Posts tagged ‘writing’

2017, May 19

FYA Self-love Challenge: Week One

This was the first week following my friend j’s Find Your Awesome Self-Love Challenge. I talked about it before, so I won’t repeat myself.
Every evening I sat down and wrote a short summary of my day, which sums up to a short recap post at the end of each week.

Day 1 – Text Love
Texting love… was met with no reply. On the other hand, I did have a lovely Skype conversation with a friend, and a short FB conversation with another friend, which picked up my mood a bit. The love came back from the unexpected sources, and that was great!

Day 2 – Body Love
Loving my body was a bit of a challenge since my feet hurt after I’ve doubled up my Sunday athletic events. But, I am grateful for them for getting me through it, and will just give them some extra massages and let them rest before I go running again this weekend.

Day 3 – Make a Life List
I have written my Life List before, here’s the link if anyone’s interested in reading it :)
Today, I am finally taking my own advice from that blog post, and turning my year of photo challenges into an e-book – I sat down and created the document, and in it, Styles for my title, headers, and text. If I work on it little by little, it doesn’t have to be all done in one day.
That’s exactly what kept me away for the past, umm, five (?) years from that idea – the enormity of the project which I’ve made up all by myself when it really isn’t the case.

Day 4 – Put Yourself on a T-Shirt
For the past couple of years I’ve been giving a lot of my clothes to charity, so by now, I have three t-shirts with actual writing on them (one of which wasn’t planned, as I recently got it in the participation kit of a running event).
However, the text I would most love on a t-shirt and would sum me up perfectly, is this one by Myth Understood. I’ve been wanting a womens dolman t-shirt like this for literally years, but its price+shipping put me off, and I’ve been too lazy to find the design and go get it printed on a t-shirt locally for a third of the price. Maybe next time I consider buying myself a present.

Day 5 – Be Outrageously Grateful
Beyond grateful for being able to travel to Bucharest for a short weekend trip, and for little traffic on the way and making it here safe!

How was your week? Did you sign up for the challenge? Do you like it so far? Even if you haven’t joined the self-love challenge, what did you do this week to love yourself?

2017, April 7

Finding your awesome

Today I want to take a second to talk about a very cool, illustrated creative journal, FIND YOUR AWESOME, by my friend Judy Clement Wall.

It seems to me that everyone lately is only thinking about themselves, and it makes me sad.
I think when people are dealing with some things in their lives, they tend to forget that everyone else also has stuff to deal with – more or less difficult then they themselves are. This is where it’d be great to also focus on others, because it really doesn’t take much time or effort to be attentive, and if one can, why not make someone’s day better? Even by simply smiling at them, by saying hello and asking how they are, it’s already a step in the right direction.
We need to be better, to be humans and care. Thinking about others will always make you a better person.

That said, it also seems to me that among family and friends, many people rarely put themselves first, or do, or buy things for themselves.
Yes, doing things with others will help make them be/feel special in your life.
But on the other hand, I believe that we need to take care of ourselves in order to fully be able to be the better people I described above. For people to truly be able to love other people and be kind, it all starts with self-love.

This is the message my friend j transmits through her creative journal. Go read her blog post about it, and watch her very cool animated book trailer!

In her own words, she wrote and illustrated FIND YOUR AWESOME not to help people become someone new, but to help them uncover the imaginative, openhearted, amazing selves they already are. She truly believes that if one completes this book, committing oneself to just 30 days of self-discovery and celebration, it will change how they move in the world and infuse their life with love, fun, connection, and creativity.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the journal! I believe that it’ll be, like everything j creates, a beautiful piece of art as well as a very useful tool for people to well… find their awesome.

J also has a challenge in store for her readers and friends – 30 days of self-love! Here’s the excerpt from her website:

“On May 15th, I’ll be embarking on my own 30-day self-love challenge using FIND YOUR AWESOME, and I’d love for you to join me. There will be a Facebook group, short daily emails of encouragement, and more animated videos to inspire you. It’ll be free, fun, and good for your soul, plus if you sign up, you’ll be automatically entered to win a signed copy of FIND YOUR AWESOME. (Even if you’ve already purchased my book , sign up. These little journals make wonderful gifts.)
I’ll be posting more about the book and the challenge over the next several weeks.”

