John Milton and Emily Dickinson

What unfolds today is my attempt to analyze these two literary giants and some of their works. Of course, any discussion of poetry will be incomplete without the mention of the BARD, Mr. William Shakespeare himself, but I will try not to let him take center stage.

Actually, I find any poet of repute very interesting. I like Emily Dickinson’s poems despite her morbidity. However, like her, I have written thousands of poems and hope to release them to the world sometime soon. (A shameless plug!)

I will start with John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent.” This poem is one of John Milton’s sonnets, a Petrarchan sonnet in iambic pentameter, and I have written a few of those. For this particular poem, the rhyming pattern is ABBA (spent, wide, hide, and bent) ABBA (present, chide, denied, prevent), CDE (need, best, state) and CDE (speed, test, wait), which Milton maintains effortlessly. The first eight lines, the octave, do lament wasted time and asks God for patience to prevent “the murmur” of displeasure from Him.

Unlike the Shakespearean sonnet, in the Italian sonnet, the 14 lines run continuously. Shakespeare leaves the last two lines of the Shakespearean sonnet as couplets. Milton does not conform to traditional meter. His poem is truly unorthodox. Because he sacrificed cadence (at least not one that is decipherable or consistent) for enjambment, his poem lacks the sophistication I have come to expect from him.

He splices end words into the next line and creates some of the most fascinating enjambments from Line 1 into 2: “my light is spent ere half my days” or “My soul more bent to serve” for Lines 4 and 5.

Unlike a classic Italian sonnet, “When I consider how my light is spent” does not divide cleanly into eight lines and six lines. As for meter, the poem employs iambic pentameter; it provides five iambs (an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable), and a few of the lines do not follow any regular pattern.

The second poem I choose to analyze is Emily Dickinson’s “Wild Nights,” Poem 249. The idea of Dickinson writing a poem with “wild” in it causes me to giggle but also to pay particular attention to it because I know there is surprise in store for me.

Although the poem contains no plot per se, it does indicate some sexual undertones, which may not be what she had intended. It is refreshing to read a Dickinson poem that is not about death or dying or some other form of morbidity.

Her poem, like Milton’s, is unorthodox because it is rife with exclamation marks, which could show intensity of emotions or the excitement of reuniting with a lover. This poem has cadence and rhythm even if one has to stretch the “luxury” in order to hear the long “e” and in order to help the poem confirm to the rhyming scheme of ABBB.

The second stanza does not have any particular scheme. However, the cadence is still present and so is the rhythm even as there is a tonal shift, more sing-song than in the first stanza.

Stanza 3 uses the rhyming pattern of ABCA. Dickinson also employs enjambment but (in my humble opinion) should have run the word “Tonight” into the next line as the beginning word rather than as an enjambment.

Just like she uses exclamation marks liberally, she also uses ellipses in the form of dashes, not periods. “Wild Nights—Wild Nights!” The combined effect is a poem that breaks character for her.

Dickinson employs trochees. She also keeps up the pattern of dimeter, two beats, intermittently in the quatrains. This tricky poem alternates between iambic tetrameter and trimeter lines like “Ah, the Sea!”

I imagine Dickinson took a risk here and wanted to have fun for a change. She is usually the queen of what I call “form and circumstance,” pledging never to break form. This poem is a pleasant surprise, and it has allowed me to see her in a different light.

It is a very short poem that packs a dollup of surprising fun in its form, cadence, and in its protracted rhythm in order to reach the cadence Dickinson desires.

All opinions expressed herein belong to Frances Ohanenye. Please share your reflection on my analysis.

 

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The Release of Frances Ohanenye’s First Picture Book Is Postponed

The children’s picture book that was slated to be released at the end of June has  been postponed until August 2018.

Asked what caused the change in plans, Frances Ohanenye said, “I cannot define the word “disappointment” at this moment because it has a different meaning for me this week.”

From our conversation earlier in the year, the book had been written and edited numerous times. It had been reviewed and had received positive feedback from the reviewers and social studies teachers who previewed the manuscript.

The interior illustrations and cover designs were finished and submitted for formatting. However, Frances Ohanenye stated that the book was not formatted at all.

Taking that statement as odd, Ms. Ohanenye was asked to clarify what she meant by the book not formatted.

She was honest about the cause of the delay.  “The formatted book was worse than the manuscript I gave them. The quality fell so much below standard that I dumped it in the trash can. I have the same standard as (if not higher than) some traditional publishing houses. I am a publisher among the other hats I wear.”

Frances Ohanenye indicated that being a self-published author did not mean that she would accept mediocre work. Her perfectionist nature would not allow her to release such a product with her name on the cover.

“I learned a lot of lessons as a result of this first formatting job,” she began pensively. “The first lesson is not to take things for granted. The second lesson is to trust my instinct as I always did. I should have interviewed the designer more thoroughly and through every step of the job. The third lesson is never to surrender my desire for perfection.

“I should have insisted on seeing their children’s book portfolio instead of trusting the person’s opinion who referred them to me. I should not have entrusted them with a job as difficult as formatting a children’s picture book. Apparently, the company accepted a job it knew it could not perform. It had never undertaken the arduous task of formatting a children’s book. Hence it did a dismal job. They used me as their guinea pig to learn how to format a children’s book. For that I am doubly offended.”

She sent a detailed e-mail to the formatting company with the litany of errors in the finished copy. Ms. Ohanenye found another company. Unfortunately, with the amount of work the new company contracted already, it could not squeeze in Waters’ Family Chronicle into its schedule until August.

The first company apologized and refunded the money so that Ms. Ohanenye could employ the services of a real professional.

“I received my money back,  but I cannot receive the one month this company stole from me. I was supposed to upload the e-book into Kindle (KDP) today, June 26. That goal is unrealized. I  was supposed to upload the hardcover edition into IngramSparks because IngramSparks is running a free-upload  promotion. Now I have to pay.”

I wish Frances Ohanenye much luck in her endeavor to be an author.

Reporting the Review of the Rough Draft of “Daughters of the Soil”

I hired an independent company to review my novel. I had not edited, revised, nor proofread it before I delivered it. The result of the thorough analysis shows which chapters peaked and which chapters I need to raise interest to 10 points.

This reviewer was so efficient that she didn’t just lump the entire novel into one continuous report. As a matter of fact, she let the graph (picture) speak a thousand words. She  took each chapter and critiqued its three aspects: beginning, middle, and end. The graph shows three bars for each chapter, where each part scaled the hurdles and stayed at 10, and where each part dipped. I am truly energized with the result of the critique.

Chapters 1 – 10 sustained the reviewer’s interest and crowned at 10 out of 10 possible points. Not only that, each of the three parts (beginning, middle, and end) held interest all through the chapters, all 10! This is very encouraging because (as any writer knows), the first five pages in the first chapter of a novel can make or break it. Considering that this is a very rough copy, I am enthusiastic.

Chapter 11 dipped in the middle to eight points and dropped to seven at the end. I must determine what happened and revise it.

Chapter 12 rose rapidly back to 10, but the middle and the end plummeted to dismal five points. As disappointing as this may appear, it is also encouraging because it points me to where I must do serious revising/pruning.

Chapter 13 continued the downward spiral which Chapter 12 began to five points. Based on the severity of the situation between these two chapters, I may either try to salvage any redeeming part(s) in both chapters or redeem only Chapter 12.

Chapters 14 – 17 restored my faith in the manuscript. They rose back to 10 points!

Chapter 18 saddened me because it scored only five points. The middle dropped even lower to four! This chapter demands a surgical procedure.

Chapter 19: All three parts stayed steady at 8 points. This performance is not bad at all on the grand scheme of writing. However, I still will revisit it to determine what I can revise to raise the ante up to the maximum possible points.

Chapters 20 – 24 stayed at a dismal four. As disheartening as this may seem, it is also encouraging in the sense that I may have to shorten the entire novel. If those chapters do not advance the plot, they are better cut out.

