Friday, October 18, 2019

Tobi Alfier - The Return of the Rhinoceros

Apparently, when I fell on my face a few weeks back, I was so worried about my nose that I didn’t notice my front tooth—which has now chipped, making me look like a “slag” in the British crime dramas we love to watch.  Not poetic, trust me. I just tried to work on a poem and it wasn’t even worth saving in the woodpile. How are you?

Let’s talk about friends and family who aren’t on social media. You can tell who they are because they’ve probably told you, and when you look at their pages, if they even have them, the last posts were birthday wishes from last year. How do you let them know when you have writing, and other news to tell them?

For the record, I DO know there is more to life than writing. There are vacations, surgeries, October 15th was a huge day in the financial world, this month’s Bon Appetit has a gorgeous picture of an apple and pear galette, births, deaths, pets, etc. Some of this can be shared by phone, but if you have twenty people to tell something to, do you want to make twenty phone calls? Do you want to meet for twenty cups of coffee? There is nothing wrong with it if you do.

But, if you’d hope people will write it down, look it up, etc. that means they need a calendar and a pencil. Not everyone has a photographic memory.

Quick note: when I say “social media”, I mean Facebook. I don’t understand Twitter or Instagram, and even though I moderate a LinkedIn group with 33,000+ participants, LinkedIn has made so many changes, it’s not a good networking platform for non-business groups anymore.

So if I want to tell people my new blog post is up on the Cholla Needles website, and I want to include a link to that website, I use email. If I know someone is very particular about their privacy, I’ll send them a separate email. Otherwise I’ll send a “friends and family” message and tell everyone at once.

Am I going to tell everyone that today I look like I did when I was little, and I was bouncing on the steering wheel of my parent’s car and chipped a tooth? Yeah no. I don’t always do a separate email. For example, this is my Facebook post from the other day that I did not share on email because it was just a post:

A couple years ago, Jeff and I were privileged to workshop with Joseph Millar at Catamaran. We were double privileged to hear Joe and Dorianne Laux read. I started this poem in our workshop. I hope you like it. 

          After Rolf Jacobsen

I am the knot
that keeps the sail full and strong.
The compass guiding safe passage
as you turn toward home.

The hand of the angel you turn to,
who reads the braille of your face,
holds you with grace and mercy.

I am the leaves of the trees in winter,
that float in the cool evening breeze.
I kiss your hair, shelter your shoulders
as you walk gently in the shadows.

I am a fleeting image, always fond,
ever near. The way you loved your children
the moment they were born, smooth stones,
or the color blue.


click to see more
Don’t forget about your friends who aren’t on social media. Susan Abbott is on a wicked road trip right now. She’s been filling up her notebooks with gorgeous pictures and posting them. I know when she gets back you’ll be able to see them in person, but I hope her non-Facebook friends have been able to see them en route. I can’t draw a rock. Susan’s drawings are beautiful.

Susan also did the illustrations for Cynthia Anderson’s book Now Voyager. Everyone should know Cynthia has a book, it is illustrated, and it was reviewed by Laura Berry. I know there are other ways for people to know about this besides Facebook, and I’m glad. It would be a shame if it were missed because of social media.

You are a hugely talented group of publishers, writers, artists, photographers and so on. You do a lot of appearances, readings, art shows, juried events, book reviews, and good works. Everyone should know about these. And while you're  thinking about it, click here to visit Poets & Writers, and look down the page under all the pretty people for a link that says "apply to be listed". This listing helps editors and agents know you are serious about being a writer. 

Feel free to use the comments section below, even if it’s just to post a link to your own web page. This blog is yours too. But please, don’t rely on me to know everything that’s going on. As I mentioned last week, I don’t live near you.

Think about whether or not you need a web page. If you do, look around and find the ones that touch you, then ask those people who designed them. Ours is I don’t have one just for myself, I don’t need one.

Have the very best week. Write well. Design well. Communicate well. Don’t forget that some people are completely done with their holiday shopping by Thanksgiving. If you have any ideas for your friends—a book you loved, a book you wrote, a special deal on custom calendars for your photographer friends, an upcoming craft fair—don’t forget your friends who aren’t on social media. 

And finally:

Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don't work. You will find that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work.

I’m off to call the dentist. Bye.

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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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