What color is your portal? Change it with online paint chips.

I opened a portal

I opened a portal (2020)                 bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Yesterday I started a new Coursera course: Songwriting:Writing the Lyrics with Pat Pattison through Berklee College of Music. One of the first lessons conceptualized a song as three boxes, stacked with the smallest on top. The top box fitting inside the middle box and both fitting in the bottom box. He used this imagery as the build and progression of the song.

I liked how he used “the boxes” and thought it would be a good way to approach a poem, so I thought I would take a look at what was going on at #dVerse Poets Pub to inspire some words to put in my boxes.

I felt like the #dVersepoetics prompt presented by HA: About Portals, was perfect for my poem. I talked a bit about portals and doorways while I was Excavating my mind. The prompt inspired me to open a portal in the side of the house and capture some photographs of the dimensions on the other side.

Where we can see the virus

Where We Can See The Virus (2020)    bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

Where there are tiny dinosaurs in the trees

Where There Are Tiny Dinosaurs In Trees (2020) bokeh photograph by Maria L. Berg

I thought I would combine my portal ideas with Linda L. Krushke’s Paint Chip Poetry Prompt. I was looking for interesting color names a couple weeks ago for a poem, but didn’t find what I was imagining. The paint chip poetry prompt got me thinking and I searched again. Sherwin-Williams color families is exactly what I was looking for, so many creative color names with history and symbolism and oddity. It’s great. I can also explore Behr’s colors.

Armed with great inspiration, I lost all energy and interest 🙂 But I came back to it this morning, so I’ll call that a win.

The poem

Portals to here

Doors block and stop
when closed and locked hold
secrets and mysteries, create
yearning and discomfort, force

vocal expression out of context
the imagination runs rabid,
but when the key is found
and the door creaks, cracked

upon its hinges, it becomes
but a frame, lines and angles
to accentuate or break
the nouns within

Portals are but separators,
organizations to define
yours from mine from ours,
space from time, earthly from divine

find the vibration to pass
through the membrane,
concentrate, believe, transform
pass through to here

How long will it take to
notice the subtle differences
What color is your portal now?
Is it the drab aloe vera of the desert house

where I shaved my head
for the first time, or is it marine
like the flap of my tent I call the hurricane
that accompanies me on all my travels

did you walk through the door
that glowed like a sunset behind
the intricate carving of the head of Medusa
that I continued to visit every day in Venice

or is your portal no color at all
a carved opening in a cliff dwelling
showing the complete eclipse
where you look down through infinity, trapped

Excavating the Mind Round 2 Day 4: Music’s Influence

music to influence observations

I am working on a week long photography and poetry challenge inspired by a prompt from Poets & Writers called Excavating the Mind.

Today’s Enrichment and Time Evaporator

Nature Photography

This morning I found some great nature photography posts to enjoy:

CAS Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition

Underwater Photographer of the year 2020

and for laughs

12 Funny Wild Animal Pictures: A Comedy Wildlife Photography Award Preview

Poetry

I headed back to the Rattle Poetry Youtube Channel because I enjoyed it so much yesterday and found this wonderful poem by William Trowbridge “Oldguy Superhero, Counterterrorist.” It made me laugh.

Day 4 notes and observations

Last night I watched Jericho Brown, this year’s Pulitzer-Prize winner, interviewed by Alphonso David, president of HRC Human Rights Campaign. It included so much great information. I especially enjoyed this great quote:

Poetry is the genre of investigation and discovery – Jericho Brown

So let’s get to investigating and discovering.

I thought I would use Visuwords again to create today’s frame. I let it provide the original word which turned out to be tonal. One of the word associations was music. When I double clicked on music, I broke the program! The screen filled with words incredibly quickly then the mass of words and lines danced back and forth across the screen and never stopped. This, in itself, brought to mind how music is a universe, a broad framework that flavors every observation.

Since it’s another rainy morning and I’ll be observing inside, I decided to select a variety of records from my eclectic collection (four albums I have not listened to yet on the new record player) to spice up my observations. I also played with some different lighting: a full spectrum bulb on a stand with a shadow box and Prolite Electronix RTL 30 as a spotlight.

