Some Feline Understanding

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

For National Cat Day (10/29/16):

Where is it? I asked,
that gift I gave you,
perfect for your imagination
and paws to throw around.

For days it’s been missed,
not missing;
your eyes playing with
my questioning
like fate
hiding what it has in store.

But, really.
Do you understand what I’m asking?

It seems so, when
you deliver
all that I wish for,
laid at my feet—
as instinctively
knowing to leave me to
my wonder
and that it’s time to
take a nap.

Play-N-Squeak-Play-N-Squeak-Mouse-Hunter-Cat-Toy







 

 

Cats are always present for me, including in my prose writing: novels and short stories. Here are some samples:

 

Signor Stradella enjoyed a bowl of broth as though he had never eaten at a better table, laughing at Golone’s drooling, and breaking off a steamy piece of bread, complementing Cook with his mouth full. He was amused, not unkindly, when Despina, leaving, almost tripped over the cats who had decided the kitchen was where they should be. They rubbed the men’s legs, as enticing as enticed by oyster stock that eventually found a second table on the floor.
~ from A House Near Luccoli

 

She reached for the eiderdown to wrap herself in, Bianchi whimpering and darting under the bed, Caprice leaping onto it to catch the unseen. They were expected to be a little crazy, even magical, conjuring a great life out of a small one. When they slept, their whiskers and eyelids quivered for their wildest dreams. Were they back in Genoa, too, in Nonna’s darkened room and big chair where falling asleep was required? Or wandering down to the kitchen so Cook would scold and then reward them? Or, as their legs extended, sneaking up towards what was off-limits but inviting, were their thoughts about how they escaped but never got away? Would they wake to the confusion of why bells weren’t ringing from every direction and the sea wasn’t close by? Did they miss not knowing what was beyond the window, the view of the street, or smell of the bay?

No, they just stretched and yawned and accepted that all they ever needed had come with them.
~ from To A Strange Somewhere Fled

 

One or more cats might defy exclusion from the parlor, a little nuzzle pushing its door already open a crack to allow them access to whoever welcomed their leg rubbing or not. Rose did, especially once the reading was done, bowing to escape any reaction rather than acknowledge it. Gathering them up was a reason to crumple to the floor without seeming to faint or rudely reveal her relief. Taking them out was a way to escape before she might be asked to recite more or even sing, and disappear until no one expected to see her again that evening.
~ from The Library Next Door

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

 

Maudy excused herself to baste the ham and continue what was left of the Christmas she had planned. She didn’t say anything about needing to be alone, which she wasn’t for long. A kitten had slipped into the house and then the kitchen, interrupting Maudy’s self-pitying for a little canned tuna and place on her lap to curl gratefully.
~from The Snow White Gift

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

 

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

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Wisely Mingled Poetry and Prose

I’m a storyteller and a poet. Storytellers need someone to listen; poets need only whisper to themselves.

I wrote that over five years ago, when I was first setting up this blog. I continue to have this duality as a writer. I won’t call it a conflict, because there is no war of words in me, only an integration of their use lyrically and narratively.

Always be a poet, even in prose. ~ Charles Baudelaire

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Charles Baudelaire by Claude Courbet, 1849

I have to confess that, whether reading or writing it, I become more engaged with prose that has the sensitivity, sound and cadence of poetry. No matter its subject or objective, be it fiction or non-fiction, light or dark, joyous or tragic, as it unfolds a character or events, describes a room or landscape or sunset, is active or contemplative or emotional, I need a sense of the exploration of language’s possibilities in what I read and write.

Verse is everywhere in language where there is rhythm, everywhere …in truth there is no prose: there is the alphabet, and then verses more or less tight, more or less diffuse.
~ Stéphane Mallarme, real name Étienne Mallarmé,
French symbolist poet

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Stéphane Mallarme by Édouard Manet, 1876

As opposites attract, poetry and prose enjoy a special intimacy. Their union challenges the intellect, seduces the senses and imagination, and speaks between the lines. It appeals to the wanderer who is also a lingerer. It requires readers who prefer an unhurried, indirect route to those who just want to get from “A” to “B” in the fast lane.

