nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

ice

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As I go over the many poems I have written over the years, I find a lot of poems about ice. Ice is very poem-worthy. It glitters and drips. It is cold and changes form. Icicles make great popsicles (if they are dripping from a clean surface). Ice can be a metaphor for emotion, life experience, change, danger, and so on.

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Today we had a high of 7 degrees C and all the snow and ice are melting. Not really sad to see them go this year.

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river ice

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builds in shallows

at the rim of river, incremental

embellishment to transparent sheets

of glass, ice envelopes winter

remnants, reeds and willows

thickness increased as frost

penetrates, sharp edges

cauterized by cold

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branches and icicles paperback

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freezing rain

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trees, bare branches, wait

wood snaps in the stove

budgies peck at cuttle bone

pellets of rain, tossed

at the skylight

a second transparency

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bare twigs turn in wind

distribute their coating

in these last moments

before temperature turns

the snowpack on the picnic table

shrinks at the edges

shoves over, makes room

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branches gloss so gradually

candles dipped in a vat of wax

over and over, acquiring thickness

the sky, through the skylight

dimpled tile, rumpled mosaic

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rain stipples bark as narrative

appends to memory, pane here,

light there, layers of glass

cedar twigs turn downward

as fingers, ice builds

layers of skin

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All my best

(staying home!)

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

berries and pears and plums

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I am a multi-tasker. I find it hard to do just one thing. So when I watch TV in the evenings, I read posts on Facebook, knit, sew or draw. Lately, I am practicing with my watercolours. I love working with the ‘wet on wet’ technique. I just touch the brush to the paper and watch the colour flow. So relaxing!

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plums jane Tims

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pears jane Tims

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All my best,

staying home,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 6, 2020 at 7:00 am

organizing writing files – ordering a manuscript of poems

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Last month I started a big project – to find and organize all the poems I have written during the last forty years. For a glimpse of my approach see here.

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After four weeks of effort, I now have a file of poems I would like to assemble into a book. The title will be ‘niche’ and the book will include poems about the ecological spaces plants and animals (including humans) occupy.

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niche \ ‘nich\ n (F, fr. MF, fr. nicher to nest, fr. (assumed) VL nidicare, from L nidus nest) 1 a : a recess in a wall, especially for a statue. b : something that resembles a niche. 2 a : a place, employment, or activity for which a person is best fitted. b : a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species. c : the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption.

– Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1979

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I have identified 66 poems for ‘niche,’ taking up about 110 pages. Although I could just toss the poems into the book in random order, I like to think about how I want the reader to encounter the poems. I organize the poems in the book following these steps.

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1. List the ideas in the poems:

After I find all the poems to fit the ‘niche’ category, I arrange them roughly into a manuscript. Then I print the Table of Contents and write a list of ideas associated with each poem.  Examples for ‘niche’ include: needs, predation, reproduction, invasion of other spaces, seasons, nutrition, competition, and so on. I also start to get a feel for poems that do not fit.

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2. Develop a progression of ideas:

Once I have identified these ideas, I decide how I want to group them and how I want them to progress for the reader. In the case of ‘niche,’  I want the poems to first define niche, then consider the strategies plants and animals use to stay in their niche, then explore the discomfort or danger created when a niche is occupied, consider the spaces I have occupied in my own life, consider the problems you have to overcome to occupy your own niche, and conclude with an idea of the ideal space. Then, I reorder the poems so they fit the progression of ideas.

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3. Sort the poems roughly into groups:

Once I have decided on a progression of ideas, I put poems into sections to portray those ideas.  I choose the title for the section from a poem in the section. It is at this point that I decide which poems do not belong in the collection and remove them.  For ‘niche’ the following are the sections (for now):

occupation of space – needs of an organism for food, water, air, physical space, and so on.

strategy – ways plants and animals protect their niche and solidify their position

praying for rain – dangers and discomforts of occupying a niche

mapping the labyrinth – places I have occupied, a bit of memoir

not touching the land – ways a niche is changed when it is occupied

forgetting to move – getting comfortable in your own niche

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4. Order and fine tune:

Now the fine-tuning. To create a readable book of poetry, I think poems should not only be consistent in theme, but also segue from one to the other. This may be as simple as grouping poems of one season together, or grouping poems about plant species. It also means allowing the language and rhythm to flow from one poem to another.

The intensive way to do this is to print all the poems and lay them out on a surface, ordering and reordering until they feel ‘right.’

I hate to waste the paper, and I like to have all materials within one view, so I use an abbreviated method.  I prepare pages showing just the section titles, the poem titles and a line about the poem. I cut these out so they can easily be moved around on a table. If I want to check detailed poem content structure, I have my i-pad near at hand.

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img_5961img_5966

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The process is sometimes tedious. Taking a break helps since after a while the poems you know so well begin to blur in meaning and the relationships between poems become nebulous. However, like many editorial-type tasks, the end product is worth the effort.

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All my best,

staying at home,

Jane

 

 

 

Written by jane tims

April 3, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Posted in writing

Tagged with , , , ,

organizing writing files – what to do with scores of poems

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Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about the poetry I have written over the years. I have two traditionally published books of poetry and will publish, independently, a small volume later this month. But scattered in the memory of my computer are hundreds of other poems, written over the course of forty years. Quality varies, but they are all mine, an expression of what it is like to be ‘me.’ Someday, when I am dust on the wind, someone is going to scan my computer and push delete. My son would not do this, but if I leave them in this state, they will become part of the clutter of his life.

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So, if I have had success at publishing my own work, and have the skills, why shouldn’t I ‘save’ the poems it took four decades to write.

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My approach has been to find the poems and assign them to one of five files. Each of the files will be the contents of a book of poetry, independently published and produced in a few copies. I have no intention of marketing these books. I may give them to family or friends, perhaps submit them to a few contests and just enjoy them myself.

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The five files will be:

1. ‘niche’ – poems about the spaces occupied by plants and animals

2. ‘myth and mystery’ – poems about strange occurrences in life

3. ‘lakes’ – poems about lakes and rivers in New Brunswick

4. ‘my grandfather’s farm’ – poems about my memories of the farm

5. ‘journal poems’ – poems about specific times in my life

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This is a slow process. First, there are multiple copies of some poems. Second, I have not been consistent with the naming of files. One outcome of this project will be a tidier computer.

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When I have the files in folders, then I will work to organize the poems, revise them, format the manuscript and produce a book.  A huge task, but as with all things, I will see the project through in stages, working on one part at a time.

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UPDATE: I now have the files organized! It has taken about a month of work, off and on. I am now working on the poems for ‘niche.’  There are 66 poems, taking about 110 pages. Next post, I will write about organizing the poems into a readable manuscript.

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All my best,

and staying home,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 2, 2020 at 11:56 am

talking trees

with 4 comments

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trees in conversation

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they say

if trees communicate

they do so

beneath the ground

communication network

of rootlets

and mycelia

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I still listen

above ground

to the friction squeal

of trunks

rubbing together

flutter of birch bark

whisper of leaves

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I think they try

to learn my language

speak to me

of longevity, the cycle

of the story in layers

added year to year

bilingual trees

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

blue shadows

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blue shadows

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crawl across the snow

reflect trunks and branches

tufts of lichen

curves of bracket fungi

curls of bark

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blue shadows

nuanced in ultramarine

and pthalo

a dab of violet

but never grey

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sinuous, diagonal

gaps of light

slow alteration

with angle of sun

no flicker of foliage

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Scan_20200326 (6)

 

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 30, 2020 at 7:00 am

writing the next mystery

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Although I am working to assemble a new book of poetry this week, my mind is straying to my next novel, mostly unwritten. This book will be the third in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series. The title, ‘No Stone Unturned.’ It may seem odd to already know the title but I usually start with a title in my head. I also know the general progress of the story.

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'pebbles and stones' paperback (3)

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Kaye Eliot, my main character, is on the track of another mystery, this time the whereabouts of a lost gemstone. She and her kids have found the ruins of an old stone house on their property, Daniel the stonemason is romancing Kaye’s friend Kelly, and a visitor from Ireland is asking a lot of questions about the community.

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This is the point in a new book I most love to be as a writer: filling out the story, imagining the dialogue and building in a few twists and turns.

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The story and its title began, for me, 40 years ago when a colleague and I were doing a study of hardwood growth in the Poplar Grove area of Nova Scotia. At that time there were the remains of an old stone house in the community and my love of story started the wheels turning. The stone house in Poplar Grove has since been restored by a well-known photographer and has been in the news. To read about the real stone house, check here: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/provincial/the-mystery-of-the-hants-stone-house-255258/

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If you haven’t read any of the Kaye Eliot Mysteries, there is still time to catch up!

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How Her Garden Grew takes place on the north shore of Nova Scotia, and explores the mystery of a sea captain who once lived in Kaye’s old home place, keeping a garden and a lost collection of seashells. Kaye and her kids try to solve the mystery, thwarted at every turn by nosy neighbours and a local gang of thieves.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07RTMN6WD

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sss cover image corner

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Something the Sundial Said takes place on Nova Scotia’s west coast. When Kaye’s family buys an old estate, they also gain a mystery. They find an old diary describing a century-old murder beside a missing sundial. When Kaye and her kids try to solve the mystery they encounter a local genealogist who will do anything to protect her great-uncle’s good name.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B085QQ3RGF

I’ll keep you up to date on the progress I make writing the new story!

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 27, 2020 at 7:00 am

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