National Day of Poetry

Poets, today is #NationalPoetryDay. If you use that hashtag to post a short poem using a Public setting, it will appear on a Facebook page, and you can also post on Twitter, where your poems will be grouped with others using that hashtag or #NationalPoetryDay2017.

This seems to me to be an opportunity for promoting poetry in general and our own books of poems in particular, so I’ve been gathering haiku and minipoems from my poetry books and including hotlinks to the appropriate title.

In these examples of my posts on Twitter, notice the use of caps for the poetry titles. This helps to separate the titles from the poems:

#National PoetryDay
VISION
In the early morning light,
everything looks black and white.
Time draws forth true colors.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from my new poetry book Lost in Faith
https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Faith-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1977605842/

#NationalPoetryDay
MOVING ON
My faith
God’s power
No more mountain
by Mary Harwell Sayler from new book Lost in Faith
https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Faith-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1977605842/

#NationalPoetryDay
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN LIKES LEAVEN
Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20
One package of yeast
to three handfuls flour – Wait!
Water – Watch it – Rise.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from poetry book Outside Eden
https://www.amazon.com/Outside-Eden-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/0615994865/

#NationalPoetryDay
THE WIND SNAPS ITS FINGERS.
Our oak tree drops on command.
Palm fronds lay prostrate. Rain
washes – band after band
of purifying power
from the Lord’s cleansing hand.
Faith and spider webs still stand.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from poetry book PRAISE!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945099038/

#NationalPoetryDay
REHEARSALS
We practice aging – the bruise
that takes too long to heal,
the once-cracked ankle radiating
pain to indicate rain coming,
a memory lost among many,
many.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from Faces in a Crowd
https://www.amazon.com/Faces-Crowd-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1539952878/

#NationalPoetryDay
THE PARABLE of ME
Jesus knows
I don’t swim well,
so He held my hand,
and we walked
across the water.
by Mary Harwell Sayler from Lost in Faith
https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Faith-Mary-Harwell-Sayler/dp/1977605842/

#NationalPoetryDay
PRAISE CHRIST OUR LOVER
Who woos us with lilies,
serenades us with sparrows,
feeds us good grain
and fine wine,
poured
from His own
Vintage collection –
our very selves blended –
made One by His love.
by Mary Sayler from poetry book PRAISE!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945099038/

#NationalPoetryDay2017
WEATHERING SANDBURG
The fog comes in cat
fur: pale gray Persian
with traffic sounds
rolled into the round
core of a purring rug,
each end opening to
skies of Siamese blue.
by Mary Sayler from Living in the Nature Poem
https://www.amazon.com/Living-Nature-Poem-Harwell-Sayler/dp/098358527X/

#NationalPoetryDay
CASE STUDY
Low lid clouds open
their sky blue iris, watching
me – small dot, pupil.
by Mary Sayler from Living in the Nature Poem
https://www.amazon.com/Living-Nature-Poem-Harwell-Sayler/dp/098358527X/

~~~

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Resources for Christians

If you’re a communicator for Christ, as I am, you can find Writing Resources with Christian poets, writers, and pastors in mind on my website.

In addition, I hope you’ll follow these blogs, which I maintain as often as family, church, and book-writing commitments allow:

Bible Prayers
Bible Reviewer
Mary Sayler (in lieu of this site)
Poetry Editor & Poetry
Praise Poems (many of which have been compiled in the book PRAISE! and the forthcoming chapbook, WE: the people under God.)
What the Bible Says About Love

May God bless you and your good work in Christ.

Mary Harwell Sayler, (c) 2017

 

Poetic Power of Dyslexia

Most poets and writers draw on experience, personality, or the power of observation to find something fresh to say in their fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. If you do that in your writing too, great! Keep up the good work. However, the traits you think of as a disadvantage or even a handicap might be the ones that help you to develop your own voice or distinctive style. Take, for instance, dyslexia.

Like many poets and career freelance writers, I began writing as a young child but, in my case, backwards. One way or the other did not matter to me, but this stressed out my teacher so much, she made me stay after class on my very first day of school. For years I thought Mrs. Smith called Mother to come in, too, to see how sloppily I wrote as my left hand smudged the soft pencil across the lined paper in my notebook, but no. I had perfectly copied everything the teacher wrote on the blackboard (which actually was black then), and I had formed each letter of the alphabet correctly. I had just written everything on the blackboard backwards.

For fun, I still like to spell ippississiM in my head, and I must warn you not to even try to beat me at word games like Boggle or Wheel Of Fortune unless, of course, you’re also a bit dyslexic. Most of the time, though, inverting letters and scrambling words or thoughts has gotten me into trouble, especially when I’m tired. If someone happens to spew double-negatives then, I can almost guarantee my brain will not follow.

In writing poetry and poetic manuscripts, however, dyslexia can come in handy. Word scrambles often lead to word play, and scrambled thinking can connect this to that in a previously untried but true way. Such “mistakes” might add a note of humor to fiction or nonfiction too and, in some cases, bring about a fresh idea, insight, or observation.

For example, as a Christian writer I often write nonfiction articles and devotionals. In one short article I wrote for other Christian poets and writers, I talked about the importance of double-checking facts and speaking with a loving voice whenever we write in the name of Jesus. Since Christians pray in Jesus’ name, my point was to encourage that thought also as we write. However, instead of typing “in the name of Jesus,” I wrote, “in the amen of Jesus.” Same letters, you notice, just scrambled. When I finally noticed this myself, I thought, wow! That better said what I wanted to say anyway. i.e., Anything we write (or pray) in Jesus’ name needs Jesus’ amen or affirmation.

I certainly do not pray for my dyslexia to increase or for you to catch it! But I do pray that you use your talents and “flaws” well. I pray you begin to see your “mistakes” or “handicaps” or “shortcomings” or “disadvantages” as a means of making your writing distinctive, inimitable, and one of a kind. Do I hear an name?

©2010, ©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you need a fresh perspective on your poems, children’s picture books, or book proposals and one-on-one feedback for a minimal fee, visit the Contact & Critique page of Mary’s website.

Interviewing for a job

About the time I finished school, a new bred of job placement companies had begun to spring up all over the place. The idea was for you to fill out a bunch of forms about your interests, education, and previous work experience (I had none), then talk to a local career placement person who would match you up as closely as possible with jobs in the area that needed to be filled. If that potential employer hired you, the placement company then received one-fourth to one-half of one month’s income as payment for their service.

Today government services have something similar for free, and so do Internet services. This sounds great, but the one-on-one rapport and local-to-local support is just not there. However, all the news about the jobless rate had given me no cause to pause to consider this until my now-grown children told me, “I don’t know how to get a job!” It occurred to me then that might be true for you or your now-grown children too.

Lord knows, Christians are worthy of their hire! In fact, the Lord says that clearly in Luke 10:7. The first step, however, is to know what God wants you to do. Perhaps that might be to go into journalism or host a Christian talk show or work on a medical team that will help you prepare for a mission trip someday. Or maybe you need a job to pay the bills but not drain your creativity as you focus on your writing ministry.

Remember, too, that Christian poets and writers have the joy of knowing that any job or career will give you something to write about, so nothing is ever wasted! And, in Christ, we especially need to remember – again and again in the Christian life – that all things will and do come together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28.)

