How often do you come across nature? Even if you live in an urban area, the answer is probably, “Every day.” The natural world impacts every aspect of our lives, from our commutes to and from work and our weekend plans, to our ability to breathe and the soundness of our homes. We could even say that our relationship with nature is as ripe with conflict as the relationship between two characters in a story.
Maybe that’s why so many writers have explored the theme of man and the natural world in their work. But why exactly is this theme important? I explore five of those reasons in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA.
Holy cow, I can’t believe this has happened…. But Mass Poetry, the organization that runs the annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival, has selected my poem “Cape Cod: A Geological Origin Story” as this week’s Poem of the Moment!
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.
It’s been a while since the last Poetry & Song post, hasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to write ones for some of my older, previously published poems and the songs that “helped” me write them. But now that a few “newbies” have debuted over the past few months, it’s time to start highlighting those instead. 🙂
So the spotlight turns back to “Breath of a Humpback Whale” today. What’s interesting about this edition of Poetry & Song isn’t what inspired this piece (though the inspiration itself is incredible), but rather the transformation this poem went through from initial spark to publication. In fact, Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean” didn’t become part of the process until the poem’s last round of revisions. But that proved to be the perfect time for music and poetry to come together.
Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you had a warm, safe, and joyful beginning to your 2019.
Today I’m thrilled to share two new poems that have been published over the past couple weeks. First, “Osprey at Bass River” is featured the Winter 2018 / 2019 issue of Canary, an online literary journal focusing on nature and the environment. This poem was accepted back in March, and the joy of finally seeing it in print (and with a fitting photo to boot) has been worth the wait. 🙂
What’s this? More poetry news?? 😮
Yes! I’m happy to share that Amethyst Review has published my poem “Gifts.” Amethyst Review is a UK-based online journal that publishes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories exploring spirituality in creative ways. “Gifts” in particular is a tribute to nature, unexpected surprises, and gratitude.
I’m thrilled to share that my poem “Breath of a Humpback Whale” has been published in the Fall 2018 issue of Muddy River Poetry Review! This poem was inspired by a whale watch I went on last fall – or, more specifically, a particular moment during the whale watch that took my breath away. 🙂
Does anyone else think the past two months have flown by? They have on my end. Life offline was especially busy in mid / late September, so all I remember of August now was that it was quiet and calm. (Unless I’m missing something! *lol*) This also means that while I’ve found time to write blog posts lately, it’s been a challenge to stay on top of comments or friends’ blogs. Hopefully this is only temporary, and I apologize for any delays in responding or returning the favor.
So, what are some of the fun events and “little things” that have brought me joy recently? I’ll share them below the jump. And as always, I love hearing what you’ve been up to and what’s been making you happy as well. So feel free to share that in your comments. 🙂
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
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.
After the amazing response to the first Poetry & Song post back in May, I knew I’d have to write another one down the road. Today happens to be a good day for that, because… um, well, September 5th is my birthday. (*blushes*) But that’s all the attention it’s getting. Instead, the joy and gratitude I always feel on this day gives me reason for blogging about “Eve of Spring.”
What? You say spring was five months ago? Who’s counting, though? 😉
Today I’m sharing “Eve of Spring” and the life-changing song I listened to as I wrote it. And together, both pieces were among the saving graces that helped me through one of the most challenging periods in my life.