First influence: Anna Moffo – Heroines From Great French Operas (1975)

Anna Moffo

Her voice put me in the mood for more romantic lighting, so I grabbed those thumbtacks I observed in juxtaposition and put one in a previous hole I found in the wall then stung some blue lights and turned off all the others. I enjoyed how the blue reflected on the album cover and matched the glow of the display of the record player.

The spotlight on the plain wall made me want to make shadow puppets. Because the light I used was made of many small lights, It created an interesting effect.

 

Since I was playing, I decided to put on KLAPP och KLANG (1969), a Swedish language record of children’s songs, as the next influence.

Klapp och Klang

I instantly found myself bobbing side to side in my seat and snapping my fingers to the music. I took down the blue lights and turned on all the others. I was drawn to some tiny figures that have been on the hearth since before I moved in. Then I felt like exploring for more toys.

I just looked out the window and two geese swam by with their brand new fluffy babies, so I quickly changed my lens and ran out to capture a couple picks of goslings.

They swam away quickly this time, so back to it. Next up we have Ahmad Jamal- All Of You (1961). This light piano-led jazz has me moving in the same way as the children’s songs: bobbing and snapping.

Ahmad Jamal

Notes:

  • music makes me contradictory: I want to sit contemplatively, but I have to move
  • the mood of the music changes my lighting preferences
  • an object, like a certain microphone, can symbolize the person who uses it
  • the roll of the sleeve on my jean jacket has been preserved through all space and time like an ancient artifact in a museum

Today’s final selection is Alla Pugacheva in Stockholm (1985). This is amazing. A Russian pop star, singing in English, recorded in Sweden and yet, so distinctly ’80s. Oh that saxophone! I remembered that I still have the jean jacket with the pins on it that I got in Sweden and Leningrad.

 

That was fun. I really enjoyed how the music influenced what I observed and how I observed it. Still one more day to go, but I can see how this week’s poem will be very different from last week’s.

It’s Open Link Night over at dVerse Poet’s Pub. Head over and share your favorite poem you wrote this week and read and comment on all the other great works.

Now to play with Kari McElroy’s Musical Alphabet Coloring Pages and explore the music of all the artists she has drawn.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#NaPoWriMo Day 15: Music in my Dreams

Last song of the night

A to Z Challenge

Today is exciting for me. A day when all of the prompts and my choice for A to Z work together. Dream Music! Yay!

moderato – rather fast
melody – succession of musical tones, prominent part contrasted to harmony
meno mosso – less motion or speed
morendo –  a dying away of sound, gradually getting softer until no sound exists

NaPoWriMo

Prompt: write a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music

PAD Challenge

Prompt: write a dream poem

The poem

Dream Music

A melody in the key of flight
with a harmony at intervals of cathedral steps
that crescendos like water rushing over a waterfall
dolce tones of feathers falling
diminuendo to cyclopean fermata
a half-step turn reveals the spacious view
palatial glissando into counterpoint
creates the rhythm for a bailecito moderato
and I wake jubiloso
the dream song lingers until morendo

 

 

# NaPoWriMo Day 4: Dreams and Wishes

double ink blot with acrylic paint

Dreamscape (2020)                             acrylic inkblot and photo by Maria L. Berg

I wrote a song called Haunting Dreams that I recorded with Maria and the Aftermath on our album Selective Memories. I uploaded it to HitRecord which is a fun site for artistic collaboration. I think it fits nicely with this theme.

