Saturday, January 31, 2009


Unbeing Myself, study for mixed media Collage, by Ruth Zachary.

The Pause That Refreshes

So much to do... so little time. And when all the facets of one's life get out of balance, it is time to re-prioritize the tasks that must be done first. And so I have let my blogs slide.

I am happy to report that during the month of January I have designed... (not completed,) around 50 ideas for a series of mixed media collages on which I am excited to begin work.
I am planning to work abstractly, with no objective subject matter. It is basically about developing composition without depending on realistic material. But to work in collage for a period of time, my studio needs to be reorganized so I can work efficiently.

However, in the meantime, the available storage space on my computer has gradually filled up, so it is necessary to back up a lot of information on CDs in a fashion that the content is still easily accessible.

Also on March I must begin yard work, pruning, clearing, and numerous other tasks. I love doing it, and it is a great way to exercise, but it is time and energy consuming.

The conclusion of this is that I will not have as much time to devote to blogging as I did over the past six months. At times I have posted some images or poems I did not feel were complete. I want to be able to post quality material on my blogs when I feel it is ready to be presented.

I thought about deleting a site or two, but I am not going to do that, right away. I really like the missions of each of these topics. So I plan to blog periodically and see what is a natural rhythm for sharing my quality creative work, while still keeping life in balance and continuing to be productive in each area of my interests.

If anyone reads this, I would appreciate any insights or encouragement from you related to this topic.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


A Motherless Daughter. Vintage Photo Montage by Ruth Zachary

As she grew, her mother's photograph
Peered down over the top of the piano,
somber light eyes grave and stern
watched while she learned the keys
making magic chords transcribed from
sounds the spirits played upon her skin,
scales fingered in wordless harmonies there.

Her mother's picture hung upon the wall,
sainted now having died of scarlet fever
days after giving birth. She too, had scarce
escaped, found hanging off the bed
in her long nightdress, up-side-down,
like a cat in a sack, hem held fast
under her mother's body, she had been
scooped up by a watchful grandmother.

Sometimes she felt her grandma’s arms
holding, rocking, until sleep came and dreams,
where she could sink into a warm watery world,
where breath did not matter, and the universe
pulsed in her head, keeping steady rhythms
and harmonies, until surrendering, she could
escape those relentless haunting fears.

Sometimes at night, sleep refused
to carry her away, and she would float, adrift,
the raft of bed pushed hard against her back;
body pressed tight between deep
bedding, and weighted darkness.
Overhead, a cold dark cloud seemed to scream,
but she had no breath; no voice, no light.

This entry is the same as my last post for another blog, where I am coordinating vintage montages about my family history, and including poetry about the people in the photographs. Responding to photographs is a great stimulus for writing. Often the ideas that come are related to where I am at this period of life, and not really about the people in the pictures. Click on the highlighted selection to go to that site.

Images and Writing are the exclusive Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Piano Suite in Pink Sharp Major. Image by Ruth Zachary.

Road Writer

A Centennial man0 0a writer00000000
Bryan J. McAllen, aged 28, was killed00 traveling on the innerstate000000000
Monday at about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 50 . driving out of his mind00000000
in a freeway accident on a ramp00 on an interchange of words0000
00connecting west bound 47000 and blinded by visions crossing
000southbound U.S.8500 expressway to forever00

0Lieutenant Tom Hardt said00 the poet police reported0000
0000000000000000000000McAllen,00driving under the influence of poems000
00000.had not been drinking.0 . Words tested in his blood.0000
He was not wearing a seat belt.00He wrote unrestrained.000000
He failed to negotiate the ramp00 and was writing in the margins0
hitting an embankment00 in a collision of ideas000
which caused him to be thrown00 in one last head trip000000000
0from the small Chevy S-10 pickup00 where McAllen was writing0000000
Hardt said his impression was00 McAllen exceeded the limit000

00000000000He might have lived00 Had he been writing more slowly or
00000had he remained belted in00 or left his powerbook at home.00
0000000It was a tragic end.00 It might have been different.
00Services were held Thursday00 A reading of McAllen's poems 0
for close friends and family00 was held at the wake.00000

This poem was written for a writing teacher who admitted that sometimes he scribbled lines of poetry in his lap as he was driving. ( A fictitious name here) I tried to add an element of humor to a serious subject, although I never finished it in time to give it to him. I like the phrasing, which is a collection of puns and cliche figures of speech for fun, and which I would avoid using in another poem.

The innovation in form allows each column to be read separately or as one continuous line
if read across and was finished a year ago. This is very hard to do in a blog. It requires filling the spaces with zeros to justify the lines with a centered gutter, and I believe the poem will print out the zeros with the text body of lines and stanzas.

Writing and images, unless attributed to another, are the property of Ruth Zachary.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Channel to Crooked Lake. By Ruth Zachary.

and/or Foiling Your WRITE -Brained Creative Blocks

Sometimes you write like an obsessed demon. Then later, mysteriously, the words you just wrote appear to be drivel. You can’t even muster the start of an idea. Worse, you can’t remember who you were when you wrote those great pieces you turned in one semester two years ago. Your muse appears to have wandered away to spend time with someone whose writing is more worthy. It’s easy to feel that way during a dry spell.

As a creative person working in the visual arts as well as writing, I have many years of paying attention to the times when creativity seems to flow from some miraculous source. Others have said words or images seemed channeled into their mind and spirit, and to flow out through their hand on the page as if they were the instrument of the Muse Herself.

Often the real answer to blocks is a positive approach, steps taken to create the conditions which nurture your creativity.

I have talked to many other writers about this. Many list the tangible barriers preventing them from being creative, and they set about removing the blocks. Some say just writing regularly helps a great deal. Few, however, have linked right-brained activity with creativity.

Few are even aware of how to tap into an altered state to enhance their art work, or Play. Keeping an attitude that your art form is for you a privilege, a source of joy, and your time to play will help you nurture the process which for your will be most productive.

The Right Brain
Several years ago, I read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, for visual artists. It emphasizes the functions of the brain which can encourage creativity, if cultivated. In fact, flipping through it, I see renewed ideas there, and think I must read it again.

Since the first time, though, I have identified many situations which I believe are directly tied to right-brained functions. Creativity can be stimulated by identifying your own personal right-brained states, and learning to prolong those states during the period of play devoted to your personal art form.

Here are some situations that put me into a creative place:

√ Sleep and Dream States – often ideas come for art. Write them down.
√ Darkness at dawn or dusk – also write these thoughts down.
√ Waking slowly, stimulated by coffee, and letting thoughts wander freely
within the areas of your art expression. Write or sketch your ideas.
√ Showering. Record your ideas as soon as possible.
√ Driving through beautiful scenery. Have you noticed how you are able to do your
driving functions and still think of something else at the same time? That is your right brain working, but don’t do this if you might endanger yourself or others, and do pull off the road to record your ideas.
√ Riding on a bus or train.
√ Meditation.- images and writing may come automatically or unconsciously.
√ Listening to music. Pay attention to which kind of music stimulates you. I prefer non-vocal
music when focused on writing.
√ While doing routine exercise.
√ Dance.
√ Sex- afterglow. (Hold that thought til later)
√ Gardening.
√ Repetitive chores.
√ Laying on the beach.
√ Under the Influence – light alcohol, only. You can’t be creative or productive when wiped out.

I don’t claim that my creative space is the same as yours. But do pay attention to what works for you, and do set up the conditions to encourage your own creativity!

Another excellent book for all sorts of artists and writers is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which encourages the artist’s spirit and discusses the issues plaguing many artists, and how to overcome them.

All images and writing are the Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Cave Drawing #3. By Ruth Zachary.


√Shorter is better. Keep the reader’s attention. If a poem is longer than one page, break it up.

√Clarity of meaning. Put the work aside for a few days. Read it aloud to someone. Problems are more visible. Also present the story or evolution in chronological order. Using the correct sequence is less confusing to readers.

√Time elapsed in the poem's subject - a short soundbite in time is better than an epic, both in relating an incident and the sequence of events leading to it. Again, be concise.

√Specificity. Use details that are unique to the situation, and avoid generalized language.

√Use sensory appeal, sight, sound, smell, etc.

√Voice: select one point of view, one tense. Speak in a unique voice. Dialects are allowed if consistent with the character relating the information.

√Metaphor. Try to incorporate 3 metaphors, or one extended metaphor.

√Show, don’t tell. The setting, imagery, and language must bespeak the emotion and conclusion. Use active verbs which create an image. Lead the reader to your conclusion, rather than verbalizing the point.

√Avoid sentimentalism (observe without emotion even if is a very emotional subject. Defuse emotion by telling it as a second person viewer might.

√Unique wording ( omit cliches) Dare new word use. Be outrageous.

√Avoid conceptual words. (words rhat refer to thought, or long, technical words.)

√Listen for music and rhythm when your writing is read aloud. Internal rhymes contribute, end rhymes only sometimes do. Refrains repeat for the music or rhythm and emphasis to make a point. Remove redundant words and phrases if they don’t contribute to your writing. Replace words with better ones if possible.

√Double check your own spelling and punctuation, unless you are purposely avoiding conventions. Some publishers don’t respect this choice, even after 70 or more years of innovative forms.

√Create new structural forms. Respect white space between Lines. Consider conversational line breaks, or punctuation breaks. If using traditional forms, try to make the language flow naturally. Be innovative in other ways.

√Add your own points to this list for self-editing your own work.