Category: About Writing

Happy birthday, Lucille!

Lucille’s mother was a gifted poet with only an elementary school education. Her poetry was offered publication but Lucille’s father wouldn’t allow it and forced her to burn the poems in the fireplace. It’s said Lucille never forgot it and I’m sure it shaped much of her own poetry. About the incident, she wrote a poem called “fury”:
“her hand is crying. / her hand is clutching / a sheaf of papers. / poems. / she gives them up. / they burn / jewels into jewels.”

She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for two separate books in the same year: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (1987), and Next: New Poems (1987). She won the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats (2000); the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 2010, just before her death.

When I discovered Lucille’s work I felt energized. Her messages of empowerment and self-love are lessons every one of us should take to heart and put into practice. How great it must have been to hear her read in person. 


Photo via The New Yorker

Advertisements

Brain Dump

I began working on a CNF piece a few months ago based on an interaction I had with a woman in the jury lounge when I was called up for Federal jury duty. The first three paragraphs flowed out easily. The next couple came weeks later. Now I can’t stand the thought of going back to work on it at all. There are memories of the aftermath of Katrina interspersed and I just don’t want to think about it. It’s Spring, new beginnings, a time of optimism. The thought of revisiting that time is just abhorrent. Hopefully, this is just a temporary aberration and I’ll get to it again soon.

I had a day last week that was just like the song “Mamma Said”. Isn’t it funny how you know as soon as you get up in the morning it’s gonna be one of those days? When a  bug flew up my nose on my morning walk, I just knew it.

*****

Yesterday I spent part of the afternoon  just lounging in a reclining chair on the patio watching squirrels. We suspected there was a nest in the fan palm and now I’m pretty sure there is. I watched three small squirrels and one larger one as they ran down the fenceline into the pear tree, then the magnolia, then the fan palm,  then did it all over again, over and over. The little ones did, anyway. The larger one, the mamma I think, stayed lower in the pear tree so that every time one of the little ones got too close to the ground, she barked and ran it back up the tree. I remember those mamma barks from when I was a kid.

I had a couple of vivid dreams last week during which I commented to myself (in the dream, yet not) that this would make a good poem. Once, I woke up and wondered why the words that just seemed so spectacular in the dream were so mundane in reality. Has that ever happened to you? Naturally, upon full awakening I didn’t remember a single word I’d dreamed. Drat.

*****


I’m reading The Odd Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick. I read about it in a piece about books about New York. It’s a  memoir of her life in NYC and she’s really good at describing the characters, places, and moods  that make up her urban  world and friendships.The stream of conscienceness style of her writing is very interesting to me.  I especially like this passage:

As I saw myself moving ever farther toward the social margin, nothing healed me of a sore and angry heart like a walk through the city. To see in the street the fifty different ways people struggle to remain human—the variety and inventiveness of survival techniques—was to feel the pressure relieved, the overflow draining off. I felt in my nerve endings the common refusal to go under.

 Yep. That about sums it up.

*****

The photos in this post are from the #photoblog365 project I’m doing on Instagram.

Women Online: Great Reads You Shouldn’t Miss

image

I LOVE this tweet by Kelli Agodon, writer and co-founder of Two Sylvias Press who has a great twitter feed. Just had to share. Anyone who writes poetry has had a version of this wonderment in their head at one time or another. But, thing is, if you’re born to write poetry your really don’t have a choice. I wrote when I was very young then didn’t for years and years, only coming back to it in my mid-30’s but it was always in my head. Fragments, bits and pieces, phrases….it was always in there because it’s just how I think. So, no. Absolutely no, we are not wasting our lives writing poetry. The following poems written by some of the best women writers around are some of the best examples why.

The Gods’ Funniest Home Videos by Rachel Kessler in Pank.

She’s the kind of ghost who would taste so sweet. What god hasn’t tried to put her in his mouth and suck her down to the core?

The Southern Girl’s Guide to Getting Your MRS Degree by Allie Marini in Drunk Monkeys.

if all else fails, remember that other thing I told you about sweet tea: if you forget to add the baking soda, or if you squeeze the teabags, it can get mighty bitter. bitter tea—even if it’s sweet tea—can hide a lot of things, just like any good wife who follows all the rules.

Bare Bones of It by Tabatha Stirling in Feminine Collective.

I used to crack jokes about you to
make my father like me better. They
were cheap shots, Babycham insults.

Nuclear Family Warfare by Jane Noel Dabate in Rattle.

The women in my family
paint their lips red
in a school teacher’s correcting pen.

Although this is primarily a post about poetry I couldn’t not steer y’all to the following two essays. They are both amazing in different ways. They will both make you think and, maybe, shed a tear or two. Do not miss reading these words.
It’s a Man’s World by Maureen Langloss on her blog.

The multiplicity of bullet points in a single month, drawn from church and state, school and home, corporation and playing field, are like bricks overhead—caving in over my body, stoning me, crushing me, obliterating me. I feel personally wounded, bereaved. I have always been a person of hope and faith that things would get better for women, that together we would make a more equal, less violent world. But today it finally dawns on me, at age 45, that things don’t always get better. In fact, they get worse. And those stones that are crashing in over my head are inside me now. Festering, growing moss. They are the stone my body has internalized, that my heart has become.

