Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Respect for Artists, Buying vs. Gifting, thoughts on sales

May 16, 2014

It never ceases to amaze me the attitudes folks have toward artists. You would not hear someone suggest, for example, that a dr. Be allowed to practice in that hallway ” for exposure” and no pay. People who allow artists to hang artwork are appreciated to be sure, libraries, galleries, and so forth, but that concept of giving the artist exposure as a favor is thought provoking. Why shouldn’t artists charge a rental fee for a collection that will be in essence, loaned to a place to show for a period of time? Things are sometimes stolen, damaged, and often the place has a form to sign absolving it of any responsibility to the artist for such. Artists need to eat and pay bills just like everybody else. We don’t eat air.

Recently, a friend of mine, who has never bought anything from me, commented that it would be “much cooler” to hear the ” priceless stories” that I sometimes gather when a piece of my work is purchased by someone for whom it has a special meaning, than to hear of “sales” of works. Should I decide to collect the stories in a manuscript and be lucky enough to publish it, my advice is ” Buy the Book.”

I like being respected enough for my skill to be paid. Relatives, friends, all sorts of people can assume an entitlement and many reasons why they should not purchase your work, be it books or visual art. When I like someone’s work, that of a photographer friend comes to mind, I never just ask for a copy of it even though in these technological days I could even save it to my device aka steal it.
I ask the photographer how much for an 8 x 10 print of it? Whether the artist supports him or herself by artwork or not, it doesn’t matter. Hours of labor went into that piece and studious thought process. Respect that before you assume you are entitled to a gift of it.

It rests solely on the shoulders of the maker to decide what is going to be gifted to someone and why. It is very uncool to tell an artist to give a third party a painting the artist spent hours/days/weeks at work on. Better would be the person suggesting purchase the piece to give to the third party. You would never consider walking into a restaurant and ordering food that takes time and skill to prepare and then not pay for it? Or never would you tell the chef to make a certain dish to give to another customer because that customer loves certain foods.
That is my Friday offering.

Tools for New Poets and a Brief History of Poetry

March 22, 2014

Poets have been around as long as there have been human beings. Way back, they acted out or drew on cave walls, the poems and stories of their lives. Ancient Greece and Rome offered poets whose work would endure to present day. The Far East as well, you can still go to a Barnes and Noble and buy a book of Rumi’s verses. Whether you read the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Bible, some of the oldest poets’ words endure in those pages. King David, for example, was a poet. Psalms are poetry. So, don’t feel funny if you ve been touched by the Muse. You are in good company. Nb: the Muse is sort of what poets call their God of inspiration.

Two important tools for poets across history and all languages are metaphor and simile. Poetry tells stories like any other form. It can be fiction or non fiction. It can rhyme or not. It can take one of. Many forms or be free verse. I ll talk about forms another time.

We never outgrow our longing to have a good story whether we ‘re following stories on TV, movies, on our Kindle, laptop, magazine article or a book borrowed from the library. It is all about stories.

Poetry should be clear even though by its very nature, poetry often uses imagery in language unique unto itself that might at. First be difficult to decode. Poets use tools like any other artist. Let’s talk metaphors.

What is a metaphor? A metaphor compares the thing you really want to talk about ie. anger or a fight with your mom, to something you are using to symbolize anger ie. a dragon. In my poem, The Apology, I use the dragon and my relationship with her through the whole poem to talk about
controlling an angry outburst and making up with whomever the other was.
The Apology

” I will tame the dragon for you
And call her, tumble from the skies,
All bronzed purple steaming skin
And violet violet eyes.

Beckon her onto the roof peak
All gleam tooth and smiling claw
Peering down at me she creaks.
And lie with you on her chest,
Beneath a fold of heated leather wing.
Listen to her rumble so deep you almost
Cannot hear her voice, we keep.” RZI (c) 2005

This imagery or way of thinking about anger and fighting is much more interesting than if you walked into a room and said, ” I had a fight with my mom.”

Emily Dickinson’s poem, ” I’ m Nobody” compares humans to chirping loud frogs.
“How dreary to somebody,
how public like a frog,
to tell your name the live long day
to an admiring bog.”
More fun than saying, ” That guy talks about himself all the time.” Technically within her metaphor comparing humans to frogs, she did include a simile. The point is her comparison with both tools is consistent.

Simile is the other comparative tool for poets to use. What is this? It compares one thing to another using the words ” like” or ” as”.
From the novel ” Moo” by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jane Smiley, this example will probably be with me for my whole life …..since I love pigs.

“…….a speeding pig as big as a VW Beetle…”

I may be taking wee liberties with my memory, apologies to Jane if so. You really ” see” the pig bursting from the barn, don’t you?
In history Scottish poet Robbie Burns wrote this immortal simile ” My love is like a red, red rose.”
In your revision process and weeding out of all unnecessary words, you may find when using simile that you can remove the word “like” or “as” as British poet colleague Si Philbrook from Blackwater Poetry on FaceBook suggested I do awhile ago in revision of a poem about my mother. He was so right. I did not need it.

Facts for new authors: what two famous historical women authors, one a poet, one a non fiction writer, never saw any income from their work and were taken advantage of?
If you think you know the answer, please post it in the comments box. Stay tuned to find out.

Debut “Partly Sunny with a Chance of Snow; a Pocketful of Showers”

June 23, 2013

I am very excited to announce the acceptance of the above titled manuscript of my newest chapbook by Finishing Line Press. I am in the process of trying to decide on cover artwork. Since the book is dedicated to my friend, the late photographer and penwoman, Yolanda Tooley, and is inscribed so, I may use the watercolor photoshopped picture of the puppy with the red sneakers posted earlier on this blog. It features her name in the title.
The collection is my most ambitious yet. It is 32 pages and includes poems that have appeared in Ireland through Elbow Lane Poems, Great Britain through indigodreamsonline as well as poems shared with other publications in the United States such as The Penwoman and They interact well together. It is definitely a book about women’s words, but also about life with all its watershed moments, that tells of rich stories to be found everywhere around us. Stories of love, loss, lust, magic, horror and intrigue the book takes us on a wild ride. The first poem pulls you in, as helpless as a fish on a hook, and the last line of the last poem shuts you down like a loud door. As ever, I often held hands with Nature to tell my tales because that is where my muse resides.
I am particularly happy to learn of the release of this book on the heels of the release of “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods.”
This is my debut novel, YA novel, and the first in a trilogy. I have done three readings of the book so far from local to me Mohegan Manor Advance Release Reading, to the official release at Canastota Library where I read to a standing room only crowd, to a wonderful cozy nook of a bookstore back east, Eastline Books, Clifton Park, NY, owned by a woman. Let’s hear it for indie small business owners who are women. Support each other! There, too, I read to a full house and met to a person, folks I’ve known for years only on FaceBook. Very cool to meet younger and younger readers who also already at age 6 or 7 define themselves as writers as well.The cover art is in a competition. It has been picked up by the Neverending Roll Call Say What? Savannah Says by Savannah Mae. She is a book reviewer from Austin, Texas who will be featuring the book on her author pages as well as posting a review when she has read it. Next physical stop for the book performance is Oswego NY at The River’s Edge Bookstore. In October-November I will have a coordinated art exhibition hung at Westcott Art Gallery and plan to do a reading and book signing during that time.
In the meantime Book 2, Tales from the Edge of the Sea is about to undergo official editing. At the same time, Book 3 The Hedgerow is coming to life beneath my fingers. I will follow the magic wherever it leads me. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

In Memory of my friend, Olin Davis, author of “Flashbacks”

May 30, 2013

 Olin was the first to tell you that writing of poetry was surely some ingenuous form of torture, and the practice of poetry writing only gifted to a certain few. That said, Olin was a fine poet when the spirit moved him. At my gentle insistence (we shared everything writings-wise, genres, forms, stories, and poems through the magic of cyberspace in wee hours when insomnia struck us both) he worked and revised this poem and entered it in the 2010 CNY Chapter Penwomen annual poetry contest. He was extraordinarily funny and could write light rhyming verse as well, but this poem to my eyes was simple and beautiful. He did not win or place, but I remember his face in the audience as that year was one of my first on the judges’ side of the table. He knew I was new to the penwomen and thus, nervous, so he was also there to offer moral support.  I ‘ve lost two dear friends in one month this spring of 2013. One too young, to a debilitating illness, one, an elder just beginning to fail and to grieve for doing so, who missed his beloved spouse.  They both were midnight email correspondents with me. They both were extraordinarily accepting and tolerant. Both knew things about me that nobody else does. There is something magical about the boundlessness of the cybersphere, deep in the night, when it stretches before your fingers like  magic while the rest of the world is asleep.

