behind the trees
beyond the fluttering
somewhere in the nondescript
in the sound
in the landscape undulating...
to miss and misinterpret
R L Raymond
From Half Myths & Quarter Legends
Photo shot from a hotel room years ago on this day. So many possible stories linked to this one. Maybe it could be a writing prompt.
droplets of condensation
down the cheap tin
of the cheap can
residual handprint bleeding water
the vacant chair
threadbare from years of lounging
a scratchy radio in the background
She still nags, chicken-pecking in the kitchen, about this, that, the other thing, almost drowning out the broken music. What she doesn’t realize is that
after all these years
up and left
beer still cold
chair still warm
no longer there to listen
no longer there to care
he walks down the driveway
smoking a Camel
his other hand twitching
the straw that broke the camel’s back
From Weakdays, Corrupt Press
No matter where you look, always be thinking of things (ideas) you can be squirrelling away for future use. Bring a bag and a notebook and a camera.
If nothing else, strive for balance, even if you have to create it yourself.
Fujifilm XT1, Fujinon 27mm 2.8 “Pancake”
Lately I’ve noticed a surge of statistics and articles on increasing popularity, discoverability, readability. This idea also seems to be trickling down into the creative writing world, especially poetry. It seems that content is being replaced by style, message by findability. Ok, so this isn’t new, but the sheer volume of noise behind the movement is disconcerting.
Every title of every article is the same, and some of these pieces even offer exact formulae for proper title wording. To me, an old school writer just wading into this new world, it seems self-defeating. It is the definition of vicious cycle: read articles about how to get articles read. While some of the pieces offer great information and insight, many rehash, refurbish, recycle. Does creativity take a backseat to search optimization?
The same holds true for poetry these days. Themes, styles, looks all drain into one homogeneous slush of ‘poeming.’ It is becoming more and more difficult to tell poets/writers apart — it all sounds the same, about the same thing, written pretty much the same way. Where articles use canned headlines, poems use the same short, choppy prose, losing any differentiating, interesting, identifiable characteristics. The essence of voice (see my short piece on voice) is gone.
● Commodification kills style
● Commodification kills voice
● Commodification kills art
Randomly select an article in a publication, on the web, anywhere, and truly try to find the author in it. Do the same with some contemporary poetry. Can you really, REALLY, identify the poet? It is getting tough. This is not to say there aren’t many great writers, poets, novelists, etc… I just find it disheartening that it takes much more effort to wade through the swamp of sameness to reach a little island of beauty. And, people are often instructed to become more homogenous:
● How to get reads
● How to get clicks
● How to get published
In each case, the message is simple: be more like everyone else, and everyone will read your stuff. Journals often tell writers to read what they like, what they’ve published, what they don’t like. If conformity was the goal, we would not have Samuel Beckett, H.D., or any other writer experimenting, excelling, inspiring. Instead of compelling, complex, cerebral writing, we would only have short, simple sentences and paragraphs of a certain length, apps to make us write like Hemingway (no hate, I LOVE Hemingway, mostly because he was Hemingway), apps to cut words we don’t need, to suggest better, shorter, more common words… oh, wait, nevermind…
“They don’t make movies like they used to.”
“Whatever happened to the classics?”
“Now THAT song will never get old!”
When we do find something different, exciting, fresh, a piece, poem, story, novel, song that is identifiable to a particular creator, we instantly know we’ve found something special. It will survive ‘pop’ culture, trends, the ‘must-dos’ of the day. Without differentiation, experimentation, deviation from the blob of sameness, there is nothing special. That’s why, for me, I want quirky titles, non-conforming articles, poems that are still poetry. I think it’s something we should all want, need, demand. My suggestion: make it yours and let the world find you. It doesn’t help to try and make it fit. That just fills the swamp. If it’s good, if it’s yours, if it’s fresh, it will be discovered, remembered, cherished.
Off to a tiny island, to read weird, wild, wacky stuff, I remain — RLR
What is Craft? Enjoyment? Mastery? The little things. Slow it down; learn to make something; lose yourself in something; become a master at something. This takes time, appreciation, love.
Somewhere along the way we have lost patience, we have neglected our ability to be awed, we have come to expect instant gratification with little to no effort. This must end. The very ideals of Craft and Art are fading into a snowstorm of electroniccommercialsocial static.
– No coffee from pods – brew it, taste it, experiment and learn flavour nuances
– No insta-poetry / no social media snippets and sound bites – read a book, on paper, from classics to contemporaries
– No AI – be your own brain. Write, draw, schedule, plan, dream, rebel, expand… on your own terms, through your own volition, with your results and failures in sight
– No shortcuts / no GPS – take the long road, get tired, get hurt, experience things you never would have expected
This is not an anti-tech or anti-progress manifesto. It is a love-letter to Craft, Enjoyment, Mastery. Only through the little things that we can master will we continue to create lasting magnificence. After the little things have hooked you, the Big Things will beckon, and you will gladly seek them out.
pitch dark where stars whiten at the death —albeit short-lived— of the streetlamp cycle-timed for conservation frogs creak and croak he hears them echoed reflected deflected from neighbouring houses with windows open to the calm evening air that carries the din there are no thieves conspiring or ne’er-do-wells whispering plans for mischief only frogs those night-sounds that bounce against constructions and preconceptions