Monday, April 14, 2014

Dear Author

Click to read my final thoughts on Mrs. Poe on Goodreads.


Today's offering is a handwritten letter, one I hope will be an encouragement to fiction writers:

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Dear Author,

Do not worry that your premises are ordinary or your plots are too predictable. If I like your voice, you can write almost any story you love, and I and many others will love it too. Let your art be fully you. The books I cherish are soul-friends. They are imperfect, quiet, true companions.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Raven and Mrs. Poe: A Book Reflection Part 1

I sat on my big meadow-patterned chair in the sun room and opened up my latest borrowed library book, Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen, a novel recommended to me by my pen pal, Katrina. The cover sparked my interest, the ornate, golden arch and partial image of this elegant-looking woman (which is "Woman's Face" by Chris Tobin according to the book jacket credits). Rather than describing it in any more words, I'll post a picture.

The novel opens with "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. Although I've read this poem before in my school days, I hoped I was wrong about my memory of it, that I would get something more out of it today, that it would end on a happier note. 

I read it aloud to myself while grackles cackled on the rain-drenched lawn, and I felt the piercing sadness and hopelessness of its final lines. Even poems that don't have much deep wisdom or truth to them can still startle, terrify, or fascinate us. From what I've read about Poe, he didn't intend to write the poem to teach a great truth about the world through allegory. Instead, he wanted to strike us with a strange, gothic image, such as a talking raven. 

The narrative poem brings to mind the desolate feeling of hopelessness and loneliness, a mood that can seem endless to the person who is stuck inside it. And yet, the beauty of well-chosen words (for the writer and reader alike) is a balm for the suffering. Reading this poem renewed my interest in traditional form poetry, even if I found it to be a downer.

Oh, and a grackle (not a raven) came to visit after I finished it. It landed on the bulkhead roof, looked in through the kitchen window with a dark, gleaming eye, and flew off all flustered. If it wasn't for the comfort of Jesus, a positive mind, and a giving up on creating meaning through unconnected events, I might still be scared. Isn't it funny how certain creatures scare us, while others bring delight, mainly by their appearance and sound? Anyway, I really like seeing fluffy little bunnies hopping around my yard.

Mrs. Poe begins with strong lyrical prose, and whether or not it's historically accurate, it is entertaining and absorbing thus far. I will most likely post a reflective review of it, a type of post I'd like to do more of in the future, when I am finished.

Post thoughts on "The Raven," Poe, or whatever else below. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A New Direction: Farewell for Now

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I will be away from Blush of Dawn for awhile as I explore my interests, old ones and possibly some new. I hope to return with a clearer perspective on what exactly I want to do with this blog.  Maybe it will be a blog for books (since reading is a consistent passion of mine) or maybe something entirely different. It will be a surprise.

Farewell for now!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Short and Sweet—Three Things I Learned in March

1. It isn't hard to make your own cleaning solutions, such as "Mirror Bright."

The ingredients are

1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup water
8 drops citrus oil

It's so rewarding to make these "potions" (as my husband, Dan calls them), and it makes the house smell really pretty, too!

2. Reading poems aloud is therapeutic, along with light memorization. The KJV of the Bible is great for this, although I like a variety of translations. So far, I've learned this line of Jesus by heart:

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."

3. C.S. Lewis was a genius. I'm reading The Silver Chair and have an image in my head of the author in flannel pajamas and a night cap at his writing desk with a big smirk on his face, amused by his own sillyness. It is these kinds of happy images that make me want to keep writing, even if Lewis didn't actually laugh at his own jokes or own a night cap.

That's all.

Happy April!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Timekeeping: A Poem

It's good to get those tucked away poems out of the notebook and into the world!

These days, I've been thinking about time, especially how we measure it, and how that frantic measuring can make us feel overwhelmed and sometimes lose our purpose. After all the pondering, this poem was born. Yay!

You can even hear me read it. The background sounds are Dan working on some construction in our basement, which is right below my office:



Her hand
the grain mill.
My finger
the "bake" button.

The rooster crows
her out of bed.

Into perfect segments,
lines of sunlight
cross her blanket.
How still the ground
beneath the snow.

I do not gaze upon the snowflakes.
Into perfect segments,
hours and minutes
cross my days.
I glimpse again the ticking clock
who has been crowned
my king somehow.

May the hours of our days
wind like wooded trails
that lead us home,
purposeful, laughing,
lavender dropping
out of our pockets.

May the hours of our days
unroll into forever
like a mat where
the body reclines
beneath the dome of day,
and we live out

May we be like lavender,
soft, sweet, calm,
and the clock will drop its crown,
and all the gifts we gave to it,
we will gather once more
and give away.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two Haiku and a Dickinson—Almost Poetry Month

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?
—Emily Dickinson

What Emily Dickinson describes here is her body responding to the sheer joy of beautiful, awe-inspiring poetry, the insightful kind that chills the body and nearly stuns the spirit. Some poems I read fill me with a trembling cold like the one Emily Dickinson describes, while others are more warming, gently clever, and amusing.

It's been awhile since I have really read or written much poetry. Years ago, I always seemed to be composing some verse, seeking new poets, or savoring the lines of some old favorite. Since April is National Poetry Month, I've begun collecting other people's poems in a brand new journal, both form and free-verse. I'm writing their poems by hand, which allows me to linger over certain words and phrases a little longer, to feel like I am in tune with them. Along with copying and reading aloud these poems, I am writing my own. It feels like slowly wading out into refreshing, chilly waters, this return to poetry.

I'd like to share three from the journal. The first is a clever spring haiku written by the haiku master, Issa:

snow melts
and the village floods
with children

The second is an excerpt from Emily Dickinson's poem, "Hope is The Thing with Feathers"

Hope is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
Dickinson's poem is musical, so that the form hints at its meaning and sounds just like what she imagines hope to be. This first stanza contains such an innocent quality through its "bird" imagery, and yet she never uses the common word; she describes it instead.

The third is a recent (contemporary) haiku of mine:

spring fog—
I find the way home
by heart

 May April bring you flowers of many colors and plenty of poems! :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Morning Pleasures

yellow light
glazes over
china cups

the glass shows
a back garden

little sloping 
of melted snow

some mornings
restfulness comes easily

 fuzzy wool-dressed feet
a cup of white snowbud tea