Archive | The Tiniest of Things RSS feed for this section

The Tiniest of Things #3: The Warehouse

14 May

box people

Welcome to The Tiniest of Things, A monthly mix of ‘writerly’ observations and poetry from poet Tiffany Coffman

Tiffany3

My name is Tiffany Coffman, and I’m a poet. I know. It sounds like quite the declaration of an addiction, and in some way I suppose it is. I have no formal education or a degree hanging on my wall, but what I do have is the breadth of my life experience and the appetite for creativity that drives me to write. Poetry has been with me since childhood, a curious cohort that has permitted me to get absolutely lost in imagination and disclose what I absorb through the senses, through memories. As a creative, the ability to bend words to my advantage, whether in rhyme or by natural flow, then revel in the middle of it all is the stuff of magic. I write from an organic place, a place of fidelity, wherein I attempt to gift the reader with imagery and storytelling so inviting that you’ll have felt you’ve shared something with me. I don’t write for myself. I write to take you along with me on a ride of emotions and confessions, whether they’re mine or yours. So we’ll take the top down, throw the map away, kiss the asphalt, and roll.

________________________________

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.” – Dostoyevsky

The Warehouse

I wasn’t raised by the warmest of mothers. My memories of her are of emotional and verbal abuse and heavily lacking in affection. I despised burnt toast as a child (still do) and more often than not my mother burnt mine. While my sister had no issues eating it, I couldn’t stand the taste, so my mother would have to make another batch. There was just something about the surface taste of burnt toast that I found unappealing and possibly a little uncaring on her part. How easy it seemed for my mother not to care.

As writers, we must care about our work even though it means digging deeper and paying closer attention to what we’re attempting to do; how we’re attempting to affect others with our writing. Staying on the surface as a writer can be unappealing and lack tremendous flavor for the reader, but for the writer it may be the safest place to reside. Herein you never have to push boundaries within yourself and can churn out work comfortably and at a nice clip with minimal reveal. In essence, there is no danger.

Every day I take the same route to work, but the past few weeks I’ve noticed a man of average age in the mornings walking the length of the block. He strikes me as odd as he walks at a slow pace always wearing the same clothes. There is nothing unusual I notice about him that would make sense of the slowed way in which he walks except that he appears to be quite content meandering back and forth. I began to wonder if he ever left the block, or changed his clothes, or if he gets a wild hair and sprints for a few. What if we do this as writers? What if we get stuck on the same length of block, never venturing beyond into danger, finding ourselves content to remain in our safety zone?

Danger is a grand thing as a writer. It’s imperative if you intend to evolve beyond everything you believe about yourself. I’m not talking necessarily about revealing your secrets in a confessional manner, but you have to dig deep as a writer and find pieces of your unique experiences to flavor a piece or add dimension to characters. You can only do this by revealing those things inside yourself that are deeply recessed. This type of self-understanding will add authenticity to your work as the reader will find you credible and real regardless of what type of writing you do. It’s all about connection between the reader and writer as you never write for yourself alone.

I’m always looking for ways to change things up as a writer as I can get stuck in a particular way or on a particular theme. By constantly challenging and pushing yourself by tapping into those raw materials you’ve so conveniently stored away in the warehouse, you will allow for the most engaging write that when exported to the reader will give them a sense of who you are. This realness that you deliver will

keep them coming back to explore your work, connecting. And it’s not about attempting with your writing to be different for the sake of being different at all. In fact, should you deliver something that feels in the slightest way faked or forced the reader will call you out. It’s not about being different but going deeper; getting off that same stale length of block and seeing what courage lies in you to move further down the road.

 As writers, it’s our job to see the extraordinary out of the ordinary – to dig up those dusty memories we’ve buried so deeply and examine and expose them. W.B. Yeats said, “Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.” So it’s not about finding a different abyss, or scratching the surface, but really diving in to the

depths of your own warehouse that will take your writing to the next courageous level. It’s not in any way easy at times digging up old bones, but I say better to be an archaeologist than a grave digger. Fall crazy, mad in love with the abyss of who you are. That’s where the good stuff is. Take a courageous peek at what you think you believe about yourself – your recollections – and then weave it into words.

 A few weeks ago while making breakfast I burnt my toast. It was the last two pieces of bread I had left and damn it, I needed that toast. So I decided to scrape the burnt surface off to see if that removed the terrible flavor I’d always hated. Sure enough it did. In scratching the surface I’d discovered something deeper; a mother who could’ve just as easily scraped off the surface in lieu of making another batch of toast for me. And in that moment, she was the most caring mother.

 Dive deep into the warehouse.

>>

 

You can find more of Tiffany’s poetry and prose here:

http://tlcoff.wordpress.com/


Advertisements

The Tiniest of Things #2: ‘Been Around the Block’

16 Apr

box people

Welcome to The Tiniest of Things, A monthly mix of ‘writerly’ observations and poetry from Tiffany Coffman

Tiffany3

My name is Tiffany Coffman, and I’m a poet. I know. It sounds like quite the declaration of an addiction, and in some way I suppose it is. I have no formal education or a degree hanging on my wall, but what I do have is the breadth of my life experience and the appetite for creativity that drives me to write. Poetry has been with me since childhood, a curious cohort that has permitted me to get absolutely lost in imagination and disclose what I absorb through the senses, through memories. As a creative, the ability to bend words to my advantage, whether in rhyme or by natural flow, then revel in the middle of it all is the stuff of magic. I write from an organic place, a place of fidelity, wherein I attempt to gift the reader with imagery and storytelling so inviting that you’ll have felt you’ve shared something with me. I don’t write for myself. I write to take you along with me on a ride of emotions and confessions, whether they’re mine or yours. So we’ll take the top down, throw the map away, kiss the asphalt, and roll.

________________________________

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Words will not come about in the lateness of this hour

tick tock; tick tock

Busy body clock

Mind your own goddamn business!

Tick tock over someone else’s clock for I have work to do

Your insipid clicking and untimely ticking

is clunking in my brain

And this matter matters more to me than to you, so…

So…

Oh! Now you’ve done it!

I’ve stopped again

Stopwatch-ing then

Why don’t you go run a few laps around the block?

Unstop the stop

And make useful knots in someone else’s clock?

Harbinger of Time binging on mine!

Take your present and gift it to the past

for there’s no future for you in the mixing

of such verbal elixirs of rhyme and reason

Do not unseat me or try to deplete me

Or I’ll…

So help me, I’ll…

I’ll…

oh, damn.

>>

Been Around the Block

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I’ve been given the rare privilege of losing everything I own twice in my life; the first time at 17, and the second time at 34. In fact, I’ve lost an abundance of things in my life. There is a stripping away of one’s identity that leaves you naked wondering who you are. I’m not going to mislead you by saying it’s been easy or that it hasn’t made me question the why of things, but what it has done is made me resilient, flexible, and skilled in the art of loss. These are events that get stuck in the back of your throat trying to cut your air off, and until you master the art of loss through repeated dyings, you’ll continue to jeopardize the flow.

Oxford Dictionary defines writer’s block as “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing”. I’m not going to sit here presuming to know why someone gets writer’s block because it’s a subjective thing. Someone may be blocked because they’ve exhausted all their original thoughts not knowing where to go next, or perhaps the responsibilities of life need more attention. Maybe one’s confidence has declined and fear has taken hold. I’m not so much concerned with the why but rather how to move through it.

In writing, there is an ever present conflict arising between the writer and the words with the writer trying to control the words and the words trying to control the writer. The two diametrically oppose each other as they vie for authority. When the writer wins, the writing is forced and flat, and when the words win, writer’s block sets in. Normally competition can be a healthy experience, but competing in a zero sum game can cause a writer to become locked as one attempts to constantly outdo their last piece. Often times, the desire to want to write too much or the next best thing can wreak havoc on a soul.

I’ve never experienced writer’s block in my life. Let me clarify. The occurrences when I’ve been unable to write have been perceived as simple disinterest in writing, i.e., I wasn’t feeling it, or I needed to take a step back, reassess. Maybe it’s my perception that sees it as something other than writer’s block that frees me from any anxiety associated with it. The only tension I’ve ever received with regard to my writing has not been over whether I’ll ever write again, but rather, will my disinterest in writing remain? Even still, that quickly passes as what is gifted or gathered through desire is rarely lost for any length of time. Whenever my desire to write lingers, I see it as Desire going out for a long walk knowing full well it will return, but should it not, I’ve always accepted that possibility as well. Acceptance can be defined as “the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered”. The ability to walk away, not fight, and exit a situation is key.

When writer’s block sets in it’s not a time to panic but an opportunity to rest; a sort of signpost pointing towards a need to do nothing in the way of forcing a write. Writers often fall into the thinking that they must always be in a state of writing, but while you’re spending all this time writing in your head or on paper you’re not listening. There’s a quiet to be had inside yourself wherein the whole world of experience rests. The noisy external, brought inward by the five senses, can erupt in a mass of confusion causing anxiety, pressure, and the control over the expectation to produce. The need to control is strong in the human psyche as it creates the illusion that you’re able to direct the course of events. To let go, really let go of something, causes uncertainty and fear, so we do whatever we can to avoid this. The upshot is that the very thing we’re trying to avoid we bring on even harder, digging our claws in it with such ferocity. If you can use writer’s block as an opportunity to be still and go softly inward listening to all you’ve taken in, the ideas will eventually flow without force or stress.

Tiny little deaths happen all throughout one’s life as you’re constantly losing things; friends, jobs, marriages – all coming and going. But all things are in a constant state of flux including a human being. Memories get old, they fade, they change, and they even rewrite themselves. This idea we as writers have bought into that we must have a muse adds to the building of the blocks. Countless times you’ll hear writers say they’ve lost their muse and with that, their inspiration. But nothing really belongs to you in the first place. Remember, all coming and going. You need no muse, no rituals, no hot tea, or special time of day. Everything you’ve ever needed in your life is contained within yourself waiting to be noticed and unearthed and spilled onto paper. The notion that you should always be writing can interfere with the moments of rest so important to a human being, those moments of introspection. You’re either writing or not writing. Plain and simple. The idea that you should constantly be writing is what damages a soul.

Don’t try to make writer’s block more than it is as that will only give it power. Use every block to rest within yourself and start listening. “Listen” to art, photography, music, or nature. Tune in to other senses such as sight and hearing that give your writing mind a rest. Attach to nothing, yet attach to everything. Feel the world around you while pulling it in to lie within your cells firing your imagination and feeding your soul. This is where your freedom resides; unbridled and unattached to doing. The writing will be there waiting for you as Desire makes its way back home. Remember; don’t be afraid to lose things. They’re either meant to stay with you or not.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

Tiffany will be back with her next entry in May .

Meanwhile you can read more of her work here:

http://tlcoff.wordpress.com/


The Tiniest of Things #1

19 Mar

box people

Welcome to The Tiniest of Things, A Monthly mix of writerly observations and poetry from Tiffany Coffman

Tiffany3

 My name is Tiffany Coffman, and I’m a poet.  I know.  It sounds like quite the declaration of an addiction, and in some way I suppose it is.  I have no formal education or a degree hanging on my wall, but what I do have is the breadth of my life experience and the appetite for creativity that drives me to write.  Poetry has been with me since childhood, a curious cohort that has permitted me to get absolutely lost in imagination and disclose what I absorb through the senses, through memories.  As a creative, the ability to bend words to my advantage, whether in rhyme or by natural flow, then revel in the middle of it all is the stuff of magic.  I write from an organic place, a place of fidelity, wherein I attempt to gift the reader with imagery and storytelling so inviting that you’ll have felt you’ve shared something with me.  I don’t write for myself.  I write to take you along with me on a ride of emotions and confessions, whether they’re mine or yours.  So we’ll take the top down, throw the map away, kiss the asphalt, and roll. 

140 Characters Does Not a Poet Make

Haiku.”

Gesundheit.”

Tanka.”

You’re welcome.”

It wasn’t until July of 2012 that I decided to take my longstanding twitter account to the next level with the intent to immerse myself inside the poetic community.  I’d just recently gotten back into writing after taking 5 years off with the fierce determination to share my work and that of others, with Twitter being the perfect venue.  It was love at first sight you could say.  I was lured in by the tasty little micropoems of various flavor and form, relishing how others’ words danced on my tongue inspiring me to follow.

And follow I did.  Not just those I admired, but followed suit by beginning a life of microtweeting my own delicious amuse-bouche for others to savor.  This form of 140-poetry offered a great opportunity for me to get my name out there as a formidable poet as well as tap into a sort of stream of consciousness writing.  The brilliance in this for me was the ability to write immediately what I saw and felt in the moment which often captured a concept that I was then able to expound upon at a later time.  It was also a way to hone my word bending skills and get automatic feedback from others which acted almost as a compass for me with regard to the direction I wanted to take my writing.

So, off I went into the poetic sunset with tiny little micropoems at the ready, firing them off and into the twittersphere, and then situating myself at the helm where the real writing began.   My micropoetry became infectious to me as I began tweeting from odd locations: darkened streets on Halloween night, side of the road under lamplight, during breakfast with a friend, an ATM, etc…  Ideas flying from every direction allowed me to write deeper, fuller pieces.  Now excited and ready to move beyond the sole need of micropoetry, I tweeted full pieces of my work, sat back, and waited.

And then to quote Philip Larkin, “Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.’

While I found some positive response, I quickly realized that Twitter is not designed for much more than the 140 character attention span.  Instant gratification rules the land as far as reading, retweeting, and favoriting poetry goes.  The idea that I’d get more response to my work if I tweeted Instagrammed fruit arrangements as opposed to full length poems was disheartening to say the least.   I was writing for my life, literally writing my ass off, while others were getting recognized for microtweeting endless bits about snow and sky.  If done uniquely it should be recognized, but often there was no creativity in it.  Micropoetry had either become so average or so affected and contrived, with each word so cleverly but unemotionally placed, that I became discouraged and even incensed.

What had become of writing?  Not that I even knew what writing truly used to be in the time before I was born, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t about writing what amounted to a descriptive sentence and thereafter labeling it poetry.  Poetic in nature, perhaps, but not poetry.  Random thoughts and outward thinking suddenly became the poetic norm as I watched the craft of poetry being diminished singlehandedly by Twitter.  People with no real interest in poetry were now deemed twitter poets by throwing out descriptive sentences and tagging it as micropoetry or even ineffective Haiku.  Things like, “She walks around the room / slippers on feet / battling the cold” became officially notarized as legitimate poetry by virtue of a few forward slashes and a nifty hashtag.  Ah, the true hallmark signs of a poet.  If I’d known writing was that simple, I would’ve been forward slashing my way into fame since the age of 10 and humbly grabbing the title of #PoetLaureateoftheUniverse.

The ripple effect of such micropoetic tweets rears its ugly head most notably during a holiday or change of season.  During the transition into fall, for example, it seemed everyone was talking about Autumn – that kicky little chick that turns heads, changing minds, changing moods, breaking hearts, and falling away leaving Winter to clean up the mess.  It was all about leaves.  Their various colors, their falling, their crunch underfoot, but it was repetitive and ad nauseam with nothing original being said.  Everyone was duplicating everyone for a try, a stab, a right to claim this unoriginal micropoetry.  It’s Autumn.  Leaves change colors.  They make a crunchy sound.  We get it.  No one is saying anything outside of the ordinary, and no one is noticing anything beyond the obvious.  But isn’t that a poet’s job?  To notice what others can’t see?  To say what others are afraid to say, and to be brave enough to tear an ideal, a place, or a belief apart?  What has happened to the fearless poets of yesterday who worked hard mastering their craft, line by beautifully placed line?

It is in my frustration that I eventually mourn the loss of such great poets as Sexton, Larkin, Rilke, and Bukowski to name a few as there seems to be a lack of ordinary genius in the world of Twitter.  Poets who are passionate about their craft, wrangling words and putting forward an emotion for digestion into a soul, are becoming endangered by the likes of social media outlets such as Twitter where you’re forced to define yourself as either a poet on Twitter or a Twitter poet.  The distinction should be clear.  Unfortunately, those of us that deem ourselves poets on Twitter may even fall into the trap of instant gratification with forced micropoetry perpetuating the illusion that Twitter is the place where poetry happens.  Poetry happens in your soul, sprouted from an idea that travels to heart then hand and spills onto a page carefully scribed for a shared world.  It does not necessarily reside in the 140-characters that take less than 140 seconds to type and the blink of an eye to release into the atmosphere as an alleged reflection of ordinary genius.  The world is ordinary enough, isn’t it?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Please take the time to click, and then click again to zoom into the cartoon so you can see the artwork in all its glory and detail. Thank you!

twitter_poet_larger

 

 

The above cartoon was specially commissioned by ArtiPeeps for this post and was drawn by the artist and cartoonist KOOS KLEVEN.  DO check out his work here, and on our ‘Weekend Showcase’ here.

You can also follow Koos on Twitter here.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Tiffany will be back with her next entry on Tuesday 16th April. 

Meanwhile you can read more of her work here: http://tlcoff.wordpress.com/ 

and follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/tlcoff

%d bloggers like this: