#AtoZchallenge Reflections…66, 652 Words Wiser.

It’s no wonder I needed an ambulance and a stretcher when I reached the end of the A-Z Challenge. I’d researched and written a staggering 66, 652 words and these weren’t any ordinary words either. They were probing philosophical investigations into the works and lives of over 30 exceptional poets, which were interwoven with my own ups and downs through life’s milestones.

letters-young-poet-rainer-maria-rilke-paperback-cover-art Just to recap, my theme was Letters to Dead Poets. While writing to dead poets does have an air of the macabre, the theme was simply a play on Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet. If an old poet could give advice to a young poet, surely dead poets had something to offer!

Each letter explored philosophical questions such as what it means to be a man, how to deal with adversity and a poet’s heart and somehow survive. Many of these poets didn’t.Naturally, I couldn’t write these letters without addressing the tragic nature of their deaths. Indeed, I wrote this post: Dedication To A Poet Dying Young. Emotionally, this was incredibly difficult and challenging, which stretched well beyond showcasing the poets who’ve inspired me through life’s ups and downs.

It is a reflection of my own tenacity that I could grapple with these contentious issues without going down myself. That my feet are firmly planted on terra firma and my head, heart and soul are in a good place. This isn’t something that happened overnight. I have a poet’s heart and have always been incredibly sensitive and know all too well how to dance with the dark side and succumb to its charms. I have survived brain surgery and live with a life-threatening auto-immune disease. Life is no picnic. I’ve gone up in flames and somehow walked out of the ashes. Well, I was actually carried out unconscious but I’m still here.

Not unsurprisingly, I needing to balance out the heaviness and developed a lively undercurrent with the age-old battle between cats and dogs. There were poets who were famous cat lovers like TS Eliot and Ernest Hemingway and ardent dog lovers including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf and Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. My two dogs jumped into the fracas standing up for the “pollicle” dogs (poor little dogs …TS Eliot). They were rather unimpressed that there is no Dogs: The Musical!!

Quite unexpectedly, many roads led to Paris. Paris the city of love, which can inevitably become the city of heartbreak. Although heartbroken in Paris myself back in July 1992, I did a solo poetry reading at Paris’s famed Shakespeare Bookshop , which attracted the likes of Hemingway, Henry Miller and Anais Nin when they were in town.Somehow, a 22 year old backpacking Australian with her self-published anthology Locked Inside An Inner Labyrinth, was following in their enormous footsteps. I have since discovered that young poets were considered “audience”. So, I have no idea how this crazed backpacker from the Antipodes slipped through the cracks and up the rickety red wooden staircase to perform.

Poetry Reading

Poetry Reading, Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris 1992.

So, after going through all of this, it is hardly surprising that I staggering across the finish line barely conscious. Every cell in my body was aching and my brain had liquefied into soupy mush. That’s what happens when you try researching and writing faster than the speed of light. You start to fall apart.

By writing so much, I clearly went way beyond the scope of the challenge, which really is about writing very short, sharp posts under 500 words and becoming something of a blogging slut getting around to as many blogs as possible every day to build new connections and expand your reader base. However, I went the other way. Instead of short and sweet, you could say I did the extended version. However, they cover significant psychological and philosophical issues and aren’t simply a handful of words…a throwaway.

So without further ado, here’s An A-Z of Letters to Dead Poets:

A: AA Milne

B: Banjo Paterson.

Banjo Peterson Replies.


C: Lewis Carroll.

Lewis Carroll Replies.


D: Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s Reply.


E: TS Eliot.

TS Eliot Replies.

F:Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken.

Robert Frost A Reply.

G:Kahlil Gibran.

Kahlil Gibran Reply.

H: Ted Hughes.

Ted Hughes Reply.

A Surprise Letter From Ernest Hemingway.

Q & A With Ernest Hemingway.

I- A Letter to Issa- Japanese Haiku Master.

Issa: A Reply.

J-A Letter to Jim Morrison-The Doors

Jim Morrison Replies

K-A Letter to John Keats.

Keats Replies

A Letter from Rudyard Kipling including the poem: “If”

L-A Letter to John Lennon

A Reply From John Lennon.

Lao Tzu: A Poem about The Journey.

M-Dorothea Mackellar: Australian Poet.

Dorothea Mackellar Replies

Mary Stevenson “Footprints”.

A Letter from Mary Stevenson re “Footprints”.

Maya Angelou

Dr Maya Angelou A reply.

N:Oodganoo Noonuccal: Indigenous Australian Poet

O-Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Replies

P-A Letter to Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker Writes to the Poor Little Dogs.

Dogs Accuse: “Dorothy Parker Is A Fraud!”

Dorothy Parker Defends Dogs’ Accusations

P-Sylvia Plath

Help Me Dorothy Dix: What to Write to Sylvia Plath.

A Letter to Sylvia Plath

Q-Qu Yuan Chinese Poet

A Letter From Qu Yuan: Chinese Wisdom.

R-A Letter to Rumi

Rumi Replies

Rilke: Letters to Young Poets

Rilke Replies: Advice to Modern Poets.

S-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Advice from Percy Byssche Shelley

William Shakespeare

I delayed writing my letter to William Shakespeare by a day to coincide with the 400th Anniversary of his death on 23rd April, 1616. By the way, when Shakespeare woke up, he found his head was missing.

Despite writing some of the most loved and recognised love sonnets of all time, Shakespeare admitted that his track record with love wasn’t a commendation. So, he introduced me to poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.

