Thursday, November 29, 2012

Season's Greetings

November seems to have a different character each year in Colorado. One year, the leaves may still be green, and if like last year, trees were covered in snow. Actually in October of 2011, we had one of those early snowfalls, with the leaves still on the trees, and my apple trees still full of bright red apples! My maple tree in front was badly broken, but the apple trees held up very well.

The above scene was one of twenty-five from various places I have lived, that I have used in a book of haiku I am writing, representing changes of landscape and weather throughout the year. I am using fifty haiku poems. The images are not strictly illustrations of the verses. The sequence of both poems and photographs is generally from the start of a year to the end.

The following is a poem I am quite excited about:

Gathering Fragments                                 

Illuminated writing decorates black velvet
in her open-eyed dreams. It is one a.m.
Diverse innovations congeal from disparate
sources::  an assemblage of materials suggest
new constructions used in new ways. She is
wrapped by diverse threads, uncoiling from
the universe, wrapping her gently in a cocoon
of delight. The meanings are in a new tongue.

The woman can feel herself morphing
in the darkness but she cannot sleep.
Excitement boils in her blood, anxious as she is
to learn her new identity, what new creature
is shape-shifting within this matrix?
Her heart whispers, a gift is coming.

The confettied particles fall faster than
she can grasp them in her  hands:: to hold them
she must juggle in constant sequence.
Like leaves they blow before the wind.
Weightedness is needed to make them fly.

The woman has come before her time,
and her body fails before time catches her up.
She surrenders into now. She is herself a
flying scrap. The wind lifts her into her new
incarnation. Faster and faster the fragments
fall into her mind. Hands on her head, the shape
is like a satellite dish, a funnel. She sees
collages forming in her lap. Bits and pieces
grow from her fingers, gathered from living fully,
form patterns connected by intuition, layers
experienced through multiple spirals of time.

 The exercise for Greeley Poetry Club was to stretch in one's approach, by using methods to encourage divergent thinking, such as to generally collect fragments of poems-suggested over a period of time- phrases, words, images and write them down, and then to put them into a sequence of related ideas. This tactic was one called "Chasing Poems."

It was adapted by Mary Lauck, from Writing Poetry; Creative and Critical Approaches by Chad Davidson and Gregory Fraser.

I loved the surrealistic result, and also the delight I felt while noticing strange synchronicities emerge over the period of time I paid attention. I was sorting my books, and looking for missing books that might relate to making hand-made books. The books I was looking for appeared from other book cases, like fragments, and also art images literally fell out of some shelves as if to make me notice them. Having an open mind allows for connections between different ideas to occur, without having a linear goal in mind, both in the process of writing and in art.

The process ended with two poems emerging along with about a hundred approaches for making hand made books. And one large bookshelf is now organized!

Writing and Images in this post are the © property of Ruth Zachary.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Autumn Greetings!

Nature's Bounty © by Ruth Zachary

Mock Mincemeat

            A full moon in October. A killing frost certain to freeze the remaining tomatoes! Our job to salvage the rest? How many fried green tomatoes can one family eat?
            But waste not, want not....       So....wearing your patched apron, you chopped most of the day with your tin can cutter, and with my help, sliced a peck of green tomatoes with equal amount of apples, four pounds of raisins, one quart canned cherries, one cup of vinegar, a tablespoon of salt, six pounds of sugar, one pound of butter, three tablespoons of cinnamon, one tablespoon of cloves, and one of allspice.
            The whole batch was mixed well in the galvanized laundry tub to marinate overnight in the unheated kitchen, blending flavors. The following morning the concoction was simmered in two large enamel kettles for one and a half hours, and then poured into sterilized quart-sized mayonnaise jars.
            We had one pie that night, and two at Thanksgiving, and by Christmas several jars became gifts offered to relatives. By spring, mock mincemeat was no longer a family favorite.
            Using good ingredients to salvage an excess of one that is not so good, is a mistake, in spite of Daddy’s lesson he often told as a tongue-twister, “Betty Botter bought some bitter butter and it made her batter she mixed a bit of better butter in her bitter batter, and made her bitter batter better.”

