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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Surprised

Haiku has never been one of my stronger forms. For all the simplicity of it, I guess I try and complicate things. At any rate I'm never happy with them.

A short while back, my wife e-mailed me a link to a site that was sponsoring a local contest related to creating better awareness to air quality issues. They were looking for haikus to express the cause. You could submit once a week for four weeks. I composed three or four. Sent the one I was happiest with. I intended to enter once a week, but got busy and forgot.

This week I got a call and was told that I had won a bike from a local cycling store that was partnering with the organization for the contest. There were three first place prizes - all bikes - awarded. So I get to go pick out a Giant - Cypress. I would never have guessed my entry would win. Exciting!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Moment with Our Surroundings

Freezing a moment with words.... We do it with camera and some artists do it with paint on another medium. But in this day and age, we often are not content with the frozen frame version of life. No, it seems that we must be able to roll it by in continuum. Motion pictures in a fast paced world that we live in. Even my cell phone has not just a camera but a video component.

Sometimes I think we miss a lot by not breaking it down into individual frames and looking at the picture as a particle of life, or of some smaller incident rather than allowing it to simply zip by.

I appreciate that aspect of poetry. Capturing a speck of time in the continuum of life. When we do this, I believe we find that life is so much richer for it.

"Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless." ~Julia Cameron

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

“If we read one another, we won’t kill one another.”

Robert Hirschfield writes about the Palestinian-American poet, Naomi Shihab Nye and provides an excellent picture of a person who believes as I have said here in the past, that we find more common ground and understanding by reading each other.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Few Gems and Lots of Frustration


Supposing I were patient, this post would be about something else. Or it would not be at all.

To write, even in the midst of others is such a solitary act. I am not a person who has to find complete solitude to write, I am able, to a large extent, create it even as I sit in a room with others. I can move into a conversation and come back to myself with relative ease. Still, that return to self is just that, being alone with yourself for those thoughts that develop into structured language.

I find I am quite capable of putting together some wonderful bits and pieces and then the problem of patience, or I should say the lack thereof, seems to take hold of me. It would be easy to dismiss this as having to much motion, commotion, distraction or whatever around me. If it were distraction, then the solution would be to write in a more secluded place to isolate myself, to shut out anything that might constitute a diversion. Since I have written in complete solitude as opposed to my personal one I have describe above, and still experienced this same problem, I must conclude that where I am writing is not the issue.

Sometimes I think I am better off writing something very average in a first draft and then craft it into something better. It is those moments when I have something come together like Emeril Lagasse throwing garlic into the pot and "BAM!" Those moments that are usually followed by great consternation, which leads to frustration, which leads to the difficulty of trying put something equally as good with it.

Knowing full well that first and last lines of poems are almost always the most important, that they need to be strong statements, I can tell you I have countless first and last lines still awaiting middles. I am indeed an impatient poet.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh Pluto, What Have They Done?

This morning I work up to nine planets and tonight there are eight. In what seems to me to be an all too silly exercise in subjectivity, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto off the island. Instantly textbooks all over the world are rendered obsolete. Was this actually a grand conspiracy by text book publishers to puff up sales?

Suddenly, memorizing all the planets in grade school has become an exercise in frivolity and I wonder what other acts associated with "so called" learning will I discover were a waste of time?

If all this is sounding cynical, I have succeeded. There is a part of me that wants to strike back at these stiff collared nerds for dissing the mysticism Pluto provided to my own childhood and likely countless others of my generation who grew up one the threshold of possibilities of space exploration.

I know the chilled little sphere called Pluto is really still in the fringes of an ever expanding universe. It hasn’t gone anywhere. And in some lame attempt to appease, it has been given the status of dwarf planet. This of course raises a whole series of new questions. How many dwarf planets are there? What are their names? Which number is Pluto?

Who are these people who too it upon themselves to disorder my universe? They call themselves astronomers but they are merely dwarf astronomers.

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Indiana poets will be featured on IndyGo buses

Meg Grey writes about the “Shared Spaces/Shared Voices,” an innovative public art project that pairs public transportation with poetry written by Hoosiers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Drama Queen

Drama Queen
(just being Ann)


The fanfare isn't you at all.
I've watched the hilarity-
Your social conscience,
A cosmetic powder of absurdity
Enriched with the honey glaze
Of some cable news anchor
Seeking an erection in ratings.

And you play the southern church choirgirl
In suburban soccer-slut-mom 5-3/4"
Above the knee dress and ululate on
In discernible hyperbole
Saying nothing- still,
You exhaust it all, Anglo bitch
In your own little circus world
Pimping for the right to be right,
While unloading your glock.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Poetic Risk

This whole business of art and risk that I mentioned in my post yesterday came about as a result of listening to an NPR broadcast in which a person was talking about a architect with a particular flair for bold artistic design. The person related how his work involved great risk taking and asked if, "after all isn't that what art is about, being able to take risks?"

