Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years!


The final hours of the decade are slipping by… I made a run to Taco Bell on the spur of the moment and then stopped off for a bottle of Chardonnay. The traffic was frantic. I sensed many are anxious to get this decade over, as if they could grease it and slip out of it a bit ahead of time.

So many are writing about the decade past or future expectations. Lots of New Years Resolutions. I’ve made some, though I normally take a dim view of the practice, something has driven me to do so this year. I’ve committed them to a page in my journal and I’m not going into them here, not now. There are a litany of bad things to say about the past ten years. I could repeat many I’m sure you’ve heard or can recount all to well from personal experiences. That is not what I want to do here. Instead I want to point out a positive story I read this evening. It even relates to poetry!

Christine Klocek-Lim blogs at November Sky Poetry and she writes poetry. I’ve followed her blog for a while now as well as read her on-line journal Autumn Sky Poetry. Still, I learned more about Christine in post from today then I ever knew about her. She writes about her metamorphous as a poet over the past ten years and it’s a story of challenges and successes. It’s a positive story and I think it’s a good way to pass out of this decade and into the next. Read and enjoy Christine’s story – Ten years of internet poetry (is poetry dead?) It’s a good note to end the year on.

Have a safe, a prosperous and a joyous new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Scavenger : GPS locates water, offers poetry for illegal immigrants crossing desert


I ran across this story tonight and had to share it. 

Here's how the tool works. The phone, loaded with free GPS software, displays a digital compass that locates water stations installed by John Hunter, founder of the Water Stations project. Stations that are too far will not be displayed. The phone pinpoints "safety sites" -- such as Border Patrol station, a clinic or a church -- and includes poetry written by Amy Carroll to "welcome you to the U.S," said Dominguez. Encrypted to avoid detection by authorities, phones are $30 and should be available by summer.


The Scavenger : GPS locates water, offers poetry for illegal immigrants crossing desert


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saving our forests is in / Tiger Woods is out

You know how you see something out of the corner of your eye and you think it says something but on closer look, it says something else.  I saw this link Couple Following GPS Get Stranded for 3 Days but on first glance I would have sworn it read, Couple Following GOP Get Stranded for 3 Days. I mean I can see how they could have gotten lost.
This has been a crazy year for politics at home and around the world. The Republicans eating their own, so to speak; Democrats finding even with a majority it is difficult to rule. In Iran, the people decry a what they believe a stolen election and the ruling government finds an enemy not from the west, but right there at home.

As is often the case with a year passing we see things some things that follow it out the door and new things or at least different things become vogue.  My in and out list:
  • Phone applications are in / Land lines are out
  • Hybrid Vehicles are in / The Hummer is a bummer (out)
  • Collaboration is in / Competition is out
  • Staycation is in / Vacation is out
  • More tasks on the job is in / Bonuses to executives is out
  • Saving our forests is in / Tiger Woods is out
  • Staying put is in / Moving is out
  • Main Street is in / Wall Street is out
  • Saving is in / Investing is out
  • Paying online is in / mailing the bills is out
  • Sarah Palin is in / Governor Palin is out
  • Keith Olbermann is in / Sean Hannity is out
  • Reading is in / Jay Leno is out
  • Project Runway is in / Dancing with the Stars is out
  • Starbucks Coffee is back in / McDonalds Coffee is out
  • News online is in / Newspapers are out
  • Screaming at your Congressman is in / Writing your Congressman is out
  • Afghanistan is in / Iraq is out
  • Twitter is in  / IM is out
  • Texting is in  / Calling is out
  • Value is in / Price is out
I suppose I could go on but I have to stop somewhere so for now, this is my list.  I’m not saying all these changes are for the good, but some are. At any rate, another year from now many of the newly In items will be on the way out anyway.
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Monday, December 28, 2009

An American Sentence 4

I’m compelled ask the question are we safer today from ourselves?

Search for Missouri's Next Poet Laureate

Governor Jay Nixon has signed an executive order establishing the procedure for selecting  Missouri’s second poet laureate. The new laureate, who will replace Walter Bargen is to be named in January.

Nixon has an advisory committee that includes three representatives from the Missouri Center for the Book and two individuals named by the Governor. This committee of five is charged with soliciting, publicizing and encouraging nominations for the post. They will develop additional selection criteria, [minimal criteria established by the executive order: resident of state, a published poet, active in the poetry community, be willing and able to promote poetry in the state throughout the two-year term], reviewing and evaluating the nominations, and recommending candidates for appointment to the Governor.

The committee is comprised of: Thomas F. Dillingham, Associate Professor of English at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri; Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of an independently owned bookstore in St. Louis; Carl Phillips, Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis; Kevin Prufer, author of a number of books of poetry and winner of three Pushcart prizes as well as an National Endowment of the Arts fellowship, from Warrensburg, Missouri; and Cheryl D.S. Walker, poet, lawyer and native of St. Louis.

I’m delighted to see the Governors approach to this appointment. Given this is nearly the end of December I would have hoped the committee would have had a little more time to give to the process. Those named to the panel appear to be reasonable choices for the search; I am however disappointed that the five member panel has a heavy St Louis tilt.

It would be nice to see at least one Kansas City area person on that panel.

A copy of the application for for consideration can be found here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What I'm Reading

I started a new book today.  Winter Pollen - Occasional Prose edited by William Scammell.  The book is  a collection of reviews, essays and articles by Ted Hughes, much of which originally appeared in newspapers, magazines and journals. I'll let you know what I think of it once I get a little deeper into it.

