Susan Carol Hauser

Archive for the ‘On Writing’ Category

Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference 2013

In On Writing, Reading Event, Write for the Love of It, Writing on March 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm

July 14-19, 2013
So happy to have the conference running again with a full set of workshops and readings readings readings every evening. Workshops in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, novice poetry and translation. Registration deadline, May 31. Readings are open to the public–I will be there!

Poetry Slam First Place!

In New Poetry, On Writing, Reading Event, Writing on December 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm


I participated in my first poetry slam last week at the Keg & Cork in Bemidji, Minnesota. It was sponsored by the Bemidji Public Library with a Cultural Legacy grant from the State of Minnesota (I knew I loved something about Minnesota besides winter–which I really do love). There were 14 contestants and 75 people in the audience. I won by one scant vote – and second place Julia certainly did out-perform me. I had to really pump up my reading in the third and final round. It was a fine evening – and heartening to know that so many people of all ages, persuasions and occupations go home at night and write poems. Gives me hope for this country. Below are the three poems I read. “Blackbirds” I have in memory so I saved it for last – and if I venture onto the Slam stage again, I will have all of my offerings memorized–it is superb to watch a poet close her eyes and belt out her lines.

In the Forest

On the path today you stopped
at a deep scent rising
from the ground, something, something
wild marking its territory, you said,
a bear or a timber wolf. It smelled like smoke
to me, a campfire put out or wood
just taking to flame. I breathed it in – almost
a sweetness to it, I thought, but I did not
say so. You moved ahead. I lingered, filling
my lungs as one might fill a thermos
or a water jug, wanting to carry it with me,
the way it opened my senses, closed my eyes,
held me there, scuffing my feet
in the wet, blackened earth.
I Think about You

I think about you. I think about
the little drive-by kiss you gave me,
a glancing touch of lips
that first night when we talked
as though nothing else
were going on, as though
I did not want you
to enfold me, to unfold me.

I think about that kiss:
it went by so fast.
And then we were hugging,
our arms around each other,
holding on the way one might
hold on in a storm, wind
everywhere, water
everywhere, nothing to do
but close your eyes and not
let go.

I think about that – the kiss,
the holding on, the not
letting go. Will you
let go? Will I let go?

I think about you.  About
that kiss, about holding on,
about not letting go,
about water and wind,
about our hearts inches apart,
only skin between them,
between breath and love.

The Blackbirds Have Begun to Flock

The blackbirds have begun to flock.
Rising from the trees they dare
into a sky that they unlock.

Summer’s gone. Mocked
by autumn’s flare;
by blackbirds that begin to flock

like chores and dreams we’ve kept in stock.
Gathered a singular force they share.
They rend the sky.  It comes unlocked

and all the love we’ve left undone knocks
in our hearts and darkens the air
like blackbirds lifting up in flocks.

When seasons strike on nature’s clock
it leaves our days in disrepair.
Blackbirds break.  The sky unlocks,

and we take up a different watch:
turn to each other.  Pair,
like birds that have learned to flock,
and enter a sky that touch unlocks.

Do You Have a Writing Voice?

In On Writing on January 2, 2010 at 12:22 am

Of course you have a writing voice!

It is in our own writing that we find our voice and style, the forces that sustain us when we want to write larger and longer works.

Perhaps you wonder if you have a voice or style.  The answer is yes. Voice in writing is an expression of personality, of a certain kind of authority. Think of it this way: most of us can recognize the voice of a mother or father, teacher or sibling.  We might say, “you sound just like my mother,” or “that’s something a brother would say.” Every time we speak out loud, we speak in a voice of some kind, of a girl or woman, a man or boy, of someone who is hurt or is happy. In this column, I speak as a writer.

To identify your literary voice, set out several things you have written. What can you say about who is speaking in them?  Is it a young man, a young woman? An athlete? A grandchild? Is the speaker meditative? Wild? Recognizing the voice you write in is a step toward understanding your own writing, and what it might mean to a reader.

The writing you have done also expresses a style. Again, set out several of your writings.  This time, compare them for commonalities in form. Look at your sentences: are they mostly the same length? What about your paragraphs? Do you use colors a lot, or sounds, or technical words? Do you ask a lot of questions? Those habits in your writing are your style. Style in writing is like style in clothing: it tells us something about the writer. A writer who uses bright colors, like a person who wears them, is probably different from a person who writes about pastels or plaids.

Tone is another element you can look for in your writing, although tone is more likely to change from piece to piece, whereas style and voice tend to remain constant.  Tone in writing is like tone in our actual voices: it expresses feeling, or absence of feeling. Most of us have probably been told “don’t use that tone of voice with me.” Looking again at your writing, what is the tone of each piece? Happy, angry, sassy, proud, sad, contemplative, distant, warm?

Voice, style and tone can, of course, be manipulated for effect, but in our personal writing it is important to let them emerge spontaneously, and to learn to recognize them for what they are. By doing that, we can discover our “author-ity” as writers – can discover what it is we have to say in addition to the meaning conveyed by the words themselves.  As we become more adept with writing, we can hone our voices rather than manipulate them, thus preserving the integrity of our personal vision, of our passion for the art.