In Honor of Dyson Douglas McIlwain

Our dear Iain Douglas Kemp has just recorded the final poetic words of dearly missed fellow Poetic Bloomings poet Dyson Douglas McIlwain: If My Words Should Die.

Iain, you have truly done his words justice, and richly honored his memory.  THANK YOU.

Link to recording: http://almerimarlife.com/iain-kemp-poetry-2

Dyson’s poem will also appear in our second book:  Poetic Bloomings – the second year.  Please note that the deadline for submissions has been extended to August 31.  See updated instructions at http://poeticbloomings.com/2013/08/01/announcement-poetic-bloomings-the-second-year/.

CELEBRATION OF THE CENTURY – PROMPT #100

Today is a big day here at POETIC BLOOMINGS! We celebrate the 100th Sunday prompt of this site. Congratulations to all the poets who have joined us each week to offer a taste of their tremendous talent. We have been blessed  to build such a community; a family of words.You are all responsible for our success. Marie and I thank you for your dedication and love.

Over the course of time, we have stretched the muses and minds of our extremely talented family of poets, with our prompts and forms, interviews and projects. So for this venture, Marie and I ask you to write a “Celebration” poem.   Celebrate your life, an anniversary, a birthday, an event… but do it in the form of a 10 X 10 poem (Ten lines times Ten words per line = 100 words – a century). Thus, we want you to write a Celebration in a Century (Celebration of the Century).

MARIE ELENA’S CAUSE TO REJOICE:

VOICES IN THE GARDEN

Come sit beside me in the shade of living canopy.
Close your eyes.  Soak in the rhythm, romance, and whimsy.
Wrap yourself in the serene embrace of graceful, fluid form.
Let the breeze of the lush and lyrical lift, and
Carry you above the stress of sweeping strife and discord,
For none can be heard in this garden of validation.
You will find no boundaries, no borders, and no barricades.
Come scatter your seeds, then watch them grow and thrive,
Mingling with the bold, the melodious, the witty, the sober.
Your voice is not only welcome, it is passionately celebrated.

© Copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013

WALT’S CELEBRATION:

IN PRAISE OF POEMS AND POETS

Another Sunday arrives, and poets assemble to celebrate with words.
A hundred calls to write rhyme; an anniversary of verse,
from far and wide they step inside this verbal garden,
rending hearts and minds to find all the right words.
True to form and true to themselves, giving up pieces
to all who require passion’s fervent fire. Emptying the vault,
poetic promises well kept are offered to placate timeworn souls,
giving control to emotions, every notion of fantasy takes flight;
the right time and place to face your inner feelings.
Dealing with like-minded people; a family comes together to celebrate.
 

© Copyright Walter J. Wojtanik – 2013

CELEBRATING THE VOICES AND VISITORS OF OUR GARDEN! 

The last 30 days, we have welcomed 7, 378 visitors from these 37 different countries (a fact that thrills and humbles!):

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada, Cypress, Denmark, France, Germany, Honduras, India, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Macao, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America
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Thirty Seven Countries in Thirty Days

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #85

Last words. The final say. A very prophetic prompt in light of yesterday’s events. We have a chance to express these “last words.” You have continued to outshine yourselves, each week. You all hold a special place in Marie’s and my hearts. And in all ways we hold all of our children closer still and the new angels forever in our hearts.

Marie Elena’s Pick

You who know me at all know that I naturally lean toward poetry that packs a punch in few words.  There were several this week that fit the bill, and that I enjoyed and appreciated immensely.  However, this week my choice goes to Marian Veverka for her untitled epic poem based on the proverb, “For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”   We know Marian for her ability to capture time and emotion in her words.  This week, her poem encapsulates history in visual, sensual imagery.  Marian’s words deliver realism, emotion, and life lessons in an engaging manner that she seems to effortlessly achieve.  Thank you, Marian.  It is my pleasure to honor you with my Beautiful Bloom.

UNTITLED (Marian Veverka)

“For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”

I have given birth and I have made the acquaintance of death.
I was born into a smaller, tighter, world, a world where I and my
Friends and family knew where we fitted and we were content.
The decade I was born into was a time of violence and despair,
It was also a time of helping friends, being united with family,
Helping where needed and sharing whatever we could spare,

It was a time when people believed in their God. When
People attended and belonged to churches. Churches were in
Every neighborhood, in walking distance, or a streetcar or
Bus ride away . There were also large central churches -the
Synagogue at University Circle, the cathedral of St. John
In downtown Cleveland where Masses were said all day
And all night And all the mighty Protestant churches, the main
Denominations with their Greek revival splendor and the small –
Almost hidden in a lovely suburb – the famous little
Church in the Wildwood

Singing in choirs was popular and popular songs were often
Sung as people did their chores or walked down the street.
The national anthem was sung before any sporting event
And often a prayer was also said. Newscasts were important,
My father followed Lowell Thomas, the Sohio Reporter and
Gabriel Heatter. We also listened to broadcasts of all the
Cleveland Indians games.

My girl friends and I all learned to sew and we made most
Of our school dresses. We traded patterns and spent hours
Sitting at the counters of fabric shops, leafing through their
Giant catalogues of fashion. We dreamed of wardrobes, a
Different dress for every day of the week. We were also the
Ones who first wore blue jeans, buying them in the men’s
Department., then carrying them over to the Women’s
Department to try them on in their fitting rooms.

Several years later, the women’s departments of the national
Chains began to carry blue jeans for women. During the war
They had carried slacks for women who worked in defense plants.
The general assumption was that at the end of the war, women
Would happily abandon pants & all things masculine. No more
Factory work! No more women mechanics, plumbers, gas pump
Jockeys! What the leaders of public opinion thought was wrong.
Women would not give up their newly gained freedom of occupational
Choice. The door had been opened. The goal now was not only
To never close it again, but to open it ever wider.

In church basements in the north-east and mid-west, another fire
Had been ignited. I sat with my friends in the basement of St. Aloysius
Church while a young priest who had been a chaplain with the troops in
Europe gave a speech. He was so good looking! And had a sharp sense
Of humor. But what he told us was hardly humorous. At a train stop in the
South, they had entered a diner to get some lunch. There were some
Colored soldiers with the white guys, but the waitress refused to serve
Them. The white soldiers demanded to see the owner of the diner. He also
Refused to serve the colored soldiers. In a booth towards the end of the diner,
Some former German POW’s were seated and eating lunch. The soldiers
furious. Former enemies could eat here, but not uniformed American soldiers?
They left the diner in disgust (and still hungry) Another struggle was
Beginning. Were we with it? Everyone in St. Al’s basement gave
A resounding YES!!

WALT’S CHOICE:

While re-reading the entries to make my selection, the news of the day had over-whelmed me as I’m sure everyone here on this page. Trying to make sense of something so illogically senseless, one thing stuck in my head. What was this deranged person thinking? Did he know himself? And if not, how are we supposed to “know” him? With thoughts of these precious angels and their adult counter-parts, this poem stood out in my thoughts. My BLOOM is dedicated to these lost voices and beautiful blooms with the hope that others searching for clarity be full. Hannah Gosselin, your BEAUTIFUL BLOOM.

Check-in with True Self…Often by Hannah Gosselin

In a world of such great influence…hold on to your beliefs.
Placed amid hopeless struggles…faithfully move forward.
With sudden wealth or increased status…don’t let it define you.
When grouped in with over-bearing personalities…be yourself still.
We’re each born with a highly individualized seed of self-
a kernel of genuine-being that blooms when watered.
Never lose your authenticity to the seasons of change.
Keep the wonder and awe of child-like eyes alive.
Sow the honesty that is yours to offer-
you’ll reap the harvest of an honored spirit;
a field flowering richly of the truth within you.
For there is only one you on this planet,
your gift to us all and to yourself is just this…
BE YOU TO FULL….always.

Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2012

Congratulations Marian and Hannah!

Please remember the lost souls in your thoughts and prayers!

LOOK WHAT I DID! – PROMPT #67

“HOW DO YOU VIEW your life? – POETIC BLOOMINGS MEMOIR PROJECT

PART 2 – LOOK WHAT I DID! – Prompt #67

We would like you to write about an accomplishment in your life that fills you with pride. An award, a discovery, a bit of heroics, a completion of a progam – anything we’d love to find out about and share in your pride.

Please note: We are all proud of our children/grandchildren as they fill us with pride and joy. So, they are off of the table. We’re looking for an award, an accomplishment, a commendation, a goal, quota…, being voted poet most likely to write a Sestina… something you can hang your hat on. Brag about it. If you feel it is worthy of your pride, we will hold your banner high. Swallow your modesty and express it! Every accomplishment is awarded here!

MARIE ELENA’S PRIDE

PRIDE (confession in sonnet)

The very word sends shivers to my spine
For pride, it’s said, arrives before the fall.
To write about my pride, I would decline:
A cowardly response, and not my call.

Since false humility is pride implied,
A path to cover tracks that lead to fact,
I recognize the need to swallow pride,
And keep some semblance of the truth intact.

With that, I look upon this very site –
Admit I’m proud of what we two have done.
So here’s my ego, splayed in black and white –
Along with hopes we’ve only just begun.

This said, my heart and pen make this demand:
“Don’t leave this page ungrateful for God’s hand.”

© Marie Elena Good – 2012

WALT’S ACCOLADE:

I struggled with which one to pursue, so I wrote two. The first, a great accomplishment, only made possible by the second:

LAUREATE AT THE STAKE*

Sacrificed on the altar of reason,
pages ignite; an incendiary conflagration
of words and rhyme – metered and meted.

Ashes strewn, wind blown; sown upon
the fertility of a mind left wanting to be heard.
Every word burning like midnight oil to ravage

all this savage heart has toiled to achieve.
Like decayed leaves these poems smolder.
Line by line, they feed the fire; burning.

Learning that poetic purity is akin to obscurity,
remnants of thought filling the air
like sparks off to incite the masses and high grasses

in smoky simile; nothing is left unsaid.
Laureate at the stake burning, take the time to learn.
There is rhyme enough to burn.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

* Note:  On being selected the 2010 Poet Laureate for the April PAD at Writer’s Digest.com/Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer. I seemed in a hurry to get there, and humbly find I still have much to learn and accomplish.

BEING HERE*

Breath and heartbeat.
Every new day is an event.
Hell bent on staying the course
with this life-force surging,
and purging every last bit of
fear and confusion; these intrusions
on a battered mind.
The lessons finally learned:
What matters, matters –
all else pales in comparison
in this garrison of vitality.
The reality of seemingly endless days
finds ways to enliven; given
to make these gifts a cause
to rejoice; a loud voice
in the wilderness, thankful
for all that has transpired.
As tired as it feels,
a good deal of these days now
are spent in praise of Being.
Seeing the forest AND the trees,
with knees to ground to pray.
This magnificence in relation.
Every new day – an elation;
a life spent in celebration.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

*Note: After fifty-six years in fermentation, the wine is finally reaching its peak!

Walt has fashioned this “badge/banner” for our poets

and it is available on the P.B. Badge tab above (Html included).

ANNOUNCING BIG AND EXCITING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!

Did he say BIG AND EXCITING? Yes, I believe he did!!!

INTERVIEW WITH IAIN DOUGLAS KEMP

Before I get into the details (and read through, because you’ll think it’s big too!) if you haven’t read Marie Elena’s amazing interview with the incredibly talented and multi-faceted man and poet, Iain Douglas Kemp, get there post haste. http://poeticbloomings.com/2012/06/06/web-wednesday-iain-douglas-kemp/

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING AT POETIC BLOOMINGS:

We had contributions from 125 poets during the past year. Marie Elena recently posted the International breakdown of our poetic community.

We’ve had 55,037 views during our first year, with 10,002 items (poems, comments and corrections) posted. Our most views in a day were 760 on 2/19/2012UPDATE:  Make that 776 on 6/7/12! Way to go, Bloomers!  😀

ANNOUNCING THE GREEN THUMB AWARDS – 2011/2012

Marie Elena and I would like to announce the establishment of the First Annual POETIC BLOOMINGS GREEN THUMB AWARD, which is given for contributing at least one poem to every prompt posted for our “Growing Season” (May 1 – April 30). The winners for the 2011-2012 “Growing Season” receive this special badge and a certificate denoting the honor.

The  POETIC BLOOMINGS GREEN THUMB AWARD recipients for the 2011-2012 season are: 

Connie L. Peters        Paula M. Wanken

WEB WEDNESDAY INTERVIEWS AND IN-FORM POET

Marie and I have decided to break up our Wednesday line up. Starting in July, Wednesday will continue with a weekly IN-FORM POET exercise. A new form will be highlighted each Wednesday.

Also beginning in July, the WEB POET INTERVIEW will move to Thursdays, to appear the second Thursday of each month.  As well as our contributing poets, Marie plans to present other poets and people who  promote poets and the poetic process.

 AND THE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BIG NEWS…

Marie Elena and I would like to finally announce that we are in the process of readying for publication,

POETIC BLOOMINGS  – FIRST BLOOMS

This is a collection of the BEAUTIFUL BLOOM poems from the first year of the Sunday prompts, along with my and Marie’s examples. We ask all who had been selected for a BLOOM during the year to revisit the awarded poem(s) and revise as necessary. We are relying on you to self-edit your work. Please email the corrected pieces back to us (poeticbloomings@yahoo.com) by  July 1st. If we do not receive an updated version of your poetry, we will assume it is to your liking as posted on our site. 

Here at POETIC BLOOMINGS, we have always taken pride in opening the gates of this “Garden” to poets of all ages and skill levels; to make ourselves all-inclusive. So in that light, we invite poets who replied to at least 10% of the prompts (the reason I searched for the poets who at the very least had a 10% commitment to POETIC BLOOMINGS) to contribute to this publication with poems written for the POETIC BLOOMINGS prompts. Eligible poets will be notified shortly. We ask that you update your contact information for correspondence, and request that poets who post under a blog screen name supply their full name with their info.

