Monday, November 21, 2011

Personal Essay

Have you ever thought about writing a personal essay? Until a few weeks ago, the thought had never crossed my mind. Then I just had this reminiscence about a major decision in my life in my early twenties and started writing. At first it was so harsh and close to me that it just felt like ranting. Then I focussed on trying to get it down to 1200 words in case I wanted to enter a contest. Then I started to edit and went into a free fall of writing boosting it up to 2700 words. I think what I've learned from all of this is that if you have something deep and personal that seems to be haunting you for some reason, just spill it onto the page. Don't worry if it sounds angry, or bitter or even weak-minded. Don't worry about following some contest guideline. Just put it out, take a rest and then look back at it again later. Now that I've looked back, accepted feedback and really focussed on the theme of the piece, it seems to be coming together quite nicely. So be thoughtful, write what you know, and be generous to yourself with writing time. And above all, be real.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Numbed Silent

I didn't know I was such a terrible chatterbox until I realized this morning that my husband was thrilled and unable to stop laughing at me because I could barely speak with my mouth frozen after my morning dentist appt. I was feeling sorry for myself, well not really, but I imagined I was entitled to some pudding after all those needles. (7 in total because I don't freeze easily). So I cracked open a portable mini pudding, took in the delicious vanilla scent, and shoved a massive spoonful into my mouth. Not having any muscle control, or I realized, functioning taste buds, it was a choking, slobbery, tasteless mess and I placed it back in the fridge to try again later. I've gradually lost the numbness and snacked it up all afternoon. Wait 'til my husband gets home...I'm going to talk his ear off.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Banff Experience

To immerse yourself in a genre that you love, with people who are passionate about it They really invest in helping you grow as a writer. I think the peer experience is the foundation of the Banff Centre programming. I've been shocked, warmed, stretched and tested. My poetry has changed with angry elephant strides and tiny fleeting bird sounds. An adventure.....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moving - a liberating experience!

We recently announced to all of our friends and family that we are moving across the country and several of them have said that a move is one of the top 3 most stressful events in life. But for me it has been an entirely liberating experience. Besides the fact that we are moving from the big city to a small town and a house on a hill with a view of the lake on one side and a mountain on the other, I have packed, cleaned, taken stock and ultimately cleared loads of clutter. I mean literally truckloads of clutter. We've realized that we had too many gadgets, knick knacks, clothing, toys, shoes and personally I have way to much fabric. Yes, I put that into words. As a Fibre Artist I can't purge too much of my precious stash, but I did donate a box of my least favorites to the local charity. And I released loads of old magazines. So throughout the packing and unpacking process we have been giving every item a critical eye and deciding whether to pitch it, sell it, donate it, or give it to a friend. Initially we were worried going to a smaller kitchen space, but getting rid of gadgets we haven't used in years, we've ended up with an entirely empty bank of cupboards. It feels great to have things spaced out and easy to find, each in their own place. Moving across 4 provinces and not being able to take every single item gives you a great perspective on what you really need in life. And life is good!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Punctuated surprises

Looking at the poem "Times Change Cafe" by Gloe Cormie I love the style she uses with a full paragraph of sentences with periods rather than choppy unpunctuated line breaks. Each period denotes a break or end of thought, but the next sentence is always unexpected and changes the meaning of the sentence before. She mentions the world stopping which can be quite scary and fierce, but the next line refers to her getting an autograph which, for a teen, could feel like the world has frozen for that instant. In the 3rd line she talks about the cook crying which, of course, could mean any terrible thing but really, it is just on account of the onions. The description of Big Dave McLean is smashing and the second paragraph, and final sentence, ties in the one getting the autograph with a wild haired woman getting a tattoo. It could be the same person. Classic Winnipeg poem.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back to Life...

This song comes to mind whenever I have left something too long and need to get back to it.

Back to life
Back to reality
Back to the here and now, yah...

The song is by Soul II Soul and when I sing it, I replace the word "reality" with the words "the poetry." Sounds geeky, I'm sure, but that's me...

