Website, Facebook, and personal blog are ingredients for success in today’s world.” So says manuscript evaluators, friends, journal and trade writers, non-friends, and product salesmen.
As a novice residing in a small market with a limited budget and known for risk-taking, I’ve tried one at a time. First it was a website, then Facebook, now it is a blog.
The design of this new venture will be minimal. The writing will be simple and straightforward with more detail than allowed on Facebook. I will use the “I” word more than I felt I should on the website, or was comfortable doing on Facebook. Since my purpose is to express myself on those topics that I am currently thinking and write, entries will be occasional when I feel the need to express myself publicly.
I am gambling that by sending these thoughts out into the great etheric beyond under a less-than-creative title I will reach a wider universe of readers than on Facebook. We shall see.
In May, I e-mailed everyone I had met at Iowa Summer Writing Festivals between 1997 and 2008 for whom I had addresses, to let them know that I finally published the book that every year I had threatened to publish.
Alice Osborn, whom I had met at the 2007 ISWF, responded by asking if she could review it. We, like most of the participants, had exchanged e-mail addresses, knowing full well that our chances of communicating after we left ISWF were very slim.
I knew from Iowa that Alice was a good writer but had no idea how accomplished she was. After I visited her website www.aliceosborn.com, I couldn’t believe that she would include Reimagine: . . . among the books she reviewed. I sent her a copy anyway.
Last week, she sent word that her review was posted. Wow! It is one of the best I’ve read for any book, anywhere. And, she was right on about the weak points as well as the strong ones. It is on her blog, http://aliceosborn.com/book-reviews/reimagine-poetry-book-review/.
What poems inspire me? As I research ideas, I read poems that appear to support the direction my ideas are taking. This helps me decide whether they are credible and, if they are, assists me in shaping them.
How do I decide where to travel? I count on three fingers the times I traveled out of the Upper Skagit River Valley (WA), before leaving for college. Travel since then has been, and is today, focused—education, professional, family, genealogy. I choose to travel as a sojourner, experiencing, to the degree possible, how others live, their culture and their history.
How does place and history play into my poetry? Place is in my blood. I trace it from 15th cent yeoman farmers in the Yorkshire Wolds and immigrant-laborers from Norway mountain valleys to migrant farm laborers crossing North America and homesteading in South Dakota and Saskatchewan on their way to the Upper Skagit River Valley. For fifteen years, my wife and I gardened a “Birchwood acre” in Bellingham, WA, living, to a degree, my father’s dream of owning and working land. Several years ago, Alaskan writer Nick Jans complimented me on the relationship of people and land in my poetry. Recently, Jack Nisbet, who writes about interrelated social and natural history of the Columbia River drainage, called me “a poet of landscape.”
My interest in history began with Mrs. Marjorie Baughman, my upper grades teacher in two-room Rockport (WA) School. Every Monday morning, she shared her Seattle P-I with us. Miraculously, to me, there were always books on history in the box of library books that arrived each month on loan from the state superintendent’s office. This interest continued through graduate study, teaching, travel, and into my poetry.
Thoughts on Writing: Poetry, Genealogy, and Memoir
I read recently that “blogging” is storytelling. When Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009 was being evaluated, the reviewer suggested that as an amateur poet known primarily in local circles I should write quite a bit of what I was expressing as introduction and backstory in a blog. As time went on and I learned more about blogging, I became convinced that it was a good idea. About a month ago, I succumbed to advertising by GoDaddy, www.godaddy.com, and this blog was initiated.
My intent is to treat this site as an amateur storyteller journalizing thoughts, ideas, remembrances, and, sometimes, opinions that come to mind. I will express them in my personal style, laying them before whomever, wherever, may read them. They will focus, in most part, on the titular topics in a non-partisan, nonsectarian way. Although some entries may appear authoritarian or pedantic, those that are worthy are open to discussion.
I will add, revise, clarify, and tweak the content for freshness and currency as I learn more about the process. My request is that you check it periodically and watch it unfold. Do not hesitate to visit www.richardleeharris.net.