Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings Week 370

You Say, I think:
  • 1.Harm :: injure
  • 2.If :: what
  • 3.On my own :: solo
  • 4.She said :: he said
  • 5.Illegal :: illicit
  • 6.Broke :: damaged
  • 7.It’s a :: girl/boy
  • 8.Chatting :: tslking
  • 9.Cottage :: cheese
  • 10.Podcast :: syndacate
get your own list

Dynamic Duo

Last night we went out to eat and then to the Elton John - Billy Joel concert at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Talk about an awesome concert! We had great seats and the bands, the music, these two giants in music entertainment made this one of the best concerts I experienced.

Admittedly I don't go to a lot of concerts, but I've seen a few over the years, some good ones but this one had so much energy- between the music and the crowd. Billy Joel was more engaging with the audience than Elton John but that’s ok, they each were at peak performance.

A friend of ours that was with us shot some good phone photos, I’m hopeful she’ll send me some that I can post later.

Lot of my favorite songs were a part of the night...

  • We Didn't Light The Fire
  • You May Be Right  [this quite possibly was written about me] ;)
  • Only The Good Die Young
  • Piano Man
  • She's always a Woman to Me
  • Crocodile Rock
  • Rocket Man
  • Saturday Night's Alright
  • Candle In the Wind
  • Can You Feel the Love tonight

Friday, February 26, 2010

Journal Bits

A micro snapshot of my writing journal...

  • Feb 16 - The short program / uncorked and raw / upon a mirror of ambition
  • Feb 21 - Quoted May Sarton - " Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self."
  • Feb 25 -  He grew anamated / arms and voice in flight /sure of himself / surer then he's ever been / looking into the mirror / across a table
  • Feb 26 - You never had the good / example that I never had / it's safest in the quiet / in the echo of the shadow / that hasen't moved / but listens

New to me this week

Couple of words that are new to me this week that I like…

  • Nascent- the process of being born or developing. Budding, emerging, promising, blossoming, hopeful, you get the picture. I really like this word.
  • Slake- to quench or satisfy. Quench is probably one of those overused words in poetry- I see myself using this at some point.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finding Poetry

‘A genuine poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a sound poem has been added to it, for a fine one helps extend everyone's knowledge of themselves and the world around them.’

This is just one of a series of interesting quotes I found here in a dialogue on poetry.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Confession Tuesday

It’s Tuesday and I’m in better shape today than I was yesterday. I don’t know if I had the Monday Blues, Cold Weather Blues, Back to Work Blues, No. 53 Blues or the Sunday Blues a day late.
As I said, it’s Tuesday, so let’s head to the Confessional:

I heard that Jay Leno is back next week and while I confess I could be tempted to watch as one of his guests is supposed to be the U.S Team skier Lindsay Vonn, but I won’t. I confess I’ve never been a big fan of Leno. I’ve laughed at a few of his monologues but I’ve never really felt he was remotely in a league with Carson or Letterman. So if I do break down and watch, I’ll be back here to confess I lied.

I looked in the mirror this morning after shaving and I confess that I could for a moment I felt I should have a leather collar around my neck. It’s time for a haircut or dog tags. I realize there are countless poets – old men poets with hair that seems all over the place, and they get by with it. I confess they have a few things going for them that I don’t. Pulitzers, National Book Awards, (hell even books), Pushcart Prizes. I think when you have a couple of these you can let your hair go all to hell.

It is that crazy time again when filing for political office begins. With seven terms on the County Democratic Committee in years past and a handful of other races that I’ve run, seeing the mass hysteria of people amassed in the wee hours of the morning for the opportunity to be first on the ballot brought back old times. I confess that a part of me misses this.

Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training Camps this past week. I confess that I really am ready for baseball season to get underway. It’s a Spring Rite of passage. It’s the secular equivalent of Easter. The rebirth – all things anew. I think I’m going to get teary-eyed. Not really, I confess that’s just me being a drama queen (dude).