Is tomorrow Monday again? [heavy sigh]

Unconscious Mutterings week 361

You say... I think:

1. Classified :: ads

2. Praised :: child

3. Censored ::  book

4. 2010 :: decade

5. Lamp :: shade

6. Alternate :: lifestyle

7. Script :: post

8. Handsome :: man

9. Eager :: beaver

10. Meeting :: business
get your own list at Unconscious Mutterings

Take a deep thought...

Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. ~Thomas Gray

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas has passed, the snow hasn’t

Snow came to visit us for Christmas but I understand it was pretty much making the rounds all over the Mid-west.

Thankfully our travel yesterday was safe. It was all local but the highways were still challenging. Visited my son & had a Christmas meal with him at his house. Cathy cooked a scrumptious lunch.

So we saw a son and on of our daughters. The other two daughters were out of the area but at least they were able to see each other.

It’s so quiet quiet here today I can hear myself thinking. Ok, maybe an exaggeration but not much. Actually I was thinking about some of the books I read this year. There were some  impressive poetry collections published.

By far most of the books I read this year were in fact poetry books. Otherwise biographies and some political non-fiction and baseball non-fiction. I’m wondering if I would best be described as a narrowly focused reader or a poets dream come true?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It’s the Season of Red… get in the spirit, give blood

I took time today to do a double platelet donation at our local blood bank.  I’ve never done platelet donations before but have been donating whole blood for many years now. Today I passed the 5 gallon mark.

Platelet donation takes longer but they are critical for patients with blood disorders, such as leukemia and aplastic anemia. They help stop bleeding. Fresh frozen plasma increases the level of clotting factors to help control bleeding.Red blood cell transfusions are critical for many patients who have suffered a traumatic injury,have anemia or have undergone surgery.

The need for blood donations is ongoing. Shelf life is limited and maintaining an adequate supply is a constant challenge. If you are able to donate blood I would urge you to look into it. It’s a gift that saves lives.

An American Sentence 2

Winter comes to slap us in the face and say wake-up you are mortal.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unconscious Mutterings - Week 360

You say... I think:

  • Interest :: loan
  • Chase :: pursue
  • Itch :: seven year
  • Soothe :: unruffle
  • Lamp :: street
  • Tutor :: English
  • Nicole :: Smith
  • Sloth :: lazy
  • Burn :: unit
  • Bug :: flu
get your own list at Unconscious Mutterings

An American Sentence

A blank page is always pleading to make something magical happen.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crab Creek Review Summer 09

Reading CCR this weekend – I just wanted to draw attention to a few poems that stood out to me.
  • Gail White’s -  How I Spent My Time Since You Died
  • Marjorie Manwaring  - Refusal
  • Kimberly L. Becker -  Washing the Blankets
  • Jill Crammond Wickham – Even with Clorox, June Cleaver Has a Tough Time Cleaning The Skeletons From Her Closet
  • January Gill O’Neil – Tether
  • Paul David Adkins The Mouse in Iraq
  • Maya GanesanUndefined
  • Joannie Kervran Stangeland A Crow Means Everything
  • Buzz Mauro – Einsteinian Physics in Plain English
This is the first copy of CCR I’ve seen. I haven’t finished reading it, I usually like to read poems multiple times.  I was impressed with what I’ve seen,  My favorites so far are bolded in blue above.
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Religious Right & Wrong

What is it about the Religious Right element within the Republican Party that feels compelled to seethe such meanness of spirit?   The rhetoric from such people seems quite in contrast to Judo-Christian  spirit.
A classic example was a sad display Sunday afternoon, just nine hours before the scheduled  1 a.m. vote  critical to the Senate’s Health Care Reform bill, Republican Senator Tom Coburn (Okla.) went to the Senate floor and  proposed a prayer. "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."

Do we really need leaders that mix the darkest sides of human nature with religion and then insert it into how we govern ourselves as a nation? I find this kind of thing sickening.

Homeless Awareness

Today is National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day

A few facts about homelessness...

  • Research indicates that 40% of homeless men have served in the armed forces, as compared to 34% of the general adult population.
  • Persons with severe mental illness represented about 26 percent of all sheltered homeless persons.
  • 35% of the homeless people who are members of households with children are male while 65% of these people are females.
  • 25% of homeless were ages 25 to 34; the same study found percentages of homeless persons aged 55 to 64 at 6%.
  • Children under the age of 18 accounted for 39% of the homeless population; 42% of these children were under the age of five (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2004). This same study found that unaccompanied minors comprised 5% of the urban homeless population.

Learn more here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poetry breaks silence -

Poetry breaks silence -

“Out of Silence” by Pamela Harrison; David Roberts Books; 87 pages; paperback; $18.

"What I look for in poetry may not be what you look for in poetry. I want the poet to tell me a story. Because the form requires the poet to keep the story short, I want the words to be precise. The poet should help me see by using concrete images. Sound is important. Even while reading a poem silently, I want to hear its music."  Story here.

An artist’s genius seen in pictures of ‘poetry’ -

An artist’s genius seen in pictures of ‘poetry’ -

"In the late 1930s, Detroit native Harry Callahan was working as a shipping clerk at Chrysler Corp. He picked up a camera and taught himself how to use it.

Inspired by a workshop with Ansel Adams he took in 1941, within a decade Callahan became an influential figure in American photography." Story here

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Set for the weekend


Earlier this week my Poets & Writers arrived and today the Summer 2009 Crab Creek Review I ordered was in the mail box. I’m set for reading for the weekend.


There’s a great interview of British poet Andrew Motion linked on the Huffington Post.  Christopher Lydon says "Harrowing clarity" is Motion’s stated goal. He laughs with us about trying to write poetry that looks like water and bites like gin. Click here!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Project Poetry

Stephen Burt of the Poetry Foundation writes that “Project Runway," a popular cable TV show, holds lessons for poetry critics. Burt is not alone. Ron Silliman who has been writing on poetry for years thinks the show does a better job of showing creative people “being creative” than any television show ever. While such a view is subjective, there are few people who follow the creative cultural influences around us more closely than Silliman. Read his blog for a few months and you will see he isn’t missing much that goes on.

So on a morning drive into the city, my wife and daughter in tow, the subject turns to the idea of a poetry version of the popular show. I’m doing my best impersonation of Tim Gunn, the advisor who periodically checks in with the designers to offer kudos or a bit of cautionary advice as the case may be. “Ah, what have we got going on here, a Sestina; nice job. The envoi really works!” Shannon is not exactly feeling the excitement. “What, we are going to watch, segments of people hunched over paper with a pen?” Cathy joins in the discussion, “What would they be working towards, a chap-book?” I counter, “No, it has to be better than that, a book contract with someone like Faber & Faber or Farrar Straus & Giroux. I explain the cameras can follow the poets out into the world on outings… a gallery, a music performance, a scenic stroll or urban bustle and the poet would be talking about what they are seeing and feeling – then back to their journals and laptops for rewrite after rewrite. I think they are starting to see this and Cathy says, “Oh the best part would be the emotional drama when one poet is cut from the show.” Shannon counters, “No, no… the enormous joy and relief of the family getting rid of… err, I mean seeing the poet off to compete!” I quietly think, they are so not getting this.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A little wisdom for today...

People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that's a mistake.   One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.  
    ~ Lucille Clifton

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blind Date

Yesterday I can across a poem by a poet I’d never read before and was particularly impressed with what I read on several levels to the point I want to find out more / read more of her work. The poem by Michelle Chan Brown appears in the Missouri Review and is titled "Blind Date With My Father, 1976".

One of the things I liked about it was how rich the language seemed. It was ripe with cultural intrigue. It embodied cold war era images. She referenced literary and political people and used language that while familiar was unique… like cigarillo, spray-tan and candelabra.

The title itself is catchy and suggests a sort of creepiness that makes you want to read it although on another level you feel repelled. This is the kind of stuff that makes for good poetry. There is nothing overtly sexual here – more the tease of something off limits.

In some respects this is a period piece. It helps to have been alive and aware of the world in the seventies. Someone born in say 1979 would not likely appreciate it as much. But the poem was well written – keeps interest alive and closes with a great ending line. Read it for yourself here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I don't doubt-

At the age of 18 all young poets are sure they will be dead at 21 - of old age. ~Marguerite Young

Space Sculpture

The Play-dough of space

swooped together in outstretched arms

and pulled from the deep black,

the whole of holes

to become

the sum of something.

*photo credit- Hubble Telescope  
About the Object Object Name: NGC 346
Object Description: Cluster and Nebulosity in the Small Magellanic Cloud
Position (J2000): R.A. 00h 59m 18s.0
Dec. -72° 10' 48"
Constellation: Tucana
Distance: 210,000 light-years away (64,000 parsecs)
Dimensions: This image is 4.7 arcminutes (280 light-years or 87 parsecs).

Here's a Surprise

I guess the inaugural poetry gig didn’t hurt too much, Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song For The Day: A Poem For Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration – special chapbook edition, tops the 2009 list of poetry book sales. The entire top ten list can be found here.  

It's interesting that John Updike's Endpoint and Other Poems - Updikes last book of poetry finished just months before his death, also made the list.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Unconscious Mutterings - Week 359

I haven't done subliminal word associations for a while, so here goes.

You say... I think:

1.Up :: stairs
2.Scram! :: scat!
3.Smell :: odor
4.Belong :: join
5.Doug :: cartoon
6.Collar :: dog
7.Squirrel :: nut
8.Chinese :: checkers
9.Tracker :: SUV
10.Apartment :: rental

get your own list at Unconscious Mutterings

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poems By Heart



This evening I stumbled onto a relatively new poetry site that is predicated on a novel idea. Ok, I guess it’s really a poetic idea.   Poet Frank Giampietro has created a web site with recordings of poems that are recited by heart. While Giampietro would like to have more celebrity poets recorded on the site, he encourages any writers to submit mp3 file of  a favorite poem and a little bit about what it is about the poem that is special to them.

Memorizing poems has become almost a lost art and Giampietro’s site is a wonderful way to promote memorization and at the same time expose this poems to a wider audience.  Check out the site for yourself.  I recall Claudia Emerson and Robert Pinsky  as being among those already on the site.  Enough babble about it – go check out POEMS BY HEART for yourself!

Local: In Marin : Marin Focus: poetry and metal inspires jeweler Kate Ellen


"The trained hand does not forget its skill, nor can we lay the precision and speed aside: strength we have, and courage in the acetylene will."

