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Lara Eckener

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We’ll turn ourselves into paper and kindling, devotion and truth.

It’s been a busy second half to the year over here in my neck of the woods. I’ve been working away on several things that will come into print as we come into the new year. I’ve also been trying real hard not to talk about them too much lest I jinx something and all the editors decide to take it back. That’s not going to happen today though, because today I’m super pleased to report that the first of those projects has been released in print!

pandk

Paper & Kindling: A 3-4-1 Collection is available from Amazon in print and kindle editions! This anthology includes short stories from authors Kaitlyn SudolNicole DeGennaro, and Christine Ricketts, as well as poems by myself and art by Katie Grosskopf, Alex Griggs, and Cleopatria Peterson. (Cleopatria’s art is the best, but I’m biased, because she illustrated my poems.)

I’ve long been attracted to the idea of artist’s telephone and this anthology was created along those lines, except instead of working in a long vine-like chain what we have is four seeds with tendrils and flowers growing from each. Christine, Nicole, Kaitlyn, and I each wrote a beginning story or poem and then we all switched and wrote things based on each other’s stories. The illustrations were created in the same way. Through inspiring each other we all got to dip our toes in different worlds and stretch our voices and the result is chock full of horror, science fiction, romance, and fantasy. But most importantly, it’s full of possibility and new beginnings. As it says in the description copy: the end of one story is just the start of another.

One of my sincerest life wishes is to write beautiful things to share with the world, and I thank every one of my fellow contributors here for helping to make that possible. So if any of this sounds like something you’d be interested in reading, please pick up a copy and let us know what you think!

“We’re all going to have to learn to live with less oxygen.”

The river still runs and the leaves are burning,
regardless of this grey sky.

The river will run and leaves twist and fall away,
regardless of the value of a life.

The river will run and the leaves will fly,
regardless of a morning’s fear.

Your false family’s hatred will paint you as leaves,
ephemeral, frivolous, and made to burn,
regardless of this you are the river.

The river still runs.

I feel like I don’t yet have the proper words for my fear and disappointment, so instead, here are some words of support for other people’s fear and disappointment. If I can help you, let me know. We’ve always been in this together, but this is a good reminder of who we are and who we’re fighting.

.028 – The Year of Finishing

2012 was the Year of Doing Frightening Things, and I did. Some of them were more frightening than others, and some of them were entirely unintentional, but over all I think I challenged the way that I think about a lot of things in my life and that’s good. I even got a poem published and made some friends on the way. I can consider that mission accomplished. However, I cannot consider myself done with missions entirely. My princess is in another castle, you see. Time to shimmy down an improbably sized drain pipe and move forward. 2013 will be the Year of Finishing Things.

I am total shit at resolutions. I never keep them and I never complete them, so instead of setting myself up for finishing failure, I’m going to make goals instead. I’ve outlined them below. If you catch me slacking in the next year, please beat me about the head and shoulders with the closest non-lethal instrument and get me back on track.

Health-

  • Drink more water: This one is pretty self-explanatory. But seriously, I drink too much soda. It’s probably gross to anyone else who stops to think about it.
  • Walk to Rivendell: God but I love nerds. Some enterprising Lord of the Rings fans got together and worked out the distances between key locations in Middle Earth. It is 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell. Armed with that knowledge, I am pledging right now to make it to Rivendell by the end of the year. I want to walk/jog at least a mile a day, not including time spent doing walking heavy activities like being at theme parks or in big cities. A mile extra. My writing partner, Alli, has put together a spreadsheet for us to keep track of our distances. For added fun, if you use this website and enter your total mileage, it will tell what you are seeing as you go.
  • Prep to run a 5k: Ideally, eventually, I’d like to be able to run a half marathon, but let’s not put the cart before the horse here. I would like to enter and run at least one 5k before the end of the year. Preferably in less than half an hour. Not that I have any idea how long you’re supposed to take to run a 5k, but half an hour sounds good.

Writing (fiction)-

  • (IE, I’m wasteful with my words, and in turn, my words are wasteful with me.)
  • Burst: I think I’ve finally settled on a time period and overall scenario for this novel I’ve been kicking around in the back of my head for the better part of the year. 1915, travelling sideshow, two young-ish girls just trying to figure out what they need and how they can leave. See also: makeouts, flocks of birds, rain of diamonds, and an old magician who doesn’t do magic. It should be fun to work on at the very least.
  • Volunteer Vampires: Guys, I know. I know that I’ve been saying I was going to finish this all year. It’s just a lousy short story. Why do I make everything so hard? I don’t know. Hence forcing myself to finish things.
  • The Steampunk: Alli and I got sidetracked on this because of life. Life is pretty lame. But hopefully in the next year we’ll be able to make some actual headway on it. It’s always nice to return to that universe, so I’m really looking forward to it.
  • Superheroetry: Sometimes I just have really dumb ideas that I can’t let go of! I like to think that’s part of my charm. In this case I think I’ll write a collection of poems about superheroes. Probably made up ones, since I can’t afford to be sued for copyright infringement.
  • Poetry (legit): I’d also like to polish up some of the poems I already have and work on new ones to submit to different places. You will not be able to escape me! Moo ha ha!
  • Submit to places: A short list of publications I’d like to submit work to over the next few months is: Yeah Write, Snake Oil Cure, Plunge, Spark Anthology, other things I discover as I bumble about the internet.

