Poetry in October

Everything, of course, is garbage.  Meaning, everything I write; meaning, complete hamster-cage liner.  I mean, yeah, I know that’s not true; just let me have this meltdown for a moment, ok?

So, October is coming up pretty quick, huh?  Many things are going on in October for me, like moving to a new apartment, my husband’s 40th birthday (E has a b-day, too,) my first weekend running the shop on my own, at least one trip out to Erie to see mom, and Halloween/my sister’s birthday, wherein she turns 26 and I finally live in a neighborhood that hands out candy.  Also…poetry night, featuring yours truly.  Clearly, we are going to talk about that, since I started this post by telling you all of my writing is garbage.  Hot, stinky trash. 

Nope, that’s just me psyching myself out.  I know what I want to do: a couple of pieces from, A Lovely Wreckage…gotta sell those books.  A piece from the yet to be picked up (Un)Requited.  Maybe VII from Me and Jesus etc.  Some outliers…the ones I really like that I haven’t read yet.  And maybe The Squirrel, and Halloween…y’know, because…Halloween. 

See, I know what I’ll read, and I know I’ll read well.  I don’t have the panic I had a few years back.  Still, old habits die real hard, and I find myself judging my work through my most critical eye-which I despise, of course.  I thought that my imposter syndrome was dead and gone, at least at the level of writing I have achieved.  This is new, however…being a featured reader.  I get like 15-17 minutes or something crazy when I’m used to doing 3-6 minutes at a time.  I’m going to have to figure out timing on my performance as well.

Anyway, that’s what I’m going to go work on during this rainy Monday afternoon.  If you’re here in the area on October 28th around 6pm, do drop in and hear me read.  On one hand, I want to pack the place.  On the other hand, I’d like no one to show up at all, besides the regulars I am already comfortable sharing with.  But it would be nice, I think, to see some familiar friends in the crowd.  So come on down to Dog Ears, and I’ll read you a poem about a squirrel.

Happy Monday.

Scarce Stories

I don’t have a topic, ok??

I’m over here with the world on fire, what with my mother being bounced around hospitals and needing to move apartments in less than 18 days.  I have to pack and clean and find a place, all while dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of my mother being sick.  Ergo, topics are scarce.  So scarce that I didn’t write last Thursday, and then felt all guilty about it.  I hate that; I always try to tell myself that this blog is FREE-I do not make money off it, so if I take a break one day, it is not a problem.  I am disappointing no one, and if there is one dissatisfied individual out there who looks forward to regular, biweekly postings…well that’s just too bad.  I ain’t getting paid for this.

But then I think about Wednesday, when I post on Patreon, over where I DO get paid.  I haven’t written any new content, so I’m going to have to deep dive the computer archives to find a piece.  For Patreon, I will put in the effort, and I will certainly make the time, because there is a paycheck involved.  Again…this blog is free, now and forever.  So, forgive me if I take a break.

Speaking of paychecks, work is also a priority that has sidelined some of the writing.  I am working mornings at one job and will soon be starting afternoons at another.  Work saps my energy, which leaves me plenty creative but with very little follow through.  Like, I want to write today, but I also worked this morning and would love to go sit on the sofa and watch tv when I am done here.

God, that sounds good.  Ok, I’m done here.

Happy Monday.

Poems in the Past

The other day, I received a memory notification on Facebook that 2 years prior, I had been published in The Buffalo News.  This was a momentous day which I wrote about in my blog back then, and am writing about now, as well. 

See, long story made very short, I wanted to be published in The Buffalo News poetry column since I was about 15, and I did not accomplish it until well after I began my publishing career in 2018.  On Fire was a special little poem I wrote for a poetry contest that I won, and I liked it enough to throw it into my submission packet, and then one day I got up the guts to actually send it to The News, with literally no expectation whatsoever.  In fact, I forgot I even sent it, until the day it appeared in the Sunday paper.

I felt so accomplished.  I know to some it may seem like hardly anything, but for me it was a dream 20 years in the making. I had already published several pieces, and my book had been out for a few months, but that was the day I truly felt like an actual author

Well, folks, the paper dropped the column.  Shocking, isn’t it?  This left me with a hollow feeling, as if now the newspaper is completely devoid of hope.

The column has been run by Robert D. Pohl, a man I have never met but know of via socials and friends of friends.  Despite not knowing him, I would run up and hug him if I could, because in my opinion he gave me the gift of a dream come true, and I am sad to see his legacy leave the newspaper. 

Another thing Robert did was keep the literature calendar, which I believe I heard he will still try to continue to do, which Is a blessing to all us writers.  The literature calendar told us who was reading where and when, and also who was hosting open mics and other events.  Buffalo has a pretty broad writing community, and I am hopeful that we will still be able to figure out how to get together. 

Anyhoo, I am very sad to see this feature go, but I am very grateful to have been published when I was.  What we need here in Buffalo is an arts magazine again.  We used to have one, but it folded, and now we have nothing to promote and discuss our incredibly vibrant arts scene.  I wish someone would step up and create such awesomeness…I can tell you, you would not be short of content.  We have enough writers in this city to bring it to life-shame I don’t know a single entrepreneur, though.

Enjoyment and Enlightenment

Once upon a time, I had a librarian.  Her name was Mrs. Priester, and she worked at my elementary school.  Kevin was quite fond of her, because she encouraged reading in him and even took it upon herself to find books that she thought he would enjoy.  She didn’t need to do this for me, because the day I met her I told her, in the bragging way of a 5-year-old, that I already knew how to read, thank you very much.  In fact, I even had a library card already.  (I thought I was hot shit.)  What Mrs. Priester did teach me, however, was the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  I don’t know why the concept confused me so much as a small child, but I kept mixing up the terms, until one day she made it very simple: fiction was Fake.  Non-fiction was Not Fake.  It stuck, I understood, and she further explained that the books I wanted to read were not just called “chapter books,” but novels, and that novels were fiction: made-up stories for one’s enjoyment and enlightenment. 

I tell you this so that we are all very clear on what a novel is, and what fiction is.  I want there to be no misunderstanding, because this is the key piece of the thing that is infuriating me right now.

Let me paint for you a word-picture.  I, a writer, who lives in the Western New York region, and writes fiction, awoke Friday morning to learn of a tragedy that befell a fellow author.  Salman Rushdie was attacked with a knife onstage at the Chautauqua Institute while doing an interview.  I quite literally choked on my iced coffee, and my reasons are twofold.  First of all, Chautauqua?! I live in Buffalo and we just had a grand scale community tragedy about 3 months ago, and now we got crazies rushing stages and stabbing authors just an hour away? Not to mention, I can’t tell you how many times I have fantasized of being some famous writer who is invited to speak at Chautauqua-that’s like life-goal stuff.  And now, that place is marred, too…just like the damn grocery store.

Secondly, and more importantly: violence against a wordsmith.  I know of Rushdie, though his book, The Satanic Verses, sits unread on my shelf because I simply haven’t picked it up yet. But I know a little backstory, like the fact that Iran’s Ayatollah issued a fatwa in the 80s against him, which is basically an edict saying an Iranian should kill Rushdie. The man has been living with death threats for years, all because his book supposedly goes against Islam.  I think it’s because, from what I have read online, one character abandons the religion.  But again, I haven’t read it yet.  The point is that it doesn’t matter, because The Satanic Verses is a novel, and therefore, fiction, and fiction equals fake.  It’s not real; it’s just a story-a made-up situation in a guy’s head that he put down on paper and then an entire country took it the wrong way and decided he needed to die. 

How easily that could be any one of us.

I mean, I just finished the first draft of a book that features an exploration of the concept of religion as a shackle that keeps one from living their authentic life.  I do not expect death threats for the thoughts I come up with in my own head, but I’m sure its gonna piss of an evangelical or two.  But as mad as they get, do I deserve to be stabbed in the face for my imagination?  Absolutely not. 

