Sunday, May 31, 2009

Criticism of Sotomayor Ironic

Senator Jeff Sessions, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and others who have expressed such tremendous concern about the "life experiences" of Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor and how she might apply those experience, including her own heritage  to her judicial work might want to listen to the words of Justice Samuel Alito on January 11, 2006.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I love it when I find a poem that goes zing and there I see myself!

Thanks to a tweet from Poem_twet I've found a Stanley Kunitz poem that may be become among my favorites. The opening stanza of The Layers I so identify with.

"I have walked through many lives, / some of them my own. / and I am not who I was, / through some principle of bring / abides, from which I struggle / not to stray." //

The whole poem can be read here.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Reality of Contrasts -Rejects and Published

Upon arriving home today I found rejection in my mail box. No biggie, it's like this is the third rejection in two weeks. Besides, I long ago got over rejection letters. The only real negative is this means I have very little remaining out there for consideration. So, (this is where the big sigh goes) I need to get busy over the next week and get work sent out again. The sort of administrative end of a poet's job is not my favorite part. But once they go out in search of new homes I always feel better afterwards. It's kind of like the tread mill. You are glad you did it when you are finished, but that 45 minutes you were on it really sucks.

Issue 26 of Right Hand Pointing is out. This is an  online journal that I'm generally very impressed with. Eons ago they published two of my poems, but I'm not biased.  Seriously. a few of the poems in the current issue I really like are:

Check out the whole issue when you get some time...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Holiday Potpourri

I can't believe the three day weekend is evaporating so quickly.

Yesterday's Indy race was one of the best I've seen in years.

Rain is hanging in the air awaiting the right moment to let loose. We've had some minor showers but it definitely looks like something is being held back for later.

I haven't read enough this weekend. I did crack open the book Honey & Junk by Dana Goodyear on Friday.  It's not a new read for me, but I was finding it even more provoking as I was reading it it this time.

A few journal bits of mine from recent days...

  • the pewter face - going elsewhere / in the evening of prime / of expendable time / when fireflies play
  • Wednesday is like being in the middle of nowhere
  • stars buried from sight / co-dependent choruses of owls / sing to the night / sing to the measure of conformity

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Race Day


Race day at Indy. I'm a big Indy Car fan. Waiting to connect with my daughter on Skype to watch the race. I grew up loving Indy Cars but I've never had any interest whatsoever in NASCAR. It's ONLY open wheel racing for me!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Power of Play

There was an interesting article in the Arts and Entertainment section of the Sunday Kansas City Star. The piece was actually a review of a book titled Play: How it Shapes the Brain and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughn - Avery publisher $24.95

It opens talking about how if you work at Cal Tech's prestigious Jet Propulsion Lab, you better be the best, the brightest an be ready to talk about how you played as a kid.

Vaughn and Brown believe that play is the "stick that stirs the drink."  The message I gleaned from the review is that Vaughn and Brown as well as others have come to the realization that schools have become assembly lines for high test scores but real learning is grounded in creativity and creativity is born of play.

While seeing this article is not particularly revolutionary information to me, It marks the second time in oh, something less then six months I've seen discussions suggesting that some of the top flight organizations and employers in the U.S. are reaching the conclusion that they are better served by employees that are well grounded in creativity. This seems to change the whole right brain left brain concept of intelligence vs  creativity. I guess being creative is after all a marketable commodity.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

“is that it’s a place of many places.”

KEVIN COYNE writing in The New York Times, attempts to explain why the state of New Jersey is so rich with successful poets of late. He points out that W.S. Merwin's Pulitzer Prize for poetry makes the fourth such poet to win the prize in the past 10 years and he says this is a streak that is unmatched by any other state.

Coyne reports that another of New Jersey's Pulitzer Poetry winners, Stephen Dunn thinks he knows what what it is about the state that has given their poets this edge. “New Jersey’s gift to its poets, is that it's a place of many places."

It seems there are 566 municipalities compressed together in the state with a total population about equivalent to that of New York City.  There are in fact more municipalities in the state per square mile than in any other state in the nation. Lots of places provide a treasure trove of places to write about. Each with their own history, their own landscape and so on.

As I read Coyne piece and thought about Stephen Dunn's remarks, I am once again reminded how much emphasis place can have on poetry.  Poems are like a snapshot. A story stopped in time. The have a place in time and a geography all their own. I do believe Stephen Dunn is onto something here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jesse says....


"Give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders." ~Jesse Ventura  5-11-09

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And We Thought Wall Street was the Bad Guys

Wall Street creative financial instruments that went bad are not the only sign of corporate greed. While Congress debates consumer protection regulations for the credit card industry, many of the companies it seeks to regulate are rushing to sock-it to customers before it's too late to milk them any further.

The credit card industry has enjoyed precious little regulation over the years and they have in recent times piled on  the fees and in many instances raised intrust rates even for well paying customers arguing they must do so to cover losses.

