Tag Archives: Diane Attwell Palfrey

After the Grinning

by Diane Attwell Palfrey

photo by luigi diamanti | freedigitalphotos.net

photo by luigi diamanti | freedigitalphotos.net

Cheshire Cat dissipates,
stripes drift from wonderland
as though he was never there,
never part of Tulgey Woods
where eyes hang at night
like miniature moon drops.

Providing paw prints
and parentage,
he changes his name
to Boris W. Pinkerton,
the ‘W’ impressive or so he thinks,
a delicious male title after years
of explanation on gender identification
and riddles surrounding
his pink princess palette.

He’s on a health kick, too.
Bounces on a Bosu.
Claims to tail curl 50 pound
weights when Zumba class
seems more credible
since he likes to get jiggy,
even joined a seniors’ dating site
to wink or grin at mollies
regardless of their status.

And travel plans are underway.
Sicily, Tuscany. Vineyards purrrrfect
for golden afternoons where a fat
indulgent tom might listen to Pavarotti
instead of tone deaf roses,
or court Italians with alluring accents,
all bellissimo – retire in a place
where catnip is lower class,
lapping wine shows proper pedigree
and flowers don’t need paint.


Diane Attwell Palfrey is a poet and prose writer and a long-time member of the Cambridge Writers Collective. Her poetry has been published by the Waterloo-Wellington CAA, Serengeti Press, Craigleigh Press, Hammered Out, The Ontario Poetry Society, Cruickston Charitable Research Reserve/RARE, Calvary Assembly, & several editions of Ascent Aspirations Anthologies. Diane was also the 1st place winner in the 2009 and 2010 Cambridge Festival of the Arts – Poetry Contests.

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Summer Hiatus

by Diane Attwell Palfrey

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


As the summer approaches and we shift into a hiatus from the Cambridge Arts Centre – it becomes increasingly more difficult for me to push myself to write. Instead of regular meetings motivating me, or nature being the catalyst for fodder, I find myself completely distracted by the great outdoors. There is so much to do, smell, see and consume.

Also, work never slows down during the summer months. If we’re lucky, we might squeeze in a few days away, but it’s always a last minute plan. So as I try and find summer in every single moment – writing is pushed to the back burner.

If only I was disciplined enough to write down my thoughts and ideas as they pop into my head. Often I’m not home when absolute brilliance strikes (no exaggerating here (lol)) and usually there is no pen and paper handy. Refusing to give in to texting, I will never send myself memory joggers via cell phone. It’s my emergency only tool and most of the time it’s never turned on.

Every summer, I tell myself that I’ll make a concerted effort to write pieces worthy of “poet laureate” status. (Insert delusions here) But every year I am reminded that my summer commitment holds up as well as most of my New Year’s resolutions. So this year I’m giving myself total permission to take the summer off. All that creativity can store in my memory somewhere and if I’m lucky enough to remember it the next time I feel inspired – then so be it! If not, then I’ve removed a sometimes unattainable goal that I set for myself. NO MORE GUILT! And I’ll enjoy a summer of hiking, BBQ’s, family and friends and possibly some time away. I’ll breathe in the scent of backyard laundry blowing in August winds. I’ll smile at the ice cream truck rolling down the street with that familiar ring and sounds of children running after it. When I sit in the park listening to local artists fill the air with various kinds of musicality, I’ll be mindful that I am totally in the moment and that possibly these cherished memories were never meant to make it to the printed word. Maybe they are simply meant to be momentary pleasures and my neglect of my craft is just another part of my summer break.

Permission given – to write – or not to write! There is no right answer. It’s all a gift!

To all members of the CWC – I wish you all a glorious summer filled with exciting adventures.


Diane Attwell Palfrey is a poet and prose writer and a long-time member of the Cambridge Writers Collective. Her poetry has been published by the Waterloo-Wellington CAA, Serengeti Press, Craigleigh Press, Hammered Out, The Ontario Poetry Society, Cruickston Charitable Research Reserve/RARE, Calvary Assembly, & several editions of Ascent Aspirations Anthologies. Diane was also the 1st place winner in the 2009 and 2010 Cambridge Festival of the Arts – Poetry Contests.

Member News

Image by digitalart; FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Four members of the CWC will be published in Ascent Aspirations’ latest anthology As One Cradles Pain: An Anthology on Issues Exploring Disorders.


Poetry Prizes
“The Great Illusion” by S. J. White received Ascent Aspirations Second Prize for Poetry.

Contributors
April Bulmer – “Ward Paint”, “Perennials”, “Petting the Black Dog”
Barbara Lefcourt – “Good Housekeeping”
Diane Attwell Palfrey – “Birthing the Hexenhammer”, “Teratoma”
S. J. White – “The Great Illusion” (2nd Prize), “Mr. Whittaker”

Congratulations to all!

The Spelling & Grammar Police

by Diane Attwell Palfrey

In today’s world of social networking, it would appear that proper grammar and correct spelling have flown out the window. This fast-paced lifestyle, and perhaps the speed of delivery, is what causes all the errors in many blogs, texts, tweets and/or other forms of media. Many people don’t bother to correct their errors. Or perhaps they don’t realize they have made an error in the first place.

Although more prevalent today, the need for good editing has always existed. Last week I was reading a newspaper article from July 28th, 1932. It depicted all the details of my great uncle’s fiftieth anniversary party. In those days, it was important to note who poured tea, who wore what, and how the tables were decorated. I was only one sentence into the piece when I read the text: “Firty years ago, Mr. Carey, then a youg man of 29 summers. . . “. This was published in a major newspaper. So maybe times haven’t changed too much after all.

When I went to elementary school, (and I’m not saying when) teachers watched for every mistake in word usage. Spelling was paramount, and just as important as good grammar. There was no such thing as “creative spelling”. We had spelling bees, and when we handed in work, it would come back heavily red-inked if not perfectly executed. Every comma and period had to be in its proper place. Sentence structure was clear and concise and heaven forbid any dangling participles.

By the time my own children started school, curriculums had changed
drastically. The teaching of phonics was no longer encouraged. It was a sad day for me. I had become obsessed with language over the years. I had come full circle and now I was the spelling and grammar police. When my children brought home journal entries from the teacher, I would red circle her errors before I sent my response back. I did that several times with one teacher until she started sending error-free notes.

I’m a firm believer in reading the written word a few times before you publish anything. Make sure that there are no spelling errors (conveniently now called typos). Write in clear sentences and use punctuation. Sentences that go on and on and on. . . are really annoying. I am too lazy to decide where someone wants the emphasis or decipher what they are really trying to say. Some people don’t seem to notice that there is a difference between using they’re and their. And for others, misnomers are commonplace.

Yes, I began that last sentence with “and”. It is now acceptable to start a sentence with conjunctions. Did I make unintentional errors in this article? Some are positioned, but maybe some are not. You decide. Become the spelling and grammar police especially for your own work!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Diane was born in Toronto and has lived in Cambridge for the past twenty-two years. She is a poet and prose writer. Diane is a member of the Cambridge Writers Collective and has poetry published by the Waterloo-Wellington CAA, Serengeti Press, Craigleigh Press, Hammered Out, The Ontario Poetry Society, Cruickston Charitable Research Reserve/RARE, & Ascent Aspirations Magazine. Diane is also the first place winner of the Cambridge Arts Festival Poetry Contest for 2009 and 2010.

Breaking Through That Dreaded BLOCK

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since no one person has all the answers, we’ve starting gathering around-the-table tips from members on subjects that affect us all. What follows is some of what came out of our discussion on writer’s block.

Lee Anne Johnston:
I journal every day. In my formal writing, I write in the first person so the characters seem to develop themselves and tell their own story. I also am a very slow writer. I write historical mysteries and I just love learning the gritty details about the past that will make my story come to life.

Barb Day:
There you are writing away, the words flowing from you, gushing out, you can’t get your thoughts down on paper fast enough. Your mind is working faster than your pen. And then it happens – you hit a brick wall, your mind closes (more like slams shut.) Your pen comes to a screeching halt. For me- it’s always two reasons – I’m tired of sitting in the same spot for hours or I’m not knowledgeable about the topic I’m writing about. I get up, get a coffee, take a break and come back refreshed and ready to do research. The joys of Google and from the research, ideas pop into my head like crazy just from reading what someone else has written even though it’s dry, boring facts. And then I’m back at it – full speed ahead, refreshed and armed with new knowledge.

Barbara Lefcourt:
The key for me when I want very much to write but cannot get thoughts to flow IS TO NOT SIT AT MY DESK. Rather, I turn my attention to some of the mindless household chores that always get delayed being done: dusting, vacuuming, cleaning floors, hand laundry, etc. etc. etc. It also sometimes help to put favourite instrumental music ( no vocals) on my stereo. That often sets the stage for the magical flow of poetic expression. And it’s good to have paper and pencil handy around the house so I can easily pause to jot down ideas, expressions, particular words that must be captured before they fly from my head.

Marcie Schwindt:

  • I try to write something everyday to keep the muse happy and coming back.
  • I read from something published every day. There’s always something to be learned from someone else’s successes.
  • I critique at least one unpublished work every week. Figuring out on my own what does and doesn’t work for me, and why, is more helpful to me than anything I’ve learned second-hand (through a course, instructional book, etc.).
  • I plot out my stories, then don’t write them sequentially. If I’m blocked on something, I write around it. Once I have the thing surrounded, it usually surrenders.
  • I stop writing mid-sentence or mid-scene. That way I don’t really have to face a blank page the next day. I already know how that sentence or scene should end.

Diane Attwell Palfrey:

  • I get a lot of inspiration from news stories or articles I read via different search engines. I like to research a topic and then write about it. So when the idea train has left the tracks – I head for the PC. I like to write about people and relationships, the human condition etc. News is full of items that can be turned into poetry.
  • I also get ideas from Facebook. I’ll read my homepage and that will inspire me. Sometimes I can’t quite believe the kind of things that people blog on a public forum. But then I think – well – it’s giving me a subject to write about.
  • Sometimes I ply myself with chocolate and listen to music. It soothes and helps the ideas flow.
  • Most of my writing is done after midnight. That’s when the house is quiet, the phone has stopped ringing and there are no more e-mails to deal with.
  • I’m not above asking others for ideas. I’ll often ask someone to give me an idea. I’ll just say, “hey, I need to write a poem – do you have an idea for me – tell me a story and I’ll turn it into a poem for you”. My mother is a great source for that.

Have you ever suffered from Writer’s Block? How did you overcome it?

Get Fuelled by a Workshop!!!!!!!!!

by Diane Attwell Palfrey

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Due to many circumstances this year, it has been very difficult for me to find time to write.  During those periods of wilderness, I feel like something is missing.  Words are pent up inside until I feel like I’ll explode.  But often the busyness of life prevents me from getting those words to paper.  If the sabbatical goes on too long, I feel stuck – my illusive muse is nowhere to be found.

A great way to break out of writers block and time constraints is to have some wilderness busters scheduled.  That way, it’s in your calendar and will get some attention.  One of mine favourite things to do is attend a workshop or a retreat.  There is nothing like a well-presented and interactive workshop to awaken creativity.  The quest for knowledge, information, or just being in the know has always been important to me.  So when a special invitation came my way, I couldn’t pass it up.  A select group of writers/professional communicators & bloggers were asked to participate in a trial run of “Timesketch” A Memoir Development Program.  This comprehensive program was created and facilitated by businessman and aboriginal rights advocate Peter Smith and cohosted by Crista Renner, Director of Communications, Juice Inc.

We only received enough prior information to pique our interest.  So when arriving at the Holiday Inn in Guelph, none of us had any idea how the day would develop.  Tables were covered in notebooks, coloured markers, crayons, cans of playdough and multi-coloured stress balls.  I knew right then that this was going to be a fun-filled day.

It had never occurred to me to write my memoirs.  Who would be interested in reading the foibles and drudgery of my journey?  But after hearing the numerous stories people shared throughout the day, I realized that everyone has something to say – something of interest – funny anecdotes or snippets of inspiration garnered by life experience. Black sheep people (and we all know who we/they are) may have more to say then others and it could be a lot juicier and a very interesting read.  If nothing else, it is a wonderful legacy to leave behind for families.  Consider examining where you’ve been and gather your timesketches.  Capture wonderful family stories and put them on paper before the older generation is no longer here to share it with.  In my spare time (not sure when that is anymore), I ask my mother about family history, attitudes and beliefs etc.  I have learned so much about my family that I never knew.  If you have the questions, someone has the answers or at least some of the answers.  And if no one ever reads your memoirs, it is still a great writing exercise.


Diane was born in Toronto and has lived in Cambridge for the past twenty-two years. She is a poet and prose writer. Diane is a member of the Cambridge Writers Collective and has poetry published by the Waterloo-Wellington CAA, Serengeti Press, Craigleigh Press, Hammered Out, The Ontario Poetry Society, Cruickston Charitable Research Reserve/RARE, & Ascent Aspirations Magazine. Diane is also the first place winner of the Cambridge Arts Festival Poetry Contest for 2009 and 2010.

It’s All About the Art!

by Diane Attwell Palfrey

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A couple of years ago, I was approached by an Oakville artist who wanted me to write her “artist statement”. Most of my recent work was dabbling in poetry and I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge. The right message was so important to the artist and after some consideration, I agreed to write the text for a specific piece of art that was featured in the exhibition.

I spent a few hours researching “the artist statement”. Ideas on how to write an artist statement are as diverse as writing bios. Everyone has an opinion of content, length and what is considered appropriate. But after several e-mail messages, a few phone calls, several pictures of the work in progress and the finished piece – I was able to construct the first draft.

This artist is known for her work with the model – sculpting and painting the nude. Her work is organic, raw and primal. It was paramount that the statement conveyed her truths, but that the piece be open to interpretation by the viewer. I also had to ensure that I wasn’t putting my spin into the verbiage. I kept reminding myself that my ideas about the huge canvas covered with entwined bodies – were merely my ideas and I didn’t want my thoughts to impact the reader. It was a difficult task with such a beautifully haunting piece of work. During our conversations, I found that the artist’s beliefs and visions for her work are very similar to my ideas about poetry. I like my work to convey who I am, but at the same time I like some ambiguity so the reader can walk away with their own viewpoint.

The final statement was several paragraphs and captured the essence of the
artist and her work – with just enough evasiveness to leave the audience
creating their own opinions. I feel about art the way I feel about poetry. And the late Gilda Radnor summoned it up beautifully in her quote “I always wanted a happy ending… Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”

Note* As payment for my services, the artist let me select a piece of work from one of her collections. It is now proudly displayed in my home. As writers, we have numerous opportunities to use our craft. Sometimes all we need to do is just meander outside of the box.


Diane was born in Toronto and has lived in Cambridge for the past twenty-two
years. She is a poet and prose writer. Diane is a member of the Cambridge
Writers Collective and has poetry published by the Waterloo-Wellington CAA,
Serengeti Press, Craigleigh Press, Hammered Out, The Ontario Poetry Society,
Cruickston Charitable Research Reserve/RARE, & Ascent Aspirations Magazine. Diane is also the first place winner of the Cambridge Arts Festival Poetry Contest for 2009 and 2010.