A brief biography (no more than 6 lines, including your url)  will be required for all featured poets in this book.

****

We really appreciate your talents and hard work during our first year at POETIC BLOOMINGS, and hope for continued success for you and this community we have amassed.

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #41

Marie is off spending time and traveling with her Father . She had asked that I make her selection for this week, along with my own. These two selections were something that I was uncomfortable with until I read through the entire list of 200 comments and poems. That was when it became clear who offered the best work for the week. This is something Marie and I agonize over on a weekly basis. She made it the most logical choice in her absence. So…

The following poets will be awarded this week’s BEAUTIFUL BLOOM;

Hannah Gosselin                                                Jane Shlensky

Jane Penland Hoover                                      Andrea Heiberg

Barbara Young                                                   Rinkly Rimes

Kelly Donadio                                                     Henrietta Choplin

Michael Grove                                                    Andrew Kreider

Mike Maher                                                          Mary Mansfield

Sasha the Happy Amateur                             RJ Clarken

Richard Walker                                                   Marian Veverka

De Jackson                                                            Mark Windham

Sharon Ingraham                                              Connie L. Peters

Paula Wanken                                                     Michelle Hed

Magical Mystical Teacher                             Marilyn Braendeholm

Sara McNulty                                                        Vivienne Blake

Every poet who had taken the time to share a poem this week deserves this designation and so the well-earned award is given for your efforts. Marie and I appreciate your talents and your generosity in planting your seeds of poetic wonder here in our garden to blossom and grow here at POETIC BLOOMINGS.

***

In light of this, we make this offer to all our poets:  the chance to consolidate your POETIC BLOOMINGS poems onto your own page within our “Garden.”. Each of you who request to have a page set up for your works here must provide a brief bio and a profile photo (and include any of the URL’s of your blogs, or other materials you wish to promote) to attach to your work.  Also, those writing with a pen name, we would like your page to bear your given name so we can promote your works here and across the blogosphere.  To make your request and provide your information, please send an e-mail to poeticbloomings@yahoo.com (Subject: Profile Page). These electronic “Chapbooks” will enhance our site greatly. Thank you all for your gifts of words.

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #27

As many of us scramble to write a poem every day through November, while trying to find time to comment and encourage others who are doing the same, Walt and I want to express our appreciation for those who have managed to write and post here as well. You are all amazing, and we are humbled.

From the usual well of excellence, my Prompt #27 Beautiful Bloom goes to Jane Penland Hoover for “Another.” Jane, it does my heart a world of good to see your work here at Poetic Bloomings. I am a long-time admirer of yours, and “Another” is a fine example of why. Your unpretentious style, easily envisioned images, liquid flow, well-chosen title that leads right into the opening phrase, and mood that you set all come together flawlessly in this charming piece. Congratulations on your first “Beautiful Bloom” honor.

Another

Week of routines followed
Simple pleasures taken in

Walks around the pond
Slowing through the meadow

To listen for the cardinals
Spy the well-perched hawk

Week of breakfast, lunch, and
Dinner, time enough

For us, rising before each dawn
Turning down plush comforter
As darkness hushes birds

Seven days our simple measure
Marking still our dual breath

By Jane Penland Hoover

 

Walt’s choice for this week :

The main theme: look forward, the week that was, was and nothing changes it. Optimistic attitudes and positivity no matter the provocation. Well expressed, Benjamin. Accept this Bloom and honor.

The Week That Was by Benjamin Thomas

The week that was, well..

Was another week under the gun
Pressure, blood, bullets, fun

Highs, Lows, Horrifying news
Red, scarlet, greys and blues

Yet it was another week under the sun
Warmth of rays, a new birth to some

And even though another is begun
Applause, cheers, that one is done

Forget the week that now is past
Live today while the day still lasts

In sinking sands while the day still stands
taking grace in prayer to meet its demands

Complaints, cries, whines and rants
Changing diapers, poopy pants

Days, weeks, months and years
Encompassing our joys, crowns and fears

But no matter how good or bad it felt
There’s another week under our belt

So all you singles, moms and dads
Young men and men, well dressed, well clad

Don’t look behind, don’t turn your head
To the week that was, look straight ahead

 

Congratulations, Jane and Benjamin for work extremely well written and satisfying. And to all our poets, Write on, in the face of all these challenges. We’re glad you join us weekly.

