Sunday, November 30, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings Week 205

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Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
Word & Thought Associations  

here's mine:


  • Sleepy :: Tired
  • Thanksgiving :: Parade
  • Fifteen :: minutes
  • Authority :: Government
  • Bangs :: uneven
  • Curled :: up and died
  • Young man ::
  • Surprised :: Startled
  • Mistake :: Error
  • Handle it :: Deal with it
  • Letter Writing

    Snow fell upon our fair city overnight. The ground was covered this morning and the dogs romped in it. It's gone from the roads and much of the yard has already given it up. I haven't heard the forecast but the sky looks like it held some back perhaps for later today.

    Yesterday, a rejection letter visited my e-mail. I guess that means I'm just one more no closer to a yes.

    I've started reading Letters of Ted Hughes, and while I am not far along in the book yet, I've realized that even in general correspondence with family and friends he was masterful with language. His descriptive examples often quite poetic. There is no amount of creativity lost from his ordinary writing, which is really to say there is nothing quite ordinary about his writing at all.

    With letter writing all but dead in this day and age, I imagine anyone still doing it would be hard pressed to make their letters quite as interesting as Ted did. I am certain that as I get further along in the chronology of this book I will discover other most interesting facts about Hughes and as well as those in his circle of influence. I do so enjoy the biographical and psychological aspect of the lives of poets through their journals and letters. It's not quite voyeuristic but I suppose it is a bit like looking for the pathology within a poet's mind.

    At any rate, you can count on me posting any other significant observations as I read on. 

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Out For a Drive

    The flames rise on either side of the curves

    and the fall wind threatens to spread the colors

    about the ground.

    The asphalt with shapely hips allures countless lookers

    trusting the calendars will not deceive them

    or waste their valued weekend.

    A new delight awaits past each camber;

    imperial topaz and alexandrite flickers in the autumn sky

    subdued only by the occasional rust, tan or brown filament.

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    A Bear Market for the Arts


      Under normal conditions the outcome of the Presidential election might well have been one to favor the arts.  There were signs that Obama acknowledged that art plays a significant role in society and examination of McCain's various policy statements showed his public policy on arts education to be quite contrasting. Additionally McCain had a well known record as he voted repeatedly to cut funding for or terminate the National Endowment for the Arts. 

    But these are not ordinary times. Today is supposed to be the big retail day of the year and shopping results will likely be disappointing to those who mull over the the sales stats looking for a some kind of trend. 

    The economy that is being transferred from the existing administration in Washington to the new President Obama is dismal. Employment figures are taking a beating. Sales of big ticket items, cars, homes, etc. are stalled and investments in traditional commodities and job creation are in decline. It is not likely that as the song goes, "Happy Days are Here Again."

    Poets & Writers online features a story this week that  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently requested that its editors stop acquiring books.  We are talking about a significant sized publisher here.

    In these hard times that are likely to grow even more worrisome in the months ahead, it is hard to see how the arts will likely benefit from much philanthropic activity if business are fighting for survival.

    Small publishing houses who often find it hard to make ends meet will be challenged even grater. I can't imagine the state of writing grants improving.  These things surly will make the competition for those looking to get their first manuscript published more exigent.

    It is hard to see the way out of this economic calamity that we are in, but I might suggest that if you are one who is still doing Christmas/holiday exchanges, you might consider giving a new copy of one of your favorite poet's works that was published by a small press.  It's a place to start.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    A Long Short Week


     These three days have been long ones. I've been so anxious for the holiday to start because I truly need a break. But enough of that, it's here!

    Tomorrow being thanksgiving I suppose I should take inventory of that for which I am thankful, and there are so many things both large and small. As I make a list here, keep in mind two things... first, this list is in no way inclusive. Second, that order is not reflective of importance. With that disclaimer, here I go.

