Tag Archives: poems

challenge met!

Front CoverThe Moo of Writing process worked for me. I wrote 30 poems in 30 days for a challenge thrown down by Local Gems Press. Those of us who participated in the chapbook contest have until May 5 to email the ms. to Local Gems. I sat each day with my Moo Stone for a short time, did deep breathing and meditation. Once I had the first line of the poem, I was off and running. I didn’t know whether I could produce a poem every day, and was thrilled to discover I could! Those who didn’t participate in the Local Gems contest, but would like to see their poems published here, please send them to me. Writers, we can accomplish more than we think we can! Happy writing and good luck with the contest.



a challenge

This cow has graduated her Moo of Writing course.
This cow has graduated her Moo of Writing course.

Will you join me in a challenge? In my handbook, Moo of Writing, I advocate a belief in abundance. We can all be like Linus in the pumpkin patch, believing with all our heart that a great pumpkin bursting with the seeds of prolific writing will descend upon us, indeed lives within us every day! I am now throwing down a challenge to myself—and I invite you to join me—to enter a contest. We will pick a theme and write one poem a day every day for the month of April for a total of 30 poems in honor of National Poetry Month. The contest is sponsored by localgemspoetrypress.com, and they want $25 from you by March 25 to enter. If you choose not to enter the contest, but want to participate, send me your poems through this website by May 1, and we’ll choose some to publish here. Usually, I spend weeks if not months on a poem, keeping several in the hopper at once, returning to them to reconsider, putting them through critiquing workshops, mulling them over, sleeping on them. In April, I will allow myself no such luxury of time. Winner of the contest receives $300 and Local Gems Press publishes the winner’s chapbook. I’m excited about the challenge. Time to see how well Moo of Writing really works! Moo/Mu!

the power of creative collaboration

The book's cover. Photo by Ron DeKett, design by Kristin Toney.
The book’s cover. Photo by Ron DeKett, design by Kristin Toney.

A friend said she likes the cover of my newly printed book, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir, and I promised to share the story behind it that illustrates the power of creative collaboration. My daughter Jennifer came up with the idea of a girl’s toes in black dirt as a cover illustration for the book. Then, as a surprise to me, she arranged a photo shoot with Naomi, a girl who lives next door to her in Michigan. Yes, the book is about growing up in the 1950s in Iowa, and yes, my husband Ron DeKett had to buy bags of black dirt to dump in the Michigan cornfield (that’s called poetic license). Southwestern Michigan soil tends to be a bit sandy, not black like Iowa’s dirt. Naomi all on her own dug a lovely family heirloom dress out of storage for the shoot. Kristin Toney designed the cover using Ron’s photo, and John Adam Wickliffe tweaked it before publication. I’m thrilled with the result. There you go, Rhea Lynn. That’s the story. Visit me at www.nanlundeen.com.

with gratitude, my life in a few pages

The book's cover. Photo by Ron DeKett, design by Kristin Toney.
The book’s cover. Photo by Ron DeKett, design by Kristin Toney.

I am so very grateful to my loving family and dear friends who made possible the publication of my new book, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir. It will be available on Amazon any day now, and we’re planning a party in August to celebrate its release. Thirty-seven narrative poems on seventy-two pages tell the story of life on a 160-acre farm in Iowa during the 1950s, when farmers rotated crops and milked cows by hand, neighbors helped neighbors, and church and school were an integral part of family life.

I greatly appreciate the friends and colleagues who wrote blurbs for the back cover, especially because they said nice things! Here are samples:

“Nan Lundeen poetically works the past in her collection, Black Dirt Days, Poems As Memoir. With her ear to the ground, she tills the soil of her familial lineage. She wields her lyric voice like a useful farm tool and the reader benefits from her creative laboring. In these poems, she harvests the stories of the land and the people that she came from and both will forever live in her well-worked lines.” – Glenis Redmond, Teaching Artist & Poet.

Black Dirt Days celebrates farm and family, childhood and church, and ultimately even ‘good death.’ In these honest, forthright poems full of Iowa light, Nan Lundeen offers praise for the place ‘where [her] soul planted itself/and refused to move/although [her] body did.'” – Gil Allen, Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature, Furman University, Winner of the Robert Penn Warren Prize in Poetry.

“Nan’s works are warm, engaging, understandable, and down-to-earth, full of concrete images and enticing language.” – Jenny Munro, Freelance Writer.

Black Dirt Days puts me right back into the farm kitchen, the church, and the neighborhood among loving sometimes judgmental people.” – Jeanne Hansen, Author, Iowa Resident.

Please visit www.nanlundeen.com to hear me read “The Oracle,” a poem from the new collection.

Nan Lundeen

rare and common pleasures

For your reading pleasure—a love affair on the page. Carolyn C. Rice revels in the English language. Her poetry is lush and perceptive. “Lost” is her favorite among her poems—”a secret mischief lost.” Read it and wander with her mentally and metaphorically. “Defining Box” is the story of a blues man painted with words such as “his voice sharper than the broken neck of a whiskey bottle.” Is that a peacock behind the wheel in “Peacock Display?” Carolyn shares a sensuality of expression with her readers in “Strawberry Pleasures” and “Pretty Please.” MooingAround.com begins 2014 with a lover of language extraordinaire.

poems by Traci Barr

A Jersey gal taps her Southern roots and shares her take on Geechee red peas, sweet tea, barbecue and Frogmore stew, too in two poems, “Covered Dishes,” and “Verna.” She writes about Southern cooking as the mother of cuisine, but she’s not quite sure what y’all are really thinking when you bite into her genteel pimento cheese spread and say, “Bless your heart.”

the nature of writing

Where does your Muse like to hang out? Mine relishes nature. My husband Ron and I hiked around Lake Placid at Paris Mountain State Park, Greenville, SC, yesterday. It was one of those rare late summer days when the light already has dipped its angle and a nip in the air whets the taste buds for fall. A waterfall glimpsed through leaves charmed my Muse. This morning, she surprised me with a love poem. I first thought the poem was going to be about falling water and taking care of our beloved Earth—something like, “We are all falling water.” But when a person fills your heart to the brim, you just gotta write a love poem! I love you, Ron. Here it is with the image that beckoned my Muse: “the wheel turns.” Please comment below to share where you most often find your Muse. Happy writing!


by k.g. mcabee

River in the Park by Ron DeKett
River in the Park by Ron DeKett
Back in the day
The mills dammed the rivers,
Damning them to stone cages,
Funneling their freedom
Into bolts of cotton and linen and denim.
Now we free the rivers
From their rocky chains.
But are they happier?
Or do they miss
Their occupation, clothing the world,
Hiding its nakedness
Under the colors of the stars:
Red giant, blue dwarf, black hole?


whitewater by the mill

by marjorie garrett

Rock in the Park by Ron DeKett
Rock in the Park by Ron DeKett
That would be a fierce hydraulic
if you took it in a kayak.
I wouldn’t recommend it.
If you do, your judgment’s slack.
You will end up on a gurney
with a spine board on your back.
It will be a lonesome journey
to the rehab place and back.

taking my own advice

grazing laying down cowI blog and write columns about writing and facilitate writing workshops. I’ve been polishing my handbook, Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential, for months. The whole schmear sort of takes on a life of its own. It’s as if advice about the craft becomes what I do rather than actually writing. I’m in two critique groups, but they’ve already critiqued my handbook chapter by chapter; I haven’t brought them anything new. An agent query letter and a book proposal squirm around in my brain trying to materialize, irritating me.

So, it is with delight when I rediscover that Moo of Writing actually works.

The back of my mind carries a goal to write more poems for a collection, “Black Dirt Days,” about life on an Iowa farm where I grew up. But I was just moodling on a warm, sunny morning this week, when I hit the track for my walk. A man on a big riding mower was cutting the old football field in the center. First, I noticed the roar of the machine. It reminded me of noisy machines on the farm. Almost simultaneously, the smell of grass tickled my nose. It’s quite similar to the smell of alfalfa, which carried me on its wings straight back to hay-making time when I was a kid. As I walked, I heard a new poem in my head, line by line. I kept walking, and when I was finished, drove home, not listening to the radio, not listening to a phone message, not pouring cereal into a bowl. Instead, heading for my laptop and getting it down.

Wow! Moo of Writing really works, I thought.

Important to moodle, to get some fresh air and exercise, to let the mind lie fallow and not “try” to write. The words are there. They will come.

Have you moodled creatively? Would you like to? Please register on our site and comment. We’d love to hear from you, and we promise not to share your email address.



the moo of boo hoo


Dawn by Nan Lundeen
Dawn by Nan Lundeen

Silly title of this entry aside, I want to blog today about writing when you feel blue, when you’re down. It’s “when I’m weary of considerations;” it’s when “one eye is weeping/From a twig’s having lashed across it open,” as Robert Frost so brilliantly writes in his poem, “Birches.”

Last week, I wrote that when you free your creative process you will delight in the debut of stories you’ll find hidden inside.

Your stories will delight, but they may not all be happy. At times, pain or grief will surface. When that happens, should you cast those stories out because they risk bringing somebody down with you? I think not. I can’t tell you how many times Frost’s poem has brought me comfort. Frost balances the poem with the fun and risk of swinging on birches and with his choice to live. But it’s his five lines expressing the down-and-out feelings we’ve all had that I remember the best.

Consider the tenderness in Theodore Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane,” a student of his who was killed by a fall from her horse. He speaks of her: “the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;/ and her quick look, the sidelong pickerel smile.”

Contemporary poet J. Stephen Rhodes shares inspired work in his book of poems, The Time I Didn’t Know What To Do Next. Some of his poems address his daughter’s suicide. I was honored to share a podium with him at a reading in Greenville, South Carolina. His work expressed the hard edge of grief tempered by grace.

I grappled for words when we laid to rest a grandbaby who never had a chance at life. It was a bitter winter’s day, and our hearts felt as cold as the sleet stinging the open grave. Some time later words came to me in the form of a poem I wrote, “Digging for Mercy,” published by The Petigru Review. I share the last stanza of that poem with you here:


Grace, grant us wisdom

to wrench open our hearts

lest mercy meet a closed door.


Brenda Ueland, a 20th-century writing guru, said, “Writing is not a performance but a generosity.”

I agree. When you include grief or pain in what you share with others, you may be giving expression to something that another person cannot. You may be giving voice to pain. And that can be healing.

What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments. Please register and share your ideas. We promise we won’t share your email address.


do i have to wear pantyhose?

Click to watch Nan read this poem.

by: Nan Lundeen

They look down their noses and ask if I will
sit on the committee,
make a presentation,
take a job with the corporation.

And I want to know—
do I have to wear pantyhose?

They ask if I will teach a class,
speak to the congregation,
accept a most officious task,
and sit on yet another committee.

And I want to know—
do I have to wear pantyhose?

They ask if I will host the symposium,
teach the workshop,
sing for disadvantaged tots,
and sit on yet another committee.

And I want to know—
do I have to wear pantyhose?

They ask if I will witness the execution,
provide them with locution,
marry the candlestick maker in the finest clothes,
listen while the many unburden their woes.

And I want to know—
do I have to wear pantyhose?

Oh, give me your bare legged,
your grandmother in tennis shoes,
your gardener in old boots
your hikers
your wanderers
your dreamers
the barefooted—
grass and chicken shit
between their toes—
but do not,
oh, do not
give me pantyhose!

Buy Nan Lundeen’s powerful collection of poems about strong women who rip off their pantyhose, celebrate the “tao of me dancing round the poplar tree,” and find redemption in a little red bra at Amazon.com.


the value of the herd

At an Authors & Artisans Fair yesterday at the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the value of community came home to me in a forceful way. Oh, yes, it was fun to read my poems to an audience–eight folks, some of whom were good friends who ran a half marathon the day before & yet struggled out of bed to come hear me read–and some folks I didn’t know. It was fun to sell a few books, but the true value of the afternoon for me was hanging out with colleagues, friends and new friends who write & who make cool stuff such as jewelry & cards & paintings. There was even a guy who hand crafts ukuleles! I value the writer within, and sometimes she needs to come out & kick up her heels with other creative folk.