Do You Have or Want to Be a Muse?

by Art Editor, Carl Scharwath

Muse is defined (in Greek and Roman mythology) as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who presided over the arts (and sciences.) In literary history, Ezra Pound reins supreme. As a poet he started the new poetry movements of Imagism and Vorticism. As a muse he helped to launch the careers of William Carlos Williams, T.S. Elliot, Hemingway and James Joyce. He was the editor for the T.S. Elliot masterpiece “The Wasteland” as well.

As an artist, I feel we all need someone to support us. Art can be a lonely task and having some support and recognition of all our hard work inspires us even more. Of course, your God is your number one place for help and love, however I don’t know when God could ever edit or give you feedback on your work, although I wish he could. Therefore, an engaged Muse is so very important.

If you have a Muse, then you are very lucky indeed, but if you do not there are many places to seek. Your family or friends are hopefully supportive, but if they are not artists themselves, your work and their interest in it might get lost to the busy life they lead. The best place to find your Muse is in another artist.

How do you go about finding or being a Muse? One word: !!FACEBOOK!!. I know some of you do not use Facebook and yes, the selfies, cat videos and food pictures can be fun, but this social media platform reins king for networking. I could not believe how many artists, writers and photographers there are in the world and discovering them on social media is a true blessing.

All you need to do is reach out, read their work, compliment them and share your writing. Begin to build your friend base with writers and artists. I would also look for publications and editors as well. The support you will discover is real and when you find a few loyal friends, the ideas, successes and failures can be shared.

Join just one large writer group on Facebook. Some have over 5000 members and they are a treasure trove for new connections. (You can join more if you like, however every time there is a posting you could be notified.) A great group I found is “Calls for Submissions,” which posts daily Literary Journals seeking out your work.

The best way for you to meet people locally is to leave your comfort zone and read your work at an open mic event. You can also join a local writer’s group or start your own. Contact your local high school and if you are comfortable you can offer to teach a writing class. I have done all of the above examples and have had great results.

One idea which worked the best for me was to reach out to other poets and offer to do a collaboration. The new friend wrote a poem complimenting my photography and then I would do the work to submit for publication. I have worked with over 10 poets, mostly female and from other countries (as I prefer the dynamics of a feminine view with an international perspective.)

Everyone I submitted was published and 5 of the poets had their first publication working with me. Collaborations are a great way to be a muse to each other and help a new poet to be published.

As the Art Editor for Minute Magazine, I am always happy to see your work. If you need any help, please reach out to me on Facebook and I will be most happy to be of assistance. You are never alone in your art; there is always someone who would like to help you on your journey and of course I hope you find your Muse or become one. Thank you.

Interview: In Conversation with Daginne Aignend

by Art Editor, Carl Scharwath 

Daginne Aignend is a contributor for Issue Three. 

What sparked your interest in poetry?

I always played with words—mostly little stories in my head. I started to write them down at the age of fourteen, but then suddenly it was a poem. I thought it was a creative way to ventilate my feelings.

When did you realize you were a writer?

Writing was and is for me a “fun project.” At some point, I thought it was a pity when my poems only were read by me. I wanted to share my words, so I started to write in English instead of Dutch. When a poet friend I met on Facebook encouraged me to submit my work— and it was accepted—I realized I must be a writer.

How do you begin a poem?

No rules. Sometimes a line pops up, sometimes it’s a few words, not in any particular order, and my mind starts to spin a poem.

Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?

Sure. In the beginning, I thought all poems should rhyme. When I found out that free verse existed, I could finally express myself in the way I wanted. Rhymed poetry can be a restriction but also a challenge; it isn’t so easy as it seems.

What type of poems do you find yourself writing most? Do you have a recurring theme?

Free verse and no special theme. I can write about the sweet fragrance of wildflowers and the next time about the pollution of plastic waste in the oceans.

Tell us about your process—how do you write?

