The Writer's Round Table Writers helping Writers Compiled and contributed by Barbara Fitz Vroman and her assistant Patti Lewis July 2006 Edition www.barbarafitzvroman.com email@example.com Further format changes thanks to Marshall Cook First of all I would like to thank everyone who weighed in on the format changes. Some of you were pleased to read The Writers Round Table as it was originally. Others applauded the new format. Some found a few drawbacks. Marshall Cook, (alias “Coach”) is editor of The Creative Connection, a fine writer’s publication that I mentioned in our first issue. He is in the process of making The Creative Connection available on-line. For more info e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Creative Connection, in addition to invaluable writing insights, offers lots of chuckles and laughs in the margins. Hit control and click for an explanation of the new format... More on Poetry Foundation: Dorothy Terry Weighs In Last month Charles Ries and Norb Blei gave us two opposing, but both persuasive, views on how to get more recognition for the “street poets” in America who write understandable verse. The kind of poetry that could once more appeal to a wide population rather than only to erudite academics. I was very pleased to get the following letter from Dorothy Terry, who actually had lunch with the new president of The Poetry Foundation, a powerful organization that could bring changes. She presents yet another nuance to the dilemma. Dorothy takes some of the heat off Poetry Foundation President, John Barr, and offers hope for all the poets who would like a more even chance to get their words before an audience... (control and click) Spotlight on Dorothy Terry Upon my request Dorothy has allowed me to use some material I solicited from her on line. But I would like to put my own two cents in first. She mentioned in her letter about the Poetry Foundation that she loves humor in poetry, and her own work bristles with it...(control and click.) More--- Spotlight on Alan Voivod and Lani Voivod What's the Story Behind Lani, Allen, and Epiphanies, Inc.? (In the beginning (i.e. 1997), Allen bought a bunch of weird books at a Los Angeles bookstore, and Lani rung him up. Soon they started exchanging schmoopie love letters. One day one of these letters was typed to look like an official correspondence...(hit control and click) _____________ Updates from: Jerry Simmons, John Kremer, and Charles Reis Jerry Simmons is going to be on one of Rick Frishman’s teleseminars, which is big potatoes. Read about how you can be part of it and his tips, What Does it Take to Be Successful and The Seven Most Important Points for Writers. Jerry@writersreaders.com. If you are one of those writers who like to be given a topic to start you off, John Kremer offers a calendar of events to spark articles, essays and news items from your fertile brains. Consider just two, BIRTHDAY OF THE BIKINI and NATIONAL CRACKERJACK DAY. Don’t they bring a lot of fun or fond memories to mind? And of course his newsletter offers much more. Johnkremer@bookmarket.com. Charles Ries is a contributer to Laura Hird’s e-zine. He tells us that Laura is seeking submissions of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and more. Deadline is Sept.15, 06. She also accepts books for review. Contact her at www.laurahird.con. Thanks, Charles! Listen to the mustn,’ts child, Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, Then listen close to me, Anything can happen child Anything can be. Shel Silverstein.(more) Further format changes thanks to Marshall Cook Hi Barbara: This is a great time for me to be thinking about your online letter, Barbara, because I'm trying to develop an online format for Creativity Connection. I love your letter (and might just have to "borrow" the "kick in the pants" feature for fessing up to errors!). Here's a thought. Instead of creating jumps (stories that start on the main page but then jump to another link after a few paragraphs), would it be better to have a home page table of contents, with titles as hot links and a brief summary of the article? Then I could pick the articles I wanted to read and be able to read the whole article (and print it out) without having to jump. Marsh That sounds good to me, so Voila! we’re going to try it! With one difference. I’ve decided to run the entirety of the lead story on the first page of the newsletter. Much thanks Marshall, so glad to have your input. return to top More on Poetry Foundation: Dorothy Terry Weighs In Barbara: I have been remiss in telling you that I like your publication very much. I also have a "thing" about the academic poets. But I think that Poetry Foundation is aware of that, and is trying to correct it The new Poetry editor is certainly not publishing as many