Haven’t done a self-love challenge in a while, so I’ve already signed up, and I think I’ll post a little summary blog post every week on Fridays while the challenge lasts. They were fun to do during my year of following the 52/52 e-guide‘s assignments every week, so I’m looking forward to it!

2016, December 9

What do You gift writers?

2016 is nearly over and I’d like to thank every single one of my readers for making it such an amazing one, and my bloggy friends who have filled it with so much awesome blogging, flash fiction, poems and even essays to read, each week!

Here’s wishing you all an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

tea-book-gift

As for my blog post’s title? I wrote this back in 2011 for FFDO, but wanted to share here on my own blog now since that website closed.

This is the season of gift giving, and more often than not, we end up with gifts we like, but which aren’t too related to our field. When I give a gift I like to really think about what the person would enjoy and use. Shopping for writers is rather easy, in my opinion, as we all have access to the basics.

While I do not personally have the one formula you could use to determine what each of your fellow scribbler and avid reader family members or friends would like to receive, I have put together a short list of things which could tickle their fancy.

  1. Gift baskets. I know what you’re thinking. Gift baskets come in all shapes and sizes, but not one shop or website carries one named “Writer’s gift basket”; right? They don’t, or at least not the ones I looked through around here as research for this article. So why did I include this here? Because, you can make it yourself!
    Grab a pretty basket and fill it up with: pens and pencils, pencil cases, bookmarks, journals, stapler & staples, ink (either for a pen or for a printer), notepads, erasers, post-it notes in any or all shapes and sizes, stationery, note books (maybe something fancier, like a leather note book), day planners, diaries, bookplates, writing-themed magnets (magnetic scrabble fridge tiles), a book light, memory sticks, and chocolate. Every writer loves chocolate.
  2. Books. Kind of obvious, yes. But every writer I know has a never-ending wishlist. Many have books on the craft of writing, technical books, collections of writing prompts or all those wonderful novels and poetry out there which they would love to own, yet simply can’t afford or feel that they shouldn’t indulge.
    See if they are willing to share the wishlist (or they might have one online on Goodreads, Amazon, or BookDepository so you can check it without them even suspecting what you are up to).
  3. I’d like to include Literary Magazines, either Single issues or Subscriptions under this category, too. This is a luxury most poetry or short story writers would appreciate as it’s always nice to hold a magazine in hand while reading rather than the average e-mail subscriptions.
  4. Amazon Prime might be a good idea as well. I think if there weren’t the added benefits like free same-day or two-day delivery, unlimited streaming for movies and series, hundreds of playlists and unlimited photo storage, the single reason a writer would choose Amazon Prime is: borrowing one book per month with no due date from the collection of over 800,000 books of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library!
  5. Other Software or Updates. In this very tech-y day an age, most writers use a laptop for writing, on a daily basis. The key software for these writers is a word-processing software. Most PC users use Microsoft Office-based Word, however there are other ones out there as well, like Scrivener or White Smoke.
    If you’re feeling fancy, ask if they’d like to switch from their free blogging platform to their own self-hosted domain. They’re not as expensive as eight years ago when I first started blogging.
  6. An editor. Let me rephrase that since editors might not let you tie a pretty red bow around their neck and agree to sit pretty under the Christmas tree: An editing session. Are the writers in your life in need of a second opinion? Are they letting their masterpiece collect dust on a shelf, or putting off writing/sending out query letters because it needs more editing? An editing session could help them out big time.
  7. A creative writing class, workshops or conferences. Either in “real-life” or online, many writers would like to further perfect their craft. Have they got fear of writing, issues with time management, or are in need of fresh creative energy to move out of a rut? There are several websites you can check out, and in case you can not decide on your own, include the writer in the decision making process. They are the ones who best know what they need.
  8. Customized items. Great for stocking fillers. In this area of gifts, there are many things you can customize, like jewelry: cufflinks, pins and badges, pendants, bracelets engraved with their favorite (short) quote, earrings;
    clothing: T-shirst, neck ties, hats, scarves;
    and even kitchen items: mugs, serving trays, bowls, wine bottles, etc. And you can never go wrong with writing-themed Christmas tree ornaments!
  9. High end pens. Quill pens, fountain pens, ballpoint pens. These are good choices for every writer of course, but especially for pen-enthusiasts.
  10. Book ends. They seem underrated, but I think they are worth keeping in mind because they not only keep books from falling off not-yet-filled-up shelves, they allow for building a bookshelf anywhere – on a windowsill, a desk, etc. They also come in all shapes and sizes and are customisable to your writer’s dreams.
  11. Time to write. This can be as simple as arranging play-dates, taking the kids to a movie one day per week, going to visit the grandparents without your spouse on a weekend, taking over some of the chores or cooking dinner yourself so your writer will have a bit of time to themselves, to clear their head from the everyday worries and write without interruptions.
  12. A place to write. If you are in the mood to make over a room in your house, how about giving your writer a cozy space to read and write in? A door to shut would be ideal, but even simply rearranging a shared space to make room for a bookshelf, a comfy chair, or a desk will go a long way. Build them a book lover’s Christmas Tree!
  13. A writer’s retreat or travel for research. If you can afford it, check out a few places close by and send your writer on a short writing retreat. Or if they have a trip coming up, offer to extend it by a few days. Send them on a short trip for research, if for example, they are city-bound yet writing about a beach setting.
    A weekend away from a noisy house, in a cute little bed and breakfast is guaranteed to make their year!

