Untitled, because this post did its own thing entirely, but at least there’s a poem?*

*This post did not turn out the way I’d intended it to. It was supposed to be a summary of what I’ve been up to, and some useful links I’ve come across, along with some pretty pictures of my cat and my hourglass. I’ll have to save those for a later post though, because this is what came out of me tonight, and I need to get to bed before I revert back to my natural zombie state!

It’s been a while since I posted anything and there are a few reasons (be warned, I was struck with verbosity during this post, so continue at your peril):

  1. I’m pretty lousy at sticking to a schedule in terms of blogging. When life gets busy, I have a tendency to avoid the internet like the proverbial plague. It’s a way of keeping my sanity intact.
  2. Work was draining the life out of me. Although my colleagues were great, and I could work from home – I was expected to be on social media, reading mainstream news articles, and writing my own. I hated it. While it may be the lifeblood of people who thrive on political debate, and journalists with predatory instincts for a good story, I just couldn’t convince myself to enjoy it. I tried, I really did. But it was making me miserable, and for someone who has depression, that’s not the greatest space to be in. So I quit. I cannot begin to describe the relief I feel at not having to plug into that every day. It feels like I can breathe again. Having said that, working from home for an online company, with deadlines and targets, forced me to sit down and write, even when I didn’t feel like it. It’s given me a level of discipline and focus I didn’t have before, and taught me some really valuable lessons about what I do (and don’t) want in a writing career.
  3. Ghostwriting – Oh yes! Quitting my job meant I needed to find another source of income. Ghostwriting fiction gives me that income and allows me to focus on what I’m passionate about – telling stories. The best thing about it is that the pressure is off to deliver a perfect first draft, because it’s not being published under my name. And ironically, because of that, I’ve been able to create and share some of my best stories and characters in the short space of a month, compared to the last 15 years of writing! I will always be a perfectionist when it comes to telling a good story, but ghostwriting has given me the confidence to tackle my own ideas with a bit more leeway for mistakes.

Because life got so crazy for a while, I needed to step back and figure out what my priorities were. Depression was kicking my butt, and I nearly messed up some really important relationships because of it. Motivation and energy were so hard to come by – and part of the problem was that I didn’t want to acknowledge I was actually depressed. I had some weird idea that acknowledgement meant it had won, and that I would never be okay again. I thought that pretending everything was okay, and ignoring reality would, in fact, make everything okay. It didn’t. It made things worse. Much worse.

No one who hasn’t had depression will ever be able to fully understand what it’s like to have no reason to feel absolutely and thoroughly de-motivated. I think the thing that comes closest to describing it for me personally, is this:

I live a thousand lies,
To hide a single truth;
That everything’s pretense,
Every smile a mask –
A deceit to give you peace of mind.

I live a thousand lies,
Each morning when I wake
To greet you for the day;
You do not know that deep within,
In dreams I’d choose to stay.

I live a thousand lies,
Every time I say I’m well;
And no one ever seems to see,
The truth behind the ‘me’.

Yet still, I’ll live the lies,
A thousand every day
And the single truth of what I want,
Well hidden it will stay.

(Keep reading for the rest of the poem)

One of the biggest realisations I’ve had in the last month, is that depression is not an excuse to check out of taking responsibility for my life. At the end of the day, this is my life, and while I may sometimes struggle to function on a very basic level (can I just stay in bed forever?), that’s not a reason to give up. There is never any reason to give up.

I am fortunate in that I’ve got an incredible support system in my friends. They are the ones who’ve encouraged me to talk about how I feel, acknowledge when I have bad days, and celebrate the good ones. I am so incredibly grateful to them for not allowing me to use depression as an excuse to check out; for letting me talk and vent and cry without judgement; and for offering me practical help (like driving me to the clinic so I could get some homeopathic remedies for support).

And they are the reason for this poem continuing:

Until the day will come,
When I’ll remove the mask
Certain you’ll turn away,
Disgusted by my lies.

Then the hope that I’ve been seeking
Will suddenly shine bright,
For you have seen my deepest lie
And still embraced my light.

