Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

Please join me with your comments and make this a dialogue . . . and visit Susan's Poetry!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Food for thought

Today, on Facebook, I read a posting from Claire, the marvelous Scots poet and bloggist of One Night Stanzas and Read This Magazine, and followed its invitation to read the guest blog: 

There's a guest post today at One Night Stanzas from poet Mark Antony Owen, on why he never sends his poems out to magazines. Please do have a read and leave him a comment! http://www.readthismagazine.co.uk/onenightstanzas/?p=1609

I found this readable editorial very intriguing.  Mark Anthony Owen believes quite simply that his poems hold up better in collections of his own work, that a reader can get a false impression of his work when they read one poem singly in the context of multiple poets.  

Do you have similar experiences and stories? I would love to know your thoughts,  especially if you have put a collection of your own together or even considered it.

I am in the consideration stages now.  Although I continue to improve with practice and may yet be too raw for serving, I have been playing with a collection of childhood poems to be called "Feeding the child" or something like.  Many of my poems mine my childhood in ways that seem premeditated but that keep surprising me--and feeding me.  Unexpected poems arise prompted with a spark, perhaps, from one of my poetry workshops*.  And while I have a few poems that gloom about the discomforts of being a child, there are an amazing (to me) number of pleasures: a climbing tree, story time, a cold forehead, roasting marshmallows, a table, a dream.  

 *I post with five word-work-shop blogs: I am a member of Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads and Poets United, and participate in dVerse Poets Pub, Theme Thursday and Haiku Heights.  I can recommend others I have participated in as well.  I leave my poems up on my poetry blog only for a few days, keeping them unpublished just in case I want to publish them in other venues.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Alice in Wonder, Chapter Two

My last post was the completion of Chapter One, so here is Chapter Two for those of you who said you would like to keep reading my novel-in-progress, Alice in Wonder, or, The Storyteller.   Remember that I am interested in what you want to know more about, and what ever else you want to say.  
Because I expect this to be a novel someday, I ask you to respect the copyright and leave it here on my Blog.  
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited.  