I confess I poked fun at Lindsay Vonn’s emotional scene after winning her gold medal. My wife thought I was being harsh, and I confess I was. I could accept that it was an emotional moment but I judged it as being too long, over the top, whatever. Never haing experienced what it is like to train for and experience all that is involved up to that point, I can’t say that I wouldn’t do the same thing.

That’s it for this week….

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why It's Not The Same

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy the USA men’s hockey team beat Canada in the Olympics. To Canada where there is a real pride of ownership in the game, the loss yesterday was a very big thing. But to be very clear, what the U.S.A. team win means yesterday is not and cannot possibly ever be seen as on the same level as the successes of the 1980 U.S.A. Olympic team. Not even if the 2010 team ultimately wins the Gold.

The U.S.A. Women’s team is playing in the Simi-finals. That’s a big story. You see, the women’s team is not a bunch of professional players. Neither was the 1980 men’s team Herb Brooks coached to a gold medal win over the very senior, very experienced Russian team. I love the Olympics for the spirit of athleticism that is about the purity of amateur competition. Pulling a bunch of NHL players together on a U.S. team to play a bunch of NHL players on a Canadian team is just another NHL game. If you like NHL hockey then you get bonus play.

It’s the women playing on the U.S. team that deserve attention for carrying on the true Olympic tradition. I would love to be able to feel the same way about the men’s team, but we are all cheated out of that possibility. Therefore, all that’s left to say is, You Go Girls!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wordle - February

Wordle - February: "Wordle: February"

Unconscious Mutterings Week 369

You say.... I Think:

1.Teeth :: chatter
2.Sweeten :: deal
3.Demons :: little
4.Pizza :: lights
5.Protector :: procket
6.Smooth :: sailing
7.Coat :: wool
8.Pebbles :: Bam-Bam
9.Pregnant :: woman
10.Sing :: song
Get your own list

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Snowing again in River City


Yes, it’s snowing again. Right here in River City.

I’m reading Anne Sexton Teacher of Weird Abundance by Paula M. Salvio.  It’s not quite what I was expecting but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m wondering what other surprises are awaiting me as I get deeper into it.

Have a new poem from this week that I’m very happy with. Coming into the weekend and already one out of my way starts off things nicely. I’m working on some rewrites this weekend, trying to breath some life into older efforts.  

Olympics still capturing a lot of my time. Ski jumping on the big hill today- some terrific flying!

USA Women’s Curling Team has won back to back after a rough start. Yeah!  (Debbie McCormick Pictured left)

The women on the G downhill – another chance for Lindsay Vonn and Julia Moncusio to medal.

And on this Saturday evening, I’ll offer a few story teases:

Late one night we set out with ladders and lanterns (poetry should be subversive), looking for lamp-posts. 
So when next you are in a bookshop, ask for poems - if for no other reason than you never know what you will find there.
As Ferguson muses in Holding Pattern: A couple called Gladys and Rexwere suddenly keen to have sex(such urgency's slightly perverted),"But where can we do it?" cried she"The poetry section!" said he"I've noticed it's always deserted."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Finalists for Best Translated Books

Poetry finalists have been announced for the 2010 Best Translated Book Awards by University of Rochester.  The ten works making the list are:

Nicole Brossard, Selections.
Translated from the French by Guy Bennett, David Dea, Barbara Godard, Pierre Joris, Robert Majzels,
Erin Moure, Jennifer Moxley, Lucille Nelson, LarryShouldice, Fred Wah, Lisa Weil, Anne-Marie Wheeler.
(Canada, University of California)

René Char, The Brittle Age and Returning Upland.
Translated from the French by Gustaf Sobin. (France, Counterpath)

Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another.
Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah. (Palestine, FSG)
Elena Fanailova, The Russian Version.
Translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler. (Russia, Ugly Duckling Presse)

Hiromi Ito, Killing Kanoko.
Translated from the Japanese by Jeffrey Angles. (Japan, Action Books)

