Strange Throwback Thursday

Comic Stroll 2013

 

After nearly a six-year hiatus, I was excited to see a project that began with notes and sketches transform into a published comic strip. Even if it was a one-off. Even if I had to hand the responsibility of drawing each panel to someone else. It was done.

I had imagined that the creative non-fiction comic story I crafted would earn some interest. Maybe it would open a few doors to an audience. And allow me to write and illustrate. Even earn some money. Maybe I would quit my day job and provide for my household by doing something I loved. Telling stories. And drawing pictures.

That was five years ago.

A few weeks ago I found a box in the garage. It had several copies of a publication that printed my comic strip. I glanced over the pages and then placed them back into the box. I also found several books. Opened one book I remembered enjoying.

“What’s that?” asked one of the children.

“It’s a collection of comic strips.”

“Oh.”

I pulled a copy from the box and gave it to the child.

“There’s a story in there I wrote.” I said. “See if you can find it.”

The child took the copy of Comic Stroll and headed off to the couch in the living room.

I flipped through the pages of the book I had found. Read a few highlights.

Yeah, I resemble that, I thought to myself after reading a few lines at the end of the book. The author referenced a friend of his who gave up an art gig for a corporate job in order to provide for his family.

Yeah. I know what that is like.

How many comic pages might I have written and illustrated if I had. . . Well, what-ifs and might-have-beens are dangerous paths to pursue. What you did, great or small, is what matters.

Watching my progeny spend an afternoon reading comic strips I had a hand in creating was a pleasure.

NOTES:
Comic Stroll, a publication of the Southeast chapter of the National Cartoonist Society, featured a collection of previously unpublished comic strips. You can read the whole journey of what started in November 2005 as a couple drawings and became a creative non-fiction comic strip:
[1] Comics and Narrative Non-Fiction
[2] Comics and Narrative Non-Fiction Continued
[3] Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 3
[4] Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 4
[5] Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 5
[6] Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: UPDATE
[7] Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: UPDATE
[8] Strange Familiar Place comic series
[9] Strange Familiar Place returns
[10] The return of Strange Familiar Place to print

Confessions, or to repeat old habits

During the last month I reflected on things I wrote a decade ago. The original idea I had was to simply repost material as a Throwback Thursday blog post. But when I reviewed the writings from those halcyon days before the disruption of iPhones, social media, tweets and posts — I noticed something. The meaning was illusive. I am still pondering it.

The first blog post was about photography. The second was about a poetry reading. The third was about a published essay. The fourth blog post was to be about confessions. Each week I wanted to add nuance and/or context to the original piece. Or at least a different facet of the original. To see it from a different angle. But that week I wrote four different takes on a post time stamped August 23, 2007.

One draft continued after the manner of the previous confessions series. The second draft crafted a meditation on the form and function of the confessions. Another explored the definition. What does the word “confession” mean? And finally, there was a brief homage to the blogger who inspired the confessional series. Ten years ago, there were at least a dozen bloggers (writers, thinkers and artists) I read daily.

To write and post one (but not all) of these different perspectives seemed to me limited in scope and context. To post all seemed unfair to the reader — not to mention indulgent and esoteric. And so, I scrapped the plan. Missed the Thursday deadline. And reflected on a path forward.

And then, during that weekend, I discovered an old spiral notebook from. . . well. . . a long time ago. In those days, my small Southern rental house had no internet, television or air conditioning. The only computer technology I owned at the time was a Brother electric typewriter. The notebook exposed a habit, a pattern, of mine that I have not altered from in years.

The red spiral notebook contained three drafts of a letter to a family member. Each draft was a variance of the previous letter. Each draft removed or altered items regarding hopes, fears and dreams. And the final draft was never mailed. More than one writing teacher and mentor told me that I tend to censor my writing. To hide details. Hide intimacy. This may be the nature of men. It may be my upbringing in a religious household. A home that taught everyone will be accountable to God for every word spoken and written. But failed to offer that if God is sovereign, then he already knows every word and deed I will ever do in my life. And he chose to love me anyway. But I digress.

To post or not to post. To repeat old habits, or to start new ones.

Typewriter poetry and blogging — updated

Some days all you need

A poem for a friend composed on a manual typewriter

At least eight years ago, an old beat up manual typewriter provided a platform to compose poetry and other writings.1 It was an effort to return to an intentional practice of crafting poetry and prose without distraction of disruptive media.

For years and years, a notebook, journal or sketchbook was never far from reach. But one night after a long night of poetry and music at Beanstreets followed by an even longer time of coffee and conversation at Old Europe, a friend convinced me to try blogging.

Photo courtesy of @mxmulder

Sample journal page of poetry

The immediate response to blogging was infections.2 Connecting with people all over the country, sharing writing samples or books read and being part of an active digital community was exciting. And the feedback on written work was quick — sometimes within a couple days or hours. The practice of writing allowed me to hone the craft of creative writing and exposed me to other writers across the country. One of those bloggers actually showed up at a poetry gig I did. She was on a cross-country trip to visit friends and wanted to visit in real life.

Over time, I noticed that my practice of writing notes, daily sketches and other activities had all but disappeared. Relying on keyboards, display screens, hard drives and servers presented became a crutch. My writing drafts and sketches appeared deceptively crisp and final in neatly formatted text documents and web blog interface windows.

So, I pulled the plug. Returned to handwriting and typing as practice.3 Some friends and fellow poets saw a few samples of typewritten work and suggested I post it on my blog. It was a novelty. A curiosity. So, I did.

One of the first photographs of a poem I composed on a typewriter was written for a friend. It was posted about this time of year — in 2011.4 A few days later I followed up with another poem5 that was later read at poetry event where I and other poets were dubbed “the next generation” of Asheville poets.6

I do not claim to be the first person to post an image of a poem typed on a manual typewriter. But I noticed a trend in that direction about a year after posting those images of typed poem sketches.7 Not sure exactly if I started the trend. Probably not. Maybe other like-minded individuals who sought to return an organic practice of handwriting and typing as a mode of composing their visions and ideas.

After relocating to the southern boarder of the Great White North8, I continued using the manual typewriter as a mode of composing new work — both poetry and prose. Some of this was due to the original intent of the practice — crafting content without distraction of disruptive media. Some of the use of the manual typewriter was due to a period of time that I was without a functional laptop and no internet access. A local writers group saw a lot of typed first drafts from that manual typewriter. One of those typed drafts was later published as a short story.9

Most recent first drafts have all been handwritten if not typed on one — of now two — of the manual typewriters. Blogging. Well, that has atrophied. Maybe I’ll post some photos of typewritten drafts this year as a way to keep the blog active. But, to celebrate an eight year anniversary of analog writing — I’ll keep most of it offline and on paper.10

Keep your stick on the ice and remember to use the lowercase L key when typing the numeral one.

NOTES:
[1] In truth, I composed poems on an electric typewriter prior to that. Did it for decades. Did not own a personal computer until… well, that is another story.
[2] That was when there were a mere couple million web blogs in the world. Now, there are some platforms, like Tumblr, boasting 100 million blogs. The blogosphere has become quite congested.
[3] Examples of some the 30 poems in 30 days journal posts with photos: here, here and here.
[4] April 1, 2011, blog post.
[5] Poem: “Never Look A Doughnut Dealer in the Eyes”
[6] “Rhyme and reason” by Alli Marshall, Mountain Xpress, April 6, 2011. Accessed April 2, 2018. “https://mountainx.com/arts/art-news/040611rhyme-and-reason/”
[7] Examples include Typewriter Poetry (though it seems the web site has not been active since March 19, 2015), Remington Typewriter Poetry (this site too has become inactive with the last entry posted June 2016), and the most popular is Tyler Knott (though his web page has an archive going back to 2003 (which is odd because he uses Tumblr as a platform and Tumblr was launched in early 2007… maybe he migrated his content from some other source to Tumblr… but I digress) the posted images do not begin until 2012 (unless I am mistaken).
[8] A reference to Bob and Doug McKenzie, fictional brothers who hosted the show Great White North (a reference to Canada, aye). For sample episode view Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pPRaD6TKLc
[9] Left of the Lake published “Mortal Coil” in 2015. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2015/08/31/publication-of-mortal-coil/
[10] Original post published on April 21, 2015 https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2015/04/21/typewriter-poetry-and-blogging/

National Poetry Month

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It is April. The fourth month of the year. It is also National Poetry Month.

