Poetry improves lives: a guest post by Pete Gardner

This is a guest post, a courtesy of fellow poet and writer Pete Gardner where in this heartwarming story he shares how poetry influenced his life:

There is something about poetry that moves the human spirit. Whether it’s in song or prose, the words ten to bring the reader or listener into a place of higher awareness of their surroundings.

I would guess that a lot of people don’t even realize that they are listening to poems when they hear their favorite music. It really doesn’t matter what genre of music you choose, there is a poem in there more often than not. From our earliest childhood we are taught that poems soothe the soul.

Twinkle, Twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky

Every lullaby I can think of is a poem. We are shaped by them when we are young, and it doesn’t stop there. I grew up in the Beatle’s era. We listened to rock and roll all the time, and when I think back about those songs, I now see the poems in them.

Yesterday
All my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though there here to stay
Oh I believe in yesterday

In high school we studied poetry while doing English literature, taking in such poets as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe, my favorite.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

The ever increasing bombardment of poetry on our mind causes us to become familiar with it, almost a longing to hear more. The music, the books, even enticement to buy thing.

My bologna has a first name
It’s O-S-C-A-R
My bologna has a second name,
It’s M-A-Y-E-R.
Oh I love to eat it everyday
And if you ask me why say,
Cause’ Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A!!!!

In an article from the Atlantic magazine in 2014, Andrew Simmons best defined why teaching poetry in High School is so Important. This key section of that article sums up his ideas pretty well:

Yet poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes.”

Down through the ages, since David the Psalmist penned His words at least, poetry has been an essential part of the human fabric. A poem can relate emotions, dreams, visions and disappointments better than any other written form. The words enter into our minds easily because they have structure and the thoughts that are expressed are easily grasped. It touches the senses and can cause us to see, touch, taste and even smell its contents. It can move us to tears or laughter.

When I look back on the effect poetry has had on me and my family, I am amazed still at how much exposure we have to this simple form of writing. Hope you will take the time to realize how important poetry has been to you as well.

Pete Gardner is a worship leader and lay minster at a small country church in Iowa. He has been writing poetry for many years. In high school he wrote hundreds of poems about all sorts of subjects, from drunken brawls to funny limericks. He has always been a music lover, and listens for the wonderful way musicians bring rhyme into song. In 2010, Pete started writing Christian music, and has over 400 songs and choruses he has written. Then in 2014 he started a blog which would contain poems of praise. This blog is now his main outlet, and the poems are coming almost daily. They are filled with inspiring words of hope, love, and praise. You can find his work at http://www.psalmistpetegardner.wordpress.com.


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5 tips how to use poetry for self-nurturing

poetry_prompts_nurturing

Today I want to talk about why you need to be selfish. We all need to be selfish, but in a healthy, unconditional way – not capriciously neglecting others. What I mean is that in many situations, we dedicate our time and energy to others and fulfilling other people’s needs while completely forgetting to take care of ourselves. And we can lead our lives in such manner for some time, but it’s not sustainable. Dissatisfaction, disease, stress will silently crawl into our lives and we will start to wonder: Where did I go wrong?

I do believe that we all need to have that little time in a day when we only focus on ourselves and our needs – when we practice self-nurturing. That can manifest in many forms: eating healthy, exercising, having a meaningful daily/morning routine. These little acts of self-love can recharge our whole being so we have more energy, ideas, creativity and even time to share and be of valuable service to others – being that family, our job, community, sharing our creativity through hobbies. It doesn’t matter. Being mindful of our own needs and why we want to fulfill them is what it means creating positive experience and fertile soil for desired impact. And now you might ask, what does poetry has to do with it?

Well, some time ago I wrote how poetry has that restorative power and how it can  help you in reconnecting with your own true self. It can help you in your creativity, meditation. But it does go further than that. Here I share my 5 favorite tips on how poetry can help you in your self-nurturing practice.

You know when you have a bad mood, like during those autumn raining days when you simply don’t want to get out of bed and all you can think of is sleeping ‘the rest of your life’? Well, we all have those moments. Instead of forcing yourself ‘to be normal’, take few minutes of your time and write poem:

What do I feel?

Words and rhythm you put in your poem will not only help you reinforce the healing power of poetry, but you will be able to come down to the root cause of your feelings, which is the first step in your recentering and addressing what’s been bothering you.