Marcelijus Martinaitis, KB: The Suspect.
Translated from the Lithuanian by Laima Vince. (Lithuania, White Pine)

Heeduk Ra, Scale and Stairs.
Translated from the Korean by  Woo-Chung Kim and Christopher Merrill. (Korea, White Pine)

Novica Tadic, Dark Things.
Translated from the Serbian by Charles Simic. (Serbia, BOA Editions)

Liliana Ursu, Lightwall.
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter. (Romania, Zephyr Press)

Wei Ying-wu, In Such Hard Times.
Translated from the Chinese by Red Pine. (China, Copper Canyon)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Confession Tuesday

A week already? Let's go to Confession...

It's an extended weekend for me which was good. I didn't shave during it. I confess that I've grown tired of shaving. What makes this even worse is that I believe my whiskers are growing faster these days. It's like they are on steroids. I don't know, maybe it's a rush of testosterone. At any rate today it's back to the office and the growth came off. It was just as annoying shaving this morning then it was last time I did it on Friday. I know this sounds silly but I'm tired of shaving and I'm tired of the whiskers.

I confess the past week has really been relatively uneventful. That may be obvious by being annoyed by whiskers. I mean there really should be bigger issues in life.

I was home alone much of the weekend. This includes part of Valentine’s Day which didn't really seem like Valentine’s Day. My wife and daughter were in St. Louis. I confess it was lonely and I was really glad to see Cathy when she arrived home. We've planned to celebrate on an alternative day.

I confess that I spent some time working on a sestina during the time I was alone. I confess I was not happy with my efforts. I will return to this project later this week.

I confess I was Olympic Crazy this weekend. I love the Winter Games. I confess the Summer Games don't move me the same way. I confess there are several things about the coverage that are annoying me. For one the way they are doing the points for the free style skating. They put the judges points up cumulatively all at once and it takes some of the drama out of it.

I confess I do not care for the snowboarding or the moguls competition. I also confess that Ski Jumping - the downhill, the Nordic combined, figure skating, Hockey, luge, bobsled, these all get my blood flowing.

I confess I'd like to take off the rest of the Olympics and watch it all. Alas, I confess that isn't happening.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is there a mysterious personification of you in your life?

It would be curious to discover who it is to whom one writes in a diary. Possibly to some mysterious personification of one's own identity.  ~ Beatrice Webb

Struck By Lightening

I realize there are no doubt poets (even major ones) that I ought to read more of. Sometimes I will read a half dozen or so poems of one poet and they just are not clicking with me in a way I would hope for. Sadly it may be a while before I get around to trying them again, and sometimes I may never.

Even though it’s early for Confession Tuesday, I’ll admit that I was never really much into the poetry of Lucille Clifton. I’ve read only a little of her work and she is a prime example of what I was just talking about. She was not a Ruth Stone, whose work I took an instant liking to or Sharon Olds, or W.S. Merwin. But I do know well enough that she was a poet whose work was widely read (as poetry goes) and that many adored her poems. Perhaps I just selected the wrong ones.

This weekend, along with her passing, I had an opportunity for exposure to a few more of her poems. One of those poems not only stood out, but it grabbed me and shook me. If it is true, what Randall Jarrell says about poetry, that “A poet is a man [or woman] who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times” then, Blessing the Boats had to have been one of them. These fifteen lines of poetry do what poetry should do. It names the un-namable. In simple words, without flash or flair, Crafton speaks to the heart of the human condition and says something powerful… undeniably so, and what that is will probably be something different to each of us, but it will be incontrovertible to ourselves.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lucille Clifton, award-winning poet, dies at 73

The AP is reporting that Lucille Clifton has died at age 73.  She was the poet laureate for the State of Maryland from 1979-1985 and a National Book Award finalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist. She passed away this morning at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry in Medicine | Psychology Today

Danielle Ofri is a physician in New York City's Bellevue Hospital, and a writer and commentator about doctor-patient relationships. See full bio

Rx: Poetry

Published on February 12, 2010

When I make rounds with my students and interns, I always try to sneak in a poem at the end. I think poetry is important because it helps convey the parts of the medical experience that don’t make it into textbooks. It’s important because it teaches creative thinking—something of immense value to doctors.