With those pivotal thoughts in mind, consider these suggestions:

Pray.

Listen.

Be honest with yourself about yourself.

Forget about money for a minute. (Yes, I know you need it. So do I, but this cannot be the guiding force in life, and you know why! To refresh: “No one can serve two rulers for you will hate the one, and love the other; or you will hold to the one and disdain the other. You cannot serve God and money,” Matthew 6:24. You can, of course, serve God and get money, but you cannot get God and serve money. That’s just how it is.)

List a key word for anything you suspect you’re “good at” or feel drawn at all to do.

List your natural talents and God-given gifts, whether they seem marketable or not.

Also list any experience God has given you or education provided in your areas of interest.

Pray for God to bring all of the above together and to bring to mind job possibilities for what makes you uniquely you.

Look for work in that area, even if it’s only a starter position.

If asked to apply online, follow the guidelines. Then arrange to follow up with a one-on-one, local-to-local meeting, so the potential employer can see you face to face and see that glow of God in your eyes. (If you care about God, you have it. I promise!)

Also, very important at any in-person interview, relax! Take that proverbially calming deep breath, and be yourself – your best self, of course 🙂

Most importantly, trust God your Heavenly Father to love you enough to know what you need, to close doors that aren’t quite right for you, and to give you a gentle nudge in the right direction – right because it’s right for you.

~~

©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler.

May God bless you and the work to which you have been called.

~~

One day in the life of a full-time Christian writer-poet-editor

Years ago an acquaintance from church asked what I do, and I said, “I’m a writer” to which she responded, “I know. But what else do you do?” If you hope to be a “full-time writer” you might wonder the same. Since I’ve been doing this for my most of my adult life – well, part-time when I was a full-time “stay at home mom” – my workday might give you a glimpse of the “real” writing life, which differs each day for each person and each project.

Working in an office at home necessitates a general structure to get anything done. So each morning, as FL weather permits, my husband and I take our coffee onto the deck to watch the arrival of birds and wake up a bit.

Inside, at my desk with half a cup of cooling coffee, I pick up my favorite devotional book, God Calling, and savor the day’s reading, which also speaks a word to Christian writers who have dozens of great ideas and not enough time, “My will shall be revealed as you go.” Yes, thank You, God! I count on that a lot, especially on days when the To-Do list has grown beyond To Do-able.

If I were working on a book contract, I would most likely get right to it. Ditto if I had a book of poetry or devotionals to critique today. Instead I search for something to wear then lug an overflowing laundry basket toward the washing machine and walk away from that mountain as others await.

Without warning, a poem comes to me, and I hurry to write it down before I forget. To be precise, I pull up the Word file for my poems, add and date a new page, then type:

Move

My faith
God’s power
No more mountain

©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, All rights reserved.

I thought I might be working on new blog postings this morning, but email beckons me to various LinkedIn Groups. Someone I’ve never heard of wants to connect, so I check out his profile and accept his invitation then notice that a bunch of people checked me out too. No clue who, but I recently sent invitations to several editors, who just might approach me with book contracts and magnanimous advances. Most likely though, I’ll need to study their current list of titles and topics, see where my ideas fit, then contact one editor at a time for each project.

Sometimes other people make the first move. Years ago, for instance, an editor at a writer’s conference, where we’d both been invited to teach, phoned to ask if I’d like to write a series of devotional books for her company. Like, yeah! More recently, though, I discovered I had been made the moderator for a poetry group on LinkedIn without being asked! My first thought was to close down the group, but after prayer, it came to me that those few hundred poet-members might be interested in The Poetry Editor blog and website. So I changed the name to The Poetry Editor Group, added my logo, and encouraged discussions about writing, which doesn’t always happen.

This morning, for instance, someone wants to hawk his website under Discussions, but I move the URL to Promotions where it belongs. In the manager’s section, I recognize some names as members of the group (which I’m happy to say has doubled in size!), but I have to look up the Profile for another person who wants to post a comment. Nope, not a member! Oh, why not! As with all the main social networks, LinkedIn is free with no obligation. Oh, well. The poet has a helpful comment to add, so I post what she has to say in the Discussion as she’d intended.

I often start or join group discussions too, but if I do so now, I won’t get anything else done, so I sign out, then check Facebook to see if family or friends posted anything significant. Yeah, someone had a birthday I acknowledge then notice that one of the literary journals I “Like” has posted a call for poems that relate to a particular picture. Checking my Word file, I find 2 two-lined poems that fit, so I post both under Comments as the editor instructed. I then check my Facebook “Author” page and The Poetry Editor page I maintain and am happy to see new “Like’s” on both!

That’s encouraging since I really do want to offer helpful tips to poets and writers in each post. But, oh, I see someone has been posting on my page! I don’t mind if other writers and poets respond to something on my page with a link to theirs. But this guy put a hotlink to his website which is rabidly against anything ecumenical. After deleting that post, I see a note from another writer in another country, who wants me to take a “quick look” at his work.

How can a full-time writer-poet-editor take a “quick look” at anything? Why can’t the writer take a long, serious look at his own work, reading it aloud and listening for areas that need improvement without asking me to do it for free? This comes up so often by so many people in so many places that I sigh, pray, and tell the man he will find many helpful articles and resources freely provided on my blogs and websites. I also let him know that I’d be glad to provide a professional, one-on-one response to his writings for a reasonable fee, but I probably won’t hear from him again.

Feeling discouraged by the frequency of requests for freebies, I remind myself how Jesus said that “workers are worthy of their hire,” but I hit the “like” button on several FB postings to encourage other Christian poets and writers as much as I can. In the process, I notice an announcement from Sally Stuart – The Expert in Christian publishing whom I interviewed in this blog last year – about the release of her 2012 marketing guide. Hitting the “Share” button, I let FB Friends know about this valuable resource.

Before untangling myself entirely from the Internet, I check email for The Poetry Editor and see new followers of the blog and also, an editor’s acknowledgment of a manuscript I submitted. In my personal email, another editor-writer agrees to an interview I hope to post soon, and a writer tells me how the contest I judge helped to boost her confidence. Nice to hear – and a good idea to discuss in another blog posting.

My coffee has gotten cold, but I sip it anyway, and my husband sticks his head in the door. Yeah, I’m ready for our half-mile round-trip walk to our rural post office, where, no, the manuscript someone was supposedly sending for a writing consult did not arrive.

Back home, I dump a load of darks in to wash then come back to the computer to see if one of the editors of my upcoming book of poetry has responded to the poems she asked me to send as representative of the book. Picking three was easy enough, but in case they didn’t speak clearly for the book’s theme, I added a note to explain, “Basically, what I’m saying is: We’re part of the universe. Although I’m aware that nature can seem cruel, love and spirit continue on, regardless.”

It’s now almost 10 a.m., and I need to focus on blog postings that got behind while I redesigned my websites. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I wonder, “Lord, did You want me to start so many blogs?” or was this my big idea? Either way, the biblical injunction comes to mind of doing whatever the hand finds to do. Hand – mind, whatever.

All of the blogs began as I researched Bible topics that interest me: For instance, “Christian Healing Arts” got started because I wanted to give credit to God who created everything, including methods and ideas for healing that people seem to think they invented all by themselves. “Bible Prayers” began with research for a Bible study class that took almost two years to cover with excellent feedback from everyone in the group. As a Christian concerned for families (especially the Family of God), I also wanted to see “What the Bible Says about Love.” In addition, my personal Bible readings often resulted in Bible person-poems.

Initially, I’d hoped to do a one-year devotional or nonfiction book on the Bible topics I had researched, but having no immediate takers, I woke up one morning with “Do blogs” in my head. Hoping that God had put the idea there in answer to prayers for guidance, I soon discovered that juggling several blogs gets tricky! Or sticky! i.e., I now use computerized “Sticky Notes” to type the name of each blog and the last date posted. I also keep a Word file for each completed article, along with a list of titles and dates posted, and I type in words or phrases that suggest ideas for future articles. If blog followers ask a question that might interest other writer-readers, I note that as a potential topic too.

But here it is 11 a.m. on a Saturday, and I just put in the second of four loads of laundry. Having skipped my dish of yogurt, I’m thinking about lunch – most likely left-overs of home-cooked meals I make by the batch a couple times a week and freeze.

Living in the country does not make home delivered pizza a meal-time option, but the rural environment provides a wonderful place to get quiet, enjoy nature, and write about whatever God brings to mind. You might wonder, though, when and if I do any actual writing during the day, but, the truth is, while we’ve been chatting, I’ve been writing this article, which, Lord willing, I will tighten and revise after lunch and laundry and post long before church tomorrow with its welcomed day of rest.

~~

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

For additional help with your writing: See the Interview with Sally Stuart. To find a list of the above mentioned blogs and hotlinks, visit Blogs by Mary. To connect, visit hotlinks for Profiles or pages on the major social networks. Thanks. And may God guide and direct your work in Jesus’ name.

~~

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