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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Magpie Tales # 54 - Poem: Title Forgotten


Title Forgotten

You are pieces of places
remote in my mind
puzzling and forced

into blank spaces
black holes in time
splintered edges

people of vagueness
foggy names
fuzzy going blank

what was I going to say
what were we talking
about?
 
2011 © Michael A. Wells
 
Magpie Tales

Friday, February 25, 2011

Not the Cover I'd Choose for a Book of Mine

The book that is bound to horrify: 160-year-old poetry volume is covered in skin of hanged murderer


Details

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enough Suspense Already....




On Monday I reported that I had some exciting news from over the weekend without offering specifics. Some have asked me if this news involves a book and while the answer to this is unfortunately no, I can however tell you that it is none the less the most exciting news I've had for quite some time.
 
Sunday, I learned that two of my poems were selected to inspire work by Jennifer Rivera, a talented abstract painter who is preparing for a poetry themed gallery showing at the Apex Art Space in the Crossroads District in Kansas City. For those not local, the Crossroads District has become the premier hub for art in the metropolitan area. "Synesthesia" will run for two months. My poems will appear along with the final paintings. She has selected work from a number of poets, some local and some from other parts of the country.
 
Jennifer has some awesome paintings! You can see a portfolio of her art and learn more about her at her web site. This is so exciting because I love abstract art in all forms. Having seen pictures of her work I am thrilled at the prospect of what she will produce in response to my poems.
 
Closer to the event I'll provide details about the dates and times of the showing. Of course it would be exciting to see a lot of my friends on the opening night, but for two months people will get an opportunity to see all of the poetry inspired work of Jennifer's.



* photo insert Jennifer Rivera

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Confession Tuesday

I'm tired and I still want to read before turning in for the night but I want to fulfill my Tuesday duty so please come along to the confessional.


Dear Reader:

Today was a day that I was crazy busy but alas I confess few of my priority tasks were checked off my to do list. I have days like that because my work can be so crisis driven that the best of planning sometimes just will not work. Grrr!

It's not a new thing and I've had to learn to live with it. Sometimes it's frustrating enough to want to cast planning to the wind but I don't. Here's to more check offs tomorrow.

~

I was thinking this morning how strange it is to think as spring training is underway that the Giants will be starting the season as defending World Series champions and how different that is from the perception many had of the team's chances going into last the start of the season last year.  Many sports commentators thought the Giants were maybe like perhaps a third place team in their division.  First spring training game is this Friday against the D-Backs. I confess it feels like a heavy weight for the team going onto this season and being the defending champion. I will try to be the good fan and keep an optimistic outlook.

~

Sometimes I feel like pushing my creativity in different directions. A couple years ago I tried doing some charcoal sketching.  I confess that I'm not really very talented at this but I enjoyed trying to see various things and people through sketch.  I thought I would allow my to observe things from a different perspective. I still think this is a good idea, but admittedly I haven't done any for a while.  I think I'd like to be able to do sketches of people. I also love photographs of people taken as when they are doing things and appear totally unaware of the shot being taken. Little moments where they seem self absorbed in something.

~

I confess I'd like to have a pint of black walnut ice cream right now. Ok, I confess I'd really like more than a pint. ;)

~

Until next time, I hope you have some sweetness to your week!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm SO Excited!

Hail to the Chief!  President's Day off~

I've written, hobbled around on a sore knee, alternated heat and ice on it, and otherwise had a quiet day off.  At some point I need to do laundry and will probably try a relaxing bath. But while I've had a quiet day, I remain very excited about some news that came my way yesterday. I will not go into detail just yet, but I can tell you it's good news and it has to do with poetry. I did get a rejection letter over the weekend from Rattle but trust me, this makes up for it and then some.  Stay tuned for the details!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Magpie Tales 53 Poem: SHAKER



SHAKER



Sculpted by subtraction
precise patterns
sliced in the ice
of class Czech glass
cubed mathematically
and crowned with sterling
to set upon a table
to the distraction
of surroundings


2011 © Michael A. Wells



Magpie Tales 53

Your Attention Please - Is the ability to focus overrated?

I was reading a Wall Street Journal article in their Life and Culture section about attention and distractibality.  The article presented infomation from several studies that support there are perhaps benefits to be associated with distractability.

So all those times I was caught daydreaming in class... was that really such a bad thing?

