Monday, December 31, 2007

Final 12 month review of the year

Statistics totals reflect last 12 months from this date: 12-31-07

Pending responses: 18
Submissions sent last 12 months: 43
Submissions sent this month: 10
Acceptance ratio: 15.38 %

Happy New Year Everyone!
May 2008 be filled with much inspiration ~ writing ~ and publication to you all!
"The Present is a Point just passed." ~ David Russell

In one way or another, time seems to find a way into a good deal of poetry. I suppose, because it often becomes another "place" and in so many ways poetry relies upon place. A place in the past... a birthday, a death, a walk in the park on one certain day in May, or it's about where someone is this very moment in their life. Still, it can present itself in the fears, dreams, hopes of the future.

There are periods when I write a lot about time myself, in one way or the other. It is an easy place to go for a poet because it can be anywhere s/he wants it to be and it can help distance the writing from the moment we are in and, it seems easier to write in another time than another persona.

Why am I blogging on time today? I suppose because New Years Eve is one of those dividers of time, just as time zones are or the International date line (not a reference to a singles phone service). We catalogue things by points of time and so one of those great separators of then and now, or past and future seems as good as any to think about the relativity of time.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

12 days left to Vote on Poetry & Academia

Mobile post sent by stickpoet using Utterz. Replies. mp3

7 Things You Should Know About Writing Poetry:

Deborah Ager posted a list of 7 things you should know about writing poetry. She challenged others to make their own list. I saw Kelli's list & below you will find mine.

7 Things You Should Know About Writing Poetry:

  1. Writing poetry can be solitary even amongst other people.
  2. There will be days you question what you are doing and swear you’ll never write again. This will pass. Often later the same day.
  3. People will think you are moody because you are a poet. This is not so. Even people who cannot write a single line of poetry can be moody anytime prior to their death.
  4. You will add years to your life if you can learn to resist trying to explain the meaning of your poetry when people ask.
  5. It is not mandatory that you be narcissistic to be a poet, but on the other hand it won’t hurt.
  6. Not everything we write has happened to us. If so, we would all be a little too weird.
  7. It’s not that our parent(s) didn’t teach us to share; we just tend to get fussy about our writing instruments, journals, and the table at Starbucks we sit at, etc.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Fools Gold?

Wine anyone? At left is a snapshot of a portion of an art piece that was done the the top raps of wine bottles the cover the corks. A gripping piece of art work my daughter and I saw yesterday. When I first saw it from a distance I had no idea what the medium was but it locked on me like a heat seeking missile and we were inseparable at that point. I had to see it up close.
The brilliance reminded me of fools gold. Sort of chunky and multi layered in texture. I wanted to bring it home though it would have taken a massive wall to display it on.
We saw a number of exhibits - many old black and white photos - lot of them civil war era. I am continually impressed with what a talented photo artist can do with black and white.
There were some civil war battle photos. I was remarking to my wife how gory they were when Meghan (daughter) took issue with the gore description. And she was right. They were certainly not gory by cinema or even news standards today, but they were disturbing none the less in a very real way.
While there was not the blood and or mutilation we often equate with gore, many were battlefield shots taken the day after a battle. The stiff and sometimes bloated bodies would have configurations of limbs that suggested that many were left dying - scattered about the landscape perhaps for hours in pain, or one reaching for another nearby in life and frozen in that reach to their final ounce of remaining life was gone. It was perhaps more properly a morbidity than gore.
Today we took Meghan to Christopher Elbows Chocolate to celebrate her birthday. You want decadence? Try it. There is supposed to be one opening in San Francisco for you out west.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Few Thoughts this Thursday Night

After a very intense day at work I came home, had dinner, watched a bit of TV and had a glass of wine and now have sit down to collect my thoughts.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is heavy on my mind. I suppose in part, because I always find political assassination to be particularly distasteful. It is so contrary to the order of society and political discourse. Another reason I think it hits home with me is that I have been thinking a lot lately about the role of arts in society the past few days and how democratic nations where free speech is tolerated is a place where arts should by all rights flourish and those nations that are controlled by a strong government of censorship and repression of ideas should be free of such artistic expression.

