Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Praise of the Rictameter

In Praise of the Rictameter

This form,
Is it crazy to write
Such poems, to count out two, four, six,
Eight, ten syllables, back again, no rhyme?
But try it! Experiment, say
Many things, few words; great
Thoughts or small fit
This form.

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Review of Elder Expectations!

Thanks to Pat of Pat's Place for a fine review of my little book of poems, Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters. You may read it at http://atpatsplace.blogspot.com/2008/07/interesting-book.html.

Pat ends the review with a rictameter of her own:

"Thanks, Marlys, for encouraging me to self-publish a book of my own stories, and also for the gift of your rictameter poetry! Here is my own poem:

"Thank you,
Marlys, for the
gift of your poetry
that you have shared with us via
your lovely rictameters in your book,
Elder Expectations, and your
blog, where I first saw them,
then tried my own.
Thank you!

"They are tricky, but they are fun to work with!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A "Who, Me?" Moment and a Challenge

When I encountered an email message bright and early this morning with the subject line "Invitation to Speak," I at first thought I'd strayed into my spam folder with its odd collection of financial offers from Nigerian noblemen, etc. Then I recognized the name of the sender, and my curiousity was aroused.

It seems that the Illinois Woman's Press Association, an organization of which I am a member, wants me to speak at its Fall Kickoff Breakfast on the topic "Blogging: The Magic and the Mystery." Actually, I'm to be part of a two-person panel with a moderator. My initial reaction was "Who, Me?" I'm hardly known as a speaker on any topic; I don't think I've made a speech since my Wright College commencement address in 1996. As I recall, speech was the only college course in which I earned a C. My recent years of relative elderly isolation aren't likely to have improved my speaking ability. The IWPA speakers are usually big-name female reporters from the Chicago media, publishers, or journalism professors, not obscure elderbloggers.

My second reaction was, "I can't do that." However, it only took me a few minutes to decide to accept the challenge. After all, I believe in the magic of blogging, and I realize that the whole idea is still a mystery to many, including many in my own generation. Here is my chance to spread the word. I have about two months to overcome my shyness and decide what I'll say. I'll try to remain positive and look upon this as an opportunity. Opportunities are rare for those of us past 70, and I'm flattered. After all, the title of my other blog is "Never too Late!"

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More on Recording Life Stories

Thanks to Linda Austin (http://moonbridgeblog.blogspot.com/) for reminding me of the obvious: instead of using outdated audio casettes, a more modern way of recording seniors' life stories would be to shoot videos. Ideally, this would be done by getting the subject to talk about his/her life, perhaps surrounded by family members. It would be great to both see and hear the storytellers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Share Life Stories and Memories Without Writing?

Much as I hate to admit it, I realize that there are people out there who are not willing or able to write their life stories. In many cases, they're just afraid to try, but some have physical disabilities that make writing difficult or impossible. It's only fair to note that there is an alternative: just talk and record the stories of your life.

One company devoted to helping you do this has been around for a while, and I've had no experience with it or its products. However, you might want to check out American Storykeepers.

This is outdated technology (aren't cassette players rare these days?) but the idea of speaking your memories rather than writing them, and the possibility of helping friends or relatives do this, appeals to me. Any simple recording device will do.

I hope that the art of life writing never dies; everyone should leave his or her story. However, if you love to talk but hate to write, or can't, consider recording your experiences, your memories, and those stories you like to tell. Consider helping others do the same.

An update, 8/11/08: Apparently bowing to changes in technology, the American Storykeepers site has been discontinued. The basic idea, translated to video, is still a good one.

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Finally: A Review of my poetry book, "Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters"!

I guess I'm impatient, but soon after my plea for reviewers (see below), I discovered a new review by Judith Helburn for Story Circle Book Reviews: http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org/reviews/expectations.shtml. It's good!

Of course I still want more reviews, but let me quote a few lines from Helburn's:

"Her [Styne's] message is that anyone can write 'to discover, heal, reinvent, share and enjoy,' and that the topics one writes about need not be full of drama, unusual or life-changing."

"It would be fun to use Elder Expectations in a writing group experimenting with poetry."

Thank you, Judith. And if you lead a writing group, consider Ms. Helburn's advice.

Please Review My Book!

How about writing a review of my latest book, Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters, and posting it on your blog and on Amazon.com? It seems that the world is not quite ready for poetry, especially rictameters, which few have heard of, by unknown elders.

This book can be read in a very short time; it's only 56 pages long. If any blogger out there is willing to write a review, I'll send you a review copy. You just provide your "snail mail" address. If the review is negative, just send it to me without posting it. I really would like your opinion.

I don't claim that this is great poetry, and I don't expect to make a fortune (it only sells for $9.95, and not much of that goes to the author). My purpose is to encourage my peers to try writing poems, whether rictameters or not.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Time's Tyranny: A Rictameter

Time's Tyranny

Time Flies:
An old cliche,
Yet oh, how true these days
When doing much or nothing or
Just thinking makes these elder days rush on.
In joy or boredom or despair,
We cling to our routines,
Still hurry as
Time flies.

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interesting Things from Other Blogs

1. Barbara Davis, of "The Serenity Room," has posted "Why Do I Blog?" If you've been considering blogging, you'll find some good reasons to do so here:


2. Sharon Lippincott, of "The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing," offers an interesting writing challenge for International Happiness Day (it was July 10). Give it a try.


3. Check out and comment on a new blog by an 83-year-old who lives in Arizona. It's "Darlene's Hodgepodge."


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wayne's Latest Poem

Inspired by my latest eGenerations column, "Give Poetry a Chance: Write It, Read It" http://egenerations.com/article-1472-6-give-poetry-a-chance-write-it-read-it, Wayne contributed another poem in the comment section. Here it is (with slight editing). It's not really a rictameter, but so what? See how much fun poetry can be?

A Rhyming Rictameter about a Rictameter, by Wayne Winters

A Rictameter
Unlike a barometer
Tells the scientific operator
Where he is in life
And not where he is in space
And what his chances are
Of returning to earth
And again doing
A Rictameter.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another Press Release: "Elder Expectations"

Just a week after the PRWEb release for Seniorwriting came out, there is now one for Elder Expectations as well. Why? This is my experiment in do-it-yourself press release writing. Since little books of poetry, especially senior poetry, don't have much sales potential, what do I have to lose? As usual, I'm having fun trying to write different things.

I'm relatively satisfied with my release, but I realize it could be better. I guess I'm following my own suggestion: just write. I'm glad I don't have to try to make a living at it, however. I'm hoping I'll be discovered eventually.

Here is the release. If anyone happens to read this book, please write a review on Amazon.com and your blog.

Power of Poems Defies Age Limits: An Experiment in Senior Poetry

Poetry provides an enjoyable path to creativity, self-knowledge, and self-expression for everyone, especially senior citizens. If these poems just make you ponder, wonder, think or dream, consider your own life or write a story, draw or paint the truth, learn who you are, these poems inspire great things. Discover the joys of rictameters, and of poetry in general, in Chicago writer Marlys Marshall Styne's new, small collection, Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters (ISBN 9781435717718, Lulu Publishing 2008).

Chicago (PRWEB) July 9, 2008 -- The new, short poems in Marlys Marshall Styne's Elder Expectation: My Life in Rictameters feature many realities and concerns of elder life. Seven sections include "On Aging," "Writing and Reading," "Months and Weeks," "Weather and the Seasons," "Duties and Routines," "Activities and Pastimes," and "Observations and Reflections." These poems may inspire you to try writing your own. The form can be addictive!

The rictameter is a relatively new poetic form, somewhat similar to haiku. It contains nine unrhymed lines, with 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 syllables, and the first and last lines must be identical. Ms. Styne explains that as she wrote these poems, at first as a way to cope with the dreary month of March, 2008, they began to tell the story of her life as a seventy-five-year-old retiree and widow.

As she has in her earlier books, Styne promotes writing of all kinds for seniors who want or need to share their experience and wisdom. Writing can lead to self-discovery, healing, reinvention, and enjoyment, and Elder Expectations adds another option, poetry, with many inspiring examples. It provides a quick, easy read to return to again and again.

About the Author:

Marlys Marshall Styne, who earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota, taught composition and literature at Wilbur Wright College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, for forty years before retiring in 1999. When her husband died shortly after her retirement, she lifted herself out of depression by rediscovering the power of writing. Her first book was Reinventing Myself: Memoirs of a Retired Professor (Infinity Publishing 2006); her second was Seniorwriting: A Brief Guide for Seniors Who Want to Write (Infinity Publishing 2007). Both books received first place awards in their respective categories in the 2007 and 2008 Illinois Woman's Press Association Mate E. Palmer Communications Contests. Styne also writes two blogs, "Never Too Late!" and "Write Your Life!" and a column about writing for the eGenerations web site.

Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters (ISBN 9781435717718, Lulu Publishing 2008) can be purchased through Lulu.com and online book stores. Review copies are available from the author.

Contact Information: MARLYS MARSHALL STYNE

Link to this PRWeb release:

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What Bothers You? Write About It

Without being tagged, I've discovered another meme, thanks to Grandad at http://www.headrambles.com/. It's the "Getting your Goat" meme.

The idea is to list two things that irritate you for a reason (and list the reasons) and two irrational annoyances that you can't quite explain. Why not try it yourself? Here is my list:

Things that Irritate me for a Reason:

1. Buildings with long flights of stairs and no elevators or escalators.

Anyone else with bad knees and/or other walking difficulties will appreciate this one. "Handicapped Access" is improving here in Chicago and in the US in general, but 'taint so in many foreign countries. I've probably missed a lot of interesting things by remaining on the first floor.

2. Forwarded e-mails, especially "jokes" and religious musings.

I usually don't think the jokes are funny, and while I respect everyone's religion or lack thereof, you can't convert me to anything.

Irrational Annoyances:

1. TV "teaser" ads.

These are the frequently repeated ads toting coming news bits or features. The idea is to get me so interested that I'll avoid switching channels, but I just get impatient. If it sounds interesting, I may not wait, and if it doesn't, I'm gone.

2. Cell Phones.

They're everywhere (but I don't even know where mine is). I know your life may revolve around or depend on your cell phone, but is it really necessary to walk down the street clutching it to your ear? And don't you know that driving while talking on a hand-held phone is illegal in Chicago, not to mention dangerous?

See the original at http://www.skillett.com/index.php/557/getting-your-goat-meme

Monday, July 7, 2008

A New Elder Poem

You read about Wayne here on June 25. Here is his latest poem, an almost-rictameter:

ELDERVERSITY, by Wayne Winters


Wayne lives in Washington state and is a member of eGenerations (http://www.egenerations.com/). Thanks for sharing, Wayne.

Friday, July 4, 2008

More Senior Poems: A Book Review

I've recently added another relatively unknown book to my Amazon.com Listmania list "Poems for and by Seniors Citizens." It's Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. (Lulu, 2008).

While it wouldn't be classified as great literature, this book illustrates my point that seniors should consider expressing their lives and their thoughts in poetic form. This book provides an interesting tour through the author's mind.

In categories including "Rhyming Poems and Storoems (Story Poems)," "Two Limericks," "Acrostic Poems," and "Free Verse Poems," Gilleland writes on many subjects serious and humorous.

"Women Just Don't Get It!" ends with these lines: "Most women simply fail to understand how deep / a man's passion runs. They just don't get it at all. / If they had any inkling, then they wouldn't keep / saying, 'Why get so excited? It's only football.'"

Senior experiences are reflected: "I stand looking wistfully / back at them, my yesterdays . . . / knowing now my yesterdays outnumber my tomorrows." In "What War Is," Gilleland sees war as "Mankind's brutality unleashed," "Failure of reason," "An abomination for all mankind," although he admits that war is sometimes unavoidable.

The final poem, "Ghetto Dweller," is written in the voice of a young man who experienced typical ghetto life: gangs, drugs, prison. "I wasn't 'fraid of nothing or nobody. / And nobody talked down to me." The young man's fate was to be gunned down in the street at age twenty-two. "What you gonna do? / 'Aint no way to break the ghetto cycle. / Just 'aint no way." Gilleland's observations about life in this and most of his other poems ring true.

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just Released: Press Release for "Seniorwriting"

As you writers out there probably know, one way to market a book is to use a PRWeb Press Release (http://www.prweb.com/) . It's not free, but it's a good way to get the word out. You may write your own review, but I did not. As I did with Reinventing Myself, I ordered this one from http://www.readerviews.com/, which also reviewed the book.

I realize that my books will not be best sellers, but I hope they will be helpful--and interesting--to my fellow seniors.

Here is the press release. I like it.

Retirement is Perfect Time to Write and Reinvent Oneself

Writing brings clarification, joy, fond memories, and a new perspective on life. Learn these lessons and more in retirement--the perfect time to embark on an adventure by exploring the joy of writing. Begin the journey, with a few helpful hints from Marlys Marshall Styne's "Seniorwriting."

Chicago, IL (PRWEB) July 2, 2008 -- Have you always wanted to write a novel or memoir but kept putting it off because there just wasn't time? Retirement is the time to start. Don't let another day pass making up excuses. Grab the perfect starter's guide, Marlys Marshall Styne's "Seniorwriting: A Brief Guide for Seniors Who Want to Write" (ISBN 0741442965, Infinity Publishing 2007).

Many seniors do not plan for retirement. Others find it lacks the enjoyment they anticipated. When Styne lost her husband soon after she retired, she began writing to overcome the loneliness, depression, and self-doubt she faced. She soon found meaning in her life and that joy could be experienced again. Her discoveries from writing led to the publication of her first book "Reinventing Myself: Memoirs of a Retired Professor" and then her desire to help other seniors "reinvent" themselves, discover the joys and benefits of writing and pass their stories along to their families. "Seniorwriting" is the fruition of that desire.

"Seniorwriting" speaks in non-technical terms and provides guidelines to transform memories into written words, whether on paper or the computer. Rather than rules or formulas, it presents suggestions and choices to encourage confidence and creativity.The book is compact, user-friendly, and divided into three sections. Styne begins by answering the question, "Why Write?" with such reasons as discovery, healing, rejuvenation and enjoyment. She provides suggestions for getting started, and asks the reader questions to stimulate writing topics.
Ten examples are provided in the second section on how to recreate experiences and memories as written words. Journal assignments encourage observation, family stories, imagination, and recording of favorite memories. The third section helps aspiring writers transform their words from a rough draft to an organized, revised, edited and proofread final manuscript. The section includes detailed suggestions for publishing as well.

Styne wants readers to learn what she has learned--that writing provides new perspectives, clarification, and a sense of life's meaning. "Seniorwriting" is inspiring and beneficial to anyone who wants to write, but the senior will find it especially helpful for personal concerns and leaving behind a written memorial for future generations. As Styne reminds us on her website with a favorite George Eliot quote, "It is never too late to be who you might have been."

"Seniorwriting" won first place in the Nonfiction: Instructional category of the Illinois Woman's Press Association's Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest in 2008.

About the Author

Marlys Marshall Styne taught composition, British and American Literature for forty years and was department chair of English at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago before retiring in 1999. When she lost her husband shortly after she retired, Styne lifted herself out of depression by using writing to affirm the meaning of her life. Her first book "Reinventing Myself" made her realize the importance of writing for seniors, which in turn encouraged her to write her new book "Seniorwriting." She recently published a small book of poetry, "Elder Expectations: My Life in Rictameters" (Lulu 2008). Styne also writes two blogs, "Never too Late!" and "Write your Life!" and a column about writing for the eGenerations web site.

"Seniorwriting: A Brief Guide for Seniors Who Want to Write" (ISBN 0741442965, Infinity Publishing 2007) can be purchased through online bookstores. For more information, visit http://www.seniorwriter.blogspot.com/. Publicity contact: http://www.readerviews.com/. Review copies available upon request.

Contact Information :

IRENE WATSON, ReaderViews: 512.288.8555

Marlys Marshall Styne

To read the release on line:

To read a review:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More Good Writing News from eGenerations

I was elated to learn that one of my fellow columnists (there are four of us at eGenerations) is collaborating with another member to collaborate on writing a series of journal entries featuring senior characters. Their "Uncle Charlie" stories are a joy to read. Thanks, Ginny and Charles.

I've also noticed several members trying their hands at writing poetry. Since I love writing rictameters myself, I'm happy to see those poems (none of them, by the way, rictameters). My next column (not published yet) is on senior poetry, which I consider a great way to express interesting ideas in brief and fascinating ways.

Try writing some poetry yourself. The object is not great art, but, as with most of the writing I discuss here, self-expression--and enjoyment.