...scientists have begun to outline the surprising benefits of not paying attention. Sometimes, too much focus can backfire; all that caffeine gets in the way. For instance, researchers have found a surprising link between daydreaming and creativity—people who daydream more are also better at generating new ideas. Other studies have found that employees are more productive when they're allowed to engage in "Internet leisure browsing" and that people unable to concentrate due to severe brain damage actually score above average on various problem-solving tasks.
The aeticle points out that the studies (and there were several mentioned) all involve college students and while they are revealing, they do not taken into account the challenges children facing ADHD experiance in school or the impact upon those who fail to graduate from high school.


Does distraction provide positive opportunities and lead to greater open-mindedness? What do you think?

What's Going On...

Two days in a row - here to blog. I've been lax / busy, call it what you will lately and haven done good to average 2-3 posts a week in recent months. So I guess this is what we'd call a streak!


Yesterday I had a rejection letter for four poems I had sent out.  This morning, three more went out in submission.  Another submission will likely go out later today. I'm trying to (and succeeding) maintain a much more aggressive submission schedule this year.


Poetic Happenings around the Internet:


Saturn's may have hidden seas by Christine Klocek-Lim appears in Astropoetica


A new trend in the internal civil unrest in the Middle East is Arab on Arab violence. Nobel Peace Prize winner Hanan Ashrawi’s poetry paints a picture  of the contemporary unrest.


This poetry is not an ornament to the uprising — it is its soundtrack and also composes a significant part of the action itself...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Terrance Hayes coming to Kansas City in March!

This week I downloaded a "New Letters" audio interview with poets Terrance Hayes & Yona Harvey - husband and wife poets. I listened to the interview on my Blackberry during my drive into town. I was so taken by these two poets that when I received a card the next day from the University of Missouri Kansas City that Terrance had been Named as the 2011 Cockefair  Chair  Writer-in-Residence and would be reading at the University on March 7th, I was excited. To top that off,  was able to snag a spot to attend the his Master Class in Poetry Writing on Sunday, March 6th. By this time I was clicking my heels!



Hayes is quiet spoken but with a powerful range and creative talent for language.  I've read a few of his poems in the past - but hearing him read is even more powerful. Yona too strikes me very much the same way yet each has a distinctive voice. They are a lot alike, yet at the same time very different.

The Master class is three hours long. Did I mention I'm very excited?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Though I’m not certain where I am going with this, it is Tuesday and therefore confession time. It’s been almost a week since my last. I say almost because I was late. But let’s not dwell on that. To the confessional we go.

Dear Reader:

I’m punctual today. This is a good thing. Not just with confession but I confess that being on time can be a positive experience that improves your outlook about other things. I’m not saying it’s a world changer, but a few more positive vibes cannot hurt.

~

I confess that there have been times when people have said Hi! How are you doing? My reply would be something like – Tired, or beat, or feeling lousy. But at some point it occurred to me that people don’t really want to know that you are feeling like crap… It’s simply an opening to a friendly exchange.

I’ve decided I’m not a country western singer, so “Hi, How are you?” is not something you respond to with, “I found my Parrot dead on the floor of his cage this morning, the trash truck ran over a fire hydrant and flooded my basement, before backing into my BMW. I’ve got a migraine and I got the news my mutt knocked up the neighbor’s prize poodle and is threatening to sue. Thanks for asking!”

~

I’ve been dog sitting this week for my son. While I’ve seen my wife each day, and I do get a good deal of reading and writing done, I have really missed her in the evenings. Bouts of melancholy especially on Sunday didn’t help. I confess that I spent a lot of time reflecting on our early years together. I had a couple of dreams one overnight Friday were I dreamed of Sylvia Plath, but one Saturday night were we (wife and I) were very young (children like young) but all of our scenes in the dream we were in adult mode.

I confess I have this type of dream often. I confess I have no idea what it means.

~

Mid February is when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Usually five to seven days ahead of the other players. I confess there is a bit of a spring in my step when this happens.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope all your steps have a spring to them too.  Have a great week!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Funding Creativity

Kelli Agodon has an interesting post today about Kickstarter. According to their web site, they're the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. 

This strikes me as really intriguing because just this week the Governor of our neighboring state (Kansas) issued an executive order ending the State's Art Commission. It's a battle that may not be over because many are pushing the legislature to intervene.  Still, it is a sign that many state funded Arts Commissions may be in for bumpy roads ahead.

But looking at the site, Kickstarter offers a platform for small projects that be below the level of some Arts foundations as well as some larger ones. On one page I saw a project that was looking for over $70,000 and another for just over $400 so their is a bit of variety.

People can scan through the projects and find one or more that interest and pledge a dollar amount to help fund the project. It can be as little as $1.  If the project fails to reach it's goal, no funds are transferred - your pledge is not honored. Only if and when the project becomes fully funded are the funds withdrawn from your account. Amazon acts as the middle man for the sake of collecting the funds.
To my wonderful wife Cathy
    All My Love....
On Valentine's Day
& Every Day....







And a Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Magpie Tales 52 - Poem: It looks inviting but it's just a house.




It looks inviting but it's just a house.
Let me tell you about a house-

Past the curtains into the living room
where white upholstered seating
was primarily for company       while free
to come and go-    those were the days
when we were to be seen
cheeks pinched
bragged about in one form
or another but heavens no
add nothing to the conversation.

Upstairs was the safest place,
a room with a bunk bed I shared
with no one.    My trappings were many
and they were my comfort.
In the back was a window I shared
with the world-   an array of bumper stickers
shouting silently my views.
They were not the same as the management.

The kitchen below was by contrast
the most communal of all the rooms.
Around the table the balance of power
seemed most evident and it was there
I felt as though I was a wedge issue
based upon the parenting being done
and by whom the orders were administered.

There were chilly political discussions
back then Nixon was the one
but he really wasn't.    From time to time
there was the "N" word.  It was during these
times, the off color jokes that I felt most
uncomfortable about and not my posture
which was also a hot topic as well
as if I was finishing my dinner- leaving
a clean plate before I could go.
That was a battle I would eventually win.
Time was on my side.  But there were times
as well when my punishment was to stand back
against the kitchen print on the wall and become
one with it... to solve all my posture problems.
It didn't.

The enclosed back porch, the family room
with bar that was never used as such- 
and only in time for the moon landing
did it become home for our TV-
these rooms were cold, but not the kind
of chill that the kitchen had.

The dining room seemed majestic
at the time with built in china cabinets
I learned had been perfect for hiding
newly arrived letters from paternal grandmother
before their destruction.  Beamed ceiling,
natural oak that had been painted
but brought back to life.

The dining room was for formal
meals and entertaining      and fakery.
Playing normal and enjoying mom's
white yeast rolls and butter.

Thinking back these rooms
fan out to form an array
of memories.  Sometimes
it is better their ornamental
view is closed into one ivory stick.

I left the day after graduation.


2011© Michael A. Wells

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Strange

At approximately 2:30 a.m. I was awaken and strangely my thoughts were of Sylvia Plath.  At first I thinking how strange this is the anniversary of her death until I realized that it was the morning of the 12th and she died February 11th, a fact that had escaped me yesterday.

Then it dawned on me how strange the poem draft I wrote last night (see below) and the ghosts of writers.

Feeling a little bit of twilight zone here.

Rest in Peace Sylvia...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ghosts

The gurgle of the washing machine,
the laminate film upon my post dinner
teeth chattering as Friday reverses
itself like a retro jacket
that offers two color options
only I cannot choose;
I only have Friday night
at my disposal-


I have a plate, a fork & spoon,
and two pans to wash
and the whole night ahead.
I am only slightly cloistered.
The TV is there and another
in the living room and still
another in the family room.
And so many channels-
and nothing I want
to watch.


In the end, I will battle
between book and journal.
Read or write.
It is in this solitude
I sense the ghosts
of so many
long gone
writers.

The Month of Love

An afternoon sun is unsuccessful in curtailing my chill that continues. This is so unlike me~  **sigh**   Supposedly it has reached 35 outside. Maybe that's my problem... I'm inside.

I've had a vacation day from the office, reading a book as well as ruminating about the chatter the past couple days of the Claudia Rankine/Tony Hoagland matter.  The latter has my head spinning. 


It's the month of LOVE and if you haven't seen it already there's a series of PDF print and Cut Valentines here  courtesy of the American Academy of Poets.

I've been getting Gretchen Rubin's daily "Happiness Project E-mails" for a while now and the other day I got this one that I just love:


"One of the best and fastest ways of acquiring knowledge is to insist on remaining ignorant about things that aren't worth knowing."

— Sydney Harris

And another thing I picked up from her site was the SIX WORD MEMOIR.   Another version of this - Six Words on Happiness.  A few that were on her site that I liked...
  • Reading the last page of "Mockingbird."
  • paying toll for the person behind me
  • with my six I declare love

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Confession Tuesday - belatedly

It's Wednesday and I seem to have sinned again!  Last night I was thinking about my Tuesday Confession at about 11:30 pm but not for long, and so here I am a day late and another flaw to add to my list of confessions. The sin of being lazy, or perhaps it's really rebellious. Anyway, let's get started.

Dear Reader, humbly I confess I've let you down. And as you can likely tell from above, I'm not even certain which is my reason... maybe a little of both. At any rate, this has been the second time recently and I really am going to get myself together next week.

Tonight I'm cold. Cold I tell you and that's really something for me. I'm the one in the office who gets cranky when they bump the heat up in the building. At home, I'm the first to want the A/C on and the last to want to furnace on. I confess, my body temperature setting is evidently different than must people. When I finish here I can tell you I'm headed for the bed and will burrow under the blanket for warmth.

For three days truing this past week my Blackberry was not syncing mail and I was unable to get feeds (twitter, facebook updates) or reach the Internet.  Phone calls and text messages worked fine.  During this time I really fell out of the "know" so to speak. I missed news flashes. I confess it was a very strange three days. Everything is working fine again. I did survive but it was a strange feeling by the third day and I was growing weary.

That's my week... hope yours ahead is a good one. I'll see you back here next Tuesday... promise!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

an advent of sense

A poem conveys not a message so much as the provenance of a message, an advent of sense. ~ Thomas Harrison

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Let it Be



Words of Wisdom

The sun and the wind spoke briefly
of the day behind them
making light of irregularities
fostered by man-

"these things are to be
expected," one said to the other
and both agreed.   The clouds
heard this-

when the wind and the sun spoke
they never whispered
due to the distance between them
but the clouds ushered in their view

and it was agreed that the natural order
was far better suited      for everydayness
and the wind could be heard    even by man
singing "let it be, let it be..."


2011 ©  Michael A. Wells

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Revisiting AWP

Given my Tuesday Confession post, I laughed my ass off reading Jeannine Hall Gailey's blog post for Tuesday.  The post titled How to Survive Not Going to AWP DC.

Just to get a taste of her post:
"Throw some dirty snow on yourself. Maybe roll around in it. Stand outside in whatever inclement weather your neighborhood provides. Make sure you’re carrying something heavy, like a bag full of books."


Go read the whole post for a good laugh.  Thanks Jeannine, I feel better already~

Magpie Tales 51 / Poem: Our Strength



Our Strength

Darkness descends
and we are together
tight as mortar and bricks.
A family, snug
we hardly notice the light
foot traffic—

Morning arrives with haste
of duties; so many people
so many places, each of us
feels the pressures of travel,
of heat, of friction
rolling over us

an anxiety— of the grit of life
churned out and spread over us
like we are plowed earth
and seeded discouragement
that it might take hold.

Some of it will root
between us. It will grow
and it may threaten
but tightly grouted
and stronger for our numbers
we will keep our ground.

 
2011 © Michael A. Wells


Magpie Tales 51

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Snow Day Edition

Dear Reader:  It's been one week, a lot of wind and too many inches of snow since my last confession. 

Let's get started...

Today I've spent most of the day inside.  I've driven my car all of about 6 blocks.  My boss called this morning after I had cleared off the car and said that we were not opening the office, that he would likely only be sending us back home within a couple of hours based upon how the storm was advancing.  I confess that I am not disappointed. Yes the day off means my project plans will be behind, but thought of facing I-70 in the condition that was anticipated was not something I was looking forward too.  I understand late today there was a multi-car pile up on the Interstate between here and the city - I'm thankful we were not on the road.  Thankful too that no one was seriously injured. The question now remains what will tomorrow look like?

While on my laptop today someone take the "lap" part seriously and believes that he has to occupy mine. Klaus (our minpin) comes over and under the desk and stretches out to pull himself up on my lap. I confess this practice of his is both cute and annoying at the same time. He's been on my lap like this at the computer three different times today. One in which he fell asleep in my arms.  It wasn't that long ago that Klaus' fate was in question. Regular readers may recall that he was paralyzed in an attack by another dog and his rehabilitation was a slow process. He still has residual issues but his overall condition seems miraculous compared to where he had to come from. It was during this period that Klaus really started to take to me. I confess, I think I've become his favorite. (Don't tell Shannon)

Every year for the past maybe three years, I read about writers running off to AWP like it's a religious pilgrimage. At first I had no idea what the heck it was... Association of Warped personalities...  Americans with Psychosis...  Annual Whoopee Party?  But I've grown the wiser reading of all the writerly/publisherly interactions and so I confess that this time of year, when so many are running off to (this year DC) I feel I'm somehow a subterranean writer, doing my work just below the radar.  I know that this is silly. There must be plenty of serious writers who are sitting at home reading about all the workshops and functions going on and the goodie bags, etc. With this in mind, I pledge that I will learn to get over this... or in the alternative one day go to the event.

Until next week, everyone be safe and happy!