Do you listen to music while you write? Has a specific song or music artist ever influenced one of your stories, poems, etc.? This has happened with a number of my published poems. Thus, Poetry & Song is a limited-run series where I share one of my published poems and the song that “helped me write” it. I also offer insights into why I chose that particular piece of music, as well as any other inspirations for the poem.
Some of you might know that I’m a published poet, with several poems accepted for print and online publication between 2012 and 2014. While I’m focusing on novels now, from time to time I’ve entertained ideas about how to discuss poetry (either my own or the poets I admire) here at the blog. Then, during last month’s Iceland Writers Retreat, I took Nadifa Mohamed’s “Music and Literature” workshop, which explored how the music we listen to can influence our writing. It turned out to be my favorite workshop of the event – and it also sparked the idea for this series.
Today I’d like to kick off the Poetry & Song series with “Elegy,” which was published in Soul-Lit’s Summer 2013 issue. And had it not been for a certain piano ballad by one of the most incredibly voices and songwriters in current pop music, I’m not sure “Elegy” would be what it is today. That’s why it’s impossible to talk about the poem without the song, or how that poem changed my feelings toward the song forever.
The 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement (also known as #1000Speak) began in January 2015 as a way for bloggers to spread messages of compassion. Participants may join in on the 20th of each month or as time allows, and either write about the month’s prompt or a related topic of their choice. Regardless, these Voices write with one unified purpose: To remind others that, despite the lack of compassion that rocks our world at times, compassion for ourselves and others does exist.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to do #1000Speak this month. Life offline has been hectic lately; and when your attention is pulled in so many different directions, it’s hard to put in the time and thought that a post like this deserves. However, I can’t get last week’s terrorist shootings in Paris out of my head… which means I need to write about it, one way or another.
This may be shorter and more stream-of-conscious (i.e., “rambling”) than past #1000Speak posts. So, please bear with me as I sort out my thoughts here. Continue reading
Earlier this year, I took part in 1000 Voices for Compassion (a.k.a. #1000Speak) and posted articles about self-compassion and examples of compassionate actions in books I’ve read. It was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding blogging experiences I’ve ever had; and I knew before I had even finished drafting my second #1000Speak post that I wanted to write more in the future whenever my writing schedule allowed. Today happens to be one of those days.
This #1000Speak post is a little different from past ones. It’s a story of sorts, one that balances the personal with the universal. It’s about inspiration, sadness, and healing. It’s a story about the power of compassionate writing, the necessity for it in our world, and the impact it can have you as a writer.
As previously announced on this blog, Soul-Lit has accepted my poem “Elegy” for its Summer 2013 issue. The issue is now available online for you to read. Click here to read “Elegy,” and click here to see the index of all of the poets featured in this issue. I highly recommend you check out the feature on Janice Rebibo as well as poems by Wayne-Daniel Berard, Richard Ballon, and Margaret Vidale, for starters.
If you’re curious about the inspiration behind “Elegy,” please read my blog entry about the Boston Marathon bombings. At the end, I mentioned how I felt compelled to write a poem that described my reaction to the horror and tragedy of this event. “Elegy” is that poem. It’s my tribute to the people who were injured or killed at the finish line, and also to the area of Boston I’ve visited the most in my lifetime.
Considering I wrote the poem in May, I’m still shocked by the fingersnap-quick turnaround from the first, handwritten draft to publication. I’m also thrilled and grateful to the editors of Soul-Lit for choosing to include it with beautiful, inspiring work by other poets from all over the world.
Soul-Lit is a quarterly online journal based in Massachusetts that focuses on spiritual poetry. Visit Soul-Lit’s website or Facebook page to learn more about the journal, its editors, and their distinction between spiritual poetry and secular / religious poetry.
Coming Soon: My review of Second Empire’s self-titled EP at Sonic Cathedral
Many of you may have read or heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon this past Monday. As a writer who lives in the area (about 30 miles outside of Boston, Massachusetts) and visits the city several times each year, I’ve been struggling to collect my thoughts – mostly because they’ve been a swirling eddy of emotions. This was a signal from my soul that I needed to write to express what I was feeling. And I did. I drafted the original version of this blog entry on Wednesday and Thursday, and originally intended to post it on Friday afternoon.
That all changed Friday morning, however, with the manhunt in Greater Boston and the related events that transpired. Some parts of yesterday hit much too close to home for me. So I re-wrote the blog entry to what it is today.