#PoetryMonth – Down Valley Voices’ March #OpenMic

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Back in December I mentioned that I’m now part of a writing community here in Rifle, Colorado (and includes the surrounding towns of course). For months we’ve been having open mic nights at our great local coffee shop, Olive Ridley’s. We’re still working out the kinks, but that’s what makes the experience worth coming back to again and again.

Brittany Rose, who you should remember from her recent Story Time Friday feature, is the brains behind the open mics and Down Valley Voices (the name she came up with for us). I can’t thank her enough for starting the events and giving me a reason to get more comfortable with getting up in front of people to read.

For today’s post, I’d like to share the recordings of the last open mic night, from March. As I said, we’re still working out kinks. I’m sure we’ll be doing so for months to come. So the sound isn’t amazing all the time. But the camera’s nice and steady and has a pretty good angle. That’s what matters, right? Haha.

I read some work, Brittany reads some. My girlfriend even gets up to read a few times. There’s even some music, which is slowly becoming a thing at our events. We don’t limit performance to just spoken word. “Sung” word is also poetry!

I hope you enjoy. I’d be happy to keep posting things like this if we record in the future.

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I also have a little bonus to include with this post. I could have saved it for the future, but it felt like the right post to include it in. Here’s video from my first public reading. It was in my final semester of college all those years ago. I wanted to include it here to see if you think I’ve improved any. I think I have. And like with the open mic video, I’m including the entire playlist of the reading. Not just the video of me reading. That way you can have more to watch/listen to!

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#PoetryMonth – Story Time Friday with Brittany Rose

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New Year Story Time Friday Banner

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Another Friday, another Story Time…Friday.

Today’s post is one I’ve been anxiously waiting to get out to everyone. Today’s poet is Brittany Rose. You might recall her name from when back in December when I talked about Down Valley Voices, our local “poetry community”. She’s another East Coast poet, transplanted into Western Colorado. She moved out here almost at the same time I did.

The similarities end there. Her poetry is much more betterer than mine. Ok, maybe that’s not true. We write with such different styles that it can’t be compared, but it’s that difference that’s inspiring and helpful to this little group of writers we’re building. Diversity in style gets us out of our comfort zones. Who knows, maybe it’ll lead to a collaboration in the future. See what our styles can do together.

Enough about me teasing about possible ideas floating around  in the air. I really want to get Brittany’s name out to my readers because I know many of you are going to enjoy her work. In today’s post you’ll find three poems. You’ll also notice that the first one, Pushing Paper, has an accompanying video. This was recorded during one of the first open mic nights we did here in Colorado at Olive Ridley’s (the local coffee shop that you need to check out if you’re ever in Rifle. It’s great. They have coffee…and beer. Need I saw more?) I’ve included this video because with Brittany’s work, hearing it adds so much to it that paper can’t capture. It kicked an already great poem up a notch more.

So, please check out the text. Check out the video (and the rest on that channel). Then maybe you’ll head over to her site to read even more work. Then, if you’re still craving more, I’m trying to persuade Ms. Rose to come back in the coming weeks for another Poetry Month post. If you want to see her more often, let her know in the comments!
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Pushing Paper

I want you to read it.
No. Really read it.
And tell me what you think.

I want you to think about it.
No. Really think about it.
And tell me how you feel.

I want you to feel it.
No. Really feel it –
and tell me what it needs.

I need you to go there.
No. Really go there.
And tell me if you care.

I know I’d care, care if you got it.
Maybe, really got it.
Then, teach me how to mind read?

Because I wouldn’t mind,
mind if you read into it.
Yes, really read into it.
As long as it meant something
in the end.

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Indulge the Virgin Synapses

I don’t appreciate your suspicious superstitions
No – not against my belief systems

The wise ask questions
But you’re yelling demands
And I’m not suppose to listen
I’m suppose to follow on command

I think it’s time we take the protests off the streets
Incorporate them into our LIVES
Into sets of steady beats

“Stand up for what you believe in”
Does not just mean participate
Does not just mean stand there
Standing, to me, is a waste of time
That’s why I’m running
Running in my mind,
My body and soul – Moving

Pruning the brain
Re-wiring synapses so there is efficiency
In what I do and what I think
So there is synchronicity

Like two lovers in bed
Each curve complimented with something concave
Like, when he rests his whole body against my back
When his knees tuck behind mine
Synchronicity entwined

