Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Local Kansas City Poetry & Arts Scene


  • Friday, October 2, 2009 - 7 pm - Poet Richard Newman will read from his new book Domestic Fugues (Steel Toe Books, 2009). The reading at  the Writers Place - 3607 Pennsylvania -Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Saturday, October 3, 2009 – 1pmAfrican American poet Kimberly Britton reads from newly published work.  Kansas City Public Library, Southeast Branch, 6242 Swope Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Wednesday October 7, 2009 – Noon - WORKSHOP @ THE LANDON CENTER ON AGING -3599 Rainbow Blvd, Kansas City, Kansas. Free to those 55 and older. "Improve Your Mental Health Through Writing" will be taught by Maril Crabtree.  Call 913-588-3094 to register.
  • Friday, October 9, 2009 – 8 pm - Pamela Garvey and Carl Bettis  Riverfront reading series at the Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Friday, October 9, 2009 –6:30 – 8:00 pm - Art Walk Poetry featuring Glenn North at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library, 625 Minnesota, Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Wednesday, October 12, 2009 5:30 pm - Billy Collins, Former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads at Kansas State University, K-State Alumni Center Ballroom, Manhattan, Kansas.  Contact Elizabeth Dodd, Department of English for details. Tele:785-532-6716.
  • Friday, October 16, 2009 – 7 pm - Caryn Mirriam Goldberg, Kansas Poet Laureate -  reads at Border's Books, 91st & Metcalf, Overland Park, Kansas – contact Border's  @ 913-642-3642.
  • Sunday, October 18, 2009 8 pm - MAIN STREET RAG
    Hosted by Shawn Pavey with poet Christina Pacosz reading. Writers Place - 3607 Pennsylvania -Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Tuesday, October 20, 2009 7 pm - Poets Brian Daldorph and Bill Bauer at  Writers Place Poetry Reading Series @ THE JOHNSON COUNTY LIBRARY - 9875 W. 87th, Overland Park, Kansas.
  • Thursday, October 22, 2009 Reception 6 pm & reading 7 pm - Robert Pinsky  guest of the Midwest Poets Series. Poet laureate of the United States from 1997-2000; Rockhurst University, 54th Street and Troost, Kansas City, Mo.  Admission to Midwest Poets Series is $3.  No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
  • Monday, October 26, 2009 - 8:00 pm Wriiters Place Open Mic
    Hosted by Sharon Eiker - Writers Place - 3607 Pennsylvania -Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 10:00 am- 1:00 pm
    The Art of Poetry - This workshop is intended for beginners and others interested in hearing, writing, talking about, and understanding the beauty of poetry. Writers Place - 3607 Pennsylvania -Kansas City, Missouri.

Special Exhibits -  Keltie Ferris: Man Eaters  At Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art- October 23, 2009–February 13, 2010

Keltie Ferris is a post digital painter, employing formalist strategies and materials—oil, acrylic, sprayed paint, and oil pastel—to create enigmatic and visually seductive abstractions.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art -   American Art on Paper: Impressions of the Southwest and Mexico  October 14, 2009— April 11, 2010

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thought for the Day

Saints have no moderation, nor do poets, just exuberance. ~ Anne Sexton


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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Around the Net This Week

A few things that I found on the internet this week. Some are in the humorous category. Others I found interesting in a variety of ways.  Things I liked, things I learned from, etc.  Anyway, if you missed any of these, then you might want to check them out.

  • Death by Bananas.  I found this nifty piece of work by Daniela Edburg on The Big Window. This falls mostly under my Humor Department.  You’ll find a link on The Big Window to a host of other photos by Edburg in a whole “Death By” series.  I was struck by these because they remanded me of some interesting photo shoots that one of my daughters did in college.
  • Maya Ganesan it seems, is no average 12 year old writer. Her book Apologies to an Apple (actually written at age 11) is highlighted in a virtual book/blog tour by poet Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Small Knots on her blog Book of Kells.  While I’ve not read Maya’s book yet I hope to. Small Knots I have read, and reread and count among my favorites.
  • Joannie Stangeland offers an interest pictorial of fall grape harvest for those like me who enjoy wine. Check out Crushed. Umm…  I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay, thank you!
  • Pigs in JPs!!!!  Yes.  This clip is adorable. Thanks Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I did the “S” word!


It’s cool here today. Not unpleasantly so, but it is a sign of things to come.