The diminutive, dark-haired Marin jeweler Kate Ellen recites the line from poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, from memory.

"Metal itself is inspiring, adds the twenty seven-year-old jewelry designer, "It is a really weird property--it is really strong and it's also malleable. If worst comes to worst, and I blow something, I can melt it down and then it becomes a raw material again."

The dichotomy of fine poetry and hard-edged metal, is the inspiration for this artisan's totally hand-crafted and completely unique jewelry designs.  FULL STORY

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Friday, December 11, 2009

da ja vue all over again

As Friday morning arrives, I sigh. A good portion of this week would seem like I was running laps around the block. The scenery changes but it doesn’t. Oh look, there is the blue house with gray shutters again; and Tiger again with some woman, oh, there he is again with another one, again, and the Sakahi’s, again, again, again ad nauseam. I’d like a weekend free of Tiger, et al. I don’t want to hear about party crashers.

Lines seem blurred this week. We learn that Blackwater is like CIA lite. But this concept is not totally new. Wasn’t AT&T like NSA lite? Don’t you feel when we purposely blur the lines it’s usually because we are up to no good?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best Poetry Blogs: A Baker's Dozen: Poetry Blogs Help Poets Expand the Horizons of Their Art |


Best Poetry Blogs: A Baker's Dozen

Poetry Blogs Help Poets Expand the Horizons of Their Art

Dec 9, 2009 Joseph Hutchison

Can't afford $30,000-plus for a poetry MFA program? Engaging with poetry blogs can advance your education in the art of poetry-free of charge.


The Web offers terrific resources for poets, and among the most useful are poetry blogs. They address a need all that poets have for a circle of like-minded people devoted to sharing their knowledge and passion about poetry. This is especially important for poets whose local communities don’t offer poetry groups and for poets who can’t afford the hefty cost of an MFA program. Poetry blogs help readers keep up on new publications, issues of craft, poetic trends, and strategies for dealing with more pragmatic aspects of the writing life.   

Full Story Here




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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Morning drive time...

This morning I was driving I-70 into the city - Cathy is working crosswords and comes upon a clue:  Versifier.  She cracks up when she realizes the answer is poet. She proclaims, "Mike the versifier!"  Sometimes I suppose humor is like a metaphor that not everyone understands.

An Evening of Harold Pinter's Poetry - benefit for the Homeless in LA

This Wednesday, Julian Sands will channel a spirit. The British actor, known for his performances in “Warlock,” “Room With a View” and “24,” presents an evening of Harold Pinter’s poetry on Dec. 9 at the Odyssey Theatre. The reading will benefit the homeless of L.A.

It’s a role Sands couldn’t refuse. In 2007, Pinter himself was planning to read the poems at a women’s shelter in London, but illness had weakened his speaking voice. He asked Sands to take over—and then proceeded to coach the actor on every line and pause.

“He was feeling his mortality very keenly and wanted these poems to reveal his interior,” remembers Sands.

Full Story Here

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy uses Christmas verse to attack British society - Times Online

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy uses Christmas verse to attack British society - Times Online

ON the first day of Christmas there is no partridge or pear tree but just a buzzard on a branch watching a British soldier far from home.

This is the ode to Christmas in Britain from our new poet laureate. Carol Ann Duffy uses her festive offering as a stinging commentary on much that is wrong in the country and the world today.

Full Story Here

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday slipping away

I'm ready to call it a night and settle in with a book to read for a short while. Ah, if I could just pull a nice bottle of Chardonnay of the shelf and pour a small glass. Instead, I'll just sip on the last of my warming cup of coffee.

I watched an episode of Modern Family on ABC tonight and it cracked me up. I've never seen it before and it was pretty funny.

I've thought about some new years resolutions today. I'm not big on new years resolutions but I've got a couple of things on my mind that I'll blog about later in the week.

I did crank out another set of poetry submissions today... a task that is not on my list of fun things to do, but I've resolved this fall to get better about it. Going back to a time when I was persistent, the results were truly positive.

Sadly, I feel the weekend like sand in an hour glass down to a final trickle of granules.

Heard a good metaphor lately?

I’ve been thinking a lot about metaphors.  So what, you say… that’s what poets do. But metaphors, which so often gets a bad rap from people who don’t particularly care for poetry, are pretty common within our everyday language.  In the movie As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson utters this line, “People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch.”  Yes, the irony makes for a good laugh. So the question I have is do we tend to overuse metaphor in everyday communications? Do people really recognize metaphor in use outside of poetic device?  Let’s go a step further and just say for instance that it has become  overused in everyday language, would that diminish its value in poetry?

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Poetry book by ‘Bostonian’ Poe sets auction record -

Poetry book by ‘Bostonian’ Poe sets auction record -

"NEW YORK — A rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s first book has sold for $662,500, smashing the previous record price for American literature.
The copy of 'Tamerlane and Other Poems' had been estimated to sell Friday for between $500,000 and $700,000 at Christie’s auction house in New York City.
The previous record is believed to be $250,000 for a copy of the same book sold nearly two decades ago."

Friday, December 04, 2009

Your Brain on Poetry



 Travis Nichols, the Editor at the Poetry Foundation has a really intriguing piece in the Huffington Post this week about poetry and the brain.  Pictured on the left is Henry Molaison who affectionately was known to many involved in his life as just H.M. 


Late last year Molaison passed away.  Molaison’s claim to fame relates to his memory capacity, or lack thereof.  I won’t go into the entire history, but he underwent brain surgery in the 1950’s and as a result had the inability to form new memories.  During his post surgery years, he was studied profusely in search for clues to our memory process. Even in death, medical science has turned to his brain for more answers to the mystery of how and where memories are created as well as retrieved.  Scientists hope to be able to map the memory process by observing slices of M.H.’s brain.


Nichols claims that what Dr. Jacopo Annese, who is doing the slicing is exploring the greatest poetic mystery of all time. Nichols talks about some poetry that is less about telling stories and more about using poetry that engages a readers brain while he/she is reading, that utilizes sound patterns or other techniques to create Cognitive Poetics.


Nichols uses the example of an poet not just saying, “When I made out with so-and-so, I did the happy dance!” Instead, that poet would use language that would allow a particularly attentive reader go beyond by just reading, but come to experience their mind doing the happy dance, thus creating a memory associated with it.


Nichols sees this kind of writing as experimental, which he notes is not unlike the path Dr. Annese is pursuing.


Read Nichols’ story here. 

"an excellent piece of disappointment worthy of gathering dust on any coffee table"

That is not my blurb, but remarks from Stéfan Orzech's review of B is for Bad Poetry, Pamela August Russell's new collection of intentionally bad and humorous poetry.  read review here

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Another day – another rejection.


Amazingly this week seems to be moving along swiftly. I thought after the 4 day holiday this week would be a tough one. 


Rejection letter today on four pieces I sent out little over two months ago.  Serves as a reminder that I need to get a few more submissions out this week end. 


I also remembered I need to take my floating holiday yet this month or lose it.  I feel a full day of writing  coming on.


I received another e-mail tonight from Poet Christine Klocek-Lim.  Her new chapbook, How to photograph the heart is available here. I understand there are a limited number of autographed copies available from the publisher.


Oh… and this is different….  Publishing the Unpublishable


But did you know...

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is known for many things: he was a career diplomat, an avid Communist, and of course, the Nobel Prize-winning author of erotically charged love poems, memoirs and surrealist verse.

But a seashell collector?  Full story: Neruda: poet, Communist... and seashell collector   by Anita Brooks

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The rise of poetry in advertising | Television & radio | The Guardian


The rise of poetry in advertising

More companies, including McDonald's, are being moved to verse to advertise their products. Is this a welcome development?  

full story: The rise of poetry in advertising | Television & radio | The Guardian

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Scanning the Net


I made a swing through the blog neighborhoods that I hang out in and these things caught my eye.

If you are a poet, you no doubt have friends that simply don’t understand the “poet” in you. I saw something that cracks me up -thanks to Jilly that came from the blog of Don Share is Senior Editor of Poetry magazine. HOW TO DEAL WITH POETS

Rachel Dacus has an interesting rant at ROCKET KIDS about paper & the digital times.

Christine Hamm has new material published in The Loch Raven Review and The Holly Rose Review,


It's Not What You Think...

If I appear distracted, disengaged, unfocused today, it is only because I am hyper-vigilant in search for poetic moments.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Hughes Legacy



Ted Hughes has been dead about eleven years now and legacy as a poet is again in public view as some have taken up the cause of him being honored by inclusion in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner - poetry's holiest of holies.  Those enshrined there include Chaucer, William Shakespeare, TS Eliot, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, William Blake and Sir John Betjeman the last admitted in 1984.


Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney is one of several who have called called for Ted Hughes to be honored in the Poets’ Corner. Others include Andrew Motion, who took over from Hughes as poet laureate, Lord Melvyn Bragg. 


“In proclaiming and embodying in his work a holistic sense of life on earth, he became one of the vital presences in 20th Century poetry.” ~ Seamus Heaney


The final decision on admitting Hughes to this honor belongs to the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.


Outside of his homeland, Hughes is perhaps best known as the husband of Silvia Plath. The whole Plath / Hughes relationship would likely overshadow such talk in this country where the nearly myth like lore perhaps surpasses real critical view of his own poetry.



Monday, November 30, 2009

Bit by the Gratitude Bug


Yes, I know thanksgiving is over, but it was in the quiet of my office today during my lunch hour that the gratitude bug hit me.

As far as stress goes, this year has been on overload at times. Still, I cannot deny there are many things I have to be grateful for.  A few of them that came to my mind today are the following.

I’m grateful for:

  • My family. I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife and four grown children who are each in their own right precious to me.
  • Jobs. In theses times even work is a blessing. I need to continue to keep this in focus. Especially when I’m feeling worn down on some of the crisis filled days.
  • Our home- a place that provides comfort from the elements, a base for us to return to each evening.
  • Our pets… yes, they drive me crazy at times, but they are God’s creatures too and they are unconditional in their love.
  • My ability to write. I get such good support from my family, even if they feel challenged at time in what I write.
  • I was grateful for being able to spend 6 weeks this fall being mentored by another poet.
  • The opportunity for both Cathy and I being able to visit our two daughters in Phoenix this year.  
  • Turkey wings
  • Diet Coke – which I’ve been missing.
  • White wine.
  • A car that runs right again.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sorry for straying from poetry and art topics.

An Associated Press wire story indicates that the couple who crashed President Barack Obama's first state dinner are trying to peddle their story for hard cash. Call me mean if you wish, but the only thing I’m wanting to see this couple get is some hard time.

I’m tired of people scamming in order to get paid to do reality shows. As far as I’m concerned Michaele and Tareq Salahi have had their 15 minutes of fame. I think fifteen months of jail should be about right.

Representatives for the couple are looking for a mid-six figure price tag for an interview. Any network or show that rewards them by shelling out money has lost my respect. If they reward this couple for what they did they only encourage this kind of behavior. I’m more than willing to wait to hear what story they tell a judge.


I return you now to regularly scheduled blogging.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


adapted from the work by Nicholas Prior- Title: Untitled - #26

[The following poem was a draft I wrote based upon this picture I say at the Kemper Museum of Art here in Kansas City.]

Quiet are the surroundings
lost in the enigmatic confines.
The boy is not there
in its protective arms
his back to the door
his knees crossed yoga style.

A four legged table
nearby, stoic its top veiled;
a byzantine respect to the lad,
knowing his child's mind
is in communion
with something bigger
beyond the sheer curtains
of a world stage.

No adult is near.
No adult could know.
Someday he too will
enter such a room
and be oblivious.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Art Date

Taking advantage of the day off and the nice weather I took myself on a trip to see two art exhibits today The first was The Poetics of Space which remains at the Kemper Museum until March 14th, 2010. The exhibit is based upon the French philosopher Gaston Blanchlard's 1958 book, La poetiique de' l'espace. The collection of work focuses upon the spatial dynamics of our architectural and natural surroundings.  There were three pieces from this collection I especially liked.

• Isabella's two chairs
• Untitled #26 from The Age of Men
• Wave Rock

I'm working on poems that are based on the first two above.  More on these in a later post.
The second exhibit was at Kemper at the Crossroads.  It's Keltie Farris's Man Eaters.
She uses formalist strategies and materials to create enigmatic and visually seductive abstractions.

Both of these exhibits had my mind stretching like taffy.  Curiosity and bubbling over like a pot of water. A little steam just to throw in a little mystic smoke.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Police Photos & Poetry Calendar

 HOW COOL IS THIS.........   

Maine's largest police department is releasing a second calendar that features poetry and photographs taken by members of the city's police force. The 2010 Portland Police Department Poetry & Photo Calendar features works by the assistant chief, detectives, sergeants and patrol officers that primarily focus on what's it's like to be an officer. The calendat is part of an project called Art At Work, and aims to improve municipal government through the arts and give city employees outlets for their creative sides. The calendars cost $15 and are available at local book sellers and here.

"Stop,don't do it!"

One woman examines our future in Afghanistan through an unlikely window.  She recalls a Sharon Olds poem titled, I Go Back to May 1937.  As America awaits the next move on the Afganistan front from the President, Carla Carlisle is asking some very good questions.  Read Story Here

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poetry Series Spurs Debate on the Use of an Old Slur Against Latinos

Poetry Series Spurs Debate on the Use of an Old Slur Against Latinos


The word sounds retro, but its corrosive power lingers. Once a cruelly common taunt that mocked the way Spanish speakers pronounced “speak,” it set off fights, shattered friendships and trampled feelings.

Now that word forms the title of a poetry series — “Spic Up/Speak Out” — at, of all places, El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, on Saturday.

Organizers say that the provocative title is intended as a postmodern take, inviting dialogue and debate over issues of identity. Some of the participating poets have embraced the title as a symbolic inversion of the word, that neutralizes its sting. But others are not so sure.  Read story here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Talk On Wallace Stevens' Poetry At Tunxis Campus Farmington, CT


This looks really interesting, if anyone is close to Farmington, CT on December 3rd it might be worth taking in.

If any readers make it to this, I’d love to hear from them about it.

Submitted by Melissa Lamar, Tunxis Community College, on 2009-11-23.

The public is invited to attend "Philosophy of the Supreme Fiction: In and Beyond the Metaphysics of Wallace Stevens," a free talk by James Finnegan at Tunxis Community College on Dec. 3, from 1-2:30 p.m., in Founders Hall. Lunch will be provided.
Finnegan will explore the common ground of poetry and philosophy, with Wallace Stevens as a guide and muse. Hartford's most noted poet and once one of its more prominent insurance executives, Wallace Stevens has often been studied for the philosophical character of his work. Considered a true American heir to the English Romantic poets, he was also influenced by philosophers as diverse as Nietzsche and such pillars of American pragmatism as Ralph Waldo Emerson and George Santayana. With verse so invested in the problems of epistemology and metaphysics, Stevens' poetry has been freshly examined in the light of current philosophical trends with each new decade. However, the unique way he explores the interaction between imagination and reality resists dissection by logicians and diehard rationalists.
Finnegan is a poet, thinker, and founder of The Friends and Enemies of Wallace Stevens, a Hartford area arts organization that supports the cultural legacy of Wallace Stevens and promotes poetry in the community. With Dennis Barone, he edited "Visiting Wallace: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Wallace Stevens" (University of Iowa Press, 2009). Finnegan's poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry East, The Southern Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review among others. He is a senior vice president at Lee & Mason Financial Services, Inc.
The lecture is one of a two-part "Proof & Possibility" series of talks on philosophy and the history of ideas. For more information, call 860-255-3623 or 860-255-3500, or e-mail Visit Tunxis at Tunxis is located at the junction of Rtes. 6 and 177 in Farmington.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

My recommended poet for the week

C W42-years1

I wanted to recommend a poet to read this week that some of you may not be familiar with.  I always enjoy it when someone else pointed me in the direction of a poet that is new to me. If their writing hits the spot with me it’s like finding a four leaf clover or a great Chardonnay that is new  to me.
I’ve read Cecilia Woloch and I love the genuine nature of her writing. You get the impression that she confronts herself when she writes and I feel this allows her the write from a read position of strength.  Her book Late is among my favorite of contemporary poets and while I’ve not yet purchased a copy of her newest book Carpathia, there are two poems in particular that I’ve read that confirm for me this book too is going the be a keeper.
Fireflies which can be found here is a recitation of vices that anyone could get snared by and say, “that’s me!”  I love the admissions of among other things,
“driving too fast and not being Buddhist
enough to let insects live in my house”

In the title poem Carpathia, which can be found here,  Cecilia has a tremendous knack for interweaving history with the contemporary.   Her poetic voice in this poem spans a wide range.  She’s like singer hitting notes octaves apart!

And my voice changed



I’ve been looking forward to the Elton John-Billy Joel concert at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on December 1st but learned it’s been postponed till February. [insert sigh here]  On a positive note, my tickets for the Kansas City Symphony’s production of Handel's Messiah with 250 voice choral accompaniment arrived in the mail yesterday!  To this day I get chills down my neck when I hear the Hallelujah Chorus.  Going back to grade school, we would sing this in Choir.  I recall the stories – and there are many, of King George standing at the beginning of this chorus, thereby causing everyone else to stand, and how this tradition has lived for the hundreds of years since.

The funny thing about my memory of this was that my voice was high then and I was placed in the choir section with the older girls [mostly 7th and 8th graders] singing soprano. They were forever teasing me and making me blush. I became like some kind of mascot to them. The choir director [I bet most grade schools have had this position cut from their budgets long ago] preferred the term descants to soprano, or at least used it as often if not more. As a mousy little kid who hears thing but didn't always get them, I for years though she had called us “desk hands” and could never find anyone who knew what the hell I was talking about. It’s funny how such things come about and decades later you realize why no one knew what you were talking about. It’s like a light comes on and “well duh” it wasn’t desk hand! Oh, and my voice changed!

photo credit: Michael A. Wells

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Journal bits

Haven’t don this for a while. From the pages of my journal…

  • Noted quote - “Some ghosts are women, neither abstract nor pale, their breasts are as limp as killed fish.” ~ Annie Sexton
  • sometimes we are as much alike as we are different… separated by a difference / of views smacked down on the table / one hand a royal-flush / the other unworthy of mention here.
  • One woman nurses the masses / and breaks bread to disperse. / Another swears by formula, / their are no expiration dates / on breasts but we know them  / to have an end life.
  • Toy soldiers are always frozen / in some conscripted position.
  • Chunks of sky fall/ beneath the urban path / of the Action News helicopter / but go unnoticed below.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Final Poem - by Andree Chedid

I selected a poem by Andree Chedid that I like to feature here today -  click on the link   The Final Poem

Flarf Collective goes public

This captured my attention today...

Just last week, the Flarf Collective made its long-exclusive listserv public, welcoming poets who use material from people's Facebook status, search histories and chat room discourse, techniques that have also become known as flarf. [Story here]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Retreat of sorts


Dog sitting for my son this weekend. It’s become a mini writing retreat of sorts.  I’ve stayed off TV – so I’ve not had that distraction. Also worked on some “office work” and in-between took our sick car to the shop for which the issue remains unresolved. 

In terms of writing, I’ve done some on my laptop and some in my journal. It helped to brake up things to give my eyes a change of focus. By late last night my eyes were pretty fuzzy and my head spinning. I did ultimately unwind listening to some music from Yusef Islam a.k.a. Cat Stevens. Some of his music is especially comforting like the denim jeans he sings of in Oh Very Young.

One of the neat things about writing this weekend is that I started with an epigraph from Anne Sexton and was able to write for a while and hit a wall.  I stopped for a while and read some of her work just to get my mind to move beyond where I was.  Later I was able to go back and successfully write more. Not from the original draft but with a new slant from the epigraph. Again I hit a wall, but I have parts of the two different drafts that have portions that show promise and will at some point I am confident prove useful. Then later this morning – another whole draft – this one the process has reached conclusion. It’s very workable and I already know some changes I will make; tighten it up and work on line breaks and toy with the stanzas trying to get the best flow from it and improve it lyrically. This one has a broadly political / philosophical tone and these are so hard to do without preaching. This will not be preachy.

That is my roundup for the weekend. I’m going to stop now and write a bit longer and head to bed. Morning comes soon.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Little Saturday Mischief


A Few Poetry Workshops You May Have Missed

  • Feline Elegies - or nine chances to get it right.
  • Potato Poetry - Mashed, fried, baked and other poetic devices.
  • Would you, could you with Hamlet? Exploring similarities of Seuss and Shakespeare.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wright Markets Poetry For the Consumer Mind


Wright Markets Poetry For the Consumer Mind

Award-winning poet CD Wright visits Columbia to deliver a lecture on the place of poetry in the public discourse.

By Laura Oseland

Published Tuesday 10 November 2009 07:13pm EST.

View post history

How does poetry keep on keeping on?

