Tag Archives: NJ

Old School Sundays: The Poetry of William Carlos Williams

I may be partial to Williams’ poetry, because he’s “one of our own”; that is, he’s from northern New Jersey. Williams wrote about familiar places—the city of Paterson, where my paternal grandparents grew up, where my father born. In fact, the edge of Paterson (once considered a beautiful city, more of a slum today, such a shame) borders my current city of Clifton, New Jersey. Williams also wrote a collection of short stories called Life along the Passaic River, another landmark close to home.

But more than that, Williams truly was one of the most prominent poets during the “years between the wars.” A physician, Williams was known for scribbling poetry on prescription pads. When I studied Williams as an undergrad I was taken by his short, fleeting nonconventional (it was popular era for nonconventional poetry) poems that seemed to be lacking in broader, more abstract notions. In fact, Williams once said his poems were “No ideas but in things.” The concrete aspect of his words, the odd formation of his words, and the brief, one second it’s there, one second it’s gone nature of his words helped give Williams a name of his own.

Two of my favorite poems by Williams are written below followed by a brief analysis. “The Red Wheelbarrow” is from 1923, and “This Is Just to Say” is from 1934.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

valerie hodgins → in Birds

I don’t believe there is too much to say here. Perhaps it signifies the things we take for granted. Most people don’t think twice about a wheelbarrow, but in fact, much labor could not be done without it. The seemingly innocuous inanimate objects are necessary than we think.

I wonder about the use color. Why red? Chickens are generally white. But what is there place in the poem?

And what about the odd format?

Some believe that the poem is meant to do nothing more than to put a quick, strong image in the mind of the reader.

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Merelize → in Food & Drink

An interesting one. I always saw it as a note someone left on the refrigerator. Of course the mystery is who left for the note for whom?

The confession—which is essentially what this is—doesn’t express much sorrow or regret. In fact, in parts (“Forgive me”) it’s quite demanding.

Perhaps a greater notion here is the fact that these plums are only good for a while. These types of things do tend to spoil quickly. Maybe there is a lesson in here. Waiting too long to take advantage of life’s pleasures may result in regret—even if you are stealing someone’s plums.

Two poems that say little, but express much—or don’t express much. Do you have your own interpretation? I’d love to hear about it!

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Killing two awards with one post

 

Some weeks back, I was presented with not one, but TWO blogging awards in one day. Way to feel special. However, I’ve thus neglected to accept these generous awards from these two awesome bloggers until today. So, my sincerest thanks (and apologies) go out to Jlee from Jlee’s Blog for bestowing the Illuminating Blogger Award upon me, and Stacie Renee Brown from Writing What Needs Written for granting me my second Liebster Award.

I’ll begin with the Illuminating Blogger Award…

Nothing is off-limits my hilarious nominator, Jlee. Reading her blog is like reading Fifty Shades of Grey in the sense that your jaw…will…drop. Did she really just write that?! The truth is, Jlee’s work is thoroughly enjoyable, and so verbally adept, it’s a wonder she’s not already a bestseller (of course it’s only a matter of time).

So thank you (again) to Jlee for honoring my efforts!

The rules for accepting The Illuminating Blogger Award are as follows:

  • Visit the award site, leave a comment, tell everyone who nominated you, and thank the blogger, including a link back to their site.
  • Share a random thing about yourself.
  • Select 5 or more nominees and notify them that they’ve won the award.
  • Put the award on your blog somewhere.

Random thing:

I’m always cold. Even in 70 degree weather. My birthday and Christmas presents usually consist of fluffy socks, cuddly pajamas, toasty slippers, downy robes, wool scarves, electric blankets, and yes…oh man, can’t believe I’m doing this…The Snuggie. Hey, at least I don’t wear it to Walmart…

*And the nominees are:

Michelle Ziegler’s Blog: I’m always happy to see a new post by Michelle in my inbox. She covers all the important writing topics, and relates them in a clear, concise fashion. Her “Fun Fact Friday” feature is one of my favorites.

The KnowledgeMaven: A blogging guru if there ever was one. Her posts are insightful and meaningful—I often find myself thinking about the things she says even days after I’ve read her blog.