    • MY FAMILY - my wonderful wife and my four children who are all adults now and each one make me proud.
    • MY HEALTH - which is reasonably good and what issues I have are well managed.
    • MY JOB - at a time when the economy is at a point of great uncertainty, I'm grateful that I have a job.
    • BASEBALL - even when it's over for the year, there is the hope it brings with spring.
    • BOOKS - food for thought, entertainment, and the simple beauty of language therein.
    • HOUSE RERUNS - my addiction
    • CHARDONNAY - an occasional glass
    • WRITER FFRIENDS - their honesty and the time they give in critique of your work.
    • C-PAP MACHINE - this I have a love hate relationship with.
    • FALL COLORS - reds, rusts, amber and gold.
    • CALLS FROM MY KIDS - knowing they are safe
    • $1.37 GAL GAS - what I paid today!
    • MAPLE SYRUP - in limited amounts.
    • OUR CAR - the commute would not be possible otherwise.
    • SLEEP - as needed.

    I'm sure I could go on, but where would I stop?  So, I stop here.

    photo credit:

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Food for the Imagination

    Photo_102508_005 At the left is a maple flavored coffee drink that I indulged in while back  at a poetry reading/book signing event. I think maple has to be my favorite flavor.  I should have been born in New Hampshire or some other northeastern state.  I'd have my own maple tree tapped and would lie under it and let it drip into my mouth. Okay, it wouldn't do anything foe my diabetes, but it would sure improve my disposition.

    I broke down yesterday and ordered a copy of Letters of Ted Hughes (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, edited by Christopher Reid.  Since I have an extensive collection of books on Hughes and Plath, it would only be fitting that I add this to my collection. There is however a larger reason to the purchase. I find the journals and correspondence of poets to be fascinating. I've managed to read all or most of several such works. Sexton, Lowell, Ginsberg Letters, and Plath's Letters Home as well as Journals. The Poets Notebook which has excerpts of the journals musings of some 26 poets. I always think know more about a poet and what goes on in there mind should enhance our appreciation for their work. Of course I'm not sure that I can prove anything in particular by reading and studying such writings, but it is interesting to allow one to draw broader conclusions at times based on the expanded knowledge of a poet that comes with reading their letters or journals. These conclusions may or may not have much validity, but the speculation feeds the creative imagination of one's own brain.  And oh how I love to feed the imagination.

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    What Poets Do....

    I've been a little lax in blogging of late, so I will try and catch up a bit tonightPhoto_090608_001.  It's been a long week and I am so glad that Friday has arrived. It will be so nice to have a short work week next week.

    I elected to pass on the Mia Leonin reading at Rockhurst University last night so I'm unable to provide a review.  Instead before retiring last night I read some of the poetry of W.S. Merwin and Dana Goodyear.  Two poets I enjoy but quite different in style.

    This week I ran across a short but dynamite explanation on the net written by Joe Carter entitled What Poets Do. In the simplest of terms, Carter discusses what poets do that makes them invaluable. Yes, I said invaluable. With all the usual suggestions that poetry is closer to irrelevant then not, such words pulled my eyes out of my sockets. I recommend taking a peek at his explanation here.  

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Poetry Happenings

    Wanted to note a few items of interest - First off is Issue 23 of RIGHT HAND POINTING is out....  Dale Wisely is editor.  Dale always seems to put together a worthwhile read.

    Tomorrow night...  Thursday, November 20th - the poet Mia Leonin will appear at Rockhurst University as part of the Midwest Poets Series. She is of Cuban-American descent. Her credits include two book of poetry; Braid (Anhinga Press, 1999) and Unraveling the Bed (Anhinga, the Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series, 2008). She received a Green Eyeshade Award
    for theater criticism and was selected as a fellow in the NEA/Annenberg Institute on Theater and Musical Theater. She received an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Money for Women Grant by the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and a 2005 Florida Individual Artist Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Miami. This is a special treat for Rockhurst in that Leonin was a 1990 Graduate of Rockhurst University.  There is a reception at 6:00 PM and the reading begins at 6:30.  For information about this series or other Rockhurst University cultural events, call The Center for Arts & Letters (816) 501-4607 or (816) 501-4828 or visit

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Unconscious Mutterings Week 303

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:

    Please stop :: quit
    Move over :: outta my way
    Sweet as :: candy corn
    Bet :: gamble
    Mad about :: you
    It’s over :: split-up
    Intend to :: plan
    Blame :: game
    Jefferson :: airplane
    Heartless :: bitch

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Unconscious Mutterings week 302

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:


  • Coverage :: full
  • Cynical :: attitude
  • Gust :: wind
  • Improvised :: poor
  • V :: victory
  • Guests :: lecturer
  • Brutal :: torture
  • Grant :: funding
  • Pull :: drag
  • Streaming :: vegetables

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    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Stop Blogging?

