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,
visit ruthzacharyart.blogspot.com

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.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


When Flowers Grow Free, Pen and Ink and
Computer Drawing Tools, ©by Ruth Zachary.
To see more art and read about the drawing
techniques, go to ruthzacharyart.blogspot.com.



Daffodils appeared on the hill

I planned to move them

to a cultivated place.

After digging two feet down

those tender shoots drooped

disappointed, snapped off by accident,

where stems curved in earth

from some deep nocturnal residence.


Roots undiscovered, buried

there twenty years or more

by a dozer digging a drain field

beneath the hill. What will to live

could endure such valiant effort?

How many years, if ever,

before they found the sun again?


Not long.Their roots in darkness knew

not only when spring arrived

but how to grow toward the sun.

And I, compelled by nature's need

to love, obeyed some internal

compass drawing me to light.


This past month I have experienced a time like this, when many of my creative efforts failed. I started over each time with a new approach to make my ideas materialize, until I began to learn from the failures. Some experiments and some visions do have limits. They have natural ways to grow which are inherent to their nature.

I wanted to integrate my abstractions with realistic images, but as long as I sought to do this using the old methods, the attempts didn’t work. As soon as I realized I would have to work differently, and to use black and white without color, my efforts began to work. And because I wanted the images to be used for illustrations in poetry chapbooks, black and white was well suited to the planned use.

I am very pleased with the process and with the results. I feel as if I have come out of the darkness into the sun. What I have learned is to be patient, and to realize creativity doesn’t only exist when things seem to go right. It is still there, even when it seems dormant. Creativity lies deep within, and with continued nurturing and effort, beauty manifests in its own time and way.

Images and Writing are the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This is one of my favorite memories of my Father. It was not Father's Day, but I always remember this happy recollection on that day.

Homesick at Chi Rho Camp

I came with the other kids from church,

one sunny Sunday afternoon,

to spend one week at Chi Rho Camp.

We were all separated into teams.

I was twelve, and mingling with strangers

was hard for me, but I was still hopeful.

In my little group we talked about

Christian values, only I was so shy

my heart was in my throat, so when

I tried to speak, I forgot what I intended

to say and everybody


I was so embarrassed! I felt like

I couldn’t face any of them again.

I cried, and told one counselor,

I was homesick and wanted to go home,

and besides, the weather had turned cold

and I really needed my coat.

She somehow sent word to my parents.

They didn’t have a phone, but impossibly,

my dad appeared with my winter coat.

We went out and sat on a bench,

right out by the water of Crystal Lake,

his arm around my shoulders,

and waves slapping at our feet.

The sky was gray, and the wind was

cold, but the rain held off.

In the clear golden water, waves

rocked flat round stones on the bottom,

as big as the span of my hand.

Daddy asked me what made me

feel homesick, and then asked me

what I hoped coming here would be like?

He gently suggested that if I left, it could

never turn out the way I wanted,

and the chance could be gone forever.

I felt better, and decided to stay.

My dad changed everything that day.

© by Ruth Zachary

Monday, June 14, 2010


Visions Gather


Shapes take order

out of chaos

as darkness yields to dawn .


Words sound in the virgin snow.


Footprints lead to where

no body moves.


A ghostly promise

compels the artist to make images;

the poet to

make poems of them.


Art work images and writing are the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


After Monet, Study for Mixed Media Collage © by Ruth Zachary

Reading Other Writer’s Work Can Sharpen Your Own Style.


Ted Kooser said, “We teach ourselves to write the kinds of poems we like to read.” He said even a poem you don’t like can teach you, if you can articulate how you would change it.


Sometimes the influence of another author’s work can be absorbed on an almost imperceptible level. Even some prose is so lyrical it has that kind of effect. I see this as a good thing. As a visual artist, other imagery influences me and yet it always is interpreted in a way that is uniquely different than the source.


Recently I saw Barry Lopez in an interview on Bill Moyer’s Journal, and was very impressed with the lifestyle he has embraced in order to nourish his writing. Lopez goes out into remote areas to experience nature in an intimate way, so that he can bring back his impressions and reflections to reach others whose lives rarely experience it.


Years ago Lopez wrote Of Wolves and Men, which I read and was most impressed by. Since then he has gone on writing, and has written several published books, containing his nature essays, and short stories that reveal unique qualities in people. I find both forms spiritually uplifting. As a writer, I am inspired by his style, which I would define as poetic prose.


Lopez narrates some of his short stories on audiotape. In Light Action in the Caribbean, he reads very well, imbuing his characters with unique personality. The stories too, grip the imagination.


His Artic Dreams, a National Book Award Winner, contain his observations and notes about people and animals living in the Artic. He draws from many sources, history, science, literature and myth in the construction of his essays, and truly takes us to places most of us would never experience.


I don’t know as yet how his unique vision and language will affect my writing. I do know trying to say something of substance is something I value, and Barry Lopez always says something of value to me. In reading his work, I believe I can only be strengthened in my own writing.


A Challenge to Visitors of this Site –

Read an author you have been influenced by, or share the impact a particular author has made upon your own thinking, and hopefully upon your writing.

You are invited to share your reflections on this site. (You will be attributed)


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