Monday, June 26, 2017

Writer’s Workshop 24: Poetry’s Important Motion

Here’s another post on my experience in the MT. SAC Writer’s Weekend, April 28, 2017. This time, the Poetry Workshop was led by wonderful Nikia Chaney. She works at the Inlandia Institute in Southern California and her website is www.nikiachaney.com

Chaney’s workshop included some information about poetry and a few prompts, to which she provided guidance and feedback on the work presented. She spoke of the importance of indirect meaning, sound, and imagery in poetry.
Indirect meaning is where poetry says a lot with minimal space and where poetry has metaphor, simile, and/or allusion.
Sound involves repetition (of a word, phrase, or beat), alliteration, assonance, and
rhythm (soft). The repetition should not ‘hit us over the head,’ but repeat enough times that the reader expects it.
Imagery involves sensory language.

Chaney also mentioned that there is no wrong way to start a prompt and to always try new things with poetry. “If you think you’re doing something wrong with it, it must be right. That’s your creativity. Enjoy the writing and have fun with it.”

For the first prompt, Chaney had us listen to Lucille Clifton’s “Cutting Greens,” which you can read AND listen to at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/54590
Then, she asked us to write about something mundane that connects with life; a boring task like brushing teeth. Write what you do and replace some words with images and ideas similar to what Clifton did. Add details without censoring yourself.

The second prompt, she had us listen to Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Anodyne,” which you can read AND listen to at https://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/komunyakaa/anodyne.php

Then, she asked us to write one line you can repeat but break up in different ways four times within your poem. To do this, you need to change the line a little, but still let us recognize it for the rhythm (like music). For example, “I want everything” can be added throughout your poem in different ways such as “You can give me” or “I want everything” and “everything you can” or “give me” and “I want you” and each one is on a different stanza.

Try writing some poems and see what you come up with... very interesting stuff =)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Books I’m Reading 32

Cure Back Pain: 80 Personalized Easy Exercises for Spinal Training to Improve Posture, Eliminate Tension & Reduce Stress by Jean-François Harvey, BSc, DO. There’s a self-assessment and many exercise routines targeting the various muscles that help prevent back pain.

The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs by Elias Weiss Friedman. This is a great compilation of different dog breeds that would put a smile on any dog enthusiast.

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, adapted by Peter David as a graphic novel titled The Lady of the Shadows for Marvel. This story looks back at Odetta’s childhood and her multiple personality disorder before she lost her legs and got taken to Mid-World in search of the Dark Tower with the Gunslinger.


97 Ways to Make a Cat Like You by Carol Kaufmann. This pocket-sized book is filled with facts and tips about taking care of your cat.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pet News 25: Time for Puppy Pays off

This is the time of year for babies and puppies, and everything about growing.
Here, I’ll be focusing on puppies and providing a few basic tips I've used on all my dogs.

Puppies need a lot of attention and monitoring. Scheduling play, feeding, relieving, and training. It’s good to brush up on First Aid for pets. Also, read more about the breed you selected to be part of your family. Of course, researching a breed should be done prior to bringing them home. Too often, guardians select a mismatched breed and when puppies reach their ninth month, it’s harder to find a home, unless they’re in a no-kill shelter (which should be something we strive toward having, but I digress…)

Play is important in a puppy’s social upbringing. Not only does it encourage good behavior, it allows them to trust their new family. After being removed from their mother’s care, a puppy needs to know they are cared for and loved. Playing with them helps reassure teamwork, leadership, and fun. They also come to rely on you to feed them. In the beginning, puppies get fed about four times a day. Small portions to allow for bowel movements. This way, you can teach the puppy where to relieve themselves about ten to twenty minutes after feeding. Note that after a long play session. puppies should relieve themselves, too.

The basics for training your puppy are Sit, Stay, Watch, and Come. These are the ones I used when I got my puppy (who was already six months old, yikes!). You can always add other commands as your puppy matures or learns the basic ones.

With treat in hand, ask the puppy to sit without saying command. Lure their nose up, and their behind usually comes to a sit. Praise and give treat. If not, gently tap the rear. Do this multiple times. Then, add the word Sit, wait, praise, treat. Repeat until you no longer need the treat.

To get the puppy to Stay, ask puppy to Sit, then to Watch you. When you see they are watching you, praise and treat. Repeat. Then, say Stay and back up one step. If your puppy stays, move forward, praise and treat. Repeat until you can take multiple steps back. Then, repeat until you no longer need treat.

To get the puppy to Come, have the puppy Sit, Stay, and back away. Call puppy to you and praise when they reach you. Provide a treat. You can tether the puppy so as not to allow them to run away or to ensure they stay within the perimeters of the training session. You can add distance as the puppy gets better at coming. You can also do it sitting down. Later, you can add distractions, like give the puppy a ball, then call them to you.