One by one my thousand lies,
Will slowly fall away,
And in their place I’ll hold the truth:
That I was born to live!

The only time I ever take selfies is when it’s the only way to get a photo of one of my animals being adorable. Meet Paladin, who was formerly Stray Cat, and is now just a smooshy bundle of love:

Paladin
Paladin demanding loves while I attempt to write.
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Poetry Wednesday – A Jozi Flash 2017 Haiku

A haiku is a traditional Japanese poem consisting of three lines. The first and last lines are made up of five syllables each, the middle line of seven. Apparently, a haiku rarely rhymes which means it’s a poetry form I can actually work with! Hallelujah!

And here is a haiku to prove it:*

Jozi Flash Twenty

Seventeen is due out soon

Working on edits

 

*It’s also the reason this post is so short and why I’m going to be screaming at everyone to stay tuned because, oh my gosh! I’m so excited to reveal the cover in a couple of weeks – but first you have to solve a treasure hunt across all the authors’ social media and I usually hate social media but this is going to be FUN!**

**I’m an editor – I’m allowed run on sentences when I’m this excited.***

***That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

 

Poetry Wednesday – On a Thursday*

*because I really make a terrible planner and I’m not going to try and pretend otherwise.

Last week we explored Iambic Pentameter. I tried to play around with it a little bit, but to be honest, I’m not sure I’m cut out for formal styles of poetry. Granted, writing poems takes a bit of practice, but also that whole planning thing is just not me. However! Planning may not be my thing, but perseverance is! Three cheers for stubbornness. I will keep on practicing.

So this week, let’s look at other types of feet. (If you have a secret foot fetish, prepare to be disappointed, because we’re not talking about those types of feet.)

When we looked at Iambic Pentameter, we spoke about iambs – a way of measuring syllables in lines of poetry. If a line is an iamb, it consists of an unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed syllable. But not all lines are iambic. Lines are measured in feet – and just to confuse us even more, there are quite a few different types of feet.

The standard types in English poetry are:

  • Iamb (unstressed syllable followed by stressed syllable)
  • Trochee (stressed syllable followed by unstressed syllable)
  • Dactyl (stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables)
  • Anapest (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable)
  • Spondee (two stressed syllables)
  • Pyrrhic (two unstressed syllables)

(Did anyone else have a bit of a giggle at the names? No? Oh well.)

Now that we know what the different types of feet are, it’s time to explore meter. Meter is a way of measuring how many feet there are in a line, which is why Iambic Pentameter, breaks down to mean: five feet consisting of iambs.

Types of Meters:

  1. Monometer (one foot per line)
  2. Dimeter: (two feet per line)
  3. Trimeter: (three feet per line)
  4. Tetrameter: (four feet per line)
  5. Pentameter: (five feet per line)
  6. Hexameter: (six feet per line)

(If you can count in Greek, you’re all set!)

With this breakdown, we can basically shove feet and meters together in any random fashion and create a variety of different forms of poetry. For the serious poets reading this – please don’t cringe too much at that thought. I am aware that this is not necessarily a good idea, but it is fun to play with the thought of a Pyrrhic Hexameter.*

*I think that might break the laws of the English language, but hey! English has never really been a stickler for rules.

Does formal poetry makes sense to you? How do you go about writing a poem that conforms to the types of feet and meters? Are you a practiced poet – share your secrets! 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Wednesday – Iambic Pentameter*

*Because it’s the only thing I remember from lessons in school.

Today’s poetry post was supposed to deal with Iambic Pentameter, but well… there are people out there who just explain it so much more efficiently than I could ever hope to.

Like this wonderful person on YouTube:

Being very new to the formal poetry scene, I haven’t attempted to write a poem in any sort of recognised format, but I’d like to invite you to share yours with me, either by posting it directly in the comments, or linking back to your blog.

I will be attempting an Iambic Pentameter poem within the next week!

How do you feel about this meter? Does it appeal? Do you have a favourite? Share your thoughts below!

