Monday, December 29, 2008


Street Blues. Computer Photo Montage by Ruth Zachary

Contemporary Forms of poetry roughly conform to prose structures in the
following ways:

Paragraphs become stanzas or verses.

Sentences may equate to lines in poetry, but more often, lines naturally follow speech rhythms and pauses.

Sentences may become whole stanzas, may start in the middle of a line, or continue into the next stanza.

End stopped sentences end at the end of a line.

Enjambment is a device which continues the sentence into the next line or stanza, and then ends in the middle of a line.

Line breaks effectively indicate phrasing, breathing, or separated thoughts.

Line breaks and long spaces are often used in place of punctuation.

Non-traditional poets sometimes do not capitalize letters or observe full sentence patterns.

Unusual placement of lines on the page may convey sound, imagery or ideas.

Arrangement of punctuation and placement of words may be manipulated for emphasis.

Separated single words or lines draw attention for emphasis. A single separated word may command attention or lead to a new thought in the next line or stanza.

Usually a variety of line lengths, phrases, and sentences are more interesting than repetitious patterns.

A poet may achieve variation in the way lines and stanzas are placed on the page.

Rhythms, musical sounds and kinds of sounds may be used to convey impressions related to meanings. Both end rhymes and internal rhymes are used, but usually not in traditional structures.

Metaphors, both multiple and extended, appear in contemporary poetry.

(This is a quick review of contemporary poetry, and not a complete description of all the many forms that have evolved during the past 100 years.)

Writing and images are the Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The Secret Garden. Photo Montage by Ruth Zachary

Expand Your Range: Presentation

You may have found your unique and natural way of expressing yourself through poetry. You may have established rhythms and forms that you use regularly. Your subjects or content may also define your authentic voice and style. But it never hurts to depart from the usual, to stimulate both yourself and your readers. Challenge yourself to do things a little differently ever so often. How often is up to you.

Often one’s most creative work occurs during revision.

Here are some ideas.

Look for innovative ways to present your writing; different from your own usual.

If you write in one solid block of wording, or in columns, try re-formatting your original presentation by breaking the body of writing into stanzas. This might separate the beginning, middle and end, for instance.

Respect the white space between lines. Visually, the space allows the reader to breathe and see your structure, making it easier to read.

Try long lined stanzas, and then try short phrases instead.

This is a good time to look to see if some words are unnecessary, or if a word could be replaced with a shorter one, one that sounds more musical, or if whole stanzas or thoughts need to be rearranged.

Experiment with using enlarged spaces between words, instead of punctuation. (except on blogs, because the blogger format will not allow it) When reading aloud, observe conversational breaks so the line breaks are natural.

Tempt your reader to read the next line by ending with a word that begs him or her to go to the next line to complete the thought.

Consider omitting capitols.

In some poems you could let the type stagger over the page. (But not on a blog)

Read poetry by well known innovative contemporary poets, and imitate the innovations, (not the wording or content, unless your credit that author)

If challenging yourself with a traditional form, try to make the language flow naturally.

Be innovative in other ways, as well. Change the traditional order of words.

Reccommended Reading:

Poets: EE Cummings, Adrienne Rich, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Rita Dove, Patrick Lawler, Sharon Olds, Gary Snyder, Louise Gluck, Galway Kinnell, Anne-Marie Cusak.

Poetry and Traditional Forms:
The Poet’s Companion, Addonizio and Laux. Norton. 1997
The Poet’s Handbook, Judson Jerome, Writer’s Digest Books 1980
Patterns of Poetry (An Encyclopedia of Forms) Miller Williams. LSUPress.

Writing and images are the property of Ruth Zachary.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Enchanted Forest. Painting by Ruth Zachary

Music and Rhythm in Poetry.

Speech uses unique rhythms and patterns. Speakers who consciously and unconsciously use these rhythms and patterns well are easier to listen to. In the written form of language, the longer the phrase and sentence stucture, the harder it is to translate it into spoken form.

Poetry often breaks up these phrases and structures into shorter sections, separated by line breaks, whereas prose uses punctuation to indicate pauses, stops, intonations, etc.

The goal is to create rhythms by structuring the lines so that they follow the familiar patterns of speech, and yet cause the reader to hear them internally.

Many of the formal forms of poetry from the past were based on these structures, which were often strictly observed, right down to the number of syllables, and words with the accent on a particular order in the wording. These structures can exhaust a beginner, or they can limit creativity with language because the structure is given more importance than what is being said, in that the beauty and music of the language is subjugated.

My belief is that although these traditional forms can be mastered so that language retains its beauty, it is still better to begin with the simple idea of the poem, and to adjust toward the classic form, rather than the other way around.

Beginners can write exquisite poetry by beginning with a subject that stimulates emotion, and expressing it by using sensate impressions (sight, sound, sense, taste, smell, etc) The next enrichment might be inclusion of metaphor and figures of speech.

It is important to read the poem aloud, again and again, revising until it flows naturally.

The writer might next pay attention to the rhythm of the words, changing line breaks, and resorting to different words which enhance the rhythm, and create sounds with a more musical quality.

Often vowel sounds will be repeated within a phrase, or repeating consonants may be used. If the sounds are gutteral, the effect can project a harsh feeling. If they are soft, the effect may enhance the imagery in the writing. These can be used purposely to convey a particular tone around the subject. At time, these words also may contain their own music and their own reason for writing them down:

“Children like the wildflowers come,
each in their own season.”

Rhymes help create music, but end rhymes can quickly sound sing-song or contrived.
Internal rhymes not used within a rigid rhythm can contribute to the musical quality of the writing, or a piece of poetry, as an alternative to the traditional approach to rhyming.

There are technical terms for these devices, but the best way to become aware of them is simply to write, and to read aloud, and then to be willing to shift the order of words, the exact uses of words, or to substitute shorter or longer words, and so on.

A refrain is a phrase which is repeated two or three and sometimes more times for emphasis… to stress an idea, or to create the magic of music in a poem. Sometimes the words are presented in a different order each time. The Bells, by Edgar Allen Poe is a well known example of a repeating refrain.

First Love

Early One Evening
in late summer,
we held hands.

Your arm went around
my shoulders, lightly
embracing my back.

That late summer
Evening, in the back seat
of your cousin’s car.

We were thirteen.
The movie flickered
in black and white,

a background refrain
for our timid first kiss,
late one summer night.

Have fun with words. Don’t plan on a great poem at the end.
Create a series of phrases using the dictionary or a thesaurus, which
begin with the same sounds of the alphabet, like snake, slither, shuffle, shiver.

Write down several more phrases which use the same internal sounds such as moon, soothing, toothless, ruse, choose, raccoon, tomb.

Come up with some words which rhyme. They don’t have to have the same spelling, only the same sounds, for instance, right, fight, bright, height, sight, etc.
Add associated words to make rhyming phrases.

Reorder some of the words in the rhyming phrases, and then in your previously created phrases.

You may be pleasantly surprised. Consider keeping several reordered versions of these phrases, and using them in one poem. When repeated in a reordered fashion, they can become an intriguing refrain.

Take the best rhythmic or musical lines and phrases and string them together.
It is not necessary to use all of them. You might find you love what results from this process.

Writing and Art Images by Ruth Zachary are Copyrighted, and require permission to reproduce any portion.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Avoid Oversimplified Statements that “Tell.”
Showing and not telling your reader what you feel or what the subject of your poem feels, requires not using over simplified statements, such as,

She was devastated,
He was enraged
I wanted to disappear, I was so embarrassed
She was blinded by tears,
He was so afraid, he was trembling inside,
I was disappointed for days because I found out the gift was for someone else.

She was devastated,” tells the reader the feeling and does not show it, and it is a rather overused phrase.
Suppose instead, “She” reveals or shows the sequence in the first person.

I wanted to disappear, I was so embarrassed,” or “She was blinded by tears,” are too commonly used. “Blinded by tears” is only a slight improvement. “He was trembling inside,” is also commonly used.

These kinds of phrases create a conditioned sentimental response, and instead, the reader begins to apply all the previous associations to your writing. When a phrase becomes cliché, the reader or listener begins to feel numb and to resist the conditioned response. These phrases offer nothing unique or specific to the particular situation.

The following poem fragment leads the reader through unique events to a commonly understood conclusion about the experience of first heartbreak:

In June we rode in the backseat
of his cousin’s car to the free show.
Jack and his girl were chaperones,
the night of our first kiss. It was Electric.
He gave me his garnet ring to wear,
but by fall he moved away, and
asked me to give it back. I cried for
days, my face buried in the parched
autumn field grass, away from the house.

I never expected love could end.

This suggests the intensity of the relationship, and by contrast, the loss felt.

Again, “He was enraged,” tells us an emotion, but does not indicate why.

“Where is your homework? Mr. Shay asked.
“I had to work,” he said for the second time.
Mr. Shay knew his mother was ill.
“You’re just lazy,” boy, he said.

Grabbing his books,
Jeff walked out the door, slamming it shut.
Glass shattered behind him. He didn’t turn,
and broke down the dark hall, escaping into
the pounding rain; hiding tears on his wet face.

In this sequence, we have shared the experience, and we feel emotions with the character.

Let Action Show Feeling.
Give a brief account of what happened or was said to cause the emotion, let the action demonstrate the feeling that caused it, and if possible let the reader draw his or her own conclusions, as in this fragment:

another August day,
my mother cut a lilac switch
from the edge of that bush,
to lay her anger along my spindly legs
with searing bloody welts, which,
not yet healed by September,
were hid beneath long stockings.
She put me on the school bus
to meet the other children
in their anklets and new shoes
and marked their first impression
of me on the first day of school.

Let the Setting Express the Emotion. (This was discussed in the previous post.)

Apple tree,
Compulsively I tend
your arthritic limbs,
looking for blight in your joints
pruning your brittle branches
as they joust in the wind,
clattering like wooden swords
wielded by unseen warriors
battling for yet another season.

Together, we each obey
a drive nature compels;
will rises from our roots.
We claim another spring.

Avoid Sentimentalism Observe without emotional phrasing; even if it is a very emotional subject. Defuse the emotion by telling it as a second person viewer might.

Replace Clichés with Unique Wording. Dare new word use. Be outrageous if you can do so by showing and not telling.

Exercise: Write a simple account about something emotional, and try to apply the above principles to what you write. Revise it, and change the point of view from first to second or third person voice if that helps.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Show, Don’t Tell. And How, Pray Tell?

Use words which appeal to the senses, sight, smell, sound, touch, taste
Be Specific to the situation, the person, the setting. Here the landscape
foreshadows characteristics the writer experiences about a place,

Feet skidding along
the graveled slope
through clumps of renegade grass,
the track was obscured by vagrant brush
hostile heads frayed and spiked like goths,
perforated with piercings.

Avoid conceptual words. A word with a concrete meaning may be better than one that abstractly tries to express an idea. Abstract words are those describing mental functions, rather than experienced emotionally.

Those long awkward words get in the way of the natural rhythm of speech which is best easily imagined. (Like pestiferous, musicology, proselytize, foliculated, or… you get the idea) A word like hippopotamus, however, worked into a rhythmic phrasing could be extremely visual, and effective.

Emotional descriptions are more potent when related in a context of behavior and physically sensed events.

I want you to wash me in your memories;
and pillow me with your voluptuous body
while I hold fresh fruit to your teeth.
I want your flavor to linger on my tongue.

Use metaphor. The concrete objects of the world are simple, strong and eloquent as metaphors for other ideas, and not only themselves


Poetry, elusive muse,
etherial as willowhisp;
when grasped escapes,

like Amour and Psyche,
the sensuous mirrored by the soul;
reflections, one of the other.

Is it not an irony,
words lack substance,
when most abstract,

and only concrete things may tempt
this muse to one's embrace?
Objects, feelings, images,

speak of beingness
through sound and light,
and touch upon a sensate skin.

Apples, twigs, moon or sod
all metaphors made by God,
word made flesh.

Keep descriptions short, but precise. Avoid double adjectives together in one place.
For instance I shortened “brittle renegade grass” to renegade grass.

Use active verbs which are visually strong.

Toby lofted himself
over the fence in a perfect arc,
As freely as the wild deer
he followed far and away
And into the joyous mud

Again, Show, don’t tell. Make the setting, imagery, and language speak the emotion
and conclusion you are expressing. Lead the reader to your conclusion, as well as you are able.

Exercise: Start a Glossary of SensoryExpressions, such as the one below. Write a poem using some of these or other sensory words. Try to mix the senses in ways that one sense is described by terms usually thought of as another:

She buried her nose in the abandoned mitten. It was rich with a dark brown smell, and instantly the boy who had dropped it flashed in her mind. She felt her face flush with heat. The felted wool was rough on her skin… she knew she would not return it…. and put it inside her coat pocket.

Glossary of Sensate Impressions
Sight: Colorless, Black Smokey, Transparent, Misty, Shiny, Irridescent
Smell: Smoky, Aroma, Oily, Lemony, Peppery, Minty
Touch: Palpable. Soft, Palpable, Hard, Warm, Spongy, Smooth, Velvety
Sound : Musical, Roaring, Squawk, Crash, Thud, Buzz
Taste: Sweet, Acrid, Mealy, Sour, Salty, Sticky, Bitter
6th Sense: Presence, Oppressive, Forceful, Magnetic, Radiant, Vibrant

Sunday, November 30, 2008


A Haunting Refrain. Photo Montage by Ruth Zachary.

Alluding to an image which parallels the idea you are speaking about adds depth and richness to your writing. Some languages are permeated with such parallels, comparisons, and connections. The Bible is full of metaphors, similes, figures of speech, fables and parables.

I won’t go into the different definitions of these here. The idea is to compare one thing to another. It is possible to do this without using words such as “like,” or “as” to link one image to another. Write about the subject as if it were another thing; such as a tree which is described in words usually applied to a person, or a bird, as in:

Winter Scene
by A.R. Ammons

There is now not a single
leaf on the cherry tree:

except when the jay
plummets in, lights, and

in pure clarity, squalls;
then every branch

quivers and
breaks out in blue leaves.

Remember too, when the language has become permeated with a colorful “saying,” it often becomes cliché, or stale. When a phrase has been over used, it takes away from the impact or your words, where freshness could delight the reader, and excite their imagination, instead.

A word about mixed metaphors… if you use three or four different metaphoric phrases in your writing, be sure they are not conflicting or at odds with each other. For instance, if the metaphor alludes to fire, don’t use another that creates a moist image. Try to keep those secondary images in harmony with the idea you are trying to express. If you are speaking about a beach scene, try to draw in more allusions to watery parallels.

In some cases, a poem or essay can benefit from an extended metaphor, but this requires a delicate hand. Don’t drag it out to its doggedly detailed death. Keep it as brief as possible, and that is usually when what you have written conveys the idea, without adding more. After all, it is your main idea which is the reason for using the metaphor, and not the other way around.

The Censor

The little armadilla fed herself
in a grape arbor, consuming fruit
in contented seclusion,
until you came, proclaiming authority
and undisclosed agendas.

Your criticisms Invaded the peace
your words were an armada
of carnivorous wasps, which
shot from your mouth,
hummed in the ear; swarmed
through the cracks in her armor;
wedged into every opening,
and where they didn’t fit, stung.

Paralyzed, she lay under broken vines.
Her tongue swollen; numbed.
Your words buzzed behind
her eyes; made a hive of her mind.
Breeding like larvae,
they ate away her heart.


1. Make a list of five nouns or subjects from the dictionary. Then make a list of five other objects or things from your head. Try to match words from both lists. Invent a connection in which one thing parallels another or may be compared with it in some way.

2. Take one or more of the metaphors you have just invented and put it/them in an order which conveys an idea. Connect them with lines which complete an idea.

3. Think of a very emotional situation you have experienced. Limit it to a few moments in time. Describe the environment, or your appearance to make connections with the situation. Make the setting or your physical being reflect the emotions in the event you are telling.

4. Advanced: Think of a story or a myth which is like a series of events you have experienced. Mention the myth only briefly, but use images, symbols and objects from the story which may be compared to your own experience. (The myth doesn't have to exactly match your own situation.) You can change the direction near the end, showing you have learned from the original story. But show us and don't tell us the conclusion.

A very good book about writing Poetry is The Poet's Companion, by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux. Norton.

Images and unattributed Poems or Writing are the exclusive property of Ruth Zachary.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



Of course you are speaking with your own voice, no matter what you are writing. But don’t limit yourself to the point of view of "I did this or I did that and I saw him do that."

Personal accounts told in the first person point of view may appear as more credible, when telling something only one person could have experienced. But when telling an account about several conflicting characters, it may be more credible to treat all the characters as if they are in the third person… as if all are equal, and as if the storyteller is not biased.

Hoops. Collage. 18 x 24"

Sometimes by altering your perspective, you will write differently about something than you might have, using the first person point of view.

Blood Feud 1950s

Daddy always said
I wanted to get even
with my sister
I just wanted to be her
She wore crinoline skirts
got good grades easy

In Kalamazoo Mama was cuckoo
Daddy worked nights
My sister got a job
and got married
She got out

I wanted out too
I was fifteen and
wore tight skirts to school
I got pregnant

My boyfriend got me drunk
All his friends raped me
One night
I was holding in screams
with Mama sniffing the truth
outside the bathroom
while I bled my baby into
the toilet

My boyfriend told everybody
I was a whore
I dropped out of school
Mama screamed crazy mad

My sister said I could stay with her
When she was at work
my brother-in law wanted
to rub my back
She came home
and found us in bed
me in my undies

She should have left him
It was me she kicked out
back with Mama
After that I wanted to get ahead
instead of just even

If you are a narrator, you may choose to assume you can only know what one character is thinking, but not all of them.

Stretch your imagination a little. Put yourself in another person’s shoes and role play. Write as if they were telling a third party about you. Or talk about another’s experience in the first person, as if it was their voice. The girl telling the story above is fifteen and doesn't use punctuation.

Pay attention to whether you are using PAST OR PRESENT TENSE. Accounts in the present can be much more effective and immediate, especially in a tense situation. Try not to switch from present to past, or back again, etc.

Writing Exercises:
Choose one or all of the following :

Write about another’s experience. Try to describe a situation through their eyes. (third person point of view is acceptable. Try to be specific and particular to detail, time period, place, etc.

Write about your own experience as if someone else was telling about you and how you acted in a particular situation. (Another person speaks of you as the third person)

Think of a person who went through a terrible experience. Write the account as if you were that person, and telling it from their point of view. (first person point of view)

Write about a character you see in a restaurant. Describe the person’s appearance. Imagine the person has a secret they are trying not to reveal to others around them. The character is unique and has a particular local accent or dialect. Have him or her speak and act accordingly, and find ways they reveal clues about their secret, without actually saying what the secret is.

Writing and images are created by Ruth Zachary. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 24, 2008


October Raspberries

The morning wind sweeps
a chill off mountain peaks
that nips the raspberries disguised
under reddened leaves, as if trying
to hide from that final frost.
The smell of November wrangles
sharply with leaves not yet fallen,
as if Autumn is reluctant to begin
and these berries, edges burned
white from night’s brief winters
remember Indian Summer’s promise still
lingering in their stubborn persistence
as they continue to ripen on the vine.
The clusters feel like virgin’s breasts,
offering sweetness, teasing, yet
the red nipples firmly resist
the pinch of passionate fingers;
refuse to yield, and lay cold
as a witch’s teats in the hands.

Specificity is the Writer’s Friend. Details that are unique to the situation bring a poem to life. Specificity also works well in other writing.

The first line is not so specific. The second line gives the reader a feeling of the geographical location. The writer hints at a personal conflict over the change in weather by the fifth line, and this is reinforced in the eighth line. The language used suggest the raspberry vines and fruit express for the writer the resistance to oncoming winter. The raspberries (probably) don’t really have conflicts, but the specificity of description extends the metaphor.

Then the vines and berries are likened to virgin’s breasts, as if they are shyly resistant to being picked before they have a chance to mature, which further suggests the allusion to the season, and the coming of Halloween, with witches and cold weather. There is also a second meaning, that of dread of end of life. Even still, no conclusion is drawn here. That is up to the reader.

I would not have been able to write this poem if I remained indoors. I had to feel the berries to describe how they felt to my hands, and to discover the best words, and thought of this unique metaphor. This was one of the rare times that endless revisions were not required to finish.

Use sensory appeal, sight, sound, smell, touch, etc. Making poems specific and unique is best done by using words expressing many of the senses. This poem focuses on a small segment of time, although weather expected throughout the month is also suggested.

Writing Exercise: Write about a moment in time, noticing the physical attributes of something in the environment which stir up an emotion for you. Or start with the feeling and find something that expresses it.

Do not tell the reader how you feel. Instead, try to describe something outside of yourself as if it expresses your own emotions; feels your joy, sorrow, fear, etc. If you have trouble describing, approach it with all of your senses… how does it smell, feel, or sound? What words show the reader by implication, the emotion you are feeling?
October Raspberries. Photograph
From Writing Exercises (A-3)
Comments are welcomed.

All writing and images are the exclusive property of Ruth Zachary.

Friday, November 21, 2008



This morning, as always,
she pours creamer,
instant coffee and then sugar
into the precise center of her cup,
forming a bullseye in the bottom,
before stirring it all into a morning brew.
This is her cauldron, her ritual
for keeping her life on target.

by Ruth Zachary

The process of creating art, for me, whether
expressed in visual forms or in words, is an intuitive process,
in which connections between different images
are noticed, and demand to be recorded.
The connections between diverse images seem to
convey meanings beyond those of single images
viewed alone. They become visual metaphors. Often
similar ideas spill over from one medium to
another, as here, in a photo montage to a poem.
Above Image -My Muse Takes Me
Out to a Sidewalk Cafe

To see more of Ruth Zachary's Art work, visit and

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


How Do You Keep the Reader's Attention?

There will be many techniques for achieving this, discussed in the future. One way to make a blog, or a news article, or a poem more readable is to break it up into sections, each one of which truly deals with one idea, but is still related to the whole.

The goal is to get the reader's attention and then keep their interest, so s/he will stay with it to the end.

If possible, try to grab the attention of the reader with a beginning line or a phrase that raises a question for the reader... "Why did she say that?" or "I want to find out what happens to him," or "That phrasing was so dramatic, I want to discover more." Lead the reader from one line to the next.

Clarity of meaning is critical. You don't want the readers to be so distracted by obscure meanings, that they give up, or forget your train of thought. With a sequence of actions, make sure they are in the logical sequence as they would occur in time. This does not require a concrete prose-like account. In poetry, the intuitive use of words often enriches experience. Words used should enhance understanding, not impede it.

If writing a longer piece, try to keep the structure simple in the whole, and within each segment, with a beginning, middle and an end.

Few poems are perfect and finished as soon as they are set down. For some people, their best work occurs during self-editing. It is not unusual for some poems to go through fifteen or more revisions.

All of these steps are designed to serve a a guide for the process of editing your own work. Most importantly, never throw a start into the circular file because you judge it to be imperfect. The process of writing is the process required for you to express your idea in the most eloquent way possible.

Exercise: Find a poem you wrote in the past which is very long. Try to look at it in terms of logical sequence of actions or ideas. Re order the poem. See if you can break it up into sections, verses or separate poems, and put open lines between them. If you are past this stage of self- editing, you will know it.

Writing Exercises A-2

Monday, November 17, 2008


Introduction: For the next few weeks I plan to discuss approaches to writing, generally about Poetry, although many of the writing principles may translate to prose as well. I will use some of my own writing to illustrate a point, but I will also use others’ poems when I find them, crediting them, of course. An uncredited poem or image will be my own.

Short Poems Are Better.

My first poem entry on this blog is too long for most readers. It was always a problem when I wrote for a news paper, and it is still true with my creative writing. I want to give more information than is necessary. In my opinion, poetry is usually better when kept short..

The challenge for me is to find a way to shorten it. I encourage suggestions from others.

One way to handle a poem that is too long is to break it into shorter poems, each complete on their own. Call these a suite of poems under one title.

Think of the passage of time in the poem. Try to focus upon on one small soundbite of time, not an epic. The expression of that moment, and of its realization, first for you, or for the character in your poem, and then for the reader is the challenge.

Noontime Interlude

I don’t remember their names,
those big draft horses waiting
during one of their trips home and
standing by the pump house
patiently, still wearing their collars,
hames, and harnesses as they drank
from the tank. Behind the fence,
their large frames withdrew to
the shade, often resting one foot
at a time on the edge of a shoe,
tranquill in their tedium.

What is
indelibly etched in my mind is the
smell of the clear air, the peaceful
almost-silence just before a breeze
exceeded the resistance of rust,
causing the windmill to start up;
exacting the shriek of metal on metal,
lacking any subtlety, as the blades
gathered speed and faded to a
transluscent gray, against blue sky,
as if protesting indentured labor,
while the horses ignored the noise.

Writing Exercise: One good way to begin a poem is to write out the idea in prose. This becomes the framework for the poem. Next, remove all extra words from this structure so it conveys the basic idea.

Read it aloud. Break it up into lines that sound natural.

From there, these building block words are supplemented or replaced with ones that offer more intuitive understanding. Write until you feel it is finished. Additional methods toward completing the poems will come later in this series.

Writing Exercises A-1

"Draft Horses," image and writing are the Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Sewing Notions, by Ruth Zachary


Ethel Bertie Bowers
Birth Oct 25, 1881 NY Came West to MI in 1884
mar.1908- George Yale - died Jul 15, 1925
Married May 15, 1943 Fred Scott B.D
Death Sept 21, 1966(84) Death 1969 age 88.

Dau. Jennie Marie Yale Maxon Lloyd Maxon
Born 1909
Married ?
Died April 22, 1934

Genealogy is insufficient oooooooooooooooooooooooo How could happiness be so short-lived?
for recording a life, lives.oooooooooooooooooooooooooooThe answer lies in stringing together
Photos also, so much unknown.oooooooooooooooooooevents left out;ooooooooooounrecorded.
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Ethel's screams heard for miles
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowhen she found George dead by suicide.

No one wants to remember.ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Knowing details of tragedy reminds us oooooooooooooooooooooo We guess that hope persisted
of how little power we have ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo in Jennie's marriage, until
to prevent the events ooooooooooooooo00000000000 taken overnight 000000struck by a car.
000000000that can break us.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
0000000000Life's cruel ironies.0000000000000000 Ethel married Fred00000 finally in 1943.
0000000000000000000000000000000000Lived with him for twenty three years- -000
00000She was plumply handsome, 00000000000000000000000000 a testament to strength
00000stylishly clothed and coiffed.00000000000000000000000000000000 and endurance.
Knowing her skills with needlework,000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
piece-work quilted into tapestry, 00000000000000000000000000 Pictures of Ethel after that00
we guess she created this image00000000000000000 0000000000 show her old,00000000000
of haughty pride and grace0000000000000000000000000000000 lines crevassing her face,000
00overcast by sadness 0000000000000000000000000000 stately form bending
as if some premonition 000000000000000000000000000000ever lower with passing years.000
prevented anticipation of events000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
000yet to come.000000000000000000
Memory reveals00000000
In one photo she is shown 0000000000000000000000the thread unwinding off the spool,00000
00000With young Fred, both0000000000000000000000000000000 in unending sequence
00000stern, pious, stiff;00000000000000000000000000000000000into tatted lace doilies,
00000later jilted for George in 1908000000000000000000or crocheted edged handkerchiefs,
000000000000000000000000000000000000Letters listing meaningless details;
Daughter, Jennie00000000000grown.0000000000000
her sorrow unmentioned; hope00000000
The three of them standing together.000000000000000000000000000000resolutely clung to00
Smiling at last, and satisfied.00000000000000000000000000for something better in Heaven.00

There is a connection between this montage and the poem. Sometimes an old photo or a painting can suggest thoughts that turn into a poem or a story. Or real life memories can be so powerful they need to be expressed not once, but more; even enough to be a series.

Ideas for Writing: This is a suggestion for writers. Take time to look at an image and then sit down to write.

My Plans for This Blog
I am expanding my original blog ( into a second site because even though the creative process often results in parallels between the two forms of expression, visual art and writing, there seemed to be so much to say about both, that the connections between them seemed to be getting lost.

In the process of moving, I will eventually include all the material relevant to writing to this site. I will also include some of my art images, but will say less about the art and more about writing.

Permission required to reproduce Writing and Images, which are the copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Hi There, Writers and Readers!

Dreams Gone By
by Ruth Zachary

I plan to use this space
to converse about:

Writing in general,
Ruth Zachary's Writing,
Book Reviews,
Books about Writing,
Reviews of Writing Blogs,
Writing Workshops,
Attracting the Creative Muse,
Topic Suggestions from You