Friday, February 27, 2009

Fresh Cut Grass and Poetry

I'm convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile. ~Tom Clark

Spring Training games started on Wednesday and my beloved San Francisco Giants won their first game 10-7. I can smell the poetry and the fresh cut grass now.

Next week I head to Arizona to visit tow of my daughters and take in some Giants Spring Training games. I'm excited even if I am anxious about being away from the office for a week. It is rare that I take this much time off. Okay, more like extremely rare.

Besides Giants baseball, we'll catch an ASU baseball game. In spite of all this baseball excitement, I am equally excited about seeing my kids (who aren't really kids anymore) and I'll likely let that excitement spill over into my blogging while I'm gone. I guess you can all consider that fair warning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just a thought...

To live is so startling

it leaves little time for

anything else.  ~Emily Dickinson


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who Knows the Great Poets of Today?

David Orr writing in the Feb 22 N.Y. Times piece titled "The Great(ness) Game" asks what we do when John Ashbery and his generation are gone?

The assumption made in the article is that there are no great poets living, outside of that generation and I don't know myself if there are or there aren't. This is precisely because I'm not privy to what constitutes greatness in a poet. Orr himself acknowledges the illusiveness of such a definitive yardstick. What is a great ice cream flavor? We all have opinions but can I sell Black Walnut to the public at large a the great ice cream Flavor?

We can look at an Emily Dickinson and perhaps agree on a designation of greatness, but how long did it take for that to become common knowledge. She was dead before it was ever widely accepted, and by quite a few years I believe. So really, we could have great poets among us and not yet be aware of the fact.

Orr asks if great poets are one and the same as "major" poets? What do you think on that point? I'm inclined to think you have to be a major poet to be a great one, but the reverse. Still that isn't releasing the secret ingredient in the recipe.

Digging deeper still, Orr looks at a 1983 essay by Donald Hall in which Hall said it seemed to him that contemporary American poetry was afflicted by modesty of ambition. Going further, the test according to Hall is to write words that live on. To aspire to be as good as Dante.

Donald Hall is among the living poets whose work I respect and with whom I connect with more often then not. Is he a great poet? I don't think all his work would meet the Dante test. So can a poet be great if hits that high mark on occasion or must he have to be consistent? Was Dante himself consistent?

Then I'm hung up on the lament that there isn't enough ambition going on. Are we really wanting hungry ambition from our poets. I know the monetary climate for poets certainly supports the hungry aspect, but ambition is such a sleazy word when it snuggles up next to an art. Maybe dedicated, focused, serious. Perhaps we are really splitting hairs.

David Orr's article is a critical look; not quite so much at the state of contemporary poetry as it is what we internally expect from poetry. What we are willing to settle for. No art is static an neither are its consumers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Subliminal Mutterings - week 316

Subliminal Mutterings

[I've missed several weeks of this, sigh.  So spank me!]

You say.... I think:

  • Be mine :: valentine
  • Ecstatic :: hoppingly happy
  • Orderly :: quiet
  • Sebastian :: butler
  • Sore :: ouie
  • Don’t need :: unnecessary
  • Rockstar :: Springsteen
  • Tinfoil :: hat
  • Addiction :: habit
  • Where? :: there

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    Journal bits for the past week

    a few random items from my journal this week...

    Feb 14 - At times like this Alice will sit at a small table/pouring Earl Grey as we sip from miniatures/and talk about what, I never recall.

    Feb 15th -In talking with Meghan yesterday I can tell she is getting excited about my upcoming visit.

    Feb 16 - Yesterdays rewrite of An American Whim  came after receiving critical comments (that I sought) from PB and AD. AD gave me the most critical (technical) view while PB spoke to things she liked about it. 

    Books are scissor stacked/in piles, on end tables,/desktop, the thick of carpet/on the floor next to the easy chair

    Feb 17- Where has this month gone to? Already a shortened month it appears to work against the benchmarks I've arbitrarily set...

    Feb 18 - MR emails me, "you of all people have new stuff and old stuff." Feel like I've been busted.

    The pretext for the afternoon / was as one sided as the face /of Mount Rushmore but not near/as stark....

    It was not with the exchange/of currency or anything so mercantile/

    Feb 19 - was so totally whipped out from work today...


    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Blue Moon Over Kansas City

    A poet friend the other day was giving me feedback on one of my poetry drafts and in response to something I had written said, "You should read Wallace Stevens if you haven't lately. The crazy things that guy does with repetition and refrains." So, I went looking for a Wallace Stevens poem and read The Emperor of Ice-Cream which I found enjoyable. I then moved away from the poem and began to type. Keep in mind I often begin drafts in longhand. There were just two words that came to my mind and they were, "The pretext" and nothing more. Where they came from I couldn't say, but after typing them from the keyboard with just a momentary pause I began to type again and in relatively short order, maybe 20 minutes at the most I had a draft that I stopped working on. After moving away from the draft for some time, I went back and quite frankly felt that I could do nothing more to it. Not by addition or subtraction other than a change of title.

    The number of times I've written something on the spot like this and could not improve on it are like never.  There is one occasion in which I came close to this, but still made some editing changes. It's not an occurrence that one has happen very often, if ever.

    I may well wake in the morning and find room for improvement, but I don't expect it will likely change much. That's how good I feel about it. Better than some pieces I've worked on over a span of more than a year. It's moments like this that makes all the other eternal rewrites seem worth enduring through.

    Thanks Amy for the advise. How the Emperor of Ice-Cream led me to the pretext and all that followed to write what I now call The Face of Mount Rushmore, I'll never figure out. They are nothing alike, but I'm sure that one lead to the other.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    I've Been Bad

    Instead of writing tonight I watched three rerun episodes of Boston Legal. Does that make me a bad poet? I'm being rhetorical here, a response is not required.

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    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Annie Finch's workshop on love poetry

    Annie Finch has authored four books of poetry, Eve, Calendars, The Encyclopedia of Scotland, and the forthcoming Among the Goddesses. She is a Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine and Director of the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing.

    Click here for her workshop on love poetry

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Likes and Dislikes


    I've been spending a lot of time writing this weekend and as words have flown in and out of my my head I've been naming them good words and bad words. Of course the good and bad designations are nothing more then reflections of my personal likes and dislikes.So tonight I thought I'd list a few words that tickle my fancy and some that I simply do not care for.  In some instances it's that sound of the words that I like or dislike. In other, I'm fascinated by some aspect of the word, its meaning, etymology, etc. So without further ado, I give you some of my likes and dislikes from our language.

    Likes Dislikes
    elliptical stutter
    exude heir
    puce vomit
    ubiquitous mayonnaise
    pathogen infomercial
    explicit Raspberry
    irascible irksome
    prevaricate bile
    coetaneous foil
    awe sideburn
    toasty lash
    vulnerable dwarf
    arbitrary mumble
    immune pungent
    crumpet snub
    oscillate squeal
    Formica liquefy
    capsulate winch


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    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Happy Valentines Day to All

    I got an early start on Valentines day by taking my wife to the Melting Pot on Thursday evening. She hates to fight the crowds so we beat them.

    It was a lovely dinner and I especially enjoyed the Traditional Fondue.  Swiss is among my favorite cheese.

    Of course the dessert we had the Yen and Yang Fondue which was a blend of dark chocolate and white chocolate for dipping the various dessert and fruit items. While this was very good, it was quite rich and really a bit much. I enjoyed the dinner fondue the most.

    The atmosphere was low lighting and we were seated nicely with a minimum of distraction. I'd do it again anytime!

    Oh, as if we were chocolate deprived, last night on the way home from work  Cathy stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for gourmet Chocolate Apples. Mine was Tigers Butter... yum!

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    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    This is entirely too good not to comment on. The BBC reports a competition is underway to find poetry which will feature in the stalls of public toilets of Shetland. Six poems of 12 lines or less will be featured for three months and the replaced by a next set of six.

    Poetry in the loo; what a way to brighten ones day. Leave it to the Scots to bring a little culture to the toilet. Thumbs up!

