alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


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Poetic Interlude (AKA, Wheee! Words)

Early this morning, author Marly Youmans invited the world to take part in a word-doodling in the form of a beau présent, a poem that contains only the letters in the recipient’s name, but using one’s own name.

I’ve been spending a lot of time doing serious, logical, ferrety work with a novel outline and I couldn’t resist the invitation to play with words in a whole different way.  My name gives me a lot of vowels to wrangle, but once I started making word lists, I felt rather fond of the words I contain.

A Singing
Alisa Alering beau présent

In rag lane,
grain is grail
sail is sea

In rag lane,
I glean–
gill, gale, lens & rain
I learn–
rage, sin, rail, & gain

In rag lane,
I ran–
A girl, a sage, a sag-song gal
A leg, a leer, a rage-real nail

Learners reel,
Rings align–
Release gale!

In sea, a song.
In song, a sail.

In rage lane,
In sere rain,
I reign.


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Blackout Poem: The Lost City

I love the idea that stories can be found lurking in unexpected places (like they’re just hanging out, nonchalantly whistling to themselves, thinking they’re getting away with it.)

Even more, I love exercises and prompts that trick me into writing. Combine the two with the formula Newspaper + Marker = Poetry and you get a blackout poem.

Poem-hunting (imagine me in a pith helmet, carrying a Sharpie-tipped spear) was supposed to be my reward for writing a first draft of a new story on Friday, but I didn’t get to it until today, sitting at the kitchen counter keeping an eye on a pot of boiling chick peas. There are worse ways to begin a new year than with the excavation of a previously undiscovered poem.

My poem was unearthed from the bottom half of page A18 of The New York Times, Friday, December 28, 2012.

New York Times, Dec. 28, 2012

The Lost City

In a city of missed connections, consider the map:
Lines stop and hop hopelessly out of view.
Clocks steal a weekday morning,
then back up the staircase to a different city.
Without music worth following, a language comes
Like two animals slinking up the steps, doubled by the wind.

To uncover your own hidden story you will need:

–1 copy of the New York Times or other pre-printed reading material
–1 fat black marker
–1 cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or other warming beverage of your choice

If you find one, send me a link in the comments, please!


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Bad Blogger

What can I say? I took one little holiday excursion to Kentucky and got all relaxed. When I came back, real life was waiting for me in some of its more irritating costumes. It’s been hard to get back here.

I meant to do a Short Story post on Monday; I actually did read a book of short stories over the weekend, Danit Brown’s Ask For a Convertible. I was reading it because Brown is going to be teaching at the IUWC this summer. I was just sort of going to browse it, and do my duty, and take it back to the library. But I ended up reading the whole thing. Mostly because it was funny right away. I like funny. I kept reading because the grandmother was crazy, because Osnat was whiny and liked to make out with Sanjay in the C corridor, because she had to get advice on how to tuck her jeans into her slouchy socks just so. (I remember this; I used to wear two pairs of socks just so I could have the maximum coordination with my two-color eyeshadow and humongous dangling earrings.) I did get tired of Osnat’s whining and indecisiveness by the time she was grown up and I was 3/4 of the way through the book, but by then I wasn’t allowed to quit (tyranny of personal reading rules.)

They’ve put up some performances from last year’s IUWC on the main page. I’m including here a clip of Ross Gay reading. I had maybe the teensiet little writer-crush on him. He’s all young and charming and doing his good-looking best to completely rehabilitate the modern poet’s loathsome image. Watch him read ‘Bringing the Shovel Down’ (at about 9:50) and tell me your heart’s not in your throat.

Follow that with a chaser of Donald Antrim, reading from his (unpublished) novel, and you will snort milk out your nose laughing. Even if you’re not drinking milk. I swear.