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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wandered into the city last night

Last night I ventured into the city to read at the Writers Place. I used to live in the neighborhood where the Writers place was located, but having moved out to the edge of hell, it seemed more like a dear that had wandered into the city. Oh, it wasn't that I felt out of place at the WP, just thinking about the trip in and back home again. Perhaps it was more cerebral when considering the cost of gas.

Anyway, it was good to read there again. It's been a while. Relatively informal as readings go. Everything I read was new, and more recently I've stuck to things that are older and I've read many times. These were less polished pieces - but the open mic there is usually a good place to gauge work in progress.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Subs & Rejects

Submissions / Rejections Statistics
  • Pending responses: 11
  • Submissions sent last 12 months: 51
  • Submissions sent this month: 3
  • Acceptance ratio: 10.00 %

Picture shot inside local Bass Pro shop

Reminder - Voting on the Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere

Just a reminder that you can still vote for me or any of the other nominees through midnight on the 29th of April at: click here

To Read or Not To Read

Jan Beatty writes sexually explicit poems. At least that's what I've been lead to believe. I haven't read any of them but I like her already. Poetic erotica is not my normal read, but I am impressed with anyone who is good at it, and by that I don't mean just writing poetry filled with the seven words that we are not supposed to say on the airwaves. To be good at writing erotic poetry I believe one must be able to deal with the intricate nuances of our sensory perceptions. It's like a painter capturing the shading and texture not just the shape. I don't try such poetry often myself because I don't do it well, though I wish I could. I think anyone that can do this well can likely do any subject justice on the page.

What I like about Jan Beatty is her spunk. Joseph-Beth Booksellers turned Beatty away from a reading because her latest book was too erotic for their family-friendly store atmosphere. On the surface I could accept that, but this is a store who has featured porno-film actors at events.
Beatty has appeared at the store to read from her work before but they believed there were poems from her new poetry collection, "Red Sugar" that were too hot to handle.

Alternatively, the store later agreed to allow Beatty a reading if the store chose the poems for her to read. Censorship? No way! The poet would have nothing to do with it. Then the store offered two other suggestions. A book signing without a reading or a reading with the sound system turned off. For Jan Beatty none of these suggestions is an option. She believes she is behave in a professional enough to be able to select what she reads without being told.

I have to give Jan Beatty kudos for her decision and sticking by it. I may have to even check out her work and see if writing is deserving of kudos too.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Checking in Friday Night

Overdue for a blog post. That and NaPoWriMo drafts. Watched Charlie Wilson's War tonight. I didn't catch it when it was at the theater but it was out on DVD and we settled in and watched it tonight. No writing but I did read a little of Dana Goodyear's poetry. Dug up one o her books that I've read before and refreshed my mind with it.

Reading other people's poetry is not only enjoyable, it's downright necessary to remind us when we write the power of words and stimulated our own work. I really think that it is the writer that never takes time to read an other's work that soon finds is or her own growing stale and limited.

A parting thought~ "I try to take care and be gentle to them. Words and eggs must be handled with care. Once broken they are impossible things to repair." -Anne Sexton, poet (1928-1974)

Off to bed...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Special Dispensation

Is it Friday yet? No, of course not. It's only hump day and the way my energy level is, I'm hoping to make it to Friday by shere gravity. It's been so busy at work lately that I am hard pressed to want to do anything requiring major commitment by the time I get home. Tonight I have a reading from an anthology that is just off the press. So I'll be heading out shortly to read rather than go home. I didn't do a NoPoWriMo daft last night and I likely won't do one tonight either given the poetry event. Perhaps the poetry gods will be kind to me and grant special dispensation.

I've actually been doing some charcoal sketches during this past week. My youngest daughter was like, damn, when did you learn to draw. I told her if and when it happens I'd let her know. My main reason for wanting to do some sketches is to sharpen my awareness to my surroundings. To better grasp the texture of things. I remember when I saw Donald Hall here in town a couple years back, he made the remark that he learned more to benefit his poetry from his friendship with the sculptor Henry Moore than any poet. I was struck by this. I figure it can't hurt if I am able to awaken my awareness to greater experiences.

