Musings about the writing life.

Monday, September 30, 2013

NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti Visits GTCC

September 25th, 2013
Jamestown, NC

12-1 pm Poetry Reading
Joseph Bathanti read poetry in the AT Auditorium, introducing each one with a great anecdote.  The subject was often "leaving home." For him, he had left Pittsburgh to come to North Carolina.  One poem was about the night before his sister was getting married.  In that case, his sister was "leaving home" for the first time.  Joseph Bathanti's poems are often free verse with a narrative threading through.  He captured everyone's attention and even raffled off two of his poetry books at the end.

1-2 pm Conversations with Veterans
Bathanti in his position as poet laureate especially loves to work with veterans.  He thinks that writing can be therapeutic for veterans.  He stated, "Either you control the memory, or the memory controls you."  He mentioned that 2 million Americans have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and 1/4 of them have been diagnosed with PTSD.

He mentioned some of the following resources for veterans:
I asked him if there was a piece of writing associated with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, is often associated with literature about the Vietnam War.

One student vet in the audience shared that after he read "The Things They Carried" with his English class, he couldn't go back to class for a week--it had brought up all these memories and feelings.

He suggested two books:
  • The Yellow Birds: A Novel by Kevin Powers (He's from Bluefield, VA.)
  • Here, Bullet (Poems) by Brian Turner
Looking for where to submit poems and short stories you write?
He suggested going to the website

3-4 pm Writing Creatively
The final session of the day was a round table discussion conversation about poetry with the GTCC Creative Writers Club members and some visiting guests.  Bathanti explained the difference between formalism and free verse. We discussed how poetry does not seem to be beach material and what a prose poem is exactly.

He suggested enhancing your poetry by always putting in a dramatic situation, a situation we can see/witness.  Then narrate that.

He said to try to avoid the "ephemeral" (feelings).  Use imagery.  Use language that appeals to the senses.

A poem has to sound good.  "Don't get 'format anxiety,'" he said.

"Show not Tell."  Isn't saying "he smashed Junior's face in" so much better than saying he was angry?  Isn't it great how you see Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman come on stage in the first scene and you just see him put his heavy suitcases down? (I am paraphrasing, but that is a good image!!)

He told us he personally was highly influenced by Robert Lowell's autobiographical poems in Life Studies, which I need to go and pick up....

Monthly NCWN Charlotte Chapter Meetup

Julia's Cafe and Books
Charlotte, NC
Saturday, September 28, 2013
3-5 pm
Hosted by Annie Maier

First of all, I love Julia's Cafe.  I found a copy of Steve Zissou for three dollars--The Criterion Collection!!

Secondly, Annie always brings homemade cinnamon cookies and handouts!!

"The more conferences I attend and the more studies and articles I read, the more I am convinced that one thing will remain constant regardless of the changes in our industry. No matter the media, genre or subject, the biggest difference between successful authors and aspiring writers is perseverance--the willingness, and ability, to stay seated, stay focused, and write." --Annie Maeir

I met some great local writers and talked about writing "salon style" like in Paris in the 30s perhaps....

I also was reminded of things to come: I don't know if I'll make it all the way down to Wrightsville Beach for this year's NCWN Fall Conference, but I should because they have a workshop on how to write sex scenes!!!

I did sign up for the "Spaghetti Night with Authors" that's happening Monday, October 14th though at Maggiano's hosted by the Women's National Book Association which is really called Bibliofeast 2013.

Hope to see you there!