Friday, October 28, 2016

I Wish I'd Written This

Mom asked about her brother today

By Stevie Strang

Mom asked about her brother today. Is he alright? 

Yes, Mom, he’s alright. He’s with your parents now, and your sister. 

One tear formed at the corner of her eye and stopped. 

And is he with your father too? 

I’m sure he is, Mom. 

Well, my mother didn’t like him very much but I’m sure they’re getting along now.

Mom points to the middle of the room.

‘Cuz they’re both right here…looking over me.

if only we knew
what comes next

I encountered Stevie Strang on facebook. I'm so glad I did, as I enjoy and admire her poetry. This one in particular speaks to me, as I have survived elderly parents and an elderly husband. The poem describes a unique experience, but reminds me of things of similar nature, which are in my unique experience – a perfect example of the personal becoming universal. 

Though it's a poignant, moving piece, I don't find it a painful reminder. It's so full of love – in the way Stevie writes of her mother, and in the way her mother speaks of other family members. What a gift, to convey what is essentially tragic with so much tenderness, so that we see instead both the enduring love and the cosy day-to-dayness of family. And then, the profound, universal question she concludes with is posed with new immediacy – carrying huge mystery, frustration, and resignation in three short, economical lines!

And she is indeed very gifted. She describes herself as writer and photographer. I have seen some of her photos, and they are strikingly beautiful. Her online bio tells me that, as a ninth generation Southern Californian, she has written short stories and poems about the land that her grandmother was raised on. She says that her interests in haiku, haiga, tanka and haibun have 'added to the literary romance of that historical era'. 

Although she prefers non-fiction, she also dabbles in free verse, micro poetry and flash fiction, and is currently working on a novel. 

In 2010 she received a Second Honorable Mention in the Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Awards.  Stevie’s work has appeared in both print and on-line publications such as Moonbathing, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Eclectic Flash and Simply Haiku, as well as other hardback anthologies. 

She has also authored Gently Into The Night, Amazon Kindle, JPStudioArt Press, 2006; One Chapter at a Time – Everyone Has a Story, JPStudioArt Press, 2011; The Gift, Amazon Kindle, JPStudioArt Press, 2012; Just Thoughts in a Windowless Room – yeah I’m over 50, JPStudioArt Press, 2012 and coming soon, No Stone Left Unturned, a book of Haibun, JPStudioArt Press, 2017.

Her most recent chapbook is Rensaku PRINTEMPS A CAPPELLA, a collaborative work in French and English with three other authors, Luce Pelletier and Louise Vachon from Canada, and Kath Abela Wilson from the United States.

Her websites include: JPSTUDIOART (exquisite writings, many illustrated by exquisite photos), ...JUST WORDS (subtitled: Take a picture, write some words; in this case it appears the writings illustrate the images), Twitter: @jpstudioart, and Stevie Strang on FaceBook.

And here's a bonus, dear readers. Stevie generously shared this fascinating haibun, which gives us more personal details about herself and further elucidates the poem I've featured.
A little bit about Stevie Strang:

I was born and raised in Southern California where I now reside in the beach town of Laguna Niguel.
Ever since I could remember I have had a pencil in my hand.  I wrote down my thoughts and silly poems on any scratch of paper I could find, made daily lists and documented every detail of each doll I owned.  I constantly drew and printed with my newly sharpened pencil and always had a large pink rubber eraser on hand.
Then, for my 8th birthday, my Great Aunt Lucille gave me my most precious gift…a simple, blue, ball point Shaeffer pen.  I was in heaven.  I kept it in the cigar box my Grandpa gave me right along with a small green binder that held all the words I had put together in my short years on this Earth.

little green binder
the last page
still blank

From that day on I wanted to be a writer.
I hung out in coffee shops in the 60s.  Watched, observed, and absorbed the anti-war messages, love ins, hippie clothes, and sung the praises of Woodstock.
Got married young, had kids, then went to college where I majored in Art.
I was a Doll Conservator for Museums by trade, and now, in between taking care of my mother, I devote my time to writing and photography.
I have been a constant companion to my mother for the past eleven years.  She affords me the patience and understanding that comes with caregiving and a learned ability to observe, empathize, and write about the stages of a parent with dementia. 
As hard as it has been, I will forever be grateful to my mother for this experience.

on a clear day
my hands can still hold you
my heart can still love

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Neutrality / Objectivity

File:Disamina della verità obiettiva.jpg
"Close examination of unbiased truth"
Painting by 
William Girometti (Italy, 1979)
Silvia Girometti (via Wikimedia)

“Surely, we want to be objective if that means telling the truth as we see it, not concealing information that may be embarrassing to our point of view. But we don’t want to be objective if it means pretending that ideas don’t play a part in the social struggles of our time, that we don’t take sides in those struggles.   Indeed, it is impossible to be neutral."

The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one's desires and fears.” 
― Erich FrommThe Art of Loving

File:Emoticon Face Neutral GE.png
Yellow Emoticon Neutral Face Button
by Granny Enchanted

  neutral countries
  disputed neutral countries
  historical neutral countries

Midweek Motif 
Neutrality / Objectivity

Neutrality and Objectivity are not equivalent, but they share the qualities of being relatively good or bad, possible or impossible and revealing or obscuring truth.  A neutral position is good in a yoga class, but bad in a debate.  Do you agree?

I picked this topic because today is a Celebration of Neutrality in Austria, one of several countries which have adopted a UN Declaration of Neutrality.  But as a member of the European Union, how neutral can and should it be?  

Your Challenge:  Create a new poem that explores one instance of neutrality or objectivity.  Try NOT to be either neutral or objective.

Excerpt from Goodbye to Tolerance

Related Poem Content Details

Genial poets, pink-faced   
earnest wits— 
you have given the world   
some choice morsels, 
gobbets of language presented 
as one presents T-bone steak 
and Cherries Jubilee.   
Goodbye, goodbye, 
                            I don’t care 
if I never taste your fine food again,   
neutral fellows, seers of every side.   
Tolerance, what crimes 
are committed in your name. 
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

Neutral Tones 


We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
     - They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove

Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
     On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing

Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
     Like an ominous bird-a-wing...

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,

And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God curst sun, and a tree,
     And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community.

(Next week Susan's Midweek Motif will be ~ The Day of the Dead.)

Monday, October 24, 2016


This week, my friends, we are chartering a private jet (because when we dream, we travel First Class, LOL!), to visit a shining star in the blogosphere, Sanaa Rizvi, who is, herself, A Dash of Sunny. Sanaa took us all by storm when she appeared on the scene, with her brightness, her talent and her enthusiastic participation. I have watched with interest as she plunged into hosting her own prompt nights, which are very well attended, and I asked her if she might like to chat about the blogosphere a little bit. She said, quote, "OMG! YES!", so here we are. Sanaa recently made a spectacular move to Kuala Lumpur, so we will get a glimpse of some pretty gorgeous scenery, as well. Wow, private jets are nice!!!! Find yourself a seat by the window, and watch for a tropical paradise. That's where we touch down.

Sherry: Sanaa, this is a topic of great interest to us all, and I am eager to dive in. Tell us about your blogging journey, won’t you?

Sanaa: Sheila Graham once said, ‘You can have anything that you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world.’

That is exactly how I felt about Poetry. To me it’s a means of expression: it’s the air I breathe. When I first began blogging last year in March 2015, the world of poetry was something like a foreign land, whose language I knew but lacked the knowledge of its history and culture.

Sherry: That is astonishing to me, as when I read your first poem, I was blown away by your talent. You often write like the Old Masters, and you are still so young. What were your goals when you began blogging? Were there certain key connections you made that helped you along?