 

 

Poetry Wednesday – I’m not in school anymore and poetry is actually cool!*

*Insert maniacal laughter.

Today is all about poetry. Not everyone is a poet, or enjoys reading it, but I think in general, poetry is either over or underrated. Like most art forms, it’s all about personal preference – what works for some, may not work for others.

Poetry at School Meme

Formal analysis of poetry is possibly one of the most boring aspects of English that we’re subjected to in school. I know that for a long time, I ignored poetry because of it.

Being older now (and probably more boring rather than wiser), I really love the genre and read a wide variety of different poems. Writing them is a slightly different story though, as none of my English poetry lessons stuck!

While we may not all enjoy writing poetry, it does have its uses, particularly – believe it or not – in novel writing.

That being said, I’m always trying to improve various aspects of my writing skills, and I think that one of the benefits in being able to recognise styles of poetry is that it gives me a greater ability to recognise when words don’t quite fit or are unnecessarily repetitive in my other forms of writing. Another advantage to poetry, is that it deals almost exclusively with the use of language. What I mean by this is that while poets write poetry for different reasons, or to convey separate meanings, the use of stressors, rhythm, and word definition is often very deliberate. This is a great skill to develop for novel writing, because it gives you a far wider range of characterization and world building to draw on.Poetry MemeImagine, for example, that you’re writing a modern-day romance novel. It’s set in South Africa, but the MC is actually from a non-English speaking country. The knowledge of stressed syllables in English that you’ve developed from reading and/or writing poetry, becomes quite useful in developing conflict between the characters based on verbal misunderstandings because the MC will stress sounds differently.

When you stop to think about what poetry is, one of the most obvious expressions of poetry is in music. And I don’t personally know any writers who aren’t influenced at some point or another by a song or lyrics that resonate with them.

Which brings us to today’s poetry form – the Lyric Poem.

Wikipedia defines it as:

“…a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typically spoken in the first person. The term derives from a form of Ancient Greek literature, the lyric, which was defined by its musical accompaniment, usually on a stringed instrument known as a lyre. The term owes its importance in literary theory to the division developed by Aristotle between three broad categories of poetry: lyrical, dramatic and epic.”

Much lyric poetry depends on regular meter based either on number of syllables or on stress.

Before getting into meters and how they work, I want to share an article from teachingenglish.org that looks at the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables:

Stressed Syllables

A stressed syllable combines five features:

It is l-o-n-g-e-r – com p-u-ter

It is LOUDER – comPUTer

It changes pitch, normally raising slightly.

It is said more clearly -The vowel sound is purer. Compare the first and last vowel sounds with the stressed sound.

It uses larger facial movements – Look in the mirror when you say the word. Look at your jaw and lips in particular.

Take a look at the link above, and then see if you can identify the stressed syllables in the following words:

Confidence

Important

Motel

Genevieve

Laughter

Happiness

Dessert

Desert (Noun)

Desert (Verb)

Present (Noun)

Present (Verb)

As we spend time with poetry, we’ll explore the different meters and how to achieve them in your own poetry. Today, I’d like to share my personal favourite lyric poem and invite you to share your own if you have one. It’s one I studied at school, and I have had it memorized ever since. It’s best enjoyed by reading it aloud.

Grass_with_Daffodils_PNG_Clipart_Picture

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud – William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills, 

When all at once I saw a crowd, 

A host, of golden daffodils; 

Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 

 

Continuous as the stars that shine 

And twinkle on the milky way, 

They stretched in never-ending line 

Along the margin of a bay: 

Ten thousand saw I at a glance, 

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 

 

The waves beside them danced; but they 

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: 

A poet could not but be gay, 

In such a jocund company: 

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought 

What wealth the show to me had brought: 

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie 

In vacant or in pensive mood, 

They flash upon that inward eye 

Which is the bliss of solitude; 

And then my heart with pleasure fills, 

And dances with the daffodils.

 

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at meters starting with one of the most common in poetry – iambic pentameter.

