Thursday, June 30, 2005


Arms of vast floral range
Gave way to abscission
I too was stripped
Having covered the corkage
After polishing off my shot

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | A who's who of the G8 campaigners

BBC News - offers a look at some of the G8 Campaigners in a bit of a Who's Who.

Reuters - Protests planned for Scottish G8 summit

Reuters News service profiles some of the protest & activists events planned for the G8 conference in Edinburgh. If all this goes off as planned - the 8 heads of state at the meeting should feel a little dwarfed with this vast number of activists. Perhaps this will keep in focus that the world is watching.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More LIVE 8 News

Sheryl Crow has reportedly dropped from the Paris LIVE 8 Concert due to what she called "substantial logistical and personal challenges." Her own internet site urges her fans to support the concert and objectives of The ONE Campaign. Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake has been added to the lineup of the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia.


It's In The Mail

I've sat here with three poems (for a contest) ready to go in the mail for better than three weeks now and this afternoon, one day before the deadline - the puppies actually made it in the mail. One of the poems I intermittently reworked - but settled upon the draft that I had once before concluded was a wrap. Oh well... what is done is done.

A child in Africa dies every 30 seconds...

The African continent will be the focus of a great deal of attention during the G8 summit. We've all heard Africa referred to over the years as an emerging continent. Yet all that we have really seen is a continent with unresolved issues and people with dimming hope.

The leaders of the G8 countries have an opportunity to take a bold position that can go a long way towards eradicating poverty in African countries but they will not likely take bold steps without knowing the world is watching and expecting more than token efforts.

Africa needs more than money. For one thing, it needs debt forgiveness. Many nations are unable to move forward because they continue to struggle under the burden of simply repaying interest on money given them years ago from the world bank. Between 1970 and 2002 Africa received $540 billion in loans. Over that same period, African countries paid back $550 or $10 billion more than the original loans--today they still owe another $293 billion. Most African nations spend more repaying these debts then they spend on education and health care. Read more about the issues here

Food and water are in short supply. Much of Africa is in extreme poverty. People living on less than $1 a day.

Every day:
  • HIV/AIDS kills 6,300 people
  • 8,500 people are infected with the HIV virus
  • 1,400 newborn babies are infected during childbirth or by their mothers' milk.


Corruption in government is always harmful to those under its rule, but those in poverty suffer the most in such situations and are perhaps the least able to do anything about it directly. The issue of government accountability is critical to Africa.

All of these factors are critical to ending extreme poverty in Africa. They are what The One Campaign is about.

The One Campaign isn't asking you for money... it is asking you to stand up and say to our leaders that the time to act ins NOW. The G8 summit offers the perfect opportunity to address Africa's POVERTY and we are watching. We support action and We are watching. We are asking you to become part of the solution and We are watching.



Sign the ONE Declaration and encourage others to do so too! [sign here]

Wear the white band and learn more about world poverty [here]


Raise your voices... Encourage Congress and the president to make overcoming hunger, poverty and decease a priority. Urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Millennium Development Goals Resolution (H. Con. Res 172) for a sample letter click here .


Engage others in discussing these issues. Ideas and resources of sharing ONE with others here

I challenge everyone, but especially poets and writers to get involved. Sign the declaration & encourage others via your blogs your conversations, etc. Link the resources I have provided her or link this post if you wish. I have this belief that poets and writers tend to be more in tune with our world as a whole and those about us. I hope that is not a misconception on my part.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Crack me up...

Shamefully, I admit I have not been over to 32 poems blog for a while. See what happens when you neglect to read a truly worthwhile blog for a few days.... you risk missing good stuff.

Good stuff in this case is Deborah Ager's link to Charles Jensen's Definitive List of Problems with American Poetry. Well, be warned. This is "to-bust-a-gut" material.

Gee, where would I start with the best of this piece. I do like the decoder rings... but you gotta love the Poetry created outside of academia fitting into one of two new genres of writing: greeting cards or word noise.

Follow the link and read the whole thing for yourself. (Did I just encourage people to leave my site?) OK, go read it, but come right back.

Live 8 Full Coverage on Yahoo! News

Live 8 Full Coverage on Yahoo! News

Moscow has been added to the LIVE8 concert list which kicks off Saturday the efforts to build support to put pressure on world leaders meeting the following week to do more to alleviate extreme poverty.

News of U2: Live 8: U2 and Paul McCartney (Sgt. Pepper's)

Paul McCartney and U2 will be preforming the Beatles Song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on Sarurday to open the live8 Concert in London - according to the u2fanlife blog

Last night's reading

Writers Place Open MIC last night was a light turnout - 10 people but it was a warmly supportive group as there were a couple of new readers and I thought although it was perhaps a little less formal ( around tables rather than theater style) it was an enjoyable atmosphere.

