Google+ Followers

Friday, September 30, 2005

Postcards from Abu Ghraib

Photos mom wouldn’t approve
That would fail a test
Of community standards
Closing down a bookstore

Photos the government defends hiding
Of America in action
Telling a story

Photos the Pentagon fear
Will inflame
Embarrass
Incite

Photos
The Department of Defense
Has no defense for

Rx

Poetry wants to come out at a party in flashing attire. Poetry wants to shout with lungs of an opera singer from a mountaintop. It wants to say things unimaginable- cause you to think, to laugh, and to cry. Mostly it wants you to feel because the world has become so numb.

You don’t have to understand all of it- just let it be what it is. Poetry is the antidote.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

These Last Days

morning_star1

Air like iceberg lettuce
Morning sun shyly holds back
Lower in the sky

Windshields are Post-it notes
For tiny fingers

Listen-
You can hear ballparks deflating
And birds packing for long trips

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mid-Week Madness

Christine has done it again....

OMG - the New Yorker - every issue since time eternal on DVD for $100 bucks!
Actually - there is as deal on this page that gets it down to sixty some bucks - see the side bar click for Amazon click button.

From Katrina comes poetic expression.

Three Weeks Of Mania in KC Poetry

The coming three weeks are ripe with poetry events in the Kansas City Area.


October 1 - Saturday 1 p.m. POETRY SLAM The Kansas City Public Library will host a poetry slam at the Central Library 14 W. 10th Street - Kansas City, Missouri. The event will be in the Nutter Family Cafe locate within the library. A $100 prize will be awarded.

October 5 - Wednesday 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Branching Out Poetry Workshop
The Kansas City Library in cooperation with Branching Out - Poetry for the 21st Century will conduct a poetry workshop that is open to the public. Event in the Helzberg Auditorium. Central Library 14 W. 10th Street - Kansas City, Missouri.

October 7 - Friday 7 p.m. - Mary Joe Slater will present "More and the Writing Life" (Marianne Craig Moore 1887 - 1972) at Unity Temple on the Plaza - 707 W. 47th St - Kansas City, Missouri.


October 15 - Saturday 2 p.m. Branching Out Poetry Workshop This is a repeat of the October 5th workshop above with different presenters.
Everything else (location, etc. the same)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Get this!

Someone used the google search: Michael Brown super hero to arrive at this site. Talk about an oxymoron.

Think about this....

"Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war." ~John Andrew Holmes, Wisdom in Small Doses

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Poets Do This Nation Proud

As many of you are likely aware, First Lady Laura Bush invited a number of Poets from around the country to participate in a celebration of "Poetry and the American Voice" in 2003. As timing would have it, the President's plan for a unilateral attack on Iraq got in the way.

One by one, poets from around the country expressed their concern about the course the President was setting the nation on. So many, that the White House was faced with two unpleasant facts. One, that many very well recognized poets in this country had, as a matter of conscience, declined the invitations. In addition, one such poet, Sam Hamill both declined his invitation and asked about fifty fellow poets to reconstitute a Poets Against the War like one that had been such a powerful voice of reason during the war in Vietnam. Over 1500 poets not fifty responded. This led to a second fact that created discomfort for the White House. In a matter of days, poets all over this nation were using the power of word to take issue with the military attack by this nation on the people of Iraq. As such, the First Lady feared that the planned symposium, if carried out, could well become the catalyst for public airing of powerful words of opposition to war. She could not allow that. The event was cancelled altogether.

In spite of this, today, Poets Against the War have a web site with more than 20,000 poems that speak to the insanity of war. It is the largest poetry anthology ever published.

Such action by poets to confront American foreign policy issues is not new. The Letters of Robert Lowell - published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2005 contains an interesting correspondence by Robert Lowell of May 30, 1965 to President Lyndon B Johnson. In it Mr. Lowell recants an invitation he earlier accepted to read at the White House Festival of the Arts the following month. Lowell writes, "When I was telephoned last week and asked to read... I am afraid I accepted somewhat rapidly and greedily. I thought of such an occasions a purely artistic flourish, even though every serious artist knows that he cannot enjoy public celebration without making subtle public commitments. After a week's wondering, I have decided that I am conscience-bound to refuse your courteous invitation." Lowell goes on to explain that he is very enthusiastic about most of [Johnson's] domestic legislation he could only follow the nation's present foreign policy with "the greatest dismay and distrust."

