Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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A Volume of Forgotten Lore

poe cover

Yesterday, for a mere 99 cents,  I downloaded Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems, and I am excited about this. You may think that my giddiness has something to do with Poe’s work as a mystery writer. It does in part. But my first exposure to Poe was through his poetry.

When I was a child we had a set of books filled with stories and verses suitable for young readers. I remember curling up with the poetry volume and reciting the poems aloud. There were several of Poe’ s poems: Annabelle Lee, El Dorado, and The Bells. Sometimes I would wander around reciting the refrain from this last one, letting my intuition guide me in finding the rhythm: “From the BELLS, bells, BELLS, bells, BELLS, BELLS, bells…”  Sort of the thing you might expect a young child to do.

When I was a little older, my fifth grade teacher did a unit on poetry and made us each memorize and recite before the entire class a poem of our choice. I chose El Dorado. With a great deal of dramatic flourish I spouted the final stanza of the poem:

“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied-
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

To my astonishment the class applauded.  I learned that day about the emotional power of the written and articulated word.

Fast forward to junior high school: my English teacher had us analyze The Raven.   It was in that lesson where I learned to savor unusual words and seek their meanings. “Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe…”  comes to mind.  I also learned to look at the meaning behind the words of a poem. In this particular piece I learned it was not just about a talking raven; the poem was about death and love and madness. The lesson I took from The Raven taught me the necessity of reading between the lines and going deeper into a writer’s work, to not take anything on face value and move beyond superficiality.

So finding the complete works of Poe in such an accessible format brought me back to these essential childhood lessons, and I am thrilled.

So if any of my friends find me wandering about muttering about tinkling bells and the Night’s Plutonian shore, don’t go looking for a butterfly net — yet.

ljg  2013


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Mentors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone needs mentors to help them along with their vocations.  Creatives, especially writers, also need them.  Most of the time when we think of mentors we think of people in our lives who might read our drafts or act as our cheering sections.    Often, though, our mentors are people we have never met.  Often our mentors are writers we enjoy reading and whose writing  we want to emulate.   They can be writers we have known for years or some we are now encountering for the first time.

Since I was so involved with NaNoWrimo I did not have a chance to read anything for the entire month of November.   Therefore, for the last few days I have been reading little bits from several writers.    Last week on a show on the Travel Channel, I was introduced to the poetry of Robinson Jeffers. (Some of my writing buddies know which show….  :). )   I was so enamored by the poetry I heard read on the show that I went out and obtained a copy of his collected poetry from a used bookstore.    I am drawn to his ability to paint images in my mind with his words.  I decided I would study his poetry some more and see what I can learn from his style.  I am not a poet but I like to employ a poetic quality to my prose whenever possible.

Other writers and poets to whom I am drawn  include Robert Frost for his simple, straightforward elegance,   Edgar Allen Poe and J.R.R. Tolkien for their stunning imaginations, Nathaniel Hawthorne for his astute understanding of  the complexities of human nature,  and Barbara Kingsolver for weaving her social activism into her stories.   I also like a number of contemporary mystery and romance novelists who just seem to know how to spin a good tale,  — Susan Wittig Albert, Sharyn McCrumb, Nora Roberts, Diane Mott Davidson to name a few.

I have not met these individuals but I consider them all, to various extent, influential to my writing.

Who are your mentors?

ljgloyd 2012