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Showing posts from March, 2015

Ode to Others

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In two days my poetry collection, Written Life, will be released. Like much of my writing ride these past three years I find it hard to believe it is happening. I have been having so much fun writing, submitting, and waiting on the acceptances and rejections, that the big dates like this are almost surreal.

While people may think that poetry is easy and that this collection must have been easy to compile, I beg to differ. It's a little like Yoga or Golf, anyone who thinks they are easy sports has obviously never done them. These poems go back as far as five years, and to assemble over 60 of them takes work. Maybe not as much work as Dirty Shirt, but certainly work. Furthermore, working with poetry takes a different set of skills - those of brevity and word choice - than nonfiction does.

In the back of Written Life is a section called "Special Thanks" where I acknowledge those that have helped me in my appreciation of poetry and who have helped me make my work better. I w…

Home of the Brave

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My wife reminded me that this weekend is the twenty seventh anniversary of our first meeting. The full story has been blogged about before in my Mail Order Bride post. She mentioned that the decision to be brave and come and visit me from NY to Milwaukee changed the trajectory of her life forever.

It changed mine too.

Her brother, who now lives in Milwaukee mentioned it changed his life too. (He went to Carroll College, lived with us for a couple years and stayed in the area after graduating.)

When you think of it, it's kind of stunning how one decision can change the lives of three people. I happens every day I suppose, but sometimes it gets lost in the big picture.

I think back to the biggest, bravest step I took. It was during the summer of 1986. I had been  unemployed for nearly six months. My unemployment checks were starting to count down to zero. Strangely enough, after a softball game one night, I ran into one of my co-workers who was laid off at the same time. He said he&…

Weekly Swings

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It's been one of the stranger weeks in a while for a number of reasons. It was a week full of brokenness and beauty, all rolled up into one. Just when I got to thinking that life couldn't get any better I'd get steamrolled by some sadness or unexpected surprise that would take me back to reality.

Because our realities include both the highs and the lows. It's how we deal with each that determines the trajectory of our future in many respects. We were just talking today in church about how someone who was "wounded" in their church experience can continue to point back to it as the cause for this or that, or they can choose to say it was part of what got them to "here." 
Which is really a great summary of tomorrow and yesterday. We take what we've been through, or what we will be going through and use it to either make us better, more mature, or wear it as a badge that defines us forever. 
The choice is ours.
As I said, my week had lots of ups and…

Written Life - Sneak Peek #3

With the release of Written Life less than two weeks away, I wanted to finish up my sneak peek at what's inside as well as give you a background on who and what inspired me to start writing poetry in the first place.

When I first enrolled in AllWriters Workplace and Workshop, my group included writers of all genres. It was kind of eye-opening being around such a diverse group of talented writers. A couple of them were writing exclusively poetry which intrigued me for some reason. I thought back to grade school when we were asked to pick a poem, dissect it and report on it. When I finished my report I remember my teacher Mr. Gallett came up and complemented me on my analysis. Somehow that stuck with me, as did my interest in the construction and deconstruction of a poem.

Anyways, after listening to these poets for a few months, I decided to give it a try. It was difficult at first, but after I had my first poem accepted for publishing, things just kind of took off. So after writing…

Fishing for Spring

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Spring seems to be approaching fast and furious this year. We've had a decent stretch of weather ranging in temperature from 40's to the 60's. The warm weather has me thinking thoughts of open water and fishing. Whether it is from my kayak, my buddy's boat, or from a dock somewhere, it is one of my favorite warm weather activities. Because I've been doing it for decades, I have a number of great fishing memories. Here are a few that include a broad range of friends and family.

Hibbing
For a short time in the late 60's my mom dated a guy who had a cabin in Hibbing, Minnesota. One weekend he took her and all of us kids up to it for a weekend of fishing and swimming. In the early morning hours on Saturday, my brother Tom took Rob and I out fishing. All three of us caught northern pike. It was both Rob and my first northerns, a sizeable upgrade from the many panfish we had caught over the years.

More importantly, it put the three of us brothers in the boat at the same…

Written Life - Sneak Peek #2

My poetry collection, Written Life,  comes out on March 31st, which is a little less than three weeks away. Note that my Release Party is scheduled for April 11th. It will be held at Cafe De Arts in downtown Waukesha from 2:30 - 4:00 PM. It should be a lot of fun. I've grown to kind of like these public appearances because it gives me a chance to talk and laugh with my readers.

About the book's cover. This week I submitted cover ideas to the publisher. This cover was a bit more difficult to pin down what I really wanted. Because my subjects are so broad ranging, I didn't really have one central theme to build a cover around. For this reason, my emphasis was on a simplistic cover with a cool font. I ran some ideas past a few friends and think I have a good start. (I even had a little fun with theoretical sasquatch, narwahl and unicorn covers.) Hopefully by next week at this time I'll have cover art to show.

So, last week I covered the first three themes in the collectio…

Hopes and Dreams

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It seems for the moment that spring has set foot in Southeastern Wisconsin. We hit 45 degrees yesterday, all of that and then some today and the next few days should be as good or better.

You don't have to look back too many posts to see the sorry state I was in just a little over a week ago with regards to winter. (See: Parting Thoughts). I and the rest of my family were at wits end with winter. We'd reached that end-of-February "give up" stage. You know the one. Where you give up caring about shoveling, you give up trying to keep the cold out by just cranking the heat higher, and you give up to a certain degree with your personal appearance. My wife and I each have a favorite sweatshirt/fleece that keeps us toasty. The problem is, it becomes the be-all/end-all of our post-work attire. Luckily we can laugh about our hopeless condition, both of us swearing that we'll burn the items when it warms up.

Well, most of the winter blues started to drift away a couple of …

Written Life - Sneak Peek #1

My poetry collection, Written Life,  comes out on March 31st. In order to give a sneak peek at what it's all about, once a week for the next few weeks I'll be blogging about some of the content. It will give you a flavor for what's inside and hopefully pique your interest.

The Written Life collection is comprised of about sixty poems.  They are broken up by theme, with each theme having between five and nine poems. Like other genres, poetry kind of hangs the author out there on the scarecrow post for all the world to see. It also may expose more of him/her than other genres do at times.It is my hope that my poems will make the reader laugh, cry, think, reflect and occasionally make them go hmmm...

The first three themes are:


On Home This theme focuses on the obvious. Houses and homes almost become characters in some of these poems. So much of our adult life is shaped by the home we remember. Then, when we become owners ourselves we forge our new identities around our living…

Icing, Slashing, Hooking and Bonding

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I went to the Admirals semi-pro hockey game on Friday night with my son Ben and his friend. My wife managed to notice the advertisement for at the bottom of her grocery receipt there was mention of three free tickets to a game. Thinking there would be a catch, I was fully prepared to have to buy one or more out of pocket when I got there. Turns out they were all free. Throw in a lucky free parking spot on the street and you have a great, affordable night out with the boys.

Now, I haven't been to an Admirals game in at least twenty years. I don't know why, I just haven't. I've been meaning to get Ben to a game for three years, so this was our chance.
Ben had been to a game about two weeks prior. A friend got him into a luxury box seat for free through the friend's father. I told Ben he'd been spoiled, and that any other seat would be a disappointment after that.
When I asked him how the game was, he said it was awesome. He said he really enjoyed it, "and th…