 

Do you struggle to hear the stressed syllables in the words? Is it easier when you say them out loud? Share your favourite lyric poem in the comments – I’d love to read them.

The Traveller Series – Blog Tour

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I’m so happy to once more be part of Royal James Publishing’s blog tour – this time for Tiffany Teoh’s collection of poems titled The Traveller Series. I love doing author interviews, because it gives some truly wonderful insight into the creation of the book, as well as providing an opportunity to meet some fantastic people. The book itself is an exquisite collection of images and poems, and well worth adding to your poetry collection.

cover-design-travellerseries
How gorgeous is this cover!?

About The Traveller Series:

 The series started from a longing to want to travel after hearing all the good and bad tales from long term backpackers.

Every single piece that made it and didn’t make it in this is book has a special place in my heart as they were the beginning of a journey of a memory that never happened, but a longing that was constant.

We all naturally have it in us to wonder and wander, it’s just a matter of allowing it to take you to places.

interview

When did you start writing poetry?

I first dabbled in song-writing at around ten years old which later led to writing poetry in my teenage years to get some angst out, though I started writing more seriously two years ago when I was 23.

Most of the poems seem to be written in freeform. Have you written any formal styles of poetry, or do you prefer freeform?

I’ve played around with many form of poetry and proses. To be honest the abab rhymes are my favourites. However, most of the poems in this book are free-form because they are meant to take the readers on a journey of the character’s thoughts, rather than to just entertain the readers. I wanted to make the readers feel as if they are there.

The Traveller Series was inspired by your desire to travel and see the world, but a lot of the poems in it also seem to deal with love and loss. These seem to be universal concepts experienced by anyone who’s ever been in a relationship. Do you think that travelling – specifically the immersion into one place before leaving for another – is a metaphor for the experiences that love brings to people?

Actually, The Traveller Series was first inspired by a boy I fell in love with once, but we couldn’t be together as his first love was to keep travelling and he couldn’t remain with me. I wrote the first few poems to help me get through the heart aches and further developed the series when I started travelling myself. The book as a whole is meant to encapsulate the experiences of a traveller i.e.  The excitement of being in a new place, a love for the world as they learn to see it, and meeting as well as having to part with people that you meet.

There’s a simple elegance in your poetry. I especially love this one:

 “Humanity is my father,

Nature is my mother,

the world is my home.”

What inspires you to write and do you follow a routine or write when the urge takes you?

Thank you, that’s one of my personal favourites as well. My inspiration comes from people. I enjoy hearing the philosophies and stories of others. Sometimes they move me so much that I feel they have to be preserved in a physical form. That’s usually when I have the urge to write. I try to have a routine but I’ve learnt creativity can’t work that way all the time. It’s better to just have a pen and paper ready at all times when I feel something profound coming.

 Which poets/authors would you say have influenced you the most, if any?

I find so much bravery and sweetness in Lang Leav. It’s not always easy to share with the world some matters of the heart, plus readers would assume that the author is the main character all the time which is not always the case. I also love Oscar Wilde’s romanticism and elegance – I think those elements should always be preserved in poetry. Edgar Alan Poe’s work was actually what got me into writing poetry instead of songs. I love the stories he tells in poetic form. Annabel Lee is my favourite.

 If there’s one thing you would want readers to take away from your poems, what would it be, and why?

I just want them to finish the book and feel awakened with a renewed sense of empathy towards people. There’s always more to the story than the summary of it. We are all just travelling through life and it makes this world a better place when we are kind and mindful to each other.

tiffany-teoh

About Tiffany Teoh

Tiffany is a Malaysian born Chinese, of Peranakan heritage. She was raised in Kuala Lumpur until the age of 17 and proceeded to live in Australia for 8 years until the age of 25. She is currently hitchhiking and traveling around the world with her fiancé and their puppy. For more on Tiffany, visit her website.

WEBSITE/FACEBOOK/TWITTER/INSTAGRAM

giveawayRoyal James Publishing is hosting a promotional giveaway. Click here  or visit their Facebook page to enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of, The Traveller Series by Tiffany Teoh.