    I suppose I owe a credit here to Robert Peake, so Let me get it out of the way before I go further into this. I will do so for three reasons.

    1. It was after reading his post Blogging, Reincarnated that I was lead to Paul Boutin's Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004
    2. By my citation of Peake's blog I am actually acknowledging that I read someone else's blog, thus affirming the relevance of such a practice to me.
    3. While I have no way of knowing if this is the case, Robert may actually achieve some boost to his ego by my mentioning his blog. In any event, doing so is harmless.

    It is true what Boutin writes about how blogging has evolved into something that become an industry. It is also true that most bloggers will never have the draw of a Daily Kos, The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan or Wired Blogs.

    When I started blogging this blog, (though there was one earlier) in September of 2003 I had no delusion, no expectation that my blog would be read daily by tens of thousands of people. I am not now looking down the long barrel of disappointment and feeling threatened by any of the big name bloggers. Suggesting that if I quit now I would be in good company because Jason Calacanis who made millions blogging gave it up is insignificant to me. Perhaps if I made millions at anything I might give it up to tend to dealing with my financial portfolio in these turbulent times but I'll cross that bridge when it becomes a problem.

    Blogging going mainstream is in fact a tribute to its success. Oh I know, success can be too much of a good thing. Boutin suggests that Twitter, Flicker and Facebook make blogs look so, 2004ish.  Many people have taken social networking to these levels and maintained blogs at the same time. And yes many of the big name blogs have become impersonal.  That is not necessarily true of the countless other bloggers who are not commercialized.

    The niche of writer and or poet bloggers fills a large void that has become a part of the changing social fabric in our culture.  In recent years we've seen dozens of publication of the correspondence between peers - the likes of Robert Lowell, James Wright, Helen Bishop, Ted Hughes, Anne Sexton, etc. In the days when U.S. Mail was full of folksy letters and banter between people, writers had a chance to openly express themselves on a more intimate level with other writers. The present day writers has lost that touch. It is not necessary for me to feel I am being read by thousands upon thousands of other writer/poets. There is however a benefit in that smaller networking, from sharing trials and tribulations, rejections, successes, writers blocks and new ideas with a few others and at the same time listening to them as well. 

    Twitter has caused a good deal of interest among some people. I could argue however that it is just taking mass instant messaging to another level and instant messaging is so 1990ish.  I have a facebook. I broke down and did one, but largely because of the messages from the countless literary journals that have a presence there and a few people who (coughing here) actually have blogs. It is a connecting source but hardly the same as blogging.

    Boutin may actually be able to persuade some people to stop blogging. But if he is successful in making his point that blogging is really so passé he could wake up one morning and find that no one is reading Wired's Blog. But that would give his argument a whole lot of credit.


    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    Conversation with myself


    When a writer is engaged in the creation of a novel, there is an audience that he/she should have in mind. I've never quite accepted that premise where writing poetry is concerned.

    It seems to me that when I am writing poetry I am having a conversation with myself. Quite frankly the process will rise and fall upon the very nature of internal conflict within this very conversation. I think it was Frost who said (and I am paraphrasing) that he never knew how a poem would end till it did. That underscores a good part of the conversation that takes place. This is true when in draft and it continues in rewrite.

    I think the distance between poetry and philosophy can be placed on a pin head. It is during this creation process that some of my great philosophical battles with myself occur. Sometimes taking issue with long held notions. Sometimes standing something on end to see how it looks from a different view. This is true with the message but also is true with the form the message takes.

    An example of the latter would be that sometimes I like to throw punctuation out the window and at other times I cannot convince myself that it works without it.

    If someone were to ask me to describe poetry, my answer today, (and tomorrow this may be different) poetry is the sum of my parts jumbled. They may not look like me, or mirror my life experiences, but the product reflects an assemblage of who I am. My poetry is my biography.

