Saturday, April 6, 2019

Tobi Alfier - How’d You Do This Week?

So it wasn’t a full week, and one of the days was April Fool’s Day, but National Poetry Month really did start. How’d you do with your writing-focused tasks? I don’t care if all you did was buy three new notebooks, one for your pocket, one for your purse, and one for your suitcase. If it was for writing, it’s about writing, and good for you!

Some of the things I was privileged, or, humbled, to do, receive, hear about, etc. You know I love lists so I have to number them (and yes, I love commas):

  1. A friend sent me two poems to read and comment on. They were outstanding and I was very thankful she sent them to me. We don’t write the same way at all, and I really have to put myself in her shoes when I read her work. Both of them are ready to be submitted. One of the poems is a sports poem. She’s going to send it to Sport Literate because of last week’s blog post. I have my fingers crossed, not that she needs it.

  1. Speaking of Sport Literate, not only does my husband Jeff have a poem in the new issue, but he took the cover photograph! I can’t claim any responsibility for this but I’m so happy for him. This may be the first time they’ve had a color cover photo.

  1. Another friend sent me poems that her writing group did as an exercise. They wanted to write about sex in a veiled way. I know there’s a niche for more graphic work, but in my opinion, negative capability is especially important when writing about sex. Part of this is because the terms used may become too clinical to be poetic, or too much like you’re back in fifth grade making fart sounds with your elbow. It is possible to write something very lovely AND “mature”.

Note: whenever anyone sends me work, I ask if they want me to just read it, or if they’d like comments. I will NEVER make comments on someone else’s work unless they ask. This writing group said they’d like comments so I’ll be doing that this coming week. I’m really looking forward to it, and yes, there is a way to critique a poem without taking someone off at the knees. I’ll write about that in future posts.

  1. A long-time friend of mine who writes fiction is currently on vacation in Ireland. We have gone with her in the past, on tours led by Men of Worth. They’re a wonderful musical duo who play a lot of concerts across the country. During the summer they lead trips. Each day, we tour (well I usually sit somewhere and write). At night they give concerts. The years Jeff and I have gone, they’ve invited us up to read during the concerts. They are amazingly generous and kind, funny as hell, and brilliant musicians. In their honor I have been posting Scotland and Ireland poems each day on Facebook.

  1. I had a fascinating conversation with my son the other night about psycholinguistics. According to Wikipedia, “The field is concerned with factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend, and produce language”.  I don’t know if this speaks more to fiction or poetry. I don’t know if the field even touches on writing at all, or if it remains WAY over my head. I do think most poets want their poems to be comprehended. They need to acquire the correct language so this can happen. We are lucky, because if we don’t have the right word, we can “produce it” and use a neologism. I do it all the time. “Acquire, use, comprehend, and produce language”.  Let’s just say I did more listening than talking the other night and I’m still processing it all. I found the whole conversation very interesting and a little scary (proud mom realizing how dumb she is).

  1. Jeff is currently at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, Oklahoma. It’s great because he’ll see a lot of our Texas and Oklahoma writer friends, and also meet poets we’ve published. It’s always wonderful to put a name with a face—for them as well as for us. There are a lot of readings at Scissortail and Thursday someone had to cancel. Jeff was invited to read. That was unexpected. I wish I had been there to listen to all the readings, especially Jeff’s. He’s on his way back to the Festival to listen to more today (Friday).

  1. I wrote two poems. They rested. They were edited, reviewed, and are now respected and ready to submit.

  1. On that note, I did two submissions, received one acceptance earlier in the week, and two rejections Thursday, dang it. Such is the life of a writer—I’ll be the first submitting poet to admit it.

  1. Cholla Needles just published “The Gibson Poems”, a new book of poetry by Simon Perchik. Jeff and I LOVE “Uncle Si”; I was so happy to find out that Rich Soos knows him too. The man is a legend. He’s in his nineties and still writes every day! “The Gibson Poems” includes 216 poems. Our copy is already in the house! 

  1. From the Alfier Woodpile, a prompt for you. Use it as a title, a line in a poem, or inspiration. Change the tense, change the sex, use only a part of it (I do that all the time), or don’t use it at all.

If you’ve never tried writing a ten-syllable line poem, try it. Try a five-syllable line poem. Read them out loud; you’ll be amazed at the difference in pacing.

Try couplets, try tercets, try one long stanza, try a pantoum and see where it takes you.

Do whatever makes you happy. But do write something if you can.

“in his pocket, a bus ticket three years old”

We have a poet friend who when he wants to write something fresh and new, he looks out a different window in his house. That’s all he does. Don’t make yourself crazy, take care of commitments, but please, find time to write. National Poetry Month, week two!!

- - - -

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. I feel the same way about your son - proud grandma realizing how dumb she is!

    1. Ah, but you taught him such important stuff. Not poetic, but everyone needs to know how to squish jello through their teeth. xoxo

  2. No no, I'm the proud dumb mom. Everyone already knows you were the cool mom. And I did get some poems out of you, so thank you!! xoxo


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.