Monday, May 22, 2017

Compiling a Book of Poems: Post #1

Almost since I started writing poems in 2010, I've wanted to put together a collection or book of my poems.  Of course, you have to have enough poems written to fill a book first.  It's taken me years, but I've got almost enough really good poems to create at least a collection.

Being a methodical person who doesn't enter into things like this lightly, I've begun to research the best way to put together a book of poems for publication, whether just for me or for sale.  Thus far, I've found some very good sources.  The links are at the bottom of this post.

One important question I think a poet must ask is whether you want to publish strictly for yourself or to sell to the public.  I believe this is important, because if you are merely putting a collection together for your own enjoyment, the guidelines are more lax.  You don't have to adhere to the conventions of publishing.

With that said, I've decided that my first endeavor will be strictly for myself because I would like to have more of my individual poems published before I try to make sales.  Furthermore, I will say that, even though I'm currently undertaking this task for my own enjoyment, I do not like reinventing the wheel.  I will, therefore, be attempting to put my collection/book together using the conventions that are expected for a published work.

Let's start at the beginning.  
Reviewing your poems is the first step.  All the sources I've read, see links below, have various strategies outlined for reviewing your work to determine what will go into your book.  Of all the varied suggestions, printing out all your poems is a good first step.  While many of us have our poems saved in an electronic document, there's nothing like pen and paper for editing, sorting and labeling.

So, I've printed all the poems I feel are ready to go into a book, or that I want to go into a book.  I have just over 70.

This part is both hard and fun at the same time for me.  It's hard for me when the poem I need to edit is good as is, but I know it can be better.  In cases like this I will always preserve the original before editing a copy.  Sometimes, I end up with two poems when this happens.

Editing is fun for me because I like to look at something and try to make it better.  I recently took two of my formless poems and made them into palindromes or mirror poems.  These are poems that read the same forward and back.  When you read a mirror poem you get to the half-way point and the poem reads backwards to the first line.

Here's one that I just created by editing one of my poems:
Raindrop Patterns
October 12, 2010
By Kimberly L. McClune

Raindrop patterns
Random patterns
On the window
Pooling in the corners
Gathering on the sill
Small rivers creeping down my window
Gathering on the sill
Pooling in the corners
On the window
Random patterns
Raindrop patterns

To be honest, I'm still in the editing stage with my poems.  There are about 10 that I feel need to be gone over before I feel they're strong enough for publication or inclusion in a book or collection.  I may even try publishing a few of them individually before I finish this project.  

While I finish editing, you can take a look at the links below to read about putting together your own poetry book or collection.  These are the articles or sites I found to be the most helpful.

Next week I'll post on the next step, Sorting and Organizing Your Poems.  I'll also share another edited poem.

Enjoy the Spring for Summer is mere weeks away.

Leave me a comment so I know you were here.

Poets & Writers
Long but thoughtful post. 


Writer’s Digest

Thursday, May 4, 2017


Today I want to share Haiku with you because, in my opinion, it’s one of the lovelier forms of poetry. 

Haiku is defined by Britannica as, “unrhymed Japanese poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.” 

Here are some facts that I uncovered about Haiku.  The Haiku form was refined by Basho in the 17th Century from the hokku element of the poetic form renga, an early Japanese poem.  Renga is a linked-verse poem, a form in which two or more poets supply alternating sections of a poem.  The hokku is the initial stanza of a renga.  It sets the time of day, season and dominant features of the landscape for the renga.  The hokku did not become known as Haiku until the late 19th Century after it had been refined by masters like Basho, Buson and Issa.  (See sources below for more on the history of Haiku.)

Haiku is written in three lines and each line has a specific number of syllables, 5-7-5.  While early themes were nature, animals or the seasons, you can now write Haiku on any subject.

To write a Haiku, find inspiration in anything you like.  Take a walk, use a picture or a memory and make a few notes.  Now simply write two or three lines describing your subject.  Edit your lines by focusing on an emotion or images based on your senses; sight, taste, touch, smell or hearing.  Finally work on the syllable count, first line 5, second line 7 and third line 5.  (See sources below for more on writing Haiku.)

Below are some examples from early Japanese masters of Haiku:

None is traveling
Here along this way but I
This autumn evening

Temple bells die out
The fragrant blossoms remain
A perfect evening!