    This is different from "confessional poetry" in that it is not to say that what I write is about me or about my life. It is rather about what who I am can conger into image. This is what happens when I am in conversation mode with myself and a pen.

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    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Journal Bits

    A few bit and jottings from my journal recently...

    • vases stand tall/and empty on coffee tables/that seem lost without coffee./green plants offer no proof/of authenticity
    • quote from Charles Simic - "The sense of myself existing comes first. Then comes images and then language."
    • The asparagus was green/with envy next to the Julian carrots./My therapist would ask/how this makes the carrots feel.

    Poetry and the President

    No one doubts that President-elect Barack Obama has a very full platter. With all the critical transitioning, staffing decisions and planning for the serious financial crisis it seems he still has time for a little poetry. There a strong indication this President will be a strong supporter of the arts.

    Three days post election, Obama was seen carrying a book of poems by the West Indies Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott, Those my age will recall another President who exhibited a fondness for poetry, John F. Kennedy. Will we see another poet employed in the inauguration ceremony? And if so, who might we see?

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    The Day After Election


    I was not surprised at the outcome of the general election last night though I will admit that I was a non-believer just a few short months ago. I was then convinced that Hillary Clinton was the stronger candidate. In the weeks that followed the Democratic National Convention brought me to the point of believing.  I have been immersed in Democratic Party politics for many years and what I witnessed down the stretch was perhaps the closest think I've seen to a perfect election campaign.  I am well aware that there were a number of things that led to a favorable climate for Democrats, but that said, there was no way this election would just fall into our laps.

    After eight years of a president that has taken this country to a number of new lows and brought himself to a status of insignificance, America is not willing to settle something less than they believe they deserve. Ready for change, Barack Obama became the change that a majority of Americans could believe in.

    The laundry list of problems facing the new president is daunting. It's almost enough to thank maybe the Democrats would be better letting the GOP claw itself out of the hole it dug for us. But more of the same is what you get when you keep trying things the same way. Democrats would be letting the country down if the cowered from the tasks ahead.

    There are a number of things that went through my mind last night as Obama was giving his victory speech at Grant Park in Chicago.  There was the irony of the history of Grant Park and the demonstrators and police clashing there in 1968 during the Democratic National Convention. I also thought about the fact that in spite of several who have tried, America has never elected a Vietnam War Veteran President and this is likely the last one who will be of the age to try.

    Last night was transformative in so many ways and the election of the first African American to the nations highest office is but one of those ways. It is clear to me that the polls clearly show broad support across various demographic groups. Gender, race, religion, age... clearly the fifty state strategy showed a log of confidence in the candidates message. In fact for all of the McCain charges about Obama on taxes, his support among those earning over $200,000  a year was substantial.

    America is ready to turn not just a page in it's history but move on to a whole new story. Obama and the nation face multiple serious issues immediately. Obama is not a magician.  Before the election he made it clear that economic turmoil  we face will temper some of what we can undertake immediately. What I believe will benefit our country is a more inclusive attitude in the oval office. Do you recall Bush pledging to bring this nation together after the 2000 election was over? Well, I suppose he has in one respect.  It is out of the catastrophic failures in foreign policy, economic policy and loss of American standing around the world that he has brought us together.

    Americans have rejected the many failed policies of the past eight years. They have expressed the view that hope is desirable to fear.  That they will not easily buy into wild charges of campaign-bait rhetoric.

    After the past two elections with razor thin margins and periods of uncertainty, it was refreshing to learn the outcome by 10:00 p.m. central time. The election gods smiled upon us.

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    Tuesday, November 04, 2008


    California, Washington, Oregon Have gone to Oboma and the election has been called already. There will be more added to this as the night goes on, but this is a resounding result and very unlike the long drug out 2 previous presidential elections.

    I'll wrap up with more thoughts tomorrow.

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    Going out on a limb here

    I'm no longer thinking in terms of an Obama win, but now I'm questioning how big. At the beginning of the day I anticipated a baseline of 311 electoral votes.  I figure California, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Nevada and Hawaii should all end up Obama. I'm willing to consider Virginia and North Carolina, Missouri as tossups that we may and may not win. The rest should be safe McCain.

