Author Archives: Penney Knightly

Reasons for Poetry & What Inspires

I’ve been devoting time to writing poetry. The morning works for me, so does early evening before bed. This may not be the case for other poets.

Some people write poetry as a academic exercise. Others because they want to do something ‘spiritual’ or mindful, and tap into what they feel, and sense. I have no objection to this, I think writing poetry, and any way you can get the practice into your life, is a wonderful thing. For me, poetry writing has not been optional. I’m very much in the I-do-this-to-survive / confessional / more-like-Anne-Sexton part of the spectrum.

Here is a list of what causes me to write poems. It’s usually fueled by some kind of intensity—but that can take many forms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams
I usually have dreams that I can write easily into a poem. My dreams tend to be highly symbolic. Very often I’ve written dreams in full description, and that’s been enough for a complete poem. Sometimes, it is a dominating color in a dream, or a theme. There is a treasure of image, sound, emotion, and downright psychological awareness from dream material. If you haven’t taken the time to explore your own psyche in this way with poems, I recommend it.

Emotions
The typical teenager pouring their heart out onto the page, feeling forcefully, isn’t a archetype without reason. Emotions can be a huge source of energy and used successfully as writing material. They can be used to connect you to potential readers, they can help you experiment with the language, they can strengthen your sensitivity and enable you. Joy, sadness, loss, grief, all aspects of the human condition can be described with the words of your choosing.

Limitations
I deal with several mental illnesses, which are mostly managed. But they do have periods where they creep in or takeover my life. Writing enables me to use language to expel my thoughts. Sometimes, I use poems as a therapist. Or I use poems to make metaphor from what seems intangible. Using poetry to label difficult sensations, during times of trial can really aid in grounding and perspective. You might feel improved after writing out your pain, or at least feel legitimized—because the mark of your reality has now morphed into an art.

Memories 
Our brains are amazing and keep so many details. Special memories or persistent memories are good writing material. I have also used poetry as a sort of journaling, to keep a feeling or memory intact—say a special day with someone. Maybe you really want to remember seeing the beach for the first time, for example. It can used as a time capsule, keeping your experience alive with a word picture.

If you’re seeking something to write about, try thinking over some of the things I’ve mentioned. Maybe an experience, a dream, or a feeling can open you up to a field of language you never knew lived inside.

 

 

Wanting to Write While Submitting?

I’m returning to writing, and getting back to submitting. It’s a dichotomy—because when you take time to write you feel like you should be submitting, and when you’re submitting, you feel as if you should be writing! Of course, both are necessary, so there really is no internal conflict. Not really. Sometimes, emotionally, it does seem like a bit much.

I like to write a little when I feel that urge to write while I’m submitting. Even if it’s just a image or a stanza, it feels better emotionally. I don’t know if other poets encounter this. It’s a situation I bump into frequently, so I try to manage as best I can. I want my writing time, and my submitting time to be exclusive and focused. If that means I have to break between one or the other to meet a small need, in a small way, I’m willing to do it. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it has worked for me so far.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re feeling pulled—into writing while you’re submitting, or submitting while you’re writing!

Are you being inspired by seeing your writing? Or inspired by putting together a submission?
These are feel-good hormones, and excitement. This is good! We want to keep these momentum-feelings!

Do you have coffee, is your blood sugar stabilized, and are you relatively unstressed?
It’s no surprise if you haven’t eaten, or haven’t had your own-personal-stabilizer, or are emotionally or physically compromised, you’re going to have difficulty focusing.

Do you have other things on your mind?
Housework, your job, other anxieties, health issues…can all contribute to distractibility.

Do you have space and sufficient time?
Feeling like you have to fit in submitting or writing, feeling pressure, can lead to ineffective time usage. Or mistakes made while submitting, or poor quality-time writing.

What if you are meeting all your needs and everything is ideal?

As in you’re: 1) chemically balanced, 2) have plenty of time, 3) have plenty of space, 4) have focus, and you are still fighting with wanting to write while you’re submitting, or submitting while you’re writing?

Then, meet both needs, of course! But do it in a small, one-at-a-time focused way!

If you want to write, but you’re in a submitting session
Take a break from your writing session, and submit to one magazine.
Or read about a magazine you want to submit to.
This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
You still want to devote 90% percent of your time and attention to writing.

If you’re submitting but you get that fire to write
Take a break from submitting!
Write a line, or a stanza, or an idea for a poem.
Or write an entire poem.
You shouldn’t devote more than 15 minutes to this.
Hopefully, meeting your poem need should free you up to focus on submitting.

