A Multiple Trick Pony?

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Are All Writers ‘One-Trick Ponies’?

Forgive me, but I quote:

“Okay, who is the better writer; Fredericton’s Roger Moore, or Britain’s JK Rowling? (Harry Potter fans aren’t allowed to vote!) Some would argue Ms. Rowling, because of the vast number of book sales she’s enjoyed. Others would argue—compellingly—Mr. Moore, because of the diversity of writing he’s excelled at. Ms. Rowling has written a brilliant fantasy series, as well as a fairly average murder mystery. Mr. Moore has written literary analysis, reams of poetry, fiction (flash and otherwise), essays, academia, non-fiction and much more.

Where am I going with this? Two things occur to me as I perform this ridiculous compare-&-contrast between these two fine writers. My first thought is it’s madness to compare two very different writers and think you’ll arrive at a valid conclusion. My second thought is one of wonder. Writing a book is hard work. Writing a series is really hard work! Writing a series in a certain subject matter, and then switching to a different genre or subject matter is, well, taking the challenge up another notch. I admire those who attempt it, and until now, I’ve wished them well as I plodded along on my one-track series.”

For the full article, click on …

http://allanhudson.blogspot.ca/search?updated-max=2017-02-11T07:22:00-04:00&max-results=7

Comment:

Thank you, Chuck. However, I would remind you all that April 1 is April Fool’s Day / Le Jour des Poissons d’Avril. I would have expected this to appear on April 1, before midday.

March 1 is St. David’s Day, Dewi Sant, the patron saint of Wales. I take the above quote with a large pinch of salt, thrown over the shoulder.

Meanwhile,  I am avoiding black cats, will not walk under ladders, will not walk in toadstool rings, and am not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk in spite of the frost and snow.

“For whether we last
the night or no,
I’m sure is only
touch and go.”

Dylan Thomas … a poet, and a very good one, from my own home town.

 

Titles: Wednesday Workshop

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Titles
Wednesday’s Workshop
02 November 2016

I am currently thinking and re-thinking the titles to my books.

Clearly, the title is of the utmost importance. The title should draw the reader in while offering some information on the content. Alas, my earlier titles did not do this.

Monkey Temple, for example, really doesn’t say much about what the book contains. Nor does its subtitle: A narrative fable for modern times. Those who have read poems from the book or who have heard me read excerpts from it, know what it is about. However, deep down the title really says little about the life and times of Monkey, the protagonist who works and suffers in the corporate Monkey Temple.

In similar fashion, Though Lovers Be Lost is a wonderful title, taken from Dylan Thomas, and illustrating his theory that “though lovers be lost, love shall not, and death shall have no dominion.” If readers have these lines on the tip of their tongues, as most people from Wales do, then they will have a fair idea about the contents of the book. However, without that intimate knowledge of one of the great Welsh poets … many readers will be lost and the title will lack meaning, check my post on Intertextuality.

Bistro is a collection of flash fiction. I am not sure that the title suggests that instead of a standard and expected table of contents the book has a menu that refers to the 34 pieces of flash fiction are contained within its pages. The pieces are so varied, rather like a meal of sashimi or sushi, that it is difficult to describe the contents (or menu) in such a short thing as the title. Does the one word, Bistro, draw the reader in? The cover picture might and the combination of title and picture and cover may go further. However, I have my reservations.

Empress of Ireland, on the other hand, is a book of poems about a specific event: the sinking of the Empress of Ireland  in the St. Lawrence River in May, 1914. Here, title and event are closely linked and hopefully the title is rather more indicative of the contents. Even here, as in the cases of the books mentioned previously, a brief description of the book is necessary.

Sun and Moon is a great title, provided you have lived in Oaxaca, Mexico, and know that Sun and Moon are the official symbols of the state of Oaxaca. Without that knowledge, the sub-title, Poems from Oaxaca, Mexico, is essential. The cover photograph with the state symbol of Sun and Moon is intriguing, but it is still necessary to read the description to find out what the book is about. Are title and sub-title enough in themselves? I’m still not sure.

