How to Lasso a Wild Carrot in 99 Words – No More – No Less

As a hobby blogger, participating in writing and photo challenges is a great way to build skills while you build community. Today Always Write introduces the 99-Word Flash Fiction at Carrot Ranch.

Interview with Charli Mills creator of Carrot Ranch.

Hi Charli. Welcome to Always Write, networking hobby bloggers worldwide.

Thank you, Marsha. It’s a pleasure to be here. So hobby bloggers are your niche. How do you define a hobby blogger?

Charli Mills

 The UK Domain defines a hobby blog as “essentially a blog that is set up and populated with content for the blogger’s personal enjoyment as a hobby, rather than to promote goods or services, or as a money-making endeavour to earn a meaningful income from the blog itself.”

The article presents a robust definition and is well worth the read. For me hobby bloggers create an atmosphere, a culture, either on their own or with the aid of a professional web designer that is welcoming and homey. 

That’s why I’m passionate about this series of interviews with hosts and hostesses of writing and photo challenges. Always Write is a place for hobby bloggers to find resources.

Your website is so clever. When and why did you start Carrot Ranch and the 99-word Flash Fiction Challenge?

I left my job to write a book in 2012 which I’m still working on. Then I started blogging, creating Carrot Ranch in 2014. In 1998 I graduated with a degree in creative writing, and I’m working on my Master of Fine Arts now.

Carrot Ranch is not about me or my opinions. In fact, I try to be neutral when I write. Sometimes I publish stories on the blog, even in the anthology that don’t agree with my views.  An opposing story fits within the greater world view.  The hope is that Carrot Ranchers will write from their own perspective. 

This online community is not an echo chamber. I don’t just want people of the same mind to come and write stories every week. When people come and go, it’s actually good. Carrot Ranch has an influx of people, people taking a break, working on a book. I want diversity. It is also nice when people know each other as well.

Charli Mills

I’m not against profit but I want to see literary artists making careers out of their creativity and not blocked by the barriers that have existed. 

How did you come up with the theme of Carrot Ranch? It doesn’t seem Michiganesque.

My family heritage is ranching. I’m a born-buckaroo from Northern California and still have family ranching in Nevada and Eastern Montana. I have lived in every western state except Colorado and Wyoming, so it was natural for me to want a ranch. 

Instead, I took my writing degree to Minneapolis where I worked in marketing communications for the natural and local food co-ops. Back in the ’70s, the Twin Cities co-ops used a fisted carrot as a symbol of social justice — food for people not for profit. 

Charli Mills

Wow, that explains it! Names are so interesting. We used to live in a walnut orchard with the sign “Fox Farming” hanging at the entrance. I imagined foxes growing out of the soil. It turned out that the previous renter’s last name was Fox. Carrot Ranch had sort of the reverse connotation for me – a herd of carrots, so It’s great to have that cleared up. Go on.

When I think about how literary art is controlled by academia and capitalism in the US, I feel like it needs to be in the hands of the creators — words for people. So, Carrot Ranch is a pairing of my past and future.

I’m not against profit but I want to see literary artists making careers out of their creativity and not blocked by the barriers that have existed. 

Indie authors are pioneers, but we still need to overhaul the big systems that shut out marginalized voices or only promote elite connections. Carrot Ranch is a literary community with a mission to make literary art accessible to all hobby and career writers, even to people who don’t identify as Writers. 

Charli Mills

Writing becomes art when it is read and commented on.

Wow, this is deep. In this interview series my quest is to find out why bloggers, like yourself, take the time to create challenges. Your blog, Carrot Ranch is an amazing operation. The way you organized it impressed me. Do you have help with the contests or the website? 

I had help from a graphic artist to design the website although I took the picture of the horse and bird but the organization of it is all me. The Rough Riders help me run the ranch.

Charli Mills

I love the way they are listed on your menu. Are they paid staff?

Not at all. A Rough Rider wants to take part in collaborative work. They are worker bees, though. 

Charli Mills

So when you say they take part, what do Rough Riders do? 

Rough Riders don’t have to just write, they can be readers. They just have to be willing to participate. Rough Writers maintain the community, engaging with one another. They aren’t doing jobs or maintaining the site, but they do the work of creating an authentic community.

