Nora On Holiday #8thDayChallenge


This orange jar is seared in my memory.

Nora on Holiday

Her kitchen produced a thousand
tubs of mustard potato salad
and gallons of country gravy with
coffee splashed in for color.
She knew Elvis was the
best-looking man to ever
have lived and kept
an army of whatnots in arm’s reach.
The Sanka jar sat in the center
of the table for any
who happened to visit,
holding their mugs for tales
of Avon ladies, icy commutes
on inherited mountain roads,
Teamster meetings and the procedures
that cut things out of the family.
Curlers were rolled in
for Monday morning
but the house coat
set her free until

© Melissa Currence 2015

I’m still inspired by the “I am from…” poem prompt from George Ella Lyons. So I went in search of family poetry prompts and found a helpful post from Melissa Donovan on I saw the column for Grandparents and got inspired to write about my Grandma Nora, who passed away in 2011.

The #8thDayChallenge

I hope you will join me in the 8th Day Challenge!

Let’s Stay in Touch!


Thanks, Dad

When I was graduating from Ohio State with my master’s, my dad, Mike, was retiring.

He had built a respectable business for over 20 years as an insurance salesman. It was a hard roundup; many others rode beside him and couldn’t keep up. The key, he said, was don’t try to just snap up the big game and feast, but go for the small wins and keep the chuck wagon well-stocked.

So he asked me one day if I wanted to take over his business. He’d get me started, handing me his clients and teaching me his cowboy ways. But I brushed it off immediately. I wanted to mold myself myself.

I see now it was a privileged thing for him to offer me this gift. It was something tangible for me to start my life with. I never thanked him properly for his offer. I was a daughter engulfed in riches, being presented with nothing but opportunities.

So I thank you now, Dad, even though you are gone. I wanted to tell you I was selected in this year’s local Forty Under 40 Class. I know you would have been proud I’m thriving on this cattle drive.

Melissa Currence Forty Under 40

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National Voter Registration Day!

National Voter Registration DayToday is National Voter Registration Day!

Your vote is your voice! Make sure you’re registered to vote and you’ll be able to vote Tuesday, Nov. 3.

In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. In 2015, we want to make sure no one is left out. On September 22, 2015, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day.

This single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise.

If you are already registered to vote but have moved within Ohio and/or changed your name, you must update your voter registration. Click here to learn how to update your voter registration.

In Hamilton County, Ohio, you can:

Find out more about National Voter Registration Day!


What I am reading: Zion: Poems by TJ Jarrett

Zion by TJ JarrettI’ve been reading Zion: Poems by TJ Jarrett this week after picking it up at Parnassus Books in Nashville while there with my friend Julia.

I selected this one from the pile as soon as I noticed Theodore Bilbo (1877-1947) was mentioned in several poems. I was intrigued. Bilbo was the notoriously-racist Mississippi governor and U.S. Senator (Truly, there is nothing to admire about the man).

In these other-worldly poems, he is often a character with regret in his heart who is reflecting back on his life. He is re-imagined by the author, and it is a powerful device. In the poem, “Theodore Bilbo Mistakes Me for the Angel of Death,” she writes “You must have known the words were poisoned…Even when what was once your face/bloomed ruin, you kept on saying them.”

I like to think a Theodore Bilbo of today would be open to to change his ways of thinking, and I admire these poems for letting us to consider that.

The grandmother is also an important voice in the collection, and appears in the first short poem saying that the body is “more waiting room than cage.”

Many poems also have the self-awareness quality that writers often have. “The Peonies at the Bodega” describes a scene between lovers as if it were a perfect love poem: “Were this a poem, and I were just arranging the sound/we would be standing in the rain and not snow.”

I recommend Zion and hope to read more from TJ Jarrett soon.

More about Zion and TJ Jarrett

Writing poetry about 9/11

Manhattan from the East River.

The view of Manhattan from the East River.

With 14th anniversary of 9/11 having just passed, I’ve been working on my own poem about that time.

I first started by using the “found poem” technique and re-reading some emails I had kept from the day.

What strikes me now was the difficulty we had in referring to it. On that day, the event went untitled. We all know what we were talking about. Then we started to use phrases like “Our national tragedy” and “that horrible day” and even just “Ground Zero.”

Calling it “September 11” didn’t emerge until a few weeks later, at least how I remember it.

I decided to scrap my found poem, as it was a jumbled mess that didn’t mean much to me, and re-wrote it in a stronger point of view.

Before the Day Had a Name

I can only send you an email
to patch together some peace
after the phone call doesn’t go through,
so there wouldn’t just be hatred
to mask the sound of jet engines
and the 20th Century
pulverizing into
360 million pounds
of nothing.
I never lived through war before
so I cry during the morning news
I am trapped in a city
where the traffic is ordered
but the trauma stills needs to be raked through.

© Melissa Currence, 2015

I have written a few September 11 poems, and I’ve never been very happy with them. Share links to your 9/11 writing. I’d love to see them.

More Resources

Write a poem or story by the 8th Day of the Month – #8thDayChallenge

The #8thDayChallenge

The #8thDayChallenge

I have a wonderful writing group. We formed organically out of a poetry community education class (taught by the poet Mick Parsons), and we met monthly for 5 years until one of us moved a few states away. We still get together a few times a year to catch up, talk poetry and share what we wrote.

But I miss our monthly meeting schedule when I was sure to complete at least one poem a month. And since I love to journal, it is easy for me to write only for myself.


To help me, I came up with the idea that I would write at least one poem and publish it here by the 8th day of every month. I hope you will write with me!  This Challenge can be for any creative writing.

Why the 8th Day?

Besides the number 8 being the infinity symbol (I’ll write forevah!), I chose this date because being early in the month just makes it feel less lazy. And I can make a reoccurring appointment in my calendar, FTW.

The #8thDayChallenge

Here is my poem I wrote from my journal writing prompt from last week.


I saw you on the TV news once
during a story about teens chewing on pacifiers –
the plaids and chokers and your laughing eyes
filled the screen

You read my diary before you transferred,
letting out my secrets into the junior high air
revealing I was a simple formula
– a sketch of a real human, the pencil outlines of a life –
I didn’t even know how to crush until I met you

The church girl in me worried
you wouldn’t leave teenage-hood unscathed.
But now I know we were all meant to stand there
and let it crash into us
as the scars become the beauty
the pain fills us in

© Melissa Currence, 2015

Let me know if you try the #8thDayChallenge for yourself!

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Use your journal as a writing prompt

I scratched the following on the cover: My Stuff, OK! Understand?

Here is my first diary that I started when I was 10. I wrote on the cover: “My I’m Stuff, OK! Understand?”

I love my diary.

I’m obsessed with journaling, because it connects me to how I really am. I allows me to cut through all the distractions and figure out my place in the world.

Writing in a journal is my way of coping. It is my survival writing. For 25 years, I’ve been writing these pages. No judgements. All love.

I’ve been journaling since I was ten, and they are most prized possessions. When I move into the nursing home, I plan to have all these babies beside me.

I wish I could love to tell you I have this amazing ritual of combing them every year, but I don’t. Let me know if you do!

Holla! Writing prompt time

  1. Open up a page in one of your journals/diaries.
  2. Absorb the feelings, the moment of that entry.
  3. Write a poem or piece from what you find there.
  4. If you don’t have any journals, check out and listen to others read from their teenage diaries to get inspired.

I’ll work on the prompt and will share next week. Let me know how it works for you.

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I am from Virgin Marys in porcelain and Saint Francis of Assisi’s in concrete

Praying Statue

From Grandma’s house

I am from

I am from Virgin Marys in porcelain and Saint Francis of Assisi’s in concrete

I am from chipped china and homemade cocktail sauce

I am from reading nooks and Picasso prints, arguments about the battle of Gettysburg and Scotch on the rocks.

I am from Bing Crosby records and cutting strong coffee with cream

I am from Broadway playbills and snipped holly branches

I am from Latin prayers and midnight mass, frosted mountains and deep sloping yards

I am from cousins arm-in-arm, dripping mac and cheese and hidden Easter eggs in lamp shades.

I am from sailor suits and dads at the head of the table

I am from tattered leather prayer books and taped-up picture frames

I am from rotary phones and rubber bands stored in drawers

I am from manger scenes and baby grand pianos out of tune.

I am without you now. I am all because of you.

© Melissa Currence 2015

I wrote this poem as part of an challenge poised by Ally Vesterfelt at the first Tribe Conference this past weekend in Franklin, Tennessee. This writing exercise originated with George Ella Lyons and has been written countless times.

As I was writing, I was picturing my grandmother’s house, which we had to dismantle after she passed away in 2012. I miss it still.

Have you tried this exercise? I’d love to know!

Let’s stay in touch! Sign up for my newsletter or purchase my book, Tethered: A Collection of Poetry.


A new collection of poetry: Tethered

Tethered: A Collection of Poetry

Read on to get your free copy!

Hi all – I wanted to let you know I have my first collection of poetry out, Tethered. The poems written here span a 10-year period, but I worked to edit them to represent two major themes of mine: the City and the Country.

I’m excited to share this! So here is a coupon code for everyone who is interested in checking out my collection.

1. Click here to see my book on Smashwords

2. Here is a coupon code for a FREE copy: CA64U

Yep, that’s right … it’s free, my babies!

Let me know what you think!



From Here’s how to read Smashwords ebooks!
Step 1: Click to the book page by clicking on the book title above.

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Step 3: Once you’re logged in, your gift will be saved for you and you will be able to click to get your book (or click to your Library to find your book) and click the download format you prefer.

Step 4: Read! Here’s our FAQ on how to download Smashwords ebooks to any device:

Erin Condren Life Planner Review

My Review - Erin Condren Life Planner

Below is a video of my review of the Erin Condren 2013 Life Planner. I have recently converted back to a paper system and, after much research, I decided to purchase this particular planner. Since I used several youtube reviews as part of my research, I thought I’d make one, as well. Here I am focusing on how I have adapted the planner for myself.

If you are interested in this planner, check out Erin Condren’s website. Let me know your questions and thoughts!

The additional products I used:

Disclaimer: I purchased this product myself and did not receive any compensation for this review. The opinions expressed are my own. Thanks!