Wednesday, March 31, 2004

stop and smell the metaphors

"It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there." - Carlos Williams


"The creative artist seems to be almost the only kind of man that you could never meet on neutral ground. You can only meet him as an artist. He sees nothing objectively because his own ego is always in the foreground of every picture." --Raymond Chandler

Interesting remarks from the novelist Raymond Chandler... Ego? Do creative people really possess such things? :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Jilly Dybka - "Express Yourself"

When I decided a while back to take a break form my top five blogs of the week list, I did so with the thought in mind of featuring a few select interviews with individuals whom write with special emphasis given to those writing poetry.

The first interview with Katey Nicosia went over so well, I no longer questioned if I made the right decision. It was only natural to move to the next person on my list. I was fortunate enough to once again select a willing participant.

My feature interview is with Jilly Dybka. She is a most intriguing suspect for an interview. This very balanced woman who has a career that is technical, yet has the expressive ability to write poetry. Grew up in a diner and has been exposed to people all over the world via ham radio communications, yet is right at home in an American ballpark. Folks, this is culture!

Jilly caught my eye with her occasional references to baseball on her blog along with of course poetry. This told me we were dealing with my kind of person. Her blog The Poetry Hut continually offers a wide variety of informational links that feed my incredible hunger of odd stuff related to poetry.

While Jilly seldom features her own poetry directly on her blog, I have also had an opportunity to see some of Jilly’s baseball sonnets. Let’s say they are like therapy to a fan in an off season crisis mode. Fortunately April is fast approaching. Perhaps that makes this interview all the more fitting. I hope you will enjoy learning a little more about Jilly Dybka, just as I have.

Interview Of Jilly Dybka by Michael Wells – March 2004

SP: Jill, Tell me a little about what you do for a living. I'm under the impression you are in the technology field. Am I right?

JILLY: Yep. I work as the computer systems administrator and webmaster for a non-profit honorific scientific organization. The members of the organization study the brain and invent things like Prozac. Ironic kind of, because I'm a consumer of those drugs since I have schizoaffective disorder.

SP: You have a MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, N.C. I'm interested in how well you feel the program there prepared you for writing?

JILLY: I just began the program but so far it has really helped my editorial/revision process a lot. I can self-edit better already. I have a much more critical eye. I was reluctant to do an MFA because I was afraid it might change my voice or turn me into a cookie-cutter overly workshopped writer. Vanilla. My fears were unjustified. I have another year to go. I picked that program because of the low-residency requirements and price. But I have been overwhelmed by the quality of the instructors and of my peers.

SP: I see that your works have been published or in some cases are about to be in a number of literary reviews. Two notably in issues Spitball and another in Elysian Fields Quarterly. Being a baseball fan and historian of sorts myself, I was interested in your selection of baseball as a topic. Are you an avid fan yourself?

JILLY: Yes, I love baseball. I root for the local minor league team (the Nashville Sounds--first in our division last year!) and try to see as many games as possible at the ballpark. Just a couple more weeks until opening day! I love baseball literature and those 2 literary magazines in particular. My baseball sonnet chapbook is currently in revision mode. When it's done I'll try to foist it on a publisher. I have no interest in any other sport, strangely enough. Baseball is so lyrical.

SP: You grew up in a family that owned a Drive-in Restaurant. Did you carhop?

JILLY: By the time I came along (I'll be 37 this year) the drive-up part was not happening anymore but the inside portion of the restaurant with the counter and booths was still operational. So I started working there when I was a kid, like the rest of my siblings.

SP: How has the family Drive-in influenced you life?

JILLY: I had a public childhood with all kinds of unique characters who were our regular customers. It was kind of a hang out for horse track people. Betters, bookies, etc. My mom used to have all-night poker games. So it gave me a real affinity for the odd I think. At least that's the best explanation I can come up with for my strong affinity for the odd.

SP: Has this given you any opportunity in your writing to develop characters from such real life experiences?

JILLY: That is a good question because I've written a couple poems about some of the people and the poems came out kind of flat. :( But I think my experiences will always be there to draw upon whenever I am ready.

