Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Boston Literary Magazine

The Winter issue of Boston Literary Magazine is up & I have a poem featured in it. [click here]

Sunday, January 28, 2007

By way of explanation

"The one man who should never attempt an explanation on poetry is its author. If the poem can be improved by its author’s explanations, it never should have been published." ~Archibald MacLeish

I offer this one up to Ted Kooser to think about for a while

“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled [poets] to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.” ~ Socrates

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The World of Good and Evil

This is not about poetry. It is about more weighty subjects. But those of you who read me on a routine basis have learned I digress. This is about a world of texture and of color. A world in which there are gray areas and all is not black and white.

According an associate press story, Lawrence Wilkerson, a former chief of staff to then Secretary of State Colin Powell, told the BBC in an interview that Vice President Dick Cheney rejected an offer by Iran in 2003 to help the U.S. stabilize Iraq and at the same time end its military support of Hezbollah and Hamas. Wilkerson said when the offer was received, it was thought by the State Department to be “very propitious moment” to strike a deal, but as soon as it reached the vice president’s office, “… the old mantra of ‘We don’t talk to evil”…reasserted itself.

Of course here we are three years later, 3,000 plus U.S. Servicemen deal, countless others with wounds that will impact them for the rest of their lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian causalities and a bloody civil-war between rival factions and no end in sight. The Iraq Study Group recommends that one alternative approach would be to enlist the support of Iran and Syria in the region. Of course, the President, el al in the administration have chosen to ignore this possibility in favor of sending 21,500 more American to the middle of a civil war.

I understand fully the concern President Bush has with nuclear proliferation. There are several fronts in which this is an issue, including North Korea and some of the regions of the old Soviet Union which have unaccounted for nuclear weapons grade supplies. Unfortunately, through out his one and a half terms of service, he has really achieved nothing on two of those fronts and largely ignored the third. This administration sees everything in terms of “good” and “evil” and if you are evil, we isolate you and hope that one day you will wake up and realize you are evil and decide to be good instead. Is this progressive foreign policy?

For many years, nations have successfully worked to find areas of agreement even though they have other issues in which they remain far apart. There is the old adage that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It has allowed countries to find areas of mutual interest and work towards solving problems from what they can agree upon. If what Wilkerson has indicated about Iran’s communication in 2003 is current, it angers me to think that the Vice President would not have allowed the State Department to see what might have been accomplished to spare the region more bloodshed, loss of more American lives, and slow the $380 billion plus drain on the people of this country.

If one is to accept the premise of good and evil, it might be noted that good like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Such a concept is strictly black and white. I can acknowledge my fears and concerns about the nuclear paths of North Korea and Iran. But I can clearly see how from their vantage point they feel a double standard that says some nations have nuclear weapons and it is ok for those that have them to keep them, but the rest just have to accept the fact that no one else can.

Perhaps it is time again for us to conduct our foreign policy in living color – recognizing all the gray areas and not just looking at everything as if it were just black and white. Do we need to put poets in government? Is this the answer?
Sorry, I digress again.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Year 2006 In Words

From my project I started on December 31, 2006

In all, the red and blue states were not so static—
As a sagging democracy, we have a lot to learn
About spreading it. And why
Do we want others to have it, yet emigrants are a code word
Rioting through our heads in fear— grabbing up our food
Crashing our schools and hospitals stealing what jobs
We still have in this global economy of circular motion?
The more things change for the worse, the more we hear
We need a plan, all of us, to deal with it all…
Gruesome body counts, stock market, crude oil and health care costs
Ascending rugged terrain of news charts—
Who are the terrorists? The lines are blurrier than ever.
Neocons fashion themselves as saviors.
Religious extremists chant with fervor.
A jihad in denomination is still a jihad.
A global warming to the sounds of war is calling us to redeploy
And some what withdrawal now!
Where are our battles? Who? What do we fight?
Illegal aliens? Civil Union? Stem-cell research?
What really ticks the clock of doom? Any of these?
Or nuclear tests by a nation teetering on instability
While another thinks proliferation their birthright
And we beg to argue from the weakness of a hypocrite.
We talk about the issue of bilateral verses unilateral discourse
Yet the critical issue might as well be the unidentifiable liquid
Upon the moon. Insane as is was 2006 is history.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Last Night In The Bedroom....

So here I am last night lying across the bed and my wife sitting next to me and she is reading notes from a French Poetry Anthology with English translations. The book is actually a text book for one of my daughter’s classes. But here we are, my wife [who is not particularly enamored by poetry] and I, discussing the process of translation, Romanticism, Surrealism, Cubism, Dadaism and a whole host of things about poetry including. It was both fascinating at the time, and rather amusing thinking back on it this morning.

In other news of a personal note, I discovered somewhat belatedly that a poem of mine titled File Folder was published in the Park University Scribe.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings Week 206

I say ... and you think ... ?

Episode :: Another episode disconnect in foreign policy
Source :: Considering the
Jerk :: Knee jerk pleadings of an asshole
Introduce :: Spy vs. Spy
Ralph :: Ralph Constance Lauren
Stare :: stare into the blank
Cast :: -aways
Scenario :: opera of the possible
Flu :: shot over the bow
Mad :: about you

John Ashbery - Not Poet Laureate Material

John Ashbery is a highly recognized figure in contemporary American Poetry. The last of the so-called New York School of poetry. He has some 24 poetry books that have been published and in the realm measuring success by publication, one is hard pressed to discount is successes.
He has had poetry books published in each of the last six decades.