I read three poems of mine...

  • Beautiful Music
  • Freedom Summer Redux
  • Doing Circles

Speaking of readings.... I see Christine Hamm is doing one at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. Yes, this is me all impressed.

Beyond poetry, (but maybe not) I have been enjoying a good deal of 60's music on my new satellite radio. It has really hit me how much I miss the music of the 60's and 70's for that matter. I am sure this says a lot about me besides age.

The 60's were such a turbulent age and it is quizzical how it seemed to amalgamate both social conscience and at the same time lead so many to sort of drop out of institutional society for a while. There are many differences between the 60's and the past five years, I do feel some of the same undercurrents developing around me. Just an observation.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Pentagon Is Hoping No Child Is Left Behind

It should come as no surprise that the military is finding it more difficult to recruit young people these days. I think it was just Friday that I blogged on the poll showing declining numbers of parents who would encourage their sons and daughters to enlist.

Part of that "wonderful BUSH law called the NO CHILD LET BEHIND ACT requires schools to provide information on students be given to the military. This information includes names, phone numbers, address, gender, ethnicity, Social Security numbers, academic achievement data and age for students as young as 16 along with e-mail addresses and other personal information. Hey, and you thought No Child Left Behind was an education Act not a military recruiters Act.

But wait, this gets better.... the Pentagon has hired a private marketing firm to keep files on millions of young people. WOW this deserves the Earnie Grahan Award for innovation in trashing privacy rights.

The Pentagon contract for this data is with BeNow - 500 Edgewater Drive Suite 525 Wakefield, MA 01880 781-246-0040.

It seems that there is an "opt-out" option - which few are told of. School districts have reportedly discussed providing such information to parents on cards - but have been pressure from federal education authorities who warned they'd pull funding from their districts. Which again begs to ask the question what exactly are we trying to prevent the "Child" from missing out on?

Two things are running through my head here...

1. Sixteen year olds do not need to be hounded by military recruiters.
2. Private vendors do NOT need involuntary access to social security numbers of anyone, much less minors.


Washington Post

Santa Cruz Sentinel


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Live 8

I have chosen to focus on LIVE 8 in my blog- so you'll be hearing about if somewhat routinely for a while. Live 8 get its name from the members of the G-8 summit members the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

From July 6th - 9th Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair hosting the meeting of leaders from these 8 nations. Last year a commission began exploring the problems Africa faces in today's world. The summit will have an opportunity to focus on the African continent's past and present and the international community's role in its development path. The issues facing this continent are not surprising... unpayable debts, uncontrolled spread of AIDS, and unfair trade rules which keep Africans poor. Still, the major obstacles to the people of Africa developing any real hope for the future is one in which the solution lies in part with the countries that comprise the G-8 summit membership.

On July 13, 1985 - the world took notice when rock stars from around the world held unique dual concerts in London and Philadelphia, which saw millions of people watching as Live Aid, called on people to take action to help the sufferers of the famine hitting Africa. Live Aid raised over $100 million. Still, 20 years later poverty, famine and disease remains major problems in Africa. The public has shown this is important is to them, but now it is time to get our governments involved. LIVE 8 is not a fund raiser... it is about justice not charity. It is about asking our governments to take a responsible look at our policies to African countries.

I hope you'll check this message [here] from Bob Geldof about Live 8. Find out what it is all about. Join in support of creating HOPE for the people of Africa.

I'll be blogging some on this daily throughout the duration of the summit along with the rest of my blog routine. I hope other poets, writers and artists will do likewise. Sometimes I believe the creative minds of the world are also those people with the great sensitivity to those cultural and political issues that divide us. I think it would be great to see others in the poetry community to be on the front lines supporting the effort along with the many musicians who have made the commitment.

Tough Issues Exposed In Poetry & Prose

I read A Houston Chronicle article with some excellent examples of poets and writers tackling tough issues in their work. It has for example people like Naomi Shihab Nye featured.

Ney is a highly talented poet who I have met and had the pleasure to experience her great passion for the troubled lives of so many on both sides of the Middle East spectrum. It is good to see such work getting exposure from mainstream media outlets. Such attention in literature can only broaden our opportunities for better understanding.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I'll take a shot of 80 proof poetry. Make that two!

I thought I'd take a moment to capsule some divergent thoughts about this week that seem to be flying about lose like stray arrows aimed at no one in particular or at least the hunter has had a few to many shots of 80 proof poetry.

