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Thursday, September 30, 2021

“Wisdom from a Wordsmith… How to Create One’s Vision and Inspiration Using the Written Word.”

Judith Merz – DKG Nevada

Most people reading this blog may be very familiar with expression in the visual arts in terms of photography, 2-D, 3-D art, and multi- media presentations. Visual artists use powerful visuals to capture a moment and content possibly enhanced by music or verbal accompaniment. The written word stands alone. How does one illustrate their vision through the written word?

Words are evocative—they bring strong images, memories, and feelings to mind. Sometimes this occurs through the sound of the word; sometimes, through its meaning or connotation. The art of the poet lies in finding the precise words that capture the feeling that she is trying to explore and in arranging those words in such a way that a reader comes to that feeling as well.

Are there writers who directly focus on certain context or subjects?

Traditionally, the big “subjects” in poetry are nature (the context for our lives and a source of inspirational beauty and complexity); spirituality (the search for meaning in life is endless); love (in all its forms— perhaps the most complex of emotions); major events, either personal or universal (things that shape our lives have emotional power); and loss (including tragic events and the big loss—death). Clearly, these subjects are not rigidly unique—they often overlap—and perhaps the “best” poets are the ones who wander among the interrelationships.

How does one create a style that is recognized by readers?

I’m not sure poets strive to “create a style.” Poetry is intimate and highly reflective of the writer. Word choice, tone, structure—all flow sort of naturally from the poet as an individual. These are the elements that readers will come to recognize—but I am not sure how consciously any poet “injects” them into her work. For example, E. E. Cummings’ “style” includes consistent use of lower case “i”. Although I am sure he consciously did not capitalize, I tend to believe that it reflects his sense of the human ego rather than a stylistic element.

In writing there is narrative, descriptive, persuasive, expository, and creative writing options available in the writer’s toolbox. How does an artist choose when the inspiration presents itself?

In my mind, writing is organic. The format evolves from the inspiration. As an example, I am currently trying to write a biography of and for a local celebrity and, although I know various formats that could be used, I am waiting for “the” approach to reveal itself. In this case, that approach will make sense when it matches and captures the essence of his life story—which is too fascinating and complex for a straight chronological approach. That being said, with regard to poetry, my mindset probably drives my own preference for free verse. A poet can certainly “choose” a specific format—blank verse, rhymed verse, free verse, epic, sonnet, haiku, limerick, ode, elegy, etc.—and working in rule-bound formats is a great exercise in discipline.

In your latest poem, ‘Sweet Friend,’ “the poem describes the ephemeral and somewhat elusive connection that exists between friends.” What was your inspiration for this work?

I had been engaged in multiple WhatsApp text discussions with a young male colleague (from Costa Rica, oddly enough) whom I was mentoring through his master’s program. In the course of things, we had become “sort of” friends. As we discussed our individual views on a myriad of topics, we were trying to figure out how much our nationalities, ages, and upbringing shaped the differences in those views. At one point, he suggested that we could not really understand each other because of these differences. That got me to thinking about how much we really can “know” about any acquaintance or friend—or indeed about ourselves—because life is constant change. This led me to the old idea that one cannot step in the same river twice, so I picked up that metaphor as central to the poem. Understanding of oneself or another is kind of like wading into a moving river…Just when we think we have the answers, life serves up something new! If you have ever put your hand in a flowing stream, there is a sensation that passes through your fingers (I often think it is a small fish— “a tiny translucent being beneath the torrent”— but more likely it is just a bubble!). In much the same way, a friend is one who passes through your life and touches you in ways that are difficult to comprehend or hold onto in some ways. Nevertheless—the attempt to make that connection is so very special; it is what makes us human. In my mind, that impulse to connect flows from a greater power and is “a brief electric pulse of the divine.” In such a view, a friend is inevitably “sweet.”

In your essay, Voice of The Poet, “The writer argues that the poetry of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman has reignited an interest in and appreciation of poetry and the voice of the poet”. What was it about this young woman’s poem that inspired you most recently to write an essay about that particular moment in history and her inspiring words?

