Guest Blog Posts

Word Weaving with Poetry – guest blog post by Betty O'Hearn

When Trish asked me to write for her blog a few months ago, I was excited. At the time I belonged to a ladies writing group in Hickory, NC called Hickory Word Weavers. We met twice a month and shared our work. We had about ten minutes of chatter and then remained focused.

Now I live in paradise, St. Petersburg, FL. Carrying my love of poetry with me, I have met a great group and look forward to digging in here and learning. Poetry is not a stand-alone craft. I have been studying for many years, writing for forty years, and I have a long way to go!  I encourage you to keep at it, take workshops, ask for criticism, read poetry daily, and never give up. We all hit our dry spells but they are temporary. Poetry is something that I compare to a flower garden. You need to water, feed and weed in order for it to grow.

Why do I love poetry? It transports me into time and places that are not easily accessed in your day-to-day life. For example, I can sit down to write, and be on the beach. Those of you who know me are aware of my love for water and all that goes through it, beside it, and in it. Don't give me a pond, or a lake. I crave the ocean. So now I am in what my husband and I have coined, Our Last Adventure. The Gulf of Mexico is my drug of choice.

In the past year, I have been focusing on deep image in my poetry. Deep Image simply is stylized, resonant poetry. There are longer definitions, but let's keep it simple. Galway Kinnell's work was my first experience with deep image. Look up "Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock."

Several years ago I participated in a workshop led by Adrian Rice, a great friend and fellow Irishman residing in Hickory, NC. We talked about Seamus Heaney and about his poem Digging, and Toner's Bog; The Heaney family cut turf at a bank immortalized at Toner’s Bog. In this poem, imagery took you to Northern Ireland as well as feeling the love Heaney owned for his grandfather and father.

You want the reader to feel your poem. Here is one of Adrian Rice's poems from Hickory Station.

I love that last line. Do you see and feel the silken scarves?

The Apologist

Fine words from a man
From whom words come easily -
Drawn from his midnight mouth
Like a chain of silken scarves.

–Used with Permission. Copyright Adrian Rice. Press 53.

Four months ago, the Hickory Word Weavers brought William Wright to Hickory for an afternoon workshop. Several of us met Wright this year at The Gathering, sponsored by Jacar Press in Winston-Salem. He discussed imagery in poetry leaving

a huge impression on many of us. We wanted more. You will find Will Wright fascinating and we share a common denominator. We lack normal sleep. It is a struggle on a daily basis.

That afternoon in Hickory was a watershed when it came to deep imagery. It was broken down clearly and for the first time, it made total sense. I learned that the central image becomes the poem's language, and its' movement. In the spaces between lines, the reader must have room to imagine. This concept gives the poem freshness/strangeness. The central image is the nucleus, where the poem will begin its' orbit. It has to occupy, live, and breathe from that central image. And the conclusion is that the central image points back to increase the volume of sound of the central image. Here is a good example from Mr. Wrights' book Tree Heresies.

A Path of Walnut Trees after Rain

To be clothed in the smell,
a skin of sweet-rot, flowery,
life -dark as a pond floor-
their fruit felled, wet, fat,
half-black, half -green in slack grass
sugared in bees and calyx sap,
where blue squill and fern lift
to a bedraggled sun
from this pocked ground,
its mosses bright, this vanishing,
and later, starblown night.

–Used with Permission. Copyright William Wright. Mercer University Press.

Enjoy word weaving a deep image into your poetry.

Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts. 

Contact me here if you are interested! 

Betty O'Hearn recently moved to St. Petersburg, FL after spending thirteen years in Hickory, NC.  During her thirteen years in Hickory, NC, Betty served on a committee that brought Ekphrastic poetry to the Hickory Museum of Art.  She supported Poetry Hickory and read at open mics. Through Poetry Hickory at Taste Full Beans coffee shop, led by Scott Owens, she was able to take numerous workshops including those from 3 NC Poet Laureate's.  Her work has appeared in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Wild Goose Poetry, Iodine Poetry Journal, Bloodshot Journal of Contemporary Culture, Vox Poetica, Avocet Journal of Nature, Muddy River Review, The Gathering of Poets 2016, and former UK poetry journal Englyn.  Her poetry has appeared at the Bethlehem Library in Alexander County, NC, and she served as a judge for Poetry Out Loud as well as the Alexander Muse.

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