Friday, February 15, 2019

Tobi Alfier - Insomnia

Overview of this Week from an Insomniac’s Standpoint

Last Wednesday night I was in bed listening to the rain, thinking about my blog post. I thought “I can’t write one this week, I have nothing to say”.  But heck yeah, I did do a lot of poetry stuff this week. And I think that you probably did too! Even on weeks where you think your life got in the way of all your writing, it didn’t. I bet writing had a place at your table. Maybe the kid’s table, but don’t sweat it, and don’t worry about it. Not every week can be the Super Bowl of writing.

Some of the poetry things I did this week were:

  1. Every day I check the LinkedIn group I moderate. It’s called “Poetry Editors and Poets”. There are 33,690 participants. I add new people, delete the posts that don’t follow our rules, read the comments and offer some of my own, when appropriate. It’s not “my” group. I am just the moderator. You are welcome to join if you’d like.

  1. Every day I check Facebook. Most of my friends are writers, editors, and family. Most of my posts are about writing, or family. I NEVER put anything political on my page.

I am also in some groups which have submission opportunities, list acceptances and rejections, and ask editing questions. I participate as appropriate, and get lots of ideas for places to submit.

  1. One rejection this past week, and two acceptances. An acceptable ratio.

  1. Five poems were up in Peacock Journal.

  1. Two poems were written, reviewed, edited, edited some more, slept on and still respected.

  1. One of the two poems has been submitted.

  1. Three submissions were done.

  1. I received an invitation to submit to the second issue of January Review

This is a very nice looking on-line journal. I know some of the poets in the inaugural issue (from Facebook), and I am very grateful to the editor for the invitation. It’s an opportunity for you too.  Note: an invitation to submit is not an automatic acceptance. The poems I send may not go with the others received. The editor may not like them. I treat an invitation as an opportunity, and consider what I send in the same way as any other opportunity. I may get a rejection, I may not. You may get accepted, so try them!

  1. Continued my limited research on ekphrastic poetry for a Facebook friend and for a discussion on LinkedIn. Although I would not consider writing this form very often, the photograph by Justin Hamm that I mentioned last week for the Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge completely captivated me. I had to write about it. One of the two poems I wrote this week was inspired by Justin’s photograph. My poem stands on its own though, so it can be submitted even without the photograph. Whether or not this poem fits the “true” criteria of ekphrastic, I don’t know.
I say all the time that Jeff’s photographs inspire me, (thank goodness because I don’t travel anymore).  The poems I write based on his photos and texts definitely stand on their own.

  1. Continued my limited research on ghazals for no reason.  They fascinate me intellectually, but I have only read a few contemporary ghazals that I like. “19 Ghazal Street” by Laura Kaminski has some lovely poems.
I’ll never forget, when Laura was putting her manuscript together, I had a poem published in The Galway Review. It inspired her to write a ghazal and she actually pulled a poem out of her manuscript, and replaced it with the one I inspired.  That was an honor I don’t think will ever happen again. My poem was:

The Cobbler

There’s stillness on the street.
Clouds vanish
as streetlights flicker
and nocturnals roam.

In his locked store, the cobbler
is at his bench with one desklight.
He hammers grommets onto leather
supple as a mirage.

Behind the darkened window,
his awls, his fingers, his craft.

He pours himself into Sunday wingtips
that will touch the grass beneath an arbor,
leaves rustling above.

The cobbler will know the steps
of their every dance.

My point? We all have commitments and sometimes we can’t spend as much time as we’d like on our writing. Does that mean you’ve done nothing? I’m not campaigning for insomnia, but as long as you keep your eyes and ears open during waking hours…you’re going to hear that crackle of the tree as a squirrel climbs it in pouring rain. You’ll see the handkerchief-folded-into-a-flower name tag of the waitress who puts your food down on a perfectly symmetrical plate. You’ll notice a branch stuck in the gutter, and something shiny kept from being washed away forever by that branch. The poems may not come out today. They may not come out tomorrow. But they will come out. Make a list of what you’ve accomplished, or don’t make one, but don’t worry. The words are in the background, just humming along, waiting.

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


  1. Wonderful poem. You, Tobi, are never dull. Your writing and spirit is infectious, the kind of infection I look forward to. Thanks!

    1. Gosh, thank you so much! If there's ever anything you'd like me to write about specifically, please let me know. I'm always looking for ideas. Thank you!

  2. I don't think it's at all boring. This time I only had to look up the definition of two words.

    1. Sorry. I don't want to make you have to look up words. I'll try to explain odd sounding things as I go from now on. Thank you for reading!

  3. Oh, Toby! Now I know for sure that I have missed you for too long (my fault) An enchanting poem!
    BTW: It's me, Marjon. Forget Veronica, please.

  4. Hi Marjon, I couldn't call you anything other than that, don't worry!! When you're not submitting and winning contests, you can go back and read past blogs posts if you want. I've been writing them weekly since last April - only took the week between Christmas and New Year's off. I'm so glad to see you. Thank you for reading this!!


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