For example, D. Avery is a Rough Writer who runs the Saddle Up Saloon. She writes ranch yarns between fictitious ranchers “Kid and Pal” and others who are aware of themselves. They have heard that they are the creation of D. Avery, but they don’t believe it. Jim Borden, a retired teacher makes comments, Becky Ross she makes comments. 

Participation is anything that has to do with literary art. Writing becomes art when it is read and commented on. That is the definition of literary art. It belongs in the hands of the people who read and write. That’s why the mission of Carrot Ranch is to make literary art accessible.

Charli Mills

I love that definition. That’s why I love blogging so much, it’s the comments of the readers. Your website has a menu item for patrons, are Rough Riders also your patrons?

Some of the rough writers are patrons, they don’t have to become patrons to support the community. Although patrons intended to support the infrastructure of the community, they don’t have to be writers.

We have several nicknames going on at the ranch, so I’ll try to clarify! 

Charli Mills
  • Rough Writers are the ones who write to the prompt and hang around long enough to get roped into Anthologies, Rodeos, and writing columns. 
  • Some writers are in a group online where we post goals, share information, ask group questions and play story games. I refer to that group as the Carrot Ranchers. Some are Rough Writers, too. 
  • And, if that’s not confusing enough, the community has also informally dubbed Carrot Ranch “Buckaroo Nation.” I think it would make a fun title to a lit magazine from the community. 

I love it! But it is confusing!

But that’s the thing about an authentic community — it can be messy, but we are there to play, write, and support each other in an industry that includes hobbyists and professionals. We wear different hats, sometimes. Publicly, I refer to the published work of Carrot Ranch as writing by the Rough Writers whether it’s the weekly collection or an anthology.

Carrot Ranch writer’s challenges and subsequent anthologies give opportunities for Carrot Ranchers to publish their work. Ranchers, and you are a rancher because you have submitted a story, have different goals. Writing for Carrot Ranch builds credibility and confidence no matter what your goals. The point is for the community to learn to use the 99-word Flash Fiction as a writing tool. 

Charli Mills

I find fiction writing difficult. It’s hard to get away from real people and real incidents.

Wallace Steger, one of first American authors to receive an MFA in the U.S., said something like, “You can go to therapy, you can pay to be on someone’s couch, or you can write. No matter how much you fictionalize, you are writing into your own truth. The minute you put yourself on the page, that person becomes fiction.”

It’s impressive that you published an anthology. Do the profits go back into the community of writers?

What we make covers Rough Riders’ travel scholarship and expenses for Vol. 2 or whatever the next volume is. The Anthology Volume 1 was a test. You don’t make much money off of online or book store sales. Sherri Matthews won the scholarship from the Volume 1 profits to go to Bloggers Bash. 

Charli Mills

That’s cool. Sherri is a good friend and former Californian, too, if my memory serves me. Congratulations to her! 

Part of my vision for Carrot Ranch Rough Riders is to teach them to use the book to stage speaking events. You have a better opportunity to sell books if you go to events. Of course, that’s on hold right now. But when things return to normal, any of the Rough Riders can purchase the books for cost and can sell the book themselves. So if the book costs $6, they can sell it at an event for $10, and they keep the profit. 

Charli Mills

The more you understand the trends and where you are in the landscape, the more you realize that there are tangible techniques to learn. Publication is not the luck of the draw.

That’s awesome. One 99-word fiction could earn a Rough Rider some big bucks if they work at it!

We help writers find where they fit in the publishing ecosystem. Ninety-six percent of all manuscripts get rejected. What are your chances of becoming the 4%? The more you understand the trends and where you are in the landscape, the more you realize that there are tangible techniques to learn. Publication is not the luck of the draw. Those who can take the time to learn the industry and apply what is going along socially, have a better chance to succeed. 

 Women’s fiction is big. Women  want to read about women’s issues. Relationships are big. 

The reality of being an author is you have to invest in it. Nobody is going to pick up your book without some investment on your part. You can go to school, spend $40,000 for an MFA (Masters of Fine Arts), go to workshops, or hire editors. The reality is that you are going to spend money to publish your work. Every writer needs editors, both developmental and line-by-line-proofreading even if you attend workshops and have a degree.