            After having been away from my blogs because of computers dying like a falling line of vertical dominoes, I am working to get equipment that will allow working both with art images and writing, and I want to share both on my blogs in the near future. The time has been put to good use, however. I have finished two books with my poetry in them, and am working on two more books, to come out at a future time. The first book was The Woman Who Named Herself, published by Xlibris. It is available on Amazon, or through Autographed books may also be obtained from me at  $20 plus shipping and tax.

The images and writing on this blog are the copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Literary Review

Last night, Masterpiece Theatre produced a play, from Christopher Reid's poem,  The Song of Lunch,  by the same name. It is a dialogue between two people, in which a narrator, one of he characters, gives voice to the inner thoughts of the man, a publisher and writer, who meets his ex-beloved for lunch. (Alan Rickman)
            The stream of consciousness narration is pure poetry, and even the exchanges between his ex, (Emma Thompson) in which she points out the man's lack of awareness of anything but the voice in his own head, including herself and the truth she shares with him, even while that is what he is obsessing about. The language is totally beautiful, but he fails to grasp the deeper significance of her coming to meet him, the opening she gives to him in mentioning the monotony of her own life and marriage in its routine, the touch of her hand on his, offered in compassion, his response which is sexual/physical, rather than empathic, which she wants from him. His continuous obsession with his own voice continues, and drowns out the truth of the remaining bond between them.
            She tells him twice of his failure, in the moments they have between them in the restaurant, alluding to their relationship, and his shortcomings as a writer, which sinks in enough to  make him more numb and deeply miserable, and then which he escapes by running to the roof where he falls asleep, long enough to wear off his drunkenness from the wine. When he awakens, and returns to the restaurant, he finds his ex gone, having paid their bill, the crowd has disappeared, and the restaurant owne, whom he remembers as once being charismatic, has grown old and dull in the corner of the restaurant. He only recognizes the man's identity after he has turned to leave.
            (Of course the owner is a metaphor for himself.) The entire monologue (or dialogue if you include his ex's words to him ) is amazing. The reality and insight behind the words and between the lines is brilliant, and something every artist/ writer might strive to accomplish.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Courting Your Muse

Autumn Concert. Mixed Media Collage. By Ruth Zachary©


No one starts out being a great writer. But we all have the potential to become one.

I really believe this is true for nearly everyone, and yet I have so much to learn. I want to try to access the intuitive process of writing , and identify the ways to capture that elusive muse.

I believe the Greek muse, named Euterpe, muse of Music and Lyric poetry, resides in our brains, specifically in the right brain. Calliope, their muse of Epic Poetry, probably resides in the left-brain, as she would govern words and speech, a left-brained function. 

Ideas about the intuitive process in creativity and creative writing have also been around for centuries. Rational process has been identified with exposition writing for a long time as well.

Some others went a step farther, saying there were two separate processes during writing. Peter Elbow, in Writing with Power, (1981) said, “ Writing calls upon two skills that are so different that they usually conflict with each other: creating, and criticizing…. (Writing calls on the ability to create words and ideas out of yourself, but it also calls on the ability to criticize them in order to decide which ones to use.)” Elbow understood there were “two mentalities needed for these two processes, and that they flower most when they get a chance to operate separately.”

Elbow also said writers don’t suddenly arrive fully matured, that each piece of writing needs time after its birth to change and grow and reach it’s potential, and also that you “probably won’t find a pearl if you only pick up oysters once a year. ” (Advocating practice)

I mention this because regular practice also makes access to the intuitive process more available. Elbow’s book also focused mostly on exercises and mechanics of writing. Some of his exercises do seem inclined toward accessing one’s intuitive skills, such as one advocating “Free Writing” in which one writes rapidly.

