Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quote for the Week: Silence by Edgar Lee Masters

 I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities -
We cannot speak.

A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
"How did you lose your leg?"
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg,
It comes back jocosely
And he says, "A bear bit it off."
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe.

There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc
Saying amid the flames, "Blessed Jesus" -
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.

And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?
Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.
*The New Poetry, H. Monroe & A. Henderson, eds., The Macmillan Company

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Interview with Jennyy Zirkelbach, Poet

Jenny Zirkelbach is my niece, the daughter of my late husband's younger brother.  I first discovered her poetry when she read a poem at her grandmother's funeral.  I decided to interview this budding talent.

TZ When did you begin writing poetry?

JZ  I discovered that I had a talent for writing about four years ago, but I began to develop my interest and passion for poetry last year.

TZ What inspired you to start writing?

JZ My inspiration was derived from the talent I saw in myself.  After I had written my first poem, I said to myself, "Gee, that's pretty good!"  I've always been a very emotional, passionate person about love, life, and even society.  I have a lot to say, and I found a way to express that.  After discovering my talent for writing, I realized that I could say more through my poetry than through any other means.  The people who know me best would say that I have no "filter" and they are right.  Poetry allows me to express whatever I want.  So my ultimate inspiration is society, and the more I write, the more inspired I become.

TZ Have you published any poems, or do you write for yourself?

JZ I am not yet published; however, I write not only for myself but for others.  I want to be heard.  I want to know that my writing is something that others can relate to.  I want the people and things in life that inspire me to become inspired by me.

TZ Do you have any goals, such as doing a poetry chapbook, entering contests, etc.?

JZ I just know that I love what I write, and I believe others will love it, too.  That is my goal.  I want to be published, and how this is achieved is irrelevant.  If I see a contest, I will enter it.  At this point, I am ready to show the world what I've got.  Also, I am currently a full-time communications major.  My eudcation ties into this very strategically.  I am a very skilled academic writer, and poetry is not my only area of interest.  My goal is to be able to utilize my communications degree in a field that pays me to do what I love. I even have a book idea that I'm working on.

TZ  What's your writing process?  Do you write regularly or just when something inspires you? 

JZ I write regularly and when I'm feeling inspired.  I am trying to build my collection of poems so I tend to force myself through my busy schedule to sit and write.  As for inspired writing, this is a time when I have to write.  Writing is my coping mechanism.

TZ  Any advice for poets?

JZ I believe that the best advice is the product of our own imagination.  Nobody can tell you what you can or cannot write about.  Poetry is often personal.  It is typically developed from our own experiences and holds an intrinsic meaning.  Let your passion drive you to create your own perception of perfection.  If someone else doesn't think your work is prefect, then your work is not meant for them.

TZ Here is a poem by Jenny.

Many names, many faces
Sometimes cowardly, sometimes courageous
Not yet an angel, not quite the devil
Sometimes foolish, sometimes practical

Time tells tales, time hold secrets
Fearfully open, fearfully reluctant
Suspended by antiquity, suspended by destiny
Fearful dependency, fearful liberty.

Exploring the illuminated, exploring the obscure
Bound by integrity, testing the impure
Ablaze is the desire, frigid is my patience
Frozen by purity, scorching with complacence.

Balancing the level, rocking the boat
Deliberating the waters, staying afloat
Improvising for survival, utilizing the tools
Improving my chances, searching for renewal.

Of the many places, of the many chances
Sometimes calamity, sometimes advances
Sometimes relic, sometimes futuristic
Not quite the devil, not yet angelic.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Birth of a Memoir, Part 4: Birth

Labor was tough, but birth was a breeze, at least it is so far.  I went over my proofs, made a few corrections, and asked some people I love and respect to give me quotes for the back cover.  My son took my picture and within a few weeks, I received my advance copy.  My daughter glanced at it and said, "How strange to see your real name on the cover."  (When I wrote romance I wrote under a pseudonym because when I first published, Harlequin required one.  Anyway, if I'd used my real name, I'd have been a Z under Alpha by Author and who browses the shelves all the way to Z?  But I'm Z now and that's okay.  The book isn't up on Amazon yet but you can be sure when it is, I'll announce it here.  Hope you'll come back and watch for the birth announcement.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Poem by Peggy Muir, Contributor to On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties

Valentine Poem 2/14/13

The night before major surgery

I told you we would never have enough time together.