President Obama has urged a series of protections for customers. They include:

  • statements that are easily understandable
  • ban on unfair rate increases
  • prevention of unfair fee and interest charges
  • straightforward contract terms
  • protections for students and young people

Yet a proposal to cap rates at 15 percent failed on Wednesday. A sign that the industry still has power in the halls of Congress.

While some changes are likely to reach the President's desk this secession there will be an interim period of time before they take effect. Meantime, companies are busy tacking on amendments to customer's contracts and hiking fees.

Another ironic aspect of all this is at least one major company who swallowed up several other companies and received taxpayer funded assistance has sent notices to customers current and with good credit scores advising them it is necessary to increase their rates due to industry losses.

Sources: NPR Washington Times Credit FYI

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Double Darn

Darn!  Had I realized it earlier, I would have joined the President, Michelle and Darth Vader for a poetry reading at the White House.

Another discouraging  bit of news...  Republican Senator Tom Coburn  of Oklahoma tacked an amendment on to a credit card reform bill that would allow visitors to National Parks to carry guns. It is so lame to slip shit like this into law by attaching it to legislation that is not remotely connected to the topic. And of course, the measure passed 67 to 29 vote.  A lot of Democrats folding to the gun lobby. No backbones!   27 Democrats joined 39 Republicans voted for it and another 27 were joined by one Republican and voted to against it. Of course it may or may not survive a House Senate conference, but the fact remains there were a lot of Senators running with their tail between their legs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Roxana Saberi Free


In the event you've not already heard, the Iranian - American Roxana Saberi was released from jail in Iran and has been told she is free to leave the country.  Last week, Amnesty supporters immediately responded by sending over 26,000 letters to the Iranian government in less than 24 hours urging her trial be revisited openly and that she be released. The details of Ms. Saberi's ordeal were reported here earlier.

Some of my Journal Bits from the past week....

  • The sky has no cheer to offer
  • The stars wink back / we are mutually exclusive
  • old notions of predisposition / fell upon a perilous path /and were trampled
  • there is commotion  / in the world order / what to do with the castors

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Clicking Again

Sadly the weekend is slipping away.  On the positive side, I was able to get some positive vibes back into my writing.  Yeah!!!

I'm working on both new stuff and rewrites for a particular submission that I've been planning and while the deadline is fast approaching, I don't as of yet feel particularly stressed about it. Surprising as that seems.

Parting thought for the weekend - "I shut my eyes in order to see." ~ Paul Gaucuin


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Few Contemporary Poets I Especially Appreciate


There are a good number of contemporary poets that are not  Merwins or Ashberys that nevertheless are exceptional practitioners of the craft and don't get near the attention they deserve. Here are my list of ten who's work I especially appreciate. (they are in no special order)

  1. Dana Goodyear
  2. Cecilia Woloch
  3. Kelli Russell Agodon
  4. Victoria Chang
  5. Aleah Sato
  6. Eileen Tabios
  7. Katrina Vandenberg
  8. Ivy Alvarez
  9. Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  10. Laura Kasischke

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Weekend Surprise

Nathalie Handal

 If you're like me this April, your e-mail swelled beyond the capacity to read on a daily basis. Much of it is due to the influx of poems and poem related material during National Poetry Month. One such e-mail was from PBS Online News Hour with Jim Leher. They do a periodic feature piece on a poet and they are always top notch video feeds with bibliographical information and usually a poem or two. The email was to promote their latest, a visit poet Bob Hicok. I'm familiar with Hicok and I will get around to listening to their piece, but in taking the link to the PBS site, I saw a previous piece I had missed on another poet who I stopped to check out. The poet, pictured above, was  Nathalie Handal. 

I've missed anything about Ms.Handal up to this point on my poetry radar (which may need servicing) and this was an astonishing discovery.  She is well traveled, having I've lived in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the United States, and the Arab world. And while her roots are Palestinian, she is clearly a poet of the world.

I have found some of her poems and posted a few of their links here:

And here us the PBS Video: 

Click here

Another Video of Nathalie Handal  reading - you might need to turn the volume up a bit. This poem captures a portion of the beauty that she compresses within the language of her work. A soft but mighty voice.

In many respects she reminds me of the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sunday May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day

WP & Freedeom Day In 1991 the United Nations General Assembly established May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day. This year there have been a number if international incidents that underscore the fact that there are governments around the world that continue to suppress news journalists from doing their job.

Just since January there are a significant number of members of the press who have been assassinated and a larger number imprisoned throughout the world. Take a look at this list of news journalists who have paid the ultimate price for their work:

Assassinated journalists and media workers

  • Raja Assad Hameed (Pakistan)

    Reporter for the daily Nation and Waqt TV Channel

    Killed on 26 March 2009 in Pakistan

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Jawed Ahmad (Afghanistan)

    Reporter for the Canadian media, including CTV News.

    Killed on 10 March 2009 in Afghanistan

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Haider Hashim (Iraq)

    Correspondent for the private TV broadcaster Al-Baghdadia

    Killed on 10 March 2009 in Iraq

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Suhaib Adnan (Iraq)

    Cameraman for the private TV broadcaster Al-Baghdadia

    Killed on 10 March 2009 in Iraq

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Ernesto Rollin (Philippines)

    Journalist for local radio DxSY-AM

    Killed on 23 February 2009 in Philippines

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Jean Paul Ibarra Ramírez (Mexico)

    Photographer for El Correo newspaper

    Killed on 13 February 2009 in Mexico

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Ando Ratovonirina (Madagascar)

    Reporter for the privately-owned Radio et Télévision Analamanga (RTA).

    Killed on 7 February 2009 in Madagascar

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Said Tahlil Ahmed (Somalia)

    Director of Horn Afrik Radio/TV

    Killed on 4 February 2009 in Somalia

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Bruno Ossébi (Republic of Congo)

    Columnist for the online newspaper Mwinda

    Killed on 2 February 2009 in Republic of Congo

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Francis Nyaruri (Kenya)

    Journalist for the independent Weekly Citizen

    Killed on 29 January 2009 in Kenya

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Shafiq Amrakhov (Russian Federation)

    Owner and editor of the online regional news agency RIA 51

    Killed on 19 January 2009 in Russian Federation

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Anastasia Baburova (Russian Federation)

    Journalist for Novaya Gazeta

    Killed on 19 January 2009 in Russian Federation

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Orel Sambrano (Venezuela)

    Editor of a weekly magazine ABC

    Killed on 16 January 2009 in Venezuela

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Uma Singh (Nepal)

    Journalist for daily newspaper Janakpur Today and Radio Today FM

    Killed on 11 January 2009 in Nepal

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Lasantha Wickrematunga (Sri Lanka)

    Editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper Sunday Leader

    Killed on 8 January 2009 in Sri Lanka

    [UNESCO Statement]

  • Basel Faraj (Palestine)

    Cameraman for the Algerian TV network ENTV and for the Palestine Broadcast Production Company

    Killed on 6 January 2009 in Palestine

  • The Roxana Saberi Matter

    Roxana Saberi is a 31 year old journalist with joint U.S. and Iranian citizenship. She has been residing in Iran for six years where she's been studying for a masters degree in Iranian studies, and reporting for NPR, the BBC, ABC News and other international news organizations. Her plans were to return to the U.S. this year when she completed a book about Iranian culture she was writing.

    Saberi was arrested at the end of January initially for purchasing wine (alcohol is banned in Iran) then officials alleged she continued to work as a journalist after her credentials were revoked. This finally converted to charges of unspecified "espionage."

    On April 18th she was convicted and sentenced to 8 years of jail in a trial that was short of any international standards.

    If you do nothing else to mark this this Word Press Freedom Day, click on these two sites and add your voice to the call for Roxana Saberi to be freed.

    1. Amnesty International Site - send a letter to His Excellency -Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei asking for a fair and public review of the allegations against her and without any verifiable evidence otherwise, she be released.
    2. Go to the site set up by Roxana's parents for her. Leave a note of support on the guest book.

    A Poet Gets No Respect

    Photo_030609_003 I can feel the lazy days of summer ahead, but they aren't quite here yet.

    Any of you seen the movie Prairie Home Companion? It was a movie I had been wanting to see. My wife was not real interested and we never saw it when it came out. Cathy did however record it on our DVR knowing both my daughter and I wanted to see it. We've had it for a week or two now, and Cathy decided to make a night of it.  We got pizza and settled in and watched it.  I enjoyed it thoroughly. Both Cathy and my daughter Shannon by the end were fighting to stay awake. Neither were impressed.   My wife's explanation as to why I might have enjoyed it was that it reminded her of my poetry... inaccessible.

    On a related note, I subjected my immediate family to only one poem this Poetry Month. They seem to believe they are subjected to way more then any sane person should have to endure through their connection to me. So I sent them on the last day of April one poem. They all received one poem from me. I chose the Billy Collins poem, Introduction to Poetry. The poem concludes with the following two stanzas....

    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.

    Now Cathy liked the Collins poem, but she responded in an email, "It's the poet that needs to be tied to the chair and beaten with a rubber hose for writing an inaccessible poem...and I'm sure we all know what poet I am talking about. :)

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    May Day - May Day

    Photo_012209_001 May 1st and I've taken a break from writing today aside from my daily journal entry.

    The break from writing a poem is suiting me well so far.  There's almost a hour left of the day, I suppose I could get the itch, but I'm thinking not.  Who knows, perhaps overnight I might wake up with some brainstorm. Hey, it has happened.

    I realized one of my poems that had previously been publish was added to the Johnson County Kansas Public Library's poem a day feature on their Internet site. It can be seen here.