Hidden Treasures

This month, we at SMACK DAB are mining for hidden gems. We are digging for hidden treasures. Those are phrases, sentences, lines of creative beauty that seem to transcend the ordinary subject and verb construct to reveal the essence of what it means to be writer.

As you may know, I now teach for the Southern New Hampshire University MFA Online Creative Writing Program. This week we had a discussion on what does it mean to be a "professional" writer? Do you have to be published to call yourself a writer? Maybe it's not the published book that makes you a writer, but how you see the world. Maybe it's the connections you make as you explore this world. The language you use to explain those connections. The imagination that’s engaged to create this world, and all the characters who live within it, because you see beyond the ordinary and  the cursory. And in this creation, you discover what it means to be human. Not perfect. But human. With this in mind, o! I have found treasures indeed!

One hidden treasure I’ve found is teacher and author Bruce Black, who manages the wonderful Wordswimmer blog. His newest blog , This is How Writing Works, offers this wisdom: 

“You might think that writing starts with a blank sheet of paper, but it doesn't, not for me anyway, although that sheet of paper is foremost in my mind (not the paper itself so much as its blankness). I know, of course, that sheet of blank paper is waiting for my words to fill it, even though I’m not yet at my desk. But, even so, writing doesn't start with that blank sheet of paper.

It starts with fear.”

Another treasure is the incomparable Emma D. Dryden, and her blog , Our Stories, Ourselves, in which she offers Dumbledore wisdom on the stories we tell and the stories we live:

I appreciate and believe those who raise voices.
I appreciate this time to open eyes, open ears, open arms, and open heart.

Last week...this week...next week...and the weeks after that, I will continue.
For this is what it means to live fully in the world.

((c) 2018 emma d dryden, drydenbks llc all rights reserved )

And speaking of a national treasure who is not so hidden, and in celebration of National Poetry Month, Lee Bennett Hopkins also celebrates his birthday with an amazing new collection: World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Of all his anthology collections, this is – in my opinion – his most stunning, inspired by the Leonardo Da Vinci quote, "Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen." As Lee explains on NPR, “… the whole book is really based on a form from the Greek called ekphrastic poetry, where poems are inspired by art. I assigned these varied paintings to 18 of the top children's poets in America who would then write their emotions toward the painting. Rather than describing the painting, it's what they feel.”

 The artists represented include Mary Cassatt and Winslow Homer. A painted plaster fragment from Egypt 1390-1353 B.C inspired Irene Latham's "This Is the Hour.” An illustrated manuscript "Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices" by al-Jazari inspired Naomi Shihab Nye’s “It’s All Magic.” Marilyn Singer’s “Paint Me”, inspired by Gustav Klimt's " Mada Primavesi, 1912-13," celebrates the painting’s defiant subject with the resolute phrase and title of the collection: “World, make way.”

In one of the more dramatic poems comes "Resistance," by Cynthia Cotten, inspired by The Horse Fair, painted by Rosa Bonheur.


He calls himself a handler,
this puny person
with his rope, his shouts,
his “I am your master”

Thinks he can subdue me,
stifle my spirit,
bend me
his will.

But no, I say,
I will not be broken,

Let others trot willingly
towards servitude,
towards mere

I choose life.
in the light of my
I will fight
until no fight

(©Cynthia Cotten 2018. All rights reserved)

The Horse Fair, Rosa Bonheur (French, Bordeaux 1822–1899 Thomery). Public Domain

What inspires you?

Bobbi Miller


  1. Bobbi, I'm so glad to know about Lee Bennett Hopkins's new poetry collection. It sounds fabulous!


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