George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron ByronIn 1985, a British Romantic Period Literature class changed my life. The poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats wakened in me a passion for writing. I determined to somehow make a career of it—and somehow feed my children.

Since then I’ve worked exclusively in publishing, first for game companies, now in education. I also continue to write, study, and promote poetry. It’s my opinion that poetry used to belong to the people, until academics stole it. It’s high time to steal it back from them.

St. Valentine’s Day Aftermath

Lester : February 15, 2014 2:43 pm : Announcements, Poetry
Bullet Holes

If you’ve been following my posts the past several days, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a Valentine’s Day sonnet, prompted by ideas suggested from my Georgian buddy John Cochrane. I’ve also been using the project as an opportunity to discuss the writing process: 1. Prewriting, 2. Drafting, 3. Revising, 4. Editing, and 5. Publishing.

I covered prewriting in two separate posts: “A Valentine Sonnet in Progress” and “Valentine Sonnet Prewriting 2.”

A draft of the first quatrain can be found at “Valentine Sonnet Draft – Stanza 1,” and a final draft of the entire sonnet at “A Valentine’s Day Sonnet for an Old Couple.”

Note the repeated use of the word “draft.” It’s too early to call this a completed poem. I’m still too close to it myself and have had very little critique from other people. So, despite the fact that it’s had some revision (the couplet, for example has changed from “They’ve left us here, caretakers of a time / that’s past, but still preserved in this, our rhyme” to “caretakers of an age / that’s past, but still preserved here on this page” to its current incarnation), and I’ve edited pretty carefully (spelling, punctuation, correct word usage), I remain suspicious of a few things.
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A Valentine’s Day Sonnet for an Old Couple

Lester : February 14, 2014 5:36 pm : Announcements, Poetry

(from ideas suggested by John Cochrane)

The kids have left us. All the rooms upstairs
are empty of their noise. All that remains
are boxes in the attic—clothes, toy trains,
some picture books and dolls, old teddy bears.

Our friends are leaving. Some retiring south;
others taking jobs too far away
to visit much. A few, I’m sad to say,
divorced, or dead—the words twist in my mouth.

Our youth is gone: my hair, your girlish waist.
We’ve garnered wrinkles with the passing years,
the lines beside your eyes more laughs than tears—
your beauty’s changed, but it can still be traced.

They’ve left us here, two old caretakers of
a different time—but one no better, Love.

—Lester Smith

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Valentine Sonnet Draft – Stanza 1

Lester : February 14, 2014 12:22 pm : Announcements, Miscellany, Poetry
Knit teddy bear
Teddy bear photo by Pat

Every professional writer knows that while ideas are exciting, drafting is work. Which is to say, I had planned to finish the entire draft of this poem yesterday, but the childish creative side dragged its feet. (Frankly, it got panicky and began avoiding the issue.) Fortunately, my more adult editorial side has learned some tricks over the years, like saying, “Okay, you don’t have to get it all done at once. Let’s just get a few lines put together and sleep on them. We can finish those in the car on the way to work tomorrow.”

So I’m at the office now, and here’s the draft first stanza from the sonnet I promised John Cochrane for his wife. (See www.lestersmith.com/poetry for a history.)

The kids have left us. All the rooms upstairs
are empty of their noise. All that remains
are boxes in the attic—clothes, toy trains,
some picture books and dolls, old teddy bears.

Continue reading

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