Yes, self-discipline does come into play. I’m not saying it’s always going to work out that you can both submit and write. But you can honor yourself and your time, when that itch wants to be scratched.

Sometimes, devoting just a little attention can go a long way towards complete satisfaction and fulfillment, and better clarity and performance with the main task you’re setting out to perform.

Wishing you concentration and effective creative time,

Reuniting with Poetry with Kim Addonizio

I am back to writing poetry, and that feels wonderful! I purchased some books which have re-inspired me. I know I’ve mentioned Kim Addonizio’s The Poet’s Companion before, but now I have it in ebook format, so I get to explore it all again.

This book is solid. If you’re planning on getting back into writing poetry, want to read some great examples of poetry, want to learn, or just to read and be inspired, this is your book!

Happily, I also found a more recent poetry-encouragement / education book by her, which I am looking forward to savoring Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within.

*Don’t know who Kim Addonizio is?
Here’s a sample poem from The Poetry Foundation titled, “First Poem for You.”

Wishing you well today, and I hope you are finding some inspiration, too.

 

 

 

Swallowtail + Succulent (image)

Sharing a happy picture of a swallowtail and a succulent! I was lucky enough to get this picture on a walk.

(Showing going outside has more benefits that one originally anticipates.)

Also, I’m working on submitting poetry out today! What are you working on? ♥

The Year (and counting) of The Medical Mystery

It’s been months since I’ve done much of anything creative. I’ve worked at keeping it alive in my heart, even if I haven’t had time, energy, or inclination. The past year has been medically strange. What I thought was going to be a straightforward diagnosis has led to a year without an answer. I’ve experienced progressive and sporadic symptoms of what I feared was a neurological problem.

My hands and head sometimes shake, my muscles twitch, and my legs lack the stamina and feeling they used to have. My hands have been numb for weeks at a time while doing something as simple as holding a pen. Yet, I have muscle strength and there doesn’t seem to be any urgent problem. I’ve been to three specialist doctors besides my GP, and have performed easily a dozen tests. Potential diagnoses that have been posited include: conversion disorder, essential tremor, small fiber neuropathy, and fibromyalgia.

I had months in which I couldn’t stop researching, trying to figure out something. Does someone else have this? Is there some piece of the puzzle I am missing? Can I figure this out by myself? What do I need to have in mind so I know what tests the doctors should be running? I have developed a greater sense of insight regarding people who don’t have answers for their medical symptoms, and for people dealing with a life-changing diagnosis.

My body going haywire opened me up emotionally. I wrote pages and pages in my journal about my feelings, my worries, running through the logic of what the diagnosis could be. I admit, I was in despair and spinning psychologically, running every possible scenario.

One day, after being exasperated and realizing I was actually stressing myself out and causing my symptoms to worsen, I stopped. I stopped exerting energy toward a problem I couldn’t solve myself. There was no amount of reading on the internet, or putting my symptoms into a spreadsheet, and hyper-focusing that had made my life better. My happiness, and my creative energies were empty, because I had been obsessing about my health for so long. I forgot how to be myself. I forgot what I really cared about, and what I used to spend my time doing.

In the time to come, there are more tests. I will seek answers. There will still be visits to doctors. This mystery ailment will continue to occupy some space in my life. But it doesn’t have to be my life. Maybe it’s a big thing, maybe it’s small. Maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s mental. I don’t know. I don’t have control of that outcome. I do have control about my time, my resources, and what I think about. I choose to think about poetry, writing, and drawing. While spending what functionality I have on what builds me up and makes it all bearable and worthwhile.


With extra doses of love and insight,

Why My Creative Goal Failed

I posted toward the end of December, rather hastily, that I would draw and write a poem-a-day until the remainder of the year. In celebration of the arrival of 2018, and to spur myself onto productivity greatness, I declared my intentions to Facebook and social media. I was met with enthusiasm and encouragement, while dopamine-dumping and happy-feeling, was not enough to keep me motivated. In fact, a few days later, on DAY FOUR, I FAILED.

Why did I fail, you might ask?

I failed because I stopped. I stopped creating. I stopped working toward my declared goal. I just, plain, didn’t do it. There are many reasons for this. Here is a list of some of the reasons, most of them I discovered in hindsight, after thinking about WHY I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. Let this be a lesson, to myself and others for the future.

  1. I neglected to consider my timing. Nearing the end of the year, with lots to do, what made me think adding pressure to an already pressured time of year was the answer?
  2. I didn’t monitor my resources. How was I feeling? What was going on in my life? What other things were taking up my attention?
  3. I set unrealistic standards. Performing two creative endeavors each day? TWO?
  4. I made it too complicated. Requiring that I do two creative things in a set period of time = not brilliant.
  5. I put a time limit on it. Ever enjoy playing a timed quest in a video game? Or had to meet that school paper deadline? Um, why did I do that to myself?
  6. I gave into perceived peer pressure. The drive for the New Year, Facebook Friends posting their creations, art and inspiration for 2018 abounded, and I bit that poisoned apple. Hard.
  7. I was doing opposing activities. Art-making and word-making do not go together for me. I know this. Why did I think I could do right brain work and left brain at the same time?
  8. I failed to self-assess.  Asking questions such as: How has my mental health been lately? Or my physical condition? What could distract me from this work?
  9. I didn’t look at my creative track record. Have I created anything lately? How did it go? How has my creative health been? I haven’t created in a long while. Why is that?
  10. I wasn’t invested. I declared an activity without thinking. I was riding on enthusiasm of the possibility of productivity, not being rooted in the reality of it.
  11. I didn’t plan. All too often, I have to remind myself that inspiration is great, but as I age it is not not not how I get creative work done. Set aside time. Focus. Make it work. Anything else is wasteful.

So, what does this come down to? Basically, I woefully neglected to care for myself as a person living my life, AND as a creative person.

They are two separate jobs. But, they feed into each other, demanding the same resources, and the same time. And the same mind, body, heart.

Do yourself a favor, and before you jump into the next big activity, ask yourself some real questions:

How are you? ♥
How are you feeling? ♥
And, What Makes the Most Sense for Me Right Now? ♥


Take care of yourself!
Best wishes for you this year, with hope and happiness,

 

Poem and Picture A Day: Day 1

My new challenge up until the beginning of the new year is to draw a small drawing, and write a small poem a day. There will be no quality-judgment on my part, just producing and seeing what I can come up with in tiny, 30-minute maximum work segments.

Day One: Female Portrait and Dream Poem

Gold Man Review, Issue 7

My poem “I Want to Know the Ending,” was recently published in Gold Man Review, a yearly print publication! Whoo hoo!

The publication is available for purchase on Amazon.

There is also a little extra surge of happiness from seeing it in print. It looks great, and working with Gold Man Review, and the editor, has been a pleasure.

So excited to see this year end on such a positive publishing note. Can’t wait for 2018.

 

“A Black Opus,” in Cleaver #19

I am so excited to be posting that my poem, “A Black Opus,” was published at Cleaver Magazine in Issue 19. It was just released September 15th!

I love the artwork, the presentation is beautiful, and…as a bonus…I got to make an audio recording of me reading.

You can read the poem and get the audio HERE.

The audio is also available on Soundcloud, as part of Cleaver Magazine’s podcast On the Edge. I am so excited about all of it.

Thank you for being amazing, and for reading. Hope you enjoy the poem! ♥

Bloom & Encase: Art Therapy

I know I’ve been away from art for months now. I can’t seem to get my mind back to a sitting still place. Even though, I have been doing a lot of sitting still—just a restless, unproductive kind. I have been experiencing a lot of emotional stress, and some weird physical symptoms. A lot of heaviness has been on my mind, and physically, I am feeling the toll of that in a new and unique variety of ways. My dissociative tendencies have gotten healthier and more manageable but I have a lot of internal work to do.

I am hoping that with deep breathing, mindfulness, and getting back to art via art therapy might just be the thing I need right now. Once again, I am back to building up my confidence by doing a small thing, which will hopefully lead to momentum. I smiled when I doodled these images on my phone—a positive sign that I’m in need of this expression.

 

 

Filed Under: Art

“Momentarily” at Sweet Tree Review

My poem, “Momentarily” is in the Summer issue of Sweet Tree Review. I was drawn to their theme of ineffable connectivity.

As you likely know, connectivity is something I say and struggle with a lot. I also use poetry to get me to or into a connected state, so it was a pleasure to pursue that idea with this publication. The presentation is beautiful, and the other works included are lovely.

“Present Eventually”—The Bookends Review

My poem, “Present Eventually” is at The Bookends Review today! Super pleased to see another poem in that venue.

It’s interesting looking back on this poem, as I wrote it several years ago, but so much of it is applicable to the internal work I’m doing recently. I know what I was writing about meant different things at the time, but it’s amazing to see those words come back to me as help in the present.

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