Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What's a Poem

Notes for this entry compiled by Becky with assistance from Josh.


Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Poems in the form of 240 numbered essays or meditations. "Bluets: Maggie Nelson on the Color Blue as a Lens on Memory, Loneliness, and the Paradoxes of Love"

At a job interview at a university, three men sitting across from me at a table. On my CV it says that I am currently working on a book about the color blue. I have been saying this for years without writing a word. It is, perhaps, my way of making my life feel “in progress” rather than a sleeve of ash falling off a lit cigarette. One of the men asks, Why blue? People ask me this question often. I never know how to respond. We don’t get to choose what or whom we love, I want to say. We just don’t get to choose.

"The Collected Works of Billy the Kid" by Michael Ondaatje

Described as a short novel, but actually a collage of imagined interviews, poems, prose, and photos, adding up to a biography of Billy the Kid

These are the killed.
(By me) —
Morton, Baker, early friends of mine.
Joe Bernstein. 3 Indians.
A blacksmith when I was twelve, with a knife.
5 Indians in self defence (behind a very safe rock).
One man who bit me during a robbery.
Brady, Hindman, Beckwith, Joe Clark,
Deputy Jim Carlyle, Deputy Sheriff J.W. Bell.
And Bob Ollinger. A rabid cat
birds during practice,

These are the killed.
(By them) —
Charlie, Tom O’Folliard
Angela D’s split arm,
and Pat Garrett
sliced off my head.
Blood a necklace on me all my life.

"Tender Buttons" by Gertrude Stein

Good faith demands that I include this, but full disclosure, this woman sucks. Okay, that's not fair. A lot of my resentment is that everyone around me always loves her. I have had professors describe her as their "spirit animal." And I am happy to get you their contact information. Because I do not get it. My experience with Gertrude Stein has been like being the only sober person at a party. I end up standing in the corner wondering why everyone else isn't bored. That said, she does something that really sets the fire for some people, and you can't fake that. In the interests of description, I will say that it is considered a modernist masterpiece that uses repetitive language to make the mundane become unfamiliar and uncanny, or so I am told. It's kind of like that thing where you say a word over and over until suddenly it has no meaning. And it's true. That is a thing you can do.

'The Narrow Road to the Interior" by Kimiko Hahn

A poem written as a journal, in this case as an Asian pillow book.

"That This" by Susan Howe

Cross-genre “patchwork poems” – combining, for example, the writings of Cotton Mather and other Puritan ministers, the captivity story of Mary Rowlandson, old bird books, Thoreau’s journals, old municipal histories, and the poetry of Longfellow and Emily Dickinson. Additional article: Susan Howe "Patchwork Poems"

"This Is Not a Novel" by David Markson. Poem as research – communication through data

"The Glass Essay" by Anne Carson. Poem as memoir

Meeting Minutes February 13, 2020

With thanks to Becky for these comprehensive notes as I was unable to attend.

Meeting Notes and comments – 2/13/2020

What is Poetry?

While not all by any means agreed, we discussed a lot of examples indicating that “poetry” is a large and inclusive tent.

Ev recommended blackout poetry by Austin Kleon. Find more info --> Newspaper Blackout.  Becky referenced Kenneth Goldsmith who writes controversial “conceptual poetry.” New Yorker article on the subject --> "Something Borrowed"

Writing suggestion: What if we sponsored a Blackout Poetry Contest?

The group also discussed: Translation, cursive handwriting, the English language, and the size of the universe. Becky referenced Planet Word, a new DC museum dedicated to language, scheduled to open in May 2020. More info HERE

Richard read his poem “Bliss,” his entry for the Emotion Speaks project. Scott read an introduction to his song “Thorns,” and the lyrics to “Thorns,” this last to appear on his upcoming CD. Discussion included possibility of Scott also writing an accompanying memoir in which the CD would be included as a related playlist. Ev read a short-short selection form Lydia Davis’s "Can’t and Won’t" Nancy read a wonderful notebook selection (beginning “on compassion and common courtesy”) that led to a discussion of commonplace books. Kylie discussed the revision process and future of her novel-in-progress.

Flash Fiction Contests

Hobbylark, info found HERE
Book Fox, info found HERE

Recommendation regarding flash fic: David Galef's "Brevity" Tips, techniques and samples

Group Recommendations

Ev recommended Literary Hub an excellent multifaceted literary site with tons of categorized info.

