When is a Poet Not a Poet?

No. It’s not a riddle. I’m not very good at riddles.

I have just been doing a lot of wondering lately on my status as a poet. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like one. Can you keep calling yourself a poet when you have abandoned poetry? I used to write it every day. I feel now as though I have forgotten how to write it. I think the last poem I had published is this one: WHEN VENUS TAKES A RIDE and I wrote it in December, 2009. That’s a long dry spell.

When is a poet knot a poet?

Okay, that’s knot funny.

I’ve been thinking about getting back into the habit of writing a poem every morning before I start prose writing. It really does seem to free something inside the creative mind. I used to write a poem before tackling ANY writing project. I called it WORD CALISTHENICS. It really did loosen the old word muscles too. But I let it slide. It takes 21 days to form a habit…but a lot less to break it.

So, I am publicly setting a challenge for myself. Write one poem every day. I’m not going to hold myself to any length, style, theme, etc. Just one poem a day. That should be easy enough…right?

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a blog post I created over a year ago now to keep track of my published poetry. Now that’s strange…I used to have publications coming out all the time. Not that I submitted everything I wrote. When you write poetry every day, though, the poems tend to pile up. I cannot remember the last time I submitted a poem somewhere. Now that’s sad.

PREVIOUS BLOG POST WITH PUBLISHED POETRY LINKS

Does a poet ever become Not Poet? Again, not a riddle. I think the answer is no. I think a poet sees the world as a collection of words. Whether or not he/she is writing…I guess that just depends on the way the words fall on any given day. This year has been a year of changes for me. I think my world of words has been in a bit of a windstorm. But I feel the storm is settling. Time to pluck those words from the whirlwind of chaos and start putting them into some sort of semblance of order.

From the website of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada:

When Venus Takes a Ride
~For the Poet, Venus Thrash, who took a ride~

When the donkeys moan
and screech at night
I think of Venus shining bright,
her smile a child
cast in this strange exotic place.
Her eyes, like her namesake,
glowing in the dark canvas
of a rural midnight sky,
flush with constellations taking flight.

When the brays reach my sleepless sleep,
wake me from my Shangri-La dreams
of Lamu’s narrow streets,
it is Venus that I see,
sitting proud,
riding through the welcome arch,
swaying to the public square
and Lamu Fort.

When Venus takes a ride
we follow,
a parade of weary travelers,
wondering if this poet
donkey-slung
is in a way our Mecca bright,
our Venus star in a midday sky.

When delivered to the square,
she dismounts her burdened beast
and mouths her tiny Venus prayers
as sleek and quiet
we slip inside the marketplace
and disappear into magic Lamu night.

Summer on Fire Book Launch at Blue Heron Books!

This past Saturday I had my very first book launch! Summer on Fire was released in July, but due to hectic scheduling–and summer–the launch was held a bit behind the release date. (-:

The first thing I wish to do is profusely thank BLUE HERON BOOKS and its owner SHELLEY MACBETH for offering to launch SUMMER ON FIRE and for making the launch such a memorable and successful occasion! They did an amazing job. There was even a very tasty CAKE for the attendees to dive into. What get together is complete without the amazing presence of CAKE!

Kevin with Shelley MacBeth (owner of Blue Heron Books)
Kevin, signing a copy of Summer on Fire for friend and fellow Museitup Author Sandra Clarke
Kevin with members of his WIP (Works In Progress) critique group. In the back, from left to right, are – Karen Cole, Barb Hunt, Sherry Hinman, Collette Yvonne and Myrna Marcelline.
Cake – it’s perfect for EVERY occasion!

McLaughlin Literary Festival

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The past week was so incredibly busy for me. It was really nice to be able to end it on a high note. At Parkwood Estates in Oshawa…everything is a high note.

I was fortunate to be invited to read at the inaugural McLaughlin Literary Festival at Parkwood. The event took place in the lush gardens of the estate, beside the fountains that Adam Sandler once floated about in on an inner tube while filming one of the many Hollywood movies shot there.

I found myself on the same reading roster as the likes of Sarita Mandanna, Susanna Kearsley, Andrew J. Borkowski, Judy Fong Bates, Kate Taylor and many more fabulous Canadian writers.

It was a fantastic day, filled with wonderful readings and lots of sunshine! And what Durham Region book event would be complete without Blue Heron Books! They were on hand to sell copies of all the readers’ books.

With a little word of mouth I can really see this event taking off! Put on by the friends of the Oshawa Library, it truly is an event that could further cement my belief that Durham Region is the Arts capital of Ontario.  I look forward to watching it grow!

You can learn all about the McLaughlin Literary Festival at their website (and I urge you to do so!):

MCLAUGHLIN LITERARY FESTIVAL – OSHAWA ONTARIO

Best Young Adult Novel Award

Follow up to ‘Busy Times Ahead…’

“The winners of the 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon will also be announced at the wrap. This year, I feel zero pressure as I flopped out at the marathon. I just did NOT feel in the zone at all while writing this year’s novel. That’s Me in the Corner might just be a shelved work in progress. I keep starting and stopping on the process of completing the first draft, so we’ll see.”

I wrote that passage in my last blog post. So, you could imagine my surprise when they announced ME as the winner of the BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD. I was so ready to just dump that novel. Now, I have the opportunity to have it cross the desk of an acquisitions editor on the staff of a Canadian publisher. I now have until November 1st to complete the first draft of THAT’S ME IN THE CORNER and run through edits. When (if) this is done, I will send it off to the MNM organizers and they will forward the manuscript to Lobster Press. At any rate, I am going to try to tackle this manuscript that I have not yet found a passion for…I will listen to it and try to make it mine. It deserves that, at the very least.

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WEBSITE

Congratulations to my fellow Best Novel Award winners!

Susan Blakeney won for Best Juvenile Fiction & Pat Flewwelling won for Best Adult Fiction.

I was thrilled to see two people who constantly inspired me throughout the marathon take home trophies on Saturday!

Lori Twining – B.I.C., Rockstar & Remy Winner!

Lori Twining (Click on her picture above to be taken to her blog!) won the coveted BUM IN CHAIR award. She was an inspiration on this front…nose to the grindstone does not begin to describe her dedication! She also won the ROCKSTAR award…for second highest word count. The most important award was also snagged by Lori. The REMY award is for the person who raises the most funds for the Muskoka Literacy Council. That’s what the Muskoka Novel Marathon is all about…raising funds for literacy. We will ALL have to give Lori a run for her money next year on this front!

Susan Blakeney – Spirit Award Winner

Susan Blakeney (Click on her picture above to be taken to her site!) had an incredibly hard task at the marathon. Yes, yes…she did write an entire novel. But that was no big deal, really. Her task was to write that novel while carrying me on her back. I was a whining moaning wreck at this year’s marathon. “I can’t do it!” “I don’t know what I’m doing!” “I don’t wanna do this!” The complaints went on and on…and she talked me down from so many ledges that I still can’t figure out how she had time to write a novel. I gave her my vote for the SPIRIT award. Apparently she was a MARATHON SAINT to more than just little ole me…because she received enough votes to win the trophy! (Maybe the others voted for her because she stopped the whining?!) Boy, does she have spirit! Below is a full list of the peer-nominated award winners (taken from the announcement linked above).

And congratulations to the winners of the peer-nominated awards:
Lori Twining – Bum-In-Chair, Rockstar (for 2nd highest word count) and Remy (most funds raised) Awards
Alison Doucette – Rookie and Techie Awards
Susan Blakeney – Spirit Award
Pat Flewwelling – Most Prolific Writer Award

Busy Times Ahead – The Life of a Writer

The next two weeks should prove interesting (Yes…this is my annual September-is-a-crazy-month post). I will be doing a couple firsts and as daunting as it all seems, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to experience them. Here’s a glimpse into the schedule:

(I will start after the road trip I’ll be taking today that includes 28 hours of driving in a 72 hour period. My brother and I will be going to New Brunswick today for a family funeral and returning to Ontario by Friday.)

Saturday September 17th – Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap-Party and Panel Discussion – I was asked to be a panelist for a panel discussion on the publication process at the Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap-party. I’ll be speaking about my road to publication–from writing to querying to signing with an agent and a publisher, etc. The winners of the 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon will also be announced at the wrap. This year, I feel zero pressure as I flopped out at the marathon. I just did NOT feel in the zone at all while writing this year’s novel. That’s Me in the Corner might just be a shelved work in progress. I keep starting and stopping on the process of completing the first draft, so we’ll see.

Sunday September 18th – Inaugural McLaughlin Literary Festival – I was invited to be a reader at this 1st annual festival. It takes place at the beautiful Parkwood Estates in Oshawa, Ontario. I’ve lived in Oshawa for over 30 years now, and I have yet to step on the grounds of this mansion. I’m excited to do so this Sunday. And I’m very grateful for the invitation to read. There is a full day’s lineup of readers for this event, with a section in the morning’s schedule dedicated to local talent. That’s where I’m slotted to read from my debut young adult novel, Summer on Fire. I think I have about 10 minutes. Still haven’t decided what I’m going to read, but I figure I will do that while my brother does some of the driving on our road trip. I might even read out loud on our trip–a captive audience is a difficult thing to come across. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t jump out of a moving car. I’m really looking forward to this event, as a reader and as an audience member. There are some great writers lined up. Here’s a look at the day’s schedule.

Saturday September 24th – Summer on Fire Book Launch at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge! – Yes, it’s almost here. The official launch of the paperback version of my debut young adult novel (10am-Noon). I’m trying not to think about the writing workshops and the WOTS happening on the same day. I will be on hand at Blue Heron, reading and signing copies of Summer on Fire. Really looking forward to this one!

Monday September 26th – Ontario Writers’ Conference Planning Committee Meeting! – We took a bit of the summer off from our volunteer duties as OWC planning committee, so we’re really looking forward to putting our noses to the grindstone now and ironing out some of the details for the 2012 conference! We will be at the table on the 26th and FILLED with excitement for the coming year. I can’t wait to see what we put together this time out. The conference just seems to get bigger and better every year. We are a volunteer group with only one thing in mind when we sit down to do our planning – Create the best conference we can create to give the attendees the best conference we can give them. It is a love of words that brought this committee together, and a love of sharing words with other writers. That’s all. Just passion. We hope to put together another stellar line-up for our 2012 conference…and we hope to see you there!

You can watch video from previous conferences here: OWC Videos

That’s about it for the month of September. I can’t wait to see what October brings. I’m waiting to hear back from my agent on the progress of my young adult novel Half Dead & Fully Broken (Winner of the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon Best Young Adult Novel Award). Hopefully she will have some good news for me soon. (-:

 

September

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I was just going to write a blog about how hectic my September is looking, then I realized I did the exact same thing last September.

I’m sitting on a Muskoka chair (that’s an Adirondack chair to my American friends), looking out on the Lake of Bays in Dwight, Ontario. It might be said that I am contemplating life. 😉

My family is in the water–the dogs circling them to make sure they are safe–and I am just relaxing. We are staying at the same cottages we have stayed at for 4 summers now. The ‘compound’ consists of 10 small rustic cottages arranged in a semi-circle with a house in the middle.

The house is owned by the family who runs the cottages. I have been daydreaming about how perfect it would be to run writing retreats here. And daydreaming about actually buying the place from the (quite possibly) soon to be retiring couple who run it.

It really is the perfect setup for writing retreats…and it’s minutes from Huntsville. I wonder how easy it would be to attract writers up to this beautiful location for week-long retreats? Hmmmmmm?

And facilitators, of course!

Maybe dreams are started to help us find THAT thing we really SHOULD be doing!