You replied, "But we have forever."

And that seems to be true.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Birth of a Memoir, Part 3: Labor

If writing a memoir is hard, it's nothing compared to finding the right publisher.  The labor pains are enormous, and sometimes you feel you should never have started this project.  Will it ever be an actual book?

Winston Churchill said, "Never never never give up," so I didn't.  I got some complimentary feedback:  "We like this book but we've just published something similar."  "Well-written but not for us."  Etc, etc.

Finding a publisher is like dating.  You really do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the right match.  Last summer I sent a proposal to Mazo Publishing, based in Florida and Jerusalem.  They publish books containing some Jewish content, and since my husband and I were an interfaith couple, it fit their needs. 

And yes, I'm just about ready to give birth.  Stumbling Through the Dark should be out soon.  Hooray!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Books of January

I read Wolf Hall several years ago, but I re-read it because my book club is reading it and there was so much I didn't remember.  I loved it the first time and the second time, too.  I am fascinated with Tudor England and this book brought Thomas Cromwell, who has always been a sinister and shadowy figure, to life.  A+

Another book club selection.  Pleasant enough story revolving around a knitting shop in a small New England town.  Sweet but not great.  B

Book club again.  This is Toni Morrison's first novel and it reminded me why I can never get through one of her books.   Yes, it's a great American novel but not to my taste.

A short and loving look at the death of the author's father-in-law with suggestions on what to do to prepare for the end of a loved one's life.  A

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Quote for the Week

A bird can fly because he takes himself lightly.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Birth of a Memoir: , Part 2, Gestation

If you read last week's post, you'll recall I decided to write a memoir about my husband's final year.  How would I do it?  Not a clue.  I'd written romance novels, but this wasn't a happily-ever-after tale.  Not even close.
I would need to learn new skills,

I searched the web and by great good fortune found Gotham Writers Workshop.  Not only could I learn about memoir writing but I could do it from home, sans makeup, wearing pajamas, barefoot, hair uncombed.  Perfect.

I signed up for Memoir I  and eventually II and III and began the long process of relating the triumphs and tragedies of our journey from diagnosis to death.

 Diagnosis:  "You have acute myelongenous leukemia.  The type you have is very difficult to cure.  The nurse will tell you about the clinical trial"--tone:  disinterested; manner, hurried.  When my daughter asked about standard treatment, the doctor's tone changed to angry.  "Go home.  Standard treatmemt is not what this hospital is about.  We are the largest leukemia center in the world.  Clinical trials are WHAT WE DO." 

Death:  I don't have to tell you about that.  Everyone's death is unique; yet every death is the same.  Hemingway said all true stories end in death. 

But back to the writing process.  It was long, arduous, often painful.  I wrote and rewote.  Finally the first draft was finished.  And then, crash.  As in computer crash.  The afternoon before Thanksgiving (Why do all such things happen around holidays?) I was merrily typing at my computer when it took its last breath (or whatever you call a machine's last gasp) and expired.  I cried and cried and wanted to kick myself becuase, of course, I didn't have a complete hard copy of the manuscript.  Outcome:  I met the nice computer guy who has fixed my glitches ever since.  This one, alas, could not be fixed.  So I told myself if I could rewrite one sentence, I could rewrite the entire manuscript.  And I did.  I also got an off-line back up service.  I have recently upgraded to the business/professional rate so I can talk to a real person in an emergency instead of a ghostly online specter.

And so, accompanied by my fellow memoirists, I finished the manscript.  If gestation was rough, what followed was brutal.  Next week:  Part 3, Labor.


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