How about you? Would you be happy to receive any of the above listed? How do you shop for the writers (and readers) in your life? Any ideas I could steal?

~~~

As a disclaimer, the above listed are things I use and love, or I would love to receive.

I have personally worked with Karen Schindler in the past, and she has edited my work in such a way that she kept my voice throughout the stories; sometimes sending them back with edits that I didn’t even notice at first were not my own writing. I highly recommend Karen’s services.

In April 2012, I took Milli Thornton’s Ace Your 10K Day online class. She has several classes to choose from, her insight for the issues I had were more than helpful as they were easily applicable; and overall, Milli was a pleasure to work with.

If you’re crafty, a while back I made myself some classy handmade bookmarks, and cute corner bookmarksa writer’s clock, pretty calligraphy ornaments and a travelogue and built a Booklover’s Christmas Tree! With a little imagination, they can easily be transformed to your own needs and even crafted with your children to gift to the writer in their life.

Happy gift giving!

2016, November 11

5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

Today we have a guest post from Alexis MacDonald for your reading pleasure. Her excitement to write a guest post and the wonderful content she provided have quickly sealed the deal for her guest post on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running. Since the website closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.

It’s November, NaNoWriMo is well into its second week, most of my readers here are also writers and let’s face it – we all need to read this advice. Maybe even more than once.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I have, and happy NaNoWriMo writing!

~~~

5 Quick Ways to Minimize Distractions and Get Writing

There are times in our lives that no matter how diligent we are about setting aside private time to write, life insists on getting in the way. Here are a few tips to help writers roll with the metaphorical punches and get some words down!

  1. Self-discipline

Make writing a habit. Write at the same time every day. Write throughout the day. Read a page about writing and then write a paragraph.

  1. Disengagement

As writers, we do not need to be connected to others every minute of the day. We know that in order to focus, we need to disengage ourselves from our social life.

  • Install a door. There are limits to what a door can do. In spite of their best intentions, family members tend to neglect to respect this impediment and will knock and open it anyway. But the door will diminish the recent movie rental or stereo playing in the family room.
  • Telephones. Ring tones and vibrations are extremely distracting. If you have a mobile phone, arrange it so that it does not ring, a light merely flashes. Set it off to one side and in either case, merely glance at the caller ID and unless it is an emergency, ignore it. As long as someone else is at home who can answer it, do not answer the phone at your writing desk.
  • The Social Internet. It should not have to be said that in order to better focus, a writer should be self-disciplined enough to have turned off all their social applications that would vie for attention. There are programs to download that help writer’s monitor their time and block out social sites but why would a disciplined writer resort to using these programs? On the other hand, having the Internet up is important for research.
  1. Nutrition and hydration

It is important to be energetic yet be calm enough to focus. Did you know that the lack of calcium causes mental depression or that iodine is a mental energizer? Besides salt, iodine is found in peppers, kelp, and raw goat milk. Although coffee and alcohol are commonly connected to writers, water, green tea, and organic fruit juices help maintain hydration and energize the mind. There are also over-the-counter eye drops that help moisturize dry, weary eyeballs.

