Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

Interview from the archives with Jay Parini, Biographer, Poet, Novelist and Essayist. Author of The Passages of H.M. Since we spoke, Jay Parini has published Jesus: The Human Face of God.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to describe any changes you see happening in the weather outside your window.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Excerpt of The Passages of H.M. read with permission from Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

 

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Interview from the archives with Upper Valley poet Carol Westberg, author of the new collection, Slipstream.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a shuttle ride.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Archive Interview from 2010 with Poet and Story Writer Nance Van Winckel, author of the poetry collection No Starling, published by University of Washington Press.

This week’s Write The Book prompt is to write about a nice stay in a terrible hotel, or a terrible stay in a nice hotel.
Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Poet and prose writer Barbara Henning, whose latest book is A Swift Passage, published by Quale Press.

This week’s Write The Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Barbara Henning. She told me that she has used this at the start of a new class, to help her students ground themselves. The prompt is called “FROM HAIKU TO PROSE” - Go for a walk (or remember a walk) and write down everything you see. Then write three haiku using words from your notes. Try to make each haiku a sentence. Haiku celebrate the ever-transforming universe by describing two actions in a single moment in time, an epiphany as the writer becomes aware of reality by observing something simple, striking and absolutely ordinary. Don't worry about syllable count; instead for each haiku, write one short line, one longer line and another short line. The world turns, the seasons change, everything is moving. See if you can get a sense of the season into your haiku and shy away from metaphors, abstract ideas, generalizations and statements about the writer's feelings; stick with things in movement. Haiku do not lecture on ideas about truth, goodness and beauty. They ARE truth and beauty. Here are two haiku, the first by Basho and the second by Richard Wright.

The peasant’s child,
husking rice, stops
and gazes at the moon.

A thin mangy dog
Curls up to sleep in the dust
Of a moonlit road.

Now tell the story of your walk and embed these haiku as sentences into your prose. If you consider your life a journey, every event that takes place is part of that journey, every action a part of another action. Even these momentary observations are small actions. Instead of breaking for the lined poem, let them flow right into the prose as sentences. In this way, you will have a poetic rhythm in your flash fiction or prose poem. You can use this same technique as a regular journal exercise or as a way to begin a story or a poem.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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Award-winning Vermont poet Daniel Lusk, whose latest book is Kin, published by Wind Ridge Books of Vermont.

This week I have two Write The Book Prompts, both offered by my guest, Daniel Lusk. The first is prompted by what’s been happening all around us: 

After the ice storm, what do you wish might happen when the sun comes out?

And another, especially apt for the New Year: 

Make a list of questions to which you do not know the answer. Maybe the list is your poem. Maybe one of the questions will warrant further unraveling or provocative guesses in response.

Good luck with these exercises, and please listen next week for another. 

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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Irish-born Vermont writer of poetry and prose, Angela Patten. Her new book is High Tea at a Low Table, published by Wind Ridge Books of Vermont.

This week’s Write The Book Prompt was generously shared by my guest, Angela Patten. Write a non-fiction essay or short story that begins, "The moment seemed to go on forever..."

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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1) Vermont author Susan Katz Saitoh, whose book Encounter With Japan: An Adventure In Love chronicles her mother's trip to Japan, over 50 years ago, to meet her pen pal.

2) The second WTB Book Chat with Claire Benedict, of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. Claire talks about The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt; Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; A Tale For The Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki; My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante ; A.S.A Harrison's The Silent Wife; and Richard Russo's Elsewhere.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my first guest, Susan Katz Saitoh: Write a story that is true but sounds like it's not true, or a story that is not true but sounds like it is true. A Japanese mime and storyteller from Massachusetts gave that as an exercise during the only storytelling workshop Susan ever attended.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Award-winning Vermont poet Neil Shepard, whose latest book,(T)ravel/Un(t)ravel, was published by MidList Press.

This week I have four Write The Book Prompts to offer, thanks to Neil Shepard's generous suggestions. The first focuses on poetic identity.

