In university, most professors agree that encyclopedias are not proper scholarly sources, but they work well as background information; to discover facts that require further support. Old books waft certain aromas, a headiness, but also a mustiness, an acrid reminder of the past and all the knowledge these encyclopedias contain; knowledge judged inaccurate and unreliable alone.
I was studying the poet Samual Taylor Coleridge, and I paused, thinking if in the academic ‘encyclopedia’ of my Literary Criticism textbook, Coleridge’s writing was valid and acclaimed by modern peers, or if he too spouted words too many scholars scoff at and ignore; does his literary criticism require more validation — the answer is simple, nothing can be read at face value, not even the musings of great poets.
Thanks to Bikurgurl for hosting last week’s #100WordWednesday flashfiction prompt. Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is “to write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art.” The A to Z Challenge GoodRead’s Prompt begins with the letter U.
“To write is to forget. Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life. Music soothes, the visual arts exhilarates, the performing arts (such as acting and dance) entertain. Literature, however, retreats from life by turning in into slumber. The other arts make no such retreat— some because they use visible and hence vital formulas, others because they live from human life itself.
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet”
(Sorry finding a Q name for this piece impossible but there is Q in Disquiet!)
The photograph is lovely at first,
A brilliant blue sky, soft winds of cool breezes,
The Atlantic still icy, but forgiving.
Trees rise and guard the home, the lighthouse,
Ancient ones in slumber as spring yet approaches.
Rock walls prevent a fall below, to the unforgiving chill.
Hypothermia comes quickly here,
But the scenery makes up for the inherent danger.
Bright pink of the house stands out and the tower above matches,
Glows in the night when the boats pass by,
Protecting and guiding ships.
The long grass still waiting to be verdent,
Not dry crumpled straw.
And the owners of the house are silent, keeping to themselves,
Their only sense of existing, is the light that glares, when outside the tower is dark.
Spring is slowly birthing, but the ocean’s still freezing,
And the danger is too real for ships too close.
And a stranger walking watches from the dim,
Holding back a dog barking in madness.
The bulb has burnt out, now disaster is unhinged,
The ship clips the cliff, the house crumbles and the ship sinks,
Screams in the night, in the Atlantic’ waters cold numbness.
And when all is said and done, only the lighthouse stands,
With a burnt out bulb of fault.
How can this photograph be a work of art?
Is there art in dying?
Or is art and death as a perception, to ambigious to be real?
Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview withMicheleVecchitto. Michele is a friendly and kind woman who has a talent for writing wonderful poetry and engaging stories. I have been following her for a couple of years now, so I hope you will like her writing as much as I do. You can visit her blog here: Steps Times Two – Love and Life . . . The Second Time Around.
1. Hi Michele, Please Tell Us About Where You’re From?
I live in Niantic. It’s a lovely town on the Connecticut shoreline that somehow manages to hold on to the charm of days gone by while still offering all the conveniences I might need.
One of the many treasures in Niantic is a used bookstore calledThe Book Barn.It now has four or five satellite locations, but the main store is a complex which includes a large barn and several quirky, smaller buildings, each overflowing with books devoted to a particular genre. The few resident cats and some goats, add to its unique vibe. It’s a place to spend the day and get lost in books. Niantic also recently opened a new boardwalk along the beach that offers fantastic views and a place to meet neighbors.
2. Can You Tell Us More About Yourself, Your Everyday Life?
I’m the second of four sisters. My family is especially close and the fifteen children my sisters and I have between behave more like siblings than cousins. My parents are definitely the foundation of our lives. I love everything about belonging to a large family – the support, the laughter, the chaos, and the history we create.
My three children are young adults, busy finding their place in the world. In some ways, they could not be more different from one another, but they remain close. I’m enjoying watching them evolve into the adults they will become. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made and the direction each of them is following in life.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life.My husband and I have been married just over five years. Markis an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.
Our personalities are different but we complement each other well. We are each other’s top priority and do everything we can to support each other in our many endeavors. We’ve intertwined our families and I feel blessed to have his three strong, caring, and talented children in my life as well. They, along with their families, are a vital part of my life.
On a professional level, I teach middle school Literature and Language Arts. I love working with students of this age. It’s my favorite age group of kids. I’ve taught math and science and enjoy teaching each subject, but I’m most thrilled to spend my days sharing Literature with my classes. Preteens and teens this age are discovering their voice and it’s exciting to see the world through their eyes.
Additionally, I work as a freelance editor. I’m working with an audio book company and enjoy the exposure to books I might not otherwise read.
“I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.” – Michele Vecchitto
3. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging?
I started my blog in 2014 as a way of keeping myself disciplined about writing, but I’ve always been a writer. I kept journals as a teenager and still have poems I wrote for a memorable class in high school.
My teacher, Ms. Jordan, helped me discover my voice and probably inspired me to become a teacher. I was a stay at home mom for fifteen-years, and when my children were in school, I’d spend eight or more hours a day writing. I took writing classes and completed two novels and a few children’s books.
When I divorced in 2007 and returned to work full time, I lost some of my dedication to the craft. Steps Times Two is my blog and remedy to not being able to write all day anymore.
4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
I’ve always been a writer as mentioned earlier. I many of my stories and poems from younger days and used to write tales for my kids, nieces, and nephews.
I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.
Beyond these meanings, I love the way writing connects people. I am so excited to be able to talk with people from all over the world about subjects I have brought up or someone else has written about. It sounds sappy, but I believe people are more alike than different and we all have something to share. I am a big fan of the community writing fosters between writers and readers (etc).
“I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.” – Michelle Vecchitto
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
Sometimes motivation comes from pure emotion. I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of it’s own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere:a look between two people; a snippet of conversation I overhear; the expression on someone’s face when they don’t notice I’m looking; and/or an unexpected situation or some mundane activity we all experience. Music also inspires me. My playlist has a bit of everything on it and I love to hit play and let my mind drift. Sometimes I’ll find something to write about immediately and other times, I have to file an idea away and let it resurface when it’s ready.
As well, I’m a huge fan of writing prompts and blogging events. It’s a terrific way to stay involved in the writing community and interact with other people. I love to follow and read what other people are writing because each piece leaves me with something to think about and offers a varied perspective to consider. Prompts for me are similar to a puzzle. Each of us figures out how to put the pieces together in a different way to create authentic images. It’s fun when someone has a completely unique take on the same prompt.
6. Is There A Time Of Day You Prefer to Write?
I prefer to write in the mornings, although, it’s not always possible. During the week, I will write when I come home from teaching school. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’d write from the time the kids went to school until they came home. I miss those days! I’m hoping to stay home next year and write full time.
“I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of its own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.” – Michele Vecchitto
7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I have my blog which I try to work on each day. I also post on Poet’s Corner on WordPress and do my best to keep up. I am working on a historical fiction novel based on my husband’s grandfather who escaped from Poland in the early 1900’s. I’m enjoying the research portion of this novel greatly. In addition, I recently cleaned up a YA novel I wrote about ten-years ago. My romance novel also needs editing and I have two short stories to finish.
My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!
8. Can You Tell Us About What Your Publishing Process Has Been for Some of Your Writing?
I’ve had poems published in anthologies and in places like The Reverie Journal. I have self-published two volumes of poetry which can be found on Amazon. I’m considering adding a third volume but I think my next push will be seeking a publisher for a novel.
Years ago, when I had more time, I was organized about sending my work out. I had a contract with Blue Mountain Arts and several ‘good rejections’ from publishing houses. I took classes and attended conferences. I think networking is a huge part of the publishing process and hope to get back to it in the next year.
I’ve been invited to participate in the Austin International Poetry Festival next April. Eight of my poems will be included in their anthology and I plan to travel to the event to do some readings.
“My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!” – Michele Vecchitto
9. Are You Able to Describe Your Writing Process To Us?
My writing process varies, depending on the type of project I’m working on, but it always includes music. I have a million playlists and a great pair of headphones.
The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.If I’m working on a poem, I jot ideas or prompts on post-it notes and arrange them around my writing space.
If I’m working on a formal piece, I’ll have notes on rhyme schemes and various types of poetry. After I write, I’ll look for photos to accompany what I’ve written and then decide on a title. My titles always happen last.
If I’m working on a novel or short story, the music part is the same, but I’ll have notes on my bulletin board or in folders which I can flip through. I also send rough drafts to my sister Maureen. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and offers me honest feedback. She’ll tell me what works for her as a reader and what doesn’t, then I go back and edit.
I set my larger pieces aside, sometimes for days but often for months, and then return to them so I can see them with fresh eyes. My YA book has been through three major revisions already and I think it’s almost ready to send out.
11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Any Genres In Particular?
