I just wrote the fiftieth villanelle.

And that’s that.

Well, not quite. I’m a bookmaker, not just a writer. Now I am entering the phase of putting the book together. In some ways it’s more fun. In others, I miss the constant search for rhyme, the debate about rhythm, thinking in verse.

I’m trying something different with the illustrations this time. I’ll still have them. This is going to be a black and white book, though, so it will be less expensive. And I sort of felt like the color in my other books sort of interfered with the poetry. Maybe not quite as much with 100 Days as Hypercreativity, but some. And villanelle, man. Villanelle needs to be admired for what it is.

I had never heard of villanelle before July 16 of last year. I had just written Far & wee, my book of 20 sonnets. I felt fairly confident I had a good grasp of sonnet writing and I wanted to try something new. I asked on Facebook what kind of poetry I should try next and a friend suggested villanelle.

The more I researched villanelle and tried to write it, the more it became obvious that I’d have to write much more than twenty to come close to mastering the form. There’s so much to think about. Not only rhyme, but placement of the rhyme. And finding new rhymes. I mean, you could write ten to twenty villanelles with rhymes ending in -ay and -ate but it would get old. (Trust me.)

So this book is going to be a bit different, even, than the other two in my poetry diaries series. It documents what was going on in my life somewhat, but it’s also a literary journey for me. I’m learning how to write something new and hopefully you’ll be able to see that I get better.

I know some of my favorite poetry that I’ve written thus far is in this book. I won’t tell you which ones they are. I’m also kind of fond of some of the illustrations, even though I don’t imagine I’ve improved that much in that respect. (That is not false modesty. I have improved, but only so far.)

So, I’m off to make a book. Hopefully I can have it done soon. Maybe even in a week or so.

copyright 2022 Michelle Garren-Flye

Taking you along on the Villanelle ride: Poem

So I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered the villanelle form, but I have written three so far. Villanelles 2 and 3 are nowhere near ready for others to see, but number 1 is not too bad, and, thanks to some feedback from a writer friend (thanks, Brandon!), much better than it was.

I’m going to publish it here even though I started out the day with major imposter syndrome after reading Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song“. You should definitely read it if you haven’t. It’s what I will strive for in my villanelles. I’m not there. Not anywhere near it. But what is life if you’re not trying to perfect something?

Villanelle #1

By Michelle Garren-Flye

Follow the direction of your heart.

It’s the best way to spend your time—

and the only real way to make a start.

There is no other way to map or chart

the treacherous mountains you must climb.

Just follow the direction of your heart.

Life may want to rip you apart,

but the map of the heart is sublime

and the only real way to make a start.

Reach for reason and long for art!

It will never be considered a crime

to follow the direction of your heart.

There’s no confusion when you depart.

Even if you can’t find the right rhyme,

you know it’s the way to make your start

The sting of winter may yet smart

even when you’re in your prime.

But follow the direction of your heart!

It’s the only real way to make a start.

Crepe myrtle. Photo by Michelle Garren-Flye

Poem: Favorite Song

Yesterday I wrote a poem. It’s the first in a series of poems that will concentrate on happiness.

I’m an autobiographical poet. When I write poetry, it comes from inside me. Sometimes it’s like I’ve slapped blood and guts onto the page (or my computer screen…side note: don’t do that). I have poems I’ve written that I probably won’t ever want anyone to read. I’ve deleted poems after writing them, not because they were bad, but because they were too good.

They showed too much of me.

What I’m getting at is that I often dwell on my dark places. Not always, but too much.

I’m going to do my best to focus on the good stuff in my life from now on. I’m starting small.

Favorite Song
By Michelle Garren-Flye

It's that moment when your favorite song begins
and your stomach that had been so heavy?
(weighed down by worries
about the kids
and parents
and bills
and the rats in the basement?)
—all of it disappears
pushed back into the ether that houses those things—
the ugly things that snatch pieces from our hearts
and leave us lonely (and broken if we let them)...
But it's all gone with that first note
and you and the song are together—
the one thing that lifts you away,
the only thing that can.
Probably the cover? Photo by Michelle Garren-Flye

Poem: Hypercreativity by Michelle Garren-Flye

It’s been a beat since my last update. Since then, I’ve spoken to a group of writers about my love of poetry and how it dropped me a rescue line during Covid. And I’ve had an explosion of creativity that has…

…brought me to a screeching halt.

