Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Day To Remember by Stanley Klemetson

Bayou writers’ group conference,
A bridge to publication;
You were rewarded for your presence
On listening to their presentations,
Underdown, Goldstein and Coen

Words printed upon the page
Recorded for all to read;
Interesting stories to share,
Tall tales of fiction to hear,
Enthralled and entertained,
Relishing in the synergy,
Speakers energized us all.

Stanley Klemetson, Ph.D., is head of the Department of Engineering at McNeese State University. Most of his writing experience has been for technical publications and books. He served as editor for a college magazine and had previously worked with a publisher for a proposed text book on technical writing. One of his goals is to complete that task. Stan also serves on the Advisory Board for the Write to Excellence Center at McNeese and is taking a class on creative writing. He has started submitting works for contests and is currently working on several poems, short stories and a book.

NOTE: If you are interested in an evening critique group, contact Stan at
stanley.klemetson (at)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poetry Can, and Does, Matter by Jan Rider Newman

(Jan with poet Stella Nesanovich)

In an issue of the Atlantic in 1991 Dana Gioia asked: "Can Poetry Matter?" His article was the lead essay in his book Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture. If you have somehow or other missed that wonderful essay, please read it here. In summary, the answer is "Yes." Of course. It has to.

Speaking to a poet friend once, I wondered how people live without poetry. Many people, if asked, will probably answer, "Very well, thank you," but I think such an answer comes from lack of understanding what poetry, what all art, is about and is supposed to do for us.

Dana Gioia's philosophy of poetry, simply stated, is that it be accessible to everyone, not only college professors and intellectuals, but plumbers, farmers, homemakers, secretaries, and store clerks. Poetry won't get you out of debt -- ask a poet. A painting won't repair a troubled marriage. A novel won't keep a house out of foreclosure. One thing art will do is show us that we're not alone in our turbulent lives. Our feelings and our losses and gains aren't only our own. So often, if we bother to look, we see them in a poem like "The Lost Garden," a painting like "Girl with a Pearl Earring," or a novel like Cannery Row.

Art doesn't enrich our pocketbooks; it enriches us. I think more people used to understand that. Educators used to grasp and base their teaching on that concept, so that students were prepared not only for the job market, but for life.

The best poetry doesn't live in an ivory tower. Give it a chance, and you'll find out. If you pick up a poem and find it too deep or too dull, put it down and look elsewhere. It doesn't matter if you like Shakespeare or John Donne or Joyce Kilmer. Give poetry a try and see if you get what I'm saying, and what Dana Gioia said better than I.

Jan Rider Newman is a published author whose poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in the New Orleans Review, Louisiana Literature, Oasis Journal, Yellow Flag Press, and Sweet Tea and Afternoon Tales, a 2009 anthology. She earned an M.A. in English and an M.F.A. at McNeese State University. She is a contributor to The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog and owner/editor of Swamp Lily Review.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My First Author Visit (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)

I recently experienced my first author school visit. It was a day long visit in which I was asked to speak to students in grades three through eight. It was in conjunction with their book fair taking place on campus.

Now, being a teacher for over thirty years, you would think this would come to me naturally right? WRONG!! I stayed away from teaching students with raging hormones all these years for a reason. I tend to gravitate to the ages where you still seem smart in their eyes and because you are their teacher they love you.

I wasn’t expecting to be asked to be a visiting author this quickly, but it came and I took advantage of the opportunity. Since my book is on a lower level than jr. high students would be interested in, I knew I better add something to my presentation or I would lose them for sure. I came up with something and had it approved by the school’s librarian and one of the eighth grade teachers who happens to be a friend of mine. It was ready to go. Two days before, I found out the presentation time was half the amount of time I was first told. So back to the drawing board I went to chip away at my presentation.

The day of the visit began with an unexpected fire drill and a relocation of where I was to make the presentation. That didn’t bother me. That’s how things go at schools sometimes and I was used to that thank goodness. I was nervous when I first began but soon became comfortable with speaking and really enjoyed it. I changed the presentation some with each age group who came to hear me speak. Even the teenagers gave their attention to my presentation.(Yes!)
At the end of the day, I survived my first author visit. I felt pure elation. It was one more thing on my bucket list I could check off if I actually had one.

I know this won’t be my last author visit. I actually have another one scheduled next month. I am going back to the drawing board to make my visits even more hands on and appealing to the students. I better work on making that bucket list too!

Peggy Clement is the author of a newly released children’s chapter book, Queen of the Castle and contributing author to an anthology, It’s in the Gulf. She is a member of Bayou Writers’ Group and Golden Triangle Writer’s Guild. She resides in Lumberton, TX.