Writing (non-fiction)-

  • (IE, I’d also like to make sure I’m writing regardless of inspiration or cause, so there are several things I’m planning on keeping up this year outside of any attempt to really publish. Just so I don’t lose sight of what I want to be.)
  • This blog: Surprise! None of you are surprised. I need to be around here more often. I really struggled last year, trying to find a tone and a purpose for this thing. I don’t want it to be a writing blog, because I feel I have no authority there yet. But I DO want it to be a blog that writers want to read and than help me interact with other people who have similar interests. Because of this I think this year I will try to run it as the blog of someone who happens to be a writer, but who also does a whole bunch of other things that she likes to natter on about on the internet. That’s probably the most authentic tone I can strike right now. You know, since I DO do a whole bunch of things and I REALLY love to natter about them on the internet.
  • Friday Fours: I know the Friday Five is popular about the internet. I don’t want my Friday activities to be confused with being a part of any official Friday Five, mostly because I don’t want to disappoint anyone looking for such a thing. So I will do Friday Fours, based on, well, whatever I want to base it on. I’ll probably be taking prompts for those elsewhere. Hopefully they’ll ensure that I’m here at least once a week.
  • Research: Gosh, do I love researching things. Just the other week when I was doing some planning on the new Burst outline I learned that Inspiration (1915) was the first movie to include a nude scene from a leading female that was not pornographic. That’s the kind of information I feel like everyone should know! I’ll be posting things like that more often when they strike my fancy.
  • Wasting My Thirties: I only really mentioned it here once, thoguh I have linked to it from my twitter account several times times. When I turned thirty this year I started a Tumblr dedicated documenting the ways I will spend this monumental year changing and growing. That stuff is more personal than I think I want to have up here, so if you’re interested in my minor freak outs, ridiculous pictures, and occasional reblogs, then please come by and stay a while.
  • A Year With Hafiz: Have I mentioned I’m addicted to Tumblr blogs? Because I think I’m addicted to Tumblr blogs. One of my plans for 2013 was to make my way through the book A Year With Hafiz by documenting a reaction/reflection to each day’s poem. When I mentioned that I was thinking of doing this I was asked by a few people to make it public, so now it is: My Brother, the Light.

Well, none of that should be too hard, so long as I keep my wits about me and forget what it feels like to be lazy. I have some other goals, but they’re mostly money and clutter related and I realize you’re probably not all that interested in hearing about how I most certainly not allowed to buy any more cardigans, because Jesus Crimminy I have way to many cardigans and before I move I should really get rid of some of the freaking cardigans.  So yeah, it’s like that. Are there any things you’re looking forward to accomplishing finally?

Here’s to tomorrow and every day after.

.025 – Where’ve ya been, Lars?

Oh hey there, internet. I did not mean to run quite so far away. I just started going and then found myself somewhere near the end of it all and decided to turn around and start over again. It’s basically the story of my life.  How have you been?

 

The places I’ve been.

I’ve been quite busy while I was away.  I went to Dragon*Con, which my friend Alli and I discussed a bit on the Jaws/Raiders of the Lost Ark episode of Wrong Opinions About Movies. When people ask me about whether or not I think they should attend Dragon*Con I always give them an enthusiastic and slightly pushy ‘yes’. For me it’s the best weekend of the year, and even though I start out every con weekend with the same plan of attack, it always ends up being a unique experience. This con was no exception, as I did maybe half as many panels as usual, spending my time instead dabbling in costuming and hanging out with people I don’t get to see on a day to day basis. It gave the weekend an entirely different feel, but was still completely wonderful.

And while I was at Con–more specifically, while I was sitting in a Tactical First Aid panel learning how to deliver your babies during the mother effing apocalypse(!)–I got the email notification that a poem I wrote had finally been published online. I’m so excited!

I linked it around before, but in case you missed it you can read “HOPE for the AFFLICTED!” here at Exercise Bowler along with some other rad steampunk themed poetry.

I feel very grateful to Exercise Bowler, not only for posting poetry that I like on quarterly basis, but also for sharing something I wrote with the world. It’s my first published piece and I’m very excited to be able to produce things people won’t absolutely hate in the future. Let’s all raise a glass to that possibility.  

And in the theme of possibility, I’ve started a Tumblr Blog that I really want to share with you. I turned 30 while I was away, and while I’m not anymore stressed about 30 than I was about 29–because seriously, nothing can be worse than 25–I would still like to spend this year focused on learning about myself and my place in the world around me. So Wasting My Thirties is there just for that. Come learn with me. Come teach me. Come point and laugh and just be along for the ride.

 

The places I’ll go.

In the vein of the things I’ve been doing while I was away, I’ve been trying to figure out how best to use this space. I want to use it talk about writing and share information about when my friends and I are published or start exciting projects, but I also want it to be fun and informal and a place for us to just chat. So here are some things you might see here in the future.

Wrong Opinions About ALL The Movies! Sometimes I watch a movie for the podcast and find myself unable to really discuss what it is about it that has affected me, partially because I’m incredibly dense when it comes to sorting out my own feelings and partially because conversations sometimes just don’t work that way. I also watch movies that aren’t going to be discussed on the podcast, but that I still feel a need to touch on somewhere. I’m going to start doing that here as I feel the urge to. The first movie will probably be Circumstance, because that film was so much more than the American trailer led me to believe it would be.

Research, the breakfast of champions! The other thing I want to start sharing more often is the off the wall research I do for the projects I’m working on. I write a lot of science fiction, mostly steampunk and cyberpunk, which leads me down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia and peer reviewed magazines on a quite regular basis.  I think it would be fun to start sharing some of the more interesting things here. It would also give me an excuse to do that post on underwear my friend Chrysta requested.

Any old thing you want me to be! And to that end, because I want this to ultimately be a place you like checking in on, is there anything you’d like to see me post? Is there anything you just want to have a conversation about with another person? I’m here for all your conversatin’, distractionary needs! You just let me know what I can do for you and I’ll probably do it! (Because I’m easy that way. Just love me!)

 

So that is a plan. We’ll see how well I stick to it. If nothing else I have a draft of a short story due to someone by the end of October, so I really should get on finishing and fixing it, or possibly weakly calling for help. Whichever. You’ll know when I do.

.017 – This is a thing I said I would do.

I don’t like mysteries, but I like things that are mysterious. I don’t take great joy in solving puzzles, but I do take great joy in the puzzling of it. 

A couple years ago I decided that I was going to buckle down and learn to appreciate and understand poetry.  It’s not that I’ve spent the better part of my life hating it. I memorized Frost’s ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ when my 8th grade class did their reading of The Outsiders. I suffered through Donne’s ‘The Flea’ in high school, though I’m still not sure it means everything we were taught it means. I fell fast and hard for Rumi and Bukowski in college, because they put words together in ways that made me understand the things I was feeling. No, it’s not that I hated poetry, it’s that I’d spent the better part of my life taking poetry for granted. Why should these groupings of words, often simultaneously dense and spare, mean more to me than any other groupings? After all, I can’t put together words like that. Why waste my time on studying word groupings that I don’t plan on emulating?

For some reason, 2010 felt like a good time to change that. I don’t know if it’s because I was starting to be more proactive about my life in general, or if it was because I had words caught inside of me that wouldn’t be wrangled into long-form prose, but I decided not to take this beloved form of self-expression for granted anymore. I started collecting recommendations. I started reading everything.

Finally, eventually, I got a better handle on it. Though I felt like I still didn’t understand what gave my favorite poets and poems that spark. I thought, then, that maybe I needed to understand poetry from the inside out. Maybe I needed to try and write some of my own. Last May I quietly started a Tumblr blog where I intended to put one poem a day, regardless of worth or beauty. I needed to practice sitting down and corralling words, rather than letting them lead me.

Some of those poems are terrible, but complete strangers still liked or reblogged them. Some of them are pretty decent, but need a lot of work to make them worth their time. Some of them helped me to voice things I hadn’t been able to voice up until then. When that happened I felt like I’d finally gotten it. I felt like I finally understood why some people gravitated towards poetry rather than prose.  Some stories don’t need a full arc. Sometimes moments are enough to make another person understand. Some things can only be digested in moments, I think. Which isn’t to say that a poem can’t tell a whole story, because they often do.

The reason I’m making this post is because this morning I was considering doing a poem a day again.  I’m already a day behind to do it in May, but it’s not like I can’t run over into June for a day.  And a poem a day might even keep the therapist away. But as I was considering this I realized that I might not want to publish all of them on the tumblr.  I might want to keep some of them to myself, to work and render and turn into something worthy of sending out into the world officially.  I realized that, while I find I still don’t feel like I ‘understand’ poetry, I want to be a part of it.  I think I would like to be a poet.

That’s a scary thought.  But I have that poem coming out in the fall. And I have another that Alli pretty much refuses to let me send to a place that isn’t an actual literary magazine, because she likes it that much. I owe a lot to a lot of my friends and their belief in me, no matter how misguided I fear it is. So I might as well gather up some belief for myself. I’m just a blunt shovel, but I’d like to be a spade, I think.

It’s an ongoing battle.  If you’re curious the Secret Poetry Tumblr is here. Feel free to follow along or leave notes and crit.  I’m a pretty strong believer in crit for any form of writing.

For getting through that, here’s a poem by a living poet who inspires me gads. I still want to be Margaret Atwood when I grow up, but I’d feel pretty amazing if I somehow became Anis Mojgani on the way.

Anis Mojgani – Come Closer

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