Sunday, September 14, 2014

I did it at a grocery store

Tweak-tweak-tweak (not the same thing as twerk-twerk-twerk) is what I do when I write poetry. Mine is plain spoken, and it usually deals with real life. I was invited to read my work on Friday evening at Whole Foods Grocery in Town and Country, an upscale suburb of St. Louis. Acclaimed poet, Dwight Bittikofer is the curator, and I was honored he selected me.

I read several poems and one humorous essay. I left one of my most recent poems at home. I wrote it on vacation while the emotions were strong in my mind, but weak on paper. I kept trying to figure out how to portray a black roiling sky without using those words.

Started out like this as I sat on a balcony watching a storm brew over the ocean:
Cloud formations roil at midday and morph into black terror.
UGH! Too many words.

Then I tried this:
Puffy teddy bear clouds
morph into grizzly terror,
at midday, lightning rakes the noon darkness clawing terror...

UGH! I don't like the way it feels or sounds, so I will tweak it many more times before I decide to read it at an open mic.

There was quite a gathering at Whole Foods despite the gloomy and rainy weather. Here is the advertisement and promotion.

second friday notes presents poetry and music throughout the evening in the store's large cafe.  Music begins at 7pm, followed by poetry.  Food and drink available for purchase.  Open to the public.

Mazaré Rogers is a spoken word poet who hails from Durham, North Carolina. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill and has taught middle school English and Poetry Writing. Now, she is pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Covenant Seminary and performs her poetry at churches, conferences and concerts.   

Linda O'Connell is an award winning poet and essayist. She is a two time recipient of the Metro Arts in Transit poetry award. Her work appears in Mid River's Review, Grist Literary Journal, Flashquake, Mochila Review, Well Versed, Lucidity Poetry Journal, 22 Chicken Soup for the Soul books and more. She co-created Not Your Mother's Book...On Family. Linda blogs at

Music: Keyboardist, Bradley Ellebrecht is active in the St. Louis area as a professional pianist, composer, and educator.   He has a B.M. from Webster University and has played music in a variety of settings from church praise bands and choir accompanying to jazz and rock bands.

My take:

Mazare` a young, self confident and well spoken African American woman, refers to herself as a black woman. Her words grab listeners by the gut and twist. I experienced her work with all of my senses, and in addition, every time she engaged in word play, my brain zinged. I love when a writer can do that.

Brad, a hip, young musician transported me back to the French Quarter during last spring's jazz fest. His music is easy listening, mellow and moving, especially his own composed songs. WOW!

Linda, an old gal, stands at the lectern trying to suck in her gut, hide her double chin while gazing into the crowd. She writes from the heart and tells it like it is.

It was fun and enjoyable and I thank Sioux Roslawski, one of my critique partners and a multi published writer, and  Marcel Toussaint, a famous local poet, and everyone else for coming out to listen.

Favorite comment: "Your poetry is as strong as your prose."

Ten years ago I would not have been comfortable reading in front of strangers. My poetry and my presentations have improved because I practice, or tweak-tweak-tweak, also known as revising. Revision is such a big part of the writing process. Do you agree?

This is one of the poems I read.
published in Mom Writers (2008)
by Linda O'Connell
Chubby little legs stuffed like sausages in pink tights,
Itchy ruffled tu-tu cinched at waist.
She shuffles down the hall
Carrying her ballet slippers.

Takes the stage
In ruby red lipstick and grandma-rouged cheeks.
Bats her eyes, stomps her feet,
Twists, turns, twirls, swoops, sways and sings.

She pirouettes,
Spins further and further
Out of my orbit
Already on her way to independence.

One day she’ll dance on my heart
Shuffle-slide away and
Boogie all night long,
But for now, she’s my ballerina baby.


Tammy said...

Wow, do I ever love that! Your poetry is indeed as strong as your prose. To me, revision is the most important part of the writing process. Congratulations again on your reading!

Karen Lange said...

Congratulations on the event! Sounds like it was fun. Perhaps one day I'll see you headlining around here. :)

Val said...

Gosh. Maybe one day you'll bring your show on the road to a Save A Lot near me!

I love that poem. I agree that revision is vital. Every time I write something, I think it's perfect. Then the next day I see some major flaws. And the next day it needs tweaking. Unfortunately, my blog posts are a one-time effort. Time is of the essence.

Susan said...

Awwwwww, that was an adorable poem, Linda. You painted a great picture with words.

Congratulations on the poemtry reading invitation. You are getting famous! Susan

Daisy said...

Your poem is wonderful, Linda! It sounds like your reading was a big success.

K9friend said...

Congrats on being invited to read, Linda! Sounds like you had a wonderful event.

Read, revise, repeat...that's my mantra. Thus it takes me forever to get anything finished.

Critter Alley

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I could see my own daughter in her tights and yards of tulle. She wasn't all that great in her ballet shoes, but she killed it in her tap shoes. My baby girl, now so big. Thanks, I have had a strange emotional day.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Good morning Linda! Happy Monday :) loved the poem.

Bookie said...

This is an unusual place but it sounds like it went very well. You get so many good ops out there in the city! Glad for you.

Sioux said...

Everyone who was part of that evening had a wonderful time. Even those two toddlers (or perhaps ESPECIALLY those toddlers). It was a very balanced program. Some things to think about, some things to smile about, and some lovely music in-between...

Lisa Claro said...

Congrats on your reading. I've never actually done a reading, so I have no idea how I'd do. Stage fright would knock me flat, probably.

Your poem made me think of my daughter. She danced for years, until her knees started giving her trouble. She's been on her own for a number of years now, but I sure remember those ballet days you described so beautifully. Thanks for taking me back.

Janet, said...

I love that poem! And, yes, I edit, edit and edit some more.