Poetry in Medicine | Psychology Today

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Olympic blogging...

I decided to take the majority of my blogging away from the stickpoet site. This is not to say I will be neglecting poetry, but I felt better not comingling thing for the most part.

So here is the link to the site of my Olympic blogging.

The opening ceremony is not far off, but there is already sad news as a Georgian (country not our southern state) was killed today in a horrific accident during a trial run on the Whisler Slider Center track. This tragedy certainly will hang over the opening celebration. I'll be posting later from the new sight.

Blame It On Canada

I anticipate the Winter Olympics every four years like a four year old awaiting Christmas. My eyes wide open in wonderment. My heart races with the sound of the Olympic theme music. And it’s here. It all comes together tonight with the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. I’m Olympic Crazy and you can blame it on Canada!

I can recount many times in the past watching events; many wonderful moments that my wife and I shared together enjoying the games. We won’t get to see them start together tonight as she will be out of town till Sunday, but then games go on till February 28th so there will no doubt be some time for us to watch parts of it together.

I’m not nearly as captivated by the summer games, but so many of the winter games trill me. Among my favorite are the Alpine Skiing, Ski Jumping, Cross Country, Hockey, figure skating. I even like curling now… but there is more to that story at a later date. I even have my favorite Olympic Games. They are Sarajevo in 1984 and Lake Placid in 1980. I think ’80 mostly for the U.S. Hockey team’s Victory. And in Sarajevo the Alpine events were all astonishingly exciting. Plus the coverage of the people in the host city, the human interest stories were wonderful.

I will probably blog more about the Winter Games this year; I just have not decided it to set up a separate blog site for them or continue to post here. I’ve got a few hours yet to think about it. I’ll let you know what I decide.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sylvia Plath 1932 - 1963

Today is the anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s death in 1963. It’s hard for me to understand that all these years later in some quarters the debate still rages as to the significance she plays in modern poetry.

One may or may not particularly like Plath’s poetry, but what poet’s work is universally appreciated. Many people cut their poetic teeth on Plath’s poems. I was one who was captivated by the powerful genius that propelled her language. It is not surprising to me that her poetry was particularly meaningful to many women, but it did surprise me that it could and did transcend gender in my case. While Plath was not the singular poet who inspired my interest in poetry to the extent that I too wanted to be a wordsmith, but she was certainly one of the cornerstones in building up that interest. I may not have found others to help cultivate that interest were it not for Plath.

I realize that one opinion far from constitutes a universal truth, but there is significant agreement among many that was a major force in poetry. I realize that many detractors maintain that Plath’s status is due in large part to her almost mythical life & death with emphasis on the latter. Obviously no one can ascertain the amount of attention drawn to Plath solely on the bases of her infamous death. What I don’t often hear from her detractors is specific arguments about her poetic form, syntax, subjects, devises, etc. Oh, a few will offer critical judgment of the confessional style that many believe her poetry tends to fall into, but those individuals will typically use that argument across the board for the likes of Berryman, Sexton, Lowell, Snodgrass, Starbuck, Snodgrass, et al.

It is hard to fault Plath’s craft; her ability to formulate and process language onto a page with a minimum of words and a maximum of authority over those words. Her work has earned her a spot among the major poets of our time. Her death is simply a sad footnote.

The Collected Poems (P.S.)  
Ariel: The Restored Edition
Crossing the Water
Collected Children's Stories (Faber Children's Classics)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Concert presents "T.S. Eliot's Poetry in Song" (Mississippi State University)

Concert presents "T.S. Eliot's Poetry in Song" (Mississippi State University)

STARKVILLE, Miss.--A unique Feb. 23 recital at Mississippi State will feature musical settings of several poems by the 20th century poet T.S. Eliot.
Sponsored by the university's music department, the 7:30 p.m. program in Giles Hall auditorium is free and open to all.