Charli Mills

How well I know about that! According to your website menu, your 99-word Flash Fiction is not your only challenge. What about the Rodeo Contests? 

Rough Rider writing a book.

In October of each year we host the Rodeo Contests to get people geared up for Nanowrimo. It’s play, it’s practice. Some people work on it as though it were to submit to a literary contest, but mostly people do it for play. You have to imprint the 99-word pattern. Ninety-nine words are the smallest element of a scene. If you can write a 99-word scene, you can write a chapter.  If you can write a chapter, you can write a book. 

Charli Mills

Everything you do is 99 words, then?

Everything except TUFF, which stands for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. TUFF is also part of the October Rodeo. Ranchers start with a 99-word piece, then they reduce it to 59 words. Finally they take the 59 words and reduce them to 9 words. That gives them the heart of the story. Once they realize what the story is about, then they rewrite the 99 words. 

If you can get that process going, it helps you get unstuck. The goal is to see a writer use the 99-word write as a tool. I love to see them being brave and changing their story as it goes and letting it evolve. That’s why revision is hard. We don’t want to let go. 

Charli Mills

Writers have different paths and expectations with what they want to do and the workshop is for people who want to publish their work. We help them figure out what path they are on and how to jump from one path to another.

99 words no more no less picture of eggs.

You mentioned that the 99-word-story benefits the community. How does that work?

Anyone can write a 99-word-story in ten minutes. 

Charli Mills

No way! Mine sure took longer than that! 

You can, though. I present library writing programs. We did Carrot Ranch sessions in three libraries and a bookstore during our retreat. I challenged participants to five minute writes and five minute edits. They looked at me like I’m crazy, then BAM, ten minutes later they were done.

Charli Mills

Of course, I did that all the time in my classroom and as professional development with teachers and aides. We called them Quick Writes. But they weren’t ready for publication in ten minutes.

That’s not the ultimate point. When I do a reading from Volume 1, I ask people I meet at Farmer’s Markets, book fairs, libraries and bookstores where I am set up, “Can I read you a 99-word story? It will only take 45 seconds.”

They almost always say okay. Then I read a 99-word story. It catches their attention. The anthology brings the power of people together. It’s anthropology because they write their individual story about the prompt. It is so human to bring the stories together and put them into a collection. Some stories go together and other times they are polar opposites. There is usually an anchor story. Those who read the stories are responding to human conversation. 

The last line, when I’m reading in public is , “Do you want to buy a book?”

Charli Mills

Funny! What a marketer. You’ve got to have a close. I want to stray a little from talking about writing challenges. You mentioned a retreat, Charli. Tell us more.

Rough Rider, D. Avery hosts the retreat in Vermont. Writers have different paths and expectations with what they want to do and the workshop is for people who want to publish their work. We help them figure out what path they are on and how to jump from one path to another. We instill that there is no shame in what you write. Even if it’s not a best seller. The annual retreat honors the work writers have done in a year. 

The retreat counts as professional development as an author. It may take 3-12 years to get published traditionally. It will help you have things in your platform so it gives you an edge.

Charli Mills

Is this your ultimate goal?

No, no, no, no. I am developing an educational program to provide the platform for teaching literary art under the Carrot Ranch Brand. 

Along with my MFA, I am earning a certification to teach online creative writing. I will use that to add the educational component to Carrot Ranch and to invite interested community members to participate as instructors. I need to train them first, but then they can develop and sell their own online classes. 

That’s all I’m saying for now as I work toward finishing my degree next year and developing this education program.

Charli Mills

That sounds so exciting, Charli. I want to be on board for that! Teaching was my career and my master’s degree is in curriculum and instruction. We are getting off the target of writing challenges a little here, but I’m curious about your book and writing clubs. 

We have one writing group on Facebook. The question you have to answer to join the group is, “How has Carrot Ranch impacted your writing?” I want to know if people know what Carrot Ranch is. It’s not open, it’s a writers group for Carrot Ranch. On Monday’s I call for goals. It’s a place where writers can have accountability, if they want that. Some ranchers post occasionally, others post regularly. On Tuesdays we have started something new. We are doing an open mic on Zoom. Attendees get five minutes to introduce themselves, their work and to read. It happens on the third Tuesday of the month at 11:00 am Eastern time, 8:00 am PST, 5:00 pm for people in Great Britain. 

Charli Mills

Charli, it has been a pleasure to chat with you today. We’ve covered a lot of territory – typical ranch life! Good thing we held our horses! I look forward to collaborating with Carrot Ranch very soon. Your mission strummed the creative strings in my internal gee-tar. 

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Worth the Struggle #Haiban

© 2020 Frank J. Tassone

In Indiana, where I grew up, gray skies muted the summer sun. The six-foot-deep ditch at the end of the street represented the most climbing we children could experience. Slide down, scramble up. Our panorama from the top of the ditch – cornfields, cows, a two-lane road teeing into another, and a 1950s housing development. 

No mountain grandeur,

No rocky ledges to scale,

Winding through pine trees.

Today blue skies peek through the dense forest.The scent of pine fills my empty lungs as I lumber up the narrow path to the top to Gertrude’s Nest. Where are the steps and handrails? Forget the steps, where’s the elevator? The slide down this crevasse is nothing like home. 

A struggle to climb,

Step after step I struggle.

Driblets burn my eyes.

Mosquitos the size of grasshoppers nip at my shoulders and elbows. Blisters dot my heels. Loose rocks echo as they skitter down the mountain. I embrace the mountainside until my stomach stops churning.

There’s no place like home.

Why did I agree to this –

Adventurous quest?

Atop Shawangunk Mountains, I survey where I’ve been and hold up my arms in triumph. The summer breeze dries my skin. The world is mine!

This is my entry to Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Tanka for June 30. I chose to do the prose envelope. Even if you’ve never tried to write a Haibun, step out and do something new. 🙂 Leave me a link in your comment section and also link it on Colleen’s website. We’ll both visit, read, and comment. 🙂

How to Write Haibun

  • Begin the haibun with a title. The title should hint at something barely noticeable in the beginning which comes together by the ending.
  • Your haibun prose can be written in present or past tense including, first-person (I), third person (he/she), or first-person plural (we).
  • Subject matter: autobiographical prose, travel journal, a slice of life, memory, dream, character sketch, place, event, or object. Focus on one or two elements.
  • Keep your prose simple, all excessive words should be pared down or deleted. Nothing should be overstated.
  • The length can be brief with one or two sentences with a haiku, or longer prose with a haiku sandwiched between, to longer memoir works including many haiku.
  • There are different Haibun styles: Idyll: (One prose paragraph and one haiku) haiku/prose, or prose/haiku; Verse Envelope: haiku/prose/haiku; Prose Envelope: prose/haiku/prose, including alternating prose and verse elements of your choice.
  • The prose tells the story and gives the information which helps to define the theme. It creates a mood through tone, paving the way for the haiku.
  • The haiku should act as a comparison—different yet somehow connected to the prose, as it moves the story forward by taking the narrative in another direction.
  • The haiku should not attempt to repeat, quote, or explain the prose. Instead, the haiku resolves the conflict in an unexpected way. Sometimes, the haiku questions the resolution of the prose. While the prose is the narrative, the haiku is the revelation or the reaction.

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Tanka

What to Do When Your Muse Disappears 60,000 Words Into Your Book

You don’t give up when your muse leaves town. You start a new challenge. Join me in giving author Suzanne Burke a warm Always Write welcome!

Always Write Series: #Bloggers Hosting Writing Challenges

Writing Challenge hostess #1 Suzanne Burke AKA Soooz

Have you wanted to write fiction and struggled to get started? Or maybe you wrote a book, and your muse disappeared or you got snagged somewhere in the process of publication.

If this sounds like you, read on.

Author, Suzanne Burke hosts a flash fiction challenge and supports her participants with multiple social media shares. 

As I read her posts, it occurred to me how much goes into hosting a writing challenge of any kind. She responds graciously to every comment in her inbox. 

After exchanging a few comments and emails, I feel like I have known her forever. 

Suzanne agreed to write the first guest post/interview for Always Write to tell authors everywhere how she started and what it is like to host a writing challenge. 

Take it away Soooz.

Firstly, my grateful thanks to Marsha for inviting me here today. I hope I have given you a glimpse into my experience hosting a visual writing prompt. 

Q: What prompted you to begin to host a writing challenge? 

A: It all came down to the timing. I was already 60k into my latest WIP (work in progress) when my muse decided to grab a stagecoach and get out of Dodge. It’s happened before and the frustration and procrastination genies were warring with each other for dominance. I needed to commit to something creative, something I would also need to contribute to. That’s when the idea was born. 

Soooz

I can feel your pain. I have never made it to the end of a fiction publication. Grrrrrr.

Q: How long have you been doing this? 

A: It’s only been six weeks since the first prompt went up. It’s been a huge learning curve. But I’m having a marvelous time with it.

Soooz

Q: How much time does it take? Is it all-consuming so that you don’t blog about anything else?

 

A: I must admit that I underestimated just how time-consuming the process would be. I spend many hours scouring the internet for free to use images. Images engage the creative juices. We writers tend to be intensely visual creatures, taking mental snapshots of everything that catches our muse’s attention. 

Soooz

The marionette image evokes some strong emotions. Your 750-word example kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I heard recently in a class that a blog needs some type of image every 100 words. I use Canva.com and have tried Unsplash.com as well. They both have thousands of images you can sort through in the click of a search word.

Q: How did you determine the genre?

A: I chose not to impose a genre restriction. That tends to isolate some folks from participating. I’ve been lucky to have had some wonderfully diverse entries, yours included, Marsha.

Soooz

Thank you, Soooz, with three o’s.

Q: What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

A: Because it can take almost a week and sometimes just before the deadline before the entries start coming in. I write my own contribution during that time. 

Then I share all the entries over the course of the week. 

Soooz

That’s a benefit for your participants to build the traffic to their blogs. 

I check daily for comments on the Author’s blogs who have shared the challenge, respond to those. 

Another great benefit to those who submit, Soooz. I found my entry that you shared on Twitter. How fun! I also found a typo in my customized excerpt. I need a better proofreader.

I’ve had a great response doing that. Finally, I put up the next week’s prompt. I’m determined to still make time to write and post Book Reviews and support other authors on my blog. 

Soooz

Q: How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge? 

A: I have been so fortunate to have met some wonderfully talented and supportive writers since my first foray into writing. Many belong to an online book club I’m a member of, and still others I’ve met via Twitter, all have been amongst the most generous and supportive folks I’ve ever met. These folks share my posts via tweets and the word begins to spread. I find Twitter to be a very effective platform.

Soooz

Q: Do you have help reading all the entries?

A: No, I enjoy reading all of them.

Soooz

Q: What do you do with the entries – like do you ever publish anthologies, award widget certificates?

A: I’m keeping it as simple as possible at the moment. I may use some of my own entries in an anthology in the future.

Soooz

In Conclusion

Thank you, so much for this wonderful post, Suzanne, Soooz, S., Stacey. It’s been a super pleasure to have you as the first interview/guest post in the Always Write #Bloggers Hosting Writing Challenges Series.

I hope you will come back to write another guest post again.

Links

Contact Suzanne at …

Her author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

Biography

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Life interrupted her routine and allowed her to begin her journey into the world of writing in her early fifties, a journey she’d wanted to start for many years.

You can find Suzanne’s memoirs under the pen name of Stacey Danson.  Search for her powerful thrillers Acts Beyond Redemption and Acts of Betrayal and her paranormal anthology Mind-Shaft under the name S. Burke. 

Both of Suzanne’s non-fiction books, Empty Chairs and Faint Echoes of Laughter, have ranked in the top one hundred paid in Kindle on Amazon and continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Welcome Suzanne with your comments and check out her #6 Challenge.

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17 Ways to Fill Your Literary Gaps and Ease Boredom While You Shelter At Home in 106 Degrees #Nonet

There’s a solution to enduring the sweltering heat of summer. Let your creativity set you free.

Are you bored/ maybe a tiny bit grumpy trying to stay out of the heat and away from the crowds to avoid the virus?

There’s another way!

