Friday, April 12, 2013 | By: Brianna

Poetry Friday: If You Really Love a Writer

An update on NaPoWriMo: It's going well.  I haven't fallen behind yet, though I will this weekend because I'm going out of town to Girl Scout camp.  Because I'm awesome.  (And modest too.)  Anyway, the zodiac poems haven't actually been happening...but I'm hoping that something does happen just because of magic.  Maybe if I hold my breath they'll write themselves?

Today is Poetry Friday.  Today's poem is Megan Falley's "If You Really Love a Writer" (I used that video, but Blogger wasn't cooperating...) and I'm kinda upset that I didn't watch this sooner, because it makes me smile, and I had a tweet of one of her lines favorited AGES ago...but never dug deeper.  Until now.  Dun dun DUN!

Allow me to rant a little bit.  But let me start off by stating that I love notebooks.  Don't get me wrong, notebooks are awesome.  They're beautiful.  I mean, except for the spiral icky ones that are only ten cents that you use to take notes in class.  Those aren't too beautiful.  But I've noticed that as a writer, I do indeed tend to be gifted with notebooks.  I have a stack of five gorgeous notebooks sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to fill up the first one I got so that they can be used.  It's only recently that I've been okay with using the beautiful ones.  I don't know what it is, but I suddenly get apprehensive about penning words between the pages of beautiful things.  Maybe it feels more permanent.  Maybe the notebook's expectations are high like it's saying, "I am a pretty notebook, therefore only pretty things may be written in me.  I scorn all your other ideas."  I don't know.  Point being, I completely agree with Megan Falley that a notebook has got to be the most intimidating and frightening gift someone could give an artist.

Pay attention to Falley's descriptions.  For example, "One is small and black like a funeral dress, its pages lined like the hands of a widow."  See what she did there?  Not only did she use a funeral dress to give the black notebook some better description than "dark as night," but she extended the death into the widow's hands.  AH!  It's so pretty, I don't know what to do with myself.  I think this works particularly well because it's concise and clever while also being unique.

Falley's treatment of time and the way she mentions significant life events is interesting to me because she never says "birthday" or "graduation."  Which would be boring.  Oh no, she uses "blown out birthday candle," and "turn of the tassel."  The listener knows what she's talking about because even if they haven't celebrated a birthday recently, the blowing out of candles is a tradition that's so cemented in our brains that we tend to think of birthdays without numbers being mentioned.  And turn of the tassel?  Everyone who's graduated from some level of school or seen a sibling or child graduate has seen the tassel travel from one side of a mortar board to the other.  So bringing in these common threads helps the listener empathize with where Falley's at even if they aren't themselves a writer.

"It's never a notebook we need."  This is interesting, because she goes on to say that if a writer gets struck by an idea (without using the word "struck" because that's cliche...), they're going to use whatever surface they have to jot it down, assuming they have a pen.  And if not, they're just going to repeat the line until it gets branded into their brain.  Which leads me to believe that the "notebook" that a writer needs is really themselves.  But the reason writers receive notebooks as gifts is because writers have a bad habit of failing as their own notebook.  Well, at least I do.

"If we have a story to tell, an idea carbonating past the brim of us..."  Argh.  I can't even begin to express how much I love this image.  Pop needs to be in more poetry just because of how lively and delicious the imagery is.

Falley's list of gifts it would be better to give a writer if you really love her make me smile.  The coffee table, the gravestone, the eviction notice, and the awful.  Particularly the awful.  Because honestly, a writer's got the best notebook they can ever hope to have, and if they don't have the gifted notebook with them anyway...they're just going to use whatever.  What a writer really needs is something to write about.

1.  Write about a gift.  Was it a good gift?  Was it the worst gift you've ever received in your life?  Was it a re-gifted gift that you weren't supposed to know about?  What about a white elephant/dirty Santa?
2.  Ideas are often described as lightning.  A flash of brilliance, and then gone.  But Falley uses soda pop as an image for a story/idea.  Come up with a unique image for an idea that doesn't use lightning or being "struck" by something.
3.  If you really love a writer, what would you give her?
4.  Notice Falley's descriptions of life events.  Take a page out of her notebook (ha, if she's using one) and describe a life event in one line that's pure image.  Let someone else read it and tell you what they think it is.
5.  Take a color.  Describe an object of that color.  Think funeral dress and widow's hands.  How can you extend the description into something neat like that?

"If you really love a writer, bury her in all your awful and watch as she scrawls her way out."
- Megan Falley, "If You Really Love a Writer"


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