you a chance to walk in someone else’s shoes (pardon the cliché). And I believe you have to completely sell out to that concept of what a character is all about in order to make a story seem genuine. I think I was all in with these three pieces – and that is something I need to do more often in my writing in order to make it resonate.