Sunday, August 31, 2008

Report from the Gimp

Yesterday my knee which I had been favoring much of the week took a painful turn for the worse. Early yesterday it felt as though gout had set in. I've once before had a bout with gout several years ago. If you've never experienced gout it would be difficult to adequately describe it but suffice to say it is excruciatingly painful. Staying off it and ibuprofen has been my course of action. Tonight it is less painful and I am moving around with a little more ease. This has however put a bit of a crimp on my three day weekend. Spending much of it in and around bed, staying off my feet is not exactly what I had in mind. My wife did make me a delicious breakfast which I ate in bed.

I have worked on some writing yesterday and today but it gets a bit monotonous and thus becomes a distraction at certain points. Still, it is writing so that is progress.

The news of John McCain's selection for Vice President is interesting if not unsettling given her lack of any foreign policy experience and the fact that she has extremely limited governmental experience period. I believe there is no reason to fear a woman in the White House, I originally supported Hillary, but Sarah Palin would not be the same. This is a woman whose only other experience besides her short tenure as Governor of Alaska was city council and mayor of Wasilla, Alaska; a town that has a total area of about 12.4 square miles and a population estimated at about 6,700.

With hurricane Gustav likely to make landfall on the Louisiana coast by tomorrow morning, I have to think McCain has done the right thing by suspending much of the Republican Convention business in light of the hurricane. Thoughts and prayers go out to all those who find themselves again within the path of this powerful storm.

STLtoday - Missouri's poet laureate highlights area writers

Missouri's poet laureate highlights area writers
By Walter Bargen

Missouri's first poet laureate, Walter Bargen, begins a new feature for the Post-Dispatch this week. Every other week, he will choose a poem by a Missourian and write a short introduction to it.

This week, Bargen kicks off the feature with one of his own poems.
STLtoday - Missouri's poet laureate highlights area writers

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poetry reading is the new rock'n'roll

Name the 22 year old whose My Space poems have been listened to 300,000 times, has signed a major publishing deal with HarperCollins for her first book Mistakes in the Background, believes that spoken word is about to break into the mainstream. It's Laura Dockrill.

My Space Site Story by the Independent

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Poetry of Mahmoud Darwish

I wonder how many know of Mahmoud Darwish? He was not a poet I was familiar with until his recent death hit the news. Of course there are perhaps as many poets who escape my knowledge as there are grains of sand, but few with the lyrical power of words that seem to be embodied in his work.

He is not without controversy, which the circumstances of his life perhaps contribute more to than the tone of his poetry. At least that which I have seen.

A Palestinian born in what is today Israel was a factor that was destined to have enormous influence upon his life and ultimately how he would be viewed by others.

He was taught by his grandfather to read and write, his mother being illiterate. It was as early as age seven that he began writing poetry and the lessons of a lifetime of loss swell in his work.

In an editorial by written by As'ad AbuKhalil this month, Darwish is described as "...comfortable in Hebrew and had relations in Israeli society. But as an Arab Palestinian in a state based upon religious supremacy and privileges, he could only stand at a distance: he could only stay in the inferior status still reserved for Arab citizens of the state."

Darwish became regarded as the Palestinian national poet. His writing revered by the Palestinian people. Christina Patterson writing for the Independent writes that poetry is regarded as a pastime for the lost and lonely people of Palestine.

Between 1961 and 1967, Darwish was reportedly jailed by Israelis five times. There were many times he was under house arrest. The obstacles encountered seemed only to increase his writing output. People familiar with his work say he was far more interested in growing his literary abilities than pleasing the many Palestinian readers who became critical when he traveled to the Soviet Union or elsewhere to study and write. If they felt an abandonment, he never saw it that way.

Mahmoud Darwish died in Houston, Texas on August 9, 2008 three days following heart surgery. With this post, I hope to better familiarize many Americans who enjoy and appreciate a bit of a glimpse at who he was and his work. I believe, at least that which I have seen, is extraordinary.

I found this statement by the poet Naomi Shihab Nye on about him. "Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world's whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world—his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered."

Here are some resources to lean more about Darwish's work:

Two Poems By Mahmoud Darwish translated by Fady Joudah /Sonnet VI & Two Stranger Birds in Our Feathers

I Didn't Apologize to the Well

A Noun Sentence

With the Mist So Dense on the Bridge

Under Siege


"I will continue to humanize even the enemy... The first teacher who taught me Hebrew was a Jew. The first love affair in my life was with a Jewish girl. The first judge who sent me to prison was a Jewish woman. So from the beginning, I didn't see Jews as devils or angels but as human beings." Several poems are to Jewish lovers. "These poems take the side of love not war,"

"I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanize, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe, but now I think that poetry changes only the poet."

"We should not justify suicide bombers. We are against the suicide bombers, but we must understand what drives these young people to such actions. They want to liberate themselves from such a dark life. It is not ideological, it is despair."

"Why are we always told that we cannot solve our problem without solving the existential anxiety of the Israelis and their supporters who have ignored our very existence for decades in our own homeland?"

*source of quotes: Wikipedia

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes | The Trail |

Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes The Trail

Surprise, surprise, surprise! The electronic voting equipment from the company formerly known as Diebold has been the subject of repeated reports of issues related to reliability and glitches in recording and counting votes. These machines continue to be in widespread use. Quoting from the above article:

Officials in Butler County, Ohio -- north of Cincinnati -- were the first
to raise the issue when 150 votes from a card dropped in March. Brunner's office
originally said that 11 counties had the same problem but has since revised that
to nine. Her office was not able to say how many dropped votes were discovered
in those jurisdictions.

Unconscious Mutterings Week 290

Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
Word & Thought Associations

here's mine:

  • Signature :: brand
  • Olympics :: Medal
  • 100% :: certain
  • Damn! :: awesome
  • Gold :: medal
  • Fresh and natural :: vegetables
  • Fraction :: piece
  • Hurry :: come on
  • Summer :: baseball
  • 29th :: degree

Okay, I think this weeks word list was a bit lame but then again, no one asked me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Virgins - Rules & Going Postal

More interesting stuff around the blogosphere:

* John Sutherland's list of the 10 Top Literary Virgins. Come now, how can he be certain?

* Diane Lockward took up the challenge and did her list of personal rules for writing poetry and added some from others.

* Dana Guthrie Martin wants us to Go Postal

* Summer is fleeting, Kelli will be back to regular blogging soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two Words and a Laugh

Last night, my youngest daughter who has been home for the summer, dug out her ball glove and talked me into playing catch. It didn't take a lot of talking- I've wanted to play catch for a while now. Couple of years back I had a rotator-cuff injury and couldn't pitch a wad of gum underhanded.

For maybe 20 to 25 minuted we went back and forth. My arm felt good but was substantially lacking in power and distance.

Meg seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was then all at once when reaching low to make a catch, she pulled something in her back. We were finished for the evening.

This morning while my wife and I were driving into the city for work, Meg sent my wife a text message and said she could not understand why she ended up with and bad back and Mr. Brittle was unscathed. She cracks me up!

All right... time for some new words to drag out into the public view. Just two this time, but they are great words.

  • microphagous - adj. feeding upon small objects
  • philodox - n. dogmatic person; a person fond of opinions, especially their own.

OMG,,,, the second one sounds like me.


Eileen Tabois posted her POETRY SURVEY: AND ANALYSIS and if you have not been over to take a gander, you might do do.

I found Mary Biddinger's blog Word Cage the other day and she offers some insightful blogging on poetry. What do you need, and why? is a fascinating look at what she has to do to write a poem. At last count there were like 9 replies in the comments and it's fun to see what everyone else has to say on the subject.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Breather

I've been cleaning and I'm in need of a break. So this is my break. Nothing earth shattering- this blog post is likely to be more therapeutic in value than informative.

I was excited by the Women's softball team at the Olympics being 20-0! In Baseball, The U.S. was down four runs midway through their game with Canada and scoured 5 unanswered runs to win and stay in the hunt for the medal rounds. Sure I could mention Phelps, but I'm sure someone else has been talking about him.

We are coming up on the Democratic National Convention in about a week. I'm going to step out here and make a prediction on Obama's running mate. At one point I thought he might select Hillary Clinton in spite of a good number of reasons he would likely overlook her. I don't believe it will be Hillary and unfortunately I don't think it will be any woman. You have to give Hillary credit for enhancing the possibility of a woman President. I'm not suggesting anyone make bets on the basis of my prediction, but right now I'd have to say I believe Joe Biden followed by Evan Bayh are my predictions.

I would be remiss if I ended this post without a hint of a mention of poetry, so I'll point you to this amusing story... Olympics postcard: Chinese translations pure poetry. Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

More on Truth and Poetics

The other night, I noted a quote by Laurie Sheck and then headed off to bed to contemplate her words. I'll repeat them here now.

"The poet unmasks the language of power. The language of power is the language of the lie."

