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How I get past a writing slump with the NY Times

Some time ago I started subscribing to various print newspapers. It was probably the nostalgia, remembering my dad sitting in the afternoon reading the paper, the piles of discarded sections laying at his feet while I patiently waited for the comics and the tv guide. I also fondly remember the birthdays and holidays where my brother and I would receive gifts neatly wrapped in the brightly colored Sunday Comic section– a tradition I still hold with my children.



These days I have two print newspaper subscriptions: The New York Times, and my local paper, The East Bay Times. Both papers hold very different purposes for me. The East Bay Times is where I go for the local stories, my horoscope, and the comics. The other day I passed a local school and noticed many volunteers painting and building a new playground. It looked fantastic! The next morning I learned in the East Bay Times that CarMax had donated $10,000 to the school for the improvements. This school is just a mile from my house and reading about the way the kids got to participate in the renovations was the best way to start my morning.

I also cannot skip the section with the horoscopes and Dear Miss Abby. Advice columns always have the juiciest bits of human lives hidden just beyond the pages of war and stock market woes. You really cannot miss those sections. And of course I end on a chuckle with the comics. I will always be a child at heart.


What really gets my writing wheels turning when I am in a slump is my weekly delivery of the New York Times. More global and dynamic in its reach, the NYT has a way of creatively grabbing me with its words in a way that makes me want to mine for the golden bits and keep them for another day. That is exactly what I do. Most sundays I take a couple of sharpies and I create erasure poems. They start out like a kind of creative word search where I learn a bit from whatever article I have chosen, then I mark it up and make a new art piece out of it.


I often do this then come back later and see if I can make a longer piece out of the short poems I have created. Or, I am just thankful I created something for the day and I store up the words and phrases for later. My favorite article I did this with was one that appeared in the July 17, 2022 edition of the NY Times titled 'Anthropause' During the Pandemic Healed Nature, but Hurt It, Too


Seabirds

flock

With abundant

tragedy

Absence

can have

intense impacts

Humans

Impact birds

Singing

and overnight

wounds still resume


The article itself was masterful in discussing the pros and cons of our meddling in the natural world during the early peak of the pandemic. As you can assume, there were many pros to a lack of human interference in the daily happenings of flora and fauna. However, with all things, there is a balance and an order. Humans are a part of the ecosystem and as the article points out, each ecosystem is very delicate.


With my poem, I wanted to highlight the absence and the impact and the fact that whether we are here or there, we still can cause wounds. It is important for humans to care and take steady steps in our delicate ecosystems in order to preserve them.


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