25 Mar

April Poetry Brings May Lyricists

poetry in motion“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” Carl Sandburg

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Rita Dove

It’s the tingle of words, the spark of creativity that births a ripen poem. Poetry is the choosing of influential words—a kiss of humor or a strike of drama. It’s Dom Pérignon in a brothel, an elegance to the tongue transformed from the raw.

When I’ve posted a poem or talked about poetry, several people have said that they shy away from it because they’re afraid of misinterpreting it. They’re not sure if they will understand the meaning. I believe that poetry doesn’t necessarily have a singular meaning for all. Poetry lets the reader think and interpret it the way they see the poem.

I received an email in my inbox yesterday, which goes well with my pre-poetry celebration. Of course, I am so jealous. If you live in Cambridge, Boston, you’re going to want to read this article about the Sidewalk Poetry Program. The City of Cambridge is replacing sidewalks damaged by the harsh winter, and plan to imprint residents’ poetry on the replacement slabs. How cool is that!

Since April is National Poetry Month, I’ll be writing about poetry and posting poems choosing forms from Shadow Poetry and Poets. Here are a couple of poems I wrote in April 2013 and 2014. Let’s embrace our poetic side.

  • April Fools (2013) - Tongue Twister
  • Wear Tattoo (2013) - Acrostic Poem
  • Made in Heaven (2013) - Free Verse
  • Unabashed Lovers (2014) - Memento
  • Black Eyes (2014) - Nonet
  • Cinque Terre (2014) - CinqTroisDecaLa Rhyme
  • Travel to Create (2014) - Blitz Poem

Poetry that ties your tongue when read out loud. It does not need rhyme.

April Fool’s is about cruel spools of jokes about folks of different strokes. Trap a chap into a flat full of bubble wrap. Friends clap to see the chap collapse.

Tweet Pete for a treat to eat down the street in the window seat then be discreet and retreat so Pete takes the heat for all the meat.

Buy twelve pies for dieting Di and watch her weight grow times eight. Her thighs, bigger than Shanghai, with a butt the size of Kuwait.

Play and pay this day of cliché for it displays dismay for the game of prey that make friendships decay because today you went astray.

The first letter of each line spells out a word or phrase, which is normally the title of the poem. I attempted a double acrostic that also ends each line with that letter.

Whether we’re somebody big or a shadow Everyone has a right to express their creative side Anywhere on their body—a picture of Madonna, Resting near our heart, or words from an ancestor. The whereabouts of your artistic placement Adds to its emotional want—your own galleria. Tobacco grey may be the color of choice, or a light Teal to fill in parts of a full moonset. Oblige imagination and make your body a fresco Or a secret message of graffito.

In Memory of Sandy Hook Elementary School

It’s hard to believe our tags show ‘Made in Heaven’ when we’re nowhere near the same.

Me—a young child, a life ahead, fell and perished by the hands of a hater.

Me—a class teacher a bucket list I should achieve, murdered in cold blood by hate.

Me—an official loving my job and family, had it taken by disturbed hate.

‘Made in Heaven’—I do believe you were not what HE had in mind when HE gave gifts.

Was the pain and hate too great that you made your mom a casualty of your assault?

Or did you kill her so she wouldn’t see shocking acts that her son would carry out?

Is that the price the rest of the world pays for all the ill, loners, bullied, turned rancid?

Your legacy in life, a monster in disguise, is only what we’ll remember.

Until someone else feels the same way as you, and sums up the price of human life.

It’s not my right to judge or question even though my life was cut short of its time.

For now, I will sleep with the angels and pray for the world and loved ones left behind.

And hope that they know I’m forever safe—and wait since we were all ‘Made in Heaven’.

Emily Romano created this form. It’s supposed to be about a holiday or anniversary, but I didn’t write about either one. The syllable count is 8,6,2 for each stanza, and the rhyme scheme is a/b/c/a/b/c.

Ignore the judgmental whispers That pour faster than rain No worth; Words that form on tongues like blisters Creating endless pain Unbirth.

To listen is to give power Losing a bit of you Hush now; Stomp out the negative flower To continue your woo Avow.

A nine line poem that starts with nine syllables and ends with one syllable. The first line is nine syllables, the second line is eight syllables, etc. It can be about anything and rhyming is optional.

Black eyes and wounds were the easy part. The killer was my sold guitar. You knew just how to hurt me. My strings with me longer Than your dirty ass. Now I am free With music. Bastard Gone. .

Invented poetry form created by Laura Lamarca.

This is a 10-line stanza with each line having a 15-syllable count with a rhyme scheme of AABBCCCABC.

Visions of such natural beauty goes beyond expectations Designs sublime, magical to see, sustained generations Hearts and minds amazed by the miracles brought forth in décor Scenic nature, copies fail, originals we adore Mountains, curves, straight lines of color, a glorious obsession History of aged rock, earth corrodes, water makes impression Creative arts are hard at work to find the right expression Control moved from family to nation with declarations Notable moments of love and war, bloodshed upon its shore Its splendor holds strong; exists in peace away from aggression

Created by Robert Keim, this poem is of rapid flow and repetition. The first 48 lines are short, at least two words, and the lines run in pairs. Write the first two lines, and then the last word of line 2 becomes the first word of lines 3 and 4. This pattern continues through line 48. The last two lines repeat the last line of 48 and then line 47.

The title must be only three words with a preposition or conjunction. This conjunction must join the first word of the third line with the first word of the 47th line, which is the title of the poem. Okay, I wrote this quick today, so I hope the line patterns and numbers are fine.

Live a little Live to travel Travel over time Travel to create Create the abstract Create the concrete Concrete pictures Concrete ideas Ideas that transform Ideas that move Move your heart Move to a new style Style makes you unique Style stands out Out of your mind Out of old molds Molds that redefine Molds in different setting Setting sun Setting up the canvas Canvas of our life Canvas to imagine Imagine the beauty Imagine the sin Sin is all around Sin can hide away Away from the noise Away with the memories Memories of love Memories of truth Truth gives honor Truth knows no color Color a new world Color the old world World snapped in two World beauty never ends Ends to a means Ends to the artist Artist arrives home Artist travels Rome Rome, the coliseum Rome around the land Land triggers thoughts Land inspires Inspires the artist Inspires to create Create fantasy Create dreams Dreams… Fantasy…

April and Poetry,
Baer Necessities

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18 Mar

Sweet and Carb Delectables!

Sweets for the Sweets

Last Christmas, I made several different kinds of cookies. One was a turtle cookie with caramel, chocolate and nuts. I am not a huge candy person, but I love the creamy buttery sweetness of caramel. Because I like caramel so much, I had to bake these cookies. According to the recipe, I needed to melt those little individually wrapped caramel candies you find at the store.  caramle candies  Unfortunately, they don’t sell these types of caramels in Germany. Caramel is different here than in the States, so I looked for a how-to recipe for making caramel. For an hour, I constantly mixed (with the help of my husband) the water and sugar while it cooked and changed into many different forms. The caramel hardened to the pot, which was a pain to clean and my arm ached for several days

In January, my sister sent me this link on Facebook and it resolved my caramel struggles. How to make caramel in a can. LOVE IT!!! So, here is my rendition of caramel in a can.

Buy a can(s) of sweetened condensed milk. We found small cans for individual portion size. Peel the label off, and if you can, try to remove the label glue from the can.

condensedunwrapped

Fill a small pot with water and place the cans in the pot. Use a metal pot, so you can see the cans, and make sure the water covers the top of the cans. This is important. The water must cover the top of the cans at all times. It can be difficult to see how much water is covering them, so I touch the top of the can with a butter knife every 1/2 hour to check. cookBring the water to a boil, and then simmer for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. I have an electric stove with temperatures ranging from one to nine. I boil it at nine and then turn it down to five. The first time I made it, I turned it down to three, but it didn’t cook long enough so I make sure the cans are moving around the pot.

