Tag Archives: poetry

Seventh Publication in The Copperfield Review

Courtesy of The Copperfield Review, http://thecopperfieldreview.com. The Copperfield Review publishes historical short fiction and poetry.

The Copperfield Review published my poem, From Red Loam, in its Summer 2013 edition.

The poem is the intro for the story collection Red Loam, which is connected to Sons of the Edisto. It is the third publication from the Red Loam collection, and my seventh creative publication.

To read From Red Loam,
visit: http://copperfieldreview.com/?p=1807.

I dedicated this piece in memory of Becky Swindell in my bio. She was my Dad’s cousin, who helped me in understanding history in Bamberg, South Carolina.

Thank you to readers. Thank you to supporters. I appreciate all your support!

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Pave Your Road Using Less Words

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

I read advice about editing.

The Daily Post on WordPress presented a writing challenge to bloggers: Papa Says Get Economical. Ingredients you need:

  • Paragraph from a previous blog
  • Keyboard
  • Backspace key

Remember cut and let go.

The Daily Post encourages bloggers to edit a post and use less words. No matter how long you’ve been blogging, it is good thinking to get to the meat of your words.

I’ve been blogging for more than a year.  I have written good posts and posts that are not as strong. My goal is to write like yourself with improvements.

I think of my work as a road full of construction workers and vehicles. One week they’re finished, and the next week they need to bring out a cement truck.

Take the Daily Post’s advice to your creative work. What can you cut out? What must you leave in?

Based on authors who inspire me, I write more words sometimes, or leave out more than I should at other times. I am editing a Young Adult book, Sons of the Edisto; putting together a Middle Grades story collection, Adventures of Elliot McSwean; and a poetry collection, Fractured Snowflakes.  I must put words on the chopping block.

How many times do I find adverbs? How many times do I find snobbish words kids don’t know or care for?

A lot and a lot.

No matter what language we write, there are words meant to fit in puzzles we create.

Sometimes words say nothing:

Why does a woman

rip a strong man’s heart?

He gave her every moment,

Every secret that he could.

But she made him cold,

as hazy as the winter.

Now his heart is ice,

and its exterior is wool.

The above verses came from a poem in my collection called Allison’s Shadow. It is cliché. It makes me vomit. What does it mean to rip? What moments did he give her? It does not work. I will break apart my work.

Below are verses from the same poem, all of which I’ve rewritten:

Little rainbows children paint

reflect in little puddles,

but rain boots splash and jump

until there is no more water.

Mother chose another man while they were together.

Father shut the door and cried in my husband’s room.

My husband knew then

what Allison did to him.

Now I’ve rewritten the poem to tell a story.

Using a critical eye is not easy. For a writer, it is essential. You must become your own New York editor.

How do you do it?

Read a lot of books. Read Stephen King. Read blogs like The Daily Post.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

© 2007-2013 by Rebecca T. Dickinson. All rights reserved. No part of this  blog, Allison’s Shadow, manuscripts or related material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of R.T. Dickinson.

Poetry Collection Work Out

Poetry challenges my mind, heart and fingers.

It gives all the writing muscles a work out.

Growing up, I wrote poetry all the time, and I was accepted to the S.C. Governor’s School of the Arts primarily for my poetic writing. At age fifteen I was not able to formulate stories like I do now. My fiction teacher told me I wrote great beginnings and endings. An aunt advised me when I was 19 to live life before I became an author.

In a way, they were both write. I lived a lot, and I wrote about it through a poetry collection. I wrote the earliest poems in Fractured Snowflakes beginning in 2007. The manuscript grew up as a sibling to Sons of the Edisto. I have spent less time on Fractured Life, because the writing is tough and there were not enough poems.

  • Muscles

    I do not like writing about many personal situations I’ve experienced, yet they end up on the page. The words reveal more than I want. The poems work my mind for words and sentence structure.

     I tried to turn off the fiction side of my brain. When I look at poets Carl Sanburg and Josephine Dickinson, they tell stories in their poems. Likewise, Khaled Hosseini transforms fiction with prose poetry.

    “It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make ANYTHING all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.” ― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

    Since beginning Fractured Lives, I realized –without intending to – I wrote prose poetry. My lines were shorter than you think a prose poem would be, but poems like Bad Economics, A Blue Ridge Tale and The Tumor told the story of falling in love while married, pregnancy, a family turning its back and the economic struggle of a family.

     I have edited the manuscript on and off for one year. I’ve put poems in and taken poems out. I eliminated lines I thought were corny or too twenties’ angst. Then I realize my poetic muscles are flexing. They’ve been training, but I did not realize it.

    While I’ve met fiction authors and poets, I believe a poet can write fiction and a fiction author can write poetry. Carl Sandburg did. What makes a successful contemporary poem?

     Read your favorite authors and write even if it’s not what you want.

  • Endurance

     Good poetry requires time. It’s like a good whiskey. To me, you need to let the poems stay in a barrel . Go back with fresh eyes to look at them later. Writing a series of prose poems develops differently than a novel.

  1. Are they a series of slightly connected poems?
  2. Do they tell an ongoing story the way a book does?
  3. What story does it tell?

I could answer none of those questions when I began compiling the poems I thought were my best years ago. I wrote many poems about what I went through, but some were nothing more than bleeding on the page. That is not going to work for a literary press. So, I waited. When my eyes became more mature, I found the poems, which told stories.

Part of endurance is separating yourself from poetry because when it’s written with fresh, raw emotion, you must wait until the anger, sadness or happiness have quelled. Return with editor eyes.

  • The Results

    Do you expect six-pack abs after years of working out? Perhaps, but you know your body is different. Your physical and mental journey reveals your own story. When I work out, it gives me spiritual completion. At one time, I worked out to stay physically in shape and because I enjoyed being outside. Now it offers a spiritual completion.

    A series of poems works the same way. At first, you’re uncertain if you have connected poems within one poem. It grows larger, and you have what is called a chapbook.

    At first, I did not have enough poems to form a chapbook. On average, I write seven poems a year. From those seven, I like three of them. I chose not to stuff my collection with okay poems.

     Last year, it became too large for a chapbook and turned into a poetry collection. A poetry collection is a larger manuscript. It was nonfiction. It was an interpretation of everything that happened. The collection told a story.

     When I wrote the first poem Gray Jacket, it was nothing more than a love poem for my first husband when we dated. We wore gray jackets the day I left England to back pack around Europe. We joked on the phone about the similarities of our jackets, and I wrote the poem.

     You never know what will spark a poem or a collection which tells a larger story.

     Poems previously posted from the collection:



    By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Blogging Award Nomination

In 2008, my co-worker Krystal encouraged me to start a blog. With my basic knowledge of copyright concerning my creative work, I was hesitant. Despite being a part of the generation of new technology, I have been somewhat shy towards what is Right Now.

I am happy to have a blog where I share my knowledge of books, writing, creative work and even some of my photography. Thanks to those who read and continue to read. I enjoy your blogs so much!

The Liebster Blog Award

I received a nomination for the Liebster Blogging Award from Pete Denton.

Liebster is a German word meaning dearest, and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve some recognition and support to keep on blogging.

I’ve learned from Pete about the honor of this nomination. Liebster encourages us to continue to write great quality or shoot awesome photos as we grow in the blogging universe.


The rules are simply:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!


I enjoy discovering new blogs, and there are so many I wish to honor just for being awesome. I nominate the following for the Liebster Awards:

1.   http://poemsforkush.com/

2.   http://alyhugheswrites.wordpress.com/

3.   http://gjscobie.wordpress.com/

4.   http://30minfiction.wordpress.com/

5.   http://kathryndawson.wordpress.com

Falling in Love with Books

Words and Photos by Rebecca T. Dickinson

I hate plants. Perhaps I should x-out my opening sentence, and put something more appropriate. But, I do hate plants. I admire them from far away or I take pictures, but I have nothing to do with a garden.

Water nurtures the seed and soil. I know that much. Reading is the water to my writing. I feel without a strong reading life, I cannot possibly be a good writer.

A few months ago, a man interviewed me, and he asked me to audition by demonstrating my editing/ copyediting skills on his first chapter. The man worked as an engineer and understood technical writing. He said, “I haven’t read a book in twenty-five years. Don’t have time for it.”

Now he’d written a book. In his interview for a contract editor, he wanted someone well-read so he asked about the kind of books I had read.

After my audition as one of the finalists he had picked, I did not get the job. Okay, that’s cool. More opportunities have knocked on my window, but I never forgot what he said.

Books are like a great love story for me. It’s not just taking a book off my bookshelf and reading it. A story begins the moment I either look for a book, or a book enters my life.

About two months ago, my grandmother came to visit. My husband pulled some of his books out of storage. Between the two of us, we own a library and most of our books have to stay in storage for now. My grandmother looked at all the books that were once sold as paperbacks in a corner drugstore.

“Some people would look at you funny because you bought a cheap paperback,” my grandmother said and smiled. “They were considered dirty books, and now and then you just need a good dirty book.”

The paperbacks John pulled out were not pornographic. They had sold as paperbacks because they were not the classics. My books, like myself, do not share the age of my husband’s books. A good age difference exists between us, but it has not stopped us from looking at each other’s collections or swapping stories about where we found our favorites.

As for my grandmother, she felt she could not survive without books. I wrote about her relationship with literature in the post, In the Time of Hitler. My great-grandmother owned two “books” Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue and the Bible.

What is one of your favorite stories behind a book?

Chalk Art

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

It’s been a year or more

since we colored ourselves

on sidewalks,

a parking lot

and my heart.

You spilled

red wine

before the rain,

and I took

another sip.

You didn’t tell me

there was her,

but you knew there is him.

You brought chalk,



and white sheets.

Run white fingers

through my hair.