Anyways, back to the that first volume of poetry, here's my take on Gloe Cormie's poem "A Free Slice."

It starts of with a fantastic description that firmly plants you in the scene. Upside-down water glasses as jellyfish - so fresh. I envision a plastic seated booth in a cheesy diner, but clean and cool. At first reading, I got the impression that a tawdry old man was trying to be fresh with a young waitress. But reading through several times, as I often do, I was left with the nostalgic feeling of an old man bringing a girl flowers at work as if he was a stranger and it is something he's been doing for a while. I'm not sure if the Free Slice is all about the pie, or if it is the man trying to get a free slice of the woman's time as pleasant company on the bus ride home.

Either way, it is a lovely poem. I can't wait to read more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Snowy Blues

I've been thinking how I've often heard the snowy blues from people and how often I've taken that snow day and turned it into something fun. The outdoor family that we are, we were relaxing in front of the TV...I know...but when I walked past the kitchen window and realized we were suddenly encountering a late springtime dump of snow, I called my son to come and check it out. Even though it was minutes before his usual bedtime, it was Friday and his comment hit me in the heart. "We should go play outside, mom." I considered how cozy we both had been in our warm pajamas on the couch, looked at the dog, and said, "OK, let's go for it!"

We donned our snow pants, coats, mitts and boots, gathered up the dog and ventured out just before dark. We walked 15 minutes around the block and onto our usual trail. Crunching along in the snow we realized that it was the perfect consistency for easy, huge snowballs. The games began. We attacked each other, and the dog with huge, soft snow grenades and fits of giggles, the rest of the way home and then started all over again in the front yard.

The poetry tie in you ask...?

There is just something poetic about the exhausted feeling of peeling off your winter gear, tucking in your sleepy child and climbing into bed with that rosy cold feeling still left in your cheeks.

Nite, nite.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Have you ever just stopped to think about how you could possibly exist in this moment in time, at this very location, with this mind, this body, this vision, taste, feeling of the world? Really? How is it possible that there is a person on the other side of the earth living (or dying) a tragedy as I sadly sip my tea watching the news?

Gloe Cormie's poem, In the Foam of the Cosmos gives a glimpse of how many of us ponder at times about our "smaller than small bodies on this lint-sized earth -"

I'll nod off this evening with deep, deep thoughts of humanity. What am I really contributing to this world?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Havfrue (mermaid)

I love how Gloe Cormie gives us a glimpse of an item and brings to life the far reaches of our imagination. In "The ancient Havfrue the sea washes up," she tore me right out of the first line of the poem with a word I didn't recognize, providing an asterisk with footnote to solve that problem, and drawing me right back in to the wondrous scene. It was a simple statue of a mermaid and she surrounded it with imagery and verse that made me feel like I was right there and continued to stretch my wonder into what the history of the statue was as well. Wonderful poem.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Word Throwdown # 9

In this next word throw down, I want you to speak a poem as if you are an inanimate object that brings voice to something.
In this one stanza poem, the speaker is the blanket cover of a bed sharing an old pup's secret.

I hold the furtive warmth
the soft sweet lingering
scent. The oil, hair,
snoozing drool. Your heart
content to secretly sleep
until the tires roll in
that familiar straining
engine sound
and you are wrapped instead
in the excitement of a full body wag
at the door.

-Brandy Lynn


The tone of this poem for me is that of mourning because of the title Marrow but also because of the memories. Gloe Cormie creates Marrow as the speaker which is fascinating and also seems to be a female who feels she is the voice and bones of this place/this beach house. I get the message that this place would no longer exist except that she holds its memory, and can speak of it, bringing it back to life.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"The sky is full of sudsy clouds above endless water."

Rather than say I'll be critiquing each poem, I'll say that I will speak about how the poem pushes me to think. I am more a lover of poetry than a critic as I tend to find something that I love or at least that I learn from every poem that I read. Also, I imagine there will be poems that move me, poems that confuse me, and poems that inspire me to write. So I'll comment on some, but not all, whenever my heart desires. Sometimes I'll be inspired to write a poem of my own. I really hope you enjoy following along.

"The sky is full of sudsy clouds above endless water." - Gloe Cormie

This first poem of her book Sea Salt, Red Oven Mitts and the Blues tosses me into a frenzy because it sounds like the speaker is talking about a woman who can't distinguish her imagination from reality. At the end it seems like her thoughts, as clouds, have tantalized and convinced her of something, yet turn their backs on her as satisfied as a haunting bully.

1st Volume of Poetry - A Manitoban

Well, with the help of a few friends I've decided on the first single-author volume of poetry for my 20 volume challenge. I find it hilarious that I've entered the notion of supporting Canadian poets by perhaps purchasing and reading their poems and my friends and family have inundated me with lending offers. It appears I won't have to by a single book. But, nevertheless I will be supporting these poets by reading them and blogging to my hearts content. So my first volume is Sea Salt, Red Oven Mitts and the Blues by Gloe Cormie. I felt it was appropriate to start in my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba where I happen to be at this moment in time. I'm looking forward to this book because my friend Jocelyn recommended it and just flipping through the pages glancing at the titles it seems like a light hearted, sometimes troublesome and nostalgic look into a prairie writer's mind.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A poet or not?

For years I've been dreaming of, chatting about, and writing my first book of poetry. My silly daydreams have me trotting around the globe meeting great writers and signing my books for poetry lovers clamouring to chat with me. Sound familiar? Many of us have a hidden poet yearning to share their whimsy or pain. But I was reading the website of Salt Publishing the other day and realized that I am in love with the craft of poetry but am perhaps not so well versed in the world of poetry. There were several candid tips on the ins and outs of getting your poetry published, but there was one bit of advice that has been rattling around in my brain now for days. The website put out the notion that if editors had one wishful rule, it might be the following..."Poets are not allowed to submit a manuscript until they have read two hundred single-author volumes of poetry published since 1980." My jaw dropped when I read that. Although it was likely said in jest, I have not read any single-author volumes of poetry. Not even one. I read poetry every single day online, for free. But I think I only own about 8 or 10 actual books of poetry and I've never completely read any of them. What is that all about? How can I expect to write a book of poetry, become published and hope that people will run out and clear the shelves of it when I, as a lover of poetry, am not supporting poets that I enjoy? So I've decided that even though 200 single-author volumes might be unattainable as a blog space goal, I might be able to pull off twenty. So that will be my next personal challenge. Don't worry - I'm not giving up yoga. But I will read 20 single-author volumes of Canadian poetry and blog about them to my heart's content. As there are 10 provinces and 3 territories, I'll try to find poets from across Canada. This should be fun. I hope that you'll follow along. I'll announce the first book this week and likely infuse some word throw downs along the way.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Adorable Neatnick

I guess I'll start off by explaining this word "neatnick." I have been using this word my entire life, as has my mother, referring to a person who has a propensity for keeping organized and is generally "well unto her household ways," quoting poet Edna Jacques. I always felt my grandmother, whom I affectionately called Tutu, was a neatnick. And to have a nice memory of her at this moment is serendipitous as today was her birthday. So to call my son an adorable neatnick just seems natural at this moment. I certainly hope he takes after Tutu in many ways. When it comes to his toys we have simple rules that help him keep the mess under control and, at least, off the floor to prevent theft and chewing by our dog. But when I happened by his desk and toy area yesterday I had quite a pleasant surprise. Not only was it clean and tidy, but it was impeccably organized down to each little star wars figure and zombie finger puppet poised and about to wage war.

Here is a wonderful photo of Tutu with my son a few years ago before she passed away. She would have been 86 years old today. Miss you, love you Tutu. Happy Birthday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Word throw down # 8

There's not enough time in the day. If that's not a famous quote, then it probably should be. Today's word throw down is not about making your day less busy, but about bringing a sense of calmness to your crazy life. The challenge is to find a block of time when you can be absolutely alone. It could be ten minutes. It could be one hour. No phone, no TV, no games. Just a pencil and paper or a blank page on your screen waiting to be filled with a poem. Write a small poem on what "Alone" means to you.

By One's Lonesome

Alone for me
brings such a deep
and resounding feeling
of being loved,
among friends.

Alone for me
brings solace
and comfort in thoughts
of my path,
of who I am,
who I am here for.

Alone for me
brings creation
and vision
spilling courage
from my hands
and my core.

Alone for me
brings a swell
of elation
as you return
and my eyes
bear your charm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yoga update

Here's an update on my commitment to myself. Just writing those words makes me think of the song "Hazard to Myself" by Pink because it is so applicable to my awkward yoga moves. But, I have been doing yoga daily for almost 3 weeks now. The instructor at my first class took one look at my mat, laughed at its 80s style poofiness and directed me towards the "real" yoga mats. At home I either do my Wii fit yoga, or practice the moves from class. It's pretty straight forward actually and it makes me feel great.

Besides that, I've been enjoying all of the attention from my dog, Oliver. Yoga seems to make him a little bit jealous for some reason. He can't stand that I am following the poses on TV and paying no attention to him whatsoever. It is the most adorable thing because, since we got him 8 years ago, he has been such a daddy's dog. Now he prances around me, nudges me off balance, whines and sometimes even barks. He lies down right on my mat between my legs and arms to make the yoga pose a real downward dog. I haven't had this much attention from him for ages and I love it. Sometimes I just have to collapse on him and give him snuggles. My next word throw down might just have something to do with our adorable Ollie.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Word Throw Down # 7

I know there are people out there who would shy away from snuggling a newborn until they are a bit older and less fragile, but most would agree that there is something so adorable and precious about looking into the face of an infant. I am one of those people who absolutely loves everything about babies, and I am so lucky to have 2 special infants in my life at the moment. Very close friends just had a little boy named Blake and my brother just had a little girl named Makayla. So the word throw down this week is to make up a little poem/song that you could sing to an infant to calm them or put them to sleep.


Goodnight my sweet it's time for bed.
You have to rest your sleepy head.

Let's sing a song to say good night.
It's time for you to close your eyes.

Tomorrow is a brand new day
When we can learn and laugh and play.

So cuddle warm and fall asleep.
I love you baby, goodnight my sweet.

I sing this song as if I'm a softly bellowing Etta James, but you can create a short soft tune to any music, and why not try it out on your spouse when you are snuggling before bed if you don't have a tiny infant around. It's nice to smile before you fall asleep.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Word Throw Down # 6

This next word throw down challenge is to take an idea or theme from a movie and write a poem. My inspiration is the last movie I just watched this evening called SALT. Loved that movie.

The sleek sophisticated
salient character
lures the lulled eye
watchers. We love her
and then crush ourselves
over being fooled.

The undergird actors
are gulled just as much.
But we pin our hopes
on the lovely lips
and soon revel in our secret
cognizance until all villains
are no more and the one good
player sees it clear
in her true eyes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Commitment to myself

I have been inspired by 5 days in a row of my self prescribed, easy morning, wii fit yoga sessions to go for the real deal and join a class. This means doing yoga in front of everyone. Well, not really because I'll go early and secure a spot at the back, but inevitably we'll be doing a move that forces us to turn around. I figure I should probably find out if I am doing the poses even remotely properly.

The last and only time I did yoga in a class was about 10 years ago while visiting friends in Penticton, BC. I was young, slim, and generally athletic, so my friend invited me along. Well, to my surprise volleyball, squash, tennis and my other favourite sports did not automatically make me instantly able to do yoga. I found it quite difficult to hold poses without shaking and completely lost my balance in front of the whole class. Back then, I was slightly mortified, but now, as seasoned as I have become in life, I'm sure I would just laugh my face off and try again. So I'm off to tighten up my buns.

Find all the real food
that you love most
and eat some of that
but not too much
every meal, every day.

Exercise your heart,
mind and body,
and be a good human
to yourself
and others.

Oh, and laugh...a lot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Word throw down # 5

This challenge is about taking one small thing that you've been meaning to do and being assertive with yourself about it so you are more likely to succeed. My doctor once told me that for health and well being I should try to do some yoga every day. What I found was that by the time my day was done I had used up every spare moment and just wanted to relax in front of the TV with a cup of tea. I actually love doing yoga, so here's my poem...

My alarm is set,
thirty minutes before
my services are required
by any person
or any pet.

I've blocked the entry
to my closet.
I can't fall in
to the usual attire,
the jeans,
the sweater.

No, the ironing board
is there, I can't
get through.

Laid out for me,
the lulu lemons,
the sporty tank.
My yoga time
has come.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Word throw down # 4

Word throw down # 4 is to write a poem about letting go of something that has great meaning to you, but you know you should really let it go.

A tiger to Daddy
with triangle stripes,
a flower pot dotted
and cutely smudged,
a pastel sketch
of small yellow Mommy,
and big green Daddy
with our red round dog
in the yard, a cityscape,
a fishbowl, a butterfly
of pom poms, a digital flower,
and a junk pile car.

It was the junk pile car
that caused the distress.
It was rather large,
overly fragile,
sharp and cranky.
He wanted to keep it,
this 3D chunky tumble
for the art wall.

Every time he touched it
pieces fell off.
He glued the broken bits
and in that brief moment
of wholeness
we took a photo
for the wall.

He took his time,
came to terms,
picked it up,
it fell apart.
He said, "it's not working out,
won't stay together,
can't hang it on the art wall,"
and he tossed it in the trash.

It's staggering how a child can grow in body and mind!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wonderful Words

Sometimes over the holidays friends and family go out of town or get so busy, that you just can't see everyone. So sometimes I meet with my best friend Gail for lunch before the holiday rush or in the early days of January to exchange gifts. This year she gave me the most thoughtful gift! What a wonderful idea to give a writer the gift of inspirational words. Thank you sweetie!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bulletin Board

This being my very first year to state a resolution, I have found a curious result. There can be plenty of naysayers out there. This was a complete surprise to me. Someone actually said, "if you put something on your bulletin board and you don't accomplish it, you might be tortured by it as you walk by." Well, to that I say, you have to put your dreams out there because they just may happen. Having a dream bulletin board is different than buying a pair of jeans that are too small because you hope to fit them next week. Now that would be tough! The real accomplishment for me was to CREATE the bulletin board. So I have already achieved my New Years Resolution. Now anything else positive that comes of it is just a bonus.

Pillow Talk

The hard red hurt
comes back.
Exhaustive doubts gnaw
at the back of my eyes.
They speak a language
I can't deny.
There they are
those soft sly words,
whispered to me.

If anyone else was listening,
they would think it was so absurd.

I call to the memories
with moist burning cheeks,
of my friend, my child, husband, parent.
I believe in you.
I miss you.
I love you.
I am proud of you.

But still, the fears haunt me
as the cotton pillow
hugs my face.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Word throw down # 3

Happy New Year everyone! I can't possibly have a word throw down on New Years Day that doesn't have something to do with my New Years Resolution. So here goes.

Write a quick bit about your resolution and to make it even more fun, make it a brief poem that leaves us guessing as to what your resolution is. Yep, it's an old fashioned riddle poem. Have fun! If you take on the challenge be sure to post the answer to your riddle at the bottom and your resolution!

I am naturally born from a tiny acorn
under controlled nursery conditions.
At 25 I reach my prime
and I am hugged by man.
The careful touch of the highly trained
strips my outer sheath, no pain,
but a brief debilitation.
I begin to flourish again underneath.
Regrowth comes on strong
and they're gone for 9 years.
Those parts of me gone
will rest with your wine
or hold your brief notes
all tacked in a line.

What am I?

A CORK TREE - Happy New Year!

My resolution is to put up a new cork board in my home that holds my goals and my dreams. It will be in a place where I can glance at it every day to be reminded of the small things I can to do each day to lead to the greater goal. Here's the first note that I'll tack to the board - my values statement.

Brandy Lynn Shares the notion of living the life you've imagined. She lives a healthy existence of creativity, emotional well-being, family goodness and constant learning that allows her to explore life in a peaceful and plentiful way.