Reflections and Announcement

REFLECTIONS ON MY FIRST 100 DAY PROJECT

For my first 100 day project, my aim was to read a poem and write (at least) one first-draft stanza of poetry inspired by that poem. During the course of the project, however, this aim evolved somewhat into writing whole (mostly short) poems (granted, many of these need some work and should probably be expanded), and the poems upon which my stanzas were to be inspired became somewhat ancillary. I found myself writing my own poetry first, and then finding famous poems that were tangentially related, after the fact. This became a bit tedious, and I’m going to drop that requirement in my next project.

Despite this, I did read a lot of poetry and fell in love with some of the great poets, notably Dickinson, Rilke, Housman, Cavafy, Millay, Yeats, Blake, and Whitman.

THE PROCESS

As the project evolved, I settled into a pattern of writing most of my poetry on the weekend, usually away from home, often in Bloomington (I’m writing this from The Runcible Spoon!).

I found that I must work myself into a certain state of mind to start a poem, or to receive (if that’s the correct word) inspiration, as if from a muse, some words or an idea. It was usually just a line or two. I had to learn not to censor myself, and just let it flow out of me. A lot of it was, to be honest, crap. A line or two, a word or a phrase, might stick, but the rest …, well, it either went into the trash, or was heavily retooled. After that, much of the nitty-gritty work came from moulding that inspired mess of gobbly-goop into something half-way decent and readable. This phase of the work didn’t require the aforementioned inspired state of mind, but a simple kind of steadfastness.

It became a two-fold process. But I’m certain this process is incomplete. I remember that Mary Oliver wrote in her book A Poetry Handbook, that she drags her poems through at least fifty drafts!

So, for my next project, my plan is to fill out this two-fold process with yet another layer of reflection and editing.

THE ARTIST’S LIFE

Often artists are regarded as eccentric by outsiders. Artists often think and behave in strange ways. I used to think that that’s why they became artists.

I wonder now if the reverse is true. Perhaps creating art alters the artist. It is the work that is transformational.

For me personally, it’s a spiritual endeavor, and I think that’s how Rilke, and other poets, considered it, as well.


Without further ado, I’m pleased to present …

MY NEXT 100 DAY PROJECT

Novel X

One of my lifelong dreams is to write a novel. Many years ago, I started one, then dropped it. I started another, and after many more years, I have only four of five chapters in various stages of completeness to show for it.

Let’s face it, at this rate, I’ll never get it done. My next 100 day project will include work on this novel, which will henceforth be called Novel X.

In addition, I will also continue to write poetry, and to a lesser degree, read poetry (as it pertains to the project; of course, I’ll continue to read poetry on my own). For this project, I will write whole poems based on some of the work that I’ve done in the first project, and also from work that I’ve done in the past.

Here are the specifics:

This project will really be a 105 day project (fifteen weeks), although that’s not as snappy as The 100 Day Project, so I’ll continue to call it the latter.

Each week will consist of the following:

Four blog posts for Novel X, each of which will consist of at least 125 words (half of a page). These 125 words don’t necessarily have to be a polished product, but should, at least, be coherent and grammatically sound.

Two blog posts, each consisting of one poem. In addition to writing the poem, I’m also going to read it, so that you may hear how it sounds in my head. I’ve been told I have a pleasant voice, so I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Lastly, I’ll create one blog post where I read a famous poem written by a real poet! I will also include a little history and fun facts about the poet.

At the end of the project, I should have thirty first-draft pages of Novel X completed, and thirty poems.

An ambitious project! But I’m excited to begin it.

Monday, August 28th, 2017 kicks off my next 100 day project! Wish me luck!


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

100 Day Project – Days 99 and 100 (We’ve Made It!)

Well, I’ve come to the end of my first 100 day project! All in all, it’s been a success. I’ve written quite a bit of poetry … some good, some not so good, some that needs work, some that will go in the trash bin. That’s something! So, a toast!

Here’s to my first 100 day project, and to my next … soon to be announced!

DAY 99 (August 17th, 2017)

William Blake
William Blake

Love’s Secret

Never seek to tell thy love,
    Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
    Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
    I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
    Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,
    A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
    He took her with a sigh.

DAY 100 (August 18th, 2017)

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

I had no time to hate because

I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love, but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

My Commentary

I’ve combined these two into a single poem

COME MY LOVE

Come, my love
Let’s tarry by the flower bed,
and forget what we’ve done and said.

Rest your weary legs
upon this old park bench,
listen to birds caw
and insects saw,
and heal this wound,
after years scabbed over,
still raw.


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!

100 Day Project – Days 97 and 98

DAY 97 (August 14th, 2017)

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

Truth—is as old as God—

Truth—is as old as God—
His Twin identity
And will endure as long as He
A Co-Eternity—

And perish on the Day
Himself is borne away
From Mansion of the Universe
A lifeless Deity.

DAY 98 (August 15th, 2017)

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

Drowning is not so pitiful

Drowning is not so pitiful
As the attempt to rise
Three times, ’tis said, a sinking man
Comes up to face the skies,
And then declines forever
To that abhorred abode,
Where hope and he part company—
For he is grasped of God.

The Maker’s cordial visage,
However good to see,
Is shunned, we must admit it,
Like an adversity.

My Commentary

I’ve combined these two into a single poem

WHEN MY HEART OPENS

When, at last, my heart does open,
despite my failing eyes—
bound by the ravages of so many dogged years—
your outstretched arms,
pale and devoted in the ardent hours,
patiently wait.

This is my God. She is faceless, smiling,
patiently waiting for my fond embrace.


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!

100 Day Project – Days 95 and 96

DAY 95 (August 13th, 2017)

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

The Heart has narrow Banks

The Heart has narrow Banks
It measures like the Sea
In mighty—unremitting Bass
And Blue Monotony

Till Hurricane bisect
And as itself discerns
Its sufficient Area
The Heart convulsive learns

That Calm is but a Wall
Of unattempted Gauze
An instant’s Push demolishes
A Questioning—dissolves.

DAY 96 (August 14th, 2017)

Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg

Pearl Fog

Open the door now.

Go roll up the collar of your coat
To walk in the changing scarf of mist.

Tell your sins here to the pearl fog
And know for once a deepening night
Strange as the half-meanings
Alurk in a wise woman’s mousey eyes.

Yes, tell your sins
And know how careless a pearl fog is
Of the laws you have broken.

My Commentary

I’ve combined these two into a single poem

LIFE STARTS WITH A WORD

Life starts with a word
uttered in comtemplation.

The word may become a question,
and if it’s asked with the heart of a wide-eyed child,
answers in visions may unfold like petals
of a lotus flower emerging from an emerald pond
to embrace the morning sun.

And all your questions,
strung together like pearls,
tell your story.


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!

100 Day Project – Days 93 and 94

DAY 93 (August 11th, 2017)

Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda

Poetry

And it was at that age . . . poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, not silence,
but from a street it called me,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among raging fires
or returning alone,
there it was, without a face,
and it touched me.

I didn’t know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
Something knocked in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
the darkness perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the overpowering night, the universe.

And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.

My Commentary

Art must transform the heart of the artist
if it be true art.

DAY 94 (August 12th, 2017)

C.P. Cavafy
C.P. Cavafy

Finalities

Amid fear and suspicions,
with agitated mind and frightened eyes,
we melt and plan how to act
to avoid the certain
danger that so horribly threatens us.
And yet we err, this was not in our paths;
the messages were false
(or we did not hear, or fully understand them).
Another catastrophe, one we never imagined,
sudden, precipitous, falls upon us,
and unprepared—there is no more time—carries us off.

My Commentary

Listen when the moment comes,
lest the message God whispered in your ear
be drowned by the deafening,
frenetic drums of this confused and
counterfeit world.


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!

100 Day Project – Days 91 and 92

DAY 91 (August 9th, 2017)

William Blake
William Blake

Ah! Sun-flower

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

DAY 92 (August 10th, 2017)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Autumn Within

It is autumn; not without
But within me is the cold.

Youth and spring are all about;
It is I that have grown old.

Birds are darting through the air,
Singing, building without rest;
Life is stirring everywhere,
Save within my lonely breast.

There is silence: the dead leaves
Fall and rustle and are still;
Beats no flail upon the sheaves,
Comes no murmur from the mill.

My Commentary

I’ve combined these two into a single poem

A TREASURE OF TOMMORROWS

It is easy to see how tomorrow will end
if you do nothing today.

It was different when you were young
and your basket of tomorrows replenished itself
by some glorious, enigmatic magic.

But now you are a begger,
in the sunset of your years
scraping the bottom of a clay bowl
for scraps of allotted time.


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!

100 Day Project – Days 89 and 90

DAY 89 (August 7th, 2017)

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley

To the Moon [fragment]

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
    Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,—
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

DAY 90 (August 8th, 2017)

Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg

Under the Harvest Moon

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

My Commentary

I’ve combined these two into a single poem

THE GIBBOUS MOON

The gibbous moon confers gifts—
    firelit gossamer to light your forest path.
But when she wanes
and there’s a fall from grace
    be vigilent, capricious heart—
It is not a time for mourning …

but for sowing.
The harvest home cannot be denied you.


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!

Year 2017 365 Photo Journey (August 9th thru August 26th) – Chicago Edition

Some pics from my recent trip to Chicago. Enjoy!

this is a thing. Consider it a challenge, a journal, or a journey (I prefer journey). Take a picture a day and post it to your blog. Here are some reasons why you should try it, too.

Year 2017 365 Photo Journey (August 2nd thru August 9th) – Bloomington, Statues, and Miscellany

Here are some miscellaneous pics from Bloomington and Indy. The statues are on the IUPUI campus. Enjoy!

this is a thing. Consider it a challenge, a journal, or a journey (I prefer journey). Take a picture a day and post it to your blog. Here are some reasons why you should try it, too.

100 Day Project – Days 87 and 88

DAY 87 (August 5th, 2017)

A. E. Housman
A. E. Housman

A Shropshire Lad XXXV: On the idle hill of summer

On the idle hill of summer,
  Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
  Drumming like a noise in dreams.
Far and near and low and louder
  On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
  Soldiers marching, all to die.
East and west on fields forgotten
  Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
  None that go return again.
Far the calling bugles hollo,
  High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
  Woman bore me, I will rise.

DAY 88 (August 6th, 2017)

A. E. Housman
A. E. Housman

I Counsel You Beware

Good creatures, do you love your lives
And have you ears for sense?
Here is a knife like other knives,
That cost me eighteen pence.

I need but stick it in my heart
And down will come the sky,
And earth’s foundations will depart
And all you folk will die.

My Commentary

I’ve combined these two into a single poem

TO BE A MAN

What does it mean to be a man
and not a child?

Perhaps it means to be a child
and not a man.

The child is helpless.
The man is not.

And what are you but helpless, mortal man?


The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a creativity excavation. It’s about unearthing dormant or unrealized creativity by committing to a daily practice everyday for 100 days.
Creativity is a skill. The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Practice takes time. Practice takes commitment. Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world. Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

I started this 100 Day Project on May 11th. My project is to read a poem, and write at least one first-draft stanza inspired by that poem. I’ll post the results at www.bradseverance.com/category/100-day-project/

Enjoy!