Jun 09

Poem: Daybreak

By Allison Stein

Enriched by melodies of birds chirping and rays of sunshine kissing my cheeks, I opened my eyes: The morning held unmatched potential, glistened with brilliant possibility. Any medium other than poetry would have been inadequate to capture nature’s magic. The raw beauty of dawn was mesmerizing, serene, empowering – a memory that begged to be crystallized in words:

Daybreak

I awake to the scent of lilacs
Wafting through the screened window;
At dawn, I scamper outside to greet the day.
I spend a moment absorbing the surrounding beauty
And marveling at spring’s magic.
A whiff of morning air strengthens my ambition.

The alluring sky swipes my attention.
Faint stars fade into invisibility;
A tint of pastel orange gleams
Barely above the skyline;
A silhouette of the moon
Is still chalked across the horizon.

The tranquility of daybreak enchants me,
The intricacy of salmon-colored blossoms
On apple trees mesmerizes me,
And barn swallows composing songs of glory
Leave me awestruck.
I feel safe in the realm of nature.

Maroon tulips are drizzled with dew,
And speckled robins’ eggs glisten.
Wet grass shimmers in the vanishing moonlight;
The blades tickle my bare ankles
As I dream of today’s infinite possibilities.
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Apr 15

How to Write a Free Verse Poem in 10 Steps

by Allison Stein

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.” Thomas Gray’s words echo my heart’s definition of free verse poetry. This form offers an exciting and profound journey for the writer and reader alike; it gives people a chance to live in unfamiliar worlds created by intangible—but genuine—emotion. As I’ve learned how to improve my free verse poetry over the years, I have developed a writing process that has aided me as I’ve sought to express my ideas; I would like to share that process with you in hopes that you, too, will enjoy crafting free verse poems.

1. Identify What You Love About Poetry: Before you begin your free verse poem, consider what techniques you would like to incorporate. Read a wide range of free verse poetry, select your favorite pieces, and determine why you like them best. Analyze each poem carefully and think deeply about its meaning. You can learn from the work you feel passionate about by emulating some of its aspects. For instance, do you love the imagery and powerful words one author uses? Or do the compelling ideas and strong message from another writer inspire you? Maybe the poems that enthuse you most are those with figurative language, such as metaphor (forming a connection between different people or objects) or hyperbole (stretching the truth to make a point). Experiment with several approaches until you find one that ignites your creativity and showcases your unique voice.

2. Find Inspiration: Free verse poems offer the potential of countless possibilities regarding themes; the key is discovering a topic that creates energy on the page. The subject could be an experience, nature, friendship, family—any idea that you feel a close connection to and can infuse emotion with.

3. Organize Your Thoughts: Undoubtedly, poets have different methods of writing; this gifts us with an enormous variety of poetry. However, that fact causes confusion about how to begin writing as well. Some writers suggest creating a thorough outline of ideas, whereas others believe that any plan stifles their freedom as poets. My advice is to choose whichever style of prewriting feels more natural and brings out the better in your work. If you aren’t sure, you can test out both processes to see which you favor, or you can combine the styles by jotting down words you hope to use but leaving your plan incomplete and thus open for new possibilities.

4. Write Your Heart Out: You, as a poet, have a message to give, and a free verse poem is a wonderful medium for your words. Let your ideas flow, and don’t worry if your poem isn’t exactly how you want it; any shaky areas can be worked out in the essential process of editing. For now, focus on sharing yourself with readers. Remember that you are a passionate writer; let your poem be an encapsulation of that passion.

5. Create Imagery: Imagery is vivid language that transports readers to the realm of your poetry. Not only will the use of this technique immerse readers in your writing, but it is also instrumental in the flow of a piece. To improve the imagery in your work, pay special attention to your word choice; words act as the voice of your work, so you should select them carefully. When deciding on a line, consider using descriptions to further your theme. Incorporating imagery can strengthen a free verse poem exponentially.

6. Express Emotion: Emotion is universal; moreover, it is the aspect of your writing that connects readers to your poem. To add feeling to your work, recall times you’ve been elated or upset, and use these memories to empower your writing. Words offer a clearer perspective on personal experiences; furthermore, once your emotions are illustrated through your poetry, readers can absorb the insight provided by these experiences. Most importantly, expressing emotion in your free verse poetry builds on the message encoded in your words and enables others to better relate to your work.

7. Focus on Your Beginning and Ending: When you write and proofread a free verse poem, keep in mind that the beginning and ending earn special emphasis. The beginning must capture readers’ attention; therefore, a successful start is imperative. The ending needs to be memorable, like the grand finale in a fireworks show; after reading the last word, readers should feel moved, changed, or encouraged. Since these areas have the potential to make the greatest impression on your audience, striving to improve them is essential.

8. Consider the Rhythm: True, rules about rhyme and meter are much less rigid in free verse poems than in other forms of poetry, but the writing of any poem needs to maintain balance and flow in order for readers to best grasp the concepts within. To ensure that the rhythm your words create fits well with your poem, read your writing over, and make note of pauses that throw off the flow; gingerly revisit these lines and decide if adding or removing syllables is a viable solution. Even in a free verse poem, rhythm is a fundamental facet of the writing—and reading—experience.

9. Keep It Concise: Poetry is reputably short; this means that a limited number of words is available to convey the emotion of your writing. Delete any words or phrases that don’t develop your theme. Each letter should contribute to the work as a whole, give motion to your subject, and act as reverberations of the ideas circling your mind as well as the emotions dancing in your heart.

10. Share Your Writing: After putting so much passion into your work, let others take the journey your piece offers. Whether you read your poem, publish it, or simply share it with a friend, you will be giving the world a chance to delve into your unique work. Free verse poetry offers a colossal amount of communication, connection, and encouragement; give people the opportunity to take advantage of those gifts by sharing your writing.

You can view this article and more of my work at www.amazing-kids.org.

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Apr 02

Spring Fever

by Allison Stein

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France’s words reverberated in my heart as I gingerly selected a copy of my new poetry collection, Spring Fever, from the box that the FedEx truck had just dropped off. I recalled the time when my chapbook was a mere aspiration, when the moment of holding the finished product seemed so far away. But that time had come, and as I savored this beautiful memory, the possibilities and hopes swirling in my mind mesmerized me. I had finally grasped the goal I had been fighting to achieve, finally overcome the obstacles that threatened me, finally made my dream come true. Undoubtedly, the day I first felt that glossy cover and flipped through the crisp pages of my new book, the rewarding journey of self-publishing took my breath away.

Spring Fever

Spring Fever

Challenges throughout the process were inevitable, but to someone who finds writing as empowering as I do, the endeavor of creating a book is extremely fulfilling. My goal began to transform into reality when I started working on the first draft a couple of years ago; at times, even I struggle to believe that those first scribbles in the margins of my notebooks have developed into the tangibility a book offers. Early on, however, I already imagined the theme of my second poetry collection to be spring. With this fine-tuned scope, I was able to focus on capturing the joy, passion, and faith embedded into the season. Moreover, this approach allowed me to improve the cohesion of my book as a whole; ideally, each poem in the compilation collaborates with the others. Not only did I strive to encapsulate the beauty of spring in words, but I also aimed to convey emotion and express memories and dreams. For as long as I can remember, I have possessed an unspoken – yet lucid – understanding that writing is liberating, and I hope that through my work I can share that freedom with others and encourage them to pursue their dreams. Connecting words to form stanzas and arranging stanzas to fuel a poem, I have immersed myself in an art that I wholeheartedly believe in – an endeavor from which I’ve undeniably discovered fulfillment.

In addition to writing propelling me forward, I have realized that editing is imperative to the self-publishing process. Revisions began with self-editing, a chance for me to scrutinize my work, to determine which poems showcased the book’s potential and which needed to be replaced as well as what aspects of individual poems excited me and what facets required improvement. The project expanded as I sought the opinions and advice of others; for example, I asked one of my mentors to critique my manuscript, and she offered me valuable insight. Furthermore, my mom contributed to the book by helping me strengthen my poetry through revision and giving me guidance about the steps of successful self-publishing. I definitely learned a colossal amount from editing my chapbook; the experience was an opportunity to explore my work on a more intimate level than a first draft allows. I was elated to see the collection starting to take shape, but I knew, too, that an enormous – and, at times, intimidating – margin continued to separate my disorganized stacks of papers and the professional book I envisioned.

Aiming to close that margin, I began to contemplate the lay-out of my chapbook. I am still awestruck by the idea that self-publishing allows a distant dream to become palpable, to become a gift I can share with others; with this mindset, I focused on fonts and design elements that would impact the presentation of my poems. For one, I divided the book into six chapters, each section having its own theme. After I decided on the order of my poems, my book designer, Julie Purdy, emailed samples of both the cover and the interior pages; my mom and I chose styles similar to those of my first chapbook to display the continuity between the volumes while also selecting features that made Spring Fever unique. I was psyched when I saw the talented work Julie had done on the inside of my book, but the cover she had created, which illustrated a rainbow that I found enchanting and believed would be a terrific complement to my poetry, excited me most. Once the designing was finished, I knew that I had reached a pivotal moment in the course of publishing Spring Fever; at this climax, my abstract dream solidified, and my fragmented aspirations connected.

On March 6, that connection strengthened. My unbound proof arrived from DiggyPOD, the Michigan company that had printed my first chapbook. When I saw how brilliant the chapbook’s cover design looked, how enticing and pristine that rainbow appeared, I was astonished, but I knew immediately that my poetry belonged there. The memory of my books being delivered about a week later still echoes in my mind. My heart beating fast, I tore into the box. Seeing Spring Fever was magical, and the physicality of the collection seemed to cement my ideas: I could finally hold in my hands the dream I’d been striving to grasp.

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Feb 19

Poem: Whispers of a Waterfall

By Allison Stein

After agreeing to give my first presentation about my poetry chapbook, Summer Sensations, at the Port Austin History Center in August 2013, I was both ecstatic and anxious. By mid-July, I was somewhat prepared. I had written a speech that illustrated my story of becoming published as well as incorporated readings of my poetry, and thanks to my mom’s patience in listening to me practice, my speaking had gotten better. Furthermore, I was definitely excited to share my writing process; after all, my book had made a profound impact on me by encouraging me to pursue my dreams and urging me to improve.

However, I knew my speech was in need of revision. One weakness that especially stood out to me was how I read my poems. What perplexed me most about this problem was that I couldn’t understand why I shared my work in such a rudimentary way when I tried to read it so passionately. Luckily, before the day of my presentation arrived, a friend and mentor of mine offered to help. She lent me voice recordings of renowned poets reading their words and coached me as I practiced; because of her guidance, my presentation became exponentially better.

My words still struggled to flow from my mouth, but I was determined to teach them to. I printed off the poems I planned to read at my presentations and scribbled notes to myself about where to pause and which words to emphasize. Despite these efforts, I eventually abandoned the idea that learning to read differently was the solution. Inversely, I began to focus on reading naturally. I thought about my mentor; the examples of insightful readings she’d introduced me to were so beautiful because the poets had encapsulated their unique voices as writers. Instead of striving to force words to reverberate from my mouth, I decided, I would let them materialize from my heart. Not only would I read passionately, I told myself, but I would also read genuinely.

And that’s what I did. On August 9, I read several of my poems—including Whispers of a Waterfall, featured below—with the aim to speak sincerely. When the words of Whispers of a Waterfall poured from my soul, I was well-aware of my mentor in the audience; I remembered our practice session that included the poem, realized how far I had come, and felt inexpressibly connected to this poem that had been so instrumental in helping me discover my voice. Yes, I knew my presentation was flawed, but I knew, too, that my efforts had been worthwhile and that I had reached out authentically. And I crossed my fingers that maybe, just maybe, I had inspired someone else to do the same.

Whispers of a Waterfall

The whispers of a waterfall,
The tiny ripples that flow,
Whispering in secrecy
Words no one else will know.

Cascading from the banks
Of the nearby creek,
All of the different whispers
Seem surprisingly unique.

The whispers are beautiful
And send a chill up your spine;
Trickling over the stones,
The waterfall seems divine!

So when you hear the whispers
Forming oval-shaped rings,
Lean in and listen closely;
You might just hear them sing!
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Jan 31

A New Experience

By Allison Stein

“You need to move outside your comfort zone to grow and learn.” The words my mom shared with me years ago have had a colossal effect on me; they’ve taught me that taking chances can create opportunities, widen points of view, and offer fulfillment. For as long as I can remember, the advice has not only encouraged me but also reminded me to push myself to improve, yet only recently did I realize how closely the words translate into my life. In retrospect, I believe that I have constantly thrust myself into experiences that have expanded my comfort zone: making my first submission to an online publication called Amazing Kids! Magazine in 2010, becoming a staff member and contributing writer for the magazine in 2011, and self-publishing a poetry chapbook in 2013. I once again extended my comfort zone a couple of months ago when I was offered a column editor position for Amazing Kids! Magazine and became the publication’s poetry editor. This experience led to reverberations of my mom’s wisdom as I learned hands-on the importance of reaching beyond my area of security to grasp the possibilities that could further enrich my endeavors and dreams.

I am thankful that I took this risk first and foremost because of the helpful, encouraging people I have met as a result. For instance, I have begun corresponding with the other Amazing Kids! editors and forming connections with fellow lovers of writing, all of whom are working toward a simultaneous goal. The experienced editors have been eager to show me each step of the editing process, which is much more intricate than I realized. Moreover, their invaluable guidance has been immensely appreciated as I’ve been discovering my unique styles of organization and revision. They’ve enabled me to learn from their talent and gain skills as both an editor and a writer. The willingness of the editors to share their expertise with me has illustrated to me what a supportive group of people I am part of.

In addition to gaining knowledge from other editors, my position gives me the ability to communicate with writers who submit work to the magazine. When I read their poems, I feel the connection writing offers the world. I treasure the privilege of sending acceptance emails and explaining why I enjoy pieces because I know how much I have appreciated the responses some editors have given me in the past. At times, writers have thanked me in reply, and these words have touched my heart beyond expression. Undoubtedly, sharing excitement with writers reminds me why I need to push beyond the stifling area of my comfort zone. The people I have worked with have given subtle but powerful encouragement to break the blockade of obstacles that surrounds my goals and finally grasp distant aspirations.

Not only has extending my comfort zone enabled me to meet supportive people, but widening my range of experiences has opened my heart to new ideas that have changed the ways I think of writing and editing. Exploring a different aspect of my passion has redefined my goals by conquering the limits of my viewpoint and allowing me to immerse myself in the discovery of all dimensions of my passion. Since beginning my position in December, I have read poetry submissions, selected manuscripts I feel match the outlook of Amazing Kids! Magazine, and worked on minor revisions involving grammar as well as formatting; these tasks have made me more aware of my editing process and more determined to push myself to create stronger writing. Furthermore, choosing pictures to complement poems has helped me gingerly consider the theme of each and consequently better understand the meaning, purpose, and message. Last but not least, having the opportunity to communicate with writers who submit poems has given me a greater sense of the community of those who share my passion. Focusing on different facets of my love of writing has certainly enabled me to wholly immerse myself in my craft.

Besides allowing me to experience new aspects of the power of words, being the poetry editor for Amazing Kids! Magazine has offered me a special perspective. For example, I’ve realized the immense amount of careful thought, synergy, and dedication that goes into each issue and have gained a profound appreciation for both the editors I work with and the writers who send their poetry. I have also reached a more thorough comprehension of the reasons behind acceptances and rejections; often decisions are made based on the magazine’s audience as well as the merit of a submission. Moreover, after analyzing the poetry I review, I have integrated my new skills and strategies into my writing process and developed ways to improve my words. This perspective has given me the chance to see writing from a distant point of view and to look at my interest through a clearer lens. The knowledge I’ve gained from the poetry editor position has been incredibly worthwhile; my new viewpoint has gifted me with immeasurable insight.

Finally, working with the online magazine has been fulfilling and rewarding. I often find myself sifting through my memories as I communicate with writers; this nostalgia reminds me precisely why I cherish the opportunity to be the publication’s poetry editor. I wistfully remember my first acceptance – ironically, from Amazing Kids! Magazine. The thoughtful email I received is what I aim to emulate when I tell writers why Amazing Kids! is eager to publish their pieces. Likewise, I reminisce seeing my work online for the first time; those moments are ones I will never forget. Even when my writing was rejected after I sent it to Amazing Kids! in hopes of publication, I found that this magazine managed to be supportive and offer constructive criticism about why it was declining to post my work. This magazine was special. My memories urge me, too, to strive to be a source of encouragement others will always treasure.

