Thursday, May 31, 2007

Confetti Flying

You know the spam you get that looks like you sent it to yourself? Well one of the main slime bags responsible had a bad day today. [story] Please excuse my jubilation!

Reading Material

Copy of the Pushcart Prize book for 2007 arrived at home yesterday. I've had a chance to skim through it and read a few poems. I think it will serve as a good companion for reading the next few days.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Peace Index Ranks US Among Worst Nations

A new study ranks Norway as the most peaceful country in the world. The United States on the other hand did not fair so well ranking near the bottom - 96 out of 121 nations. Iran ranked 97 - the next worse spot on the list behind the U.S. The very worst country was Iraq.

Researches used 24 criteria to determine rankin, including
  • the amount of money a country puts into military expenditure
  • local corruption
  • domestic crime

The Report stresses U.S. involvement in international conflicts, high levels of incarceration and homicide contributed to our low ranking.

Other nation scraping the bottom are listed as Russia, Israel and Sudan.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Too Tired to Post

My youngest daughter Meghan graduated from high school yesterday. Party for her tonight - home now, but need to get up at like 5AM to take her to airport. That's all I can pound out with this tired body. Except that her mother and I are so very proud of her.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Just wondering

I sit in the swing on the deck, damp with a rain that fell unnoticed during the night while I slept.

My eyes with that heavy sleep feeling, perhaps from the morning air against my tired eyes or maybe it is a mixture of the bowel of honey-nut-Cheerios and the diabetes that occupies my body.

The dogs romping in the back yard turn crazy at the sight of a jogger passing out front and tiny droplets pitter patter around me telling me the sky is not finished and maybe I should consider moving inside.

A crow in the distance and another bird chanting add voice to the quiet morning hum and seem to be saying, "stay here, stay here." It is relaxing and I am not ready to surrender my place to the rain. Such stillness in my life is rare. Here, the war seems remote and I wonder if such could ever be the case over there?

The grass is a lush green from an overabundance of rain these past few weeks. Are the blades of grass even casually aware of the carbon issue associated with greenhouse gasses?

Klaus sits waiting at the French door to the kitchen. A sign someone else is likely making something in the kitchen. He would never miss a food opp. Or maybe he has just had enough of the morning quiet. How can anyone get enough of this?

Are others in back yards this morning asking these same questions? Do fathers in Iraq ever sit in their back yards and wonder about global warming?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

From my Journal - 5-22

(Time) A sort of invisible ink
Of the present- seen only
In light of the past

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday Poet Series - Aleah Sato

For me at least, discovering new poets whose work I enjoy is like an epiphany each and every time. The thrill is always there again.

While I can’t guarantee that everyone is going to have the same tastes in poetry that I have, I’m certain there are others out there who will find a common value in many of the poets whom I enjoy.

I find there is often a common thread that runs between poets that links them, one to another in terms of style, voice, background or interests. This is not only true looking back at some of the greats that are no longer with us, but contemporary poets as well.

The poet featured in this Wednesday Poet Series has a kind of raw and earthy voice that I appreciate in poetry I read. Small wonder that I identify with some people she counts among her influences.

I discovered her by reading a submission for Rogue Poetry Review. She was represented in the Winter Issue with three outstanding poems.

She has two books, Badlands and No Peaceful Sleep.

Aleah Sato is a young (chronological) voice but certainly one with a growing maturity that resonates so well. She was kind enough to the following e-interview with me. I hope you will enjoy this bit of insight into the workings of this exciting poet.

Aleah Sato on Poetry / Exclusive Interview

for Stick Poet ~ May 2007

Michael: I want to start by thanking Aleah Sato for agreeing to do an e-interview and taking time out of her day to put up with inquisitive intrusion into her artistic life.

Aleah: My pleasure.

Michael: You grew up in southern Indiana, rural Indiana I believe. How did you get from a country girl environment in the U.S. to Canada? Do you maintain dual citizenship, or which do you claim?

Aleah: Although I was born in Indiana, my family moved a lot when I was quite young. As an adult, I have traveled extensively throughout North America – so moving around is natural for me. I moved up to Toronto in 2002 to be with my husband and I retain US citizenship and landed immigrant status in Canada.

Michael: How has a multi-national flavor impacted your writing?

Aleah: Honestly, the differences in Canadian and American culture are subtle, despite all of the stereotypes... and the differences have little impact on my writing. I suppose that’s because I choose to write about basic, visceral human needs and not so much about cultural quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Michael: What kind of formal art education if any have you had? Who have been you biggest influencers in the development of your writing?

Aleah: I spent a few years in university, but dropped out to travel. I have been influenced more by instinct and my love of reading than by any formal training.

Michael: I would say that your instincts and reading have served you well. Are there any authors or poets that from your reading you feel influenced you especially in your own work or contributed in some way to your broader view of poetry and literature?