As I thought that evening about her words, as well as the following day I kept coming back to the thought that if poetry unmasks the language of power, and the language of power is the language of the lie, then poetry must be about truth. But that was an easy step for me because I've come to accept poetry as in essence a truth.

Now I know there are plenty of individuals who fail to understand the concept of poetry as "a truth" but for those who might be reading this and shaking their head, let me explain.

Where you often here people argue the concept of poetry equals truth is they will often ask about a specific poem and the details therein. When they find that the poem is not specifically about an incident that really occurred to the poet, they will jump on that as fiction.

For some, truth is an absolute. It is indisputable. Within that context, if you hold something to be true but I hold something different to be true, one of us has to be wrong. It is an all or nothing proposition. In the realm of poetics today I think we must accept that there are truths that are less than absolute. We can see something and explain it for example in a metaphorical context. In fact you and I may explain it using different metaphors. You may be able to agree that you can see what I am saying but you might have chosen a totally different metaphor then I. In this way, language allows for truths that are not absolutes. It is in the language of poetry that we can see the same thing in different ways sometime looking squarely at that which is disingenuous and calling it out.

If language has power (and I believe it does) it has it to the extent that we allow it to. Poetry frees us to use language rather than allow language to control us. Through poetry, that lie is looking a little less secure to me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Sorry, I can't help it. Sometime overnight the 40,000th unique visitor was registered in our stats at Stickpoet Super Hero!

Kudos too for U.S.women’s gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson who won Gold and Silver respectively last night in Beijing.

*photo credit -

A parting thought....

A thought to take to bed with me tonight from the poet Lauie Sheck-

"The poet unmasks the language of power. The language of power is the language of the lie."

On that note, I'm off to bed to contemplate what this means to the poet and his or her audience.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chaos as an art form

Have you ever thought of chaos as an art form? I mean there are people who thrive within it and others who cannot handle it at all.

There are times when I've tried to get my shit together so to speak and found that the attempts to organize simply lead to more chaos.

For a number of years, I've carried a Franklin Planner. Back before PDAs were like the gold standard in organizing your business and personal lives. My work life became dependent upon one. Still, utilizing the proper method of indexing and what-not adds a whole extra layer of chaos into your day. I'm not saying it's unnecessary, I'm saying it requires more steps, more detail, more time, etc.

For a long time I saw myself as one who could not give up the hard copy of notations for the electronic benefits of a PDA. Then I got a smart phone (a telephone with enough options at your fingertips to launch a war) and I settled into the idea of using the PDA aspect of it. It was nice to free myself of some of the paperwork, but alas, I found that I was not able to maintain enough detail (in work related projects) to rely strictly on the PDA. So now, I do both. More layers of work in what is already a chaotic work day.

My chaos is however not limited to my day-to-day work. No, my writing is also well amerced in chaos. I have drafts and poems on a desktop at home. I have drafts in journals with heavy emphasis on the "s" and I have them on a flash drive. Some are in folders and some are not. Now I have a laptop in which I am attempting to establish greater order. It seems like such a daunting task that when I think of achieving greater order, my mental picture is something akin to world order and that seems unattainable.

So, am I blessed with the "gift" of chaos? Or did I simply work hard in my earlier life to build on sound principals of chaos till I have achieved near perfection of the art?

Then I ask myself, are there some people who are predisposed to chaos? Are right brained people stronger in chaotic traits? How about Capricorns? People with ADD? Blondes? People who love baseball? First born children? Where does it come from?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympics over sleep....

Watching Olympics, just got in from a poetry society meeting tonight and I'm trying to catch on the events of the day. I've never been as big on the summer games as I am the winter, but I have enjoyed quite a few events this time. I've especially enjoyed the volleyball, badminton,
field hockey, gymnastics. I'm not a big fan of swimming but I've followed the exploits of the U.S. team none the less. The men's relay was awesome the other night.

I did not see it but I understand the U.S. women's softball team had a good day. The softball and baseball I'm very interested in. I couldn't care less about basketball. Skeet shooting- thumbs down. I am disappointed that I did not see the fencing.

Anyway, tonight's meeting was good. Had a new draft of a poem that I read and got good feedback on. I am feeling upbeat about my work this past week. I have four pieces now that are strong and need a little tweaking.

Enough for now. Back to the games.

