Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Inspired Word on Monday, June 1st!

The Inspired Word: Passionate Readings of Poetry & Prose

When: Monday, June 1

Time: 7-10 PM

Where: Tierra Sana Restaurant
100-17 Queens Blvd & 67th Road
Forest Hills, Queens
New York City

By subway, take the local R or V to 67th Avenue stop (and it's right there between 67th Road and 67th Avenue along Queens Boulevard).Time: 7:00-10 pm (though you're welcome to stay until closing time)

Free wine tasting and appetizers! Awesome ambience and food! A great collection of writers and their work!

Performer Bios:

Meghan Beresford is a New York-based writer, dancer and performance artist. She is a 2003-2004 US Fulbright Scholar in the area of Creative Writing (Fiction and Poetry). Her creative work has been granted by the University of Iowa, the State of Iowa, and the Newfoundland Arts Council. In her past lives, Meghan has been a columnist for Newfoundland alt publication CURRENT and co-founder/editor of the now-defunct Zeugma Literary Journal, a hand-bound small run lit magazine that published new talent alongside such literary luminaries as Mary Dalton, Monica Kidd and Alberto Manguel. Meghan’s newest project is Lookshelves: Bookshelves to Look At a website for literary voyeurs. You can check it out at

Patricia Carragon is a writer who also hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets Reading Series, as well as edits its annual anthology. Her pieces can be found on, Rogue Scholars, Mobius, CLWN WR, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Clockwise Cat, Luciole Press, Eviscerator Heaven 4, Flutter, Up the Staircase, Battered Suitcase, Kritya, Inscribed, Live Magazine, Tamarind, Riverfront, Soul Fountain, Stained Sheets and The Toronto Quarterly. Rogue Scholars Press published her book Journey to the Center of My Mind.

Comedian and writer Emily Epstein has been trapped in a self-cleaning toilet and has stitches from a treadmill accident. She performs all around New York City and the Northeast, (not to mention a boat in the middle of the Yangtze River in China). She has been a comedian in the New York Underground Comedy Festival and was on Good Morning America. Her writing has been featured in such publications as,, and the Hartford Courant.

Jee Leong Koh is the author of "Payday Loans" and "Equal to the Earth" (both from Poets Wear Prada Press). His poetry has appeared in "Best New Poets 2007," and "Best Gay Poetry 2008," and has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Born in Singapore, he now lives in New York City, and blogs at Song of a Reformed Headhunter (

Susan Maurer is a poet, writer, and educator. Her poetry books include By the Blue Light of the Morning Glory (Linear Arts), in2 with Mark Sonnenfeld (Marymark Press), Dream Addict (Backwood Broadsides), Raptor Rhapsody (Poets Wear Prada) and Maerchen (Maverick Duck Press). Her poetry was nominated four times for Pushcart, published in 14 countries, and has appeared in over 400 magazines and anthologies, including Off the Cuffs (Softskull Press), Help Yourself! (Autonomedia), Virgina Quarterly Review, Literary Imagination, Cross Connect and Orbis.

Reina M. Miranda was born in Washington Heights to immigrant parents who came to the United States to provide a better life for their children. Reina is the eldest of four, who first found her love for poetry at the age of 18. Reina has been performing spoken word/poetry for almost two years. Reina is also a member of The United Confederation of Taino People in which she has been learning a lot more about her Taino ancestors. She has learned to fuse her passion for the people she meets and her poetry together so she can help others get “Tainocated." After 23 years, Reina has emerged into the poetry scene and has been appearing at open mics events ever since. She has read at such events as 5C Cultural Club, Capicu Poetry/Notice Lounge, The NuyoRican Poet’s Café/ Taino Poetry, Cemi Underground's Taino Poetry Night and Erotic Poetry, Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen 2, and Rebel Art Collective's S.P.I.T.

Vaimoana (Moana) Niumeitolu is a Painter, Poet, Actor, Activist, Educator and the founder of Mahina Movement, a phenomenal, international, all female, multi-media, multi-cultural, powerful trio that has performed all over the Nation at over 500 stages sharing mics with Dead Prez, Amina & Amira Baraka, Suheir Hammad, Sonia Sanchez and countless others. Moana was born in Nuku’alofa, Tonga; raised in Hawa’ii and Utah and now lives, creates and loves in Harlem, USA. She has traveled and shared her poetry, paintings, and performances all over the US and in Fiji, Ireland, Italy, and South Africa. She graduated from NYU in painting, earned the full-scholarship, Ellen Stokel Fellowship from Yale University and attended the Graduate Theater Program at Columbia University in Acting. She has been seen acting at the Metropolitan Opera and acting 13 characters in her one woman show, Tongue-in Paint, which had it’s world premier in the Summer 2008 at terraNOVa collective’s soloNOVA festival at Performance Space 122. She loves that she is growing older. Life has just begun.

Puma Perl is a poet and fiction writer who believes strongly in the transformative power of the creative arts. Her work has been published in cause & effect, MadSwirl, Trespass ,Red Fez, Gloom Cupboard, Toronto Quarterly, The Oak Bend Review, and many other print and on-line publications. Her work has been published in several anthologies, including The Mom Egg and In Love. Her first chapbook, Belinda and Her Friends, was recently published by Erbacce Press. She performs her work in many venues, in and out of New York City. Upcoming features include Stain Bar, Cornelia Café , and the Riverwood Poetry Festival, Middleton CT – Outlaw Night.

MCs/Hosts: Sherri Eldin, Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick, Laura Moisin.

All you need to bring is your love for the written word, but...PLEASE do your best to support the restaurant, your servers, and the performing writers.