Sanaa: Honestly speaking, I never thought I would accomplish everything that I have at present, because initially, my aim was to get my poetry across to others and to gain recognition. Sigh, Poets United changed my life in ways that I cannot describe. It gave me a new identity and made me into the person that I am now. It’s where I grew and learned how to write and in return made a whole lot of connections. I am and forever will be grateful to this wonderful community.

Sherry: Oh, thank you, Sanaa. So many of us can say the same thing. Poets United opened the doors to online poetry for me, as well, and changed my life forever. How has this past year been for you?

Sanaa: It’s been a little over a year; I began experimenting and learning new poetic forms. I came across dVerse Poets Pub sometime in June 2015. It was there that I began to learn new poetic forms. I still remember the day Mary featured my Echo Verse poem as an example for Meeting the Bar on 14th August’15. I was so overwhelmed that I made a decision to keep on learning and growing as a Poet.

Sherry: We never stop learning and growing. How do you manage to keep up online as well as you do? Do you have a set routine, or do you just  fit blogging in when you can?

Sanaa: I love blogging and no matter how occupied I become, I make sure that I participate and write at least twice a week. (Wink)

Sherry: Tell us about deciding to start your own Prompt Nights. They seem to have really taken off.

Sanaa: It wasn’t until a few months later that my mother suggested that I start hosting myself. At first I was terrified, because all I could think of was ‘who the hell would write for me and why?’ But she insisted that I stop being sceptical and so I gave the idea further thought.

You know Sherry, at that moment it occurred to me that even though I am a part of the blogging world, I had no idea who my fellow poets were. How could I expect anyone to be there for me if I myself wasn’t there for them? So, I decided that it was high time that I started talking to people as well as getting to know them.

Now, since I was an active participant at Poets United and dVerse, the trickiest part was to launch Prompt Nights at a certain day and time when it wouldn’t clash. So after a lot of debate, I chose to begin on Friday 1st January 2016 and let me tell you, Sherry, it was simply amazing! I remember the immense feeling of joy and gratitude at receiving the phenomenal amount of love and support. I never imagined that I would be getting such a huge response!

Sherry: I can well imagine you were pleased. Tell us a bit about Prompt Nights, will you, please?

Sanaa: A little bit of introduction to Prompt Nights, for those who aren’t familiar: the prompts are held every week on Fridays. In addition to the usual prompts, we have a segment known as ‘On Popular Demand,’ where you as the audience gets to pick, choose and vote for the topic of your liking. The topic which receives the highest number of votes is featured as the next prompt. The segment is held every third Friday of the month.

Sherry: That is a very cool idea. Audience participation is always a good thing. How do you keep coming up with fantastic prompts, week after week?

Sanaa: It’s not exactly easy coming up with prompts week after week, but I manage somehow, keeping in mind what everyone likes and what would best inspire them. I try to keep the prompts as open as possible and let everyone write whatever they feel like. The sole purpose of Prompt Nights is to encourage others to keep on writing and to enjoy while doing so. Along with poems, I also accept fiction pieces and previously written work.

Sherry: It is nice when prompts are open-ended, allowing the poet greater scope. What prompt received the greatest response?

Sanaa: The prompt which received the best response was the ‘Picture Prompt – Take me to the Ocean.’ It received an astonishing number of responses that left me amazed. It’s also my all time favourite prompt.  I am thinking of creating a similar prompt in the near future.

Sherry: Oh, that is a prompt dear to my heart! You are a very reciprocal poet blogger, so I can guess your response to this question. What are your thoughts on reciprocity in the blogosphere?

Sanaa: I believe in establishing reciprocity among others in the blogosphere. Which is why I often end up writing poems which compliment both my own prompts as well as those of others.

***   ***   ***

Were I a Cloud

I believe in every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks. And so, I made my way through with a mind to mount up to the purest sky. Were I a cloud, would attempt to sweep through mystic thread of life; listen to hushed murmurs of water, for it’s by no means a waste of time. ‘The world is hard and cruel’ as such was written upon arched sky, give thanks for what you are —  and keep fighting for what you’d want to be tomorrow. I breathe in good thoughts skipping across a placid pond. The sky above was clear — as though gleaming crystal  — the air around me spoke in a tone both hushed and sweet. The atmosphere soon filled the heart with delight. I think I may have discovered some hidden secrets of life.

Twilight sky
mingling with emotion
a waltz with nature.

***   ***   ***

This poem was written for Haibun Monday ‘Sky is the Limit’ over at dVerse, where we were asked by Toni Spencer, also known as Kanzensakura, to write about the sky. It also meshed well with my own prompt, Prompt Nights ‘‘A photograph is but a memory in raw format.’

I took this picture near the Lake at South Quay Nautica Lakeside. Sigh, it was a beautiful evening, Sherry, and the atmosphere was calm and serene. It was also my first attempt at writing a Haibun.

Sherry: A beautiful photo and extremely beautiful haibun, Sanaa.

***   ***   ***

Undo With Love

And though you feel like drowning
Believe me when I say it’s true
Pick up the pieces and rise above
Undo with love, love, love, love
Most of our shadows are caused
By standing in our own sunshine
Upon truth as such as this only a
Few wild hearts would pine
So bloom where you’ve been
planted – oh light tomorrow
with today – lest summer sky
so blue becomes malevolent grey
And though you feel like drowning
Believe me when I say it’s true
Pick up the pieces and rise above
Undo with love, love, love, love

***   ***   ***

This poem was written for Midweek Motif where Susan inspired us to write a ‘Song of one Word.’  I remember being overwhelmed with joy as, coincidentally, it matched with my own prompt, Prompt Night’s ‘Let’s take a look at the cards, shall we’ where the theme was to pick three tarot cards. I ended up with The world (The Past) The High Priest (The Present) and The Sun (The Future).

Sherry: One cannot do better than rising with love, love, love, love!

Sanaa: I think it’s great that we are reciprocal and find pleasure in helping each other out on occasions. What’s more is that the feeling of love and respect is mutual in our online communities, something which I find to be exhilarating.

Sherry: I do, too, kiddo. We do such a good job of supporting each other in keeping the words flowing. 

Sanaa: Since we are chatting about blogging, I thought it might be cool to include an old poem, one which was written for Midweek Motif. The prompt was Fire, by Sumana, on the 14th of October, 2015. It serves as a contrast, as it is one of my earlier works.


They say the world will end in fire;
But what if destruction – reeks of ice
To this alone my thoughts aspire.
Several are those who worship – inquire
And shall be judged like all the rest.
They say the world will end in fire.
His favor leaves us nothing to require;
Good actions alone in the end will save.
To this alone my thoughts aspire.
For those who sin – results are dire;
None shall come to take the blame.
They say the world will end in fire.
Like saints that at the stake expire;
No guilt in life or fear in death.
To this alone my thoughts aspire.
There is a Voice whose tones inspire;
Enlarge the close – contracted mind.
They say the world will end in fire;
To this alone my thoughts aspire.

(Inspiration from the title of Robert Frost's poem "Fire and Ice")
Form: Villanelle

Sherry: I find your earlier work every bit as remarkable as your current poems, Sanaa. Well done!

Looking back, has your blogging journey taken you in unexpected directions? Has it taken you farther than you dreamed? How do you see this journey continuing in the years ahead?

Sanaa: Looking back on my journey, I am amazed at how far I have managed to come, and the direction in which it has taken me. For instance, I never ever imagined to host, let alone have so many people by my side. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to everyone for their constant love and support.

I hope to continue hosting Prompt Nights for more years to come ahead. Perhaps it will grow bigger and become a separate blog in the future, we never truly know with these things do we, Sherry?

Sherry: I can see that happening, Sanaa, and we will watch your journey with great interest and admiration.

Friends, Sanaa recorded herself singing a  song for your enjoyment, a lovely treat, so let us close this conversation by listening to it. 


An interesting chat, was it not, my friends? And a lovely song to finish off with! Thank you, Sanaa!   Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!