In all the classes and workshops I have been in since the 1990s, including the class I attended at UNC in 2007, the emphasis has been on writing exercises, or writing about a particular topic, or forms of poetry.  Exercises can be wonderful for broadening a writer’s levels of skills, and familiarity with many kinds of writing. This awareness is just as important as learning to use the right brain in creative writing.

But being able to access that mysterious and miraculous place where a poem seems to write itself, has been a rare experience and seldom am I sure how to get there. I think even when teachers wanted to pass along what they sensed about intuitive writing, they didn’t know how to get it across.

In 1997, a WMU poetry professor, John Rybicki moved to my neighborhood in the country and started a class in his home and I signed up. He offered many exercises that triggered the creative process, and because I had read Rico’s book, Writing the Natural Way, I began to identify situations in which others and I talked about accessing an intuitive mental space.

I still knew no specific means for getting there, other than trying to recreate
the conditions which created that space. I believe this varies for different writers.  In my next post, I will list the situations and conditions and practices that seem most likely to put a writer into that right-brained state for writing creatively.

All images and writing are the Copyright of Ruth Zachary©


Sunday, January 30, 2011


What I have Been Up To...

One thing I have done is finish my book, The Woman Who Named Herself,  my first book of poetry, meant to honor women who have chosen a name other than their birth name, as an affirmative act of naming themselves, in a society where too often they, and I have been defined by others.

It is also about Lesbian women, but others have told me the book is about more than that. To paraphrase, one woman told me I had a way of expressing emotion that opened her eyes about what poetry could be. She said her experience in the world of journalism, academia and law had closed her in a box she had not known was there. I will not use her name as I do not yet have permission.
But I believe her comment opened my eyes too, that many experiences recounted in the book are ones that many women may relate to.

The image above appears on the cover. The book was published by Xlibris. To order, call 888-795-4274, or order on line at or

Other things that have occupied my time have been 1. serving as UU Church Board Secretary, and 2. starting up a new arts group and arts program in my church, named Chalice Arts, to promote arts expression in our church and in our community. If you are interested in following our events and activities, visit our new blog at .

 I am the featured artist in a solo show in the church, Montage and Metaphor. I have around 30 images in the exhibit, interspersed with poems written about subjects related to images in the art pieces. I gave a talk about the connections between montage and writing poetry in January.

I am planning another poetry program for the Greeley Poetry Club in March, about Courting Your Muse, and will say more about accessing the right brained process in writing poetry. No doubt my efforts in researching this talk will result in an overflow in this blog, in the future.

I want to say, in the few months I have been away from this blog site, much has changed in Google's blogging program. The "Design" options are wonderful, and what you write is now what you get, when the post is published. Thank you Google. It is now a pleasure to enter comments and images!  (This is in bold, on purpose!)

© Ruth Zachary.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


A Writing Exercise:

Susan Buller in my writing group told us as an exercise, she had written down her idea as fast as she could write, without stopping. I am not sure if she wrote it in longhand, or on her computer. Following is the poem she wrote:



Sincerely startled by a sultry wind

gaping into two holes

frosted onto five loaves

of compressed sadness

Sorrow and longing

plastered into

every single note

I sing on a wing that belongs to someone else

I wonder will my time ever come

Can I ever discover

what has taken me this far

on such a stargazing expedition

on the winds of someone’s brother

or someone’s mother

or a preacher’s lost place

little ants eating away at the knowledge of tomorrow

Knowing there will be sorrow and sorrow and more sorrow

when we see into our lives yet one more time

We wreck havoc on our tempered steel bones

Wreck postures with

hunched backs and backs packed

full of bitter waste

bent on bars of steel to hard to manage

with out a brace of some kind to prop it up

a conflict of interest demands a little smile

of faltered ego

Tattered treasure of temples on hills

where no one lives or wants to live or will ever see

Sadness of sorrows spent in search of someone’s lost song

listening to nothing on a lead-filled wall

Tomorrow will gleam its own future

prepare for its own downfall

weep its own destruction

Another mourner weeps into a wind that is

flung out into the limits of silence

A cry no one hears, no one cares, no one mourns

A cry of desperation in proclamation of their own losses

Their own travels into nothingness

of sorrow and mourning

And what is left, dear friend

is the death of a dream life.

by Susan Buller


Susan’s poem is full of surprising imagery, and shows how the intuitive mind makes associations through a metaphoric process, so suited to poetry.