The suggestion of artists being able to take risks with their work was not totally new to me. Still, it is not something that I dwelled upon and really didn't extent my thoughts so far as my own poetry.

In comment to my post yesterday, Roxx talked about the risk involved in submitting your work. And while I too thought about this, I have sent out enough material and read enough of my work in public that I am for the most part not particularly wary of such exposure any longer. At least not to the point of dwelling on it with dread or fear of rejection. I know this is a hurdle most all of us have to get over at some point and I don't want to minimize what Roxx has said, but I am thinking more about the risk in the act of creating art itself. Forget submitting it anywhere for a moment and think about writing in a journal a poem or poems. Where is the risk that you are taking, or are you?

It is a challenge to cycle through ideas sometime and write about things that have been touched upon a million times before by others. You have to be different in your approach. Perhaps this has something to do with the advent of post modern poetry and many gravitating away from structured forms and or creating new ones themselves.

Stepping outside the box and doing something different or applying yourself diligently to a form or subject matter that has historically been uneasy for you... these are risks. The first erasure poems involved risk. The first Hay(na)ku poems were risks... and so on. If you are putting something together that you believe in, but know is different and challenges the norm, and may or may not be widely accepted, than you have risk.

So now, I need take a good hard look at myself and ask just how often am that I allowing myself to take risks with my writing?

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Wrapping Up The Weekend

The weekend is history. I hate how that sounds so final.

I was able to tinker with a couple of rough drafts and also brainstorm for some new ideas. Nothing new submitted, and no rejection letters for that matter.

To the right, Barry at the dog park on Saturday. Barry is not well socialized where other dogs are concerned. He looks pretty happy go lucky here, but in truth he hardly interacted with any other dogs and was mostly annoyed at those who wanted to check him out.

Submissions to the first issue of Rogue Poetry Review have been coming in. There is still time to submit. More details here.

Listened to a podcast of Janet Holmes being interviewed by Amy King and I found it particularly interesting. Also Holmes read form of her Dickinson Erasure poems. I found them to be quite resolute and efficacious. Talk about no wasted words.

Just throwing this question out for people to be thinking about. If taking risks is a sign of a true artist, then what do you consider risk taking as a poet and how well do you fair by your own standards? I've been thinking about this myself and will blog more in depth on it soon.



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Peaches & poems lie mangled among the dead | News | The Australian

Peaches & poems lie mangled among the dead News The Australian: "UNDER the rubble of a stone shack in a peach orchard, metres from the Syrian border, lay the deeply personal effects of 33 new casualties of war.
A tattered red book of love poems, with stickers and photos of someone's beaming wife, lay metres from a frugal mattress. Blood-stained shoes sat on a rock nearby, alongside an audit book documenting trucks that had left with their cargo in the past month. "

Friday, August 18, 2006

Warrantless wiretaps ruled unconstitutional

Warrantless wiretaps ruled unconstitutional:

It didn't take a surgeon or a rocket scientist, just a federal court judge to figure out how many ways the Administration is wrong on this issue.

"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,'' Taylor said in finding that the administration's wiretapping violates an array of constitutional rights and a 1978 law requiring court warrants for electronic surveillance related to terrorism or espionage. It was the first ruling in the nation on the legality of the program.

ba-da-bing!


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Filtered Onto the Page



The thoughts that make their way onto a page- where do they come from? They appear like rays of light filtered through the branches and leaves of our interwoven mind.

Layers of experiences, memories, fears, joys, exhilaration, dreams, wishes, desires, pain, love and of course hatred. Then of course we create variations of these by mixing up from bits of two or more like a painter on a palette. A bit of dream with a little fear added, and so on.

Such thoughts make up our very human existence. They also make up our poetry. Isn't poetry in some way very much like the whole human experience?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meet Poet: Michael Ondaatje

"It doubles your perception, to write from the point of view of someone you're not." ~ Michael Ondaatje
Ondaatje was born in 1954 and immigrated to Canada at age 19 from Ceylon or what is now Sri Lanka. He presently resides in Canada and you can find out more about him an his work at Famous Poets
A couple of his poems:
Application For A Drivers License [click here]
The Time Around Scars [click here]

Why is George Bush reading Camus? By John Dickerson - Slate Magazine

Why is George Bush reading Camus? By John Dickerson - Slate Magazine

John Dickerson is not the only one wondering What's Up With That?