The second thing you can do is to simply let go of anything you think might be holding you back and write a poem about it:

I let go…

and have paper accept everything you want to release: being that negative feelings like resentment and anger, to stuff, people and relationships you believe are not beneficial to you and your self-growth. Use this writing prompt as an opportunity for self-reflection and analyse what’s the excess in your life. Once you write that down it might even spark some inspired action where you further simplify your life – by letting out what you don’t need you make room for new, constructive experiences to enter your life.

And we all know that where our focus goes, that’s where our energy flows. We can use this in a positive way and instead of dwelling on what’s wrong with our life all the time we can take a look at what we have to appreciate.

I appreciate in my life…

and continue your poem about hings you love in your life. What makes your life remarkable, different, what you are grateful for? It is such an empowering motivation that shifts your mind and actions to be rather grateful for what you have instead of complaining about what’s missing.

We also as a human beings have tendency to be our worst and hardest self-critics. We have a habit of blaming ourselves for even situations that were not in our control and beyond our influence. Well, it’s time to step back and simply allow yourself to be a human being that makes mistakes, make wrong judgments and sometimes acts unaccordingly.

I forgive myself…

is a writing  prompt where you can pour your heart out and set your self free of any guilt, past decisions, choices you made and simply accept your quirky, unstable but beautiful nature.

And the last one is a sort of a bucket list:

I want…

Start your poem with these simple words and focus your thoughts on what you would like to attract more of in your life, what to experience. Don’t contemplate on why and how, but how it feels, indulge  all your senses and let your imagination do the rest. This is similar to visualize with words exercise, I recommended sometime ago, but here don’t play around with specific goals, but more with feelings you would like to invite in your life.

This writing prompt will further help you in your future decisions to have more patience with yourself, to be kind and gentle towards what you think is right for you. It will also help you sharpen your intuition and act from that deeper knowing what’s good for you instead of what’s right thing to do (according to other people opinions).

In the long run, we all strive to achieve that peace with ourselves and listening to our inner guidance is the only sure way to reach it.

How do you practice self-care? Please share in the comments below.


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Monetize your writing: 4 publishing contests you shouldn’t miss (no fees)

writing_contests_poetry

About year ago I published this post where I emphasized three creative, more alternative ways you can earn money as a poet. Well, what I left out are writing contests as they are more of a traditional way of monetizing your writing. Nevertheless, they are a great way for emerging poets/writers to get more recognition and practice working under deadlines with focus on a specific topic.

Below is list of 4 competitions/paying publishing opportunities that I think are worth your attention. Now, I haven’t included contests that require fees, as I don’t see them as much motivating. Also, many of the competitions have specific accent on age, gender, location and ext. so I tried to exclude those which are very restrictive.

Here’s my list:

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

This is 16th year that this contest exists. There are no fees required for you to enter – only to make them laugh🙂 If you like poetry and humor, this is the perfect combination for you. From August 15, 2016 until April 1, 2017 you can submit your published or unpublished work and enter run for one of the prizes:

“a first prize of $1,000 and a second prize of $250. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each. The top 12 entries will be published online. Length limit: 250 lines. No restrictions on age or country.”

Here’s the link where to submit: https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/wergle-flomp-humor-poetry-contest-free

Blue Mountain Arts hosts its twenty-ninth Biannual Poetry Card Contest

Deadline: December 31, 2016
1st prize: $300, 2nd prize: $150, 3rd prize: $50

In addition, the winning poems will be displayed on their website sps.com.

Here are the rules and guidelines:

“Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better.

We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write.

Poems are judged on the basis of originality and uniqueness.

English-language entries only, please.

Enter as often as you like!

Poetry Contest Rules

All entries must be the original creation of the submitting author. All rights to the entries must be owned by the author and shall remain the property of the author. The author gives permission to Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. to publish and display the entry on the Web (in electronic form only) if the entry is selected as a winner or finalist. Winners will be contacted within 45 days of the deadline date. Contest is open to everyone except employees of Blue Mountain Arts and their families. Void where prohibited.”

Complete the contest form here at http://www.sps.com/poetry/index.html

Platypus Press offers an opportunity for publishing contract

Here are the guidelines:

“For poetry, please send at least half of the complete manuscript.

For short story / essay collections, please send at least five stories.

For novels, please send the first three chapters.

We ask that no more than fifty percent of the manuscript be previously published.

Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please let us know if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

Authors will receive ongoing royalties whilst the book is in print, but we do not currently offer an advance.

Attach your manuscript as a PDF and include a short third-person bio with your submission (e.g. who you are, any other publications, etc.).

Please note:

For poetry, please don’t send rhyming poetry or translations.

For fiction and essays, we do not accept erotica, horror, religious material or fan fiction.

We are a very small company, but we aim to give you a response within a month. Please query if it has been longer.”

You can submit via email to: submissions@platypuspress.co.uk

The last but not least is a competition for best short stories. I know that many of us flirt and experiment with different writing genres, so some of you, poets, can find this appealing too.

Short Story Competition 2017

“For published and aspiring writers alike – enter our free annual short story competition and be in with a chance of winning a place on an Arvon residential writing course of your choice (worth £1,000), as well as seeing your story published on www.writersandartists.co.uk.

To enter, all you have to do is submit a short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words. And that’s it. Unlike previous years, there’s no theme for you to base your story on; all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website, the subject line of your email reads ‘W&A Short Story Competition 2017‘ and you send it to competition@bloomsbury.com.

The closing date for entries is midnight on Monday 13th February, 2017. The winner of the competition – along with two runners-up – will be announced on the blog pages of this site in March 2017.

Arvon run three historic writing houses in the UK, where published writers lead week-long residential courses. Covering a diverse range of genres, from poetry and fiction to screenwriting and comedy, Arvon courses have provided inspiration to thousands of people at all stages of their writing lives. Find out more and book a course online at www.arvon.org

Full details, terms and conditions for this contest you can find here.

So there you go, think of these competitions and give it a try – at least it will stir up your writing and keep your creative juices flowing.


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Poetry improves lives: a guest post by Dimple Singh

This is a guest post, a courtesy of a fellow poet Dimple Singh.

For many of us (like me) devotion to poetry started in high school a long with first teenage crushes – where poetry is seen as a vehicle for expressing and accepting those feelings. Here Dimple shares her story:

Poetry- The Dialect of Living Soul

Every human being faces a stage in his or her life when he or she fails to express his or her sentiments to the other person. Most of the times a person remains speechless to forbid giving irrelevant expressions. It is at that moment when a verse is used as a major tool to communicate with people. A poem is not only a collection of rhythmic words but it is also the dialect of a living soul. Where creatures fail to express themselves a poem reflects the depth of the authentic sentiments of an individual.

I’m one of those dedicated poets who attempts to bring out the profundity of any deliberation through my verses. I wrote my first masterpiece when I was ten years old child. Though I wrote it just casually, my work was applauded and well appreciated. It arose my self-assurance and I wrote more and more. Gradually it became one of my leisure pursuit. I used poetry not only as an instrument to convey myself but also to multiply the mirth of poetry in other people’s lives too. Instead of buying and gifting people expensive and branded presents I used to dedicate verses to my dear ones on their birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and many other special occasions. My rhymes were considered as the most precious offerings one would deliberately love to receive.

Many years passed by and as every year passed away my writing skills and curiosity and devotion towards poetry amplified.

The art of poetry made me a distinguishable person and today it’s not just a hobby but a major portion of my professional life. Poetry also assisted me to convey my amorous feelings to the person I love. When I was a sixteen years old teen I fell in love with one of my classmates. Most of the times I thought of letting him know what I felt for him but could not think of the best means to propose him. When all things appeared to fail I finally decided to express myself with a verse of mine. It was one of the most intricate but the best verse I think I ever wrote in my entire life since it was a direct link to my heart. I wrote the following verse for him:

Still and sinister hours of darkness,

With a faint flicker of optimism,

Walking by a forlorn lane,

Giddy slumber hauling me homewards.

 

Almost turned off from the sullen daylight,

I was about to leave when,

I was pulled by something imperceptible,

And within a fraction of second I lost my consciousness.

 

Further I went under hypnotism,

Shutting my eyes, to be lulled off to the charm,

Fantasy of the mesmerizing amour,

The perpetual lure of tenderness.

After tearing lots of writing I eventually wrote one and handed him over my writing the next day itself. I requested him to read it at home and reply as soon as possible. When I was at home I received a letter from a postman. When I opened it I was shaken by the words of the letter. He too replied with his self-written verse and this is how poetry played the role of cupid in my love life.