Bookmark and Share

Writing Quotes of the Day

"Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write more entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of a person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page."
Eudora Welty

"All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new."
Neil Gaiman

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."
Robert Frost

"Sure, it's simple, writing for kids… Just as simple as bringing them up."
Ursula K. LeGuin

"If you would write emotionally, be first unemotional. If you would move your readers to tears, do not let them see you cry."
James J. Kilpatrick

"Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader's desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That's called suspense. It can bring desire to a frenzy, in which case you are in a good position to bring off a wonderful climax."
Colin Greenland

"If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing."
Kingsley Amis

"The writer who cares more about words than about story – characters, action, setting, atmosphere – is unlikely to create a vivid and continuous dream; he gets in his own way too much; in his poetic drunkenness, he can't tell the cart – and its cargo – from the horse."
John Gardner

"The author must keep his mouth shut when his work starts to speak."
Friederich Nietzsche

"I never want to see anyone, and I never want to go anywhere or do anything. I just want to write."
P. G. Wodehouse

Bookmark and Share

Interview with Author Wally Lamb

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pics from May 25th's Inspired Word

Kelly Tsai, Crystal Hayward

Caitlin Meissner, John Survivor Blake

Pics thanks to Crystal Hayward

Bookmark and Share

More Poems from Our Inspired Word Poets

Word to Rakim

Rough enough to break New York from Long Island -- Rakim

Welcome to Long Island,

the place where I was called


at four years old.

Shouts from an old rich white man carpet bombed

the passenger seat of my mother’s Buick Regal.

We were driving back from the mall through Garden City,

an affluent lily white town

that enforces lawn height requirements and white privilege

with rulers of paper bag tests and real estate steering.

It is separated from black & Latino Hempstead

by a strip of car dealerships.

At the stop light,

he rolled down his window.

GPS targeting system

had my mother in the crosshairs:

Nigger bitch! You and your little nigger get out of my town!

Welcome to 1985.

Welcome to

the home of institutionalized racism

the Hamptons, the exuberantly wealthy,

the Shinnecock and Poosputuck reservations,

Fire Island, Roosevelt Field, and Jones Beach;

a flatbed of extreme economic stratification

and constantly investigated gang violence.

Welcome to

the the land of closed community centers

where brown youth plummet

through cracked pavement to a life in the streets

if they aren’t caught by Churches or a public education system

that isn’t structured to hold their attention

It’s the story of Anyhood, USA

The realest gangsters

are dead or in jail;

projects are gladiator arenas

where a sixteen-year-old shooter

may be more dangerous than a grown man.

The line between haves and have-nots

is decorated by new and used car lots

At opposite ends of the spectrum

are projects and mansions,

bus passes and Phantoms,

if this kidnapped

your perception of soft, affluent Long Island

I’m glad to hold it ransom.

Pay it in Full.

Word to Rakim.

Rough enough to break NY from Long Island

- Timothy Prolific Jones


He tilts the kickstand with the tip
Of his steel toed boots
Pulls back on the throttle
And takes off
My mom stares out the kitchen window
Pretending there’s something
A distraction
He’s all leather
A convict that narrowly escaped adolescence

Nurses call them donor cycles
I wonder if any part of his body
Would be healthy enough to loan out

My mom takes out more life insurance
On his behalf
Learns where the money goes
Which bills are paid from where

She walks up the stairs to put
Folded towels in the closet
Sidetracked, stumbles into my room
Opens oils, perfumes, diaries
She has to read about me
To know who I am

He’s going to die
Any day now
I can’t tell him
His hands were the first
To pull me through crowds
The first to hoist me
Higher than tree branches
The first to burn a complete circle
Around soft skin
Vocal cords
His hands
Were the first to lift me
Off the hardwood floors
By my throat


He’s dying
Any moment
Ticking away
In leather
And steal toed boots
I sit on the back of his Harley
See my mom’s forehead
Wrinkled up
Pretending to watch squirrels out the window

He can’t tell me he loves me
Because he says it feels fake
And he’s not big on bullshit

My mom drops my diary
On the hardwood floor
Steals another painting
From under my bed
And hangs it up in the kitchen

He just wanted to talk to me
She swears
He wasn’t going to touch me
I wrapped my hand around my throat


Walked in the door
Valentine’s day
Three years ago
He threw me down the cement stairs
Into the snow
I refused
To talk to him

Involves closed fists
Broken bottles
A six foot
350 pound man
Half an inch from my face

This is my house
As long as you live under my roof
You live by my rules

I don’t want any of your rules
I don’t want your hands
Your leather jacket balled up in my fists
I don’t want to say I love you
As you hang up on me

Can’t you remember the beautiful
Cacophony of your booming voice
In our echoing ampitheatre living room
you pretended to be Allen Ginsberg
taught me to be an angelheaded hipster
by the time I was five
daddy, can’t you hug the same broken little girl
to your chest


I come home senior year
With a black eye
And purple fingers
Snaking their way through my flesh
You tell me
You don’t understand
How women are so stupid
So spineless
He pumps his shotgun
Shoots a skunk from the back porch
Stabs it in the belly with a metal shovel
Leaves the black trash bag
On the curb
Curses when the garbage men
Won’t take corpses
How can women be so stupid
My mom follows the imaginary squirrel
To the window behind the sink
And washes his dishes

My sister picks me up
I call my mom
I want to come
Knowing I’ll always be homeless
Even after I’ve showered
And stopped sleeping on sidewalks
I feel guilty about the liquor store
We held up
The purses I’d snaked my fingers into
The credit cards
Cash back
That bought powders and pills
I want to come


I was only five years old
My brother was three
He wet the bed
My father made him stand
In the center of the living room
With a diaper on his head
I started crying
“Now you can go join him”
Stood in the middle of the floor
Arms straight over my head for 3 hours
A pillow balanced above me
“If you drop it, you’ll get the beating of your life”
Try not to breathe


