Poem #5 – The Prince of Someday

You know you have one. A friend who’s a dreamer. Always conjuring up these wild projects you know he or she may never pull off.  Today’s poem is a tribute to such a person in my life, our friend Harmon.

To read it, scroll down in the alphabetical list in Day 5 to read “The Prince of Someday.” 

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month.  Please do read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #4 – Memo from the Search Committee

Writing poems about the daily grind is is hard! Many times we’re so emotionally invested in our work that we lack the ability to be objective enough to turn the experience into something others can understand. But once in a while, as my friend Ruth has said, life just gives you a little gift. And in this case, it was my recent experience chairing a search committee for a vacancy at my workplace.

To see my poem for today, scroll down in the alphabetical list in Day 4 to read “Memo from the Search Committee.”  What do you think? How did I do?

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month.  Please do read my work (and those of the other poets) if you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome because they inspire me to keep going!

Many, many thanks to all of you have contributed to the cause so far — either through a monetary donation or moral support, which are equally valuable.

Please know that your contributions are going to a great cause. Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

Poem #3 – The McCuiston Girls (My Sister Envy)

For all of you not lucky enough to have a sister, who didn’t envy those did? I sure did! As much as I loved having a brother, I couldn’t help but envy my two dearest childhood pals, who more or less adopted me as their own sister and let me tag along on their madcap adventures. I penned today’s poem in honor of Deborah and Rebecca, who made every day seem like an endless summer.

caraway mountain

A lake in the Caraway Mountains, the setting for “The McCuiston Girls.”

I’m honored to be one of 9 poets participating in the 30/30 project on behalf of Tupelo Press. To see my poem for today, scroll down in the alphabetical list to read “The McCuiston Girls.”

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. I also hope that my family and friends, fellow writers, and the subscribers of my blog believe in me, I’m hoping that you’ll read my work when you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome, because they inspire me to keep going!

Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work. I hope you consider supporting me, and supporting this amazing press I am representing this month.

Poem #2: My Cousin, Stunt Double for Vivien Leigh

scarlett

Scarlett’s famous tumble down the stairs was one of the scenes handled by Addie and the subject of today’s poem

Happy Sunday and welcome to Day 2 of my personal quest to write a poem every day in the month of April. Today, I am tackling the “persona” poem and the narrator speaks as Addie Hash Warp, a champion equestrienne and stunt double for Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, and more.

I’m honored to be one of 9 poets participating in the 30/30 project on behalf of Tupelo Press. To see my poem for today, scroll down in the alphabetical list to read “Self-Portrait of Stunt Woman for Vivien Leigh Falling Down the Stairs.”

Although Addie and I never met (she passed away in 2008), she and I are distant cousins (through my grandmother Wilma Hash Thomas).  With a generous dose of poetic license, I imagine what it must have been like for a brief moment in Addie’s extraordinary life.

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. If you’d like, you may also read my poem yesterday (scroll down the list to Day 1):  “Too Bad You Were Never Mine.”

Because I hope that my family and friends, fellow writers, and the subscribers of my blog believe in me, I’m hoping that you’ll read my work when you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Supportive comments on this blog are also very welcome, because they inspire me to keep going!

Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work. I hope you consider supporting me, and supporting this amazing press I am representing this month.

Can I Write a Poem Every Day?

Happy Spring! What better way to celebrate the joys of the season than to read and write poetry! After all, April is National Poetry Month. And spring and poetry go together like peach tree blossoms and monarch butterflies.

monarch on peach blossoms

Georgia Belle peach blossoms, butterflies, (and the tail end of a trailer!) captured by Johnpaul Harris

If you love poetry, I hope you’ll consider supporting a poet this month. As some of you know, I am one of 9 poets writing a poem every day this month as part of the 30/30 project sponsored by Tupelo Press, a non-profit organizationin North Adams, MA. And today being April 1, my first poem is already up. Scroll down to the 4th poem to read “Too Bad You Were Never Mine.”

It’s a little scary because I average just 2-3 poems per month. Can I do it? Write a poem every day for an entire month? And if the sheer act of writing isn’t enough, my fellow poets and I are (gulp) putting our work out into the world before it’s passed the rigors of serious revision. Please, please pardon our dust.

