Monday, April 25, 2016

Death as Metaphor 22: Last Thoughts for Closure

Poets write from the heart and the images they elicit may stem from many metaphors, including death, that may question the way they are used.

Poetry is one of the avenues I chose to share what death might mean and to try to understand it better. Whether it is for literal meaning or non-literal use of the metaphor, writing poetry in a contemporary world is the key to unleashing words that express a variety of things, including abstract or symbolic representations.

Death is symbolic of something lost. In this case, it is the loss of one’s roots, one’s home, of love, and the loss of a future. These experiences are what elicit the reader’s emotions in a personal way. The familiar subject of death touches individuals in a myriad of ways and the metaphors help in its allusion.

As described in my previous posts where I mentioned Charles Darwin, one cannot escape death, whether it comes naturally or not, but one can also create it inside of them. One can become ‘dead’ if they do not actively participate in their life.

Death may hold a lot of metaphors, but it is the way we use them in our poetry that shines a light to the subject. Not all of it is negative or literal.

I hope the Death as Metaphor posts have helped you get a glimpse into its use or has inspired you to read/write some poetry.

And to end on a high note, five of my poems, which deal with some death metaphors, got entered in the Spectrum 4 Anthology: 2016s Top Ten San Gabriel Valley Poets! Pretty nifty, huh?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Books I’m Reading 23

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry was published by Random House and is a great collection of the poet’s work.

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers. Powers is an Iraq war veteran writing poetry with a lot of imagery and emotion. Sometimes from memories of his experiences coming home and at war.

Your Best Brain Ever: A Complete Guide & Workout by Michael Sweeney is a book about how to stay sharp and improve memory by doing different activities which can boost your brain health, such as finding time to exercise.

Treasury of Egyptian Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Monsters & Mortals by Donna Jo Napoli from National Geographic KiDS. This is a collection of how the different deities came into being. Sometimes, it gets confusing because the deities can have multiple personalities or similar functions. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pet News 20: A Dog’s Gotta Have Color Scent, right?

Kyra Sundance, author of The Dog Rules: 14 Secrets to developing the dog you want (2009), mentions in her book that dogs aren’t color blind, they’re “color-limited” because dogs can’t see all the colors like we do. 

According to Sundance, dogs see red, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet. She also states orange, yellow, and green look the same to a dog. 

Though their night vision is far better than humans, it is a dog’s sense of smell which helps them determine who or what is familiar. Sundance explains that this “scent memory” lasts a lifetime and affects everything the dog does. 

So if you’re taking that pooch for a long walk, let them smell their surroundings. Dogs are like computers, inputting and storing data for later use in their scent files, retrieving information to determine safety, comfort, and a myriad of things we probably haven't pinpointed yet.

That’s why it’s also important to leave a piece of your clothing when you send your pet to a boarding kennel, or leave at the vet. I’ve actually tried this. I left one of my shirts with my pet when I went on a three-day trip. My sister, who babysat, said it helped him sleep because he wouldn’t sleep until she placed it on his bed! I called him Linus for a while =)

p.s. Linus is the character from Peanuts who carries his blanket almost everywhere with him

Monday, April 4, 2016

Art 9: Thinking About…

Here are some sketches I made back in 1998. Each pose was sketched in five minutes using charcoal. At first, I struggled with the transitions from one pose to the next, but this particular sketch shows a progression I wasn’t able to get during my first classes. I like the way I was able to capture the movement in the rough drawing and add a touch of darker lines to add dimension.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Books I’m Reading 22

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani is a Young Adult novel about an Indian teenage girl who has been engaged since she was three years old. She has moved with her family to America only to find herself questioning the life she lives and the one she left. Wonderful story.

501 Amazing Uses for Salt, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Olive Oil, & Lemons by Laura M. Westdale. This is a great compilation of natural ways to deal with cleaning around the house and kitchen, health and hygiene and beauty, arts and crafts.

 The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is a verse novel about twin teenage boys whose father is an ex-basketball player with health issues that affect the family. It’s also about the relationship between the boys and how it gets strained when one of them gets a girlfriend. It’s a great read and when the author writes about the action of a scene, he changes the font and format to go along with the emotions.

The Dark Hunters by Sherrilyn Kenyon is a Manga four volume series that mixes modern wolf and vampire stories with Roman mythology. Very creative and entertaining… and the artwork is well done.

Tu perro: Cómo conocerlo, educarlo, y construer juntos una relación perfecta by Angelo Vaira. This book (written in Spanish) deals with how to better the relationship between your dog and you. It suggests ‘thinking like a dog’ in terms of what he/she wants/needs, to look at the world in their perspective, and the importance of enriching their lives.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Writing Workshops 16: Voices in Words

When I attended the Mt. SAC Fiction Workshop with Paul Tayyar Fiction on April 24, 2014, one of his prompts asked us to construct our story around a dialogue between two characters who are having a disagreement over a particular subject.

We had to make up the characters on the spot and write ONLY in dialogue, making sure that the dialogue differentiated the characters without the need for tags and that the conflict was apparent. This is actually a good exercise to focus on your character’s voice. How do you want them to sound? How does this relate to the way they deal with things?

So, when you try the activity, make sure to write the dialogue without adding any tags to tell the reader who is who or what they are doing at the moment. Let the words they convey be the clues.

At first, I had a lot of trouble jump-starting the writing, but then, I thought about an idea I’ve had for a while about a teacher…

Anyhow, here’s my attempt at the prompt:

“Stop following me.”
“I can’t do that.”
“You’ve said that before.”
“And I say it again. There’s nothing that can be done. I’m temporarily attached to you until you complete your mission.”
“My mission is to win over a bunch of kids into loving school. Not babysit the idea of having a ghost shadow me while I use the restroom.”
“I can’t see human grooming and such.”
“But you’re right there when I’m out!”
“Duly noted. Now, what are you going to do for Jason?”
“Haven’t you been listening? I can’t think or live my life, not even plan a lesson with you flying through walls and getting in my face.”
“Apparently the memo hasn’t sunk in.”
“Stop it! Just stop.”
“Go away!”

“I can’t.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

Short Stories & Such 23: Person of Your Dreams

Person of Your Dreams

With my new platform shoes, I whisk out the door with Lucas. I still can’t believe he showed up on my doorstep just a few minutes ago and asked me for coffee. Soothing coffee. Lucas seems so excited to finally find me after four years. His eyes beam with a twinkle. I blush as he guides me to his ‘ride.’
Oh, wow, I’m in his car. His new car! Cruising along the streets, a burst of people come out of hiding and are going nowhere. Coffee! Lucas!

He was the ultimate High School crush. I can’t believe he remembers me. Maybe he feels bad for standing me up at the dance. His skin looks so good. Mmh, fresh mint.

At the coffee shop, his voice fills my ears with music, until he calls me Gwen. Gwen? Maybe it’s a slip up. Oh, I hope he’s single. His gray eyes continue to sparkle with each note he plays.

That’s odd. Lucas has called me Gwen three times already. Does he think I’m Gwen instead of Ronda? Why mess with fate? I’ll just go with it. It might turn for the better.

“Ronda?” I felt a hand on my shoulder. Lucas’s forehead creased, his eyes darkened to a storm gray.
“Ronda, how are you? Long time no see, huh?” It was my colleague from my previous job.

Dog gone it!

Note: You can read the original draft and comments on Writer’s Digest Writing prompts for May 22, 2012