1. Select at least six (6) items from the choices below and mix them into an Identity Poem that reveals who you are (or some disguise of you, or some totally fictional you). Add whatever other language you need to patch the disparate parts of the poem together. Here’s the list:

  • briefly describe a significant or recurring dream
  • what is your totemic animal, and why;
  • which element (earth, air, fire, water) are you, and why
  • borrow a phrase from a famous poem that fits your identity
  • use a guide book on flowers, trees, birds, or stars to discover a few natural objects that correspond to your identity
  • feed your full name into an anagram scrambler and select a few phrases that seem to describe you
  • what truths do you live by (be specific)
  • what lies do you live by (be specific)
  • if you could be anybody who has lived on this earth, who would it be
  • if you could be a fly on a wall, where would you like to land
  • if you could be a ghost, who would you like to haunt
  • what is your secret power and your secret weakness (other than kryptonite)

2. The second prompt that Neil Shepard suggested focuses on sentence rhythms: Write a prose paragraph or a poetic stanza whose sentences try to imitate the rhythm of one of the following activities:

  • a couple having sex
  • a truck driver riding a big-rig across the Great Plains
  • a machine operating in a factory
  • a religious sermon
  • a ping-pong match
  • a rollercoaster ride
  • a sky-dive
  • an interrogation scene (either at a police station or in a courtroom)

3. The third prompt is for dreamers: Write a poem based on a few of your dreams that still don’t make sense to you. Try to pluck out the most arresting images from those dreams. Then insert them in a poem about some “normal“ domestic activity such as shopping at the supermarket, swimming laps at the pool, studying for an exam, flossing your teeth, or cleaning your room. The cognitive dissonance between dream image and daily activity should create the surreality of the poem.

4. This last prompt is for writers bored with "the self": The poet Phillip Levine has said about the autobiographical impulse: “Why would we want to write about ourselves, if we can imagine and write about anybody else in history?”  For this exercise, adopt a historical figure – someone decidedly not you – who lived at least 100 years ago. Research the person, the historical period, the dramatic events central to the poem you will write, and then write the poem from this person’s perspective and voice. Remember to make the poem vivid and externalized – don’t create an abstract monologue that neglects references to the time, place, characters, and events of this historical period. (It helps to imagine a dramatic moment in time.)

So there you go, four prompts from Neil Shepard. Good luck with these exercises, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Interviews highlighting three local groups that are making the Burlington area writing community much richer: The Burlington Writers' Workshop (Peter Biello), The Renegade Writers' Collective (Angela Palm and Jessica Hendry Nelson), and The Writers' Barn (Lin Stone and Daniel Lusk).

Today I have two Write The Book Prompts. The first is to write about two interactions between lifelong friends: the first time they meet, and the last time they meet. Limit each scene to a page, but try to intimate a whole friendship into those two pages, letting us know who these people are, how they eventually influence each other, how important they become in each other's lives.

Today's second prompt was suggested by my guest, the poet Daniel Lusk. It's a prompt he used recently in the poetry group at the Writers Barn: Write a poem with a red dress in it.
Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another.


Music credits
: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Poet Jenny Mary Brown, Editor-in-Chief of New South, Georgia State University’s journal of art and literature.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jenny Mary Brown. It's a prompt that was, in turn, suggested to her by her friend, the poet Christine Swint.

Choose a poem by one of the great old poets and type it into your computer. After you've typed it, go line by line and respond with your own original line. Delete the old poem's lines as you go. This is a useful process to learn someone's rhythms. Christine did it once with one of Roethke's greenhouse poems, one where he is on top of the greenhouse. Her poem ended up being about looking down at something from a great height.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Vermont Poet Laureate Sydney Lea, whose tenth collection of poems, I Was Thinking of Beauty, is now available from Four Way Books. Skyhorse Publishing has just published A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife. This interview is also available to watch, thanks to production by RETN, the Regional Educational Technology Network in Burlington, VT.


Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a poem that involves a recollection of an old friend, and a reaction to the natural world.
Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.


Music credits
: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Interview with poet Leslie Ullman.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write a story, a scene, or a poem that includes the words thump, pummel, stovetop and egg yolk.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Best-selling author of fiction, essays and memoir, Anne Lamott. We discussed Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son.

Following the interview with Anne Lamott, a partial rebroadcast from 2008, with the poet David Budbill.

As we continue to enjoy National Poetry Month, this week's Write The Book Prompt is another poetry exercise. It's inspired by the work of my first guest, Anne Lamott, whose book, Some Assembly Required, has to do with becoming a grandparent. So this week, write a poem about grandparents. Being a grandparent, having a grandparent, or whatever else this prompt might inspire for you.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a former Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School graduates).

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Barbara Buckman Strasko, first Poet Laureate of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and 2009 River of Words Teacher of the Year. Her new book is Graffiti in Braille, published by Word Press.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Barbara Buckman Strasko, who says this is an amalgam of various exercises she's found helpful in the past. The prompt helps to access otherwise subconscious thoughts, feelings, and ideas, which is so valuable when when we're writing poetry. Take notes about or answer the following questions. Barbara says it's best to consider each question individually, without looking ahead at the next one. You can then use your notes to write a poem. Or if you're lucky, the poem will form itself!

