The Writer Mama Back-to-School-Giveaway 2009, Day Six

Order you copy today!

Welcome to day six of the annual Writer Mama Back-to-School-Giveaway. No one needs an advanced degree in creative writing to reap the rewards of poetry. Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry, brought to you by Sage Cohen and Writers Digest Books, puts poetry back into the hands of the people – not because they are aspiring to become the poet laureate of the United States – but because poetry is one of the great pleasures in life.

Writing the Life Poetic is packed full of captivating new ways to generate ideas and have fun with the writing process. 80 short, friendly chapters address a mix of content, process and craft ideas designed to help you:

  • Find the inspiration you need to put pen to paper immediately
  • Transform the raw materials of experience and emotion into language
  • Build skills and confidence in your poetic voice
  • Learn some key craft techniques and enjoy experimenting with them
  • Engage in (or breathe new life into) a writing and reading practice
  • Get excited about the possibilities of poetry

Poetry is as unique and personal as fingerprints. No one else will ever write what you write, the way you write it. Writing the Life Poetic can help you find your place in poetry by tuning into the poetry of your life—and getting it down on the page.

About the Author

Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry (Writers DigestSage Books, 2009) and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. An award-winning poet, she writes three monthly columns about the craft and business of writing, publishes the Writing the Life Poetic Zine and serves as Poetry Editor for VoiceCatcher 4. Sage has won first prize in the Ghost Road Press poetry contest and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She hosts a monthly reading series at Barnes & Noble and teaches the online class Poetry for the People. To learn more, visit http://http://www.writingthelifepoetic.com/. Join the conversation about living and writing a poetic life at http://www.writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com!

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

Today’s question is…

What does a poetic life mean to you as a writer mama? What is your life like when it’s poetic? How could you make your life more poetic? Does poetry have a place in a more poetic vision for your life? Feel free to wax rhapsodic. 🙂

Before you go! WE HAVE A CAUSE TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS YEAR! Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider  making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day collectively. Please help us help the Applin family adopt two beautiful children from Russia. 🙂

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33 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School-Giveaway 2009, Day Six”


  1. 1 Anna-Marie September 6, 2009 at 5:44 am

    I am a writer/artist and a home educator, so words flow freely at our house. Poetry is one of my favorite tools for learning. We use poems across the curriculum. We use it to learn from other writers and we write our own quite often. Because of its emotional nature and rhythmic quality, children enjoy reading and writing it. We use a poetic “recipe” and just write. When they see the form we are putting our words into the ideas come easily and they aren’t intimidated by a blank page.

    My oldest daughter just wrote a beautiful poem for her sister as a gift for Christmas. I was blown away by the tenderness and love she showed in those four little stanzas. I want to use poems even more in our learning in the future because poetry adds beauty and passion to life and learning.

  2. 2 Meryl Evans September 6, 2009 at 7:27 am

    When I was in school, I wrote a lot of poetry because I enjoyed doing it. I remember doing one along the lines of The Shooting of Dan McGrew, one of my grandmother’s favorite poems. The only poems I’ve done in adult hood were odes to my husband on his milestone birthdays 🙂 I had a blast doing those.

    I miss just having fun creating poems. Once in a while, I’ll see a simple poetry contest — but struggle to wax the keyboard poetic. I like the writing I do today and the time I spend with me kids — that’s the poetic life for me.

  3. 3 Laural September 6, 2009 at 7:32 am

    While I haven’t written formal poetry (set apart and called a poem) in many years, I love the idea of living a poetic life. Because to me that means noticing details and ideas, then crafting turns of phrase that capture their essence or a particular point of view. Feels like there is room for poetic vision in my non-fiction. And in my fiction as well, if I ever get back to that.

    I got to review Sage’s book early, so I know it is inspiring and useful. I would love to win a copy!

  4. 4 Joyce Lansky September 6, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I see a poetic life as one that flows gently through the rough times. We all have problems, but those who live a poetic life learn to find the beauty in the storm. I could make my life more poetic by searching out the positive in negative situations. Poetry always has its place whether its retained within 140 Twitter characters or spread across numerous pages of a novel. I’ve never seen myself as a highly poetic person or the great interpreter of poetic work but am always ready to learn.

  5. 5 Cara Holman September 6, 2009 at 9:16 am

    My first introduction to the world of poetry was when I received The Big Golden Book of Poetry for my fifth birthday. Therein I discovered Rachel Field, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ogden Nash, Lewis Carroll and a whole host of other poets whose poetry ranged from thoughtful to whimsical. Already an avid book reader, poetry added a whole new dimension to my reading life. I was instantly hooked!

    And then in high school, we did a poetry unit and I first read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, turning the world of poetry on end for me. T. S. Eliot! e. e. Cummings! These new poets exploded all the old rules of poetry. Suddenly anything was possible.