*I’m cheating a bit and only picking two. I still have the Liebster award to cover, so I’m storing some steam here!

Thank you again to the fabulous Jlee!

Onward…

Stacie Renee Brown is my nominator for this award. Like me, I believe Stacie is an ‘intrinsic writer.’ It’s simply part of who she is. A great post of Stacie’s recapped her early literary life and what turned her onto the art as a child. Her writing is both thoughtful and filled with wonderful imagery.

That being said, thank you Stacie for presenting me with this award J

And here are the rules:

  1. Each person must post eleven things about themselves.
  2. Answer the eleven questions the person giving the award has set for you.
  3. Create eleven questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
  4. Choose eleven people to award and send them a link to your post. Go to their page and tell them.
  5. No tag backs.

Eleven Facts About Me

  1. I have a herniated disc in the lumbar region of my back. I love heels, but can’t wear them. The only shoes that won’t send tingles down my legs are the Dansko brand. Thank goodness they have some fashionable looking styles!
  2. I have a weakness for psychics. Love going to visit them.
  3. My favorite “accents” are English and American southern. Oh and my very own ‘New Yawk/New Joisey’
  4. I love early rock ‘n roll (Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, etc.)
  5. My favorite month is April
  6. I can’t get enough white wine. Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are my faves.
  7. My favorite time of day is late morning
  8. I feel stupid whenever I watch an episode of Jeopardy!
  9. I drink a fruit and soy milk smoothie every morning
  10. My husband is a Briefcase carrying tax accountant/Tattoo sporting heavy metal drummer/Computer and video game geek. Interesting guy.
  11. I often light candles in every room of my house, and then forget about them

My 11 Questions to Answer

1. What would you change about humanity, if you could?

No violence. Nobody hurts each other.

2. What kind of relationship do you/did you have with your parent(s) or guardian(s)?

It’s always been strong, solid. I know I’m a good person, and I attribute much of that to them.

3. What is the cutest or most unpredictable thing you have ever seen a child do?

My sister’s boyfriend’s three-year old niece once took a nap in my cats’ bed. Of course, the cats themselves won’t go anywhere near the thing.

4. How do you think the world will have changed by the year 2050?

I think the biggest change will be technology. Tough question. I’m actually afraid to find out!

5. What is the most frustrating part of your craft?

Line-by-line editing. And researching. Or I should say, making use of the research in the story.

6. Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?

I believe in immediate attraction, and inklings towards love. But true love takes a lot of time to development.

7. What kind(s) of books do you like to read?

Literary fiction with a commercial bent. Lately I can’t get enough “chick lit.” I also have a soft spot for the classics.

8. Who is your idol and why?

I don’t know, really. Probably some idealized version of me.

9. If you were a billionaire, how would you use your money?

First, I’d make sure that I was set for life (i.e. no money problems, I can now write all day, every day) After that, I’d pay off my family’s debts and give money to a number of charities/causes that I care about.

10. What do you like to do for fun?

Write, of course. Read. Go on mini-road trips to wineries. Hikes. Just spend time with friends and family.

11. Where is your favorite place and why is it your favorite?

Cape May, NJ. Best beach resort in the world—at least to me. My family took vacations there every year as I was growing up. There’s something about the ambiance that makes everything in the world seem OK.

My Questions for Future Recipients:

  1. Have you ever seen a ghost/spirit? If so, tell me about it. If not, do you believe in ghosts/spirits?
  2. What’s your favorite movie from the 1980s?
  3. What do you wish you knew in high school that you know now?
  4. What’s your favorite cocktail or alcoholic beverage?
  5. What’s your favorite vegetable?
  6. What’s one band or artist you love that goes against your normal range of musical taste?
  7. What’s your favorite Disney movie?
  8. What do you think was the most interesting news story of 2012?
  9. List all the major cities of the world that you’ve visited. Which was your favorite?
  10. Who is your favorite figure from history?
  11. What current song can’t you stand?

Eleven, err, five bloggers I’m awarding

These five are some of the most hardworking, interesting, and loyal bloggers out there today. I’m so happy to be acquainted with all of them. So often, they just plain make my day! Congrats to all you wonderful writers.

Thank you again to Stacie Renee Brown

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Familiar Faces

Here’s an ‘intrinsic trait’ to consider: I search for my characters. Everywhere.
I heard about this notion in books, movies, television series, etc.–a character has never met his/her mother, father, sister, brother, and so forth, maybe he or she was adopted, or maybe the parent (relative, whatever the case may be) left when the character was a mere child. But at some point he or she will say something along the lines of I search for [them] everywhere. Every street, every crowd. I scan the faces, hoping I’ll recognize [him, her, them].

Albeit, the language is usually more romantic-sounding than what I just provided, but I imagine all you reading this will get the idea. I don’t have any mystery relatives out there; fortunately, I know where I came from. I do, however, have mystery characters. And I look for them. I’ll stare down strangers and wonder are they my people? Are they who I am creating? Sometimes a new person will enter my life, and I’ll think Oh wow! That’s Character A or character G (I’m saving the identity of my characters until I feel ready; in many respects I owe that to them). Then I’ll look closer though, and I’ll think, No, actually. Not exactly. Nope, not character D. But close!

Last weekend in Cape May, I saw a couple leave the hotel we stayed in. Just a couple enjoying New Year’s, but at the sight of them my body physically reacted. Two of my characters. Together. The guy looked like my guy. The girl looked like my girl. It was very bizarre, and I course took it as a sign–I always do. Yet again, on closer inspection I saw that it was just the external framework that triggered my response. And I felt…let down. Deflated. I still haven’t found them. They truly are that unique. I’ll keep looking though. I’m dying to meet them.

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On Location

I haven’t posted in a few days. I went down to Cape May, NJ–one of my most cherished places–with my husband-to-be, my sister, her boyfriend, and a friend for New Year’s Eve. I was excited to head down the GSP to be in my favorite place regardless, but what made this trip even more uncanny for me was the fact that a short story I’m currently writing actually takes place in Cape May. So, in a sense I was doing research…on location. So excited to say that.

It wasn’t real research. I wasn’t scouring libraries and town halls for archives, or arranging interviews with the historical society down there, it was more about sniffing out the environment. The story is not a commentary on CM’s history; it’s just a story that happens to be set there.

It worked, I felt the pulse of my story penetrating through my mind while I was visiting. We went to the bar where the main action occurs, and I tried to memorize as many details as I could. I mocked myself a little, thinking: a real intrinsic type would have brought a notebook to record every subtle element that presents itself.

Here’s what I recall:
-Low ceilings
-Wall-length, front windows that open up during summer, letting the sea-salty air from the ocean across Beach Avenue waft through into the dining area
-J-shaped black top bar
-Chalkboard-style surfboards displaying dinner specials written in blue, pink, and green chalk
-Gingerbread trimming on outside
-Two story building, neighboring a second bar–looks like apartments above venues.
-Pool table, stage for band, small dance floor
-Semi-dank mini hallway leading to semi-dank restrooms
-Overall dim atmosphere, mostly neon lighting
-Bungalow-y themed, makes one recall Bob Marley

Not bad for having written nothing down. Of course I’ve been to the place numerous times, but my desire to memorize both macro and micro details suggests a further emergence of my ‘intrinsic abilities.’

Understanding place or setting in a given story is particularly crucial in fiction. A good way to determine whether setting has been effectively established is to consider how different the story would be set someplace else. Would it be the same tale? Could it be the same tale?

My novel is set on the “Jersey side” of the George Washington Bridge. No particular town, just based on those that make-up that general area. A few weeks back I visited a friend in Fairview, NJ (right next to Cliffside Park, NJ) and I felt like I was in the setting of my novel. The sardine-style housing, the view of NYC, the busy traffic, and overall sense of edginess that embodies the vicinity…I felt thoroughly relieved that I had somehow, nailed it. Sure, I’m from northern Jersey myself, but not quite the setting of my book. It gave me confidence that such a place exists, and that my readers will be able to feel the place that holds all the drama, energy, conflict, and functioning of the story.

Note in point: Let your setting breathe. When one thinks of memories, childhood, etc. he/she always conjures a place first. I get random, aimless visions of places in my mind constantly. I’ve never seen them before, but I know them. Many of my stories start that way.

Setting can be a great place to start. Just saying…

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