Monday, June 29, 2009

Partly Moody

The poet may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather. ~Lionel Trilling

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beatings continue on streets in Iran


Sunday afternoon

The latest issue of Poets and Writers is out. I was slightly disappointed as I was expecting this to be the issue in which they feature the breakout poets for the year. I always enjoy seeing it and often am familiar with at least one of them. Instead it's a first fiction annual.

I did enjoy the article FLARF POETS, they can't be serious. Can They? I about to read How the NEA is spending that $50 MILLION.

Just for grins I'm thinking I'll put up a poll on flarf for a couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Holy Cow -A Pastor Celebrates Handguns

The Saturday Night Special is defined by Wikipedia as pejorative slang used in the United States and Canada for any inexpensive handgun.  Tonight pastor is Ken Pagano of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky is having “Saturday night special” service for gun owners.

According to article, 'About 200 people took him up on the invitation. It wasn’t mandatory to have a gun to get in. In fact, according to the church website, you didn’t even have to believe in God. The only requirement was to be a supporter of the First and Second Amendments.'

Actually the Saturday Night Specials were the target of most of the early gun control legislation.  They are not hunting sport weapons and really have only one purpose, a cheap weapon to use against another person.

I find the mixture of Church and cheap handguns to be a most interesting marriage. We do love our guns in this country. In fact the gun culture in America has within it a a cult base that harbors a fanatical fixation on guns. Some to almost a level of "gun worship." Perhaps Pastor Pagano is one such worshiper. I don't know him personally but what I do know is his works and I am suspect of any pastor who feels compelled to use church resources to advance and celebrate the cause of "Saturday Night Specials." These cheap handguns have victimized so many families, from accidental shootings (many of which are children) to suicides to passionate arguments that end in one or more shootings and last but not least armed criminal acts.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

BBC Poetry Series Boosts Poetry Sales in U.K.


A recent spate of poetry-related material has driven poetry sales in the U.K., selling copies of books that had languished on national shelves.

The BBC's Poetry Season project appears to have motivated people to go to the buy poetry. Imagine that!

A multimedia series with interviews and other related poetry items is credited with generating a 92 % bump in the sales of Sylvia Plath's poetry works and a whooping 300 % increase in the sales of John Donne.

Local Poetry Events



Friday - June 26 / 7:30pm


Thomas Cobian’s art, River Cow Orchestra’s music, and local poets reading.

Friday - July 10 - 8:00 pm

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Poet Laureate of Kansas - Landed is her new collection of poetry, and The Sky Begins at Your Feet, the title of her forthcoming memoir. Her books include My Tree Called Life: Writing and Living Through Serious Illness and Lot’s Wife.

Anastacia (Stacey) Tolbert is a writer, playwright, and fifth grade teacher at Seattle Girls School, in Seattle, Washington.  Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published nationally, and she is writer, co-director, and co-producer of GOTBREAST (2007), a documentary on women’s views about breast and body image.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

English-Only Group Can't Spell the Word 'Conference' -- Politics Daily

This item caught my attention today and I had a good laugh. I hope this makes Morning Joe on MSNBC. Would be a great story for Willie Geist who has the New You Can't Use segment that is generally humorous material. Click the link below to see a photo of the banner.

Filed Under:Republicans, Barack Obama, Gaffes, Humor, Immigration

Should English be the official language of the United States? That assertion was made over the weekend at a conference hosted by talk-show personality and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. Oddly, as the featured speakers delivered their remarks ridiculing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor for her supposed lack of English proficiency while at Princeton University, and warning that the Obama administration is "going to gradually institute institutional bilingualism in the country," they did so beneath a large banner that contained a doozy of a typo

English-Only Group Can't Spell the Word 'Conference' -- Politics Daily

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nice Bright Colors

Kodak created Kodachrome in 1935 and by the mid-1970's it was so culturally ingrained into society no one gave it a second thought when Paul Simon  immortalized the kodak1-420x0film in song.   These digital times have reduced the film, known for its vivid colors to a business loser. So much so that Kodak announced today that it will stop making it.

Like the typewriter (you remember that don't you?) the 35 mm film will soon be lost from the vocabulary of a generation who know nothing but digital photography.  Momma won't even have have a chance to take your Kodachrome away.

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Thirty-five / for Cathy


Two numbers open
to possibilities-
the three and five
each with open cupped hand

Coral and Jade
are its traditional and modern

It's a long time for people
to be together these days
but not to long for love
its symmetry
which defies math
or any defining number
rebuking any summation
or equal sign

Thirty-five is not a destination
but a mile marker
a momentary pause
on an odometer
to be be eclipsed

It is green with passion
green with hope
and ivory tough
to carry on
for the years
to come

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Journal Bits

  • June 7 - "Books on the shelf lean / helter-skelter / left asunder / by random reading"
  • June 7 - "Parking is an exercise / of temporary occupation / of territory"
  • June 8 - "The day they closed / the car plant / eyes burned of acid bewilderment"
  • June 9 - poets to add to my reading list for June: Farrah Field, Joe Wilkins, Adam Clay, Karen Rigby, Emma Bolden
  • June 10 - "The miles between us are narrow ruled / I can count the times we've tripped  / over one syllable words
  • June 12 - " holding on is an art / so too is letting go"
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Up Sores

My wine of choice is Chardonnay.  Yesterday, I had a glass of "Hob Nob" while eating out. I tried it based upon the two choices available to me. Big mistake. I imagine it's what wood alcohol would taste like.

On a positive note, I saw the movie UP which was charming and very well suited for 3-D which is how we saw it.  Don't let the animation fool you. It's a great movie for adults, especially couples.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009


Photo_051309_002 Saturday mid-day. Hot, humid and overcast outside, the dogs are sacked out - everyone else gone for now.

Listening to Phil Collins - Take Me Home from No Jacket Required.

The week has been somewhat surreal. Very intense at work. The world beyond too has been intense. There is a very strange seriousness the permeates the air and it seems distant and yet not.

At my age, I've seen my share of graphic pictures and certainly at least since the Vietnam War era graphic media has encroached everyone's life to some degree. Even if it is only regular TV, the news and even much of the programing has perhaps softened us to some degree to the shock of visual brutality, pain, suffering.

I like to think of our nation as one in which dissent is highly regarded.  It was largely the basis for the very formation of this nation, but dissent here has been remolded from those early days. We sometimes develop a hardened resistance to any public display of protest that runs counter to our own individual views. While people in this country on occasion are held in the personal contempt of others for expressing themselves on various topics, we don't often find ourselves in the same position those in 1989 were in who met with tanks in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square or  as people have this week in the streets of Tehran.

Each day this week I've seen disturbing Tweets out of Tehran as well as video feeds of protesters meeting with not just resistance but the real likely prospect of physical harm and even death. How deep the opposition is to the government in Iran and the ruling Clerics is difficult to judge but it is clearly a significant voice if not a majority.  The hope of a better life for the average person in Iran to many seems tied to the nation immerging from the isolation that it has been locked into as a result of the path that it has been on at the hands of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Clerics who have continued to support him against real concerns  for credibility in the outcome of the recent Presidential election.

These past few days, what information has seeped through the information wall that the Iranian government has sought to impose shows a very real struggle that is being waged between a massive resistance and the government. A resistance so brutal that some dissenters are paying the price of their lives for the change they believe must come to their homeland. Such change would not come without a tremendous price. How much these people are willing to endure and how long they will continue to expose themselves to the high cost of their dissent will no doubt be a factor in if and when real change comes to Iran.  No one, not even the Iranian government  or the opposition can predict with any certainty the outcome. What is clear is that each of us is a witness to history in the making as each day passes. I am reminded of the calling of poets to be aware of the world around them. To be witnesses to that world.


Warning: Graphic Video  

The Lede - Updating news of the disputed election in Iran

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Write of Sleep...

That is the question.   Out late tonight and came home and worked on something for work tomorrow.  Midnight and I haven't written - "sigh" and I guess I won't at this point. Closing down laptop... I think I'll read a couple poems and call it a night.  Tomorrow comes early.

Face of Iran’s Opposition - An Insider Turned Agitator -



Published: June 17, 2009

TEHRAN — His followers have begun calling him “the Gandhi of Iran.” His image is carried aloft in the vast opposition demonstrations that have shaken Iran in recent days, his name chanted in rhyming verses that invoke Islam’s most sacred martyrs.

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Protests Build As Iran Continues Media CrackdownSlide Show

Protests Build As Iran Continues Media Crackdown

Enlarge This Image

Newsha Tavakolian/Polaris, for The New York Times

Mir Hussein Moussavi, a former political insider, is leading a postelection protest movement. More Photos »

Mir Hussein Moussavi has become the public face of the movement, the man the protesters consider the true winner of the disputed presidential election.

Face of Iran’s Opposition - An Insider Turned Agitator -

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great Link - Donald Hall Explains

Brian Brodeur continues to provide insight to how a poet arrives at his/her finished product. His most recent guest is Donald Hall and you can find his explanation here at How A Poem Happens.

Hundreds of thousands in Iran protest vote result - Los Angeles Times

           Ben Curtis  Associated Press

The supreme leader orders the hard-line Guardian Council to examine challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi's claims of fraud in the vote reelecting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
8:12 PM PDT, June 15, 2009

Reporting from Tehran -- Hundreds of thousands of Iranian protesters defied authorities Monday and marched to Tehran's Freedom Square, as the Islamic Republic's supreme leader ordered an investigation into allegations of voter fraud that the opposition described as little more than an attempt to dampen anger over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Hundreds of thousands in Iran protest vote result - Los Angeles Times

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Election battle moves to streets

One has to wonder about the integrity of the Iranian election this week. In the days leading up to the vote the size of rallies in support of opposition candidate Mir Houssein Mousavi were amazing given the risks many were taking to be out front in opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Many of the nations young people and the intellectuals have come to see Ahmadinejad as a liability to the nation and feel further isolation from the west.

The last 48 hours since the election results were announced has seen unprecedented protests in the streets.  Mobile phones, text messaging, the Internet and  social networking sights like Facebook and Twitter were suffering outages or running slow cross the region and it is likely safe to assume that the government has had a hand in trying to block to swift exchange of such information.

I have to wonder how long such protests will continue?  How much dissent and how long the government will allow it to grow? Already there are indications that there have been a number of arrests and swift action in the streets to try to curb the crowds.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is an interactive post - please feel free to participate!

There is an old Chinese adage, “He who reads 100 poems writes like 100 poets. He who reads 1000 pomes writes like himself.” It's with this in mind that I am seeking to broaden my poet horizon. I'm looking for some recommendations as I build a new list of poets to check out.  I'm not looking so much for the likes of Wallace Stevens, W.S. Merwin, or Ashbery, Plath, Sexton, Olds, etc.  I'm looking more for contemporaries or perhaps some lesser known deceased poets.  So if you have some poets you are particularly fond of that you;d like to recommend, the comments section is open for business.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Dodge Foundation CEO to step down in 2010 -

Dodge Foundation CEO to step down in 2010 -

Dodge Foundation CEO to step down in 2010
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Star-Ledger Staff

After 12 years of leading one of the state's major philanthropic organizations, David Grant, the chief executive of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, is resigning from his position. He will stay on the job through next June to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The last words of John Updike, poet | Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/07/2009


The last words of John Updike, poet

and Other Poems
By John Updike

Alfred A. Knopf. 112 pp. $25

Reviewed by Frank Fitzpatrick
On Dec. 13, 2008, just 45 days before his death, fearful that his recently diagnosed lung cancer had metastasized, John Updike bid a poetic farewell to the tiny Pennsylvania town that had nurtured him and provided a lifetime of literary substance.

The last words of John Updike, poet | Philadelphia Inquirer | 06/07/2009


Aspiring Author

To Twitter or Not Twitter - that is the question...

Aspiring Author

Shared via AddThis

Sunday, June 07, 2009

When is The Tipping Point for an author to go digital? | The Creative Penn


When is The Tipping Point for an author to go digital?

An article last week examined whether The Tipping Point has come for the publishing industry.

When is The Tipping Point for an author to go digital? | The Creative Penn

This subject keeps coming up....  the point at which e-books and print-on-demand become viable in the market place.  The Creative Penn link was an interesting find on Twitter. [yes, I bit the dust and started using Twitter]

I already see print-on-demand as having a viable impact.  I really think we are still a couple years away from universal acceptance of e-books.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009


"I don't look on poetry as closed works. I feel they're going on all the time in my head and I occasionally snip off a length."- John Ashbery

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Chinese Government Blocks Twitter - Advertising Age - Global News

Chinese Government Blocks Twitter - Advertising Age - Global News: "Chinese Government Blocks Twitter
Run-up to 20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Blamed

Posted by Normandy Madden on 06.02.09 @ 02:55 PM

HONG KONG ( -- China's government has pulled the plug on yet another Western website, making Twitter unavailable to most users in mainland China since about 5 p.m. local time (5 a.m. in New York) and infuriating the local Twitterverse, which is already finding ways around the block.
The government has not publicly stated why it is blocking the site and doesn't usually comment on the actions of China's so-called net nanny, but it is widely assumed the government wanted to limit Twitter use before an important and controversial event -- the 20th anniversary of the government crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

The authorities are also nervous about the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China coming up on Oct. 1, 2009."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I received the following e-mail in relation to an earlier post.

Dear Mr. Wells-

I won't presume to post my comment on your Stickpoet site, but I was surprised to see you refer to Dr. Goddard as a German.  He was a Massachusetts boy, born and raised.
Your point about the correspondence between failures in poetry and rocketry, though, is well taken.

With my best regards-


Well Guy, you are quite correct. As a child I was quite interested in rocketry and read a good deal about the pioneering of the early space program.  Even as I was posting this the other night there was a nagging part of me that was thinking Goddard did not seem especially German in origin, but after more years than I care to admit, that was my recollection.  It was in fact Dr. Wernher von Braun a rocket pioneer as well that I was thinking of. Von Braun was German but later became an American citizen and brought with him a wealth of knowledge that benefited America's early entry into space exploration.  The problem is, that while I can straighten this much out I'm afraid I can no longer be certain to which of these two men this quote belongs. I tend to lean towards Goddard as originally designated, but I will attempt to clarify this in a subsequent post but for now, the matter of Goddard's birth and nationally is settled. As Guy acknowledged he is Massachusetts born and raised. Thus, quite American.

Guy seems content to let my connection to poetry and rocketry stand.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Do you believe in Muses?

Kind of a silly question on one hand. I mean do any of us put stock in mythology? I have been known to feel of times a muse has visited me and have cursed the times when they have left me high and dry. But the poet Ann Lauterbach rejects the idea of the muse and insists that she's not as much interested in inspiration as she is "in the riddle of making something."

In a P & W article in the May/June 09 issue Lauderbach talks about a process where once she gets words on a page she has to have a conversation. The poem is a form she argues and she says to the words, "How can I help you become a poem?" As a poet, she believes she has to become a most generous and critical reader. She likens it to being a really good parent. " I might say to the poems "you can't go there," but they respond "yes, I can." All this sounds a bit like standing on your head and stacking BBs.

I have to consider if I ask as much of words on the page as I should? Is there too much emphasis on trying to get it right the first time?

Writing is so very different from the general work ethic that stresses doing it right the first time so you don't waste time redoing it. We write to rewrite to rewrite and that runs against the normal work ethic.

I'm reminded of Dr. Robert Goddard, the German known as the father of modern rocketry. He maintained that there was no such thing as failure in rocketry. You are always learning- always striving to improve. Perhaps that should be the mantra for poets as well. "No such thing as failure in poetry."