Renewal (Jeffrey Harrison poem) for the season of joy and melancholy

I often turn to poetry to open my heart to the day’s joy, and settle into the complicated harmonies of my mixed emotions. Today I read Jeffrey Harrison’s poem about renewal — perfect for the Easter/Passover season but with a twist! It made me smile, even though the full moon, the changing weather and my own personal rollercoaster often get me distracted from that moment of discovery, of awakening from my inner thoughts and seeing, really seeing, the people around me. No spoilers — just read it! A lovely reminder, this deceptively simple poem….

by Jeffrey Harrison

At the Department of Motor Vehicles
to renew my driver’s license, I had to wait
two hours on one of those wooden benches
like pews in the church of Latter Day
Meaninglessness, where there is no
stained glass (no windows at all, in fact),
no incense other than stale cigarette smoke
emanating from the clothes of those around me,
and no sermon, just an automated female voice
calling numbers over a loudspeaker.
And one by one the members of our sorry
congregation shuffled meekly up to the pitted
altar to have our vision tested or to seek
redemption for whatever wrong turn we’d taken,
or pay indulgences, or else be turned away
as unworthy of piloting our own journey.
But when I paused to look around, using my numbered
ticket as a bookmark, it was as if the dim
fluorescent light had been transformed
to incandescence. The face of the Latino guy
in a ripped black sweatshirt glowed with health,
and I could tell that the sulking white girl
accompanied by her mother was brimming
with secret excitement to be getting her first license,
already speeding down the highway, alone,
with all the windows open, singing.

“Renewal” by Jeffrey Harrison from Into Daylight. © Tupelo Press, 2014.

April is National Poetry Writers Month!

reblogged from’s Hot Off The Press:

NaPoWriMo is an annual project in which participants write a poem each day in April. It unfolds in the tradition of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, held in November) and motivates, inspires, and engages poets of all levels, genres, and backgrounds.

While a poem a day is your ultimate goal, there’s really no “right” way to participate. Start today and keep at it, and experiment as you see fit. Focus entirely on sonnets, or experiment with free verse. Participate on your own, or collaborate with others. Publish on your blog, or experiment offline.

Ideas to get started

  • Publish poems each day, focusing on a different genre each week.
  • Handwrite poems in a journal, for your eyes only.
  • Start a collective with others, plan themes for April, and publish poems on your own blogs focused on these themes.
  • Create a new blog or group site specifically for this monthly challenge.
  • Download the WordPress app for your iOSAndroid, or BlackBerry device if you don’t already have one, and publish on-the-go haiku poems daily, inspired by your location.

For daily inspiration

Like last year, NaPoWriMo founder Maureen Thorson will post daily prompts on the NaPoWriMo site through the month, so head there for inspiration. You can also use our prompts at The Daily Post for a jump start each morning, and respond to each with a poem.

If you’re sharing poems online, submit your site to the NaPoWriMo showcase, so we and other participants can find you. Tag your posts with NaPoWriMo so users can sift through your poems in the Reader, too.

Good luck to all participants! We look forward to reading your poems this month.

Synopsis Information

Hello Accokeek Women Writers,

During our last minute, I talked about the synopsis, and different forms of the synopsis, and here is the resulting blog post:

Also, I mentioned the “Flogging the Quill” website, which I had confused with “Query Shark,” (included in the above blog post). “Flogging the Quill” offers advice on opening chapters or prologues, and can be found here: Interesting advice delivered in an entertaining manner.

Keep writing,

Valerie Ormond

Poets and Memoirists: Challenge Yourselves to be a Little Surreal! It’s Magical…

Bianca Stone’s amazing poem, “Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother” came through my Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets today. (Sign up for this service! It will change your life if you are a serious poet or poetry lover!)

Stone’s poem is witty, gruesome, honest, clean and frighteningly beautiful and loving. Oh, did I say, fearless? She really opens up to “that delicious and devastating, invented garden that is poetry.” (Read the rest of her comment about her process and intentions after you read the poem!)

This week, when you write anything, I challenge you to think of this poem, and be a little more brave. Tell the truth, however it comes out, however strange or magical or blunt or irreverent or messy. Revise later — be fearless now. Just look at this poem to see what’s possible when you let that happen!

Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother
by Bianca Stone
I dig her up and plop her down in a wicker chair.
She’s going to make apple sauce and I’m going to get drunk.
She’s cutting worms out of the small green apples from the back
and I’m opening up a bottle. It erects like a tower
in the city of my mouth.
The way she makes apple sauce it has ragged
strips of skin and spreads thickly over toast.
It’s infamous; eating it is as close to God as I’m going to get,
but I don’t tell her. There’s a dishtowel wrapped around her head
to keep her jaw from falling slack–
Everything hurts.
But I don’t tell her that either. I have to stand at the callbox
and see what words I can squeeze in. I’m getting worried.
If I dig her up and put her down in the wicker chair
I’d better be ready for the rest of the family
to make a fuss. I better bring her back right.
The whole house smells of cinnamon and dust.
We don’t speak. She’s piling the worms up in a bowl
and throwing them back into the yard.
 Copyright © 2014 by Bianca Stone.

About This Poem
“What you don’t realize about elegies, until someone you love dies, is that the reality of loss is fleeting. It then becomes something imaginary in your mind; a horror story you’re addicted to. I approach the elegy trying to understand the moment they ceased to be in this world; the difference between the two realities. It creates a third: that delicious and devastating, invented garden that is poetry.”

–Bianca Stone

Meeting of “Women Who Write” in Bethesda, MD — April 12

DATE: Saturday, April 12, 2014                           TIME: 1:30 – 3:30 PM
PLACE:  The Writer’s Center
 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20015
(301) 654-8664   
• Come and meet with your fellow area writers–find out what we all have been up to since our last meeting.
• Bring a piece of your writing to read–maximum 5 minutes–and sign up when you arrive at the meeting.
• Bring a friend!
• Below are directions to The Writer’s Center followed by a generous offer from long-time member, Chloe JonPaul.
Carol Peck
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DIRECTIONS to The Writer’s Center
From DC: North on Wisconsin. Walsh St. is the second right off Wisconsin just north of Bradley Blvd. (Route 191)
From Baltimore: South on I-95 to I-495 (Beltway). West to Connecticut Ave., South to Bradley. Right on Bradley and right again on Wisconsin Ave. Walsh St. is the second right north of Bradley.
From 270: South on Wisconsin. Left on Leland (just after Farm Women’s Market.) After Gaylord’s Lamps, turn right into the parking lot. Drive as far south as you can in parking lot.
From Silver Spring and East: Connecticut Ave. South to Bradley, right on Bradley, right on Wisconsin and right on Walsh.
From Chain Bridge: From MacArthur, turn right at Sibley Hospital (Loughboro), left onto Dalecarlia to Westmoreland Circle, get off at Mass Ave. Going away from the city, right onto Little Falls Pkwy., right on Arlington Rd., right on Bradley, left on Wisconsin. The second right is Walsh.
PARKING: Directly across the street from the Center is a county parking lot, free on Saturday. There is another county parking lot behind the Farm Woman’s Market, across the street from the Writer’s Center lot. There are also some county parking garages, which have also been free on weekends. (I have not checked recently; when the meters are in effect, they take quarters.) The closest one, to my knowledge, is located between Bethesda Ave. and Elm St. Coming out of the lot on Walsh St., turn right onto Wisconsin Ave., go to Woodmont, turn left, go to Bethesda Ave, turn left and go into the parking garage.
BY SUBWAY: Take the Red Line to Bethesda stop, exit via the elevator, turn right. Cross Wisconsin and walk south, toward DC. Walsh St. is less than a 10-minute walk.

If you’re going from the Accokeek area and want to carpool, let me know!

Amtrak Plans to Give Free Rides to Writers!

reblogged from the Wire

Amtrak has begun offering “writers’ residencies” to, well, writers – long roundtrip rides aboard Amtrak trains dedicated solely for the purpose of writing.

After New York City-based writer Jessica Gross took the first “test-run” residency, traveling from NYC to Chicago and back, Amtrak confirmed that it is indeed planning to turn the writers’ residencies into an established, long-term program, sending writers on trains throughout its network of routes.

