Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saving your files and updates

Mary Harwell Sayler : Saving your files and updates: First, we had floppy disks then hard disks then CDs and DVDs to backup copies of our word processing files. Then flash drives came along and.... (click the above hotlink to see the full post and discover your options for saving your priceless poems.)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Faith, Fiction, Friends: “Lost in Faith: and poetry” by Mary Harwell Sayler...

Faith, Fiction, Friends: “Lost in Faith: and poetry” by Mary Harwell Sayler...: Mary Harwell Sayler loves writing, and has published 30 books. She loves poetry. She loves encouraging other writers and poets. But if...

God bless Glynn Young for his review of my new book and his ongoing encouragement to poets and poetry.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Living the poem

For some time I’ve been reviewing poetry books by other poets on this blog, but with several of my own poetry books now in print, I hope to post poems from each book with a word about what went into their making. That’s the kind of thing poets often ask about at writing conferences or readers want to know at poetry readings. Happily, this little site on the Internet gives us an opportunity to meet together and chat about poems.

Starting with my first poetry book in print, Living in the Nature Poem published in 2012 by Hiraeth Press, the following poem came about as I tried to find a way to accept – and perhaps even appreciate – the conflicts found in nature. Although I love the wildlife surrounding me in my woodsy Florida home on a small lake, this doesn’t always display the pretty little picture, which I prefer. Thinking about that coaxed this poem into being:

Tribulations of a Playful Poet

The alligator owns all rights
to the lily pads,
gliding by, right when I'm writing
about beauty,
about serenity.

If I were to wade into the waters
around a dry bouquet
of cattails,
the head of the alligator
would bloom beside me.

Where can I hide
from this presence?

How can my poems evade
the hidden claws,
the baffling jaw
eager to emerge?

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2012, from the poetry book published by Hiraeth Press Living in the Nature Poem

This morning while I was still considering whether to begin this new phase on the Poetry Editor & Poetry blog, I took my coffee onto our deck and saw what we occasionally glimpse, moving about beneath the water but, in 15 years, had never fully seen on our lake until “a sign” arose today! Thankfully, my camera has a zoom lens for taking this picture:

photo by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

National Day of Poetry – Mary Harwell Sayler

National Day of Poetry – Mary Harwell Sayler:

Poets, today is #NationalPoetryDay. If you use that hashtag to post a short poem using a Public setting, it will appear on a Facebook, and you can also post on Twitter, where your poems will be grouped with others using that hashtag and/or #NationalPoetryDay2017. For examples....

'via Blog this'

Friday, September 8, 2017

Long to Love and Memory: Poetry by John B. Tabb

The lovely, rhythmic poetry of Rev. John B. Tabb may have been written in the 19th century, but with timeless beauty and refreshing brevity, it transports us now into a keener awareness of God, nature, and ourselves.

For instance, in the very first poem of the new collection Long to Love and Memory, which Editor E.L. Core and Ex Fontibus kindly sent me to review, the poet writes “To a Songster,” thereby crooning the criteria for his own poetic voice:

“O little bird, I’d be
A Poet like to thee,
Singing my native song –
Brief to the ear, but long
To Love and Memory.”

Often writing in quatrains with an a/b/a/b or a/b/b/a (appropriately "Abba") pattern of rhymes, the poet did not refrain from looking at human nature and himself in all honesty. For example, consider “The Stranger.”

“He entered; but the mask he wore
Concealed his face from me.
Still, something I had seen before
He brought to memory.

“'Who art thou? What thy rank, thy name?’
I questioned with surprise;
‘Thyself,' the laughing answer came,
‘As seen of others’ eyes’.”

And take a look at “An Influence.”

“I see thee – heaven’s unclouded face
A vacancy around thee made,
Its sunshine a subservient grace
Thy lovelier light to shade.

I feel thee, as the billows feel
A river freshening the brine;
A life’s libation poured to heal
The bitterness of mine.”

God’s creation has a healing effect on the poet, and, therefore, on us, the readers.

Again and again, Fr. Tabb’s insightful verses give us an accurate picture of how human nature inhabits (but, hopefully, does not inhibit!) both the natural and spiritual worlds. Mostly, though, the poems encourage us to see through the poet’s lenses of faith.

Ironically, Rev. Tabb lost his physical eyesight before his death, but in my studies of the works of Christian poets, I’ve found none more capable of seeing himself and God’s hand so clearly. Look, for instance, at this “Song.”

“Fade not yet, O summer day,
For my love hath answered yea;
Keep us from the coming night,
Lest our blossom suffer blight.

Fear thou not; if love be true,
Closer will it cleave to you.
‘Tis the darkened hours that prove
Faith or faithlessness in love.”

Since I’m writing this while taking a break from the intensive preparations needed before a Cat 5 hurricane arrives in Florida, this exquisitely wrought collection has given me the opportunity to refresh myself again with Rev. Tabb’s poems and wait out the storm with a timely boost in faith.

As countless other people also experience storms, floods, earthquakes, and their aftermaths, Fr. Tabb’s poem “Evolution” will surely bring comfort and relief.

“Out of the dusk a shadow,
Then, a spark;
Out of the cloud a silence,
Then, a lark;
Out of the heart a rapture,
Then, a pain;
Out of the dead, cold ashes,
Life again.”

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, placed 30 books in all genres with Christian and educational publishers before self-publishing her new book, What the Bible Says About Love, which she hopes and prays will be her first in a series of topical Bible research and prayer-a-phrases.

Long to Love and Memory, paperback

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Keeping records makes it easy to do a poetry book

This week I’ve been going through my Word files, gathering poems for my next book, which I hope to send off soon to a poetry publisher. Trying to decide which poems to include can be a daunting task with hundreds of poems from which to choose, but record-keeping has made the job much easier.

As I wrote each poem, I typed every new piece on its own page in my Word file of “Poems.” Since I often “tweak” or revise my poems (sometimes even after they’ve been published!) I space down from the last line then simultaneously press “Ctrl” and “Enter” to start a new page. That way each page will stay put, enabling me to add or delete lines without disrupting the entire file. For instance, I might later need to add “Revised” and the date of that revision.

Other additions to the top of the page came about when it occurred to me to type key search words for each poem. For example, as I write poems of “Faith,” “Nature,” “Family,” I type those words beside the date of writing. Then I can go back and find all the poems I’ve written on a particular subject. Or I can find poems in a particular form.

Recently, for example, I’ve been writing a lot of haiku and other minipoems, so I type “Haiku,” “Aahcoo,” “Senryu,” or “Micropoem” at the top of the page and, occasionally, traditional form names such as “Sonnet,” “Villanelle,” or “Prose Poem.” If I decide to collect my haiku together for a book or chapbook, the search for those poems will be made easy by simultaneously pressing “Ctrl” and the “F” key. Immediately a “Navigation” column comes up for typing the key word in the “Search Document” space. And presto! All of my haiku that I’ve labeled as “Haiku” will automatically pop onto the list.

Without that seemingly small step, I might not have any poetry books! Instead, I was able to compile poems quickly for my book, Living in the Nature Poem, when my editor/publisher expressed interest. All I had to do was search for "Nature," and relevant poems came up. Similarly, "Praise" poems came together for my book PRAISE!

Another aspect of record-keeping has to do with each poem’s whereabouts. It might be best to type the date and publication to which I’ve submitted a poem at the top of the poem’s page too. However, I didn’t think of that until long after the fact. So I have a “Poetry Submission List” file with poems listed alphabetically by title followed by the date and place sent. If the poem is declined, I put “No” and the date of that response in the file, then send the poem to the next publishing possibility, noting that info too.

When the editor of a journal, e-zine, or anthology accepts a poem, hallelujah! I note that in the poetry file and also add the title (again, alphabetically) beneath the “Poetry” heading in my “Bio” file where I keep a record of every publishing credit, big or small.

Keeping a Bio record of those credits gives me a quick place to search for info to include in the “Acknowledgements” page for each new poetry book or chapbook, so I can appropriately thank previous publishers and acknowledge the publications which included my work.

Mary Harwell Sayler
, ©2017

For more on record-keeping and submitting manuscripts of all genres to traditional and indie publishers, order the Christian Writer’s Guide e-book from Amazon Kindle.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Figuring out figurative language

Would you rather someone show you something or tell you about it?

Both choices can be put to good use. For instance, if you want to teach other people about a subject unfamilar to them, you'd explain as literally as possible the topic you're addressing. But, if you want the person to experience what you've been through or have come to believe, you'll need to show them.

A figure of speech figures on showing this in terms of that.

When someone speaks figuratively, they’re using some kind of picture or figure to show an abstract concept or something that cannot otherwise be seen. For instance, “love” cannot be envisioned without a picture or symbol such as that big red Valentine heart commonly used to show it.

Figurative language enlivens all genres of writing. Not only does a figure of speech add imagery, it usually uses less words than if you were trying to explain.

For example, 1 Corinthians 13 takes a whole chapter to define true love. Even then, the apostle Paul tossed in some metaphors to explain what love is not: “sounding brass” (i.e., an overbearing boom!) or a “tinkling cymbal” (too faint to be witnessed or heard.)

When someone speaks literally, they rely on factual data and dictionary definitions. Using 1 Corinthians 13 again, but this time for examples of literal speech, we read: “Love is kind” and “Love never fails.” Those statements accurately describe the standard for love, but literal definitions just don’t show what love is the way a loud, headache-producing gong figuratively shows what love is not!

Literal language depends on dictionary definitions and, often, flat statements that can come across as blah, boring, or uninspired.

Figurative language needs pictures to show This in terms of That.

For instance, if I wanted to tell you about the beauty of the evening sky, I’d have trouble doing that without figurative language such as “the lavendar film of sunset.”

Or to describe the big, fat, white clouds on the horizon, I might figuratively speak of “cauliflower clouds.” (If those clouds were literally made of cauliflower, wow! We could eat the sky!)

To include figurative speech in your poems and other writings, figure on using:

Metaphor – This IS That, such as “God is a strong tower.” If you said, “God is strong” or “God protects me the way a strong tower would,” those flat statements would be literally true. Literally speaking, though, God is not actually a strong tower to be worshipped. But, figuratively speaking, I can truthfully say, God is a strong tower to me, and you’ll immediately get the picture.

– Similar to metaphor, simile points out similarities. Simile says This is LIKE That. For example, “The puppy is like a tornado.” Similes can also use “as.” i.e., “That dog is as active as a tornado.”

– once-fresh similes gone stale, for example, “quick as a bunny,” “sly as a fox,” or “hard as a rock.” However, you can have fun playing with a cliché until it becomes fresh again by substituting another picture for the faded one. Since this takes time, thought, and observation, it’s not as quick as a computer search.

– a concrete object used to symbolize or illustrate a concept, belief, or principle. For example, a flag symbolizes patriotism and loyalty to a particular country. The six-pointed Star of David is a symbol for Judaism, and a cross symbolizes Christianity.

To be effective, figurative language focuses on one picture at a time. Therefore, each surrounding word needs to be consistent with that image. These aren’t to be just any images, though, but ones your readers will instantly envision and understand.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017. For more on figurative language, these e-books will help: Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry and the Poetry Dictionary For Children and For Fun.