Written Across the Genres contains a variety of fiction and non-fiction examples to explore within genre designations. Stories, excerpts, essays, and poems express the characteristics of each category.
- Meet dragons, a child trapped in an ice chest, a pregnant, homeless teenager, talking animals.
- Flee from revolutionary Hungary.
- Time travel to a bridge into the past.
- Share women’s struggles in love relationships.
- Learn about Aloha spirit and try a new recipe.
- Plan a caper with criminals.
- Join a female attorney threatened by corrupt doctors.
- Escape with a Russian expat from Japanese occupied Shanghai and more
If you would like to sample different genres than the ones you normally read, here are several samples. Click here for the 99 cents KDP special tomorrow, Wednesday.
Maya Angelo did very little of her writing at home. She said that the comfort of her house was too distracting. “Angelou elected to write in the anonymous tranquility of what she described as “tiny, mean” hotel rooms. She typically rented the rooms for months at a time, and arrived early in the morning armed with only her writing materials and a Bible, a bottle of sherry and a deck of cards (which she claimed helped busy her “little mind”). Angelou ensured that the rooms were as spare as possible to sharpen her focus, and she often wrote while reclining on her side on the hotel bed. In an interview with the “Paris Review,” she confessed that one of her elbows was “rough with callouses” from lying on it for long hours each day.” (information from History.com.)
Angelou said, “When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.”
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
She was born on April 4th, 1928 and died on May 28, 2014.
“I have met with women who I really think would like to be married to a poem, and to be given away by a novel.”
“I wish to believe in immortality — I wish to live with you forever.”
“There is a budding tomorrow in midnight.”
“The air I breathe in a room empty of you is unhealthy.”
“The poetry of the Earth is never dead.”
John Keats was the eldest of five children born to a lower-middle class family in London. When his father fell off a horse and died, he left a large inheritance which John didn’t receive. His mother remarried, but the five children were sent to live with her parents. She joined them when the marriage failed. She died in 1810 and her parents died in 1814. Keats and his siblings didn’t receive their inheritance due to a dishonest guardian. John apprenticed with a surgeon in 1811 until 1814. While working in a London hospital as a junior apothecary and surgeon in charge of dressing wounds, he met Leigh Hunt, a poet and author and became friends with Percy Bysshe Shelley. They encouraged him to write poetry and he was 18 when he wrote his first poem. His first book, Poems, appeared in 1817.
The next year, his health began to fail, his financial difficulties got worse, his brother Tom battled tuberculosis, and the other brother was left penniless from a poor investment. John’s fiancee, Fanny Brawne, brought him happiness in spite of all the family troubles. In 1819, John wrote brilliant work, including, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” and “Ode to a Nightingale.”
In 1820, John’s tuberculosis became worse. He moved to Italy for the warm climate to ease his condition but he died there in February 1821 at 25 years old. An English Romantic poet left us too soon. (Information from http://www.history.com.)
I read a poem by Stephen Dobyns, I’m not sure where, but I knew I wanted to more about his process so I purchased next word, better word the craft of writing poetry.
At random, I opened the book to page 92 and liked what Dobyns says, “The poet keeps our interest by using a multitude of surprises in form and content. To say something that the reader hasn’t thought of constitutes a surprise, and to say something that the reader knows but in a new way can also be a surprise. Anything unexpected functions as a surprise–an idea, a word, a sound, a line break, and so on…But once the surprise has occurred, the reader tries to fit it into the whole. Does the surprise exist to heighten and expand our sense of the entire poem, or is it used for its own sake as a rhetorical device to give false energy to one part of the poem?…Right away the reader will try to determine the reason for this surprise..If no reason is forthcoming, the poet’s credibility is in jeopardy.”
Dobyns book is easy to understand and it’s inspiring.
The Women’s National Book Association had our board meeting on Sunday at poet and novelist Mary Mackey’s home. Wikipedia has this to say about Mackey:
Mary Mackey is an American novelist, poet, and academic. She is the author of seven collections of poetry and thirteen novels, including the New York Times best-seller A Grand Passion and The Year The Horses Came, The Horses At The Gate, and The Fires of Spring, three sweeping historical novels that take as their subject the earth-centered, Goddess-worshiping cultures of Neolithic Europe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mackey
Mary received her BA from Harvard and a PhD from the University of Michigan. She’s been a professor of English since 1972. The following poem is from Travelers With No Ticket Home (Marsh Hawk Press 2014) ©Mary Mackey,
Walking toward the Largo do Machado
when the smell of jasmine
flows through the streets of Catete like a warm fog
when the scent is so liquid you can
breathe it in get drunk and stagger
I think of all the years I have loved you
and all the years I will go on loving you
I think of how we protect each other from pain and betrayal
how each night we wrap ourselves around each other
and peace floats above our bed like a canopy of white petals
The description on Amazon: In this stunning new collection, Mackey offers her readers fifty-eight intensely lyrical poems written with the same skill and passion that made her previous collection Sugar Zone winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Complex yet entirely accessible, the poems in Travelers With No Ticket Home form a visionary meditation on nature, childhood, the destruction of the rain forest of the Amazon, and the real and psychological landscape of travel. Taking us from a small farm in Western Kentucky to the jungles of Brazil, Mackey touches on the broader human feelings of wonder, displacement, grief, love, and love’s endless complications. Here too, for the first time, readers will find Mackey’s complete Karma Sutra of Kindness, a series of seven love poems written over the last thirty years.
WNBA members at Mary Mackey’s house for a meeting.
Jessica Barksdale shared Stephen Dobyn’s poems with us, particularly “How you Like it.” The link below has three of his poems that were printed in The Cortland Review Issue 26. I agree with her the dog in “How you Like It” is memorable.
The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Dobyn as
American poet and novelist whose works are characterized by a cool realism laced with pungent wit.” He was born on February 19, 1941 in Orange, New Jersey.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, born February 22, 1892, in Maine, died at fifty-eight years old on October 19, 1950 in her New York home from heart failure.
Her middle name, St. Vincent, came from St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, where her uncle’s life had been saved just before her birth. Edna called herself Vincent in her younger years. She graduated from Vassar in 1917 and moved to New York City where she lived a hectic, glamorous life as a writer and actress in Greenwich Village.
She was the third woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. She was known for feminist activism and her many love affairs. She used the pseudonym, Nancy Boyd, for her prose work.
Millay was a successful poet for more than a decade when her work in progress, Conversations at Midnight, was burned in a hotel fire in Florida today, May 2, in 1936. She recreated the work, which was published in 1937.
She had a nervous breakdown in 1944 that led to two years of writer’s block.
Millay had another breakdown after her husband’s death in 1949, and she died of a heart attack a year later.
Information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_St._Vincent_Millay
Community – A Poem
by Ann Winfred from Coming of Age Croneicles
In bygone days,
Neighborhood folks gathered on porches
Touched the world and each other
Nodding, smiling, calling out.
Sprinklers caught sunlight in rainbows.
In bygone days,
Inner-city folks gathered on stoops
Shared stories of days and dreams
Laughing children, posing teens.
Music seeped through open windows.
Plastic bags dance past shuttered houses
Blue light mirrored in faces
Caught in worldwide gossamer
Sojourners in shared illusion
Neighbors of a global village.
When you first started writing, what form did you use–short stories, poetry, memoir, or a novel?
In middle school, I chose short stories and I still like to write them. Next I wrote a few novels, and then poetry. In the afternoon writing class I teach, we are writing a Haiku twice a month based on a photo members take turns bringing to class.
My preferences for short stories and poetry affect my novel writing. The shorter forms make it necessary to be aware of exactly the right words to use and to eliminate too much detail. I’ve discovered that when building character in a novel, choosing the right words is more complicated. One has to think about interspersing physical description, feelings, thoughts, and how to show a deeper, rather than a superficial character.
In my novel, Norman in the Painting, I think I’ve created minor characters that have more personality than the protagonist. I’ve written a post-a-note to remind myself to deepen Jill. She’s the center of the action, readers learn about her values by her dialogue and by the decisions she makes. However I sense she’s hiding something or resisting a close relationship with the reader. I’ll have to figure out why.
What is your favorite form to write?