Art is a lie that helps us understand the truth.
Many of us live with our fireworks locked inside: stories of our lives, stories we may avoid but that we want or need to tell. Stories we did not even know existed until invited to explore in a safe community of fellow travelers. Here at Writer’s Catapult we can escape: break out of the humdrum sequences & patterns of the every day. Skyrocket your creative ambitions. Galway Kinell remarks that it is the dream of every poem to be a myth, a prayer, a speech to the cosmos. Let me help you compose your own dynamic prayers. Enjoy the process while cultivating a sense of humor & your work ethic.
Maya Angelou reminds us, There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. You can also have some fun with your own whimsical fireworks display. I’ll applaud the blast off. Mentoring you is a privilege I will never take for granted.
Make it clear. Make it bold. Make it brief.
You can write & have fun. How? Join us at Writer’s Catapult. Follow proven creative models. Employ our strategies as you develop and experiment with your own content, tone, sound, format or diction. As you implement our models, your techniques and tactics will evolve into a tool kit that will constitute your own style and repertoire.
Each of us already do this but it is out of our consciousness. Writing and language acquisition involve listening & reshaping the content of what you hear from family & community & from what was read to you as a child.
To achieve effective revision, Writer’s Catapult helps you hone the skills of a practiced surgeon with the discrimination of a poet. We enable you to follow William Faulkner’s advice: Slay your darlings! Yes, it is daunting, but these are skills. They can be learned. Below are more thoughts on revision:
I advise a novice to revise, to do it well,
first write on the head of an angel or pin.
Right it write or downside up. Invoke mud pie metaphor.
Locate some surreal playground. Dig deep.
Smooth your sticky patties, sculpt & pat as mud splatters.
Temper cravings for coronation in white space or by the academy,
divorce all errant longings for literary orgasm. Play.
Forget the Blake-Whitman transcendence tradition
or any hyper-scrupulous, gold-plated ostentation.
Slay your darlings, embrace, then discard the flawed.
Grab any passing, unmarried muse, Bunny Hop or Two-Step —
then Waltz, Boogie-Woogie, Hokey-Pokey, Hully Gully, or Twist again,
get down, get wonky, then Tango right off that set.
–Reprinted from Slay Your Darlings
The map is never the territory.
But maps can inform. While I am not my resume nor memoir, teaching is in my DNA. I thrive on it. However, I am also a therapist & while biblio-therapy intrigues me, it is not the making of art. It is also not necessarily even effective therapy, especially when it diverges into pathos or whining.
Catharsis has been over-rated since the days of Antigone & Oedipus. Recycled angst won’t purge you or put a spring in your step; it won’t attract a healthy audience, but it will attract gawkers.
Ultimately, good writing isn’t about educational theories or my teaching philosophy, methods or curricula, but the students.
I encourage novices to explore in a safe place, with the assist of common sense protocols as they respect & support each other with kind but candid feedback. It’s essentially an experiment in community-building. Ideally it grows into its own lyrics.
OPEN LETTER TO THE APPRENTICE
The End. It worked well in grade four, but you’ll need something with a little more pizzazz to wrap up an effective piece of creative non-fiction or poetry. Avoid the drab, the lazy or the conventional. This site is NOT a rehash of the rote, ho-hum, formulaic, expository writing straight-jacket that many conventional American college & high school students & their teachers have been required to parrot. You CAN have a beginning, middle & end without tedium.
You can even parrot or paraphrase, but you do not need to do so monotonously, if you wish to stay awake & also to entice readers. Below are a few fundamentals.
Basic principles employed on this site:
- Startle & intrigue in your introduction: use a hook!
- “Show don’t tell.”
- Be concise.
- Employ vivid action verbs. Avoid adverbs,
- Choose adjectives & abstract nouns carefully,
- Use images instead.
- Practice parallel structure.
- Don’t preach.
- Avoid the “dread” chopped prose.
- Practice sentence variety; vary length, tone, structure, diction & complexity.
These tips will keep both you & your readers engaged. If this list confuses, don’t worry. As you hone your work & evolve, read my blogs & visit the resource tab, review the worksheets & glossary periodically. Read on & then reread. And finally know:
The Universe will not create for you what you are not willing to create for yourself. –Nikola Tesla
Up your game.
Then raise your standards. I’m here to help. Use the Rough Draft Rubric & get yourself a partner. Show up to workshop. Good writing delights as well as informs. Ask yourself, am I having any fun, is my reader? Have I put some real blueberries into my imaginary muffins? Do you grapple with some universal human truth, do you offer an insight, a different slant or some closure? Then ask the so what & who cares questions.
If you don’t measure up, it’s time to trash, delete or recycle. Life is too short to be boring or settle for platitudes or the predictable. Mindset, models & process all matter, but don’t kid yourself, so does work ethic.
Finally, let me also echo and applaud David Ladinsky, author of Darling I Love You,
The creation of art is a salvation in itself. When you make the pen dance, play an instrument with your soul, or excitedly talk about a project, the universe applauds. You bless the planet and all near when happy. Enthusiasm emits a fragrance we need. Adore what you can on this alter of miraculous existence, even during a dark night, everything is a magic lamp if you just know how to rub it.
$100 a month, 4 weekly meetings 423-280-1629 email@example.com
The Chapbook Manuscript Program=10 months, $1000 OR The Jumpstart=8 weeks, $200
ABOUT SALLY NAYLOR
Writer, teacher & coach Sally studied with Campbell McGrath in the Florida International University MFA program; she also thrived in classes with Maxine Kumin, Gerald Stern, Tony Hoagland & Ilya Kaminsky. Associate editor of SOFLOPOJO, (South Florida Poetry Journal) she teaches community workshops for the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, leads her own Writer’s Catapult Zoom workshops, writes memoir as well as poetry, self-help & texts for emerging writers & poets. Below is an excerpt from a manuscript as concise introduction:
Bold, unrepentant, ready: a kind of ginger, myth buster & kaon mistress, rogue, free & holy skeptic, all snake hips & hiss, hyperbole’s own gadfly, one quirky mechanic tuning the orgasmic — how her hymns buzz.
Sally Naylor, a perennial gypsy, enjoys the water birds on her lake in Coral Springs, Florida, and then escapes to the Canadian Maritime provinces each summer.
Writer, therapist and teacher, Sally has taught and written curricula on the university and secondary school levels for English, counseling courses & the gifted.
Today poetry workshops & her Zoom-shops for Writer’s Catapult, building this website, writing curricula, speaking, travel, improv, yoga & tight rope walking keep her out of trouble. Mostly.
Sally has indulged herself with the best teachers: including Gerald Stern, Maxine Kumin, Campbell McGrath, Jim Daniels, Tom Lux, Chard de Niord, Tony Hoagland, Ilya Kaminski & Traci Brimhall.
Firebird, her first collection, is available on Amazon, as are her memoir, Rogue Nirvana, Heresies & Sweet Basil and Riffs. She took the lead in editing an anthology of her Broward County, Florida poetry workshop, Slay Your Darlings: An Anthology by the No Name Poets, December, 2016.
First Light for Emerging Poets provides a commonsense workbook which advocates for attitudes that keep creative & personal demons at bay & presents a method vital to a neophyte’s easy success. This first volume of Naylor’s curricula of innovative strategies for fledgling writers debuted October, 2019.
She is also author of one chapbook: Synapses Flies Into Startle: The Orgasm Book scheduled to launch by Poetry Box Press on March 15, 2021. Her self-help book, The Schlepp Factor, is a work in progress.
Degrees & Certifications:
University of Texas, BS, Education, English & history majors
Master of Science, Mental Health Counseling, Barry University
Florida International University, MFA: Poetry
NLP Comprehensive: NLP Practitioner, Illinois Institute for Conflict Resolution
Access Consciousness Facilitator, Body Process Practitioner & Reiki Master
TEACHERS, COLLEAGUES & STUDENTS
Powerful pile-ups of lyrical images mark this notable first book: Firebird. Naylor is a seasoned writer whose life story runs from fiercely elegiac poems for Miami, its electric chaos and alien cacophonies to a profoundly moving elegy for her husband: I crawled into the high narrow bed of your dying and held you followed by a wild gallop of poems of praise of the new which alone are worth the price of admission.
–Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize
ODE TO SALLY NAYLOR
Working with Sally & Writer’s Catapult has been pure joy and an amazing transformation. Her lessons organically guide and clarify why you want to write and what you need to know to write well. Her approach is supportive and provides just the right amount of constructive criticism for step by step improvements. Her lessons are fun to do and motivating. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to work with Sally. She is a fantastic teacher. Thank you, Sally, for helping me find my voice through creative writing.
— Romi Tarlamis
Sally is an intuitive teacher. She provides just the right amount of guidance and encouragement to support tender artistic buddings and offers innovative tools to practice, helping an inexperienced writer (like myself) produce amazing poems and prose.
Whether poignant or playful, soulful or satirical, Sally Naylor’s poems in Rogue Nirvana are spiritually spot on. A perfect complement to the text, both offer a sane means with which to negotiate the world with an independent sense of ease or panache.
–Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet
XCELLING IN MS. N’S CLASS: AN ABECEDARIAN
fastidious, whether it be
just a session of meditation,
key vocabulary words or
undoubtedly from the
very depths of her soul, never
your lack of
zeal or zest.
–Ty Levie, grade 8, The Baylor School
Synapse Flies Into Startle is an honest, uninhibited, brave exploration of those intimate moments when we are most vulnerable, most powerful, most bestial, most human, most alone, most united, most selfish, most generous, most profane, most sacred…told with wit, deep insight, delightful quirkiness, and profound sensitivity. It speaks to our most mysterious and unexplored common denominator. A book to savor!
–Lynda Pinto Torres
This feverish collection of poems interweaves sexual gymnastics with the poet’s verbal foreplay in such a way that we are tossed in dizzying intoxication from mattress to mattress of her poetic aspirations. Sally Naylor’s poems offer expansive meanings of the wondrous miracle of orgasm through numerous imaginative “sallies,” such as “sonic apostles of fine crystal,” “high riddles,” “green whistles,” “trip wires & trampolines,”— to name just a few definitions you will not find in the dictionary. This is a book where the world of the body and the body of poetry merge. For example, Naylor reveals the method to her madness in the appropriately titled, CURRICULUM VITAE, where “she tosses the confetti of an animated diction/ & peppers it with a school-girl dereliction.” In other pieces we find ourselves “electric, galvanized, kinetic,” amidst the inventions of her language. Hyper-hyphenated teasers include “raven-winged offerings,” ” hill-top yowls” and “god-self darlings.” The sheer seduction of these poems leaves us, in Rumi’s words, ” pulled from one fire—” and “pushed into another.”
–Deborah DeNicola, freelance editor, Associate Editor SOFLOPOJO
Sally Naylor’s Synapse Flies into Startle: The Orgasm Book is a rap, a hoot, a song; it’s the Fourth of July of love-making in words for flesh and lust. One does not read these poems, one revels in them. Naylor’s free-fall and ramped-up romp in the haymaking of sex, love, not-love, almost love, some love, lovers, losers, orgasm and faked orgasms, scintillates with rhythmic, gyrating lines, and images of hypnotic synaptic firings in the brain and groin. These poems are not for the faint of heart or bashful. Naylor’s honesty is unnerving, without inhibitions, no stop signs. They’ll set your hair, loins and heart on fire.
–Lenny DellaRocca, Founder, Co-Publisher, SOFLOPOJO
Sally Naylor is a poet of both heart and mind, of feeling and intellect. Her poetry creates a world of domestic comforts and small scale natural wonders, meticulously crafted believably inhabited, wonderful to visit. It is a pleasure to welcome Firebird into our midst.
–Campbell McGrath, Mac Arthur “Genius” Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, finalist, Pulitzer Prize
I am grateful that you let me audit this class and participate when I could, thank you for helping me understand the world of poetry I am glad to have met you and to have been able to experience a community class atmosphere, even if only for a brief time. Thanks again Sally for all your dedication to teaching this art. Well wishes, stay safe.
— Supriya Padki
& beyond time
but now, always now –
her fox feet dance
when lightning strikes,
the laughter coursing
through to the great earth,
where the heron struts
and her very flesh
becomes a great poem.
She slips under & over
as the breeze
— Linda Flaherty Haltmaier, Poet Laureate, Andover, Massachusetts
Sally — I do appreciate your tutelage.
Can you believe I’ve written ten poems in the one+ month I’ve been taking your classes?
I’m excited about poetry. Thanks so much for guiding me into it.