Crimson must be running
Through the trunk of
This plum tree

Born as a spider
No choice but to spin
His spider web

Now here is a Haiku I created:

Graceful deep green leaves
Teardrops shimmer in the sun
Shade the woven trunk.

This was truly joyful to create.  I have a Ficus tree sitting in front of my desk at work.  It has a beautiful, graceful woven trunk and the leaves are a lovely deep green.  This was the perfect subject for my first Haiku.  I hope you like it and that this minimal presentation on the Haiku has given you a bit of inspiration to try it for yourself.  Even if you are just inspired to go read some Haiku, I guarantee you’ll be pleased with the effort.

If you do give writing Haiku a try, please share in the comments.  I’d enjoy hearing from my readers.

Source information:
Creative Writing Now
Haiku World
Poetry Power

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nonsense Poems

It’s Poetry Month so it’s time I got off my, “I’m too busy with other things” high horse and did some writing.  If I’m going to write, it’s going to be fun because I am extremely busy, so it’s going to be nonsensical.  I enjoy writing nonsense and reading it too. 

If you’re not sure you know any nonsense poems or not sure what it is, may I direct your attention to the Jabberwocky or almost any Dr. Seuss works.  In these you will find some essential elements to a nonsense poem such as, made up words and silly story-lines.

For instance, the Jabberwocky is riddled with made up words that most can’t even figure out how to pronounce, let alone determine their meaning. 

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

As you can see in this first stanza from “The Jabberwocky” there are very few familiar to guide us.  There is some description of the location, and there appear to be creatures or things doing some sort of activity, or behaving in some fashion.  Reading more we understand that there is a creature called a Jabberwock, that a fight ensues, and it is slain.  I love how I can let my imagination take me in any direction it chooses each time I read it.

Dr. Seuss manages to use made up words and tell silly stories that can teach and entertain.  For instance, in the Lorax we have many made up names and words.  He tells us of  “Grickle-grass,”  “gruvvulous gloves,” and, of course, the “Truffula Trees.”  He weaves with language creating delicious worlds, and gently pulls us in to take part.

If you’re like me, you may not be quite clever enough to invent words or a language or even a different world for your poems.  So, I choose to write nonsense using the things around me.  Here’s a sample of a poem I wrote a number of years ago while sitting at my desk at work.  I remember I was trying to work out a problem on a file and let my mind wander to all the stuff at my desk.

Nonsense Poem
September 2011

Excellent educational teamwork brings clarity to rocking regional knots.
Spinning paper scribbles integrate quick mail monkeys s
Stacking plastic keys under tables.

Tinker Bell violence, after inspection,
Credits calendars with water trash before folders help index text.

To write poems like this you must be knowledgeable in the parts of speech and all the different ways a word can be used.  For instance, in this piece the word ‘index’ in the last line is used as a verb.  So, as I look around my desk now I can identify things whose names can be used as a noun or verb or adjective.  These are the words you can use to make this type of poem come together.  Here’s another example.

Whirlpool filters swirl around Arizona sugar
Silver magnets multiply root beer carafes
Please refill igloo hot pads.

I wrote this while standing in the kitchen of the office where I currently work.  Once again, I let my mind wander over the words and items I saw around me and put down these lines on a post-it note.

It’s silly and fun to write poems like this.  It’s also a good exercise for your brain to work out how the words for thing can be used to write out sentences. 

I challenge my readers this month to take a few moments to write or read some poetry.  Simply enjoy the words, let your mind wander over them as you read or create them.  If you write anything and would like to share, please leave me a comment.  Or, simply leave me a comment anyway.  I’d love to hear from you.  

Monday, October 31, 2016


It's time for a Halloween Writing Prompt

As per my usual, this is an image selected to give the most tantalizing inspiration.

This image is inspiring to me and I hope it is for you as well.  Here is what I wrote.
She hung on his every word.  Watching him in the candle light as he recounted the tale of the ghostly form that haunted the old house they lived in.  Never once was she afraid as he spoke, until the end of the story when there was a sudden thump from overhead.

“What was that?” she whispered.

“That? Oh, never mind about that.”  Her father said calmly. 

Meanwhile, she started to shiver a bit and wrapped her arms around her body.  