Not only do my memories make the position rewarding, but I also consider editing poetry fulfilling since I know the exponential difference publication can make. The readers of Amazing Kids! Magazine, for one, are impacted; I have seen firsthand how writing affects readers after delving into work that has left unique impressions on me. Furthermore, I have the chance to motivate writers like my mentors have done for me. I view each correspondence as an opportunity to encourage and collaborate. Above all, my purpose as poetry editor is to make a difference to the readers and writers of Amazing Kids! – to create greater insight with our shared passions and ambitions. Unquestionably, the position has been extremely rewarding; after participating in the project for only a couple of months, I realize that pursuing faraway goals is imperative.

From editing poetry, I have definitely learned the essential of pushing myself to aim for experiences that test my confidence. Immersing myself in an art that I genuinely love and sincerely believe in has lent me renewed aspirations and strengthened passion. The position has given me palpable enthusiasm; it has encapsulated my motivation to conquer the limits of my comfort zone. Ultimately, the more willing I am to overcome these restrictions, the closer I am to discovering the extent of possibilities – and realizing that the potential of passion is truly infinite.

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Dec 29

Why I Love Writing

By Allison Stein

I feel consolation from picking up a pencil and letting my ideas and dreams pour out as gracefully as a waterfall; later, when the ripples have smoothed out, I pursue the challenge of scrutinizing the text and improving the words. As if capturing the scenic vacation memory on film, I can grasp my own expression and reach the liberation only words bring. Like sharing pictures – and thus giving others a chance to experience moments previously intangible – writing can turn silence into echoes of truth, reverberations of genuine emotion. Undoubtedly, I love writing; less definite are the reasons, vague and impalpable, yet they ignite my passion. Exploring these reasons is key to discovering how writing has changed me, made me stronger, and opened my heart to unfamiliar endeavors and new friendships.

The primary cause of my love for words is my instinctive passion to gift unnamed sensations with physicality. Creative expression feels raw and pure, bold and sincere. I am mesmerized by the influence powerful writing has on its readers, by the possibilities a beautiful word encapsulates. Seemingly by magic, writing grants me the ability to transform the inspiration of wondrous nature into a language that others understand; words communicate like constellations, connecting people by shared messages. My heart would feel desolate if my emotions were destined to remain untouched, censored, alone. Delving into the realm of expression is a joyful journey, one I look forward to each time I write.

Not only does this passion originate from the excitement of recording my memories to share with others, but it also has helped me find hidden strength and discover courage I have often forgotten exists. I have learned to believe in my dreams, to enjoy the inevitable difficulties involved in meeting goals, and to treasure the moments of failure as well as success. I have learned to focus on sharing my story instead of doubting my abilities. I have learned that courage means ignoring fear and remembering the people who have made me stronger. Most importantly, I have learned that new, intimidating, overwhelming experiences are often my most rewarding endeavors because they teach me immeasurably. The passion that surges through me when I write continues to redefine itself as I learn more but consistently reminds me that I love writing.

In addition to pure passion, writing has offered me the chance to become closer to my community members. They have supported me and illustrated the synergy instilled in those who are part of a successful group. My family and friends have always encouraged me to make my dreams come true, and I am grateful for their dedication to our friendships. My mentors, too, have gifted me with their encouragement; they have urged me to continuously push myself farther and to keep working toward my goals. Plus, my writing experiences have enabled me to meet new people, many of whom have taught me to be a better writer. This priceless support has shown me how I hope to help others someday: through direction, encouragement, and love.

I have realized that I want to make a difference with my writing. I hope to offer the motivation that others have offered me and impact someone like my supporters have affected me. I imagine sharing messages, creating memorable manuscripts, and giving readers a strong takeaway to relate to. Above all, I dream of helping people – of giving them the opportunities others were generous enough to give me. Making a difference to those who have had such an influence on me would be one of those special gifts writing gives. Becoming more connected to my community enlivens my ideas and, without doubt, is a result of my passion for words.

Writing has definitely taught me more about the person I am. The process of changing inspiration to expression and expression to connection is contenting, enticing, and beautiful. I enjoy reminiscing about my past experiences in the realm of words, just as I enjoy imagining how I will continue to grow and become stronger. Remembering why I love what I do – why I authentically, unquestionably believe that my dreams are worthwhile – is essential to unlocking the increasing passion that lures me forward.

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Nov 30

Poem: Silvery Songs

By Allison Stein

My favorite part of writing is the ability to experience wonderful emotions, express those sensations through words, and share both my memories of the past and dreams of the future with readers. When I read over a poem I have crafted, I consider each characteristic that contributed to the finished product, including rhyme, imagery, and word choice. I especially examine what I have come to believe is the most fundamental attribute of poetry: the very music the lines create mixed with the voice I hope to incorporate into the rhythm. A poem should speak to readers. It should provide them with a message. It should motivate, teach, and encourage. This is what I strive for in my writing.

Since sound is such a vital element, I aim to capture it in my work. A couple of summers ago, for example, I attempted to imitate the song of wind chimes. The result was a poem called “Silvery Songs,” and I would like to share with you the discoveries of nature’s music I made through the writing process.

Silvery Songs 

Dangling in the branches
Of auburn-colored trees
Is the wind’s music box,
Swaying in the breeze.

Four cylinders tap
As wind guides them along,
Playing in harmony
Nature’s favorite song.

Silver dancing in the sun
Is all I can see,
Playing the notes
Of a beautiful melody.

The breeze makes a song,
Using wistful rhymes,
Making me grateful
For silver wind chimes!
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Oct 26

Writing Advice

By Allison Stein

Sometimes I am discouraged with my writing – with these unlikely aspirations I cling onto so tightly. Other times, I get frustrated; when I am uninspired and words feel motionless, I ask myself why on earth I am giving advice about writing. But then I recall my life before I shared my writing with others – before I gained the privilege of reaching readers by putting my impalpable thoughts into words. Only with that perspective can I see how much I’ve learned from my writing endeavors.

From my experiences, I have learned how essential determination is; I’ve realized how necessary it is to improve myself. The constant search of ways to get better is a definite part of the writing process. Whether reading a writing magazine or talking with someone who has made his or her dreams come true, I strive to learn as much as I can; being open to new information and ideas allows me to make writing all it can be. Even if you are apprehensive about beginning or advancing your writing journey, make that brave first move toward success. Additionally, find an activity that strengthens your writing; for me, this hobby is writing in a journal, which has enabled me to not only express myself and organize my thoughts but also look back at previous entries and discover how much my writing has improved. Writing has taught me the importance of pushing myself to do my best beyond my writing aspirations and to have a positive impact on people.

Other people have an inexpressible effect on my writing, after all. I constantly look forward to going to monthly poetry readings, for example; this writing group has exposed me to new techniques and approaches, taught me different methods of delivery, and – most importantly – introduced me to countless talented people who have played a major role in my life. Inspiration and encouragement from others is invaluable. I was extremely lucky to meet a mentor who guided me through writing a chapbook and supports me to this day. The generosity of others reminds me what an enormous impact all of us can have on the world. If we are determined to make ourselves better, we can accomplish the goals we strive for.

My endeavors have taught me how crucial a positive mindset is as well. Whenever I feel discouraged, I recall the day an online magazine called Amazing Kids!, which I am now a contributing author to, sent me my first acceptance letter; that moment has led me to where I am now. The biggest insight I gain from that memory is that I didn’t put limits on myself; I learn to dream wildly and fearlessly, to believe that I have the potential to realize my dreams. Setting goals has made my dreams feel more reachable, and writing them down has helped me record the progress I’ve made. Since the time I made my first submission, I have been becoming more and more passionate about what I do and what I dream of doing in the future. In fact, I consider passion the fuel that ignites a journey.

Of course, just because we have already ignited that initial flame – just because we have taken a deep breath and delved into our dreams – we won’t always accomplish our goals without conquering adversity. But the tribulations along our pathways are ultimately what strengthen us. The times I’ve struggled most are the ones I’ve made the most profound discoveries from. Before I self-published my chapbook, for instance, I was hesitant to take such a risk, to leave myself and my work vulnerable to the opinions of others; thankfully, I learned to stop being paranoid about negative possibilities and center my focus instead on how fulfilling writing is.

Even after I took that chance, I faced moments when I was reluctant to keep trying or scared to move forward; since stumbling through the intimidating obstacles of becoming comfortable enough to read my writing out loud and finding the courage to speak openly about my experiences, struggles and all, I tell myself not to be afraid of opportunities. Finally, I remind myself that I can’t give up because I have been gifted with the chance to share myself through words. I remember why I need to keep going. I strive to keep a mindset that echoes this message, that encourages me as I travel wherever my journey takes me. And I strive to somehow, some way encourage others – to give them the faith they need to reach the destinations of their dreams.

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Sep 29

A Voice Through Words

By Allison Stein

What do you think of when you hear the word “change”? A caterpillar breaking out of its cocoon and transforming into a butterfly? Leaves turning auburn and gold in autumn? The shift from lively daylight to star-covered nightfall? Actually, I think of writing.

A manuscript that I wrote a year ago would be completely different from what I would write today. My voice, syntax, and rhythm change automatically as time passes and new experiences shape me. I constantly gain inspiration by observing nature more closely; this insight enables me to describe the world more accurately. Even a characteristic as subtle as the emotion implied from word choice can alter based on how I feel. My perspective becomes wider and deeper as I learn more. Also, I constantly strive to improve my techniques. When I am exposed to new forms of poetry and new ways to convey ideas, I am able to develop a more distinct taste. I think of writing as trial and error; the first draft rarely has much resemblance to the final, and I must try out several possibilities to figure out which words work best.

But an altering writing style is not the only reason I consider “change” and “writing” pieces of the same idea; writing itself has changed me as a person. For one, writing has taught me to take chances. Self-publishing a chapbook was a risk; I had no idea how people would respond and was unprepared for the adventures marketing would bring. I knew that the writing process would prove challenging and that I did not have much experience; I felt the odds were against me. I cannot express how glad I am that I pursued my goal despite my apprehension; writing a book is one of the most rewarding endeavors of my life. Taking chances is difficult, but I believe it is much easier than wishing in retrospect that I had. In addition, I learned how important it is to take my dreams seriously; they do come true. Before I became so passionate about writing, I was more likely to give up. Just as much as I have learned about the meter of poetry and the organization of a manuscript, I have learned about persistence and tenacity. Finally, writing has allowed me to express myself better. Words give me a voice. I think of writing as a universal communication capable of connecting each person. This medium is a wonderful way to share a message, and I relish in the ability to put my ideas into words.

I like to look at each day as an opportunity for improvement, and that means I must expect change. As bright green leaves slowly turn crimson, my writing style and outlook shift. I am thrilled when I realize that this has happened; change means I am learning and getting better – that I have become open to all writing offers me – that I have finally found a voice through words.

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Aug 24

Poem: The Lone Flower

By Allison Stein

Inspiration comes from several avenues, but the biggest source of my ideas has always been the outdoors. Nature is essential to my writing process; therefore, my grandparents’ yard is an ideal place to ponder over words. The hilltop garden that overlooks the pond is especially stunning; when I observe beauty as deep as what I see in those flowers, words flow.

I recall one evening two summers ago. My family had walked to my grandparents’ house, and as usual, I was in awe of the garden. One particular flower enraptured me so much that I got out a notebook I had brought with me, sat at the top of the hill, and recorded the sight of a hibiscus. By the end of the day, I had titled my poem The Lone Flower; I would like to share the beauty I discovered with you.

The Lone Flower

The lone flower
Tinted light pink
Quavered in the breeze,
Made me forget to think.

Even from a distance
I envied the flower's grace:
The center looked like satin;
The edges portrayed lace.

The stem held lush leaves
Like a pretty vine;
The leaves began to twist
As I watched them entwine.

The flower tilted slightly,
Turning with the wind.
The hibiscus changed direction;
I swear the flower grinned.
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