December 29, 2019

Creativity and Aging

Creativity does not diminish with age. In fact, creativity can actually enhance health and build resilience.  In 2019, I attended a creative aging teaching artist training (sponsored by the Aroha Foundation and Minnesota State Arts Board) and in 2020, I aim to teach writing classes with and for elders. Email me at if you as an individual are interested in attending or if you are part of an organization that is interested sponsoring a class.

December 17, 2019

False Starts

Einstein said, "No deep problem is ever resolved on the plane of its original conception."  Here's a great video from Granta featuring George Saunders talking about false starts.  The amateur reaction to false starts is to give up, says Saunders. The artistic reaction is to keep working.
We have all received this advice: Don't Give Up. Keep Trying. Success is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration. How many false starts have you had? How many rejections? The next important question is: What did you do with those?

December 3, 2019

Image & Metaphor

Charles Simic

I think image is at the base of a poem. Metaphor is the poem.

Natalie Diaz has written about the use of image in her poetry. In "Building The Emotional Image"
If you want to convey fact, this can only ever be done through a form of distortion. You must distort to transform what is called appearance into image. 
The mystery lies in the irrationality by which you make appearance - if it is not irrational, you make illustration.  
Great art is deeply ordered. Even if within the order there may be enormously instinctive and accidental things, nevertheless they come out of a desire for ordering and for returning fact onto the nervous system in a more violent way.
Rebuild the image each time that you use it in order to make it new.  Take it apart.
What is it? What is it not?  Here is an example from Diaz:   Diaz's comment about irrationality intrigues me. Another person might have said "imagination."  Her term suggests a greater leap of some sort against logic. It is a willingness to go out of bounds. A subversion but in a good way.

For an amusing and in-depth consideration of the function of image and metaphor read "The Narrative of the Image: A Correspondence by Charles Simic":

In this examination of the narrative related to these two terms, Simic writes: "I kind of fancy "Image is the crucifixion, metaphor is the ascension," " and "Don't you think that reading most contemporary poets one would have to conclude that they have never been to the movies? I know for a fact that they have never heard a country fiddle or a banjo playing!"  He argues for being grounded and for the ability to dance.
Natalie Diaz

An Arts Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and upcoming publications


News from my writing desk

I was thrilled and grateful to get the news that I'll receive an Artist Initiative Grant for 2020 in support of my poetry.  To get information on the grants that are available in Minnesota and a link to the application instructions and forms, go to:
"Sheila Packa will develop poems for a new manuscript "Surface Displacements" and present 4 readings & workshops focused on individual stories that reflect on local history and current tensions in the landscape."   
Publication news:

My short story, “Everlasting Life” will be in the December issue of Valparaiso Fiction Review. A set of five prose poems (a runner up for the chapbook contest by this press) forthcoming in The Laurel Review Issue 52.2.  The poem "My Geology" will be reprinted in Stone Gathering's special edition coming out in spring 2020: The Relevance of the Rural: What's Lost, What's Left, What Lasts.  The poem "Crossing Guard" will be in the forthcoming anthology Rocked by the Waters: Poems of Motherhood (Nodin Press).