"Now, you're not scared are you?  There's nothing to fear.  It's just a story and I doubt if it's even true." He said trying to calm her.  But, she was not calm.  Something inside her now knew the truth.  

Leaving her in the shadowy room, her father walked to the kitchen.  Alone now, her imagination took a hold of her.  She began to believe in the story her father told. 

In bed that evening, she lay in the dark, listening to the quiet.  Every noise, no matter how low, no matter how insignificant, fed her imagination. Pictures of unknown evil invaded her mind, voices rang in her head, smells and sounds now confronted her reality.  

A voice spoke.  Was it real? Was it in her mind?  She couldn't tell.  

"Come to me child." The voice called.  It sounded distant and weak.

"Come and find me."  It said, stronger now.

As though in a trance, she rose from her bed and dressed.  Outside, the night air was warm and humid against her bare skin.  The full moon lit up the landscape and glowed in the few leaves still clinging to bare branches. 

She walked.  Barely aware of her surroundings, she walked.  With no understanding of what she was doing, she walked.  Her eyes were open, but saw nothing. 

"I'm here!" The voice cried.

"You have found me!"

She stopped.  She stopped and stood.  She stood  waiting, waiting for someone, something.  There in the moonlight, staring straight ahead, without moving, she stood.

Her only sensation was the cold she felt as the shiver went up and down her spine and the night drew close around her. 

In the morning, her father called her down for breakfast.  He received no answer.  She would never answer him again.
Despite being pretty busy with non-writing things right now, I do still find enjoyment in writing practice.  Lately, I've been writing stories about my childhood.  These little snippets of stories are fun to put together and are good practice for writing stories about other members of my family.  

Perhaps I'll share some of these with you in the near future. 

So what would you write if inspired by the above image?  I'd love to share your writing.  Please leave a comment.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Day of Fall Birthday Writing Prompt

So, the convergence of things today makes it extra special for me.  It's the uncommon occasion when my birthday is on the First Day of Fall.  I woke to a wonderful breakfast with my daughter and we watched a special episode of a favorite show together before I left for work.  Then I decided to write something and found this writing prompt picture online.  Below is my short piece inspired by these two young fishermen.

“Aww do I have to get up?!” moaned Dave as he hunkered further under his covers.  Only the glow of the digital clock illuminated the room. 

“Yes!” Jason implored as he shook Dave’s shoulder.  “It’s Mom’s birthday and we’re making dinner, remember?!”  Jason stood back as Dave finally peeked out from the covers voluntarily.

“This is the best time to fish. If we wait, they’ll all have swum away.  Now get up!”  Turning on his heel, Jason left the room.

Dave swung his feet over the side of his bed and reached for his pants.  Pulling them on he stood up and fastened them.  Wrestling a shirt over his head, he finished dressing by the backdoor where Jason stood waiting, tapping his foot. 

Down at the river, the sun was barely a glow on the horizon when they threw in their lines.  Now they wait.  And wait they did.  It seemed like forever ‘til one of them got a bite. 

“It’s as if they know how important this is and they’re not going to bite!” Dave exclaimed painfully.  “Why does this always happen?!”

“Just relax.  They’ll bite.”  Jason said calmly as he moved his line a bit.

And who got the first bite as the sun was now fully over the horizon? Dave.  He felt a great yank that jerked him forward.  “Wow, this is a big one!”

Jason dropped his line and reached out to grab Dave’s.  They both tugged and Dave started to reel in the big fish.  They both gasped as the fish jumped fully out of the water.  The sun glistened on its scales as it arched and dove back in, wriggling and pulling.

Excited, Jason grabbed their net and took a step into the cold water.  Dave pulled a few more times and cranked the reel. 

With one fell swoop, Jason caught the fish in the net, “Woohoo!” he hollered!

“We did it! No, you did it!  This’ll feed half the town!”  Jason yelled.

Dave stood there, awestruck.  He’d never caught anything that size before.  All he could do was stand and stare, savoring the moment.  Jason pulled out his camera and took a picture of Dave.  Then he tossed the camera at Dave.

“Hey, get a picture of this.” 

The camera almost fell, but Dave caught it on the way down.  Shaking off his reverie, Dave aimed the lens at Jason and snapped a couple, then put the camera in his pocket.