Alice in Wonder, Chapter Two

            Alice is a librarian in a library that is as white as cream and as vast as an ocean, and the only things that break up the whiteness are bookshelves and rules.  It is neat as a pin and quiet as a stone, and Alice likes it that way.  Before she leaves for the day, she shelves all the books left behind by the hourly staff, pushes in all the chairs, and smiles at it all as if to say, "I enjoyed you today!  I'll see you tomorrow."  Which is exactly how she feels. 
            Storytelling is her specialty.  She started the tradition of story hour at her library many years before and she had read to children daily ever since, even if it meant coming in on her days off.  She loves pulling out the low stool, opening books wide for children to follow the images and to see the words and letters that made up the sounds she voiced. 
            Lately, Alice has been performing her own versions of the old stories, and she likes this storytelling even more.  Sometimes she tells children the Jungian symbols behind fairy tales, sometimes she explores the wounds and emotions inside  characters, and sometimes she simply puts the children in front of her into the stories.  For the younger children, she has made what she calls a storytelling apron with four rows of four pockets, each of which holds an object or toy animal, truck, or doll. She lets one child pick a pocket and discover the character, and even tell a story about it if he or she has one.  Otherwise, she spins the yarn herself.  In short, Alice is a gem.  The library loves her, the children love her, the parents love her, and she?  She seems to love herself as well.
            Alice's home is as neat as her library, but not half so populated.  She lives alone in walls that are far from white, in fact their colors vary like flowers in a bouquet: rose pink here, daffodil yellow there, iris blue in another place, and tulip crimson as well.  The place seems even more jewel-like because fake oriental rugs soften the pool-table effect of the green wall-to-wall.  She has few furnishings besides the paperback books crammed into built-in bookcases on either side of a working fireplace.  The long  3' by 4' mask of  her Grandmother lives over the mantel while the round tile and wood box lives on it with her Mother mask in its womb-like interior.  Alice made the sculpted Grandmother mask years ago as one of the huge street puppets in an anti-Apartheid rally.  It remained unpainted, with eyes that seemed to look wherever Alice stood.  In Alice's mind it continually watches and judges as her actual Grandmother had done with Alice's Mother, but Grandmother had been Alice's soul mate and Alice feeels no malice in the gaze. 
            Alice had hung the framed art of  her Grandmother and her Mother equally so that neither of the two could overpower the other.  Many trees clustered on the daffodil walls, some with leaves and others without, in oil, pastel, pencil, wood print, etching and embroidery.  One was actually a carved tree itself that looked like an old man or woman of the green as in old Irish legend.  The trees were Alice's favorites. 
            On the Iris walls were other etchings of towers and flowers, of men and women and of scenes in Mexico or in imaginary underworlds.  The rose walls carried oil, acrylic and tile still-life squash and jars and African images and sun flowers and squiggles.  On the tulip walls one mirror Mexican tin mirror flashed its light, while the windows sparked with crystals, stained glass and white lace.  And here and there were photographs of performances and of people, including a few of Alice herself at 2 and 10 and 17 and 22 and 50.  In one she holds a doll and stares into the camera pouting and angry.  In one she is surrounded by books, and in another she is playing chess.  In one she is getting married, and in the final one she is holding her great mongoose of a cat, Little Kitty.
            She has a double bed and a double dresser and a double couch and a double coffee table and two of everything else from cups to tables to pens to blankets.  And Alice lives alone.
            Before she leaves home for the library each morning, Alice packs herself a knapsack for a lunch of raisin bread and cream cheese sandwiches, an apple, and a bottle of juice.  She rinses out the cat's bowls and leaves her fresh water along with dry food and a half of a tiny can of Fancy Feast Whitefish and Tuna.  She sets the alarm on her door and closes it carefully.  She says good morning to the lilac trees and azaleas whether or not they are in bloom and heads out her gate, turns left, and walks to work thinking about the story for the day before taking a minute to notice God in something--her walk, her neighbor, the sky, something.

  Chapter TWO ends here. 
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Alice in Wonder, ch 1 continued

