Saturday, March 31, 2007

Digesting the morning

Saturday morning, post instant Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal. The dishwasher is churning in the kitchen and I sit in the great room holding court over Barry, Mo and Klaus (the boy's as we refer to them... dogs). They are all happy from the most part. Resting quietly, for which I am grateful. No doubt they are conserving energy for an afternoon romp.

Siting back and surveying the news and whatnot around the world, (who knows what fodder this may give me in the weeks ahead for NaPoWri Mo) a number of interesting things pop up.

For example, Barack Obama is in the news not for some major policy statement, but for poetry he wrote in his student years. [click here]

D. Thomas Jenkins in an op-ed piece asks a very simple but profound question about the future of the United States commitment to the war in Iraq. [click here]

When one of the nation's leading ethanol research and development companies too on the name- Poet, it sure seemed like a bunch of hot air to me. [click here]

My Sweet Lord [click here] a nude, anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ was canceled Friday amid a choir of complaining Catholics that included Cardinal Edward Egan.
Ok, when I first heard this story yesterday before it was cancelled, I e-mailed the link to all of my immediate family asking if they felt this was distasteful art. Since we are all Catholic, I wondered if my family members looked at it the same way. I said nothing about my thoughts one way or the other not wanting to influence their responses. Not one of them was shocked or outraged. One said they don't know it they would chose to display an anatomically correct Christ in their home, but saw nothing per say wrong with someone using chocolate as a medium for the artwork or that it was nude. Another made a very good point, saying... " that people who get mad about this better also be mad about the American Flag on a magnetic sticker for cars or beach towels made to look like the flag."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Drama Students Students at Wilton High Commended by Music Theatre International

The saga of Wilton High School's "Voices of Courage" continues. A Broadway musical licensing agency that has been around since 1952, has created a special award to recognize Wilton High School drama students for writing a play on the Iraq war that school school official have blocked from production.

It is not uncommon for the company to give awards to school theater departments for singing, dancing, directing and stage design."However, we are aware that theater is not just about acting, singing, dancing and excelling in performance," says a letter to the students from the company."It is also about positive risk taking for students, working as a community and utilizing theater skills, to present points of view on the stage which comment on the world in which we live."

School principal Timothy H Canty and School Superintendent Gary Richards have censored the production, not only disallowing it on campus, but off campus as well.


Cindy asked about a link for NaPoWriMo and I suppose others may wonder the same. It seems that Poetry Free For All is hosting a special thread on their forum for this exercise in craziness. There may well be other locations doing something, but I am not aware of any. Personally I've done a number of poetry forums in the past and have gravitated away from them. I have no experience with wit Poetry Free For All - this will be my first time using this forum. I do intend to do a separate blog for my NaPoWriMo creations and will link it back to this blog. Anyway, for Cindy and anyone else asking - there is the main deeliebopper.

A poem a day for a month.... Starting April Fools Day. That must say something about us all. ::grin::

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Misc on my mind

From my deck this morning, the ornamental tree that rises next to it is praising spring.

A few items of note:

Let me add Wilton Public Schools Superintendent Gary Richards to my 5 thumbs down award for his part in the Wilton High School cancellation of Voices In Conflict. [see earlier post] It appears that Richards along with school principal Timothy H. Canty were both in decision making roles with respect to cancelling this performance by students.

I have taken the dive into NaPoWriMo / a poem a day for thirty days in April.

Yesterday, I read Autobiography and Poetry in Slate. Dan Chiassonto and Meghan O'Rourke tackle confessional or autobiographical poetry, or if you will, the presumptive reader in some cases. I found the commentary between these two (if it really happened) to be thought provoking. Both making interesting points. Wonder what others are thinking out this piece? I'm going to sit on my thoughts for the time being. Anyone else who read it wanna share?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Richard Wilbur on the Poet's Audience

"It is true that the poet does not directly address his neighbors; but he does address a great congress of persons who dwell at the back of his mind, a congress of all those who have taught him and whom he has admired; they constitute his ideal audience and his better self. ... To this congress the poet speaks not of peculiar and personal things, but of what in himself is most common, most anonymous, most fundamental, most true of all men." ~ Richard Wilbur

Monday, March 26, 2007

The End of Periods

In terms of my own poetry, I tend to move in and out of the usage of punctuation I suppose based more on mood than anything. Exactly why, I could not say and this bothers me. Sometimes in the process of rewrites I’ll add it and at other times I’ll take it away. There seems to be no real rhyme (no pun intended) or reason for my adherence or departure from punctuation. It bothers me not that I punctuate or not punctuate. What disturbs me is that if asked, I could not justify my decision. Line breaks, stanzas, etc. I’ll be able to give you a reason.

Some time in the 1960’s W.S. Merwin, whose work I greatly admire, moved away from punctuation. Merwin writes that, “By the end of the poems in The Moving Target I had relinquished punctuation along with several other structural conventions, a move that evolved from my growing sense that punctuation alluded to and assumed an allegiance to the rational protocol of written language, and of prose in particular. I had come to feel that it stapled the poems to the page. Whereas I wanted the poems to evoke the spoken language, and wanted the hearing of them to be essential to taking them in.”

I find a great deal of favor with Merwin’s justification, at least the idea of separating my poetry from prose. Yet, I am from the school that believes seeing the poem on the page can be an essential part of enjoying it as well. The spacing, open or closed on the page, the length of lines can so often speed up or slow down the reader to give the poet some control over tone. I don’t deny that punctuation can add to that process as well. Perhaps this is one reason that I have trouble making the break altogether.

I do find some comfort in knowing that Merwin’s change seemed to be an evolutionary transformation and did not just occur over night.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Play About Iraq War Divides a Connecticut School - New York Times

Play About Iraq War Divides a Connecticut School - New York Times

Natalie Kropf, 18, Seth Koproski, 17, Devon Fontaine, 16, and James Presson, 16, are students at Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut. Timothy H. Canty is the principal at Wilton High. These are a few principal players in an off stage drama about an on stage drams, "Voices in Conflict."

Wilton students in an advanced acting class were taking on the challenge of creating an original play about the war in Iraq. Last week, principal Timothy H. Canty canceled a play to be put on by the school's advanced theater class citing questions of political balance and context. Efforts were made to make some concessions in the script by the students. Even the thought of doing the performance off campus at night was out. Students say Canty had indicated that the material was too inflammatory, and that only someone who had actually served in the war could understand the experience. “He told us the student body is unprepared to hear about the war from students, and we aren’t prepared to answer questions from the audience and it wasn’t our place to tell them what soldiers were thinking,” said Sarah Anderson, a 17-year-old senior.

Two things come to my mind about this story....

  • From a purely artistic point of view, principal Timothy Canty is way out of line. I'd have to give him my tops of 5 thumbs down for censorship of a piece of creative work by students that no doubt took significant commitment on their part. Perhaps (and sadly) their greatest learning experience from all this is the distaste for censorship in art when they could have been taking away more positive life experiences.
  • Outside my artistic mode, I have to again give Mr. Canty my maximum 5 thumbs down for like many, sticking there head in the sand (I had another place in mind) with respect (and I emphasise the "R" word here) to treating these students in such a demeaning manner. Students like Natalie Kropf are old enough to be serving in Iraq, and of course many other students are not far behind. Why hide in the safety of comfort and pretend this war in not in the room. It is a fucking elephant he wants to pretend it is not there. Gives these students a lot of credit for wanting to undertake this and ask the hard questions that too many adults in this country are afraid to ask. Maybe if people had asked more questions earlier and engaged in meaningful dialogue there would not be 3234 U.S. serviceman dead and we would not have spent $410 billion plus on a war the has no end in sight. A war that has left deep divisions and civil-war strife between the Iraqi people themselves. Give these you people a little respect. We ask them to fight our wars, don't talk down to them like we know what we are doing. If we did, things would be a lot different after four years.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Morning

from today's journal....

Bitterness hammered
Tenderizing flesh
Otherwise toughened to edges
Beyond customary contortion

Quiet settled
On black on blue on black
On pink slivers that wink
Through the sting involuntarily

Everywhere I go...

"Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me."
~Sigmund Freud

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What constitutes poetry anyway...

"A Poetries Symposium" April 5-7 at the University of Iowa hopes to expand the public understanding of what constitutes poetry.

"Poetries" will encourage participants to think of poetry as a wide range of cultural and language phenomena, not just the masterpieces one might study in English class. Poetic texts exist in unexpected places:

  • like greeting cards
  • scrapbooks,
  • on posters
  • or in messages read at weddings

" Such poetry has value, even if it wouldn't make a poetry anthology or a discussion of great art," said Mike Chasar, a UI graduate student in English and co-organizer of the event.

More information and event schedule here

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Congress Can Make This The Last Anniversary

Congress Can Make This The Last Anniversary

"As we mark the fourth anniversary of the most insane military misadventure in American history--yes, even worse than James K. Polk's invasion of Mexico for the purpose of spreading slavery--there is now more than enough blame to go around for the death and destruction that has not merely killed thousands of Americans but that has left hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead, emptied the US and Iraqi treasuries into the pockets of unscrupulous contractors and corrupt politicians, and done severe harm to the reputation of the United States as an honest player on the world stage." (read the entire commentary)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Small Knots

Some time back, on one of my Wednesday Poet Series features, I highlighted a North Western poet by the name of Kelli Russell Agodon. This past week, I’ve been reading her book Small Knots published in 2004 by Cherry Grove Collections out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her poetry is intricately layered and stirring.

A few of my favorites from the book are:

Fifty-Six Knots, which touches me with iconic references to the Rosary and the way she has woven the lives of women together, and counting, and Hail Marys bleeding from the walls. Collection plates filling with broken rosaries and the suffered woman in the corner who unties each knot, allowing the beads to fall, baptizing the marble floors…. can you not hear that sound?

If you look closely at the poem on the page, it is constructed of 4 sever line stanzas. Each has a center justified fourth line creating a pattern as though it were strung together. Genius!

Vacationing With Sylvia Plath: Each of four stanzas begins by asking, Maybe if….
A poet’s contemplation that asks aloud and sort of comes back to me as an internalized echo. If the clouds didn’t look like tombstones… if the ocean didn’t seem so final… if I had a chocolate bar between breakdowns… these all grow in crescendo and the final stanza so strong that I won’t repeat it. You need to read it yourself.

It’s Easy to wake up in someone’s poem… (I love titles that become the first line)
Couplets that capture snippets of life around us. Real people you feel you must know being pulled into the page, their lives blots if ink… and in the same way you see how people awake one morning and presto! They become poems.

These are just three… The book is a real treat to read. Kelli is not so mundane as to write simply assessable work, but something that is just over the line and will likely appeal as well to those who like something just a bit more conceptual without going overboard.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Congress, End the War

Editorial from
The Nation

What's Art Got To Do With It?

Last night I was looking for something my wife wanted me to pick up at Hobby Lobby and I saw one of those rubber stamps with a line on it that when roughly like this…. “Art washes the soul of the dust of life.”

There is a tendency for people to view art as something superfluous or even a luxury. While I admit, if it were a choice of giving my family food to eat or art, I’d have to choose food. However, if we choose to view art in the context of the quote on the rubber stamp, it seems particularly sad to think that those who are less fortunate, who have to give up something for food or say are too disadvantaged to have health care, may well lack something that cleanses the soul of life’s grime. So what is the value of art? Is it really only for the upper crust of society?

Recently, the metropolitan Kansas City area established something for art that parallels United Way. It’s a workplace-based fundraising campaign designed to support arts and culture. The regional ArtsKC Fund as it is know has been stated as a test program with originally 27 area workplaces that will allow employees to sign on to have “x” amount withheld each pay period to supports arts in the community. The program was just launched in February so I have no idea how well it is being received. The idea is not totally new, as I believe there are some 100 communities across the U.S. that have undertaken similar ventures.

So what’s the value of such an undertaking is in a major City? Why would businesses sign on to something like this? A recent article in BusinessWeek indicates there is a connection between the growth of art communities and economic development in a city. It cites many instances where communities which were once art havens have become upscale and now too pricey for many struggling artists. If you accept the premise of this article, cities should clamor at the opportunity to support and enhance the development of artists within their city limits on the basis of return on their investment. Much in the same way many cities now view professional sports franchises. Cleansing the soul of that community would just be icing on the cake.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mid-Week Pulse Check

  • George W. Bush
  • Dick Cheney
  • Michael Brown
  • I Scooter Libby
  • Donald Rumsfeld
  • Carl Rove
  • Alberto Gonzales
  • Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley
  • Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman
  • Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey

Is the entire Bush Administration Ethically Challenged or what?


There are Tulips peeking out of the loam in my front yard.


Day Four - I Still Hate Daylight Savings Time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Full Moon Clears the Right Field Fence....

Ah, I am so in the mood for baseball. Even more after seeing the 3rd House Journal Baseball Haiku post.

Bush seeks 8,200 more troops for wars - Yahoo! News

Bush asked Congress on Saturday for $3.2 billion to pay for 8,200 more U.S. troops on top of the 21,500-troop buildup he announced in January.