Light & Darkness
How Sharon Olds brought me back to writing by Maggie Smith on The Poetry Foundation.

Turning to Sharon Olds, to poems such as “Prayer During a Time My Son Is Having Seizures,” gave me the permission and the courage to write my most intimate, vulnerable, and direct work yet.

I’ve read some pretty wonderful fiction online lately, too, so I’ll try to get a post up about that soon.

Life is a freight train and it’s bearing down fast. Take care, y’all.

Save

Recent Publications

nola-moon-037
C. Hamrick 2014

My poem, “Another Poem About the Moon”, was just published in the new issue of Literary Orphans. Huge thanks to Mike Joyce, Scott Walden, and Peter Marra for allowing my work to grace their pages for the third time. I also want to thank Kaia Pieters, featured artist, for the beautiful photography that accompanies my piece and the others in this issue. Beautiful work, indeed.

Earlier this month my poem, “Bring Down the Babies”, was published in the beautiful Mockingheart Review. This journal specializes in publishing poetry and is curated by the wonderful Louisiana poet Clare Martin. If poetry is your thing, I highly recommend this journal. Thank you, Clare, for allowing me to find a home with Mockingheart Review.

In August, Mad Swirl published “AntsBirdsCoffee” in the Poetry Forum and added it to my page there. Thank you, Mad Swirl!

So, after a bit of a dry spell I’ve been fortunate to have three poems published. I’ve been writing a little every few days, submitting a  little, and thinking about submitting a little. Also, after a bit of an absence, I’ve put up a poem on Fictionaut, “He Was So Beautiful”.  As always, there is some good writing posted there right now so I encourage you to visit.

Have a great week-end, y’all!

 

Inspiration Interlude: Louise Beech

image
C.Hamrick 2016

“Isn’t all writing life writing? Life made us who we are and so it makes us what we write. We’re influenced (both consciously and subconsciously) by what has happened to us. Every word we put down we expose ourselves in some way. Writing our stories helps us to look at things more clearly. We can make sense of what has happened to us by recording it.”  – Louise Beech from her wonderful essay “On Life Writing” in Women Writers, Women’s Books

#WITMonth : My Mother is a River

“I’m not graceful, nor light-hearted. I’m tethered to the ground, teeth grinding on the links of my chain. My mother, that’s what I’ve labelled every limit. I have charged her with the imperfection of my flight. She’s been my excuse. She’s the cause, and the reason. My mother is a tree. In her shade I have absolved myself. It’s shrivelling, the shade too shrinks away. Soon I’ll be exposed.”

My Mother is a River, by Italian writer Donatella Di Pietrantonio and translated by Franca Scurti Simpson, is the story of a mother and a daughter and the often rocky road of their relationship. But unlike most mother/daughter memoirs, the daughter narrates the mother’s story as well as her own. The mother, Esperina,  is suffering from dementia and the unnamed daughter serves as Esperina’s caregiver and  memory. The story jumps from past to present as the daughter tells and retells the story of Esperina’s life to her, reminding her of her life in rural Italy where she was born to a family poor but rich in traditions. Esperina’s life was a hard one leaving her little time for nurturing her daughter and the sense of abandonment is palpable in the daughters reminiscing of her own childhood.

“Now I can tell her everything about us, without mercy. She’d forget later. It would be but a fleeting wound.”

The memories and feelings expressed in this beautifully told story are complex and often harrowing touching on topics of abuse, sexual harassment, and disfigurement but yet also rich in the telling of domestic life in Italy. The language is luminous, bordering on poetic and I often high-lighted passages simply because the language was so beautiful.

I loved this book. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and I highly recommend it. Published by Calisi Press, you can purchase it here or on Amazon.

motherimage

Hot Reads, Etc.

There’s so much good reading and listening on the Internet it’s overwhelming. How do you choose which piece to read,which podcast to listen to, which video to watch? And I’m always wondering if I’ve missed some really fantastic thing. In just the past few days I’ve read some really good stuff and, this morning, watched a very cool Periscope post by Indian chef Kalyan Karmakar. Do you watch Periscope? I downloaded the app a while ago but have only watched a couple of Lonely Planet posts. But when I logged on today there was a notification that this was streaming live so I watched and it was fascinating. Here are a few screenshots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The video was streaming from a train going from Delhi to Calcutta. There were stops along the way to visit local eaterys and restaurants amid conversations about Indian food and culture. Chef also has a blog called Finely Chopped which I perused briefly and plan to read more. Good stuff!

The Lost Gardens of Emily Dickinson in The New York Times about the ongoing excavation of her gardens is a cool read if you’re into poetry and gardening.

daryl_hall-620x412
Photo via Salon

 

On the music front, Salon has a good interview with Daryl Hall where, as usual, he speaks his mind about music and the internet, record company execs, and the cool things he’s up to. (H/T Adrastos) I’m a bigger fan of DH now than I was back in the day and highly recommend his show Live from Daryl’s House. If you haven’t seen it you are sincerely missing out.