Shakespeare Time travels 400 Years

Shakespeare on Love 400 Years On.

T-Letters to Rabindranath Tagore

Wisdom of Tagore: Love, Children and Dogs.

U-A Letter to John Updike.

John Updike: On Dogs

V- A Letter To Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf Replies…Letter to A Young Poet

Poetical Dogs Unite…A Letter from Virginia Woolf’s Dog

Elizabeth Barrett’s Love Poem to Her Dog.

W- Letter to William Wordsworth

Wordsworth I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

X-Anon: Unknown Native American Poet.

Y- Letter to William Butler Yeats.

Yeats: Easter 1916.

Yeats: Sailing To Byzantium

Yeats On Life

Z-Xu Zhimo: On Leaving Cambridge Again

ZZZZ: A Letter from Xu Zhimo

We Are Donne: Donne

I hope you’ve enjoyed the A-Z Challenge and are returning to life again after a week’s R & R.

xx Rowena

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib


18 thoughts on “#AtoZchallenge Reflections…66, 652 Words Wiser.

  1. Jan Morrison

    Good God, Girl! No wonder you’re exhausted. My theme was women who inspired me and we do have one in common, though I never consider Woolf a poet. Of course, I stretched some of my own pesky rules. But the sheer volume of words that you wrote. That’s more than in a NaNoWriMo month. Could this be a book? I think it could. Anywhoozie, brava! I’ll be back to dip into some. Though not all – I’m getting on and some men (even if imagined by a woman) are just too much pain in the butt for me.

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl

    You did an impressive stint here! Over 60,000 words, zooowie 🎉
    I learned a lot about these poets. You really spun this idea well. Writing letters to them, who knew it was that easy? 😉

  3. jhwinterauthor

    Most of my posts were well over the word count goal of 500, ranging anywhere from that to 1,800 or so. I wrote the posts for the month as I would any post. If the topic elicited a longer post, I gave it the freedom to expand. I commend the amount of work you put into this challenge as well. It truly shows in the wonderful letters you have written. I am so glad that you enjoyed my posts throughout the challenge too and we were able to connect. Looking forward to reading your posts from here on out. 🙂

    J.H. Winter
    Ink & Stitches – http://blog.jhwinter.com

  4. randommusings29

    Although I do think shorter posts get more interaction, ultimately it’s your blog, so you should write what makes you happy! I love the idea behind the theme 🙂

  5. blkbtslonglegs

    Congrats on finishing the challenge – and quite the challenge you made it, it seems! I made my way through a few of your posts and was very impressed with the level of commitment and effort that you must have put in.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier 🙂

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much for popping by and thank you for the feedback. I deliberately left the format open ended to let each poet take me somewhere, which was quite a leap of faith for me but it paid off. I am quite a deep person by nature but have also had serious health challenges which had made me question everything and to also share this journey with others. I didn’t expect the challenge to take me quite so far into the dark side as it did but I also felt I could get out. That said, I’ve felt a bit melancholy since the challenge has finished. It was such a buzz. Take care xx Rowena

  7. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Debbie. I have written very little since the challenge ended. I’m sure many of us need to recover somewhat and catch up on everything that was put on hold.
    xx Rowena

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Jan. I don’t think Virginia Woolf was a poet. I thought I’d found a poem of hers somewhere but can’t find it anymore and in her letter to a young poet, she clearly identifies as a prose writer. However, I did need a V so she was closer enough. I also wanted a few women poets.
    I am definitely looking at turning this into a book and thank you so much for the encouragement.
    xx Rowena

  9. New Journey

    I am sitting here smiling…..you writers…I am pretty sure your all a little nuts…LOL and I don’t mean that in a bad way…just the honest truth…LOL you so remind me of my daughter….I love that you are so passionate about life….write down to blog challenges….your tenacity for life is contagious my friend…I am so happy that I met you!!!! Now please take a break and breath!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxkat

  10. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share May 15, 2016. | beyondtheflow

  11. Rowena Post author

    Thanks. Kat. Loved your comments. I am mad and I think the challenge pressed all of those buttons all at once. To relax, I threw myself into an an even more challenging family history problem I’d put aside a few years back and after days and days of gruelling research, I found William Henry Gardiner’s birth. You’d be surprised how many ways they can spell that name!!!! Do you do family history research at all? I love it but it does my head in!! I’m so glad I met you too! I really appreciate your encouragement and warmth. You keep helping me pick myself up. Thanks so much for that! xx Ro

  12. New Journey

    Good Morning…its yesterday at my house for you…LOL I love that we can communicate from half way around the globe…My family, especially a great nephew and brother has been digging into ancestry.com suprising at how much you can learn….what I love the most is how the current names of the family were almost the same 200 years ago…LOL very interesting indeed…I personally haven’t’ done much searching…but it looks very time consuming…my new project is putting my life on to a time line, and adding my kids to it also…amazing at how much I have forgotten especially dates….is doesn’t help that at age 59, I have moved 30 times in my life….I am sure I have Gypsy blood in my veins…I had stopped counting at 22 many years ago….I can say that since 2008 I had lived in 1 house….until this year when we moved to Yuma for a trial…LOL Thank goodness I don’t get attached to houses….I can tell you that this will not be my last house for sure, as I will live in a “Shack on the Sea” one day….lOL take a break…give the brain a break….xxxkat

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.