… Wherein I write bad poetry and give it away for free

*Warning* – Please do not read this if you are under 30, over 60, or have a heart condition, high blood pressure, are politically correct according the standards of our day, or merely physically unattractive. Seriously, I want only good-looking people reading. Also – I know I am going to hell for this, so you don’t need to remind me.

OK – you guys probably know I am a serious writer of short fiction but I bet you never knew I was a poet as well. I have loved poetry every since reading “Old Man From Nantucket” for a book report I had to do in grade 8. (I got an “A”).

Like most real poets, I believe that a poem must rhyme, and that iambic pentameter is for wimps and haiku for Japanese wimps. Dactylic hexameter?

Kill yourself. Now. Just do it.

However, there is even less of a market for poetry than there is for real, serious fiction – good fiction … really really good make-you-think (make-you-cry) fiction. Like I write. But I digress. Most poetry is simply dreadful stuff and very often not rhyming. There’s lots of it available for free on the internet, which shows you what its worth. Most poets have to pay to publish their own stuff. Serves ‘em right. They have to pay to publish and they would have to pay me to read it.

But here – for you select few – for free – are my poems – and in the tradition of VH1’s “Storytellers” a brief description of how these poems came to be. Every poem here is based on actual events, just like Coleridge-Taylor’s “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” because it takes real events to inspire words both beautiful and true … that rhyme.

Ode to the Skinny Girl in Safeway With the Noticeable Mustache

Sweet Merciful Jesus!

Kill it.

Kill it with fire.

Please

The Story: Ok – that did not rhyme, but that’s the poem that was going through my mind when I saw “it”.  I am not prejudiced! I like ‘em skinny, I like ‘em fat, I like ‘em all … but I draw the line at a ‘stache.

Honest sentiments, but mediocre start. Off to the next

The Guy That Used to Bench Large, Back When He Used to Train

In a new gym, the kid in jeans and a wife-beater came up and waited for my set to end

When I was done he said most curiously

“Whatever it is you are benching Bro, I used to bench 10 pounds more

Seriously Bro – Seriously”

People ask me what I bench and I always say ‘A hundred’ and when they ask what that looks like I point to the bar regardless of what’s on there. I kid you not.

The inspiration for the poem? A kid came up to in the “whaddya bench” scenario in the small town gym I train in – he had a name tattooed on his neck. I asked “The name – is that your daughter?”

“No” he said

“Wife?” I said

“No’” he said

“Mom?” I said – I have my best “Can I help you” smile on now.

“Ex Girlfriend” he said and then looking away “I think it was 260, back when I was training for wrestling”.

Training for Pud-Wrestling maybe – And to get his future X’s name tattooed on his neck.  I bet she didn’t get his on her neck because “Shitbox” is not brag-worthy– even where I’m from.

It’s always hard to title a truly great poem – I think this one should have mentioned “Roe vs. Wade” but it didn’t flow.

The Multi-Level Marketing Sonnet

You are not going to get rich

You are not going to have any fun

The dollars and friends you’re left with

Will both add up to “none”

The Story: A great many of you are probably nodding your head in sad agreement as you read this. I don’t begrudge anyone making a buck, but some of these “programs” are kind of cult-ish. Hey – just because I won’t sign on doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, nor does it mean I should be burnt at the stake when the econo-pocalypse comes and you are out there dispensing justice.

The Financial Planner’s Blue’s

Hey there investor – I have a proposition

To make you 50 Large

Just start with about 100

Whoops! I guess the market is in charge.

The Story: Ah – we’re all in the same boat right. But word to the wise – if your Financial Planner is wearing their shirt untucked these days – it’s to hide their cardboard belt.

Anyways – there they are – four poems – words beautiful and true. Words that rhyme. And free.

I’ll be back when I remember the “safe word” and mistress unlocks my cuffs.

My name is Steve Passey and I write fiction

Writing Tips: Writer’s Groups

Association with other writers can be very useful for improving a writer’s craft. Meeting for regular review/critique/feedback and appetizers/beverages can be constructive and even – dare I say it – fun.  There are some famous examples of writer’s groups. The Bloomsbury group with Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey is on such example, and J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S Lewis belonged to an informal group called “the Inklings”. Tolkein was apparently nicknamed “Tollers” within the group – so yeah – even back in the day the Professor had his bro’s. Everyone needs a few bro’s.

Writers work in a fair amount of social isolation and it’s a balm to the soul to talk to people who understand – and live – the same struggle. On those sunny days when your piece is accepted you can bask in the warm glow of congratulations and professional jealousy with the only other people who understand.

Not every writer likes the idea. Harlan Ellison apparently dislikes the idea intensely, which is hard to imagine given his reputation for mildness. I like it, but I  am in a great writer’s group. The members have some publication credits, and range from contest winning and many-times published veterans to hopeful newbies. All can really write and their insight and feedback has made me into the once-published (with one pending – yes – pending counts!) goddamn force of literary nature that I am today.

I think the key to a successful writer’s group is to have a variety of roles filled by key members. You cannot have everyone doing the same thing. You need a division of labor and that division must suit the skills and personalities of the individual writers involved.  Using our group as an example here’s a template of what you need:

The Mentor. Someone who has multiple publication credits and is more than a one hit wonder with an occasionally witty blog – i.e a professional writer. They’ve done a couple of laps around the publication track and can provide wise counsel and constructive advice/encouragement not only on writing but on the business of writing.

Note that the line between “Mentor” and “Enabler” is a blurry one and … that’s ok. It’s a writer’s group – not rocket surgery. Who’s up for one more? We’re submitting this tomorrow!

The Guy (or Girl) Who Used To Be in Band. Because your daytime job will never be that cool. I know mine isn’t. I swear to God if I see another theater seat cushion … but yeah. The rocker will have interesting stories to tell and everyone digs music.

The Designated Driver: Someone’s gotta drive.  You know, on a hockey team they’ll have a stay-at-home defenseman. Their job is to prevent anything really bad from happening. Same with the DD. This isn’t a glamorous job but it’s at least as important as any other – especially if you’ve got an enabler on the crew.

The Ex-Pat: Basically; someone from another country. It’s “inclusive” and it’s great for translation services. My group is not that wealthy – our ex-pat is an American. That’s all we could afford. Sadly they are moving back to the land of private health care, cheap bacon, and local militias so we’re taking applications.

The Dude With the Interesting Life: You know the type. Some stories are too good to write down but must be told right? Copy-and-pasting their Facebook Status Updates is often better than most first drafts anyone else can come up with. Their chances of being dubiously immortalized in the other group member’s fiction once they suffocate under that pile of women’s-prison escapees they are driving to California in a rented van are very, very high but … no one will do it while they are alive. We need them.

The Rich Kid: This person may not write at all. They may not even read. They are not necessarily a kid. But try and find one anyways – they’re usually good for a round or two or 4 or holy shit where’s the Designated Driver I-not-only-can’t-hold-onto-the-table-I can’t-hold-onto-the-floor. “You guys are the best writers – and the best people – ever. I really mean that.” *cries*

We’re currently taking applications. I believe that there is a special place in heaven reserved for people who will buy frustrated authors round after round of Honey Jack Daniels. Contact me via this blog if you’re A) Wealthy and B) Interested.

The Guy Who is Not Nearly as Smart/Funny/Talented as He Thinks He Is: Hey – we all have a role to play.

That’s a basic template – you may have to adjust to suit your group – and I may have missed something. Free feel to let me know.

Thanks for reading – I’ll be back when I gnaw my way through the restraints.

My name is Steve Passey and I write fiction.

Writing in the Works 2013 – Book it. Done

WITW 2013 was held at the Memorial Park library in Calgary Thursday night – and it rocked. Ken Cameron, Inge Trueman, Roberta Rees and Lori Hahnel delivered stellar readings with yours truly tagging along for the ride. The crowd was super and the wine/cupcakes an added bonus.

The “after” party was held at the Hop In Brew Pub which was – as always – excellent.