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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another Month - where has it gone?

mood: upbeat
listening to: Even The Nights Are Better / Air Supply


Where has the month gone already? I'd like it to slow down a bit (after tomorrow would be fine) Weekends, ah... something to live for.

Here's my 12 month summation of submissions / outcomes. Unfortunately I've run a rash of rejections the last couple of weeks. This too will end.

Pending responses: 9

Submissions sent last 12 months: 48

Submissions sent this month: 5

Acceptance ratio: 11.32 %







Think about it




From Kelli @ First Draft

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Boundaries & imagination

mood: happy
listening to: nothing

"There is a boundary to men's passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination." - Edmund Burke



Perhaps after work tonight I'll get tanked on imagination.

Monday, January 28, 2008

MU plans poetry events

Mood: complicated
Listening to: nothing


So begins the day of the last State of the Union Address by George Herbert Walker Bush. A minor milestone. The big one comes when his reign is over. History, kaput!

I received another rejection letter this weekend. Things are bound to turn around soon!

I've noted that Missouri University's Center for the Literary Arts has an ambitious series of poetry events planned. I wanted to give them some props for what looks to be a great lineup of poets.
  • Stop Traffic benefit, 8 p.m., Feb. 14, Cherry Street Artisan, 111 S. Ninth St. - *This is to benefit Stop Traffic, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding to end human trafficking.
  • Terrance Hayes poetry reading, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 20, Reynolds Alumni Center, 700 Conley Ave.
  • Heather McHugh poetry reading and lecture, reading 7:30 p.m., March 13, Reynolds Alumni Center, and lecture 4 p.m., March 14, with a location to be determined.
  • Major Jackson poetry reading, 7:30 p.m., March 20, Reynolds Alumni Center.
  • Kevin Prufer poetry reading, 7:30 p.m., April 24, Cherry Street Artisan. Kevin in the new Poet Laureate from Missouri.

It was nice to see the temperatures warm up a bit. The wind has kicked up too. Almost reminds me or tornado season in these parts but that would be a wee bit premature - at least historically.

According to my biorhythms, I am on the cusp of the convergence of all my positives tomorrow. Nothing like a little pressure.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Five Reasons Poets Should Revise

  1. Keeps poets busy and off the street.
  2. Creates illusion of being more productive.
  3. Provides more fodder for critical review.
  4. If you throw enough shit against a wall, some of it sticks.
  5. I once heard someone else say, "Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

untitled draft

A voyage riddled with holes
Bled upon the waters;
Defused pink liquid

Briefly marking the position
As time slowly ran though the motions
Of a trip [journey] that died a slow death [listing at sea].


* untitled 1-22-08
**revised 1-23-08

Lovingly supporting my vice

mood: cautious
listening to: nothing


One of the great things about my wife (and there are many) is her helpful eye for great poetry words. Keep in mind that Cathy is not particularly enamored by poetry itself, but is highly supportive of my vice. In the morning drive into the city the other day (she’s reading a book while I’m driving- she feels safer that way) she pauses and announces she has a perfectly awesome poetry word for me to work into some future creation. The word was "Kudzu" a fast growing vine indigenous to eastern Asia which evidently has been successfully introduced into the southern U.S. This is not a first occurrence; she has also e-mailed me words during the day.

I am appreciative of this on two levels. First, the words are in fact wonderful discoveries. It’s like she’s panning for gold and comes up with these precious finds. Besides the nature of her selections being top notch, the very fact that she considers their value in a poetic sense against her otherwise minuscule interest in poetry says this is an act of love and support. That says a lot!

On another note, I've added a couple of poems previously published elsewhere to my web site.
You can see them at michaelawells.com . If you visit the site, please take a moment to sign the guest book. Thanks!

Monday, January 21, 2008

A holiday from the office

mood: upbeat
listening to: Pleasant Valley Sunday - The Monkees

Complete overcast today - the cold continues. I've been busy on my day off this morning and will break shortly for lunch then I plan to write for an hour and a half - hopefully without interruption.

I've sifted quickly through my spam folder (twice in the past I've had responses to poetry submissions that ended up in my spam folder that I nearly missed. One acceptance and one rejection) just to be safe. 91 pieces of spam.

It's amazing how much I've won in online lotteries, How uh... big I can become, I think I must have had several e-mail epistles from Paul, and there are so many pills to choose from and so little time.