Unconscious Mutterings Week 289

Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
Word & Thought Associations

here's mine:
  • Month to month :: Rental
  • Adjusted :: well
  • Prank :: call
  • Mop :: handle
  • Clarity :: humor (don't ask me why that was the first thing that came to my mind)
  • Parenting :: good
  • Glenn :: John
  • Fingerprint :: Dillinger
  • Pineapple :: Cake
  • Attorney :: General

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poetry In the News 8-10-08

  • Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died Saturday in Houston - NPR AFP
  • ‘Sort of Gone’ should be hit with poetry and baseball fans -daily gazette
  • Whether sweeping or concise, narrative poetry always powerful -Norwich Bulletin
  • 'Mad Men' using Frank O'Hara's 'Meditations in an Emergency' boosts sales -LA Times
  • Poetry at the 2012 Olympic Games? - The Times Online

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Jon Voight Acting Up

Actor Jon Voight has apparently had an epiphany of sorts. It seems he now considers his opposition to the war in Vietnam as somewhat of an "indiscretion of his youth" and he has seen the light in the current presidential race.

Voight calls Obama, "...a God-like figure in a man who falls short in every way." Well of course he will Jon, but we aren't electing a God we already have someone in the White House who believes he's one. We are electing a president. Something we haven't really had in a while.

But Voight goes on, "There's not a cell in my body that can accept the idea that Mr. Obama can keep us safe from the terrorists around the world, and from Iran, which is making great strides toward getting the atomic bomb." Voight concludes, " If, God forbid, we live to see Mr. Obama president, we will live through a socialist era that America has not seen before, and our country will be weakened in every way."

Pretty caustic stuff. I'm however, most baffled by his opposition the the Vietnam war as being a youthful indiscretion. I mean we know more today then we did back then about the real story behind the Gulf of Tonkin incident and how Johnson manipulated our full scale entry into the conflict. There is far less reason to justify the Vietnam war today then there was back then. Besides, Remember the old domino theory? That happened Right?

I'm thinking he's confusing youthful indiscretion of yesterday with early onset senility today?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Unconscious Mutteerings Week 288

Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
Word & Thought Associations

here's mine:
  • Crankiness :: old man
  • Backpack :: books
  • Clone :: sheep
  • High ground :: ethics
  • Dreams :: fantasy
  • Lovingly :: kind
  • Mistake :: accidental
  • Carson :: Kit
  • Errand :: Boy
  • Dozen :: Dirty

A Summer of Discontent?

As the Beijing Olympics opens to all it's anticipated fanfare, what will be the storyline that emerges around the world?
Will it be one of a China that is developing into a more modern society with tremendous economic growth, or will it be one of a nation that in spite of a globalizing influence, remains backwards and determined to suppress civil dissent?

I will be anxious to see how free reporters and bloggers are to bring us the story of these Olympic games. Historically coverage has been as much about the culture of the host people as it has about the athletic competition. There is a strong national pride that is evident among the Chinese people connected with these games. I'm sure China wants use to these games the enhance their world image, but will the world see a picture of China that is real or one that is filtered through the only lens that the government allows us to view?

Thursday, August 07, 2008


gotBREAST? is a feature-length documentary exploring how women feel about their breasts.

The documentary includes a diverse cross section of women...single, married and divorced, straight, gay and bisexual women. Ages 2 to 62 with broad ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

The film addresses a variety of aspects:
  • breast implants and body image
  • to sexuality and relationships
  • breastfeeding
  • breast cancer.

The purpose is to inspire open and honest dialog among men, women, and teens.

The documentary helps debunk myths and challenges audiences to examine societal and personal definitions of female sexuality, beauty, motherhood, and breasts’ relation to physiological and emotional health.

The filmmakers, Stacey Tolbert and Annie Walsh will take questions following the screening. Friday 8-8-08 @ 8:00 p.m.

Saturday 8-9-08 @ 2:00 p.m.

hosted by the YWCA's girls and health program directors. Mothers and daughter are encouraged to attend this screening together, as well as Youth organizations. Large groups are encouraged to reserve seats.
Donations accepted at the door.For more information, contact Patrick Alexander at

YWCA of Greater Kansas City 1017 North 6th Street Kansas City, KS 66101
* Note: I met Stacey at a local poetry workshop over a year ago. She is a talented poet and writer. I also heard her on a local radio program discussing this production when they were working on it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Where do Stick Poet Readers Come From?

I haven't done this is an while and it's always kind of fun to see where the readers are coming from. so, here is a breakdown of the geographical areas the last 62 site visitors came from.

