Friday, March 07, 2014

Poetry Friday -- Show Your Work!

As recently as the middle of last month, I was in a stew over how often or even whether I should share my original poems on the blog. Louise Borden tweeted me about a poetry contest sponsored by Garrison Keillor and when I thought about the poem I most wanted to submit, it was one I'd posted on the blog. I asked around a bit to confirm what I already knew: a poem that is posted on the blog has been published. Period. Can't even take the post down to reverse the action.

Maybe, I thought, I should only post bits from Big Name Poets or poems from the Public Domain. Maybe a poem a day for Poetry Month isn't such a good idea. Maybe I should keep my poems unpublished on the blog just in the event that...

And then I read Austin Kleon's new book, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

and received such sage advice as, "You can't find your voice if you don't use it." and "Don't be a hoarder." (Ouch. It sounded like he was talking right to me!) Kleon talks about the importance of people knowing your work so that you can build some kind of audience or following or network. So that you can, at the very least, gather (or via the Internet, "gather") together with your fellow "knuckleballers" -- the others who do whatever kind of thing it is that you do.

I realized that I owe everything I am as a writer, a poet, and a member of this glorious group of knuckleball poetry fans called Poetry Friday to going public with my work. What exactly is it that I'm waiting for when I hoard my work? Nothing comes from nothing, and amazing and never-before-imagined opportunities have come from showing my work.

So I'm back on board with a poem a day for Poetry Month. I haven't decided exactly what that's going to look like or where it will be found, but I've got a couple of weeks to nail down the details, right?

And here's one of the (previously hoarded) poems I wrote for Laura's Pantone® Color Month:

Hope is the Color Green

Hope is the color green.
It comes to us washed by wet weather, or by tears.
It comforts the valley first,
then climbs the mountain with steady assurance,
accompanied by bursts
of wildflower happiness in its midst,
while above the haze and mist
a benevolent aqua sky persists.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

Pantone® colors: wet weather, aqua haze

This week, Margaret has the Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche.


  1. "It comes to us washed by wet weather, or by tears."
    So so beautiful, Mary Lee.

    I am so happy you're in for a poem a day in April again. Thank you for sharing this book title - I have his other and am excited to read this one too...

    1. It's just as good. And he includes some "shape of a story" diagrams that were new to me. My kids loved trying the one from Kurt Vonnegut.

  2. I loved watching hope make its trek up the mountain. Thanks for sharing your thought-process about showing your work with us :-)

  3. Hi Mary Lee,

    Thank you for sharing your poem! It's beautiful and I love the image of "wildflower happiness". I also love the insights from SHOW YOUR WORK! I've struggled with some of these same things over the years...

  4. Love this post. Your poem is beautiful, and your words about sharing your work and mention of Kleon's book are inspiring and perfect. Looking forward to your poems every day in April!

  5. Anonymous10:10 AM

    I really enjoyed Austin Kleon's book Steal Like an Artist. Happy to hear his latest is also great.

    Lovely poem! Happy spring! :)

  6. Love the trek up the mountain and wildflowers, Mary Lee. I do enjoy your April sharing, happy you're going to be there again! Thanks for the book recommendation too.

  7. Hi Mary Lee,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on sharing : )

    It is a fundamental question we have to answer every day, especially in terms of the Internet! Is this something I want to share? Who do I want to share it with? The boundaries/concept of "privacy" have changed so much.

    Don't know if I mentioned this to you before: Did you
    know the author Amy Krouse Rosenthal did a similar color project with pictures and writing? You can find the info. here:

    Relates to the topic of sharing, again : ) If you want to share, there may be a picture and/or words you could contribute to the project. I have a couple pictures on there.

    Happy Friday, Mary Lee!

    1. Wow! Thanks for the tip on AKR's project!

  8. Thank you for the heads up for the poetry contest! When I post my work often feel that it's possible to revise thus creating a new poem to submit elsewhere. Maybe that's cheating.
    Happy poetry Happy show you work. Can't wait to get the book.

  9. Thank you for sharing Kleon's book and your poetry. As a person who has written a poem a day for over three years I've amassed quite a few poems that are not eligible for publication elsewhere. Luckily, there are even more poems in my creative brain. My daily exercise keeps my poetry muscles toned and ready for submission elsewhere. I love hearing about others thought process on putting original work on blogs. = )

  10. I am so glad you changed your mind. My heart sank at the beginning of your post. I do keep a few poems back, just in case, but I also believe in sharing your voice. Let's do this poem a day together. I so enjoyed Laura's project that I am wanting more. Love that hope is green. We are all waiting patiently for the green to emerge.

  11. Love your washed, comforting, climbing, hopeful green! Thanks for sharing it, and for sharing your thoughts about "publishing" on your blog. I often wonder about putting poetry online or reserving it just-in-case. Usually I end up as a hoarder--maybe it's time to rethink that!

    1. I think it's okay to keep a few back!

  12. Wonderful thoughts shared here, Mary Lee. I especially loved these lines:
    "while above the haze and mist
    a benevolent aqua sky persists"
    - perhaps because Singapore is now suffering from the annual haze which comes from the burning that goes on in Indonesia.
    Regarding publication, there is more where that comes from, Mary Lee. You will never run out of words. Your lyrical voice is part of who you are. :)

    1. Myra, what an amazing gift you've given me with this comment! Thank you for my new manta: "I will never run out of words. My lyrical voice is part of who I am."

  13. Mary Lee, I agonize over the decision of how to share/submit my work more or less constantly. While I agree with many of the arguments against hoarding one's work, I also struggle with feelings of resentment. Other demands on my time mean that I am not as prolific as I would like to be, and it's difficult to feel like I have a legitimate "career" as a writer when I'm giving everything away for free. So I guess for me, it will always be about searching for that acceptable balance.

    Having said that, I will selfishly (and sheepishly) put forth that I am so pleased I will be able to enjoy your poem a day in April. You are a huge source of inspiration. "Hope... washed by wet weather, or by tears": case in point.

  14. Mary Lee,
    Last summer, when you told me you weren't sharing as many original poems as in the past, I felt really sad. At the same time, I could totally understand your need to save them. I am absolutely confident that there will be a book of your poems in the not too distant future. I'm really glad, though, that you are sharing poems again. The hope poem is so perfect. One of my favorites, I think, of all of yours. I love that it comforts in the valley first (so true!). I love how it climbs with "steady assurance" and then "wildflower happiness." I love the benevolent aqua sky. Soooo perfect! I want to frame it with a picture of wildflowers. Thanks!
    P.S. I am planning, at least tentatively, to write poetry with you next month.

  15. Mary Lee, I'm getting older, and being that I don't want to bother with the whole submission schtick any more (I had my fill with picture book manuscripts), the only way I'm going to have my poems seen is by posting them on blogs! Poetry has such a limited audience as is, I'm happy to have P.F. readers who are of a like mind.

    And, most importantly, if I can write one poem, then I can write more. There are no limits to one's imagination and vocabulary.

    By the way, my favorite line from your color poem is "wildflower happiness." You definitely struck a chord, there!

  16. Anonymous11:22 PM

    Beautiful, Mary Lee! And not just because green is my favourite colour. :) Love the idea that it is comforting & assuring,

  17. Beautiful, Mary Lee! And so true about hoarding. The trick is just to keep track of what you share publicly and what you don't, so that you can figure out submissions later!


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