Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Diane Von Furstenberg, Dan Rather, Maya Lin, Minnie Driver to Read at Poetry Benefit on April 5

Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Diane Von Furstenberg, Dan Rather, Maya Lin, Minnie Driver to Read at Poetry Benefit on April 5

Follow link to Press Release....

Strange But True

Someone actually googled their way to this site with the search: national something on a stick day. Which of course causes me to ask the question.... Does such a day exist?

Fairchild's Poetic Wisdom Part Two

I have promised a post concerning last Thursday’s master poetry class - conducted with B.H. Fairchild. After a bit of reflection on the experience, I am ready to externalize those thoughts here.

Fairchild’s approach began with establishing his current definitive formation of what a poem is. Prefacing that he was not trying to be restrictive he noted that his definition has been somewhat fluid over the years. Currently he defines it this way:

A poem is a verbal construction, which through an array of prosody and rhetorical devises of embodiment achieves an order of being, an ontology, radically different from other forms of discourse (with the exception of certain forms of fictional and descriptive prose)

I was most intrigued by the "order of being" and his commentary surrounding this point. It seems he views poetry as a way of "being" in the world. It is an order unlike anything else.
He took the argument of some poetry and prose have a narrowing separation and stressed that while the two do overlap, they are alike. Otherwise they would be contiguous. He noted math and physics overlap at points but they are indeed different. The same is true of biology and chemistry.

There was discussion of the interior life of the poem – the sound textures or auditory aspect of the poem which he seems to think we don’t pay enough attention to these days.

There were a series of poetry manuscripts that we as a group went over. Expressing thoughts about meaning – syntax – line breaks. I especially appreciate the approach Fairchild took to the manuscript examinations. It was not done with judgement but certainly conducted thoroughly and with an intent to bring each of us to our own assessments if the material was working or not.

I am still processing a good deal of the material nearly a week later. The combined exposure to his reading and class was most educational.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet to perform at Drury

W.D. Snodgrass - 79 year old poet - to preform Thursday evening at Drury University's Olin Library.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fairchild's Poetic Wisdom Part One

Following my attendancelast week at a B H. Fairchild poetry reading and a poetry class I thought I would take some time to offer my observations.

The reading was an enjoyable event from a strictly entertainment perspective. As a reader Fairchild is a well above average performer. His physical voice is easily soothing to the ears and quite palatable to the grasp of comprehension. Had I been a casual fan of poetry, I would have enjoyed the reading.

I did not however, attend the event with a casual interest. My engrossment in his presentation included everything from his work itself, to his delivery and possibility that his poetry hit a specific or definable theme. I came in to the reading with only a casual knowledge of his work. To the extent of his selections,

I appreciated that he offered a short intro to explain any particular nuances the he fell were not obvious to his readings.

I was able to see perhaps two points of interesting palpability emerge from his reading. Fairchild’s roots have remained evident in his work. It is perhaps not surprising in the contest that as Hemingway once said, "…write what you know best." Still, it is obvious that Fairchild grew up one of those individuals that seemed destined to travel through life searching. Something I can identify with, and I suppose many that connect with poetry do. It is this very search that seemed to lead or drive – (I’m not sure if he felt more pushed or pulled) away from his boyhood home of Liberal, Kansas or towards something other than that home. Still, it is clear that he wanted to experience much more that what the limits of such a rural milieu could offer. He wanted more then what this lifestyle offered. To his credit, twenty years of academia have not killed those roots, but perhaps given him a stronger basis for understanding them and communicating them.

If there is a thread that seems to run through his work and ( there is) tying it up nicely, it would be his understanding of the nature of working class men and women to want. To even seek. Yes, to hope and dream. And in the end to be able to be able cherish what they have, even in the face of larger disappointments. To find some level of happiness, even if for the moment, without sacrificing desires and putting them out, like some squashing the butt of a burning cigarette in an ash tray.

The other truth that shines through is work and his presentation is that he has not lost that touch with the common man. Not even after twenty years at Cal State. Not after all his prestigious awards and The Guggenheim, NEA, Rockefeller/Bellagio fellowships. He has been able to wear the hat of a professor all the time keeping the ball cap of a common man.

Tomorrow I will post on what I came away from the workshop with.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


As my personal commitment to the promotion of poetry during the month of April (National Poetry Month) I have set up a special e-mail address simply for the purpose of offering a daily e-mail with a poetry related quote to inspire your view of poetry throughout the day.

In order to sign up, please e-mail me at with the word "subscribe" in the subject line of your e-mail. PLEASE - do not sign up for someone other than yourself. Subscribers will be asked to confirm their request by a followup e-mail. As much as I'd like to share this with as many people as possible including those who have marginal or no present interest in poetry, it is not my intent to spam people with poetry quotes. You of course may share them with your friends and family individually that you might hope to encourage to become readers of poetry, but I wish to keep this strictly above the board. Your e-mail addresses will NOT be shared with anyone else, and the Quotes will stop at the end of April.