Aleah: Yes, I was very influenced by Anne Sexton. I like the way she wrote about aspects of the self that are not so lovely - and the directness of her poems. I also love(d) Robert Frost, Ai, Wanda Coleman, Sylvia Plath, Stevie Smith, Dylan Thomas, Rilke, Audre Lorde, Poe, Sapphire and so many others. None have influenced me as much as Anne Sexton, though. I consider her to be one of the first women poets to write with real abandon about vulnerabilities of body, mind and spirit.

Michael: In numerous poems of yours that I have read there is a sense of fragility where it comes to families. I’m thinking of Nine Years or Family for instance. How much of your own life shapes your work?

Aleah: I personally believe that everything we do, be it a profession, a creation, an invention, etc is motivated by our need for answers to our existence. Obviously, when I write I am motivated by the questions I have about my experiences and those of my loved ones. However, there’s a fine line to walk. While my work may take a personal voice, it is a conglomerate of many stories, not just my own.

Michael: A very raw, edgy, earthiness is prevalent in your work. Especially in Badlands Something I am often drawn to, by the way, and I especially enjoyed The Longest Winter. Do you ever worry this pigeonholes you too much and wish for a different tone or broader range in your voice?

Aleah: I am always striving to improve my writing in both style and substance. (I am my own worst critic.)

So yes, I worry about being pigeonholed as being a “women’s issues writer” or the like, but at some point you have to embrace the criticism with the praise, and try to ignore the labels. Labels, like stereotypes, are rooted in some basic truths, but you can’t let yourself be limited by them and you can’t get too comfortable.

Michael: Your husband Rick is an artist. Tell me what it’s like for you, being in a relationship with another artist... do you talk shop? Is it complementary to both of your artistic endeavors as individuals or do you find interacting about each other’s work to be difficult?

Aleah: We became friends through this shared interest; however, Rick has gone on to be an artist AND a business owner. Right now, the demands of running a small business force him to nurture and favor the latter. I hope that will change at some point because I think he’s one of the most talented artists I know. I definitely like talking shop with him whenever possible.

Michael: How much should poets today be involved in political and social discourse? Have we gone too far off the beaten path of literature itself?

Aleah: I don’t think I’m required to enforce any particular political or social discourse in my writing simply because I am a creative person. Some poets build their work upon certain political or social messages because it is what compels them. I think that isn’t necessarily anchored to creativity.

I prefer to write about the basic truths of humanity: the life/death cycle, loneliness, the body, our life as animals and so on. Everything else seems to expand from these human conditions and needs (and how these needs are sometimes denied).

Michael: Your blog’s name is interesting. Jane Crow Journal. I’m guessing this is a feminist take off on Jim Craw, am I right? Tell us a little about it and how it came to be.

Aleah: That would be rather sophisticated of me, but I am afraid it is a little less thoughtful. It’s taken from the Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds song “Crow Jane,” which is also loosely inspired by the old blues tune. There’s something austere in the name Jane Crow that appeals to me.

Michael: Where do you see poetry fitting into society today? What is your strongest case for the relevance of poetry and the literary arts to people who are not drawn to it?

Aleah: I think the biggest block to poetry’s universal appeal is how it is being taught to our youth. While I feel the classic writers have a place in university courses, I think the language and subject matter of classic poets and writers simply gets lost in translation to modern youth culture. If more contemporary poets were allowed into classrooms, I believe more people would connect to poetry. The spoken word scene does this to some extent, but it sometimes seems to promote better entertainers than poets. I’d like to get back to poetry – where the written word also resonates.

Michael: Are there any special projects that you are working on currently that we may look forward to soon? What do you hope the future holds for you and your work, ten to fifteen years from now?

Aleah: I have a September show at the G+ Galleries in Toronto: Extinct, a collection of poems and photographs, with photographer Elizabeth Siegfried. More information can be found here:

I also have a chapbook coming soon called Stillborn Wilderness (Pooka Press).

My plans don’t go beyond one week these days, but I’ll be around doing something. Ongoing stuff can be found here:

Michael: Lastly, who are some of your favorite contemporaries in poetry and why?

Aleah: Christine Hamm, Carla Funk, Todd Swift, Nicole Blackman, AD Winans, Greg Orr, Wanda Phipps, Arlene Ang, Corey Mesler and so many more. Why? They are all skilled writers.

I’m always looking for new poems to devour and can’t imagine this list ever being finite.

Michael: Aleah, Thank you very much for allowing me to invade your privacy for the sake of art. It has been very interesting and enjoyable. Best wishes in the future, we will keep you on our radar and expect to see some more outstanding work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wednesday Poet Series Tomorrow!

Featured Poet ~ Aleah Sato

Catch my e-interview with Aleah tomorrow when Stickpoet once again features a Wednesday Poet.