Our air conditioner broke two months ago. It was 106 today. Because of COVID-19, the new unit is coming…????? We think it should be here by November. To keep cool in the California sunshine, we watered our garden super well, brought the outdoor cats inside, turned on our ceiling fans and sat down to do as little as possible.

Next problem – boredom.

Not a chance!

Beat Boredom With Poetry

I’ve been updating my series on journaling for the past couple of weeks. Nothing provides as many medical and physiological benefits as journaling.

There’s a problem in journaling, though. Sometimes you stare at a blank page, whether it’s in a book or on your computer screen. Sitting in front of a blank screen has no medicinal advantages.

There’s a solution for blank screens, too. Journaling and writing challenges go together like Forrest Gump and a box of chocolates.

Writing challenges are ubiquitous if you know where to look. My research has led me to several hosts/hostesses. Check out Cee Neuner’s great list of writing challenges.

Today’s challenge hostess for me is Colleen Chesebro.

Seventeen Types of Poetry You’ve Probably Never Tried

  1. Haiku,
  2. Senryu,
  3. Haiga,
  4. Tanka,
  5. Gogyoka,
  6. Tanka Prose,
  7. Haibun,
  8. Cinquain,
  9. Etheree,
  10. Nonet,
  11. Shadorma,
  12. Rondel,
  13. Kyrielle,
  14. Pantoum,
  15. Villanelle,
  16. Limerick,
  17. Found poem

For a fabulous explanation of number one-eleven click on Colleen Chesebro’s Poetry Cheat Sheet.

For the other five, click on the Always Write Cheat Sheet. For even more samples of poetry visit Shadow Poetry.

I am entering a Nonet Found Poem in Colleen’s poetry challenge this week. The rules are to use the following Henry Wadworth Longfellow poem to create your own found poem.

TRADITIONALLY, A FOUND POEM USES ONLY WORDS FROM THE ORIGINAL SOURCE.

Colleen Chesebro

Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Challenge

This week the challenge is to create a found poem out of these two verses from Longfellow’s poem

A Psalm of Life

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist

 HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Here is a link to the full poem:
A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Poetry Foundation

Two Verses to Use in Found Poem Challenge

“…In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife…”

“…Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time…”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Nonet

NONET: A Nonet is stanzaic and written in any number of 9-line stanzas with the following syllable count per line: 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 syllables per line. It can be written on any subject and rhyming is optional, although they are usually unrhymed. Because of the hourglass shape of a double nonet, it’s often used to represent the passage of time.

Be a Hero

Bivouacs in fields, sublime battle, 

Remind us –  battles – great heroes, 

Leave behind footprints in sands,

Broad battle – strife in fields, 

Not driven cattle, 

Lives sublime make,

Be Heroes,

In Life,

Sands.

I hope you enjoyed my first Nonet Found Poem. For more samples, check out Colleen’s challenge page.

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Always Write Form Poetry Cheat Sheet

“When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand.” You’ve Got a Friend in your journal. Want to fill it and exercise your literary muscles on some poetry you’ve don’t see of hear often?

Link added to Janice Wald’s Linky Party

In 1994 my first husband died. God comforted me. By day I taught fourth grade. By night I turned to poetry to keep myself together. 

Fixed form poetry has gone in and out of style over the decades, but enjoyed a modicum of popularity in the 1990s. Sticking to the form and making meaning out of the words I strew together soothed my sorrow.

With the onset of COVID-19 many are going stir crazy. Exerts thought the virus would go away with the hot weather, but it hasn’t. Many people still stay home more than they used to.

One of the best ways to fight boredom/frustration/anger and keep your mind alert is to write poetry.

In the samples below, each form is defined and I’ve used my own poetry as samples to model the style.

Like most of you, I am not an English literature major. One of the plusses about writing poetry or prose is that it doesn’t have to be perfect to share it. The fun is in the crafting of the words.

So enjoy.

Pantoum

A pantoum is a fixed style French form of poetry. The second and fourth lines of each stanza become the first and third lines of the following stanza. In the last stanza, the third line of the first stanza is the second line, and the last line is the same as the first line in the first stanza. It is written in three-foot iambic lines.  So the stresses are read as – da DUM da DUM da DUM

boy with head on table writing

Writing Day

They stare at pencil leads.