A variation on this exercise, given by John Rybicki in a class I took several years ago, was to write in your own handwriting, a one hundred fifty word sentence.

It may be that writing in long hand is another way to access your right brain, or intuitive mind. Judy Reeves in A Writer’s Book of Days, advises this way of recording thoughts in daily journaling which nourishes creative process because handwriting is more directly expressive of the right brain or intuitive mind and more connected to the senses.

I have also used The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron for at least 15 years, intermittently, journaling by hand.


The Artwork on this post is the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Reconstruction, Collage 18x24" by © Ruth Zachary

Writing About a Piece of Art, Assignment from the Previous Post -

To write about a piece of art
when viewed only as a tiny band
on a panoramic screen
is really hard. It breaks my heart
when a tiny streak the thickness of a hand
is all that shows or can be seen
after all the junk pre-empts the part,
that my collages might command,
but must instead be scrunched between.

So, now I am using the following poem instead. It does relate to the abstract image above, in an abstract way but isn't so much about art. Blogger keeps reformatting everything I put in, so I will try to enter it one more time, but it changes after I publish the post, and I apologize if it still isn't right, but I can't spend any more time. It doesn't recognize a paragraph (return) so that is why all the little periods to create a break. Wouldn't you know that my blog about writing would turn everything I write into a document by a seeming ignoramus?!!! The following poem was
copied in Times New Roman, regular font, and Blogger's HTML pastes it in as an italics document in a different font and size, and pastes one line over to the left of all the others. It doesn't matter if I type it in from scratch, or copy and paste. It still messes up everything.


The Spiral Path


Once I saw the dance of life as a journey.

It seemed an apt metaphor, because

I wanted to be on course, undeviating,

walking across a map on a path I had

plotted for myself. Even following a

a river, upstream or down provided a

similar idea, albeit more interesting, and

hinting at the unexpected events life

throws your way; interruptions, or fate?


Looking at the landmarks of my years,

it has not been even a voyage on the

ocean’s surface that I have undertaken.

It was more similar to a multi-dimensional

passage through space and time, where

the significant persons and events or I,

cycle, return to, and resemble other

experiences from the past, not sensed

in the sequence of occurrence.


It emerges as a spiritual quest, a shaman’s path.

And in the view through time, the earlier

events now take on a transparency

through an aurora borealis of vibrating

energy, absorbing new colors, and I see

it all through depths of greater meaning,

layers of significance, a galaxy spiraling

outward, a multiverse interacting with my

passage, expanding, and creating …me.



Writing and Art Images are the sole © Copyright of Ruth Zachary

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Artist- Speak.


You might think an artist would write and talk

in artist-speak, art being so ingrained.

You might expect the terminology

of pigment, tools and techniques to be

genetically imprinted in the gray matter of

language, and no manual of technical terms

would be required.


For me it isn’t so.

It’s like the discussion of regional sub-cultures.

You can’t hear the dialect rolling out between

your lips, but you speak it, and what you say

or do as your art expresses your world,

your milleau, your culture, and unwittingly

you are it from the inside out and whatever

comes out of you is of that world,


whether you see or hear it or not.


Still, that walnut shaped hemisphere sprouts,

blossoms into trees, flowers, hands with

green leaves growing from branching fingers,

vining out to reshape and embellish

the surface of an ever-expanding universe.


The creator, the creation impacts that universe

interactively. It becomes the artist, the artist

becomes the universe, re- forming the other.

