Saturday, March 12, 2016

Coloring Outside the Lines

In January I promised to do try two creative things: first, to take a painting class, and second, to try out for a musical. Here's what happened.

The painting class was an afternoon workshop. Fifteen of us did our best to copy our instructor's example painting of a grove of aspens. It was fun trying, and my result, though not art with a capital "A," bears some resemblance to the subject. Here's my painting.

Shirley's Aspen Grove
It wasn't until the very end of the session, when the instructor suggested we spatter the picture to give it some interest and depth, that I began to feel creative. And splashing paint was also the most fun. I'm thinking of working with this picture some more--maybe adding some collage, and a lot more splatters.
Lesson learned:  I really need to learn to color outside the lines, to grab and idea and run with it, to relax and have fun. That alone was worth the price of admission.
Next challenge: I auditioned for Moon Theater's upcoming production of Once Upon a Mattress
to be performed at the Rialto Theater in Loveland in early May. After growling my way through the Motherhood March from Hello Dolly, cold reading a scene, and swaning around pretending to be a dancer, I was happy to find I'd been cast as one of the queen's ladies in waiting, Lady Rowena. It's a chorus part, which means singing and dancing, having the fun of being on stage without the burden of having to carry a scene. Perfect!
I'm planning to enjoy myself on and off stage, coloring outside the lines, grabbing ideas and running with them, relaxing, and having fun.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Five Reasons to Like Poetry

1. It’s short (mostly). I have a short attention span, but I can read or even write, a poem in just a few minutes. And there it is—complete in a page or two. I can read it over and over, enjoying or seeing something new each time or savoring again what I liked the first time. Writing poetry, I can actually finish it in one sitting. I’ll probably go back and revise it, but I’ve captured a moment—something I’ve seen before but now see in a new way or something that I’ve never noticed before. Those passing things that are so easy to lose—a scene, an overheard conversation, an insight, is there to be seen, heard, or thought again.

2. It’s fun. Poetry is playing with words. I’ve always loved words, not just for regular, necessary communication, but as toys. Sound, rhythm, rhyme, metaphor, and form. It’s the world’s best word game.

3. It lets me show off. Example: A friend sent me her “word for the day” from a vocabulary building exercise: “Terpsichore.” Her comment: “Now use it in a sentence.” My response: “I once knew a dancer/His muse was Terpsichore/He sought her whenever/His dance needed trickery/ While travelling in Asia/Learning dances Korean/He found out that they too/Were Terpsichorean.”

4. It saves original thinking. Lines and fragments of poems fit many occasions and let you say something iconic without your having to work so hard at it. Examples:

“Out, damned spot, out I say.”

 “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”

 “I wake to sleep and take my waking slow/I learn by going where I have to go.”

 “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/I took the one less travelled by/And that has made all the difference.”

 “For love, the leaning grasses and two lights above the sea.”

 “Pigeons on the grass, alas.”

 “Rest, perturbed spirit.”

 Share your favorite great lines in the comment section. And, if you can name the poets who came up with the great lines I quoted above, leave a message on my contact page and I'll send you a prize.

5. Poetry takes me places I didn’t even know I wanted to go. When I read a good poem, I may think I know where it’s leading me, but often I end up in a different place entirely. An example: Robert Frost’s “Departmental,” a poem about insects that is really a wry comment on the Roosevelt administration.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Getting More Tech Savvy

As an O.P. (Old Person) I really have to push myself to keep up in a world that is more and more being lived virtually, online, by means of texts, tweets, and YouTube videos. I’m going to lay aside for now my Old Person belief that we are hurtling much too far in that direction and in danger of losing our groundedness in what we can actually touch, hear, and feel. I plan to spend the next couple of months working to become more tech savvy.

Here’s where I am right now—not up to date, but some years beyond the 20th century. I have a desktop computer and a tablet, but no smart phone. I do have an ordinary cell phone, but I don’t use all the features on that. I have a Facebook page (I’ve been told to refer to that as FB), which is sadly in need of attention, and a brand new Author FB page. I have an outlook account and a gmail account. And I have this blog.

