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May 27, 2014: Lucky fool

I tend to think it takes some heartache or despair to inspire me to write a poem… the way I did so many times in the past. Tonight I just put myself here, turned off the music, and let the words find me. Here they are, right off the top of my head, making me think, maybe it’s not all that complicated.

You Lucky Fool
by Roger Darnell Read more

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Nov. 21, 1998: Character

In November of 1998, Beth and I were living in our Barrington Way townhome in Glendale, California, which hosted us and our cats nicely enough through a very exciting and challenging time. Going back to Arc of the Poet, that was our critical California move in the so-called “Fame and Fortune” era. While I was extremely thankful at that time to have landed on the staff of Crest National in Hollywood, my film industry dreams were still very personal, and I pressed on to the best of my abilities on every front. Externally, I continued to “swing for the fence” by submitting my best writing up to that point to places like the Guggenheim Foundation, to competitions, literary agents and contacts I thought might take an interest in the projects or the talent behind them. Internally, even at that time which is now almost 15 years in the past, I had identified a “next level” goal: writing a novel. Maybe if I had won that 1999-2000 Guggenheim Fellowship I applied for in late 1998, I would have made more progress.

Today, that objective remains very high on my list, and my nine-year-old son Riley is just one of the writers in my life who is showing me how it’s done. Through his fourth grade class, he is participating in National Novel Writing Month. He took off at the beginning of November and has been piling on the words.

Another real inspiration for me is my father-in-law Bill Martin. His sixth book has just gone off to the publisher – so the first paperback edition of “Rio Pecos Compound” is just a few weeks away. The adventures continue on the “Tales of Mason” website: http://williamfmartin.com

With all of my writing experience, when I look at long-form fiction writing, my vision splinters into a great number of facets. I feel the responsibilities as designer, architect, resident artist, builder and storyteller, for starters. And as these pieces are organized, then comes the time to put them into action. In the past, I have been able to move characters forward within some pretty interesting narratives; solid choice of subject matter is imperative. That is where I have found myself many times over the years, ready and willing but needing to write the right thing.

I have a guess that when the alignment occurs, it becomes sort of sublime. Below is a poem I wrote on 11/21/98. Amid all the outward amplification of myself happening at that time, inside I knew I had to write engagingly and thoughtfully. So many words can go into something – each must hook, tantalize, convey and deliver along the way toward somewhere worth going, for some reason. I usually wonder this: What’s the reason?

Character
by Roger Darnell Read more

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May 17, 1996: The Bridge Holds

I wrote this poem exactly 17 years ago today. It was several months after the excitement of working on NBC’s seaQuest had given way to some different kinds of fun for Beth and me, but about 18 months before we surprised ourselves and everyone we knew by moving to California. This was written in May (always a favorite time of year), and much to my delight, those days were mostly spent handling very fun freelance production assignments (for example, shooting with Randy Baker for NASCAR), rewriting a screenplay for a futuristic thriller, and writing, editing and submitting poetry to top literary publications.

The Bridge Holds
by Roger Darnell

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Dec. 15, 2012: Talented

Proud moment here: Amelia’s original poem has been published in the 2012 poetry collection “Talented” from the America Library of Poetry. She is letting me publish it here, too. Enjoy! Read more

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April 6, 1992: Careful

Beth and Roger in Orlando, 1991.

Thinking back on my life 20 years ago, I have to say that today seems so much simpler. I wrote about that key personal era in “Arc of the Poet Part 6,” and although I think it makes for interesting reading, recalling those days is rather bracing for me. I had so much to prove to myself and the short list of others whose opinions really mattered to me, and although I was confident in my strengths and abilities, I was unsure about so much more. While I had come very far with the gifts provided by my family, as well as those I was earning for myself, the new chapters seemed to hold promises I was almost afraid to hope for. Within weeks of writing the poem below, I began my new role as the husband of Beth Darnell. That dream-come-true continues today, thanks in part to the instincts revealed below which made me realize that the opportunities I was facing were precious and must be handled with care.

Careful

by Roger Darnell

There could be a
limerick or something
back there,
something quick and terse —
elucidating, uproarious,
stabbing.

But I just want to say
everything’s going so fast;

you know, not in every way…
but in most,
it really is.

Can’t say much more
than that.
Although I can fit in

something
about
love
and about
thanks, and graciousness,
and pay attentions.
And carefuls.

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Arc of the Poet, Part 15: Being

“Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.” ― Eckhart Tolle

Like you and everyone else of course, when it comes down to essential facts, I have my parents to thank for my existence. Following on through with my countdown ‘Ramble’ project, I end (for now) this shared journey. These words complete a poetic arc for yours truly, and looking ahead, I am aiming to write and produce new works you will find to be flat-out fascinating.

At this point in my life, I have grown to love the act of writing a poem. It’s most sacred to me… Read more

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Arc of the Poet, Part 14: Ramblings

More than ten years ago, after relocating to the Blue Ridge Mountains and making final preparations for parenthood (we actally studied The Bradley Method), Beth and I launched into this current phase of our love story. Experiencing life’s joys and sorrows together over the next couple of years, while diligently tending to my business and supporting personal projects for many members of the family, I wondered what was to come for the creative writer. In 2002, I made up an answer, in the form of a new writing project named Ramble. In it, I aimed to address my personal challenges, write simply and seek new focus. From the beginning, these words have appeared at the top: “This document will hopefully grow in the weeks ahead to represent a journey: the rediscovery of the writer inside a person caught up in his life as businessman, husband and parent.”

Going mostly on instinct, I limited each line to 38 characters, wrote the first entry 73 lines long, and planned to make each subsequent verse one line shorter. If all went as hoped, I figured the final line would be something significant, even if most of the others might be forgettable.

Leaping ahead to the present, Ramble has been somewhat miraculous to me; as you might expect, it changed dramatically over time… and so have I. For the first, longest verses, I vented in detail about momentous developments, including some of the bigger political and global issues of those days. Progressively, I grew more and more daunted in facing the need to communicate things of real importance concisely. For anyone arriving at a crossroads in life with ability and time to write, I encourage a similar writing challenge. If you don’t have years and years to devote, begin with a five-line poem, then count down four, three, two and one: In my experience, it’s a productive approach at focusing oneself. Read more

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Arc of the Poet, Part 13: Fame and Fortune

A good number of great people have expressed at least some appreciation for my writing over the years. Since long ago, many believers have expressed confidence in these abilities, and I feel that their belief is essential to who I am. When I think about what’s to come for me as a writer and artist, I’m inspired by the idea of honoring each of those individuals, and all others interested in my words. Gratefully, I’ll carry on.

In the summer of 1995, I joined the production crew of the primetime NBC television series “seaQuest” at Universal Studios Florida, and began an adventure I’ll never forget, helping produce 13 episodes with a Who’s Who of spectacular production and entertainment industry talents. We were in Orlando, making headlines in all the top national trades well before the first episode of “SeaQuest 2032” hit the airwaves featuring Michael Ironside, Roy Scheider, Michael York and scores of other hot and rising Hollywood stars.

seaQuest 2033

Autographed by Jonathan Brandis.

I earned my job from the prolific television producer and director Steve Beers, by committing to handling script distribution and revisions for all the producers and writers, just as I’d done for him and the other producers on “Fortune Hunter” the previous year. That show for Fox had made a big splash and also involved serious heavy hitters, but seaQuest was a phenomenon… a massive franchise for NBC, Amblin Television, Universal Television and all the other industry all-stars involved. Read more

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Arc of the Poet, Part 12: Resistance

In the spring of 1995, I was trying to be many things to many people, and those wide attempts to stretch, please and succeed consumed so much energy that more than once, I was caught unprepared for the results. Especially for my inner-poet, it was a mad time.

That January, I had sent the following letter to Tom Tilford at Midwest Poetry Review to thank him for publishing Ethereal Stones, share more work and continue building our relationship. The sticky note he returned with my letter appears below. Read more

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Arc of the Poet, Part 11: Rewrites

Thank you very much for your interest in this thread, and my ongoing adventures as a poet. This project revisits the experiences of the past 20 years for posterity, your entertainment and hopefully some enlightenment as well. This is part 11, and number 15 is the last entry I have outlined. In finishing the series up over the next several weeks, I have a few more stories I hope you’ll enjoy.

The following lines are from An Essay on Man published by Alexander Pope in 1734.

All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right. Read more

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