Blogging A to Z

diminuendo – gradually get softer

dolce – play with a sweet tone

dynamics – variations in degree of loudness and softness, shading

NaPoWriMo

Prompt: Write a poem based on an image from a dream

PAD Challenge

Prompt: Write a wish poem

The poem

Dreams and Wishes

Dreams and wishes
echo unfulfilled desires
remnants of reaching
into the vast unknown
only to find a silent ache

Wishes like fishes
swim around in
the collective unconscious
looking for tasty bait
that will hook
and draw them wriggling
to the surface
for a last gasp
only to die

Dreams are the streams
where hope battles
against the current
guided by biological
determination to
fertilize and duplicate
and once spawned
wither and die
decay and wash away

Be diligently weary
of wishes
and find a way
to keep REM sleep at bay
for the promises
dangled by those shimmering
glimpses in the night
are but slimy scales in the light

 

#OctPoWriMo Day 2: Quickening Notes

Quickening Notes

elongate
stretch to
your whole being
you linger after waves
disipate

split
to share
you give half
to emphasize and sustain
refit

made
to remember
left in haste
quarter for the meter
paid

 

 

The Quadrille: Not Just An Old Dance Anymore

quadrille: noun – 1. a square dance performed typically by four couples and containing five (or six) sections, each of which is a complete dance in itself. A piece of music for a quadrille dance. 2. each of four groups of riders taking part in a tournament or carousel, distinguished by a special costume or colors. A riding display.

The Dance

The dance took its name from square formations executed by four mounted horsemen in 17th-century military parades. The dance was executed by four couples in a square formation.

The following table from Wikipedia shows what the different parts of the Viennese six-part style look like, musically speaking:

  • part 1: Pantalon (written in 2/4 or 6/8)
    theme A – theme B – theme A – theme C – theme A
  • part 2: Été (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme B – theme B – theme A
  • part 3: Poule (always written in 6/8)
    theme A – theme B – theme A – theme C – theme A – theme B – theme A
    • Part 3 always begins with a two-measure introduction
  • part 4: Trénis (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme B – theme B – theme A
  • part 5: Pastourelle (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme B – theme C – theme B – theme A
  • part 6: Finale (always written in 2/4)
    theme A – theme A – theme B – theme B – theme A – theme A
    • Part 6 always begins with a two-measure introduction

All the themes are 8 measures long.

The Poem

I started this study of quadrilles today because it’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and I wanted to participate for the fist time. The connection between the quadrille dance and poetry began when Lewis Carroll lampooned the dance in  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’sThe Lobster Quadrille” (1865).

The dVerse Poets Pub Quadrille is a poem (or short prose) in exactly 44 words that incorporates a given word. To quote from the original post from Björn Rudberg, “The challenge combines two essential elements to have fun.” Today’s word is muddle and the quotes on the site are great!

I headed over to Shadow Poetry to see if they had a poetry form page for the quadrille and the closest I found was an invented poetry form by C. G. V. Lewis called a quadrilew.

Over at Poetry Soup I found a page of links to poems about quadrille that they call Quadrille Poems which I thought was interesting.

And now that I have some understanding of quadrille (at least the word), here is my first attempt at creating my own:

The Dance

Lace and denim muddled
space in a rat race

Grace; a muddled mint
in a julep glazed

Chase a hint
of mace-muddled flint,
a warm taste

Face the phenom
of muddled voices
venom without trace

Time is a climb of thirsting,
bursting rhyme sublime

 

The Horses

Happy Reading and Writing!

and dancing and horses and costumes

X is for Xanthic

xanthic: adjective – of, relating to, or tending toward a yellow color

happy yellows

This is a fun word because it is part of a group of words having to do with yellow:

xanthocarpous: adj. – having yellow fruit

xanthochroia: noun – yellowness of the skin

xanthochroic: adj. – having yellow skin

xanthocomic: adj. – yellow-haired

xanthocyanopsy: noun – form of color-blindness in which only blue and yellow can be distinguished

xanthoderm: noun – yellow-skinned person

xanthodont: noun – one with yellow teeth

xanthoma: noun – disease characterized by yellow patches on the skin

xanthophyll: noun – substance causing yellow colour of autumn leaves

xanthopsia: noun – a visual condition where things appear yellow

xanthospermous: adj. – having yellow seeds

xanthous: adj. – yellow or red-haired

Queen of Swords

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in response to a Tarot card. If you’ve been following Experience Writing for a while, you may have seen that I created my first Tarot deck last fall and worked through the book Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch. I learned a lot and talked about my process and experiences throughout my November posts.

My card for today is the Queen of Swords. Over at Tarot.com you can see the Queen of Swords image from many different tarot decks.

 

Butterfly Kisses

Cloudless sulphur clouds
Gathering along the horizon

Her xanthic monarch crown
Flutters and shifts to mimic her acumen

The painted lady raises her razor-sharp,
Double-edged sword to the sky

And in genuine faith
Metes her wisdom

Beware the cabbage white
Its young will eat your food

And the swallowtail’s caterpillar
May show you its repugnatorial organ

 

Are you interested in learning about using Tarot symbolism to inspire your creativity? You may want to read:
Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch

The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin

Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card

Happy Reading and Writing!

L is for Lapidescent and Lamott

lapidescent – adjective – turning to stone; petrifying

Symbol in the Mountain

 

Watch for spiders when turning to stone

A spider outside titanium tombs admits to gathering glass and
Pokes positive whispers to flip
Lichen over rocky ruins welcome collected chlorinated streams to
Come to yes, the dust spinning
You between tungsten traps sanction catching carbonation and
Stay pro compliment still
Safety-pins under obsidian obsessions permit keeping keeps to
Arrive at every surrender lapidescent.

Anne Lamott’s Truth BombsSigned by Anne Lamott

Last weekend (for my birthday), my sweetie treated me to a talk by Anne Lamott at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Anne Lamott is the author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. My cousin (whose birthday is the day before mine) got me this book for my birthday years ago when I started my first novel.

We had great seats stage left and while we waited for the event to start, I admired the modern style of the room. The pod-like, tiered balcony seats reminded me of the floating senate sections from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

When she was introduced, we were told she likes to drop “truth bombs” and she did. She started by answering the questions “How do we keep going in these troubled times? Where do we even begin?” Her answer: “The system works because we’re not all nuts on the same day.”

I enjoyed her truth that “Help is the sunny side of control.” It reminded me of all the times my mother so kindly tells me about job opportunities. And sometimes my “help” isn’t what people need.

And if you want to have a better life, “start each day by feeding the hungry babies.”

Her advice for writers?

  • Stop! not writing.
  • Trick other people into writing
  • Write terrible first drafts
  • Get a lot of help
  • Pay attention
  • Wake up

Her newest book Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, in its gorgeous orange cover, was inspired by this song:

Though she said she sang it in church, so maybe not this particular version 🙂

These are fun too:

Want to listen to this song over and over? There are a lot of different recordings of Hallelujah Anyhow to choose from.

Happy Reading and Writing!

See you tomorrow.

What are you planning for #Writober?

#Writober – a writing and reading extravaganza leading to Halloween

September is flying by too quickly. I haven’t even posted my giant Summer reading review yet, but it’s already time to start looking toward October. October is a great time for writing, especially creepy fantasy and horror challenges. I’ve decided to use J.S. Nagy’s challenge name from last year #Writober to describe the whole month, because of all of the fun writing and reading challenges I’ve found to enjoy. I hope you’ll join me for a spooktacularly productive #Writober.

The Pinterest Board #Writober 2

Last year, I happened upon a great writing challenge called #Writober. The organizer, J.S. Nagy a.k.a @BrassGoblin, created a pinterest board and challenged himself to write a 101 word story inspired by one picture each day. He asked other writers to join him and read each other’s stories on Wattpad. Though I did not post my stories, I did read the other stories. I didn’t end up writing a story for each image and I collected some images of my own, but the stories inspired by the challenge were fun. One of them was even published!

This year, I got excited to add some of my own images to the #Writober board, so I contacted J.S. Nagy to see if he had started planning #Writober for this year. Sadly, for me, not him, he is headed to Japan and does not have time for it this year. So I have taken on #Writober 2 and hope you will join me. Here’s the #Writober 2 pinterest board. I have numbered each image in its description and hope you find inspiration for each day in the array of images I collected.

You don’t have to use the images to inspire daily 101 word stories as @BrassGoblin suggested. Last year, I used the images as inspiration for flash fiction of any length under 1,000 words. I also used them to inspire tweet length #microstories (#vss – very short story). This year, I plan to add poetry, a twitter flash fiction group, a reading challenge and #pessimisticmoustache to the mix.

Poetry

I took a CalArts poetry workshop online through coursera.org last month and got a lot out of it. I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to continue writing poetry with a daily poetry writing challenge. This will be the 6th year of #OctPoWriMo  poetry challenge. They have a poetry prompt for inspiration on the website every day. I wonder how my #Writober 2 images will interact with their inspirational prompts. Could be interesting. I’ll be posting my poems here on Experience Writing.

#FlashFicHive

FlashFicHive

This is a group challenge that comes up every two months. I’m glad it corresponds with #Writober. I’m hoping they will doubly inspire me to write flash fiction every day.

R.I.P. – Readers Imbibing Peril

This is the twelfth year of  Readers Imbibing Peril #RIPXII. This reading challenge has lots of different perils to choose from. It began the 1st of September, but I arrived late to the party and plan to participate for October. I’m planning to be in a lot of peril, including:

In peril the first:

The four books I want to read are:
What the Dead Know: A Novel – Thriller
Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence) – Mystery
Gwendy’s Button Box – Horror
and a surprise that I’ll tell you about in about a week. I’ll be reviewing a book that isn’t released yet.

In peril of the short story:

I recommend looking for stories to read and linking your stories to #Writober.

There are also great stories at:

The Evening Theatre, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Sick Lit Mag, Five on The Fifth, Fictional Pairings, and many, many more great online literary magazines.

Peril on the screen:

For this peril, I thought I would watch Horns based on the Joe Hill novel and that made me think of Swiss Army Man which I also haven’t seen.

And Peril of the group read:

I already have my copy of Slade House by David Mitchell

#PessimisticMoustache

I created a creative description game based on a great line from Agatha Christie. Author Diana Rose Wilson and I play it sporadically on twitter. We post pictures and GIFs and challenge ourselves to come up with an ism to describe a feature. For #Movember it’s full of mustaches, and December was full of creepy Santas, but for #Writober, I’m thinking of using the images from the pinterest board. Here are the rules of play with links to lists of isms. I hope you’ll head over to Twitter and join us. Last year we had a lot of fun through November and December as well.

Enjoy #Writober!

So there you have it. A selection of fun writing and reading events I plan to enjoy this October. From experience, I know life will get in the way, and some days, I might just run out of time, but my #Writober is all about inspiration and creation, so I hope you’ll join me in any way that works for you. Please check back here at Experience Writing for my daily poems and flash fiction ideas and I hope you like the #Writober 2 pinterest board. I look forward to hearing about how you will be spending #Writober.

Another First: McKenzie’s New Boyfriend

bokeh photography experiment with a wide angle attachment on a zoom lens

Galactic Unions                                                                                                    photo by Maria L. Berg

McKenzie’s New Boyfriend is my second story published by Fictional Pairings. They paired my story with a song called Recover by Second Still. I’m listening to it while I write this. It feels perfect for my story–spacey road trip–and on Second Still’s site it says the album was released on my birthday this year (coincidence?).

This is another first in my writer’s journey because this is the first time I have published twice in the same magazine.

When building a publication history, why the same magazine?

When I first submitted to Fictional Pairings, I had two stories that I thought might work. I chose the shorter and more obviously sci-fi because I thought it was a best fit. The moment I received my acceptance letter from Fictional Pairings for BAM-AG Home, I shot off an email saying that I thought I had another piece that would be a good fit. I asked if they might be interested and how long I should wait before submitting again.

Why did I do this? Because I love the musical pairings with flash fiction. It is a great fit for me and I think it will grow. It also shows a growing readership that your first piece was so good that the magazine wanted another.

Like I said in New #LitMag+, finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, so once you find a good match, I recommend submitting more than one best fit.