Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections

Last month, when I was planned my April project, I really believed that I could find time to write and then blog every day about my progress.  The first week went pretty well.  Then other responsibilities started piling up, and there were days when I got home late so from school, every ounce of my energy was shot.  I had to make a choice, work on the poems or write a blog post.  I went with the poems, and I'm glad I did.  My goal was to write twenty poem rough drafts by the end of April.  I only wrote twelve, but now I have a dozen more than I had at this time last month!  So, instead of feeling like a failure, I decided to make this my new mantra.

Here's the best part.  Although I still have a long way to go, I am still excited about my WIP!  Anyone who knows me will tell you that is HUGE.   I finally found a routine that works for me. Every day,  I do something to move forward.  It might be reading some of the "snippets" I wrote in February or an article or book on my topic. Some days, it might just be jotting a few words, an image, or line on a scrap of paper.  But, no matter how small, I always do something.  To help keep my topic in mind,  I placed pictures of poem ideas throughout my house.  The pictures were great reminders to get writing.  I'd love to have more time, but for now, this method seems to be working.

As we move into May, I'm motivated to keep going. I starting to believe I can do this! I have no idea if anything I've written is publishable, but I want to see this project through. My May goal is to finish the last eight rough draft poems. Then I'll send them off to Mentors for Rent to get a professional critique. What happens after that, I'll have to wait and see. Right now, my only focus is to get those poems written!

Today I'm sharing a poem by Edgar A. Guest that I'm keeping on my desktop. I hope it encourages you as much as it does me. 

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is at Buffy's Blog.   I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 19

Have you ever read something that unexpectedly led to an idea for a poem that would fit perfectly into your WIP?  That's what happened to me this past Saturday. I was in a gift store when I saw a display of stuffed animals with little tags telling about the real-life animal.   I was reading the tags on some of them when suddenly an idea for a poem popped in my mind. I jotted the idea down right there in the store so I wouldn't forget it!  When I got home, I tucked it in my notebook and forgot about it. This evening, I was searching for a snippet to work on, and there it was!  I wrote a draft and will sit with it a few days before revising it.  I love it when reading leads to writing!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My National Poetry Month Project: Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 14

Don't you just love the way a poem can say so much with a few well-chosen words?  As I tried to shape today's snippet into something that resembles a poem, I searched my brain for a metaphor that would bring the image to life.  I did come up with one, but it doesn't feel quite right so I'll continue to do some fine tuning.

Metaphors don't come naturally to me so here is one of the books I'm reading (again)  to learn more about creating metaphors.  A sampling of other chapters includes: writing from memory, working with details, and adding feeling (in addition to many of Ted Kooser's own poems),  makes this little book a gem for poetry lovers.

Thinking about Langston Hughes today, I decided to share one of my all time favorite poems.   I've probably read it a hundred times, and it still touches my heart.

 Be sure to stop Michelle's place for our Poetry Friday roundup at Today's Little Ditty.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections: Day 13

Today, I've been thinking about ways to add more emotion to my poems.  How do I express the intense feelings I want my reader to feel.  To find the answer, I decided to look more closely at some of my favorite poems.

One poem that has stayed with me since I first read it is "Cottontail" by George Bogin.  So, what makes the poem so unforgettable?  For me, it's the use of sensory words, simple language, and specificity that draws me in.   I spent most of my writing time today looking over the five poems I have written so far and found some places I could revise to use those elements. I'd love for you to share ways you add emotion to your poems.


A couple of kids,
we went hunting for woodchucks
fifty years ago
in a farmer's field.
No woodchucks
but we cornered
a terrified
little cottontail rabbit
in the angle
of two stone fences.

Read the rest of the poem here. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections: Day 11 

The past two days were jam-packed with work and family activities. Even though I didn't physically revise the next snippet, I did a lot of mental writing and jotted down some ideas.  Today, I got back on schedule and worked on a revision.  I spent most of my writing time thinking about the last line in my poem.  I was trying to make it fit into the form I'm using, but no matter how much I reworked it, I didn't like anything as much as my original idea.  Then I remembered a graduate level poetry class I took many years ago when had a similar problem. My professor, who has published several chapbooks of poetry, said that when it comes to choosing between meaning and following a strict form, always go with meaning.  I admire her as a poet and a teacher so I decided to take her advice and write the last line the way it needed to be to get my meaning across.  I may change it later on, but for now, it feels right.  I think it's the same with most things in life, sometimes we have to step out of the box to get where we want to go.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections: Day 8

Another day with no real progress.  I did a lot of thinking about the poem I started revising the other day, and I did a little research to see if I could find a spark. I didn't.  I have been working really hard at school and not sleeping much, so it might be that I'm just so exhausted my brain is not functioning. This weekend is going to be a busy one, but I am going to fit in some time for writing.  I enjoy reading all the Poetry Friday blog posts so I'd also like to find some time to read those this weekend. Tonight I'm trying to hold on to good thoughts that I'll be able to achieve my goal and get the revisions done by the end of April.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Today, I spent most of my writing time crossing out the wrong words.  I didn't get very far with my revisions, but then my mind is not really focused on my WIP right now because of the other commitments I mentioned yesterday.  Before going to bed tonight, I'm going to try to find a little quiet time to do a little more research. Maybe something will light a spark and lead me to the right words.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Snippets, Poems, Reflections, and Spiritual Journey Thursday

This week for Spiritual Journey Thursday, we are writing about Bobbie's one little word for 2016:

It's easy for me to show mercy toward others, but so much harder for me to be merciful toward myself.  I think that's true for most people. We can be pretty hard on ourselves. We tend to hold ourselves to impossibly high expectations, and berate our shortcomings, but as I grow older, I'm learning to treat myself  a little kinder, a little gentler, and with a little more tolerance and mercy. 

For example, my goal for each day of April is to form and revise one poem for my WIP.  I was keeping up with that goal UNTIL today.  I only revised three lines instead of an entire poem.  I just didn't have much time to write today.  We are at the end of the term, and I'm swamped with school work. I'm also trying to finish crocheting a blanket for my niece's baby shower this weekend along with all the nightly household chores.  

Instead of beating myself up (like I usually do), I'm patting myself on the back for squeezing in time to work on those three lines.  I would like to have revised more, but I did what I could.  I can't say that I've become my own best friend yet.  At least I'm making progress and I'm okay with that. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 5:

Finding daily writing time has always been a challenge for me, but I think I've figured out a way to fit more writing in my day.  Each night before I go to bed, I look through my "snippets" and print out the one that intrigues me the most.  Then I carry my the snippet with me to school and work on it during my lunch time and while waiting for meetings to start.  Not only do I get a little revising done, this practice also helps keep the images fresh in my mind so when it's time to sit at the computer each evening, it's much easier to get started.  

Another thing that has helped me get started is to have a scheduled time to write each evening. Years ago when I taught elementary school, we had a 15 minutes period of DEAR time. Every day at exactly 12:00, everyone in the building dropped everything and read. Since it was part of our daily routine, we (students and teachers) came prepared and read. I started thinking that since DEAR time worked for me, I'd try to apply the same idea to writing.  Now, my Drop Everything and Write time is 6:00-6:30. I used to put off writing until I finished my evening chores, but by then I was always too exhausted to think let alone try to write. So, I decided to switch things up, write first and then make dinner, pack lunches, do laundry...    I am having one problem, once is start writing, I lose track of time and don't want to stop.  But, I do have chores that must be done. Maybe a timer would help. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 4: Filling in the Holes

Today I started working on a second snippet/poem.   Reading through my original 29, I had some ideas to add to some of them. So, I jotted notes on several pages. I also worked on shaping the second snippet into a poem.  When the timer went off, I was stuck trying to find just the right word. I'm hoping my mind will continue to search for it while I pack lunches and do some chores.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 3:  Revision and Research

It's been a quiet Sunday so I had more time to work on my project today. The first thing I did was to go back and continue revising the same poem I worked on yesterday.  I spent almost two hours, and I like it much better now, but I'm still looking for a more specific verb to use in the last line.   Although I think it was worth the time, I know that my usual pattern is to keep reworking the same poem and not moving forward to the next.  What ends up happening is that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get that first poem perfect and then start telling myself I don't have what it takes to write poetry.  I can't let that happen this time. So, when I finish writing this, I'm going to choose the next snippet to revise tomorrow. 

I also spent some time, probably too much time, doing research on the animals that are going to appear in my poems. I found some great videos on YouTube and got so caught up that I almost forgot to cook dinner. My husband, Tom, gently brought me back to reality when he came in and asked, "What's the plan for dinner?"  Oops! Looks like a late dinner tonight!

I enjoyed reading this interview with Ted Kooser and thought you might like it too.  More tomorrow!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Snippets, Poems, and Reflections Day 2: Thinking About Theme

Each day during National Poetry Month, I'll post a five-minute reflection about my journey as I try to shape the daily snippets I wrote for a February writing challenge (organized by Renee LaTulipee) into a collection of poems. I'll keep my reflections brief because I only have thirty minutes to devote to writing each day. I want to spend most of my time working on the poems, but I also need accountability and I'm hoping making my progress public will help with that. Committing to a daily blog post makes me nervous, but spring is the perfect time to grow. I just have to keep reminding myself to take it one post at time.

Today I printed all 29 snippets.  They are very short (3-8 lines) so I have a lot of white space on the page to jot some thoughts.  Then I read through them looking for possible themes. I noticed that most of the snippets are about nature and many focused on the same topic. I need to form a few of these into poems before I'll know the kind of collection (fiction or nonfiction) I want to create.

Then I used a technique I learned a few years ago as a client of the Mentors for Rent. I read through the snippets looking for the one I most wanted to work with today, and now I'm going back to start jotting notes to find out if this snippet might lead to a poem.

Friday, April 1, 2016

My First National Poetry Month Project and a Bit of News!

I love following the National Poetry Month projects. For the past several years, I’ve wanted to do one of my own but worried that it would require a huge time commitment. I don't like to commit to something and then not be able to follow through. I knew I could only do it if I could figure out something that would be quick and easy. I finally came up with an idea.

In February, the lovely and talented Renee LaTulippe organized a daily writing challenge for LLL alumni. I was fortunate to be partnered with poet Cynthia Grady. We both have busy schedules so Cynthia and I agreed to write for 15 minutes, and exchange a daily observation "snippet". Fifteen minutes, I could do that. Being gentle with one another gave us the freedom to explore whatever piqued our interest each day. Knowing Cynthia was waiting for my daily email kept me motivated. Neither of us missed a single day!

During March, I tried to continue, but without accountability, other activities began to squeeze out my writing time.  Over the past thirty years, I’ve started dozens of writing projects only to file them away doubting my ability to create anything someone would want to read. In a recent interview, Oprah, talking about how we often put off working toward our goals said, “Ask yourself, if not now, when?”  Those words have stuck with me. I don’t want to look back someday and wish I’d given myself the push I needed to accomplish my writing goals.

So,  this year I'm doing my first National Poetry Month project. In keeping with my One Little Word- Simplify, I decided on a project that is easy and quick but will help me move forward on my WIP.

Each day, beginning tomorrow, I'll post a five-minute reflection about  my progress, and the lessons I learn as I begin to shape those February snippets into a collection of poems. I’m a little nervous because daily blogging is way out of my comfort zone, but the Poetry Friday community has always been very supportive, and I've made some wonderful friends online. All of you make it easier for me to stretch and grow as a writer. 
I don’t know if anything I share will interest anyone besides me, but I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey and let me know what you think.  Your words are important to me.

A bit of news-

I just registered for my first Highlights Foundation workshop The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children led by two of my favorite master poets:  Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.  With special guest editor extraordinaire Rebecca Davis and a Skype visit from the great Lee Bennett Hopkins, it's a poet's dream team!  I am super excited!

For years, I've wanted to attend a Highlights poetry workshop, but there were always obstacles: transportation, cost, and time.  Last week, as soon as I saw the announcement, I took a leap of faith and registered. The workshop isn't until September so I have time to figure it out.  "If not now, when?"

Amy kicks off National Poetry Month with the Poetry Friday roundup at the Poem Farm.
See you there!