Well, lunch time!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Burrr.....

mood: funky
listening to: nothing

Bitter cold air seems to have taken up residency in the Kansas City area. Even yesterday, with one of the brightest sunshine skies I've seen in a long time, the temperatures were in single digits. Today however, the sky is cloudy. The snow has a crusty sound to it when you walk on it.

This caught my eye today - Maya Angelou's poem in praise of Hillary. Funny how many articles I read out of the Guardian. The British media do a very respectable job of covering a variety of things outside of Britain, not the least of which are the arts and American Politics.

It seems totally inconceivable to me that Suzanne Pleshette was 70. Ah, but perhaps I am in denial of my own age. I was very fond of her - enjoying everything I think I ever saw of her acting. Admittedly I did not see her in any Hitchcock movies. I know she did at least one of them. An any rate, I was saddened to hear of her death. God, the Newheart show was an evening staple for me for many years.

Anyone else amused by the speech last night by Fred Thompson as he was going down the tubes in the GOP primary in South Carolina? I mean it was early in the night and I guess the old man had to get some rest from all his walking for president, so he cut out early.

Turned out a good first draft today of a poem. I'm wanting to work on it some more but trying to resist till at least tomorrow to see what kind of perspective I have after sleeping on it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Movie and a Book Store Date

mood:full
listening to: Shostakovitch Symphony No 5 in D minor

Wife and I got away today to the movies ans saw Juno. It was my wife's choice and she gets points for the selection. I would assume this was a relatively low budget movie. No awesome special effects, just a dynamite performance by Ellen Page, a teenage girl who carries herself through a serious adult sized crisis in comedic style. I found the storyline, bursting with pop culture, adorable. The author brought a range of emotion to the story, Page carried the weight of it beautifully.

Next to B & N where I bought W.S. Merwin's Migration today with a gift card I got for my birthday. I have one other Merwin book, and I have come to have great appreciation for his work. Remarkable poetic mind!

We capped it all off with a stop at Starbucks!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Life's Work

mood: nonchalant
listening to: nothing


Yesterday, Laura Spencer with KCUR our local NPR affiliate did a really interesting interview with Kathrin Goldman, the widow of Lester Goldman a Professor of Painting at the Kansas City Art Institute for almost 40 years. Goldman worked in painting, sculpture, preformance and set design until his death in 2005 and was a prolific artist.

Evidently, Goldman had massive amounts of work between his home and studio. With the help of some former students Kathrin was able to catalogue the work which will be on display and for sale
tomorrow.

Lester Goldman: A Life's Work
1619 Walnut Kansas City, Missouri 64110
816-651-3757
January 19th, 12-5 p.m.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

From Spam

mood:calm
listening to: Now And Forever / Air Supply

Ah... it's always good to check your spam mail now and then... realized tonight I had a rejection on the 12th.

"Thank you very much for your poetic submission to XXXXXX. I enjoyed reading your poetry, but will not be accepting any of these for publication." Then the usual pitch to submit again.

Just think, I was nearly unknowingly rejected... now I feel so much better.

Thought for Day

mood: amused
listening to: NPR


"We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality." ~ Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Occupying the space in between

Mood: nonchalant
Listening to: Piano Man / Billy Joel

Found myself in the waiting room at the doctors office this afternoon writing about the floor covering and the ceiling. How drab is that?

Since arriving home, I've come upon another idea that feels promising but will take some time to flush out. I'll make some notes tonight that can keep the concept fresh while I let is sort of settle in my mind and see what kind of cream might rise to the top to skim off.

It's late, I'm going to get ready for bed, listen to a podcast and turn in for the night. Snow is falling ( again ) here and I am anticipating the worst in terms of road conditions in the morning. Perhaps I'll be jiggered..

Monday, January 14, 2008

Absence of major publishing houses in The National Book Critics Circle

According to The New York Observer, The National Book Critics Circle, an organization made up of about 700 active book critics, announced on Saturday the finalist pool for their end-of-year awards and the Poetry category did not include a single book published by one of the major houses this year.

The nominees in the poetry category included:

Mary Jo Bang, Elegy, Graywolf; Matthea Harvey, Modern Life, Graywolf; Michael O'Brien, Sleeping and Waking, Flood; Tom Pickard, The Ballad of Jamie Allan, Flood; Tadeusz Rozewicz, New Poems, Archipelago.