I have to wonder how the president views the main character, Meursault. Any empathy for his plight? Is Bush capable of empathy? Was he drawn to the book because Meursault killed an Arab without provocation or remorse? Is this just a case of trying to impress people who generally read their books right side up and books that actually have more words than pictures in them? So many questions.....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Barry Says Hi!



Barry makes a cameo appearance - here is a picture taken last night when we went out to get some exercise playing fetch the ball. He has not appeared here for a while so I thought he was due.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Two Things....

  • Two submissions off this evening to a venue I have never submitted to before.
  • Racking my brain out for a theme to write about ten pages of poetry for a contest later this year. I don't do a lot of contests. But this one I am especially interested in.

Poetry in a World of Misunderstanding


"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" ~ Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Peace and War"

How often do we step outside ourselves - our own secure little boxes we create and carry wrapped around us like a barrel shielding our nakedness? How likely are we to try on someone else's box, and if we do, how well do we really feel what they feel? Americans are pretty good at the sympathy thing but I think rather weak where empathy is concerned. Perhaps this why it is so difficult for us to understand how and why some cultures view us in such a negative light.

It is my own view, that the exchange of poetry between countries, cultures, indeed people, offer perhaps the best hope of better grasping a sliver of understanding of the feelings and point of view of all people throughout the world.

It is not my suggestion that this would create "perfect" empathy, because not everyone is going to get into every poem in the same way and achieve the same communion of the poet's essential message, but the possibilities presented would be far more optimistic that the failed distance and isolation that so often feed ignorance of all parties.

Ongoing exposure to cross-cultural poetry offers a chance of hope in our times. Taking advantage of anything that offers hope, no matter how small is better than our status quo.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Art changes to suit mood of viewer - Science - MSNBC.com

Art changes to suit mood of viewer - Science - MSNBC.com

This link takes you to a article on a fascinating concept in art. The idea that a piece of artwork could change itself in "real time" right before your eyes to reflect your own mood. My mind wants to keep thinking about it in terms of how such a model might be applicable to poetry. It get like "goose bumps" thinking about it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What's She Saving It For?

It is no secret, Eileen Tabios has a mind that has so often morphed fleeting thoughts into effulgent literary works of art. And yes, I have looked over her wine lists on occasion, pretending to be impressed with it too.... I say pretending, as what I know about wine can be contained on the first joint of my little finger. I know that I prefer dry - white wines, especially chardonnay - particularly Northern California varieties and riesling from Germany.

But I'm reading down one of her recent lists....

  • 2003 Robert Mondavi cabernet Napa Valley
  • 2002 Kistler chardonnay
  • 1998 Greenock Creek Apricot Block Shiraz
  • 1001 Domaine de Trevallon
  • 1992 Bonneau du Matray Corton Charlemagne......

WAIT!!!! A 1001 Domaine de Trevallon? Ok, I AM impressed that she has a bottle of anything that old! And so I am sitting here wondering what on earth she has been saving this for.... Celebrating the publication of "Brick #2?"

Protecting the Necessities of Life


Yesterday, while at a picnic gathering I used the restroom at the park and found this lovely little security feature. Well, realizing this speaks volumes about our current societal norms, I simply had to take a picture. Admittedly, I felt a wee-bit odd whipping out my cell phone to shoot this picture with the camera, but it was just too good to pass up.

I might add, this is not just any padlock, this bugger is secured with a "Master - Commercial" pad lock. The only place this TP is going is "down the toilet."

Now I am a firm believer in the power of words, but this time, I think the picture just says it so much better.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

In For A Hot One



Meghan came home last night from a month long trip to visit her older sister in Arizona. All seems right in the world this morning... except did she have to bring the heat with her? We have an afternoon picnic and the heat is already steamy.

I've thrown together some verse this weekend and I am happy with it as draft from. It has room for improvement but the important thing is there is something that can be done with it. I suppose I am most comfortable with it because it has that edgy tome that I am usually most comfortable with.

In thinking about poets that influence us I was wondering if we are drawn to particular poets because our own voice seems closer them them or do we find that our voice becomes more a basis of emulation? Emulation or appreciation, which is it? Seems like it is some of each for me.

I'm having a diet-coke this moment, my performance enhancement choice for the morning while listening to smooth jazz. King of Hearts by the Rippingtons

Friday, August 04, 2006

What's On Your Cover?

I read about a survey of some 2000 adults conducted for Boarders Book Store that indicated the following:
  • Half admitted they would look at someone again or smile at them based on what that person was reading.
  • A third of the surveyed would go so far as to consider flirting with someone based upon what that person was reading.

This tid-bit from the Culture Vulture blog seemed to me on the surface to represent a somewhat shallow human condition. Yet, upon further consideration I wondered is it really the most shallow factor in how or why some people would be attracted to others?

I'm not suggesting that we should pick our soul mates based upon the cover of their books, but it perhaps could be viewed as evidence that people are in fact prone to other consideration besides that which is only skin deep, so maybe it is not so shallow after all.

It might be worth noting that in general, many actually found erotic fiction, horror, chick lit, and self-help books as non-impressive, while classics, biographical books and modern literary fiction were seen as turn-ons. Just a little help in case you need to know what to be seen reading and what not to be caught with.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Joe is Bombing in New Haven

Next Tuesday, voters in many states will go off to the polls to votes in state primaries. Perhaps none will be watched as closely as the state of Connecticut where long time Senator Joe Lieberman and Al Gore's 2000 running mate hangs onto his political life against challenger Ned Lamont. There are many good things I could say about Joe Lieberman. Unfortunately, I cannot say I would vote for him if I lived in Connecticut.

Right now, Lieberman's campaign is looking pretty pathetic as evidenced by a would be rally in New Haven recently. In fact, you might say Joe bombed in New Haven. His campaign has all the enthusiasm of a George Bush clone. In fact, Joe has been just than on the war in Iraq. While Joe is not the only Democrat that has gotten, shall we say too close to this war on his votes and vocal support for the President, he is so close that his is not only likely to get burnt but scorched by the heat.

Lieberman has had the misfortune of having a Democratic challenger who has taken him to task on his support for the war. And I say it is about time. Ned Lamont's campaign raises a legitimate challenge to the idea that, well this may have been a mistake but we must see it through. A mistake that parallels that of Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam.
Recently, LBJ tapes have shown that at one point, in a private conversation with Gene McCarthy, Johnson acknowledged that the war had been a miscalculation and that if he could figure out a way to exit that day and save face, he would. The significance of this conversation is that it was after this point that 75% of all the American Deaths in Vietnam occurred. It would take determined American public to ultimately force President Nixon to end the War. Long after we had come to recognize the mistake.

A Ned Lamont victory (leading in polls) in Connecticut is a message to Republican and Democratic supporters of this failed foreign policy that the American People are not buying it any longer.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Then Why Write?

If truth be known I stopped asking myself that question sometime back. I don't think it was because I rationalized an answer. Maybe I even stopped asking the question or perhaps it was that I actually stopped caring. I'm not sure.

It is quite possible that I felt the answer and didn't know it. Wasn't aware that I felt it and at the same time some internal satisfaction was met without realizing what or how the issue had been satisfactorily resolved.

Anais Nin once said, "If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it." I think in writing I have perhaps proven, to myself at least, that I do all the aforesaid verbs. I think that I have stopped questioning "why write" because it has become for me the very photosynthesis that allows me life.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Guilt - American Style


There rests within me a quiet guilt today. I woke to a peaceful neighborhood. If there were noises they were so benign as to leave no memorable footprints in my mind.

The drive to work was no more challenging than most. Perhaps even better. No major traffic backups on the highway.

My workplace was standing. This, I realize is not a normal part of fantasy of many people, but I realized that in some parts of the world, I might not have waken to tranquility but rather sit up all night listening for the sounds of explosions and how close they might be. If I ventured out at daylight, roads may well have been difficult to navigate with ease. My work place might or might not be standing. Even if it were, commerce as we normally know it would be non-existent.

Americans were horrified at 9-11. Most of us cannot recall what it was like when Pearl Harbor was attacked and even those that are old enough likely do not feel the intensity of it, unless they were present during the attack. Americans are richly blessed in that we have not realized the real horror of war when it is on our home front. Even as bloody as the Civil War was here on our home soil, it was domestic and not a foreign country invading.

So we see the fighting on television that is occurring in Iraq or between Israel and Lebanon and we accept it as thought it were just another occurrence like a space shuttle launch. After a while you forget it is going on.

I wonder if there is an aspect of visual imagery that is easier to become immune to than that or word imagery? If I see a picture of a bombed out apartment building flash before me on television screen, do I find it less disturbing than if I read a written account and have to construct the images myself?

And then I also wonder if Americans are more desensitizing to such images as civilian war casualties that people in other countries?

I do think that mankind must recollect such things as war and death and famine - those things that devastate humanity, and we must do it in writing. It is an obligation that we havde to remind future generations.

San Antonio poet and activist Sanchez dies at 63

"Sanchez’s writing topics ranged from race, to children killed by handguns in Detroit in the late 1980s, and spicy Mexican-American food.

His poetry was published in several anthologies, including “Why Am I So Brown?” which is now in its sixth reprint."
from khou.com