The Poet Dies

This week, I have the pleasure of hosting the Quadrille at dVerse Poets. The form calls for a poem of exactly 44 words, excluding the title, and calls for the inclusion of a specific word. The word I chose for this week is SOUND.

Photo: Victoria Slotto

The Poet Dies

At dusk,
I watch the sun write poetry
choose words with care:
amber, gold
and majesty

at a distance
the sound of an approaching train
spills melancholy, loss,
toning the final stanza with pain
as he slips, wordlessly,
beyond the Sierra.

I hope you will be able to join in this week with a soundly written poem. The prompt is open all week! The pub opens at 1500 EDT on Monday.

Color My Mood–Monday Meanderings



(Note: If you’re looking for The Sunday Whirl, find it here.)

As a would-be artist and a former museum docent, I enjoy playing with the elements of art in my writing–both in fiction and poetry. A favorite is to use color to create mood. In art, abstract expressionists often use color as the primary tool to convey their “story.” There are many interpretations of the meaning or symbolism accorded to each color. I’m offering a few of my own:

Yellow is a happy color and can be used to liven up a scene–to make it joyful, while Red signifies anger, passion, love. Think about it: when you’re feeling intense emotions, such as rage and close your eyes, sometimes your visual field appears red.

Blue and Green convey calm and  peace.

Black represents the unknown or fear while Brown is a grounded, earthy color.

Violet or Lavender speak of spirituality while White is used to represent truth and innocence.

I’m including a short description from my novel, “Winter is Past,” that strives to convey a mood using color.

In the dim light, the church, clothed in red, marked the joyous season of Pentecost. The altar was covered in an abundance of flowers—gold, yellow, orange and red gladioli—tongues of flame marking the climax of the Pascal season. Helene’s mood, however, was somber, spiraling into blackness. The red surrounding her spoke to her of blood and death—the death of her spirit. She suppressed a sob…

Do you have an example from your own writing you would like to share? How do you see color as it influences mood? Join in, using Mr Linky at the bottom of this post, or comments, if you prefer.

Happy Hour--Mixed Media--V. Slotto

Happy Hour–Mixed Media–V. Slotto

Summer Heat



early morning sunshine dances
a minuet, chasing shadow
among branches of the ash.
we sip coffee and bliss,
listen to earth awakening
finch sings at the feeder while
from her perch above us mama
dove coos patiently, teaches us
to wait for something


Photo: Wikipedia Commons


summertime living on a lazy river
or lolling by the lake
water laps the shore, breezes inspire
poets who listen to moss-covered boulders
telling stories of ages gone by
the gentle rocking of a rowboat
white paint curling on its hull
lulls agitated spirits
while sun warms the weary

Photo Credit: Bare

Photo Credit: Bare


we walk along the river
above the overpass a ghost lingers
its gray shadow caressing the smooth
cheek of gold-splashed hills
a pedestrian crosses over
while cars rush overhead
waves breaking
on asphalt sand
a bashful red rose
refuses to open
because the tree is watching.

Photo Credit: C\

Photo Credit: C\


we celebrate with vibrant colors
stormy gray clouds then
fireworks falling
from the darkening sky
like rain

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:


a lone butterfly
flutters in the fading light
disappears into the dusk
a male oriole
lies lifeless
flaming sunset pauses.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Linked to dVerse Open Link Night where poets join to share their work. Join us! Happy 4th of July! It’s hot here, 104 degrees F. at 10:50 AM!

Wordsmith Wednesday–Setting

Old Mansion

Image by via Flickr

How do you choose a setting for your novel, short fiction or poem? What role does setting serve? How can a place inspire your writing? These are only a few of the questions you want to ask yourself when you begin to write, no matter what the genre. And here is just a sampling of setting-issues for you to consider.

  • What kind of mood do I want to create? Setting is a means of creating atmosphere. It helps me to think about film. Consider Hitchcock’s Psycho or King’s The Shining in which darkness and gloom prevailed. Now compare that to Under Tuscan Skies, a movie about independence, love and freedom. Horror, romance, mystery–different genres call for different settings.
  • How well do I know the location I’ve chosen? Based on the role that setting will play in your story, you need to be attentive to accuracy. My first novel is set in the location where I live: Reno, Nevada, but my second I wanted to immerse myself in a city I love to visit: Chicago. That one took a lot more work. I visited Chicago, called upon the concierge of the hotel where I stayed to help me obtain some specific information, and sought out a couple of Chicagoans as consultants. You always have the option of “inventing” a place and in certain types of fiction, that’s just what you better do. Think: Hogwarts.
  • Can place inspire my writing? You bet. Those of us who write poetry will tell you that a number of poems write themselves while we’re walking the dogs or tramping in the woods. Many of us go to coffee shops or sit on park benches to capture moods, snippets of conversations, physical details. I enjoy trolling garage sales or thrift shops looking for untold stories.
  • Finally, how about setting as a character? All you have to do is think of John Steinbeck. (The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Cannery Row…) Or, how about Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

Can you add examples of how place has worked for you in your own fiction or poetry writing? Can you think of other novels that rely on setting. I’m currently reading Jane Eyre and just realized the importance of the role of those gloomy old mansions in the telling of the story. If you come up with something, please share in the comments.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Artistry and Writing

I spent a good part of the morning at the museum, preparing for a tour on Friday for 4th graders. The feature exhibit is Chester Arnold, a contemporary California environmental artist. In the center of the gallery is a display of the tools Arnold uses to create his work: palettes, oils, brushes–all the implements of painters. I like to ask the children what kind of tools artists use. When they’ve replied as expected, I take it a step further and discuss the elements and principles of art such as color, line, shape, texture… As I was thinking about my tour strategy, the thought came to mind that, as writers, we employ some of these same tools to give depth, perspective, unity and beauty to our art. Here are a few (only a few) to consider:

  • Balance–how do you achieve balance in writing? In fiction, it’s important to consider variations of moods, pacing, narrative and dialogue. For example, if you are writing a thriller, give the reader a chance to catch his breath now and again. This can be done by using pacing techniques. Ramp up the intensity by using short sentences, fast-paced action then ease up and throw in a little scene of description or reflection. Balance dialogue with narrative. Too much of either overwhelms (or underwhelms.)
  • Color–yes, color. Bring color into descriptions but also into character. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel all the characters resembled one another and they were boring (probably because they were all like me!) Give those people inhabiting your pages flaws, tics, obsessions, cultural variations–whatever it takes to distinguish them one from another. I find it helpful to think of people I know and to use the Myers-Briggs when developing personalities. (You may want to refer to my previous post on Myers-Briggs).
  • Perspective. Add depth to your characters and story by subtly including background reference. This can be done by careful inclusion of flashbacks or in the course of conversations. Be careful not to take the reader out of the story, though. Another way to add perspective is by judicious use of point of view. Many writers advise staying in a single viewpoint. If that suits you, be sure to choose the character and the person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) that best suits your story. I like to shift points of view, usually keeping it to two or three maximum, with the protagonist maintaining center stage. If you do choose multiple points of view, be careful to differentiate by chapter or scene changes. Don’t confuse the reader.

I could go on and on, using the tools of art as a metaphor for writing, and perhaps I will in another post. I hope these considerations are helpful to you. I invite you to think about how they can be applied to poetry as well as fiction.

Myers-Briggs Post: