Why I Write Poetry: J.lynn Sheridan

A couple weeks ago, I posted about “Why I Write Poetry” and encouraged others to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences for future guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in. Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from J.lynn Sheridan.

J.lynn Sheridan writes in the Chain O’ Lakes of Northern Illinois in a very ordinary house, but she’d rather live in an old hardware store for the aroma, ambiance, and possibilities. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and literary journals, a few of which are: Beyond the Dark Room, Poetic Bloomings, Storm Cycle  2012 Of Sun and Sand, Three Minus One, Four and Twenty Literary Journal, The Plum Plum,  Garbanzo, Jellyfish Whispers, Mouse Tales Press, and Poetry Quarterly. She has just completed her first novel.

Find her at writingonthesun.wordpress.com, www.jlynnsheridan.com/, and www.theeditgate.com/.

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Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

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Why I Write Poetry: J.lynn Sheridan

J.lynn Sheridan

Someone once told me that my mind processes life in verse. I know exactly when that began.

In 1968, my father packed his wife and four kids into the (un-airconditioned) Buick for a West Coast road trip. From Chicago to the mountains, while the doldrums of endless miles of corn and soy and pavement streaked by, I hung my head out the open window and sang nonsensical songs, quiet and meek, making up lyrics and sending them along the wind for the next lonely little girl to hear and be heartened.

I was eight.

In a few days, I would be woken in the middle of the night just inches from a grizzly, his claws leaning atop our tent, the heat of his ponderous bulk penetrating every cell from my toes, up my spine. I was frozen, teeth chattering uncontrollably.

On the way home, I sang into the wind again. Not out of boredom this time, not as a choice, but to process what I couldn’t speak.

That was the year poetry became my friend. I had learned the key to emotional fortitude. I intuitively sang my poems to free my fear and endure.

It was the same year I picked up my brother’s old folk guitar and learned to play. My naïve poems, fraught with blunder, swayed in childlike prosody for the first time.

At ten, I wrote poetry, not as a choice but to endure the bewildering feelings after a rape attempt.

At fourteen, in school, I was chastised for daydreaming but I was too busy capturing poetry in my mind to care.

I had found my home inside words to process life:

“We Learn to Hate”

You said to love is
Right

And to hate is
Wrong

And our enemies we should
Love

And no one should we
Hate

But if we don’t learn to receive
Love

We learn to give
Hate.

As a poet, I live in a perpetual state of wonder and wander. I am a nomad yearning to package a thought or feeling or event into verse, to save it, to relive it, to share it. I think of poets as word photographers. But, a poet’s lens digs even deeper.

My poetry blog is titled Writing on the Sun. The title comes from Willa Cather’s novel, My Antoniá.

She describes a farm plow on a hill during the sunset:

“The sun was sinking just behind it. Magnified across the distance by the horizontal light, it stood out against the sun, was exactly contained within the circle of the disk, the handles, the tongue, the share, black against the molten red. There it was, heroic in size, a picture writing on the sun.”

To me, that describes a poem. An impression appears, like the flash of a camera, it is there but for a moment and I cannot let it go.

Writing poetry is not a choice; it’s innate. It enters our souls and cannot hide in silence forever.

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If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with a 300-500 word personal essay that shares why you write poetry. It can be serious, happy, sad, silly–whatever poetry means for you. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.

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Find more poetic posts here:

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The post Why I Write Poetry: J.lynn Sheridan appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/write-poetry-j-lynn-sheridan

How I Got My Agent: Debut Novelist Diksha Basu

As I finished my MFA at Columbia University, I ventured out into the world armed with a manuscript and prepared to search for an agent. The world of query letters and agent research is daunting and exhausting, and after just a few rejections, I was quickly giving up hope.


This guest post is by Diksha Basu. Basu is a writer and occasional actor. Originally from New Delhi, India, she holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and now divides her time between New York City and Mumbai.

Her debut novel, THE WINDFALL, is now available wherever books are sold.


Instead of completely surrendering, I decided to ask for help from faculty members who knew my work well. I had taken a few classes with David Ebershoff and I emailed him asking for advice. David immediately replied with a list of agents he thought would like my work and suggested I query them specifically.