incomprehensible odes, which require a PHD in ancient history to decipher. I recently was able to attend a small luncheon at the Arts Club in Chicago with John Barr, the new Chairman of the Foundation, and voiced the frustration of the Invisible Poets, and the problems of rejection of much excellent work by almost all the leading poetry publications now, resulting in a waste of time because of all the different submission requirements. I also like the commentary in the new Poetry magazine, and specifically cited a hilarious review of the last poets convention, which since then I have likened to the annual Frozen Food conventions I attended for many years. They were just the same, breakout sessions, opening convocation, presentations, headlined inspirational speaker "Hello My Name Is" name badges, etc. This is true. I submit very infrequently now. I just do not have the time, and also I do not write "currently fashionable" poetry .I still love lyric poetry .I will never give up the music of the poem for bleak or incomprehensible verse. I also like humor in poetry. The Academic poets don't do much humor. The Poetry Foundation has a program to make poetry more accessible to the average person. This may never be possible, but it seems that to "sell": their product, they must encourage poetry that is in some way understandable. That does not mean they have to "dumb" it down. Just make it possible for more poetry lovers to understand. I think Mr. Barr was very agreeable and intelligent person. He is accessible, had a very successful career in business, and chose to spend the rest of his life helping poets and poetry. The mission is to make poetry more accessible. He is also a good poet, who has written an extremely humorous and perceptive poetry book called "Grace", and like most of us, has been pretty much unrecognized, .although he has written poetry all his life. I had no problem understanding his work. Dorothy Terry return to top SPOTLIGHT ON DOROTHY TERRY Upon my request Dorothy has allowed me to use some material I solicited from her on line. But I would like to put my own two cents in first. She mentioned in her letter about the Poetry Foundation that she loves humor in poetry, and her own work often bristles with it. It’s a different kind of humor and delightful. She’s a slender, very elegant woman, and so this core ability to find the ridiculous in situations and turn them into laughter, comes as something of a surprise. For instance, the story she wrote in my class which she mentions not being able to find, was about a cemetery and graves, not a subject you would think would have you holding your ribs from the pain of laughing. But it was that kind of story. Before I give you a summary of her life in her own words, I would like to share one of her perceptive and moving poems with you. She will probably be surprised that I still have it. (For more of Dorothy’s poetry see Norbert Blei’s latest Poetry Dispatch where Dorothy takes on the Devil.) The Poet’s Rules of Evidence Matter matters, or rather the use of it. Opening walls, laying surfaces bare cracks exposed. Prying clues from fissures, Poking through the leavings of life, Evidence distained, sometimes reclaimed, Strange bent shapes covered With the smokey sax of mystery, Venality revealed, musky scents of unopened boxes untied gifts, unwanted tokens, stories for storage, shoved in memories cupboard later to be spread out on your mother’s rose encrusted bedspread where--syllable by syllable word after word line following line you spill out the secrets of Life’s Layaways. Barbara, I began writing poetry with my own book at eight. My first and best poem was "I had a cat named White Face/ and other cats he used to chase/ but how he's old/ and growing cold/ and lies beside the fireplace." I did my Masters at Northwestern University in Interpretation of English Literature. working with Robert Breen the father of Chamber Theatre.. Frank Galati, the Chicago theatre guru recently said in Chicago Magazine that Breen, with whom he also studied , was his most important influence. I learned how to adapt literature for stage presentation. (I have gone back to that now and am working on a Readers' Theater Presentation of Hurrican, poems and prose I have written about the New Orleans disaster.) I had a full scholarship for my Masters, lived in Evanston and at the same time worked as production assistant at NBC in Chicago, during the days of the Chicago School of Television Later I was a network writer and assistant producer on several shows, including the original Marlin Perkins Zooparade. I returned to my involvement with the Muse seven years ago as the result of attending the Poetry Workshop at Newberry Library in Chicago, with Brooke Bergan, who is a continuing inspiration (I still attend her workshops ) and who is the editor of my book, "The Fantastical Travels of TSE " And, of course Norb Blei continually provides marvelous help and support. I spent the majority of my career working for Public Relations agencies in Chicago, handling food accounts and educational programs. During this time, I was fortunate to work for the best, most ethical and creative people in the business, the legendary Dan Edelman for seventeen years, Al Golin, and Tom Harris. As for now, Brooke Bergan is getting married in a week, and I am hosting a tea for her, as well as trying to handle a million other details of my crumbling life. I have more desk work now trying to get through the maze of personal and business mail I receive each day, each asking for some action from me. Last week, I went through endless sessions with computer problems. not to mention the business, which I operate with my good friend Eileen Ganz. I also last January, attended a wonderful master writing workshop in Telplotzan Mexico, called Under The Volcano, which I will attend again this year, and have to work up some stories or poems for that. (I have been trying vainly to find that story I did for your class about my mother and the funeral home .I think I could rework it for the workshop. they would love it, I think. I can find it nowhere...I just never write stories, but have started a memoir in poetic prose about my early days in West Virginia, which they like very much last year, called Curious Goods. My leaders are Grace Paley and Martin Espada, the poet Grace could not come last year due to illness, so I had Sandra Cisneros, who is just marvelous and continues to be a big help to me. Also, I am finishing two books, the Fantastical Travels of TSE, a fantasy journey by a poet, and Mt. Alban, a book of poetry about Oaxaca Mexico, and a verse drama, Hurricane, which consists of both poetry and prose and of course is about New Orleans, a city I visited often and love. return to top Spotlight on Alan Voivod and Lani Voivod What's the Story Behind Lani, Allen, and Epiphanies, Inc.? In the beginning (i.e. 1997), Allen bought a bunch of weird books at a Los Angeles bookstore, and Lani rung him up. Soon they started exchanging schmoopie love letters. One day one of these letters was typed to look like an official correspondence – and a fictitious company name appeared out of the blue. Time passed. Allen got an MBA, Lani took multimedia classes, and soon that same company name was engraved inside their wedding bands. Then Lani became the head writer for Barbie.com (the #1 girls' brand in the world!), Allen accepted the helm as Editor of DeadBrain.com ("America's Least Reliable News Source"), and little Joseph Allen was born. A year later, the family moved from the “Entertainment Capital of the World” to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. And on January 2, 2004, the "Live Free or Die" state officially incorporated a “creative content production” business bearing the same company name: Starbucks. Just kidding. It was Epiphanies, Inc. It was a good life. The demand for brand-friendly, highly-targeted Web content for corporations and small businesses was never in short supply. But after many years delivering the goods, the duo noticed three things: 1. Corporations and small businesses don't care as much about the stuff they put out to the world as a few select people who work for them do. 2. These unique, high-spirited people inevitably leave the cubicle lifestyle to pursue their own hearts, dreams, and vision. 3. That's when the magic happens. So Lani and Allen refocused their energies, determined to spend as much of their own time, talents, and expertise to embolden these plucky and gifted folks. Now everything they do is designed to help budding entrepreneurs and small biz dynamos "A-Ha Themselves" in fun and creative ways. And they do everything they can to walk the walk they're talkin': Allen's heading into his fourth year as Editor of DeadBrain.com, which won 21 Satire Awards in 2005. Lani teaches writing and creativity workshops, and publishes the Wild Quills Ezine, carefully crafted to "tickle your inner scribe or scribbler - write here, write now!" Wanna walk with 'em? Sign up for "The Inciter" ezine, or visit "The A-Ha! Blog" to check out their messy mojo in motion and play along as the adventure unfolds…(!) (Barbara’s note: Lani’s writing style is breezy, fun and succinct. She packs a lot of info into few words.) return to top Back Talk- Angie Huth and Barbara debate Julio short story In the Julio story, for those who did not read it in the June issue, a young writer spends his days writing superhero stuff. His friend who has some literary knowledge tries to get him to be aware of all the true drama that is around him, and to transform it into real