95 miles an hour
Back seat
Barrel pressed up against my temple
He’s all leather
My mom doesn’t know where I am
Sits on my bed
Watching squirrels chase each other
Mom, I want to come home

Gun thrown in a dumpster
Dad picks me up
drives me to the hospital
The doors beep when they open
Lock when they close
I chain smoke
Marb reds
The hardwood floor
The metal kickstand

They tell me I’m not sick
Not spineless
Not metal
Or gasoline
Not a barrel
A pistol
Not the pink scars
Raised on my thighs like brail
Words my mom can never read

I see my father outside the hospital
Through bulletproof glass
The frostbit sky attacking his eyes
Making it hard to tell
That he's crying


My dad is dying
Refusing insulin
Pulling harder on the throttle
And I don’t know how to tell him

I love you

- Molly Kat

Man in the Iron Mask

your face is difficult to remember
I run every time I see it reflected in the mirror
you died voiceless
moods dipping and swinging
reminiscent of snowstorms in September
an angel with clay wings

last night we fought with God
you, him and I
dancing a dirty dance
a manic dance of racing thoughts
fists clenched
arms drawn like Apollo’s bow at sunrise
sighted at heaven
a pistol of lips spouting beautiful blasphemy
in the midst of a bruised thunderstorm
brewing beneath our skin

we wear a mask
of twisted grins turned frown
the downstroke of a machete
crying rusted tears running bloody
face composed an iron melody of silence

have you ever seen an angel falling victim to a psychotic break?
butchering fingers between jagged yellow teeth
chewing away the PTSD
after standing face to face with God.

we are the Godforsaken
dressed in lily white robes
reminiscent of a clan rally burning crosses in the bayou
lynched by transparent looks
hooked to the inner ribs of God
he has forgotten the 13th tribe of Abraham
popping pills
a regimen of men dropping
they are drugging us for war

Zyprexa, depacote, Zoloft, abilify
a numbing cocktail of murder
balanced in the bloodied eye of a needle.
a blitzkrieg of suicide in a shotglass
bitter, syrupy
hanging down my throat
strung across David’s heart
I can’t outrun Gabriel’s horn blown solo
played between his fingers ever so nimble
swing me a melody across my throat.

we are earths angels walking in a dead man’s trance
we haven’t washed in days
masked men
shackled with chains of halos
dragged through mud and razors naked
nerve endings revealed like puppeteer’s strings
rubbed raw, salt-packed into wounds
burning sweet smell of flesh
escaping exit wounds
mouth and nostrils
we are engulfed in flame
leaping from our lungs
this disease eating us alive.

we are the Godforsaken
demons walking freely through our minds
leaving us raped and battered
after dreaming a razor across lips
blood drips a wine soaked symphony

I am not strong enough to carry the halos
of a thousand decapitated angels

arms weary
from the beating of a thousand wings
thunder of bones crunching concave
holding the weight of a concrete god on my tongue
strapped to hospital bed in a reverse crucifix
a constricted lotus
the fourth blasphemy in the trinity.

I can recall days where you hadn’t washed in weeks
stale urine ammoniating your skin
burning sense with the sterility of hospital hallways
I am sure you never admitted you were crazy
but I could see the glint in your glassy jaundiced eye
your demons whispering you naked
weeks of filth shed like a second skin
this secret hop-scotched a generation
falling kamikaze into my lap
face first…

I am the man in the iron mask.

- Howard Treadwell

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kelly Tsai's Aftershocks on Def Poetry

Bookmark and Share

Poems from Our Inspired Word Poets

Compilation Of A Heartbreak

this bone machine is broken
last night i broke my jaw in two places to
spit blood and conversation out because

reinvention is a beautiful thing
the morning after you die

letting go is the equivalent to dying
and I’ve never had a fear of death
but for my sons and daughters i do

I woke up numb from neck down
laid, frozen wondering what was wrong,
whispered for help but my lips never opened

my eyes wide
shot from gin and whiskey
with skin that keeps evenings & whispers
tighter than secrets and lies

this is not fiction there will be blood if i am cut
there is no magic here
no sprouting bouquets of desire from my hands

take these ripped veins
and hang the history you want
carry this weight into the deep water of your decision
breathe the guilt of these shadows you created in your ribs

you are not a metaphor
you are life threatening

gash my head on the concrete of your feet
watch your face disintegrate in my hands
the stain of your kiss still scented on my neck
and even after i rip the skin off my body
i can smell you in my blood

the song of your name is a death crawl
and regardless of who wears it, they becomes you

give to me all the secrets
you kept under your tongue
that you wanted me to eat

give to me the questions you never asked
the ones that would save us from becoming
the inevitable piece of art that we now are

there is no last goodbye in heartbreak
just the silence that is deafening

this is for release
an opening sentence
in a conversation of self preservation

i am not a victim
but does that mean i don't need help

i speak of reinvention
because it has saved me
more than once

so now
i stand in the same room
we've made love in
and i burn it all

everything is in flames
and it looks beautiful
all the blues and oranges tangled together
dancing as the smoke rises
burn away the memories for tomorrow
for tomorrow is prepared for new ones
and yesterday is gone
a slowed down scene of black and white
caught in the fire

this heart is not broken anymore but it still bleeds
these hands still write your name unconsciously
my eyes have been taught not to search for you in the crowd
these feet watch where they walk because your feet were there an hour before
this love is mine once more
once yours but no more

I used to speak about
how utterly blinding our love is
told everyone in the world that
we were ours and we would never correct them
but eventually I would have too

i see you in moments we called ours without me
are you replacing them with new ones?

