Tag Archives: Diane Lockward

How to Practice Your Poetry: Diane Lockward’s Latest Craft Book

Let’s pretend I haven’t gone to Tennessee yet, ok? Then when I finally blog about it, it will be very timely. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know something more important to you if you write poetry. And after I tell you about a new book for poets, I’ll tell you where I was at the end of last week 😉 so keep reading. Hint: fabulous hotel in Phoenix.

Diane Lockward has published her third wonderful craft book, The Practicing PoetClick on the following image to find the book at Amazon.

If you have read her earlier books, The Crafty Poet and The Crafty Poet II you already know how incredibly helpful Diane’s “portable workshops” are.  Although the new book is third in the series, you can start with any of the books. They all offer tips, prompts, and sample poems, based on the prompts. There is also a connection with the free newsletter that Diane publishes. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

I will tell you that one of the sample poems was contributed by moi. The prompt, which I first encountered in one of the newsletters, involved choosing a home you once lived in and returning to it after a long absence. I wrote about the house of my early childhood in “Finding the House on Trimble Street.” I wrote it in the form of a haibun (a prose poem that ends with a haiku), although the prompt had not asked for that form. This is one of my favorite parts of the poem: “Sometimes it was a tornado with its green sky, and sometimes it was a bomb with its puff of smoke and a white rabbit in the magician’s hat.”

I’ve loved Lockward’s first two craft books more than any other that I’ve used in the past, so I can’t wait to practice my poetry with this one.

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This past Thursday-Saturday was the NonfictioNOW conference that was held in Phoenix at the gorgeously reconstructed Renaissance Phoenix Hotel. My friend Kimberly is a cohort from the Stanford creative nonfiction program we were in, and we were able to spend time together. I also saw local friends at the conference, as well. Some good sessions, one not so interesting to me, and all in all a good experience. I want to give a lil shoutout to the Renaissance. They were positively amazing. They had plenty of smiling staff to help, from parking our cars, to helping us find our way, to serving breakfast and beverages and so on. I have never had a hotel experience with such attentive staff. Unlike the AWP in Tampa last March where I was parched and couldn’t get to water between sessions, water stations were set up and refilled frequently. If you are a nonfiction writer, this is a conference you might want to consider for 2019 or 2020. 2019 will be outside the U.S., but I believe 2020 will be back in a location here.

When entering the Renaissance . . .

A sitting area in the lobby

Upstairs

A massive ballroom light fixture

 

 

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Filed under Book Review, Poetry, Writing, Writing prompt

The Doll Collection: A Book Review

Poet Nicole Cooley, in her introduction to The Doll Collection, makes the connection for readers:

I have always thought that dolls and poems are a natural combination. Ever since I was a child, my dolls were part of my writing, as I arranged them into orphanages with my sister and wrote my own stories and poems about them. Now, I love to bring images of dolls to my poetry workshops for writing exercises.

I am as excited about bringing dolls and poetry together as Cooley seems to be. But she has taken it a step further by bringing dolls into the writing classroom. In the beginning, her students are reluctant to take dolls seriously as a muse for writing. But then she describes how they end up creating “uncanny, strange, frightening, and beautiful images.”

Diane Lockward chose this subject for the first book of her new press, Terrapin Books, and she has edited with great care. Because no poet has more than one poem in the anthology the variety of styles and subjects piques the imagination.  I’ve never read an anthology where I felt such excitement at each turn of the page.

My favorite poem in the book—and realize that this is saying a whole heckuva lot because the poems are stunning—is Christopher Citro’s “The Secret Lives of Little Girls.” This is a poem I wish I had written. I’m achingly jealous of it.

The Secret Lives of Little Girls

 

How loudly you can groan if you just use your eyes.

Children are adept at this, twelve-year-old girls especially.

Alone, high in mountain caves along cliffsides

accessible solely by toeholds and birds of prey,

they deflate and slouch a bit in ease.

At such times they might play jacks or jump a rope,

its woven line slapping the cave roof, freeing

gypsum flowers to flutter down in fragments

over reeking hides and doll parts piled in corners,

a sleeping area of matted glossy magazines,

a fire ring of rolled socks in parti-colored balls,

simple flint implements, a clamshell for stripping pelts,

small animal bones for holding a bow in the hair,

a pompom here and there caked with glitter and mud.

Hidden in the back beyond reach of firelight, a dollhouse—

perfectly split down the center as eggs rarely are—

where the gods live. The mommy god and the daddy god

stand facing each other either side of a four-poster bed,

a cellophane fire in the living room hearth below.

A dining room table set for three, three plates, three napkins,

and cutlery—a clear plastic goblet at each place.

In the daughter chair, an acorn balanced atop an acorn.

A smile scraped into the top one,

presumably by sharpened antler bone.

I’m imagining a little girl’s room as an eagle’s aerie—a difficult-to-reach, glamorous, gritty, dangerous space.

But there are so many other showstoppers. Do you know what a Frozen Charlotte is? Nicole brings up this doll in her introduction, and Susan de Sola’s “Frozen Charlotte” explores this doll/dead girl. Read the book to find out the story behind the doll.

“Doll Heads,” by Richard Garcia, will rip your guts out with its brutal reality.

There is even a poem, written by Susan Elbe, about Colleen Moore’s dollhouse at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  My own book Doll God might have its roots in that dollhouse. When I was a kid, we used to visit the museum regularly—and each time I refused to leave until we toured the doll house, just once more.

You will love these poems.  They will grab you at a visceral level and not let you go.

Go. read.

 

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

More Doll Poems!

If I told you there is a new poetry collection about dolls out, you would say that is news I’ve been spouting for a long time, right? But this isn’t my book that I’m talking about. This is an anthology of poems by dozens and dozens of poets–and every poem is about a doll or dolls. The book is appropriately titled The Doll Collection.

The minute I opened the book to the table of contents I got excited. Dream dolls, paper dolls, Barbies, doll makers, puppets, mother’s doll, and doll heads. There is even a poem about the doll I have written about in my unfinished memoir: the red riding hood doll that flips around to be the wolf and/or the grandma! There is a pregnant doll. There are dark poems about loss and violence.  There are poems brimming with heart or compassion or longing.

The pens behind these poems were held by a large variety of poets (OK, give me a little poetic license on that one–we can pretty much figure most were written on keyboards), including many luminaries like Chana Bloch, Kelly Cherry, Denise Duhamel, Jeffrey Harrison, and many more.

Oh, and there is a poem from Doll God in there, too: “Marriage Doll.” Woot!

What a wonderful book for anybody who loves beautiful, accessible poems–and particularly for anybody who has ever loved a doll. 

LIGHTBULB FLASH!!! Or a cooler idea yet would be to buy a pair of books: The Doll Collection and Doll God.  What a great gift! Mother’s Day? Spring birthday? Just because?

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Weddings plans are in the works for son and his fiancee! They are looking a year out, but lots of preparation is already going on!

We went to California again. I’ll try to post a couple of photos of that hideous drive later this week.  Hahahaha.

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Filed under Books, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing