Author of Lotha and the Three Crosses and My Frog Sings along with his blog, iThink, his pieces are looked forward to for their imagery (never mind his gorgeous South African lilt).
As per last meeting's announcements, Peter kicked off our discussion regarding sentence, paragraph and page construction. He kicked it off by letting us imagine Pooh and Peter in conversation where Pooh says, "Tell me where the sentence lives.."
And then he laid out his challenge.
"What makes a sentence? Do you know the different kinds of sentences?"
As he spent the evening breaking down the various forms of sentences and their purposes...and how the right combination can create magic on a page, he pointed out a simple yet valuable fact.
"We talk too much, listen too little."
He encouraged us to find ways to inspire the senses. Music to inspire, Books of colors, images...senses.
We all came away enjoying the different outlooks and points of view that Peter offered into the way we hone our craft to constantly, consistently improve.
Our readings were kicked off by Susan Davis whose travelling gypsy spirit guided her to read from 100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda. She chose to read #6. The pure beauty and passion made it easy to understand why she was inspired to share. Even more interesting was her story to go along with the poetry...when she told us of her tour of Neruda's home and the amazing view from his bedroom. The breathless natural beauty from his window combined with being in the great writer's home left her in awe.
Next, Ed Ellis read his very entertaining piece entitled "Awkward Encounter". It was a story of life after high school which included hanging out with Steve, his sidekick, cruising for chicks at "Bob's Big Boy" and some Mary Jane. Let's just say that after a bit of partying, one of the characters was uncertain if his trip to Disneyland was a dream or an actual occurrence. Yes, this piece had the whole group rolling with laughter at the characters' antics, the anticipation and the punch line.
Pat Patterson took on Rod's dialogue challenge. He called his piece "Two Old 1963 High School Class Buddies On The Telephone". In his piece we got the opportunity to hear two old friends wax nostalgic on the past and play catch up on life in general...and how their views of events had changed through the years.
Jeff Cochran read two pieces. The first was his dialogue challenge from Rod. He attributed his inspiration to Kitt's dialogue challenge from the prior meeting...and it didn't take any time at all to figure out why. With sentences like "Just slide it in" "Move it around a bit" and "I don't think that's going to fit", it was obvious that the dialogue included a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek innuendo. What was it really about? A shoe sale, of course! His next piece was a poem he entitled "Seasons" that he'd written to celebrate an artist friend, Holly Lovely. His verses painted picturesque scenes and enabled the listener to feel each season...and appreciate how much he treasured his friend.
Our newcomer, Barry Mick, shared his piece called "Dragonfly". Although there was a literal dragonfly in his story, it became evident quickly that there was deep symbolism in that dragonfly. This is just the beginning of what we sense will be a very powerful story of love, loss and family. We can't wait to see where Barry takes his story.
Don Westerfield shared a short story he called "My Family Tree". He was researching a tale about his family tree and the family scandal that caused his grandpa to leave Kentucky and move to Indiana. To learn more about the roots of the tree in Kentucky, he headed back to where it all began and found his only remaining relative in town was the drunk guy he met on the corner. As he asked some former neighbors about what happened to his family, he was told..."Son, when you go digging for your roots, all you usually end up with is a can of worms." Yes, there was much laughter and applause that followed this entertaining short piece.
Ernie Ovitz continued with Chapter 2 if his WIP, "The Seventh King". In this part we're beginning to get a feel for the political savvy of Constantine, the Tribune, as he deals with General Decimus and his interview, hoping to learn more about the Emperor. In this part we also begin to get a better feel for Red Beard and why he's targeting them.
JoAnne Phillips, author of Adventures Of A Sea Hag continued with her current WIP, "The Matrix Of Life" with her next chapter entitled "Goodbye Mushy". In this chapter she talked about she and her mother living with her grandma who suffered from bipolar disorder, though it wasn't yet a diagnosis. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as she bravely shared the story about the puppy, Mushy, her mother's ex-boyfriend gave her and how she held it in her arms as she watched it die a horrible death at her grandmother's hand. The lethargy and inability to communicate and respond broke our hearts for her...and we were so relieved when she was placed back into the care of her grandparents on her father's side as she began her slow battle back toward healing. JoAnne's story has it's ups and downs, but the one constant is this... We're cheering for her!
Linda Shell was back with her YA Adventure about Gracie the dwarf kangaroo in "Come Along With Me". She had the group snorting with laughter at her clever turn of phrase, "Buster's last stand" as she told about the chicken who ran around with it's head cut off...spraying grandma's white, newly washed sheets that were hanging on the line with his blood. Guess that's what she gets for deciding to make him dinner. We're definitely looking forward to seeing where Gracie's adventure leads next.
Next came another excerpt from author of I'm Adopted, I'm Special and The Animal Tales blog, Beth Rice's newest WIP "Pawprints Are Forever". The next installment was called "Dr Anthony Vinelli". He wasn't the suave, handsome doc, but rather the smart, capable doc with the fabulous petside manner...who the techs didn't like much, but then...he made them work. He was also an avian specialist which meant he got to handle then snakes and their temperamental owners. He was also the resident "Friends" trivia guru and the favorite doctor for the protagonist. At this point, he was just introduced into the story along with a couple of patients who he's helped along the way, but we all sense that there's much more to their story and are looking forward to hearing it told.
As we closed out the night, we circled back to Peter. He shared with us a piece he'd written about a river called "There Runs A River". Although it was ultimately about the river, it was about so much more. It was symbolic of time and how, like a river, they both change everything as they move. He also shared some of his own poetry. With his permission, here's his piece.
The single line pathway
Carrying empty pails of sorrowed hunger
And despair they should never have owned.
Some brought extended bellies
Swollen lips and cleaved tongues,
Others empty eyes,
Where tears had dried.
And the dogs
That came on burnt paws,
Pulled tails across stones,
Whimpered for those they left to die.
To the horizon,
To a town.
Stopped and dropped
With voices that gurgled
Between cracked lips
Before they died.
For each that crumpled
I bent down
With a prayer.
Pressed eye lids
With whites covered
In their own dark
Our misery unwanted.
By the edge of the town
With thinned ranks
We stood still,
To feel the pain
To let it run away.
To remember friends and family
Who like fallen sign posts
Now mark our way.
Lying lost upon acarpous soil
They tell others
Who seek shelter,
"It doesn't hurt anymore."
As always, Sarasota Writers Group had a great night of eclectic reading and look forward to our next meeting on 9/18/2013.