Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poor poet’s guide to happy hour dining

From selling floor to the slam, from cubicle to podium. Where to go in between? Happy hour!

As a poor poet, my dinners were usually eaten at my kitchen able, as were breakfasts. Lunches were brown bagged, unless the current employment powers that be popped for an occasional pizza party or barbecue. But what happens when you want to catch a poetry reading relatively soon after work? Poor poets likely haven’t the cash flow to treat themselves to downtown dinners. There may be no time to stop home, but you don’t want your stomach to growl and be heard over the P.A. system during your reading at an open mic.

Happy hours at the local pub/grill can make the joyful transition between you and hunger on those nights you can’t and don’t want to hurry home to eat. When the poetic muse of the night calls and you don’t want to accept the invitation in a cranky mood from lack of calories, you may find yourself at an outdoor cafĂ© noshing tidbits to hold you over, watching the urban hoopla whisk by. Better yet, look for citified venues also situated by a river, lake or ocean that offer happy hours. During your brief, but happy, respite, you’ll be front row to the exact same views residents in apartments above pay dearly for.

Happy hour! When else can you get 10-cent chicken wings, dollar tacos or burgers, $2 bar bites or beers, and even $3 complete meals? The bewitching happy hours start around 4 or 5 p.m. on certain nights of the week, sometimes every week night, depending on the establishment, and clocks onward from there. Find yourself there, poor poet! ◦

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Heighten Your Five Senses: Smell

The best writing employs the use of the five senses to explore metaphor, to show instead of just tell. In the book, "The How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci Workbook," the author Michael Gelb poses this self-assessment test to help you become more aware of your sense of smell:
-- I have a favorite scent. (What is it? Why do I like it? What does it remind me of?)
-- Smells affect my emotions strongly, for better or worse.
-- I can recognize friends by their scent.
-- I know how to use aromas to influence my mood.
-- I can reliably judge the quality of food or wine by its aroma.
-- When I see fresh flowers, I usually take a few moments to breathe in their aroma.

Gelb also suggests making "smells" a theme for a day. This could be a perfect journaling "date." Record what you smell and how it affects you through the course of a day. Spend a half hour at your favorite florist. Inhale the aroma of ten different perfumes or essential oils and describe your reactions.

Others have suggested smelling a crayon, chalk, a rubber ball or other simple items from childhood. How does smell affect your mood or memory? Write down your observations. What does each scent remind you of? Comparing sensory reactions to real life experiences or memories is the core of metaphor and image. You might want to even create a poem out of these images. ◦ ◦

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rilke's "New Way" of Writing

In his book on the craft of writing, Next Word, Better Word, poet Stephen Dobyns explains how the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, around 1907, attempted to find a “new way” of writing. Instead of waiting for inspiration to engulf him, he would just begin to write on a particular subject, and the inspiration would appear as he wrote.

He actually caught such an idea from another great, the sculptor Auguste Rodin, for whom Rilke had worked as a secretary. Rodin often made preliminary studies of his sculptures in clay. He often didn’t plan on what he wanted to make, but once engaged, inspiration would fall and the subject revealed itself. ◦