Author of:

  • Badlands
  • No Peaceful Sleep

Don't Miss Tomorrow's Interview

Christine Hamm has been at it again! She's got another one.... Children Having Trouble with Meat. No, I haven't read this one yet, but when have I seen something of Christine's that I didn't Like?

Just about completed another Journal last night. Flipping through the pages here is a taste of journal niblits:

  • doubt became his face / unable to hide / in the shadow /of five o'clock (March 18)
  • when the night broke down / and the band packed / disappearing into the tangle / spilled on the streets (March 23)
  • Deliberation that grew moss up the north side (April 1)
  • She wore the naked moonlight / across breasts of a woman / unmasked of self-conscious (approx April 11)
  • {note to self} authors hear voices - sure we do ::grin:: ( April 28th)
  • yesterday my body ached /of rubber band mussels / wound tightly in corset knotted tissue (May 11)
  • A poet's voice- that of a woman / of color- A slice of life on a wing ( May 19th)

This of course means that I will get to take out my new crisp journal and start scribbling.

I have a great treat for readers tomorrow. An interview with Aleah Sato!

Monday, May 21, 2007


It appears the K.C. Literary Festival was indeed a success. Estimates are 13,000 attended the event. It was worth attending and it would be worth returning on K.C on an annual basis.

If pigs could fly and Bush were irrelevant...

Responding to comments made Saturday by former President Jimmy Carter about the adverse impact on the nation around the world that the present (Bush) administration has had, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, “I think it’s unfortunate, and I think he (Carter) is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments.” Oh man, I could only wish Bush were irrelevant... just think where we would be today!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Barry is four!

Yesterday, I was out of the house almost all day long. Attended the Kansas City Literary Festival during the day. The weather here was awesome for the event. Lots of booths with exhibitors. Tons of give-a-ways. A poet's stage that was ongoing. While I can't speak for the organizers, from my vantage point this was a big success.

The evening was rounded out with a pig-roast we were invited to. I ate more than I wanted to... but I planned on eating light and overall I didn't do too badly. That pretty much killed the first half of the weekend. I have a few chores selected for today and already some are completed.

Was looking around at some of the blogs I read and found an interesting post on First Draft. A poetry writing exercise for pop culture poetry. Something I'll start working on after while and see how it goes.

Today is Barry's fourth birthday! There will be doggy celebrating later today!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Two Things....

I have mentioned this subject before but I just came from a myspace account that has a ton of poetry posted from various poets and I think one can conclude with relative certainty the author of the site has likely neither sought or been given consent to post the material from the copyright holder. There is a lot of material I'd like to share with others, but don't because I respect the individual intellectual rights that artists have. Excepting to quote from something, if I am going to post poem from another poet here, you can bet I've gotten permission first. It is highly disrespectful otherwise.... besides unlawful. Go ahead, call me an old fashioned if you wish.

And while on the subject of myspace... Am I the only artist in this hemisphere who is without a myspace site? I'm seeing more and more poets, musicians, photo artists, etc that have myspace sites. Geeze.... do I need to get one?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I almost missed an e-mail that went to my spam folder yesterday, a portion of it follows:

"Good News! I am pleased greatly by your poem "Beautiful Music" and shall publish it... Unfortunately, "Playing Solitaire" and "Freedom Summer Redux" pleased me insufficiently, and will thusly need find homes elsewhere."

Rejections are much more palatable when they are accompanied with acceptances.

Kansas City Literary Festival

Saturday - May 19th
Country Club Plaza
Kansas City Literary Festival

Monday, May 14, 2007

As If There Wasn't Enough Going On Tuesday Night

Two More Locals read May 15th (Tuesday Night)

The site of this reading is The Johnson County Central Resource Library at 87th & Farley in Overland Park. Starts at - 7pm.

The poets reading:

Patricia Cleary Miller, professor of English and chair of the Humanities Division at Rockhurst University. She has published three books and dozens of poems in various venues. Her poetry collection, Starting a Swan Dive (BkMk Press) won the Daniel S. Brenner Award for Scholarly Achievement. In 1986 she founded the Rockhurst Review: a fine arts journal, which she continues to serve as editor-in-chief. From Harvard University she received the Hiram Hunn Award and the Harvard Alumni Association Award for distinguished service, and a Bunting Fellowship in poetry for a post-doctoral sabbatical year.

Walter Bargen,who has published ten books and two chapbooks of poetry. The three most recent books are, The Body of Water, from Timberline Press (2003), The Feast, from BkMk Press-UMKC (2004), which was awarded the 2005 William Rockhill Nelson Award, and Remedies for Vertigo from WordTech Communications (2006). His poems have appeared in appear the Iowa Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, Seattle Review, and New Letters. He was the winner of the Chester H. Jones Foundation prize in 1997, a National Endowment for the Art Fellowship in 1991, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award in 2005.