First, let’s get it out of the way: The Wire is 100 percent on board with this idea. Pun intended, because we’re writers. We love writing, and we love trains, and we love them both together.Combining the two is absolutely bonkers. We can’t believe no one thought of this before.

But first: how did this beautiful reverie come to fruition?


The article goes on to address  key questions about this embryonic program. But I’m going to go stalk people on twitter and find out more!

Mary Jo Bang: Translating Intellectual Curiosity into Lyrical Poetry

I found this poem by Mary Jo Bang in my in-box this morning, thanks to the wonderful daily poem sent by the Academy of American Poets. (Sign up for their “Poem-a-Day” service — it’s a lifesaver for writers, poetry lovers and seekers!)

What a wonderful way to wake up my mind and heart. Reading Bang’s explanation of the sources of her poem, you can see that she is translating some of the more esoteric cultural innovators and philosophers into a whimsical turn on being and nothingness, perception and play, historical events and the clutter of daily life and objects, greatness and the ordinary, meaning and meaninglessness. (I wonder what connections you see in this short wonder of a poem!)

Enjoy! I hope this poem inspires you to take a risk in your own writing, to translate something larger-than-life into the precious, magical, deceptively small container of words available to you as a writer.

Costumes Exchanging Glances 
by Mary Jo Bang

The rhinestone lights blink off and on.
Pretend stars.
I’m sick of explanations. A life is like Russell said
of electricity, not a thing but the way things behave.
A science of motion toward some flat surface,
some heat, some cold. Some light
can leave some after-image but it doesn’t last.
Isn’t that what they say? That and that
historical events exchange glances with nothingness.

Copyright © 2014 by Mary Jo Bang. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem
“Bertrand Russell said, ‘Electricity is not a thing like St. Paul’s Cathedral; it is a way in which things behave.’ And it’s not ‘they’ who say, but Walter Benjamin who said, ‘Things are only mannequins and even the great world-historical events are only costumes beneath which they exchange glances with nothingness, with the base and the banal.’ In September, 1940, Benjamin died under ambiguous circumstances in the French-Spanish border town of Portbou, while attempting to flee the Nazis.”
–Mary Jo Bang

The Blogging Life

BloggingI want to share what I have been doing with Blogging, to get your feedback and support, and also hopefully to inspire you if you’ve been curious about the world of blogging.

For about three years I’ve been writing my personal blog called Art-Spirit-Nature, which is found at:

I’ve learned a great deal by experimenting with different kinds of writing, and learned how to grow my followers, express myself in new publishing format. I’m proud of this blog and I enjoy it because it gives me a lot of latitude to express myself on topics dear to me. You’ll find art, science, profiles of creative people, links to creative things happening around the world, meditations, all about the wonder and beauty of the creative life.

But I’m ready now to go to a more professional level, and so I have two new blogs launched this year for business, and I am committed to maintaining these regularly,twice a week, and that gives me quite a busy writing life on a regular basis, at least for news and essay writing.

My Marketing and Design blog is called Clearly Creative Communication and you can find it at:

blogging-insideThe purpose is to explore the new mediums of communication, new tools, and also the new ways of working, particularly for creative women. Design and visual communication are also featured.  It’s off to a great start, and I hope if the topic interests you that you’ll Subscribe or Follow.

The other blog is for my other job with Milestone Asset Partners, a commercial real estate investor group. That one is called CRE Milestones and covers news from the world of commercial real estate, particularly multifamily housing, including trends in financing and emerging markets.  A drier subject, but it’s the freshness here that counts; I scan the CRE eNews every day and pluck two topics to feature. It’s reporting and linking to others’ stories, where I will summarize the story and occasionally offer my own analysis.

Blogging is an amazing format – it’s basically a magazine that you self-publish. This blog, The Women’s Pages, is a multi-author blog. Every one who is a member of AWWG is automatically elligable to publish here, and other women writers can request guest-author access. Just send me an email and I’ll help you get started.

Like any other form of writing, to become a better blogger you need to read lots of blogs! So my next article on the topic will be how to find blogs you like and follow them. Reading lots of blogs will help you find a niche in the universe of the blogosphere, and help you bring your ‘voice’ into focus. So stay tuned for my next big post, Finding & Reading Blogs, coming in March.