A Memorable but Disappointing Poetry Workshop #TuesdayTidbit #Essay

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Rose and I have been traveling to poetry workshops and other writing conferences for years, sharing gas and motel costs. I first met her in 2000 through Range Writers, a local group I joined when I first started out as an author. Rose is old enough to be my mother, in her eighties now with me turning sixty this year. But we’ve been good friends ever since the day I attended that first Range Writers meeting. Not only am I grateful for her companionship but also for her ability to drive, something I can’t do, thanks to my limited vision.

Last year, because of COVID, my Wyoming state poetry society, WyoPoets, did not hold its annual workshop. These workshops usually take place during a weekend in April, National Poetry Month, and last two days with a reading on Friday night and the workshop itself running all day Saturday.

This year’s workshop took place in Gillette, about 100 miles away from Sheridan, where I live. It featured a couple of panel discussions on Friday afternoon and live music on Friday night in addition to the reading. I hoped there would be a virtual option, since I wasn’t sure how Rose would feel about traveling, even though COVID restrictions had been lifted.

But there was no virtual option. So, when I was asked if I would serve on a panel of published poets that would take place on Friday afternoon, I called Rose, expecting her to say she didn’t think it would be a good idea to travel just yet. But to my surprise, she said she wanted to go. Although I could have found a ride with someone else in my Range Writers or Third Thursday Poets groups, I was relieved that Rose and I would be traveling together again.

Renee, another poet, offered to drive us both. Janet, a third poet, agreed to follow us in her car, since she was planning to stay at a different hotel from the one where we were staying and where the workshop was being held. So, at about eleven o-clock on a Friday morning in April, our little convoy hit the highway.

It was raining when we left Sheridan. By the time we arrived in Gillette about an hour and a half later, the rain had stopped. But dark clouds still hung in the sky, and the wind blew from time to time. It remained cloudy and windy throughout the weekend, but we were thankful there wasn’t any snow, which there sometimes was at this time of year.

After a delicious lunch at a pizza place Janet recommended, we drove to the hotel where the workshop would take place. When Rose and I checked into our room, we realized it was about time for the first of two panel discussions to start. I was thankful the discussion in which I would participate wouldn’t start until later. In the first presentation, several poets talked about how they found their poetic voices, which was interesting, especially since a couple of them also wrote music.

The panel in which I was involved consisted of poets with published collections. We each shared a few poems, then talked about our publishing experiences before taking questions from the audience. This went well. A lot of people asked about the publishing industry, and I think we gave them some helpful answers.

Afterward, I was approached by an elderly woman, who would be our workshop presenter the next day. A month earlier, I’d mailed her a poem to be critiqued. We’d been told that she would use a few poems she received in her workshop. I’d since forgotten which poem I’d sent her, and I figured she would choose other people’s work instead.

So, I was completely thrown off guard when she told me how much she enjoyed the poem I sent and asked me to read it to everyone the next day. Being visually impaired, I stored any material I planned to read aloud on a Braille device I carried with me. Since I’d forgotten which poem I’d sent and didn’t think she’d want to use the poem, naturally, I didn’t have it in a format I could read. When I explained this and asked if she would read the poem aloud instead, she agreed.

That evening, after we all enjoyed some live music and appetizers and desserts, the reading began. Usually, the first to read are our workshop presenter, then our annual contest winners, then those featured in the organization’s chapbook that comes out every other year. After that, anyone else who wants to read is welcome to do so. Since we didn’t have a workshop last year, there were more contest winners than usual. Many people who contributed to last year’s chapbook also shared their work. Rose and I had signed up to read during the open mic portion, but by nine o’clock, when we still hadn’t had our turns, we were tired and decided to return to our room. I slept remarkably well that night, considering the fact that I was in a strange bed in a different environment.

The next morning, after we all enjoyed a free breakfast the hotel provided and attended the WyoPoets business meeting, the workshop began. I was delighted when the presenter read my poem aloud. She did an excellent job, and it was nice to hear someone else read my work. She also provided some useful feedback.

But that day’s workshop, as a whole, was a disappointment. In my opinion, a good workshop should provide instruction in technique and plenty of opportunities to write. In this one, though, the presenter spent most of the day reading poems written by herself and others, myself included, and leading the group in a discussion of these poems. This can be a good way to learn about craft but can get old after a while.

That having been said, this workshop wasn’t a total bust. I was thrilled to have my work shared, even though I wasn’t the one reading it aloud. I also had an opportunity to reconnect with people I’d met over the years during past conferences and lost touch with since the pandemic. I also made new friends and ate great food I wouldn’t have if I’d stayed home.

The workshop ended around four o’clock that Saturday afternoon, and our little convoy of poets hit the road soon afterward. It didn’t seem to take nearly as long to get home as it did to get there. I was glad to unpack, toss a load of clothes in the washer, then collapse into my recliner with a Dr. Pepper to deal with email that had piled up since I’d left town the day before. If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s to keep a record of poems I send for critique, just like I do for work I send for publication, and never assume my piece isn’t good enough to be used in a workshop.

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The above appears in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which can be read here. The poem that was critiqued has been published on Recovering the Self.

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And now, I’m pleased to announce that throughout the month of July, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are available from Smashwords ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of its annual summer/winter sale. You can visit my Smashwords author page to download these books. Happy reading!

