Sunday, June 6, 2010

Very Verse-a-Tile

© 2010
By Joyce Mason

I often talk about my tendency toward earworms—songs that get stuck in my head. This odd radio transmitter in my mind seems to be stuck on a channel that plays childhood slogans, jingles, and commercials. I never know when an otherwise dull day might be interrupted by something like:

I’m Buster Brown.
I live in a shoe.
That’s my dog Tide.
He lives there, too.

Sometimes the earworm isn’t just silly; it’s a message.

I got one of those today. My wormsong is from a Broadway musical made into a movie. I saw it for the first time in 1962 at the impressionable age of 15. Thankfully, my mother never censored my viewing. If she'd known the content, I doubt she’d have let me see Gypsy, about the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, even if it did star Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood. Gypsy’s strip song is stuck in my head like an old scratched 78 record:

Let me entertain you.
Let me make you smile.
Let me do a few tricks,
Some old and then some new tricks,
I’m very versatile.

I’ve always felt versatility was one of my best qualities. Sr. Mary Nice-Nun thought so, too, when she awarded me the Excellence Medal in 5th grade as the most well rounded student. (I'm still both embarrassed and proud.)

In my last post, Revisiting Day, I shared my dramatic tendencies toward déjà vue with people, interests, and employment. If I haven’t done it twice, it’s not done!  Versatile, lately, means verse-a-tile, as in my return to writing verse or poetry.

I started getting inklings of the poetic itch again in 2008, described in my post, Edgar Allan Poet. All those things on an endless play loop in my mind are poems. As I recently was reminded in a book that really excites me, Saved by a Poem by Kim Rosen, song lyrics are poetry. So are jingles and most ad slogans. All these years I just thought I had some kind of brain malfunction, but it was really my mind saying, You dig poetry. Connoisseurs of the earworm also point out that because rhymie stuff sticks to memory like glue, you should use poems as devices to help you remember important things. Writing a poem seems to work that way for me, even though I seldom use rhyme and prefer free verse.

Why Poetry Now?

One of the greatest gifts of the brain and subconscious is their ability to work together to create linear time and some sense of prioritization of the human attention span. When I needed poetry, poetry bubbled up again from within me. I suspect I’m not the only person who needs poetry now. The times are ripe for verse-a-tility. As an astrologer, I know this is true because of a tense alignment of numerous planets in the sky that I call The Big Change Transits.

To quote the rhyme and rhythm of Bob Dylan, The times, they are a changin’. The lyrics of this song apply just as much today as they did in 1963 when this song first came out:

You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.

The universe is asking us for major change now. Dive in! For an overview, see my article on The Radical Virgo on Evolution—and join the new species-naming contest. My suggestion is homo improvement.

You can hear Bob perform The Times They Are a Changin’, including these lines:

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes open
The chance won’t come again

All of us are enduring multiple challenges at once. My personal experience of it? I have so much going on, I’m learning to focus and deal in the moment. These are both emergent and emergency times. Many people function best in a crisis when their adrenaline and instincts bond to meet their inner hero. This is the test and graduation all at once. Embrace rapid evolution, or as Bob Dylan warns, you’ll sink like a stone.

Poetry makes us more buoyant. It puts us in touch with the beauty all around us and how we're part of it in both our joy and sorrow. As Kim Rosen’s book title suggests, poetry saves us with its healing quality of contact with our innermost spirit and the emotional release of pent-up feelings that harm us. For more on the power of poetry, read my article, Take Back Your Poems.

Poetry has no bounds, like the universe or love. ~ Michael L. Maxwell

More Benefits of Writing Poetry

The quote above is just one of a list by Michael L. Maxwell that really makes you think! See his Benefits of Writing Poetry and join me in my aha moment.

In the article, Poetry Therapy-What Is It?, author L. Hadley focuses first on how writing poetry opens the unconscious. Everything good on Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights—epiphanies, guidance in everyday symbols, and synthesis of their meaning—comes from being in close touch with your Deep Interior. Not taking that swim in your own inner waters in one form or another has devastating effects.

The inhibition of thoughts or feelings can hurt the biological body gradually, affecting the immunological system, the heart and vascular system, and even the biochemical stability of the brain and nervous system. ~ L. Hadley

Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Write your way out of it. Put aside the prescriptions for a moment, pick up a pen, and write a poem.

Some How-To’s for the Not Necessarily Poetic by Nature

I understand that not all of us were born with the gene for verse. (My birth father wrote beautiful poetry to my mother, and I think I have him to thank for my verse-a-tile wiring.) Here’s the great news. It's a skill you can acquire. You may be amazed at what you discover as you dig deeper into your Self.

I’ve gathered some resources to get you started. First, whatever form of writing tickles your fancy (they all are therapeutic at some level), a great primer on unleashing your muse and channeling her through a pen is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Second, this is my first and final word on writer’s block:

Writer’s block is a simple refusal to look at your emotions. Why don’t you want to write this? Answer that, in writing, and the words will never stop flowing!