What is seen is transcribed. What is known

is translated into new language, descriptors

of visual wonders that others might see;

but expressions of color, movement, balance,

rhythm, more, can never be fully conveyed

into that old language, to those without

that special sight .

Words fall short,


because visual art is a different tongue.


Some workshop leader once told the group I was in not to write about writing. Others do say to write about art. I gave a presentation a year or two ago to the Greeley Poetry Club about many poets who

have written about art.


I find it is a great stimulus to write about a painting. The poem above was prompted by knowing I am an artist, and yet I don't write about art very much. I do convey imagery in my writing, but use words to do so, and often fail to find metaphors in the materials and techniques of art.


Hmmm- maybe I should use that as an exercise. I think I'll try it. How about you?



Writing and Images are the sole ©Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Sometimes a dream is a subject for a poem. I woke up one morning thinking about a friend, and wondering if I had failed to respond to her when she needed comfort. Dreams often present ideas for poems, and often the images in dreams are incredible metaphors for writing one.

Father’s Day

She related her story, how her

father was buried by a second wife,

under a tasteless headstone,

where if she visited, she would

be assaulted by the reproach

of her father’s wishes denied.

I shared with her how I had seen

so many cases of cruelty to others

upon the occasion of a death.

(But my own pains were not shared,

and my own unkindness to others

at another time suppressed as well)


I remember her running out, her

emotions overwhelming her. I started

to go after her, but didn't, thinking

she wanted to be alone to regain

her composure.


I shared with her later, a story of my

father... one of very few memories

of him which was wholesome but

which failed to erase the grief of all

the verbal assaults he made upon

my self esteem, so that by the time

I was fifteen, I had divorced him

emotionally, and shut down most

affection I would have liked to have

shared with him in a better world.


Now, I fear I also shut out my friend

by failing to reach out, causing a rift,

before our friendship could begin.



To learn about the techniques for creating the above drawing,

Writing and Art Work © by Ruth Zachary, all rights reserved.

Monday, July 12, 2010



An Anthropomorphized Landscape?


For the past four years in one of my writing groups, we have randomly selected five or six words from the dictionary. The next meeting we try to bring something we have written which includes these words. I like the exercise, because it often triggers a person to think out of their usual groove, and often has started a poem I might otherwise not have written.


This month, we chose words that conveyed emotions, each person contributing a word. For a while now, because using metaphor does not come easily, and I tend to be way too literal, I have tried to use the words as metaphors. It is easy to speak of a person or even an animal, using an emotional word, but how do you make it metaphoric?


The way that seemed best was to assign an emotion to a landscape surrounding my character, or me, which would metaphorically reflect what the person was feeling. That is an exercise mentioned before on this blog, but the other did not suggest using emotional words, but to use the landscape to convey a mood reflecting the speaker’s emotions.


First I wrote phrases suggesting landscape elements that expressed the emotions.Then I joined them. The setting was pure fantasy, an Artisan set in a Medieval Period. It took three stanzas before I could use the words.The poem is still unfinished, so I will spare you all but the last two. I will probably call the finished piece, The Artisan.


The underlined words below were those chosen for the exercise.


At the left and to the east, a stream could

be seen cutting through the tired forest,

excitedly tearing away the roots of

wearied trees under shadowed branches

dissapointedly sinking toward the earth.

It probably ran into the same river that

passed through his village, the life-giving

source and life draining current, wearing

away its residents in endless toil and hardship.

Here, the secretive river was hidden

from view by somber mists,… an omen?

He would not go that way.


To the west the sky darkened, over

bright leafed poplars that trembled

fearfully as if anticipating doom.

The storm would overtake him, whichever

direction he chose. Hurrying, he put his things

in his oilskin pack, with tools and woolen

blanket, and headed south, toward majestic

mountains rising joyfully with promise,

where blue sky shone beyond the storm.


Writing and Images are the sole © Copyright of Ruth Zachary 2010.