i wanted us to search for intangible objects like hope
grab the wind and put it in a jar
destroy a beautiful piece of art
get so drunk we forget our purpose
jump in a pool of impulse
write words on passing trains
wave goodbye to animosity
steal rare books
draw our love on the promenade
but you didn’t want that did you

you used to be light like water until i was drowned out
from the cracked bulbs and got pushed out your desire

i never claimed to be anything except
a bearer of fruits called affection, effort and reciprocation
but did they taste like overbearingness and neediness

no one will look at you like i did
in sunlight
in red
in brooklyn summer
in yellow
in january crisp
in boogie down spring

Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" is playing through the speakers
i don’t think she wants to lay here anymore, Bob
even though her head is still imprinted on the mattress

and it's getting dark again
and nothing is ever darker than being alone
when you don't want it

i take my skin outside to dry
my hands are guilty of still wanting to touch you
but i have to go back inside and rebuild everything

all you ever wanted were things i knew nothing of
kept me in the dark hoping the last remaining light
would be the epiphany you hoped for
but my life is more complicated than it seems

beware because your heart will never replace me
regardless how hard you try

i will always be the borough you try to avoid
the poem you never finished painting
the painting you never read
the song you didn’t frame
the book you never listened to correctly

so here i stand
unedited, unframed, unfinished
the most incomplete man you'll ever see

and tonight,
i cherish that title
more than you'll ever know.

- Bonafide Rojas

5891 Faces


i scream out
clenching my fists,
flinging my voice like a discus towards God
hoping its sound will boom
back, echo under his fleeing shoe leather,
that it will collapse on him like dark walls.

i return to my building,
where my neighbor Holli waits for me,

like a mother in the middle of the night,
she eyes me through the glass
of the security door, ushers me in.
she is pained, disapproving,
mostly full of fear herself.

at the police precinct, i crack jokes with
the dough-faced cops, study their exotic long island
accents, one instructs the other on the proper way
to file his taxes.
th older cop with the grey eyes is on the phone
with the A.D.A. he tosses a third black plastic
binder in front of me:

“while it’s still fresh in your mind,” he says.

i lift each photocopied page with the broad side
of my right hand: thumbprint-sized faces
of teenage boys, with hunger in their eyes,
not their cheeks, not like the man i met on the street.

“it’s none of them,” i say. “he was older.
in his early 40’s. i dunno, kinda crackish.”

the officer with the grey eyes types these new
coordinates into his computer. pulls a chair
up for me. its glowing screen reads:

5891 Matches | 33,220,909 Universe | Page 1

i scroll through each page, six faces at a time,
an endless parade of scowling husbands, sullen brothers,
shocked fathers, defeated cousins, defiant sons.

one man’s photo is inexplicably the same three times
over. another is badly beaten, eye drooping and bloody.
one could have been posing for a prom photo. one
with his eyes completely averted. one, a dirty blank wall.

the tv above me buzzes with the smiles of a circle of African
children graciously thanking Kiefer Sutherland for saving them
from terrorists, briefly interrupted by flashes of newscasts
about Barack Obama’s historic inauguration.

by page 149, i lack the heart to continue on. instead,
i do an inventory of my own.

the contents of my bag (physical):

1 poetry journal from the last four months
1 personal journal from the last 3 weeks
1 Gao Xingjian’s The Case for Literature (heavily annotated)
1 Palm Centro – Electric Blue in a battered leather case
1 iPod with a pair of bad headphones
1 grey wallet with drivers’ license, debit card, credit card, social security card
and 20 cents
1 used-up tube of Burt’s Beeswax lipbalm,
1 new tube of Carol’s Daughter Very Sexy lipgloss,
1 black and grey shoulder bag
1 NYC water bottle

all easily replaceable
if not
for the poems.

- Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai


She says,
"Ya know, if you had all your teeth
I'd fuck you"

laughter falls on my shoulders
like a bucket of blood noosed
to the rope of her smile, streams
my face with leagues
of embarrassment,

is when I generously offer
my water-balloon-heart
to a razor-fingered woman,
convince her that I am more,
apologize for being too small
to reach her expectations,

It should have hurt, but
I've learned to expect
nothing less from most people,
I surrender to the fact

we are all two cups of murder
from becoming serial killers,

funny, smart, loyal
are only seen on men
worth looking at, just accessories
on good-looking men,

I covered my mouth like shame, one hand
to keep cracked enamel from criticism,
and the stones on my tongue
from cracking her skull while
gripping my drink,

with a closed-lip smile, I nodded, thought
hard about the words, revealed my teeth
and responded,

I have known more lovers
than your pretty, little mind
could fathom, thrown out
more poems than you have read,
and shed more tears over coffins
than you've pissed after bar-hopping,

I have a fourteen-hundred chess-rating,
once played naked-chess in a six-million-dollar living room
while sipping red Burgundy with a vintage older than you,

been sung to sleep in Oakland, California by the kindest
heart, the most precious eyes and an acoustic guitar
with the curves you're still waiting to get,
had four hands massage my back, simultaneously, thanking me
for being more than looks,

gone to war and filled shallow ground
with more stories than your ears are ready for,
and made sure I survived the flock of bullets,

I lost these teeth in a twenty-five year fight at home
with heroin, others lost their lives, me,
I lost teeth,

I'm grateful
to share this with you, see
I really shouldn't be here,
should be in prison, should be
resting my bones in a morgue, should be
wishing for a woman's touch, serving
a prison sentence this world knows
I got coming, should be riding lightning
in a psyche ward for some of the shit
I have swallowed, shot, snorted, and sucked in
all to keep from feeling feelings you almost
had me feeling just now,

but I'm not,

I'm here, smiling not-so-pretty,
a mouthful of living years beyond
your sheltered perceptions,
teaching a slightly-overweight,
badly-dyed, ice-encrusted heart,
the art of diplomacy, hoping

she will now ask herself
what ever made her think
she had a chance
to fuck me in the first place?