I’m not sure you can be a writer without being a reader. I love both equally and will read almost anything. I like to balance my writing with quick, light reads and books which require more concentration. I’m a big non-fiction reader. It must be the teacher in me, but there’s never too much knowledge to learn. I always want to discover new things.
My own writing style has surprised me at times. My YA book is a fantasy novel which is something I’ve never followed, however; a fantasy story was the tale waiting to be told when I tackled the YA book project.
I must confess, I do enjoy writing darker, more provocative pieces. There’s such power there. I enjoy inspirational pieces as well.Both of these kinds of writing have their place.
“The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.” – Michele Vecchitto
12. Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers or Anything Else You Would Like To Add?
I find the more I write, the better I get. It’s a commitment and like any other craft, needs to be nurtured so, keep writing.
I’ve also started aFacebookpage and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitterhas been a great resource for finding writing communities and sharing information for me as well.
13. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs?
I’m not sure I have favorites. I love to read blogs of all styles and content. A friend of mine started a blog in which she combines book reviews and running calledBelle of the Book. It’s fun to follow a blog when you know the writer personally. If the writing is good I want to read it.
14. Here is A Piece of Michele’s Writing She Has Shared:
Michele says about “Deerfield’s Ghost:” “I love this one because it almost wrote itself. When I came to the point when I narrowed in on a subject, I googled “massacre” to find a specific date to use and came across a list of victims from the Deerfield massacre of 1704. The funny thing is, it included the names and ages of people I had included in my poem.”
More Links To Michele’s Blog Pieces:
Ray holds special meaning for me because it was written for a dear friend who passed away. Reading it at his funeral was the first time I’d read my poetry in public and I feel grateful I had a chance to honor him in this way.
Small Town Hens is an example of a poem I wrote after I witnessed a situation that made my blood boil. It makes me chuckle now because it captured my disgust at poor behavior.
Light of Love was written after the nightclub attack in Orlando. I will sometimes respond to current events in poetry. This incident demanded a response.
The Choice and Metamorphosis are two old ones that I wrote during very difficult times. I try to live my life as described in “The Choice”and “Metamorphosis” speaks to the ability to persevere in even the darkest of times.
Thanks to Michele for thoroughly and thoughtfully answering the interview questions. I wish her much luck with her writing and future endeavours. Here is the link to her blogone more time: Steps Times Two.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. If you would like to share and answer interview questions on writing and blogging of any kind, feel free to reach-out to me on my contact page.See you in two-weeks!
Connections are something I’m passionate about. I enjoy the connections ideas have with one another.When I was in university, my major concentration of study was English Literature because I loved to read, write, and hear stories. Later in my studies, in my third or fourth year, I learned about ‘New Historicism’ in a Literary Criticism Course. New historist’s believe that: “what is history is textual and what is textual is history.”
When we write about history we are also writing something literary and vice versa. This is because the writer’s beliefs, or the beliefs of the regime the writer was working under, affect their work. The ideas of ‘New Historicism’ made a fascinating connection for me between my English Major and History Minor.
Many kings such as Charlemagne (768 AD) for instance, had books written about them. These books made them appear to readers and history in a certain light. Charlemagne (or Charles the Great) United Western Europe, laying the grounds for France and Germany. He also was a huge supporter of the Papacy because the Pope legitimized him as a King ordained by God. Perhaps, that is one of the most extraordinaire tactics Charlemagne takes, he makes Western Europe Christian. Charlemagne would have his writers (monks) leave out any details that might make history look back on him in a less then ideal way. But history can often be no more than stories based on a few facts, it might be more literature than historically accurate.
An example of this is the epic poem, The Song of Roland. The epic poem is French literature that takes place during Charlemagne’s reign. It is the oldest surviving work of French literature. The poem is about the Battle of Ronceveax, a historically accurate battle. Charlemagne’s army is fighting the Muslim armies in Spain when they are tricked. The French army is annihilated, until Charlemagne arrives and defeats the Muslims. The character Roland and the French army have no qualms about bravely dying for their king. They appear noble. They are not like many of today’s anti-heros who are scared to die and do not have much in the way of fighting skills. Medieval heros were written to appear strong and divinely blessed (such as Roland) so history would look back on them in a favourable way according the values of the time, and of their Kings.
Another connection to history and literature is philosophy — which was almost was my second minor. What the great minds of a time period were thinking, influences the historical events of the time and the way literature was written. Thomas Aquainius for example, a philosopher in the 1400’s, believed in ‘natural theology’ as a priest for the Catholic Church. Much of his work was based off of Aristotle’s works, especially Aquinius’ famous Summa Theologica.
Catholicism regards Aquinas as a Saint and a model for priesthood. He influenced religion in his time (and now) and his philosophical work on Aristotle had an effect on literature being written. Aquainus’ views such as his beliefs on ‘virtue’ effect the history of the Catholic Church in the sense that Aquinas’ beliefs were the image the Papacy liked to portray.
In the latter Middle Ages, Renaissance and beyond, Catholic clergy such as the Pope and Cardinals, held a great deal of influence, similar to that of Kings. They commanded armies and despite Catholic teachings of celibacy, had wives and families. Peasants were sold items such as ‘indulgences’ to save their ancestor from purgatory, or to help buy their own way from hell. The focus was taken off how Jesus would save you if you believed in him to what you could do to get into heaven.
Clearly, history was deviating from what Acquinas taught and wrote. In this case what was written in literature was philosophical, but not the actual history occurring. I’m sure at the time, the Papacy would have argued that what they were doing was perfectly in line with Aquanius and the teachings of the Catholicism. This is why in part, a Reformation in religion occurrs in the 1600’s.
For the most part, I found my studies of philosophy, history, and literature to be connected. For many events, history is not what we think it is. Actual history is influenced by opinion and thought – our philosophies and beliefs. History to a large degree can be made-up or embellished and is more so literature than a sound historical account. But literature can have sound philosophical beliefs behind it. This is a fascinating and complex way to look at how ideas connect with what occurs in our lives, what we write, and what we believe.
There is something changing inside me, a gradual drift from what I was before. It is not a huge change but I do think my prayer to have more of the path before me revealed has been granted; or atleast a possibility has arisen. I have decided to apply for a Masters in Creative Writing at UBC starting July 2014. I am so excited by the fact that I maybe even would have applied for this coming July, but alas, applications closed at the end of November.
It is a difficult program to get into and I will only be attending classes online but their is an optional residency every July for 10 days. Because of my health I will only be able to complete 2 of the 6 credit classes a year, so the program will take me 6 years to complete. Maybe I will become healthier in that time and be able to take on 2 courses at once. In this program I can focus on one major area which I believe will be non fiction but I also will need to take courses in 2 other areas such as fiction, poetry, children’s writing, or drama writing. I am thinking fiction and children’s writing but maybe poetry. It will be difficult to get into and difficult to stay in this program as I must keep a B+ average. So I am praying and crossing my fingers that when I am able to apply this July I get in and that I have the tenacity to make it through the MFA program. It just feels right.
All this Interior Decorating I am taking is good because it’s portable knowledge that I can take with me. But since I have been writing articles for Flurt I have realized where my true talents lie, where I will be able to possibly make a career from, and where physically I will not be able to withstand a career ie. interior design. I still plan to finish Interior Decorating as I am in the 3rd last course of the program – Architectural Design. I am excited for it since it is a drawing course but I still want to be done the program! I have Lighting and CAD after this semester so will be done by the end of next December, at which time I am planning to take one or maybe 2 U of A writing courses in magazine writing and editing hopefully; a good lead into creative writing I think. Should a MFA in creative writing not work out, my second preference will be Comparative Literature at the U of Alberta. So maybe I will apply for both. But I will tell you, UBC and other Canadian universities I have inquired about have all replied back to me; the U of A has yet to.
So some real opportunities opening up for me despite other difficulties in life. For this year I will finish my 2 possible interior design courses and concentrate on my Herbal Magic Diet to lose another 14 lbs to my goal weight of 165. So far that is proving difficult – but I hope to be more disciplined in the next semester, since Christmas has passed and I can get out for walks more and do more yoga as spring appears. 12 lbs down already I can do more!
As for my New Years resolution to shop less, still getting packages I bought before January 1. And I bought cozy sheets and a Lululemon top. BAD AMANDA! So since, January 10th I have been good and will continue to not buy unnecessary items, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and decorative items for my room. I went crazy once I put that limit on myself… Should have gradually stopped the spending. But if I can go cold turkey for 2 weeks to start I think I can do it for longer, it is just starting out. As for the every year fitness goal, have done yoga 3 times this week so yeah!
Anyways, stay tuned for more Flurt articles and feel free to share with me your New Years resolutions and things you are hoping to achieve in life.