Poetry Prompts: Day One

To celebrate the first National Dark Poetry Day yesterday, I started reading and writing in 31 Days of Poetry Prompts: Humanity by Jim Russo. There is a whole series of these great books available on Amazon. Each day provides a new prompt to invoke thought.

As I work through the book, I’ll try to post a favorite poem I’ve written as a result about once a week. Already Russo’s book is pushing me to explore unfamiliar territory in myself… and what is the purpose of art if not to push boundaries? Our own boundaries are the most important to test.

This excellent poetry prompt book series is available on Amazon here!

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Death of Poe: Murder or Mishap?

This day, 169 years ago, American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe died at the Washington College Hospital in Baltimore. He was 40 years old. His cause of death is disputed, even now. Everything from alcoholism, rabies and even political cooping has been blamed.

Much of the mystery can be attributed to one man, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a rival of Poe’s. Under the pseudonym “Ludwig,” he published an obituary on Oct. 9th, in the New York Tribune.

In his obituary he represented Poe as a haunted genius, a madman that wandered the streets in drunken delirium. Griswold, as Ludwig, claimed Poe was quick tempered, arrogant and dismissive of his fellow man.

To the contrary, Edgar Allan Poe wasn’t much of a drinker, despite popular portrayals of him as an absinthe sipping, self-destructive soul haunted by his inner vision. At the time of his death he was a member of the Sons of Temperance, a brotherhood of men who promoted the temperance movement.

Poe’s drinking buddy, Thomas Mayne Reid, even attested to his lack of alcoholism. He admitted that the two engaged in drinking “frolics” but testified that Poe “never went beyond the innocent mirth in which we all indulge… While acknowledging this as one of Poe’s failings, I can speak truly of its not being habitual.”

Much of what the public believes of Poe’s death is attributed to that one, false obituary. Griswold was known for attacking Poe’s character, even while he was still alive. Much of that obituary was copied, almost verbatim, from from that of the fictitious Francis Vivian in The Caxtons by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Griswold had much to gain from portraying Poe as a dark genius. He claimed that Poe had asked him to be his literary executor. It is unclear whether Poe actually appointed him or whether Griswold became executor through a trick or a mistake by Poe’s aunt and mother-in-law, Maria. In 1850 he presented a collection of Poe’s work that included a biographical article titled “Memoir of the Author” in which Poe was depicted as a depraved, drunk, drug-addled madman.

Much of it was a lie and denounced by those who had known Poe, including Sarah Helen Whitman, Charles Frederick Briggs, and George Rex Graham. Sadly, Griswold’s account became popular because it was the only full biography available and was widely reprinted. Because of his dark writing, many readers assumed the man himself was haunted as much as his fictional characters. 

The mystery of Poe’s death remains. All medical records and documents, including Poe’s death certificate, have been lost, if they ever existed. Dr. John Joseph Moran, Poe’s attending physician, denied Poe any visitors and confined him to a room with barred windows reserved for unruly drunks. Later, he repeatedly contradicted himself in his recounts of Poe’s last days.

To honor Edgar Allan Poe for the premier National Dark Poetry Day, I promote the man behind the misrepresentation. He had a dark vision, a reflection of the pain he saw in the world around him, but he was not doomed to be a self-destructive. His writing was therapeutic and entertaining. It was Griswold’s jealousy and financial gain that has created that falsehood.

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Review #10 Just In (40 to Go!)

The tenth review is posted for Bitter Suites! That means there are only 40 reviews to go before I give away a $100 Amazon gift card. You can see all the reviews on Amazon for this book here.

How to enter? Leave a simple, honest review about Bitter Suites on Amazon. One winner will be picked at random from all the reviews when the 50th review is posted. The winner will be notified by comment on their review and here on this blog, so check in often when it gets close to 50.

In the meantime, share this post to help bump up those reviews quicker! I’d love to see the reviews copy/pasted in the comments as well.

  1. Get a copy of Bitter Suites here.
  2. Leave a review on Amazon.
  3. Wait to see if you win and spend.
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Page Goals Met!

Today was a good day. For the first time since I took to the full time writer route, I accomplished my page goal. It’s been less than a month… there’s hope!

I should divulge that I’ve spent most of the month on a holiday, but in my experience, writers never really take a break.

Even when a writer seems relaxed, staring into a tree with glazed over eyes, they are working. A story is forming behind that vacant look, and now it will fester until the writer can release it to ink.

I’m also not really writing right now. I’m trying to finish up some intense pre-edits on my husband’s first book, a 200k dark fantasy I look forward to seeing published. You can find his author page on Facebook here.

If I stay on schedule, that will be ready to go to a real editor next Friday, and I will be back on finishing Altars & Oubliettes and Suite & Sour.

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From “Psychonauts”

One really good thing about having a ton of writing piled up is that you always have something written. I try to blog every day, but after a full day of editing, my own creativity is a bit dried out.

So, here is a poem I wrote this past summer. It’s set aside to go into a collection I’m working on titled Psychonauts.

The Beat

All the gods have become one
god with many faces. He/she/they
direct me without words to find
my words that lie coiled in
the cosmic claw machine.

I am not the prize.

I am the metal jaw descending
into the black light night to
the tune of electric flatlining.

Between the tocks my heart
slows to stop so I can be present.
The muse fills the space
benevolent and bright
in chartreusean shades
of vivid. I am all there is
in this psychedelic tableau
except the inkpot that towers
lidded and waiting
spinning hot and not fading
filling the cube until the pot
the muse and me
are one.

My heart
the beat.

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HWA Announces National Dark Poetry Day

Finally—a day to honor Edgar Allan Poe and the dark poetry genre as a whole. There are so many ways to celebrate this new holiday, so near and dear to my heart of hearts. I’ll have to get planning. While I scheme, enjoy all the details from the official HWA press release:

LOS ANGELES – Oct. 3, 2018 – PRLog — Nearly 170 years after renowned author of dark poetry Edgar Allen Poe drew his final breath, a National Day of Recognition has been created to celebrate his legacy. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is proud to declare October 7, the day Edgar Allan Poe died, National Dark Poetry Day.

“HWA has just released the fifth volume of its acclaimed Poetry Showcase series, so we are obviously and proudly committed to supporting dark poetry,” said HWA President Lisa Morton. “We hope readers everywhere will join us in celebrating this beautiful art form on October 7th.”

National Dark Poetry Day is the brainchild of HWA Poetry Showcase founder Peter Adam Salomon. A Bram Stoker Award®-nominated novelist and author of three poetry collections, his work has appeared in numerous anthologies and has been performed by The Radiophonic Workshop on BBC Radio 6.

“Dark poetry has existed for centuries,” said Peter Adam Salomon. “One of the oldest surviving works of literature is the Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates to the 18th century BCE. Poetry doesn’t get much darker than that. It’s been almost four thousand years since the time of Gilgamesh, but a vibrant, vicious thread of darkness has haunted poetry ever since. And celebrating that thread is the purpose of National Dark Poetry Day. In dark poetry we share in the ancient knowledge that the darkest of poetry shines a light on the greatest truth.”

National Dark Poetry Day is not just a day for re-reading “The Raven”, but a time to discover all those who have followed in the footsteps of Gilgamesh and Edgar Allan Poe. It is a day to celebrate the voices that bring poetry out of the darkness and into the light.

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It Lives: HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. 5

I am pleased to announce that the Horror Writer Association’s annual poetry anthology of dark verse is now available on Amazon.

I am excited to have one of my poems, Moloch Dreams, included. This will be the fourth time I’ve had the honor.

Also featured are poets Donna Lynch, R. J. Joseph, and Sara Tantlinger.

You can find the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume V on Amazon in paperback and ebook.


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Let the October—& Work—Begin!

Celebrated 8 years together!

Time to stop being lazy. I’ve had a wonderful and relaxing two weeks with Mr. Smith on an impromptu stay-cation. The only outside work we’ve been doing has been selling absinthe kits for Le Loup Garou Alchemy at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival on the weekends.

We celebrated eight years of being married on Sept. 27th. Through the weekdays we did a lot of sleeping in, watching movies and taking walks. The weekends have been exciting as we take on medieval personalities of a witch and a witcher and meet hordes of festive friends.

I did a little other work during our holiday. I wrote a story for November’s Simplykc and did an article layout for Evolving Magazine. You can see my two page layout here for Evolving on pages 14-15 with Issuu.

I’m am behind a lot. I didn’t plan on taking a vacation from the computer, but turns out it was needed and I am back refreshed and excited to get on with things. The reviews for Bitter Suites contest is still in effect. Only 41 reviews to go before I give away a $100 Amazon gift card! Full details here.

The monthly Exquisite Corpse has gone off the rails, but it’s not forgotten. I’ll be reining that in and getting it back on the slab very soon. New projects are underway, the work on Altars & Oubliettes and Suite and Sour continues, and a cross country book tour is in the works for 2018.

Thanks for not deserting me while the cobwebs took over here!

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“Dreaming America” On Stage

Back in July I reviewed Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention—a bi-lingual anthology of poetry, selected by the poet Seth Michelson from writing workshops he has conducted in the most restrictive detention center for undocumented, unaccompanied youth in the U.S. You can read that review here.

Last week drama students at the Charlottesville (Va.) High School staged a performance of Dreaming America, below. Definitely worth watching and sharing. The book itself a beautiful piece of literature that raises awareness as well as needed money. In an effort to secure legal defense for undocumented, unaccompanied youth, profits from sales of the book are donated directly to a legal defense fund for them.

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A “Safe Space” for Submissions

Poets are invited to send submissions for This Safe Space, an up-and-coming online publication featuring poetry written by survivors of sexual assault. This Safe Space is for survivors to share their stories, struggles, successes, and setbacks through poetry.

Please send your work as a Word document, single-spaced, using 12-point font. Your name, email, and a title for each poem must be included on the document. If you would like to be published anonymously, please state “publish anonymously” below your contact information. No more than three poems can be submitted per author. Simultaneous submissions are allowed.

If your submission is accepted elsewhere, please notify This Safe Space immediately at thissafespace@gmail.com and they will remove your work from consideration. Submissions will close on November 19. Editorial decisions will be made in December.

Submissions can be sent via email to thissafespace@gmail.com. In the subject line, please write “TSS: (your last name)” and note that any submissions not including this subject line may not be reviewed.

A small team of empathetic survivors will review all submissions and inform poets of submission status via email. For questions regarding submissions, feel free to contact us via email at thissafespace@gmail.com.

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