- John Survivor Blake

To the man who finds my face beautiful tonight,

To the Man Who Finds My Face Beautiful Tonight,

I cannot tell you that I am clean.
Wist swims my belly, but if you must know,
yes, this body still opens. Makes room. Shifts
when you have not asked it to. Aches against
will, finds tide in the pelvis and the chest and
eyes, too, my dear, I cannot tell you I am not in love
with the world. That there are not offerings
I wouldn’t take if pressed against my thirsty lips
like a stranger’s sharp blade, begging
for something dangerous, something painful,
daunting, that I do not hunger and burn
like a dying animal. I have not understood
the word home in years and this is a confession.
There is an ocean I have not crossed.
There is a mountain I have not sang upon.
There is a feeling I long for that I have not
touched, has not touched my under sides raw,
most unholy and full of God, this is not that
which cannot be defined, though I am not sure
I care to know a thing but where your dirt lies,
what will be put to rest and what will rise, I
cannot tell you I am not afraid to die or live
but the night finds me often, achy, blue and this,
too, is our secret. The one we share with each being
bearing a pulse and a past of swollen. The bird’s
wing found the moon again. There are a million
sad tunes to revel in. I am nude rubbing the skin
of my legs smooth, having memory of a beginning
that hasn’t even started yet. So if you are to tell me
anything, make it urgent. Make it fast. I am not
easily deceived nor blind to possibility. The lullaby
rings like this: when did you last tell your mother
you loved her. What made you cry when you were
five. When did you first feel your toes on the bottom
of a river. Tell me what of which you fear, and if it
hurts, we can start from

- Caitlin Meissner

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Poem In Your Pocket Day Caper

Bookmark and Share

Write it Down Make it Happen

Write it Down Make it Happen
By Rob Parnell

How would you like to always achieve your writing goals? And what's the easiest way of making any of your dreams a reality?

The following article is based on a book in my collection by Henriette Anne Klauser - bestselling author of "Put Your Heart on Paper" and "Writing On Both Sides of the Brain."

I was initially drawn to "Write it Down, Make it Happen" because the philosophy agrees with my own. Here's Henriette's proven advice on writing life and success, abridged for your enjoyment:

If You Know What You Want, You Can Have It

Jim Carrey once sat in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking the city, and wrote himself a check for ten million dollars. He carried the check with him for years, until a real one replaced it.

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert empire, used to sit in his office cubicle and write "I will become a syndicated cartoonist" fifteen times a day - until it came true.

Personally I had a mega “to do” list on a whiteboard in my old office a few years back. I found it the other day and realized that I'd somehow managed to achieve everything on it - even the seemingly wildly impossible stuff - without consciously working towards the objectives I'd outlined back then.

Write it Down, Make it Happen

Writing down your goals, whether you do it 15 times a day or just once a year, has the effect of solidifying their reality. It's a practical approach to getting things done - but it's also an act of faith. If you believe that good happens and that the universe is somehow conspiring to help you, it will.

As soon as you can, write down a list of everything you want, even the crazy impractical things. Write fast and make the list as long as you like. Don't feel you have to be “realistic.”

Successful people do this all the time - sometimes without being aware of its mystical elements. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies note down mergers and takeovers they'd like to happen. Actors and screenwriters sign deal memos for huge movies yet to be made. Unknown writers create worlds that will go on to inspire millions - and become merchandising product in their local supermarket!

Watch for Signs

Accept that the world around us changes all the time. It adjusts to the aims and wishes of the people that inhabit it. Writing down a goal creates a new reality space that the universe has no choice but to accommodate - even in some small way.

It's not always a super fast process, but it is happening. Look for clues, follow where they lead, and be conscious that coincidences pop up for a reason.

Putting a goal in writing awakens your mind to possibilities - it's asking your subconscious to wake up and pay attention to your needs. Listen for the little things that pique your interest - is this your brain's way of saying, "Look, isn't that what you said you wanted?"

Trust Your Instincts

Once you have written down your goals and dreams, you can start on the small stuff. Write down what you want today or next week, even if it's "I want to meet an agent" or "I want a new car" or "I want someone to give me money." You're setting in motion the life you want each time you write.

Get a small notebook that you carry with you all the time. Write down the inspirations you get. Make a note of your idle whims. Create lists of the things you need to happen. Outline projects.
And of course use the book to make notes on story ideas, novel plots and any non-fiction topics you might want to develop.

Then relax. Let go - and enjoy your daily life.

Get Ready to Receive

This whole process is really a reminder that you are in control of what you want. In these days of economic depression, it's important to remain focused on what really matters to us.

I've been getting a lot of emails recently from people (in the US in particular) that are losing their jobs and generally experiencing hardship they never asked for - or had any notion would be visited upon them.

I remind them that the same thing happened to me. I was sacked from a job I hated anyway back in 2002. I panicked and went through the usual gamut of emotions associated with the fear of poverty and failure.

But I also took it as sign: To take it for what it was - a new opportunity to create a better future. I used my sense of fear and trepidation to make a commitment to writing that was stronger than any I had taken previously.

Instead of moping around or signing on with new employment agencies, I made lists of serious writing goals that I wanted to achieve - not least becoming self sufficient through writing so I would never have to go back to the insecurity of a day job.

What can I say? It worked for me. And I sincerely believe it will work for you. Writing it down somehow makes it happen.

It's a process. Something you, as a writer, can easily do, and start now. To this day, I still make lists of my goals - all the time - because it works.

Make it a habit - and you'll never look back. I promise.

Best regards and keep writing!

Rob Parnell is a prolific writer who’s published novels, short stories, and articles in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, and a teacher who’s conducted writing workshops, critique groups, and seminars.

Please visit Mr. Parnell’s Web site at:
Click here

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Writer Beware

Writer BewareWarnings About Literary Fraud and Other Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Target Writers

Do yourself a favor and check out these great sites to stay safe in the publishing world:
Click here
Click here

Bookmark and Share

Kenneth Lerer - Hearst New Media Lecture

Bookmark and Share

Affirmations to Write By

Affirmations To Write By

I write concisely, omitting needless words.

I proofread my copy thoroughly to catch careless mistakes.

I am very good at painting scenes on the page.

I constantly listen to people closely to produce believable dialogue.

I pick a time to write every day and make sure I keep to that schedule.

Bookmark and Share

Def Poetry Jam: Shihan - "This Type Love"

Warning: Adult Language & Subject Matter/Mature Viewers Only

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 18, 2009

Am I addicted?

Bookmark and Share

Interview with Author Nassim Assefi

Bookmark and Share

A Note on Modernism: “Language is an order of reality itself."

A Note on Modernism: “Language is an order of reality itself.”By Ann Bogle

Willa Cather (1873-1947) and Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) are American modernists. Both were born in the East and migrated with their families West. Both returned East –Cather to New York and Pittsburgh, Stein to Paris–and both were mentored by the brothers, novelist Henry James and psychologist William James. I discovered these and other biographical similarities—both lesbians, as another example–in writing about them in 1991: “Stein was pitching forward in time and language; Cather was casting back.”

In The Making of Americans, Stein wrote, “The old people in a new world, the new people made out of the old, that is the story I mean to tell.” How different is that from Cather’s use of the biographical past to write her pioneers? Stein lived as an expatriate, Cather as a city dweller exiled from the Nebraska prairie of her childhood. When Stein returned to Oakland to visit, she said, “There is no there there,” meaning that the place in her memory no longer existed. Yet the two writers could not in other ways be more different. Stein wrote in the country of language surrounded by Europeans; Cather “reached back into her personal past for a record of Europe in America instead of looking for America in Europe.”

In her essay, “Six Stein Styles in Search of a Reader,” Marjorie Perloff writes, “(Like) the great realists of the nineteenth century who were her precursors, Stein believed that the domain of literature was the real rather than the ideal, the ordinary rather than the unusual, the everyday rather than the fantastic. But, as Lyn Hejinian observes, realism can be an attitude toward language itself rather than only toward the objects to which language refers: ‘Perhaps it was the discovery that language is an order of reality itself and not a mere mediating medium—that it is possible and even likely that one can have a confrontation with a phrase that is as significant as a confrontation with a tree, chair, cone, dog, bishop, piano, vineyard, door, or penny.’”

Ann Bogle has published short stories, prose, and poetry in many literary journals in print and online. For a listing of her publications and a sampling of her writing visit Ana Verse at:
Click here

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 17, 2009

George Bernard Shaw - 1937

Bookmark and Share

Spotlight Interview: TV Script Writer/Screenwriter Jennifer Heath/Part 3 of 3

Jennifer Heath/TV Script Writer/Screenwriter

In 1992, as a staff writer for one of the all-time great TV sit-coms, “Roseanne,” Jennifer Heath was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series.

This was around two years after Heath and fellow 20-something Amy Sherman, whose father was a Catskills comedian, began collaborating on TV scripts after a chance meeting in an improvisational comedy class at the famous Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We were two short, Jewish, annoying women that no one wanted to deal with, so we dealt with each other," Sherman once told a magazine.

The duo, with no professional writing experience, shockingly landed fulltime-writing gigs on Roseanne soon after the temperamental star suddenly fired her entire staff.

“She needed female writers and we were cheap,” Sherman said in a recent print interview.

Since Roseanne, Heath has co-created two other TV comedy series, “Mr. Rhodes” and “Dave’s World,” sold screenplays to Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., Universal and Miramax, and had a feature film, “Ella Enchanted,” hit theatres in 2004; Sherman (now Sherman-Palladino) went on to write scripts for “Veronica’s Closet” and create the wonderful TV series, the “Gilmore Girls.”

To find out more, check out:
Click here

The following is the third and final part of my exclusive newsletter interview with Ms. Heath:

Mike: How often do writers send you stuff?

Heath: All the time. I read a lot. And a lot of them are asking for advice.

The truth is, 90 percent of it is crap. I read a lot of crap. And I hate telling people that their stuff is crap. But, then again, amazingly, a lot of crap gets bought. So who am I to judge? Maybe someone else will love it.

I’m still waiting for that day when someone will send me something and I say to myself, "Oh, my god. I want to produce this."

Mike: What kind of script captures your eye immediately?

Heath: One that keeps moving, is well written, highly creative, and possesses good, interesting dialogue.

Mike: What quickly turns you off to a script?

Heath: If I don’t know what it’s all about in the first 10 minutes, I won’t read anymore.

Mike: What’s the biggest error a novice makes?

Heath: Exclamation points every other sentence.

Mike: What’s some advice you’ve been given?

Heath: Honestly, I never got any advice. I just started by saying to myself one day that I wanted to write a “Seinfeld” episode. I thought, "I’m just going to write this thing and write it for myself. I don’t have to show it to anybody. And if I don’t like it, big deal." It gave me total freedom to do whatever I wanted and not be concerned with what people thought of it.

Mike: When do you write?

Heath: When I feel inspired and only then. That’s why I like collaboration so much. You can inspire each other, feed off the other person. If one isn’t inspired, the other might be.