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT # 18

This week brings us to the beauty of a starlit sky and the wonder of our dreams. Within those dreams lies our inner most longings and desires. This week’s “Beautiful Blooms”:

Marie’s pick for this week:

Twice in as many weeks, I chose Patricia Hawkenson’s poem. The moon brought out so much beauty and emotion from all of you talented poets, making it so-so-so-so difficult to choose one to highlight. However, Patricia’s unique take on the prompt, and correlation to her relationship with her father, kept pulling me back. Each stanza seizes my heart, and the lunar pull remains consistent and strong in each. Amazing work.

I Borrowed My Father’s Circular Saw
(By Patricia A. Hawkenson)

When I was young
my arms could curve
all the way to my father’s smile,
and his warmth encircled me
till I saw my dreams.

Then I turned my back
as I built my life,
eclipsing him into darkness,
yet I always knew where he was –
my ebb and flow of life.

Now the dimming stars
foretell his numbered days,
There seems no time to ask him,
“Can we extend our ladders
and demolish these growing clouds?”

 

 

Walt’s pick:

A poet’s life is rife with opportunity to write. And we have our own time where the output matches the opportunity. My time is the night. Many a sleepless night has proffered much in the way of muse. So this poem immediately endeared itself to me and thus, I choose Mike Patrick’s OLD INK as my Bloom.

OLD INK by Mike Patrick

The night is special poets-time.
Tis then the ghosts of poets past
peer o’er our heads and weep
into the liquid ink.
Their inspiration, darkly stained,
doth dance across the page.

With every midnight line
deep scratched on parchment’s face,
new generations find archaic words
best read by candlelight.

I hold no fear for my demise.
When brother Reaper calls my name
my ever-work will then begin.
I’ll find my nights filled as your muse,
a distant whisper in your ear,
and weep a river for your pen.

 

I applaud Marie’s  selection of Patricia’s poem. As another noted son of a carpenter, many a time I stole into Dad’s workshop and “borrowed” his tools. Great work Patricia.

 

And In a departure from the norm, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the work of Benjamin Thomas this week. He had given this prompt a thorough ride. It was very difficult to choose just one of his pieces for the week, because it would disserve the body of work he has amassed. So I will award a special “Beautiful Bouquet” to him for his efforts. Great work poets.

And great work to the rest of our extraordinarily talented poets as well.

BEAUTIFUL BLOOM – WEEK # 16

Week # 16 brought us to find inspiration in music. The efforts were rockin’ to say the least. The “BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS” for this week exemplifies that perfectly. These are the picks of the week:

 

Sophie’s (Nonna’s) Choice:

It was once again oh-so-difficult to choose only one poem. The quality here astounds me. I finally settled in on Linda Swensky’s “I Was Once Like You Are Now.” The unadorned wisdom of this little piece drew me in. Simply superb.

 

By Linda Swenski

I Was Once Like You Are Now
I once knew everything
But I gained knowledge
And experience
And now I know nothing.

Inspired by Father and Son by Cat Stevens

 

Walt’s choice:

The poet as story teller intrigues me to no end. To find such inspiration from the lyric of a song, brings it to life in very unsuspecting ways. And so it is with mike Maher’s work ”…Old Punk Rock clubs” We all battle our ghosts and demons. How that changes us is our concern. Hopefully we learn from it. Or the lessons passed on by others. My Beautiful Bloom for the week teaches something we all may have forgotten. This is mike Maher’s Bloom.

 

“But I still hear your ghost in these old Punk Rock Clubs.” by mike Maher

More than once I have been told
about my ghost,
have heard mike Maher. spoken about in the past tense –
that mike Maher. who got so drunk on Tequila
at that concert at the Croc Rock that he got tangled in the seat belt –
despite being quite alive,
at least I think so.
How great it was to drink Tequila
until you could almost speak Spanish!
No matter how drunk he got,
that version of me never understood the big fuss over Whitman.
That me used to write dark poems
about the beckoning of the unknown
and the relative deepness of rain puddles.
Most definitions of the word ghost will disagree,
but that one in the picture book with Jesus in blue jeans
grilling cheeseburgers and smoking a cigar
would probably tell you it’s possible
to have even more than one ghost without a physical death.
One of his motives was be heard by everyone,
the other was to be seen by no one.

WEB WEDNESDAY – Salvatore Buttaci

Last Web Wednesday, we featured an English teacher. This week, we bring you another of America’s great teachers:  Salvatore Buttaci (retired).

As always, we asked our guest to share with us a poem that best expresses his writing style.  Sal responded with, “It’s difficult to pick one of my poems and say it best represents my work. I write poems in many poetic forms and on many themes. The poems I’ve written and managed to save number about 6,000. In fact, in 2009 I wrote 1,009 of them!”  Ultimately, Sal chose a love poem. All I can say is, be still my heart!