    Now as a writer mama, poetry has become my retreat from the mundane activities of life. A place I can escape to, and lose myself in the magical power of words. Words that can evoke a visceral reaction, words that can soothe, words that can transport, and most of all, words that can remind us that we are all human and share a common tie, as different as we appear on the outside.

  6. 6 Carrie Ure September 6, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Some are born with a plan to carry out in step-wise fashion, carefully preparing and leveling the ground, spreading the gravel and sand, covering the path with neat pavers, interlocking and solid.

    Not me. I’m accustomed to riding the autumn breeze like a blown leaf, content to rest only when my pretty colors have faded to quiet earth tones. Truth is, wherever I travel, I, too, end up at home in the rich hummus.

  7. 7 Karrie September 6, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Sounds Poetic

    Rain overflowing the gutters my husband hates to clean.

    A 10 year old bouncing on my wood floors

    Excited for his first ‘decade’ birthday party.

    The click of my dog’s nails on that very same floor

    As he rushes to howl along with my clarinet.

    Holding my sister’s long slender hands

    As she sighs through divorce.

    A friend’s Facebook status about her surgery

    To remove a tumor stopping her breathing.

    The click of my keys

    As I connect with my writing

    Sticking it all together

    Into a life more poetic.

  8. 8 Cathy Welch September 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t consider myself a poet nor a lover of poetry. But…yesterday I was sorting through old writings and found sheets of prose that I first thought were poems only to remember that they were song lyrics I had attempted about 4 or 5 years ago. They weren’t bad but they took on a whole new face when I tried to imagine them to music.
    My daughter who just graduated from the University of Virginia writes incredible poetry. Very visceral. She read at a symposium at VMI a few years ago which was when I realized how gifted she was in this art form.
    I’d say my life is poetic when I’m in my ‘happy place’ on a dock in the mountains listening to the wind in my ears or Rachmaninoff, with the clang of sailboat lines on the masts at the marina across the cove, the warm sun on my body and a good book in my hands.

  9. 9 Karrie McAllister September 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    When my kids ask me what a poem is, or why I like poetry so much, I tell them it’s like having a thousand thoughts in just a few words. Poetry to me is a puzzle, a single thought or a lifetime of knowledge pared down to just a few lines.
    I can look around and see poetry everywhere, even if it’s not written down. It’s an image, a single breath from my baby, the look my daughter gives me when she flings on her backpack and runs into the school. It’s a rush of emotion in the blink of an eye, and being a mother, it’s ubiquitous. And scary. And wonderful.
    Often times I catch myself passing up the poetry of everyday life, and like a Mac truck, something simple and beautiful will hit me.
    “I should write this down” I think, but i never do. It’s just a fleeting poem as I watch a bird land on the swingset. The best I can do is let it all sink in, and remember to do it again tomorrow.

  10. 10 Cat September 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    For me, the life poetic is one of balance–ideally, this means there’s time for my kids, time for work, time for me, and we’re all feeling connected and creative. I confess that I rarely reach this state of balance, but I strife for that life poetic, and hope I’m teaching my kids that it’s important to take care of yourself, important to be creative, and that you can try for a balance of all the important things in your life. Poetry does have a place for me–I read it to renew myself, and my kids and I write it together for fun!

  11. 11 writerinspired September 6, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    my life poetic would be inner excitement and simultaneous peace. That surge of passion for words as a I scramble to get them out of my head and onto paper. The poetry of thoughts, sounds, syllables. Though, I’d never consider myself a poet, it was Sr. Mary Donald who introduced me to poetry in the 3rd grade. From there began my love of writing. But I believe poetry runs through all of us, in the little things; and whether or nor we write them down, we’ve lived a poetic moment.

  12. 12 Rene Eyerly September 6, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Moments when my life is a poem flow magically, energetically, to places of comfort and also the unknown. Often I connect with it while out in nature, but the flow is just as easily to happen when making a heartfelt connection with a new acquaintance or old friend, having an ‘aha’ moment, or a peaceful exchange with one of my many animals. I walked through pure poetry this morning with my husband (whom I have not seen in 3 weeks) in our favorite wild place, where the air is scented with sagebrush and bay, where the same path is always altered, and where I touch god.

    While an admirer of poetry, I don’t often write it myself, though I hope my writing has moments of the flow and grace and beauty of a poem. When I do write poetry, its often haiku – the brevity and immediacy of the form are attractive to me. The one below came to me while on our walk this morning; a reflection of a dream from last night.

    Sand shifts, slides away
    Sparkling midnight sky revealed
    The prison is gone

  13. 13 Linda Harris September 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    A poetic life has rhythm, whether it rhymes or not. It sees life from a different viewpoint, noticing the subtleties that others walk past. Even the difficult times become poems (maybe the best poems of all). Poetry is more than beauty; it is real life, the get-down-and-dirty experiences that shape our lives. Living the life poetic means letting every day become a page filled with the ordinary and the extraordinary.

