Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's your genre?

Be careful of the labels you wear. I learned this lesson Sunday night. I read at a new and wonderful open mic venue, Hartford Coffee House. I read six of my poems. During the break, people came up to me and said, "I thought you wrote humorous and inspirational Chicken Soup essays. Wow! That was great. I didn't know you write poetry."

That is my fault, not theirs. That indicates to me that I need to visit more poetry reading venues to get my name out there. Establishing a platform doesn't have to mean niche writing. Podium, platform, table, wherever you can be heard, create a platform for your multi-genre writing. I have read at senior citizen meetings, bars, coffee houses. Have you considered reading at open mic events? At first it's unnerving, but after awhile your hands stop shaking and your papers stop vibrating :)

Matthew Freeman, local poet and anthologist hosted the event and sold his latest and greatest book,Flood Stage, an Anthology of Saint Louis Poets, by Walrus Publishing. No, my work isn't included among the well-known, because I have restricted my reading to mostly prose and hung the label, "essayist" on myself. Those in attendance now know I can write poetry. So maybe, just maybe, I will have a shot at the next anthology. Following is one of the poems I read.

Linda O’Connell
10/07 published in Sacred Fool’s Press


Spring intoxicates me with memories of a bygone era
When every day was a childish adventure for Dad,
and he ran with wanderlust
when the winds spoke to his Native American soul.
I was along for the ride.

Snake-like Route 66 hummed under my body.
In the back of Dad’s old panel truck
I lay on bare, blue and white ticking,
mattress buttons and little brother
poking my bony ribs.

Tallied white lines
and Guernsey’s grazing in pastures
as we headed nowhere, somewhere, anywhere
Dad’s rambling soul would take us.

With a dollar in his pocket and a dream in his heart,
the four winds tugged him hither and yon,
cast us into unknown towns where temporary day jobs, thrift stores
and restrooms with cold water sinks provided vacation basics.

Dad didn’t have a dollar to spare
or a dime’s worth of sense.
We lodged on the run;
my mattress a communal bed.

Mom wrapped herself in a comma
around Dad’s exclamation point limbs.
I snuggled in a fetal question mark,
my brother scrunched in a period at my feet.

Nowadays, when cherry blossoms blanket the ground,
Old Route 66 wraps me up in asphalt arms
snakes me down winding roads that lead to long ago.
I feel the hum and I must

What labels do you wear proudly?


Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

It's such a beautiful poem. Thanks for letting me revisit it.

Wow, you know Linda, even I now just realized that I had forgotten your poetry skills! I am sorry to confess that! Yes, yes, yes, get back out there--with this stuff! Perhaps you and I need to do a reading together.

Bookie said...

Linda, this is wonderful work. I think I like it the best of all you have shared with me!

As for the Christmas poetry, Country Magazine published a Christman poem this year and on letter from the editor in the same DEC issue, he asked readers to send theirs for next year. It is long shot for sure...

Susan said...

Hi Linda...Loved so many of the images in your poem. Good work! Susan

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Lovely poem. You are a multi-talented lady!

I, too, have felt the "platform" sting. I belong to GA Writers' Assoc. and sought a writers' group to join. The gal in charge gave me a name and number and said, "This is your niche. The memoir group." Huh? She knew me primarily for COC and CS; knew nothing of my horror stories or romance stories or newspaper articles, or that I also belong to SCWBI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Why must we "be" only one thing?

Okay...whew. That was long. Guess you hit a nerve. Best to say, follow your bliss, in every form and genre!

Unknown said...

What a lovely poem, such elegant and vivid images.
You are so talented.

Pat Wahler said...

All things aren't for all people, but I do think it stretches a writer to dabble in more than one genre.


Tammy said...

You gave me a lot to ponder in this post. Beautiful poetry. Those punctuation poses make me swoon! (I wasn't trying to be alliterative--it just happened!)

Linda O'Connell said...

You are all so kind to me. Thank you for your uplifting comments. I have a head cold that came on suddenly this afternoon, and I feel miserable right now, so it will be an early night.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--I agree with Bookie...This is the piece that swept me off my feet. I think you need to take off the "essayist" and stick on a "poet" label instead. (Just kidding.)

There were some incredibly powerful lines that might stand out more with a little bit of white space. Would you consider playing around with how it looks on paper?

"...a dime's worth of sense." Great line.

Lynn said...

Well I always knew you were more than just the Queen of Chicken :-) Really nice poetry.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Good for you, Linda! At first, I worried about chasing so many different writing dreams, but I had to go where the bliss led (or sometimes dragged me :). You have a ton of talent-share the wealth!

(P.S. Hope you feel better soon!)

Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks Sioux, Lynn, and Cathy. I appreciate your comments.

BECKY said...

Linda, I would've sworn I commented on this yesterday....Must've been one of those times that my computer kind of locked up and I meant to come back to it! Anyway....I, too, LOVED this...especially I think because of the Route 66 mention, etc. Reminded me of our drives to Iowa. And yeah, I haven't seen anything like this from you in...I don't think...ever!! (gotta say I loved it that I saw a couple of mentions of following or finding "bliss" in the comments!!) Hope you feel better soon, too. Nasty old colds!! Maybe you'll have another snow day tomorrow!