Dec 2, 2023

Guest Post by poet Fran Abrams: Arranging Words: Dec. 3

 Guest post arranged by Poetic Book Tours


Thanks to Fran Abrams for sharing her background and how and when she began to write poetry. Her poems, Arranging Words, was published by Quillkeepers Press in October 2023. 

Excerpt from a few of Fran Abrams' clever and witty poems with their word play:
 

 from "All Ears"  

 She had a reputation
 for being a good listener. 
 What her friends 
 didn’t know is that she had

ears all over her head.,,,


from "Arranging Words" 

Tell me you find solace

when you slip into a poem, find joy

 as you button a poem around you.

 

Author Post:

I began writing poetry in 2017 at the age of 73. Before that, I earned an undergraduate degree in art and architecture and a master’s degree in urban planning. After graduate school, I worked for ten years for the Montgomery County, Maryland, government in jobs related to my formal education. After rising to the position of department head, subject to appointment and dismissal by the County Executive, I left when a new Executive was elected who wanted to place his own appointee in the position. That experience played into my first book of poetry titled I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir, although at the time, it never occurred to me I would be writing poetry later in life. 

I spent the next 31 years working in nonprofit organizations, the last 10 years at the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, as Director of Grants responsible for making roughly $4 million in grants each year. Some of those grantees were poets. I still had no thoughts of writing poetry myself. 

Through those 41 years, I wrote reams of legislation, zoning regulations, grant guidelines, memos, and reports. I love writing and enjoy getting words on paper that were valuable to the mission of the organizations for which I worked. If readers understood what I was trying to say or, in some cases, were persuaded by what I was writing, I considered it a success. 

After I retired in 2010, I wanted a change of focus and worked as a visual artist, pursuing an earlier part of my education. I joined a cooperative, nonprofit gallery in Washington, D.C., and, in part because of my more than 30 years’ experience in managing nonprofits, became president of the organization. 

One day, a large chunk of the plaster ceiling in our gallery fell to the floor. We already realized the building was old and we might need to move, but this was a sign we could not ignore. As president, I appointed a committee to search for new space. We found it in a building under construction in a livelier part of town where new apartments were being built all around. The only catch—the landlord issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find the best creative tenants. I wrote the 25-page response to the RFP on behalf of the gallery. And we “won” the space. 

That was the volta, the change that made me realize I missed writing. But I didn’t want to keep writing in the vein that business demands. No more memos, reports, or responses to RFPs. What form of writing, I wondered, would be different, but still satisfying. I thought it might be poetry. Happily, the gallery rented its space to earn additional income and a poetry reading was scheduled in our new space soon after we moved in. I assigned myself to be the onsite staff member that evening and, when the reading was over, I knew I wanted to try writing poetry. 

Not too far from where I live is a nonprofit, a grantee from my earlier life, called The Writer’s Center, that offered numerous classes on a wide variety of writing forms. I began taking poetry writing classes there and, over time, I took every class they offered about the craft of poetry. My instructors said I had a knack for it. I wrote. I revised. I submitted. And my work began to be published. 

Reflecting on my life growing up in the 1950s, I decided to write a memoir in poems that became the book titled I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir. Around the time it was published, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court and the struggle for the rights of women again came to the forefront. The book is timely as it talks about my life in the context of all that occurred during the second wave of feminism.

Since then, I’ve written two chapbooks that have been published by two different small publishers—The Poet Who Loves Pythagoras from Finishing Line Press, and this book, Arranging Words, from Quillkeepers Press. 

So how did my early interests and college studies influence the direction I took in writing poetry? As the Bard wrote, “What’s past is prologue.” All of my past interests and experiences are brought into play when I write poetry. My poems are in narrative form that tell stories. For example, I have always enjoyed math. It has a sense of certainty that few things in life do. So, when I wrote a few poems on math topics, including one about Pythagoras, an instructor encouraged me to expand the topic into a book. 

Arranging Words grew out of my desire to make letters, words, and idioms relatable and meaningful while recognizing that the English language is a slippery beast, and sometimes it’s hard to say what we mean. From my perspective, one of the ways to reveal the trickiness of words is to use humor. Many of the poems in Arranging Words are intended to be funny. Feel free to laugh. 

And that’s the bottom line. After being on this earth for almost 80 years, having experiences both good and bad, I like to write poetry that I hope makes readers think about life from an uncommon perspective, and, at times, laugh.  


About the Author:

Fran Abrams lives in Rockville, MD. Her poems have been published in literary magazines online and in print and appear in more than a dozen anthologies. In July 2022, the title poem of this book, “Arranging Words,” was a finalist in the 2022 Prime Number Magazine Award for Poetry. Her two previous books are: I Rode the Second Wave: A Feminist Memoir (2022) and The Poet Who Loves Pythagoras (2023). Learn more at www.franabramspoetry.com and Connect on Facebook at Fran Abrams, Poet

Available on Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble.

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso, It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the Shelves.


18 comments:

  1. Interesting bio. I am one of the many non-poetry readers that everyone is always trying to reform, but it doesn't work.
    best, mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a poetry writer/dabbler myself, I'm scandalized! Try writing a few words down when you are trying to sleep and can't or when you wake up too early to get up and can't get your mind to calm down.

      Delete
  2. I am with Mae, I am not a huge poetry reader, but always think I will change that...but haven't yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you will find the right poet that will pique your interest. Modern day poet, Mary Oliver, is quite popular.

      Delete
  3. I love poetry! Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, T.S. Eliot are my favorites! Thanks for sharing. I am not however a math person so I am intrigued at the math poetry idea.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am so happy to be back with you after being blocked for so many months. I wonder why Norton's thought you and I needed be blocked as a dangerous place. Ha!

    Have a lovely month! Cheers! My Sunday Salon post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a puzzle, Anne. Glad we are both back online and unblocked, thanks to you.

      Delete
  5. Thank you for sharing Fran's poetry and her guest post.

    ReplyDelete
  6. All the best stories, whether they be in books or movies or just told person to person in real life, are all poetry, I believe. I am an avid poetry reader. I believe firmly that someone with Fran's life experiences is a person who is equipped to write poetry. Thanks for sharing this poet and her book with us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great cover! Poetry is nice to read from time to time.

    https://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2023/12/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-and.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. What an interesting bio and I love her poetry. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Poetry is a constant art form across the ages. I admire writers who find it to be their outlet.
    Mary @Bookfan

    ReplyDelete
  10. I won a poetry award in 3rd grade but am not a reader of poetry. Kinda like SciFi. I just can't. lol

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love poetry, but have a hard time with modern English poetry, that really doesn't sound like poetry to me, for the most part. My favorite poet is Pablo Neruda. I also have favorite French poets, but they are not well known in the English world

    ReplyDelete
  12. The Author Post adds interest to this work. I enjoy poetry and this sounds like it would be a good read. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your comments and thoughts...

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month: Four Novels

For  Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month   (May),  I'm posting my book reviews by several Asian American novelists. The f...