The Womanly Art of Drag Racing by Anna Lea Jancewicz in Frigg magazine is a riot of a good read that I found highly creative and it just makes me green with jealousy that my imagination is nowhere near as elevated as hers. Still, I’m glad I can read her work and I do, often.

And as for poetry, I especially liked 2 Poems by Matt Dennison I read recently in Defenestration Magazine. Both are funny commentary on everyday household things that we see/do every day. That’s all I’m gonna say except “Never buy a single onion if you live alone”.

Neopol NovelsFinally, my writerly online friend Marina Sofia has a thoughtful post up reviewing The Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, Feverish after Ferrante. I’ve read the first two books and am currently reading the third. These books have garnered so much attention with each publication that it seems a lot of people are skeptical they can be that good. Trust me. They’re that good.(Here is a rare interview with Ferrante about the books.) But what I like about Marina’s review is that it comes from the perspective of her Roman side. Marina’s blog is so good – she reviews books often and is actually responsible for inspiring me to read writers from other countries and participate in Women in Translation month. Not to mention she writes beautiful poetry.

So, I hope you’ll take a minute and click over to some of these sites. I promise you’ll enjoy.

 

 

Lost

25948659220_3d283b02c3_o

*****

Nico Vassilakis provided today’s poetry prompt via Found Poetry Review. This one was definitely outside my wheel house. The prompt was to utilize a technique called “vispo“. I chose the word “indigo” because it’s a word I like both phonetically and visually.

This is not a poem in the sense of what we expect a poem to be but it did engage my senses and encouraged me to think of ways to communicate “indigo” in a maybe unexpected way. Of course, I turned to photography and manipulated a photo I had taken for this prompt.

Anyway.

It was fun and different and isn’t that the point?

Hot reads: IWD Roundup

So International Women’s Day kind of sneaked up on me but I did read some good stuff put out for that day. Here are a few links and a video that I found particularly interesting.

50 Great Books About 50 Inspiring Women – who doesn’t want more good books on their TBR list?

From JK Rowling to Ellen: Four of the most influential and inspiring women today. – a short but powerful list from The LondonY including a video of Patti Smith when she was here in New Orleans a few years ago. I’m still kicking myself for not going to it but you can be sure I’ll not make that mistake again. I love her. She and her advice is so down-to-earth and honest. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to listen to this short vid below. Thanks to The LondonY for posting it for me to find! (BTW, The LondonY is a really cool website.)

10 great cartoonists you need to know: Celebrating International Women’s Day – this is really interesting. Although I’m not much of a cartoon fan I enjoyed this piece that makes me want to further explore the world of cartooning.

Let My People Go  – a sobering piece on the modern day slavery of women around the world. This is a new-to-me blog, Pankhearst, that I found via a link on a friend’s blog, Exploits of the Volequeen.  I’ll be reading more there.

 3 Poems  | Anna Lea Jancewicz – finally, I loved these three poems in FemLit Magazine. I hope you do too.

 

Now, ya’ll be sure and click over to read these great pieces and watch the video!

Have a great week-end and a great reading week!

Reading, Writing, and Publications

It’s Sunday, a day I often catch up with my online reading. I like to check in with writer’s blogs and lit zines, following their links which often take me to new and exciting places. Today I followed a link about The Daily Poet, a book of writing prompts, from a Pinterest pin that took me to Kelli Russell Agodon’s website. Turns out, she’s one half of the team who founded Two Sylvias Press with which I was already familiar. So I read about her book plus some of her other posts and enjoyed it. The book looks good and who couldn’t use a good book of poetry prompts? I may get it. Then I looked through the Two Sylvias Press site and found a call for submissions for their chapbook prize. It’s being judged by January Gill O’Neil whose website, Poet Mom, is so interesting. I’d never read her poetry until today but it really speaks to me so I tweeted about it:

“Tell” by January Gill O’Neil via American Poetry Rvw”We’ve only scrubbed the surface of my unhappiness.” #poetry

https://t.co/x9l02PGzXv

— Charlotte Hamrick (@charlotteAsh) February 28, 2016
(Click the link to go directly to the poem.)

So now, of course, I added January’s blog and American Poetry Review to my Feedly. So inspiring.

I also read several poems by several poets on The MockingHeart Review and they were all so good in so many ways and, yes, I’ve followed a couple of poet’s websites from here, too. This is the inaugural issue put out by Clare Martin, a sister Louisianan who’s work I’ve followed for a couple of years now. The journal is outstanding in it’s layout and the poets published within. Do go and read, you’ll be glad you did. Also, submissions open up again on March 1.

I’ve been remiss in reporting that I had a poem, “Starlight”,  published in the Winter Quarterly of  Blue Fifth Review. This is my second publication in BFR and I am very excited to be a part of this beautiful journal again. Big thanks to Sam Rasnake, Michelle Elvy, and Bill Yarrow.

So, it’s back to my book now. I’m reading Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi  (possible review to come)  but I should be raking leaves…….nah. bsb