I did and I was fortunate enough to get more than one offer for representation. The offers followed similar patterns—an editorial note with an offer to continue the conversation on the phone. Then, after a long and useful call, an in-person meeting—either over lunch or in an office.

At this point, when I had more than one offer, I asked a published writer friend for advice and she said to pick an agent who didn’t intimidate me. As I tend to do, I ignored the well-meaning advice completely and picked the agent who intimidated me the most, and I am so glad I did. Adam Eaglin at the Elyse Cheney Agency intimidated me enough that I knew I wouldn’t miss deadlines. Of course that wasn’t the only criterion. Right from our first email interactions, Adam also seemed to really understand my work: he was supportive while also being critical when necessary, and his feedback transformed how I saw my book.

Over the next two years, I worked closely with him to turn my collection of stories into a novel. Adam is a very involved agent who patiently reads drafts and responds with detailed editorial feedback. In addition to his editorial role, Adam seems to know how to handle my personality well while giving me feedback—he knows when I’m starting to fade and need encouragement.

It’s been almost three years now that I’ve been working with him and he’s become a friend along the way, in addition to being my agent. Although, come to think of it, I don’t hear him call me a friend quite as often as I do.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.


Freese-HeadshotIf you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at cris.freese@fwmedia.com.

 

 

The post How I Got My Agent: Debut Novelist Diksha Basu appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/got-agent-debut-novelist-diksha-basu

Handling the Risqué Parts of Writing Romance

I’m a Sardinian-Brit author born and bred in London. When it comes to food and all things family I am a thoroughbred Sardinian; I over feed and am fiercely protective. I love a table heaving with people and conversations zapping at oblique interjections across vats of homemade pasta and farm fresh cheese.


This guest post is by Sara Alexander. Alexander graduated from Hampstead School in London and went on to attend the University of Bristol, graduating with a BA hons. in Theater, Film & TV. She followed on to complete her graduate diploma in acting from Drama Studio London. She has worked extensively in the theatre, film, and television industries, including roles in much loved productions such as Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Dr. Who, and Franco Zeffirelli’s Sparrow. UNDER A SARDINIAN SKY is her first novel.


When it comes to matters of a more intimate nature, my British upbringing rears its ever so polite head. Approaching the explicit scenes in my novel, Under a Sardinian Sky, took some work. I had to stop myself circumnavigating the more graphic content. Neither are Sardinians known for their demonstrative natures, nor are they particularly open about sex and the rudimentary mechanics of it. They sing about lost loves—passionate, ancient songs that are featured in the book, which are an important part of the culture. This acapella music is performed by male choirs. Their deep voices never fail to bring me to tears at about measure two.

I remember sending a chapter by my agent for some incisive feedback. I won’t pretend I’d hidden in a Sardinian cave emerging with a written masterpiece in hand. I won’t forget my agent’s direct advice: Be more explicit. When it came to the sex scenes, I first grasped at every flowery word in the book. I baulked at describing the scene with plain honesty. I was so fearful of descending into smutty porn that I threw myself in a weak direction. Some weeks later, tangled with words and possibilities, I realized readers would rejoice in the lovers consummating their feelings if I was open about how the main character was feeling too. I tried to strip down the language so that their physical interaction was not over layered. When the focus shifts inwards—on the characters’ feelings—that was my chance to expand toward the more poetic.

I didn’t shirk explicit scenes. The pivot for a love story is complicit intimacy between two people. I don’t think there’s anything sexier on the planet than the quiet centre of passion, that peaceful nothingness, the silence within the spark, a place where the bodies cease to be only physical, but become a gateway into sensations beyond our frame. You can roll your eyes at my flight of fancy (many do, especially the more pragmatic in my circle), but when tackling the deep interaction between two people, their emotional states must lift them and the readers.

When my husband read the more explicit scenes he was surprised at how openly I had dealt with them. He felt a twinge of embarrassment at the idea of his mother reading it, or her contemporaries (other octogenarians). This preceded a passionate debate about the notion of female sexuality as a quiet act of subversion on some bizarre level; the opposite of the appearance a woman upholds, within a small town, say, or at a certain age. An idea that makes me want to shout and weep.