Start chewing on their nails.

Nothing’s in their heads.

They heavily exhale.

Start chewing on their nails.

They grasp at thoughts that float.

They heavily exhale

And look at what they wrote.

They grasp at thoughts that float, 

Visions evade their reach.

And look at what they wrote,

Nothing to merit speech.

Visions evade their reach.

Too soon the poem’s due.

Nothing to merit speech.

They see only what they drew.

Too soon the poem’s due.

Nothing’s in their heads.

They see only what they drew.

They stare at pencil leads.

Marsha Ingrao

Rondel

A rondel, a thirteen-lined French-style poem begun in the fourteenth-century writing of northern France. The poem follows a strict rhyming pattern with only two sounds, A & B. Lines one and two are repeated in various lines throughout the poem. 1A, 2B, B, A, A, B, 1A, 2B, A, B, B, A, 1A. It has been modified since its earliest days from 14 to the 13 lines we use today.

Malign the Clothesline or Hire the Dryer

Bird droppings dripping off the line,

staked up behind the dirt driveway,

that circles our old country getaway.

Wind stiffened sheets, perma-wrinkled negligee,

Dangle precariously over grassy soot, on twine.

Brittle, linty black socks hung in disarray.

Bird droppings dripping off the line,

staked up behind the dirt driveway,

Faded towels I know are mine,

Smelling fresh as a skunk in the hay.

Cardboard tee shirts betray

No fleecy dryer feel, only crisp sunshine.

Bird droppings dripping off the line.

Marsha Ingrao

Villanelle

The villanelle, a French fixed form of poetry consists of 19 lines: five three-lined stanzas or tercets and a concluding quatrain. Lines one and three of the first triplet conclude the quatrain. Line one also terminated stanzas two and four, while line three terminates stanzas three and five. There are two rhyming sounds in the poem. “The villanelle frequently treats the subject of obsessions.” Wiki

First-Year Teacher

Facts, theories, knowledge within my mind blur

Strewn together in my eclectic interior.

Skill, creativity, love, and wonder in each life stir.

Come inside where class goals occur.

Encourage pride of work, be their counselor.

Facts, theories, knowledge within my mind blur.

Brainstorm, list, write, proofread, and confer

Develop their writing to be superior.

Skill, creativity, love, and wonder in each life stir.

Drill, games, mnemonics, knowledge transfer

Meritocracy, always the competitor

Facts, theories, knowledge within my mind blur.

Build new schema on what they prefer.

Encourage the inquisitor.

Skill, creativity, love, and wonder in each life stir.

Have myself ready, organized, not just on the spur.

Break up large tasks to easily monitor

Facts, theories, knowledge within my mind blur.

Skill, creativity, love, and wonder in each life stir.

Marsha Ingrao

Kyrielle

The Kyrielle is composed of eight-syllable quatrains in the rhyming pattern of AABB, CCBB, DDBB, with each stanza terminating with the same line.

automatic icemaker in standard freezer

Dry Ice

Where there’s no pipe, there’s no water,

Ice makers do, but ought notter,

Work. It programmed itself to crush,

Whenever its steel grin could mush.

Beware when you throw something in,

Make sure it is in something tin.

In plastic, biscuits turned to slush,

Whenever its steel grin could mush.

So now my Ziplocks safely lie

Out of reach of the evil eye,

No worry ’bout a toothy crush

Whenever its steel grin could mush.

Marsha Ingrao

Limerick

A limerick is humorous or nonsense that rhymes. The poems consist of five lines A A B B A. The syllables are in a pattern of 9 9 6 6 9. 

Remember this one? “There once was a man from Nantucket.”

drawing by Joyce Purporo

Guinea Mania

A cavy named Betty did bellow

To Buster her own guinea fellow

“Deaf?” She gave him a bump 

On his guinea pig rump

So hard that it turned his fur yellow.

A Trip to the Doctor

A kindly old doc from Visalia

Could cure whatever did ail ya.

If you went in with bumps,

You’d come out with stumps,

And a bill that forever assailed ya.

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Now It’s Your Turn

You should feel brave after reading my silly poems. Are you ready to write a poem on your blog and share the link?