Is this a trend, or a fluke?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The matter of poetry and academia

I was interested in the results poll that just concluded on this blog concerning the influence of academia on poetry. Since the poll will be coming off the sidebar soon and likely be replaced with another issue, I will recap the results here.

Academia Influence on Poetry
  • Too much ................ 36%
  • Just right .............. 16%
  • not enough ............ 32 %
  • haven't thought about it 16%

I've not had a strong predisposition how this might have turned out. If anything, I might have thought there would be a larger number critical of the amount of influence by academia on poetry but I would not have been willing to bet on the outcome one way or the other. Perhaps the most surprising to me was the fact the the number who had not thought about it was in double digits. I probably hear more people who express dislike the influence of academia, but I'm never sure if that is because more feel that way or they are just more vocal.

The amount of interest sparked by performance or slam poetry by young people today I think contributes to an augmentative counter academia presence in the poetry culture. This seems to place a lesser emphasis on the literary aspect of poetry and make it more about story telling or rhetorical skills.

There seems to be a feeling by some that the influence of academia is tantamount to the creation of cookie-cutter educational programs that simply reproduce more and more writers that write like the poet next to them.

I myself do not come from an literary academia background, however I am perhaps more drawn to the poetry that would most often be associated with academia. I find that my own personal tastes are generally more satisfied by the literary side of poetry then the theatrical or performance.

There are people, many talented ones that can stand an talk extemporaneously at an open mic and can be both impressive and entertaining in their oratory skills. But it still bothers me that what they have just done cannot be recalled by them the next day. And further, while it may sound forceful as a message, I liken it to someone who comes to an open mic and says, what I am about to read, I wrote earlier today. It is a rare person who can write something that well without revisions. And not only is it a rare person, they usually can't do it with consistency. I guess I would fall into the 48% that are satisfied or would even like more academic influence on the art of poetry.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Vacation day... yeah!

Mood: uneasy
Listening to: nothing

As of today, this is my past 12 month results report:

Pending responses: 14
Submissions sent last 12 months: 45
Submissions sent this month: 2
Acceptance ratio: 13.33 %

A few recent rejections has cut into my acceptance ratio, but not to worry. Just keep plugging away.

I looked at my biorhythms chart for the month and it looks like the 29th of January everything comes to an optimum point. Physical, emotional and intellectual. We'll see how my writing progresses between now and the end of the month.

Our local poetry society chapter meeting last night was really good. Most everyone had material of their own to share and we had a new visiting guest who blew us away with his work.

We picked up my oldest daughter at the airport this morning. She's here to visit through Saturday. She and youngest daughter will then fly back to Phoenix together, for which I am already feeling sad. It is nice to have all the kids in town over my birthday (Thursday) and I've taken vacation days today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Missour Now has a first State Poet Laureate

Mood: tired
Listening to: nothing


Walter Bargen, 59, of Ashland, Missouri - a central Missouri community of about 3,000 residents, has been named the first Poet Laureate of Missouri by Governor Blunt.

Bargan may not be a household name, but he is a recipient of the William Rockhill Nelson Award for poetry and has a number of books published including "West of West" (2007) from Timberline Press; "Remedies for Vertigo" (2006) from WordTech Communications; "The Feast" (2004) from BkMk Press-UMKC. While he is not exactly an academic poet has has degrees in psychology and English education.

Here are some links to a sampling of his work:

NEWTON REVISITED

CIVILIZED SACRIFICE

HOUSE OF TURTLE

Another #$%&#@& Reality Show

Mood: lame
Listening to: nothing

Here we go again... another new reality show (barf). According to NPR the A & E network is airing a new reality show called Parking Wars in which camera crews follow the exploits of one of the most despised workers, those men and women who comprise the parking patrol. Just for the record, parking patrol people are quite a way down on my list from people who create new reality shows. To me, they are far more despicable.

Think about it... if you get a parking ticket or your car towed, these people are simply enforcing the laws hence providing some order of civility on our streets. On the other hand, producers of reality shows are putting together low budget productions to rake in advertising revenues while dumping this crap on the numbing minds of viewers.