YOU CALL ME “CARO MIO”

Under the sheets of passion you call me caro mio,
But once love melts into final throbs and last breaths,
Your eyes glazed like impromptu tabloid snapshots,
You turn your naked back to me, say how the night
Is finally here after a hectic day of scheduled madness.
I hear from my side of this nocturnal territory, your voice
Fuzzy as wool in dreamscapes, words in a tunnel,
Something uttered just before the runner leaps into dream.
Too soon your gentle snoring playfully pokes the walls
And I lie here, arms behind my head, staring upward
At heaven from where we have just returned, and think
To myself those charged words you called me:
I run them through my mind like a prayer: caro mio,
Dear one, dear one.  And then your hand touches my face,
I feel alive again. Connected this way, I surrender
To the tug of sleep’s hands; your words, sleep’s voice.

#

(C) 2008 Salvatore Buttaci

First published in “Contributor Series 6: A Currency of Words.” POEMBLOG.VOXPOETICA.COM  (October 10, 2010).

Salvatore Amico Buttaci.  Ahhhh … such a beautiful name!  Something that endeared me to Walt’s poetry back in 2009 was the obvious pride he feels in his ancestry.  Please take a moment to tell us about your Sicilian roots – a topic I know is dear to your heart.

It is ironic that in my boyhood days being a son of Sicilians caused me so much grief. Back in the 1940s, and even beyond in the New Jersey of the 1950s, boys in my Brooklyn neighborhood, called me ethnic names, accused me of being in a Mafia family, and forced me into defending my ethnic honor with tears and fists.

My mother, though born in New York City, spent her first 18 years in Sicily, in the same mountain village of Acquaviva Platani where my father lived until 15 when he immigrated to America. They were proud of their heritage and passed that pride onto their children. In 1965, after I was graduated from Seton Hall University, I went to that same town and stayed for a year. There I met Salvatore Amico, my maternal grandfather, and enough cousins to start my own colony! I loved it. It has become a part of me and much of my writings. I have even lecture on “Growing up Sicilian” to dispel the myth that we are all in the mob. I explain the gross injustice done by the media with their “Soprano” shows and gangster flicks and even anti-Italian ads.

Sal, you have been writing since childhood. Do you recall what or who sparked that interest? What was the first piece you remember writing?

At nine, I wrote a poem to and for my mother on–what else!–Mother’s Day. She cried as she read it and I thought, Okay, there’ll be no more poems from this kid, but then she hugged and kissed me. She was so moved by my nonsense poem that for the rest of her life, she, along with my father, encouraged me to never stopped writing.

I also had a 7th grade teacher named Sister Rita Damian who allowed in-school students on rainy lunch hours to read their stories to the class. Later on in high school Sister Marie Augusta would write comments on my compositions like “You are an excellent writer!” and “God gave you a gift.” Praise like that went a long way. As for my writing life now, Sharon is always there for me. My best critic. My greatest inspiration. Love can do that.

You say, “Praise like that went a long way.”  I’m sure that praise was instrumental in the fact that your first published work came about when you were quite a young boy.  Please tell us about this experience. In that time frame, did you ever feel burned out with writing? If so, how did you overcome the sensation?

My first published piece was an essay entitled “Presidential Timber,” which I submitted to the Sunday New York News back in 1957. My father saw the contest details in the newspaper and suggested I enter it. I asked Sister Marie Augusta for advice and she suggested whatever topic I chose that I write an outline, do a quick first draft, and then spend most of the time revising. “Can I win?” I asked her. She smiled that tight little smile nuns do and said, “Somewhere out there in the future you already have.” So I chose politics as my subject. What character traits should a U.S. president possess that would make him memorable in the history books. When the newspaper editor called with the good news–my essay was one of ten the paper would feature each of ten Sundays and that my win earned me $25–I was ecstatic. When my essay appeared with my photo (A New York News photographer visited our home, Papa and I went out and bought several copies. “My boy’s in the paper,” he told the candy-store man. “He’s a writer and they paid him!”

You have been published in the New York Times, Newsday, and U.S.A. Today, to name a few big guns. Will you share your secret for success?

It’s no secret at all. Newspapers publish the news and welcome feedback from their readers. I read an article that personally effects me and I respond as succinctly and comprehensively as possible. I revise the piece so it’s tight as an ice ball, ridding it of all redundancies that slow down one’s writings, and keeping it interesting from start to finish, then I take my chances by submitting it. I never consider that a newspaper, magazine, or journal might be a “big gun.” I envision the editor at his or her desk reading my piece. How do I make that editor nod his head yes is what I consider most important. I don’t allow myself to be intimidated by the “big guns.” I aim my slingshot and hopefully bring down the giant insecurities with which we writers sometimes are plagued.