In North Carolina driving from Asheville to Boone presents a choice. A driver can stick to the interstates or opt to take the Blue Ridge Parkway. The latter decision takes an extra hour or so, but along the way there are opportunities to stop at overlooks and enjoy scenes that are among the most magnificent in America. DM Denton’s writing presents a similar choice. It takes a little longer to read than most books of a similar page length, but along the way there are breathtaking moments which make the choice a wise one.
author Steve Lindahl from his review of my novel To A Strange Somewhere Fled

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Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
~Edmund Burke

I can’t help myself. I have an insatiable appetite for the deliciousness of words: the order in which they’re added, how they’re blended to subtly flavor one another, their capacity to create a succession of complementary courses.

When you write in prose, you cook the rice. When you write poetry, you turn rice into rice wine. Cooked rice doesn’t change its shape, but rice wine changes both in quality and shape. Cooked rice makes one full so one can live out one’s life span . . . wine, on the other hand, makes one drunk, makes the sad happy, and the happy sad. Its effect is sublimely beyond explanation.
~ Wu Qiao, Chinese Master

qu-yuan

Cooked rice and rice wine may be enjoyed at the same time. Why not opt for a full and sublimely nourishing literary feast and satisfy the need for knowing and wondering?

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Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye. ~ Dorothy Parker

I love to write prose for the layered, rhythmic, aesthetic aspects of language, just as I do when writing verse, but neither comes easy for me. I’m an artist straddling detail and abstraction, who moves from lines and colors to the written word with the same concentration on each stroke in order to achieve whatever vision I have for the whole canvas. Poetry can illustrate prose, draw its breath more vividly, and give its words individual lives in the crowds of thousands.

Creative writing is an art beyond the ability to communicate correctly and clearly; it’s about resisting what is safe, even defying what is safe, going out on a limb, even, for the bravest or craziest, out further than that limb has ever been tested.

Just as the virtuoso musician knows that perfect technique is no substitute for imperfect expression …

The author’s style takes the conventional and then begins the deconstruction, the rearrangements … This deconstruction and rearranging is what an artist does. Rather than imitate reality, he selects what is important to him, and abstracts what is essential to achieve a new reality. People, relationships, emotions and ideas are put through this process of reordering. The artist abstracts what is vital and compelling, and releases it as a living thing. From the moment of inspiration until the intuitive flow has ceased, expression is more important than communication.
~ author Mary Clark from her review of my novel A House Near Luccoli

Wisely mingled poetry and prose, to quote Louisa May Alcott, takes years to achieve, which is probably why, although writing since my childhood, I was in my fifties before my work was “ready” to be published.

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Louisa May Alcott

Of course, some aspects of poetry, like rhyme, can seem out of place in prose. Alliteration has to be used sparingly; sometimes it organically creeps in and is allowed to stay, other times it’s too consciously clever and must be sent regretfully but appropriately away. Repetition can have a place here and there for necessary emphasis. Metaphor and simile can be either form’s friend or foe. Of course, grammar is more autocratic in prose; the rules are there, but …

I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. ~ Elmore Leonard, American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter

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It could be argued that poetic prose is overly descriptive (or flowery, as detractors like to address it), producing writing that is verbose and lengthy. From what I’ve seen, the opposite is true. Straight narratives often result in many more pages than those focusing on the shape, sound, and implication of almost every word. Poetry tends to be concise, needs organization and carefulness in crafting, and, therefore, doesn’t lend itself to four hundred page novels. Well, not to be achieved in a year or two, anyway.

“I suppose that’s how it looks in prose. But it’s very different if you look at it through poetry … and I think it’s nicer,” Anne recovered herself and her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed, “to look at it through poetry.”
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Lucy Maud Montgomery

My writing drips rather than gushes onto the page. Where other writers set and achieve goals of getting down a few thousand words at a sitting, I’m grateful to my muse – and my stamina – if I accomplish five hundred or so. Sometimes it’s frustrating, mostly it’s about having patience and persevering, finally it’s an accomplishment that has listened to the (begging) storyteller and (whispering) poet in me.

Young Diane at Typewriter

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.