Saturday, July 26, 2014

FOOTSTEPS

Yesterday we took an afternoon excursion to The Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. It's a nature preserve and historical site that never fails to fill my heart with magic. Along it's many winding and natural paths you can see flowers, little cottages and lush plantings that remind me of a primordial forest.


















That trip, as well as reading Stampington Company's new publication "Bella Grace" inspired me to take photos from which to get inspiration for poems and art pieces. I take pictures of events for fun but never considered it as an art form I would be any good at. I need a lot of practice--but I can learn and in the meantime what photos I take can prompt poems and artistic ways to display them.

For my first attempt I am using this photo. I never understood the obsession I see on blogs of people taking photos of their feet, but I tried it and wrote a poem to go with it. I want to take the two and combine them in a scrapbook style art piece that I'll share here when it's done.




curve of stones
leads into the woods,
I follow
unknown directions
hoping
around the bend
that traces a field of 
Queen Annes' lace,
my heart waits
to sing me home
to show me what passions
sleep in my future
one step
   one step
       one curve of stones
closer to my dreams





copyright by Renee Howard Cassese 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

WINE AND POETRY

On Sunday July 20 I had the pleasure of doing a book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island. It opened with a sprinkle of rain but then the clouds drifted by and the sunshine prevailed. Amid brilliantly green grapevines, beautiful roses and with the scent of wines kissing the air I enjoyed the company of family and friends. 

Here a few photos to share the day. Hoping to see more of friends and family at my next event.



Also, notice my license plate. I am the POETESSA and will share many more poems and pieces of art with all my blog readers. I will also be sharing information on how making poems and art can help you grow and to share research that shows the therapeutic magic of poetry, art and journaling.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

POETRY MATTERS



Over the past two weeks I've seen several articles in newspapers and magazines asking the question "Does poetry matter?" Facebook posts have shared links to these discourses that either slam down or hike up this ancient form of writing and communication.

"Does poetry matter?" 
Well of course it matters. Maybe I'm more or less of a reliable source on that belief being a poet myself. I wouldn't ridicule this mode of expression and communication since I use it most often for myself and even have a book of poetry out in the world to share the thoughts and feelings that emerge when poems are formed in blue or purple ink.

Poetry reaches to the soul. It's a way in as well as a way out. Reading poems, with their stark and magical images and lyrical, musical lines, tucks emotions deeply under the heart. The messages seem to bypass the linear thought process and go straight to the center. A poem can buoy you up when you're down and comfort and still you when you are stressed or over excited.

Writing poems is a whole other dimension that allows the poet to negotiate the long winding labyrinth of the soul. Along the circular path of poetry the poet finds solace and freedom of expression that can be found no place else. When life seems dark and unmanageable writing poetry can carve a doorway to sunnier times. And when life is filled with joy and beauty writing poems allows the poet to share that wonderfulness with the world.

Poetry--reading and writing it--is used in many therapeutic settings. I have sent my poems into the world to be read and loved or hated but not everyone needs to do that. For the clandestine poet who hides her verses in locked diaries or closed drawers, poetry can be a way to heal. It's why I have come to the conclusion I want to share this gift with others.

I intend to teach journal writing workshops but want to incorporate into each lesson a poetry component as well as an art component. For those who can't find the words they need to enter their soul there are always images. If you can't draw you can cut and paste images from magazines. And when all else fails you can play some music that reflects your mood and just spread paint across paper in abstract designs that express what dwells in your heart at that moment.

So when asked if poetry matters, I shout a loud YES!! because it matters to me, it matters to other poets and it matters to the many troubled souls who read and write poems in order to re-emerge in the world as a whole person, complete and confident and ready to move to the next step.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Saturday, July 19, 2014

POETRY IN MOTION

When I say Poetry in Motion I mean my poetry and my poetic life are in motion. Dropping off copies of my books, going to poetry open mics and having book signings are all part of the promotion package and I love doing it.

You can find my book "I am My Mother's Only Poem"

at this link for Book Revue




But, though I love doing all of this, I need to get back to writing because that is my first passion. And of course art. I am learning about many new avenues for poetry and art and I want to follow them all. If Robert Frost talks about a road not taken, what I see are many roads I have never taken before but that I wish to explore now as I enter what I consider the next and most creative phase of my life.

Off on the journey and hope you will travel with me.


copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

Friday, July 18, 2014

AUTHOR FOR REAL



 How exciting!!!

I just dropped one copy  of each of my books off at the Walt Whitman Birthplace to be placed for sale in their gift shop. Then I went to the Book Revue in Huntington where they took six copies of the poetry book to be displayed for sale in their Local and Independent Authors Program! My books are now really for sale in brick and mortar book stores.

All that work has paid off and I am beginning to focus my future a bit more. Poetry is definitely my choice in terms of writing. And here's a picture of my new license plate to prove it!




I need to have art in my life as well so I am working toward incorporating my poems into my art but also narrowing that down to haiku and tanka poems to be made into art. 

As for my retirement years--well much more to figure out first, but when the time comes a big part of what I want to do is teach journal writing classes with a focus on poetry and art journaling. As a certified journal instructor from the Center for Journal Therapy, I will follow the Journal to the Self workshop program adding art and poetry to each lesson. It will be great fun to create and great fun to teach!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

POETIC JOURNEY


This has been an interesting week. I met the other night with a friend who clued me into a newsletter that announces poetry events on Long Island and in NYC. I never knew there was so much poetic energy right here where I live. I'll definitely have to seek these out and meet some more poets.

Today I am going to a poetry workshop and reading at Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington where I can network and get to know other local poets. So looking forward to it and to next weekend's book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.


Yesterday I was happy to have taken the day off. I typed up all the poems I have so far for my new collection, "Ripe Peaches." I know it will take some time to put this one together and I want to send it to small presses rather than self publishing so I have to keep up a steady flow of new poems. Today's workshop should generate a few. I have a class with Lorraine Mejia online and that is producing some new work too.

Melanie Faith is teaching a class at www.wow-womenonwriting.com that focuses on writing about nature. Not sure if I want to take it because I need to focus on poetry and this class incorporates other genres as well. I'll see. It's always hard for me to resist taking a new class.

At the end of the month I am starting a class through the Center for Journal Therapy on the poetry of Mary Oliver and I know that will stimulate the poetic juices.

What a great summer of writing--poetry--and discovery!!

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese

BIRTH OF A POETESS

I have loved poetry since I was two years old and heard my first nursery rhyme while sitting on my mother's lap as she read from the pale green first volume of "My Book House Books" series.



I imagine I was even younger but memory slims as the years speed by. I know I was entranced by the musicality of rhythm and rhyme and the flow of descriptive and emotional words as my mother spoke them, and later as I recited them again and again from memory. It wasn't long after that when I picked up a lemon yellow number 2 pencil and began to scribble swirls, curves and straight lines across blank papers.

I came to love the sound of language and the look of words on the page as my scribbles slowly transmuted into letters, words, sentences and eventually poetic verses.

Once I was able to read by myself I discovered the treasures that sleep in the pages of books lined up back to back, exposing their titled spines to my hungry eyes. I read these rhymes over and over and then progressed to other volumes as they increased in reading/age levels and the stories became more intricate and interesting.

The thought that I could write my own poems was a gift of magic and I created little booklets of rhymes. When I went to the bank with my mother I would collect stacks of deposit and withdrawal slips to pen my poems on and clip them together in what I later learned were called chapbooks. I added little illustrations made with Crayola crayons or Venus Paradise colored pencils.

When I discovered Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" I think my heart stopped for an instant of complete rapture.



Over the years the activity of writing poems came and went. Sometimes edged aside by summers spent at the pool or digging in my father's gardens in the backyard. Then in the cold of snowy Long Island winters I reverted to the indoor splendor of crafting poetry.

My cutesy little rhymes gave way in adolescence to more angst ridden free verse poems and the poems I wrote in college made me sound far more depressed than I ever was in real life. Now in my sixties my poems are almost all free verse, with some little detours into haiku and tanka, and they focus outward onto nature and how each tiny seed or magenta colored blossom or furry brown chipmunk is a symbol for some universal truth or belief.

Poetry --both reading and writing it-- is a steadfast companion. I get lost in the lines whether those I write or when reading the lines of other poets. I will share all of this with you on this blog and hope you'll come along for this fantastical voyage.

For now here's a new poem for you.

inside this blade of grass
one drop of last night's rain
emerges on my tongue
when I split the green skin



copyright by Renee Howard Cassese