Chapter 25: The beginning of this chapter shot up to 10 points. Alas, the rest of it plummeted to five.

Chapters 26 – 28: All  parts continued the downward trend from the end of Chapter 25. This is devastating because these chapters are supposed to lead to the climax. I may have dragged the scenes for far too long. Again, I will have to chop off chapters, sentences, paragraphs and descriptions that do not advance the plot. This is another homework I must do.

Chapter 29 duplicated the pattern of Chapter 25. They both exhibited lonely pinnacles. Whereas Chapter 25 peaked at the beginning, Chapter 29 crested in the middle.

Chapter 30 that is supposed to be the last chapter failed in its function to the lowest point among all the chapters on the graph: three!! This score begs the question, how interesting are last chapters? At best, they wrap up the story neatly or not. At worst, they are cliffhangers. Still, I would like for it to rise to eight points.

This must have been a time-consuming task. The details are exemplary. I thank Betty J. Gunn (publisher Betty Reedy Gunn) for the phenomenal job she did in the honest review of my first novel. She has given me valuable information as I embark on the final(?) revision of Daughters of the Soil.

20180622_204058Let the work begin!

I Thank My J-Crew and Other VIPs for This Journey

One advantage of growing old or growing older is that the aged have a different vantage point than those much younger. I started my second Master’s degree at Southern New Hampshire University much older, what is called the non-traditional student. As such, I collected years of living and writing under my belt and amassed a wealth of literary pieces and launched several blogs. I have been working on Daughters of the Soil and hope to have it released as soon as possible in 2018. I had intended to release it in 2016, but a personal technology upheaval caused a change in my plans, and I am happy in retrospect.

500_F_49637851_0hRQqpHePGR8qevqJO7bfPISs3IMpJZgI want to pause today and acknowledge my exponential growth gained from the people I call my “J-Crew,” authors and authorpreneurs whose first names begin with “J.” Thank you, Joanna Penn, Jonathan Gunson, Joel Friedlander, Jon Bard, JA Konrath, Jeff Goins, Julie Andrews (dame and Hollywood icon), Judy Hedlund, Jane Friedman, Julie Isaac, and James J. Jones, to name a few. I am grateful to Derek Murphy, Nick Stephenson, Mark Dawson, Derek Doepker, Ty Cohen, Laura Backes, BookBaby, Hazel Edwards (who coined “authorpreneur,” a word that describes me well), and IngramSparks. I subscribed to their websites/blogs for the last eight years and downloaded truckloads of wisdom. Most of these people and companies gave access to their intellectual creations freely to rising authors/poets who are on their way to self-publication. I will pay forward such unparalleled generosity.

This appreciation blog will be incomplete without expressing my gratitude to my workshop organizers and graduate school instructors, professors who pushed me far beyond my comfort zone. Foremost is Gregory A. Fraser, Ph.D. (University of West Georgia), whose advanced creative writing course was my first graduate level poetry course. It was so intensive that I wanted more and wrote a poem about it titled “I Tasted Poetry.” From his class and from our class discussions sprang the name of my publishing company, Beautiful Parts Publishing Group, LLC., which is still work in progress. Wanting more, I started the formal journey into my Masters’ in Creative Writing and English at Southern New Hampshire University where I engaged in rigorous writing and bare-bone critiques at the hands of Dr. Sandra Dutton, Sarah Shotland, Dr. Douglas McFarland, Professor Conine, and Mrs. Tiffany Hawk.

Fortunately, I gathered so much expertise about the publishing industry in the last few years that I know I am where I ought to be. I have founded a company that will allow me to realize my dreams of writing and being publishing. Let’s just say that rejection letters from traditional publishers have a way of inspiring a writer to take an alternative course of action. I have networked with other publishers to barter services. They review my manuscripts, and I offer editing, revising, and proofreading services.

I joined both online and face-to-face writing communities. The online ones are through Meet Up, but we assemble on Saturday mornings to critique each other’s works and to offer feedback. I am no longer protective of my work. I attend workshops at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and at Inprint Houston and at any venue where my novels will be workshopped. At Inprint, I had the fortune to work with Claire Anderson and Conor Bracken, winner of the 2017 (Robert) Frost Place annual poetry competition.

I have been published in these outlets: as a contributor for The Guardian Newspaper (Nigeria’s equivalent of The New York Times), freelancer for Yahoo! Voices (defunct), ghostwriter for Textbroker, editor for Georgia Poetry Society (and my poem was included in the anthology, Reach of Song), columnist for Atlanta Parent magazine, poem published in Georgia’s Best Emerging Poets (November 2017), and academic papers in the Journal of Social and Natural Science Research. I maintain several blogs, one of which (https://literarynomad11.wordpress.com) was featured online as “a literary blog to explore.” I hold separate Master of Arts degrees in Journalism and in Creative Writing, and I teach English composition/rhetoric and literature at a college and at a high school, respectively.

I attend writing and author conferences anywhere and anytime I can afford it, mostly when I was unemployed and underemployed. Let’s acknowledge that there is a silver lining in every dark cloud. Because of the loss of my teaching job of 19 years, I propelled myself to fill the void and restore my writing life, which I started when I was only eight years old. Still, I have spent the last eight years immersed in the science and art of my craft of writing and in the unfamiliar territories of publishing and promotion/ marketing.

I am ready for my name to grace the cover of a book. To that end, I purchased 100 ISBN’s, several bar codes, and obtained several LCCN’s (free). I have connected with companies who will begin pre-publication advertising as soon as I finish editing Daughters of the Soil, a mystery novel that combines police procedural, fantasy, and thriller. I have grown in the journey toward the publication of this novel by enlisting other professionals. More so now than ever, an urgency has brought the project into a sharper focus, but my laptop crashed during fall of 2016, and I lost almost everything I created since I obtained my first Masters (in Journalism). It cost me thousands in hours and dollars for a data retrieval company to restore my intellectual creations. I had to go on a religious retreat to ask God to save my sanity. Somethings cannot be replaced.

I thank all my English teachers in Nigerian who planted the seeds that germinated into the love of reading, writing, spelling, and English in general. Thank you especially to my Class Five (12th grade) high school English teacher (Reverend Akomah) who forced me to rise to the challenge of writing a poem about a frog and refused to allow me to give up. After writing the poem, I came to love poetry and to realize that inherent in a frog are many figures of speech. For example, its sound is an onomatopoeia. Its description is an imagery. You can imagine what a valuable lesson that assignment was.

I thank these very generous and very important people from the bottom of my heart. I hope my published work will deliver a clear voice that yields a crisp harvest.

Frances Ohanenye Debuts Children’s Book!

 

Frances Ohanenye is poised to release the first in a series of children’s picture books by the end of this month, June 2018.

Waters’ Family Chronicle heralds the births of thirteen children in the family. Each baby’s unique personality helps a reader capture the attributes of each child.

Unlike regular human babies, the parents in this book describe their children with the attributes found in bodies of water located all over the world. The parents themselves are referred to by some of the titles used around the world: Mother is nne, mama, and so on; father is nna, papa, and so on.

In a nut shell, the book celebrates the beginning of life as Mother Nne and Father Nna take the reader on the magical adventure and through the memorable naming of each Waters’ “baby”.

When asked what makes her book unique, Frances Ohanenye says, “It walks like a fairytale, quacks like an unusual children’s book, and looks like a teacher’s best aide. It certainly is a literary festivity. It straddles fiction and nonfiction.”

Waters’ Family Chronicle promises to energize a reader’s thinking in the most constructive way. Students, parents of school-age children, and counselors need to get their hands on what promises to be a most formative influence in education.

Teachers can customize the book for grades pre-K to 12. “The book is that universal, that adaptable, and that creative,” Ms. Ohanenye states.

Illustrated by the very talented Ericka Diaz, the art in the book is a feast for the senses. It is intricate, rich in color, and elaborate in textuWaters_Family_Cover_Twore. It required a lot of time and attention to detail because of the use of Joanna Fink’s Zenspirations technique and Zentangle, a registered trademark of Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.