Entering the week, there was lots in the international press and increasing references on the domestic front about the Downing Street Memo. The basic premise of course is that President Bush had his sights set on Iraq long ago and that the Administration manipulated intelligence information to build a case for attacking Iraq. None of this surprises me based on things we have historically already pieced together. What is significant is that it seems to point to the fact that British officials were aware of this as well ( as it was happening) and still Tony Blair became joined at the hip (or perhaps the brain) with Bush on this. It of course causes me to wonder why Blair fell into line so easily. Did Bush have pictures of Blair and sheep in compromising positions?

So here is a big surprise - Poll: Majority Says War in Iraq a Mistake 53 percent of Americans now say the war in Iraq was a mistake. 56 percent disapprove of how Bush has conducted the war. HOWEVER - good news for the President. If you are a suburban - male - Republican, there is a chance you may actually support the war. Well, that is the strongest base of support for it.

Now get this... Iraq-Like Regime not appropriate for Syria so says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Wow... yeah, cause like where would we find the troops?

Speaking of troops... Poll Finds Most Oppose Return to Draft. A majority of Americans are opposed to reinstatement of the draft. Now, I don't think there was any ground swell of support growing for it anyway, but I'll bet a lot of people find the concept less palatable given how Bush has taken the United States into Iraq. Despite the recruiting problems, nearly 70% of Americans say they oppose reinstatement and almost half of those polled were strongly opposed. Notably, the poll also finds that a majority wouldn't encourage their own children to enlist - highlighting the problems faced by the military as recruiting is in a slump.

Rumsfeld claims US not losing Iraq war. American troops killed since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 rose to 1,731 with six new casualties today. Other casualties of Iraq.

My contribution to water cooler talk this morning was "only in America..." in reference to this headline: Justices Rule Cities Can Take Property for Private Development. Of course I quickly recanted that statement. There are plenty of totalitarian governments that will do this.

And after a group of neo-conservative Republicans try to do a hatchet job on funding for public radio and television broadcasting - the House beat back the cuts with a 284-140 vote to restore $100 million in funds.

Thursday, former Republican National Committee co-chair, Patricia Harrison, is named president and chief executive of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.... gee, it gets pretty clear where all this was coming from. By the way- there was still a loss of some funding the budget even with $100 million restored.

And don't you just love it. We have a economic issues - a war - a national deficit out the wazoo and some in Congress want to spend time on votes to ban flag burning. A vote that is nothing more than GOP members trying to get record votes on something so that can point fingers at others later and question their patriotism.

What a week... I need a shot or two of 80 proof poetry.

Holy Batcave... The weekend is almost here!

Went to see Batman Begins last night. I did not see the previous Batman movies and only did a smattering of the comics as a kid. The storyline is great, I don't know if the basis for it existed in the comics or not. My wife enjoyed it as well. We both agreed this is on to see at the theater and not wait to bring home and see. I think it needs the large screen experience to really make it work right. Lot of dark screens that just would not work well on a smaller TV screen.

So glad it is Friday... This has not been a good week for writing. Not that I haven't tried. Just the results have been disappointing. Monday, June 27th - 8pm is Open Mic at Writers Place. Need to decide what to read.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Smooth with a bit of an after-kick

Last night I experienced Starbucks new Coffee Liqueur. It was a real thumbs up experience. Surprisingly so because it's base coffee is the House Blend. Of all the Starbucks Coffee blends, it is perhaps one of my least favorite. Alas, they've found a way to improve it!

I had a shot of it over steamed milk with a shot of espresso. It is rich and smooth. Frankly I think I'd enjoy it over rocks. Well, we'll know about that tonight after I get home from work. I'm thinking a shot of it and Irish Cream - over rocks would be good too!

It is funny, because while I like coffee, there are not a lot of coffee flavored products that I do like. Coffee flavored candy is like gag-city. Some of the Starbucks Ice Cream flavors I like - but some I'm not fond of. In general, I do NOT buy coffee flavored desserts. I think this is a throw back to the fact that for years I could not stand coffee and sweets together. The marriage of cream and coffee was a Starbucks thing for me. I normally would only drink black coffee. I think the successful union of the two works only because most of Starbucks coffees that I like are city-roast (dark roast) and have a deep flavor that bleeds through dairy products to keep the rich flavor of the coffee alive.

Starbucks Coffee Liqueur

Express News to step up vigilance after poetry plagiarism

When Sandra Monica Rincon sent a poem to a newspaper who publishes poetry, it is perhaps not surprising that they felt it good enough to publish. After all, the poem was principally the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Marianne Moore. After realizing this, (subsequent to publication by the paper) Rincon was reached was by phone for comment, only she hung up.

