Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Words

I was thinking for words or phrases that seemed to define the year we are ending. I thought I'd compile a list of say 25 with the idea in mind of say in a week or two coming back to the list and using it as the basis of creating a poem to represent the positive and negative energies that made up 2006. However, I thought that I truly want the selections to represent universality So I though for the next week, in addition to my own list, I wold tally up those anyone else cared to suggest and then settle on the 25 most mentioned. So, this is audience participation time. Between now and the 7th of January, give me your list in the comments. Please, no proper names. Just words and short two or three word phrases. Here is mine for starters:

  1. global economy
  2. global warming
  3. emigrant
  4. illegal alien
  5. withdrawal
  6. stem cell research
  7. stay-the-course
  8. body count
  9. health care costs
  10. stock market
  11. bilateral talks
  12. nuclear tests
  13. nuclear proliferation
  14. liquid on the moon
  15. red states / blue states
  16. jihad
  17. religious extremists
  18. neocon
  19. spreading democracy
  20. truthiness
  21. need a plan
  22. terrorists
  23. crude oil
  24. redeploy
  25. civil union

Perhap.. ok definately my last Meme of 2006

Mini-meme I got From Ivy's blog.

  • Find the nearest book.
  • Turn to page 123.
  • Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
  • Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
  • Name the book and the author,
  • and tag three more folks.

"This was Lyonnesse. /Inaccessible clouds, submarine trees / The labyrinth / Of brambly burrow lanes. Bundled women- / Stump-warts, you called them- / Sniffling at your strangeness in wet shops. /

Book: Birthday Letters - Author: Ted Hughes

hum... [drumming fingers and thinking] I guess I will tag:

  1. Christine - because she has so much extra time on her hands ;)
  2. James - because I haven't picked on him lately
  3. Robert - Because he takes it so well when I pick on him

Friday, December 29, 2006

Looking at a new copy of Poets & Writers (Jan/Feb 2007) I noted that it is their 20th Anniversary Issue. They have a really neat time capsule that runs through the magazine for each year since inception with A picture of a cover for the perspective year, the current Poet Laureate, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Notable events, names of those in covers, News and trends, and a quote. I am a bug fan of this magazine, so I naturally found these annual composits to be entertaining to read.

I saw where congratulations are in order for Ivy Alvarez as she is already slated for inclusion in a 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets. And some of us haven't even started on 2007 yet. Actually, I think she get kudos for both being anthologized as well as still being able to be considered a young poet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Taxing my mind a bit

"You must always work not just within but below your means If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle only five. In that way the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery, and you create a feeling of strength in reserve." --Pablo Picasso

This came to me as such an engrossing point of view. It seems so contradictory to what advise people are usually given. And while it seems contrary to the norm, it also appears in some respects to be sound advise.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sorry No Wednesday Poet

There will be no Wednesday Poet today as I just returned home from hospital. I was bound up in cords yesterday and today for some cardiac tests which all proved to be negative- which is not to say they could not find evidence of a heart (I'm sure of great disappointment to those who think me heartless), just not any heart related problems.

I did get to read a few poems last night and this morning before my stress test.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Reminder Call For Submissions

Perhaps some of the holiday madness will settle down now. Dust off those poems you've been meaning to send out because ROGUE POETRY REVIEW is still accepting submissions for the next issue. Submission instructions are on the site.

Christmas day and all is quiet.

Enjoyed Christmas Eve with our immediate family. My wife and I, as well as all but our oldest daughter (who lives is out of the area [sigh] gathered at my son's house. Had a very enjoyable evening - dinner was great. Among Cath's many creative skills, bread making is an art form for her.

My library grew by two books last night. One a book from my want list - The Cambridge Companion to Sylvia Plath and the other was one I was not aware of but looks to be equally as enticing.... Sylvia Plath - The Wound and the Cure of Words by Steven Gould Axelrod. These look to be especially insightful. I've read so many POVs on Plath it is hard to imagine there are still things to glean from others but that man never end.

Right now everyone is away but me and the house is so quiet. Even the dogs are off to the park. It's just me and the cats. I'm sure these moments of tranquility are extra special to them.

I am so not ready to go back to work tomorrow.

Friday, December 22, 2006

May you find your own peace..

This morning I see the solar radiance beaming through the dinning room window and casting itself upon me clear into the Great room where I sit at a laptop. My thoughts turn to all those traveling with timetables that are imposable or at least improbable to meet due to the storm that came through Denver this week. What frustration they must feel and at a time of year that begs for peace and tranquility.

We start each new year on a path that we have no idea what it will take us through. We know there will be opportunities and we can be sure there will be obstacles. Often we will have to make our own opportunities out of the landscape around us.

I can look back on 2006 and there are ups and downs to be sure. This new year no doubt will offer more of the same. It is in these last few days of the year that I think all of us, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, or nothing at all, can benefit from the pause in the season to take a deep breath, reach for an inner peace, recharge ourselves for the continued journey on your path of life.

It seems especially challenging to imagine a world at peace if we cannot be at peace ourselves. To expect our nation, or city, our own communities to be at peace if we cannot have an atmosphere of peace within our own home.

I am reminded of the words of Albert Canus ~ "We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives...inside ourselves."

May you all find yourselves at peace this holiday season...

Found this link from Ivy / From now on, I shall be known as....

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Eminence the Very Lord Michael the Lackadaisical of Chipping Sodbury
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Fear and Ignorance

Not pretry related but I must get this off my chest...

Sometimes in a democracy we get lucky and select men and women with the intellect and humility to provide good and thoughtful leadership. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and I am reminded of this by the words of Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. - 5th Congressional Dist. of Virginia.

In a letter to his constituents, Congressman Goode said, "When I raise my hand to take the oath on swearing-in day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way." He adds, "The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran." He is of course referring to Congressman elect Keith Ellison. Ellison is the first Muslin elected to Congress.

Goode's letter to his constituents is interesting because it appears to serve only one purpose. To propagate contempt for those of other faiths and nationalities. Such contempt is not surprisingly based upon ignorance. Perhaps both fear and ignorance. They seem to walk hand-in-hand these days.

For starters, Congress is sworn in as a group and no book of religious significance is required. Many will later pose for photo-ops with a book in their hand. Yes a Bible has been used, as well as the Old Testament by some of Jewish faith and The book of Mormon by those of the Mormon faith. I seems rather silly to make such a deal over a prop for a photo-op because that is basically what it amounts to.

Of greater significance to Congressman Goode is the fact that Keith Ellison is Muslin. This is the force driving his fear and hate. He warns that if America is not awaken, more immigrants will come to America and more Muslims will be elected to Congress. The immigrants point here is misrepresented in that Keith Ellison was not an immigrant to the U.S. but a good old American citizen. Imagine that!

It was John F. Kennedy who said, "Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." By our tolerance to others, we honor America's commitment to those principals on which this nation was founded. How easy it has become, under the guise of a "War on Terror" to allow ourselves to waver from so many of our basic beliefs as a nation.

I would like to believe that Congressman Goode was simply trying to pander to his constituents. That of course would not excuse his actions, but it is so hard to accept that people will twist Christian principals of tolerance and our own Constitutional principals of equality and religious freedom to fit such a narrow and hateful view.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nothing to Embrace

Nothing to Embrace

A tin can that rattles of air
A limp sting with no kite
A battle with no one
The war is over
They’ve all gone home.

I’d wring my hands
Of this blank space in time
But how, and where
Would I hang my head?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday Poet Series No 9

Connie Wanek is the author of two books of poems:
  • Bonfire, (New Rivers Press in 1997)
  • Hartley Field, (Holy Cow! Press in 2002)

She was anthologized in Poets Against The War. Her work has also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Quarterly West, and a number of other venues.

She she was born in 1952 in Madison, Wisconsin and has received fellowships and support from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and The Jerome Foundation. She's been a finalist for both the Minnesota Book Award and the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award and won the 1998 Willow Poetry Prize.

In the early 1060's her family relocated from Wisconsin farming to Las Cruces, New Mexico. In 1990, she took residence in Duluth, Minnesota she lives with her husband and two children.

The first poem of Waneck's I read was Coloring Book . The paper is cheap, easily torn. / A coloring book's authority is derived / from its heavy black lines / as unalterable as the ten commandments / within which minor decisions are possible: / the dog black and white, / the kitten gray. I loved the authority of the black lines she ascribed to the page.

In Butter she denotes a commonality between butter and love. And I love the line: Will the rope never strike her ankle, / love's bite? from Jump Rope so much to decide... Whom will she marry? Whom will she love?

More of Wanek's Poetry: After Us Two Poems: Children Near The Water & Daisies


Monday, December 18, 2006

22 Lines

Busy weekend with family gathering on Saturday and Sunday I spent most of the day at my wife's office helping rearrange things. I did carve out a little bit of time to read some poetry over the weekend and did write a bit, even if it wasn't a great deal.

The sky was a beautiful filtered pink glow when I left for work this morning. Looks like it could turn out to be a nice day outside even though the morning started out a bit chilly.

Found a deliciously interesting article on Donald Hall I wanted to share. There were several things I found fascinating but among them was reference to a poem of Hall's that appeared in the Nov. 13th New Yorker under what now seems a somewhat ambiguous title, Maples. Mike Pride reports in this article that the poem condenses Hall's nearly entire 78 year lifespan into these 22 lines and at the same time providing an insight to the themes of his life's work in poetry: decline & loss, place, nature, mankind's addiction to wanton destruction. Read the piece here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Multi-form success

Was reading this on Margaret Atwood that I found on Jilly's blog and got quite a kick out of the following line... "I think I'm this way because I never went to creative writing school and nobody told me not to. Nobody said, 'You have to specialize,' or 'For heaven's sake, control yourself.' " She was talking about the fact that she has been published in so many forms...poetry, short stories, children's literature, thrillers, a romance, criticism, even science fiction. I've only read Atwood poetry, but I admire the versatility as a writer. Especially since I find her poetry to be very agreeable to my taste, I don't get the feeling that she is simply a half-assed writer in a variety of areas. Am I envious? Not especially. I am myself content to better myself in poetry, but I am none the less impressed with her success outside of the form.


Voices behind bars... Poetry in Prison. [story]

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Blog Project

I've started a new blog project to list the poets I am reading periodically and note observations about the work. You'll find the link on the side bar as well as here.
Yesterday, I caught this really interesting podcast on NPR that deals with the question of Creativity, Learned or Innate?
[photo: a shot I took of one of the Seven views of Grand Canyon - sculptures]

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ahh ~ Friday at last...

The week is coming to an end like a locomotive pulling into a small town station... the brakes stalling the wheels and the metal to metal glide amid all the steam and noise, the motion continues a bit longer but at a declining speed. Then the jolt and there you are. It has stopped.

I definitely feel the holiday upon us. Two Christmas parties yesterday. One for the office and one an evening at the Writer House. I read a couple of poems. I'll have Christmas shopping to do this weekend.
There is a mixture of a sort of manic world and this inner calling for peace and tranquility. They do not mix well together. I suppose that is would support James Hillman's assessment when he said, "Slowness is basic to the notion of melancholy from the very beginning. Mania is often described in psychiatry by the absence of sadness." When the world is in chaos it tends to overlook the sadness of war and famine and sickness, and so on. It is at these very moments that I believe mankind needs poetry the most. But no, we somehow find it easier to be numb to the horror and immune from humor as well. We are just to busy to let silly emotions get in the way of anything.
Bits from my journal this week:
  • A fog of silence settles in the gully sunken between us.
  • The reeds of hope / sprouting runners / travel across the anticipatory terrain
  • I am transparent, here but out of sight.
  • Nights of curview / days strung between roads / boardered by odds / not quite palatable / survival will apply to travelers / moving between strife // What are the options? / a sigh of indigestion /rather resignation of lost causes / St Anthony Pray for us. //


The President is not going to make "rash decisions" on Iraq. He has moved back the time for his anouncement to after the first of the year. Some military people are now calling for more troops. {sigh} The President has rejected major parts of the ISG. He talks about changing stratagy. I'm thinking that chage is going to look a lot more like "stay the course."

Question for Iraqi citizens. Are you better off now than you were four years ago?


Driving through Taco Bell - "Hold the green onions, hold the lettuce. Uh, come to think of it, just hold my order."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Latest Iraq War Deaths to date since U.S. Invasion in March 2003:
U.S.-LED COALITION FORCES = United States 2,941 / Britain 126 / Other nations 121
IRAQIS = Military Between 4,900 and 6,375 / Civilians Between 50,585 and 56,083

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Poet's memorial riddle solved

Five years of secrecy over the location of a memorial to the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes have come to an end.
BBC Spotlight's environment correspondent Simon Hall has spent two years searching for the site on Dartmoor in Devon. He was helped by a guide, and used clues in Ted Hughes' will and his work.
[full story]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Daily Intrusions

Daily Intrusions

Drowning the sounds
That ring true of philus
I catch the ugly clatter
Rudely interrupting

Who we are
And treating common
This rare beaded mosaic
We have become

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A lover's parting shot Frieda Hughes: Poetry

From London Times Online:

A scorned lover imagines her partner in the drama of an abstract geometric painting in one last anguished message.

Congratulations Kelli

Monday, December 11, 2006

Under Construction....

You will note for example my links have shrunk... hang loose peeps, I'm just doing some home remodeling. Things will look normal soon. Ok, hopefully normal / better.

Persian poetry for dummies?

Yep... A U.S.-based Iranian foundation, Translation Project, plans to translate 100 top Iranian literary works into world’s mostly spoken languages. Seriously, they are also are partners to create a Persian poetry for dummies-style book that traces Persian poetry from its classical roots to today’s work and breaks it down for all a variety of audiences... second-generation Iranians, students, and poetry enthusiasts.

Small Wonder "Truthiness" is the New Word for 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Merriam-Webster OnLine, the leading source for English language reference on the Web, has revealed the results of its first Word of the Year online survey. For the past few years, the site has tallied the millions of anonymous hits to its free online dictionary and thesaurus to come up with the most frequently looked up words of the year. This year, however, Merriam-Webster decided to ask its visitors to send in their own nominations for the one word they think best sums up the past eleven months. By an overwhelming 5-to-1 majority vote, the company's online community has chosen the word "truthiness" to take top honors as Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2006.

When Comedy Central's The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert first used the word "truthiness" in October of 2005 in a comedy skit, he defined the word as "truth that comes from the gut, not books." And in January of this year, the American Dialect Society chose the word as their own 16th annual Word of the Year, defining it as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true." So with it's 5-1 margin in the Merriam-Webster poll over a year after Colbert's original usage, it is clear the word has staying power. Yet, can it be any great surprise?

The past few years we have witnessed at our nation's highest levels the so many instances of something packaged, labeled and sold to the American people as truth in spite of contravening evidence. The war in Iraq being a prime example. Tensions in this country and far beyond our boarders for that matter, are strained by persons holding on to a truth they prefer as opposed to one based upon factual information.

The president of Iran is holding a two-day Holocaust conference in Tehran to discuss if the Holocaust in WWII actually existed. Along with so much of what we have witnessed over these past few years by our own president, it seems that there are plenty of examples of truthiness in the highest places. Can it be any wonder that these are times of extreme nationalist passions and great international strife? Truth has become not an objective, but a means to an end that is molded like play-dough to fit the occasion. We who buy into this are the play-dough that is manipulated.


Friday, December 08, 2006

A prisoner of the enemy - Times 2 - Times Online

A prisoner of the enemy - Times 2 - Times Online

Frieda Hughes has a weekly column on poetry in the London Times. Read the latest here

Just A Fun Draft

But Have You Considered?

Principal among the theatrics
Vivian postulated a retro design,
After all it was her kitchen--

She alone should have the say
For which I had no discomfort,
Only what I felt

Were innocuous questions
About how the laser cooker,
Robotic sweeper and hydrogenated

Gadgets were going to clash
With black and white checked décor
Accessorized with pink Flamingos.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


My apologies to readers who checked in yesterday expecting to see the Wednesday Poet Series. I simply was too busy this week to put it together. I am however working on some interviews that will be part of future WPS posts.

I added two new poetry books to my library last night -

  • The Painted Bed by Donald Hall
  • Forty-five by Frieda Hughes

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Republic of Poetry

What sort of place is "The Republic of Poetry"? As portrayed in the title poem of Martín Espada's dynamic eighth collection, it's a place where poets eat for free in restaurants, where "poets rent a helicopter/ to bombard the national palace/ with poems on bookmarks," and where "the guard at the airport/ will not allow you to leave the country/ until you declaim a poem for her/ and she says Ah! Beautiful." Review by Megan Harlan here

I met Martin Espada this past year at an event in Kansas City. Espada is an authority on Pablo Neruda as well as a widely published translator of Neruda's work. This looks to be another work inspired by Neruda's flair for language that has become such a strong influence on Espada. Should make for good reading.


The Chase

The Chase

Those meringue urges—
They lead you on like no other.
I’ve seen your eyes swell and shine
Moonbeams to light the night sky
As you rise in your helium trance
On the hope you have whipped up for yourself.


Monday, December 04, 2006

The award for originality in lies...

The woman told a writer that the manuscript had been aboard one of the planes hijacked in the September Eleventh attacks. That was just one of the excuses offered by a fifty-seven year old woman who bilked would-be authors with false promises to publish their books.

She'll have some time to read manuscripts now as she'll be doing five years in prison. She has also been ordered to pay 231 people more than $728,000 in restitution. [story here]


It now appears there will be two films rushing to bring the tempestuous relationship between Welch poet Dylan and his Irish wife Caitlin to the screen. Both promising to focus on the mythology of the poet and exposing his unorthodox love life and that of his wife Caitlin. [story]

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Thought from Albert Camus - Geezzz, He had so many good ones

"We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others." -- Albert Camus

Plath daughter puts her pain in poetry - Sunday Times - Times Online

Plath daaughter

Richard Brooks, Arts Editor

FRIEDA Hughes, the daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, has written a frank autobiographical book of poetry about the tragedies in her life. The terse and painful style of her work is remarkably like that of her mother.
Published last week in America before it appears in Britain in the spring, Forty-Five has 45 poems about each of the years of her life. The most poignant cover the suicide in 1963 of her mother, her discovery in her teens that her mother had taken her own life, and her father’s death from cancer in 1998. ughter puts her pain in poetry - Sunday Times - Times Online


Friday, December 01, 2006

Tagged with a Poetry Meme

Imagine that!

Thanks to Cindy I have been posed a series of questions. Hopefully the answers will not bore readers to death.

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was....hard for me to say with certainty but I am sure the first I recall was a nursery rhyme. Probably read by my mother or grandmother. I can recall a big thick nursery rhyme book that they would both read from. My grandmother had enormous influence on me in my early years.

I think I was most impressed by the images of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. I recall all these people being places and doing things, the King, the Queen, the Maid... counting money, eating bread and honey, hanging out clothes.... I liked how busy it seemed (perhaps a foreshadowing of ADD) but it would be a long time before I would view this a poetry.

Very likely the first poem to really speak to me as a poem was Frost's Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening. Whose woods these are I think I know/ seemed somber and formal and very strong. Still, I think it is these lines, The woods are lovely dark and deep / but I have promises to keep / and miles to go before I sleep / and miles to go before I sleep // that reached my deep and left an impression on me while yet still young. It became a mantra that to this day probably contributes to my uneasiness with aging and death because I feel the incredible drive to make a difference in this world. Which surely accounts for my involvement in politics much earlier in life than most people.

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and... I really don't recall a lot about it. I remember thinking it was horrible at the time as did most all the students. I think we were given a choice between several but I have no idea what it was. What I do recall is that whatever it was the poem was about four or five stanzas and that when it came time to recite it I was very uneasy and could only recall about two-thirds of it. Others fell short but I remember several students that memorized very long poems and did them perfectly. I felt terribly inferior but that was not uncommon for me in those days.

To all those who point to such experiences and say being forced to memorize poems turned them against poetry at an early age, I can say in the end, the experience neither helped or hindered my love of poetry.

3. I read/don't read poetry because.... I read it because it speaks to me in a way that reading anything else fails to do. It often captures a spirit within me and causes it to stir. Poetry at times will awaken feelings and emotions to speak to things in my past that otherwise remain locked inside me. It is a freeing experience. Sometimes scary, often times quite enjoyable but always pushing me to think and feel.

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is ....... Oh wow, there are so many, but one that often comes to my mind is going to sound really funny coming from a guy. It would be The Blue Dress by Sharon Olds. Olds is able to bubble to the surface very deep emotions as though she were pouring peroxide over what appears to be a superficial wound but bring out so much more than you thought was there.

5. I write/don't write poetry, but... I write poetry. Writing has been therapeutic to me, but it is like more than just taking medicine for something it is also like a vitamin and mineral supplement. Even when it is not emotionally healing, it is strengthening.

I seriously believe that it also helped me deal with my issues of mortality. It is the best, no, the only way I know to beat death. Create a part of you that death cannot have.

In more recent year I have come to embrace the artistic value of poetry. Something I did not recognize in my younger writing. In this way, what and how I write have evolved and continues to change in voice and content.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature.....for several reasons. I like that when I read poetry it speaks to me on a level different from anything else. But I also enjoy reading poetry because my eyes are not as good as they used to be and sometimes I tire easy of reading longer material, which frustrates me. Especially since I am also learning that I am not as broadly well read as I would like to be. I do think this hinders to some degree my own writing.

7. I find poetry...... (chuckling here) much to the dismay of my family, I find poetry in almost everything. They do not share passion for poetry. Don't get me wrong, they are very supportive of my writing.

I see poetry in a 6-4-3 double play. I see it in an empty baseball diamond. I see it in my backyard, the kitchen, in politics, in the silence of the night. This can be troubling to some. ( smile)

8. The last time I heard poetry.... I suppose it was myself reading out loud from a manuscript before I sent it off yesterday. Trying to reassure myself I suppose.

I used to go to readings fairly regularly. And last year I was reading every month someplace and sometimes two or three times in a month. It has been a while since I've done that. I do listen to poetry as well from various podcast sources.

9. I think poetry is like... life itself. I think it's like complexities reduced to simplest terms. It is an affirmation of magic. Evidence of a higher power. It is the closest thing to a universal language of the soul. It is where the heart and mind meet and a great fission occurs that produces the art of ourselves in language.

Ah... now who to tag with this.....? Deborah, Robert and Kelli.