Nancy recommended The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.

Suggestion: what if we each tried to offer a helpful recommendation for the group at each meeting – a book, website, meeting, workshop, project, etc.?

Next meeting: March 12, 2020, 6-7:30 pm, Swanton Public Library

Friday, January 10, 2020

Meeting Minutes January 9, 2020

Our meeting commenced at 6:05.  We had a large group including a couple of new members who are becoming regulars!

Discussion opened with two announcements for upcoming events.

January 14, 2020 Paula Diaco hosts a seminar on "How to Publish Your Book" The time is 6-7:30 pm. Location: 1 Franklin Park W, St Albans, VT 05478. Synopsis: Invest 90 minutes with professional writer and book coach .Paula Diaco of Write Stories Now. Stop dreaming and start doing. Free Workshop! Read more about Paula HERE 

January 25, 2020. League of Vermont Writers is holding an all day event at the Delta Hotel in Burlington VT. Getting Down to the Business of Writing: New Voices, New Opportunities and Annual Business Meeting from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. You are required to preregister for this program. Find more information HERE

Our discussion revolved around various types of 'writer's notebooks" From handwritten notebooks/journals/scrapbooks to electronic devices such as note programs on smart phones and online resources: google docs, instagram and pinterest. Ev suggested keeping a list of unusual nicknames you encounter as story prompts.  Becky shared her extensive writer's notebook containing notes, quotes, pictures and random facts and stories.

For fun and factual reading Becky recommended "The American Language" by H.L. Mencken. Find more information HERE

Renee recommended a middle grade book entitled "Up From the Sea".  It is written novel-in-verse, which is becoming a popular format. Check it out HERE

Several members read and discussed their work.

Our next meeting will be held on February 13, 2020. 6 pm at the Swanton Public Library.  All are welcome. As per Scott's suggestion, if you are so inclined please bring a random, fascinating fact to share. Might kick off some awesome writing!

Meeting Minutes December 12 2019

Our last meeting of the year commenced at 6 pm.  The group shared some snacks and discussed the writing process and how it is approached very differently by authors.  Some tips given by members included:

Keep a clip file/document: Store sections of texts you've edited from works in progress as well as ideas which occurred.  Some ideas and texts will be useful in other places or may spawn future projects.

To aid in continuity in your work or to prompt ideas: self-drawn maps and diagrams, Reference document to keep track of characters, plot of place specifics. Instagram-beautiful pictures for inspiration/example.

Common Place books: Compilations of quotes, thoughts and pictures for future meditation/utilization in our work. Find a brief topical commentary HERE

The book Exhalation by Ted Chiang was recommended.  Find more information HERE

Several members read their Dead Doll obits and 2 members read their own work.

Next meeting is January 9th. 6 pm at the Swanton Public Library.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Meeting Minutes November 14th 2019

Meeting commenced at 6:05. We had a lively discussion about writing perspectives: can an author effectively write the POV of a character from a different ethnicity, gender, age than themselves?

Judy offered a writing prompt in the form of porcelain dolls representing the original 13 colonies.  Participants are asked to write an obituary or short article (3 or 4 paragraphs) about their chosen doll.  The dolls will be placed in an empty card catalogue at the Swanton library.  Give kids something 'unusual' to find and read.  Anyone interested in a doll can contact Judy HERE

Michelle suggested Jason Brick and Chuck Wendig as possible sources of information and inspiration for writers. Read more about Chuck HERE and on Amazon  More about Jason HERE and his group on Facebook The Iron Writer's Challenge  

Ev mentioned a talk given by poet Michael Czarnecki at the Rouse's Point Library.  He wrote a book about traveling route 11. Other works include "Twenty Days on Route 20"  The group expressed interest in attending a future talk.  Please check the Rouse's Point Dodge Memorial Library website for more information.

Four of our members read their work.  Richard read a reflective Halloween poem. Kylie read a portion of her novel. Scott read a journal entry (gave us the skinny on Mangoes!) Don read his piece "Intermission"

Our next meeting is December 12th. If you are so inclined please bring something small to share: cookies, fudge etc. See you all at 6 pm at the Swanton Public Library!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Meeting Minutes October 10, 2019

First meeting on our official day (second Thursday of each month) Meeting commenced at 6:05.  Small but lively group this evening! 


The Swanton Arts Council's next installment of "Emotion Speaks." will be held in early 2020.  8 x 8 canvases will be available in November. The cost is $10, entry forms and canvases will be available at the Swanton Library. Keep an eye on the SAC website for more details.  The word for this exhibition is "Bliss"http://www.swantonartscouncil.org/

Due to funding cutbacks, Northwest Access TV is no longer available to film many community events - which may put the kibosh on the Ghost Read. Becky is investigating alternatives.

Writing tips 

1. Keep a parallel document open when writing/revising your work.  Keep cut prose/dialogue etc on this document.  It might be useful later in the work or in another work.

2. Keep a research document containing character points, settings, plot points for your own purposes.  As the author you will always know more and need to know more than your reader about your work/characters. 


The group's lively discussion about writers/books that have influenced us as writers was great - covering everyone from James Thurber to T.E. Lawrence, Nora Roberts, Walter Farley, Stephen King, Anne McCaffrey, Bob Dylan, and Virginia Woolf.  Several books were recommended by members both for pleasure and instruction purposes. Scott also recommended 2 podcasts pertaining to the life of Bob Dylan.  "Bob Dylan Primer" and "Is it Rolling Bob". Check spotify among other sources. 

Book Reccs:

"Seven Pillars of Wisdom" by T. E. Lawrence. 
"The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner
"How Rory Thorn Destroyed the Multiverse" by K Eason. YA fiction. Book One in The Thorn Chronicles.
"This is Not a Novel" by David Markson
"To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf
"The Black Stallion" series by Walter Farley YA fiction
"The Dragonriders of Pern" series by Anne McCaffrey

Next meeting: November 14th, 6 pm, Swanton Public Library

Friday, September 27, 2019

Meeting Minutes September 26th 2019

The meeting commenced at 6:05 in the King's Daughters room at the Swanton library.  Future meetings will likely be held there due to the expanding size of our group!  Please note: future meetings of our group will be held on the second Thursday of every month unless otherwise posted.  Below are a compilation of notes assembled by Becky and myself.

Judy spoke about the Edwin M Church Award.  The 15 entries were well received by a panel of 3 judges.  2 book stores owners/managers and an editor.  Congratulations to group member Ev Larson on taking first place!  The benefactors of the award have decided to extend the number of years the contest will run due to the quality of work which has been submitted over the last 2 years.  In future there will only be one cash prize and one contest, which will include HS seniors. It was proposed that a list of publications which might accept these stories should be made available to contest participants. 

2 possibilities: Green Mountain Trading Post (Don has been published multiple times) The Mud Season Review.


The League of Vermont Writers  is meeting Saturday September 28th from 8:30 – 3:15) in the Bliss Room at the St. Albans Historical Society. Various presentations; theme is the Art of Writing. Registration and fee required.

The Eloquent Page on Main Street in St. Albans, will host an open mic for writers from 3:30-4:30. (Immediately following the League meeting)

The St. Albans Art Walk and Sidewalk Sale will occur on Saturday, October 5th from 10 – 2. Writers wanted! To participate, simply pick a site on Main Street and contact the business you will be in front of to make sure they’re okay with you being there – then bring your own table, chair, and books to sell.


The Swanton Library is looking for book reviews. Each review should be about a paragraph long. Pitch your favorite books! EMAIL to Caleb Rupp, Swanton Library Director.

Monster Prompts.  In early October the Swanton Library will host an event for area children.  The activity will have them designing a monster (Halloween is around the corner!) and writing a short story about it.  It was proposed that writer's group members read these stories and elaborate on them.  Possibly a flashfiction piece of 500 words or less. More discussion at our next meeting.

 The Great Ghost Read is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 8, 10 AM – noon, at the Swanton library.  Come read your favorite Halloween/ghost/spooky story – either one of your own or a favorite by another author.

Many thanks to the group members who chose to share their ongoing projects with the group.  We had an hour of stimulating discussion about various topics and genres!

Meeting adjourned at 7:30.

Next meeting: Thursday October 10th, 6 pm at the Swanton Public Library.

What's a Poem

Notes for this entry compiled by Becky with assistance from Josh. WHAT’S A POEM? Bluets by Maggie Nelson Poems in the form of 240 nu...