  • What have you lost ?
  • What have you found?
  • What do you remember?
  • What did you forget?
  • Where do you think what you lost is?
  • If you had what you lost, what would your words taste like?
  • If you had what you lost, what would your name not sound like?

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a former Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School graduates).

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The Reverend Gary Kowalski, author of bestselling books on animals, nature, history and spirituality. We discuss two of his latest: Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom For Anyone Who Has Ever Lost A Pet and Blessings of the Animals.

During the interview, Gary recited the poem, The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry. Unfortunately, due to licensing concerns, I can't air Gary's recitation. But you can find the poem here.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by advice that Gary Kowalski offers in his book, Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom For Anyone Who Has Ever Lost A Pet. This is a quote from the book:

I usually counsel those who are grieving to employ the power of words by writing a eulogy for the one they love. The term itself means "good words," for a eulogy attempts to sum up the qualities that made another person memorable and worthy of our care. In the case of an animal, a eulogy could take the form of a letter, a poem, or a memoir that reflects on the traits that made that creature most endearing or stamped it with a special personality.

This week's prompt, then, is to write a eulogy. It can be in remembrance of a pet, or of a person. It can even be a fictional or poetic eulogy for a character you're writing about, an historical figure, someone you never met. After you've written it, follow Gary's advice and read it aloud. Particularly if you've written a eulogy for a person or creature you're truly grieving, reading the words aloud may help you more than you'd imagine.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a former Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School graduates).

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This week's show has two parts. First, an interview with Mohsin Hamid, author of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, published by Riverhead. And then a smorgasbord of interviews with journal editors with whom I spoke at the AWP Conference in Boston. I asked what they were looking for in submissions, or what news they had to share with writers. These are the journals whose booths I visited. You can visit their websites by clicking on any one: Hunger Mountain, Redivider, Agni, Hotel Amerika, Columbia Poetry Review, Story South, Cave Wall, Ninth Letter, The Mom EggAdanna Literary Journal, Sonora ReviewSolstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices, Mid-American Review, Rathalla Review, Philadelphia Stories, Ploughshares, The Sun, Green Mountains Review, Memorious, New England Review, Florida Review, Barnstorm Literary Journal, The Cincinnati ReviewThe Baltimore Review, The Saint Ann's Review, iO, Triquarterly, The Missouri Review, and Upstreet.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write a story, poem, or essay in the second person.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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Singer, songwriter and poet/slam poet Mary Lambert and filmmaker and slam poet Rose McAleese, who’ll be performing at Radio Bean in Burlington on Saturday night. Here are links to their Bobby Sands performance (which I played at the start of the show) and the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis YouTube video of Same Love.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to perform your work in some way. If you feel confident to compete in a local slam, do that. Or read a poem or story at an open mic in your area. Or read one to a friend or group of friends. Maybe you'll find that your work, spoken aloud, affects you in a different way than it does on the page. You might hear things as you practice that inspire you to make changes. In any case, sharing your work with an audience gets it out into the world in a new way.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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Interview from the archives with award-winning poet Charles Harper Webb. We discussed his 2009 book (part of the Pitt Poetry Series), Shadow Ball. His next collection, What Things Are Made Of, will be published by Univeristy of Pittsburgh Press in February 2013.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about a terrible experience that, over time, becomes a cherished memory.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students).

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Rebroadcast of an interview with author Jim DeFilippi, whose latest book is Limerick Malfeasance, a collection of over two-hundred original limericks.

Lately, I'm interested in revision exercises. So this week's Write The Book Prompt is to flip to the middle of a project you're working on and read one page: any single page. Take notes. Try to divorce yourself from the rest of the content of the project, if it's a long one, and just focus on what you see happening on that one page. Look for mistakes, but perhaps more importantly, look for larger issues. Is your voice evident on the page? Is your narrator's voice in evidence? Are any characters who show up there behaving in a consistent manner with your ideas about how they should behave? Is the project's overarching purpose or vision in evidence on the page? Take notes, think about what you see right there in front of you, and see what ideas that might give you about what is or is not working with the piece as a whole. Maybe it will help. Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students, now alums).

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Award-winning Irish poet Greg Delanty, whose book, The Greek Anthology, Book XVII, comes out in December 2012 (Carcanet Press).