Hence, I consider poetry as the best device to disclose your inner-self and openly communicate to a huge mass of audience through your enchanting verses and spread awareness of those issues or happening that people fail to notice in their day to day lives.

Dimple Singh, is a student of Amity University, Noida. She is a second year undergraduate pursuing journalism. She is  keen and passionate writer and have a strong affinity towards creative writing, especially poetry. She believes in the strength of words and firmly want to make a difference in this world through her writings. You can find her at https://dimplebloomblog.wordpress.com


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6 life habits that allowed me to become a writer I always wanted to be

lifehabits_writing

I guess, ever since I entered my graduate studies, I was involved in some sort of writing: assignments, seminars – later came academic papers, books and presentations. But all that writing was somehow constrained – I had to obey certain rules, to follow procedures and satisfy requirements I was asked to. As all that can be fun and is a learning path – it lacked freedom. For me, becoming a writer I always wanted to be, means writing what I want, when I want, under my own terms – to share my experiences and have opportunity to contribute to larger community. And blogging is a fabulous way of doing that. Business in Rhyme really allowed me to explore topics I previously didn’t have time for or I didn’t know how to communicate. Finally I think I’m on the right track of becoming a writer I always strove to be deep in side with needed courage and strength to endure.

In the last seven yeas a lot of things changed in my life. Previously, in my home country I worked as University professor, and a business consultant, which led to being ‘stretched’ between my work with students, writing textbooks and doing research for projects.

Coming to the Netherlands brought a lot of challenges, meaning I didn’t know what I really wanted:  to teach, to do research or something else. In the meantime I kept my ongoing projects at the University. Along the way with my move and adjustments in the new country, first health issues appeared in the form of thyroid dysfunction and peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. I knew something has to change: to take life much easily, pay more attention to myself and what I really needed.

So my first change and habit I developed is

1.Always assessing my needs

When you from very active and vibrant person become someone who lacks energy, has a lot of pain and struggle with everyday activities, you start to ask yourself questions like:

How did I get here?

What went wrong?

What is it that I actually need?

In that process I started to remove anything that didn’t serve me anymore: clutter, habits, ‘stale’ relationships… I started to meditate, devote most of time to myself and nurturing my peace. I realized I didn’t want to live a hectic academic life I so ‘adored’ and was proud of. But there is so much more to life than being busy – like learning about your real needs, writing and reading poetry that earlier I didn’t have time for. And all those realizations culminated in this blog. Here I’m finally a writer always wanted to be: with no degrees, grades, awards – it’s just me,  pure me translated in words.

The second one is:

2. Cleaning my diet

The process of simplification I embarked on meant also evaluation of what I was putting in my system and how that has contributed to my conditions. I now eat so simply that my friends usually laugh at me🙂 But it means I’m pain free, medication free, and it takes less time to prepare my meals. Eating more fruits and leafy greens (in their raw state) brings clarity and patience you need in order for your creativity to flourish. Improving your digestion, sleep, energy levels – all that is vital to exploit your real creative potential.

3.Creating meaningful morning routine

I was always a morning person. I use that time to start my day with setting right attentions, with loose schedule so I can achieve desired outcome without stress. Doing some short exercises, meditation or yoga helps me refocus my thoughts and concentrate on the tasks ahead of me.

4.Reading more poetry

This is a habit I wish so many people acquire. Benefits of reading poetry are numerous, but fulfillment it brings to my inner self is immeasurable. Having that another lens to look at world is enjoyment and amazement I now need every day.

5.Enjoying solitude

I am quite individualistic when it comes to work and I’ve always enjoyed hours in solitude to sort my thoughts and figure things out. The same applies to my writing. Spending time ‘alone with myself’ enables me to have that internal conversation and dive deep in search for both answers and questions I explore further on paper.

6.Change of scenery

Whenever I’m confused or I don’t know how to articulate what I want to say, changing my environment helps a lot – being that going for a walk, short travels or vacations. All that contributes to inflow of fresh ideas, creative opportunities and stirs your imagination. Changing environment brings inevitably change of our perspective on things. Sometimes that is all you need to start/continue writing.

So this is my list of habits that helped me improve and devote more time to writing. I wholeheartedly encourage you to assess your needs and habits – look for space where you can devote more of your energy to writing and become a writer you always dreamed of.


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