Because I hope that my family and friends, fellow writers, and the subscribers of my blog believe in me, I’m hoping that you’ll read my work when you can, and consider supporting me with a small donation. Poets don’t ordinarily set up tables outside grocery stores nor do we host pancake breakfasts, but our needs are just as worthy as the Girl Scouts and the Kiwanis. The power of expression is one of humanity’s greatest gifts and to see it wither on the vine would be nothing less than humanity’s greatest tragedy.

Tupelo Press is a prestigious non-profit press, and for 17 years their mission has been to publish new voices. They are giving my work some exposure, and bringing me into a community of over 350 alumni helping each other publish our work.

There are so many ways you can support me and Tupelo.  A subscription to fabulous books of poetry, sent to your home.  A one-time donation at any level.  I hope you consider supporting me, and supporting this amazing press I am representing this month.

I have set a lofty goal – $1,000 – but I think we can do it together. In the words of the Greek philosopher Parmenides: “For you cannot know what is not – that is impossible – nor utter it. For it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be.”

Join Us for “Son of PlaySlam” on April 15!

cary theater

For those of you who love live theater, please join us at The Cary Theatre on Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. for the “Son of PlaySlam.” At this one-of-a-kind event, theatre-goers will have the opportunity to watch 11 short (less than 3 minute) new-and-original N.C. plays, directed by the writers in just one rehearsal that very afternoon.What’s really cool about this show is that the audience gets to choose the winner!

I am thrilled (and honored) to be one of the featured playwrights, so I hope to see you there! Last year, the event was a sold-out show, so please be sure and get your tickets in advance!

For more information, please visit the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. Click here to order tickets.

Little Girl Buried in Rum Keg

It’s a snow weekend, so while my fellow writers may be waxing about the icy stuff, the white glare outside my window takes me somewhere else entirely. Somewhere warmer! Over Thanksgiving, Johnpaul and I traveled to Atlantic Beach and took a side trip to Beaufort, where we walked through The Old Burying Ground. Here we found the saddest grave, that of a little girl buried in a rum keg. Ever seen it? What’s most provocative are the pop culture relics surrounding the final resting place of a little girl who wouldn’t have known what to do with Air Heads candy or or lip gloss from Bath and Body.

girl_in_a_rum-keg.jpg

 

 

The Passing of a Storyteller

trevorpicture

Yesterday I learned that the celebrated Irish author William Trevor passed away at the noble age of 88.  The world will undoubtedly mourn the passage of a veritable literary lion—the recipient of nearly every major literary prize except, regrettably, the Nobel—but it is a true personal loss for me. Not just as a writer, and his influence on my writing has been immeasurable but even having never met the man I owe him a tremendous debt as a person.

How many times have I retreated to his world of extraordinary “ordinary” characters? I still do. In fact, it was inside the pages of his hundreds of short stories that I began to truly accept my own flaws and embrace my quirkiness. In doing so, I found that my compassion for my fellow misfits in the world deepened. His words have made me cry and laugh  – the belly-aching kind – the best therapy of all. It is no exaggeration to say that this man saved me thousands of dollars in psychotherapy, I’m sure.

Although he wrote 14 novels, as masterful as they are, he is most revered for his short stories. “Raymond Bamber and Mrs. Fitch” and “A Complicated Nature” are two of my favorites, or at least they come to mind right now, for their Trevoresque blend of humor and pathos. “Access to the Children,” “Her Mother’s Daughter, and “A Wedding in the Garden” are three more poignant stories. And thanks to his inimitable variety, Trevor crafted unforgettable stories of quiet horror that resonate deeply, such as “Miss Smith,” “The Hotel of the Idle Moon,” and “The Teddy-bears’ Picnic.” More recent collections yielded other small masterpieces such as “A Bit on the Side,” “Marrying Damian,” and “Sacred Statutes.” This last story earned him one of his four O’Henry Prizes, a nice little connection to North Carolina, since this award is named after a native son also famous for his short stories! The list goes on and on.

While I will mourn this man, as is his due, I will not descend into tearful blubbery. I will not. I cannot. His works have brought me such joy, consolation, and communion with my fellow humans that my overriding emotion is one of gratitude.