Back to yesterday's post, I need to look into more information on biorhythms and get a chart for my own so I can explore further this notion of the possible correlation between them and writing. I have a poetry society meeting tonight, maybe I'll mention this and see what kind of laughs it gets.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I was thinking....

Mood: upbeat
Listening to: William Brooks – The Gift

Wow, I haven’t blogged in a few days. It’s lunchtime and I though I’d hammer out something on my mind.

Given the way I sort of flow into and out of spurts of creativity with my writing I have to wonder about the nature of biorhythms. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about them, but as I understand the theory of biorhythms, it is based upon claims that one's life is affected by rhythmic biological cycles, physical, emotional and intellectual. I realize that most consider the theory of biorhythms lacks conclusive evidence to support the notion, but just out of curiosity, I am wondering if any other poets out there have followed their biorhythms closely enough and tried to correlate these to better writing days to match these cycles. Just a thought- don’t laugh.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

P isn't for pessimism

I filled up my gas tank yesterday. I didn’t like it, but we are a mobile society and I do have to get to and from work. I heard the cost of petrol on the exchange flirted with 100 a barrel and I saw this morning it was up there again.

No one I know has recently accused me of being a Pollyanna, but I’m not the grim reaper either. Reading
Dale Smith’s 2008 poetry forecast makes me wonder if I should buy stock in Pfizer. Surely any poet who is not already on Zoloft will require it before long if Dale’s State of the Poetry Union Forecast were to be on the mark.

I’m not suggesting that there are sweet days ahead for the American Economy. I don’t care what the other economic indicators are, you spend $8.25 billion a month that is not factored anywhere in your budget for a war, over an extended period and there are going to be serious economic repercussions. That goes without the housing market sagging or the price of fuel. I’ll give Dale credit, we are in a mess and he’s called that right. But what Dale has described is a total financial collapse of the economy and linked to it a very disparaging result for the state of poetry.

Much of, no, nearly all of poetry written today is free from connection to our economy.
A good number of poets I know – many of which are quite accomplished writers don’t see economic rewards from their work and will write no less in 2008 irrespective of the price of fuel oil.

This past year was a pretty nasty year and I’d say that as divided as this nation is politically, we have right now about a 50% shot that the next president will move this nation in the right direction. It’s a crap shoot, and I’m being honest. Even if we are fortunate, the present state of affairs is so bad; I can almost guarantee we won’t even be halfway out of the sorry state of this nation by the time 2008 is over. Even so, poetry can and likely will flourish.

Most poetry readings are generally a local event. I see little chance of these becoming a thing of the past. The state of small presses has been changing for some time and likely will continue. Already we are seeing a shift in the print industry to print on demand for a number of reasons… inventory costs, environmental considerations to name a couple. As for the Internet, it's even far more cost effective as a means of commerce and would likely flourish in time of critical fuel costs/supply.

The year 2008 can go to hell in a hand basket and poetry will likely continue. It's in tough times that poetry seems to crawl out of the cracks of inspiration from nowhere and spring up everywhere.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Annual New Years Day Poetry Reading

Today was the Annual New Years Day Poetry marathon at the
Writers Place in Kansas City. I believe this is like the third year if my memory serves me correct. Started mid day today and runs till midnight or until the poets and crowd otherwise disbands.

Pictured right is Will Leathem, Writers Place director with the opening reading. I read five pieces of work this year. I haven't read nearly as much this year as in the past couple of years. Perhaps I should plan to do a little more of it in 2008. We'll see.

Welcome to the new year...

A little poetry news from around the world...

  • More than 70 years after García Lorca’s death by a fascist firing squad at the start of the Spanish Civil War, the shadowy elf apparently inhabits García Lorca’s country me. Click
  • Thousands of dissidents silenced under Argentina's military dictatorship - tortured, executed and made to "disappear" in the so-called Dirty War against dissent - are gaining new voice through poetry. Click
  • For Ferlinghetti, poetry's "use" extends far beyond the personal into the political. "Poetry can save the world by transforming consciousness," he argues in "Poetry as Insurgent Art," a slim hardback pocketbook manifesto of prose epigrams, seemingly addressed to poets and those who might be. Click
  • Ashbery's poetry makes you wonder what the wish to understand may protect you from; what the pleasures are of not understanding. Click
  • Letters to the World, a poetry collection by the world's female poets, including an Iranian, is to be released early in the New Year. Click