Tag Archives: Nan Lundeen

the end is in sight!

art copyright Cynthia Morgan
art copyright Cynthia Morgan

 

Hi! I’m Nan Lundeen’s Moos. We have been very busy, she and I, rewriting and editing our handbook, Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential. She asked me if I’m familiar with the concept of eternity. I was not until she explained that’s how long this end process is taking. We started the final rewrite/edit in August of 2013. The Spartanburg Chapter of the SC Writers Workshop critiqued it chapter by chapter. Whew! Then, the Moo critique group in Greer critiqued the rewrite chapter by chapter. Then her friend, Mary Ellen Lives, critiqued the whole book again. In between, Nan published her book, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir (after tons and tons of proofing and correcting). Nan’s husband, Ron DeKett, read Moo rewrites until the cows came home! We were getting mighty tired of the process. Good thing I’m a laid-back cow and able to nap while Nan works. She woke me yesterday to tell me she’s sent the final-final-final-revised-revised-revised ms. to John Adam Wickliffe, our computer guru, who designs, paginates, and does all sorts of useful stuff to get it off to CreateSpace, our print-on-demand publisher. Goodness only knows how many proofs from CreateSpace Nan will read before she finally launches this handbook at Joe’s Place in Greenville. I’ll keep you posted. Oh, and she says thanks very, very, very much to all the critiquers! Please leave us a comment. Adamy Damaris Diaz of Artistik Dreamlife, our talented administrator of this site, has changed the rules so folks can comment without registering. We’d all like to know if that works. Moo.

a walk in the woods on winter solstice

Winter Solstice Tree at Paris Mountain  by Ron DeKett
Winter Solstice Tree at Paris Mountain
by Ron DeKett

Appreciating the sacred is for me a walk along a path at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, SC, meeting the occasional mountain bicyclist, the occasional friendly dogs walking their person, listening to a woodpecker hammer at a tree, keeping my photographer husband Ron DeKett company, and observing the gems nature offers such as this little pine tree that could have been decorated by Charlie Brown and friends. As often happens, my time close to Mother Earth produced this poem (in the middle of the night) to accompany Ron’s photo of a Winter Solstice Tree. Click on the poem title to read it and see the photo. Winter Solstice Tree. Blessed be.

happy & a little scared

photo by Ron DeKett
Poet Nan Lundeen; photo by Ron DeKett

Taking my work out into the world delights and scares me. You’d think I were 7 instead of 71! (Or maybe a 7-year-old would be braver). I’m happy to return to my homeland, DeWitt, Iowa, for an event at Crossroads Inspired Living & Garden Cafe on Nov. 22—the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We’ve named the event “Poetry of Gratitude.” I’ll read from Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir which is a tribute to my parents, Marian & Louie Bliesmer, and a tribute to the land—Iowa, which helped feed the world when I was growing up in the 1950s & still does. Black Dirt Days celebrates my parent’s forbidden romance, sleigh rides, wiener roasts, feeding cattle, even hauling manure! Most of all it’s about faith no matter what challenges we faced—tornadoes, ill health, the uncertainty of weather for the farmer. I’m looking forward to seeing cousins and old friends. And I’m grateful to Linda Snyder, owner of Crossroads, for welcoming me to her shop & cafe. Here’s what’s on the menu for the luncheon– Harvest Salad consisting of Fresh Spinach, Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries, Crisp Apples, Roasted Butternut Squash sprinkled w/ Goat Cheese & drizzled w/ Honey Maple Vinaigrette. Turkey Pot Pie with tender pieces of Turkey Breast, Peas, Carrots, Corn & Potatoes in a Creamy Sauce. Topped w/ a Flaky Pie Crust. Caramel-Cranberry Pumpkin Tart. Coffee or Tea. The luncheon (sounds yummy, doesn’t it?) will follow the reading, discussion, and book signing. Click here to read “I Give Thanks,” the key poem for the event. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I Give Thanks

by Nan Lundeen

For wind that wailed,
for cold that bit into bones,
for skies in summer that flickered

heat lightning,

I give thanks.

 

For fear at bedsides,

for faith that held

us all in sturdy arms

even when we cried,

I give thanks.

 

For school folks,

for church folks,

for the music of perking coffee

during the last hand of cards,

I give thanks.

 

For two old elms

creaking outside my bedroom window

leaning toward each other

like old women telling stories,

I give thanks.

 

For a kitchen swelled by the smell

of baking bread,

for Grandma’s feet treading

the Singer sewing machine,

I give thanks.

 

For kerosene lanterns

when ice storms rattled the house,

for the wall phone’s melodious ring,

for the angel of mercy

ending suffering at last,

I give thanks.

 

For the wonder of library books,

for teachers who were kind,

for a dog to keep me company,

for parents who loved me,

I give thanks.

 

For tornadoes, for hailstorms,

for blizzards and sweltering summer days,

for the sweet rich soil of my youth,

I give thanks.

work in progress blog tour

cow3

What are friends for? Well, apparently one wonderful perk is being invited on a Work in Progress Blog Tour. What is it? Heather G. Marshall invited me to participate in a tour. Her superbly written novel, The Thorn Tree, delivers to the reader an intimate feel for the Scottish landscape while telling the story of three women for whom family comes to mean everything Read her blog post here.

As part of the tour, I invite four other writers to post information on their Works in Progress on their blogs and link back to the person who invited them. Meanwhile, I am to write a blurb about my Work in Progress & post the first sentences of my first three chapters. Here goes:

Moo of Writing: How to Milk Your Potential

Moo of Writing is a succinct how-to-write handbook offering fledgling and practiced writers a process to beckon more creativity into their lives. Moo writers will become productive ruminants like laid-back dairy cows who produce five gallons of milk every day.

Moo is:

1. Short and whimsical.

2. Backed up by cutting-edge scientific research. Combines practical techniques with spiritually-inclusive inspiration.

3. A threefold process: exercise, relaxation, and meditation. At each chapter’s end, you’ll find writing tips, writing exercises, and a meditation.

Chapter 1 – Get Your Moodle On

“Cows are Zen masters, writers benefit when they behave like them, and science concurs.”

Chapter 2 – Moo with the Habit Loop

“Cows must be milked every day.”

Chapter 3 – The Moo of Me

“Memorable writing engages emotion.”

I nominate the following writers to share their Works in Progress. Check them out!

Cynthia DeKett – http://reademrysia.blogspot.com

Jenny Munro – http://jennymunrowritingphotos.wordpress.com/

Julie Jordan Avritt – http://wildtobewreckage.wordpress.com/

want to share a spot of shade?

Sandburg goats
Sandburg goats

Lilian Steichen Sandburg was famous in her own right as a breeder of goats. These goats are enjoying a spot of shade under the structure that holds hay in their barnyard at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site at Flat Rock, NC. The site offers visitors not only shade under gorgeous old hemlocks it offers a spot of peace. Lilian, known to Carl as Paula, believed goat milk helped settle her long-time digestive problems. She began breeding goats to improve blood lines and milk production in 1935 when the couple lived in Berrien County Michigan. They were not to move to Flat Rock until 1945 when she was 62 and he was 67 years of age. A social activist, he was a journalist, a poet (Pulitzer winner), a hobo, a world traveler, a biographer (Pulitzer for a history of Lincoln), songwriter, writer of children’s books, and troubadour. Whether or not you love poetry, this home that Lilian and daughter Margaret helped the National Park Service preserve to truly carry the spirit of the “Poet of the People,” is worth a visit. Say hi to the goats for me.

Happy writing!

Nan Lundeen

www.nanlundeen.com

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.

first kiss – enjoy the audio

Do you remember your first kiss? Mine happened (first time for both of us) in the back seat of a Dodge on an Iowa gravel road while two of his buddies egged him on from the front seat. It was what passed for a wild night in the 1950s. They were driving way too fast, spitting gravel, taking hills up the center of the road, on our way home from a dance class in town. Somebody had taken pity on us country bumpkins or just couldn’t stand to watch us bumbling around in the gym at sock hops and arranged a few classes for us high school freshmen in the basement of a ranch house in Clinton. Poets will write about anything, so when I was writing Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir, this prose poem popped out. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. How about it? Do you remember your first kiss?

Enjoy the audio.

Happy writing!
Nan Lundeen
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

magical prose

Josette Williams Davison
Josette Williams Davison

“Some of the words covered dancing sheets of music, and could barely stay on the pages they were so full of life and longing.” –  Josette Williams Davison.

Josette writes of words and writers, of angels and people, of books and a great man in her essay, “In the Beginning.” She shares her reflections with readers in magical, thought-provoking prose. Click to read “In the Beginning.”

Happy 2014!

Nan Lundeen – www.nanlundeen.com

an impractical writing companion

Jack in Wildflowers by Ron DeKett
Jack in Wildflowers by Ron DeKett

This morning as I was making toast I noticed a tiny, tiny, pale spider crawling across the kitchen counter. I was going to capture her and put her outside, which is what I usually do with spiders, but I realized she would quickly die in winter weather. So, I lured her into an empty toilet paper tube and wedged her new house between a table leg and the wall.

Animals make perfect companions for writers. A dog will get you outdoors for a walk and offers unconditional love. A cat brings her own capriciousness into your writing day, often with delight as part of the bargain. If nothing else, animal companions add a dimension to a writer’s life that is outside the human experience and thus, valuable.

Not all animals make perfect companions, however. Being hidden away in her toilet paper tube, the little spider is unavailable to provide an ear when I’m reading a new poem aloud. Jack, our yellow Lab who passed away this year, used to listen intently. He was wonderfully cuddly. I imagine if I try to snuggle with the little spider on the couch, I’ll quickly lose her in sofa cushions if I can find her to begin with. As far as a leash goes—probably not practical, and if my neighbors saw me walking down the street gently carrying and conversing with a toilet paper tube, well . . .

For now, Bailey, the fuzzy white dog across the street, lets me rub her and gives me kisses. Oliver, a neighbor’s black cat comes to meow and be petted when I step outside mornings. He and Jack used to rub noses, but he seems quite content with human greetings. A silky border collie named Shadow often greets me at the track where I walk. She makes my day.

When you’re a writer, solitude is a splendid gift and often a rare one. Solitude gives a writer time to think, to ruminate, to contemplate, to observe, to study, and to write. Now that I’m retired from the world of journalism, it’s an enormous blessing to be writing away and not be interrupted. You can hear your own writing. For many writers, interruptions can’t be avoided, especially when they involve young children, a spouse, a partner or another family member or good friend. Unfortunately if you believe you shouldn’t feel frustrated, you heap more frustration upon your keyboard which sits abandoned.

An animal friend or two, however, is the perfect companion—I’ll let you know if a whole family of tiny spiders comes marching out from behind our table next spring.

Thank you to all mooingaround.com readers and contributors, and to Adamy Damaris Diaz of Artistik Dreamlife LLC (and a cat lover) for administering the site. We had a great start-up year, and I appreciate all of you. Please contact us with your thoughts and inform us if you have writing to share. Let us continue to build a creative community.

May 2014 bring you solitude and companionship.

Nan Lundeen – www.nanlundeen.com

my pail runneth over

cowGraduate

My family will print my chapbook, Black Dirt Days: Poems as Memoir, in honor of my 70th birthday. Awesome! I empathize with Cynthia Morgan’s drawing of this “Mu Cow” who has graduated from a Moo of Writing class and whose milk pail runneth over. My daughter Jenny, her husband Jim, my son Jeff, and my husband Ron, told me the news and revealed the book cover when we were all together at my daughter’s house in Michigan this month. What a gift! To see the cover visit www.nanlundeen.com.

And more awesome news–the pending publication of my handbook, Moo of Writing: how to milk your potential, received a boost from Writing Magazine in the UK who published my article, “Find Your Moos,” in its December issue. The editor has written me a lovely blurb for the cover of my handbook which will come out early 2014.

What a Thanksgiving for me this year. I am grateful.

 

powerful details

Mindfulness is a big buzz word these days. Used to be called awareness. No matter what you call it, both or either come in handy for writers. We need to pay close attention to detail. That means walking around in our lives with eyes and ears open, noses and taste buds alive. In a writing class, someone read a description of an explosion. The teacher asked, “Did it really boom? If it was in a ditch as you described, would it sound muffled?” That kind of explicit detail brings writing alive. I offer you examples I’m fond of in “the power’s in the details.” Please register on our site if you haven’t already and share details that have come to your attention lately.