The Road Not Taken

By Susan Wagner

My first experience with analyzing poetry came in my eighth-grade English class. One of the poems we discussed was “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. I clearly remember writing about how choices define a life – heady stuff for a young teen.

Flash forward to a recent day when this memory popped into my head during my journal writing. So, naturally, I do what millions of other people do – I jump immediately onto the internet. I justify this interruption of journal time with the thought that it would be interesting to see how I feel about the poem now and how that would compare to what my younger self believed.

By phone, I visit the Poetry Foundation website to read the poem. The site is easy to use and also gives you short author biographies. I read the poem and I discover it has a Poem Guide, written by Katherine Robinson. I read that too. Continue reading “The Road Not Taken”

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Want to Know a Secret?

By Anne K. Kaler

“I’d tell you my secrets but then I’d have to kill you.”

                While the above may be a hackneyed phrase from a spy novel, I’ve discovered a sneaky way to reveal secrets while avoiding the “killing” part. My secret about secrets – write them out in fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry.

Take fiction, for example.  Writing your secret is easy when you can disguise it as your creative imagination or sudden insight into the nature of a character.  Who among us is going to challenge you when your writing seems to dwell on mass murders, global epidemics, or the loss of chocolate in the world?  Other writers enjoy your fantasies and think them clever.  They may even envy you without recognizing your secret any more than their readers recognize their own well-kept secrets.

Pshaw! Under every tale lies a truth which the writer has experienced or, at least, hoped to experience  –  some lesson learned the hard way, some  humiliating moment, some sly wished-for revenge.  Writers have long claimed innocence by burying the body of a secret in their story plots. Think about that.

Such disposal of secrets, however well hidden, can be excavated later by literary researchers in the biography of an author.  Non-fiction can also be a fertile burying ground for the secrets of others to be exhumed and exposed to a secret-loving audience.  It is much easier to see flaws in others than we can admit to in our own lives. Shakespeare saw this in Mark Anthony’s response to Caesar’s death –

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

 – Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2

 

Because poetry lays bare the bones of human frailty, good poetry, perhaps, is the truest guide to revealing private secrets.  In its simplicity, the poetic impulse brushes aside fiction’s feeble disguises to lament the inadequacy of mere words to express the weight of secrets.

Poetry best unveils the suffering human soul.  When poetry is added to music, the intensity of emotion felt is increased.  For an example, read Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” and then listen to it put to music.  Or read the Psalm “The Lord is my Shepherd” and then listen to a choir sing one of its musical versions.  Notice the different intensities.

Still, some secrets lie too deep in our hearts and brains ever to be shared.  Those are best recorded in journals which remain private.  Remember the fable of the man who was told a secret by his king but was forbidden to reveal it.  He had to run out into the garden, dig a hole, and shout the secret down into the earth, lest he let it slip through his lips.

Use your good judgment with your secrets in journals and diaries. Arrange to have your journals burnt upon your death.  Do not, as happened to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, have your secret poems buried with you, only to have your husband dig up your grave to retrieve them.  Too gauche and Victorian.

Spring encourages the long dormant seeds and roots to rise toward the returning sun.  Writers, like us, use the winter burial of our talents to rest and revisit our secrets.  We bring forth new growth from old seeds and roots to blossom forth.  If some of those blossoms hint at a hidden message, a secret or two, so be it.  All human creativity energizes the earth and the living creatures dependent on that energy to survive.

Now you realize that this entire blog has been a sneaky way of introducing our theme for the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal’s Spring/Summer Issue: SECRETS.  So, now that you see your goal and a path to it, start writing so that our editors can choose the juiciest secrets for our readers to enjoy!

We welcome your entries for our literary online journal by May 31st.  Please click here for our submission guidelines.

 

Call to Authors – Beat the Doldrums

By Linda Donaldson

New beginnings bring new opportunities for our Writers Guild members and our Writing Center. Soon we will be rolling out our 2019 Calendar of Events detailing two upcoming Memoir class series and our 2019 meeting schedule for the Writers Guild.

Mark Sunday, March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) on your calendar for our first meeting at 1pm in the Cultural Center (red Barn) at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

Expect a blog later this week with Dr. Anne Kaler’s essay on the theme (it’s a secret) for the next issue of our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal – the Spring/Summer 2019 issue.  Stay tuned.

Today I’d like to share a link, provided by Sandra Carey Cody, one of our Writing Center presenters and a published author, to a writing contest. The theme of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable short story contest is Animal Stories.

Entry fee is $10 for stories of 2,000 words or less about wild animals, pets or imaginary beasts (so long as an animal is an important character or element of the story.) Deadline is March 31st.

Put on your thinking caps! And keep an eye out for new blogs by Sue Wagner, author of the new poetry book Unmuted: Voices from the Edge.

October Guild Meeting Notes Plus Sneak Peek

By Linda Donaldson

Nearly every attendee to our October Writers Guild meeting brought writing selections to share. All told there were 11 different authors’ works read aloud, and some brought two works. Such a rich array of literary work kept us well past the two hour mark.

We welcomed a new member Archana Kokroo whose first poems proved conclusively that she has much to offer. Other member who contributed were: Melissa Triol, Jane Bleam, Dave Werrett, John McCabe, Bob McCrillis, Paul Teese, Meredith Betz, Kat Cerutti, Joe Vitella and Linda Donaldson. Continue reading “October Guild Meeting Notes Plus Sneak Peek”

October 2018 Writers Guild News

By Linda Donaldson

This Sunday, October 21st is the final 2018 meeting of the Writers Guild of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center. We meet at 1pm until 3pm at the Cultural Center [big red barn] at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

We welcome all writers, published or aspiring, to bring a short 2-3 page selection from their work to share. The Guild members are eager to listen, offer praise and constructive critique. You are also welcome to attend and just listen. Continue reading “October 2018 Writers Guild News”

September Guild Meeting Notes

By Linda Donaldson

Our September Guild meeting began with Anne Kaler welcoming a new member, Shelley Craig. The group then began a short round-robin with each of us introducing ourselves and our writing genres.

There are short story authors, poets, essayists, memoir and non-fiction writers, news magazine feature writers, academic writers, and all sorts of novelists – historical romance, mystery, psychological thrillers, fantasy/adventure, and dystopian novels. Something for everyone! Continue reading “September Guild Meeting Notes”

Writing Rules – Part II

(Yes, I’m thinking of making this a series)

By Bob McCrillis

Who knew?

While poking around on the internet to find some of Ray Bradbury’s earliest short stories, I discovered his twelve rules for writing. Elmore Leonard wasn’t the only one – imagine. A celebrated author, presumably with a busy schedule, took the time to codify his rules and tips.  His willingness to share them with the world was, to me, even more shocking – why encourage competitors?

My much-boasted-about short story per week for a year effort came from the first of Mr. Bradbury’s twelve rules:

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”

Continue reading “Writing Rules – Part II”