Waters’ Family Chronicle is a story that will entertain the family for a lifetime. It is one of those books that children will ask for every night and adults will be happy to read to them.

In memory of her father (Chief Martin K. Ohanenye), Frances Ohanenye will publish the book under the pseudonym, Frances Dionye, a shortened version of her father’s middle name.

Formatting was completed by Damonza. Printing and marketing/promotion will be provided by Bookbaby.

Discover what makes proud Mother Nne a woman to be studied and admired. Waters’ Family Chronicle is slated for release in June 2018. Pre-order your copy today!

(Links have been provided in this article to simplify the process for anyone who wishes to publish a book.)

Hibiscus Press Publishes Frances Ohanenye’s Article

Hibiscus Press U.S.A., a dual-language publication journal, has published an article written by Frances Ohanenye. The article is geared toward all learners of the English language who battle with verb conjugation. Titled “Ambiguity and the Overuse of ‘-Ing’ Verbs,” the article is a must-read for students and anyone else who wish to excel in public speaking and writing, and anyone who wishes never to allow verbs to terrorize him or her.

Abstract: Learners new to English language experience a heightened level of difficulty with verb tense conjugation. Based on decades of teaching public speaking and English to college freshmen and to high school seniors, I have discovered that verbs complicate the ease with which learners could pass any English language course or exam. People whose first language is English seem to have the same fear or verbs. This article is intended to assist students of English to construct powerful sentences devoid of fragments if learners minimize or monitor the inclusion of verbs that end in -ing.

Key words: Present continuous tense; resent progressive; past continuous; participle; present perfect continuous; past perfect continuous; future continuous; future perfect continuous.

Articles are submitted to Hibiscus Press in either Chinese or English and are translated into the other language.

For full access to Frances Ohanenye’s article, visit Hibiscuspressusa

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Teachers Use Grants to Overcome Barriers

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle during the summer of 2016.  This was my second time winning the Katy ISD Education Foundation’s Imagination Grant. 
I forgot to post it here at that time it was published. I am making a concerted effort to republish/redirect all publications/articles about me to this site.
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KISD foundation funds help educators to enable students to break limitations

Updated 11:50 am, Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Encouraging a reluctant teen to pick up a book, enabling a transient student to build robots and using a school garden as a tool to help special-needs children are examples of efforts that will be the focus of foundation-funded projects in the Katy ISD.

The Katy Independent School District Education Foundation has selected 200 district teachers at 33 campuses to receive funds for the 2016-17 school year during its fourth year of “Inspiring Imagination” teacher grants.

“We received 80 grant applications and funded 55,” said Janet Theis, Katy ISD director of community partnerships. Funding for this year’s approved grants totals $206,627.

Among the team grant recipients are Sundown Elementary’s “Morning Tinker Time: MakerSpace,” led by third-grade teacher Leah Miller, and Franz Elementary’s planned “Going Green” gardening program, led by Title I science teacher Tracy John. Individual grant recipients include Mayde Creek High English IV teacher Frances Ohanenye for “Fearless Readers of Life-Changing Novels” to help students who struggle with reading.

Fostering creativity

“We’re trying to put creativity back in the classroom,” said Miller, whose school has many low-income and transient students. In 2014-15, 76 percent of the 873 Sundown students were considered economically disadvantaged, according to the Texas Education Agency.

The school had a mobility rate of 17 percent – based on the number of students who miss six or more weeks of school – compared with a 10 percent rate in the district overall.

In the 2016 Greater Houston Area Elementary School Rankings by Children at Risk, Sundown rated a “D.”

Like makerspaces for adults, the Sundown program for grades 3-5 will offer a place to design, create and improve projects for 20 minutes beginning at 7:30 a.m. before class starts. The program will start in October.

“We’ll have stations where they can explore, engage and initiate to get involved in their own learning,” said Miller, who partnered with school librarian Terry Lambert, Title I science teacher Bianca Xu and fourth-grade teacher Lisa Renee Asaro for the $5,000 grant. Xu is also the school’s coordinator for projects for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math program.

The makerspace will offer youngsters what they need to create craft projects and build robots, Miller said.

“It will allow kids to initiate tinkering, getting them to work together and combine efforts and make something awesome,” said Miller, who would like to apply for another grant for the program for the school year after next.

“The whole goal is to get them involved,” she said.

Garden refuge

The initial idea behind “Going Green” was to focus on the older grades at Franz Elementary, John said.

“What we found as we went on was that younger grades wanted to grow veggies and watch things grow,” she said.

A setting of native plants in a butterfly garden can benefit special-needs children, John said.

A child with autism can be overwhelmed with too much information.

“If you take them outside, it’s less confining, more peaceful, and they can focus on one thing at a time,” John said. “It’s extremely beneficial as a coping mechanism, and they’re better able to return to class.”

The school of more than 1,000 students has classes of life-skills students, an autistic unit and a behavioral unit.

Allowing a student to go to the garden can serve as a reward or an incentive for good behavior, John said.

According to the TEA, Franz Elementary enrollment in 2014-15 had 62.5 percent who were economically disadvantaged, 48.3 percent who were English language learners and 10 percent in special education. It was ranked as C& by Children at Risk in the 2016 elementary school rankings for the Houston area.

The $3,800 grant will cover materials for the project, which includes a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden. John planned to spend the summer enlisting community support. Her efforts might take the form of partnering with a local senior living center, contacting high schools where students need to perform community service or enlisting aid from Boy Scouts looking for a project to earn Eagle awards.

The gardens will incorporate a sundial, which John said fits in with a emphasis in fifth grade to explain Earth’s movement around the sun.

To plan the program, John enlisted the support of fifth-grade teacher Amanda Everett, a first-year teacher who is tech savvy, and fifth-grade teacher Leona Bernard, a gardener.

“We hope to give each and every child an opportunity to appreciate the world around them,” John said. “A lot of what kids have difficulty grasping is that everything is in cycles and seasons.”

Rush to read

Ohanenye teaches seniors who have not yet passed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test and are in danger of not graduating.

This is her second year teaching STAAR students. The first year was difficult because of a lack of resources. The $1,000 foundation grant will make a difference, she said.

“Before students get to college or a career, they need to pass STAAR,” said Ohanenye, who has been teaching for more than two decades. “I have found in my experience as a teacher the difference between passing and not passing is reading.”

Her class is based mostly on reading and vocabulary, and she focuses on what it would take for a student who hates reading to become a book lover.

“I try to convince them reading is not that frightful and is an easy thing if you know what to do,” she said.

She focuses on finding literature with which students can identify. Students must read two novels during the semester.

One of the most popular books on her reading list is “Mexican Whiteboy” by Newbery Award-winning author Matt de la Peña about a youth’s struggle to find himself.

Ohanenye’s class can have 30 students per semester. If students pass STAAR, they move on.

One student helped by the course came back as a guest speaker, Ohanenye said.

“It was affirmation to hear from someone who had gone through program. I look forward to having them come back and talk to a new group of students,” she said.

Screening process

The foundation evaluates applications for grants by screening them through Katy ISD curriculum and technology officials. Then the foundation board and volunteers score the grants.

“Campus and teacher names are redacted from the applications to ensure scoring is based on merit alone,” Theis said.

Programs receiving grants include some that are spread over multiple campuses and relate to special education, dyslexia intervention and prekindergarten education.

In its first four years of activity, the foundation has awarded more than $725,000 in grants to district teachers.

Grants are made possible by annual pledges from business and community investors, one-time contributions and fundraising events. The foundation hosts two major fundraisers every year: Fireflies and Foodtrucks, slated for Sept. 15; and a jazz event in the spring. BP funded multiple grants.

The foundation recently established the Alton Frailey Endowment Fund honoring the retired superintendent, who played a pivotal role in the foundation’s launch, Theis said.

For more information, contact foundation@katyisd.org, 281-396-6031 or visit www.katyisdeducationfoundation.org.