Your reasons for not wanting to write can be simple or complex. Examples: I’m on a deadline, I resent it, and oops! I think I still have some issues with authority. Alternatively, I seem to be touching on something very uncomfortable in this poem. What am I refusing to see or avoiding?

I love the nuggeted articles in eHow, including How to Write Poetry. There’s some excellent advice here for the newly versed dabbler! WikiHow, another favorite site, offers a more expanded primer in How to Write a Poem.

Early tip for beginner poets: One thing I learned from Natalie Goldberg is how much ambience and tools can make a difference. Some people like to sit by the river and write, others in a café, or there’s the boring writer archetype like me. I sit in a chaotic office, stuff stacked everywhere, and plunk away on my computer, a laptop that has never left its docked station and connection with my big screen monitor in the four years I’ve owned it. I’d like to think what comes out of it is highly creative despite the standard equipment and surrounding mess. To quote Garfield, Creativity is not pretty. As to other tools, some people love a pretty journal, carefully chosen at a stationery store, colored pens, and there are those fun fridge magnets for making poetry, Magnetic Poetry.

Experiment a lot with tools and environments. And if you want to mix your media a little, I have rediscovered in this personal poetic renaissance one of my favorite tarot decks, A Poet’s Tarot. It’s yummy!

Parting Poems and the Poetic Times

How am I doing so far? Have I entertained you? Made you smile? Showed you some new and old tricks?

Recently I published a new e-book, Poems to Heal the Healer: The 12 Chiron Signs. Chiron is my astrological specialty, and each person’s Chiron sign speaks volumes to where they were wounded (usually in childhood), the gift in that wound, and how this “biofeedback” prepares each of us for our true vocation. That vocation usually involves giving back the lessons learned in healing that personal pain. Speaking of gifts, since Hot Flashbacks readers aren’t all into astrology, I have a special offer for you. You don’t have to know a stitch of astrology to appreciate these poems about making lemonade out of the lemons in our lives. Still, it’s a lot more meaningful to know which one applies to you personally. If you purchase this e-book and don’t know your Chiron sign, e-mail me your birth date, time, and place and I’ll look it up for you. (Exact time is rarely necessary to determine your Chiron sign.) I wrote this book because I noticed that when Chiron moved into the sign of Pisces recently, everything started coming up poetry! The next decade is likely to see a rebirth of this art form, and I want my readers to be on the leading edge.

Finally, to punctuate the fun and leave you on an up-note, I thought I’d share one of my favorite aging boomer babe poems with you. It’s a variation on the theme of being a Venus Girl:


Turquoise, two-inch tube
Five and Dime
(was I even ten?)
Hot pink
Hot Lips
to grow up

35-cents in ‘57
Greasy, yet dry
A scent so unique
So eau de cut-rate
My mouth almost winces
I fell for face paint
Head over heels
Beauty, batting eyes
Venus undersize

A dollar at 57
(years old)
Cheap lipstick
takes me back
to my first tube
and my face museum
on tour
walking, talking canvas
so many years
the artist’s palette
the canvas now textured
with fine wrinkles

still wielding brushes and pencils
doing my part
to Keep America Beautiful.

~ ©2010 by Joyce Mason/


Photo Credit: Things of the Heart (1) © Elenaray

Your Turn! If this post sparks you to write a poem, you're welcome to share it in the Comments.


LB said...

Hi Joyce – To answer your question (are you entertaining me?) I’m havin a real good time – Yes sir!!! (Inside joke for fellow “Gypsy” fans.) ;)

Your post and poetry make me want to write one myself. Too bad I tend to feel most inspired when I’m depressed. It’s then that all those powerful feelings come pouring out; I need to write and can’t hold back. Thanks for all the links. I plan to check them out for some new tricks, I mean tips.

Love your Lipstick poem, being a “Venus Girl” (albeit an aging one) myself. I still remember watching my mother applying her lipstick as she readied herself for some special occasion. She was like an artist applying paint to her canvas, so pretty and perfect. Your poem captured my ongoing fascination with the process.

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, LB! As always, it's great to get your input. When you read "Taking Back the Poems" on Write Anything, especially the poem of that name, you'll start to see how the catalysts of depression, anger, and etc. are the yeast of poetry! I was so good myself at writing in an upset emotional state; I'm still learning to do the same when things are painfully beautiful, simply delightful, or so profound, I must capture the insight and sensation. I suspect most of us have a growth curve from negative to positive when learning to express our deepest, most powerful feelings.

So glad the Lipstick poem reminded you of your mom. I'm flattered. My mom was a Libra, and I, too, got great modeling on "the feminine" from the decking-yourself-out perspective. Mine was also a hair dresser. :)

PS - Hope you'll share one of those poems you write ...

LB said...

My mom was a part-time Avon representative, full-time Taurus (Sun and Moon). My quest for beauty in all its forms was inescapable. ;)

Joyce Mason said...

I'm so envious, LB! A childhood rich with Avon samples. Every Venus Girl's dream. :)