I made a pot of chili for lunch. It seemed like a good day for it.

I’ve read today, written, and yes, the “S” word.  That would be submitted material least you think it is something more adventuresome.  Over the past year, I’ve taken to considering it a burdensome task. It wasn’t that way always, but it has become my least favorite part of writing poetry.

In looking through my material I realized I need to better organize it. By that I mostly mean review my material and decide it some of it perhaps needs to go back into the work folder. I do have a few things that I’ve been sitting on that perhaps are really ready.  I just don’t like to rush them off.

I brought some work home from the office as well this weekend and I really ought to tackle on of those projects tonight… then I won’t have so much to do tomorrow.

I got eaten up on the deck this afternoon, sitting with the dogs. I fear tonight will be a Benadryl night.

Off to make espresso!   My earlier one got pitched while it was cooling down.

Anne Sexton – Early Writing Success


Anne Sexton’s public persona was not unlike that of Sylvia Plath’s. Both were women who seemed to be transfixed by 1950’s mores. Both had histories of mental instability. Both were poets. Both ultimately took their own lives. The final writings of both might well have foretold their suicides.

Plath’s mother saw to it that Sylvia had an academic background.  This is where the two differ. Anne was not interested in pursuing an academic path, she did attend finishing school and for a short period of time was a fashion model.

Sexton married at the age of 19 and following the birth of her first daughter required hospitalization for postpartum depression.  The birth of her second daughter heightened her depression and it was at the nudging of her therapist that she began to write.

What I find particularly impressive about Anne Sexton is that in 1956 Anne saw a program on educational television, “How to Write a Sonnet.” After Christmas Anne unveiled her first sonnet to her mother, knowing her mother had suffered an unfulfilled literary dream and would likely be a fierce critic.

In September of 1957, she enrolled in a poetry workshop at a Boston adult education center. She met the poet Maxine Kumin there. She would forge a lifelong relationship with Kumin that resulted in routine workshopping of poems by both as well as a deeply personal friendship.

By Christmas of 1957 Anne presented he mother with a stack of poems written and rewritten over the previous year. During 1959 she submitted poems with tremendous success to top flight lit magazines. Poems were taken by The Hudson Review, The New Yorker, The Christian Science Monitor, and in April of 1959, signed a contract to publish her first book, To Bedlam and Part Way Back.

According to Anne Sexton a Self-Portrait in Letters, I learned that on her 1960 Joint Income Tax forms with her husband, she listed herself as “Poet” and it would clearly seem that she had earned the right do so, taking an incredible and unconventional path to success as a poet. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day

My wife called to my attention that today is National Punctuation Day.

It was created in 2004 by writer "Jeff Rubin"-- after he was annoyed by improper use of punctuation. This morning-- we've got three pieces of punctuation you might not have heard of. First -- this mark -- the asterism. It is used to call attention to a passage or to separate subchapters in a book. Next is the "irony mark". It looks like a backwards question mark -- it was supposed to be used to indicate when something should be taken ironically-- but it never really caught on. Last up -- the "interrobang". It's intended to combine the question mark and the exclamation mark. By the way -- we have more on national punctuation day -- including a recipe contest to celebrate -- at kmbc.Com -- under news links.  Or just click here –> National Punctuation Day


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Tug of Time

The week is knotted,
the ends pulling each
against the other.

Time stops to watch.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What I’ve Learned

This past weekend I finished a six week project mentoring under another poet. It’s been a great way to stretch myself beyond that point of complacency that sometimes creeps into our routines. The were a number of things that I learned or relearned in come cases.  Just off the top of my head, a few of them that readily come to mind:

  • I have a lot yet to learn.

  • Political poetry is best pulled off with subtle political tone and greater narrative.

  • I can look to other poetry for ideas and examples as to how others have used poetic devise.

  • Cut, cut and cut again if you can.

  • Look for fresh & unique ways to show with my writing.

  • It's all right to write about simple things.

  • Beginnings and endings should both be strong.

  • The middle of the poem still has a job to do... remain interesting enough to hold the beginning and the end together.

  • Manuscripts are pieces of art in themselves.  Not just a collection of 30 to 50 poems...  they need a connective thread to establish some relevance, one to another.

  • Write daily.

  • Write daily even if what you are writing sucks.  It won't improve by not writing. 

  • Read lots of poetry.  Learn from other's mistakes and successes.

  • Improve my work ethic, but don't take myself so seriously that I don't enjoy what I'm doing.  Even if it gets frustrating at times.

  • Even dead poets speak wisdom. 

  • Look for the musicality in your verse. Work to improve this. 

During this period of time I’ve had exposure to a lot of poems from six different poets. A wide spectrum of topics. Many ways of approaching the art.  Fresh ideas.

I feel like I’ve had my battery recharged!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Please Be Advised

In case there is any question, this blog is a weapons free zone.  Please check your side arms before entering.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The attack of ideas….

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago”~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Loose Women


This morning I rolled over and looked at the clock and discovered it was 5:40 a.m. and my mind on weekend mode thought that at 6:00 a.m. I could listen to New Letters on the Air. That was pretty good for that hour of the morning. However, my eyes pulled their shades and I next looked at the clock at a quarter past six.

Lucky for me, my Zune was close at hand and I switched it over to fm radio mode and it was already on KCUR 89.3 FM.  I was able to catch Angela Elam and her guest for the show this morning, Sandra Cisneros.  The fifteen minutes of programming that I heard did manage to hear was a really insightful look at Cisneros and how she views her own creative process. These programs are ultimately available in podcast form and when this one is posted I’m making a mental note to myself to make mention of it again and post the podcast link for others that may want to listen to it.  If interested, you could check with your own NPR station and see when they air it, because not everyone gets them at the same time.

On thing I was fascinated about was a series of poems that she wrote and were ultimately published under the title Loose Woman. What was of interest to me was that these poems were never written with the intention of publication in mind. She talks a little about the freedom that gave her in writing them.  She did, over a period of time read a few of them in public readings and people were coming up to her afterwards and asking what Book or Journal had they appeared in, where could they get a copy. She would tell them she’d be happy to mail them a photocopy of the poems but they were not available in print anywhere. After this persisted for a while, she decided perhaps she should give them to her agent and see what they could do. Hence, Loose Women.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Warm Apple with Crispy Oatmeal & Brown Sugar, a sprinkle of Cinnamon – and Vanilla Ice-cream


When I walked out of the building Friday afternoon at the end of the work day it was just gorgeous. It was the kind of weather you just want to Xerox so you can enjoy it every day.  I appreciate these kind of days. It was bight and mostly sunny but the air was cool – a perfect pre-fall day.  It put me in the mood for Apple Betty a-la-mode.  Of course It didn’t hurt that earlier in the day I read a blog post about it.  I knew I’d think about it all weekend, so when Kelli posted three “Apple Brown Betty” recipes today, I had to get domestic and make some. Cathy had gone into her office today and so when she came home, Walla!  I made the second recipe which worked really well. I do think it could use a little more of the batter, but the flavor was perfecto!

Off to do a writing session. The night isn’t getting any younger you know.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bright Star puts Sexy back into Poetry

I know it’s a period piece, but the reviews circulating in print this week are calling Bright Star a hit…  it lets us rediscover the thrills of poetry, played with mesmerizing vitality and heart-stopping grace by Abbie Cornish and exhilarating, and deeply pleasurable.

Bright Star is the story of the intense love affair between the young poet John Keats and his younger neighbor, Fanny Brawne.  Their story is a love story of non-traditional sorts. Keats after all, is an impoverished writer who has contracted tuberculosis. Their love is never consummated, and Keats will ultimately die at the young age of twenty-five. His love for Brawne inspires some of his greatest poetry.

You can check out the official movie site here.  I’m anxious to see this movie.

Off the beaten path..

As I sat down to write last night, I went to an epigraph I lifted from another poem that I had thought about for a while and started to write. Beyond the fist line of my own (not the epigraph) it stopped working. I tried forcing it. The old I’m going to pound this square peg into the round hole if it’s the end of me method of writing. Well, it was the end of me writing anything worthwhile for the evening. It ended badly as these things usually do when I’m in that mode of operation. I become a poet wondering in the desert. Lost.

Perhaps the poet will find his way back onto the page today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This is so Incredible

I heard about this on our local NPR station today.  KCUR 89.3 FM
Isn’t the human creative capacity awesome…
Perhaps only a musician could see this photograph of birds on wires as notes on a musical staff. 
Brazilian composer Jarbas Agnelli saw a photo in a newspaper of birds sitting on five parallel wires, and was inspired to treat their positions as avian sheet music. He interpreted what he saw as music and orchestrated the tune.     [Source]

Wasn’t the smartest thing to do…



This morning I sent an e-mail from my smart phone to another poet.  Later in the day I received a reply. The response was concise and indicated the sender understood what I had sent.  Of course along with the reply was my original message embedded in the text.  Seeing the message I had sent I was horrified. It contained a significant number of errors. I was both embarrassed and amazed that the recipient could even understand what I said.  I felt compelled to sent another e-mail with explanation and I did as follows:   

Oh My God!  Seeing this ( my original note) underscores why I should never be allowed to type e-mails on my smart phone.  No matter how smart the phone is, if my big fat fingers don't hit the right key I'm going to look pretty dumb.

How did you ever read it?

So totally embarrassed!

The reply that came back read in part:

The brain is a magical thing, it makes meaning where there is none.  ;-)

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Two You Don’t Want to Miss

It’s late, but I wanted to call attention to a couple of notable blog posts on Friday. Brian Brodeur’s blog. How A Poem Happens is a great read.  It features various poets discussing the development of a particular poem and thus gives some insight into what goes on in a poet’s head as he or she uses their creative prowess to write a poem.

Today a new post is up and it features Idra Novey discussing her poem Trans. Novey  is the winner of the 2007 Kinereth Gensler Award as well as awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, and the PEN Translation Fund. 

Of course you can still find older posts where many other poets have  done the same with their own work. You can find Brian’s blog by clicking here.

Another blog post worth reading is Kelli Russell Agodon’s post on the subject of Creative Clusters.

I’m calling it a night! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Local Poet Highlighted in The Examiner

Robert Fisher’s voice is deep and husky. I’ve heard him read at various venues in the Kansas City metropolitan area in recent years. If he isn’t reading, it’s not uncommon to see him at readings by others at the Writers place or any of a number of other open mics. It was nice to see Adrianne DeWeese’s article in the local Examiner newspaper on him.  article link

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Civility Lacking During President’s Message to Congress a Sad Sign of the Times


You lie!" Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., shouted from his seat, jabbing a finger in the air. This in response to the President remarks in his speech, "The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

Sen. John McCain, (R- Arizona)  called Wilson's actions "totally disrespectful.”

I can recall a day when civility was a part of congressional code and while on the House and Senate floor this would not be tolerated between members much less the president. 

Digressing from the issue of civility it should be noted if Mr. Wilson would read the bills presently before House committees there is in fact specific language that excludes those who are in this country illegally. But I doubt that the Congressman is really unaware of this. I suspect that he has chosen to propagate this information, for what reason, I can only guess.

All I can say is that this is sad that the level of discussion about something as significant as reforming our health care delivery system is reduced to this level.  With 12,000 people losing their health insurance daily, our representatives owe us more than this.

Hubble Just Keeps Giving



The Hubble telescope has been refurbished and is already giving us new breathtaking looks beyond our galaxy. Ah! The poetry of these views!

Barack Obama faces 30 death threats a day, stretching US Secret Service

US President Barack Obama is the target of more than 30 potential death threats a day and is being protected by an increasingly over-stretched and under-resourced Secret Service, according to a new book.

Since Mr Obama took office, the rate of threats against the president has increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

British ReInvasion


So iTunes has finally decided to make Beatles fans happy. About time!

Speaking of time, I need to do at least thirty minutes of writing before it gets any later.

Couple of fun poems by Kim Addonizio in today’s Daily Poems.


Monday, September 07, 2009

Math & The Arts

I’ve often heard it said that math and art are a lot alike. Never being one who really got into math I have failed to see the similarities, but I ran across this quote from a mathematician.  I’m open to the possibilities.

“When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again.” ~Carl Friedrich Gauss

I’m thinking he may have been a closet poet.

Sudanese Journalist Lubna Hussein Escapes Flogging

Courageous public stand by this woman to incredible Sudanese government position concerning women’s dress. Evidently the government realized the public view internationally for flogging this woman would be a harshly judged. Hopefully they will come to realize soon that the international view of the law itself is equally as negative.

Sudanese Journalist Lubna Hussein Escapes Flogging

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Dead Poet Mentor

I was thinking tonight the way I’ve been zipping through poetry books these past few weeks, (Just finished WILD IRIS by Louise Gluck) one a week for the past four months that I’m going to have to be thinking about what next soon. I’ve actually got the next two weeks covered.

Two books on my list to acquire and read are The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin. and The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton. I’ve already developed a taste for Merwin’s work. Migration is a wonderful collection of work that I often get lost in.

Sexton’s Complete Poems: I’ve often started to purchase but ultimately arrived at the checkout with something else. I’ve decided recently with the help of another poet to make Sexton my dead poet mentor.  You ask, “How’s a dead poet going to mentor me?” That’s what her book is for. A source of inspiration. A place to go for ideas. A place to search for answers when I am stumped… WWAD? (What would Annie Do)

I admit the idea seemed a little far fetched to me at first.  I mean there were several things that seemed odd. She’s dead for one. She’s female. There are however advantages to selecting her for this role. The difference in gender actually could work as a plus, providing a clue to the female persona for poems. She has a significant collection so there is plenty to learn from. Anne was not timid about subject matter. She wrote quite freely about topics. Something I could learn to do better.

I had actually thought of Sexton as sort of the Patron Saint of those who came to poetry through a less traditional (non-academic) route.  Sexton was not a product of academia though she achieved sufficient recognition for her work that she went on to teach at Boston University as well several other Colleges.   At any rate, I’ll soon be putting her to work mentoring me from the grave.


Poems & Bread

“Peace goes into the making of a poem as flour goes into the making of bread.”  ~Pablo Neruda

Friday, September 04, 2009

Baseball, Poetry and Life


Throughout my adult life if held to the premise that baseball mimics life. Quite frankly I believe baseball is the ultimate metaphor for life, where fairness has little to do with how life is lived.

An example of what I mean is often played out each game on the field. A real dynamo hitter comes to the plate, chooses his pitches carefully, maybe fouls off a pitch or two and the drills one back-back-back to the wall where a fielder leaps, his arm extended high above the wall and robs the hitter of a home run. The next batter, a .223 hitter,  struggles to stay ahead in the count until he finally gets a little bit of wood on the bat and it creeps through the infield and finds a hole. We call this a seeing single.  It hardly seems fair, but that’s how baseball sometimes is; a mirror of life itself.

Poetry is very much the same. It brings the common to life and makes it interesting. It reminds us of things we almost forgot by triggering a taste, a sound, some feel… texture of something. Poetry can transport us, much the same way a night at the ballpark takes us away from our work, our troubles. Even now as I sit at my laptop, I can smell the fresh cut grass of the field of sunny afternoon game or the smell of hot dogs and cotton candy in the evening breeze at a night game.  The sound of the crack of the bat…  Sorry, my mind was drifting away.

Above is Fernando Perez, who plays outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has his own perspective on the parallels of baseball and poetry.  Perez is one of six Ivy Leaguers in the major league at the start of this season. He also is a serious student of poetry and completed the creative writing program at Columbia University in New York City, where he lives in the offseason. . You can find an essay by Perez that appears in the September issue of Poetry Magazine. 

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Surprising Parity in Arab Anthology of American Poets

I read an article about a project to translate a number of poems into Arabic as part of a project to widen the Arabic world's access to foreign literature. Over a thousand titles are being translated for the anthology project including many by American poets. I was intrigued by the selection the and thought others might be as well. Check out these selections:

  • Langston Hughes
  • Charles Simic
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Anne Sexton
  • Charles Bukowski
  • Robert Bly
  • Ted Kooser
  • Billy Collins
  • Denise Levertov
  • Louise Gluck
  • Kim Addonizio,
  • AR Ammons
  • Florence Anthony
  • Theodore Roethke
  • Dorianne Laux

If anything, I am amazed that this project based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates has a very close parity between men and women selected. Seven women out of fifteen total! 

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sixth Anniversary Blog Post


Just a quick note to extend my thanks for those who from time to time stop by here, read and even offer some interaction. Interaction is good. I like to think of blogs at their best when they become interactive.

On the left is the cover of my read for last week. Carolyn Forche’s The Country Between Us. This entire book of poetry is laden with political undertones that are woven through narratives that would not disappoint even the apolitical type. I’m a firm believer that writing good political poetry is at least as difficult are writing love poems that work. Carolyn Forche gets this and rises to the occasion. One of the poems from this collection, Selective Service can be read  can be read here

I love the way Forche uses the image of children on their backs in snow making snow angels and powerfully closes with “We lie down in the fields and leave behind / the corpses of angels.” Go take a look at the whole poem and how it unfolds. Better still, get a copy of this book and read them all!