Thursday, April 30, 2009
So long National Poetry Month-
You were just thirty days out of a year.
You brought heaps of poems
to my email, so many that reading them all
will stretch well into May, when many others
have returned poetry to the back burner.
Gone too will be my open opportunity
to preach the virtues and love of poetry
to the poetically deprived.
Even during your own month, we risk
retribution from many who will not
allow us to share what joy we find
woven into the soul of your many stanzas.
But not all is melancholy today-
No, today too ends the Poem-A-Day
challenge I undertook at the onset.
To take a predetermined prompt
for which I have not control
and mold it into a single, artful, cohesive
poetic unit each day.
Even the love of poetry-
yes, even a driving passion for writing
cannot prevent such an undertaking
from taxing the mind and sometimes
in the late hours of the night,
the body as well.
So, goodbye poetry month. So long
for now. I shall not stop reading
what many great poetic minds created.
I will turn to you over and over
throughout the year. And probably
after a momentary pause,
I'll return to the page with ink
and write from that place deep
within the human spirit
where poetry is born.
Maybe, just maybe-
come next April, in a weak moment,
I may forget how difficult
the daily birthing process
of creating these poems was
and again accept the challenge
of a poem-a-day.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
For the third year in a row I've produced a Poetry Month broadside featuring one of my poems that has been previously published elsewhere. They have finally arrived from the printers. I have 100 of them and they are available at your request as long as they last. If you would like one of these please drop me a note with your snail mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's just a little something I started doing to celebrate poetry.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I must say that a very badly want to do a free write, without a prompt, without a pre-determined
topic and the pressures that have come with this challenge. Yes, April is the cruelest month!
On another note, I was reading the comments on a post by Kelli and checked out Ouroboros Review that received a thumbs up by Maya. It has a very professional on line presence. I was truly impressed. I also noticed Deb Scott has a couple of poems in the most recent issue.
Meanwhile, back to the poem I was working on.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I suppose one could argue that poetry has become a habitual aspect in my life. Without considering this in a negative connotation that is often associated with the word habitual, I have up till now viewed this in the context of what I have considered a lifestyle. For several years, I have convinced myself that a poet (or any artist) would only enhance their level of creativity by developing a lifestyle that had a vigilant awareness to their surroundings that allowed them to constantly be open the the poetry in things.
What would follow or at least one would hope- transforming theory to reality, is that by achieving this poetic point of view, it could only result in good things in connection with their work. If you hand not fully achieved a poetic lifestyle, to the extent you were striving to get there, again would be a positive thing, no?
Perhaps achieving such a state of mental awareness and focus has noting to do with improving the poet's work. What if it is simply symptomatic of a neurosis?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Ugh! I almost forgot to mention that I'm reading tomorrow at the Westport Branch of the K.C Public Library.
118 Westport Road, Kansas City, MO 64111I
4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Yes, I've been silent a couple of days, but don't think that I'm not still going on the poem-a-day challenge! I was sifting through some of them this evening and I can say there are four or five that could have some potential. Yes, there are some really bad ones, but truth is you've got to be willing to put a lot of bad ink on a page to get there.
In poetry news elsewhere, I was delighted to see W S Merwin win a Pulitzer for his book The Shadow of Sirius. I cannot say that I believe the book warrants the prize as I have not read it. But I am very fond of Merwin's work and have nothing but praise for Migration for which he won a National Book Award. I am anxious to read his new one. You can find an interview for NPR by Terry Gross of Merwin here. Also, Ruth Stone was a runner up this year. I must remember to read some of her work, I haven't read her for a while.