SP: You are into ham radio. What is that all about? Tell me a little about how that got started and what it means to you. Have you written anything that has been inspired by this?

JILLY: I'm fairly obsessed with radio. I'm a ham radio operator and fluent in morse code, which I send with an old WWII telegraph key. My husband's former boss, Chet Atkins, taught me morse code. Chet was an amateur radio operator and had a ham radio in his kitchen. I think it is so cool that you can communicate with the other side of the world with like 50 watts of power and a piece of wire, bouncing your signals off of the sky. I've written a couple radio villanelles. My call sign is KF4ZEO.

SP: Great quote in your blog the other day... "My husband is a jazz musician. I write poetry. The average American could care less about jazz. The average American could care less about poetry. I think we are screwed. But we are having fun." Is fun what you wanted or do you feel you have to settle for it?

JILLY: I think a creative life is what I wanted and the fun is in the creating. And it is a shame that the end result--be it a jazz song or a poem--is not appreciated by the average American. It's about the process for me, the writing. Self-expression. Playing with words. It's neat that you get a poem or a song at the end though. Too bad only a few other poets will read it and that’s it.

SP: What's it like having two artists in the same household? Tell me about how each of you impact the other's work.

JILLY: We stay out of each other's hair. My husband Darryl is not into words. That's fine. He is purely instrumental. I was a musician too when we met but after we married I decided to go into the computer field. I didn't want to be struggling the rest of my life. No regrets. My day job gives me the security and leisure time to write and my genius musician hubby can do music all the time. :)

SP: Outside of your family, who has had the most influence on your writing and in what way?

JILLY: Dr. Seuss taught me exuberance for language, rhyme and the unusual.

SP: So this passion came at a pretty early age?

JILLY: My first word was book. So, yeah.

SP: Your AIM name is DetroitHaiku. You live in the south. Were educated in the south. That seems like a story just begging to be told.

JILLY: I grew up in Dearborn Heights Michigan and moved to Nashville after I married in 1990. My mom is from Chattanooga TN so I'm only 1/2 yankee though. I love the South. The people, the food, the pace, the language. I do miss snow though.

SP: I'm curious about your fascination with Anna Akmatova. A friend gave me a book of her poems in 1988. The marvelous Jane Kenyon translations. I was hooked by her clean, clear verse. Then I read about her life and became kind of obsessed for a while. I studied Russian one summer with a refugee so I could try to read Akhmatova in the original. I did manage to get through one simple Akhmatova poem in Russian and I was thrilled.

SP: Who in your view, are the five most significant poets of the last fifty years? Why?

JILLY: I don't think I'm well-read or smart enough to answer this question properly. I'm not very scholarly about the craft, sorry. In fact, I'm pretty stupid about things like that. I hate reviewing. I hate theory. THAT is the part of the craft that gives me angst. Blah. That’s why I don’t want to teach after I get my MFA. Why is writing in form the Reaganomics of poetry? Why is writing in form misogynistic and patriarchal? It’s all just a bunch of puffed-up crap. The actual writing part is all I’m about haha. I’m not at all antsy when I write and it isn’t just because I’m medicated haha. It’s not at all discomforting or painful. It’s very liberating and fun. That’s why I like writing in form. It’s fun like doing a puzzle.

SP: Let me take this a little different direction then. Who are some of your favorite poets to read?

JILLY: Akhmatova, RS Gwynn, Gwendolyn Brooks, Wislawa Szymborska, and Dr. Seuss.

SP: What has blogging meant to you as a writer? What impact do you think blogging has had on traditional print venues?

JILLY: I think blogging has loosened me up. When I post poems on the blog they are usually first drafts. My ego wouldn't have allowed that before. There's less of an attachment there. Also, Mike Snider at the Sonnetarium recommended R.S. Gwynn to me. I picked up some of his books and Gwynn is now my favorite living poet. That’s pretty strong blogging stuff. Well, the New Criterion has a blog. That tells you something right there.

SP: Your best written work... tell me about it. What is it and what do you think makes it your best? Tell me about your writing style. What do you think best describes it?

JILLY: Well hopefully my best written work is still ahead of me. But I like my sideshow sonnets. And judging from the number of rejections that the book manuscript has gotten so far (28), I am one of the few, haha. I do irony and humor and form well, from what I've been told. I've only been writing seriously for about 3 years. I dabbled before that. Then when I came down with mental illness and got put on medication pow! I couldn't stop writing. I’m studying with Cathy Smith Bowers this semester and she says my poems are quirky.

SP: Quirky? How so?

JILLY: I think it is because I write about unusual subjects. I guess this is an example. I have a poem coming out in Michigan Quarterly Review called "The Retired Vietnam Munitions Loader Attempts to Open a Can of Biscuits."

SP: As to the medication, I take it you believe it impacts your writing... more prolific? Better? How do you see it impacting your work?

JILLY: Well more prolific for sure. The medication really calms my mind so I can have clear thoughts instead just a jumble of many thoughts swirling around. So that helps me write.

SP: Your recent blogging link to The Atlantic online book review by Christina Nehring on Sylvia Plath caught my eye. Plath has been in the news a great deal lately, I suppose mainly in the aftermath of the movie Sylvia. In your opinion, how do you think Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes would be viewed today had Sylvia not chosen to end her life?

JILLY: It's funny, when I went to England in '92 to see my brother graduate from Oxford I went to a bookstore to see what they had in the "American Literature" section and it seemed like half was Mark Twain and half was Sylvia Plath. I found that to be peculiar. Sylvia would be on Zoloft. She’d be a happy blue dot.

SP: Are poets really screwed? Is there hope for us? If we are, why should we trudge on, doing what we do?

JILLY: I think poets are screwed in a way because we don’t have much of an audience. And most of our audience is made up of fellow poets. The average person at Wal-Mart doesn’t subscribe to a literary magazine. My neighbors here in Kingston Springs Tennessee probably don’t subscribe. (Though my mailman has written a couple novels and given me the drafts!) It’s mostly other writers from what I can see. But so what? Have fun with your writing. Play your jazz. Express yourself. Just don’t expect to make any money from it haha.

SP: You are a member of the National Writer's Union and the Tennessee Writers Alliance. How have you benefited from these organizations. What would you tell other writers who might be curious about their value to the trade.

JILLY: Well frankly, these organizations don’t do much for me, unfortunately. I’m a member of the Writer’s Union because I’m into the labor movement and think that’s important to do. It’s just a personal ideology. Probably growing up in Detroit had something to do with this. The Tennessee Writers Alliance is trying hard I think, but also hasn’t offered much for me personally. They do have a good poetry contest every year. I probably won’t renew my membership to the latter. 16. How do you feel about poets addressing social or political concerns with their work? I’m all for it, if that’s their thing. I’m political, I will be in the big March 20 antiwar demonstration but I haven’t written much political poetry. I guess I don’t think I have anything unique to say about it.

SP: Where would you like to see yourself and your work in five years?

JILLY: 5 years from now I hope to have a book or 2 published.

SP: Fifteen?

JILLY: 15 years from now I hope to be retired early, mortgage paid off, writing, writing, writing.

SP: One last question… I'm always interested in what people are reading these days. What have you read lately (or are reading now) and tell us if you would or would not recommend it and why?

JILLY: I'm reading a bunch of stuff for school right now and I recommend it all, really. Haven't got to any clunkers yet. A lot of anthologies. One in particular shows the processes our poems go through once we send them off with a SASE. It's called Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry. A book I've read recently not for school is American Western Song by Victor W. Pearn. I really like his poems.

SP: That wraps up our interview with Jilly Dykka. Jilly, thanks again for the opportunity to interview you.

JILLY: Thank you Michael. I visit your blog all the time. :)

Interview by Michael A Wells / Stickpoetsuperhero

Baseball & Poetics

Rose - Selig - Steinbrenner There is a threesome for you. I enjoyed this little ditty.

Baseball and Poetry seem such a naturally entwined pair to me.

Sunday, March 28, 2004


You say ~ I reply

  1. Pitbull:: vicious
  2. TD:: touchdown
  3. Carter:: President
  4. Japan:: Orient
  5. 50:: Golden
  6. Streak:: hitting
  7. Rifle:: NRA
  8. Trap:: mouse
  9. Easter:: resurrection
  10. Mitt:: glove

Play Ball

Like a horse before a race:
Jumpy ahead of the starting gate.
I can already smell the fresh cut grass
And hot dogs. Hear the crack of the bat.
I want it all so badly I can taste it,
Hear it, smell it... Is it April yet?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

No Name Required

Tinkering with volumes of frustration
harnessing to positive end
molecular checkmate
unable to graft new branch
old one no longer palatable
hyper aggressive outburst
to no help
disabling emission of hot air
heavy sigh

Against All Enemies

The book by Richard Clarke which is getting so much attention in light of the 9-11 hearings.


  1. Wife:: partner
  2. Criminal:: crook
  3. Campaign:: election
  4. Infection:: disease
  5. Portland:: rain
  6. NASCAR:: rednick
  7. IMAX:: show
  8. Martian:: Marty
  9. Nike:: shoe
  10. Trial:: Monkey

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Go ahead...

I am infinity

You may worship me,
but from afar


what number are you?

this quiz by orsa

Laudable Goal

The new poet laureate of Illinois has big ideas. Perhaps too big, but I can't fault him for that or for efforts to transform those ideas into a proactivism towards the lofty goal he has set.

Kevin Stein is the fourth poet laureate in the history of Illinois. Two of those predecessors, Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks. Big shoes to follow in. Yet Stein talks of I want people to be able to look at something tangible," Stein says.

Stein would like to win over a whole slew of people who never read poetry before - or who read it and didn't like it. "That's the goal," according to Stein.

I'm not sure how one accomplishes this. It seem as tricky as leading a horse to water who has no desire to drink.

This has caused me to wonder, is there a phobia of poetry? I mean like by name. And is this an issue with many people.

I'm thinking that most who don't like poetry have simply not read anything that clicked with their interest. When confronted with it, they are predisposed to automatically reject an open mind. I suppose it is no different than my attitude towards broccoli.

At any rate... I wish Kevin Stein much success.

Feature Interview This Week - Jilly Dybka

Jilly Dybka - who blogs The Poetry Hut is the subject of an interview I'm putting the final touches on and will hopefully get posted this week. You won't want to miss this one. Trust me... Jilly is a very interesting individual. I have enjoyed her blog for some time now. Check back daily ... Don't miss it!

Monday, March 22, 2004

undesired thought

woke this morning
sleep implied
recurring theme
brush aside
meet the day head on
lingering notion
pricks my mind

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Coming Soon - Stick Poet Interview

I am presently working on my next poetry interview. I hope to wrap of the editing and be ready to post it soon. I'll be announcing the subject of this interview on Tuesday. I have to tell you I have enjoyed this interview. The person I've chosen is quite interesting and has what I believe is a very balanced and interesting set of life-interests.

It should be ready to post sometime this week if all goes well so stay tuned. Tuesday I'll let the cat out of the bag. Oh come on, I have to build a little excitement.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Doctor is in...

Purple Vibes
Your Energy is Purple. You are a visionary with
unmatched intuition and spiritual
consciousness. The mystical world and
unexplainable forces fascinate you. There
resides in you a true dignity and nobility, and
others see you as a worthy leader, and loyal
friend. You are often very mature, with a deep
understanding of human nature, and you will
instinctively encourage and guide others toward
their full potential.

You find it natural to express yourself
aesthetically and artistically, you may be
involved in the artistic professions, a
religious organization, or in activities that
have a degree of ceremony and ritual. You would
make a good therapist, healer, psychic, or

What color is your energy?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, March 18, 2004

It's A Crime Against Nature....

Michaela Cooper brings us this ditty. It may not look like it, but it is the 21st Century in Rhea County Tennessee where the County Commissioners voted 8-0 to request that lawmakers to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.
This is the county which held the famous Monkey trial. Whoa... am I awake?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Happy St. Patrick's Day

To the Irish... "Happy St. Patrick's Day" and to those who are just a wee-bit Irish today, well "Happy wee-bit day too!"

I attended a reading last night of Gloria Vando. This was not my first and hopefully there will be many others. The lady is sensational. Not only her written work, I especially enjoy her delivery when reading. Gloria has a soft-spoken but firm voice that carries her work well. She enunciates with such force and her way of intertwining the English language with Porto Rican and other Latin words is soothing to the ears.

Also reading, was Philip Miller. His reading was enjoyable. I like his written work as well. His delivery was strong and enjoyable.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Gloria Vando Tomorrow

Gloria is a wonderful local poet that has a reputation that goes well beyond the Kansas City area. She can be seen tomorrow evening....

March 16, Gloria Vando & Phil Miller: Reading, The Writers Place Reading Series, Johnson County Resource Library, 9875 West 87th Street, Overland Park, KS, 7:00 p.m.

check her site here

Robert Bly Appearance This Month in New York

March 26-27 New York, NY

Poetry reading of new poems, NY Open Center, 83 Spring St., Friday, 8 p.m. Workshop on the state of American culture today, NY Open Center, Saturday, 10-4. -- Contact: Adele Heyman, 212/219-2527, ext. 126

Monday, March 08, 2004

Life is being written...

Are your pages blank?


You say........... I say

  1. Dogma:: tripe
  2. Spirit:: ghost
  3. Voodoo:: needles
  4. Demon:: devil
  5. Digital:: clock
  6. Ceremony:: wedding
  7. Research:: project
  8. Career:: path
  9. Penis:: dick
  10. Film:: flick

Write On!

If I die, I hope to go with my head on that typewriter. It's my battlefield. -- Charles Bukowski

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Bush - Motherhood - Apple Pie and All That Is Good

In the next few days - the would be Presidential Poet will try to conjure up images that will underscore his campaign for reelection. His war chest of $150 million (conservatively) will be unleashed on voters in some 17 targeted states.

The ads will feature firefighters and footage from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bush is set to define the election in terms of this event that has had a profound impact on this nation in the past three years.

Clearly the Bush message is to try to focus on a broad theme. Security, American values (patriotism) and of course family values. The "I'm trying to do what is right for America" approach.

Broader rhetoric to detract from the specifics of economic issues, foreign policy blunders, environmental mismanagement and rights violations.

Hands on your hearts and wrap yourself in red-white-blue if you want to get aboard the G.W. Bush Express -- now departing for the November election in a state near you.

Papal Poetry - Big Hit

Pope John Paul II - is a published poet - his work first published in 2003. Sales topped 300,000 in his native Poland and publication has been expanded as a million copies has been now been published in 20 languages.

More on the pontifical poetry here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Source of Art

"All art is a previous distortion..." This from Michael Bogue at Almost Successful.

I understand where Bogue is going with this and I disagree. Sure, I'll give him that much that is produced as art, be it music, literature, painting, sculpture, etc. has some inspiration. Is it all? I don't know... I suppose, but more importantly I don't believe it makes any difference to his arguement of copyright protection.

Those who object for instance, to the cost of CD's today have every right to. I will admit I believe most are well overpriced. The issue however is not copyright laws but the free market and as long as people are willing to pay these prices, that is what the market will bring. Those who mistake copyright protections for the effects of free market economy be warned... weakening copyright laws as a way to to produce lower pricing will only harm the broader art community.

Sardonic Verses

Literary Magazines

Very Timely Book....

Learn how the United States via the CIA's Central Asian missions helped pave the way for Osama bin Laden in the book by Steve Coll.

First Monthly Newsletter of Stick Poet Super Hero Will Be Out Next Week

Sign up in the yellow box (upper Left) to receive the monthly on line newsletter of Stick Poet Super Hero.

Three Days! Three Cheers!

Jilly is into day three as a non-smoker. Pop over to her blog and give her some encouragement!

Monday, March 01, 2004

Monday Mania....

Being the ROBERT BLY fan that I am - Jilly gets kudos for this link

Thanks Cassie for your evening ocean experience.

It's not the ball silly.... It's the goat! You can't change it. The baseball Gods are fickle. Oh man... I am so in need of opening day!!!

Awaking this morning, I was delighted to find that the sun seemed to invade my life a bit earlier. Light deprivation is such drag. The warm sun reminded me too that baseball is coming!