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Greg Delanty. When his students come in on the first day of a term, he'll ask, "How are your spirits?" They'll answer great or fine or good or bad... whatever. Then he'll ask them if they've seen their spirit.

"Where is it?" He'll ask. "Is it in your toe, or is it in your ear, or where? In your chest?" Generally, nobody has an answer. He then discusses "spirit" as an abstract word. Love and death and happiness and sadness are all abstract words for things that are, of course, much harder to pin down. In order to renew such a word or concept, an artist can physicalize it. As an example, he suggests students read "The Vacuum," by Howard Nemerov, in which a woman's soul is sucked up by the vacuum cleaner.

This week's prompt is to think in these terms about spirit, or love, or another hard-to-pin-down word or concept. Write about it in a poem and renew it by somehow physicalizing it.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another. Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band that existed briefly in 2008 and 2009, featuring several South Burlington High School students - now grads)

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2008 interview with Michael Collier, poet and director of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, which runs from August 15th through the 24th in 2012.

Today's Write The Book prompt is to pull out something you worked on awhile ago, but set aside. Give it another try.

Good luck with this prompt, and tune in next week for another!

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Award-winning Vermont poet Jane Shore., author of That Said: New and Collected Poems, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Jane Shore. Two books that she very much appreciates are I REMEMBER, by the poet Joe Brainard, and THE POETICS OF SPACE, by Gaston Bachelard. In I REMEMBER, Joe Brainard starts off every sentence with the words "I remember." He then fills out each sentence with a specific memory. Gaston Bachelard's book talks about the power that various spaces have.

In keeping with lessons she's learned from reading those books, Jane Shore offers the following writing exercise to students in her classes. Consider the house you lived in when you were maybe seven or eight, and mentally go through every room in the house: open every drawer, every closet. Consider all the clothes in the closet. Think about the bicycle, the dolls, the toys. In the kitchen, open the refrigerator, look at the name of the milk company printed on the milk carton. What kind of ice cream is in the freezer? What kind of leftovers are in the fridge? What is the surface of the kitchen table? What does the floor look like? When you lived there, did you have a special cup you drank out of? She goes through the entire house in great detail: think about your mother's perfume, your old Halloween costumes, parties that your parents had, how you celebrated birthdays. Let the memories of that place in which you lived help you recall other memories. Take notes as you go, mentally, from front hall to powder room to den. And as you go, write about the details you rediscover.  Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Award-winning Canadian author Douglas Glover, on his latest book: a collection of essays on writing, Attack of the Copula Spiders, published by Biblioasis.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write what Douglas Glover playfully calls "a but-construction." In his new book, ATTACK OF THE COPULA SPIDERS, he writes: "Imagine any simple declarative sentence, and add the word but to the end." The example Douglas offers is: "The barn was red, but..." Now keep writing. See what complexity you might be able to introduce to this sentence, or another of your own devising, simply by adding the word "but." As he explains in the book, "I wrote the word 'but' and then had to write something else; the blank space demands completeness. I had no idea what I might put in there before I wrote the words. The result is pure invention, discovery, and rather fun."

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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An interview from the archives with award-winning poet Clare Rossini.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today. Clare Rossini's poem "BIOLOGY LAB, ST. JOSEPH'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS" concerned just that, a biology class at a Catholic high school for girls. Your prompt for this week, then, is to take that inspiration as a point of departure. Choose a subject: math, biology, English, chemistry, gym, Spanish or French or Latin. Do you remember sitting in that classroom? What did it look like? What did the teacher act like? Who sat next to you - your best friend, or someone you didn't much like? Did the class inspire you? Did you look forward to it? Why or why not? Write a poem or a scene, using these memories as inspiration. Be sure to include sensory details in the piece. Try to write in such a way that the reader will know just what it felt like to sit, for example, in Mr. Wong's algebra class as he shot a rubber band at you after you misstated the quadratic formula.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont writer Martin Magoun, author of the poetry collection Shattered and a memoir in essays, Russian Roulette: Depression, Suicide, Medication (DRUGS), published by Wharf Rat Books.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest Martin Magoun. "Describe the girl with the far away eyes."

Good luck with this prompt, and please tune in next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Poetry class offered during the month of April as part of PoemCity! - Montpelier's celebration of National Poetry Month. The class, taught by Vermont poet and writing instructor, Michelle Demers, offered instruction in writing tanka, an ancient form of Japanese poetry.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is, of course, to write a tanka. During our class in April, one student who chose not to have his poems recorded for the show was Eric, a 13-year-old from Calais. Although he didn't really want to hear his voice on the radio, he did give me permission to pass along some good advice that he offered during the class, which feels appropriate for this week's prompt. In writing tanka poems during the class, he found that his second poem grew somewhat naturally out of the first, because he "wasn't thinking about it too much." The first poem he wrote was about a lake, and when he finished with it, he was inspired to write about a fish. This was excellent advice. "Not thinking too much" can be a big help in producing fresh, exciting poems and prose.

