Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Writing the Life Poetic: Author Interview

April 16, 2009


Here’s a sparkly first for sparkly like a holiday: an author interview! My dear friend Sage has written a book. Oh yes she did! She did that while growing a baby and doing her day job writing for corporate clients. Can you imagine? I thought it would be fun to get an inside peek at her process and thoughts on poetry.

How does poetry make the world a better place to live?
I think poetry fills the gap left by the so-called objective truth that dominates our media, science and legislation. Many of us want to comprehend and communicate the complexity of human experience on a deeper, more soulful level. Poetry gives us a shared language that is more subtle, more human, and—at its best—more universally “true” than we are capable of achieving with just the facts.

How has integrating the reading and writing of poetry into your life impacted you?
I will risk sounding melodramatic in saying that poetry saved my life. I stumbled into a writing practice at an extremely vulnerable time in my early teenage years. Poetry gave me then, as it does today, a way of giving voice to feelings and ideas that felt too risky and complicated to speak out loud. There was a kind of alchemy in writing through such vulnerabilities…by welcoming them in language, I was able to transform the energies of fear, pain and loneliness into a kind of friendly camaraderie with myself. In a way, I wrote myself into a trust that I belonged in this world.

Do people need an advanced degree in creative writing in order to write poetry?
Absolutely not! Sure, poetry has its place in the classroom; but no one needs an advanced degree in creative writing to reap its rewards. What most people need is simply a proper initiation. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to offer such an initiation. My goal was that everyone who reads it come away with a sense of how to tune into the world around them through a poetic lens. Once this way of perceiving is awakened, anything is possible!

Why did you write Writing the Life Poetic?
While working with writers for the past fifteen years, I have observed that even the most creative people fear that they don’t have what it takes to write and read poetry. I wrote Writing the Life Poetic to put poetry back into the hands of the people––not because they are aspiring to become the poet laureate of the United States––but because poetry is one of the great pleasures in life.”

Who is Writing the Life Poetic written for?
Practicing poets, aspiring poets, and teachers of writing in a variety of settings can use Writing the Life Poetic to write, read, and enjoy poems; it works equally well as a self-study companion or as a classroom guide. Both practical and inspirational, it will leave readers with a greater appreciation for the poetry they read and a greater sense of possibility for the poetry they write.

What sets Writing the Life Poetic apart from other poetry how-to books?

The craft of poetry has been well documented in a variety of books that offer a valuable service to serious writers striving to become competent poets. Now it’s time for a poetry book that does more than lecture from the front of the classroom. Writing the Life Poetic was written to be a contagiously fun adventure in writing. Through an entertaining mix of insights, exercises, expert guidance and encouragement, I hope to get readers excited about the possibilities of poetry––and engaged in a creative practice. Leonard Cohen says: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” My goal is that Writing the Life Poetic be the flame fueling the life well lived.

What was it like conceiving and birthing a book and a baby at the same time?
I often refer to my son Theo and Writing the Life Poetic as my multi-media twins! I found out I was pregnant with Theo about two months into the writing of the book and I was making final edits to the book in layout two weeks after he was born. It was fascinating to have two of the most potent creative processes I’ve ever experienced happening in tandem. What I learned is a great respect for the birthing journey; it is one that has completely rewritten me along the way.

I am writing a monthly column this year for The Writer Mama zine titled “The Articulate Conception” which chronicles my journey of becoming an author and a mom. Through the course of ten essays, I am exploring this double-whammy birth trajectory–from the twinkle in my eye to the bags under my eyes.

What makes a poem a poem?
This is one of my favorite questions! I’ve answered it in my book, but it’s a question that I’m answering anew every day. And that’s what I love about poetry. It’s a realm where invention is not limited entirely by definition; there is room enough for the endless possibilities of the human. Every time we try to draw a line around what a poem is, something spills over into the next frame, shifting the point of view and demanding new names: olive, token, flax, daffodil. A poem is all of these, or none of them, depending on the quality of light and how the blade in the next room stirs the night.

What do you think people’s greatest misconceptions are about poetry?
I think the three greatest stereotypes about the writing of poetry are:

  1. That one has to be a starving artist or deeply miserable to write great poetry.
  2. That reading and writing poetry are available only to an elite inner circle that shares secret, insider knowledge about the making of poems.
  3. That poetry does not fund prosperity.

I hope very much that Writing the Life Poetic helps offer alternatives to some of these attitudes and perceptions.

I’d love to conclude with a poem of yours. Would you be willing to share one?
Of course! Happy to!

Leaving Buckhorn Springs
By Sage Cohen

The farmland was an orchestra,
its ochres holding a baritone below
the soft bells of farmhouses,
altos of shadowed hills,
violins grieving the late
afternoon light. When I saw
the horses, glazed over with rain,
the battered old motorcycle parked
beside them, I pulled my car over
and silenced it on the gravel.
The rain and I were diamonds
displacing appetite with mystery.
As the horses turned toward me,
the centuries poured through
their powerful necks and my body
was the drum receiving the pulse
of history. The skin between me
and the world became the rhythm
of the rain keeping time with the sky
and into the music walked
the smallest of the horses. We stood
for many measures considering
each other, his eyes the quarter notes
of my heart’s staccato.  This symphony
of privacy and silence: this wildness
that the fence between us could not divide.

Thanks Sage! You and your book are an inspiration. Want to be inspired? You can get a copy of Writing  the Life Poetic here and learn more about it here.


Pin cushions go corporate

April 1, 2009

Back in January I tried out a pattern for square pin cushions. Cutting fabric for 3 took hardly more time than for 1 so I figured I’d make several knowing that Miss K would want one (just because she always wants one of any new thing I make, and then I find it months later forgotten in a drawer) and I’d want one, and there would be one to give away.


The one to give away went speedy quick to my friend Lauri who has redefined the pin cushion’s role. It’s not just for home sewing anymore …


That’s the frog pin cushion right at home in her office. Her company recently moved in to new digs and she didn’t want to mar the walls by tacking up pages while working on projects that need a big picture view. So she hung ribbon and is using pins to affix the pages. How clever is that?

You could do a party around that

March 12, 2009

I seem to amass large quantities of bits and pieces despite my best efforts to pare down and simplify. A handful of green Chinese takeout-style containers? Better keep that. The cute set of 12 footed dessert dishes. Better keep that. The bottles that once housed Italian sparkling water that have a great shape? Keepers for sure.

Why? Well because you could do a party around that. Those words come out of my mouth anytime I critically target the bits and pieces for the recycle bin. And when friends are clearing out cupboards.

One friend asked if I was planning a party after I exclaimed over a mismatched set of white plates big enough to serve as platters. Hmmm, not at the moment. But I might. And if I did those mismatched plates could become the central backdrop of, say, a dessert party where everything is dressed in white to make the colorful cakes and treats stand out.

Or those bottles …


Imagine them parading down the center of a brunch buffet, filled with colorful juices (thanks Donna!).

I suspect that the collection will continue to build, so I should probably concentrate on snappy storage solutions.

Ga-ga for gocco

January 20, 2009

Monday’s magic moment is from yesterday but here today as Monday found us away from home, taking full advantage of the school holiday to hang out with friends and become addicted to another crafty endeavor. Gocco.


Crafty readers will no doubt be familiar with this printing medium that’s somewhere between a stamped ink image and silkscreening. You basically draw something, make a master using the Gocco machine (it uses lightbulb flash to “burn” a carbon image on the screen), apply ink and then press it on your paper. You can make multiple prints from a single screen. Now that’s practically as magical as waving a wand and making lots of cute note cards appear.

While we were trying to decipher the Japanese manual (the English version had gone temporarily missing), we found a great tutorial here. Eventually, we were all set up and called on the young artists we were lucky to have nearby for some original art. The artists specified a single color but you can use many different colors and as elaborate an image as you want.

Just think of the possibilities. Custom birthday invitations. Personal stationary. Holiday cards done in minutes. Seriously … after you have your image, the time from creating the master to printing your cards is super fast. Now that’s the kind of instant project gratification I like!

Things that start with M

January 12, 2009

I sent an email today that began, Happy Monday. And immediately “oxymoron” sprang to mind. Does Happy really apply to Monday morning? To the end of the weekend and beginning of another marathon of working and responsibility? Is Happy an apt descriptor of rushing around to get from here to there on time and presentable?

Technically, I’d have to say no. Optimistically, I’d have to say yes. I mean, how can the start of the typical work week, the much maligned Monday, have a chance of being happy if we don’t approach it that way? I know, I know, so very Pollyanna. But I’ve found mind over matter a highly successful strategy for feeling, and therefore being, more joyful. Determined to see the glass half-full, I’m often rewarded by little moments of magic.

So begins a regular feature on Sparkly Like a Holiday: Monday Magic. A search for a bit of sparkly goodness to kick-start the week.


Finding a $3.99 bouquet called Rosy Outlook. Unexpected balmy, open window weather. Organizing paperwork. Soul warming leftovers that make the perfect lunch. Mondays. Mundane. Moments. Magic.

Nothing but crumbs

January 7, 2009

Minutes after serving an afternoon snack, the table was deserted but for this …


And that’s because I served this …


Ready to enjoy mini donuts filled with raspberry jam. I resisted temptation but I’ll tell you, after a few minutes in the microwave, these little treats smelled just like the donut shop.

I’m thinking they’d be the perfect little sweet for a brunch party, paired with a savory strata and fruit salad. Fast, easy and delicious. What could be better?

Spaces between

December 31, 2008

At the edge of the old year,

the cusp of the new. Holidays

packed up and stowed.

Walls newly unadorned

flicker with pale light.

Open spaces calm.

Glimmers of possibility, of

what will come next.




Tip of the day

December 11, 2008

I’ve always loved reading the Real Simple column where they find new uses for common household items. Well, today, I have one for you! Behold …


Looks like an empty bottle, right? Right! But it’s also a watering vessel for the Christmas tree. The slim neck makes it easy to get into tight spots without spills. And it holds a lot so there’s no trudging back and forth from sink to tree multiple times. Better yet, it costs nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It cracks me up that stores actually try to sell me a special “tree watering gadget with funnel” when I have my handy dandy bottle.

So, before you recycle that bottle, put it to good use keeping the tree fresh!

Magic in the mundane

March 8, 2008


And to everyone, like my little sister, who feared for my sanity after seeing the paint post … no, I’m not entering a Goth phase late in life and painting the kitchen black. Christina guessed it … chalkboard paint. To create a chalkboard wall. To expand the previously small, framed space (which didn’t work because the frame fell down every time the refrigerator was opened). As soon as the paint cures, we’ll do a big reveal!

Saturday Post — afternoon edition

January 26, 2008

The skies are still gray but the rain stopped, so off we went to accomplish many things. Along the way, we walked down secret alleys and peaked in pretty windows.



Pretended to be ladies who lunch. And indeed we did lunch.



Stocked up and promised ourselves never, ever, ever to go to Trader Joes on a Saturday.