In the biography submitted to the newspaper, Rincon described herself as a poet and actress. Well, I guess she thought she could play Marianne Moore.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lowell, inside out - The Boston Globe - - Books - A&E

My reading list just took on another massive expansion. This time in one book - 852 pages long.

The Letters of Robert Lowell I suspect is worthy of a read. The William H. Pritchard review in The Boston Globe certainly wet my thirst for such. Though I'm not likely to shell out the $40 retail price, I will be hoping it comes to a library near me soon.


I took my eyes off
The monotony
Of asphalt ribbon.
For a moment,
Easter-green frosting
Amply spread about
The roadside landscape
Satisfied a hunger
In my belly
For something
Besides the mundane.

Monday, June 20, 2005


A few thoughts on Father's day in the aftermath...

First I was fortunate enough to spent the day with my wife and three of my four children. We went to the ballgame- which was sunny and quite hot. The experience was overall an enjoyable one but the game was really secondary to the family time. I know they would have preferred being in the a/c but it was nice being with them. My oldest daughter is in the God-forsaken state of Arizona, but with the modern marvel of telecommunications (minus the multiple times her phone dropped the call) we talked last night. I think that only made me miss her more though.

I was surprised by the gift 0f a satellite-radio which will allow me to get the San Francisco Giants ball games... among other things. The real gift however, was my family.

I thought I'd take a moment to post a few quotes about fathers I have rounded up from various people. They present an interesting perspective.

"A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma." ~ Marlene Dietrich

"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." ~Mark Twain, in "Bringing Up Father," Reader's Digest, September 1937

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right." ~ Bill Cosby

"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." ~ Sigmund Freud

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." ~ Anne Sexton

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys." ~ Harmon Killebrew

"A father carries pictures where his money used to be." ~ Author Unknown

"Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later... that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life. " ~Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

and last but not least....

"Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again." ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968

Courier News Online - Poetry fest won't be coming back to Duke Farms

It's big- and has been successful. However,The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's biannual poetry festival will not be back at Duke Farms next year. Duke Farms could not guarantee permanent facility improvements would be made in time for the next event in fall 2006 and so the largest poetry festival in North America will return to the pre-2004 site in Waterloo Village in Sussex Count, New Jersey.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Poets & Writers came this week. On of the more exciting postal service deliveries I receive. Niece piece on W.S. Merwin written by Christopher Merrill. Merwin explains that a poem results from a sudden awakening of attention and goes on to say, "It probably took your whole life to arrive at that moment when you here it." Ah, I suppose that is what makes it so pleasurable.

Without a doubt I can attest to such awakenings. I've had a number of then, so I can certainly identify with the overall feeling. I would not categorize them as rare, but infrequent. I'd like to say I have them daily... weekly even. While they may well occur perhaps two in a week, there can be lots of open green space between them. Sometimes weeks pass without one at all.

I don't think that one even has to have a great poem for such awakening to occur. But the foundation for a great poem has to be there. I have one for example that I had such a feeling about some time back. I was preparing it to submit recently and decided that it that to change. I have tinkered with it for days now, but I still believe in the concept that was a part of that initial awakening. I just know that something, some tiny portion of it can be fine tuned for betterment of the overall work.

I have another poem that is new and I believe attests to that awakening feeling. It is a short three stanza piece but nearly twenty-four hours later I am looking at one line of the poem and listening to others and- well, I am stalled. I have sent it out to a number of other writers that I often workshop material with and I am awaiting their comments. The best thing that can come out of such action is that I will get a better feel for how the original text is working or not working. Of course the hazard of seeking the advise and council of twenty people is getting twenty different answers.

You can't believe how grateful I am that it is Friday. Being the end if the work week is almost like a salvation of sorts. Like a cell phone or something I really need to be recharged and I am hoping this weekend can be that.

My quote for the day is on Critics....

A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

BWT - Stickpoet passed 14,000 hits! Yeah! Thanks to all the peeps!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

House Votes To Restore Reader Privacy

Yesterday, in spite of a threat from President Bush for veto, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to prohibit funds in an appropriations bill from being used to implement provisions of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act which permits searches of library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, or book customer lists under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The vote was 238 [199 Democrats and 38 Republicans] to 187 voted to [1 Democrat and 186 Republicans] Of course this would require Senate action too... and still would face prospects of veto, so the sight is not over.

You can find out more about the implications of this portion of the Patriots act here at the Campaign for Reader Privacy or sign an online petition here.

Want to know how your Representatives voted? This link will give you an opportunity to see the votes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Beginning Poets Workshop in Kansas City

I am posting this from an e-mail I received from Jose Cecil - Director of The Writers Place.

The Writers Place will host a 4-part workshop for beginning poets that will be facilitated by SHIRLEY RICKETT. The group will discuss what they read, favorite poet(s), look at sources of inspiration, and complete writing exercises. The workshop will take a close look at first lines and consider the audience for the poem and the poet. Participants will write poems during the workshop and have their own poetry reading. Shirley is a retired teacher and one of Kansas City's gifted poets.


Session 1 -- Friday, June 10, 6pm to 7:30pm
Session 2 -- Saturday, June 11, 10am to Noon
Session 3 -- Saturday, June 18, 10am to Noon
Session 4 -- Saturday, June 25, 10am to Noon


$40 for members and $50 for non-members.

Public Broadcasting Targeted By House

Public Broadcasting Targeted By House

Read This - Full House action anticipated as early as tomorrow.

Sign an electronic petition from Move On dot Org
Can you help us reach 400,000 signers by the end of the day?

Sign petition here

Once you've signed the petition, please pass it along to friends, family and neighbors who count on NPR and PBS.

Even In The Dark... Hope ~ Peace

THERE ARE PROBABILITIES and likelihoods, but there are no guarantees. Rebecca Solnit writes in her commentary: Acts of Hope: Challenging Empire on the World Stage [click here] a sobering representation of the new challenges of activism. [It], says Solnit,"is not a journey to the corner store; it is a plunge into the dark." She points out it is more like weather, not like a game of checkers that at some point will end. The weather goes on... you don't declare a winner and a loser, fold up the board and put it on a shelf.

For Solnit it is easy to see how a lot of the antiwar movement has done that in the wake of our second Iraq war. All the energy that was successfully generated in opposition, yet there was still war. It is only natural to look at it as a contest that ended with a winner and a loser. But that view ignores the larger or global picture. It is like weather... tomorrow the issue is still there... maybe not even in Iraq. Maybe someplace else.

Still, Solnit has looked for and found a silver lining in many of the events of the past couple of years. I found this particular assessment interesting food for thought:

We achieved a global movement without leaders. There were many brilliant
spokespeople, theorists and organizers, but when your fate rests on your leader,
you are only as strong, as incorruptible, and as creative as he -- or,
occasionally, she -- is. What could be more democratic than millions of people
who, via the grapevine, the Internet, and various groups from churches to unions
to direct-action affinity groups, can organize themselves? Of course leaderless
actions and movements have been organized for the past couple of decades, but
never on such a grand scale. The African writer Laurens Van Der Post once said
that no great new leaders were emerging because it was time for us to cease to
be followers. Perhaps we have.

If groping around in the dark is scary for some, Rebecca Solnit thinks it is a bonus for the cause of peace activism. I can see her point. After all, the Bush administration has already pushed the envelope in many areas, including a first-strike military action and questionable mis-statement of intelligence information. Knowing the level to which this administration is willing to operate, and the precedence it has established, give rise to more uncertainty and that should strengthen the resolve of millions to demand more accountability.

In a bit of self-serving pat on the back, I like that she acknowledged the contribution poets have made to the cause:

"American poets became an antiwar movement themselves when Sam Hamill declined an invitation to Laura Bush's "Poetry and the American Voice" symposium shortly after her husband's administration announced their "Shock and Awe" plan, and he circulated his letter of outrage. His e-mail box filled up, he started, to which about 11,000 poets have submitted poems to date. Hamill became a major spokesperson against the war and his website has become an organizing tool for the peace movement."

Even in these dark times... here's to reason, hope and peace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


The wheel covers come off
Residuals taint the hands
Darkening the pep of fleshtone
A stain not easily overlooked
Limiting what can be touched
Excluding the most important

Monday, June 13, 2005

White House Chain of Command Once Again Fuzzy

I CANNOT RESIST making this observation in today's post....

Evidently when President George W. Bush spoke on Wednesday with Neil Cavuto on Fox News Channel, about the fate of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, he failed to check with his boss first.

In the Wednesday interview with Cavuto, Bush left open the possibility that the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Closed down. The question was asked amid growing criticism of the way in which the facility has been used and the treatment prisoners have receive. Former President Jimmy Carter, being among many calling for closure of the facility.

Vice President Dick Cheney, however, says no... Gitmo prison isn't closing - ''The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people,'' he said in an interview for Fox News channels "Hannuity & Columns." adding, '"I mean, these are terrorists for the most part. These are people that were captured in the battlefield of Afghanistan or rounded up as part of the al-Qaida network."

MEANWHILE... Richard Everhart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet died at his Hanover, NH home on Thursday. The 101 year old poet was admired for mentoring generations of aspiring writers. He was responsible for a dozen books of poetry and verse during a sixty-plus year career. He will be remembered for referring to poetry as, "...A natural energy resource of our country," in his 1977 acceptance speech for a National Book Award. "It has no energy crisis, possessing a potential that will last as long as the country. Its power is equal to that of any country in the world."

CHANGING OF THE GUARD occurred this weekend at the Northland / Maple Woods Writing Group where Scot Icom stepped down after moderating the group for the past two years and Chris Madonna accepted the torch - careful Chris, don't get burnt! :) Big thanks to Scot, and best wishes to Chris.

MY DAUGHTER MEGHAN, rode in a bike event this Saturday morning - going extra distance( missing the poorly marked turn-point) and still finished second overall and was the first female to complete. This is I believe only her second sanctioned event. I wish I could post a copy of her crossing the the finish, however I was not present, having taken the car to the dealership for service. When she came home she proclaimed herself the "beast" with arms triumphantly in the air... I was quite proud of her and wished I had seen her cross the finish line. I'm sure it had to be poetry in motion....

Friday, June 10, 2005

Finding Things

In what I suppose could best be described as a rare find, an aria composed by Johann Sebastain Bach was recently discovered in the back of a poetry book when a researcher at Weimar's Anna Amalia Library in Germany conducted an inventory of material salvaged from a blaze, which gutted the library last year.

The handwritten piece is said to have been written to accompany one of the poems in a book given to the Duke of Weimer by Bach in 1713. The book was thought to be simply poetry written by a local poet. Evidently, the Library all along has had this intriguing piece and was unaware of it. Strange how things work sometimes. They almost lost something they didn't know they had.

So this got me to thinking about the interesting things I sometimes tuck into book.
At random, I have pulled out four books and found the following:

1. A sheet of self adhesive commemorative Ogden Nash stamps. Ok, there are only 5 stamps left - the others have been used.

2. An officemax receipt from 2-13-95 with notes scribbled on the back relating to diabetic food exchange points.

3. A "real bookmark" - as opposed to one of those other items we insert to keep place in a book.
This on is a Shakespeare - from a Literary Luminaries series.

4. A business card sized cardstock that says "I carry a pager" and has a place for a number. ( What the "F" is a pager? Is that something like an 8-track?)

Well, none of those rises to the level of the Anna Amalia Library find. I suppose 292 years from now, five 37 cent postage stamps may be worth more. Likely at least a good laugh that we could even sent mail across the country for 37 cents... or maybe people will just bust a gut laughing at the thought of snail main period.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

thought on poetry

Painting is silent poetry. ~Plutarch, Moralia: How to Study Poetry

Strangest Place

The strangest place at which I've read poetry was on a bus. I mean, aloud. As in a poetry reading. It was a little bit guerilla, actually. Saw this on Ivy's blog and reminded me that poetess Gloria Vando related to me that she had done this during a poetry month event, I believe in LA. Seemed wild at the time. I enjoy doing readings... I think the idea of doing it on a bus to unsuspecting commuters would however un-nerve me.

Anyone have a stranger place they have read?


Gloria Vando | Making Mehlman more comfortable Making Mehlman more comfortable: "Sunday's 'Meet the Press,' featuring RNC chair Ken Mehlman, was another classic example of why host Tim Russert is fast becoming journalism's answer to the E-ZPass, that electronic tag that allows drivers to go through toll booths without having to stop. On the show today, Mehlman was allowed to distort, twist, manipulate, obfuscate and 'disassemble' his way through every stop on the disinformation highway"

BUT that said, the Downing Street memo may finally be finding a home within the American dialogue about per-Iraq War intentions by the Bush Administration.

The story made USA Today - and Tuesday's Washington Post - though not for the first time.

The MEMO information can be seen here as it appeared in the Sunday Times online - May 1, 2005.

While the story is BIG new in London... and has been since it was disclosed, it may now be finding its way into the mainstream media here in the US and hunkering down till it is addressed by the Bush administration. No, I mean really addressed. Not dismissed.

The information really should be no surprise because there has been so much evidence to support the contention for some time. It however may actually represent the smoking gun so to speak that forces the Bush administration out of a pack of lies that it has circled around itself.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair has his hands full defending Cherie's profits from her lucrative speaking engagement while visiting the US.

Blair may have survived the most recent election in Britain, but his political baggage seems only to be getting heavier. Bush of course is a lame duck, but by many accounts his political "capital" as he likes to call it may be well overspent and his political health condition far worse than lame.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005 China Rejects U.S. Appeal on Tiananmen China Rejects U.S. Appeal on Tiananmen: "China rejected a U.S. appeal to account for prisoners "

More on official Chinese response to requests to account for prisoners still detained after the violent 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

4465 PReSS Releases Fiery New African-American Poetry Primer

Springfield, MO (PRWEB) June 7, 2005 -- 4465 PReSS, a new, online publisher of multicultural fiction and non-fiction book titles, has just released Let a New Woman Rise; a poetry primer by the acclaimed poetess, Barbara Haskins.

Haskins, credited for bringing the Kwanzaa holiday celebration to Queens, New York over 25 years ago, has been heralded by legions of cult fans as the 'Nikki Giovanni' of the New Millennium.

The significance of Haskins' presence at the recent American Booksellers' convention in New York City was evidenced by the overwhelming demand for signed copies of her current book by distributors and competing authors, alike.

Let A New Woman Rise is featured in the concurrent edition of the New York Amsterdam News. Writer L. Nzinga Strickland has devoted upwards of an entire page of the prestigious African-American newspaper to discuss and revere this unique body of literary work; as well as expound upon the newsworthy achievements of Ms. Haskins.

In addition to being a poetess, Barbara Haskins (also known as Barbara Scott) is a public speaker and educator. Her commitment to preserve African-American self esteem is apparent through her countless array of cumulative, civic and political citations.

citation: the above is entirely from the prweb press release

Monday, June 06, 2005

Gendering Poetry

This weekend I read a review of Gendering Poetry: Contemporary Women and Men Poets, Vicki Bertram, Pandora Press - 2004 p. 256. The review, written by Renuka Rajaratnam, quotes the poet Elizabeth Bishop, "art is art and to separate it into two sexes is to emphasize values in them that are not art." The reviewer, in pointing to Bishop's quote seeks to establish this view as a traditional benchmark from which to start and suggests that Bertram with this book is challenging this assessment. Rajaratnam presents the potential for invention and interpretation as a point of Bertram's argument against such traditional view.

This seems fair enough to me as I fail to see how a person, writer or reader, can implicitly divorce themselves from life experiences, long held views and gender influences when it comes to poetry. You simply are going to bring these things with you to some degree and impact poetry with it both on the creation side and the consumer side, even if it is unintentional.

The review presents Vicki Bertram's work as a responsible look at gender studies and an attempt to put the issue on the map of mainstream criticisms. Of course, I would like to read this work first hand in order to adequately form my own assessment of her contribution to such.

In the grand scheme of things, I believe this is an element of poetics worthy of debate. What happens beyond that discourse becomes a whole different animal. I am always fearful that the outcome of such dialogue can lead to categorizations within poetry that can detract from the art itself. That may well have been what Elizabeth Bishop had in mind.

Still, there seems to be some benefit to the acknowledgment - (if only a personal one for each of us) that we bring a part of ourselves to each poem that no one else carries with them. This is true of both the poem's author and reader.

literary review

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tiananmen Then & Now

Today marks the sixteen year anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in which pro-democracy students who assembled peacefully, were met by troops and tanks that opened fire on them in the square at Tiananmen.

While the past 16 years have seen many cultural changes in China, one thing remains unchanged. The present Chinese government is still entrenched in a belief that what happened on June 4, 1989 at Tiananmen was necessary and not only maintains an unapologetic stance, continues a paranoia about the flow if information that might open up any dissenting view.

The rest of the world has enough information about the actions in Tiananmen that history will not allow it to be defined in such narrow terms as the Chinese governments presently clings to. While the government remains hopelessly committed to a policy of information containment as a way to deal with this sad piece of Chinese history, the truth and an internet age make shielding from such information from society almost an impossible task. Still, the fear that dictated such actions 16 years ago continues to fuel government actions. The most recent evidence of this is the detention of a journalist named Ching Cheong.

On April 22 of this year, Ching Cheong, a Chinese nationalist, left his residence in Hong Kong to travel across the boarder to the mainland to meet with a man named Zong Fengmin only 45 minutes way. He hoped to return with an unpublished manuscript titled "Conversations with Zhao Ziyang Under House Arrest" The work was that of Zong Fengmin, a retired Chinese official.

While the contents of the this conversation with Zhao (who died this January) are unknown, a central point of a recently published memoir of Zhao by Zong stresses that the demands by the students for greater openness and democracy was also shared by a great many mid-level and higher ranking party members in Beijing as well.

Ching Cheong however, has not returned from his 45 minute journey, but is being held on the mainland and this week was charged with espionage. There has been no evidence offered by officials to substantiate these charges. He has not been allowed contact with family, visitors, legal council or the Straits Times of Singapore, for whom he writes. This has prompted nearly every newspaper and press freedom group in Asia to call for his release.


Reporters without boarders

NY Times - Thousands at Hong Kong Vigil for Tiananmen Anniversary

Singapore journalists petition Chinese embassy on detained correspondent

Much earlier this year I wrote a poem about the death of Zhao in the persona of Tiananmen Mother. An audio of the poem remains on the sidebar. I am posting the complete text here below on the anniversary of the massacre. I believe given the existing situation in China,the threat that exists at the hands of governments around the world to suppress the flow of information, literature, and ideas - including the United States, who currently is challenging some of our most basic civil liberties in the name of Homeland Security - by way of intrusive componnets of the Patriots Act... it is a good time to remember that the price people sometimes pay for those liberties is easily taken for granted.
Tiananmen Mother
for Zhao Ziyang

The Beijing breeze whispers
mournful strophes.
Tears like the mountain rains
follow slopes

to tributaries until they become one
with the rippling waters of the Yangtze.

I am a Tiananmen mother.
My eyes have swelled
with this sadness before.
The wetness follows a path
well rehearsed.

My nights are immense.
I am but a lone bare branch
in a cold, dark world.

They replicate
that June night
etched in my soul
over and over.

My son stood
in the Square
armed only
with a vision
and they came-
The People's Army.

My son stood
in Tiananmen Square,
amid a sea of other
sons an daughters
and they came-

armored tanks
clanking along the streets into Tiananmen
driven by fear, ordered by paranoia.

Our sons and daughters
toppled to the earth
at their hands.
Crimson crawling into every crevice
Of these ancient Chinese streets
A stain still upon us today.

I cannot count the nights
I've wept for my son since.
Today, I weep for another.

There is no official news
but the Beijing breeze whispers again.
This time for the death of the old man.
There are guards of fear
stationed outside my door.
The lump in my throat is big,
I cannot begin to swallow,
that is how I know the truth.

Guilt always gnawing at my heart.
I could not help my son that June night.
Again as I am helpless.

I want to pay my respects
to the old man who stood up
for my son and others
massacred in Tiananmen,
but the thugs watch
my every move.

I am a Tiananmen mother.
It is my duty to weep
for the lost ones.
© 2005 Michael A. Wells

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thursday, June 02, 2005 Found by Harper's Index

Harper's Index has found

The June 2005 Issue features such facts as this:

"Number of books registered at, so the books can be left in public places and found by others: 1,935,00"

WhichMajor Romantic Poet Would You Be?

John Keats
You're John Keats! You were born poor, trained to
be a doctor, and then decided you wanted to be
a poet. You threw yourself into poetry with
great dedication. You're very nice and
extremely dedicated to your art. You write
great letters and sexy poetry. It's amazing
how much you got done in your short lifetime.

Which Major Romantic Poet Would You Be (if You Were a Major Romantic Poet)?
brought to you by Quizilla

Graceful Insanity | A History of McClean-

sadi ranson-polizzotti wrote a review of this book about the people treated there over the years... some pretty interesting names. Of course I was aware of both Plath and Sexton. In the back of my mind I was thinking that this too was where Lowell had been treated a time or two. This review confirms that fact.

The surprise to me was James Taylor. I recall the story of his song "Fire and Rain" being written about a young woman he fell in love with at a Psych facility.... I never knew if the story was true or folk lore, but it seemed plausible. Learning that McLean was indeed the site of a hospital stay for him certainly makes the story that much more interesting.

I suppose I will need to add Gracefully Insane by Alex Beam to my growing read list.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sit on your toadstool, say grace, eat your blueberry muffin, and just say "no" to poetry.

As the Minnesota State Legislature ended its regular session, it passed a bill to create a position of state poet laureate. The House voted in favor of the measure 126 to 6 and the Senate did likewise by a 52 to 8 to vote.

Minnesota has a state muffin - the blueberry muffin. It has a state photograph, titled "Grace" and, Oh my God!!! a state mushroom! Yep, it has an official toadstool!

Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, however, said no to the poet laureate idea. If signed into law, the bill would have allowed him to appoint a poet laureate after receiving recommendations from the nonprofit Minnesota Humanities Commission. Many thought the timing was perfect to start such a endeavor, as the state will be celebrating it's sesquicentennial in 2008 and a laureate would have been called on to provide verse for ceremonies and celebrations thoughout the state. Additionally, no state funds would have gone with the job.

Pawlenty suggested that the measure could lead to "requests for a state mime, interpretive dancer or potter." In this case a mime for a Governor wouldn't be such a bad idea.

According to the Library of Congress, some 34 states have such a position. Several are presently vacant however.

Unrelated - but worth thinking about:

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce