Showing posts from 2014

Serenity and Poetry

I've been struggling to get back to writing. Since our retreat in November I have done little else but journal. Now it's time to ditch the holiday madness and settle down. I have several online classes coming up in 2015 and I need to get ready. Not to mention all of my own writing projects.

I spent the morning at Barnes and Noble soaking up poetry and mindfulness books to center my erratic brain. I need to get back to poetry.

I found an interesting book by Tyler Knott Gregson called "chasers of the light." It's a collection of poems he wrote on an ancient typewriter, off the top of his head--or the top of his heart and soul, which are the places I like to believe that poems come from. Very lovely and romantic poems along with his art and photography.

So I came home, made a cup of chamomile, honey and vanilla tea, lit a candle and got out my journal. Now it's time to write some poems. It's been so long my head is not in a poetic frame of mind, but I'll ge…

Finding My Creative Niche

Well, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were, I must admit, a slight bit depressing as it was only the two of us. I remember all the years of holidays spent with family and the warmth and joy those times brought to my life. The preparations, decorating, cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping, wrapping and making out holiday cards seemed like so much work, yet I loved every minute of it knowing they precipitated the love and laughs that would surround us during our celebrations.

Now everyone seems to be literally in a different state and getting together has become difficult. We did make the most of our holiday though clearly something was missing.

Now those days are over and my mood has brightened a bit. Ever looking for creative projects, as if I didn't already have more than I could complete in a lifetime, I hit upon something the other day.

I've been searching for a way to incorporate my poems into art.

I've tried collage, mixed media, watercolor and though I have made some acce…

Creative Inspiration

There's nothing like a day off to get the creative juices flowing. I was so drained from work I just could not get out of bed at 4:30 am one more time. When I finally did rouse myself from a half sleep I read for a while and then turned to an art magazine for some inspiration. Within the pages of an older issue of Somerset Studio I found lush paintings and quirky collages that prompted some visual work of my own.

The art journal page about was done a few weeks ago and I wanted to share it because I like the color flow and the movement in the piece. I also like the idea it speaks of which is that you must spread your wings and try new creative projects that stir your soul. Without that you never grow.

And I do indeed have a new project. Rose Metal Press has sponsored a contest, due in May, for a book length work of text and art. I am going with a series of prose poems that trace the life of a fictional character named Serafina from her birth to her death at the age of one hundred.


Gratitude and an Art Project

Thanksgiving weekend was a fabulous array of family events and lots of fun. It started with my son Robby coming from L.A. for the holiday. We spent Wednesday at the movies, having pizza (which is his necessity when he comes to NY) and playing scrabble and trivial pursuit.

On Thursday we went to my brother and sister-in-law's for turducken and lots of other delicious snacks, sides and desserts, plus lots of good wine.

On Friday we picked up my best friend Emilia and went to the North Fork wineries and then out to dinner. Back home it was a game of Left, Right, Center and more trivial pursuit.

It was a wonderful visit and though we did do a lot of fun things it went way too fast. Now I can't wait to go out and see him and his wife Sarah in California, or have them come here for a visit, perhaps in warmer weather.

Today it was a trip to Barnes and Noble where I browsed lots of art books and magazines looking for inspiration. I bought two books, one on art journaling and one on c…

Meditation Mandalas

The combination of a cloudy cold day, some romantic violin music and an autumn scented candle are wonderful background elements to making art. I'm about to try a new painting technique but first wanted to share something else with you lovely readers.

When looking for a calming, meditative art process that doesn't involve lots of different and messy materials I turn to the mandala coloring books of Susanne Fincher. Though I have tried to draw my own mandalas they always come out lopsided and asymmetrical which totally annoys my OCD, sensory processing issues and destroys the sense of calm these perfectly balanced circles create.

I prefer using colored pencils to fill them in as they give me better control than markers or paints. I've tried pastel chalks but they tend to smear. I'll choose a palette of several colors and start filling in spaces. There is a difference between starting at the center and working outward, or starting at the edges and working toward the cente…

Layers of Hope

As much as I love writing, I think I love making art even more. I'm experimenting with some art media and trying to devise a style that will allow me to incorporate my poems into the pieces. Though I haven't been a big fan of layering I am learning its magnitude and how successful a mixed media piece can be when lots of layers are incorporated.

I tend to avoid lots of layers in my art because I hate covering up pretty papers, or text tissue, or images and words, but I'm starting to see the dimension that can be created and learning to live with the hidden layers beneath the finished piece.

Here I layered pattern papers then painted over them with pale yellow craft paint. I added a butterfly from a decorative napkin (which by the way makes a really nice image for art. You peel the layers of the napkin till you have one thin layer with the image on it. Then using gel medium or white glue adhere it to your art piece. The image literally melts into the piece.) I adhered the word…


I've been in the mood to art journal again. In the blank white pages of my mixed media journal I can explore and create, experiment with new ideas, new art materials and examine the wonderful and not so wonderful times of each day. Still working on a style of art to add my poems to. Tomorrow night taking an art journal class at Scrappers Playground in Babylon and hoping to discover new materials and styles to work with.

Oh--and getting ready to do some painting too! 

For now, here is a recent art journal page to share.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese


I've been taking a poetry course online with Lorraine Mejia-Green called Poetry Inspired by World Art. The past three weeks have been a wonderful exploration of art as well as a launch pad for some new poems to include in the new collection I'm working on. Our final week of class requires making an art piece incorporating poetry--which of course is something I love to do. So here is one of my pieces. The one I will submit for our final week of class is in process. More to come on that later.

It was fun and inspiring to take a photo and then work in mixed media on a canvas board to create art and include a poem. Acrylic paints in 3 colors as well as stencils created the background. The photo was matted on white cardstock and attached to the board. The poem was printed on parchment style copy paper and adhered next to the photo. A foam dot stamp was used to stamp around the poem and blend it into the total piece. Border from the parchment paper was torn and glued to the top and t…


Yesterday we took an afternoon excursion to The Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. It's a nature preserve and historical site that never fails to fill my heart with magic. Along it's many winding and natural paths you can see flowers, little cottages and lush plantings that remind me of a primordial forest.

That trip, as well as reading Stampington Company's new publication "Bella Grace" inspired me to take photos from which to get inspiration for poems and art pieces. I take pictures of events for fun but never considered it as an art form I would be any good at. I need a lot of practice--but I can learn and in the meantime what photos I take can prompt poems and artistic ways to display them.

For my first attempt I am using this photo. I never understood the obsession I see on blogs of people taking photos of their feet, but I tried it and wrote a poem to go with it. I want to take the two and combine them in a scrapbook style art piece that I'll share …


On Sunday July 20 I had the pleasure of doing a book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island. It opened with a sprinkle of rain but then the clouds drifted by and the sunshine prevailed. Amid brilliantly green grapevines, beautiful roses and with the scent of wines kissing the air I enjoyed the company of family and friends. 

Here a few photos to share the day. Hoping to see more of friends and family at my next event.

Also, notice my license plate. I am the POETESSA and will share many more poems and pieces of art with all my blog readers. I will also be sharing information on how making poems and art can help you grow and to share research that shows the therapeutic magic of poetry, art and journaling.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese


Over the past two weeks I've seen several articles in newspapers and magazines asking the question "Does poetry matter?" Facebook posts have shared links to these discourses that either slam down or hike up this ancient form of writing and communication.

"Does poetry matter?" 
Well of course it matters. Maybe I'm more or less of a reliable source on that belief being a poet myself. I wouldn't ridicule this mode of expression and communication since I use it most often for myself and even have a book of poetry out in the world to share the thoughts and feelings that emerge when poems are formed in blue or purple ink.

Poetry reaches to the soul. It's a way in as well as a way out. Reading poems, with their stark and magical images and lyrical, musical lines, tucks emotions deeply under the heart. The messages seem to bypass the linear thought process and go straight to the center. A poem can buoy you up when you're down and comfort and still you when…


When I say Poetry in Motion I mean my poetry and my poetic life are in motion. Dropping off copies of my books, going to poetry open mics and having book signings are all part of the promotion package and I love doing it.

You can find my book "I am My Mother's Only Poem"

at this link for Book Revue

But, though I love doing all of this, I need to get back to writing because that is my first passion. And of course art. I am learning about many new avenues for poetry and art and I want to follow them all. If Robert Frost talks about a road not taken, what I see are many roads I have never taken before but that I wish to explore now as I enter what I consider the next and most creative phase of my life.
Off on the journey and hope you will travel with me.

copyright by Renee Howard Cassese


How exciting!!!
I just dropped one copy  of each of my books off at the Walt Whitman Birthplace to be placed for sale in their gift shop. Then I went to the Book Revue in Huntington where they took six copies of the poetry book to be displayed for sale in their Local and Independent Authors Program! My books are now really for sale in brick and mortar book stores.

All that work has paid off and I am beginning to focus my future a bit more. Poetry is definitely my choice in terms of writing. And here's a picture of my new license plate to prove it!

I need to have art in my life as well so I am working toward incorporating my poems into my art but also narrowing that down to haiku and tanka poems to be made into art. 

As for my retirement years--well much more to figure out first, but when the time comes a big part of what I want to do is teach journal writing classes with a focus on poetry and art journaling. As a certified journal instructor from the Center for Journal Therapy, I will…


This has been an interesting week. I met the other night with a friend who clued me into a newsletter that announces poetry events on Long Island and in NYC. I never knew there was so much poetic energy right here where I live. I'll definitely have to seek these out and meet some more poets.