  14. 14 Kristy Lund September 6, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed writing, but poetry kind of intimidated me. Recently in a writing class, the teacher asked us to do a bunch of haiku- quick, without worrying about our inner critic. It was actually a lot of fun.

    Here is one, though without the normal nature reference…

    Airplane flying home
    Kids eat Grandma-made pancakes
    I’m missing Sweden.

  15. 15 Mar Junge September 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve always loved poetry and have many poetry books in my library. A poetic life for me would be relaxing in a garden setting surrounded by my book friends. It would not include writing poetry because every attempt I’ve ever made to write poetry has been pathetic. Embarrassing even. Perhaps that’s why I confine my poetry writing to writing ad content. It’s the same idea — expressing powerful, convincing ideas in the least words possible. I often tell clients I can write 5000 words in the same time I can write 500. And to me, being able to produce 500, or 100, or even 50 words where every words count is poetry. On the other hand, it’s a shame that our society cares less and less about supporting poets. Poetry is essential to a civilized society.

  16. 16 Beth Cato September 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I feel that a poetic life is one that notices beauty within the details, the joys that otherwise are missed in the humdrum of life. I could list any number of excuses about why I feel my life isn’t poetic: living in an ugly place, being indoors all the time, missing my old home with its beautiful walking trail; but those are all just excuses. The fact is, my attitude isn’t in the right place for writing poetry and I’m not sure how to fix it.

    I participated in the Poetic Asides blog’s National Poetry Month event and wrote a poem every day in April. I enjoyed the challenge of it, even though I felt most of my poems were rather pathetic. If I hadn’t had the daily prompts, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to write about.

  17. 17 marnini September 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Poetry is being able to convey what most people never could in a way that everyone can understand.
    A Poet tells you a story without writing a book. I participated in poetry month at Poetic Asides in April and had a blast. I learned about different poems and how to write them. At the end of the month I gained a newfound appreciation for poetry.
    After losing my father last year, I learned to recognize blessings on a daily basis. Enchantment is ours for the taking; we just need to acknowledge it when we encounter it. A person who finds daily magic discovers poetry.
    (Here’s one I wrote in April)
    (Remember, I’m a novice)

    RECOGNIZE

    Reflections and Recollections stir in my mind
    What I am searching for, I cannot seem to find

    A day, a year, a second, they have all gone away
    If only a thought could invite a memory to stay

    I would dance longer, hug tighter and recognize
    That everything worth loving meets its demise

  18. 18 Jaymie September 6, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I struggle with poetry, never feeling like I totally “get” it or wondering if what I am reading is what the author intended. I even had a poem published once upon a time, but I still get tense when I have to read and respond to poetry.

    But a poetic life for me would be one of noticing the details – of pausing to live in a moment, remembering the details, rather than just rushing through. I do not do that well!

  19. 19 anna September 6, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Oh I LOVE this question, as one of my life goals is to live “poetically” . . . which for me means seeing the poetry in the details of life, from the significant to the mundane. For what is the point of anything if not for the fact that everything is important? I love taking the random moment in a day, the moment that slips past “normal” notice, and turning it into poetry, in the sense of pointing out the creative meaning, highlighting the loveliness for all to see, if I can 🙂 C.S. Lewis said it brilliantly in “Till We Have Faces,” when he spoke of Psyche’s beauty: I can’t remember where that is so need to look it up . . .

  20. 20 Kristen R Murphy September 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I have never tried to write poetry as I thought it was beyond me. I can see a poetic life as being one with the nature; to see the beauty in everything around us, even the good in bad situations. I think living poetic is also living in peace with less distractions and drama; one who is present in their life.

    Here recently I had purchased a book on poetry from John Lithgow, Poets Corner, because I love John Lithgow and was interested in reading some poetry while introducing my girls to poetry as well. With everything I have been reading lately on Sage Cohen’s book, Writing the Life Poetic, I would like to win a copy. If not, I will have to pick up a copy somewhere.

  21. 21 Laura September 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Living a life poetic to me means listening to the rythmns of the day, the sways & moods of everyday life. While I love prose (I have a reading addiction), there are many times that only poetry can truly express what one feels, sees, senses. I love all forms of poetry, from haiku to epic poems. I have also used poetry to write myself out of deep, dark moods. By unlocking the sadness that I harbored inside, by putting those feelings to words, I was able to release them, and to let the light back inside.

    Words are the element of my life. I collect nifty turns of phrase and interesting words. Poetry is that same joy in words, only set to the internal music of the soul. By being in tune with that inner music, I can strive to live a poetic life.

  22. 22 Brianne A September 6, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    To me, a poetic life means living in the NOW and being fully present in each moment. When I am present, I notice the little things, and I feel very peaceful and creative. Spending time in nature also has a way of opening my mind.