  • 8 Dallas TexasUnited States
  • 7 New York New York United States
  • 3 Philadelphia Pennsylvania United States
  • 3 Tampa Florida United States
  • 3 Charlotte North Carolina United States
  • 2 Los Angeles California United States
  • 2 Rancho Cucamonga California United States
  • 2 San Antonio Texas United States
  • 2 Washington District Of Columbia United States
  • 2 Kansas City Missouri United States
  • 1 Grand Rapids Michigan United States
  • 1 Norfolk Nebraska United States
  • 1 Bronx New York United States
  • 1 Clovis California United States
  • 1 Nice Provence-alpes-cote D'azur France
  • 1 Gardena California United States
  • 1 London England United Kingdom
  • 1 Overland Park Kansas United States
  • 1 Garnett Kansas United States
  • 1 Lynnwood Washington United States
  • 1 Koeln Nordrhein-westfalen Germany
  • 1 Wenatchee Washington United States
  • 1 Toronto Ontario Canada
  • 1 San Mateo California United States
  • 1 Raleigh North Carolina United States
  • 1 Providence Rhode Island United States
  • 1 Short Hills New Jersey United States
  • 1 Antioch California United States
  • 1 Reston Virginia United States
  • 1 Chicago Illinois United States
  • 1 Mt. Laurel New Jersey United States
  • 1 Tallahassee Florida United States
  • 1 Baltimore Maryland United States
  • 1 Denver Colorado United States
  • 1 New Hyde Park New York United States
  • 1 Cambridge Massachusetts United States
  • 1 San Francisco California United States
  • 1 West Chester Pennsylvania United States

Who's the Bimbo Now John McCain?

Paris Hilton Responds to John McCain

She's been to the Mountain Top

Wisdom seems to be tied to experience or at least exposure. We often say it comes with age, but there are plenty of aging people that just don't get it. And too, people who ought to have the experience sufficient to acquire the wisdom but don't.

Reading a recent post on THE BLIND CHATELAINE'S KEYS by Eileen Tabios (AKA Moi), I am taken by how clearly she seems to see the poetry publishing model as it has evolved, as well as her vision of what could be the optimum working model. Let me reiterate I'm speaking about how she sees the way it has evolved. We all know that from both perspective of the poet and the consumer, it's broken.

I don't know if it is the air Tabios is breathing atop the mountain but perhaps more publishers should get out of their offices and trek up that mountain to get a different view of the landscape.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Poetry in The News 8-5-08

A few Poetry news items...

  • Robert Bly: The best poetry is always religious [story]
  • Using poetry to laugh at the President’s playlist [story]
  • Phoebe Snow Is On the Comeback Trail [story]

Monday, August 04, 2008

Today's Thought...

All My Life and it has not come to any more than this: beauty and terror.
~Mary Oliver

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tax Free Weekend

This post is coming to you via my new Toshiba laptop.

The 17 inch screen is especially nice. It's audio and video capacities will come in handy for some future podcasting I'd like to do.

Getting used to Vista- I am normally on Windows XP at the office, so this is a bit new to me. Missouri has a Tax free weekend each year before school starts which makes it nice making a purchase of this size. I was looking at a Dell on line but that would have been my second pick.

Now I need to get busy organizing my files on here and working on a number of drafts that I've accumulated. I am hoping that I can be more systematic about my writing. I do like writing in my journal, but once I have something roughed out, I think taking it to a page where I can see the layout and toy with it more like it would be on a printed page allows for an aspect of development of the piece that is otherwise cumbersome in handwriting.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border -

Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border -

Planning to travel abroad? When you re-enter the U.S. the Department of Homeland Security has disclosed that Federal agents may take your laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing. These officials may share copies of the lap top's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons.

The policies cover any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form:

  • including hard drives
  • flash drives
  • cellphones
  • pagers
  • ipods
  • video and audio tapes

They also cover:

  • all papers and other written documentation
  • including books
  • pamphlets
  • pocket trash
  • pocket litter

Yes that would miscellaneous paper scraps in your pocket.

With all the talk about abuses in the civil liberties of people by the Chinese government, I'd say that under the Bush administration we are well down that slippery slide. More information on protecting privacy issues can be found here

You May Be A Closet Poet If...

Be careful those of you besmirching poets... some of you may be closet poets yourself.

You could be a closet poet:

  • If you use a circle to dot your i
  • If when sitting erect your head lobs slightly to it's right
  • If you suddenly stop your sentences before the end of a line and continue on the line below
  • If you personify your ball glove or other objects you hold near and dear to you
  • If things that befuddle others makes perfect sense to you
  • If the absence of punctuation can be found at times in what you write
  • If you write words or sentences in disjointed cursive letters
  • If you've ever found yourself sitting in a dark closet alone and enjoyed it
  • If you secretly wish to be called by the name Wadsworth, Emily, ee, Sylvia or Pablo

Michael A. Wells © 2008