So this week, write a tanka. If you'd like to read a little more about the form before trying it out for yourself, you can check out the websites tankasocietyofamerica.com and tankaonline.com

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

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Executive Director of Montpelier Alive! Phayvanh Luekhamhan, Co-Creator of PoemCity, Montpelier's celebration of National Poetry Month.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Phayvanh Leukhanman. She got it from a workshop with the poet L. Oliver de la Paz, who called it the Rube Goldberg poem. Essentially, you should write a poem including words and ideas that seem, at first glance, disparate, unlikely. For example, in Phayvanh's PoemCity submission, she wrote a poem that had two references to her age, one reference to a bit of history, the inclusion of the words protractor and accordian, and a color which she set out to make "speak." Phayvanh's poem, created from this exercise, is posted in Montpelier City Hall this month.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Interview from the archives with short story writer and guitar builder, Creston Lea, author of the story collection Wild Punch, published by Turtle Point Press.

The last time I broadcast this interview with Creston Lea, I used his suggestion for a Write The Book Prompt, which was to eavesdrop on a conversation in a public place, and then use what you heard to write a scene with dialogue. This time, I'll recommend something slightly different, but also useful in writing dialogue. Using a digital recorder or a dictaphone, record a conversation between two people. Then transcribe the conversation exactly as it occurred. Keep all of their pauses and stutters and "ums" and repetitions. Now study a page of dialogue in a book. What might differ in the way that conversation actually sounds from the way that would best represent it on the page? What would you take out, what might you change or add? See if you can turn the conversation that you recorded into a scene that would be understandable--effortless for a reader to digest.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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David Wojahn, Award Winning (and Pulitzer Prize Nominated) Poet, Author of the New Collection WORLD TREE, part of the Pitt Poetry Series (University of Pittsburgh Press).  Part of this collection, a series called "Ochre," can also be found (along with photographs) at the Blackbird Online Literary Journal Website.

Today's Write The Book Prompt was offered by my guest, David Wojahn. This prompt works well with poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction alike. Write a piece about a family member meeting a famous person. It can be invented or authentic. This will naturally force you to take something personal and put it in a perspective that has to do with a wider public world.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont poet David Budbill, author of seven books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, and many more works. His latest book is Happy Life, published by Copper Canyon Press.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the work of today's guest, David Budbill. The following is one of David's new poems from Happy Life:

*

My Punishment

I get up before the sun,

make a fire in the woodstove,

boil water, make tea,

watch the dawn come.

Then I get back in bed,

under the quilt,

propped up on my pillows,

read a little, drink my tea

and stare out the window

at the snow coming down.

.

Oh, this lazybones life!

.

Others rush off to work while

I lie here in silence waiting for

a few words to come drifting

over from the Other Side.

No wonder I never make any money.

I am being punished

for having such a good time.

~ David Budbill

*

The prompt this week is to write a poem that conveys an aspect of your life that is joyful or pleasant, but also conveys the truth about an associated hardship.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Priscilla Long,  award-winning poet, prose writer and teacher. Seattle-based author of The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life.

For this week's Write the Book Prompt, I'll offer two exercises in writing voice from Priscilla Long's book on craft, The Writer's Portable Mentor. To practice capturing voices you know well: spend fifteen minutes writing a bitter complaint in your own most colloquial voice. A second exercise is to spend five minutes writing beyond this opening: "My father always used to say..."

Many thanks to Priscilla for allowing me to suggest these exercises to you! Good luck with them, and please listen next week for another.

