Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Olympics: Music & Poetry

Music and poetry in the Olympics?

It seems there has been a war waging for some time between music and sports. (Yes, my ex husband was a coach and I am a musician, lol). But, seriously, most high school band students at most small schools can tell you how hard it is to get to practice their show on the football field. I remember us "sharing" it with the football team... a few times. Footballs sailed in the air along with our music, threatening to strike us down. Drum majorette and coach whistles competed there also. But I think "we musicians" won this round-- which came first, music or sports in ancient Olympic history? 

The games began as a religious event to honor the Greek gods. Music was the only event as of old in the Pythian Games, which honored Apollo, god of the arts. Sporting events were added in 586 BC. The Olympic games began later in 776 BC. Music was a feature at all Greek games, but was not part of the Olympic games, except for the Olympics Trumpeters and heralds. Because the Greeks thought that music improved the coordination of the movements music, it was played during the long jump. "Musical Contests" were held to honor the muses, and goddesses of music, literature and drama. These contests were independent or athletic events and just as important. The rest of the following chart may be found here.

of old
singing + flute
586 BC
playing the flute
586 BC
playing the kithara
586 BC

776 BC
586 BC            

The Pythian games and Olympic games took place every four years-- Olympic in the first and Pythian in the third. The term ‘olympiad’ was used to describe the time from one game to the next (there were no calendars then). Even after athletic events were added to the Pythian games, the musical events remained the most important, coming first in the 5-day long festivities. The first day was for religious ceremonies (sacrifice, reenactment of the struggle between Apollo and Python, procession). A banquet was held on the second day. Musicals Contests were on the third day, althetic contests on the fourth day, and horse races were on the last day. Prizes were a laurel crown, but later apples were given. 

In the third year of the 48th olympiad (586 BC), the Amphiktyony continued to award prizes for kithara-singers and added a contest for singing accompanied by flute and for playing flute. For the first time, they also awarded prizes to athletes. The events were the same as those at Olympia, with the exception of the four-horse chariot. The long distance race and the sprint was added, also.At the second Pythian games (582 BC) they did not invite them to compete for prizes anymore, but from then on they made the games crown-games. They event of singing accompanied by flute was deleted. At the eighth Pythian games (558 BC) an extra contest for the kitharists (instrumental only) was added. 

In the Hellenistic period writing poetry and prose was an Olympic event, along with competitions for tragic and comic actors. The Pythian games was best known for musical contests. There were three musical contests at Delphi in the classical period: playing the kithara, the combination of kithara and singing, and playing the aulosThe kithara was a type of lyre, with vertical strings of equal length. The aulos was a wind instrument, ancestor to the oboe. Two auloi were typically played by a musician at the same time. Both the kithara and the auloi could both accompany soloists as well as choirs, but the event of singing accompanied by an aulos was abolished soon after it was begun.  The contest of singing a hymn for their god  was the first singing event which offered a prize. 

According to Tony Perrottet, author of The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Ancient Games athletes would hire the best poets to write odes to victory. Greek poets would showcase their newest works in front of such an enthusiastic, educated crowd.Centuries later in 1896 Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the games, and in 1912 at the Stockholm Games he was successful in adding music, painting, architecture and poetry (lyric and epic). His very lackluster poem "Ode to Sport">won the gold medal!Because of the lack of quality and translation problems,poetry was dropped after the 1948 London Games.To see a chart of the music and sports event by year, please see "Ancient Games."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mississippi on the Move in Poetry!

Did you know?
  • Mississippi is the home of the US Poet Laureate AND the Poetry Out Loud National Champion!
  • Mississippi has two nonprofit organizations that sponsor poetry events? The Mississippi Poetry Society (MPS) and the Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG)
  • Contests are offered twice a year by MPS
  • Workshops are offered at least once a year by MWG
To find out more, please see "Mississippi is Making Waves with Poetry"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mississippi Writers Guild 6th Annual Conference 2012

The Mississippi Writers 6th Annual Conference was outstanding! Organizer Richelle Putnam did a great job (as usual) of getting wonderful speakers. Friday night began with a reception followed by Keynote Speaker C. Hope Clark, author and manager of FundsForWriters.com chosen for 101 Best Websites for Writers. Her newsletters aid writers in finding grants, contests, markets and publishers for their work, and Hope's newsletters reach 42,000 readers. Literary Artists Onstage followed. Many members of MWG read selections from their books and poetry. I read "User and Spouse," "Living in the Rhythm," "All We Like Sheep," (a triolet), and "A Cup of Humanity." I was pleased to receive compliments, especially from award winning playwright and poet Evan Guilford-Blake. It was funny to find out that he has a dog named "Winnie" pronounced like my name!
I'm standing here as Robert Ray announces me as 2nd VP for MWG while he is naming Board Members.
Saturday started with Keynote Speaker Mandi Stanley, Public Speaker and Presentation Consultant. She is the only Mississippian certified as a Speaking Professional!  We learned from her that Public Speaking is now number 1 in the Top 10 Things People Fear. She stressed that people believe your body language over what you say. For example, if you tell someone to touch their chin while you are touching your cheek they will touch their cheek. Author of The No-Panic Plan for Presenters: An A-to-Z Checklist for Speaking Confidently, she gave us an example of Chapter F--Forget Fidgeting. She showed us different ways speakers hold their hands, what it portrays, and how it distracts listeners. Mandi also told us how to use strategies to market yourself as a speaker: 1. Network, 2. Social Media, 3. Publicity, and 4. Showcase--Give 2 free speech per month every single month. The best marketing strategy, however, is still word of mouth.

A list of the workshops that followed may be found here.  Presenters were Kathryn Lay, Mandi Stanley, C. Hope Clark, Rochelle Melander, Evan Guilford-Black, Julie Cantrell. See my other posts for highlights from Chuck Galey's Children's Picture Book Workshop, Kathryn Lay's Children Book Rewriting session and her Short Fiction/Non Fiction for Magazines session.

After the 2 sessions, lunch and the remaining 2 sessions Ralph Gordon, a Past President, was recognized for his many years of service to the MWG.

A member from the groups's inception, he recieved a plaque from current President Robert Ray. Next was a performance by our own 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Champion Kristen Dupard. We are so proud that she is from our state!

To conclude the conference, we had the Panel Discussion.

MWG President Robert Ray with panel: Evan Guilford-Black, Mandi Stanley, Rochelle Melander, Julie Cantrell, C. Hope Clark, Chuck Galey and Kathryn Lay.

Short Fiction/Non Fiction for Magazines~Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay had excellent suggestions for writing articles for magazines. Here are some that I hope to use.

Research a magazine. Make lists of what types of articles they print and note their Submission Guidelines! When you write your Query Letter you can write that you enjoy reading their magazine and mention one article in particular. They want to know that you are familiar with them and that your article is going to fit their publication and readership!

Set Personal Goals. Get a calendar and write goals on it. By Aug. 8 I will send a query about ____ to ____ magazine. It saves time if you query BEFORE you write the article!

Expert File. Make a file of people who are experts in certain areas. If you need their expert advice you will have their phone number and other contact info available.

Informational Articles such as health and safety require statistics/information from national organizations such as Red Cross. Also, professionals listed on profnet.com are willing to be interviewed by journalists. You will have more response from them if you already have a specific publication in mind. They do this in exchange for having their names mentioned in the article!

Keep a journal. You can write Personal Experience Stories from memories and your journal entries! Go somewhere you've been before and listen to conversations to find out what people are interested in. This might lead to a List article such as "10 Ways to Save Money." Make lists of things you like, don't like, are afraid of, upset you or intrigue you, ways to do things.

Interview people and write it. Spend a day or afternoon with someone with an interesting job, a talented artist, a social advocate, a crafter, a local hero. Ask what is the strangest, funniest or most embarrassing thing that ever happened to them.

How To Articles--Write what you know. Are you a scuba diver/mother/teacher? Write about that. Do you want to learn how to scuba dive?

Take a class and write a How To about your experience. This could also be a Humorous Article.

Travel Article. Visit a new place or restaurant.

Query Letters. Follow Submission Guidelines (found in the front material of a magazine usually, or online). Know how many words they accept, their readership, the slant, and the type of articles they print. Sell your idea, not you. Do not talk on and on about yourself. Do not say I have never been published before. Tell them how your article will fit in their magazine. Tell them if you have a photo to go with the article and how many words you plan to write. Also let them know if you have quotes of expert advice from such and such person or organization that will be included in the article (if it's on health or safety). Be sure to include all your contact info. One Christian editor told me she likes the info after the closing, but Kathryn says she has hers at the top, so I guess with her 2000 publications you can't go wrong with that either.

Response. You will normally have a faster response with a query than other types of submissions such as to literary journals. "Speculation" means they want to see it, and they may even give you editorial advice. "Hold it" means they want to save it for later, you should say yes, but give them a time limit.

For a lot more great advice see Kathryn Lay's articles in Writing for DOLLARS!

Children's Picture Book Workshop with Chuck Galey

Chuck Galey
I didn't realize Jackson, MS has such a talented artist/writer--Chuck Galey-- until I met him at the Mississippi Writers Guild Conference! He has illustrated award-winning books including Jazz Cats and My Brother Dan's Delicious. I am so glad I attended his session "Writing/Illustrating Your Picture Book." I am interested in doing a poetry picture book. He said this would be about 14 stanzas. Picture books are usually 500-1000 words. Goodnight Moon is 125 and Where the Wild Things Grow is 363. To get ideas, look at other children picture books. For example, if you don't know how to draw a dog look at other books about dogs. Look to see what is "out there" today.

He showed us the steps in the entire creative process. The Beginning is the intro to the character and identification of what he wants (problem). The Middle is the journey. There should be some difficulty for the character in obtaining his objective. Then the End is self explanatory. Draw a rough draft of what happens in the story for each section (3 squares total).

Chuck gave us a Picture Book Thumbnail Template. On this sheet of paper there is a square for each page (44 for a 32 p. book):
Cover, Inside Front Cover, Front End Paper, Front End Paper, Half Title Page, Full Title Page (Db. pg. spread) Front matter Pages 1-32. Back End Paper (2pages) Back Inside Cover (2pages). On these pages draw your draft pics. Put the Intro on pp. 1-5. The Middle should go from about p.6-p.25. Resolution from p. 30-32.

1. Make thumbnails, 10 for 1 spread. He usually does this quickly, a minute for each. Remember the gutter where the pages meet, also show where words will go.
2. Add detail.
3. Value study (black and white.
4. Color Study-choose colors and add.
8. Water color and detail for final illustration.

The pics should be sequential and have similar color scheme. Zoom in, bird's eye view and bottom view should be included.

Make a Book Dummy
Cut 8 sheets in half. Stack them and fold them in half. Staple in the middle. This is the way to see if the pics are sequential and make sense with the pagination. Use about 6 dummies per book to achieve the desired flow. It takes about 360 hours (6-9 months) to finish a book.

See highlights from "Rewriting Your Children's Book" from a session by Kathryn Lay, award winning author of 20 children's books..

Rewriting Your Children's Book

Kathryn Lay is an author of 20 children's books including the award winning "Crown Me!" She has also published over 2000 articles and stories in various publications including magazines, Guideposts and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Here are some highlights from one of her sessions, "Rewriting Your Children's Book--The Heart of Writing," which she presented at the 2012 Mississippi Writers Guild Conference in Jackson, MS this weekend.

After you have written the first draft of your book print it and set it aside for awhile, weeks or even months. It's important to do this so you can look at it with a fresh perspective. Read completely through it without stopping. But do make editorial notes on the paper as you go. Reprint the manuscript with corrections. Some authors print each draft on different colored paper so they can keep up with which is which. Also, it's a good idea to change the margins and maybe the font, too, to fit the way it will look in the book. See if a change of viewpoint or tense would make the story work better. Record it while you read sections out loud. Listen or play it for a critique group. Make sure you cut out parts that are repetitive, unclear, or cliched. Cut out parts that are not important, even if it's your favorite part. As a poet I know how hard that is! Make it tight. Remember that children have short attention spans. Use criticism wisely..you don't have to use every suggestion. Revise, take a break, then go back and see which version is better.

Common Problems
Being too nice to your character. Be willing to be mean to them or you may have a boring story. Don't make unlikable characters totally unlikable. Give them some small redeeming quality. Also, don't dwell on one bad characteristic the entire story.
Pacing. Flashbacks or a long inner dialogue may slow the pace down too much if you are in the middle of action.Conversely, if the pace is too fast you can add more description and dwell more on the character and the conflict that is central to the story.
Lack of Depth may occur in a plot driven story. Develop the character to the point that we know he/she/it has a life and feelings beyond the present situation in the story.
Pin Down Scenes--let us know where each character is and what they are doing. Make sure you know the purpose and emotional feeling of each scene and where it is heading.
Keep in Mind 2 questions: How does the main character change? What do you want the reader to get from the story..what is the point of it? You have to see the big picture.

For more great suggestions see the list of Kathryn Lay's Articles in Writing for DOLLARS!

About Me

My photo
Wynne Huddleston is a poet, musician and teacher. Her first book of poetry, From the Depths of Red Bluff, ISBN: 978-0-9840483-2-8, published by the Mississippi Poetry Society, Inc., is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Ms. Huddleston is the Mississippi Poetry Society 2014 Poet of the Year. Her poetry has been published in numerous publications including the Birmingham Arts Journal, Camroc Press Review, Stymie Magazine, Danse Macabre, Orange Room Review, New Fairy Tales Anthology, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and Four and Twenty. Her poem, Same Stars, Different Houses received a Pushcart Nomination from Deep South Magazine. Awards include the 2013 MPS Award, and Winner of the Grandmother Earth National Contest 2010 for Environmental Poetry. Ms. Huddleston was born in Lone Star, Texas, but has lived in Mississippi most of her life. She has been an elementary music teacher for 25 years, and has 2 grown sons, and 2 grandchildren. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984048324/