Friday, May 22, 2009

My Personal Thoughts as a Writer (Part 4)

by Tom Mach
© 2009 by Tom Mach

Today I’d like to discuss two aspects of my writing life—one as a poet and another as a playwright. While I did write some poems in the late 1970s, I never took myself seriously as a poet. I suppose one thing that deterred me was the fact that at the time I saw only two kinds of poems—the classical (Browning, Shakespeare, etc.) and the modern. I’ve always loved the classical poets because there was a certain kind of sophistication, underlying truth, and musical cadence to their works. Who could but wonder about Robert Browning’s idealism when he wrote: “The beauty and the wonder and power. / The shapes of things, their colors, lights, and shades, / Changes, surprises—and God made them all!” Or the immortal Shakespeare sonnet: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” But when I get to the modern poet, I tend to get confused. I don’t understand a lot of it. Here would be a “typical” modern poem: “The lantern hangs on a darkened chimney while a mouse struck by the daylight hourglass, dances to the chimes of a carpenter’s saw.” Okay—what does this mean? I have no idea. I think modern poetry is a lot like modern art. There might be a message there somewhere, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to stare at it all day to try to figure it out.

I’ve read a lot of poems and am beginning to have some luck in winning recognition for them. I published a book of poetry called The Uni Verse and won the Nelson Poetry Book Award for it. I was also a winner in two poetry contests that our Kansas Poet Laureate sponsored a month ago, won first place in the narrative category and third place in the classics category of a contest sponsored by the Kansas Authors Club. One of my poems also won 9th place out of 3,000 entries in the July issue of Writers Digest. In addition, I’ve had several of my poems published in the Sunday editions of the Lawrence Journal World newspaper. I love the challenge of poetry because it keeps my writing sharp and helps me think beyond the confines of a story.

I’ve also written several plays, although none of them have been produced—as of yet. I’ve written a musical based on my novel, Sissy! I also wrote a children’s musical based on a first place short story called Priscilla’s New Word. And I also wrote a comedy, the title of which I won’t yet reveal publically. This last one is a two-act play and I have an agent sending it around to off-Broadway locations.

One of my biggest bugaboos is laziness. I work well under pressure. Right now I have no deadlines, so I’m just goofing off. Hopefully, my agent will find me a contract with one of my three books I have written or that play I mentioned. I’ve got to get that old writing brain of my working again!

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