Oh, and three cheers for Sandra Beasley - 2009 BARNARD WOMEN POETS PRIZE AWARDED TO SANDRA BEASLEY
Sunday, April 19, 2009
If poetry should address itself to the same needs and aspirations, the same hopes and fears, to which the Bible addresses itself, it might rival it in distribution. ~Wallace Stevens
Saturday, April 18, 2009
KANSAS CITY, MO.- The exhibition The Poetics of Space is on view April 10, 2009–March 14, 2010, at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Through photographs by William Christenberry, Lynn Davis, Walker Evans, Todd Hido, Anthony Lepore, and Mike Sinclair, among others, the exhibition reveals the mysterious and poetic worlds dwelling within domestic, urban, and natural spaces. The exhibition includes more than 20 photographs by 17 artists from the Kemper Museum’s permanent collection.
All I want is a little Peace of Mind
I don't ask for much.
A late morning rainfall heard from my bed.
The mail man passing my house,
not a single bill delivered.
The sun setting gently, unshaken
and lifting a glass high in my honor.
No grimy hands pulling at my trouser leg,
no cold empty bottle of 2004 Sea Smoke Cellars
Chardonnay- languishing in the refrigerator.
A pristine moment alone
in my head, the visions of sugar plums silenced
by time out in the corner and the constant drumbeat
of a drummer, different from all others,
whose sticks mark time with untold stories and
misplaced swallows who for the first time
have not returned.
[yesterdays prompt was "all I want is (blank)"]
Friday, April 17, 2009
Black wants nothing more
than to challenge transparency-
to turn the lights out,
have dominion over the day.
Black lives for that hour when the curtain
draws back across the world stage
and will not weep for the fallen sun.
It's the onyx of stones,
the dark loam beneath
our feet, the grounds
in the bottom of our coffee
cup- and the hollow
gut wrench emptiness
that overcomes us
when all alone.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I guess the positive side of this is I'm being rejected by better caliber journals. Hey, you've got to look at the positive.
Back to the drawing board.
Today is Blogger Appreciation Day. With that in mind I like first to express my sincere appreciation for those people who stop by Stickpoet from time to time and occasionally offer some comments. (Ok, I don't mean spammers, I've had a rash of them in the past ten days. Their posts are moderated and never see the light of day.)
Occasionally we do have some thought provoking exchanges here and other times I do my thing and people keep coming back. So thank you to all who visit this site and take the time to read.
There is another whole group of people out there for whom I am also appreciative. These would be the bloggers who write the blogs I go to on a regular basis. There are many that I read, but among the most regular are the following that I'd like to acknowledge:
- Joannie Stangeland at Poe Query
- Ivy Alvarez at Ivy is here
- Kelli Russell Agodon at The Book of Kells
- Sandra Beasley at Chicks Dig Poetry
- Christine Hamm at This is All Your Fault
- Mary Biddinger at The word cage
These are just a few that I follow, but they are pretty regular in posting and each offers something I especially like.
Joannie for instance is very eclectic. Her posts range from poems to pictures of various culinary endeavors she undertakes and I have especially found her how-to videos worthwhile. They generally are of technical nature related to computers and writing.
Ivy is like inspirational. I mean her dedication to her craft and how she goes about it is an excellent example for the rest of us.
Kelli is funny, I love Tuesday at the Confessional. She will from time to time post some of her work, but I especially have enjoyed her insight over the several years that I have followed her blog.
Sandra often features information about other poets and their book releases and occasionally provides an interesting commentary on a poetry related topic.
Christine is like dark and edgy. Ok, I mean her poetry not exactly her. This is a good thing- I mean it is writing I appreciate and enjoy. There is often a dark humor about it as well. Most of her posts are things she is working on, written but some interesting art as well.
Mary will pose exceptionally thoughtful questions or insights and always seems to generate a lot of feed back from her readers in the comments. Mary truly have succeeded in creating dialogue with her blog.
There, a little bit about why I enjoy each of these blogs and appreciate the work they do to post on a regular basis, fresh ideas or work. Thanks to all of you!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
With all the financial ills, unemployment, pirates, nukes, war, drugs, etc. (I’m sure I’m missing someone’s favorite malady) it’s nice to hear something upbeat; that someone did good.