I hope you like this little ditty.  I've never fished before and that's kind of why I selected this picture as a prompt.  If you're inspired and write something out, please share it.  

Happy Fall!  Here's another lovely picture for your enjoyment or to use as another prompt.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Writing Again

I've been terribly lax in my writing of late and I apologize for that, mostly to myself.  My writing is largely for myself and I share in the hopes that it will inspire or bring some small measure of enjoyment to others.

In order to spark some degree of creation from my sore and overused brain, I looked up some new writing prompt ideas on the internet.  I found that the blog has some terrific ideas and ways of thinking about a piece which inspired me.

One of the many ideas I gleaned from my rummaging on this blog included different forms for a poem, such as instructions, a recipe and a letter.  The most intriguing of these for me was a recipe.  My brain immediately began scanning for non-food things in my life that could be the subject of a recipe.  My psyche landed on my grandmothers hands.  

This was a natural choice since my grandmother was, and still is, a big influence on me.  Although she passed away about 15 year ago, I still remember many little things about her that made me feel good and loved.  Her hands always fascinated me.  They were never still, always creating something wonderful or doing something helpful.

Here is my recipe for Bang's Hands (the story of her name shall be for another post)
Bang’s Hands 
By Kimberly L. McClune 
September 12, 2016 

Heap of Kindness                  
Accumulation of Gentleness              
Plenty of Industry                   
Hours of Play 
Oodles of Comfort 
Abundance of Calm 
Measure of Healing 
Bundle of Love 
Blend the kindness and gentleness until warm. 
Stir in the industry until well learned. 
Skim play off the top for hours of fun. 
Mix in comfort to bring a smile 
Fold in the calm until steady. 
Knead in the healing and 
Garnish with Love.

While this image is generic, it reminds me of my grandmothers hands, riddled with arthritis, as she reached out for mine.  She often took my arm while we walked and I can still feel her grip and smell her perfume.  Writing this small piece churns up an ocean of memories and images that I will gladly rifle through in an odd moment.  

What recipe could you write as a poem?  Or perhaps, you prefer to write a letter or instructions.  I strongly suggest going to Creative Writing Now and looking under IDEAS for a plethora of poem and story prompts.

I'm hoping that this recent jaunt into creativity will spur me on to more and more poems and even a story or two.  Keep writing and leave a comment, I'd like to hear from you.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Back in the Swing in Spring

It's been a terribly long time since I've had the inclination or inspiration or time to put pen to page or fingers to the keyboard for the creation of a new poem, story or other creative writing endeavor.  

Recently, I was inspired by my westward morning drive from Arvada to Louisville.  The Spring in Colorado, along the Front Range, can create a beautiful tableau for one's viewing pleasure.  A particular morning a few weeks ago was spectacular, simple and inspiration for me.

Below is my final poem that will, hopefully, provide an insight into my experience that day.

Daily Masterpiece
By Kimberly L. McClune
May 26, 2016

Springs morning, a blank canvas on the western horizon,
Emerges from the night
Revealing Nature’s daily masterpiece.

Crystal clear blue water color tints the sky
Virtually transparent,
Polished and perfect, like a sapphire.

Clean white paper, cut
As if by a child with scissors
Pasted with sticky fingers,
Creates a rim of bleached peaks.

Dirt, leaves, rocks and sticks
Mixed in a puddle
Tossed by the handful,
Make layers of mottled, hills against the paper.

This, Nature’s daily masterpiece,
Frameless and unaffected by man,
The freedom of creation.

Writing this poem reminded of how much I like a good writing prompt to inspire me to write, even if what I write turns out to be junk.  After all, don't we learn more from making mistakes?

So here's a good prompt to put a spring in your pen:

This image gives me the creeps a bit and also pulls a few good story ideas out of my lazy brain.  For instance, is this the Invisible Man's girlfriend or sister? Take a gander at this and see what ideas you come up with.  Perhaps try setting a timer and seeing what you can come up with in 15 minutes. Or share this with a friend and challenge each other to come up with a 200 word story about this image.  Another good idea is to see how many genres of writing you can use to create different written pieces about this image, a poem, a short story, a caption, a slogan for an advertisement, or even the outline for a novel.

So, keep writing.  Maybe write something from this picture prompt and make a comment to let me know what you came up with.

Have a great day!