Thursday, September 22, 2022

Poetry Might Feed The Soul, But…



In February I finally reached 60. As with most milestones when reached, it feels surreal. I totally understand the notion of the mind of an 18-year old trapped in the body of a grandparent. Perhaps the mind of an 18-year old who’s had the benefit of 40+ years of life lessons is a kind of ideal state. I’ve never been entirely grounded, and so far have been sustained by decent genes and a lifestyle devoid of most excesses, save Stewarts ice cream. Time has begun to catch up with me around the edges. Every year brings one or two more pills to add to my morning and evening rituals, meds as well as supplements. I am beginning to accumulate the kind of equipment at home that previously I only encountered at my annual physical. And the Poet’s Life does nothing to improve my situation.

I once took a memoir writing workshop with a very well known author whom I will not name, having been confronted in the past by another writer who apparently spent a great deal of time googling himself and took sharp exception to my portrayal of his negative attitude in a poem. It seems that success does little to improve some moods. This workshop leader spent most of the class reading from her own how-to guide to memoir (which I’d read myself to prepare), but when pressed to respond to work at hand offered laser-sharp feedback. When the discussion of finding time to write came up, she remarked rather matter-of-factly that writers weren’t noted for their good health, suggesting that writing time should be prioritized over gym time.

Never a big fan of gyms, considering them a necessary evil during our time on Spaceship Earth, I certainly didn’t need any encouragement to avoid them altogether. In fact recently I’ve consciously committed more time to a morning walk, letting the fantasy of regular writing time before I go to work go. The work I do these days is very sedentary, unavoidably so. I grasp at time I spend walking from my car to the building, the building to the dining hall, to try to convince myself I’ve moved out of my chair a little. The morning walk helps a great deal with so much, and I look forward to longer walks in the winter, when I move to working from home again.

If I’ve got something to write, I will always fine the time to write it. A few weeks ago a dedicated several hours a day to deep rewrites of poems, until car troubles distracted me from that mission. My Beloved has several meetings a month pertaining to various organizations, and this gets me off the couch and upstairs to at least edit and send poems out. I have evenings and weekends as I like. However, spending time with others, especially my Beloved, is most often a priority above all. My words may or may not outlive me, impact another generation, become part of the history of this place and time we’re all passing thru. However, love is what will survive, nameless or clearly identified. My body is the current vehicle, and love is what drives the engine of our lives.

Thursday, August 11, 2022


RANDOM WRITING: For New & Used Poets


Coming to Century House Historical Society, Rosendale, NY

Saturday, September 17, 2022

10:00 am to 12 Noon

$50 Per Person, Proceeds to Benefit CHHS


RANDOM WRITING is a four-element workshop:


-Word Play

-Text Play

-Peer Response

Whether you’ve been writing your whole life, or would like to dip your toes into the poetic pool for the very first time, there is something for everyone. Sessions are styled around free verse and the rhythms of the human voice


For Information & To Register, email Rice at:

Space is Limited!!


Monday, June 20, 2022

Workshopping Again: New Venue, New Approach


It’s been some time since I’ve facilitated one of my RANDOM WRITING workshops. Even pre-Pandemic, I struggled to find a venue and to frame the perimeters of a series. After having coffee with Will Nixon about six months ago, I realized that Lissa Kiernan and I had been batting this idea around for a couple years, and that I should just go ahead and formally propose it to her, to be held at the Poetry Barn in Hurley.

In this age of transformation in Ulster County, the Poetry Barn is one of those nice additions that does much to enhance the artistic landscape. Poetry in particular has always been the red-headed stepchild of the arts, and to have a permanent facility devoted to its promotion, via workshops, book signings, and a lending library, is a fortunate occurrence indeed. Readings wander from home to home, at the mercy of capitalist whims and needs. A series will go on for a year or two, then suddenly cease when the gallery or bar closes, or when the demands of a so-called public space become too much for a moderator to bear.

The Poetry Barn has proven itself for almost six years now, and I am happy to report that I will be instigating a four-part workshop series there in July. I say “instigate” because I don’t really believe the writing of poetry can be taught. Examples of forms can be offered, triggers for memory or emotion can be displayed, but I believe that anyone in attendance already has an innate sense of what poetry is to them, and where they want to go with their work. I enjoy this group format because it’s more efficient than sending work out to various publishers and receiving little to no feedback, even if poems are accepted for inclusion.

I believe above all else that poems are a form of communication, be they literal, abstract, or tethered to a rigid form. Words are for relating ideas or emotions to other humans. If the message isn’t getting across, wouldn’t you want to know before years pass? I’ve certainly come across many poets who, instead of striving for clarity, defend the words they’ve chosen. Often these arguments go on for longer than the poem in question! If your goal is mere entertainment, smokes and mirrors without substance, have at it. I think words deserve better.

Of course, for me sincerity carries a lot of weight in a poem. The more one writes, the clearer one’s ideas will usually become. If you begin by discarding cliches, avoid regurgitating notions you’ve seen in the Hallmark card aisle, that’s as solid a start as one can hope for. And if you never show anyone your poems, I think it’s a terrible shame. But it is your choice. I understand fear of criticism, or worse, no reaction at all. But poems live their fullest lives out in the open. We live our best life as poets when we put the words out for others to consider.

Poetry has made my life delicious. It’s a portable art that requires no more of an investment than paper and pen. And I do insist on handheld writing instruments for first drafts. In this age of computer word programs, a pen will slow one down just enough to see what comes next. Paper is no commitment, by any means. Rewriting is common, and I even go back to my first drafts if I feel the third or fourth version is falling a little flat. There I’ll find a few of the original sparks that drove me to write in the first place.

My RANDOM WRITING  workshop series at the Poetry Barn is on July 7,14, 21 & 28, from 6:30- 8:30pm. Tuition is $150 for all four sessions, and there may even still be a scholarship spot available. For more information, please go to for more information.

 See you there?