Happy Poetry Reading & Writing!

Michael Wells
Stick Poet

Friday, March 25, 2005

Building Up To National Poetry Month

Over the next few days I will be doing several things as a build-up to National Poetry Month.

I will be posting Poetry Month Events - Some, local Kansas City, Missouri area events and a few in other parts of the country for our nation-wide readership.

This week I attended a reading of the poet B H Fairchild and yesterday a master class in poetry for which Fairchild put on in conjunction with the UMKC language arts department. I will be commenting on these experiences.

Additionally, tomorrow I will make a offer to Stick Poet readers. This will represent my personal commitment to promoting poetry month. Check back tomorrow for the details and an opportunity to be on the receiving end of this special Stick Poet offer.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought
and the thought has found words."
~Robert Frost
I could not have said it better....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

B H Fairchild

I am attending a reading of B. H. Fairchild tonight here in Kansas City. Looking forward to hearing his work. He grew up in a small town in Kansas and some of his poetry reflects midwest ties, though he has I believe in more recent years lived in California.

Thursday, I'll have an opportunity to set in a class he is giving as well. He was brought in by UMKC College of Arts and Sciences.

My Poetry Quote of the day:
"A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman." ~Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, 1957

Monday, March 21, 2005

By nature...

"A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses." ~Jean Cocteau

I have this overwhelming desire to paraphrase this as, "Shit happens" ~ but I won't.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hit with The STICK

James at Love During Wartime passed me the STICK. Immediately I was overcome by a combination of trepidation and honor. Sort of a schizophrenic emotional burst.

  1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be? Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Gee, not that I can recall. Which seems almost as lame as if I had one.
  3. The last book you read: Transformations by Anne Sexton
  4. What are you currently reading? The Poetry Home Repair Manuel - Ted Kooser & Wintering - Kate Moses ( I'm multi-tasking ) ;)
  5. Five books you would take to a deserted island: Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball - George Will [there is no culture without baseball] , The Journals of Sylvia Plath, Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems, Why Time Begins on Opening Day - Thomas Boswell, And Poetry Speaks and a CD player....(is this cheating?)
  6. Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why? Eileen at The Chatelaine's Poetics: Because she's upon there on the mountain where the air is thin and Just never know what she is going to say. Jilly at The Poetry Hut: Who is not on a mountain ( that I know of) but is among the culturally elite who love baseball & poetry at the same time ; ) and Michaela at Mikarrhea: who, hell is just likely to say anything - mountain or no mountain.

The pleasure of it....

"Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may
be inadvisable to draw it out.... Perfect understanding
will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure."
~ A.E. Housman

My Skin Curls

Jilly has a new site address.... here.

I'd like to call your attention to this site: Voices In Wartime

Christine Hamm is just too damn good... and I think I've said that before, or at least something like it-- but damn, she is! Writing a Poem - check it out! When I read her stuff, I swear my skin curls.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day

"The poetry of the earth is never dead." -John Keats
Happy St. Patrick's Day

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

And then there is a flash....

You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick.... You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps... so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in. ~Dylan Thomas, Poetic Manifesto, 1961

Come on Eileen, when you have THAT many peeps, you are going to be recognized when you come down out of the mountain!

Some day I may understand life. I don't really think today is going to be it though. Still, I am trying to be open to that possibility.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Slate Backlogged

"He Lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize." ~ Oscar Wilde

I noticed yesterday that Slate is not accepting submissions till December of this year. There must be some prolific writing and submitting going on these days. While I've not sent anything to Slate since maybe middle of last year, as long as I have paid any attention, I don't recall them restricting submissions or even having a reading window as such. This has me curious to know if other venues are experiencing a significant increase in manuscript submissions.

I got a note the other day that Victoria Chang's new book Circle is out. Having enjoyed her insights when she was blogging, I of course would like to read the work.

B. H. Fairchild is in town next week, and I have an opportunity to hear him read and do a workshop.

Catherine Meng has a great read --- If the Laundromat Doesn't Work Out I Will Gladly Offer My Bed. You gotta love the Walt Whitman line.

Any poets in the Kansas City area - are invited to check out the local chapter of the Missouri Poetry Society. Our blog site is here. We meet twice a month.

Monday, March 14, 2005

To quarrel with yourself....

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. ~W.B. Yeats

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Feel the grass blades
Between the toes of your mind
And how the shade holds the darkness tight
Within a room that is running out of a concept
We call space. I have little time to explain
Concepts - because I'm not sure when my time
Is up... and when it ends- all those concepts
In my mind are going to vaporize.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Taking It Right To Their Front Door

That is what Ted Kooser has in mind. Ted who? Ted Kooser, the new U.S. Poet Laureate.

Ted is intent on broadening interest in poetry. After all, that is his function as the Poet Laureate. How one accomplishes this feat is up to the individual Laureate.

The Kooser plan is to offer a free six to eight-inch column to local newspapers each week with a poem by a living American and a brief introduction written by himself. This idea catches my fancy since I am often hearing people talk about how. "poetry is dead... or at least all the poets are." Of course neither is true and more power To Ted Kooser if he can carve that misconception into little pieces and bury it.

Kooser's idea was the result of reading a prestigious literary journal in which he was unable to find a single poem he could use to show an average reader to demonstrate what he was missing. His assessment was that all the poems in the journal were geared for a "really sophisticated audience."

In spite of Koosers assention to the lofty position of Poet Laureate, he is not a household word. In fact he is not like most poets who have aspired to this position. Not a part of the northeast academia crowd, and his own poetry strives for the simplicity that mirrors his humble mid-west life. He rises every day at 4:30 and writes though he says that he probably produces only 10 to 12 poems a year that he considers worthy of publication.

If Ted Kooser is successful in his endeavor to broaden the interest in poetry in this country, it will likely be because he himself is more like the average American than perhaps most Poet Laureates in the past. Good Luck Ted Kooser!


Friday, March 11, 2005

The Surprising Journey

A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. - Salman Rushdie

I think one of the most fascinating acts of writing is to discover that you have arrived someplace that you didn't think that you could possibly get to from where you were. To do the impossible or at minimum the improbable. I'm not talking about achieving some status. Yes, I'd fall over clutching my heart if I got a call that I was the next poet laureate. That is not at all what I am talking about. What I am speaking of is to be writing and all of a sudden to realize that you have learned something. The very creation of your piece of work opened up your eyes. By your own creation, you arrived at a point or place that you were not trying to reach. That is such a incredible event to a poet. Such is what keeps me writing... even on bad days.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Finding Themeo

James over at Love During Wartime has me wondering if my life has a theme. From my initial blank stare, I'm thinking no. Surely there has to be at least a thread that runs through this fragile accumulation of years that I call a life, that exhibits some evidence of a theme. Still, I'm clueless.

I suppose I could look backwards (a talent that must be good for something) and see points in my life where I might have had something of a theme going on. Doing this little exercise could be important to something I have been toying with lately. The thought of trying to write an autobiographical poem. Not a four or five stanza poem that summarizes my life. Something a little more lengthily. I don't think I am talking as extravagant as Eileen Tabios's brick. Still, something that could allow me to compartmentalize my life into segments with metaphorical adaptation. Why, I'm not sure. Maybe it would make a more interesting read from that standpoint.

Anyway, James has put a thought in my head (scary as that may seem) and now it is going to bug me until I can work through this and come up with some answers. I'm wondering if this is one of those things you can think too much about. Like maybe the first thing that pops into your head is more significant than trying to think it through in deep thought. Forcing it, so to speak. Yes, I'm obsessing now. Thanks James, for the ensuing headache I feel coming on.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Bright gold raged most of the weekend
Brassy in the crisp blue sky
Till nightfall when clouds pushed the envelope
Rain, hail and winds did calisthenics
Morning brought an overcast chill
And talk of snow tomorrow

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Under theTellingtree Anthology Reading & Signing

Some thirty- five people attended the reading & signing last night at B & N - Zona Rosa Shopping Center. Was nice to have some people that were just shopping stop by to listen. They had to set up a few extra chairs. We have another at the northland area Boarders tomorrow afternoon 2:30 to 4:30. Six of the authors featured in the book were present and read.

Weather is so nice today - Going to take Barry for a walk after while. Have a yard project I want to get done while the weather is nice. I'll read and do some writing later today.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Tiananmen Mother by Michael Wells

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday - I pinched myself. I'm still among the living!

Ivy talks about the application process for a residency at the The MacDowell Colony - worth reading for those interested in such an experience.

Eileen is posting on her blog now in such a way that makes clicking on the links more challenging if you are drunk or not.

V-lo's charm is again available for your viewing over at ~gila-monster~

Cassie Lewis has been silent close to two months now... Perhaps a snow shoveling expedition is in order.

James admits to getting lost in Kansas City, Kansas.

Why did I just do an around-the-poetry-world blog post? I'm speechless!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Last Night at Writers Place

Open Mic at Writers Place last night.... Scot Isom was the featured reader. Scot was great. I've never seen Scot as into it as he was last night. I thought I was listening to Mr. Silk.

I did three pieces... One was a Diane Ackerman poem - Omens of Winter. The other two were my own... Whirlygirl and Tiananmen Mother.

Ackerman crawls below the surface of the skin to get at those prickly feelings and this is the kind of stuff I eat up in poetry.