The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, May 16, 2017:


A poem … begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.  It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment.  A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.

Robert Frost


The Prompter Room

For Friday, March 31, 2017:


If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, make [them] aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential.  I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

… We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth …

John F. Kennedy – Eulogy for Robert Frost, October 26, 1963, Amherst College

The Prompter Room

For Monday, May 9, 2016:


“How to Write a Poem – Catch the air/around the butterfly.”

Katerina Stoykova Klemer

“The sidelong glance is what you depend on.”

Robert Frost

Poetry is blooming in the yard right now.  Finally, after almost four years of trying, there are little purple violets in almost all the places I planted them.

In addition to my usual thrill at the slow gentle, tender greenness of spring, I adore the shy violets and the way they seem suddenly to pop out in their royal dresses.  A few days ago, as I looked out the windows, I saw what I can only describe as ‘blurs’ of purple, as if through a camera lens coated in rain.  When I went outside, I saw the first buds of a couple of established violets, and then little, younger, plants in more and more places.

This is a big deal in more ways than one.  The soil of the ground here needs considerable help.  Soon after we moved here, we found out that the site had formerly housed an unofficial auto body business, and that the structure had burned down.  That explained, then, why we smelled oil every time we tried to dig in the ground.  So I tried everything natural that I could think of to start the process to clean up and regenerate the soil.  I knew it would take a long time – especially with few resources – but I wanted to try.

Violets help heal my soul (as some of my poems attest), but I have found over many decades that they heal the soil as well.  Given the already-poor quality of the soil that was made worse by the remains of oil and fire, I thought I would try my go-to remedy of violets.  I ordered seeds, I dug up purple, lavender, and white volunteers in my sister’s and brother-in-law’s yard, I moved one or two that were struggling in our gravel driveway.  I thought all the seeds were washed away in summer storms, and all the volunteers that I transplanted were consumed by the toxic soil (except for three tiny survivors in one sheltered pocket).

When I first saw the ‘blurs’ in the yard a few days ago, I went outside to look more closely.  As usual, I saw the violets when I looked with unfocused eyes first.  These sidelong glances often provide the most reliable views of what is otherwise hidden in our own realm, rather like glimpses of faery beings or sprites who might accompany us or watch us as we walk in the world of mysteries.

Next time you’re outside, then, stop a bit and let your eyes get blurry.  Or as you sit and rest inside.  There just might be a poem in those blurs.  And maybe, if you’re lucky, even a violet or two.

The Prompter Room

For Thursday, December 24, 2015:


“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time … The wait is simply too long.”

Leonard Bernstein

This was the hardest thing for me to learn when I started writing fiction.  I had grown so used to waiting for inspiration over the years and decades of writing poetry, I naturally continued that practice when I started my first novel.  No doubt that’s one reason it took 20 years to finish.

With the help – and prodding – of my writing mentor, I began to learn new ways to write.  It took a while, I confess, and trying more than a few methods – such as meditation, different types of music, dedicated times of day, going back over the previous day’s work, not going back over the previous work – but eventually I found that the best way was (surprise!)just to write.

As Robert Frost says, “The best way out is always through.”  An unattributed meme I found on Facebook from dog@computer puts it even better: “First rule of writing: Sit.  Second rule of writing: Stay.”  I didn’t have any trouble with the first rule.  It was the second part that was hard.  Once I figured out how to do that, I started to make progress.  At first it took some doing, and a lot of talking to myself, but eventually the ‘stay’ became as much a habit as the ‘sit.’

Even better: the moments of inspiration came even more frequently than before.  Sometimes it was only a word or two, sometimes an unexpected change in direction that made a big difference, but it happened often enough that I began to expect them.

I wasn’t waiting for inspiration to strike anymore before starting.  I realized I would have missed those moments of inspiration as they flew by, or drifted by, if I hadn’t learned how to stay.

The Prompter Room

For Friday, December 4, 2015:


Today’s another day of travel out of state for medical reasons and there’s no time for a thoughtful post, so I’ll leave this here for your consideration and, I hope, inspiration:


“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it!  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Jon Minnis

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

Robert Frost

Be bold today, then, my friends!