Saturday, August 27, 2011

Poetry Prompt #68 – Books

When I started this blog, I promised myself that it wouldn’t be an “about me” blog. I hope you’ll forgive me for breaking that promise. Here's my reason: the advance copies of my new book, What Matters, arrived on Wednesday, and I’m so excited that I wanted to share the good news.

I've written a lot of books, but this one is the most special of all. "Meeting" it in print has been both exciting and humbling. The design and production are amazing, thanks to my publisher (John Weber, of Welcome Rain, and the incredibly gifted designer he hired to create the cover and interior (Laura Smyth,

This was a challenging book to write – it deals with my experiences before, during, and after breast cancer. It’s not, however, a collection of poems about being ill; rather, it’s a collection of poems about survival and the human spirit – what grief, illness, and loss can teach us, and the ways in which we remember how to live (what really matters). Reviewer Charles DeFanti summed up my purpose when he wrote, "We're all survivors of something or other, and these ... poems by Adele Kenny tell us that we're not alone." Click Here to Read the Review

What Matters
6” x 9”, 64 Pages, 47 Poems 
Hardcover with Dust Jacket
Brown Boards with Gold Lettering

Click Here to Read Sample Poems from What Matters

I hope you'll consider ordering a copy and taking advantage 
of Amazon's generous discount!

Now – this week’s prompt!

Of course, with my own new book happily in mind, I thought it would be interesting to think about books and to try and write a poem about books we’ve read, books that have touched our lives in special ways, books we read as children, books that we’ve borrowed or lent, places we’ve spent time reading books, books that remind us of people and places, the books we'd like to write, the books we want/need to read, or “book” as a symbol or a metaphor. 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Poetry Prompt #67 - Go Green

We often hear the phrase “go green” in reference to environmental concerns and how we can take action through buying habits, behaviors, and lifestyles to reduce the size of our carbon footprints.

Green has long been associated with the natural world, but it also has other associations and symbolic meanings. It is linked with life and abundance, St. Patrick and Ireland, the newness of spring, and the fullness of summer. Green is often connected to  tranquility and denotes balance, harmony, and stability. Considered the most restful color, many believe that green offers a sense of renewal while alleviating depression and anxiety. In the United States, it's the color of money and the traffic signal color for "go." Olive green is also known as olive drab with military associations. On the flip side, green is linked to inexperience (the color of unripe fruit), jealousy (the green-eyed monster) and looking/feeling ill or frightened (green around the gills).

With all of this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to use green as the inspiration word for this week’s prompt. Accordingly, your poems might be environmentally driven or they may simply use the color green as their “muse.”

Here are some interesting examples (including a “green sonnet” by Petrarch)

Now it's your turn … Go Green!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poetry Prompt #66 - Solo Renga

For this week’s prompt, I thought you might enjoy something a little different – a solo renga. The renga, which originated hundreds of years ago in Japan, is typically a series of short verses linked into a longer poem and composed collaboratively by a group. In recent years, however, practitioners of the form have experimented with solo renga (that is, renga written by a single poet).

In any renga, each verse must make sense (stand on its own) individually but must also connect with the verses that precede and follow it. There is no narrative, sequential, or logical thread.  Figures of speech (similes, metaphors, etc.) and abstractions may be not used. In a classical renga, the standard form is a repeated pattern of three and then two lines. Over time, many structural standards (rules) were established, and renga process can be quite complicated. Renga often contain 100 verses; the great Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, however, was partial to the kasen renga, which consists of 36 verses. A related form is the renku (Click Here to Read about Renku). 

The opening verse in a renga is called the hokku, which gave rise to the haiku (Click Here to Read about Haiku) and which shares the haiku form of three short lines with a seasonal reference. This verse and all that follow communicate details and emotion through images. Pure and simple.

Your renga may be as long or as short as you wish and, instead of working within a group of writers, you will write on your own. Our goal isn’t to be technical about the rules (or to be compelled or burdened by them) but, rather, to notice details, to focus on imagery, and to express feeling without using figurative language or conceptualizations. As you write, remember that the great delights of renga include a sense of continual surprise, distinctive imagery, and sudden or subtle insights (true of good poetry in general).

1. Go to a place in which you are relaxed (a room in your home, a park, the seashore), take a walk, lie in your hammock ­– you get the idea, right?

2. Reflect, meditate on your surroundings, and write your hokku or first verse: a season word included in a brief "note" on your surroundings.

3. Now, following the three-line, two-line format, begin linking. Write a two-line verse that connects to your first, and so on. Focus on images and avoid figurative language or abstractions.

4. Stop at any point that feels comfortable.

Related Reading:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Philip Levine Named U.S. Poet Laureate

Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine, known for his poetry of the working class, has been appointed the new U.S. Poet Laureate. The Library of Congress has announced that the 83-year-old Levine will succeed W.S. Merwin this fall. The U.S. Poet Laureate receives $35,000 and is known officially as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Mr. Levine will serve from  October through May.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Poetry Prompt #65 - What Would You Say?

Is there someone you didn’t get a chance to speak with before he or she passed away? Have you ever thought about things you neglected to say when that person was alive? Who is that person? Imagine for a moment that you’re able to speak to him or to her. What would you say? What comfort would you find in one more communication? Think in terms of your relationship with the person and what that person meant to you. Think how you felt when the person passed away. Think about things that were left unsaid.

As you write this week, the object is not to dwell on sadness or regret but, rather, to work toward unique imagery and expression. Think of your poem as having two subjects. Poet Renée Ashley describes these as “the obvious one, its material, and the unarticulated one, its matter.” Don’t just tell about your feelings; evoke a feeling by showing, not telling. Your poem should have something to say, something honest and real, with a profound emotional center. It needs to "hit home" for the reader, and it needs to do that without being sentimental or ordinary.

1. Write a poem addressed to someone who is deceased.


Fists (For My Father)
By Joe Weil

It was the sense that your fists were worlds
and mine were not that caused me to worship you;
all those thick rope veins, and the deep inlaid grime of your life,
the permanent filth of your labors.

I wanted your history.
My own smoothness appalled me.
I wanted that hardness
of fists.
I'd pry your fingers loose,
using both my hands,
find stones, a robin's egg uncrushed
in the thick meat of your palms.
Between thumb and forefinger,
your flesh smelled of creosote and lye,
three packs of Chesterfield Kings.
You told me stories about heroes,
David with his sling,
Samson with his jaw bone of an ass,
Christ with his word forgive.

Tonight, I read about Cuchulain
contending with the sea,
how he killed his son in battle,
a son he'd never known,
and, mad with his grief,
fought the waves
for three nights and as many days,
until, at last, he came ashore,
and fell asleep holding his dead child's hands.
When he woke, it was morning, and the hands of his son
had become two Black Swans.
They flew West where all suffering ends.
I read this story
and I remember you.
Hold me clenched until I am those birds.
Sleep now,
until your fists can open.

(From Painting the Christmas Trees (Texas Review Press, Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved.)

2. Address a poem to a specific group of deceased persons or to the deceased in general.


3. Write a poem to or about a deceased pet.

By way of sharing, here’s a poem I wrote for my Yeats, my beloved Yorkshire Terrier:

By Adele Kenny

In Memory of Yeatsy
(January 5, 1993- July 6, 2008)

The way his head slips from     
my hand as I lay him down,
his eyes still open (though I
try to close them), the same
warmth still in his small body.

It is this: death, a skill learned
by those who observe it; grief
what we keep – and memory
always, at least in part, about
forgetting. I cross his paws the
way he crossed them in sleep.

Like all deaths that summer
remembers, I walk his home.
A patch of sun climbs the stairs
without him; white moths,
like snowflakes, span the sky. 

(From What Matters, Welcome Rain Publishers, Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Submitting ...

The Number One Worst Mistake 

A Writer Can Make When Submitting


The Writer's Relief blog recently featured an interesting article that began when they asked several editors (myself included), "What is the worst thing that a creative writer can do when making a submission?"

You can read our answers here: