The Poetry Workshop, As Nick Nicholson calls it…

has taken off this week.  It was just a small thing amongst fellow poets, but it has been embraced by these poets-friends, and I have some excellent submissions to post, with more promised.

This blog started almost exactly a year ago as  a writer’s blog open to other writers, and it seems that sometimes, some weeks, months, it  diverged from that set task.  All in all, that is fine, there were matters that glimmered and caught our  attention, but now we are back to the basics: writing and right now…poetry.  In particular, the dissection of pieces of poetry and poetry crits.  Actually, Nick has been the one to lead this, and I thank my dear friend for his wonderful efforts.  Nick and I came  out of ERWA (Erotica Readers and Writers Association), basically joining the same time, and we cut our teeth on what we saw and attempted there.  Our guide in the poetry section of ERWA was Gary Russell and he was a good mentor in those things of poetry he introduced.

This week has been a good start, and the stats show that there are over 220 people today reading the blog…and in particular the poetry offerings.  That says many people interested in poetry and of course, we are delighted.

Further, Katie Troutman wrote  last night and said she was delighted in the crits she received and is presently rewriting her poems and making them stronger.  That was  the purpose of this ‘workshop’ and if it does this, then we are succeeding in our efforts.

I’m going to have to slow down a bit right now, because of two situations.  One, we are doing a house remodel, and The Husband needs me to hold up the other end of the 2×4’s, the ladders, hold the end of the chalk line, but there is a constant clean up of debris, dust and plaster.  We bought Festool equipment (fine German technology in carpentry tools) last Xmas, and the best part of it is the vacuum. It gets a workout as we remove walls in place since the 1880’s.  Have you any idea what is behind those walls?  Besides no insulation, there are SPIDERS who look like they could eat eyeballs in a gulp.  There are MORE SPIDERS , and Camel Crickets that jump yards and scare the hell out of you.  My son keeps the Festool suckup away from the spiders and captures them on a broom or in a glass and deposits them in the front garden, but I would  rather suck them up.  I have been bitten and it’s not nice.

Also, I have started another collection of poetry, this time titled “White Cranes of Heaven”, and this  will replace the “Seasoning of Lust, Vol. II”  planned for this fall.   This is a shift for me because there will be very little erotica in this collection, and my friends are chortling at my ‘target marketting” of the first book “Lust”.  A nun, a female rabbi, and 4 90 year old  plus family members and friends of the family are NOT a good market for that first book.  LOL!  I knew that, I tell my friends, but I did hope  a couple were ‘liberal’ enough to embrace this venture.  I was wrong and I seem to be the scarlet woman in my family.  The rabbi still talks to me, but the nun?  She acts very nervous.

So I will parse out the poetry and make it last and hope others chime in with ‘poetry criticism’.  We are not experts here, except for Dr. Singh, but he’s awaiting the Monsoons in Mumbai, and it’s damn hot there he tells me.  It’s damn hot here, too…and the spiders aren’t helping a bit.

Mary sends in a tanka and Susan Clarke from Australia sends in a poem.  I’ll  post them  and perhaps after the weekend, there will be others to jump in the crit circle.

Lady Nyo

Tanka from Mary:

Today is summer

The heat has made roses wilt

Like a sad lover

Crying crystal tears that flow

Can not the tears offer life?

Poem from Susan Clarke:


She observes the weeds
multiplying with obscene haste
across every garden bed.
Clandestine seedings
cause multitudes of offspring
to work their way into the light,
mocking her impotence to act.

She observes the weeds,
bees pollinating flowers
that will become cobbler’s pegs or farmer’s friends
depending on your preference.
Her head hurts
as she sees the futility of any effort
to combat their relentless progress
through what should be a garden,
an asset to her home,
a pride and joy.

But she can only see weeds,
a testament to the state of her mind
overgrown with unresolved pain,
longing for a life free of torment.

Her home is untidy,
dirty floors,
old worn furniture.
Anti house-proud
the dust bunnies multiply
in the corners
waiting to be gathered up
by a broom
in a healthy sweep of awareness.

She observes the kitchen
the indifference of family members
brazenly displayed in congealed fat
around the stainless steel sink
red wine and milk stains
stickiness and clumps of crumbs on bench tops.

She observes the open griller gaping
to reveal a crusty cheese coating,
the trash bin lid
covered in grease from food scraps
carelessly scraped in.
bread tags, rubber bands, milk bottle tops and grime
on every surface.
The recycling box is overflowing
the fridge covered in spill stains gone mouldy
the fruit bowl overflowing
with decayed passionfruit, old apples
and mandarins that looked nice
three weeks ago.

She observes her weariness
and remembers observing the same scene
a month ago
and how it mirrored the state of her mind.

Then, as now
she got to work and cleaned up the grime
making the surfaces clean and dry
feeling brief relief and pride
from action taken
ephemeral resolution and peace
a clean tidy house
and a clean tidy mind.

But the weeds remain.

A crit/comment from Katie Troutman:

This poem is wonderful. The imagery is fragrant, sharp, colorful, immediate, and the words slice as cleanly as the images into our psyche. I like the weeds lurking in the background, still looming on the horizon at the end. The image of relentless weeds is a wonderful metaphor for LIFE. Plain, regular, everyday life. No matter how much we do-and we must do it-the everyday things like washing dishes and pulling weeds are always with us. Life is  process. Weeds remind us of that.
Loved it.

I agree, Katie, I was struck by the pathos and intensity of Susan’s poem….the everyday issues are the basis but I know more about Susan through this poem.  She reveals a lot about herself that connects with others, us, other readers.  I think it’s a good example of lyric poetry…not just a statement of ‘herself’ but the communication that most of us strive to do THROUGH our poetry-  make those connections with humanity.  Not just statements of our lives.

Susan communicates through her poetry in interesting terms.

She cares about this important issue of resonance.

Lady Nyo.

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12 Responses to “The Poetry Workshop, As Nick Nicholson calls it…”

  1. Margie Says:

    Ooh Jane, I hate spiders! But I’m sure the renovation will be worth it!

    I sent you an email with a poem, I hope you like it, I kind of do and I’m sort of happy with myself.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    I got it, Margie! and it’s lovely and goes here on the blog Monday morning.

    I remember you telling me the ‘origin’ of this poem… did good, gal!

    I hate the sanding dust with drywall mud, and we are all looking like ghosts…but a couple of baths and days cleaning, and it will be well worth it….sans the spiders!

    Love, Jane


  3. katiewritesagain Says:

    This poem is wonderful. The imagery is fragrant, sharp, colorful, immediate, and the words slice as cleanly as the images into our psyche. I like the weeds lurking in the background, still looming on the horizon at the end. The image of relentless weeds is a wonderful metaphor for LIFE. Plain, regular, everyday life. No matter how much we do-and we must do it-the everyday things like washing dishes and pulling weeds are always with us. Life is process. Weeds remind us of that.
    Loved it.


  4. Nck Nicholson Says:

    Hi Mary,

    There was a nice poignancy in this poem. The contrast between the dry, wilting heat and the wet tears worked very well. Quite a sad poem, really, and I think the question that it raises actually answers itself because, to my mind, the tears *do* represent life.

    Some detailed comments…

    > Today is summer

    Not the strongest of lines, perhaps. And why is it ‘today’, in particular? I’d presume that it had been summer for at least a while, rather than suddenly ‘today’. Perhaps try something like “Summer burns” or “Hot summer” or even just “Summer”.

    > The heat has made roses wilt

    This line is written in the passive voice (which is not ‘wrong’, per se, but the ‘active’ voice is usually stronger) and the syllable count has forced the omission of “the” before “roses”. Also, the plural ‘roses’ doesn’t quite parallel the singular ‘lover’ of the following line. Perhaps re-work it to have a single rose, rather than plural roses?

    > Crying crystal tears that flow

    ‘that flow’ is somewhat redundant. Again, I think the syllable count has forced the addition of two syllables that aren’t really needed. “crystal” is a bit twee, perhaps something more unusual to describe it?

    > Can not the tears offer life?


    Obviously, you’ve followed the 5-7-5-7-7 syllablic rule of tanka here, which is fine in itself, but with tanka written in English, it’s permissible to have less than 31 syllables to more closely imitate the ‘spirit’ of Japanese tanka.

    Thanks for sharing your poem.



    Hi Susan,

    I very much enjoyed “Weeds” – the detail of the garden and kitchen detritus grounded the poem and made it very real, very earthy. And the parallel between the state of the garden/house and the narrator’s state of mind was clear and effective. I’m the same way – I can’t think straight if there’s too much mess and disorder around me!

    Thanks for posting!

    Some detailed comments below…

    > Clandestine seedings
    > cause multitudes of offspring

    ’cause multitudes’ sounds a bit clunky to me.

    > She observes the weeds,
    > bees pollinating flowers
    > that will become cobbler’s pegs or farmer’s friends
    > depending on your preference.

    This stanza repeats the opening line of the poem, but I’m not sure that it’s particularly effective, I can see no special reason for it. I have no idea what “cobbler’s pegs or farmer’s friends” are…and mentioning flowers seems to detract attention from the “weed” theme. I think these four lines could be omitted without affecting the overall poem, but it’s your call, of course.

    > the dust bunnies multiply

    ‘multiplied’ was used earlier in the poem. Perhaps ‘dust bunnies breed’ instead?

    > She observes her weariness
    > and remembers observing the same scene

    ‘observe/observing’ has appeared several times so far…

    > and how it mirrored the state of her mind.

    ‘the state of her mind’ appeared earlier too.



  5. shia1 Says:

    HI Nick,

    I wanted to thank you for taking the time to crit my poem. You are right in all aspects. I didn’t work as hard on this poem as I have on others. But I enjoy writing tanka and Haiku. I find it a challenge.

    I just wanted to thank you for the honesty and fairness you gave my poem.



  6. R.K.Singh Says:

    Hi, Jane: since you have been writing erotic poetry as well, may I invite you to my new blog:
    and share with us your comments. You may notice how my metaphors are culturally Indian and at the same time international besides avoiding adjectives etc . In fact as haiku and tanka practitioner we have become more prone to using less adjectives than our other poet friends.
    R K


  7. R.K.Singh Says:

    But wherever adjectives appear they are really adding to the noun and used as a means of brevity rather than expansion, description or elaboration as in regular poetry.
    R K


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Oh RK! Tanka you so much~ LOL~ Thank you so much for the invitation. You know how much I love tanka. And congrats on your new blog! That’s wonderful. May I post this address on the face of the blog or would you rather go under the radar on this?

    Yes, it would be natural your metaphors are Indian, and how much I enjoy this! It’s a glimpse into a world that is intriguing, provocative and enchanting!.

    As for this issue of ‘less adjectives?’ It’s because with the limited syllables in tanka and haiku there just isn’t any ROOM for many adjectives~ LOL!

    Besides, we both like the ‘bare bones’ expression of this particular poetry form. Here, with tanka and haiku, I can really understand that ‘less is more’!

    Thank you, RK. What a joy it is to share all aspects of poetry with you and others.



  9. R.K.SINGH Says:

    Let’s hope our other poet friends also reflect on this ‘less is more’ idea of creativity.
    R K


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Well, from what I have seen of poetry on other sites, (unnamed…) it must be an acquired taste. LOL!..

    But I think it’s just a question of influences. Us Westerners don’t get an early influence of Japanese, etc. poetry where we see this “less is more’…and we write on and on….

    Especially in the 19th century poets…there is a LOT of words…an annoying amount. And adjectives…


  11. R.K.SINGH Says:

    I agree with you. But when we write, we should be sensitive to the taste of our time rather than what we notice in the past writers. There are so many things to learn from the past, but we also need to be aware of the present. I have read several American poets of the 1960s and 1970s who wrote in free verse and used either very apt adjectives or wrote like you and I using ‘bare bones’ expression.
    What I have been trying to emphasize is using minimum or very fresh adjectives and metaphors or being brief, especially in lyrical poetry. Unnecessary verbosity is distracting and boring.
    Then, one also needs to develop ones own poetics. For example, I avoid using punctuation marks in poetry. I also don’t give titles to my poems.
    For reasons of identification, I have hung my poems with titles, often inappropriate, while publishing on the net or on my blogs. But in my published collections, the books have titles, and not the poems. My simple reason: I hardly composed a poem with a title integral to it.
    And, titles tell too much!
    The readers need freedom to imagine and recreate their own meaning from the poems. This may be different from the poet’s meaning, intention or interpretation. The more meaning one can get from a poem, the better for the poem. I have often found by not using punctuation marks, I provide ‘ambiguity’ to my poem and ensure that various people like it for their own ‘way’ of reading it or for their own mood at the time of reading it! Sometimes they may also find it bad.

    We have to discover our own ‘aesthesis’ which is in keeping with our nature, or what I called, sensibility. You know better what you like to read and write, and within your aesthetic frame, you try to present your poem to the readers. What I have learnt is that it is possible to write SIMPLE poems without being complex or verbose or using too many adjectives.

    When I try to revise a simple poem, it becomes very challenging. After all, simplicity of a poem is something beguiling. You too might have experienced it.



  12. youtube mary chapin carpenter Says:

    carpenters top of The world Piano

    The Poetry Workshop, As Nick Nicholson calls it


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