A mad dash through all sorts of love, courtesy of 11 fine poets (named at the end of the post!). It’s a scientific fact that love poems can keep you warm in a snowstorm (it’s not a fact.) Check some out at the library today – they’re great inspiration for writing your own. After all, the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest is coming up.
Even though we have had several inches (about 18 inches) of snow this season, winter is just beginning! According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, winter begins at 12:11 PM on December 21st. Winter, like all of the seasons, has its lovers and haters. Personally, fall is my favorite season, but winter has to be my second most favorite. I like cold weather and I love walking in fresh snow, especially at night. Is winter harsh and bleak? Or beautiful and full of joy? The answers to those questions can be found in poetry. Yes, poetry. The mystery and wonder of winter can be found by reading poetry. Poets often use one of the elements of the winter season as a metaphor in their poems. The bare trees and fields. The cold winds. The short days and long nights. The snow. Two of my favorite winter poems come from the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Anthology series. The first one is from 2008. Crystal Blankets by Valesha Edwards
My eyes glued to a winter wonderland
Crisp, chilling breeze blusters and flows
Light, white flakes whispering off to new regions
I gaze transfixed on an earth blanketed with white crystals
Delicate flakes with unique shapes weave gracefully from a somber sky
Amazing how simple white crystals disclose joy in me
How beautiful, yet simple white crystals enlighten a person,
is one of life’s vast mysteries
The second one comes from 2011. Sparsile by Annie Utterback
November the barber
sweeps with the wind,
collecting his trimmings
on the forest floor.
I left my tree house
in its snug red jacket,
but the compass is a circle
and she’s led me here before.
I don’t want to meet you,
Miss Argyle Winter.
My friends have all vanished.
I’ve nowhere to go.
With your blanketed blizzards
and white woolen mittens,
I can’t seem to distinguish
man from snow.
The forest Manhattan,
its trees all the same,
our faces are blank,
our branches are bare.
The city is night,
We’re all constellations.
You need no map to find me.
I cut my own hair.
For more information about the Ralph Munn Creative Writing program click here. Happy Winter Solstice! Winter is here whether you love it or hate it. ~Marian
Lately, in the midst of promoting our Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest, I’ve been thinking about all of the aspects in a teen’s life that can impede creativity. Is the impulse just not there? Perhaps its there but is just being diverted? I wonder if any of these seem familiar:
Enter Brian Eno…
(b Woodbridge, 15 May 1948). English composer and producer. While attending art school in Ipswich and then Winchester he developed an interest in ‘systems’ music, and much of his work can be seen as continuing the work of composers such as John Cage. He first worked professionally from 1970 to 1973 with the seminal art-rock band Roxy Music, lending their first two albums, Roxy Music (Island, 1972) and For Your Pleasure (Island, 1973), a quirky surrealist edge. By treating the group’s live sound electronically with a tape recorder and VC5 3 synthesizer, he defined a role for himself as an ‘aural collagist’. After leaving Roxy Music in 1973, Eno developed this interest in the timbral quality of music further with the albums No Pussy Footing (Island, 1973; with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp) and the seminal Another Green World (Island, 1975), the latter a brilliant combination of quirky songs and pastoral instrumentals. In 1975 his interest in aleatory music led him to produce with Peter Schmidt ‘Oblique Strategies’ cards, a collection of ‘over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas’, which formed a sort of musical tarot, each card containing a directive on how to proceed to the next creative stage. He then collaborated on three of David Bowie’s most innovatory albums (Low, ‘Heroes’ and Lodger), produced new-wave bands such as Talking Heads and Devo, and released two important ambient instrumental albums, Music for Films (EG, 1978) and Music for Airports (EG, 1979).
Info from our Grove Music Online database of music.
Basically, Brian Eno is a creative genius who is one of the most important musical artists of the seventies. And he’s a critically important part of making the following scene happen (you might remember it).
What I want to focus on today are the “Oblique Strategies” cards, which are a great legacy to leave to people of any creative persuasion.
Brian Eno and his artist friend Peter Schmidt had discovered that they both developed a set of working principles for whenever they were getting creatively stuck under pressure. They mixed, matched, meditated, and ultimately developed a deck of cards with ideas designed to move the creative process forward.
Whenever you’re stuck within a creative activity, draw a card, read it, and trust it.
While the original cards are long out of print, and while recent reincarnations are fairly expensive, some Eno historians have made electronic copies available to any creative adventurers. Check out this colorful web recreation. And, of course, there’s an app for that (and for Android, too).
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main
The Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest is an annual contest for high school students (grades 9-12) in Allegheny County. Submit a piece of creative writing (short prose, poetry, or screenwriting) by the May 1st deadline for a chance to win a first place prize of $250 and to be considered for publication! Click here to learn more.
If you need inspiration, attend one of the 22 Ralph Munn Creative Writing Workshops offered this month at our branches. If you live near CLP-Lawrenceville, join us on April 8th from 4:30-5:30 for our Creative Writing Workshop. If you need even more inspiration, check out these creative writing titles!
Filed under: CLP Locations, CLP programs, contests, Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest, Teen Interest | Tagged: books, carnegie library of pittsburgh, Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest, writing | Leave a comment »
Have you ever taken a walk down a Pittsburgh street and wondered what wonderful or terrible things may have happened there in years past? There’s a way to maybe find out.
Go to Retrographer to see the past overlaid upon the present. There, over 5,000 historic images of Pittsburgh have been tagged to the locations at which they were taken. You can see that in 1935, there was a particularly scary Halloween Party happening in front of the fountain at the Frick Fine Arts building (read: clowns) and that trolley car tracks used to criss-cross Centre Street. You can check out how bustling East Liberty looked in 1928, and a road crew working in Homewood, around 1910, looking towards some very familiar rowhouses on Hamilton Ave. that I drive past almost every day of my life.
Or maybe you’d like to take a walk and read poems about the streets on which you’re wandering? Then get yourself over to Public Record, a project done in 2010-11 by Justin Hopper in connection with Encyclopedia Destructica and Deeplocal.
Hopper uses poetry to expose history. You can download an iPhone app that will show you a map of Pittsburgh and the locations that correspond to the poems, written about what daily life was like in 19th century Pittsburgh. Or you can download the MP3s for free.
I hope these sites will inspire you to go create your own Pittsburgh-centered creative works. Find some history there, at the library, or the Heinz History Center Archives, and make it your own. Submit it to the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest. Record it in words, film or music at the Labs. Find the cutest historical boy from Historic Pittsburgh and send the link to My Daguerreotype Boyfriend.
-Tessa, CLP-East Liberty
Filed under: Blogs, Local History, photography, Pittsburgh, Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest, Teen Interest, The Labs | Tagged: archives, clown, history, homewood, local, maps, oakland, photographs, photography, pittsburgh, poetry, writing | 2 Comments »