I'm off to my reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Discussion with Brian Turner - Poet & Veteran


Transcript of Washington Post Discussion
Book World: 'Here, Bullet'
Iraq War Poetry
with Poet and Veteran
Brian Turner

Monday, April 21, 2008

Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere Election Started Today


Voting has started today for Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. This is the fourth year the election has been held.
I [ Michael Wells ] was nominated for Stick Poet Superhero, and am on the ballot along with 22 others. Last year over 800 votes were cast for this. The candidate had to have been blogging on poetry for at least a year. You can see all the candidates and cast your vote by going to this site

We Missed - Broadside

My Second Annual Poetry Month broadside is still available.... email me with name and address to receive a copy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Poetry news bits...

The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Dirda who writes for the Washington Post on books, literature and the likes, talks about staying power of Contemporary Poetry.

Louisiana Poet Laureate Darrell Bourque travels the state making a tough sell to young people.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass sheds new light on a world of relationships.

I'm still sending out my Poetry Month broadsides on request. Received the following kind note this week from a recipient:

Your broadside arrived safely. It's absolutely lovely! Your graceful poem
and the image of the coffee cup stain marry perfectly. Thank you so
much
!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Night

A little writing today. Read quite a few poems. Sketched something tonight. Yes, as in drawing. I amused myself.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Local Poetry Sceen

The Writers Place here in Kansas City has a new director - Anne Calvert Bettis. Congratulations Anne on your new position.

A few upcoming events:

Sunday April 20th - Poets at Large - featuring a panel of experts discussing the Beat writers and their influence on later writers. Starts @ 2:00p.m. followed by an open mic @5:00p.m. Anyone can sign up to read a poem by a Beat poet or a poem inspired by a Beat writer.

Monday April 28th 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. is the Writers Place Open Mic hosted by Sharon Eiker from

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Executions Around the World

Amnesty International announced the annual totals for executions by country in 2007 yesterday. These figures in many instances are estimates and actual numbers are likely higher. A link to the report and specifics about the data can be found here.

The Top Five Countries are:

  • China 470+
  • Iran 317+
  • Saudi Arabia 143+
  • Pakistan 135+
  • USA 45

It should be noted that the number of U.S. executions last year had been slowed by pending court action before the U.S. Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the use specifically of a type of lethal injection used by many states. The majority opinion of the court ruled today in favor of this type of execution which will likely put many executions on a fast track in the U.S.

China will be the focus of a lot of attention with respect to crackdown on dissidents in China and Tibet. China is known for harsh sentences where protests are concerned. The upcoming Olympics has placed China under a spotlight and it appears that China is tightening the flow of news in and out of the country.

In many instances the issue with capital punishment is not limited to the moral question of state ordered executions, but in many cases it goes as well to the fairness of their system of justice since there is no means of correcting errors.

Journal Snippets

I've not posted many snippets from my journal lately, and I suppose that can be attributed to the fact that you've seen a lot of my drafts for NaPoWriNo. I thought I'd see what I can pull out that has not already been posted.

  • Towering above my earliest memories of the city/ grand beacon and vertical point of reference / scraping the sky / occasionally the top swallowed by clouds
  • Disfigured dairy / yellow glacier / sliding across the plate / victim of global warming / localized
  • A reconfigured Rene Zellwelger / thumped in the head / and some Carly Simon concussion of a song / splitting it apart / there's nothing "so vain" going on here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Math?

I've read from time to time people making comparisons between poetry and mathematics, which on the surface seems so totally unlikely. To me personally, I've never been proficient in math with anything beyond the basics and don't find it interesting at all. So naturally, such comparisons don't seem to fit for me. In addition, I see math as very static, poetry as any art, seems to defy such description. So when I come across this quote, I am especially amused: The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fell off the NaPoWriMo Wagon

I did it.... I'm confessing and hopping to climb back on. My daughter and her new fiance flew in to town Thursday evening and just left to go back to Arizona this afternoon. It was our first time meeting Derek. Of course if Meghan had been alone it too would have been distracting from poetry. I'm not complaining. I'm glad we had the time with them. I'm just saying that a poem draft a day was not going to survive this event.

So there, I'm bad. I've failed. And now I've gotten it off my chest. Tomorrow is a new day and I'm ready to get going again.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Day 10: My NaPoWriMo blog released from the grips of bloger at last

A spiked presence—

Before my eyes
A star with supplementary credentials
Far more prickly a presence

A perverse way of making points
And overload of opinion
Not at all shy of expression

The tentacles of the nucleus
Of radiant light
Obliquely insane

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day 9 ~ Accessorizing

Accessorizing

The shuffle of shoes—
Black pumps, red sling backs;
The ruffle of the lips—
Earth tone hikers and aqua fluff flops…
Just a few stepping out
Across my mind.

