Random thoughts: writing true to you, book trailers and Gary Shteyngart

BEING TRUE TO YOU: I was reminded on seeing this book trailer of my aspirational days when an editor told me that if I decided to focus on writing books for children, the primary characters should be boys. The reason, he said, was that girls will read books about boys but boys won’t read books about girls. I was also advised not to write about politics or religion. I understand his concerns: salability. Nonetheless, I write what I will. I hope you do too. It’s about being true to yourself and true to the story you have to tell.

(Note: if you are reading from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the site to view the two videos included in today’s post.)


BOOK TRAILERS: I don’t particularly care for the above book trailer. Occasionally I like to pop over to YouTube and check out what authors and publishers are doing.  Over time I’ve found that the ones that are truly appealing (and therefore memorable) are the ones where the writer can be a bit of a ham and doesn’t take herself or himself too seriously.

GRAY SHTEYNGART: This one (below) was produced a few years ago. I rather like it. It’s not surprising that it’s good. Gary Shteyngart (Absurdistan, A Novel) is brilliant and a satirist. The trailer is for Little Failure, A Memoirpublished in 2013.


Gary Shteyngart at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

“Do not throw away your heart. Keep your heart. Your heart is all that matters … Throw away your ancestors! … Throw away your shyness and the anger that lies just a few inches beneath … Accept the truth! And if there is more than one truth, then learn to do the difficult work — learn to choose. You are good enough, you are HUMAN ENOUGH, to choose!” Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story.

Shteyngart photograph courtesy of Mark Coggins under CC BY-SA 2.0 license


 

In honor of Derek Walcott who died a few days ago, the recommended read for this week is The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.  Walcott first poem was published when he was fourteen and this book was published in his 84th year. Never more than now has the world needed the grace, wisdom and universality of his poetry. This is a must add to your poetry book collection.  It doesn’t include the epic Omerosalso recommended, but it does include some of his earlier work that I have not seen included elsewhere.


By shopping at Amazon through The Word Play Shop and using the book links embedded in posts, you help to support the maintenance of this site. Thank you! (Some book links will just lead to info about the book or poet/author and not to Amazon.)

The WordPlay Shop offers books and other tools especially selected for poets and writers.

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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry … me and Walt …

800px-69stpier5bbtjehSundays, summer ferry rides,
crossing the rough wide Hudson
from Brooklyn to Staten Island,
from one brave shore to another,
stalked by a colony of seagulls,
the boat frothing white waves in
its habitual and deliberate path.

I’d collect the cold green spray in
my warm hands, framing the tidbit
of raw river in the cup of my palms,
a child-self awed by the pleasures,
by whimsy and an affinity, organic
and ecstatic, like spindrift whorling
as if a dervish from boisterous waves

“And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.” Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ the 69th Street Pier: before the Verranzano Narrows Bridge was built, a ferry service ran between this Bay Ridge pier and the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island.The photograph was released into the public domain.


In honor of Derek Walcott who died a few days ago, the recommended read for this week is The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.  Walcott first poem was published when he was fourteen and this book was published in his 84th year. Never more than now has the world needed the grace, wisdom and universality of his poetry. This is a must add to your poetry book collection.  It doesn’t include the epic Omerosalso recommended, but it does include some of his earlier work that I have not seen included elsewhere.


By shopping at Amazon through The Word Play Shop and using the book links embedded in posts, you help to support the maintenance of this site. Thank you! (Some book links will just lead to info about the book or poet/author and not to Amazon.)

The WordPlay Shop offers books and other tools especially selected for poets and writers.

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

LITERATURE AND FICTION oo Editor’s Picks oo Award Winners oo NY Times Best Sellers

If the man in the moon had a voice, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

Grape-Shotlet’s flee to the moon
to that so improbable moon
hanging in the sky, like a
bubble of blanc de noir, sweet ~
pouring into the dark and dusty
corners of life, honoring its vow
to keep our nights alive with light and
filled with the moon man’s wise old eye

oh, what stories could he tell, would he tell,
if the man in the moon had a voice
and we had the ears to hear

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Illustration ~ from a 1915 magazine, a lady taking a ride on a champagne cork, public domain


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

What would be your fantasy about the moon?  Tells us in poem or prose and share the link to the piece in the comments section below if you are comfortable doing so that we all might read it. This is light one.  Enjoy!


In honor of Derek Walcott who died a few days ago, the recommended read for this week is The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.  Walcott first poem was published when he was fourteen and this book was published in his 84th year. Never more than now has the world needed the grace, wisdom and universality of his poetry. This is a must add to your poetry book collection.  It doesn’t include the epic Omerosalso recommended, but it does include some of his earlier work that I have not seen included elsewhere.


