I’ve been tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour by the wonderful poet Luisa Igloria, whose poem-a-day writing practice has inspired me, not only to write more but to create a class. My students wrote twenty poems in thirty days (I gave them weekends off!) and impressed me with their ability to write good poems in a short timeframe.
So what is a Blog Tour? Someone tags you, you answer the four questions below, and then you tag some other people. If this goes on long enough, you might get re-tagged, which is what happened to Alina Sayre. I tagged her, only to find that someone else had tagged her previously. She generously allowed me to share her answers.
Here are my answers to the four questions, all writing-related:
- What are you currently working on?
I have a manuscript of poems, my first full-length collection, which I’ve been sending around titled The Museum of Moving Parts. I’m working on a series of poems loosely based on family life, a kind of domestic interior theme. I write a monthly column for Connotation Press called The Third Form about video poems, and this requires me to comb the internet and watch hours of videos, looking for those stand-out, very special ones. I’m also working on some short prose memoirs about writing, life, family, and nature. I write a poem every few days, with something finished, or close to finished, each week. I write a haiku every day; I’m a fan of the short poem, and I love haiku for its ability to compress entire landscapes into a few short lines.
- How does your work differ from others of its genre?
My poems vary quite a bit. I’m not sure if I have a recognizable style. Most of my poems are lyrical, and I tend to write in the moment, using the present tense. Lately I have been writing more narrative poems, but they still explore small moments in time. I think that’s what poetry does that other forms of writing don’t do, at least not as well: preserve a moment for the reader. I’m not afraid to delve into difficult emotional territory; I don’t try to hide myself behind personas. Life is full of material and I’m happy to mine it for my work.
- Why do you write/create what you do?
I want my poems to change people, to leave them newly vulnerable. I want my poems to open people to the beauty and pain of the world and of being human. Once I wrote a poem on the spot for a man who had been in Iraq. He sat down on the street and wept.
I’ve often read that male poets started writing poetry “to impress the girls in high school.” I think that’s a perfectly fine reason to write poetry – to connect with someone, to attempt to move another person. I write to tell others how I see the world.
I love words, but being a writer is a lonely occupation, and I’m a fairly extroverted person. I love talking to people, performing, reading in public. I get ideas from listening to people talk, from bits of conversation, from traveling to new places, from dreams.
In order to write you must read. I was always a reader, from earliest childhood, and I’ll probably die with a book in my hand. I love books, not just for their content, but because they are physical objects, things in space. I will never have too many books.
- How does your writing/creating process work?
I’m at my desk every morning as early as possible. That said, I feel like I’m always “at work,” since I’m constantly on the hunt for ideas with my notebook and pen. I like to stroll through museums and galleries. Street art and graffiti interest me too, as a source of ideas for writing. I recently visited New York City, and I walked through the Bowery, which is home to a lot of street art. I went to the Tenement Museum, in the Lower East Side, and I was fascinated with the tour and the glimpse into the lives of people from two hundred years ago.
I know Emily Dickinson never left her bedroom, but I have to get out, get away from my desk, and take those long walks Virginia Woolf was so fond of. I’ve found things during my walks that have become poems. Once, in San Francisco, I found the word “languish” on the sidewalk. It was from a magnetic poetry kit. I took it home and put it on my refrigerator, and the word became lodged in my brain, where it worked itself into a poem.
Sometimes I start the day with a specific question in mind, for example, I might ask myself to pay attention to the color red. It’s like looking for blue or yellow cars on a long road trip. Whenever I see red that day, I’ll jot down a note about it: where I was, what the red object was, if I saw the word “red,” etc. Quite often, in fact most of the time, I’ll get a poem or the beginning of a poem, from these answers.
The world is such a big, exciting place. That’s why I write, and that’s why I read: to learn more about others, and more about myself.
My book “Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets” is about writing and creativity. In the book I discuss many more ideas for generating poems.
Here are the four writers I’ve tagged:
RACHEL DACUS is a poet and writer whose works include the poetry books Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau, as well the recent Gods of Water and Air, a collection of poetry, prose, and drama. She has written on a variety of subjects, from travel in Italy to growing up a rocket scientist’s daughter during the race-to-space Cold War era. Her poems, stories, essays, reviews, plays, and interviews have appeared in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, Rattapallax, and many other anthologies and journals. Read more at http://racheldacus.net.
TANIA PRYPUTNIEWICZ: Co-founding blogger for Mother, Writer, Mentor, Tania Pryputniewicz teaches Transformative Blogging, Poetry, and Tarot workshops for A Room of Her Own Foundation, Story Circle Network, and MWM. She has blogged since 2007 at Feral Mom, Feral Writer and since 2012 at www.taniapryputniewicz.com. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is the Managing Poetry Editor of The Fertile Source (on hiatus for production of a print anthology of poems paired with interviews by site contributors).
Tania’s poetry recently appeared in Chaparral, NonBinary Review, Poetry Flash, and Soundings East; new work is forthcoming in Snow Jewel. Her poetry collection, November Butterfly, debuts November 1, 2014 (Saddle Road Press); to view photo poem montages for a handful of poems in the collection (Thumbelina, Mordred’s Dream, The Corridor, Amelia, Nefertiti on the Astral, Nefertiti Among Us, and She Dressed in a Hurry for Lady Di), visit her channel on YouTube. She lives on Coronado Island near San Diego, California with her husband, three children, one Siberian Husky and two tubby housecoats.
SALLY ZAKARIYA’S poems have appeared recently in Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge, Third Wednesday, Evening Street Review, and Theodate. Her poetry has won prizes from the Poetry Society of Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. She volunteers as poetry editor for Richer Resources Publications and has published two chapbooks, Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011).
ALINA SAYRE cut her teeth chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Her first novel for middle-grades readers, The Illuminator’s Gift, blends her love of a good adventure story with her passion for exploring life, art, and faith. When she isn’t reading or writing, Alina enjoys hiking, photography, and collecting crazy socks. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.