Mike: What’s your secret to success?

Heath: I happen to be naturally funny. Nothing more complicated than that.

Mike: How would you sum up your writing life?

Heath: It’s a good life, but if you’re having a bad year, it can be a scary life. There are times when you’re saying to yourself, “Oh, my god, I’m done. I’m not talented. I’ve been fooling everybody all this time. I’ll never work again. My luck is over. Oh, my god!”

That’s why I still play the lottery. I buy my ticket every week hoping I can win and just walk away from all this.

Bookmark and Share

Foamy - Free your mind

Warning: Adult Language/For Mature Viewers Only

Bookmark and Share

Writing Quotes of the Day

“Writers don't have lifestyles. They sit in little rooms and write.”—Norman Mailer

“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”—Goethe

“Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven't been told a million times already – that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching.”—Harlan Ellison

“First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to re-form it....Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing.”—Bernard Malamud

“Anecdotes don’t make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.”—Alice Munro

“The duty and task of a writer are those of a translator.”—Marcel Proust

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.”—Moliere

"The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation."—James Fenton

“We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little.”—Anne Lamott

Bookmark and Share

Writers at Work: Charles Darwin

Writers at Work: Charles Darwin

The following is from Francis Darwin's reminiscences of his legendary father, Charles. It summarizes a typical day in Charles Darwin's middle and later years, when he had developed a rigid routine that seldom changed, even when there were visitors in the house:

7 a.m. Rose and took a short walk.
7:45 a.m. Breakfast alone
8–9:30 a.m. Worked in his study; he considered this his best working time.
9:30–10:30 a.m. Went to drawing-room and read his letters, followed by reading aloud of family letters.
10:30 a.m.–
12 or 12:15 p.m. Returned to study, which period he considered the end of his working day.
12 noon Walk, starting with visit to greenhouse, then round the sandwalk, the number of times depending on his health, usually alone or with a dog.
12:45 p.m. Lunch with whole family, which was his main meal of the day. After lunch read The Times and answered his letters.
3 p.m. Rested in his bedroom on the sofa and smoked a cigarette, listened to a novel or other light literature read by ED [Emma Darwin, his wife].
4 p.m. Walked, usually round sandwalk, sometimes farther afield and sometimes in company.
4:30–5:30 p.m. Worked in study, clearing up matters of the day.
6 p.m. Rested again in bedroom with ED reading aloud.
7.30 p.m. Light high tea while the family dined. In late years never stayed in the dining room with the men, but retired to the drawing-room with the ladies. If no guests were present, he played two games of backgammon with ED, usually followed by reading to himself, then ED played the piano, followed by reading aloud.
10 p.m. Left the drawing-room and usually in bed by 10:30, but slept badly.

Adapted from Charles Darwin: A Companion by R.B. Freeman, accessed on The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bill Moyers on the State of Journalism (2007)

Bookmark and Share

Spotlight Interview: TV Script Writer/Screenwriter Jennifer Heath/Part 2

Jennifer Heath/TV Script Writer/Screenwriter

In 1992, as a staff writer for one of the all-time great TV sit-coms, “Roseanne,” Jennifer Heath was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series.

This was around two years after Heath and fellow 20-something Amy Sherman, whose father was a Catskills comedian, began collaborating on TV scripts after a chance meeting in an improvisational comedy class at the famous Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We were two short, Jewish, annoying women that no one wanted to deal with, so we dealt with each other," Sherman once told a magazine.

The duo, with no professional writing experience, shockingly landed fulltime-writing gigs on Roseanne soon after the temperamental star suddenly fired her entire staff.

“She needed female writers and we were cheap,” Sherman said in a recent print interview.

Since Roseanne, Heath has co-created two other TV comedy series, “Mr. Rhodes” and “Dave’s World,” sold screenplays to Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., Universal and Miramax, and had a feature film, “Ella Enchanted,” hit theatres in 2004; Sherman (now Sherman-Palladino) went on to write scripts for “Veronica’s Closet” and create the wonderful TV series, the “Gilmore Girls.”

To find out more, check out:
Click here

The following is the second part of my exclusive newsletter interview with Ms. Heath:

Mike: What do you think you need to be a great writer for a TV show?

Heath: I think you have a good shot as long as you have an ear for dialogue. You have to know how people talk in real life—unless you’re writing some very stylized Mamet type of stuff. And, for comedy, you have to have an inherent sense of humor, and know what’s funny.

Mike: Is there a fine line between stalking people in the business and merely being aggressive?

Heath: Yes, it’s a very fine line. And you better find that line or you’ll turn people off.

Mike: Do you think you would’ve been read without an agent?

Heath: No. You must have an agent.

Mike: How does one find a reputable agent?

Heath: Call the Writers Guild, get a list of all the licensed literary agents, and send your script to all of them saying you’re a new writer and here’s a sample. You probably aren’t going to get read by the big ones.

Mike: What about agents stealing your ideas?

Heath: If you’re worried about that, you can register it with the Writers Guild. I think it’s about $20 to do that. But for someone who’s brand new and doesn’t have representation yet, I think registering your work is a must. If you have an agent and your agent is sending it out, then I don’t think you need to register it. My agent makes those meetings and he’s only going to reputable people, so I never get my work registered.

I’ve had some friends who got screwed on a movie, because they didn’t register their work. My friends submitted material to a company for a movie. And there were no computer records, no records of sending it.

Mike: What was Roseanne like?

Heath: She’s a very talented woman. She’s hysterical. She knew her job. And she was very likeable on the show.

Mike: What were the challenges working for that show?

Heath: The hours, the hours, the hours. We worked from 10 in the morning to 2, 3, 4 in the morning, seven days a week. Very, very hard hours. It was exhausting. After awhile, you simply get used to not getting any sleep. You just have to plough through it.

Mike: What movie genres are hot right now?

Heath: Comedies and horror movies. Comedies always make money and horror is cheap to make.

Mike: What advice could you offer to an aspiring writer?

Heath: I would say that if you want to write for this business, you have to first write two specs, submit them people, and get them read. Amy and I found a unique avenue for someone to see our stuff. For us, it came through traffic school. Sometimes it’s through a friend of a friend who’s in the business. Just keep writing material and push hard to get it read. That’s all you can do.

I’d also suggest that before you show your work to an agent, give it to some people you respect, people who will be honest with you. You don’t want to send something really bad to an agent. It’ll be harder to get them to read the next thing. You’ll have tainted your rep. And make sure to not have typos. I know this sounds crazy, but I can’t tell you how pissed off I am when I get a script that has a lot of typos. I won’t read it, as I won’t read one that has a lot of grammatical errors. If a writer doesn’t know the difference between "your" and "you’re," I will literally throw the script in the trash. I can’t stand it.

And when you send it to an agent or someone else of influence in the business, write a good cover letter that’s not funny or cute or pushy. And be patient. Things take a long time to read. I’ve given my own agent things to read and three months later he hasn’t read it. It’s not acceptable to send something to an agent and call a week later to ask if it’s been read.

Another thing you can do, if you don’t want to waste your time and postage and the cost of the printing the material, call an agency and ask if they will read unsolicited material.

For young or inexperienced writers, they need to get some sample scripts, see how they’re structured, how the first act works, how the second act works, where the middle of the movie is.

In fact, no matter what experience you have, you need to read, read, and read.

If you want to write thrillers, read Silence of the Lambs—that’s a beautifully written script, well plotted with terrific tension and pacing. If you want to write sit-coms, read the scripts from “Friends” and “Frazier.”

Look at what’s really successful, what’s really good, and try to duplicate it. (By the way, you have to pick up the screenplay for “The Sting,” written by David Ward. It is pure genius, with absolutely brilliant plotting.)

And read screenwriting books, such as Syd Field’s, which teaches you the basic rules and that something needs to happen in the first 10 minutes.

Because, until you are Quentin Tarantino and have the genius to write “Pulp Fiction,” which breaks all the rules by having this weird back-and-forth-in-time construction, stick to conventional storytelling.

It’s also always a good idea to have a screenwriting software program, so your formatting is correct.

And be persistent—but be honest with yourself.

It’s like I watch American Idol and I say to myself, “Do these people really think they could sing?” You have to be realistic. If you’re not a good writer, if you don’t think you have talent, don’t bother. It’s too hard a business if you’re not good.

Bookmark and Share

Def Poetry: Staceyann Chin

Warning: Adult Language/For Mature Viewers Only

Bookmark and Share

My Freelance Writing Secrets

My Freelance Writing Secrets

Though I’ve spent more than half my career being a freelance writer, I often refer to myself as a “freelance cheater,” since most of those years I either had very steady gigs for USA Today and The Associated Press or was under contract to The Sporting News, Details Magazine, Maximum Golf, and The Village Voice.

Because of my success in this incredibly challenging end of the business, I’m constantly asked by novice freelancers: “What’s your secret?”

The following is a 10-point list of what I tell them:

1) Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride. Even if you're talented, the work sometimes comes in great waves, and then, often without reason, dries up suddenly. That’s the life. Deal with it—develop a tough mindset, keep pushing—or try something else.

2) You must be disciplined. If you can't force yourself to put in at least five hours a day either writing or researching or pitching ideas to editors or interviewing people or studying the craft as well as the business, forget about it. To this day, I’ll sometimes put in 10-hour days.

3) While you're doing one story, you must be securing the next one. You have to continue hustling and keeping the stories—and money—coming in. I’m often working on two things simultaneously, writing one, researching and interviewing for the other.

4) You must get paid by the word, NOT the STORY. Fight as best you can for more money per word (you should never settle for less than 50 cents unless you have little or no talent or little or no experience) and pose to do stories for as many words as possible. I’d rather do a 10,000-word piece for 50 cents a word than a 500-word piece for a dollar a word.

5) You must get chummy with editors. Establish a network of them that you can call on the phone easily. Editors control your fate. Love them—at least for the time you’re dealing with them.

6) Develop an expertise, but also try to be versatile at the same time. This broadens your marketability to the max.

7) Shoot high (or as high as your experience allows at the time). Don't keep trying to publish stories in obscure places that pay little or no money. Go for newspapers/magazines/websites that even your friends outside of writing know. No matter what, keep moving higher and higher. This will, in the process, pressure you into stretching your writing chops more and more.

8) Brainstorm ideas constantly. Your lifeblood is great ideas. You should always have more great ideas than the competition. Editors LOVE writers with great ideas; it takes the pressure off them.

9) Don't be another begging freelancer for too long, but a “contract” freelancer. There’s a big difference. A contract freelancer is considered within the industry the cream of the crop and, pound for pound, they get paid way higher than staff writers. Once you've published around four, five stories with one publication and have been met with rave reviews by the editor, you should press for a “contributing” deal (which is a guaranteed amount of money per story for a set amount of stories). I won’t mislead you. These deals aren’t easy to get, especially in this economy, but it should be on your to-do list down the road. These deals will separate you from the rest of the starving freelancer pack.

10) Don't be discouraged. Everybody gets rejected. Just keep moving forward, leaping over all obstacles to the next editor or publication. I truly believe this is my ultimate secret to success. I’ve never let any rejection, any unkind words, or any mean editor stop me.

Good luck!

Best always and stay positive,


Bookmark and Share