This is what award-winning poet CD Wright will discuss for the Creative Writing Lecture Series at the School of the Arts on Thursday. Her lecture, “Concerning Why Poetry Offers a Better Deal than the World’s Biggest Retailer,” explores the position of poetry within the public discourse, as an artistic force in the commercial and social environment in which we now live.

Wright Markets Poetry For the Consumer Mind

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What Does it Say About FOX News when Comedy Central is More A More Accurate Source for News?

Sean Hannity and Rep. Michele Bachmann(R-MN) two peas in a pod!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hold on I’m Not Unnerved by Women’s Poetry

I occasionally read the Books Blog at and today Jo Shapcott caught my attention with the title Do women write ‘female’ poetry? 

I suppose my interest was principally raised because I’ve given a fair amount of consideration to the realization that my list of poetry reading as well as my favorite poets to read is weighted significantly in favor of female poets. I’ve not quite figured out for sure why though the exploration of this will likely make for a later post.

I don’t think Sharpcott really ever quite adequately defines what makes female poetry. I think I expected more of the blog post but it did come away with a couple of interesting thoughts. Sharpcott comes to this conversation by way of a panel discussion at the Aldeburgh poetry festival. I was somewhat taken back by the fact that she reported  that the women on the panel decided  it was important not to let gender dominate their writing ( at least initially ) in order that the language can lead it in unanticipated directions, BUT it was pretty clear that such thoughts are not expected of men, their poetry is set as a kind of default mode. I have trouble seeing this “default mode” she speaks of.

The second thing that bugged me about this piece was the the statement that women are happy to devour anything that is good (I hate the subjectivism of good here) male readers are sometimes nervous of poetry books by women. I suppose I was put here to be the counterbalance among men and I tend not be be unnerved by poetry written by woman.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Journal bits….

A few lines from recent journal entries:

  • the legacy that lives / in us all is the blue veins of fear / that rise up from the soles of our feet.
  • the blue taste of fear-  this they will remember / because they know how it feels / to the touch, they know / how it tastes and they know / how it smells.
  • Reading Anne Sexton today- her poems “In the Beach House” and “Song for a Lady" I like the lyrical quality of both of these, especially the first one.
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Are we listening?


My wife was visiting my daughters in Arizona this past week and I got this test from her and as I read it come across my phone I was nodding my head… “yes, yes!” I acknowledged her message and she said what she sent me she was a quote on a poster at ASU. She said she knew I would appreciate it. She knows me well.

What she sent me was a quote from Alberto Alvaro Rios – poet and professor of English at ASU [pictured here left] and it’s a poignant expressing of the task of writing.  What she texted me follows:

“The public job of a writer is to write. But the private and secret job of the writer is to listen. Writing itself is finally clerical but listening is a life’s work. By listening we must include the sweetwork of the eye the skin the tongue the nose. This then is the true  language of writers. The language of listening.” ~Alberto Alvaro Rios.

A life’s work… This is so very much related to what my conception of being a poet is about. Listening, observing, seeing things that you might otherwise miss. Seeing things in a variety of perspectives. Searching the natural world, your own soul and the history of the human experience. Putting this all together and recording it. This is to me what being a poet is all about.  Listening and letting what you hear inform what you write.

We all have heard the mantra, Read, write, re-write..  I believe listen needs to be a part of that cycle of process.



Photo_103109_002 I shot this picture recently with my trusty phone camera. Hence we are not talking the highest quality of photograph.  Still, I like it because I picture in it the  jumbled wires that crisscross the mind.  Receptors I suppose. I envision them as quiet here… I suppose because if they were busy at work thinking, I would suppose that they would have little sparking neurons racing around the receptors.

Why am I writing about this? Good question. I don’t really have an answer. Sometimes I just like to look at something and turn it into something else.  Looking at things differently is a great way to enrich one’s creative process. Hopefully my receptors are firing on all cylinders and racing around sparking new ideas, pulling from other data in my mind and creating new data.  One can hope.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Low Battery

This week has been especially stressful and that has to a great extent impaired my writing. For the most part, I attribute this impact more to my energy level than anything else. Stress can be quite an energy drain.

I’ve had creative bursts of ideas, just not the energy to adequately deal with them. Nor have I the energy to keep up with my reading, the energy to write those few extra lines or a few extra minutes to get every out of my head and onto the page. I’m well aware of the dangers fleeting thoughts pose. The ones you never recover. That is usually one of the first casualties of this kind of energy drain.

I promise myself to do better tonight.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What the poem wants...

Earlier this morning, I roughed out onto paper a couple stanzas of something trying to become a poem. At lunch time I revisited it and decided I think I can build upon it and take the poem somewhere when it wants to be. Right now there are more pieces of it in my mind that it wishes to connect with on a page. Later, I hope to bring them together and see where it is they wish to go together.

kcur: : Poet Phil Miller Delves into Relationships in New Collection (2009-11-04)

Listening to KCUR on the morning drive... This interesting piece on a locallly connected poet, Phil Miller.

kcur: : Poet Phil Miller Delves into Relationships in New Collection (2009-11-04)

In the tumbleweeds of my mind

I'm way behind the curve in the horizon. Had internet problems over the weekend and they extended into the week and I was just too tired to mess with anything last night. Slowly I will get back up to speed. 

In the meantime - Mary Biddinger got my attention and brought a smile to my face with this...  How to kill a poem (before it even starts).  Really liked:  "Turn on several fans so that tumbleweeds of pet hair cartwheel across the floor." How did she even know?