How a Workshop Inspired a Poem #Tuesday Tidbit #Poetry

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

June and I have attended many poetry workshops together over the years. By the way, June isn’t her real name. I don’t want to embarrass her with the story I’m about to tell.

One year, we went to a workshop where the presenter was Dawn Senior-Trask. I don’t recall what year that was or where the workshop was held. I don’t remember too much about Dawn-Senior Trask except that she had worked with children. Naturally, she took in stride what transpired during the workshop.

In the morning, June and I were sitting side by side with other workshop participants. We’d just ben given a prompt, and we were writing away, minding our own business. Suddenly, June let loose a loud belch, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing. To her credit, she was usually not in the habit of large, aural expulsions of wind. When she realized what she’d done, she cried out in mortification. That made it even funnier. Fortunately, nobody else laughed, or I would have lost it.

That afternoon, Dawn Senior-Trask prompted us to write about something out of the ordinary. Below is what I wrote that day with a few minor revisions. Telling the story of poor June’s so-called fall from grace, it appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. You can click below to hear me read it. This weekend, June and I will attend another poetry workshop, and maybe, I’ll write another memorable poem.

Belch!

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

The room is silent

but for the scratch of pencil against paper,

murmur of voices,

flip, rip of pages.

Unexpected, it cuts through the silence,

raucous, obnoxious,

breaks my concentration.

I fight to diffuse a bomb of mirth

that threatens to explode.

The effort brings tears to my eyes.

After a moment, I continue writing,

but my heart’s not in it anymore.

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.

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Laughter, The Best Medicine #Wednesday Words, #Poetry

I like interjecting humor in my writing once in a while. I sometimes laugh at my own writing if I’ve made a typographical error that could be interpreted the wrong way. At other times, my writing has made people laugh when it hadn’t seemed funny.

Years ago, I was attending a poetry workshop with my friend Rose, with whom I’ve attended many such writing activities. In the morning, we were doing a writing exercise. Rose was seated next to me, and we were writing along, minding our own business, when suddenly, she let loose with a loud belch, followed by a cry of embarrassment.

Poor Rose, she’s a grandmother and a Methodist, not usually given to loud expulsions of wind. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. I somehow managed to get myself under control and finish the exercise. Later, during a break, Rose said that during that time, I’d looked like I was in pain, and she asked if I was all right. I told her I was.

That afternoon, the workshop presenter prompted us to write about something unusual or extraordinary. I jumped at the chance to write the following poem. I then shared it with the group, much to the delight of everyone, including Rose.

Now, in meetings of my local poetry group, some of whom attended that workshop, when anyone auditorily exhibits a bodily function, someone usually says, “Oh, Abbie, I’ll bet you’ll write a poem about that, won’t you?” Well, I tried writing a poem about an unusual-sounding hiccup but didn’t get very far.

Anyway, this poem appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. You can click the Play button below to hear me read it.

Belch!

 

The room is silent
but for the scratch of pencil against paper,
murmur of voices,
flip, rip of pages.
Unexpected, it cuts through the silence,
raucous, obnoxious,
breaks my concentration.
I fight to diffuse a bomb of mirth
that threatens to explode.
The effort brings tears to my eyes.
After a moment, I continue writing,
but my heart’s not in it anymore.

Thanks to fellow blogger Stevie Turner for inspiring the above post. If you’d like to participate in her blog hop on the subject of humor in writing, click here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services 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.

***

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My Amazon Author Page

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Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Talking Dirty

Thanks to the Magic of Stories for inspiring this post. Karen J. Mossman talks, in a way, about creating a balance between being realistic and providing an escape for our readers.

Can you think of any scenes where people go to the bathroom? I’m going to be vain and tell you that in my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, I talk about going to the bathroom a lot. In one scene, I’m making oatmeal, and my husband Bill, totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes, is sitting at the kitchen table in his wheelchair. Suddenly, he says, “Oooh, I gotta pee. Oh, it’s too late. I wet my pants.” This gives my readers an idea of what I went through as a caregiver.

What about farting? In Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show, there’s a scene in which a high school football coach flatulates while lying in bed, reading the newspaper, much to his wife’s annoyance. This gives you some idea of what kind of guy the coach is. Bill also liked to expel wind through his posterior, but I couldn’t find a way to bring that into my story, since it wasn’t related.

How about belching? I’m going to be vain one more time and give you an example from a short story I wrote several years ago that hasn’t yet been published. It’s called “Living Vicariously,” and it’s about a Catholic family dealing with issues related to religion. In one scene, a teen-aged girl who has lied about attending confirmation classes, is eating dinner with her father in a pizza joint. She’s drinking Dr. Pepper, and she says she doesn’t want to be a nun because she doesn’t want to give up the beverage. Then, she birps for emphasis. Here, I’m showing you her character.

Eating is another bodily function often portrayed. One great example of this is in the book Prizzie’s Honor. Charlie, a mafia crook, is eating lunch with his boss. It’s an Italian ten-course meal. This emphasizes the irony that evil people enjoy the good things in life.

I suppose we ought to talk about sex, but I’d rather not. None of my work has vivid descriptions, and frankly, such scenes bog a story down. Hand holding, kissing, and embracing are enough to show the reader two people are in love.

What do you think? Do bodily functions, including sex, enhance a story or slow it down too much?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
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Ode to Dr. Pepper Revisited

I blogged this poem twice already, but after reading Thompson Crowley’s poem about making and drinking tea, I was inspired to post it again. It appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. You can click below to hear me read it.

 

Ode to Dr. Pepper

 

I like to swallow its cold carbonation,

feel it come back into my mouth in the form of a belch.

Oh, that feels so good!

 

I drink it in mid afternoon.

It helps me get through the day.

I sometimes consume it in the evening

when I’m sleepy, and it’s too early for bed.

 

In the good old days,

I drank a lot of it,

just what the doctor ordered.

Now, the doctor says it has too much sugar

so I limit my consumption to one or two cans a day.

What would I do without it?

 

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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