So, when I head about Salman Rushdie, I was crushed.  I tried to explain to Mark why it was bothering me so much, but I couldn’t find the words.  Maybe it’s just that I am so sad that someone was hurt…just for playing pretend. Because that’s all we’re doing, really, when we write fiction: make-believe, in verse.  And I just do not believe anyone should be harmed over such innocent enjoyment.

Ode to a Tip Jar

Ode to a Tip Jar 

A ringing noise upon my ear
tells me that an email's here,
so, I look to see, and sure enough-
a WordPress logo, bold and tough!
Oh, perhaps has someone read my tome?
I wonder aloud as I start to roam
my way around the website’s format,
hoping to find a like or comment.
But look! Oh no! It bears bad news!
No, not a troll with too tight shoes,
no, not a bot trying to sell me a cruise;
it’s the company telling me it’s time for my dues!
But woe is me, I’m out of work,
and what little is coming is already marked,
so, what is a writer-girl to do
when her tip jar is empty
and her wallet is, too?
Shill yourself, honey, sell them a book!
Better yet, a Patreon subscription-those are off the hook!
Or if they really love you, the tip jar they will find…
to the very right of the blog page, no waiting in line.
See, usually it doesn’t matter, I get by on what I get,
but I lose quite a chunk if certain needs are not met,
like the webhosting bill that comes due every July
and makes me suddenly want to vomit and cry.
So here I am asking a favor of you,
my dearest readers, I hope you come through,
and offer to me maybe a buck or two,
so I can keep this site running for me and for you.
Ok, now that my rhyme is done,
I’m off to pen some delirium,
because I just got a new notification
and it has brought me great exasperation.
So hopefully you find some happy in your day,
because mine is slowly ebbing away,
and I urge you please to consider a donation,
so I can keep on writing these quotations.


Solicitous Histrionics

Open a dictionary. Pick a word. Now close it.

Open it again.  Pick another word.  Close it.

Now, write a poem using those two words.

This is a fun little game taught to me by my favorite local poet, Justin Karcher.  Back in January, I discovered he would be doing a workshop at the Just Buffalo Literary Center, and my mother was kind enough to purchase me a ticket.  It was in May, so it was a long wait.  There were only 9 or 10 of us, but it was great…to me at least, who had never been to a writing workshop of any kind. 

One of the first questions he posed was what poetry meant to us.  It’s a simple concept, I suppose, but if you don’t have a grasp of what your craft means to you, then what are you even doing? I responded to this question with a poem of my own, naturally:

Poetry
By Brigid Hannon

Poetry is my voice, 
louder in word than in action.
My pen on paper. 
or my mouth and teeth and tongue,
no different from each other.
Each meter should lift darkness into light. 
Each verse should move a heart to break, 
each stanza another gasp from muted lips-
poetry is power and 
opinion and 
might-
the never ceasing beat 
of our living hearts.

Now, a lot of Justin’s stuff has to do with our shared home of Buffalo, NY, which may be why I love it so much.  I have long held a hope to write a collection of just Buffalo poems, so when he said we would be writing poems about “home” in some fashion, I was delighted.  I started free writing some thoughts down, and eventually I took those bones and pieced them together into a skeleton of a poem, which I took home with me to work on further.  I knew it wasn’t the sort I could pound out in an hour-long class.  I did, however, write this little guy as well, which I have no intention of doing anything with, so I might as well share it with you here:
Safe Shoes
Also by Brigid Hannon

No flip-flops today;
no sandals.
Sneakers?  But no...
laces come untied.
Little ones, so scared,
and yet prepared,
and I cannot choose a shoe.

An adult counterpart,
I've no active training.
"Where's the exit," I ask myself,
looking to the black sturdy Sketchers
I picked out,
with rubber soles and no laces-
shoes that keep me safe,
like I keep little souls who find me,
willing to sacrifice for such.

She tells me she likes her school;
she feels safe:
"We hardly ever have a lockdown." 
Hardly.
Look to the ground to keep from crying, 
seeing only sturdy safe shoes-
shoes that make me RUN.

Anyway, the workshop was lovely.  I went home and worked on my main poem for a bit, and when it was done, I emailed it to Justin to show him.  A few days later, he got back to me and asked if he could publish it in the June edition of Ghost City Press, which is the mag where I published my first poem, so, I mean…yeah, dude.  Of course.
So, in honor of that, I made a TikTok for it, which I will share at the end of this post.  It is a poem about my city, but also about my grandparents.  We were supposed to write about what home means to us, and my city is my home, where I would not live were it not for my grandparents, who gave me this wonderful home without even realizing it.  
Finally, I tried to write a poem using the dictionary game, and I tell you, friend-I have failed.  I have been drowning in the words “solicitous histrionics” for weeks now, because those are the two words that noodled their way out of the book and into my brain.  Eventually, I will write that poem-it will probably be a weird one.
So, that’s all for today, I think.  Happy Monday!

Auditory

I guess you can thank my friend Carey for my summer project.

See, school ends after this week’s Saturday program, so I am in pursuit of something to do over the summer.  I did score a nice gig as a theater teacher for a kid’s summer camp, but that’s only for a week.  I took it mainly to pay for my trip to Salem this Autumn.  That leaves several more weeks with little to do.  I intend to find a few more jobs to make a little extra cash…maybe babysitting or home care or something.  But my big project for this summer is the seed that Carey planted.

Carey is my self-proclaimed biggest fan, in that she would still like my stuff even if she didn’t know me.  And she LOVES when I share videos on TikTok.  One night, after reading my book, she came over and said that she wanted me to read it to her someday.  She said that the poems are good on their own, but spectacular when I bring them to life with my voice.  I simply took this as a lovely compliment and moved on with my life, and didn’t think much more of it…until I got similar compliments from other people.  I also was coming of the high of a good open mic night, and the wheels started to turn.

See, I have a background as an actor.  In fact, if there is a job to be done in the theater, I have done it.  So, when I read my poems, I’m not just reading them, I’m performing them, and that makes a lot of difference, apparently. Then I read this article about using Audible for publishing audio books, and pieces slide into place.

It’s not too hard, and it’s not too pricey, and it’s a great way to expand on what I already have with A Lovely Wreckage.  So, I called in the troops…Sahar came to the rescue by donating funds to buy equipment needed, and Kevin will be directing and recording.  A lot of articles say not to voice your own book…I don’t care about that.  I’m not just a writer; I can hack it.  Also, narration is the biggest cost in the process, so I am cutting that one right out, right away. 

I annotated the book, and will be offering this special edition only through Audible.  It shall also contain an extra poem or two, written since its release, as bonus material.  I don’t expect to make a lot of money, but I do hope that my friends and family give it a listen, as it has, in my opinion, more depth and interest with the annotations…but then, I am a sucker for annotated poetry.  I guess I’m hoping you are, too.

So, that is my plan for the summer months, to turn my words on paper into a song for the ears. I hope you will enjoy it…I know Carey will.

Happy Thursday!

Performance Anxiety

Back in 2019, I went to an open mic night with my friend Beth at my side for moral support and fought my inner doubter-I shared my work.  I continued to attend this monthly soiree until March 2020, when Covid came and shut us all down.  It moved to a virtual format for a bit, which then kind of morphed into its own thing.  I was sad…I liked poetry night at my local bookstore.

Every time I was in there, I asked the proprietor if the event would return, and he would tell me it would, sometime in the future.  I waited.

Then one night my father asks if I follow a guy he knows on Facebook.  I say no and inquire, and he tells me this man will be picking up where we left off with poetry night, bringing it back better than ever.  This delighted me, and so I marked my calendar for the first meeting in two years. 

I didn’t know anyone there, just like I didn’t know anyone when I went back in 2019.  However, my circumstances had changed…I had once been so hesitant to share my work, but I have grown past that now.  What really struck me that night was a woman named Mary, who was sharing her poetry for the first time.  And reader, it was lovely, and absolutely relatable for me.  She seemed so nervous, and brought friends for support, just as I had, and though I did not know her, when she was done reading I wanted to run up and hug her, because I was proud of her the way I had once been proud of myself for having the courage to share my work. 

There have been two meetings since the first.  Mary has been there both times, prepared with poetry, and I can see her bravery expand each time she reads.  It’s a pretty awesome transformation to witness, actually. 

Anyhoo…Tim, who runs the show, mentioned that he was still looking for features to fill out the year.  I don’t know where my anxiety was, perhaps asleep at the wheel, but I proceeded to message him and ask if he would like me to be one of those readers, to which I received a solid “yes.”

So now, in October, I will be the featured reader at my poetry open mic night.  The 2019 version of me has no idea how this happened…that I would have the audacity…the sheer BALLS, to just asked for what I wanted?  Who the hell is that person??

As always, I stand here with more confidence than I have any right to have.  I literally just said this to Kevin: “I was a fat, four-eyed, balding middle schooler; I have no business feeling this fabulous.”

But honestly, I’m not who I was that first night I read.  I have always been comfortable on a stage, mind you…this was about my writing, not my performance technique (another thing I have ridiculous confidence in,)  The “stage fright” is gone now, though…there is no anxiety about my words.  I have shared them, and they have resonated.  I have been told by friends and fans that my poetry is something special, and I hope that is true.  All I know is that I am more comfortable with it today than I was yesterday, and it can only get better from here.

Happy Monday, folks.

Sick, with Stories

Well, that marks the third Thursday with no update.  This time it was illness again…it’s been like that all week.  The worst part is that I missed work yesterday, which I hate doing.  I love my job…like actually love it, because it is the perfect amount of childcare for me.  I can’t really do those long days I used to with kiddos anymore, but the few hours I put in in the afternoon for the program really makes me happy, and exhilarates me, because I’m actually out there doing something I love again. 

Of course, then I get sick and I wonder just how long it can last.  I went for this job because I was delighted that it didn’t start until midafternoon, which means that even if I am sick early morning, as is usual, I can be better by 2pm.  On Monday, I managed just that, going to the ER in the morning before coming home to nap, shower, and go to work.  I was fine that day.  Yesterday, not so much.  I couldn’t shake the crummy feeling, even after returning from the hospital, so I had to call off, which just kicked me in the stomach again.

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  What’s good??  A good thing from this week is that I wrote myself a little story.

I needed something on Wednesday for my Patreon, something meaty.  More than a poem, y’know?  And I had this little thought in my head about what it takes to get me running in the morning, and then the thoughts started to take a shape.  There’s this movie called Osmosis Jones that I have loved always, and I started to ponder it.  What if there were a cell in my body, that was responsible for what I do?  It was a fun little thought experiment, but what would the cell actually do?  What would be its true purpose?  I thought of the Vonnegut quote: “Make your characters want something right away, even if it’s only a glass of water.”  And so, the tale of Bob the Cell who works in the Hypothalamus was born.  His goal?  Get the Girl a glass of water.

It’s a funny little story that both Sahar and Mom called “brilliant,” which I actually believe to be true because, as rare as it is, I love this story. 

Hardly ever do I write something that I like from the jump, so when I finished this and was so delighted with it I knew it would receive great reception from my “fans.”  (Why is that in quotes?  Because the only people who have read it are friends and family.) And it did, Carey liked it, Mark loved it, and of course my mother just wants to know why I can’t automatically have it picked up by some magazine.

Anyway, that was my big accomplishment for the week, and if you would like to read it (well, the rough draft, anyway,) then you can pop on over to my Patreon and pay $5 for that and more.