  1. Music

Because writers are creative people, many are also musicians and artists. Some writers cannot work while listening to music with lyrics because they tend to concentrate on the lyrics while others who play instruments cannot listen to music at all. Some need white noise in the background in order to write. Be aware of this and use whatever helps you get the job done. Ear plugs can help but, some people strain to listen to the outside world even more when they use them.

If the above tips failed to help, this next one – while seemingly a detractor, might actually remedy the situation.

  1. Be in a noisy, busy environment

Going to a place like a mall or a coffee shop where there are people and noise all around you can be freeing. There are times when an overly busy environment actually helps one block out individual distractions and concentrate better. Along those lines, being around other writers who are engaged in their writing can really get you cracking on your own project.

~~~

More about the author:

Alexis MacDonald is a stay at home mom, midnight scribbler and a freelance pregnancy writer. She answers questions such as “how do you get pregnant” (hint, it’s more complex than you think – for instance: there’s a fertility calendar…)

2016, October 14

Creativity Vitamin: Clean the Clutter

Cleaning clutter is one of my favorite things. Just a couple of months ago, I cleaned our closet, the kitchen cabinets and with my boyfriend tackled the balcony as well. We donated about six bags of clothes, some dishes, threw out seven or eight bags of trash overall and took an old, heavy printer to the recycling center.

I’ve talked about clearing the clutter before. So this time around, I’m calling my writer friend Janel Gradowski for backup to talk to us about clearing the clutter from our writing spaces.

Her article, “Creativity Vitamin: Clean the Clutter”, also appeared on FFDO when the #fridayflash community website was still up and running, but since it closed last year, I really wanted to share this article again, with as many people as possible.
Hope you enjoy this as much as I have!

~~~

A messy work space leads to a messy mind. You have heard some version of that phrase, haven’t you? Clearing the clutter from my writing space is something I make a point to do on a regular basis. I am really not a neat freak, I can happily ignore stacks of mail on the kitchen table or precariously stacked video game boxes on the entertainment center. The reason I regularly clean up my writing space is simple. I’m more productive. That is good enough for me to spend some quality time doing clutter control on a regular basis. A clean work space leads to a less-cluttered mind.

Don’t believe me? Imagine this scenario.

You are in the middle of writing a scene. You pause for a few seconds to ponder the perfect detail to add to your villain’s appearance. Your gaze wanders from your computer screen to a stack of unopened mail. Yes, most of it is junk mail, but there are bills in the pile that could be overdue. You abandon your writing to sort through mail. Clutter has claimed more victims. You and your WIP.

Have you ever written down notes for a project and then lost them? However, in your search through the mountains of paper on your desk you did discover some notes for another story. Notes that would’ve made that story much better, but it’s too late because it has already been published. Now you’re frustrated about two stories.

Maybe you have a favorite pen that you like to edit hard copies with. What happens if you sit down with a stack of pages to edit and you can’t find the pen? You could grab another one, but there’s also a good chance you’ll waste time searching for the coveted pen. There went a nice chunk of editing time.

So how do you get your writing space clean? If your desk is a huge mess, you can tackle your clean up in stages.

  • Throughout the work day when you need to take a break, clean up a few things.
  • Sort through one pile or area at a time.
  • Set up files to keep necessary items and always have your garbage can nearby.
  • Maybe buy, or make, some nice pen holders or boxes to organize notepads, paperclips, sticky notes, etc.
  • If you tend to keep your space neat anyway, make sure to set aside some time each week to do a clutter control sweep.
  • Don’t view the process as a household chore…think of it as a benefit to your writing life.