Deborah Solomon in a New York Times Magazine article posed the possibility that Ashbery may have felt snubbed since he has never been asked to serve as Poet Laureate. But Ashbery himself insisted, "I really don’t think I’m poet-laureate material." He added, " To be poet laureate you have to have a program for spreading the word of poetry. I’m just willing to let it spread by itself."

In earlier biographical material I've read on Ashbery I've noted that he seems to be quite content with a more laid back, less public posture. I can appreciate that the remarks attributed to him in Solomon's article are an honest expression of his view. But I can't help but believe this man, who's work I believe so brilliant, would in fact bring a robust and exciting debate to the
public discussion of contemporary poetry.

Friday, January 12, 2007

First Manuscript Report for 2007

Yesterday I had 5 manuscripts rejected. Alas, 4 more went out today.

Outstanding submission remaining at end of year 8
less rejections through 1-12-07 -5
new submissions through 1-12-06 + 4
Outstanding manuscripts currently 7

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Deep breath

I won't say I'm in a bad mood, but I not exactly chipper either. I've had two grueling days at the office. Then today we were informed that our long standing casual Friday has bitten the dust.

Then let me heap a little more on the pile. This weekend I sort of hit the skids with writing. Everything seemed forced and it bugged the hell out of me. It has been quite a while since I have been in a writing funk, so I suppose I should be grateful for the nice run. No, that is not how one looks at this. Instead, it is like the zit that is bigger than your face.

I'm trying to calm myself down and remember that I've lived through this before and it will surely happen again. So take it in stride and just keep writing. Crap and all. it will work itself out.

Donald Hall is coming into town this month. I'm looking forward to hearing him.

I have a KC Metro Verse meeting tomorrow night.

I've got two places I need to get material off to by the 15th.

Just need to keep myself focused, meet my goals for the month and just write, knowing it will work itself out sooner or later.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Allowing Poetry to Speak to You

When I saw this quote, it touched a nerve within me that rang all sorts of bells and whistles...

"A lot of the fun lies in trying to penetrate the mystery; and this is best done by saying over the lines to yourself again and again, till they pass through the stage of sounding like nonsense, and finally return to a full sense that had at first escaped notice." -Anthony Hecht

This takes me to the core belief that I have about the issue of accessibility in poetry and why I believe we should not have to defend poetry that is outside that nice clean little cozy realm of accessibility.

In fact, I hunger for poetry that is more then a read it through once and be able to say, "that's nice." I much prefer to allow the poem to speak to me than for me to read it as though it were a Dick and Jane reader and presto it is all perfectly clear at that period at the end of the last sentence.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

I say ... and you think ... ?
Resolution :: another plowed under into the ground
Happy :: Birthday to me
Bubbly :: Champagne music of Lawrence Welk
Kiss :: sweetheart roses with a kiss of baby breath
Leather :: camera gear - on a strap - over the shoulder
Fancy :: guppy fins with rainbow
Pages :: blank pages stare back at me
Stupid :: idiot was one of his favorite proclamations, and he should know
Apologize :: sorry, sorry, a thousand times over
Secrets :: held tightly in a vest pocket

In The News

Just a few bits of news on this Saturday.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Writing Process

In reading another poet/blogger post this week I realized something. Sometimes I am all over the map in process. The post I am referring to is by Kelli. Her post tells of one way to write poems, the process she employs.

Kelli's process itself is not revolutionary in my eyes and I sure most who have written for any length of time will recognize the process. I don't use it universally but more often than not it is a version of what I do. There are still times I try to force the issue, which is to say I sit down and say to myself, "let’s write a poem about "XYZ" and I struggle through the end to write something I am most of the time not totally happy with. Still, out of hard headedness or whatever, I will try this from time to time and with rare exception, frustrate myself and to a less than desirable end.

The aspect of Kelli's approach that impressed me was her organization in working from an "In Process" file. That is where her developing or embryonic poems are. A sort of purgatory for poems (perhaps it is the Catholic in me that identifies with this) from which she will return to cull ideas and rewrite, moving them out of the file when they become full fledged poems.

The process of writing about whatever comes to your mind and moving forward with it is in fact the process I most often employ. My problem is that I have gotten away from doing a lot of my writing one the computer. Imagine that! It is not that I am trying to step backwards in time, but rather that I often write these poetry beginnings in my journal. I suppose that there are two major reasons for this. One is that the competition for the computer at home is great. You know the movies where the family has one bathroom and four children only one of which is a boy? The male family members find it challenging to eek out a few moments in the morning for themselves. Actually, that is not just a movie, but my life for many years. Now it is the same pattern with respect to the computers in our household.

I do enjoy writing in the journal. It is handy and has become a near appendage to my body. Still, the organization issues associated with it are problematic at times. I can, and do go back through it to rework stuff. But this is not a smooth process and going back to even older journals that have been retired to the bookshelf presents another whole dimension of juggling to find something vague in my memory from 6 months or a year ago.

I may have to start trying to transfer the journal work to the PC on say a weekly basis and then try Kelli’s process.

Any others want to be brave and share their formulas for successful poetry writing?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Even Barry is ready for the New Year. He handed me his New Years Resolution list this morning. It reads as follows:

1. I will exclude the cats from my diet.

2. I will not slobber on my toys I bring to you to play fetch with.

3. I will not covet the cat's food.

4. I will not steel your witting and publish it, but if I do, I'll split the royalties 80-20. 70-30? Ok, 60-40.

5. I will not use my cute look when being scolded or redirected.