Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grasping What We Hold...and Why

INTROSPECTION enables us to:

Gather all the ideals, practices, and feelings we hold on to;

Reevaluate why we hold onto each one;

Own only those that enrich our souls, our communities, and our
world by evoking our passion, faith, or love;

Walk away from ideals, practices, and feelings which we hold not
out of passion, faith, or love, but merely out of habit.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Inspired by Awe for Another's Words

I have recently started reading the works of Pema Chodron, a wise Buddhist teacher , and found poetic inspiration in a parable she wrote, titled "How To Defeat Fear." My poem, launched by Pema's wisdom, appears below:

Fighting Fear

By Susan L. Lipson

inspired by Pema Chodron’s parable “How To Defeat Fear”)

Preparing for battle,
She bowed to her opponent,
Avoiding his gaze.
He only nodded,
His eyes burning holes in her armor,
His stature seemed to dwarf her.

As she took deep breaths to prepare for her first strike,
He interrupted her: “Before you strike, are you sure you’re ready?
Is your armor thick enough? Are your weapons sharp enough?
Are you strong enough to defeat me?”

Stammering, “Yes!”, she raised her weapon,
Hastily sharpened it on the rough, gleaming rock of courage,
And flashed the point before him.
He laughed, “Try to destroy me! You’ll only miss your mark!”
She clenched her teeth and shut her eyes
As she thrust the spear forward,
Enabling him to block and deflect her strike with ease.

“Please,” she pleaded, “may I try again?”
He thanked her for asking, smirked, and nodded.

She examined her weapon,
Now damaged by his block,
And looked for the rock on which to re-sharpen it,
But the rock seemed to have disappeared,
And all she could hear was him chanting under his breath:
“Surrender…just give up…surrender…just give up…”

She cried, “Why should I?!”
To which he replied snidely, “Because I said so."
She hissed, “But why should I listen to you?!”
He raised one eyebrow…
And before he could retort, she met his gaze.
And he shrank before her.
So she could answer the question for herself.

The battle ended.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I just read a New York Times article that made my day, not only as a writer of fiction, but as a teacher of writing techniques. Apparently, figurative language stimulates the brain itself, as well as the senses of the reader. Words nourish brain function--that's why they call them "food for thought"! Check out this article (link below) and post your comments, please! Don't just write words; convey images, from brain to brain. This is what I always tell my students, and it supports my teaching method, the D.A.D. and M.O.M. Techniques for memorable writing!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Irony in Frost's poems--inspired by anonymous comment on last post

I appreciated Anonymous's comment on my last post about the irony of Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." I LOVE Frost's poems and his tone. In fact, one of his poems, "Mending Wall," inspired one of my own ironic poems, a sonnet called "Neighborly Love," which has been published a few times, and will also appear in my new YA novel, now in submission. Thank you, Robert Frost, my muse!

Irony is one of the most effective tools for social commentary, and why is that? Emily Dickinson could answer that: "Too bright for our infirm delight, the Truth's superb surprise." So could Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men": "You can't handle the Truth!" Comedians make some of the most insightful political commentary via sarcastic jokes. The bottom line is "Success in Circuit lies" (Emily Dickinson again). Ironic humor takes the painful part of a Truth and mitigates it with a smirk, to make it palatable and indelible.

For my anonymous commentator I will now share my "Neighborly Love" poem below. And I think I'll start posting a series of ironic poetry over the next few posts--thanks for the inspiration, Anonymous!

Neighborly Love
by Susan L. Lipson

In ancient days, no doors were ever locked,
And silversmiths had not invented keys;
If Man had visitors, they never knocked,
For loving neighbors made him feel at ease.
And then one day, Man found his home was robbed;
Some thief had emptied all his walls and floors.
When neighbors heard, the silversmiths were mobbed;
The whole town asked for locks to bar their doors.
They left for church each Sunday with their keys,
To listen to the teachings of their Lord,
And "Love thy neighbor" had been one of these--
They'd seen it in their bibles, locked and stored.
Now when a neighbor visits Man he knocks,
For what makes loving neighbors but good locks?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why We Get in Trouble Sometimes Via Text Messages and Emails

The absence of tone in today's rushed forms of communication is where the trouble lies. Tone is as important as words themselves when it comes to clear communication. The problem with texting and emailing quick notes is that tone is often left up to inserted smiley faces or punctuation (often misused), which hasty readers may overlook or misread, resulting in misunderstandings galore! What we can’t hear, even if only in our heads, often hurts us in terms of understanding the intentions of someone’s words. Thinking about the many “insert-cursor-in-mouth” moments I’ve encountered or heard about from others, I decided to post the following poem to illustrate how specific words are the key to understanding the tone behind the message.

Aah, It’s All in the Tone
by Susan L. Lipson

Slurping hot chicken soup on a cold day, or…
Spilling hot soup on my lap;

Pulling a muscle, or…
Having that sore muscle massaged;

Feeling inspiration strike for a new story, or…
Typing “The End” after the rush of inspiration wanes;

Basking under a hot shower after a week of camping in the wilderness, or…
Discovering that the water heater broke while you were camping—no hot water!

Enjoying a gorgeous view a forest, or…
Watching, horrified, as fire consumes the forest.

Swaying in a hammock between fragrant pines, or…
Falling out of the hammock onto the hard ground.

It takes more than sound to hear tone.

Writers: To meet our goal of affecting and connecting with readers via memorable words, we must not leave tone to the white space between the lines; we must create tone via imagery.