Obsidian’s Edge is a tricky title. I thought everybody knew that obsidian is the shiny black glassy stone produced in volcanic areas. Further, I thought most people knew that the edge of obsidian is used in weapons and knives that cut. By extension, obsidian knives were used by the Aztecs and others in their human sacrifices … so much knowledge that is clear to the writer but unclear to the reader who may not realize that we all live at Obsidian’s Edge with the sacrifice of our own lives hanging by a thin thread on a daily basis. Oh dear, I have been to workshops and readings recently where people knew nothing about obsidian and its properties … my title gives so little information.

Land of Rocks and Saints has yet to be revised and rewritten. Few English readers will associate it with the old Spanish saying, Ávila: tierra de cantos y santos / Avila, Land of Rocks and Saints. The tragedy of living a life in more than one language is that the cultural knowledge so easily understood in one does not necessarily transfer readily into a second or third language. Some of my readers write me to say that they Google all these terms and learn a tremendous amount from the books. Alas, I have to improve my titles. I need to sharpen them and use them to draw my future readers in.

Ávila: cantos y santos y ciudad de la santa, the Spanish translation of Land of Rocks and Saints that I have just put up on Amazon / Kindle, is a better title. Avila is both the province and the capital city of the province. The rocks and saints are clearly linked to the name and the city itself is the city of the saint, St. Teresa of Avila, of course. Hopefully, this title, in Spanish, will attract some Spanish readers. I can only hope.

The book on which I am currently working was originally called Iberian Interludes and had no sub-title. In my revision, I am selecting poems about Spain from various earlier collections and placing them together in one large compendium. I have selected poems from two collections Iberian Interludes and In the Art Gallery (oh dear, I never mentioned that it was the Prado and that all the paintings could be found there). To these I have added a selection of individual poems either published in reviews and literary magazines or taken from other collections.

I am still working on a title for this collection, hence today’s post. I have rejected Iberian Interludes as too vague (how many of my potential readers know that Spain is Iberia) and I am now looking at a bold assertion: Spain. If I do this, I will need a sub-title. The evolution of the subtitle looks like this: Bull’s Blood and Bottled Sunshine, ¡Olé!  >  Bull’s Blood and Bottled SunBottled Sun and Bull’s Blood. I wonder if Spain: Bottled Sun and Bull’s Blood will be catchy enough. Will it draw readers in and attract them? There’s still time for me to think and re-think and all observations will be gratefully accepted.

By all means, let me know what you think.

Though Lovers Be Lost 4-7 /7

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“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas 

Though Lovers Be Lost
4-7 /7

4

Who carved my future
in each sliver of bone?

A scratch of the iron pen
jerks the puppet’s limbs
into prophesied motion.

Who mapped in runes
the ruins of this heart?

Above me,
a rag tag patch of cloud
drifts here and there,
shifting constantly;

like this body of water,
this flesh and blood
ship in which I sail.

5

Eye of the peacock,
can you touch
what I see when
I close my eyelids
down for the night?

Black rock of the midnight
sun, rolled up the sky,
when will you release me
from my daily bondage?

 Last night, the planet
quivered beneath my body
and I felt each footfall
of a transient god.

6

Thunder knocks
on the door of my dream
and I am afraid.

I no longer know my way
through night’s dark wood.

Who bore her body
out in that rush of rain?

Could she still sense
the sigh of wet grass?

 Could she still hear
the damp leaves whisper?

7

A finger of fog
trickles
a forgotten face
down the window.

The power of water,
of fire, of frost;
of wind, rain, snow,
and ice.

Night’s incoming tide:
stark waters.

Rising.

 

Though Lovers Be Lost 1-3 /7

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“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas 

Though Lovers Be Lost
1-3 /7

 1

Once,
you were a river,
flowing silver
beneath the moon.