So for all those suffering poets out there a bit of joyous news for one poet and an inspiration for the rest of us to keep plugging along on the last half of the poem-a-day challenge. Congratulations are in order for Christine Klocek-Lim, who has won the Annual Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize for her 2008 entry of six astrology poems (get this next part) written from last year’s NaPoWriMo. The added bonus is that money actually comes along with the award, which of course defies any logic since the product involved was poetry.
Three cheers for Christine… everyone keep writing!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
So I've just finished posting today's poem on Poetry Asides written from the prompt for the day: So We Decided To (blank). This is the earliest that I've finished one in a number of days. With today's poem, we are now 40% through the month of poems challenge. Even doing a basic draft a day is no piece of cake. It takes a lot out of you.
With my poem finished, and the Giants baseball game is already over for the day, I will retire to some reading in a few minutes.
Hope all of you had a joyous weekend. If you celebrate Easter, then a Happy Easter to you, if not, I bid you best wishes the same.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
The WESTPORT BRANCH of the KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY will host a reading by a number of local poets on April 22 between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. and the public is invited. I have agreed to read at the event.
The library is located at 118 Westport Road, Kansas City, MO 64111
The past few mornings the cable news shows have been buzzing with talk about the President giving commencement speeches at Notre Dame, and ASU. The controversy over Notre Dame of course comes from the viewpoint expressed by some Catholics that Obama should not be invited to speak at a Catholic institution of higher learning because they believe his public policy on abortion is contrary to that of the Church's teachings. Of course so was President Bush's public policy on the Death Penalty and Pope John Paul had adamantly opposed the war in Iraq as well, but that didn't keep President Bush from being invited.
The ASU controversy is a little different and actually quite amusing if you consider the past history of the University. Notre Dame is conferring an honorary degree upon President Obama. Not an unusual exercise for a prominent speaker a University commencement. But ASA earlier in the week said their would be no honorary degree for the President. Sharon Keeler, a spokesperson for the University put it this way, "Because President Obama’s body of work is yet to come, it’s inappropriate to recognize him at this time." Following this news the chatter and editorial writers have taken on the ASU's position.
The East Valley Tribune from the Phoenix, Arizona area calls the oversight "an odd gap that besmirches the image of an excellent institution." And MSNBC's Contessa Brewer pointed out that in 1986, Kermit the Frog received an honorary degree from Long Island Southampton College and further expressed her disapproval of ASU's decision.
A list here provides some interesting names of past recipients from ASU. They include Barry Goldwater in 1961, three years before he received the Republican nomination for president and only eight years into his U.S. Senate career. There is George Romney in in 1962. He of course lost the GOP nomination for President. Sandra Day O'Connor (first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court) in 1984, just three years into her 25 years on the Court. Rita Dove in 1995 - A Poet U.S. Laureate.
Anyway, I'm thinking we haven't heard the last of this.
I never saw your back so much.
The way it turned on me. The way
it's constantly growing smaller.
It's not something I thought about.
The way it's cold and impersonal.
Not at all like your smile.
I do remember your smile
but it's fading from my mind.
Smaller is good.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
If I didn't do it everyday,
a pile of work got in the way
and played up differences
enough to sway the karma
an altogether different direction-
and people stop to flirt with me
or promise me more, or disagree
and take my shine all away
stalling progress for the day.
If summer rain would run and hide
and leave me all alone to cry
so the parched earth would soak
it up, how the world would that all look?
And I'd be stalled in all I do
to finally make it up to you.
The things we've missed
and things all broken
what's left, just a token.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
The prompt for today was write about something that had to day with clean.
Sun Bleached Bones
Sun bleached the bones
already picked bare
by wind and water current.
Not distinguishable other than
some small vertebrae
perhaps a cat, a small dog
or something less domesticated
that inhabited the woods
next to the Missouri River bank.
Rib cage and spine largely intact.
