Going to Work

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

Toni Morrison
Posted in Social Justice, Spirtual Practice, Teaching Stories, Writing | Leave a comment

Jazz Writing

The Art of Jazz: Learning to Co-Write with a Partner arrived in my e-mail box just after someone else’s draft in a writing group we share struck me as having a lot of potential to go in several ways. Rather than leave parts of it on the cutting room floor, I suggested taking it several different ways instead of tossing parts to focus on one theme. I asked for a copy of the draft and agreed to share my own edits.

My wife and I comment on each other’s writings (poetry, prose, and sermons). That is closer to an editor or critique group. This feels closer to collaboration and/or improvisation on someone else’s theme. Classical music does this all the time, but in separate compositions. This is a little finer grained than that.

One of my favorite fantasy novels is Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens”. As I read more Neil Gaiman, I’m beginning to notice some of Neil’s themes: hidden identities and finding home. I doubt that Terry and Neil wrote entire chapters that the other had nothing to do with.

It will be an interesting exercise.

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

What Takes To Do a TEDx Talk

The editors of Loud Coffee Press entered the competition to do a Western New England University TEDx Talk. In a recent post they shared the process of moving from idea to “show time”. It is a process the TEDx Talk people guided and supported them through.

Maybe that’s something to tentatively put into my bucket list.

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

Reimagining democracy as a work of love

I’ve tried in poems, prose, essays, and action to articulate a way of moving beyond the over-partisanized politics in Texas and the United States (see my Social Justice category). Reimagining democracy as a work of love by Luke Roberts does it better and extends the vision beyond what I see.

When we say the word “democracy” what do we mean? My hunch is that most people immediately think of voting, party politics and perhaps the rule of law. Few, if any, think about the relational practices through which we transform asymmetries of power and negotiate rival visions of human flourishing. Yet democratic politics lives or dies by the quality and character of the relationships that make it possible. Democratic politics names a set of practices for generating forms of relational power and cooperation.

Democratic politics is not just participation in decision making, but also the capacity of ordinary people to act collectively to reconstitute their common life through shared speech and action.

Posted in Social Justice | Leave a comment

Learning to Pray – Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon is one of my favorite writers on the creative process. I’ve bought several of his books and read his blog.He shares bits of his work and parts of his process. Learning to Pray hit me from out of left field. A title like that in my feed reader isn’t surprising. Who wrote the post was. I’ve read several of his recommended books. This is not light reading. These are more like-how to hotrod your car in 300 weekends. Save the list or stick it in your public library account’s “To Be Read” list.

Posted in Spirtual Practice | Leave a comment

Tale of Two Cities

Laurence Musgrove’s newest project is Texas Poetry Assignments. He previously published my poem, The Work of Inauguration. Today he published Tale of Two Cities on the Capitol Riots of January 6, 2020. Reading it in light of subsequent news (stolen laptops, people photographing papers), it may turn out to be naïve (I assumed there would not be a repeat) and prescient (I point out a couple of hours of trashing politicians’ offices is not enough to overturn a government).

Posted in Poems, Publications, Social Justice | Leave a comment

Mindfully Leaving

When I lived as a kid in Larkspur, California, it was a middle class town in an upper class county (2nd or 3rd highest per capita income in the US). I’ve visited several times in the decades since and watched it go upscale. It’s no longer the place I grew up and wouldn’t want to live there, even if I could afford it. I’ve written several poems about the experience. Loud Coffee Press is the first to accept and publish one. It’s on page 19 of Issue 5. Love the cover.

Posted in Poems, Publications | Leave a comment

Editing Advice

Beneath the Skin: Levels of Editing Poems, a guest post by Marilyn McCabe is one of the better sets of advice I’d run across on how to improve a draft. Applies to prose too. She elaborates three levels:

  • text on the page – adverbs, adjectives, punctuation, line breaks.
  • intention – does the poem achieve what I want/intend.
  • ambition – why am I doing this?

Worth a read.

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

Who was that masked man?

I wanted to thank him. tagline from the Lone Ranger TV series.

Has a different connotation these days. Older people in Austin, TX are pretty good about having a mask though not always wearing it properly. Younger people in our apartment complex aren’t hostile, but they aren’t good about always wearing a mask when outside their apartment. We wear masks even to take the trash to the dumpster.

Posted in COVID-19 | Leave a comment

The Win is Not Always to the Strongest

I recently had one poem accepted out of a batch of three. It wasn’t the strongest poem and I felt a little odd. On reading the published journal, I found it fit in just fine. The editors acknowledge in their introduction that as a issue comes together, a theme emerges. And only one of mine fit the emerging theme. The stronger poem, if in fact it is stronger, will find a place somewhere else.

“Grey Brother” is a poem I wrote 25 years ago. It needed very little editing. Feedback in readings was very positive. I submitted it 9 times before it was accepted. That’s my personal most submissions. It is good company where it was published. Strong poems may be hard to place because of their strength.

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

Early Voting

Getting submissions back a few days or a week after I submit them bugs me. I must be doing something wrong, something that makes it too easy to decline. I’ve gone back and carefully checked the guidelines and rarely find anything. However, there have been hints. One journal closed submissions in the middle of the reading period because they were full. Another lists the reading period: opening date, closing date, or until full. An editor of a journal begged us to submit early.

Contrary to what I expected some journals start reading before the closing date. Late entries may face a issue that is already complete.

I’m changing my workflow and priorities to submit soon after the opening date rather than just before the closing date. Generally, the submission tasks in my TODO list have the opening and closing date. I just have to let them show up on the opening date.

My goal last year was an average of 10 or more active submissions. I met the average, but ended the year with 8-9 active submissions. This year so far, I’m not doing any better. I’ve added the goal of submitting early, not late. This should help my active submissions average if they don’t come back so fast. Also I’m reconsidering journals I gave up on several years ago because my submissions came back too fast.

Posted in Writing | Leave a comment