My little Poetry Manifesto

I find taking a pen in hand and giving myself the freedom to resist a prescribed text can be a very cathartic experience. Allowing the pen to be taken, not on some planned outing but to follow instead the arbitrary journey of the mind in motion, as opposed to a set mental moment— this gives poetry a life of its own. Not so much any specific meaning, but the very essence of the poem’s existence, the point at which it becomes something unto itself. That is so liberating. It is the birth of a separate creation from one’s self. Once established, its meaning is no longer up to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Allowing Art to realize its purpose in us

"Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him." ~ Carl Jung

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yeah Friday is here!!!

I know this site has been around for a while but I really gave it a good look over yesterday and decided it is well worth a plug. So if you haven't already, go check out Poetry Thursday (here).

Had a positive experience with a new poem draft yesterday. I love it when that happens. I'll try to polish it up over the next few days.

Sent five poems out this week to a venue I had never tried before. I believe I have 13 submissions I am awaiting responses on.

I have what I believe will be an exciting interview coming up soon. Just to wet your appetite a bit. Not giving any details here, but I haven't done any interviews for a while and I am wanting to bring readers more of this in the near future. I am planning to bring back the Wednesday Poet Series at least one Wednesday a month and it will likely be to introduce a poet's work and provide readers an interview as well.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pretty Cool

Poetry downloads are available free from PennSound. Check it out!

Local Poet at Kansas City Event

Jazz Poetry: Stacey Tolbert, the "Brown Suga Poet"

Stacey Tolbert - Appearing at the American Jazz Museum Stacey is a member of Kansas City, MO’s Black Poets Collective, a freelance writer, painter, playwright, poet, DJ, and founder / facilitator of a clinic geared for the healing and bonding of women as well as a workshop specializing in teaching literacy and math under the umbrella of art.

Tuesday May 15th, 2007

7:00pm to 11:00pm

American Jazz Museum

1615 E 18th St. - Kansas City, MO 64108

Admission is $5.00

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rain, Rain Go Away...

The rain has been without relentless here in The Kansas City area and I feel like one soggy poet.

After a creative streak during the past week, I cooled off a bit over the weekend. Coincidentally I was the recipient of a rejection letter on Saturday, but that didn't dampen my already saturated spirits. I still have a few things out and I'm ready to recycle the poems that came back without a home.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

18,000 Take it off for art

More than 18,000 people stripped down and bared it all in a Mexico City square Sunday for U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick's biggest nude shoot ever.
"I think all eyes are looking south from the United Sates to Mexico City to see how a country can be free and treat the naked body as art. Not as pornography or as a crime, but with happiness and caring." Tunick said at a press conference afterwards.

It's no piece of cake being a role model

So my youngest daughter has her Senior Prom last night. This morning she relates various events of the evening assuring us she had a marvelous time. Then at one point she recounts a story about how they are at a lull in the post dance partying and a bunch of them are all in a circle and they are sharing little one line tid-bits about themselves.

So one starts by proclaiming his father is an alcoholic and another says that his dad never talks to him. Of course the rest sympathize with them about how sad that is. The next tops the the first two by saying that's nothing, both her parents hate her. So it's my daughter's turn. She says, well, that's nothing, my dad writes poetry. Really! And they all groan and sigh because no one can top that and anoint her the winner.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Yes, my mind is a little unstructured at the moment

This will probably sound very off the wall but what the heck. There's been plenty of discourse on when poets write best, where they write best, their favorite tool or instrument for writing.... alas, I am wondering what is the favorite liquid refreshment of poets while writing. I want to reiterate the "while writing" part. So, if you like to go home and have a Bailey's or two or three over rocks, but then fall asleep in the lounge with "Everybody Loves Raymond" on, that don't count.

So are you a milk & cookies poet? Do you write better sipping on Chardonnay? Maybe you like day old coffee (gag) reheated in the microwave... or Diet Coke or green tea or a grande, double shot, skinny, Caffè Latte from Starbucks.

Wondering what wets your whistle while you write?

The Atlantic Shrinks

In a somewhat historic venture - British and American poetry will come together and converge in three cities. Poets Laureate Donald Hall and Andrew Motion will conduct a series of three joint readings. There has never been a joint reading of American and British Poets Laureate before.

When & Where:
  • Monday, May 7, at 6 p.m., Fullerton Hall, Art Institute of Chicago
  • Thursday, May 10, at 7 p.m., Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • Wednesday, June 6, at 6 p.m., St. Giles-in-the-Fields Church, London

All events are free and open to the public, but reservations are strongly encouraged; call (312) 787-7070.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Strange but true

Someone did NOT just come to my blog from a search for bush as superhero. OK, apparently they did.

That reminds me, this weekend my daughter and I were driving down the street and pulled up behind a car with a number of bumper stickers on the back, on gem read - FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME!