I’m delighted to have one of my favorite poets, Elizabeth Kuelbs, with us today. Ever since the time change, days have been too dark too soon, and I’ve needed some extra light at the end of the day. Elizabeth’s poems and stories have been just that!
Last month Finishing Line Press released Elizabeth’s first chapbook, Little Victory, a collection of poems about “the planet, politics, and small things that spark big hope.” Kohenet Rachel Kann said of Elizabeth, “She brings her readers the perfume of roses and jasmine, witchy intuition and mother medicine, all in service of hope and the restoration of soulful integrity.”
One of my favorite poems is Tender Grit. It brilliantly captures the fierce joy and freedom of childhood and inspires impetuosity each time I read it. Tender Grit opens with:
My tiny wild daughter
Refuses pink chalk
Drawing sidewalk roses
holds no magic for her
Not when a street puddle
Brims with clouds and girl—
Isn’t that lovely? Elizabeth also released a second chapbook this year: How to Clean Your Eyes. Plus, she writes equally inspiring poetry for children. You can find her her shapely “What Am I?” in Cricket and “Sunset Ruckus” in Caterpillar.
Elizabeth, however, isn’t exclusively a verse girl. Her action-packed “Worms in Danger” came out in Spider’s March 2021 issue and her Pushcart Prize-nominated Young Adult short story “St. Kildrie’s Guard” was published by Minerva Rising in 2018.
What I’ve always wondered is: How does she do it? Do poems and stories just tumble out of her head? And only after they land on paper she decides where their best home is? Or, does her adult muse wake first some days, nudge out her inner child, and she knows from the get-go that it’s going to be mature fare on the creative buffet that day?
Well, I’ve tried to put together some What Was On questions to get to those very wonderings—and to discover more about what Elizabeth does when she’s not writing. (Hint: she’s an avid hiker, amateur photographer, and encourager of young writers.) So, with no further delay, let me turn things over to Elizabeth, who is joining us from bright California, to tell us What Was On her…
Creative Buffet This Week: I love working in multiple forms and find that simmering verse and narrative at the same time adds flavor to both, so I usually keep creative burners lit for poetry and a book project. Lately my adult muse has craved verse and my inner child funny stories, so this week’s buffet is set with new eco-poems for adults, revisions for a humorous picture book, and spiced apple cider to keep those muses refreshed!
Advice for Young Writers: Feed your creativity with stories, poems, art, music, and things you love to do. Maybe you enjoy teaching your cat to fetch, body-surfing, or baking snickerdoodles—whatever your favorite activities are, you can mine them for writing material gold. Also, give your imagination free time to soar. Keep a pen and paper handy so you can catch ideas whenever they parachute out of it. And find a friend or two to brainstorm and swap writing with; your work will strengthen as you encourage each other!
Advice for Poets (of All Ages): If you feel stuck, or want to pump up new verse muscles, try making your own prompt: First, find a poem that grabs you, one that lights up your imagination or moves you somehow.
Second, list things you like about it. Does the subject pull you in? Do you love the mood? How the poem makes you feel? The way it pops colors or scents? Its shape on the page? The length of its lines? The speaker’s voice? The rhythm, assonance, or rhyme? The startling way it compares frozen waffles to the fabric of space-time?
Third, pick two or three of the things you listed and try writing your own poem with those elements. You’ll get words flowing. You may draft something you love! And you may find the elements you listed energizing your future work.
Instagram: Small creatures often catch my eye, like this sweet bee buzzing in for breakfast:
Mind While on Her Hiking Path: The surprise of the day. I’m lucky to live near the Santa Monica Mountains and miles of trails that traverse oak-shaded canyons and sunny ocean vistas. Ten minutes on any one of them clears to-dos out of my head and opens my eyes to the bustling landscape. Rattlesnakes, foxes, red-tailed hawks, horned lizards, spotted orange lilies, sandstone caves, reality TV show crews, feral green parakeets, tumbleweed pileups—you never know what awaits around the bend!
Mind When Back Home: Gratitude for all that life and beauty. Worry about climate change threats to it. Resolve to encourage love and hope for it through writing that connects readers with our astonishing natural world.
And gratitude for you, Sandra! Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog!
It was an absolute pleasure, Elizabeth! I’m always inspired by your fresh way of speaking. Thank you for stopping by and saying “bustling landscape.” My eyes are already seeing the vineyards outside my window in a new way.
To order Little Victory or How to Clean Your Eyes, click on the books below.