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

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New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Exploring Desert Regions #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Virga and Bone: Essays from Dry Places

By Craig Childs

Copyright 2019

 

What Audible Says

 

“” From the author of The Secret Knowledge of Water and Atlas of a Lost World comes a deeply felt essay collection focusing upon a vivid series of desert icons – a sheet of virga over Monument Valley, white seashells in dry desert sand, boulders impossibly balanced. Craig Childs delves into the primacy of the land and the profound nature of the more-than-human. ””

 

My Thoughts

 

Rick Adamson, the narrator of this Audible version, does an excellent job. I enjoyed reading about the author’s desert adventures in California, Mexico, and other locations. Having grown up in Arizona, I was especially interested in his experiences with and perceptions of the dessert outside Tucson and the Navajo reservation. At times, I was reminded of the geology classes I took in high school and college. If you’re interested in deserts and enjoy reading about outdoor adventures, this book is for you.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Corporal Punishment #Essay #Reblog

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

“” In the fall of 1968 after my brother Andy was born, I started second grade at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson. One afternoon, for no particular reason, I knocked over chairs and threw things, much to the amusement of other classmates and myself. I even sent a figure of the Christ Child sailing across the room. Miss Willis, my teacher, sent me to the principal’s office, but since it was empty, I sat there for a while until Mother found me. “”

Read the rest on Recovering the Self.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

 

A Road Trip to Remember #Open Book Blog Hop

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Please be sure to read to the end of this post to find out about a live interview in which I’ll be participating tomorrow. If you miss the program, don’t despair. It’ll be recorded, and I’ll share it here and on Facebook as soon as it’s available.

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Stevie Turner’s Open Book Blog Hop question for this week is this. “You’re going on a road trip: where are you headed? With whom? What are your snacks? Music? Plans?”

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I’d love to tell you about a road trip through Ireland, but I’ve never been there. However, I remember many road trips I took with my family through the United States when I was growing up.

My most memorable journey was one I took with my father in 1971 when I was ten. We were living in Tucson, Arizona, at the time. My paternal grandfather here in Sheridan, Wyoming, had just passed away, and Grandma needed help with the family’s coin-operated machine business. That summer, Dad volunteered to drive up to Sheridan and give her a hand for a while.

Originally, he was planning to go alone, but at the last minute, he asked me if I wanted to accompany him, and, always ready for a new adventure, I said yes. We left one warm evening in our old Mercedes Benz. After driving for a few hours, we finally stopped at a campsite where Dad unrolled a sleeping bag on the ground next to the car, and I stretched out in the back seat.

The next day, still in Arizona, we drove through the Navajo reservation and stopped at a trading post, where we saw Indian beadwork and other items. Being visually impaired and only ten years old, I couldn’t appreciate such things, but I enjoyed sitting on the porch, drinking Coke, and watching people come and go.

We then drove into Colorado and spent that night in Durango. Below is a poem I wrote about that night, which appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. you can click on the Play button below the poem to hear me read it.

 

A Memorable Stop in Colorado

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

 

In the summer of 1971 at the age of ten,
I traveled with Dad from our home in Tucson, Arizona,
to Sheridan, Wyoming, to visit Grandma.
While bar hopping in Durango,
I had Coke–Dad drank something stronger.
One establishment served hot dogs.
I liked them plain with not even a bun.
I must have had at least three.
Intoxicated, we made our way to the car.
I slept on the back seat
while Dad slept on the ground nearby.
Who knows where we were when we woke up?

The next day, we drove to Mesa Verde, where we toured a cave, crawling through parts of it on hands and knees, which I found exciting. We spent that night with friends in Beulah. Despite my limited vision, I loved stairs, and this house had them on the outside. So, to get from one level to another, you had to go outdoors and up the stairs, then enter the house through another door. If I remember correctly, there were three levels. I also enjoyed playing with other kids in a nearby creek.

The next afternoon, we drove to Denver, where we spent some time with my maternal grandparents before traveling the rest of the way to Wyoming. In Sheridan, I loved to play the jukebox and pinball and bowling games in my paternal grandmother’s garage, which had been converted into the coin-operated machine business’s shop. I met a couple of girls close to my age, who lived down the street, and we spent a lot of time listening to music in the shop. I got to go swimming, and we spent one day in the mountains where we observed a log rolling competition, which was interesting, although I couldn’t see a lot of the action. We also attended a rodeo parade and local band concerts in the park, which I also enjoyed.

In August, when it was time for me to start school, Dad needed to stay in Sheridan a little longer. So, he drove me to Denver, and I flew alone back to Tucson, which was also exciting. Dad returned home a month later. In the summer of 1973, my family moved to Sheridan permanently, and Dad ran the coin-operated machine business for the next twenty years until it was sold.

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What about your most memorable road trip? You can either tell me about it in the comment field below or click here to participate in Stevie Turner’s blog hop.

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Thursday March 18, 2021, Tell It to the World – Chat with Author Abbie Johnson Taylor: 7:30pm ET, 4:30pm PT, 1.30pm HT

 

In this month’s call, guest author Abbie Johnson Taylor talks with us about her writing life and more. In a brief interview, led by Patty Fletcher, Abbie will give a presentation and then take questions from the audience.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir and is working on a third novel. Her work has appeared in The Writer’s Grapevine, Magnets and Ladders, The Weekly Avocet, and other publications. She’s visually impaired and lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where she cared for her totally blind, partially paralyzed late husband, worked as a registered music therapist with nursing home residents, and helped other blind and visually impaired individuals. When not writing, she participates in a water exercise class, sings in a women’s group, and enjoys walking, reading, and listening to podcasts.

Website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

 

To join us and subscribe to our email list to receive the daily schedule, which will include Abbie’s call-in info, send a blank email to: Acb-community-events+subscribe@acblists.org

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

 

 

 

What Others Think #Reblog #Essay

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Several years ago, a totally blind friend lost one of her two little dogs. Since the other is getting on in years and not long for this world, she wanted another. But because she wasn’t able to pick up all the droppings from her driveway, she felt she didn’t deserve another dog.

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Click here to read my entire article on Ernest Dempsey’s blog.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website