I'm sure that Robert Lowell was by no means the first example of a poet of conscience that felt a higher calling of responsibility with respect to a bankrupt national policy. I am even more confident in saying those who have stood up and spoken out from the depths of their core beliefs about the present American actions in Iraq will not be the last.

I take comfort in knowing that American poets of all walks of life have a history of taking a strong stand in defense of reason and justice when it comes to matters of how this nation behaves in the larger context of the world community.


Visit the web site of Poets Against the War [here]

I also recommend reading the letter by poet Sharon Olds to Laura Bush [here]


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

More Reading Material


Lowell
Originally uploaded by stickpoet.



Picked up new reading material - a copy of The Letters of Robert Lowell
as well as Anne Sexton - A Self Portrait in Letters.

I've already dug into them. Look for some of my observations soon.

DC Rally Site of Poets Against the War Changed!

I just received this information this morning via e-mail from Sam Hamill:

The original meeting location for the DC Poets Against the War
contingent
marching on Saturday will be closed that morning.

So, please join us at our NEW LOCATION (Apologies and please help us
get
the word out!):

Poets Contingent
Saturday, September 24, 11 AM
Sherman Square Park, next to the White House gate on the west side of
15th
Street NW (at Alexander Hamilton Place.)
Closest Metro: McPherson Square (Orange & Blue) or Metro Center (Red,
Orange & Blue)


And don't forget:

Bring your poems of hope and outrage to the:
Open Mic for Peace & Justice
Sunday, September 25, 3-5 PM
Busboys & Poets, 14th & V St., NW, Washington, DC
www.busboysandpoets.com
U Street/Cardozo Green Line Metro
Wheelchair accessible.
Free and open to the public. A special welcome to those in town for
Saturday's rally and march.

More info: 202-577-6596, browning@womenarts.org


Namaste,
Sam Hamill & the PAW Board
http://www.poetsagainstwar.net

The Bush Administration On Iraq vs. Reality

"We do know that [Saddam] is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon" ~ Condoleezza Rice 9/10/02

"We believe [Saddam] has, reconstituted nuclear weapons" ~ Dick Cheney 3/16/03

"There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties." ~ George W. Bush 9/17/03

"We know where [the WMDs] are." ~ Donald Rumsfeld 3/30/03

"We found the weapons of mass destruction." ~ George W. Bush 5/29/03

We will in fact, be greeted as liberators... I think it will go relatively quickly...
[in] weeks rather than months." ~ Dick Cheney 3/16/06


FACTOIDS -

* Nearly 2,000 U.S. soldiers are dead

* The war is costing Americans $5 billion a month.

* Just this last week, more than 150 people were killed in suicide bombings in the deadliest day in Baghdad since the March 2003 invasion.


* The 9-11 Commission concluded there was not a direct Iraq - al Qaeda link.

* The WMDs are where?

* Nuclear program had never been restarted since the first Iraq war.


The Company You Keep

A candle without a wick
No fire burns
The air is sullen
The sky opaque
The Moon truant

Ambiguity seeps
Through my Pores
A ponderous burden

So I keep company with doubt
Or he with me- we are inseparable
We huddle in the very darkness
That becomes us- this night

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Leave My Child Alone

In June of this year I blogged on a little known aspect of Bush's NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND Act. This is a provision that requires school districts to furnish the government personal information on your minor child for the purpose of military recruiting.


This despicable provision at least has an opt-out option. This option is little known and no doubt the government was hopeful that it would continued to be just as obscure as the provision itself that requires school districts to turn over this information to them... Including their social security number. This information then is maintained by a private vendor hired by the department of defense to retain this data.

I am happy to report that LEAVE MY CHILD ALONE DOT ORG has made it relatively simple to opt-out and give proper notification of your child's school district as well as the vendor. ODDS ARE THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN GIVEN THE INFORMATION DURING THE PAST YEAR. From this site you can very easily with a limited amount of keystrokes, construct two letters - one to your school district superintendent opting-out, and the other to the vendor instructing them to purge your child's information.


Using the link below, you can access the site to help you with this process. I encourage you to not only do this, but help publicize the site so that more people are informed of this. I already opted-out for my school age child.


The Pentagon has been compiling sensitive data on 30 million youth ages 16-to-25 using a private marketing firm, without the knowledge or consent of individuals or their families. You can opt-out of this database by following instructions at www.LeaveMyChildAlone.org.


United for Peace and Justice - Saturday, September 24 Massive March, Rally & Festival

United for Peace & Justice - Saturday, September 24 Massive March, Rally & Festival


I wanted to share this information with Stick Poet readers. Any of you that are within the proximity of D.C. - this is your opportunity to make a statement to the Administration and Congress that enough is enough!

Sam Hamill of Poets
Against the War
has put out a call for support from the poetry community.

While I can't physically be there this weekend, I am there in spirit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Yet Another Poetry Send Off

Another six poems off this afternoon for consideration. This is a good thing!

Connecting the Dots

The mind is such an incredible device. You are reading along in some other poet’s work and all of a sudden, hum…. You wonder what was going on in the poet’s mind. Well, very likely what was going on in his or her mind is the same thing working in your own mind, logic.

Of course you’ll argue that you certainly don’t see the logic of what you just read, but the fact is, the writer used his mental process and came up with what he did. So your life experiences are different and these two minds take the same things and end up at different points of conclusion. So what! That in fact is one of the very reasons I find poetry so utterly fascinating.

If I say “clock” and you immediately think of your daughter, I might not immediately see how you got daughter out of that. None the less you arrived at point C from point A. There was to you a logical progression. For you, perhaps the word clock reminded you of an appointment time. Those in turn triggered A thought that you were supposed to be somewhere 45 minutes ago. Where? Ah, your daughter’s school to pick her up and take her to the Doctor. So while I am thinking of wristwatch, quitting time at work, going home, etc., I just don’t see your daughter. Still the connection to you was quite logical.

I recall someone once saying ( I think it was Pinsky but don’t hold me to it) that when he reads a poem and is not getting it, he refuses to dismiss it, thinking what a poor job the poet has done. Instead, he figures the problem lies with himself, the reader and that he has to read it again, and again , again until he gets it.

The is the challenge of reading poetry that inspires me. Yes, I too sometimes wonder, “where did that come from?” The fact however, is that it was the product of the logic of another’s mind. There is always a reason, it simply may not be an obvious reason to you. And so with poetry, we get a tiny glimpse inside the workings of another’s mind.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Even Nixon & Bush Would Admire NYPD Gestapo Tatics

Yesterday, Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who's son was killed in Iraq and who camped outside Bush's ranch for most of the president's vacation spoke in New York's Union Square. She had nearly finished when police intervened.

She was ushered away from the Union Square rally by supporters as onlookers yelled at police and chanted "let her speak". Some upset onlookers likened the police response with the arrests of more than 1,800 protesters last year during the Republican National Convention. Organisms Paul Zulkowitz was arrested for using a sound devise and disorderly conduct.

NYPD Detective Kevin Czartoryski called the arrest "appropriate action" after the department received numerous complaints. Daniel Starling, Green Party's Manhattan chapter co-chair who attended the rally said, "This is what's been happening for the last couple of years, every time we hold a demonstration they arrest us."

Ah yes, shades of Richard Nixon at the height of Vietnam.



The Ever Fashionable Barry has his Beauty Day Out



My dog Barry - who has previously graced the pages of this blog with pictures of him teething on his George W. Bush doll, among other poses, can be seen here sporting the "wet look" when he was taken to the Brookside Barkery for a shampoo and blow dry. Obviously this is a pre-dry shot.

Barry is a very hip - dog with real culture. He has been know to set on the bed and listen to me read poetry aloud. My wife will tell you he has no choice in the matter, but I can tell he enjoys the likes of Sylvia Plath, Robert Frost, Sharon Olds, and Billy Collins. He even is kind enough to listen to some of my own.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Released Into The Wild

Do you ever mail submissions and feel like you've just released doves into the air or something?

Packet with six poems off in the mail this afternoon.

Stickpoet Writing Journal


Stickpoet Writing Journal
Originally uploaded by stickpoet.
What... You don't have a Stick Poet Superhero Journal?

Why Not?


To See Official Stick Poet Gear - [CLICK HERE]

For Animals Left Behind - Time is Running Out

Katrina has separated children from parents and many senior citizens from their children and grandchildren. Many of these people are slowly being reunited now that they have been safely relocated.

The story is much different from the animals left behind. Those persons who had to be evacuated were not allowed to bring pets with them. In many instances these pets have been shut off from the rest of the world in structures that in some cases remain flooded. Their food supply by now has surely been long ago depleted.