The spine snaked into a tail.
The skull was not as evident
some of it washed away
the remainder embedded in the
rock and mud finger
from the bank.
I shot a photo of the remains
as we found them. I would
occasionally go back
to the photo to peek
but was turn away quickly
from their clean white image.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Quarter of 11 and I'm just now getting my poem for day six posted over on Poetry Asides.
I'm excited that the baseball season is under way, I'm going to catch up on scores from some games today and then head to bed. My Giants play tomorrow opening at home against the Brewers in an afternoon game. Go Giants!
Sunday, April 05, 2009
It's not like I'm about to crack or anything, but when you are in a funk and writing bad stuff it's a downer. Through several efforts today I concluded with another piece that I am unhappy with. The problem is they were not getting much better as the day went along.
I could of course claim this all sucks and chuck it. That would be one way of dealing with it. But anytime one's writing turns south, as hard as it is, the best thing one can do is write through it. Walking away from it is usually not a formulary for success. So after day five, I have four that washes and one that could grow into something. I suppose I should not complain- just keep writing.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I've completed my poem for day four - the prompt was to write about an animal. For some reason I was not enamored with this prompt, but I charged ahead. It is not a poem that will appear here, but I did post it on the Poetic Asides blog as required as part of the daily challenge. I'm hopeful the Sunday prompt is more agreeable with me.
This morning I attended an Undergraduate English Symposium that was held at the Diastole in Kansas City. A poet friend Amy Davis was one of the presenters and I attended both to support her work and to learn what I could from the presentation. The Diastole is a magnificent facility both inside and out. It has a tremendous collection of artwork in various media and the tranquility that exudes from this place is beyond belief.
The name itself is quite interesting. Diastole, pronounced (dy-AS-tuh-lee), is a medical term for the interim between heartbeats, when the heart muscle relaxes. Systole is when the heart beats and delivers life's blood downstream. The heart rests following each systole, and fills with the blood of the next pulse. This period, the heart at rest, is Diastole.
Amy's work is consistently fresh and very tight. She is somewhat of a master of reduction to the lowest necessary denominator when it comes to words. I especially enjoyed hearing the changed directions that some of these poems took in rewrites. It was well worth the time, besides being enjoyable.
Friday, April 03, 2009
The prompt was: The Problem with (fill in blank)
The Problem with Poetry
It wants to be.
that’s all. To exist
apart from the shivering
cold of rainy spring afternoons
and melancholy silence
that hangs thick as molasses
in the air.
Poetry wants to be held tight
and listened to. To be seen
not just heard.
To lie spread-eagle
on the page; bare,
and hear only the gasp
at its raw form.
Do not argue with poetry.
Not out loud.
Any disagreement should come
as a sweet discourse
within the mind.
Judge not what is said
in those lines before you.
They are for their own part
playing out what latitude
you have allowed them—
and in the end, it is the mind
that is at fault, not the poem.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Just about a half hour ago I completed my day two poem based upon a prompt of outsider. And now that I'm done, I'm thinking about all the "outsiders" that are not getting anything out of national poetry month.
Of course, we poets and poetry enthusiasts may well be in the minority. I suppose who constitutes an outsider here is open to debate, but I really think that it has more to do with groups drawn by a common likeness. There is probably more likeness among those who cling to the love of poetry than those who don't. Among those who don't there may be a wide range in the level of disinterest. For example those with little or no exposure to poetry may comprise a portion of the whole. Then those who were exposed to it and had a strong distaste for it. Then more casually disinterested people and so on.
It seems each year I ask myself what is the big deal that sends some people running from poetry? I am again processing that question in my mind tonight.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I must confess, it rhymed. I believe my penitence will be be 2 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys. Oh yeah, and go forth and rhyme no more.
For a bit of a treat, here Stephen Dunn reads Talk to God from his book, What Goes On—Selected and New Poems 1995-2009. Check it out.