Friday, November 30, 2007

Dinner with Kim

Those who savor the verse of poets had some tasty morsels served up last night at the Midwest Poets Series at Rockhurst University. Our hostess was Kim Addonizio from Oakland, California. She presented her reading as though it was a meal starting with cocktails moving to appetizers and a three course entrée topped off with a cordial.

Addonizio is a talented writer that has carved out successes in both poetry and fiction but admittedly prefers poetry. So you see, she already has me like putty in her hands; but honestly there is something about the edginess in her writing that is real. As she reads you seem to lose yourself in the words and find at the end you’ve awaken in your bed in cold sweats with the whole scenario next to you.

The crowd in the theater last night was attentive hanging to her words. There is no doubt in my mind that others too found themselves lost in her poetry. It is rich, it is real and if we were counting calories it is over the top.

She finished all this off… the poetry, a few pages from her latest novel, with a sign that her talents do not end with a pen. She treated us to a song on her harmonica. It was as song! It had distinguishable notes- not that wha-wha- whaa- wha you traditionally think of with a harmonica.

You won’t get the music if you buy the book, but her poetry is still very much worth the read. There are a few individual poems of hers out there on the Internet to discover, but her poetry is worth having in your library. And if you ever get lucky enough to hear her live, don’t pass it up!

Some audio of Kim:

What Do Women Want?


Lush Life

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life before my father’s murder - Times Online

Life before my father’s murder - Times Online:

"Life before my father’s murder Any hope of life to come is removed; this place is born of the loss of her father and her mother's betrayal" -Frieda Hughes commentary

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kim Addonizio Interview

Kim Addonizio is in Kansas City tomorrow night to read at the Midwest Poets Series on Rockhurst Campus.

The local newspaper has an interview with Kim By John Mark Eberhart of The Kansas City Star:

'If Kim Addonizio ever experiences artistic fear, she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve.
She’s not intimidated by form; she has written fiction, nonfiction and poetry. She’s not intimidated by subject matter; she has confronted sex, violence, mortality. She’s not even afraid to face that big heartbreaker of a subject — love.

Addonizio’s books include the verse collections Tell Me and What Is This Thing Called Love? as well as her novel from earlier this year, My Dreams Out in the Street. The author, who lives in Oakland, Calif., will read from her works Thursday night at Rockhurst University; see accompanying box for details. Recently she answered a few questions about her writing.' - John Mark Eberhart


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Osmond Flop in freestyle

There was no poetry last night in the Dancing With the Stars competition from Marie Osmond. You got to give her credit for having no shame. There have been meager performances by her in earlier weeks but last night was embarrassing and she had the audacity to scold judges for there critique. She should have exited weeks ago but the only thing more embarrassing then her performance last night would be if her fan base continued to put her and the viewers though such torment.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The difference between...

"Public toilets have a duty to be accessible, poetry does not." ~ Geoffrey Hill

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Who is art for?

Question? Should art be only for the elite or financially comfortable in society? Before you answer that question, read this article.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A pitiful bird

Thanksgiving day is over, but there are leftovers and plenty of things to remain thankful for. My oldest daughter living in Phoenix informed of of her 8 lb turkey. Eight pounds? I thought, ok, they bought a bird indigenous to Arizona. I mean what could it find in to eat there? Besides in the heat it would sweat off any fat it was otherwise unlikely to accumulate. So youngest daughter (like her father) especially enjoys turkey wings. Youngest daughter is also having Thanksgiving Day meal with oldest daughter. No one else is interested in fighting over wings. Which is a good thing. Poor bird probably had inch and a half wings. :: add inappropriate chuckle here:: I think I've seen larger Cornish hens.

It's crazy.... As I sit here at 7:15 AM there are actually people all over this crazy city that got up and went to malls and stores that were opening (some as early as 4 AM) early with special deals. Those poor souls in some cases had to get there and stand in lines that formed like 2 hours before opening. So like about 5 hours ago. Crazy Crazy People. Amazon lets you be crazy shopping like a fool from your home for Black Friday deals on all kinds of things.

On the actual subject of poetry, I did manage some rewriting yesterday. With success, I might add. Still, at one point I felt a bit of writers burn out coming on. I don't know what triggered it. It happens from time to time. I think mostly it seems to be associated with some overwhelming anxiety - not necessarily even related to writing. At any rate, it appears past for the moment.

Read a fun piece from Poetry Foundation dot org titled 1,1,2,3,5,8, Fun - What's a Fib? Math plus poetry. Their basis is the Faonacci sequence. The number of syllables in each line of the poem is the sum of the previous two lines: 1,1,2,3,5,8. It becomes a six line twenty syllable poem. I though I'd play around with it a bit and seewhat I can create. It's not at all new, some of you may have already been writing them.

Wow... here is a surprise! The Amazon Kindle is out of stock already! They only went on sale Monday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Galatea Resurrects - Eighth Issue

Eileen Tabios - GR Editor & Animal Lover - Wine expert, poet, etc. asked that we spread the word:

GALATEA RESURRECTS (A POETRY ENGAGEMENT) is pleased to release its Eighth Issue with 64 new reviews/engagements!We are always looking for reviewers; next review deadline is March 5, 2008. For GR's submission and review copy information, please go to

Missouri Opus

A thousand leaves give their last all-
Their lives spent together
they reach a pinnacle in their journey.
They take to the air
to imitate birds of spring-
their colors singing out;
they land and cover the ground
that nourished their entire lives.
This final opus their one chance
to shine in all God's glory
before put to rest
buried under a white blanket that
will inter them to the ground
from which they came.

Glenn North & Pellom McDaniels Tonight

Former Chiefs player Pellom McDaniels pictured left

Glenn North career as a spoken word artist began in 1997 when he founded Verbal Attack, a monthly open mic poetry event. Glenn is the Director of the Urban Transcendence Poetry Project where his duties included facilitating poetry writing and performance workshops for youth in Wyandotte County as well as the adjudicated youth in Jackson County detention centers.

Currently Glenn is the Poet-in-Residence of the American Jazz Museum where he organizes and hosts the popular open mic poetry competition, Jazz Poetry Jams. He is also working toward the completion of his first volume of poetry entitled, Fortunate Ad-Verse-ity.

Known by many as a former defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, Pellom McDaniels has moved beyond his athletic career to that of an accomplished academic and community activist. He has authored his own book, My Own Harlem, established the "Arts for Smarts" foundation, and currently serves as professor of American Studies at University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Both North and McDaniels are featured tonight
Tuesday November 20th, 2007
7:00pm to 11:00pm
1616 E 18th ST K.C., MO
in the Blue Room - Admission $5

Monday, November 19, 2007


Worked on some drafts & finished up one poem this weekend. Sent out three more into the world. Also did some brainstorming. So I would say it was a productive weekend. Also read a few poems.

I was interested to see several news items crop up on e-book readers. I had thought these items were like dead on arrival. Apparently some think not. Amazon is unveiling the new Kindle e-book reader Today in New York and Sony launched an upgraded version of its Sony Reader lat month. And The Wall Street Journal quoted an executive's estimated that e-book sales range between $15 million and $25 million annually. Still, in an industry that generated $25 billion in revenues last year that seems to me pretty small. I personally have downloaded e-books rarely, and I'm not sure that having a portable reader would change that much. I realize they do have some positive points including the environmental friendly nature but is there really that much potential for e-publishing?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

At the Same Time

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." ~ Thomas Merton

I am but a lost and found box
in which I am constantly
reappearing like the stray cat at your door.

Even I fail at times
the test of recognizing
the sad clown of suppressed laughter

or the Angry tiger barb in a bowl
with no other fish to dine on.
Who are these characters I ask...

and in the smoke that clears
is the pretext for lust of three car garages,
swimming pools, a wife and 2.3 children
by the proletariat.

Anger wrapped in swaddling clothes
and a Molotov cocktail in my hip pocket-
Jesus am I adequately confused yet?

You can see my self portrait
in black velvet paintings
for sale in a Love and Peace van
at the 66 station on 8th and Hamilton.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

At the botton of a fishing hole - on a chain and cender block

Last night, our local poetry society chapter celebrated Missouri's rich poetic heritage by reading from poets with Missouri connections, both living and deceased.

Then, later I put a poem in its second draft out of misery. I may steal a line from it for something else, but otherwise it is in the bottom of some Missouri fishing hole.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war." ~ Albert Einstine


This time of the year always seems ripe for gratitude. Maybe it's the coming of Thanksgiving, but I suspect it is a deeper rooted internal thing that perhaps comes with the end of summer and seeing changes occur. A passage from the green of summer to the multiplicity of fall colors remind us that things can and do change. Could it be that the abundance of change around us reminds us that those things which we appreciate can be delicate in their very existence?

At any event, I felt an overwhelming desire to make note of a few things that I feel a true gratitude for. Some are small things, some are much more significant and as such the order of their mention here has nothing to do with the level of significance from one to another.