literature. The young writer spends the day witnessing a dozen things that would lead to moving stories, but the next story he brings to his friend to read is about...a super hero. He still doesn’t “get it.” Angie didn’t share the author, Larry Moffit’s viewpoint.... Hi! Your new format for The Writer's Round Table works for me. A word, too, re: Larry Moffitt's short story: It reminded me that there are as many opinions in this world as there are people. Viva' la' difference! It produces change, change and more change. Thanks for all that you do for all of us. Angie Dear Angie. Yes, there are as many opinions as there are people. But his story applies to literary fiction. Tarzan and the Apes, The Wizard of Oz, Zane Grey, are all popular fiction that lived on in spite of not being considered literary at the time. Still I think Julio is a powerful story for those who aspire to literary short story writing. Norbert Blei has tried to pound this into my head for years, and I still mostly write imaginatively. So I sympathize with your remarks. Who decides if Batman and Spiderman are literature or not? Thanks for your message. Love, Barbara Barbara, are you saying that imaginative writing is not literary writing? If so, then literary fiction should probably be based on serious, intelligent true events. And if that is so, too, then literary fiction is really non-fiction. Help! Angie Angie, Literary fiction, Norbert tells me, is serious (or funny), intelligent true events that are transformed into art. Which in fact means that imaginative writing is in play so you got me. He says, 'the man in the story is not me, the woman in the story is not my wife.” The story nevertheless begins with the reality of his own marriage. In writing non-fiction one has to be very sure you got the facts straight. In fiction you can lie to tell the truth. Now I'm sure that's all as clear as mud. Do you read short stories, Angie, and if so what kind? Would love to open this up to discussion from other writers who took the time to read Julio. (more) One of the criteria for true literature has been that the work lives. Many popular authors who got all the money and all the kudos in their time, have passed into oblivion. Zola, Dickens, Hugo, Hemingway, Faulkner prevail because they captured the problems and humanity of their eras. They drew from real life, and as Norbert tells us, transformed their material into art. But as Angie made me stop to realize, a lot of what might be termed merely “popular” fiction has survived as well. I mentioned The Wizard of Oz, for instance. There is also The Little Prince, The Lion in the Cupboard, Peter Pan, and countless other tales that do not reflect real life in the same way a Tolstoy novel does.Yet beneath the disguise of fantasy and imagination they bring the same insights and visions as other serious literature. I have to admit I’ve been pretty snobby in regard to all the superhero movies. I have been heard to growl, “Don’t they make any ADULT movies anymore?” Yet recently I read a review by a Newsweek writer who confessed that he found the new Superman movie, deep, intricate and moving. Which he said surprised him, (as much as it surprised me). Now, I’d even like to see the film. I also have to admit that I loved WONDER WOMAN comics when I was a little girl. Writing that is mainly “entertainment” also has its place. On the other side of the ledger, I also recently read Rooted, by David Pichaske, which makes clear the distinction between pure literature and popular entertainment. Pichaske is a professor of literature at Southwest State University in Marshall, Wisconsin, and in this book he dissects and celebrates the work of seven midwest “writers of place,” Dave Etter, Norbert Blei, William Kloefkorn, Bill Holm, Linda Hasselstrom, and Jim Heymen. The first six may not be national household names, though they all have garnered important awards and other recognitions. The seventh, Jim Heymen, is evidently famous, though I had never heard of him. Famous because, as the purists would probably put it, he had “sold out” and used his beautiful gift of words to write sexy, adventure novels. The book tells us that eventually, soul-sick with his own bargain for fame and fortune, he returned to his roots in Michigan and began again to write the stories and words of his own people. All of us do know the difference between entertainment and literature when we read it. Yet in a sense ALL writing is hallowed, whether it’s the frilly Bridget Jones movie that makes us laugh for an evening, or a magnificent work like War and Peace. The world needs our words, writers. COMING IN AUGUST SCRAPINGS: ANOTHER PLACE TO SUBMIT ANDY BYERS: THE RULE OF TWELVE INFO FROM TERRY KOHL ABOUT SUSAN HARROW REVIEW AND COMMENT ON : WHIT and ORPHA: THEY DANCED ALL NIGHT.