Are you ready to start cleaning up your writing space, or do you always keep it clean?

~~~

janelMore about the author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

You can find her via her Website, sign up for her Newsletter, or follow her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Goodreads.

2016, September 30

Review: George HS Singer’s, Ergon

PoeticButton

Today’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, this Autumn. Last month, I received the poetry book, Ergon, for review. At first, even though I do love poetry, I wasn’t sure I’d have the time to finish reading it, but after securing an end-of-the-month date for the blog tour stop, I said “Yes.”

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

ERGON_coverPublished by WordTech Editions, who describe this book as: “George Singer’s Ergon is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.”, you can find the poetry book, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

My copy of the book arrived in the week before I left for holiday, and given it’s 86 pages long, I decided to take it with me. I’ve taken novels on holiday with me before and then after arriving home felt all sorts of bad about not having enough time to read more than a couple of chapters.
Well, Ergon was the perfect holiday read!

The book is composed of four parts: Visiting, Ergon, Our Quotidian and Immensity. They, in George’s own words, cover the themes of:

  1. “The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down.
    the stars across the axis of the sky,
    light enough to walk without stumbling.”

The poems aren’t too long, they can be read in a fast pace, and as you can see listed above, their themes are varied in complexity. I can honestly say I haven’t read a poetry book quite like this one before. The poems give the vibe of being written with such ease despite the depth and warmth carried through.

My boyfriend read some of the poems as well, we read together; and I highly recommend this book for any couple if they want something truly interesting to read and talk about curled up on the couch together.

Here’s the early praise for the book:

“Singer’s work is wise, vulnerable, empty and full, erotic and spiritual, intimate and lonely, his source of metaphor the keenly-witnessed natural world. Ergon  is a book about abiding love but also illness, lobotomies, and long-held grief; its landscape is one in which the buffaloes with ‘eyes sad as Lincoln’s’ plow through the fence and break into the temple, where the Buddha is ‘poised with one palm open, one touching the trampled ground.’ Go to the forest or the shore and read this book, and while you’re at it, don’t underestimate the ferocity of these deeply adult and nuanced poems.”—Diane Seuss

“With his first book of poems, Ergon, George H. S. Singer takes his place among a rich tradition of California poets for whom the literary sphere is outlined not only in aesthetic terms but in natural, ethical, and spiritual dimensions as well.  This humane poetic runs recently from Hass to Hirshfield, Snyder to Herrera, but traces its origins to the ethos of Aristotle, who defines ‘ergon’ as ‘the core function or purpose of something or someone’; virtue then ‘arises when ergon is realized fully.’  Singer is a maker of contemporary devotions out of the dross and commotion of a daily life—out of false teeth, frayed cords, mouse nests and into the sphere ‘of celestial fire where the souls / of extinct birds are turned into gems.’  It’s not alchemy but faith. It’s not caprice but capability to see the spirited world within the known one, capability to approach in language the ‘eternal silence of these spaces between the stars.’”—David Baker

“With dignity and that slight irreverence that convinces you he’s telling the truth, George Singer creates his rich, lucid poems about the core of our human condition, our Ergon. Moving, surprising, erotic and profound, Singer’s poems take us around the world and through personal history—from the unexpected humor of daily life inside a Buddhist temple to the terrible inverted logic of a sanitarium for the insane, or from a sexual spark in a long marriage, to eons of geological time. Ergon marks the debut of a splendid poet with a sensibility that might make you more observant, and far lighter on your mental feet. A person could get wise reading poems of such warmth and depth.”—Molly Peacock

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

2016, September 2

Where George HS Singer’s poetry comes from, in Ergon

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which lasts throughout this month. I will also have a review of the book up, on September 30th, so make sure to check back in for that.

In her description of the blog tour, Serena Agusto-Cox, mentioned that George Singer is a former Buddhist monk and professor in his 60s, who has written his first poetry collection with the help of Molly Peacock. That immediately drew my attention, and I wanted to know more about George’s background.

I always find it fascinating to find out where poetry “comes from”.

~~~

ERGON_coverHow has being a monk and professor, and publishing a first poetry book later in life shaped you?

Becoming a Zen monk has shaped my life as much as any of the major influences most of us experience— the family we are born into, school, friendships, the encounter with history, and marriage. I became a monk as a young man of 20, took up the practice and the relationship with my Zen master with great enthusiasm and stayed with it for ten years. Although later in life I developed a bit of distance from the belief system, I have meditated everyday since in one form or another and my experience of it is central to my on-going experience of life. I was never very good at being a monk. I’m very spacey and so as an example of a mindful person I am an embarrassment. However, the tradition I was exposed to (Serene Reflection Meditation—Soto Zen) has offered me the experience of something fundamental that I think of as mercy. Early in my time as a monk one of my brother monks lost his sister to suicide. One of my poems in my book is about how my teacher helped him through his grief. There is a lot of silence in a Zen monastery and much is communicated through bells, clanging of mallets on wooden blocks, drums, and chimes:

…each ting of the little bell,
the inkin, rode time all the way

to the periphery, trailing off out
of reach of the ear— the same
with the in and out of breath.

The silence and the wordless signals came in time to say something to me about mercy. Here, from the same poem, is my imaging of how my friend gained some relief from his terrible loss:

He thought then that Jean, his little sister,
would somehow be alright and, if
there were to be rain, he would be
the downpour. And he was taken up
by something like mercy.

Regarding being a professor, mostly, I feel that academia has offered me a kind of safe harbor where I am able to exercise my strengths and where people are generally tolerant of my several weaknesses.

I found that the kind of writing and teaching that I do as an academic rarely allows for expression of the emotional and spiritual dimensions of my life that seem closest to my sense of who I am and how I belong (or not) in the world. Initially I thought that I might use poetry to honor my Zen teacher and our tradition. However, I soon branched out and also eventually realized that I was sounding preachy in my writing and needed to try to be less some kind of font of wisdom and more simply to express the voice of the mixed and necessarily limited person that I am. If I have a credo in my poetry it is the notion that nothing is unmixed—that life is inexpressibly wondrous and terribly painful and both arise together at the same time. I also know that the experience, which is most fundamental to me, is wordless and so there is an inevitable limitation in trying to write about what is most important. To me the tool kit available through the art of poetry allows the possibility of at least hovering over that which I wish could be said, if not to enter into it. I am forgetting who said that language does violence to experience but that poetry is the language that does the least of such violence.

Probably anyone who is reading this remembers a first experience as a child of reading a poem or a passage that really spoke to them. For me this happened in 6th grade after the death of my best friend. It seemed to me that everyone around acted as if death was not real or should not be talked about. A poem by Longfellow with the phrase “foot prints in the sand” struck me like lightening one day in class. I realized that I was not the only one who had thought about mortality. I started finding that literature was a balm for loneliness and that it offered a way to touch upon, if not enter into, other people’s minds and that there were extraordinary writers who offered this communion. So I hold onto the ambition that one of my poems might serve this purpose of dispelling isolation for someone else who might be in need of communion with another mind concerned about some of the basics.

What themes have you covered in the poems?  

  1. The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down:

the stars across the axis of the sky,
light enough to walk without stumbling.

Have you always written poetry or only after “retiring” from the monastery?

I wanted to be a poet when I was in college. I fell in love with French literature and thought the musicality of the language got at something beyond the meaning of the words. I stopped writing after dropping out of Yale and becoming a monk and did not take it up again until I was 40. I entered into a wonderful mentoring relationship with the poet, Molly Peacock, who continues to help me with my writing over a quarter of a century later. I also have benefited greatly from the wonderful opportunities to learn at the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H., summers. I’ve been particularly appreciative of faculty there including Patrick Donnelly, David Baker, and Diane Seuss. Over the years I have developed an intense love of poetry as an art. It gives me great joy to encounter a new poet or to be given the gift by a fine writer of a new poem.

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to address them.

~~~

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after when he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

Published by WordTech Editions, you can find George’s 86 pages long poetry book, Ergon, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

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