"T.S. Eliot's Poetry in Song," created and organized by department instructor and accompanist Karen Murphy, is the third collaboration with Nancy Hargrove, an MSU William L. Giles Distinguished Professor Emerita of English. Hargrove will provide an illustrated presentation, as well as introductions of each musical piece. Full Details Here.

Would You Could You En Route To Work

My daughter Shannon rode into the city with us today as her car was in the shop. Somehow our discussions always gravitate to something interesting, and not uncommonly something related to poetry.

My wife made some comment about something being like a poetic moment, to which I asked if one can actually have a poetic moment without being a poet. [I take such abuse from them I felt compelled to stir the pot a bit] Knowing neither would likely admit to being poets I was anxious to learn their take on this. The discussion then digressed and traveled down a couple of divergent paths.

Our discussion followed a news story on NPR about some changes in various mental illness categories in the revised DSM. The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s like the trade “bible” for mental health professionals. My wife wondered aloud if poets had a classification within the updated DSM. Of course the three of us chuckled although mine was half hearted and mostly for aesthetic value.

Shannon then pronounced that she wanted to become a limerick artist. That she felt limericks have been marginalized by society and that she would like to help them regain proper stature. I suppose the same could be said for poetry in general. The discussion then took yet another turn to Dr. Seuss and his writing style. Morning drive time can be so fun.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Confession Tuesday

It's Confession Tuesday, and this is my first confession post.

A little background-

I cannot take credit for Confession Tuesday. I first saw in at Kells, but soon realized that others are doing so as well. As far as I know, besides Kells there's January O'Neil, and Black-eyed Susans that have kept this practice up. If I've missed someone, I apologize. That's the basics... I'm off to the Confessional.

I confess that I've stewed over doing this for some time now. Mostly for fear I'd look like a copy-cat. This brings me to the matter of worry about how people see you. I confess that I sometimes become too preoccupied with this. Not always though. Sometimes I admit I don't care what anyone thinks. I would do well to find a happy medium, but I tend to favor the worry-side unfortunately. Some of this may be residual from years of high profile politically. I'm working to moderate it. Really I am.

As noted in a post from this past weekend I admit I get majorly stressed out doing our taxes. While this is no secret, I confess it really feels good when they are finished.

I confess I'm a coffee snob. The coffee at the office is really horrible and way too weak. I generally make it espresso strength at home. I have to be able to walk across the surface of it.

I confess that I rarely read for purely pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading poetry (much of it anyway) but when I read it, I always consider it a part of my broader writerly responsibility/education.

This past weekend I went to B&N and bought a journal refill for my leather journal binder.  As I get close to finishing a journal I get excited about starting a new clean journal. One without chicken scratching and strike throughs, etc. I confess it is usually only a couple to maybe three days into a new journal before I feel it's been tainted with imperfection.  I confess I see this revolving door starting all over.

That's about it for my first blog confession. See you next Tuesday!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings week 367

You say.... I think:

Humbled :: Modest
Buns :: Honey
Snowstorm :: Blizzard
Sweetheart :: Roses
Punch:: Face
Glass :: Bottle
Classical :: Gas
Heels :: High
Twitter :: Tweet
Husband :: Spouse
get you own list

Park University Will Host Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition


Park University will host the regional high school competition Poetry Out Loud on Tuesday, Feb 16. This marks the second year Park will be the site of the regional competition for "Poetry Out Loud," at which local high school students recite three poems each. This year's competition will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the McCoy Meetin' House, located on the University's Parkville Campus. The event is free and open to the public.  [Full News Story Here]

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Taxes Done (heavy sigh)

Saturday was tax day here. Headache and all, but it’s over. The last three years I have finished our tax returns earlier each year. Another year or two and my only option in order to beat the previous year will be to file an estimated return prior to the end of the year.

I’m assuming most people have some sort of trepidation associated with doing their taxes. Is there anything that causes you more anxiety?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Beth Ann Fennelly Rocks

With the sky spitting and threatening another snow, those who showed up for the Mid-West Poets Series reading last night at Rockhurst University were treated to the no-nonsense humor of Beth Ann Fennelly. Beth acknowledged this is her first foray into Kansas City but felt quite at home, as she was accustomed to reading to her children from a Calef Brown children’s book, Kansas City Octopus which she went on to recite to everyone’s delight.

Kansas City Octopus
is wearing fancy slacks.
just got 'em,
fifty bucks including tax.

Red corduroy,
and boy-oh-boy,
they fit like apple-pie.
Multi-pocket snazzy trousers
custom made for octopi.

fantastic plastic stretch elastic
keeps 'em nice and tight.
Kansas City Octopus
is looking good tonight!

It seemed quite evident that Fennelly places great emphasis on the oral qualities of poetry. Her presentation was recitation as opposed to reading. Still, she was quite at ease shared a number of personal stories related to her writing. The best was about her writing a poem sort of block spaced at random on a page of little notes. This after the horror of learning her mother had sent a copy of her first book to an aunt with little post-it-notes on various poems. Then when that poem was published and her mother saw it she called to thank her for the tribute poem.

Beth read from her books, Open House, Unmentionables, Tender Hooks, and Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother.

A few of the poems she read that I particularly recall, Souvenir, When Did You Know You Wanted To Be A Writer, Cow Tipping and my personal favorite - First Warm Day in a College Town. I like this one because she captures that feeling we get when we want to be able to hang on to something that identifies us with our youth. The poem is warm, sweet, humorous and most of all real.

When the reading was over, I chatted with Beth briefly as she signed my copy of Unmentionables. I had mentioned that Kelli Agodon had asked that if I go to “please let us how the reading was” and that I would be blogging about it, would she mind if I shot a picture for the blog. Some friends of mine, Pat and Brenda in line behind me suggested a shot of us together and Beth kindly agreed.

Looking at the inscription inside my book as I walked away,

“For Michael, with pleasure in signing this for you – pal of Kelli’s is a pal of mine – Thanks for taking her advise and coming out! Beth Ann”

The Mid-West Poets Series has a long history here in Kansas City and has hosted many top name poets. I've attended most of them over the last three or four years and this was among the most impressive to me.

After I’ve finished and reread Unmentionables a couple more times, you’ll find my review of the book here. I suspect I’ll have to add Open House to my wish list.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Any Peeps in the Seattle Area.... WS MERWIN Thursday Night

Would love to see this tomorrow night - If I were in Seatle I'd be there.  But wait, I have a reading to attend locally anyway.

W.S. Merwin will be joined by Copper Canyon poets of a younger generation at Town Hall Seattle on February 4 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at •Town Hall Event Tickets

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

More Books

Two new books arrived in yesterday's mail... remaining birthday remnents (still awaiting the last one).
Nathalie Handal's Neverfield and Beth Ann Fennelly's Unmentionables.  I've finished Neverfield between last night and my lunch hour.  It's a poem itself, as opposed to a book of poems. I always like to read poetry at least three times before reviewing, and this book truly is complex even though it is a smooth flowing read. It's highly lyrical. I will talk about it more in depth soon, but I will say for now that it's an impressive first read.

I've cracked the coven on Unmentionables. but only to read half a dozen poems. I'm attending a reading by Fennelly on Thursday.



February belongs to nothing.
It lacks the splendor of winter;
more gray than anything.
It’s a tag-a-long month
with nothing in common
with the others. Yes,
it has evolved—

a hard shell
for emotional survival;
and seldom affords anyone

It’s hard to say anything good
about a month that cannot control
the number of days it lives.

Monday, February 01, 2010


In route to work this morning the sky is gray, the road is gray, the gaurd rails gray even the air seems gray.