Today I am going to a poetry workshop and reading at Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington where I can network and get to know other local poets. So looking forward to it and to next weekend's book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.

Yesterday I was happy to have taken the day off. I typed up all the poems I have so far for my new collection, "Ripe Peaches." I know it will take some time to put this one together and I want to send it to small presses rather than self publishing so I have to keep up a steady flow of new poems. Today's workshop should generate a few. I have a class with Lorraine Mejia online and that is producing some new work too.

Melanie Faith is te…


I have loved poetry since I was two years old and heard my first nursery rhyme while sitting on my mother's lap as she read from the pale green first volume of "My Book House Books" series.

I imagine I was even younger but memory slims as the years speed by. I know I was entranced by the musicality of rhythm and rhyme and the flow of descriptive and emotional words as my mother spoke them, and later as I recited them again and again from memory. It wasn't long after that when I picked up a lemon yellow number 2 pencil and began to scribble swirls, curves and straight lines across blank papers.

I came to love the sound of language and the look of words on the page as my scribbles slowly transmuted into letters, words, sentences and eventually poetic verses.

Once I was able to read by myself I discovered the treasures that sleep in the pages of books lined up back to back, exposing their titled spines to my hungry eyes. I read these rhymes over and over and then progre…


Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets
And this is one of my favorite poems:
The Summer Day
By Mary Oliver

Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? The grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell, me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
 **************************             Each of her poems is a perfect prayer. H…

Haibun and Tanka Prose

I love writing my free-verse, stream of consciousness poems but I also like playing with different forms. I want to experiment with some truly structured poetic forms such as sonnets, villanelles, triolets, and others but at the moment I am looking toward haibun and tanka prose, two Japanese forms that I think will work well with my art. They have a magical, mystical quality that lends itself to exploring mixed media techniques in illustrating or creating backgrounds for the poems.

Here is a haiku art piece I created a while back that I'd like to share to give you an idea.

I am writing poems for a future collection and I am leaning toward making it all haibun and tanka prose or perhaps just one section will be in that form.
Haibun are a combination of prose poem and haiku linked together to tell one story. I've seen them with one prose piece followed by one haiku, or a series of alternating prose poems and haiku.
Tanka prose is similar except instead of having haiku intertwined wi…


I am attempting to develop an art style to use when combining my art and my poems and I am getting closer. I think mixed media will work--using a combination of paint and collage and interweaving several layers to get a final look I'm happy with. I want to work toward some consistent look to the pieces and perhaps narrow down the palette to two or three different color combinations. I'm considering maybe a peach-beige-brown combo and a blue-purple-mauve look. Considering some others too. I'm not so happy with this one as it's a bit too brightly yellow, but the composition seems right and I took the lines from one of my poems that still needs a bit of work but I liked how these fit. 

I'd love comments and suggestions and hope you'll come back to see what else is brewing.


On June 12 I held my first book signing event. It was hosted by Julie Hernandez, a good friend and fellow Tapestries Writers' Group member. The signing was held in Julie's space in the yoga studio in Huntington Station and was attended by close friends. It's a good start. Maybe one day my signings will be attended by other poets, new and established writers, and others who will become my future friends.

I am very thankful to Julie and to all who came to see my book, share in some wine and cheese and hear me read. I had not planned to read at the event as I am a bit shy about speaking in front of groups of people. It's a phobia of mine even though I have taught classes of adults and children and presented workshops to my staff and to parents at the special education preschool where I work. In the end it was pretty easy and I'm glad Karen, Lori and Julie encouraged me to do it. Once I got started it was so natural and not anxiety producing at all. I just let myself …


a page from my art journal-not my real artistic work but more informal and laid back processes of using magazine pictures, simple background and doodling

A few ideas have been swirling in my head and beginning to come together to make a plan. I've been listening to Jack Canfield's audio CDs of his book "The Success Principles." Lots of great and encouraging information and it makes the commute to work seem shorter and much more interesting. Listening to him speak really encourages the listener to shoot for the moon and aim for the farthest stars. I am beginning to believe I can do what I set out to do.
One of the most telling "principles" in Canfield's book is the one about "being willing to pay the price," meaning implementing the time and effort and energy required to achieve your goals. And it means being willing to give up doing and having all the other things in your life that do not catapult you in the direction you want to go. That's …


Still figuring out different ways to incorporate art and poetry. Sometimes the poems lend themselves to certain artistic styles, other times it takes some manipulating and pondering. Not totally happy with this particular piece but I want to share the process with you.