  • an occasional glass of Chardonnay
  • a good nights rest
  • the clasp of my wife's hand when walking together
  • the Fire Red Oaks in our back yard in fall
  • a bite of dark chocolate
  • a call or text message from the kids during the day
  • my wife's voice on the phone in the middle of a busy day
  • white - sweet bread
  • a book of poetry within reach
  • Clairton - D when needed
  • a taste of honey
  • the smell of Brazilian Nut Butter
  • NPR radio
  • every single day of the baseball season
  • a/c in the car
  • a fountain pen
  • paper to write on
  • a furry four legged friend
  • hair on my head

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Giving Up - a memoir

I've finished reading Giving Up - The Last Days of Sylvia Plath by Jillian Becker. This small memoir now joins the dozens of biographical books and essays I have read about Sylvia and Ted.

This book is quite small. It need not be extensive because Jillian's contact with Sylvia was indeed short and the book only relates to that short period of days prior to Sylvia's death, when she sought refuge for her children from her distressed state with Jillian and Gerry Becker.

Much of what I read is merely another historical account of those days. As far as new perspective, it provides little, but perhaps a tad closer look Sylvia from a first hand perspective.

The most interesting things are:

  • Jillian's assessment that Dido Merwin truly could not stand Sylvia but was quite fond of Ted and saw him as an equal in stature to his husband Bill. This is not surprising, as the tone of this is set in the Anne Stevenson book "Better Fame." I suppose it was nice hearing someone else say what I believed I has surly not mistaken in reading Stevenson's biographical account.
  • Jillian's view that Sylvia had perhaps lost her passion for poetry at the end. This based on the fact that she was critical of Sylvia's last poems and thought them to be doggerel rhythms that seemed to stamp on the grave of poetry. She may not have liked Sylvia's poems, but the ones on question are among Sylvia's most powerful and passionate works. Once she was finished with them, perhaps she might have been drained emotionally, but It is hard for me to consider them a sign of a loss of passion. They are full of it!
  • Jillian Becker expressions about her own emotional response to Sylvia's life and death are expressed in heartfelt terms. She truly was in a unique position those final days, and some have perhaps suggested that she and Gerry (as well as others) could have and should have done more to save her. Her response to these suggestions is very reasonable. They may have kept Sylvia alive a few extra days, but they did not have the power to change the many external issues that added to Sylvia's issues. Jillian herself describes herself as a poet (though a humble one by the company she kept) and one addicted to poetry. She says she grew out of that addiction due at least in part to the painful involvement in the lives of poets. (Ted, Sylvia, Assia & her husband - perhaps others with which she was acquainted with)
  • It was noted that Sylvia left no suicide note. Not new information, but she reminded readers that the final poems she left would have been painfully clear to Ted if no one else.
  • The issue Jillian took with Ted's poem Dreamers, which she calls sickeningly anti-Semitic and the explanation she offered.
  • The fact that while Jillian and Gerry were present at Sylvia's funeral, there is no mention of the mystery man (mentioned in other accounts) in her account of those in attendance.
  • Taking issue with Sylvia's iconic stature by the feminist movement.

These are what I found most notable among pages (roughly 75) of the short memoir which is now a part of extensive Plath biographical reads.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dark Rich Friday Nite

Got a jump on the extended holiday weekend when I we shut down about three. I finished the project I was into and was gone by 3:20 and surprised my wife at her office - we got an early start to the evening. A dinner date at the Bronx and followed with a visit to Christopher Elbow - artisanal Chocolate. [Click Here]

Cathy and I both enjoyed dark chocolate drinks - Mine was Dark Chocolate Citrus and and Cath had Dark Chocolate Hazelnut. Yum!!! It's such an awesome place! They have some of the coolest chocolate art designs . You West coast peeps.... they have one opening in San Francisco next month.

That's it for tonight.... except a word from T.S. Eliot - "The most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible."

E-Commerce News: Privacy: AT&T Tech Paints Stark Picture of NSA Telecom Spying

Ask your Senator and Congressman Why AT&T and others should be granted Amnesty or Immunity from prosecution for violating your right to privacy without due process?

