To writers, though their pens lie still (a poem)

0

…And though their pens lie still and no new stories unfold
their stories will linger forever and be told and retold
their words will stay alive and leap from every page
forever to regale a reader, no matter what their age,
and while they’ll never leave another footstep on the ground
their words will travel far and wide and circulate around
we’ll always hear their voices whispering softly in our heads
we know they will live on and on as long as they are read.

©cindylapeña, 2016

Because we lost so many writers in 2016…

http://www.cbc.ca/books/2016/12/in-memoriam-authors-we-lost-in-2016.html

Advertisements

Fort Mac (a poem)

0

underneath the darkened sky
black smoke rolls out in clouds
and fiery tongues lash out in rage
consuming tinder trees and matchbox houses
while ant trails of humans pour out
in droves abandoning
home
life
dreams
as the world watches for days

this is hell but not
in hell no relief remains in sight
in hell no return to the light of a clearing sky
no supplications for rain
only pity from the living
no shelter from the blaze
nor lunch money
nor compassionate letters
from schoolchildren on a remote island
where father
uncle
grandfather
sibling
son spouse
journeyed west
to find a fortune
gone up in fiery haze
dragging Alberta to her knees
long before the oilsands run dry.

©2016, cindy lapeña

Celebrating Shakespeare

1

As far as I’m concerned, April is the Bard’s month. He was born in April and died 400 years ago on the 23rd, and still, his life and writing have been the subject of historians and researchers worldwide since then. He is probably the most studied writer and, as an avid reader, writer, and literature major, I have appreciated his canon and proudly call him my favorite writer of all time when I am made to choose. Shakespeare’s plays have explored the whole range of human emotions and behavior in an wide variety of settings, from the fantastic to the historical. He has left no topic sacred and has delved into the passions and motivations of no less than emperors and kings, but has not ignored the wealthy and educated as well. His works are enquiries into human nature, especially of those who wield power and are leaders of society. In that, he is quite the opposite of Dickens, who explores the lives of the impoverished and downtrodden. While his plays and sonnets have been read and analyzed to no end and students are able to count on set notes and study guides to dissect them according to literary paradigms, you will always be able to find something new with each reading–indeed, this is true for works with incredible depth. Best of all, is how, because of the universal truths we find in his works, we are able to relate to them, no matter what the age or era. There have been several interpretations of many of his works, updating them so that we can relate better to the stories. The fact that his plays lend themselves so easily to adaptations in different eras is proof of their timelessness, one of the characteristics of classical art. While Shakespeare’s works are just over 400 years and certainly, nowhere near the age of Greek and Roman classics, his works have withstood that test of time and, finding relevance even in the present day, will, undoubtedly continue to entertain readers and playgoers, scholars and critics alike, for more centuries to come.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists 410 feature-length films made for both big screen and television all over the world. While a great number are British, with several produced by BBC, there are a good number of American productions. More surprising might be Indian productions–but if you look at it in the light of the British colonization of India and, hence, exposure to Shakespeare, that is not really surprising at all; in fact, you would think there should be more. Among the most critically-acclaimed adaptations were  Japanese filmmaker Akiro Kurosawa’s Ran, an adaptation of King Lear; Throne of Blood (Macbeth), and The Bad Sleep Well (Hamlet). Among the more recent Shakespearean films I particularly enjoy are Kenneth Branagh’s productions, although he hasn’t done any in the last 10 years.

 

On Writing: Writing Retreats and Inspiration

0

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Happy Easter to all!

As a teacher in Catholic institutions, certain things were a given, including annual retreats, often held during the Lenten season, which was something I actually welcomed back then. Retreats are a great way to withdraw from the rest of the world to collect your thoughts and, as a writer, retreats are a welcome time to devote to nothing but the creative process. My writing group recently took a one-day write-in, not quite the weekend retreat we take each year, but a whole day to take a break from our daily hustle-and-bustle just to write with a bunch of like-minded individuals. It’s a wonderful break that I look forward to because when I write at home, there are too many distractions. Not to mention, editing jobs that require a different type of attention. It’s wonderful to just share the creative energy that electrifies the air when 10 people are in one place all writing. It’s also wonderful to share a little bit about what you’re doing, what you think, how you write. It’s a great way to connect with fellow writers who understand your little idiosyncrasies because they also have theirs. That is why I look forward to those little writing “retreats.” They break down the stereotype of the solitary writer. What people don’t realize is that, while writers mostly write alone, they are far from solitary. Writers, like any other creative person, need a creative energy that they get from being among people. They might not necessarily interact with those people or even know them well, but it is precisely those people who feed them with ideas and inspiration to write. People are inspiring and people inspire the imagination. While poets can shoot off the most impressive and sensual combination of words and phrases at the sight of a sunset or a flower petal or a leaf floating on a slip of wind, or even a shoe lost in the mud, prose writers, especially fiction writers, need to see and experience people, life, the whole teeming humanity of it in all its splendor or ignominy. That is what writers write about. Life and everything in, about, and around it. And when we know that others also struggle in their writing, we are encouraged and inspired to continue because success does eventually come, albeit in a varying degrees.

All writing comes from life. That is the simple bare truth about it. No matter how wild your imagination, it is and will always be something about life—and yes, death is part of life because any writing about dead people is in reference to their lives, the people they left behind, the people they meet in death or the after-life or whatever you want to call it. Fantasy writing, no matter how otherworldly or fantastic is about life because your creatures and characters are personified—they speak, think, feel, and behave pretty much the way humans do; and even their inhumanity and non-human behavior is based on what you have seen, observed, read, or researched about. Armed with that knowledge, there really is nothing off limits as far as what there is for you to write about. All you need is one little nugget of truth and a lot of imagination. Sometimes, you worry about not having enough imagination or a creative enough imagination. Sometimes, all you need is the power of observation and the ability to put your ideas down in sentences. Writing, in many ways, helps you make sense of what is happening around you. Every single day, you are bombarded with information and sensory input. All you have to do is put it together like a puzzle. Your pieces can come from anywhere. You might have a character with traits from a dozen different people you actually know or just one or two. You might create a setting that’s a little bit of a dozen different places you’ve been or just a one. You might create a history and future for a single event you read about in the news or witnessed at the bus station. It might be the woman in the line-up at the supermarket checkout; it might be the stray kitten in the gutter; it might be the well-dressed man with the fedora at the bookstore; it might be odd plastic bag swirling with an eddy of dried leaves in the middle of an intersection. All you need is one little prompt, a lot of imagination, and the courage to put pen to paper and write away.

Merry May (poem)

2

‘Tis the merry month of May and yet the buds do hide

The ground is soft and mushy brown

In places where the wintry blanket’s thrown

The trees stretch out their knobby hands

The fingertips bulging waiting wanting to bloom

The sun only teasing winking peeking behind the gloom

As the trees stretch out their knobby hands

Waiting to bud in this merry month of May

My balcony blooming while snow still lies on the ground in May 2015

My balcony blooming while snow still lies on the ground in May, ©Cindy Lapeña 2015

©Cindy Lapeña 2015

black friday madness (a poem)

0

there is nothing
people need so badly
they have to wake up at 4 a.m.
to stand in line in the cold
to viciously fight
over products of uncertain quality
at half off the outrageously marked-up prices
with no time
to even check if they are getting the right size
just for the sake of taking advantage
of a bargain that will probably go unused
in a corner
for years

cindy 2014

Return to Poetry

vegetable stew (a poem)

0

she stood at the sink, mesh in hand

water flowing tepid, hot mixing with cold

scrubbing mud off food bank carrots

limp, bruised, shrunken

revealing pockmarks and knobby joints

where there should have been none

thick woody skin entrenched in weak orange flesh

nothing much is left

for stew.

©Cindy Lapeña,  20142014-11-12 23.45.37

the seagull on the rooftop (a poem)

1

(because i saw a seagull on a rooftop…)

 

dead centre there it stood

the seagull on the rooftop

watching the world for all it stood

in a standstill where it chose to stop

 

did it see the truck was blowing steam

did it know the rain would fall

did it ever, like you and me, dream

did it know the meaning of all

 

the seagull on the rooftop stood

where it stopped on the centre of the roof

watching the houses as they stood

eyes empty maws shut silent with reproof

 

was there life within those wooden shells

were the people happy there

what sort of folks did there dream and dwell

of what did they truly care

 

on the centre of the roof the seagull stopped

like a carving carefully placed

like a weathervane that had rusted stuck

contemplating what it might face

 

did it know what roof to choose or why

does it care the way we do

does it ever care if it lives or dies

do we stand on rooftops too

 

© Cindy Lapeña, 2014

IMG_20140911_165011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Poetry

Like the sunset (poem)

0

 

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.” ~Goethe

I see magnificence and beauty
and a certain sadness with the sunset
and yet again calm as my world settles down
with the hope that I, too, will rest
with a certain sadness like the sunset
and that irreplaceable calm after a storm
when my world finally settles down.

2014-04-20 19.52.42

© Cindy Lapeña, 2014

To Justin, On Your Graduation (A Poem)

0

Debating with myself for years

Undecided until the final moment

That you would graduate from 12th grade.

Another huge milestone in a year when you

made several: Halifax, New York, your 18th birthday.

How can I tell you, dear son, how proud I am of you

Of your accomplishments, your skills, your talents

Your intelligence, your character.

I wanted to share this moment with you

As much as a million other moments that I missed

But wanting you to be comfortable, relaxed

at such a grand day was more important to me

Than my desire to be with you

I stayed away.

As I have stayed away

If only to let you find yourself

Learn for yourself, decide for yourself

Some truths about life

I only hope that you have found

The right mentors, the right models

To guide you when I could not

To listen when I was unable

To cheer you on

Encourage you

Remind you of the lessons I taught you

As you were growing up and very young

Before you were taken away from me

Body, mind, spirit

Heart of my heart,

blood of my blood

body of my body

My wound opens anew

each time I think of you

No less painful than the day I lost you

and my blood pours out in tears

and in silence

I congratulate you.

 

© Cindy Lapeña, 2014