So let’s synchronize, like lovers
To our beliefs, our goals
Our hopes and our dreams

Let’s bring peaceful protesting
To peaceful lives

& for a glimpse into History
I can find us walking
Side by Side, intertwined

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A Delicate Story

Babes born with roses in their eye sockets
Blooming buds sprouting from their eye sockets
Pretty porcelain faces
Pretty lips
Pretty babies

Babies born in crystal castles
Surrounded by a rushing mote
Porcelain drawbridges keep them safe
Alligators with ruby eyes keep them sound
Scales of Amber caramelize mosquitoes
Everything now is thawing

This is Attraction. This is Danger
Like tiny babies born & bursting
Their eye sockets filled with love that
Their baby eye sockets can barely hold

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About the Author:

As an individual I seek self-awareness and a peaceful mind.
(Influences include the enlightened ones who have left knowledge and tools for our interpretations)

As a writer I like to explore the nature of those who have nurtured me, in turn exploring the nature of myself.
(Influences include my family and every other human I have come in persuadable contact with)

As a visual artist I unleash colorful expressions of abstract thinking.
(Influences include Salvador Dali and local graffiti artists)

As a member in society I believe in leading by example; as both a lover and a fighter.
(In the words of M.I.A “I really love a lot, but I fight the ones that fight me”)

Find out more:

#PoetryMonth – A #Spotify Poetry Playlist

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I wanted to give you all a gift that’ll keep on giving, especially if you get involved! Yesterday’s Poetry Month post was S.M. Boyce reading her poem A Life For Sale. And you know I’m a fan of listening to poetry, if you read that post.

Because I enjoy listening to poetry, and because I enjoy using Spotify, I decided awhile back to combine the two. I created a playlist on Spotify to bring together all the great poetry I could find. And surprisingly I found SO MUCH poetry.

That’s what I want to share with you today. My poetry playlist. Currently there are 384 “songs”, or just under 21 hrs of poetry to listen to. It includes modern poets like Andrea Gibson, Buddy Wakefield, and Shane Koyczan. I also have poets from the early days of recording like Yeats, Frost, and many more than I thought had recordings. Not all poems are read by the poet (especially the Shakespeare I think I put on there, duh).

I’d like to have this playlist grow so we can all discover more poets. I’m sure there are others out there I haven’t gotten to yet. Please feel free to add them! I made the list where anyone can add to it. At least I think so. I had some trouble getting things to work over there and on this post. Let me know if that doesn’t work.

Hope you enjoy. And keep reading, listening, and discovering!

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About the Author:

I’m the author. If you got this far through the post and didn’t know that, now you do. If you need to know more…you can find it all on the blog already.

Find out more:

  • Website – You’re already here…duh!
  • All of this is already on the blog too.
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Goodreads
    • Amazon author page
    • Smashwords author page

#PoetryMonth – @thesmboyce reads A Life For Sale

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Today’s poet is S.M. Boyce. You know her as “author” S.M. Boyce, on the blog. She’s written the Grimoire Saga (which is one of my favorite series of all time) and Ari, the first in her To Each His Ghost series. There’s also a new series in the works, but you’ll have to wait until there’s more to share about that. The reason I get to call her a poet is because, aside from her novels, she published a poem last year. It came out near the end of April and you might remember me sharing it. You may even saw my review.

This year, I get to share that poem again. This year, I get to share that poem again in a more intimate way. Boyce was kind enough to let me share an audio recording she made of the poem. If you know anything about me and my views on poetry, you know that it’s not just about the words on the page, but the way a piece is read. And two people can read the work differently, even from the same text. Meaning can be altered and enhanced. Maybe you read this poem before and now, after listening, you’ll take something different away from it. I hope you do. And I encourage you to read poetry aloud, as well as silently. Experiment with it. It can be a fun exercise.

I’ll share links on where you can get the text for Boyce’s poem below the audio. She’s been generous enough to publish it for free on all the major ebook retail stores, so be sure to grab it. Maybe even leave a review once you’re done.

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A Life For Sale

by S.M. Boyce

A Life For Sale

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If you’d like to get the ebook version of this poem, you can find it on:

Amazon | Smashwords | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

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When S. M. Boyce graduated with a degree in creative writing, she realized that made her well-qualified for serving French fries. It would take years of writing hundreds of thousands of words of all kinds before she became the bestselling action and adventure author she is today.

Boyce specializes in action-packed stories that weave in fantasy, mystery, and heroines with an knack for mischief. All romantic leads are based loosely on her husband, who proves that soulmates are real. She has a deep love for ghosts, magic, and spooky things. If you’ve already finished her books, check out her blog or Twitter feed for a dash of adventure.

Find out more:

A New Chapter: Down Valley Voices

As many of you may have noticed: I don’t get much writing done lately. When’s the last time you saw a Story Time Friday post? September? Yea. It’s been awhile since I’ve had something new to share.

This may be about to change. I know I have stuff in my head to get out. I have to have something in there. I moved 2,000 miles across the country this year. I saw things. I keep seeing things. Just yesterday, a donkey (maybe a mule, I don’t know the difference at a glance) ran through the neighborhood and around a bus unloading kids. It was a strange sight, and I’ve seen some strange things before. If it would have been a deer, like I first thought at a distance, I wouldn’t have thought it too strange. But it was a donkey. How the hell does that happen? Well, maybe some poem or story will come of it. And there will be others from other things I experienced while traveling cross-country, for sure.

Another reason I feel that the writing slump may end soon is and even better life-change. I’m now in a writing group. Well, sort of. Back in October, I attended an open mic night at one of the local coffee shops. Being that I didn’t have new material to read, and no one there knew my work anyway, I brought my copy of From Where I Stand to read a few poems from. That went over well. But it also reminded me that I haven’t published a collection since Winter’s Homecoming in 2013, and Words was the last thing I published…it’s a single poem. I need to do more. I need to give you all more to read.

Well, anyway, this open mic stoked the fires of needing to write even more than I’d been letting them be persuaded. And now, I’m going to be a regular at the open mics. They’re organized by Brittany Rose, a fellow East Coast native (from Massachusetts, I’ll let that slide…GO YANKEES!). She also came up with the idea of Down Valley Voices. It’s sort of a writer’s group of whoever’s at the readings, but I feel like in time it’ll be MUCH more, and I’m looking forward to it. There are many writers in the area and in the two open mics alone, we’ve seen a nice variety of writing and reading styles. Inspiration should be aplenty. I’m hoping that DVV will grow and as we get to know each other, more than just open mics will take place. I think I need that in my writing life. Maybe some writing sessions. Sounding boards for new work. A little push here and there. AND, I’ve already started formulating a collaboration. Possibly a chapbook (or larger) with Brittany since we both crossed the country around the same time (small world!) this year. Seems like a great reason to get together for a collection of poems. I have a name for it already, but I’m keeping it to myself until writing actually begins and more discussion starts. Can’t let the ideas get out too soon. Who knows, there might be more writers coming out soon, and we could get a larger variety of migration poems. There seems to be a lot of people moving out to Colorado from all over the country.

So, that’s what’s been up with my lately. Down Valley Voices may be new, but it will be great. I can feel it. And there’ll be new work for you to read! there has to be. Get on my case if there isn’t and PLEASE, yell at me if you’re really in need of reading material. It helps to hear from my readers!

Before you go, if you’re curious about the open mics, we had the last one recorded. Brittany uploaded the videos to YouTube yesterday. You can find them all here (be sure to subscribe for future videos): DOWN VALLEY VOICES CHANNEL.

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If you don’t want to jump over just yet, here are two of the poems. One’s me reading I WOULD (which you can grab an ebook of for free by clicking the title back there <— ) and the other is my favorite from the night, CIRCLE by Brittany Rose. Oh, and you can read some of her work over on her blog, Sustainable LiteratureThere’s some great stuff over there.

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The Benefits of Reading Aloud & A New Video

As a poet, I have a strong belief that poets and writers in general can benefit greatly from reading their work aloud. For my recent blog tour, I wrote a post on this very subject. You can find my post “The Music of Poetry” on Kayleigh Grian’s blog. Because it’s all out there already I won’t bore you with bring it that up again.

What I’d really like to get into is the idea of public speaking in general for writers. I’ve never been great at doing this. I would do whatever I could to not do presentations throughout my years in school and I failed a speech class because I like to wing it way too often (keeps people on their toes…but also makes the speech way too short, haha). But once I found a topic that I know inside and out, I was able to break out of that shell. I was able to get up in front of an audience and do my thing.

What am I comfortable talking about in front of a crowd? My poetry! I was reluctant to do this until I NEEDED to in order to graduate college. In my last semester, when going for my creative writing degree, there was a course in which we created a manuscript all semester as well as organized a public reading for the group (half of the class) we were in. It was actually a fun experience to set everything up and market the event all over campus and the internet. It was during this reading that I realized that the audience  isn’t that hard to please. All that needed to be done was to stand up there, read my work, and be true to it. So that’s what I did.

I know that it sounds easier than it is, I admit that. But it gets better. It also helped that I had a good amount of my friends in the crowd of maybe 30-40 people. There were also a few viewers watching the live stream we set up on a laptop. It added a little pressure to have that. This was also the first time I was to read these poems out loud. It was the first time many people would hear some of the subject matter instead. But you just have to stand up there and be true to it. Let your work speak for itself. If you haven’t watched that reading, you can do so here:

You can watch the entire event (mostly short fiction, I was the only poet in the group) here: COMP 490 Reading

That was my first real public reading, so it could only get better for there right? Well I hope that’s the case. I haven’t done a real public reading since. Despite not reading in public, I’ve been reading and rereading and reading some more, all out loud ever since. It’s been a great thing to practice throughout the entire writing process. I think it’s benefited my poems and my confidence in reading them in general. I strongly suggest that more and more writers consider reciting their work along with writing it.

I had a discussion this morning about how many things about a piece can be improved through just one reading. I find that I can catch mistakes better, work on making a poem flow smoothly, and find unnecessary words to pluck out easier. Try it some time. The next time you think you have a poem or a story perfect, read it out loud. Then ask yourself if you can make it even better. Nothing’s ever perfect anyway. I’m always finding ways to improve “finished” pieces. It’s the beauty of writing; there’s always another way something can be written.

In closing, I’d like to share my latest “public reading.” As many of you know, I had a poll up last week asking everyone to vote on a poem for me to read in a video. Well there were  a total of 10 votes, so there wasn’t much variation among the totals for each poem. I decided instead of picking one or two poems, I’d read the top four and make it a longer video. It’s also a nice teaser for my book, From Where I Stand.

I hope you enjoy this little video. I’ve gotten great response since I uploaded it yesterday. Please feel free to share it all over the place , comment on it, and simple stare in awe at all the books behind me. That’s maybe a 5th of my collection.

Choose A Poem For Me To Read!

I recently had the idea of creating an “audiobook” version of my book of poetry. I started recording each poem, but the quality of what I record is sub-par for me, so it might be some time before I get that out to the public as a finished product.

To play off the audio book idea and the listening aspect of poetry, I came up with a fun idea. I just received a new camera for the holidays with good quality video capability. I haven’t tested out the audio quality from this just yet, but I will soon. What I’d like to do, is to record one or a few videos of me reading my poetry. But I don’t want to choose the poems. I’ve read them all WAY too much on the page and out loud. At this point I’m too jaded by most of them to choose the “best” or “most liked” poem from the bunch. What I’ve done to help choose, is create a poll (which you’ll see below) that has the options to vote from poems that have gotten attention in reviews. There’s also the option to write in a vote, which I strongly encourage if you don’t see a poem you like in the list.

Have you not read my book yet? Well, if you DO want to, you can get a copy of From Where I Stand from many store. It’s also out in paperback now( WOOHOO!!!) So stop on over to your favorite online store and grab a copy. Click HERE for links.

If you haven’t read From Where I Stand yet, but know of someone else’s poem that you’d like me to read I encourage you to vote for that poem as well. I’d enjoy reading another poet’s work. Just please, make sure that the text is available online (for FREE) and it wouldn’t hurt to leave a comment with the link to the text on this post. I have many, many books of poetry from many of the classic poets, as well as many from more modern classic poets. But that doesn’t mean I’ll have every poem…sadly 😉

I hope those of you who’ve read the book enjoyed it and will be voting for your favorites here. And to future readers, please enjoy as well and feel free to vote. Who knows, you might discover the winning poem is your new favorite.

I’d like to leave you off with a poem from William Carlos Williams that I was reading this morning. No, it’s not “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Please enjoy W.C. William’s “The Young Housewife.”


William Carlos Williams – The Young Housewife

At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband’s house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.

(text from: poemhunter.com)