Poetry is not always cherished or even appreciated for its power and beauty, and poets are all too often thought of as rather dusty and abstract. Their written words sometimes do not translate well into performance aloud. But here was an eloquent young woman who not only had crafted a powerful and technically beautiful poem but also delivered it with a mesmerizing and totally unpretentious grace. For those who cringed at the thought of hearing “a poem” (remember, I was an English teacher; I know what the mention of “poetry” often evoked in students who could not see beyond forced rhyme and rocking-boat rhythm), she transformed the experience so thoroughly that she was subsequently invited to write and present at the Super Bowl!!!! Talk about crossing a cultural divide!!!

Writing the essay was equally inspired by a sympathetic and personal reaction to her message and her craft. I was deeply disturbed by the political scene early in 2021, including the January 6 riot at the Capitol building, and Gorman’s message of hope lifted me in many ways; she spoke to my heart. In terms of craft, her focus on figures of speech and elements of sound and tone echoed my own poetic impulses. Her alliteration and playing with phrases were delicious.

Do you have a favorite personal genre?

As I have suggested above, I tend to favor free verse with heavy emphasis on figures of speech (metaphor, simile, personification) and on sound that pushes meter or rhythm. You will rarely find heavy end rhyme. For me, the poem is in the idea and in the language rather than in a formula of rhythm and rhyme. My favorite poets may give a clue to what I love in poetry: Walt Whitman and E. E. Cummings.

Any words of inspiration for those of us that would like to attempt to write a poem? Where does one start?

Be attentive to your thoughts and how you think them. Sometimes a particular phrase or set of words will feel special and poem worthy because it captures a unique or intriguing thought. Write down those words and let them marinate. So, for a very simple example, someone said to me the other day: “Judy, you are too much.” Too much. How can a person be too much? How does that idea play against the modern self-esteem slogan, “You are enough”?

Look for (or build) a metaphor that expands/clarifies that initial thought. Play with several metaphors for your key idea and see where they lead you. So, continuing with this example: What are places/things where too much and enough are used? Recipes? (Is there a recipe for being “just right” in this world? Does the Goldilocks story with “just right” fit with this idea?) Condiments? Can “too much” of a condiment spoil a meal? Can a failure to put in/on “enough” produce a tasteless result? How might my life be spoiled by too much of something? How might a failure to engage “enough” make my existence bland?

Work the language. Look for synonyms and antonyms for the words in your key idea. Listen to the sounds of those words. In this case: provides 64 synonyms for “enough” and 164 for “too much.” Will “excess” work or “surplus” or “glut”? (Can you feel how the harsher sound of “glut” tinges it with additional meaning?) Does “sufficient” mean the same as “abundant” or “ample” or “adequate”? Which sounds and meanings will capture what I am thinking/feeling about being too much or enough?

Although I have listed these in order, a poem can actually “start” from any of these three places: a unique thought; an interesting metaphor; a sound bite that intrigues. The point is to be attentive to these things if one wants to be a poet—to see the world in a unique way and use one’s total love of language to bring the reader along to that vision.



Bang #18 Capella University, #19 TruHearing, #20

More bang for your bucks awaits you. Because you are a member of the Society paying your annual dues, you are entitled to discounts with several companies. Three of those are Capella University, TruHearing, and



         Capella University is an accredited online university that has 52 degree programs with over 1900 online courses. It gives a direct, flexible, and affordable path to a doctorate, master’s, or certificate program. Capella also offers professional development webinars and opportunities to earn continuing education.

Capella offers a 10% tuition discount for DKG members and immediate family members. The application fee is also waived.

Check out Capella University: Online Accredited Degree Programs and see if this fits your and your family’s needs.


Save 30-60% on hearing aids with TruHearing. TruHearing is a hearing aid benefit program that gives DKG members and their families what is needed to improve hearing at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost. Choose from standard, advanced, or premium top-rated digital hearing aids to match your lifestyle and budget. Receive professional, individualized care from qualified local hearing care providers and access to the same hearing consultant throughout your treatment. A 45-day trial and comprehensive 3-year warranties back up every order.

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I knew friends who had spent thousands of dollars on them, and they didn’t work effectively.  I put off buying aides until DKG developed its’ partnership with TruHearing.  I decided to take the plunge, and I couldn’t be happier that I did.  I was referred to a local board-certified audiologist who tested my hearing and helped me choose the best one for me.  When I asked about the difference I would have to pay if I had not had TruHearing, she said it would have been over $2000 more per aid.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Do You Know Any Educators?

