Girl Talk

This is a poem I wrote to my best friend, Lady Higg, in Sebtember of 2011. The poem was also written to fulfill an exercise in iambic pentameter, which explains the form and the few syllables I’ve left out of words. I’m posting it now because THIS WEEK, Lady Higg and her worthy consort, Dr. Longbottom, are in the process of moving to a new town. Here’s hoping everything goes well for both of them in their new digs!

Girl Talk

So here’s to coffee in the morning. Here’s

to vodka drained at night. Here’s to all

the useless chatter that surrounds and feeds

and bleeds our damn dry souls. It’s not real life,

we said, while sipping tea and laughing in

a morning-after fog. And then, today,

“They found a body in a garbage bag,

a minute from my house.” Say what?

You may have trumped my three a.m., just talk-

ing, walking, and then, you know, my Saturday:

the car on third, the buildings and the bush

we hid behind and waited for the drama

to unwind. “Never fall in love

with Katie Couric,” sang your myst’ry creep

at four. A light was on, and I was prob’ly

losing hope already for a day

without a headache. Well, and that’s just how

it goes. But still. They found a body in

a garbage bag a minute from your house.

So yeah.

I hope you find a new apartment soon.

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Digital Painting: Lavender Lady

As promised, here is a digital painting. It’s just something I did for practice, to keep my hand in, so to speak. What do you think?

Not to inundate you with content or anything, but tomorrow I will be posting a piece of poetry in honor of a special occasion. Stay tuned!

-G

Profanity in Writing (among other things)

Yesterday, I said a lot of my poetry was too personal to share. I stand by that, as it involves other people, but here is a beautiful blog post by an author who shared the most personal thing, the scariest thing. She writes this thing incredibly well, and it is absolutely worth a read—and I suspect this blogger is someone worth following. The Scariest Thing on Chalk the Sun

Another interesting thing about yesterday’s post: it didn’t even occur to me until much, much later that I had posted a poem containing a swear word. The third word of the second line, if you didn’t notice. It is the only word that can go there, and I’m not apologizing. I just find it interesting that it didn’t even occur to me that the word might offend certain audiences. It’s not something I even considered, probably because I know the words to this poem so well that they are a part of myself, and how can a part of myself be offensive?

Profanity in writing, however, is something to consider, especially as an aspiring author of Young Adult Literature. At what age level in books is it appropriate to include characters who swear?

We are, as writers, going for realism. I believe Stephen King said something to the effect of, if your character wouldn’t say “Oh sugar,” then you should write them saying the other thing. Authors writing in a fantasy world have the luxury of making up a swear word or two for their characters to use vigorously. My book is not set solidly in the real world, but the characters come from the real world, so that’s not an option. I’m aiming at the 14 and up crowd, and here’s the solution I’ve reached:

I have one character who swears, and one character who doesn’t. This isn’t an arbitrary decision; it comes directly from the essence of the characters and helps define who they are. The swearing habit actually says a lot about the character. It shows that he is more attached to this world than his friend, and it shows his tendency to fling words at things when he’s angry. When he takes the Lord’s name in vain, it’s even a clue about religious upbringing, though possibly not in the way you’d expect. The swearing is actually a major way that the characters are differentiated from each other in dialogue, especially in those life-or-death type scenes, and I hope this will help the reader get a handle on the characters, and on who is speaking when. So, yes, I let my one character swear freely—but never excessively. He swears when that is what he would say, when that is the only thing he would say, and when the situation warrants it. I never put swears in for the intention of shock value, or to make it seem “edgy.” They are what they are. Would I edit them out if someone who wanted to publish my book asked me to? I honestly don’t know if I would; I think the dialogue would seem artificial without them.

I have completely refrained from using the F-word in my book. I feel the use of that word would cross a major line, one that my guy occasionally saying, “Oh shit,” in a really tricky situation or “dammit” in a moment of emotional duress doesn’t even approach. Would you agree?

I’d love to hear comments on this one, I think it could be a great discussion.

Oh, and I drew this last night (this morning? I couldn’t sleep). Maybe later I will finish it. Did you know Vanya could smile?

Smiling Vanya Sketch

-Grace out

Some Poetry

The other day I posted a piece of art (this wolf here) and I’d like to share more art soon. I also have a full review of Breadcrumbs in the works, and several other ideas for posts. For variety, though, I think it’s time to share some words. I took a poetry class two semesters ago which I enjoyed immensely, and that taught me to think of myself once again as someone who writes poems. A lot of things I wrote in that class are too personal to share (sometimes you just gotta write break-up poetry. Some of it was pretty good. Doesn’t mean I wanna post it) but this poem is solidly in the realm of fiction. It’s actually the very first poem I wrote for the class, to fulfill an exercise in iambic pentameter.

 

You never knew how far I went to find

your weary ass that night, when you were dead

upon the doorstep, dead, but not too dead

to speak. And never mind that I was crying,

fainting, rhyming, raging, lying, ‘cause

you rambled dark and dreary, like a mad

man, like a priest. And though your lips were shouting

“Memphis!” and your hands were holding diamonds

still I held your body listless through

the darkly dripping streets. And so we wandered

more like lovers, more like leavers, more

like brothers, till the dawn-glow left us breathless

reeling sightless towards the sea.

 

 

I still feel a little weird about poetry as something one shares, because it seems incredible to me that anyone else wants to experience the same poems that I do. I memorize a lot of verse, and I occasionally inflict it on people because it’s hard to stop once I get going, but if someone asks me to recite a poem, I say, incredulously, “Really?” Do you know what you’re getting into? Won’t you be bored? I’ve come to think of poetry as a mostly private experience. The poems I know are for saying aloud in the silence, walking by houses in a twilight neighborhood where all the doors are closed, or wading in Lake Superior when the sky is black and the stars are white and the seagulls are an eerie concert, just out of sight. This class I took was amazing because it introduced me to so many different kinds of poetry, to good poems being written today, and to people my age whom I respect  and whose company I adore and who get just as excited about poetry as I do. Our professor made us feel worthwhile for everything we produced, and then challenged us to do so much better, and so much more.

Oh, and Wanderlust? I am puttering through Chapter 10, which is now Chapter 11. This is disconcerting, because this chapter has been Chapter 10 for years. I’m sort of writing off the map now, because I’ve changed the ending. What I’m writing now I’ve never written before, so this is the part where I try to get something down there to replace the nothingness, knowing that I’m going to rewrite and rewrite before it’s ever good.