I close my eyes.



and May.

Then you spill



and tequila.

You whistle and draw

as I try to recall

a time or myth

when you loved me at all.

 © 2007 by Rebecca T. Dickinson.  All Rights Reserved

Your New Relationship

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

A new relationship takes off. Even if you’re in a relationship or marriage there is a boyfriend or girlfriend who takes you for the ride on a motorcycle. Your emotions about him or her wander through a jungle of the unknown. Then you make up with a hot session in which you cannot leave each other.

Type the first word. Your new relationship begins. The nice thing about this relationship is no one is there to argue with you, although you might sometimes feel stuck on a scene or character.

Dare I suggest your book, story or poem is a boyfriend or girlfriend when it is something more sacred to you?

Not so much me as author, Joshilyn Jackson; author of gods in Alabama, Backseat Saints, and most recently, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty.

I met Joshilyn Jackson for the second time in my young career as a writer. I adore her work for the fact the writing is excellent, she makes me laugh after a dark scene, her descriptions are amazing, and the list continues into eternity. I’ve never liked to use the term favorite author because there are so many writers I love and from whom I learn.

Jackson took a writer’s cliché of your book is your baby, and shot it in the foot. It is not without good reason.

When I first heard her speak at a writer’s conference in October 2010 and again last Tuesday, she talked about the way in which she thought of her books. The reason is important because it helped to separate the writer’s thoughts of publishing and writing. If the two worlds collide in a writer’s mind while he or she writes, it becomes a slick, messy landslide.

Think of your individual works as a boyfriend or girlfriend. While you are writing the poem, story or novel, it is hot and heavy. You end up in arguments when you do not agree with something in the plot or how a character evolves. Words, like clothes, end up on the floor. The best ones end up on the page. When the book is published, the relationship is over. Simple: done and over.

Jackson does not open her older books because she said she would see a flaw or think about something she would change. The book is already published. She has to focus on the manuscript at hand instead of what she has already released to the world. It is similar to your being in love with your significant other while thinking about someone else.

I’ve said those words: My book is my baby. When I started my research for Sons of the Edisto at the South Caroliniana Library and trips to Bamberg, SC; my manuscript was my baby. I loved it. I tried to nurture it by learning from the beginning the best way to tell the story and how I could show the 1920′s in an accurate, but a storytelling manner.

At the end of 2009, I did not touch my book for four months. I worked as a full-time reporter, and I learned I was pregnant. The moment I became a real mother, my life changed (cliché) forever. As a mother, I believed I turned into a better writer. It was in the first year of my son’s life when pieces of my work were published.

My short nonfiction story, Grass from the Grave, no longer belongs to me. It is set to be published for a second time in the spring. It is one of the only times I sat down at a keyboard, wrote something in ten minutes, and it stayed in most of its original form. It deals with circumstances surrounding my son’s birth. I never thought it would be something of interest. The fact is the story no longer belongs to me.

The relationship starts. Then it must end. No hard feelings. No broken hearts. Just “I wish you the best, and I know you’ll go far.”

How Place Shapes Us

Words and Photos by Rebecca T. Dickinson

Most people want to belong somewhere, and others never find a place to call their home. The never ending train, plane and car saga is their place. Just as characters are shaped by people who influence writers, for better or worse, land or cityscapes shape us.

I cannot thank blogger and writer, Aly Hughes, enough for her kind words about my earlier post, When Location Should Matter, in her own, Violet of the Palouse. She wrote beautiful prose and description. I decided to write a follow-up to When Location Should Matter.

If we let a sunset—like Kathryn Dawson’s work in Day Forty-Three: Sunsets & Trees—touch us, we discover the inspiration to create a character that is shaped by the land.

Every character in my book, Sons of the Edisto, and the collection of stories, Red Loam (connected to the book), owes a part of his or her character to the city or landscape. Bootlegger, farmer or wealthy son of a bookkeeper all owe something to their surroundings.

I’ve been hesitant to share anything from my book, its stories and prescript. However, the prelude poem below from the beginning of Red Loam shows exactly what I mean better than my own words.

From Red Loam

There was nothing but sand and clay there when I was born.

When time is done, there’ll be nothing but sand and clay.

Those of us born here come from that same place.

Folk say God scooped Him up some mud out of nowhere and made Adam.

That may be, but it ain’t how Bamberg folk were made.

The rich, poor, Indian, black and white were all formed from the same red loam,

and mixed and molded with the Edisto and Salkehatchie waters.

There weren’t no breath of God blown into us.

It was fire—

enough to burn down all the trees and scorch our swamps.

Cotton, tobacco and wheat rose up from that same red loam.

In the end, we all go back to the soil we claim as our own.

It owns us; all of us,

but teachers, politikers and preachers ain’t going to tell you that.

The land we fight for, pay for, and farm is patient.

It knows we belong to it.

© R.T. Dickinson, 2006-2012. Sons of the Edisto and Red Loam. All Rights Reserved.

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