How is that possible? When my brain is firing all its creative cylinders, how is it I can’t seem to create anything?

And it’s not totally true that I’m not creating. I am. I’m writing poetry and drawing and working on a book about my cat and gathering material for the next literary magazine. I’m entering contests and submitting poems (and getting rejected regularly). I’m working on a workshop about haiku/renga and researching poet laureates for a speech I’m giving at the end of April (National Poetry Month). I am creating.

I’m not finishing.

It’s the danger of hypercreative energy. And yet I’m still enjoying this surge because it’s been so long since I’ve felt creative at all. I’ll find a balance. Until then, I will go in as many different directions as I possibly can. All at once.

If I connect the dots and draw the lines right, maybe it’ll look like a star.

Or maybe just a jumble.

Hypercreativity

By Michelle Garren-Flye

No need to inspire

I am hypercreative

Ideas abound

Crowds of ideas

cloud my dreams each night and day

push reality

Poem: Dead Dragon

Dead Dragon

By Michelle Garren Flye

There’s a dead dragon curled inside.

He made his home in my chest;

Years ago, you put him there

And then he died when you left.

He’s heavy to carry around,

And he makes it hard to rest—

I think he might have petrified

The way he bounces about,

Like a stone or an ice cube.

Each ricochet off my ribs

Brings back old memories

I wish I could forget.

But maybe it’s all right, you know?

That he’s still in there, I mean.

Maybe even a dead dragon—

Cold…

Hard…

Still…

Maybe he’s better

Than no dragon at all.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

A Haiku for an Anniversary

I haven’t shared anything here in a while because I’m working hard on 100 Warm Days of Haiku. And my daughter thinks I share too much of my books before they’re published. She’s not wrong. It’s a delicate balance sharing enough to intrigue you but not enough to make it not worth your while to buy the book when it comes out. However, today is my 26th wedding anniversary and I just drew a very romantic haiku. 🙂 So I thought I’d share it. Here, for your reading and viewing pleasure, is Haiku 52, which will be in my upcoming poetry book, !00 Warm Days of Haiku.

Poem and Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

Poem: I wrote the most perfect sentence

Sadly based on real life events.

I Wrote the Most Perfect Sentence

By Michelle Garren Flye

Right there for a moment

The most perfect sentence

Written in an instant

In a flash of brilliance

Nostalgic but not sappy

Surely worthy of award

I was superbly happy

It struck just the right chord

But I was busy with life

Unable to write it down

Settling scores and strife

Bustling about my town

When at last I sat to write

Nothing was left to recall

Try and try as I might

The words had gone AWOL

When words fail. Art by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem 9 (National Poetry Month): Inspiration Comes After the Storm

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

A walk after rain is often enlightening. A walk after rain in the spring never fails to bring to mind e.e. cummings. A walk after rain while thinking of e.e. cummings will either bring inspiration…or make you feel like a dullard. I’ve had it both ways, but I still like to try.

April 9, 2020

Inspiration After the Storm

By Michelle Garren Flye

Shhh.

This is my favorite part.

After the storm,

When the world comes back to life.

Listen.

The birds sing their

Survivor song.

I walk quiet

Through the mud-

Luscious world

Cummings warned me about.

Careful. Feel it?

Desire.

For the words

For the waiting photo

For inspiration—

But all I see is the mess after the storm.

Leaves and branches

Cast aside,

Petals litter

Wet pavement.

My dog stops to watch as a bird bathes in a puddle—

But I didn’t bring the right lens.

We walk on…Oh,

Where is my balloon man?

But wait.

Listen.

Shhh.

I hear him now.

Or maybe it’s a frog.

No, look.

That leaf is new.

That rose.

That puddle with petals

Of the dogwood tree

Drowned inside.

Oh yes.

This is my favorite part.

Inspiration always comes after the storm.

Photo by Michelle Garren Flye