By shopping at Amazon through The Word Play Shop and using the book links embedded in posts, you help to support the maintenance of this site. Thank you! (Some book links will just lead to info about the book or poet/author and not to Amazon.)

The WordPlay Shop offers books and other tools especially selected for poets and writers.

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

LITERATURE AND FICTION oo Editor’s Picks oo Award Winners oo NY Times Best Sellers

DELVING DEEP … Poets respond to last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt

 

 

WRITING PROMPT

This particular poem – Once Upon A Sea Green Day – was inspired by the memory of a day when my high school boy friend and I went from Brooklyn to Staten Island and found a obsure Tibetan monestary in the hills there. The monks were kind (and I suspect patient) and showed us their flower and vegetable gardens and an old well-loved version of the Book of the Dead. This later was most intriguing to us: a Catholic and a Jew steeped in their respective traditions.

We were young and cock sure and probably our own deaths seemed more hypothetical than real; but we speculated on Buddhism from our positions of profound ignorance. In its way, it was a good exercise. It made us begin to seriously examine the received wisdom of our traditions. For me it was the beginning of an adventure that was to last a lifetime. I did leave behind the grief, guilt and superstition; but here were some aspects of the tradition of my childhood for which I gained a respect that probably never would have evolved without examination.

What about you? What were the beliefs and enthusiasms of your youth? How have these (religious or not) been modified over time? Tell us in a poem or short creative nonfiction.


Renee Espiru (Renee Just Turtle Flight) said this prompt “caused me to delve deep” … and so she did. Here’s here response.

A MIRACLE OF THE HEART

I was but ten years old and fearless
steeped in the tradition of miracles
brought about by steadfast prayer

symbols of candles and holy water
rituals with the heavy smell of incense
chimes and bells extolling virtues

of those who gazed upon a crucifix
a man’s body nailed upon its’ image
a man whose story repeated as an echo

through time, through space in my head
someone I would never meet and who
lived in a distant past Jerusalem

I never questioned as my prayers filled
the vast void of my heart in need
of those miracles I believed would come

when an accident left you living
but only a shadow of who you once were
leaving me with unfulfilled prayers

feeling betrayed by a belief system
filled with rituals of incense and bells
of symbolic candles and crosses

a lifetime spent in understanding
that beliefs are what you make of them
that systems may not work or betray

that what I believe in is far greater
than myself a universe not made by people
that churches are made by people

when numbers far outweigh ones’ fear
solace and joy can need to be shared
that I loved you despite everything

© March 2017 Renee Espriu


From Sonja Benskin Mesher

.as a child.

tell us things, take us without consent. there are no records.

mine are all destroyed. ask them. there are no answers.

so we attended regularly, varied chancel houses, over

time. sit up, stand up, sit down, recite, remember, stand.

up for yourself at last.

do not believe all that you are told, all that you like to.

think about it.

you wanted to believe that you believed that.

the truth is.

you did not.

© sbm.


And from Paul Brooks (The Womb Well Rainbow):

Work For The Answer

In my youth
I wanted to be
a mash up of Samuel Beckett
and Bertolt Brecht.

Thought I had
a religious vocation,
took two years to decide

with a horticultural job,
shovel and callouses,
tended flowers, swept up
leaves, preferred
worker’s language
to the church.
The religious answer
was it will all be sorted
when He comes again.

Sold Socialist Worker
on street corners
marched, picketed
council leader’s homes,

lost a job as a casual
postman
because I refused
to cross a picket line

attended Marxist
conferences where
I lost my luggage.
The political answer
was it will all be sorted
come the Revolution.

Still waiting for Godot
to blend with Mother Courage.

I think I shall
relax, meditate,
on the question.
Accept what cannot
be changed, change
what I can sort,
and disregard the rest.

© Paul Brookes


In honor of Derek Walcott who died a few days ago, the recommended read for this week is The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.  Walcott first poem was published when he was fourteen and this book was published in his 84th year. Never more than now has the world needed the grace, wisdom and universality of his poetry. This is a must add to your poetry book collection.  It doesn’t include the epic Omeros, also recommended, but it does include some of his earlier work that I have not seen included elsewhere.


By shopping at Amazon through The Word Play Shop and using the book links embedded in posts, you help to support the maintenance of this site. Thank you! (Some book links will just lead to info about the book or poet/author and not to Amazon.)

The WordPlay Shop offers books and other tools especially selected for poets and writers.

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

LITERATURE AND FICTION oo Editor’s Picks oo Award Winners oo NY Times Best Sellers