I’m back at work today after being out sick for a couple of days. I’m hardly ever sick, but this one was a tough one. So I naturally decided to celebrate by writing a sonnet. Right?
Hope you enjoy:
By Michelle Garren-Flye
When spring ends must I be lost and forlorn?
Spring flowers aren’t necessarily best.
Summer brings new miracles I can’t scorn.
Watch the baby bird sneak out of the nest!
By now, his wings are strong, he can take flight—
see him soar above the emerald tree.
For him loss of spring flowers is no plight—
the season’s passage means he is set free.
I will not shed tears for the loss of spring.
Instead I’ll look forward to each season,
anticipate the treasures it will bring.
enjoy existence beyond all reason.
This is the only way to truly win:
love every moment you are in.
If you follow my writing at all, you know I am fascinated by different styles of poetry. I’ve written haiku, sonnets, villanelle and am now tackling the dreaded ghazal. I’ve often said that if I have writer’s block, I will write haiku to break it.
So when one of my favorite e-newsletters arrived in my mailbox featuring an article about Oulipo, an organization of French novelists and poets, I was intrigued. These writers believe writing with certain constraints actually inspires creativity. For example, very restrictive forms of poetry as far as rhyme and/or length and even more daring constraints on works of fiction. Like writing an entire novel without using the letter “e”. Some of these works have been translated from French to English…also without using the letter “e”, if you can believe that.
What would it be about restricting yourself that actually inspires creativity? I can’t answer this, but I know that historically adversity can lead to great works of art. The Renaissance, for instance, was conceived during the darkness of the Bubonic Plague. Amazing works of art resulted from the pain of the Aids epidemic. Wars have always inspired great art. And the Covid-19 lockdown released a flurry of works of art, literature, and music that we are only beginning to appreciate.
Is it because we as humans have to hope that adversity creates great work? And following that, do we as artists create artificial constraints on our work just so we can burst out of it? Does restriction force something else out of us? Or is writing a sentence without the letter “e” just silly? (Or: Is it silly to try to show our thoughts without using a common symbol?)
I can only really answer to what works for me (and it’s not not using the letter “e”). Although I don’t totally agree with Robert Frost that “Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down”, I do believe that I write good sonnets…and haiku…and villanelle. Not sure about ghazal yet. What do you think?
By Michelle Garren-Flye
Recite poetry in a husky voice—I hear your calls!
Tell me the story of the world and the star that falls.
How is it okay to whisper it all in my ear?
Count every moment from now to when the star falls.
It won’t matter anyway, I won’t let myself care.
I’ll run away—I swear I will—run ‘til that star falls.
But wait!, you say, are you sure that’s really okay?
The moments don’t pause, though, no, not until the star falls.
You’re silent at last, peace surrounds me and I will stay.
Last chance to wish on my whisper (sun’s rising!)…and star falls.
It’s one thing to tell you how special this little book is. It’s another to show you. So here I am in a one-take video, reading my book out loud and explaining it as well as showing you the pictures as best I could.
I do not know what I want from you. I’m just certain there is something more and the only reason I consider love or romance is because I do not yet know the other. But my soul yearns for it. Across stars and oceans I call. But all I get back is the echo of a whistle of a far away balloon man.
Yesterday my book came. Far & wee. This is my “seize the day” book. I started writing it on May 21 and today, June 15—25 days later—it’s on the shelf at my store. It’s available on Amazon. You can read it if you want.
I’ve never been real good at “launching” my books. I suck at marketing. Especially the initial teasing about what it’s about and throwing myself a big party and signing. I’m more like, hey, I wrote a book. You know, one day it’s not on the shelf at my store, the next day it is. lol.
This book is no different in that respect. Yesterday it was not on the shelf. Today it is. I’ve signed it, priced it and even put up a sign that it’s mine (I don’t usually do that). But yesterday when I opened the box, I got this feeling that this box of books was different.
So you’ve been with me from the beginning of this thing. May 21 doesn’t seem like that long ago, right? What is that, 19 days?
I never would have thought in a million years that I would write, illustrate and publish a book in nineteen days. But I did.
I’ve often felt that I write what is given to me from…somewhere else. I write for someone else and there’s a purpose I don’t necessarily know about for my writing. I don’t know who it is out there who needs to read this book, but it’s here now. It was my obsession, pushing everything else out of the way for 19 days. Now I need to move on to finish up some other projects. Projects that took me longer than 19 days. But I think I can do it now.
Anyway, as a little introduction/excerpt to the book, here’s the actual introduction of the book as it appeared on my computer while I was laying out the book.
It’s 12:30 a.m. and I have to be up at 7 a.m. My son graduates high school this weekend. I’m working between graduation events. It’s a busy weekend.
But I’m up right now because I really wanted to share something else from my balloon-man project. You know, the one that seized me by the freaking throat, picked me up and shook me until I agreed to indulge it? And now it won’t let me go.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit violent of a description for what’s going on here, but I do feel like this one came out of nowhere. I mean, I decided to write sonnets one day and bam. There it was. Twenty sonnets in two days, all connected, telling a story. And now I’ve illustrated more than half of them and I’m pretty sure I know how to lay them out in book format (a very tiny book), and I’m thinking it’ll be ready about the same time as Hypercreativity, which I worked on for months.