 High tide
in the salt marsh:
your body filled
with shadow and light.

I dipped my hands
in dappled water.

2

Eagle with a shattered wing,
my heart batters
against bars of white bone.

Or am I a killdeer,
trailing broken-
winged promises
for a forgotten
god to snatch?

Gulls float downstream.
They ride a nightmare
of half-remembered ice.

Trapped in my cage of flame,
I turn my feathers to the sun.

 3

Awake,
I lie anchored by
what pale visions of moths
fluttering on the horizon?

A sail
flaps canvas wings
speeding me on my way
backwards into night.

 A feathered shadow
ghosts
fingers over my face.

 Night’s butterflies
stutter against
shuttered windows.

 Strange hands
reach out to grasp me
and once more I’m
afraid of the dark.

 

 

Suite Ste. Luce 11-14 /14

 

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“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas 

Suite Ste. Luce
11-14 / 14

11

The beach compacts
smaller and smaller.

The tide jostles
sand pipers
into a dwindling world:

this shrinking pocket
handkerchief
of sand.

12

Happy the kite’s face
with its child
dangling far below.

Kite bounces up and down
on a tight-rope of air.

Below it, the child
walking the beach,
nose to the wind,
obedience on a leash.

The kite wags
its long, bright tail.

13

When the mist thickens,
it closes a window in the sky.

The church on the headland
steps plainly into sight,
and fades again.

The old man wraps himself
in a cloak of rain.

Suddenly, the sun
drapes itself,
a golden sou’wester,
over his head.

14

Summer lies abandoned
under rain-soaked umbrellas.

Red bucket, bright blue spade.

Childhood,
cast away:
a pair of sandals
on this cold, damp sand.

Suite Ste. Luce 5-10 /14

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“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas 

Suite Ste. Luce
5-10 / 14

5

Early morning mist:

a shadow heron
clacks its beak
at a ring of mobbing gulls.

6

When the mist clears,
heron draws
his neck into a bow
and fires
the arrow of his beak
into a fish.

The gulls run wild,
clawing up the sky
on a ladder of sound.

7

Seagull:

a coat-hanger, hanging from
a blue sky-rail,

white wings braced
against the flow of air.

8

Herring gulls hovering,
white doves
round the old man’s head;

a halo
of clacking red-ringed beaks
livid against the sky.

Brazen voiced,
these peace doves,
mewling for their daily bread.

9

Black
cormorants pinning
their wings to dry
on the wind’s
rough cross-beams.

10

The dead crab,
alive an eye blink ago:

 body exit left
(with the black backed gull)

legs exeunt right
(with herring gull attendants).

Crowd scene:
a chorus
of crows-in-waiting.

 

 

Suite Ste. Luce 1-4 /14

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“Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
and Death shall have no Dominion.”
Dylan Thomas 

Suite Ste. Luce
1-4 / 14

 1

Black backed gulls,
nature’s alarm clocks,
waking the seaside
with their glaucous rattle.

High tide? Low tide?
We have drifted on our life raft
far from the grasping hands
of city clocks.

Gulls breakfast on the beach.
Day’s rhythm all at sea.

 2

6 am? 7 am? 8 am?
What do they mean?

The planet’s slow revolution?
This sun arc sketched in its stretch of sky?

Salt spray combing seaside fingers
through a young girl’s hair.

A man in a red boat, fishing.

3

Bare toes grip
damp wrinkled sand.

 Worms have written
runes in their arcane
wriggling script.

What do they tell us,
these secret messages?

Sunburned now,
the bare beach itches:
like tanned leather,
like salt on a fish skin
nailed drying to a frame.

4

The salt air drives its freshness,
needles knitting through my chest.

Slowed heartbeat of the dormant beach,
the tide’s blood flowing,
in and out,
inflating, deflating
the beach’s sandy lung.