When the time is up, let the cans cool for several hours. The video suggests six hours or overnight. It only takes a few hours for the small cans to cool. After it cools, open the can and voila! Caramel! What once was white condensed milk is now caramel.

Sweet and Carb Delectables - March 18, 2015Now enjoy this sweet tasty treat however you’d like. eat
For the Love of Spud

I love all kinds of potatoes and different ways to cook them; baked, mashed, salad, and homemade fries. Here’s my secret to making the best mashed potatoes. Add ½ or a full sweet potato, depending on how many regular potatoes you use, cook with the regular potatoes, and mash. The sweet potato adds so much flavor to them.

Since I like potatoes, I’m always looking for new recipes and I found a DEELISH one. The original recipe called for buttery or russet potatoes. At the time I made these, I only had red potatoes in the house, so that’s what I used.

Preheat the oven at 425 F (220 C). Wash the potatoes to get all the schmutz off them. With a sharp knife, cut a lengthwise slice of the potato so it will lay nicely on the tray. You can add the slices to the tray and cook with the potatoes.bottomThen you cut slices (not lengthwise) into the potato, only going down ¾ of the potato. For a large potato, you should have about 20 to 30 cuts. Yes, I know. My pictures could use some fixing to make the potato look more appetizing. I’ll work on it in the future. cut potatoMelt some butter and brush it all over the potatoes, even underneath it. Season the potatoes to your liking. I seasoned these potatoes with Himalayan salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.seasonedPut in the oven for 30 minutes. Take out after 30 minutes, brush them again with butter, add more seasonings if you’d like, and put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

When the timer dings, take them out of the oven, put them on a plate and Bon Appétit!bakedSweets and Carbs,
Baer Necessities

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11 Mar

A Genre Away from Ruin

While I procrastinated writing this blog post, I commented on another blogger’s post regarding genre. It was about writing in a popular genre or writing what you love most. Some believe one will find success by writing in a popular genre instead of following the rule of writing that you write what you know and love.

I’m one who writes what I love. As for writing what I know, I can’t say I write what I know because I’m not crazy or killed anyone, although my mid-life transition has a way of creating and releasing insane thoughts. Because I write what I love, I’ve made the biggest faux pas of writing, and that’s not sticking to one genre. So not only do all my books NOT fall into the current mainstream genres, but I’m inconsistent too. According to this 2014 article about the 5 Book Genres that Make the Most Money, Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Religious/Inspirational, Crime/Mystery, and Romance/Erotica are the top selling genres.

Categorizing books by genre helps readers find the books they want to read. The problems I see with genre labeling is that many cross genres, and place in the wrong genre. We can find plenty of descriptions out there, but we’ll also find contradictions. It’s difficult to know what genre descriptions to follow. For this post, I used some from the Writer’s Digest.

After I finished my first novel, Net Switch, I had to figure out what genre fit best, along with making my book trailer represent it. It wasn’t too difficult regarding the description for psychological.

“A narrative that emphasizes the mental and emotional aspects of its characters, focusing on motivations and mental activities rather than on exterior events. The psychological novelist is less concerned about relating what happened than about exploring why it happened.”

This matched Net Switch, but there was more to the book than the psychological part so I looked into suspense. The Writer’s Digest lists suspense/thriller as a sub-genre of mystery. I thought suspense/thriller was a main genre. Here is a definition of psychological thriller from dictionary.

“a suspenseful movie or book emphasizing the psychology of its characters rather than the plot; this sub-genre of thriller movie or book. Examples: In a psychological thriller, the characters are exposed to danger on a mental level rather than a physical one.”

I labeled Net Switch as a dark, psychological suspense thriller. From what I could find, there isn’t a sub-genre category for dark, but I promoted and marketed my book using that description because of the book’s content. It is dark, and some people just don’t want to go there.

Opening paragraph of Net Switch: “Mental institutions don’t relieve the mind of misery, they only create more chaos where overcrowding exists. As the patient, I feel withdrawn from life because they, the doctors, are ignoring me and are not improving my situation so I can get back into society. This has been my home for over a year and it still troubles me to talk about what brought me here. My mind is my own prison and sharing it with anyone else won’t change my predicament as long as the evil that put me here continues to enjoy freedom. Still, I know I must comply with their requests if I want a chance to be discharged from this miserable place.”

My second novel, Fogged Up Fairy Tale, was a bit more tricky because it crosses genres. Unfortunately, the Writer’s Digest doesn’t have a genre for women’s fiction or contemporary. These definitions are from Find Me An Author.

“Women’s fiction is a wide-ranging literary genre that includes various types of novels that generally appeal more to women than men. They are usually written by women, are addressed to women, and tell one particular story about women. The genre description is an umbrella term that covers mainstream novels, romantic fiction, Chick lit and other sub-genres.”

“Chick Literature, called “Chick Lit” is a genre description disliked by some people…The characters are recognizable, often featuring a contemporary heroine that women of today can relate to. Often the protagonists are addressing an issue of today or even ‘the modern female experience’, whether that is single life, married life, office politics, playground politics or all of the above.”

I categorized Fogged Up Fairy Tale as a women’s fiction / chick lit book, but I think I might have put the wrong label on it. It has lots of romantic elements in it. Sub-consciously, I think I avoided the romance category, because I’ve read that so many people don’t think highly of the genre. People consider romance cheesy and amateurish. I work hard on my writing and stories, so I didn’t want anyone judging my book before reading it. I’m sure this was poor judgment on my part.

And if mislabeling wasn’t an issue, some of my readers read Fogged Up Fairy Tale thinking it was another psychological suspense thriller. They were disappointed once they realized it was a different genre. It made me wonder if I was a genre away from ruin. Am I destroying any kind of success by writing what I love no matter the genre?

Opening paragraph of Fogged Up Fairy Tale: My name is Brand Rye and last year I lost my life—not literally, but mentally. I had amnesia, which erased my past memories. It was an awakening for me to recreate my life and regain my memory. With the help of my husband and friends, I learned about myself. This is an interwoven story of the days I struggled with amnesia and the past that I had lost and recovered.

Stroke of Genius (Working Title)

But I can’t help it. My writing turns to mush when I write about something that doesn’t interest me. For my current WIP, I’m leaning toward a crime mystery or suspense/thriller. I’ll have to look into all of these genres to pinpoint which one. Below is the description for mystery.

“A form of narration in which one or more elements remain unknown or unexplained until the end of the story. The modern mystery story contains elements of the serious novel: a convincing account of a character’s struggle with various physical and psychological obstacles in an aeffort to achieve his goal, good characterization, and sound motivation.”

Opening paragraph of Stroke of Genius (still in revision):  It isn’t the increase whites of their eyes, or the rush of blood pounding in their ears, or a paralyzing fear that makes me do it. Those are a given. The smell of fear drips from their sweat and tears, wafts from their skin. No, the fear isn’t what makes me do it. It’s about the last thing, me being the last thing they see. Their life will flash before them, but I’ll be the one they physically see. My face, my hands, my motions burned into their soul. I am the one they will see before the infamous heaven or hell.

Do you write in a specific genre? What are your thoughts about genre categorization?

Genres and Writing,
Baer Necessities

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04 Mar

How to be German

In August 2012, I moved to a small town in Germany in the North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) area. Little did I know that Adolph Hitler spent much of his time in the NRW in his early years. It’s the most populous state in Germany, the fourth largest in area, and contains four of Germany’s ten biggest cities— Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, and Essen. Below is a map of Germany. The arrow might be a bit off, but we are about an hour from the Netherlands border, one and a half hours from the Belgium border, and a little more than two and a half hours from France.germanyBecause of the steel works, the Americans and British bombed the town we live in during WWII. People are still finding bombs that had not detonated, and in some areas, they’ve had to evacuate before defusing the bombs. We walk through a nearby forest where there are large craters made by the bombs, and for all we know, we could be walking over a few.