Pen and paper beside my bed; if I have a strong idea, I must have the possibility to write it down immediately. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen so often because I can’t catch any sleep after these brilliant scribbles. I write on my computer with a grammar checker afterward because English isn’t my native language.

I know you are also a photographer. Can you describe how your photos compliment your poetry?

For me, it’s actually more the other way around. If I have written a poem, I see if one of my photos fits the poem. Sometimes the photo needs some photo editing. On my fun project website, I have a category called “Friends in Poetry” where I publish the poems of poet friends together with an image, which is often one of my photos.

What do you want the world to know about you?

I don’t think it is so important to share as many credits as possible, but a little about the writer or artist is appreciated by the reader. My bio tells enough in a few lines about me.

 


Daginne Aignend is a pseudonym for the Dutch writer, poetess, photographic artist Inge Wesdijk. She likes hard rock music, fantasy books, is a vegetarian who loves her animals. She’s the Poetry Editor of Whispers and has been published in many poetry journals, magazines and anthologies, in the ‘Tears’ Anthology of the NY Literary Magazine to name one. She has a fun project website www.daginne.com.

Carl Scharwath resides in Mount Dora, Florida. He has appeared globally with 100+ magazines selecting his poetry, short stories, essays or art photography. He won the National Poetry Contest award for Writers One Flight Up. His first poetry book is “Journey To Become Forgotten” (Kind of a Hurricane Press). Carl is a dedicated runner and 2nd-degree black belt.

Music Minute: December 2017

As 2017 comes to an end, the staff at Minute Magazine would like to introduce a new blog installment called “Music Minute,” where editors share their favorite music picks of the month. Below are the tracks for December 2017 – take a listen as you enjoy this holiday season.

Listen on Spotify

Some highlights from the playlist…

  1. “Champion” by Fall Out Boy // reviewed by Prose Editor Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
    Notable lyrics: “I’m just young enough to still believe / but young enough not to know what to believe in”
    Since their pre-hiatus emo days, bassist and songwriter Pete Wentz has always made sure that their songs would be poems for the troubled, and I love that most about this band. This song from their forthcoming album “Mania” just hits so close to home. With strong lyrics that scream “If I can live through this, I can do anything”, this anthem aims to inspire – and it surely does.
  2. “Mrs. Potato Head” by Melanie Martinez // reviewed by Prose Editor Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
    Notable lyrics: “Mrs. Potato Head, tell me / is it true that pain is beauty? / Does a new face come with a guarantee? / Will a pretty face make it better?”
    This song is a powerful piece that talks about the pressure to change what you look like to fit in the societal standards of beauty. As a feminist and a firm believer of body positivity, I feel strongly about Melanie Martinez’s obvious criticism of plastic surgery, the risks it entail, and the repercussions that ensue. This song is dark, raw, and bold – perfectly complemented by Melanie’s unique style and brilliant voice.
  3. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen // reviewed by Prose Editor Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
    Notable lyrics: “Is this the real life? / Is this just fantasy? / Caught in a landslide, / no escape from reality”
    Honestly, who even doesn’t know Bohemian Rhapsody? This song is literal classic: unique in its form as it doesn’t fall under a single genre, but rather weaves together different sounds into six beautiful minutes. Fans speculate on what the song truly conveys, relating it to other literary texts such as the tale of Faust and Albert Camus’ The Stranger because of the many similarities in themes and tone.
  4. “The Trio Project – Warrior” by Hiromi // reviewed by Poetry Editor Tanya Singh
    This piece is a battle cry, the roar of a thousands lions collective, the dance of penguins, the bustle of magpies living in the anticipation of a rain shower some light years away. It is a sort of transformation. Hiromi, Anthony and Simon, have blessed this piece  with the joy escaping their hands in music, reaching to us, you and me, their heart-beats synchronizing with all the notes you didn’t even know existed before. This is the kind of music that makes me feel that this is all beautiful, that the world is a possibility in the making. It transforms itself, it transforms me, we are both different people when the piece hits its last note. A part of me feels, this, now, is a healing, kind of like nan’s stories, full of magic, and all the more possible.
  5.  “Blue Drag” by Django Reinhardt // reviewed by Poetry Editor Tanya Singh
    The first time I heard this, the guitar dancing a sort of hopscotch, I thought to myself, Reinhardt must really know what he wants from his life, to make others feel that the tinge, fading light is a want, still burning, asking — you want this, don’t you?  How many lives would you be willing to live through again simply to feel, to know, that you want what you want? Want is endless, never ending, and sometimes almost bigness, self driven madness, that is both selfless and selfish. But this want feels like a soft prayer to yourself, an antidote for your fears, the guitar is reciting your name like a poem — doesn’t that feel warm? This piece is a want, a child-full desire to dream again. I listen to it often, often enough to remind myself that my dreams are colours,  these pastels rising to a birth of another possibility.

Weighing In: The Purpose of Poetry

by Devon Balwit, Poetry Editor

What is poetry for? Lately, many have weighed in on this topic in the popular press. Why do big events like natural disasters, 9/11, or Trump’s election seem to call it forth? Why do many people hate it? Why do many others continue to produce it? How should one approach it as a reader?

A recent essay in The New Yorker titled “In Defense of Poetry” by Louis Menand examines a number of claims made about poetry’s utility or lack thereof. Of interest is his summation of Ben Lerner’s “The Hatred of Poetry”: “Poems simply cannot do what people want them to do—create timeless moments, or express individual experiences with universal appeal, or create a sense of communal identity, or overturn existing social mores, or articulate ‘a measure of value beyond money.’ All they can do is expose the impossibility of achieving any of these things by writing a poem.”

I disagree that poems “can’t” do these things. They do them all the time. To write a poem is to take a moment—historical or personal—and expand it, first, through the act of writing, and then again through the act of reading.  Does the moment become “universal”? That word is perhaps too large unless you mean the space of intersection with an Other and the finding of commonalities there. The commonalities may not even lie in identity or shared life-experience, but in the power of art to produce shared emotions: nostalgia, indignation, empathy, lust, etc. They create a space apart from the world. (Perhaps this is why we shouldn’t be troubled with liking the work of a poet whose politics we disagree with. Inside their work, we can encounter them in a different space, that of our shared language, or of the creative process itself.)

Poems also frequently overturn existing social mores—perhaps not in the sense of fomenting social movements or inspiring legislation, but in that of an individual sharing information that otherwise wouldn’t be shared publicly, or sharing it in language usually deemed socially inappropriate. We see this when poets write about being victimized, about perpetrating crimes, about acts normally performed behind closed doors. By bringing these taboo events and thoughts into the open, they challenge social mores.

Similarly, too, poetry celebrates a value beyond money. Few poets earn money through publishing, teaching, lecturing, websites, or workshops. Thus, the creation of poetry is largely unpaid as is its dissemination. In fact, I’d venture that this is the source of much of the scorn leveled at those who write and read poetry. Those caught up in the production or enjoyment of capital cannot understand dedication to something that doesn’t pay homage to the currency of this realm.

Menand also paraphrases Matthew Zapruder’s essay “Why Poetry?”: “Where people who are puzzled by poetry go wrong, he thinks, is in expecting poems to say something straightforward about life, to be useful. Poems are really about language—ultimately, about the impossibility of fixed meanings.” I want to step out of this grad-school lingo. Many poems, I’d counter, are quite straightforward. They use simple language and situate themselves in recognizable and commonly-lived experiences. Sometimes, even the most successful poems emerge from the artist’s personal experience. (I think of Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones,” about explaining death and evil to a child.) Poems are evidence of the writer’s grappling with a moment. The fact of a poem is like an intimate stain on a sheet. We know sex occurred. We can imagine it. We didn’t live that encounter with the lover, but the facts of it resonate within us. And what of the “impossibility of fixed meaning”? One does find meaning in or through poems. They don’t mean anything or nothing at all. Perhaps “fixed” is the key term as each reader might enter the poem through a different line or phrase, and the same reader may enter it by a different one the next time they read it.

Perhaps those people who are puzzled by poetry are not really puzzled at all, but rather offended. They don’t want to slow down. They don’t want the apparent slightness of a poem compared to a Netflix series, a movie, or a book. They might be affronted by the gossamer lines asking for “weighty” consideration. They may resent having to work for pleasure in their leisure time.

Menand also intrigues when he notes: “One of Lerner’s chief examples of misplaced expectations for poetry is what he calls ‘nostalgia for a poetry that could supposedly reconcile the individual and the social, and so transform millions of individuals into an authentic People.’” We imagine a “back then” in which children routinely memorized and performed poems in school, or when people kept notion books of notable lines or whole poems. We imagine the pool of poems smaller and thus shared and familiar. I wonder if we are romanticizing the past. Then, as now, only a fraction of extant poems are offered for such activities, usually the most accessible, the best-known, those with the most marked rhythm for ease of memorization, those most likely to carry the audience along. The rest, certainly the most daring or experimental, or those written by “margin-dwelling” writers didn’t find themselves “reconciling individuals into a People,” at best perhaps they brought together a group of friends/compatriots around a café table, or as now, rippled outward among a “friend group” on social media.

I take issue with Zapruder’s lines: “We find genuine questions everywhere in poetry because they direct the lines away from certainty and stasis. In the best poems, often the poet does not know the answer.” A poetry critic always runs the risk of elevating personal preferences to principles. For example: “I prefer ambiguity; thus, the greater the degree of ambiguity, the better the poem.” Many poems that I love examine recognizable themes in language that invites the reader in (see, I am doing it too: elevating my preference to an aesthetic ruler). These poems take the reader to what could be called a “conclusion.” The final line “makes sense.” The poet—gasp!—perhaps even knows where they are going and how they wanted to arrive there. This doesn’t render the poem “static.” We know any given wave will advance over the shore and retreat, but never the same way. Its movement isn’t ambiguous and enigmatic, only variable.

Without being churlish, I confess that I like the final two lines of Menand’s essay best: “I understand that the reason people write poems is the reason people write. They have something to say.” This, indeed, sums up the impulse. I see, read, hear, feel something, and it sparks a desire to respond. It opens the door to the room set apart, that strange room of the mind that is bigger than the whole world, that exists outside of time, unbound by it. The saying of the thing created there is pure pleasure, independent of whether it is read, understood, appreciated, or remunerated. The act of transmuting lived experience or thought into language is all-absorbing.

I would like to end by quoting Menand: “You read this piece…maybe it will change your life. If it does, the change will be very, very tiny, but most change comes in increments. Don’t expect too much out of any one thing. For although the world is hard, words matter. Rock beats scissors. It may take a while, but paper beats rock. At least we hope so.” Our brains are restless tools. Poetry, the making and reading of it, gives this tool its perfect exposition. It is the sought-after perpetuum mobile, the inexhaustible process.

Interview: In Conversation with Amanda Sinco

Our Art Editor, Carl Scharwath, recently interviewed Amanda Sinco, a fine arts photographer from Orlando, Florida. Read the conversation below, and stay tuned until the end of the post for some gorgeous samples of Amanda’s work!

A word from Carl: I wanted to share this interview I had with Amanda Sinco. She resides in Orlando, Florida and is a friend from our previous employment. When I first started to write, she provided my bio photo and two more photos for my first published short stories. Until now, she did not know that I was inspired by her work to begin my own journey into the beautiful world of art photography. Perhaps she will inspire you as well. Please visit her website: amandasinco.com.


What first sparked your interest in photography

Amanda: I was always interested in photography. My father was a photographer, and several people in my family are photographers, and we had a dark room at home. Growing up, I was exposed to the art but was never allowed to touch my father’s camera. He thought I might break his camera and told me it wasn’t a toy to play with. At the time, I’ve always composed a photograph in my mind when I look at the scenery or just different objects. I still do that a lot to this day, except now I have a real camera that I can use to take a picture. People who know me always hear me say this would be a good angle when I’m looking at something. It’s just how my mind works naturally.

What inspires you in general? 

A: Beautiful subjects like nature and sometimes even people and everyday life; the list goes on. I think nature is so beautiful and I would like to share that beauty with the world. I think a lot of people take nature and everything around them completely for granted. I also like to take pictures of buildings once in a while.  I am constantly experimenting with different subjects but nature is my favorite subject to photograph.

Which do you do more often: get an idea in your head then set out to get it, or go out trying to get ideas and then come across something you like?

A: I think I do a little of both. I go out to an area because I know the area is beautiful and I try to pick a time that would be ideal for the photograph I am trying to take. Then things just happen and I take the picture!

When you get this idea in your head for a photo, how do go about getting that shot? 

A: I look at the scenery and just take the picture that I think would look best. Then, I pick and choose from the pictures that I took.

How do you know when you get “the shot”? 

A: You just know when you take the photograph.

What type of camera and equipment do you use? How do you get such vibrant colors in your photos? 

A: I shoot with a Nikon D800 and use my 16-35mm wide-angle lens a lot.  I also have 18- 300mm zoom for close ups. I am not too fond of my tripod but I bring it with me in case I need it. On one occasion, I had to take over 200 exposures just to be able to capture lightning in the distance by propping my camera up with a windowsill. This was when I realized that the tripod is very important. For my photographs, I see the vibrant colors in my mind, so I make sure to make my photographs as vibrant as the way I see it. Then I enhance the photos through post-editing.

Any advice for first-time photographers? 

A: Experiment, experiment, experiment! I still experiment to this day and will never stop. Take the picture the way you want to take it, not because someone told you that this is the only way. I don’t believe in conforming to the standards of this or that. The only standard you should conform to should be the one you feel is best for you and your taste. There are several photography classes out there that one can certainly learn from; I would use that as a starting point. Art, after all, is anything you want it to be. As the saying goes: beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.


Samples of Amanda’s photography:

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To see more of Amanda’s work, visit her website amandasinco.com.            

Minute: Pursuit of Happiness & Writing Till the Last Breath

by Kinzey McHale, Prose Editor

I’ve been asked one question too many times over my short life: what do you think you’ll do in life?

To be truthful, I have no set plan for my life. My main goal is to earn my GED and then focus on developing myself. Learning what makes me happy. As of now, that is all my plan contains. No college ideas, no career ideas, no detailed life plan, no rush. I’m living as I go, and learning as I experience new things. I’ve had tremendous pressure on me, from my mom primarily, to excel in school and begin college this fall. My “plan” was just to follow her plan. Unfortunately, that plan fell through in late May of this year. My mom passed away from a heart attack.

Everything happened so quickly. After going to the hospital and saying goodbye to her still body, my little brother and I moved in with our older brother. It all went down over the course of a few hours, from the first signs of her heart attack to seeing her in the hospital. It was immediate and startling having to live with someone we haven’t lived with in years, as well as his girlfriend of two years. I hadn’t known her very well, but I knew my brother and I knew that whoever he chose to live with was a good person. So, we accepted the move to his townhouse in Laurel, Maryland.

It’s been almost two months since my younger brother and I were completely uprooted from our lives in Stevensville, Maryland. We’ve both adjusted fairly well, and are closer than ever before with our older brother and his girlfriend. I’ve gotten closer with her and consider her family, call her my “second sister.” My older brother, who is in his mid-twenties, has shown me business tricks and helped me further my interests. Recently, my laptop broke and he let me use the desktop for a while, until I started to want to write when he was working on it. My “second sister” offered her old laptop, the laptop on which I’m currently writing this piece. That kind gesture has allowed me to continue an incredibly therapeutic hobby.

My mom taught me how to write when I was six years old, citing it a necessary skill in life. Although I knew how to write, I didn’t know how to actually create art. I’ve helped co-workers design event posters, edit short stories, and assist with speeches. The ability to bind letters at a moment’s notice has strengthened numerous work relationships, attracting attention to me and my skill set. Above all the other things she showed me, she taught me how to weave life with words.

My love for reading and writing was nurtured from age six, continuing well into my teens. That’s one reason I’ve been accepted as Minute’s new Prose Editor! I always hoped that having an insatiable appetite for writing would bring me amazing opportunities like this. My hope is to eventually be a fully-employed writer for a magazine publication, whether it be a tiny advice column or a travel spread. Somewhere I can spread what I’ve learned to others, offer a place people can go to for fresh thoughts. I’ll work as hard as I can for a career in which writing is necessary, no matter how much it takes from me.

As long as I have a pen and paper—or in most cases, a laptop—I’ll be writing until my last breath.

Photoem: The Crux of Poetry and Photography

by Carl Scharwath, Art Editor

Is the photograph dependent upon the poem or is the poem dependent upon the photograph?

I love poetry and I love photography, but in my opinion, I find combinations of the two to be difficult to master. One or the other might have to be sacrificed to “fit creatively” with the other.

To borrow from  Frederick Sommer: “If we can feel that whatever finally happens was not done at the expense of the thing photographed, we are okay. But many things, not only in the arts, not only in photography, but in many walks of life, get us rudely tangled with the awareness that one thing has been done at the expense of another. Something was  skinned to the bone; something was absconded with.”

Why not think in terms of their working together, harmony, counterpoint, tension, and of course dialogue? Should we look for the poetry in the photograph or the words giving light to the moment in time captured by the camera? In my work the image is the birth of my idea followed by fragments of poetry to complete the reflection of thought. I have also worked in collaborations with another poet, where the photograph was presented to her and she created the poem to compliment. This adds a new dynamic of two artists attempting to enter the psyche of the others art.

As your new art editor, perhaps you will be inspired to attempt this. I would love to see your work published!

First blog post: the story behind Minute Magazine

by Cindy Song, Editor-in-Chief

It was a Saturday morning and I was taking a walk around the pond near my house. And as it often is when I’m in nature, I became hyper-aware of everything around me: the gravel on the path below me, the sound of rustling grass, the dark and light faces of the clouds. And I thought, dang–wouldn’t it be so nice if someone could capture all this in words? Paint a picture with blocks and lines? And that is how Minute Magazine was born.

I started Minute because I want people to experience things they’ve experienced before but with fresher, newer eyes. I want them to appreciate the world and all its beauty, which lurks in even the slivers of life (hence the title Minute Magazine). There’s something beautiful in a poem / photo / description that captures a simple object, say, a glass of milk on the dining table, in just the right way, the right angle. Everything deserves appreciation, even the tissue-stuffed trash can sitting in the corner of your room. Even the coin sized dent resting between your second and third knuckles.

I’ve realized that starting a lit mag (and just starting in general) is more challenging than I thought. You have to set up the website, customize it, create pages and links, create social media accounts, inform friends and family, posting calls for submissions, hiring staff, etc. But I find the whole endeavor really fun and exciting — I got my first submission a few hours ago and I was ecstatic like…is this really happening?

There’s still a lot left to tidy up but I hope submissions start to roll in! The goal is to publish the first issue late summer 🙂

That’s it for now. I will post more with updates, so keep a look out for those. I’ll also probably start a blog series where I post about current events, pop culture, controversial issues, etc.

Submit here | Email us