As for poetry and fiction, I try to write what I hope will please the one whose job it is to decide on its acceptance or rejection. Poems that appeal to the senses and to the emotions fare better than those that are intellectually stimulating. Stories with strong hooks, varied use of narration, description, dialogue, and exposition, and satisfying endings stand a better chance than those that take forever to reveal the conflict or overload the reader with narration or dialogue or description or exposition. Variety is the spice of fiction.

In light of your published books and the illustrious papers and magazines that have featured your work, do you feel successful as a writer and poet?  Why, or why not?

What is success? Are we talking here of monetary success? Because if we are, I am quite unsuccessful if you look in my wallet or bank account. No, believe me, unless we are one of the literary giants who can release a book on Monday and sell millions of copies by Friday, we are not in this writing business to be profitable. More a not-for-profit venture to feed the inner person, the one that resides in our deepest selves.

I write because I am convinced there is a God Who loves me and gifted me with a talent for writing. I write to say thank you to God. I write because my day is hollow instead of hallowed when I do not write. I need to ride the wave of that poetic line dancing in my head. I feel compelled to tell that story unfolding in my imagination. It’s food that sustains me. That drink of water (or beer) on a hot August day. And the admission that I am nowhere near the successful writer I want to be (not in the eyes of the world but in my own eyes) keeps me writing everyday. I want readers to know me through my poetry, my stories, my letters, my articles, my flash books, and eventually, in some small way remember me.

Much of what you write is considered “flash fiction,” which I believe is 1,000 words or fewer.  I personally have a copy of your Flashing My Shorts, which I recommend highly! Though you make it look easy, is it a challenge to write a complete story in so few words?  Do you have any advice for those of us who would like to try it on for size?

For starters, I suggest writers read flash fiction before they attempt it. At the expense of coming off as self-serving, I would recommend my two books, Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts. They’ve gotten very good reviews. In fact, the University of Chester in England is adding 200 Shorts to their library’s “Flash Fiction Special Collection,” which is the world’s largest archive of flash fiction anthologies, collections and literary magazines.

Flash fiction lacks the short story’s luxury of length, just as the haiku must tell in about 17 syllables the universe of a moment. Flash is just what its name defines: a quick read, a limited number of words, a plot and resolution that appears in readers’ eyes and then poofs to a closing. Therein lies the challenge: to create a hook for a brief but complete story, choose only the most essential details, keep the reader engaged in the plot’s development, and then send readers on their way, satisfied with the story’s conclusion. In less than 1,000 words, sometimes in as little as 50 words, the flash succeeds or fails.

Someone asked me recently how I begin a flash. It’s different for anyone who writes them. For me, I first create the scene in my mind, then allow the emotion that pervades the scene to take over, all the while imagining the one or two characters, the setting, the motives, dialogue and descriptions. After that I sit down at my pocket pad or notebook or keyboard and I wait for the hook that will get the flash rolling. If I can tell it in less words I will. If it’s something like my horror story “The Hook” or my crime flash “A Man with a Badge,” just to name two from 200 Shorts, I go the limit: 1,000 words. Some flashes don’t need as many words to tug at the heart strings or make readers laugh. As for variety of flashes, both my books run the gamut from adventurous to zany, enough to please all readers.

I also rely on flash prompts given at such writer’s sites as Six Sentences (http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/), Pen 10 (http://pentenscribes.ning.com/), Thinking 10 (http://www.thinkingten.com/), and others.

One of your websites is entitled The Poem Factory.  This site features your own work, poetry forms, interviews, family photos, and poems-of-the-week.  I was especially interested to find a collection of work inspired by 9/11. One piece particularly caught my eye, as it is quite different in style and content from the expected.  If you would, please share with us the birth of “On the Brink of War.”

ON THE BRINK OF WAR

© 2002 Salvatore Buttaci

Orion’s bow
Taut in the late
Winter sky
Projects a pathway
Of curving stars.
The hunter’s arrow
Poised for flight
Dazzles at
Orion’s fingertips.
Who will quake
The January sky
And loosen his tight hand?
Who will set
The worlds on fire?

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First of all, The Poem Factory has been quiet lately, but I do invite folks to visit my other sites:

http://salvatorebuttaci.wordpress.com  Salvatore Buttaci

http://salvatorebuttaci.spruz.com/        Flashing My Shorts

http://salbuttaci.spruz.com/                  The Word Place

http://salbuttaci.blogspot.com              Sal’s Place

“On the Brink of War” is a poem on several levels. The obvious meaning describes the heavens where constellations take their places unmoved since creation. Orion’s bow is taut but not released; in fact, his arrow is made up of dazzling stars. There is no one who can quake the sky but God. No one can set the worlds on fire but He Who made them.