E-Commerce News: Privacy: AT&T Tech Paints Stark Picture of NSA Telecom Spying: "By Chris Maxcer E-Commerce Times 11/07/07 1:33 PM PT Mark Klein, a former employee of AT&T who has rallied against the telecom giant for its part in assisting the NSA in spying on Americans' communications, is visiting Washington to convince lawmakers not to let telecoms off the hook when it comes to lawsuits. Klein said he was privy to a secret NSA room in an AT&T facility which acted as a repository of secret data."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The short list

"Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers." -Mignon McLaughlin
Oh my God! How true is that?!!
Anyway, I've thought about the poet I'd pick to spend the day tagging along with (see my earlier post) and it's a tough call. I am narrowing it down... Ok, honestly I kept adding to the list as often as I whittled it. It was like two steps forward and one back. But this is where I am at now...
  • W.S. Merwin
  • Sharon Olds
  • Donald Hall
  • Cecilia Woloch
  • John Ashbery
  • Kim Addonizio
  • Denise Dehamel
There is a lot of variety between these poets, and there is something about each that makes them and or there work fascinating enough to believe that one could learn a lot from them if you had the opportunity to follow, observe, and ask questions of them through a day of watching them work. Now, the trick would be to decide upon just one of them. Oh, and not add any more to the list in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Day With A Poet

So today I was thinking about this unrealistic possibility that if we could pick a poet, any living poet and spend a day with them, tagging along, picking there brain, watching them at work... who would I pick? Of course there is like no chance of this happening, but it raises the question of who I might like to experience such an encounter with, someone who I'd like to believe such an experience might influence in some small way my approach to poetry, poetic theory, maybe learn something more about their work habits, the way they rework their drafts, etc.

I suppose this is the point where I reveal who this poet might be. Still, after much thought I have a list of candidates in mind, but have not been able to decide one one single victim.

What is interesting however, is the fact that my list includes some rather famous poets, but it also includes some lesser knowns. It is not simply the celebrity aspect that is important here, but individuals whose work I greatly admire and respect. I think back at history and the associations that developed between some prominent poets that you know had to have some impact on one another. Robert Lowell to both Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery. Robert Bly and James Wright, just to name a few. These connections fascinate me. I've found reading the published selected letters of many writers to be both enjoyable and in some instances educational. But I digress.

So I have this list which I will not expose just yet. I want to whittle it down a bit. Maybe I'll share it when I shorten the list a bit, and let you get the feel of me agonizing over the final selection (albeit an exercise in pure fantasy).

Drivetime Thought

Before the day grows crusty, I must get something done.

Birds Eye View

"Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life,
every quality of his mind is written large in his works."
~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day;
wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit."
~Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, November 04, 2007

If only [prompt]

If only our better judgement played out
at the Metropolitan Opera House
to a spunky cheerleader packed crowd.

Fall Colors

Autumn poetry is a dime a dozen. It is prolific I suppose because there are such quick and sharp changes in the images right before our eyes. It's easy material, but that is what makes autumn so hard to do well.
KATHLEEN JOHNSON writes in The Kansas City Star about poetry in the fall season, Midwestern autumn makes poetry resonate.

Johnson selects a few poets who have done autumn well. Marge Piercy, Sylvia Plath, Philip Miller (formerly from Kansas City), Clement Hoyt, and Ted Kooser. [click here]

Saturday, November 03, 2007

draft [Desolate Brand Name]

Desolate Brand Name

A deserted brand rested on the counter.
Alone, it could not move about.
There was no heart-to-heart, no clatter
Not even gossip to weight it down with guilt.

The brand became generic
Of its own accord.
A brand name, insignificant
With no one to call out to it.

The night grew into the severest ebony
It had ever know—
Failing to see beyond the room,
Beyond any hope—
It sought its own demise,
But remained helpless on the counter.

Friday, November 02, 2007

In passing

A day old thermos of thoughts;
lukewarm at best,
separated two intangibles.

Surprise! Yes, there is a correlation between publication and submission...

November sounds so unequivocally late in the year. Past the point of doing things over or differently. If you didn't join a Christmas club at your bank, it's too late for this year. And it you didn't apply yourself as diligently as you planned at writing, well it would likely take a stroke of magic to rectify that now. The same holds true for submissions of work.

I think this is the first year that I have truly satisfied myself with my submission efforts. That is not to say that I will slack off in November and December. No, I believe I can push my satisfaction level and perhaps my acceptances even higher.

I'm not really sure why or how it has come about that I have motivated myself as well as I have, but I think it has in fact had a bit of a habit forming aspect to it. While I don't have any idea how many pieces of work other poets shuffle off in search of new homes each year, I have come away with some concept of quantity with one poet / blogger and that is IVY. It follows that her successes with publishing have also seemed to be reflective of a very liberal amount of submission activity. It has been in fact quite inspiring to follow her exploits over the past three years or so that I have read her blog. I know there are other good examples out there of poets who are regularly achieving success with the exposure their work is getting. To all that have been enjoying good years, I say may 2008 be even better. To others who aren't quite there yet I say aim high next year and good luck!