WHOA: Reflection on “The Oh Factor”

April 24, 2010

This poem is in response to Charles R. Smith, Jr’s published poem entitled “The Oh Factor” — a poem from his CD “Portrait of a Poet” about the effects poets can have on their readers. I call this “WHOA”, because of how my students reacted to “The Oh Factor”. I found his email and sent a copy to him this morning.
WHOA

Just lettin’ you know,
Your fluid flow
Made my poets say “WHOA
And move and groove
To the sweet, smooth, slick
Sensual sound of wondrous words
First time heard
Flippin, slippin’ and drippin’
Off your CD’s knees
Blowin’ thru the easy breeze
Aimin’ to please
young minds like these
Landin’ and commandin’ in their ears
Chillin’ their fears
‘Bout hearin’
One. More. Pointless. Poem.
Taught by teacher
Preachin’ ’bout
Love for all poets
And funky, fresh, flowin’ poems
That roam
From the home
inside the
fine young mind’s
predefined eye
where they realize
recognize
and utilize
scraps of verbs and
unknown words
can make themselves shout out:
“OH!
What do you know–
I guess
MY best
can make
others say ‘WHOA.’”


Conversations with My Muse: The Editing Process

August 21, 2009

Arrrrrrgh! I can’t do this!!!!

Whoa, whoa, whoa, girl. what is going on here?

Oh. Hey muse, didn’t notice you sitting there.

I was flying over on my way to California and heard you muttering to yourself.

California? What’s going on there?

Eh, got something brewing in Hollywood.

Going all “Hollyweird” on me now?

Not sure. They want me to help with a new reality TV show idea.

That would be?

I dunno, something about “dads” and “divorce”? No clue.

Oh my god, please say you’re not getting involved in THAT freak fest.

What’s a “freak fest”?

A place where all sorts of freaks gather. In this case, if the name “John Gosselin” comes up, I suggest you run far, far away from that scene.

Gosselin…Gosselin…where have I heard that name before?

Ed Hardy Shirts?

Oh yea. EWWWWWWWWW! Glad I stopped. Let me just twitter them and let them know I’m “previously engaged”.

Sure that won’t affect your job situation?

Naw, I’m in pretty good with lots of folks. I’m a big hit on Facebook and WordPress, and have more than 5 million followers on Twitter. I can afford to dump the Hollywood set.

Please do. They’re useless. They’ve gone to this stupid “reality” show format that is as far from “reality” as it can possibly be.

Gotcha — and it’s done. I’m all yours for the moment.

Great! I can use all the help you can give me.

What’s up? Why the angry face?

My face looks angry?

Smoldering. How come?

Well, I’m struggling with this piece I wrote.

How so?

The woman who wants to publish it had some questions she needed me to answer.

You’re getting published? Wow! How exciting is that!

I told you this two weeks ago. Way to stay on top of things, chickie.

You did? When?

Right after you met the “love of your life”. Hey, how’s that going anyways?

Well, about that…

Uh oh. Do I really want to know?

I’m not really ready to discuss it yet. Let’s just say things have been “temporarily put on hold.

Okay, I’m fine with that.

Thanks, now back to the issue that brought us here today. What’s so hard about answering these questions?

That’s the problem. The answers she wants aren’t so simple after all.

Now I’m getting annoyed.

That’s kinda funny.

Why so funny?

I probably should tell you the title of the piece that she wants to publish.

That might work. Maybe we can work from there.

“Conversations with My Muse: Inspiration and Origins”

WOW! You mean she’s publishing that conversation?

Yes, can you believe that?

Holy crap. Where is it going?

Into a national writing gallery. It will be read by adults and children.

Oh nooooo…

Yea, exactly.

We do have some rewrites to do. That is so not appropriate for the “younger” crowd.”

Well, that’s not really the problem. I was able to edit out the bad language and all that..

Well then, what’s the problem? It seems to me that all’s fine and dandy then.

It’s not that cut and dry. I am struggling with trying to explain our relationship.

Whose relationship?

Ours! Yours and mine. How we work together. How we can’t do our jobs without the other’s contribution.

Huh?

See! that is exactly what I mean. I’m just as confused about her questions as you are about my explanation.

I’m still not getting what you’re saying here. Maybe we need to start over.

That’s probably a good idea. Let me get more coffee first.

You and your coffee. Okay. Java-up. We need 100% focus here. Fortunately, I’m still on my meds.

That’s good to hear. I can’t have “inattention” added to the list of issues today. My head might explode.

Um, no.

Okay, let’s try talking through this one issue at a time. Maybe that will help.

Sure, where to start?

Let’s first start with the question she posed: “Do you think readers will make the connection with the phrase “Yank it like a monkey in a mango tree”?

YIKES, that’s a touchy issue. Especially since that is the part that talks about…well, you know.

Yes. I had to edit that whole section out. Can’t have that in a place where kids can read it.

I totally understand. Were you able to fix that?

Yes, and it seems to make sense to me, but the publisher is still confused by it. She’s concerned readers will not understand the reference.

How can we fix this?

Well, fortunately, I add another reference a little later on. In fact, I’ve even offered to include a bit of the poem I wrote based on that line you gave to me.

Hey, that’s a great idea. Just throw in two or three lines from your “Soundin’ Off Again” poem and it will make much more sense to the reader. I think it’s important that you include that.

Okay, done deal. Two to three lines from that poem, and that should clarify things.

Next?

Next comes the need to explain your job.

My job? Why must I explain my job to your readers? Isn’t it a bit obvious?

Well, not everyone knows what a “muse” is or actually does. And remember, this bit was all about the writing “process”. So, the publisher wants a better clarification of the actual writing process.

Hmph.

YES! That is exactly why I am stuck at this point.

I totally get that. You are being asked to explain something you can’t explain away that easily.

BINGO! These conversations aren’t about the mechanics of writing. They aren’t even structured, logical, sequential writing pieces.

I hear ya on that one, sister. Especially on those days where I’m off my meds. Whoo! We’ve gone off on some interesting tangents, eh? And that conversation with the sandman…Wow

Okay, okay, stay focused here. I’m almost done.

Sorry, just reminiscing about the good old days.

Good old days? Jeez, that was last month, if I remember correctly.

Well, when you’re a muse, time travels at an entirely different pace.

I guess so. But, let’s get back to this. Dr. Phil is almost on.

Sure. Our relationship. My job, your job. What about all these things?

Well, I’m trying to point out to the publisher that the “dialogue” we have between us is the actual “lesson” to be learned. In that conversation we had, the inspiration was given by you, and the origins was the line from the TV show.

Ahhh, I get it.

I know. You get me, I get you. But, how can I get readers to “get” the both of us?

Wow. That’s a really good question.

Got an answer?

Not really.

Gee, I guess I need to keep struggling with this, then, huh?

No. I’d recommend you keep everything “as is” and only focus on the mechanics: grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

Why?

Because our conversations are “ours”. They belong to us and so what if others don’t “get” them right away. As long as you and I continue to understand each other and talk these issues through, I say let the words stand as they are.

Wow, that’s pretty profound.

Yes, I guess it is.

One final comment…

What’s that?

Don’t go to Hollywood. Your talents are much better needed elsewhere. You’re too good for them.

Aw, you’re so sweet. Hugs?

Always. Later, chickie.


When does the word “Published” actually mean “Published”?

August 8, 2009

Forgive me for the arrogant sound of this post. Just for your safety I have decided to blow smoke up my own ass tonight.

I was contacted by someone from the National Writing Project (the mother ship of the workshop I recently took this summer). She found one of my postings on a local NWP website to be “the high quality of writing we are looking to put in our National Writing Gallery. Some how the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English, I think) is connected. There is no money for this, just the opportunity to showcase my writing to thousands of people who might have influence and desire to take it to the next step — writing a small collection of these stories and turning them into a book. Don’t want to start dreaming too big though.

Anyways, I am wondering if that “officially counts” as a “published” piece of work, since it is connected to an organization. Anyone know?

I think it’s an honor to be chosen for this opportunity — thousands of writers and teachers will be able to look at it. Perhaps it might lead to bigger and better things? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out if I can refer to myself as a “published” writer instead of a “frustrated, unpublished and why does Paris Hilton have a book she sucks as a writer?” person

Interestingly enough, the piece she enjoyed is one of my conversations I have with my muse: Inspirations and Origins. She felt it incorporated a variety of information, writing instruction, Greek history and genuine, believable dialogue.

So when I submit other pieces of work, can I say “I am a published author”? Or do I say “Still a wanna be”?

Thoughts?

The Nerd