On another underlying level, Orion represents the war hungry, those powers who are not content to accept peace. They are driven to march their soldiers into wars, upset world order, and in doing so, set the worlds on fire, not the sky worlds but the human worlds that hunger to be fed, who want to live in peace. The poem tells us we walk the precarious brink of war and little has been done to change that fact.

On still another level Orion is God Who watches from His Heaven. One day the arrow will fly–God’s justice!–and we will be called upon to be judged for what we did or did not do here on Earth. Jesus came to set the world on fire and in His resurrection did so in the sense that they world, because of His loving sacrifice, became Christified. When Judgment comes, the world will once again be set on fire.

I have asked several of our featured guests this question, and I feel compelled to ask you:  As an obvious man of faith, how do your convictions shape your writing?

I love God. Simple as that. As a Christian I believe in the Trinity and try to live my life as Jesus taught us to. It was not always that way, but to prove how much God loved me, from the beginning of time, He had selected my mother to birth me, a woman of deepest faith, a woman who spent much of my life praying for me to walk in the Light of a loving God. She taught me to pray and then leave all things to God’s Will. When I would question God why the world had wars and famines, why little babies died, why the world was less than perfect, she would tell me no one could think with God’s mind. We are creatures; He is Creator. When my mother died in September of last year I knew Heaven was hers forever! I pray one day to reunite with her and all those faithful servants of Christ.

How does my faith shape my writing? I never write blasphemous poems or stories. I never use God’s name in vain. I never use the ubiquitous F-word so popular among writers today. I write from the heart, gifts to the God Who loves me.

Do you feel poetry is a dying art?  Or do you believe it is making a “comeback?” What do you see as the future of poetry?

In materialistic societies like America today, poetry is a tiny voice crying in the desert. Novels, especially those that transform into movies, stand the best chance of remaining popular because they are profitable. What can a poem earn? Every product is judged by what it amounts to on the bottom line. We have discarded morality and belief in God in order to make Big Bucks or support the immoral who take the little bucks from our pockets. Though poetry still lives, I don’t believe it is flourishing. And at the expense of alienating some of your readers, I don’t believe rap has helped matters. Though some of it is good poetry, most are excuses for mouthing bad language, putting down authority, or giving bad example to the impressionable young.

Will poetry make a comeback? It really hasn’t left! It is just not on the high literary rung of past centuries when some countries paid a pension to poets (alliteration unintended!) and kings invited them to court to recite their verses. As for the future of poetry, let me say that the digital age of bastardized English in the text-messaging craze that will only grow worse and more abbreviated, poetry may rival the paucity of the haiku, but poetry will not die.

As one who has experience with self-publishing, do you have any words of advice on the subject?

Self-publishing is the ideal way for writers to get their first books out there. It is much easier today to do so because of sites like Lulu.com, CreateSpace.com, Smashwords.com, and a few others, that will charge a lot less than if a writer were to assume the cost of having a printer do a run of their books.

I have self-published at least 10 chapbooks and books, mostly poetry, from 1974 to the present.

In 1998 I self-published a collection of my poetry called Promising the Moon (now out-of-print) and A Family of Sicilians: Stories and Poems: http://tinyurl.com/627mro6 which I released in 2008 at Lulu.com where it is still selling copies. In 1998 I was still working and could afford to print 1,000 copies of each book. Self-publishing requires heavy self-promoting, which I did on radio, TV, newspapers, readings, and lectures, managing to sell all printed copies! Once retired, I knew, except for an occasional chapbook, I’d need to find a publisher for my books.

Big Table Publishing took on Boy on a Swing: http://tinyurl.com/42vy39r

Middle Island Press published What I Learned from the Spaniard: http://tinyurl.com/42zvkw2

All Things That Matter Press published Flashing My Shorts http://tinyurl.com/6772fps and also my 200 Shorts http://tinyurl.com/3o5w84e   .

Cyber-wit Publications published A Dusting of Star Fall, also available at Amazon.com.

Cyber-wit will also release my new book in the fall: If Roosters Don’t Crow, It Is Still Morning: Haiku and Other Poems.

I do suggest writers who self-publish edit their manuscripts before committing to final printings. Nothing turns off readers more than misspelled words, poor use of language, and uninteresting content.

To all writers who self-publish and those who have publishers, selling books is not easy. It doesn’t just happen because you wrote a good book. It takes hard work promoting yourself and your book, giving both much needed visibility, if you hope to attract readers. To say, I am a writer, not a marketer, is to negate any chances you might have of selling books. Wear two hats, the writer’s and the marketer’s, and good things will happen for you.

Thank you, Sal, for your candid responses.  We feel privileged to count you among our regulars here at Poetic Bloomings.