Forget Criss Angel–Mindfreak, here’s Richard Zowie–Penfreak

What term would best describe someone who’s passionate about pens and appreciates a good writing instrument?

Some might suggest penologist, but that’s actually already taken. It refers to someone who studies the impact incarceration has on inmates.

Let’s see…Criss Angel is called Mindfreak. Perhaps Richard Zowie should be called Penfreak.

Just a thought…

Post comments here or contact Penfr–er, Richard Zowie at richardzowie@gmail.com.

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Poems on pens, style, clouds, a pretty lady, odes and wisdom

9-18-2011 — Drums and Pens

In a magazine
I saw an
Elaborate
Drum kit.
Only two hands and two legs
Yet so many
Drums,
Cymbals and hi-hat.
What drums, cymbals, kick drums, hi-hat.
Why, how they are used
Depend on
The song, the tempo.
I have
Black, blue, red, purple
Papermate Profits, Silhouette Elites, 300 RTs
Zebras
And a few Parkers.
Waht, which, how, when, why
Depends on
What’s being written, how, why
And, sometimes,
It’s all up to my mood.

9-21-2011 S.E. Hinton and 60s to 70s style

When S.E. Hinton wrote
That Was Then, This Is Now,
And observed
Greasers combing their hair over their foreheads
And Socs dressing to look poor,
For me,
This 1971 observation
Captured
The transition
Of 1960s
To 1970s Style.

9-22-2011 — Dirty Clouds

Dirty billows of cotton
Fill the blue sky
How they must be having fun
As they slowly float by
Not a care in the world
Atop the world
As they look at us and observe
They lack the nerve
To leave their home
And among us roam.

9-25-2011 — The Beautiful, Unhappy Woman

The thin,
Curly blond-haired,
Blue-gray-eyed
5’5″-ish
Beautiful woman
Asks for cigarettes
Her once-medium-high voice
Now a little hoarse,
Gravelly, upper range.
She wears a ring
And her eyes
Avoid her smile.
Sometimes I wonder
If smoking
Is the result
Of that piece of metal she wears
And
Of the eyes that won’t smile.

9-25-2011 — Ode to the Ode

You always work so hard
Paying homage to others.
Now,
It’s time
For you to be recognized
I honor you, Ode.
Enjoy.

9-25-2011 — Chinese and American Wisdom

In the land called
中国,
A wise person once observed:
“Failure is the mother of success.”
Fast forward a millennia or so.
In the land called America
(Or, in 中文, 美国)
A somewhat wise writer said:
“Life is a chess match.
“Always think at least
“Ten moves ahead
“When making important decisions.”

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

Poems about icicles, German and pens

Note: Any poem with just a date listed is “untitled”.

2-11-2011 — Ode to the Icicle Liberator

Why do I love

To break off icicles?

When I see them

Dangling from buildings

Clear to milky white

Smooth

Shiny

Sometimes sharp,

Sometimes blunt

They beckon me

To rescue them

To break them off

To free them

To become water again.

I break them off,

Slippery and cold,

The snap a brittle twig.

I wonder if people watch,

Laughing,

Rolling their eyes,

Shaking their heads,

Wondering why

That big-nosed guy

Acts so weird.

They assume I have a choice

And they assume wrong.

To walk past a distressed icicle

To ignore its pleas

Is to tolerate

An unreachable, insatiable itch.

As the great philosophers Hall and Oates said:

“I can’t go for that. No can do.”

A simple pleasure

Is how I see it.

 2-13-2011 — Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“Nein,” I’d say.

Hesitating, my choppy, slow reply:

“Ich keine spreche Deutsch.”

If not the grammar,

My American accent

Butchers the language

Of mein Urgroßvater.

I say my r’s in the soft way Americans do,

Ruff! Rrrrrr!

Instead of saying them like w’s.

The umlats ä , ö , ü

Are, well, foreign.

Why do some Germans

Say “kh” for “ch”

Others “sh” for “ch”?

Funny how a language

So closely related to English

Can sound so different.

2-13-2011 — Pens

I know many look at me

Cringing

Murmuring

Rolling their eyes

Laughing

Gossiping

Wondering why

Richard is

So obsessed

With pens.

I like being creative.

Creativity demands

Insists

Commands

Specific pens

With a specific color.

Black ink might work

For most people

But I am not most people.

I’m different.

Papermates and Zebras for me.

Black, blue, red, purple

(Not wild about green)

Make me squeal.

My fingers dance

Great writing gets done.

Richard Zowie writes poems first using pen and paper and then transfers them onto a computer for posting on his blogs. Post comments here or e-mail richardzowie@gmail.com.

Poems: After the Blizzard, Ode to the Papermate Design

Here are two poems I recently wrote. Normally I prefer prose but have been in the mood recently to write poems. Enjoy… 

2-3-2011 — After the Blizzard

 The snow is piled

High, bright and white.

The bright sunshine

Becomes far brighter.

The bright blue sky

Has only

Distant tufts of clouds.

A calm, quiet aftermath

Of an ugly blizzard–

–no school for three days.

The harmless skies are a

Gatling Gun

Fired red hot countless times at

Bull Run, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Now silent, mute for decades,

Cold as an Arctic crypt.

The young generation looks, innocent, amused

Not knowing it was ever used.

2-6-2011 — Ode to the Papermate Design

For my birthday

Para mi cumpleaños

在我的生日
Для моего Днем Рождения
 

Zu meinem Geburtstag

I splurged

What the heck

Modest Christmas

$4.99 for two

Papermate Designs

Medium Point.

Fine point? Ugh!

One-point-six millimeter? Again, ugh!

This medium,

Not too bad.

It’s a little pricy but

Still,

Almost enough

To cease my memories

Of the

Discontinued Silkwriter BP’s

That Papermate in its finite wisdom

Decided to quit making.

I originally wrote this poem

In a blue notebook with a plastic cover

Using a Papermate Design.

I like it a lot.

Even the one with Pink designs.

Richard Zowie may continue writing poems. Feel free to critique–even if you’re the Simon Cowell type and think reading the above poems are comparable to dragging a fork across a plate. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

Richard Zowie’s The Joy of Journaling

As a writer, it goes without saying that you should write every single day. Part of that is keeping a journal (or diary, if you prefer) of what you do on a daily basis. I’m finding my style is a mixture: I liked President Ronald Reagan’s “what I did today” style that he used in The Reagan Diaries, but I also like to throw in some commentary here and there. This way, a future American literature student won’t be put to sleep reading through my archives.

Sometimes, I write longhand and throw in some doodles while other times I write by computer. While it can be fun to allow my left hand to get some exercise working with a trusty Papermate pen, I prefer the computer since I can get my ideas down faster.

I will say that what I journal about generally stays in the journal. This isn’t Live Journal. Some things are personal and will stay personal.

Unfortunately, I also tend to be a prolific procrastinator when it comes to journaling. I’m sorry to say there are entire years of my life where I did not keep a journal. It’s a shame; procrastination is a major vice of mine.

Lord willing, I can return back to investing five minutes of my time each day to writing what happened on that day.

Richard Zowie is a writer. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’ chapter ‘How to Feed and Keep a Muse’

For those of us who are writers, the description of a muse can be as diverse as how world cultures and religions define God(s). For some, a muse is an English teacher with some crisp British accent admonishing us to not waste time but to get down to business and to write. Others think of a muse as a gentle encourager. (“Come on, you don’t really need to watch another rerun of Frasier, do you? Hmmmm?”). For those who like to write stories delving into seedy or sassy subjects, perhaps their muse is some sort of dominatrix who cracks the whip anytime they’re not diligently putting words on paper. (“Get writing! WOO-PSSSSSSH! Now!!!)

The muse’s job is simple: to encourage us to write and to inspire us to write. In some cases, such as looming deadlines or story ideas that began to fade or grow too stale if neglected too long, to order us to write.

No, this Papermate Dynagrip isn’t my muse, but it is my favorite of the non-click Papermate pens.

Mr. Bradbury talks about muses and how to feed and keep them. It’s a very difficult task. His view of a muse is of some painfully shy Greek goddess. Hold her too tight, and she’s gone. Hold her too loosely and she zooms away. A writer needs a happy balance.

He believes it’s a mistake for a writer to focus excessive attention on the muse themselves, comparing a muse to specks in an eye membrane that can cause vision to become a little cloudy. Instead, a person should focus on the big picture and see things clearly.

How does one feed a muse? Mr. B suggests doing things that should come across seasoned writers as very obvious: read as much as possible; write as often as you can (at least 1,000 words of fiction writing a day). Besides these two things, become a sharp observer of the world. Take in sights, smells, sounds, tastes, touches. Use these to become a better writer and to make your writing come alive.

We have originality, Mr. Bradbury reminds us. No two people see the same event in exactly the same way. I suspect this applies even to identical twins to a strong extent.

When we write, our muse wants us to write in passion and in truth. Mr. B recalls his father’s stories of traveling in Arizona (back when it was a U.S. territory) and Minnesota and how his dad spoke truthfully and passionately. It really makes me think that when creating a story character, you should do your best to describe the world from their viewpoint–even if you normally would disagree with that person. Show their drive and their determination. And when you describe a story, do so in a determined way that gives the reader (who may have never traveled to that location) a great idea of what it’s like.

In short, Mr. Bradbury says, the muse is a fantastic storehouse of our complete being where we store our memories, interests, observations, interactions–all the tools we need to become a great writer.

Furthermore, he suggests these also to feed a muse:

1) Read poetry daily. In fact, some of Mr. Bradbury’s stories come from poetry he’s read. I remember the short story The Exiles, published in The Illustrated Man, begins with witches reciting a poem as they brewed a concoction inside a cauldron.

2) Read books of essays. We presume this would be books beside the one I’m currently blogging about. Mr. B believes these can help the sense of smell and hearing when writing.

3) Novels, short stories

4) Comics

These are all designed to help you learn the tools you’ll need to become a good writer.

Mr. B also says a person should: “Do not, for money, turn away from all the stuff you have collected in a lifetime;

“Do not, for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from waht you are–the material within you which makes you individual, and therefore indispensible to others.”

Furthermore, feeding a muse means taking long walks at night in the city or town, or walks in the country at day and long walks through libraries and bookstores.

Mr. Bradbury believes that writing a thousand words daily will help your muse to take shape and will exercise your creativity and storytelling muscles. By doing this, by living well, and practicing close observation, you will have fed your muse well. Just as an athlete frequently exercises to stay in shape, a writer must write frequently.

Finally, what’s my idea of a muse? At this stage of life, she looks a lot like my wife, Jennifer, and she gently but firmly encourages me that getting published as a writer helps pay the bills and is a step closer to my dream job: fiction writer.

Richard Zowie’s been a writer for 10 years and has several unpublished fiction short stories. Post comments here or e-mail richardzowie@gmail.com.

Unable to locate my favorite Papermate pen

For the record, it’s a Papermate Silkwriter BP. Not the current silkwriter (which has a 1.6 mm tip and tends to leak gunky ink), but the older model with the see-through barrel, the metal clasp and ribbed rubber grip.

When I enquired about this pen to Sanford (Papermate’s parent company), I was told they no longer make it.

I love Papermate pens, but why is it they no longer make the great pens while making the el cheapos that do a lousy job of writing?

I keep checking out various stores in hopes I’ll see some being sold. At the Shop Rite in Vassar, Michigan two years ago, they had some for sale. I’ve also seen some on the internet, and I’ll see about picking some up when I have extra cash.

What I like to write with: Papermate Silkwriter (old model)

I honestly can’t think of anything I dislike about this pen. In fact, it very well may be my all-time favorite Papermate to write with. It’s a clear plastic, so you can see how much ink you’ve used. It has a rubbery barrel that’s easy to grip. The ink is dark, doesn’t skip and smudges very little. And it has a sturdy metal clasp to fasten the pen to your pocket or shirt collar. I also have noticed, interestingly enough, that my handwriting improves a lot when I write with it. That’s an added bonus. Alas, Papermate doesn’t seem to be issuing this pen out too often these days. I hope they will. I’d love to get black, blue, red and possibly even purple and green.

Ironically enough, the new model of the Papermate Silkwriter is one of my least favorites. It tends to leak thick ink and at 1.6 millimeters the ballpoint is far too wide. (I prefer medium point that’s no more than 1.2).

I keep telling my wife that someday I’ll narrow my pen collection to my top favorite Papermates and then just collect pens as a novelty.