Training sessions should be short and quick at first. Once the puppy gets better, trainings could be longer as their attention has gotten better.


Remember: Praise and Treat and Play afterwards. Also, pet slowly and softly, below chin, shoulders, chest. Practice touching paws for nail trimming and massage teeth, gums for brushing in future. Good luck!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Art 19: Sitting Pensive



The pose above was one I drew when I attended some Life Drawing workshops in 2011 (I know, quite a long time ago).
The model posed for ten minutes and I focused on the neck, jaw and shoulder area of the model. The trick I found that worked was to angle the lines to guide me where each body part would go, then, freely draw the body. Once that was down, which is like a skeleton, you start focusing on the areas to darken to build on the lines drawn.

Ten minutes wasn’t enough time to continue the rest of the body, but you could always finish the drawing from memory at a later time. I had been practicing drawing for a couple of days by now, and you could tell it paid off in this drawing. I liked the way it came out and would rather see it incomplete. I hope you do, too =)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day!

Hope everyone has found their weekend running smoothly, relaxing, and commemorative.
If you are visiting family or friends, or another trip, please drive safe and patiently. Also, make sure your pets can’t escape during the fireworks by checking gates, crates, and homes. Please supervise children. Many tend to get hurt during this time.
The best thing would be to not to throw fireworks (but that’s a humble opinion). The neighborhood would be safe, there will be less pollution and clean-up for the next day, and your pets will still love you. We can entertain ourselves in other ways that are enjoyable and fun and not hurtful. Just something to keep in mind.
Oh! And if you do throw fireworks, please don’t exaggerate and keep the whole neighborhood up until 6 a.m. or be one of those who keep throwing them for the rest of the month. Thanks.

If you’re looking for some fun stuff to read, check out the POPULAR POSTS on the right side of the site or FOLLOW ME on twitter @m_a_Arana


Monday, May 22, 2017

Writer’s Workshop 23: Poetry Confessions without the Truth

   Tim Hatch conducted a Poetry Workshop on confessional writing during the MT. SAC Writer’s Weekend in April 2017.
   Hatch had us think about our early in life or recent memories, sacred or not, without having to give every detail to tell the memory. It’s more about the emotion. The more meaningful the memory, the better.
   Then, the prompt continued with a series of questions he would ask, such as:
are you alone in this memory?
what are you wearing?
are you holding anything?
where are you?
what are you doing?
etc.
   Hatch mentions that poetry is about getting a response from the audience and not to be attached to the truth because stories can change to service the poem. In other words, a memory poem is like a creative writing piece where you add fictional elements to portray the emotion and subject.
   One way he suggests to clear your mind if you come to a difficult subject is to take a walk outside. It doesn’t have to be a park as long as you are walking. This works well when you have a hard time getting the images down or before you revise the piece you’re working on.
   Another way Hatch suggests to revise is to ask questions like ‘if you could go back to this memory, what would you say to yourself/person in the memory?’
   Sometimes revisions aren’t what we expect.
   After this, you can write for ten or fifteen minutes. Go ahead and try it based on the few questions I have. You can add more questions regarding the five senses.
   At first, I didn’t have a clue as to what to write, but as he asked the questions, I was able to bring out the memory of walking to the bus stop as a child.

   The last suggestion Hatch shared was to write in complete darkness for 20 minutes in order to extract a memory. However, he cautions that this is an intensely emotional exercise and not to have any sharp objects nearby =) I’ve tried this only once and found myself with dream-like poems, but you never know what you’ll get until you try.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Quote 25

“A good rider can hear his horse speak to him. A great rider can hear his horse whisper.”
-Author Unknown

When I read this quote, I thought of the different ways you communicate without speaking by using gestures in place of words and eye contact or facial expressions others could read. It also, reminded me of how you can learn from your pet’s behavior what they are saying. You can learn to differentiate the barks your dog make and the tail position cats make when they are upset. Then, I went further and applied it to writing.

The ‘horse’ is the muse- the creative part of your brain -to which we let loose to write poetry and stories. Sometimes, we force this creativity (‘hear the horse speak’), but if you let it drive your writing, you end up with less description, less details, less spontaneity, and more clichés.

If you stop playing editing cop on every turn, you would find ideas flowing and write things you may have never thought of (‘hear the horse whisper’). You would tap into that subconscious part of the brain where the weird isn’t so weird after all, the creativity is boundless, and new angles to retold stories are found.


Let’s give room to this type of ‘riding’ and enjoy the view.