Friday, October 11, 2019

Tobi Alfier - I Did It!!! Plus More!!!

Even though I don’t live in the desert, I always check the Cholla Needles website to see what’s been going on. I can’t believe how busy September was, and October’s going to be.

Four Open Poetry readings in October to coincide with Art Tours in Joshua Tree. That, plus the regular 3rd Sunday Open Reading at Space Cowboy from 3-5! I used to love art tours, even without the poetry. How wonderful to have both.

(Note: Last month, as a way to welcome new participants to the Big Read events, Rich ordered 50 copies of My Words: Journal, Diary, Writing Notebook. He’s already given out 42 copies. If you look at the photos for the readings, you’ll see a woman reading a poem from her notebook).

Also on the website: Brian Beatty’s been introducing us to a great poet each week, and poetry he’s written as a result of their influence. Last week he wrote about Thomas Merton and this week Galway Kinnell. There’s an author page for the wonderful Cynthia Anderson, with reviews and info about her books, a bio, and poems you can read and hear online. I swear, if not for Cynthia and her giant red blanket, I’d still be frozen at Space Cowboy Books from last January! Rich was wearing shorts; I should have been dressed for Norway.

There’s information on artist Zara Kand and the Yucca Valley Arts Center, Rich’s beautiful cornucopia of his books, and…PODCASTS.

There’s always something new on the Cholla Needles website. And then you have me.

Back in July I introduced you to Susan Tepper and her dog Otis. That post was about what a good literary citizen she is, and how even though she’s marketing her own book, and getting ready for a book tour, she still takes plenty of time to do kind things for other writers.

I promised Susan ages ago that I would get her new book What Drives Men, and I’d put a review on Amazon.  That is all still true, but something happened this past week which jumped out at me before I had a chance to finish the book and do my review.

I don’t know whether it’s the characters, the dialog, the short chapters which are all titled (a way of writing that I love), the names of everyone…I don’t know, but I HAD to put Susan’s book down and write!! That rarely happens to me. If I’m writing, I’m writing. If I’m reading, I’m reading. But something about “What Drives Men” compelled me to put it down, and write a 465-word piece of flash fiction. That may have already been accepted (I had it read by a trusted reader, I still respected it in the morning, and I submitted it. Done and dusted).

I am 90% a poet.  The rest of the time I co-edit and co-publish San Pedro River Review, and I write a teeny bit of short fiction. Last week I said I can’t say I write flash fiction, because that’s generally 500 words or less, and I can’t write that short. But holy heck! The piece Susan’s book compelled me to write was 465 words! That means I can write in another genre. And it was a blast. I loved every minute of it, and I have no idea how it happened.

My point to you is that no matter what you’re reading, when the urge to write strikes, don’t wait. You don’t know what’s going to come out, but do it. Then go back to what you were reading. I’m about halfway through “What Drives Men”. I’m loving every second of it, and I’m enormously thankful for the flash fiction piece I wrote because of it.

So in addition to being a good literary citizen, Susan Tepper needs to add “inspirer of writing” to the list of what makes her wonderful.

This is a short post today. There’s lot’s going on in the desert, and I want to finish this book. So keep your radar tuned, enjoy what you read, enjoy what you write, and absolutely add “What Drives Men” to your list.

Bring your poetry to the art tour and share in the open mic. The readings are free, there are a lot of different hosts, you’ll get to meet new people, and hear new writers. Please wear sunblock.

And finally, as the wonderful Ellen Gilchrist has said:

A piece of writing is the product
of a series of explosions
in the mind.
Ellen Gilchrist

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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.

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