“My fiction may, now and again, illuminate aspects of the human condition, but I do not consciously set out to do so,” Trevor told one interviewer in a story posted by the Associated Press yesterday. “I am a storyteller.”

From one storyteller to another, I thank you, Mr. William Trevor, pardon me, Sir William Trevor, for all that you mean to me.

Happy Holidays from Janet at Lifeline!

On Friday night, Johnpaul and I participated in the annual Fall Open Mic sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at Central Carolina Community College. The event was kindly hosted by the Joyful Jewel, a vibrant arts and craft gallery in the heart of downtown Pittsboro.

The optional theme this year, fittingly enough, was holiday angst, and we heard a variety of creative works featuring the joy and occasional madness that marks the holidays. We heard the travails of a real working Santa (featuring local Santa Al Capehart), fiction by Robin Whitten, Kim Overcash and Linda Johnson, and poetry by Judith Stanton, Bonnie Korta, Ruth Moose and our emcee Mary Barnard, among many other delightful voices. We also had the honor of hearing Michele Berger read a poignant essay on her mother that was published in “Letters to My Mother,” a book which featured the voices of other celebrity and national personalities. Yes, Michele is our own celebrity!

ashleyjp

Johnpaul and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read a “re-mix” of “The Suicide You Prevent Might Be Your Own.” In this version of our darkly humorous 3-minute play, innocent sports fan Russell Huggins is unlucky enough to accidentally call Janet, a stressed-out suicide prevention counselor, while trying to order a pizza for the Peach Bowl party he’s hosting on New Year’s Eve.

As with all of the open mic events sponsored by the Creative Writing Program, the roster invariably features a wide variety of talent and the full spectrum of human emotion–from laughter to tears to joy.

santa

We hope to see you at one of our events soon, but in the meantime, stay tuned for the spring catalog of creative writing courses offered by the College. These classes will not only sharpen your writing skills, but they will also introduce you to terrific people who, like those I’ve been privileged to get to know, may become lifelong buddies.

Got an Extra Hour? Write a Villanelle!

With the end of Daylight Savings Time,  Johnny and I decided to spend a little time on one of our favorite activities–writing poetry. And with an extra hour on our hands, it was time to tackle the famed villanelle!

Made famous by Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath, the villanelle is enjoying new popularity among contemporary poets. For examples and to see the rhyme-scheme, click here. I love them all, but I will never tire of Plath and her Mad Girl’s Love Song.

From a poet’s perspective, the villanelle can be rather “villanous” to compose, given its head-scratching structure. It’s not the best form for narrative poetry; it’s best for lyrical and more philosophic topics. Some poets use the villanelle to express ideas or thoughts that trouble them. My advice is to choose a topic that fascinates or moves you. You’re more likely to finish it!

Johnny and I composed our villanelles separately (promise!) but not surprisingly, we addressed in our way, the notion of time. For fun, we’ll share them below.

Don’t Seize the Day
Ashley Memory

Everyone says you should seize the day
Bustle and hustle until the sun drops down.
But who has to listen to what they say?

A life worth having is not lived that way
Muse at the sun, weave a clover crown.
Don’t listen to those who seize their days.

Revel in the roses, snuggle in the hay
Smile, just smile, while the others frown.
Never, never listen to what others say.

Do what you like; only yourself obey
Sip at the fountain, be the talk of the town.
Don’t let anyone else seize your day!

At night let the stars guide your sleigh
And the moon wrap you in his gauzy gown.
He never listens to what others say!

Hours or dollars? What will you pay?
Time worth spent is far better found.
Everyone says you should seize the day
But who has to listen to what they say?

Save My Luck for Another Day
Johnpaul Harris

There seems to be no other way
Feel your love under the crescent moon
Save my luck for another day.

Play is work and work is play
On the bed we two will spoon
There seems no other way.

Kissing on your feet of clay
We celebrate new lemon bloom
Save my luck for another day.

We always know just what to say
And words to chase away the gloom
There seems to be no other way.

We seem to sift the time away
In endless space or tiny room
Save my luck for another day.

And the way we live from June to May
A century would end too soon
There seems to be no other way
Save my luck for another day.

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