More troops, more tax dollars, more death to propagate a war based on lies to the American People.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Words That Raise The Dead: An Interview with Poet Martín Espada

Lisa Alvarado interviews Martín Espada. [Click here] I heard Espada read and lecture in Kansas City about a year ago. He is extremely authoritative when it comes to Pablo Neruda.

They Took AN Hour Away From Me

And They Couldn't Wait To Do It..... :(

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Trying to Shake A Shade of Blue

When I came home from work last night we began tearing up our carpeting throughout most of the homes. The old carpeting along with some other miscellaneous items then were loaded in a rented truck and early this morning we visited the dump.

Things are moved about here and there so you can imagine the house is presently pretty much a total disaster. We have about 900 sq ft of imminent flooring to replace the carpeting. Of course there is no way the flooring is going down in one night like the carpet came up. I have a strange feeling of both accomplishment and feeling blue. Yes, we got right into the demolition part and completed it promptly. Still, I feel like I am in some foreign building and I don't know when I will be able to return home. Of course I know when I do, The floors will look really awesome. It just seems far off into the future.

In the meantime, I got a draft of a chapbook I'm working on sent off today to be reviewed. That was good news. Of course, as soon as it is gone, you feel a sinking feeling in you get that maybe it isn't ready. And I was able to read some in Kelli Russell Agodon's Small Knots that arrived by mail yesterday. I am really enjoying what I have read of it today, and I'll more to say about it later.

I've been pretty wasted today, I presume from all the carpet stuff. I really hope I am not coming down with something. (crossing fingers) I am quite as bad off as I was earlier and I may actually work on some rewrites this evening.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Top News- FBI Misused Patriot Act, Audit Finds - AOL News

FBI Misused Patriot Act, Audit Finds

OH gee, I'm surprised. NOT!

Friday Links of Interest

  • Pulling Paper Towel Poetry - What a great Idea!!! I love it! Thanks Jilly for the link
  • One poet of the past - speaks to 10 artists today link
  • Bob Dylan was not on Pope Benedict's radar in 1997 when he sang at a youth concert with the late Pope John Paul link
  • "A Wordly Country" by John Ashbery gets rave review in the New Your Sun link

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

BBC NEWS | Americas | US towns seek Bush's impeachment

BBC NEWS Americas US towns seek Bush's impeachment:

"Some 30 towns in Vermont have passed resolutions urging Congress to impeach President George Bush during the US state's annual Town Meeting Day. "

Artists Retreat into Solitude at MacDowell Colony

Happy 100th Anniversary to MacDowell Colony!
Heard this story last night on NPR and thought others might enjoy it. Especially some of you who have had the opportunity to experience the Colony yourself. I've hear some great stories... They scenery, the lunch baskets, Maple Syrup, cozy lodges to name a few things that come to my mind. Just thinking of some of the people and their work that has been inspired at MacDowell is awesome in itself.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Brave topography heaved heavenward
With each refreshing breath
And I could not but help notice
Though it was not as if I set out to
But more as one might stare
In contemplation of a creation
Of Henry Moore if you were to find it
Stark naked in the middle of your backyard
One morning when you let the dog out.

It has occurred to me that God
Like a sculptor must have envisioned
Such appreciation of the simplicity
Of smooth curve lines that intersect
Man’s eye and pull him along
The contouring waves to become himself
A partner to this masterpiece
In the same way a poet makes the reader
A part of his every poem.

Immortality box

Picked up a book at the library of Anne Sexon's that I have not previously seen. The Book of Folly, published in 1972 Houghton Mifflin. Sexton is on of several poets that have long been on my radar and I have read a fair amount of her work. The very first poem in the the book caught me attention and I had to check the book out. The Ambition Bird was right there slapping me in the face. I could identify with it in the moment I was reading it.

I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box,

It is my immortality box,
my lay-away plan,
my coffin.

Sometimes that so describes my life. Don't get me wrong, I do derive great satisfaction by writing. And I can't say that anyone is forcing me at gunpoint to write. Still, there is a level of work associated with the compulsion to write that can be very taxing. And I so identify with the immortality box.

There is an overpowering call to create material for this box. The material must pass the critical review of a very demanding critic that resides within me. A slave master that demands greater productivity and at the same time improvement in the quality of work Even in the business world these two objectives do not complement each other well. In the world of art, the tension between these two can be exhausting.

The immortality thing has been an issue with me for as long as I can remember and I remain thoroughly convinced that writing is the only outlet I know availability to me to remotely deal with this issue.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Intellectual Property

"Private property began the instant somebody had a mind of his own." ~ e.e. cummings