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Deborah Fennell, President of the League of Vermont Writers.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Deborah Fennell. The prompt COMBINES HER LOVES OF POETRY, PROSE, PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND WRITING. Go for a walk or a hike. As you're walking, say some words to yourself - whatever comes into your brain. Deb Fennell learned in a poetry workshop with Julia Shipley that we tend to walk in iambic pentameter. So this exercise tends to naturally bring out words in a memorable way. Be observant. When you get back inside, sit down and write at least 100 words, or for 10 minutes, whatever comes first. Don't worry about whether you're writing poetry or prose, just try to capture some of the words that came to you on your walk. Deb Fennell tries to always remember the first 8 words she'd been thinking about on her hike. If you can remember those, everything else begins to flow, helping you remember what you saw and thought about on your walk. Deb has done this in the city, and out in the woods on a trail. Because of the nature of our "iambic pentametric" strides, it's a productive way to access words in a creative way.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Geraldine Brooks, whose latest novel is Caleb's Crossing.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Geraldine Brooks. She keeps two poetry collections handy in her writing space, and opens them when she needs inspiration. The first is Palgrave's Golden Treasury, the second, the Norton Anthology of Poetry. Open to a random page, read a poem, and then write.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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Vermont writer Laban Carrick Hill, author of over thirty books, including the historical picture book, Dave the Potter, and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a nonprofit based in the Ghana and the US.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Laban Carrick Hill. He describes it as an exercise about transgression. Try to write a children's picture book from the POV of a young boy whose brother was tortured and murdered during Rendition at Guantanamo. Laban explains that this might be the least likely book that would ever be written, which is what makes a good prompt. Vermont writer Laban Carrick Hill, author of over thirty books, including the historical picture book, DAVE THE POTTER, and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a nonprofit based in the Ghana and the US.

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Vermont Poet Jody Gladding, author of Rooms and Their Airs, published by Milkweed Editions.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by Jody Gladding's poetry and her focus on the natural world. Go for a walk in an outdoor place of your choosing. It can be in your back yard, in the woods, on Church Street, in the parking lot at your local mall. Wherever you'd like. Bring along a notebook and record sounds, smells, sights. Be sure to record some detail of nature that you find in whichever environment you choose. And also record at least one detail that reflects man's influence on the surroundings you've chosen. Set your notes aside, but continue to consider what you saw and perhaps experienced on your walk. A day or two later, write a poem about your walk and try to include the details you noted.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Cathy Ostlere, Canadian Author of the memoir Lost and the recent YA novel in verse, Karma.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest Cathy Ostlere, whose new novel, Karma, is written in verse. Look through your creative writing file on the computer or in the bottom of your desk drawer and pull out an idea you've previously shelved, thinking it wouldn't amount to anything. Now look at it anew, and consider what might happen if you were to develop a certain character whose life or situation might be relevant to this idea by working in verse. You can try rhyming verse, or simply play with rhythms. See if something new comes out of that idea simply because you're playing with words in a different way.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Vermont author of fiction and poetry, William Lychack, whose latest book of short stories is The Architect of Flowers.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest William Lychack. He calls it AN EXPERIMENT IN SYNTAX:  THE NEGATIVE INVERSION. Choose a piece of writing that you particularly like or need to think about in some way. Rewrite the piece by copying down the opposite of each word in the excerpt (except, perhaps, for "little words" like articles and prepositions.) Since most words don't have exact opposites, the possibilities are endless, and that's the point. Here's an example that William Lychack provided, inspired by an excerpt from Emerson. Unfortunately, I don't believe I have the legal right to write out the Emerson excerpt here, on my podcast site. You can probably find it online, though. It begins "I dreamed that I floated at will in the great ether," and ends, "I ate the world."  [Emerson]

Here is William Lychack's Negative Inversion of the quote:

You awoke on the tiny tip of a pin, attached against your will, blind to all but that pinpoint of fire, a vast emptiness beneath these nightmares of a boy. Then a demon took you by the needle and carried you down and said, "Open your mouth." And you opened like a dark void. [Lychack]

Your poem or letter or postcard probably won't make much sense at first, but continue writing your negative inversion until you have your own draft. Work quickly on this first draft, letting your unconscious decide the antonyms. Now put the original away and see what you can make of your draft. Look for a sense of place, character, or subject to develop; cut out what you can't make work; alter details as much as you wish.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with author of poetry and prose Sydney Lea. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. - a new time for the new hour-long format.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt concerns setting. How can a writer describe setting in such a way that it informs readers about a character’s or narrator’s state of mind? Consider the following two excerpts from works by Sydney Lea:

From his essay, “Alone With Friends: A Journal Toward Springtime”

… Landy and I sat for a spell on the tailgate, staring at the clean dark that walked at a human pace up the mountains, feeling a flake or two of snow on our wrists and faces, noting a heron who came languidly flapping out of a back pond, roost-bound early.

From his poem, “The Author in March”

Remnant, rank corn snow

.   perspires like dirty dough.

What few drab birds there are

.   don’t fly up very far,

So hard do the clouds bear down.

.   Not much to this splotch of a town—

Flue smoke, smalltalk, clutter.

.   Last autumn’s leaves clog gutters

Here’s this week’s prompt. Imagine a place in a poem or story you’re writing or are thinking about writing. Using minimal description, make a list of several things—five or six details—that exist in that setting. Now rewrite the list, describing those same details as seen from the perspective of a character who is upset, frustrated or depressed. Then write the list one last time, describing these same things from the point of view of a character who is happy, optimistic or excited. Don’t change the actual details of place, but the lens through which they are viewed. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Charles Barasch, Poet and Crossword Puzzle Creator.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today with Charlie Barasch. If you enjoy crosswords, find a newspaper or website that offers puzzles that you particularly like, and solve that day's puzzle. If you don't enjoy crosswords, use an already-solved puzzle from previous days. In either case, take all the words from a solved crossword, and try to work them into a story, poem, chapter or essay.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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Interview with Award-Winning Poet Rick Jackson, winner of the Order of Freedom Medal for literary and humanitarian work in the Balkans.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you just heard with Rick Jackson, much of whose work centers on translation. I also must credit the site Numéro Cinq, from which I borrowed this exercise (from a similar one that Doug Glover posted last year). When I post this interview on the podcast site, I'll include in the description a paragraph written in Slovenian. Or, actually, written by Google Translate from a paragraph I wrote in English. Do not try to understand the words, and do not take them over to Google to see what they mean. Just study the foreign text-I presume most of you won't speak Slovenian-and let the words affect you as they will. Either translate them, not trying for actual meaning, but for the sense of something you felt as you looked at the words. Or take what you feel in studying them, and use your reaction as a jumping off point to new work.

To ni res pesem. To je točka pišem, da se odstavek v slovenščini, ponuditi pisno vajo govorijo angleško. Upam, da nihče ne bo prevedla to besedilo, ampak bo poskušala najti navdih v besedah, kljub svoji kar nima smisla, da večina Američanov. Morda bo nekaj besed pogled prepoznati ali vsaj kozarec ohlapno ideje domačnosti. Trava in ribnik in gorskih lahko podobne besede. Lepota. Ali pa bo morda besedo drevo, se zdi, kot naša beseda drevo. Ne vem. Ne govorim slovensko.

Good luck with this prompt and please tune in next week for another.

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Acclaimed Author of Poetry, Fiction and Creative Nonfiction, Rosellen Brown.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write from the perspective of someone you find in a news story. Read to learn about what's happening in the world, in the country, in your town. Find a story that interests you, familiarize yourself with all the details, and then write from the perspective of a person in that story. For example, how might you represent the perspective of the driver who whisked Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier from the airport to the Karibe hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti last night. Imagine this person's role in the unfolding events, and write from his or her perspective.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students).

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Novelist Colum McCann, author of Let The Great World Spin, Winner of the 2009 National Book Award.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Colum McCann. When I described this part of the show and asked if he had any prompts or advice to share, he said (and I quote):  "My prompt is: Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry ... Poetry." Then he added, "And learn from the masters. We get our voices from the voices of others. There's a sort of mitosis that goes on there. So listen to the great ones, imitate them, and develop your own voice."

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont Poet, Musician and Editor Ben Aleshire. Ben founded and edits the Vermont Literary Journal The Salon.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard today with Ben Aleshire. During our talk, Ben read his own "Autumn Poem" that featured, among other things, a stallion. He read another, "The Cock Fight," that featured roosters being set against one another in a cock fight. He also read "After Innocence," a poem by local writer Edie Rhoades that featured swans.

Read the following lines from those poems, maybe listen again to those parts of the interview. Then consider animals you've watched and how their beauty or grace, violence or playfulness might be represented on the page using specific detail and precise image. Now ... write!

.

.

The swans feed and come up

first the white rumps high over the water

black feet crabbed and kicking, then

duckweed draped in strings over their bills.

Symbols of grace and flight. The one pure white –

the adult male – I’ve seen him hiss and hunch his wings

stampede across the pond’s face heavy with rage.

This is what swans do.

.

~ From 'After Innocence' by Edie Rhoads

.

.

A different death. Blood, too - lots of it,

crusting in the sand with bits of feather

.

as the trainers clutch the birds to their hearts,

roosters shivering with muscles ready

.

to kill, their neck feathers

flaring out like cobra's hoods:

.

Chile y Blanco, Speckled and White –

.

~ From 'The Cockfight' by Ben Aleshire

.

.

black and shimmering

muscles popping his

nostrils flare his hot breath

streams out in violent puffs

like the barrel of a gun.

.

~ From 'Autumn Poem' by Ben Aleshire

.

.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont Poet Pamela Harrison, author of the new collection, Out of Silence.

This week's Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Pamela Harrison.  In her creative writing classes, she will sometimes ask students to read and study Archibald McLeash's Poem "Eleven," which captures a particular time in the intellectual and emotional life of an eleven year old boy. He is asked by the adults in his life to "think, think, think!" But he's not ready to think. He's still living deep inside his body. He hasn't arrived at his intellectual capacities yet and hasn't awakened to his separate self. The poem, says Pamela, beautifully captures that time in the life of a child.

Your prompt this week is to find the poem "Eleven" and read it. Look at each line as it develops. Then find or remember a place in your own life that was your hideaway, your safe place as a child, where you were most alive inside your body and where you had a sense of wholeness; then write. It's amazing, says Pamela, what this exercise inspires in her students.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

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Jon Turner, Vermont Veteran, Poet, Paper Maker and Warrior Writers Member.

This week, instead of a Write the Book Prompt, I'm going to refer you to the Warrior Writers' blogspot. There, alongside regular blog entries, you'll find weekly writing prompts, poetry forms, and occasional shared work.

Please listen next week when the Prompt will return.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Jay Parini, Biographer, Poet, Novelist and Essayist. Author of The Passages of H.M.

I'll leave this week's Write The Book Prompt in Jay Parini's exact words, just as you'll hear it when you listen to the interview:

If you're writing a poem, for example, it's important to have one deep image at the center of your poem. So, think of an image and really try to reinforce that image with concrete details. It works for prose as well, to begin with an image. See something. I always tell my students, in writing prose, if you're stuck, go through the senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, touch-the five senses. And try to make a gesture in the direction of each one of those senses.

Just describe a landscape. So I'm looking out the window. I say the autumn light slants across the field. I can smell the dry leaves with their mustiness. I can hear the leaves rattling. There's a cool breeze playing across my skin, which I can feel. I taste the slight acidity in the air.

And - boom - you've got a fall scene. So write for the senses and create images. Remember that an image is not just a picture but as Ezra Pound said, it's a kind of psychological and emotional complex, moving in time.

~ Jay Parini

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Excerpt of The Passages of H.M. read with permission from Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Richard Russo, Novelist, Pulitzer Prize Winner and Author of That Old Cape Magic.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the subject matter of Richard Russo's novel, That Old Cape Magic. Write about a childhood vacation. This can be a recollected vacation from when you were a child, or an imagined vacation seen through the eyes of a fictional child. As you write, focus on details of place.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Excerpt of That Old Cape Magic read with permission from Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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A Discussion Of Writers' Block with Angelique and Morella Devost, Hypnotherapists and Practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

This week we have two Write The Book Prompts, suggested by my guests. Morella and Angelique Devost. The first is the prompt you heard Angelique mention in the interview, to write about a "Fraught Drive in a Car." And the second is to consider the idea that Morella mentioned, What would you do if you could not fail? And then write with that sense of possibility.

Good luck with these exercises and please listen next week for another. And check out these articles, if you're interested in resources about the work that Morella and Angelique Devost do.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students)

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Upper Valley poet Carol Westberg, author of the new collection, Slipstream.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by the writing exercise you heard Carol Westberg describe on the show today. In her case, the exercise resulted in her poem, "Postcard from San Vitale." I'm going to read a list of eight words and suggest that you try to work them into a poem that's written in the form of a message to someone close to you, be it a lover, a relative, a friend, a neighbor. Here are the words: unscrupulous, hook, rhythm, pecan, thrum, peccadillo, downy, messenger.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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Howard Norman, award-winning novelist of The Northern Lights, The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and Devotion. His latest is What Is Left The Daughter.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by Howard Norman's work. At one point during our talk, he mentioned that the bifurcation of place in his novels creates multiple emotional counterpoints that appeal to him. As his characters move between two or more places, he as the author needs to reestablish their lives, or shift everything, and this can be interesting. He also said, "One doesn't sit around thinking about these things, except in ways that might be instructive." And so, to the extent that it might be instructive or interesting, your prompt this week is to consider introducing a second setting into your work. If you already have a storyline that takes place between two settings, study the work you've done and consider the ways in which you've created multiple counterpoints for your characters and their story. If your narrative takes place in a single setting, consider what might change for the work if you were to introduce a second place. It might not make sense, but think about it. See if this could create an interesting shift in your story, novel or prose poem.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School students.

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