How have I not written a poetry-focused article for my DIY MFA column before?? Because like novels, short stories, and other longer forms of literature, poetry is chock-full of literary themes. So that’s what my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post – or, rather, the first of two posts – is about. We’ll go over four questions that can help us identify themes in the poetry we read, then practice them with an in-text exercise using one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems. We’ll also touch on how we can recognize themes (either on our own or with the help of the four questions) across a book of poetry by a single poet.
OMG! By the time you read this post, I’ll be back at the Iceland Writers Retreat!! 😀
I have to admit, though: The past two months have been a whirlwind. A big part of that was launching my business Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services in February. Since then, life has been a juggling act between that, the day job, preparing for the Iceland trip, preparing for the ACES Conference (more on that shortly), and some unexpected things in my offline life, including a relative’s health emergency. And I’m aware that while I’m keeping up with my blogging schedule, I’ve fallen behind in just about every other area of this part of my life. 😦
In a way, I knew this was coming… and once I’m back from Iceland, it might be time to slow things down here and finally get the Heart of the Story blog up and running. But for now, let’s focus on the good that’s happened since the previous edition of What’s Making Me Happy. And as always, feel free to share the things that have made you smile recently in your comments on this post!
Let’s begin with…
These lines from Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes” took on new meaning when I read them on the afternoon of January 17, 2019. I’d read the poem before, but time has a way of changing your perception of what you read. In this case, I was re-reading one of Oliver’s most well-known poems about mortality just hours after learning that she, my favorite poet, had died from lymphoma at the age of 83.
The timing was eerie, too. Around the same time last week, I started working on a similar tribute to my favorite author of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin, who had recently passed away. (Oliver died 5 days before the first anniversary of Le Guin’s passing.) So, naturally, I’ve been drawing comparisons between the relationships I have with their work. And I remembered one difference that might surprise some people: While Le Guin’s stories resonated with me right away, it took a few years for me – a fantasy fan and a poet in equal measure – to fall in love with Oliver’s poems.
Are you one of those readers who challenges yourself to read a certain number of books every year? I’m… well, not one of those people. (*lol*) But I do have a consistent reading habit, and the reading goals I set for myself are more or less to guide my book choices throughout the year. For example, I try to prioritize brand new releases I’m interested in so I can stay on top of my favorite genre’s current market. And, as I shared in this post last year, I read at least one poem per day to help me comb through my extensive collection of poetry books.
But what about other goals, like finishing series I’ve already started? Or borrowing books from the library periodically? Yeeeeaaahhhh…. I haven’t been nearly as good with those. So I decided to organize my next year of reading with LOTS of goals. Ten, to be exact. I was a little afraid that creating so much structure could sap the fun out of reading. But now that I see what’s in my queue, these goals might help put a dent in my TBR pile and keep things interesting. Yay!
Without further ado, here are my reading goals for 2019:
When Victoria Grace Howell nominated me for this tag (thank you, Tori!), two thoughts went through my head. The first one: “Wow! This should be fun.” And the second one: “Crap. I threw out most of my old journals when I was reorganizing last year.” (*lol*) I still kept some of them, though, since some of their pages were still empty. Because, really, how awful would it be for a writer to let blank sheets of lined paper go to waste?
So I went through the oldies-but-goodies I still have and chose three to share with you today. Oddly enough, none of them show much of my early creative writing projects. But each one is unique in design, purpose, and personal meaning to me. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed looking back through some of the pages of my past, literally.
Of course, since this is a blog tag, let’s kick things off with…
During a recent lunch-break walk at my day job, I almost stepped on a bird feather. It might not sound so extraordinary. After all, birds are part of the everyday outdoors. But unlike fallen leaves, clods of dirt, or patches of grass, it’s not every day that your foot comes in contact with a stray feather. So I stopped and picked it up.
Two thoughts crossed my mind then. First, the feather itself. Gosh, was it gorgeous. It was slender, slightly curved, and mostly brown with white horizontal bars that became indistinct closer to the tip. And at over 1 foot long from shaft to tip, it was also HUGE. I still haven’t identified what species it belongs to. (Someone suggested the wild turkey, and it seems to be the closest match.) But as I twirled the feather between my fingers, what bird once wore it didn’t matter. What did matter was how I felt at that moment: as if I’d found a piece of treasure.
Second, as I returned the feather to the ground, I thought about writing. For me, nature and writing have been deeply connected for a long time. In fact, they might be more so now than ever before. Continue reading
How’s this for a blog hop challenge? Fellow blogger and writer friend Joanna Maciejewska tagged me on the Three Books for a Desert Island Blog Hop, which she created over the summer. The idea is to choose three books in your collection that you’d bring with you if you had to travel to a deserted island. It’s a neat idea, and a tough one, too – it took me a couple months to figure out which books I’d bring with me! But now I’m ready to share my choices. 🙂
First, let’s go over…