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    In a Stroke of Fortune...

    My new monitor for work has arrived. This is good because I was starting to feel a little gothic working in the dark so I could faintly see the screen.

    Monday night is one of my TV nights. House & The Closer. Sill, I'll try and siphon off a little time this evening to write. Ah... just remembered Obama has a press conference tonight so the networks will likely be off time wise.

    Last night I came across a D.H. Lawrence quote that struck me curiously. It goes like this... "Never trust the artist. Trust the Tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it."

    So I thought about this for a while and I pictured some of my poems having to be rescued from me. So I'm thinking about some critic smugly determining the story line - assuming there is one, from a particular poem and then fending off the poet's ownership stake in the poem. The critic arguing, this isn't all about what you saw, it's about what I see. Then the two go round and round. Well I say phooey! It's about whatever the fuck you find in it. There. I'm through rolling in the gravel over it. Don't get me wrong, critics a a place in this world and I'm willing to listen to them just as much as the next guy.

    Sunday, February 08, 2009


    C.D. Wright Reading March 10 7:00 PM UMKC Person Auditorium - be there!

    C.D. Wright Symposium March 11 7:00PM KC Public Library / Central Branch - Helzberg Auditorium. Don't Miss!

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    Journal Bits

    Listening to: Bruce Springsteen - Last to Die

    Mood: dragging

    Feb 2 - My computer monitor at work came on completely today at your. Yeah! [it takes so little to amuse me]

    "a mixture of fashions brighten/the party crown that lingered/to graze on finger food and spontaneity"

    Feb 3- I heard the most interesting story today on NPR about the Mendelssohn Project...

    Feb 4 - It was after midnight when I turned in last night but thankfully the taxes have been done [a tax hangover followed]

    "I went to that place in my head/with my pen, that place you occupy"

    Feb 6 - Right this moment I feel especially small...

    Feb 7- " always think there is time/to do the prime numbers/but hope is faded denim/and its value of questionable character"

    Quote by Henry Miller - "I believe everything you tell me, but I know it will all turn out differently."

    Saturday, February 07, 2009

    New Laureate for Neighboring Kansas


    Congratulations are in order for Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg of Lawrence, Kansas. Caryn was selected to serve as the new Kansas State Poet Laureate beginning July 1st. She has master’s and doctoral degrees from The University of Kansas. Already she has selected a poet laureate project which she calls Writing Across Kansas: Reading and Writing Our Way Home. Through this  Caryn hopes to strengthen the presence of poetry in Kansas, build literary communities statewide and enhance Kansans’ sense of place through poetry. She already sounds extremely organized.

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Word Clouds from four of my poems selected at random

    Wordle: From My Recent Poetry

    [click on image to view larger]

    This was produced on Wordie. I found it via Christine Klocek-Lim's site. I put four of my poems selected at random and dropped them into the gadget for generating “word clouds” from text. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

    Pretty cool.

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    Azar Nafisi Postponed

    If you were planning to attend the Azar Nafisi event at the Plaza Library tomorrow night, it has been postponed.  There should be information forthcoming soon about when it will be rescheduled.

    Sunday, February 01, 2009

    Sunday Morning

    Listening to Beethoven - Symphony No. 3 E Major

    Mood: Awake

    I'm up and ready for the day. I've made an unsuccessful trip to Target to see if their shipment of Skinny Cow Fudge Cones have come it. They haven't. This is like crack to my wife. Evidently to many others as well because they don't seem to ever run out of the other Skinny Cow items except this. When momma don't got no Skinny Cow Fudge, no one is happy.

    Super Bowl Sunday is not quite as special to me as it may be many guys. I'll likely watch the game but with less enthusiasm than many. The biggest significance to me is that once it is over it clears the way for Spring Training and the real poetic sport.... Baseball.

    There are a hand full of football teams I have some interest in, but not a lot for the sport in general. There have been past times that I've rooted for Pittsburgh, but I'm probably pulling for the Cardinals today. Regardless of how it turns out I won't lose any sleep over it.