My story is about a woman growing into herself. A woman’s developing sexuality over the course of her life, the time she devotes to getting to know herself, whilst becoming freer in expressing that with a partner(s), is something I’m a passionate advocate of. It was important to describe my character, Carmela, growing in this way.

Stripping the writing down to the bare minimum has a strong impact in scenes of a less pleasurable nature. When sex becomes an act of aggression, I made a conscious choice to use very plain language. In this way the act speaks volumes, rather than the narrator. I wanted to place the scene before the readers and allow them to feel the horror of the situation without becoming over bearing with language.

It’s such a fine line to tight rope, in a romantic story, when describing sexual encounters. In Under a Sardinian Sky, these scenes are the apex of the love story. Without a depiction, which allows the readers to indulge in the same feelings and physical sensations as the characters, there’s no longer a story, in my opinion. It was a challenge to tread that narrow strait between porn and romance. I did not want to be opaque, evasive, make their passion a fairy tale of the intensity the characters feel for one another, nor did I want it to be titillating for its own sake.

Once I had discovered a gentle, but honest midpoint between the two, I felt free to explore and unfold the scenes. I recorded the audiobook, and I can say I’ve never felt quite so bare before a stranger. I sat alone in a small recording studio, with a male engineer on the other side of the glass. If my British-Sardinian boundaries had not been pushed till then, they were bludgeoned at this point. Beyond the smart of embarrassment (I hadn’t envisaged me ever reading out a sex scene I had created in front of a stranger), there was the tingle of liberation.

To sweep these things under the carpet in a romantic story would weaken the power that draws people to one another. And if the intimate descriptions focus on the deepest levels of the character’s connection to one another, not only on describing body parts and what they do, but how they change the other person in some way, then I think explicit scenes have enormous power. It’s a writer’s duty to delve into the deepest crevices (almost no pun intended) of their characters. Then it’s up to the readers to decide if they will fall in love with them too.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.


Freese-HeadshotIf you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at cris.freese@fwmedia.com.

 

The post Handling the Risqué Parts of Writing Romance appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/handling-risque-parts-writing-romance

IELTS test in India – June 2017 (Academic Module)

Our friend E took an Academic IELTS exam in India and remembered the following Writing and Speaking questions:

Writing testIELTS test in India

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given two bar charts showing the percentage of smokers among teenage boys and girls in a European country between 1995 and 2005. We had to summarize and compare the data.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

In some countries many parents are interested in home schooling and the trend is gaining popularity. Do the advantages of this outweigh disadvantages?

Speaking test

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What subject are you studying?
– Why do you think people choose such a subject in your country?
– Do you like reading books?
– What type of books do you read?
– Are you reading a book presently?
– Do you listen to music?
– Who is your favourite pop star?
– Do you like to listen to them live or on recordings?
– What is the difference in your opinion?

Cue Card

Describe a comedy TV series that you watch. Please say

– What TV series is it?
– Who are the main characters there?
– Describe an interesting event from the series.

Discussion

– Do you think TV has an influence on us?
– Is it a positive one? Why?
– Is there a difference between older and younger people’s choice of TV programs?
– Why do you think TV series are famous around the world?
– What makes them more or less popular?

Related posts:

  1. IELTS test in Hyderabad, India – January 2017 (Academic Module) Thanks to S who took the IELTS test in Hyderabad…
  2. IELTS test in Malaysia – June 2016 (Academic Module) Our friend A took the IELTS test in Malaysia and…
  3. IELTS Speaking test in India – March 2017 When A took IELTS in India he was asked the…
  4. IELTS test in India – May 2017 (Academic Module) When H took the IELTS test in India she was…
  5. IELTS Speaking test in India – June 2017 An IELTS test taker from India (thanks, M!) remembered the…


from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-test-in-india-june-2017-academic-module/

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Curtal Sonnet

I should be able to share some recent challenge winners soon, but there’s no reason we can’t jump into the next WD Poetic Form Challenge–this time for the curtal sonnet!

Find the rules for writing curtal sonnets here. Just when you think it’s safe to assume all sonnets have 14 lines along comes the curtal sonnet.

So start writing them and sharing here on the blog (this specific post) for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Challenge is free. No entry fee.
  • The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
  • Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on July 31, 2017.
  • Poets can enter as many curtal sonnets as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better, but remember: I’m judging on quality, not quantity.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new curtal sonnet. They’re fun to write; I promise.
  • I will only consider poems shared in the comments below. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
  • Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your user/screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
  • Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!

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Order the Poet’s Market!

The 2017 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, includes hundreds of poetry markets, including listings for poetry publications, publishers, contests, and more! With names, contact information, and submission tips, poets can find the right markets for their poetry and achieve more publication success than ever before.

In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on WritersMarket.com. All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff. He’s also the author of the poetry collection Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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The post WD Poetic Form Challenge: Curtal Sonnet appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wd-poetic-form-challenge-curtal-sonnet

Agent Spotlight: Shaheen Qureshi of Capital Talent Agencyghu

Reminder: This agent spotlight features Shaheen Qureshi of Capital Talent Agencyghu. Remember, newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is likely building his or her client list.

About Shaheen: I have worked in publishing and editing for the past five years. As the former managing editor of Tadween Publishing, a Middle East academic press, I facilitated the publication of a political cartoon book and a collection of interviews with Iraqi activists. Before being promoted as literary agent, I assisted Capital Talent Agency’s senior literary agent Cynthia Kane with reading and editing manuscripts. I also teach writing workshops and volunteer in public schools in Washington, DC as a writing mentor and tutor. I received my B.A. at Bard College where I was awarded the Wilton Moore Lockwood prize in creative writing, and have published poetry in Bard Papers and Sukoon Magazine. As a growing literary agency in Washington, CTA will provide me with a strong platform to represent authors, and I’m looking forward to getting to work on behalf of interesting writers and their works.

She is Seeking: literary fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on historical fiction and narrative nonfiction, as well as memoirs, cookbooks, and graphic novels. I am particularly interested in character-driven stories that give voice to the underrepresented and marginalized. Books that challenge the status quo and examine race, class, food, gender, colonialism, or history in a new light always grab my attention.

How to Submit: Submissions should be sent to literary.submissions@capitaltalentagency.com. We accept submissions only by e-mail. We do not accept queries via postal mail or fax. For fiction and nonfiction submissions, send a query letter in the body of your e-mail. Attachments will not be opened. Please note that while we consider each query seriously, we are unable to respond to all of them. We endeavor to respond within six weeks to projects that interest us.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.


Freese-HeadshotIf you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at cris.freese@fwmedia.com.

 

 

The post Agent Spotlight: Shaheen Qureshi of Capital Talent Agencyghu appeared first on WritersDigest.com.

from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/agent-spotlight-shaheen-qureshi-capital-talent-agencyghu

IELTS Speaking test in India – June 2017

When A took the IELTS Speaking test in India she was asked the following questions:

Speaking testIELTS test in India

Interview

– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– What is the best thing about your work?
– Do you like reading magazines?
– Do you think young people like reading magazines?
– What do you prefer to read, magazines or comics?
– Do you like reading books?
– What kind of books do you prefer?

Cue Card

Describe an occasion when you have seen a lot of people happy and smiling. Please say

– When and where was it?
– Who was there with you?
– How did you feel about it?

Discussion

– Why do you think people smile?
– Why do you think people smile on photographs?
– Why do you think people of older generation don’t smile on pictures?
– When shouldn’t we show our emotions? Why?
– Do you think girls or boys smile more often?
– Why do you think it is so?

Related posts:

  1. IELTS Speaking test in India – June 2017 An IELTS test taker from India (thanks N!) remembered the…
  2. IELTS Speaking test in India – December 2016 Our friend R was asked the following questions in his…
  3. IELTS Speaking test in India – June 2017 An IELTS test taker from India (thanks, M!) remembered the…
  4. IELTS Speaking test in India – March 2017 Our friend C took IELTS in India and remembered the…
  5. IELTS Speaking test in India – May 2017 Our friend R took the IELTS Speaking test in India…


from IELTS-Blog http://www.ielts-blog.com/recent-ielts-exams/ielts-speaking-test-in-india-june-2017-3/