I’d really like your patronage over there.  You’re missing out on a lot, I promise.  Also, I need to pay the internet bill.  (See also: Tip Jar, to the right of this page.)

Ok, well, It’s Friday.  I have two kiddos here already and two more on the way, so I guess I better get myself going, and participate in life since I am well enough to do so.  I hope y’all have a great weekend, and happy Friday!

Poetry Night

I didn’t post on Thursday, because I didn’t feel like it.  Simply no excuse…just wasn’t in the headspace to write.  Plus, the only thing I wanted to write about was something that hadn’t happened yet.

Back in October 2019, pre-plague, my dear friend Beth (whom I had lunch with yesterday, coincidentally, and therefore has already heard this story,) went with me to a monthly poetry night at a bookstore near my house that I like.  I wanted to read one of my poems during the open mic portion, but I was terrified.  She sat by my side and encouraged me, and I was able to do it.  I was very proud of myself that night, for overcoming my anxiety of not just attending a function full of strangers, but for reading in front of them.

Come February, we had a problem, and that problem was a pandemic.  Poetry night kind of moved online for a bit, and while I would love to say I’ve watched every episode (because it was very good,) I honestly fell off when I started working on the novel.  I pretty much fell off poetry all together, then.  But now, she is in editing, and that bug is biting, and here we go again.

So I inquired a couple of times at the bookstore once they reopened as to when they would be bringing the night back and they kept telling me “soon.”  Then one morning my father tells me that an old buddy of his is hosting the return of Poetry Night!  I was ecstatic, and not at all anxious to attend.

When I got there, I sat by a woman and who seemed to be her boyfriend, and also a woman who appeared to be her bestie, and bestie’s husband.  Woman A, whom I came to know as Mary, seemed very nervous, and as I unintentionally eavesdropped on their conversation, I learned that she was going to be sharing her poetry for the very first time.  She had brought her reinforcements, as had I, and was probably so anxiously awaiting her turn that she barely even heard the key speaker…at least, that’s how I was that first night.

She had the courage to go first, too, once the open mic started. And it was good.  Her poetry spoke to me, because guess what?  They were about chronic and mental illness.  I sincerely hope my poems spoke to her as well, but as per usual, I flew out the door first, because mingling is still really hard for me.  I’m going to push myself to do it next time, though, so wish me luck.

In other news…yes, this is a two-parter, to make up for nothing last Thursday.

So, I decided to do a book giveaway, for funsies.  I figured I would do it on Twitter, where all my reading/writing friends live.  Out of my nearly 7k followers, 82 whopping people saw my giveaway tweet.  No one responded.  Ergo, Twitter’s algorithm is a steaming pile of garbage, yet again.

So, I roll over to TikTok, where I get better views, and I got a couple hundred.  A few folks commented, hoping to win the book.  I picked a winner, and emailed them.  A day went by with no response, so this morning I hop on and browse their page to see when they were online last.

It’s a kid.  It’s a literal child.

Now, my book doesn’t really come with a content warning because it’s not really graphic or anything, but there are some choice words and definite adult themes.  So, I emailed the kid and told him that I was sorry, but I couldn’t send him the book.  Also, he would have to give me his address, and it isn’t cool for me as an adult to encourage that, or safe for him as a child to do so.  I feel kind of bad, because I should have specified you needed to be 18 to win.  I hope he isn’t too disappointed.

Anyway, I have moved this giveaway over to my Facebook page, now.  So, if you’re not already following me there, I encourage you to do so, especially if you would like to win a book today!  I will be announcing a random winner tomorrow morning, so this offer is only good for you folks who are reading my blog on Monday the 28thGo follow me now!!

Anyhoo…that’s about it.  Happy Thursday, my friends.  I’m off to watch a bunch of TV, which might sound lazy, but is actual research for Thursday’s blog, I swear. 

This quote doesn’t really have anything to do with anything…I just like it.