I will always remember the year I met Olin. I had fallen in love, or so I thought, with a neighbor woman. It was destined for disaster, but my life was filled with upheaval when I first came to the Canastota Writers group for the first times 2004. When the brief affair flamed out as it was destined to do from the very start, I wrote a poem about it. I brought it to writers group and read it aloud, knowing full well that the poem was clearly about one woman grieving the loss of another woman’s love. I had no idea who would think what of me nor did I really care. I was in too much pain. When I finished reading,  silence stretched respectfully on. Then Olin spoke. He said, looking into my eyes with his  wonderful warm gaze, “I imagine there is not a person sitting here at this table, who has not had a heart broken. We can all relate.” With those simple words, I knew he accepted me. Immediately he took up residence in my heart.

I was proud of this work of his that I am publishing to follow.. I am happy to own copies of his memoirs. I loved how he read his piece this Tuesday past about huckleberries, assuming the voice of a querelous and whining twelve year old with as much as gusto as I assume the creaky ancient tones of a retired warrior dragon.

Thank you for working on this longer than you would’ve without my friendly bothering, Olin. Thank you for your friendship and support. Thank you for all the manuscripts and short stories and poetry you read and commented on through the years. Thank you for your honesty. I have only one regret, that we never did take the time to share that cup of coffee at Friendlys or Dunkin Donuts that we’d spoken of since 2008. With much love, I give you “Holland in April” by Olin Davis, guest poster on writer raebeth’s weblog.








Riots of color

burst over landscape;

flower field hectares

reach toward horizon.

A rainbow bouquet:

gold, crimson and plum

rows framed by canals,

Dutch farms in blossom—

tulip, daffodil

and hyacinth hues

shape a visual feast

and mental keepsake.

Olin Davis

Jan. 2011   

Bloemakkers near Haarlem,

The Netherlands 4/2001





Freedom Day

January 8, 2008

We are amateur poultry keepers. We have 5 chickens– two, unfortunately beleaguered, hens and 3 roosters. Wasn’t intentional. We got an early Saturday morning phone-call–a friend had reserved us chicks at a local feed-mill. So we hurried to Home Depot to buy      wood for the evolving design of a tiny coop for these little birds. It had been years since I kept an aviary full of inches and canaries, or my cockatoo pair who had a room of their own complete with tree from an old tree’s trunk set in any rate we flew into poultry raising with virginal enthusiasm and abandon..enthralled at the idea of fresh eggs every day…and the bountiful free fertilizer for our vegetable garden..we hoped they would be avian weeding machines as well…Many of our dreams came true. We had eggs. We did, however lose most of our hens..and four of those to the family Labrador retriever who innocently found catching these feathered Frisbees fun but confusing– because why wouldn’t they “throw themselves” once caught… There were neighborhood foxes who got lucky and mysterious disappearances. We had built a gorgeous Chicken Palace outside attached to the back of our barn complete with nest boxes big enough to be filled by 6 hens. Branches for real roosting…Soon the number of birds and an especially wet autumn combine dot make this enclosure a mucky stinky mess. Thus the new design of an indoor Hen Palace with a lower condo  for two pot bellied pigs.

Snow began to fall and not one chicken would stick his or her beak the teeniest bit outdoors. The barn–which doubles as our work-shop where frames and boxes and other wood projects are created for my photography—soon became another stinky mucky mess. This was not like parakeets at all.

This weekend past we went out there with our boots on to chicken proof the area.

By nightfall all birds were captured and locked in. Today dawned warm and thawing. January at its least offensive in CNY. I opened their door to feed them this morning. When I went back into the house and looked out my kitchen sink window, I saw a stream of hysterical birds pouring from the barn–surely more than the original 5 whose body language seemed to shout “we’re FREE! we”re Free!”  Pigs in hot pursuit. I did not realize back in 2006 when I entered the poem “Scoop” about my ex-husband’s pet rooster who mothered all the stray kittens on their farm, when he was a kid, that one day I, too, would witness the peculiarly endearing antics of my own chickens..nor that they would be featured subject matter for many special orders in my photography business. See my website to meet them in person or Google me  on the Syracuse Post-Standard’s website “National League of American Penwomen winners 2006” to read “Scoop” and other animal pieces.

Rachael Z. Ikins

Soon enough winter was upon us.