A casual tennis shoe—
You need several colors
To accessorize; if you know what I mean.

I pity women in third would countries.
I mean when you only have a single pair
You’re so limited with your wardrobe.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Day 8 - Untitled draft

Untitled

Uncorked and non-confrontational
An evening slumping gingerly
Into shades of melancholy
Befriends me and embraces
The many reasons lacking interest
In commitment to any plans tonight.

A hum of snow on TV

And nothing else in particular.
The phone may or may not have rang

Earlier. I was settled into the nights dip.
My hand has held the stem of crystal
But nothing else has required my energy.
A sip on occasion. A hint of pear and oak.
Buttery perhaps, if you say so,
I don’t recall—

There is a presence stronger than I—
Inescapable.

Even in a night of solitude
I am not without the presence of old age.
A shadowy figure that is at a distant
But not too much so
And he maintains a horizontal view
Of the future.

Blogger, McCain, Iraq, et al

I'm not posting my day 8 NaPoWriMo draft poem yet.... because it has yet to be drafted, but we are at day 8 of the month and blogger still has my NaPoWriMo blog (created just for this April project) hostage because "I may be in Violation." Somehow, I think this should like make me feel dirty or something. I don't. In fact I'm feeling really pissed. I wake up each morning and it's starting to feel like it's dragging on into.... gee I don't know, the same place the Iraq war is going- infinity.

There, now see what you did blogger? You got me started on the war. And speaking of the war, the military top brass will be up on the hill today to update us on the current situation in Iraq.

Here in Kansas City, Sen. John McCain delivered a speech on Iraq. ABC World News said last night McCain "accused Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton today of a failure of leadership for promising to withdraw US forces from Iraq." McCain "told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that promising withdrawal from Iraq without considering the consequences is in his words, 'the height of irresponsibility.'" NBC Nightly News said McCain "delivered a glass-half-full message about progress in Iraq." McCain was shown saying, "We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat. And we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success."

This brings me to the question I'd like McCain to answer. Exactly would "success" in Iraq look like. It's interesting that both McCain and the Bush Administration have dropped the term, "victory" that has been used for so long. We were told over and over the Democrats wanted to "lose" the war and the Republicans wanted to "win" it. When pushed to describe what a "victory" or "win" in Iraq would constitute rather than define that elusive term, they have now chosen the term success. It question remains. What would success in Iraq look like. What would be the benchmark that we could look at and say, yes, we are there? The fact of the matter is McCain can't look the American people in the face and tell us what it is because he hasn't figured it out himself.

Because he can't define it, he can only use evasive terms about the future. We are suppose to accept that because there was a downward turn in violence during the surge, "we're closer". Closer to when and What?
The violence has picked up. It's Iraqi against Iraqi violence and America in right in the middle. Now they want to freeze troop levels at pre-invasion levels. Our military presence has weakened our readiness for American defense elsewhere.

There are serious questions aside from the obvious Military ones. None of the massive expenditures on this war are part of any budget. For five years we have waged a grossly expensive military operation on credit. $12 billion a month is what it's costing presently, and that is not including costs to benefits and medical care for returning veterans that will be continuing for many years. When we are asking ourselves, are we safer because of this war? I think we have to ask, what the cost to our security is if we are economically crippled because of it?

Meanwhile, a related breaking story of interest: Draft agreement could allow US troops to remain in Iraq 'indefinitely'

Oh, and how about the special Pulitzer for Bob Dylan, citing the mark he has made on our culture over decades. Isn't that an interesting bit of news?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Day 7 (my NaPoWriMo blog still held hostage)

In Your Head

Allowed into your imagination
I wandered, surveying foreign landscape
It was one of your shadow boxed thought
That informed my view of how you saw me.

There was a frightening simplicity to your organization.
Everyone you had ever met or hopped to catalogued
Into the Dewey Decimal System.
There I found your own self image scantily riveting.