My last post was the beginning of Chapter one, so here is the rest of the Chapter for those of you who said you would like to keep reading.   Remember that I am interested in what you want to know more about, and what ever else you want to say.  Because I expect this to be a novel someday, I ask you to respect the copyright and leave it here on my Blog.  
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited.  
Alice in Wonder, Chapter One, Continued 
            "You see, she was a child of rape.  Yup!  Good old Zeus, master God, had come down and raped her mother Leda.  Yes.  The books say he visited Leda in the shape of a swan and that she then had  children.  So he did it in the shape of a Swan, but come on!  And then, her own Daddy-swan-Zeus, the God above, had not stuck around long enough to get to know her.  True, her Mom was married to a nice man, but Helen couldn't help but wonder about her real Dad because she was only one of  four children that Leda gave birth to that day.  Well, that isn't quite true.  Leda gave birth to only one thing--an egg!  Well, what do you expect from a mating between a human and a bird?  Zeus was Helen's father, and when he "visited" Leda, he looked like a swan!  And myths are always larger than life, so, of course, Leda layed an egg and there were four children inside rather than one.  Helen had a twin sister named Clytemnestra and two twin brothers named Castor and Pollux.  Well, the boys right away claimed kinship with papa Zeus and left, so the girls were alone with their earthly parents. And their earthly Dad worried about who they would marry because their husbands would inherit the land.  So the sisters grew up with no choice but to marry, and they had no choice but to marry the two strongest most competitive men available, the brothers Menelaus and Agamemnon.  And these two boys were not chosen for the length of their names but because of their power to make alliances.  They took an oath to protect each others' marriages.  They made all the rejected suitors take the same oath.  A group of men stood and said, 'We accept this marriage.  We will not try to take your new wives away from you.  We will defend to the death the rightful marriages of the two sisters Helen and Clytemnestra to the two brothers Menelaus and Agamemnon.'   They took this oath and then they drank some wine and broke some glasses and went back to their far away homes without a second thought."
            Alice went through the actions of shaking hands and drinking and throwing and putting thumbs up and all the time backing away and sneaking back until she heard enough laughter.  She came forward again, this time slinking into the character and voice of Helen. 
            "But Helen had not yet fallen in love with her husband.  She resented the deal which had gotten her born and the deal which had gotten her married.  So she thought about the letter she received from Paris.  Why not think about it?  'I am  yours and you are mine,' he said.  And why not go with him?  She didn't know him, but maybe he loved her!  Her own husband only talked about how, thank you very much, he now was pretty powerful because he had her land.  And Paris seemed to want to take her away from it all, to his home in Troy.  Helen had heard of Troy as one of the seven wonders of the world.  She would like to see it.  She was tempted, but she hesitated because of the pact between her hubby and his bro.  If she left with someone, they would probably go to war to get her back.  War!  With her as the cause.  Everything that was human inside of Helen screamed "NO." 
            "Helen told me that she was about to sit and write Paris a long and grateful letter that thanked him for the compliment and said NO, she wouldn't go; she wouldn't cause war.  She said that she was sitting there just like this when she felt several hands lifting her up--despite gravity and despite walls and ceilings--the hands lifted her way way up into the sky.  She said she kicked and screamed, "No, No, I won't go! Leave me alone; let me go!"
            And with this the Gong sounded again, and Alice jumped up to stand in the rocking chair.  There she teetered, saying the words of Helen as if she had become her, looking out over the audience as if it were the entire world:
            No,  let me down.  I don't want to go!  Where are you taking me!  Put me down.  Not here, back home.  Who the Hell are you, anyway?  Yeah, right.  My real Dad wants to meet me now?  Well he can forget it.  OOOOO.  Wait come back!  Don't leave me up here in the clouds!  Ohhhh.  OHHHH.  Ah. I can see a lot.  HEY! That's Menelaus!  He's in the harbor with the ships and there's Aggy too.  Looks like war preparations already.  With, no!  Yes!  They've used my likeness for the figure heads of the ships.  Ohh, noo.  No.  Just where is Paris anyway?  Why doesn't he tell everyone that he didn't take me to Troy?
              Oh, Oh, there he is, already in Troy.  He thinks that fashion model with him IS me.  He thinks that's me!  She sort of looks like me--she really looks like me!  Hey Paris!  I'm up here!   hey Menelaus,I'm up here!  Don't either of you recognize me?  Look up, damn you!  And, if I know my husband, this is war.  And, if I know my husband, this war will last ten years!  And if I know my husband, he'll blame it all on me!
At this point Alice/Helen groaned and sat down in her chair rocking it to a stand still.  She stroked her books.  She sighed. 
            She looked out at all of the little children who had just heard the story, and she said, "Don't you just love books?  Sometimes they are true, and sometimes not.  And, every once in a while, a character comes forward to tell her own story.  We just have to listen."
            "But is Helen right?" one child asked as the lights came up.
            "The war lasted for 10 years," Alice answered with a smile.  "Could you believe it was all for nothing?"
            "No, that's stupid."
            Yes, you're probably right."
            "Humph," said the child as he moved off.  Alice heard another ask her Mommy what rape was.
            "Uh oh," she thought.

  Chapter One ends here. 

 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Alice in Wonder

Here is something I have never done before--provide a glimpse of the novel I am writing: just 2 pages of the rough draft, but (trembling) maybe sharing and getting your questions and feedback will help me to stay on track? 

     If you expected a poem today, accept my apologies.  I think the novel is a bit poetic, but it is prose.  You will not hurt my feelings if you do not read it or if you read it and do not comment.  
     This seems to be the beginning of Chapter One, but anyone who's written knows this is mere conjecture at this point.   
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited.  

Alice in Wonder, Chapter One.

            The tall mask seemed to enter of its own accord along with a loud echoing gong that made spinal chords twitch throughout the audience.  The next sound came out of the stillness.  A small voice whispered, "Hi, my name is Alice," and the mask touched the floor to reveal a tall, stoop-backed middle-aged lady in a white sweater and pearls.  Her hair seemed permed and purplish, or rather, it was curly and white except for a streak of purple on one lock in the middle and left side.  She peered at us over the mask as the lights faded up from the sharp spot.
            "Hi," she repeated in a stronger voice, "I'm Alice, and this is my Grandmother." 
            She tripped forward, mask in one hand and the straps to a black leather tote clutched in the other.  She lifted the mask with difficulty to the top of a pole stage right, dropped the tote stage center and opened it to extract a beautiful round wood and tile box, which she held up for all to see. 
            "My grandmother made this box," she said, then took the tiled top off and rolled it across the floor, its design whirling into a wind sign.  As it wobbled flat, she took another mask--a tiny clay one--out of the box, held it up and announced, "And THIS is my Mother."  She carried her mother mask  to stage left and hung it on top of another pole that was waiting for it, then stood back and clapped her hands. 
            She almost trotted down to the edge of the stage to announce, arms wide, "As you can see, I come from a long line of image makers!  My own art is story telling, and I am here to tell you the story of Helen of Troy!"
            With that she pulled a wooden rocking chair from the shadows on the right, sat down and beamed at us.  "I read about her in books,"  she continued, as she got up to retrieve her black bag.  She sat and pulled book after book out of her bottomless bag, all the while talking delightedly.  "I love books, don't you? I could hold them and touch them all day long, rock them and sing to them, and then open them and let them sing to me!  Their pages are so smooth and inviting.  The print looks like ants dancing from a distance. See?"
            She held up two books, one in each hand, then stood and came down to the spectators, "Feel them, come on, feel them!  Can you imagine giving this touch up for a computer screen?  Not in my lifetime!
            "Does anyone write in a diary?"  Alice waited.    "You can tell me; I do too.  Ah, there you are!" she applauded when a few hands inched up.  She rushed back to her bag and brought another book forward to show. "Empty pages invite dreaming, and I love to fill them up with ink and words, don't you?"
            As she listened to the "Yesses" and "Nos" she retrieved the books she'd passed out to people in the front row, and then backed up wiggling into the rocking chair, piling the books beside her.  She heard some giggles in the crowd, and when she began telling her story, she seemed to be responding to them.
            "I read about Helen of Troy in books.  The  first one was by Homer, and then by Sophocles and by Euripides, and then later by several non-Greek writers. All agree that she was beautiful and that she was a prize for a young Trojan named Paris when he said Aphrodite was the most beautiful of three competitive Greek goddesses: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.  But that's all they agree on."
            She paused while a newcomer found a seat on the edge of the audience, then continued. 
            "Some of these ancient Greek authors say she ran off to Troy with Paris, glad to be away from her own husband, Menelaus.  Some say she wanted to go to Troy with Paris but that Zeus, head god, hid her in Egypt where she spent 10 years.  Others say Paris had to kidnap her because she resisted.  And finally, others say that it was the gods who kidnapped her and hid her in the sky. 
            "Helen--yes, Helen herself--told me that the last story is closer to the truth!  I met her years and years ago.  Truly, she is good looking in a way, but of course she's older than I am now.
            "Well, Helen had resisted all of them--men and Gods and Paris and Troy!  She said that she didn't even have time to think about things before she was way up there in the sky watching the years unfold around her.  She told me she never even saw Paris, that he had only sent her a note saying she was his!  Imagine how that must have felt!  You get a note from someone you haven't even heard of saying:
Baby I'm yours and you are mine.  The great goddess Aphrodite said so.  Come away with me to another world named Troy and we will be happy forever.  PS.  I love you. You don't know me, but I've seen your picture, and Baby, Baby, I'm yours, you're mine, wedding bells are going to chime.
Now wouldn't you laugh and tear up that note?  But Helen didn't.  Oh she wanted to, she wanted to be that practical, but her life had not been a bed of roses.  

 To be continued . . .

Posted at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads for "Open Link Monday.
 Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast: Copying/using any part of this text is prohibited.