I need to update my computer skills, especially with applications related to writing and publishing, starting with Scrivener and In Design. I have good intentions, but I’m impatient with long learning curves. (There are so many interesting things to do, like collage, tap dance, and walk outdoors in nature.) But Scrivener and In Design would be useful tools, and I need to spend the time necessary to learn them.

I’d appreciate any suggestions ( In the meantime, I pledge to do the following:
  • Check my email and FB page daily.
  • Post to this blog at least twice a week.
  • Finish the Scrivener tutorial.
  • Watch at least one how-to video.
That will do it for now. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Believing in Yourself as a Creative Person

Our culture is not particularly kind to creatives. We are pushed from babyhood to be good, quiet children and to color within the lines. Some of us absorb these strictures so thoroughly that we are, even as adults, ashamed of our weird, naughty, noisy, undisciplined, crazy, creative impulses. “What do you mean you want to write poetry, paint pictures, make music? Act, sing, dance, write a novel? Do something practical,” urges that stern voice in your head. “Be a teacher, a lawyer, a nurse, a doctor, a CPA. Why are you spending all this time on what can never be more than a hobby? Get real.”

As for those brave iconoclasts who have the guts or foohardiness to buck the system and actually do their art, we vacillate between hating them and envying them. “There, but for the doubtful grace of the voice in my head, go I.” “I could do that—maybe better.” But I didn’t.

I have decided to stop being a good girl and start coloring outside the lines. I’m going to challenge those voices in my head and listen instead to the girls in the basement: those subterranean spirits who’ve been holding on for dear life through all my long and less-than-creative life. I’m going to let them out into the sunshine, pale, dirt-smeared and hollow-eyed, like the prisoners emerging from the dungeon in the last act of Beethoven’s Fidelio.
Imagine being locked up in this dungeon.

With the help of friends, books, and sheer cussedness, I’m going to let my creative self go for it. I’ve begun by publishing a book of poetry. I’m going on there by grabbing any chance I can to do something different and creative.

This Saturday I’m taking a painting workshop. As someone who decided in the second grade that she had no artistic talent because Miss Kittleson gave her a “C” in art, this is a stretch. It may turn out so bad that I’ll end up just scraping the paint off the canvas, like Van Gogh in the asylum. But I’m going to do it.  

And next week I’m auditioning for a part in a musical! My years of singing alto in the church choir and taking tap classes on Thursdays should come in handy, right?

I’d like some company in my creative madness. If you would like to join in this quest to become a truly creative person and to have some fun while doing it, feel free to share your breakout creative plans here. Use the comment section below or send me an email at Together we can change ourselves and may be even the world.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

All You Can Do: A book of poetry NOW AVAILABLE!

The trouble with poetry, according to Billy Collins, is that reading it makes you want to write more poetry. Shirley Wilsey has been writing poetry for most of her life, committing poems like secret sins and hiding them in desk drawers, notebooks, and computer files. With this volume, she lets her poetic muse out of the closet.

One problem with poetry today is that too many readers and some poets assume that obscurity is a virtue. Poems, like any other attempt to communicate, should at least aim to be accessible. These poems are meant to be read by any reasonably literate, reasonably patient, reasonably kind person.

A falcon, a finch, a twisted pine, a purple petunia, a mean or moody mother, a fractious or fetching child—each of us sees ordinary things from his or her own unique angle; each of us assigns to them his or her own unique meaning. These poems are one person’s attempt to make sense of what she sees and feels. But, in the end, they were written for you.

All You Can Do will be available to ship on or before January 31, 2016.

BUY NOW and we will ship as soon as its hot off the press. You may purchase up to four (4) copies at the low shipping and handling cost of $6.00. Please contact me for shipping cost for bulk or educational rates.

Like a Szymborska from Minnesota, Shirley Wilsey writes with humor and humanity about the pains and pleasures of life. Moving from the happy accidents of childhood through the flights and chills of the present to the epiphanies of old age and death, this poet dances us through with grace—always shining her light on the “…bits of colored glass / In God’s kaleidoscope” that make up the shifting patterns of our days. Trust Wilsey. She lays out her poems with skill and welcome clarity, and reading this collection is a reminder that “Though each of us is / Painfully alone / We’re all in this together.”
     — J Diego Frey, author of “The Year the Eggs Cracked”