The Humane Society and many other volunteers have been working to rescue many family pets. Thousands have been safely rescued. Sadly, thousands remain out there and for these pets, time is their worst enemy.

The Humane Society of the United States is asking your help.


Presently the only way these workers are able to get the vast numbers of pets left behind, is if National Guardsmen take pity on the rescue workers that are pleading for the lives of the animals.

Over the weekend Human Society workers found an adult St. Bernard that was miraculously alive in spite of the fact that his weight was reduced to a measly 40 lbs from weeks of starvation. It is a miracle he was still alive and an even greater miracle that he was able to be rescued without a federal rescue plan for animals in place.

Many rescue workers are and have been ready to do the work but are not officially allowed to go and get the animals they know are out there still, barely hanging on.

Time is critical. These pets were essentially dependents that in many cases were confined to homes the families left behind. Some have found ways to free themselves from the homes but many remain trapped and their only way to survive requires human intervention. There must be better cooperation with National Guardsmen and rescue workers. I urge you to help with this matter by bringing the issue to the forefront and addressing it before it is too late.

Go to this link to the Human Society and write a short note to public officials bringing this matter to their attention.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Reading Material

A mid day trip to the library - brought home the following new reading material:

Delusions, Etc - John Berryman

2004 Pushcart Prize XXVIII Best of the Small Presses


Missing Measures - Modern Poetry and The Revolt Against Meter - Timothy Steele


Kansas City - Outloud II - 32 Contemporary Area Poets - Edited by Dan Jaffe

A First Draft is Always a Critic

First Draft in Journal

In the beginning, you were
A very private matter
Between me and the blank page.

We struggled a bit.
I would take you by the shoulder
Pulling out of a line

Then sometimes forcing you
Into another. You stubbornly
Slapped my face in rebuke

Forever telling me why
Something wasn't working
But never offering alternatives.

It is always left to me to make it work-
You are the critic- always a critic.
You never have anything nice to say.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Neighborhood Bully

The boy down the street stole my truck.
I said I didn't care but I did.

He had hedgehog green teeth.
His eyes never blinked.

All the other kids grew weary of him.
He took what he wanted from them as well.

Bobby's marbles, Sam's ball glove.
It was made of real leather too.

He took Hank's dad's hammer
And Hank caught hell for losing it.

He snatched Jan's rag doll.
The one with the patch on its elbow.

He took Helen's virginity.
That's what I heard. Some kids watched.

But when he choked old lady Horton's cat
Well that was it. We all had enough.

We have to laugh when we see him now.
You just can't help yourself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Stuck Up There

Moon
Post-it Note
On carbon sky

Is It Just Me?

I know I'm not exactly a spring chicken - err rooster, but I think I am relatively open minded. Perhaps I'd draw the line at being hip. I mean that would be ok if you thought I was hip, but I'm not really trying to fool anyone here.

As I read other blogs, something I see, has sort of hung in the back of my mind... In the little space where annoying things seem to go and set up shop and just hang out till you evict them or something.

Understand, I'm not trying to be judgmental. That is NOT my reason for this post and I certainly am not going to point fingers. Still, something is gnawing at me and I am starting to wonder if it is just me.

I see from time to time other bloggers who will post another's poem in its entirety. The interesting thing is, people don't seem very often to post some other blogger poet's work, though I have seen it done on very rare occasion. What I do see is people posting the complete text of the works of very established poets. Often deceased, but not always.

Myself, I would never think of posting another bloggers poem without first getting permission. And that seems to be a prevailing view of almost everyone else out there. Am I being totally old fashioned by applying that same standard to say the works of Robert Frost or Sharon Olds? I know some works are in the public domain. But for those that aren't, if I am going to reference them in a post, I may use a line or two or a stanza to illustrate a point, or often link the entire poem from somewhere else on the internet. But without permission of the poet or copyright holder, I would not feel right reposting it in my blog.

Someone is probably going to say, "Michael, get with the times." File sharing is rampant, etc, but as artists, as poets, as writers, should not we respect the work of others to the same degree we would expect them to treat our work?

What say you?


Happy for a Little Rest

I wouldn't say I slept like a baby last night but I was able to sleep better at least part of the night.

KC Metro Verse meeting last night - a very sparse attendance - unlike the previous.

I was introduced to the work of Raymond Carver. His bio can be found here. One of the poems read was Happiness.

The last two stanzas of this poem strike me fascinating because he sets this stage for happiness in a moment of beauty that is not defined by death, ambition or as he says, "even love". An abstract, defined in this instance by the absence of two abstracts and death playing any role. It is a peculiar approach, but I like it because it has in a way, brought simplicity to what happiness can be.

Such beauty that for a minute / death and ambition, even love, / doesn't enter into this.// Happiness. It comes on / unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really, / any early morning talk about it.//

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Elusive Sleep

"Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep." ~ Fran Lebowitz

As the song goes, "Last night, I couldn't get to sleep at all..." And this would be several days now. I attribute it largely to new medication so I don't see this ending anytime soon. I think I have actually had one good night of sleep since I started it. Now, I suppose if I felt life was actually happening while the sleep isn't, I could at least feel there was a reasonable trade off. Fortunately it has not been a problematic during the day.

Meanwhile, I feel my creativity is less impacted by my new medication then the previous.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you likely know that one of the blogs I try to routinely read is - Ivy Is Here.

I enjoyed her most recent post with a heart warming story about her mother's reaction to her poetry. It's a great story, go over and read it if you haven't already.

I was already aware that Ivy Alvarez has extensively researched and written of Sylvia Plath. Should she find a publisher for her manuscript she has a customer here!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Thanks Peeps!

Oh, I forgot...

I wanted to thank the readers of Stick Poet because I see over the weekend we passed 16000 unique hits! Thank you all!


Michael Wells

Plath Discovery

For some reason I find the literary remains of writers to be fascinating stuff. I believe we often get to see a different picture of a writer by material that surfaces postmortem and has otherwise been out of the view of the vast public. Sometimes it is a early draft of a published work and we get to see some progression and by that can visualize the mental progression of the writer. Or it may take the form of letters between peers or family or other significant people in their life. And then there is always the possibility of that lost or unknown piece of work that we get a view of for the first time. I find all of these possibilities utterly fascinating. It is almost like studying their DNA. You learn more about who they were.

So last night I was like a giddy kid in a candy store upon reading that pages and notes from an unpublished novel by Sylvia Plath have been discovered among documents left by the Ted Hughes estate to Emory University in Atlanta. [source]

The papers evidently comprise some notes and I believe two chapters of a work that was to be a fictionalization of an American girl who moves to London and marries her poet lover. The title of the book novel was Falcon Yard which was the place in Cambridge where Plath met Hughes, her future husband and bit him.

It was a known fact that such a novel was written by Plath as it is mentioned in her journals. Falcon Yard was meant to be a gift to her husband. A bestselling romantic comedy that would be successful enough for them to be able to get on with writing poetry. It was generally assumed that the manuscript had been destroyed.

Some of the material will be on display starting Wednesday at the Grolier Club in New York, starting Wednesday in an exhibit of Plath and Hughes material.

The archives at Emory University of the Hughes estate which contain Plath's material as well total two and a half tons of letters, poems, drafts, proofs, etc. God, I'd love to be able to sift through it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Saving the Weekend

This morning is flush with the sun's welcome and I sit here with a cup of coffee (God, I actually had no caffeine yesterday) and attempt to establish a foothold on today's opportunity.

I did not sleep well last night but I am willing to forgive and forget that for the day. The weekend teeters on the brink of exhaustion and I must save it from itself while there is time. This will of course take magic. The magic of words. The right words and in their appropriate order. Let it Begin.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Web stat sheet rates literary heavyweights - Los Angeles Times

Judging a book by cost per word or cost per ounce. Amazon.com has the stats.

On the Written Word

"The palest ink is better than the best memory." ~ Chinese Proverb

Ah yes, the written word certainly has this advantage going for it.

I know we all write for different reasons. And sometimes we change why we write or may incorporate multiple motivations.

Do you write for yourself? For the future? For Profit? For relaxation? For Self discovery? For fame? For self expression? What motivates you the most in your writing? I'd love to hear from others on this.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Dignity

In light of what the people from the gulf coastal area have been through I thought the following quotation was worth repeating...


"The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others." ~ Dag Hammarskjold

Always My Luck

It happened.
Just like that.
One moment and a
Jolt.

I tried to restart the damned thing.
The noise was not optimistic in the least.
There was a clicking sound
Like you kept punching
A single key
On the keyboard
Real
Fast.

Clickckickclickclickclickclickclickclick…

It was hot,
I had the window down.
Some man came by
Asked if I had a problem.

Told him the car died,
Wouldn’t restart.
He asked what it did.
I showed him.

Clickckickclickclickclickclickclickclick…

He said, “Yep, you got a problem
With the starter” and walked off.
Damn it’s hot today.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

September Events - KC Area

September 9th at 8pm - Friday - Riverfront Reading Series: The Writer’s Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, KCMO

Guest Poet Readers - John Mark Eberhart & Phillip Stephens

Eberhart is the book critic for the KC Star and the author of a poetry book released in June titled Night Watch

Stephens first book of poetry, The Determined Days was released in 2000. He has been published in several journals and anthologies and is A resident of Kansas City, Missouri, he teaches in the low- residency M.F.A. program at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

September 26th - Monday at 8 pm - Writers Place Open Mic
3607 Pennsylvania, KCMO

Monday, September 05, 2005

Thought for the Day

"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." ~ Robert Frost

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The "Why Not?" Woman

A couple of years back I met the poet Naomi Shihiab Nye at a reading she did here in Kansas City. She is a remarkable woman, even beyond her writing which has such a strong original voice.

Nye is a non-conformist, but you don't realize that so much at first glance. She embraces her Arab heritage in a firm but soft spoken way that makes her ideal for knocking down barriers that exist in America today.

In both her writing and public appearances she seems to me to be the "why not" woman.
Why not just learn something about each other? Why not just listen to what each other as opposed to trying to change everyone to be like yourself?

The daughter of a Palestinian father and an America mother, Nye's background allows her to open doors to communication that others may find difficult. But is seems to be as much about where her heart is, as the place of her heritage. And for poets, place is so important to their work.

The Sept/Oct edition of Poets & Writers magazine contains of her poems from a new book, You & Yours. The Poem, For Mohammed Zeid of Gaza, Age 15 questions the soft metaphorical use of words in relationship to violence. There is no stray bullet, sirs / No bullet like a worried cat / crouching under a bush / - A poem that is timely and poignant. This bullet had no secret happy hopes, / it was not singing to itself with eyes closed / under the bridge.

This is someone I'd love to a day just talking to about writing, about stories, and how she stays so positive about the future.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Venting

This week seems sorrel. In some respects, I could imagine awaking and discovering that it has all been a dream. On the other hand, such a dream would require a great deal more creativity and embellishment then I would give myself credit for. Oh, I could dream of a catastrophic event. One that is devastating. Requiring extraordinary efforts and the whole nine yards. I just don't think I could have factored enough reality into the picture.

Reality in this case is that a major American city faced ruination in a matter of hours. The vibrant city that hosts each year a major Mardi Gras celebration became like unto a third world nation over night.

A few observations that have come into clarity by what I have been seeing:

1. Just how fragile major segments of our society are. The poor and elderly and those with major medical issues in particular. I don't doubt that there are many wealthy and even middle income families who have lost their homes, their jobs, personal possessions. Still, it seems those who had the least earthly possessions to lose, are the ones who really have felt the brunt of this devastation.

No auto, not credit card to rent a car to get out. But according to Michael Brown of FEMA, these people have to take some of the blame for not evacuating. So what, blame is perhaps the one possession they have left? Please... FEMA had demographics and had planned mock hurricane disasters for New Orleans. These people were to leave how?

2. We are the most advanced nation on the planet. Our leaders have planned for the inevitable since 9-11. They have reshaped FEMA and a gazillion other federal agencies under Homeland Security to create the biggest bureaucracy in the history of this country. All with the idea in mind that these agencies would work better together knowing what each other is doing. The President supported this reorganization. He put his own people in charge. He told us he was making it better.
So the day after Katrina the President is in Arizona doing a photo-op with seniors when the biggest issue that day was what Katrina had left behind.

Imagine if Bush had gone to Arizona the day after 9-11 to do a photo-op... I dare say the death toll from Katrina will pass 9-11. The economic impact on the nation clearly will. Still, the President chose a business-as-usual approach. FEMA, national guardsman, all legged way behind. In fact it is only now that they are really on the scene in any kind of numbers. Why? What happened to the revamped Homeland Security?

3. Our nations priorities are sadly out of place. Nearly $192 billion has been spent on the war in Iraq. A war that was a gross lie in purpose. Yet every year since 9-11 the President slashed the budget for U.S. Army Corp of Engineers projects to maintain the levies that compromised in New Orleans from the Hurricane. So in reality, this basic issue of security for New Orleans, was never high on the list of priorities.

People in New Orleans have no homes. They lack basic services like water, electricity, fuel, protection (till the national guard arrived) and food. They have lost their jobs, been separated from and in many cases lost family and friends. Their future looks pretty bleak right now. Except for being flooded, it is a picture not unlike that of the people of Baghdad after the United States invasion. We still have not rebuilt Iraq.

4. After 9-11 the government and the American people felt violated. The President said we would hunt down the people responsible and make them pay. We would not stand for this and of course we set about to avenge the attack. Certainly some response was warranted. But the government was misleading about Iraq.

So here we are today. Katrina's devastation is massive. The human toll has not yet fully been realized but the loss of life will surely pass 9-11. We were not prepared for this crisis. In spite of a staggering Homeland Security budget, lives are being lost as the hours tick by for want of relief efforts that were too little and much too late.

This time there is no enemy to point our finger at and avenge. Nothing for the President to rally around. Only the disgraceful administration of relief efforts that we all believed would have been better orchestrated.

So here I am. If I sound angry, I am. I'm angry this was not just a dream. I'm angry that the policies of this Administration have put our tax dollars into a war that was a lie and took money from badly needed areas that were more important to American lives.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Words Are the Same Only The Meaning Has Changed

President Bush: 'One of the Worst Natural Disasters in our Nation's History.' - headline

"President Bush: One of the Worst Natural Disasters in our Nation's History" - Michael Wells

Naropa University - Audio Archive Project

Naropa University - Audio Archive Project




The Naropa University Archive Project enters 2005 with over one thousand hours of recordings digitized. Access to three hundred hours of the collection is available online via the Internet Archive at www.archive.org. The archive project's partnership with the Internet Archive marks a significant step toward realizing its mission of enhancing appreciation of post-World War Two literature and its role in cultural criticism and social change.

Among the recordings recently released online are historic lectures and performances addressing peace activism, gender issues, environmentalism, spirituality and freedom of speech. You'll hear Samuel Charters lecturing on Jack Kerouac and jazz, Peter Lamborn Wilson discussing the Temporary Autonomous Zone, Bernadette Mayer teaching experimental writing techniques and Allen Ginsberg and Art Lande performing the anti-war poem "Hum Bomb."

Since its founding in 1974 by poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, which includes the Department of Writing and Poetics and the Summer Writing Program, has recorded approximately six thousand hours of audio tapes documenting performances, seminars and discussions conducted at Naropa by many of the leading figures of the U.S. literary avant-garde. The collection represents several generations of artists who have contributed to aesthetic and cultural change in the postmodern era.

With continuing support from the NEA, NEH, Save America's Treasures and the GRAMMY Foundation, the Naropa University Archive Project is preserving, cataloging and providing library and Internet access to this collection. The archive project has recently released its first commercial CD, "First Thought, Best Thought," and has developed audio support for university literature courses. It is developing a national radio documentary series on literature, the arts and social change and is also supporting other audio archives by providing training. I presented the project to the Society of American Archivists in Boston last year, and archive staff is presenting at the Association of Recorded Sound Collections in Austin, Texas, as well as at the Western Region Archives conference in Las Vegas. This summer audio technicians from the Naropa University Archive Project will travel to Dharamsala, India, to assist the Tibetan Library and Archive in digitizing unique recordings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Naropa University Archive Project is asking for your assistance in 2005 in the ongoing preservation and access work of the audio archive. It needs matching funds from private donors to continue making this living literature available to the public.

Since the founding of the collection in the early 1970s, many issues addressed by contributing artists and scholars have come increasingly to the fore in the larger public arena. For thirty years artists, scientists and spiritual leaders have been addressing issues in environmental preservation, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism and the rights of indigenous people. In such times as these, it is a great pleasure to make this collection available to scholars and lovers of literature and people of conscience worldwide. Thanks for visiting with us.

Steven Taylor
Director, Naropa University Archive Project

Katrina Resources

Here are a few resources to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina:

Catholic Charities, USA

America's Second Harvest

Convoy of Hope

Humane Society of the United States

All of these organizations are providing relief assistance directly to the Katrina affected areas.