As interesting as I think the history is, I noticed there is a certain unspoken “German way” I’d like to share. Certain ways and traits that definitely define someone as a German. Even though my observations are true, I want to clarify that this is all in fun. No humans or animals were hurt in the process.

1) To be German, one must eat bread, rolls, cheese, spreads, and lunchmeat for breakfast (Frühstück). Some might throw in quark for variety, but this is a traditional German breakfast. They enjoy their varieties of breads, rolls, and spreads. It’s understandable, because Germany has the BEST BREAD. EVER. Before coming here, I wasn’t much of a bread eater, so I felt it was my duty to show my husband the American way. We have moved away from breads to a more well-balanced breakfast.

2) To be German, one must not smile or greet. Anyone! There are plenty of walking and biking trails for Germans to enjoy, but their expressions say otherwise. Their faces are set in an agonizing, intense scowl that you’d think their underwear was suffocation their genitalia. Well, I decided to have none of it. When my husband and I go for walks or rides, I’ll say, “Guten Morgen,” “Guten Tag,” or “Guten Abend” to those we pass. The interesting thing is that once I greet them, their faces light up, and they return the greeting. It’s as if I turned a light on. Over the past few years, people do greet others more so than when I first arrived.

3) To be German, one must not care about customer service. It’s almost comical to experience service in Germany. Picture the soup Nazi from Seinfeld. The wait staff doesn’t receive or count on tips like they do in the U.S., so maybe that has something to do with their charming dispositions. If something isn’t good, eat it anyways. If you get something you didn’t order, eat it anyways. There is no service in customer service, other than an insult or a possible suggestion not to come back. Friends of my husband went to a restaurant in Essen with another couple. They all ordered different foods so they could share the variety. After they paid, they received an envelope, and inside it, management told them not to come back. The owners didn’t appreciate the sharing of food.

4) To be German, one must talk fast even when one’s annunciation is bad (schelcht). Germans talk at lightning speed, and many times don’t even understand each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my husband what someone said and he’s told me he didn’t know because he couldn’t understand them. In the U.S., when someone doesn’t understand English, we talk louder as if the volume will help them out. In Germany, when someone doesn’t understand German, they speak faster. Us foreigners do love a challenge. Now, I just say, “Entschuldigung. Mein Deutsch ist schlecht. Ich lerne Deutsch und ich verstehe kurz und langsam Sätze.” (Excuse me. My German is bad. I am learning German and I understand short and slow sentences). They either switch to English or leave. It’s a toss up.

5) To be German, one must not take pride in their country. If you do, other Germans assume you’re a neo-Nazi. They have the past tattooed all over their faces and hearts. They’re embarrassed of what happened during Hitler’s reign, and feel they have no right to have pride in their country (although it’s okay to have German decal and flags during soccer season). It’s quite sad, because Germany has come a long way since the Third Reich.

6) To be German, one must love castles. Germany has some beautiful castles and cathedrals. Here is a picture of the Burg Eltz in the Mosel Valley.Burg Eltz7) To be German, one must partake in the holiday season by attending one or several Christmas Markets. From breads to scarves, to mulled wine, to potato pancakes, the traditional German Christmas markets are a wonderful spectacle to experience. Each town or large city offers their own touch and tradition to the season. In our town, they decorate the windows of a building in the Alt Stadt (Old Town) with burlaps, and from December 1 to 24, they remove that day’s burlap, and someone from the window tells a story to the children. Here is a little clip of story time at Christmas.

8) To be German, one must love children and animals. In 2014, Germany ranked the third best place for expats to raise children. Several places are setup to cater to the family lifestyle. Germans also love their pets. Cats seem to outrank dogs when it comes to percentages. Still, I get the opportunity to meet several people while walking our dog throughout the day and night.

And that, my friends, is how to be German.

Germans, Traditions, and Traits,
Baer Necessities

P.S. I thought I’d do a little self-promotion. If you get a chance, hop on over and enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Fogged Up Fairy Tale. It makes a great present!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Fogged Up Fairy Tale by Denise Baer

Fogged Up Fairy Tale

by Denise Baer

Giveaway ends May 01, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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