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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiAugust, without a doubt, is my least favorite month. It’s when the garden starts to pant and parch, spiders build massive obstacle courses in the yard, fruit goes from unripe green to fuzzy grey within minutes, and wildfire smoke descends to choke our skies, our lungs, our eyes.

And this August, it’s also when a “great” idea for a bit of topical poetry falls totally flat. (more…)

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On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings, quiet and low, as if to itself alone.

It stands beyond my sleeping, snow-mantled garden, an ancient guarding the limits of my land, gap-toothed, slope-shouldered, its windward side rough with scree, cragged and worn by storm-fed furies, by blistering sun, by generations’ neglect.

Once, it had been naught but an idea, a homesteader’s dreamed-of bulwark against the forever wind until, with stinging sweat and stone-torn fingers, the imagined was made real and the builder stood back to see it, whole, strong, chest-high, stone nested tight upon stone, snug in haphazard uniformity.

But Autumn’s rains sluiced through unmortared cracks, and Winter’s glass prised fissures open; Spring brought seeds to lodge and widen each minuscule flaw with root and tendril, until Summer’s hearth-eye withered flower and stem alike, reducing them to dust, leaving paths for ant, beetle, and mouse, to enlarge, improve, extend.

And so it went as lifetimes passed, as children were born and grew tall, as owners lived, flourished, and bequeathed this home, this garden, to new custodians until tonight, this night, as the clouds lour down from above, as pale patches of snow lie recumbent beneath the gloom, as the ice-sharp wind soughs and sighs through every crack, every gap, every hole the years have bestowed, transforming the stones into a zephyrean choir, and the night-shrouded garden fills with the wall’s song, a song of patience, a song of years, of cloistered nights and brazen days, of climbing children and creeping vines, of a life spent in somnolent solitude, a discordant moan-filled yearning for sunshine, warmth, and vernal rebirth.

On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings.

Quiet and low, it sings, as if to itself alone.

But I hear it. I hear it plain.

k

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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If I were to have followed the standard advice of “write what you know” (meaning only write from personal experience), then none of my books would ever have come into being. I would never have written about anything historical (how could I, if I was born in 19-hrmahrm?), or about anything set in Brittany, or certainly I could never ever have written anything to do with dinosaurs (who could?).

The only book I’ve written that had a shred of “what I know”ishness to it is Dreams of the Desert Wind. The setting was a place I lived in for a time (Jerusalem) and I drew on a lot of personal experience for descriptions of the street scenes (like the one mentioned here, with “Samovar Man“).

No, when I started writing, if I’d written only what I knew, then I’d have written a book about working in IT (now there’s a page-turner), or something set in the world of classical music. (more…)

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the blank page
sleeps before me
pale
bare
eternally patient
unaffected by my
anguish

the unwritten story
assails my brain
cajoling
shaming
begging for release
unmoved by my
anxiety

between them
my pen
my hand
my fear
my wall

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A number of years ago, my neighbor expressed an interest in my books. Being the  new-author-hungry-for-any-attention sort of guy, I gave her a copy of the first three books in my Fallen Cloud Saga. (No, I wasn’t being stingy; it’s all that had been published at the time.)

My neighbor never mentioned the books again—not a good sign—so, as per my usual practice, I never brought up the subject again.

Fast-forward a dozen years. (more…)

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at the cliff’s edge
the earth falls
through giddy space 
to clammy sands
sunlight spears the steel wool clouds
and blazes from gunmetal curls
brined winds press me back
with death-cold hands

hot anger fills me
magma of rage
ready to spew forth
and boil the sea below
as I ponder the choice between
a hateful god
slayer of the young
and no god at all

humanity
we are
upright beasts gifted
with massive power
over nothing
with dreams of eternity
circumscribed by birth and death
we are
ephemeral
mayfly deities
standing at the verge
in sight of the distant shore
ready to leap
to fly
to perish
on a solitary sojourn
that has no arrival


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On occasion, I ask my brain to go through its memory banks and search for something I know I know, but which I cannot at the moment remember. This search method is a technique honed by decades of living in a pre-Internet world, before Google, Wikipedia, IMDb, and all the rest.

What is her phone number? Didn’t I read a book about this subject? Who wrote that song? Where have I seen that actor before?

I got so good at this that I could do it in my sleep. Literally.

(more…)

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