    Another thing that I feel is very important is stepping outside of my comfort zone and experiencing new things. New places, new sounds, new tastes, new people, new ANYTHING!

    I’ve written a few poems over the years but wouldn’t consider myself a poet. I would like to live a more poetic life by doing both of the things that I mentioned. I’ve been getting wrapped up in daily stresses, and I think this would do wonders for me.

  23. 23 Penelope September 6, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I’m pretty new to it, but poem making is the greatest writing rush I know. It is ENERGY! When I am in the ‘ poetry zone ‘ everything is lifted to a higher definition. Poetry is like a special lens bringing focus and clarity to the ordinary and previously unnoticed.

    Bring it on!

    I’ve written in other genres, and really enjoy it–but nothing equals the wrestling with language that is poetry. Finding THEE right word, metaphor or comparison is crucial. You only have a few short lines to nail it and make it memorable.

    I want to read and write more poetry.

    Sage Cohen’s book is just fantastic!
    I HIGHLY recommend it for every writer.

  24. 24 Linda Austin September 6, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    This book is on my Amazon Wish List. Poetry requires awareness and emotion as well as time, and as one currently struggling in the sandwich generation I don’t find a lot of time these days to stop and be aware. I do, however, keep a small notebook in my purse to capture bits and pieces that come to me – anywhere, anytime. I have a number of half-finished poems and even a song or two. I do try to find time to make greeting cards for my family and write my own verses. It is a beautiful thing to be in the throes of a poetic moment; I feel immensely in tune with myself and the world around me.

  25. 25 writethejourney September 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    I love Sage’s book (I pre-ordered it from my favorite bookstore in town). I think of myself as a poetic writer probably because I think of myself as a poetic soul (does everyone?).

    I took a plunge and wrote my husband a poem as an anniversary gift this year and finishing it was much more difficult than I expected and incredibly satisfying.

  26. 26 Heather Myton September 6, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Ah, sister, you have a poetic soul. You truly inspire me. I wish my brother would clean the gutters and not fret about getting a little wet. 🙂

    I enjoy writing poems when I sit and watch the world. Sometimes a poem will come to me sitting on the playground watching the children play, or sitting on a park bench watching the the squirrels forage for nuts. I really need to get in the habit of taking paper and pens with me. Receipts don’t always make it home.

    Life is a poem if you take the time to sit and listen to the rain falling and the wind blowing, the children laughing and the dogs barking.

  27. 28 karen k September 6, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    For me, poetry is sifting meaningless chatter and white noise from this life into the most valuable words, thoughts and emotions. It is taking the time to look at a bird on a branch or a blade of grass fighting a drop of dew with all its might. It is just taking the time to simply and effectively get it down so it’s never forgotten. Poetry is just presumtuous and arrogant enough to use words so effectively that tell a story or paint a picture so vivid that my heart feels the stab of every word. It is an exercise in making things count. It is my every intention to make mine a more poetic household.

  28. 29 Liz September 6, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    When it comes to poetry, I need a shot in the arm. I don’t know if it was all the iambic pentameter in college or what, but I am almost afraid of writing poetry. While I love to dabble in fun, playful rhymes for my husband, I get nervous when it comes to any other kind of “real” poetry. At the core, though, I think poetry can really help ANY writer – in the few words and attention to every detail, I know I could learn a great deal from pushing myself into the poetic!

  29. 30 Stephanie C. September 6, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    To me, a poetic life is something big but unexplainable. I have never been good at reading poetry, but in college I had to write it for one class. And I did. I thought I did a good job, but my teacher was very angry with the content of one of my poems, because it was subjective and he didn’t agree with it. He chastised me infront of the entire class, and I left in tears. Unfortunately, I let that taint the poetry in my life.

    Recently, I decided to try once again to understand poetry. I want to be able to read and write it. For some reason, I think it will help me write fiction and nonfiction articles better. I want to be creative in my entire mind and not just most of it because I refuse to acknowledge the poetry in my life.

  30. 31 Sarah @ Baby Steps September 6, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    In my opinion, one important aspect of living a poetic life is being keenly aware of all the wondrous things that touch us every day and help to make us who we are. As a writer, I am blessed with the opportunity to play with words on a daily basis in an attempt to create something beautiful and unique. As a child, I loved the thrill of a blank page…and would scribble poem after poem upon them. Unfortunately, much of my writing today is done with a focus on getting it sold and paying bills, so it has been too long since I actually wrote a poem. My life could become more poetic by slowing down a bit once in a while, really drinking in everything around me, and truly living in and enjoying the moment.


  1. 1 Day Six: And the THREE winners ARE… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 7, 2009 at 8:42 am
  2. 2 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 12, 2009 at 8:31 am
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