I began by painting a base of ivory acrylic to the paper then stamped the script background using tan and gold paint. I used a flower stencil to add another layer and outlined the petals with a black permanent Sharpie marker in fine point. I also used a stencil that created polka dots in a blend of dark coral and orange in the underlying background.

I searched through a journal of my poems to find something that hit me as usable in an art piece and ended up choosing a few lines of one poem. I had to do a bit of revision even on those till it felt right. I was drawn to this poem because it speaks to the mode I'm in right now in my life. Exploring different avenues for creativity and growing some sort of retirement busi…


I'm getting into focus again with poetry and art. Yesterday I reorganized my art supplies and started a layered background piece to mount a poem on. Art and poetry are definitely anchors for me. They bring me closer to my heart and soul and I turn to them for grounding and support. But today I want to talk about other anchors in my life.

Last week at a Weight Watchers meeting my leader Patty asked us to choose an anchor to use when we encounter struggles with staying on program. At first I couldn't come up with anything. Later that night it dawned on me that of course I could use my mother's wedding band and diamond ring that I have been wearing for the past six years. I often spin them around my right hand ring finger or play with them when trying to figure out a puzzle or make a decision. So I decided to use that anchor to also help me stay on track. It was a good choice because I can still here Mom's voice telling me to lose weight so I can be healthy.

That night I ha…

Playing with Watercolor

I keep searching for different ways to incorporate my poetry with art. I've tried mixed media and scrapbook designs as well as collage and art journal techniques. Though I have enjoyed the process and product in every one of these methods I've wanted to explore using watercolors.

Till now I haven't been able to get the right blending of different colors and the right balance between transparency and the intensity of color that I want. After a few tries I finally discovered that the trick of blending is to paint wet-on-wet and getting the right color depth is just a matter of trial and error, being careful not to end up with a muddy effect.

I like the idea of adding some stencil work for detail and will continue to try different designs and patterns. I also want to experiment with layers of materials and background stamps and stencils to get more depth to the finished pictures. I'll keep working at it and try different things to see which I like best but my ultimate goal …


pink and yellow
flower fans
wave to the sun

I am beginning a new collection of poetry and plan to add even more art than I had in "I am My Mother's Only Poem." One section of poems will be titled "Arboretum" and will incorporate photographs of flowers and scenes from our trips to the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale. The poems will focus on my connection to nature as a spiritual path.

The photo above was taken of batches of daffodils and tulips that were quite abundant when we visited on Mother's Day. It prompted a haiku I wanted to share with you as a bit of sneak peak at the book that is merely in a fetal stage at the moment.

Flowers, sunshine, the dramatic light of a clouded afternoon, along with misty paths, magical herons, and sunning turtles, will grace the pages of the Arboretum section of this upcoming poetry collection. Along the border of the arboretum is the Connetquot River whose power and gentility run together showing us just one of nature's…

Book Contest Giveaway

Today's the day!
I want to give away 2 copies of my book "I am My Mother's Only Poem"
The date is 5/23 so I will send a book to the fifth and twenty third person to comment on the blog.
Since this is all about poetry I will also send a bookmark to the winners if they add a poem to the comment.
I'll be looking for your comments!


The word inspire:
~~ to inhale
~~ to fill someone with the desire to create

So many people approach writers and artists with the question, "where do you get your ideas?" While I do understand why they want to know where stories, paintings, poems, sculptures come from the question still amazes me. That's because ideas seem to find me, rather than my having to seek them in the world around me.

Writers find ideas in places like

a budding floweran overheard conversationa news articleanother story or poemdreamsimagesFor me they come fast and furious all the time. And I find that the more ideas I have the more I get. It's a self priming pump of images, words, thoughts, beliefs, and yes dreams too. Just this morning ideas followed me, causing me to be late leaving for work as I had to jot them down in my inspiration journal or on post-its that I am never without. Because though ideas come to me easily and unbidden they are ephemeral and disappear like clouds on a sunny day. They…

Spring thaw

It's been a tremendously long and frigid winter. Spring has been cool and rainy, stretching out the weeks of torture toward warm sunshine. But Mother's Day brought wonderful warmth and sun and last weekend Mother Nature finally shone her light full force and covered us with the warm blanket of her love. 

Trees are budding and flowers are blossoming and the birds wake bright and early to lure me from dreams with their happy songs. And all of this has drawn out the poet in me. It is bringing me back to the heart and soul of what I love--poetry and art. And returning me to this blog where I should be as I create a new poetry collection to follow "I am My Mother's Only Poem"

I feel my heart tempted by the stacks of canvas board and art journals waiting with their wonderful blank white surfaces. I feel the pull toward my bins of paint, oil pastels, rubber stamps and brushes. 

I will be back here to share new poems and ne…