I look at China and Burma for example and am amazed at the courage it takes to be an artist outside the control of the government in these places. Still, we see evidence of courageous individuals who risk much under harsh conditions. Then I think how in our own country so many of us sit back and watch quietly as so many elements of our freedom are challenged from within.

The Pakistani people are truly at a critical juncture and it seems obvious there is a very fine line between the existence of a presumed democratic state and a military controlled one and just how tenuous democracy has become there.

It’s funny that political discourse and artistic expression can both provoke strong reactions from people. So here I am tonight, not listening to any music that I can share with you, but instead considering just how much alike the arts and political discourse are. How both need a positive nurturing environment to remain healthy.

The people of Pakistan tonight must surely recognize how delicate the order to their society is.
The rest of us wait, and watch to see how it responds to the challenges it is presented with. What kind of order and society will survive.

Meanwhile, I think about poetry, music, and other fine arts and realize they aren’t just art, but expressions and reflections of who we are. We need to stop treating them as “just” arts, like in the educational process they are less than. Less than science or math or history. They are after all, who we are as a people. When art is restricted, our expressions are muffled. When that happens, freedom and democracy are on the line.

Political assassinations not only kill people, but the expression of ideas. Suppression of the arts
will kill them too.

Looking into the future...

You may not have cracked open your 2008 planner yet, but take note that Oct. 23, 2008 - Charles Simic, current poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner, reads from his work at the Midwest Poets Series on the Rockhurst University Campus. Simic is one of several poets whose work I like to read and reread - especially when I find myself in a writing funk. His work is like a jump start to the creative processes inside my brain.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone this holiday season joy ~ peace ~ and safe travel.

Michael Wells

Monday, December 24, 2007

Latest 12 month Update

Pending responses: 16
Submissions sent last 12 months: 46
Submissions sent this month: 8
Acceptance ratio: 15.38 %

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This morning from my bedroom I heard rain beating against the windows. Considering the temperature I knew this was not a good thing. Tonight the ball field across the street looks larger then life in massive white.

In the picture above, my bud Barry, maintains a stern view of things.

Started reading Pushkin's Eugene Onegin which my daughter brought home with her from school for the Christmas break. Considering her distaste of poetry I am intrigued that she enjoyed the book so much.

Haven't shared any journal bits for a few days so I'll throw some in this post...

  • portions of the night are tattered/comfort estranged/rest could only be a figment of active imagination
  • I looked at my left hand/traced the lines deep/into the country side/until I could not recall /how I got there
  • strung together, we are popcorn/and cranberries- differences/flashing red lights do not exclude
  • night is lax on standards/makes no effort to screen/leaving the door ajar
  • there is one non sequitur/that echoes in your head/and loosens the bindings/of Webster's unabridged/joins the others as the new word for the year/the binding restitched all tidy

Friday, December 21, 2007

With the good comes a dilemma

As the year draws to a close, I find myself looking back on my work this year with both a satisfaction and a quandary about the future.

My success rate with getting material published has been the best ever this year. I think in part due to more aggressive submission efforts than past. Still, I do feel that I have managed some outstanding pieces of work over the year and this is a result for growth in my work.

I've placed a greater emphasis upon revision of my poems and keep them back longer in many instances then in the past. The dilemma I am facing is the feeling that the method I have relied upon for workshoping work is broken. There is not sufficient consistency available among my existing sources to be able to simply be satisfied with how this is working.

I have met in the past with another group at a local library for this purpose but there were only a couple of us writing poetry and the rest were fiction writers. It was not a good match and I discontinued my participation.

Our local poetry chapter has at times been a source of input, but we do not meet solely for the purpose of workshoping and while it proves helpful at times, it is not a situation where there are other who regularly use it for this purpose and as such I do not want abuse the meeting time.

There are others with whom I have in the past exchanged work by email for the purpose of workshoping and that has worked well at times, but more recently it seems again, a one way street. It is not a good thing when I am more regularly working on stuff and others have little or nothing to send. I am a firm believer that everyone needs to feel the benefit of such a process. Lately, (and perhaps it is due to the holiday season) everyone else seems to be at a standstill. At any rate, as I look ahead to the new year, I must figure out how to deal with this challenging issue.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quote for the Day

"Art is only a means to life, to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way, something which is overlooked not only by the public, but very often by the artist himself. In becoming an end it defeats itself." ~ Henry Miller

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inevitable (draft)

Inevitable (draft)

The prodigal son is just one of many
though he knows expectations run high.
There is always this red velvet carpet
that divides his thought process.

The future is some worm baited taunt,
and awkward as being caught with a cousin
at the Perkins family reunion.
It takes the swim of salmon upstream

to break a biblical cycle
that darkens the sky and
chokes off free will.
Times like these you swear
You’re an orphan.

Dan Fogelberg 1951-2007

Dan Fogleberg, singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era of the late 1970's died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56.

Leader of the Band Run For The Roses

It's Monday already? :::sigh:::

Christine Klocek-Lim announces Autumn Sky Poetry 8 is on line. I haven't read it yet, but I intend to today. Christine's selections are worthy reads.

My youngest daughter came home for the holidays. It's so refreshing to hear her laughter in the house.

Went to Boarders yesterday looking for a certain book and came up empty. Sometimes I think I should own a bookstore so that there was on which stocked a broad inventory of poetry material and not just a token section. Of course I'd likely go broke doing it. Wait a minute! I am broke.

Wow - Sandra Beasley has a poem on Slate : The World War Speaks

Reminder: regular readers may want to subscribe to Stick Poet & receive it in the mail box. See the subscribe box by Feed Burner in the left sidebar.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Robert Hass Interviewed

Poet Robert Hass interview by Wall Street Journal online [click]

Diane Middlebrook - Poet & biographer dies of cancer

Diane Middlebrook - perhaps best known for her book, Anne Sexton- a biography, died this weekend of cancer. Middlebrook was 68 and had taught in the English department at Stanford. She is also the author of Her Husband: Hughes and Plath, a Marriage a 2003 best selling biography.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The challenge to become something else...

Texture is an awakening call. It says, "I'm not ordinary. Feel me, see me, become me on a page."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Journal smatterings

  • perception grows elongated/hangs around crowds/making the kinds of impressions/teenagers do to one another/looking to make points/with the opposite sex
  • Intonation offered up for what?/ears- or simply a regurgitation
  • nights of elastic boredom/ripple with salty waves/of complacency we suck on/there is a satisfying feeling /like a dog gets licking your face
  • you showered the long day away/I gave you a bath robe/the belt hung limp

Gamers will 'w00t' over word of the year - Internet-

Gamers will 'w00t' over word of the year - Internet- " Expect cheers among hardcore online game enthusiasts when they learn Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. Or, more accurately, expect them to 'w00t.' 'W00t,' a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness, topped all other terms in the Springfield dictionary publisher's online poll for the word that best sums up 2007."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Duende & the Bag We Drag Around

Getting back to duende, The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux has a chapter in it called The Shadow. In it they relate what the psychologist Carl Jung describes as our pleasant self with which we identify and our hidden self which we try to deny or reject altogether.

They go on to correlate this to what the poet Robert Bly refers to as the shadow. Our shadow is presumably a long beg we drag behind us throughout life. As we learn what others / society doesn’t like, we start “bag stuffing” or discarding into the bag what we do not wish others to see. By the time we are adults there is just this thin slice of us visible and the rest we’ve stashed in the bag we drag around.

Addonizio and Laux have pieced this altogether with Lorca’s duende (see yesterday’s post) and it is certainly easy to see where this other part of us comes from. Without committing anything to a page, one can see how our lives alone reflect this conflict. If we can dip into this bag as we write, our writing can reveal a part of us that offers a genuine picture of humanity that we do not normally identify with, yet, is very real.

I know from personal experience how hard it is to get away from self censorship. If we subconsciously withhold a grater part of ourselves in day to day life, how easy can it be to peel back the cover and let light expose that which we work so hard to deny.

My challenge is to go to that bag when I write and try my best to reach into it like I were drawing a letter while playing scrabble and just accept what comes out to incorporate it into my poetry.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Finding duende

I've been reading some material from several sources on the subject of duende. I find myself transfixed the concept of this sort of anti-muse. It's amusing that so much time and energy is focused on us finding the inspiration of our muse and yet there is beneath the surface this vast iceberg of subconsciousness that we as poets so often abnegate.

I've spoken here in the past about how so often the really striking poetry rises out of conflict. This is something Donald Hall has written about in essay. In Edward Hirsch's the demon and the angel - Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration he talks about the emergence of the duende philosophy I believe first introduced by the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca in a 1930 lecture. There are a variety of other poets and philosophers who speak of this same mysterious force deep within human nature. I am finding the shared view of numerous poets on this subject to be a significant part of my learning curve as it relates to poetics.

In both my own writing and in the works of other poets that I especially enjoy reading, I like to see and feel dissonance. That contrasting conflict that arises when we write from inspiration on one hand, and allow ourselves the uncensored deep rooted mysterious part of our self to come out and play in our work. It is when these two forces - internal and external are present that I believe the best writing often occurs.

Enough on this subject tonight... but I will take it up again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Little Poetry News to Chew On

Wendy Cope is not amused to find her work spread about the Internet... The British poet is a strict advocate of copyright protection. [ story]

In Janet's World the poetry is contemporary issues and extremely accessible - though not likely to win any awards. [ story ]

Tiny chapbooks that combine art, literature and design [ story ]

The story of on of Philip Larkin's (1922-85) greatest narrative poems, "The Explosion"which offers thoughts on the process of poetry.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Looking For The Right Poet

Search for First Missouri Poet Laureate Continues- Laura Spencer [ click here ]

If you are looking for a real treat this Friday...

I recommend going to qarrtsiluni online literary magazine for the poem by Dana Guthrie Martin - titled: And the Crickets Outside the Window. Click here

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A poet & his companion...

It's cold here tonight. Snow came to the Kansas City area today. Driving home tonight was treacherous.

To the left you see my little tuckered out buddy that was banished to the room with the poet at work for tormenting one of the cats. Sort of like sending him to Siberia I guess.

He's a good boy most of the time... but he has his weak moments. But don't we all?

Worked on some rewrites tonight and also sent off three poems in search of homes. I feel compelled to find these orphans homes for the holiday.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Check out Picture Poetry

Piclit from Poetry Picture
See the full Piclit at Poetry Picture

Poets and Evolution of Language

For me, poetry, more than any other form of literature has brought to the forefront a greater awareness of the dependence of language upon external factors. This underscores a dynamic of human communications that surprisingly make language subservient to both pictorial and emotional whims, and adds a layer of complexity that amazingly is evolutionary in nature.

Since poetry is generally regarded as the best words in the best order, such focus on word economy greater exposes each word to scrutiny, thus providing greater focus upon meaning. Individual words stand out far more in poetry than say fiction or essay or any other written communication endeavor.

It is amazing to me how the centenaries of language evolution must have progressed as man sought to find common quotients in expression. The transference from cryptic drawings to word sounds and the vastness of vocabulary expansion seems to me nothing short of phenomenal. There can be no mistaking this was an evolutionary process and it seems to me somewhat odd to think that even today this evolution is still in process right under our noses.

Is not the very articulation of metaphorical usage pushing the envelope of language? It seems to me the answer is yes, and in that context poets have a significant role to play in moving and shaking the language of our culture. The question I have, is which side of the curve are poets more often on? Are we ahead of the curve pulling language, or are we behind the curve pushing the cultural change of language as the read them in society today?

Monday, December 03, 2007

The past twelve months....

Three rejections today... Que Sera, Sera.
On that note, a survey of my past 12 month activity....
  • Pending responses: 11
  • Submissions sent last 12 months: 40
  • Submissions sent this month: 2
  • Acceptance ratio: 15.79 %

Affirmation: I will do more over the next 12 months!

Monday Rat Race Starts

Saw this on Ivy's blog.... cool huh? Poetry Library

Quote for today....

I will show you fear in a handful of dust. ~ T.S. Eliot

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Poetry in the News - Sunday Night

A few stories of interest -

  • Letters of Ted Hughes reveals a fascinatingly honest man (click)
  • Poetry of Protest - a story from Iran (click)
  • John Ashbery & Robert Lowell - Two great American poets but very different (click)
  • Robert Pinsky has perfected a kind of multicultural poetic shorthand (click)