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Sunday, February 24, 2013

John Holland's Dry Bones: Poetry from Australia

My California-based author/blogging friend, Nia Simone, introduced me to John Holland's work, Dry Bones: Poetry from Australia. If you ever wished to study a poet's gift to mine it for those "secret" words that lend themselves to resonance and high emotions for use in short stories, novellas, novels and epics, here's a wonderful place to land, take up residence.

Holland's descriptions on the page, whether of his continent's geography or of a hurting humanity, translate to vivid pictures permanently in my head. Just amazing.

Two things come to mind. First, Bells' Plot & Structure speaks of one way to get an idea for a novel just from a title, whether you think it up yourself or find it among your daily reading. John Holland's poem titles stir my imagination. Just look at these: Dancing in the Dirt, Eden Misplaced, Compression, Quiet Satisfaction, Still Holes, The Poet's Moon, Time Moves On, All the Little Fears.

Did any of those send you off to find pen and pad? They still do for me.

The other thought was about that fun writing assignment you will find if you knock around author groups long enough. Have someone pick a trio of random words. Or even better, have three people each pick a different and totally unrelated word. Now, in the next fifteen minutes, take them and incorporate into a short story of 250 to 500 WC.

Then read each version. Those three words sparked different reactions, other locales, a rabbit trail not taken by anyone else. This homework exercise is empirical evidence of our special takes on this world we call home. The only thing in common will be the required words. The rest...well, it is pieces of us, as fresh as our fingerprints are distinctive.

Writing is all about joining random things, yet usual, commonplace even, and adding our personal perspective to make it all unique. Just remember, what may be commonplace to you is unique to another.

For those of you who love travel sites and beautiful worldwide pics, plus blogs about ski conditions and books recommends, check out Nia's prolific and interesting posts at niasimoneauthor.com.

Here's the Amazon link to John Holland's Dry Bones: http://www.amazon.com/Dry-Bones-ebook/dp/B00AAX3N7E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361714541&sr=8-1&keywords=John+Holland+dry+bones


Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor


  1. Hi Denise,

    I love your suggestions. Those exercises are a brilliant way to leverage off the very potent words of excellent poetry to bring one's prose to life. Love your phrases... "secret words...high resonance...high emotion."

    You make such an awesome point about our unique takes on the world and how writing reflects them.

    I'm totally inspired.

    Thanks for the ref. back to my blog, too.


  2. Glad you enjoyed this post. The writing exercise referenced above was an eye-opener for me. I saw things in my own piece that confirmed my process, and I saw things in the others' that celebrated their special styles. It's great fun, too.

  3. Great blog, Denise. Writing exercises are fun and spark creativity. Nia's blog is a great one, very fun and I love her travels.

    1. Love Nia's blog. I get to virtually travel through her awesome pictures. Plus, I have my faves of those pics/places that spark something in me set aside in a Places folder for brainstorming future novels. Thanks for stopping by, Marie.

  4. Hi Denise,

    I enjoyed reading your blog.

    Thank you so much for the writing exercises idea. Perfect way to breakaway from a project when I'm stuck. :)

    1. Hi, Isabel. You are so right. Exercises like these spur us on. It's amazing how a little break (to walk, to empty the dishwasher, to meet with author friends) can recharge our energy. Good luck with your project, Isabel.