Thursday, December 29, 2011

River of Stones Invitation

Hello Writers and Readers,

One of my author friends invited me to join A River of Stones for January, 2012, and I've decided to write all of you who read my blog.  The mother lode of information about it is here and if you want any more information, or to join the mailing list of the two leaders of AROS, please visit the site.  Here are a few clues: a stone is a short, intense observation of the world around you.  If you want to participate in the January, 2012 River of Stones, you commit to writing down one stone every day of January.  The two leaders want to connect us to our world, to catalyze our careful observation and experiencing of the world around us.  I suspect I'll have at least one day when I will not go happily to the stone manufactory, but I still find careful nature-watching so valuable for my writing that I have committed.  I will post my stones on this blog and connect them to the AROS hashtag on twitter.  If you would like to join in, I'd love you to comment about it on this blog as well as signing up to get inspiration on theirs.  This resolution seems much more worthwhile than the usual ones for New Year's.  Join in!  

 Best, Laura

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prose Poetry and Flash Fiction

This past semester, I had a lovely class from poet/novelist Marilyn Chin.  It's the first class in my MFA program from a woman, and she reveled in being a woman!  I really enjoyed the massive reading list, which she told us was partly for our future reference.  It's fine with me that we couldn't really define what's a prose poem, what's a flash fiction.  We even found out that certain pieces are celebrated and have won awards in both categories.

I was more interested in the poetry half, since it was so different from the kind of writing we practice in the fiction workshops.  Intense images, sensory to the max, steeped in layers of meaning, and highly condensed prose with every word carrying a double dip of meaning, those concepts go with prose poems to me. I think of one centering about an image of a small basket of dead bees, covered over with a thin layer of red rose petals.  Or, a bag of dried human ears, dumped out on the dining room table.  Or a full moon noosed on a black cord, hanging over a house. But not all prose poems have an indelible image, an appeal to senses, power-packed verbiage where every word must have resulted from intense debate in the author's mind.  Some capture a scene with minimal poetic devices, with spare prose with simple beauty or starkness.  I might call them flash fiction, but perhaps there is not enough story line to make them count as stories.  The dividing line is assuredly murky and indistinct.  Our collections of each genre only made it less obvious that the two are distinct, while enticing us to write our way into the mystery.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Check Out Poet Ellen Bass

Dear writers and readers,

This semester, I've been an intern at Poetry International literary journal from SDSU.  One of my enjoyable tasks was to interview poet Ellen Bass for our blog.  You can check out my blog post here: and hear how Ellen Bass views the role of courage in a writer's life.  For a long time, I found it puzzling that so many writers talked about courage.  Then I found the vein of powerful writing rooted in personal experience, fiction or nonfiction, and I suddenly understood what they were talking about.  Ellen Bass spoke at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference I attended a few years ago, and her words about courage and writing really resonated with me.  Take a look at the PI blog to see more, some quotations from Ellen, a short video of her reading one of her poems.

best, Laura