What's your word of the day?

It's how we start each session of Happy Hour for Young Readers & Writers. If I slip up and race to writing, the youngsters are quick to set me straight: But we haven't done word of the day, they say, alarmed I could forget such an important component of our weekly gatherings. 

Polkadots is a popular word. Coffee comes in week after week (from the same energetic girl) and peanut butter pie was a big hit, too.

Let's stretch ourselves, I say, after bored or depressed is mentioned for the third time. And so our Word Wall became dotted with a new language:  






I was conflicted at first. That's not a word, I would say in my cranky librarian voice. My old-school ways wanted the kids to appreciate the beauty of existing language, real words. But the more accepting life-is-art part of me giggled at their creativity. Writing is a love of language, the sounds and shapes words can make. These made-up and mixed-up words — fueled with an enthusiasm for invention — are the apex of language appreciation. And, really, zipolicious is just plain fun. 


Errors, Omissions & Headaches

Technical difficulties are working my last nerve. 

Several months ago I switched to a new website format. I've been posting two and three blog entries a week, writing, with great trust, as I  lobbed words into the darkness. Surely, someone was reading, right?

Not much feedback, not many comments. I tried not to be one of those 'sensitive' writers who moan about their lonely lives. There are a zillion writers and even more blogs. Who was I to think I had something unique to offer, or had crafted content worthy of followers, the web's holy grail of affirmation? 

Last week I got my answer. A colleague told me she hadn't been to my site in months because she hadn't received any of the email notifications she signed up for. 

Turns out, none of my subscribers — admittedly not a large number — were getting my posts via email. The blog bookmark feature seems to work just fine, but if you signed up to get postings by email you haven't heard from me since March! 

And so, here I am, tossing words out again. I've tweaked the subscription feature (at right). You can now subscribe to my blog by bookmarking Off the Page in your own browser, and/or choose to receive blog posts by email (simply type in your address).  

Fingers crossed for full and successful operation. And please, please, let me know if I get lost in this labyrinth. It gets so dark and cold without you. 




I'm on a hunt. Can you help me?

I've been to a handful of writing workshops. I've been elated and inspired, and defeated and depressed. The best — and first — writing workshop I attended set the bar high. Offered by the now-defunct Taos Institute of Arts, the one-week workshop with poet Judyth Hill affirmed my desire (and shaky ability) to write poetry. It is not melodramatic to say it was an experience that changed my life. 

There were others that were not-so-good. I don't want to repeat those feelings of dread and defeat. And when I'm paying a good sum for a learning experience, I don't want to walk away feeling a loss of enthusiasm, and hard-earned cash. 

But still, I hunger for workshop invigoration. And I'm on the hunt. At this point, I'm not looking for a critique group or experience. I'm looking for a workshop like those Taos days, in which I generate new work in the company of others. 

Any suggestions?  

Have you been to, or heard of, generative writing workshops or retreats? Please let me know. 



Give it away


Whenever I read a poem that moves me,
I know I'm not alone in the world.


How lucky we are
That you can't sell
A poem, that it has
No value. Might
As well
Give it away.

That poem you love
That saved your life
Wasn't it given to you?  


- Gregory Orr
from Concerning The Book That Is The Body Of The Beloved 


Shame the rain


Spring is so darn fickle! On the Oregon Coast life is turning a brilliant green but the season teases with dodging sun and a damp chill. I'm eager — and not patiently it turns out — for floaty skirt and strappy sandal weather. 

During a free-write session at last week's Writers Group, Linnea Harper (a mentor-volunteer with me) was spot-on with this poem about my (premature) leap into spring: 


Spring Optimist

for Drew

She wears a spring dress

in the April shower that feels like

sweatshirts and fuzzy boots.


Sometimes you just have to

strap it on, I say, take what’s at hand

and give it a new shape,

wrap yourself up in it

like a sari or a sheath—

hair and lipstick just so—

dressed to lure a clear day,

prepared to shame the rain.


I've written poems to/for/about others, but never had one written 'for' me. What a treat! It feels good to be on the receiving end of words (yet another reason I love Poem in Your Pocket Day, which was when Linnea happened to write this poem). Thanks Linnea!