One of my chapter members is a museum educator at the Swedish National Museum, one of the most famous art galleries in Europe. She has given us so much knowledge about international painters and artists, a knowledge fundamental for our wellbeing and also for insights on how easily different influences travel around the globe. Culture is something all citizens need to continuously update, but for a very long time many schools have down-graded arts and culture. Culture is also a holistic attitude. For example, Sara Danius, who was the first woman to lead the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, reflected about her Academy clothes in context to the male and traditional atmosphere in her book, The Silk Cathedral.

As a Society, we need to widen our DKG membership outside the teacher box to reach educators not only in art, but in so many other fields. Just as collegiate members contribute to our knowledge about young teacher’s challenges and incentives, educators from organizations outside the traditional school system contribute with experiences of the complex world. Iceland and The Netherlands State Organizations have worked along this strategy, resulting in revitalized chapters and expansion into new areas. If the chapter members form a golden sphere with axes of different school levels, educational fields, diversity, local to international perspectives, that sphere will continuously roll into fresh areas of inspiration thereby renewing the chapter.

Do you know a working educator outside your own box? Talk to her about DKG and all the possibilities we have. Invite her to be a speaker at your chapter and use webinars to share her experiences with other chapters. Share the possibilities of this new diversity level through the use of a homepage, blogs, Facebook and other social media. Help to increase pride in the field of education. Use the Chapter Locator Tool on to identify parts of the state organization where there are no members. And at last, international conferences and conventions are the hub to meet educators from many countries. Use this great opportunity to broaden your view and follow the DKG vision: “Leading Women Educators Impacting Education Worldwide”.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

EEC and Legislation

The Educational Excellence Committee (EEC) encourages legislative programs at all levels of the Society.  So, what can those programs look like?  The following list of ideas was gathered at the in-person and virtual training for state organization EEC chairs in the summer of 2021.  

-     Assign a member whose role is to report on legislative issues and actions at each meeting and/or in newsletters

-     Survey your members for their legislative concerns; then plan programs according to the results.

-     Have a DKG day at your state capital

o   Meet with legislators

o   Hear about current bills

o   Attend sessions on the floor

-     Invite a variety of speakers to your meetings to address the legislative interests of education and of women educators in your state or region        

-     Attend candidate forums to educate yourself and your fellow members

-     Collaborate with other organizations (ex. state teacher’s organizations) on programs of interest or actions that can be taken

-     Identify and acknowledge education friendly legislators

-     Don’t forget about local school boards or councils and the educational decisions that affect the students in your area or region 

For more information, refer to International Standing Rule 8.10 Educational Excellence Committee – Legislation; 8.102 Guidelines for initiating endorsing, and supporting legislation.  

EEC reminds members of Purpose Number 7 – to inform the members of current economic, social, political, and educational issues so that they may participate effectively in a world society. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Better Safe than Sorry! - Part Three - Public Domain


Works are in the public domain if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all, if the intellectual property rights have expired, and/or if the intellectual property rights are forfeited. (Examples, works created before the existence of copyright and patent laws or prior to public domain laws; expiration of copyright – death plus 70 – 75; works by the government) Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States | Copyright Information Center and Copyright and Fair Use - Stanford Libraries *This information is not legal advice. Always consult the guidelines within your country before proceeding.

Let's start a True or False conversation to test our knowledge of the public domain. Leave your comments and post another true or false.

True or False? Is a song written by Beethoven within the public domain?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

DKG International Fine Arts Blog September 2021….Jackie Thomas

1.       Tell us about yourself as an educator and artist.

 I officially became a public school art teacher in 1971 and finally retired as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in 2007, having taught K-13+ and assumed eleven different administrative titles and job responsibilities.  Today, I continue mentoring new teachers and administrators and teaching workshops for both children and adults.  Mostly, I am a full-time studio fibers artist. 

2. What is your preferred media of work?

I am a Fibers Artist.  I identify with the forms, the textures, the colors, and the joy those things called fibers bring to my soul – natural, industrial, manmade. 

      3. We were all quite impressed with Raga Mutton. I know you have also done another similar to this. Would like to know what inspired you to pick this theme. Tell us what inspired you and how you developed this sculpture. 

Masks are rather common wall ornaments today.   And I enjoy hanging masks into odd nooks and corners around my house, just as many who collect my works do.  My Animal masks were originally created as expressive responses to historical images and concepts, some that were masks and some that were cultural imagery and non-mask artifacts.  

The first mask I remember making outside of an art classroom or workshop was for a “MASK” exhibit in the Kipp Gallery at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (1986).  The Gallery director called me the year before and requested I make a mask for an invitational exhibit using some of my “weird” materials (This was my first wet-felted mask).  I was thrilled that he hung my Dragon Mask in the entry to the exhibit. 

I began to create sheep masks after I retired and became a partner in an art gallery in Eagles Mere, PA.  I collect sheep sculptures, and thought I’d make some sheep masks for sale.  Each mask is based on real sheep breeds and represents some kind of social statement.   I usually create my sheep masks in pairs (male and female).   The first two, Muzzy Lar and Curly Lar, were conceived as Greek Household Gods, and in my mind, their purpose was to remove confusion from the environment (tongue-in-cheek). 

Raga Mutton and his partner, Miss Fancy Pants Raga Mutton were created for an annual recycled materials exhibit that I sometimes jury and sometimes enter (NOTE:  much of my artwork includes repurposed materials so that those materials do not end up in landfills).  Raga Mutton was woven (tabby weave and rya knots) with wool yarns, strips of recycled denim cloth from old shirts, and waxed linen thread over a wire armature.  Recycled wooden buttons are anchored into the weaving for the eyes. 

   Raga Mutton (male)                     Miss Fancy Pants Raga Mutton (female)

NOTES: Recycled materials: 

    • when I clean out my closets, I save some of the clothing for the cloth, influenced by color/texture/pattern.
    • Sheep wool is sustainable product & in an abstract way, a recycled material
    • lar (noun): Household god (the benevolent gods in an ancient Roman household) 

4. What is the best artist advice you have been given? 

FIRST:  The job of each human being is to continuously grow and mature - never finished, always learning and always becoming the individual – not becoming “like” others, but becoming the individual that is “me”.  My job is to be true to myself and set goals appropriate to myself and to earnestly work toward those goals while building on strengths and developing areas needed to complement the strengths.  That’s what humans do, and that’s what humans who are artists do, too. 

SECOND: The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.  And experimentation with the concepts gives a deeper understanding of a concept so that it can be shared with someone else – either through personal work or helping others to respond in their own ways to the ideas presented…… 

       5. Do you have anything else you want to add? 

Educators show up in classrooms bringing all of their knowledge, skills, ideas and interests with them.  Via the DKG Fine Arts Gallery, DKG recognizes multiple strengths of well-rounded individuals and their talents.  Thank you! 

The Arts & Humanities Jury looks forward to you returning often to view exciting new content and to share in the joy of creativity.   

We invite you to view the Art Gallery, click here. 

Keep the conversation going, please use the comment section below to suggest new topics, ask questions, or give us your input. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Bang #15, #16, #17 Dick Carr: ID Theft Assist, Long Term Care, VPI Pet Insurance


There are many benefits to membership in DKG including insurance benefits. Dick Carr offers three different insurances: ID Theft Assist, Long Term Care, and VPI Pet Insurance.

For less than $8.00 a month ID Theft Assist provides the most comprehensive identity recovery service on the market. Long Term Care Resources will assist in determining the best provider for your future healthcare needs. If you are looking for insurance for your pet then VPI Pet Insurance is for you. The insurance covers a wide range of animals, and DKG members are eligible to receive a 5% group discount.

For more information about each one of these insurance benefits go to the DKG website, click on About Us in the banner and then Insurance Benefits in the dropdown menu. These insurance benefits are another way to get More Bang for Your Buck$ as a member of DKG!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Future Benefits

The International Non-dues Revenue Committee has posted different benefits for members on the DKG website. With the exceptions of Go Ahead Tours and Award Concepts, most of the existing benefits are available only to members in the United States. Therefore, the committee is looking for resources and benefits for all members. For instance, Amazon is operating worldwide, and members in some countries can support DKG by choosing AmazonSmile and selecting DKG International Educators Foundation to help support programs.

Maybe you have ideas, needs, or desires regarding businesses with possible benefits or discounts? Do you have insurance needs or want benefits or discounts from businesses that our committee could investigate? Don’t hesitate to contact with any suggestions. Each new resource helps DKG financially even as it provides benefits for the members.


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