Books are a forest and it’s hard to see the trees, except the tall ones or the old ones. But when you enter the forest, it’s the new growth that emits the sunlight....

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Writing poetry and how that becomes diary

One of the things I'm happy about this New Year is that in the past months, I went over all of my poetry, formatting it digitally for editorial benefit and revising when needed, and it was needed. The formatting was technical. I removed all tabs and used the digital spacing in Word paragraph formatting for any lines that didn't start flush left. The revising was another project. I had organized my poems into three books, and then there were others.

I have never kept a diary and though I've tried to journal in my lifetime, I didn't keep that up. But I kept up a poetry journal, small notebooks with images, reflections, realizations, and piquing moments. The entries were sketchy, ideas to fill out.

The poetry I wrote over the years became a private diary. As poetry, it was written for others and for poetry itself. But for me, a poem told about a season of my life and what I was contemplating then. The test was how evocative it was, recalling scenes and moods and concerns. When the poems brought back particular months, places, and sights, I could relive the days that inspired them.

Memory is a funny thing. As I got older, the feelings of the past seemed to drain from memory and events remained. That can be disheartening! I remember what happened but often I don't recall the sensations, the moods, the thoughts I had then. Beyond a diary entry, a poem recalled the person I was before I had changed and lost my younger attitudes.

The poems I wrote were in about three varieties: poems where nature could reflect human issues, poems about the dream world and its relation to life, and narrative poems. I had many published in literary journals along the way. I usually worked during the day, and, while I liked to write fiction before work, only spending an hour or so on those projects, I wrote poetry after work, usually before I made dinner or while it was cooking. That was a relaxation time, a period where a poem might allow me to forget the day and ponder something I'd seen or wanted to explore. I often had a glass of wine when I was writing. The experience established my own time and it opened up the evening.

Because I also wrote fiction, poetry became a more confidential and honest expression of creative writing for me. Besides its being a private diary, it was revised to be snapshots in words and thoughts. I realized, rereading the poems, that some of the happenings were beginning to fade and I might not have recollected them - and especially because they connected to inner life.

My most recent poem published is in Review Americana. That is the literary journal published by Their book publishing branch, Press Americana and Hollywood Books International was the publisher of my short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Short Stories (seen under the blog tab Short Fiction and Plays.)

In the last year, I was also published in three excellent print journals, Cider Press Review, Thin Air Magazine, and  Agave Magazine, besides being published again in the internet journal Shadowtrain.

Before the internet, I found good lists of literary journals in the annual Pushcart volumes and also at literary organizations such as The Loft in Minneapolis. When I went to the internet, I found a site named NewPages. They maintained extensive lists of literary journals, both traditional print and internet journals. Since the early 2000's, it was interesting to watch the traditional journals adding internet reading to their publishing. I've thought it fantastic how the internet could support art with poetry, short stories, and prose nonfiction. Reading these journals is never time wasted and usually illuminating.

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