Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Walking and Writing Join Hands Down Inspiration Lane

“Shall we walk as we talk?” is an old stereotyped line from movies to give the actors some action during a dialog. In a similar fashion, but without such cinematic contrivance, you can actually write as you walk. At least in your head. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a big proponent of taking walks or hikes in between writing sessions. I especially like to do so if away at a writing retreat, when large expanses of my time are indeed spent writing. To clear the head, to change course, to take a fresh perspective on the last few hours spent writing, nothing beats a no-cost walk down a long city street or a circuitous tree-lined path.

Of course, I’m far from the only writer who believes in a good outdoor walk to stir the imagination and calm the intensity of previous indoor concentration. In his book “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work,” editor Mason Currey talks about some of the formulaic habits that writers, artists and composers – as well as philosophers and scientists -- have plied to aid and abet their creativity.

British novelist Charles Dickens, for one, wrote five hours daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in complete silence. Afterward, he’d take a three-hour walk, during which he’d take notes – filled with ideas for the next day’s writings. Danish philosopher and poet Kierkegaard garnered many of his notions during his daily walks. Sometimes when he’d return home, bursting with inspiration, he’d stand at his desk quickly jotting down his thoughts, still wearing his hat and gripping his walking stick.

While some authors, such as Gertrude Stein, wrote only for 30 minutes a day (and remember, she wrote very short pieces), most writers that Currey examined found that two to three hours of writing a day was about right. And as far as time of day, Sylvia Plath and Nicholas Baker were or are crack-of-dawn morning writers. George Sand, Marcel Proust and Franz Kafka, on the other hand, liked to work late at night, if not in the middle of the night.

Yet among all creatives, it seems that walking is the most common way to refresh the mind and offer an inspirational break.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Try this friend's e-book on aromatherapy

E-books are out there on every topic, but there are few on aromatherapy. Fellow aromatherapy practitioner Andrea Butje, who runs the Aromatherapy Institute, has come out with a new book available on Kindle. Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home is required reading for those who want to lift their spirits, beautify the vibration of their homes and enhance their quality of life (see more benefits below).

Aromatherapy is all about the therapeutic use of essential oils—highly aromatic substances that naturally occur in plants.

Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home is convenient as an e-book, since you can quickly turn to certain recipes on your tablet and create your own easy-to-make aromatherapy products to use yourself or give as gifts.

Andrea brings the therapeutic use of essential oils to your home in Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home. Her easy-to-follow recipes teach beginners and experts alike how to create natural, safe products to replace synthetic chemicals and toxic ingredients found in many store brands. With a modest collection of essential oils and tools from around the kitchen, learn how to create cleaning scrubs, natural air fresheners and healthy body products. Neatly organized by room and purpose, these recipes give readers the power to replace unwanted chemicals with handmade, effective, aromatic products.

This beautiful aromatherapy recipes book offers everything a beginner needs to get started with simple aromatherapy for health and home. The book includes 60 easy recipes to help you create natural, safe and environmentally-friendly products for beauty and skin care, health, travel, emotional wellness and for cleaning and caring for every room in your home.

~ Build your collection. Learn what you need to build a basic essential oils kit for your home – including key essential oils and carriers.
~ Blending basics. Discover and practice basic blending techniques that you can perform in your own kitchen, at your own table.
~ A safe, non-toxic home. Find safe alternatives to toxic supermarket synthetic cleaners. Blend your own disinfectants, deodorizers, antifungals and scrubs for even your toughest cleaning problems.
~ Fresh, healthy skin. Keep your skin beautiful and chemical free, using gentle, safe and natural moisturizers, cleansers, scrubs, perfumes and lotions that you create yourself.
~ A healthier body. Stay healthy using simple, effective and natural preventative measures against common ailments like cold and flu.
~ Safe kids & pets. Blend safe products for your home and family that are free of synthetic chemicals, common allergens and abrasive chemicals.

Find out more about Essential Living: Aromatherapy for Health and Home


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

An Up-Close & Personal Q&A with Poetry Slam Founder Marc Kelly Smith

Marc Kelly Smith, founder of the original Uptown Poetry Slam in Chicago, recently answered some questions posed by Frugal Poet's Guide to Life. Starting in the summer of 1986, Marc has held the slam every Sunday night at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge on Broadway near Lawrence. The slam concept has since gone international, with slam events held at venues around the world.

Over the years, Marc has graciously invited my husband Carlos Cumpian and me to be featured readers at the venue, most recently last month when I read from my new chapbook "Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices." Marc himself even performed a couple of times at my place of work, making a sensation at our company's lunch-and-learn employee events.

Frugal Poet’s Guide to Life: Before you started the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill, you used to hold readings at the Get Me High Lounge in Chicago. What was the difference between readings at Get Me High and the Green Mill? What do you think was the key reason the Uptown Poetry Slam took off so spectacularly?

Marc Smith: Actually, once the Monday night show at the Get Me High took hold it had some spectacular nights itself. I started the Get Me High show in November 1984 and ran it like the old-style poetry readings for several months and got frustrated by the self-centered behavior of the poets participating. I quit doing it for a couple months in summer and fall of 1985 and then was pestered by Butchie the owner to start it up again in the winter.

When I restarted the Get Me High show in the winter of 1985/86 I did so with a new philosophy that the audience was the most important element of the show and that the poets should (and must) be in service to the audience. No poet was allowed to belabor the audience with self-centered blathering. Poets were allowed to read no more than two or three poems and if those poems sucked the audience was allowed to let them know how bad they were.

It was at this time that I also realized that performance was the key to the successful communication of a poem to an audience in a public setting. The art of performing had been ignored by poets in the later 20th century, indeed, it was a taboo to most poetry circles to dare to perform poems. I knew that there was no sound reasoning behind such a position and encourage (sometimes demanded) that the poet learn how to perform poems rather than just muttering them on stage.

Of course, there were some individuals in Chicago like David Hernandez and Mary Shen Barnidge who had been performing their poems for years. I sought them out and brought them to the Get Me High as featured guests and examples of what was coined “performance poetry.”

I do not claim to be the one who came up with the idea of performing poetry. Poetry as you know began as a performance art long before the human species scratch a written word into a clay slate. What I did do was to focus a new collective attention to the art of performing poetry and to announce to the world that it was as important an ingredient (performing) to effective communication of poetry to a public audience as the writing of the text is.

And despite all the criticism leveled at me from the old guard poetry establishments then and now I think I was right.

Frugal Poet’s Guide to Life: As a poet and worker in Chicago previous to the slam, did you everdream that life as an impresario might take front and center?

Marc Smith: Very few people believe me when I tell them that I’m for the most part a shy person. I learned how to be at ease on stage by struggling with stage fright and the demons of insecurity and low self-esteem. My success as a performance poet and impresario is a testimony to the fact that performing is an art form like any other that can be learned and mastered.

Frugal Poet’s Guide to Life: What role does drama and theater play in your life?

Marc Smith: I love the stage and the theater. I have had roles in a few stage productions and love the ritual nature of rehearsal and performing the same actions and lines over and over through the run of the play. The same, yet totally different every night. And for shy Marc (unlike nightclub performing) I get to disappear backstage after the performance and become almost anonymous to the public who just a few minutes before saw me (and applauded) in the footlights.

Now that I am a little more financially secure (and older) I would love to do more and more theater production. And if I stop being so lazy, maybe I will. ##