    Adding what I I've mentioned above, I see Obama getting to 336 and perhaps higher. How much longer I blog tonight is in question.  I'm likely to fold after California or Florida - whichever is called first. Then, tomorrow I'll do a wrap up with some thoughts.

    Just a thought

    California has 55 electoral votes and with Obama at 200 votes now, it's hard to see California not going Democratic. That would leave 15 electoral votes needed. Only 15 votes and there are 7 in Iowa where he has been up in the polls, 7 in Oregon and 11 in Washington that are also likely to go Democratic.  So Florida, Indiana, Virginia and everything else is just gravy if he wins it, or insignificant of not.

    It's not over, but very likely over.


    The electoral vote stands at 175 to 76 at present. As it stands now, McCain is still able to find a way to victory but there are states that are important to him that Obama is competitive in that McCain would need. Several in fact. Florida is looking very good for Obama. Even heavy GOP areas are under performing. Indiana and even Virginia remain too close to call. I have to say Indiana looks very good.  But as I say that, Obama with 20 votes and last election Red has flipped to Obama.

    This now puts Obama at 195 - McCain would now need to find 20 votes somewhere he did not anticipate.  The networks are not calling it, but I have to believe Florida and Indiana simply look unlikely for McCain with areas still remaining to report.

    Where will the Flip Come?

    Florida? Ohio? Indiana? I think Indiana will go Obama when the NW Urban area comes in. It should break heavy Democratic and so hopefully we'll know something soon.

    Tennessee has been called for McCain. No Surprise there. Polls are closing in more states. Kansas has been called for McCain. Minnessota, Wisconson, Michigan to Obama

    Wyoming and North Dakota (a tossup state) have gone to McCain.

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    Patiently Anticipating Indiana

    Still looking for a call in Indiana as this could be a flip.

    Meanwhile, Elizabeth Dole lost her Senate seat as it goes Democratic.

    Alabama - 9 votes to McCain as is Georgia with 15 votes.  Come on Indiana.

    MSNBC Calls Pennsylvania for Obama

    McCain's strategy has now cracked as Obama has been called for Obama. They spent so much time there and this is a blow to the candidates efforts. This is however a defensive win for Obama. It is after all a Blue state so it isn't a steal.

    Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, D.C., Pennsylvania now all in Obama's Column.

    Democrats pick up a seat Senate seat in New Hampshire.

    McCain winner in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kentucky.

    Something Should Be Breaking Soon

    Less then 30 minutes till more polls closing.  Still looking for a sign, a tangible sign other then Obama  playing well in several Red states. Looking for that first instance of one candidate or the other punching through and turning a state. Until this happens, we don't know enough to anticipate the outcome.

    My own state (Missouri) closes at the top of the hour but it will likely be close and therefore late before the results are known. MSNBC calling South Carolina for McCain but totally expectable.

    The Count Begins

    Watching the election returns as the polls in the east have started closing and initial returns have not told a lot but there is a whisper of hints.

    Two states appear to have gone as expected Vermont with 3 electoral votes to Obama and Kentucky with 8 votes to McCain.  What is would tell us more would be Virginia and Illinois.  Both are close at this point. Both were Red states and both have been considered states that are in play and perhaps attainable for Obama. Illinois has an urban area in northwestern part of the state and as long as we stay close till those returns are in then the state will remain in play.


    Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~Emily Dickinson


    You Can Make It Happen

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    The Word for the Week is Change!

    There is definitely a change in the air this weekend. Perhaps that's a good omen with Tuesday being election day. Yesterday morning I awoke to a dense fog that hung well above the ground.  It was reminiscent of some of those civil war pictures you see of battlefields.  Then, this morning I want out to make a diet coke run and the geese had returned to the ball field across the street. It's always exciting to see them back. It amazes me that they show up here every year.

    Time for Unconscious Mutterings Week 301

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:

  • In love :: Glowing
  • Be my guest :: Go ahead make my day
  • Number one :: Numero Uno
  • Swallowed whole :: Gulped
  • 50 percent :: Gridlock
  • Made in :: Japan
  • Supplement :: Dietary
  • Right for :: Perfect
  • Endless :: Night
  • Ceramic :: Pottery
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