One question I receive from time to time is this: “Are you published?”

The answer is yes. See the bio page for a summary of publishing credits.

I will post photos of my published work throughout the month of April.

Another question I get from people who do not know that I might enjoy poetry is this: “What poetry books should I read?”

That question is more difficult. But I will attempt to compile a book list you may, or may not, appreciate.

Singular possessive or plural possessive

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Do people still diagram sentences?[1] Is writing still important in . . . read more ->

April – write 30 poems in 30 days

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It is April 15th. If you are participating in the 30 poems in 30 days challenge, than you are half way there!

Some of the results of the daily discipline of writing looks more like sketches rather than fully composed poems. Nothing yet looks like a Coleridge “Kubla Khan” or a Ginsberg “Howl” or even a Bashō haiku. A few sparkling lines, but a lot of raw material.

Fifteen days down. Fifteen to go.

And then the editing begins.

April – National Poetry Month

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It is no joke. It is April. And it is the beginning of National Poetry Month.

For poets and poetry fans, April is a special month-long celebration of poems and poets. For most of America, it is the beginning of baseball season.

One question that is asked of me when an individual learns that I compose lines poetry is this: “Are you published?”

The answer is yes.

Throughout the month of April I will post selections of my published work for your reading pleasure.

April is a good month to test your poetry writing skills. A few years ago I took up the challenge[1] to write 30 poems in 30 days.[2] You are invited to the challenge as well.

NOTES:
[1] 30 poems in 30 days challenge
[2] Write 30 poems in 30 days: a challenge

Interview: Caleb Beissert on Beautiful translations of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda

Reposting this interview. Enjoy!

Coffeehouse Junkie

Beautiful by Caleb Beissert Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator and musician. His published work appears in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review and Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009.

This week, Poetry at the Altamont celebrates the release of Caleb Beissert’s first book, Beautiful, a selection of poems by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca translated into English. During the last few weeks, Beautiful was well received by enthusiastic audiences at Montford Books & More and Malaprop’s Books & Cafe and is a Small Press Distribution best-seller.

The Altamont theater doors open at 7:00 P.M. for Poetry at the Altamont. Admission is $5 at the door. Beer and wine sold at the bar and lounge will remain open for drinks after the reading. Event link.

UPDATE: Caleb Beissert is the featured guest of the Coffee with the Poet Series, Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 a.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Event…

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Forthcoming publication – Mortal Coil

 

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Received notification earlier this month that a piece I wrote earned second place in a writing contest. It will be published in the August 2015 issue.

The contest judge is a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago. So, the acceptance of the prose piece submitted seems to have some merit. Or at least that is what I try to convince myself, because all month I have received notification of other submissions that have all been rejected.

Much gratitude goes to the members of the writers group that meets at the Graham Public Library who saw the first handwritten draft of the story. Their support has been amazing. And special thanks to novelist Justin Grimbol, for encouraging me in the craft of fiction.

How to write a book in 15 minutes

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“Give me I subject to write about,” I challenged the oldest kindlinger. It was lunch break and I was home for tea and toast.

After a few moments, the kidlinger offered a subject — a writing prompt, if you will.

DSCN3177webGrabbing a sheet of paper from the recycled bin, I feed the sheet into an old manual typewriter and began composing a manuscript on the spot. The kidlingers watched at a distance and then approached to watch the keys striking the paper. Their amusement fueled the writing and from time to time I would ask them for a color or word choice.

Within fifteen minutes I had composed a draft of a book custom tailored to the chosen subject. There is no trick here. No spell check. No slight of hand. No editing. And no kidding. Handmade mini-books are very easy to manufacture [see my post on the topic here]. Writing a handmade mini book may be more of a challenge. But for writers and parents, it is a lovely experience.

The oldest kidlinger was dubious of the handmade mini-book. The younger kidlinger was all smiles. Their mother read it aloud. The request to sign and date it was meet and the book was carefully examined by the kidlingers as I returned to the afternoon’s labors.