Poetry News

Few news items:

  • Book Slut interviews Galway Kinnell
  • Poets Jayne Jaudon Ferrer and Terri McCord talk about the value and image of poetry today
  • Raymond Danowski donated his poetry collection (what many scholars believe to be the most important collection of English-language poetry in the world) to Emory University

And this interesting quote from Wallace Stevens:

Most people read poetry listening for echoes because the echoes are familiar to them. They wade through it the way a boy wades through water, feeling with his toes for the bottom: The echoes are the bottom.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Primitive Instincts

Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts. ~Robinson Jeffers

Day 6 - Split

Split

Blue eyeliner
Lowered in sadness
Told just enough
To know he left
Again
The details
Were insignificant

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Day 5 - My Death

My Death

My death was timeless.
It also was not anticipated
In the way one expects high humidity
On a hot summer afternoon
After a thunderstorm passed through.

Oh, I am sure some predicted it
Would come sooner later.
There are after all, those who believe
The Cubs will win the World Series this year.
Such people may be discounted
Either for their connection with the occult
Or because they have suffered concussions at some point.
Betting people would do well to stay clear of them.

The newspaper back in my little pea pod home town
Called my demise unfortunate
Due to the loss suffered by my insurance company.

Folks mostly went about their routine the day of my funeral
And the general store ran a special
On cigarettes and beer.
There are those who called me a good man
When they checked out.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Poetry Month Broadside


My second annual limited poetry broadside has arrived today and is available (as mentioned earlier) as long as they last. To request one, email me with name and address.
Happy Poetry Month!

Day 4 (my NaPoWriMo blog still held hostage)

The Act

A sacrificial smile
A few seconds worth
Of monitored misconception

I can be convincingly contrived
To the point of melodrama
Candy red and sugar dripping

My baseline convalescing
Beneath ornamentation
Awaiting the moment you leave

This two-faced act steps out on a tight rope
Several times a day it will balance and defy gravity
For your benefit alone
Without applause

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Day 3 / Untitled

Sleep was a causality of morning
A most unholy beam of light through the window
Spotlight to my face—
Caught in the cross hairs

Of another morning of demands
Tethered to someone’s aspirations
That are at best a no deposit bottle to me




(note - blogger is being a major pain and has my site specifically for NaPoWriMo under review and I am therefor locked out of it. sigh...)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Day Two of NaPoWriMo

Rage

Opened, a red blossom of anger
Long held in a tight fisted bud;
Too long—

Maybe it was annoyance once.
Irritation came and settled it its belly
And churned with the callous lies

Than ate at me like fire ants.
Irritation became causality
Of the spectacle of “awe” over Baghdad.

Like remnants of lives
Severed, charred and strewn about
Irritation could not survive.

The fury with which our own
Came home in boxes
Became the rage in full bloom today.

You talked about political capital,
Suspended habeas corpus,
Mortgaged future generations.

The audacity of
Mission Accomplished

Some cool links

Day two of National Poetry Month / NaPoWriMo ~ thought I'd share a couple of good resources I've seen from blogs I read.

First off, there are some excellent poetry writing prompts furnished by Kelli at First Draft.

Then Ivy has some cool things and Poetry.org has 30 ideas to celebrate Poetry Month.

And a poetry thought offered in this quote: It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things. ~Stephen Mallarme

Happy reading and writing!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

2008 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere

Almost forgot.... Nominations begin today for the 2008 Poet Laureate Of The Blogosphere. This will be the fourth year for the elections. There are some minimal qualifications - such as having been a poetry blogger for no less than one year as of March 1, 2008. Anyway, the nominations can be made at this site.

National Poetry Month

It's here! Now you have a legitimate reason to torture your friends and family with poetry for a whole month.

A couple of housekeeping notes to start the month off with....
  • As previously acknowledged - I will be participating in NaPoWriMo (writing a poem a day all month long) and you will be able to see these here with each one added as the month progresses. Do understand these are one day wonders or perhaps blunders as the case may be and are not polished works.
  • I will not be doing the annual poetry quotation email that I have offered for several years now.
  • I will however for the second year be offering a Poetry Month broadside of one of my previously published poems that is on nice card stock and suitable for framing. These are available in a limited quantity for to those who request them, until they are all gone. There are only 100 printed. If you would like one, email me.

That's all for now. May everyone's month be touched in some positive way by poetry.

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. ~Christopher Fry