Sunday, January 30, 2011

Do You Care?

During this past week I ran across the newly released Code Of Best Practices In Fair Use For Poetry. I don't even recall what lead me to the link at the Poetry Foundation, but I promptly printed off the some 25 plus pages of copy and have actually read through it though I will not pretend to have absorbed enough of it to be highly authoritative on the subject. After reading through it I recall wondering just how big a splash this was going to make on the poetry scene. Will there be a period of discussion by poets on line? Will many poets actually read it? Will many even care?

Dave Bonta, a poet and literary magazine editor blogged on the subject yesterday - 'Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry: a vital first step.' Bonta expresses some cautions positives about the document though "... a little uneasy at the way in which these new standards were generated without any popular input, any attempt to poll or crowd-source among poets and fans of poetry."  Even Bonta acknowledges we poets can be an acrimonious group and broader input into the process of drafting such a document may have been difficult at best.

A cursory look at google told me what I had suspected. Buzz about this document up to this point was no bee swarm. Most in fact were general mentions of the existence of the document. There were a few expressions of opinion. Carl Bettis,  is a fellow local poet
had some fun with the document - mostly at the idea that poetry could be a profession and the conceptualization of a consensus of poets.

So I'm interested in your thoughts? Have you seen the document? What do you think? Do you care? Do you respect the intellectual property rights of other artists? Do you care if anyone gives a rat's ass about your intellectual property rights?

Some Recent Whale Sound Poems I Love

Posting a few of my recent favorites from Whale Sound - hope you like them too!

Rhode Island’ by Amy Miller
‘First Anniversary: Reading Russian Literature’ by Pamela Johnson Parker
‘Honeybees on Holiday’ by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Internet Kill Switch - Can it happen here?

What can an undemocratic government  do to control its people? If tear gas and rubber bullets don't work, take away their Twitter and Facebook access, of course. And if the people still don't fall into line, cut off their Internet and mobile phone access entirely. That's exactly what the Egyptian government did today when confronted with citizenry taking to the streets and demanding regime change. The surprising thing isn't that a corrupt, authoritarian regime would launch this kind of state-sponsored denial off service attack on its own citizens. Nor that it is willing to jeopardize its economy by cutting its businesses off from world markets. No, the thing that surprises me is that the U.S. government has plans for its own Internet Kill Switch.

The legislation was first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and the former has promised to bring it to the floor again in 2011. It isn't called anything as obvious as the Internet Kill Switch, of course. It is called the "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act." Who could be against that? Anyone who's watching the news on TV today, that's who.

The proposal calls for the Department of Homeland Security to establish and maintain a list of systems or assets that constitute critical cyber-infrastructure. The President would be able to be able to control those systems. He or she would have ability to turn them off. The kicker: none of this would be subject to judicial review. This is just a proposal, mind you, but it certainly warrants concern. Particularly given the heavy-handed example being provided by Egypt

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Four more poems sent out into the world, no new rejections, $3.00 gas and nearly a week since my last confession.  Let's get started.

Dear Reader:

I'm feeling a little in between right now. In between the winter that surrounds us and the anticipation of the coming baseball spring training. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in about three weeks.  It's a schizophrenic sort of place to be. Living in the present and that future at the same time. It's not quite right. It's out of balance.

Just today I was reading Terresa Wellborn's blog post with the Guy Davenport quote about the pace and rhythm of nature and inevitably mankind, and she posed the question What is your pace of things? I confess that thinking about this question hit me as being very much out of balance. My actual was:

"My pace right now is that of a person just learning to drive. The jerky starts - followed by acceleration and then the sudden stop where you are kissing the windshield.
There is little or no harmony here presently, yet it is harmony that I crave. I could use a Zen moment. No wait, moments I have... if I could string several together, that would be an improvement."

When it comes to my writing I go in waves where I become hyper critical of anything I write. I think a certain amount of self criticism is beneficial but I confess I can be self critical to an almost unhealthy point. I confess I'm in such a phase at this moment.


I confess that I am addicted to episodes of Everybody loves Raymond. Patricia Heaton (Debra) is by far the best actress/actor on the show. Her emotion, response, etc. is so realistic. I can be pretty picky about the TV I watch, this may be my biggest TV vice.

That's about it for the week.... everyone be safe and happy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Magpie Tales 49 - POEM: A Day Out

A Day Out

A trio of women
blades slung over shoulders,
slug their way to the pond,
their trails in the banks
of quiet white mark
their pilgrimage-

No socks to mend
no laundry, no meals
to be accounted for-
their voices clamoring
escape         they will
upon arrival  -  in
their most unlady-like fashion
cut loose on their secret mirror
under a cloudy sky;
skating, frolicking and acting
like the daughters
they would chastise
for such behavior
on any other day.

2011 © Michael A. Wells

Thoughts on Family History

With everyone else out of the house today, I cleaned some and then listened to a podcast of an interview with Maxine Hong Kingston as she confronts aging in her book I Love A Broad Margin To My Life. She's a remarkable person to listen to. Kingston took the title of her book from the quote by Henry David Thoreau.  Her view of being an elder and living against the backdrop of mortality is fastening.  Listening to her causes me to think about genealogy (even though I've had it on my mind) in a different sort of way. Not just from a personal interest but in the context of a responsibility to collect and pass that information to those in the family younger then yourself.  Creating a history of heritage is an elder's responsibility and it seems to me that it is more than simply collecting a genealogy history, but seeing where we've come from so often helps define who we are.

It really seems quite natural to me that poets would feel such a responsibility quite natural in the same way we do story telling. What do you think?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Poets & Feelings

One of my daughters distributed this among all our immediate family. Is she trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Rebellious Late Edition

It’s been a snow, the threat of a bigger snow, one more group of submissions, a lot of new “very rough” drafts and a week and a day since my last confession.

To the Confessional~

Dear Reader:

Yes, I must confess that last night I came home, made dinner for my sweetheart and promptly crashed. I didn’t turn on my laptop, did not read, write, and obviously did not do my Tuesday confession. And I confess that it was not a matter of forgetting, but willful neglect, maybe even rebellion as I two or three times (at least) thought of getting up to do it.

It seems there is a bit of rebelliousness that seems to be running through my veins these last few days. I have as suspicion as to the reason, but I will leave it at that for now. I choose to honestly confess on this point, not openly speculate on the causation. (I’m not my own therapist) ;)

While I’m not deep into astrology… for example I don’t read my horoscope daily – and when I do, it’s more for the entertainment value than anything else; I do take stock in the fact that the personality traits that are generally ascribed Capricorns fit me well. I’ve often felt comfort in this. It’s sort like being a part of a certain Irish clan. It’s the brotherhood of Capricorns – and all of our (better) traits that make it feel special. So along comes a thirteenth zodiac sign and butts into the calendar and moves all the days around and – WTF? Now I’m a Sagittarius? I confess I do not like this. Not one bit!

Was this brought to us by the same people who de-planetized Pluto? And thirteen? That’s not divisible by even numbers, it’s an unlucky number, it’s more than the number of months in a year, it’s…. you get the picture. It’s just not kosher.

So there you have it. My confession, a day late and a little put out.

Hope you and your week are properly aligned to an even number of stars.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Passing on a little advise....

Some great advise from Robert Peake's workshop - “Tactics for Sneaky Poets” posted on his site.

Some of my favorite advise:
  • Use constraints. Use word groups, poetic forms, made-up assignments from friends. Constraints spark creative freedom.
  • Write briefly and often. Robert Hass said, “You can do your life’s work in forty minutes per day.” Write often enough to stay “in the game,” usually several times per week. Set a time limit. You can go over if needed.
  • Write bad. Try to write a “bad” poem. It gets you wild and free. Sometimes the harder you try to be bad, the better it gets.
  • Keep a scroll. In addition to keeping going on a poem, try keeping one big document of poems and poem-snippets, so you’re never at the beginning, just in the flow. Pick up wherever you last left off, write in the date, and just go.

By the way, a collection of Robert's poems will appear in the Lost Horse Press-New Poets Short Books Series, edited by Marvin Bell.  The book is scheduled for publication in February 2011. Sign up on Robert's e-mail list to be notified when the book becomes available for pre-order.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Poetry Trailers

It's amazing the way trailers have moved into the world poetry.  Not long ago these were generally associated with the release of film, but no longer. Audio visuals are being done more routinely as trailers for poetry books.  Just today I saw on the poet Diane Lockward's blog site titled Blogalicious a video of one of here poems put to music. The poem, Eve's Confession is from her collection of poems titled Eve's Red Dress.  Go to her site here and experience it for yourself. She actually has some other trailers on this site you can check out. Look at the tab links under the header to find these.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

They go out - they come back. Poems looking for homes

I've been busy reforming my ways this year submitting to four different journals so far.  Significant because I have come to dislike this part of writing over the past couple of years. 

Things are looking up! Yesterday, I received the following rejection e-mail from one of my submission groupings of poems:

Some nice lines in there, Michael, especially in Mount Rushmore. Overall, they didn't seem right for XXXXXX   Review. We have decided to pass this time.
...We appreciate you considering us submission-worthy. Please wait at least a week before submitting again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Way too old edition

Confession time has arrived again.  I feel like I have a lot I'm lugging around so what do you say we get started?

Dear Reader-

It's been another four poems sent out in search of new homes, a snow storm, a birthday and a tragedy since my last confession.

This weekend was surreal.  It was surreal in the context both of disbelief and yet a feeling we've been here before. Of course we haven't actually been here, but I confess that this feels in a very sad and very senseless way like that summer of 1968.  The assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the death of a 9 year old girl, a federal judge, one of Giffords staffers, and at least 3 others  dead and something like 14 more wounded. The number is staggeringly hazy to me even now.

I confess that I fail to see why anyone in the public sector needs to be able to purchase an extended magazine clip for a firearm. If you are not police or military it seems senseless.  Between Sept. 13, 1994 and Sept. 13, 2004 The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB)  or  Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act as it was subtitled, prevented the sale to individuals of such ammunition. But during the second Bush presidency, the NRA prevailed in creating a climate in which neither President Bush or the bulk of Congress had the courage to support renewal of it.

I confess to feeling a sickening indignation over the lack of common sense in this country where firearms are concerned. It's a sad commentary - not unlike that of MADD (mothers against drunk drivers) that for many to become proactive, they have to lose someone close to them before they realize the price we pay for our cultural affair with firearms is simply not worth it.

Yesterday, I turned @&.  I confess that I've been bothered by my aging for far longer then most people are. I know lots who are bothered come the big 40.  Some even at 35, and a few at 30.  I think the 30 year old cases must be pretty hard core. But I'll go one further. I was starting to feel the anxiety come age 25. Yes, you heard it right... 25.  Of course now I confess I'd be tickled to go back to 30 again.

That's about it for this week. I've got several things to do before bed time tonight.  May your week, what's left of it, be a good one!

Magpie Tales - 48 / Poem: I Can Imagine

I Can Imagine

Somewhere between the cotton weave
of a sheer web smeared across the flatness
of old sheets of inked notes silent
on pages as brittle as the print is delicate;

and the stuffy air of a concert hall
far off in some other time, I can imagine
the Cantata’s rising echo of voice
on the tail of instrumentation

jostling back and forth 
each fighting for their due
recognition— the orchestra
in a winning moment heeds

the directors baton— going allegro.
Voices bow to strings and horns
until a disquieting roll of timpani ushers in 
one final melding of chorus and instruments.

2011 © - Michael A. Wells

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Unconscious Mutterings - Week 115

You say...  I think:

  • 1.Speech :: free
  • 2.Meredith :: broadcasting
  • 3.Consensus :: maker
  • 4.Attack :: plan of
  • 5.Sue :: litigate
  • 6.Voted :: democracy
  • 7.Epic :: journey
  • 8.Checking in :: at home
  • 9.Dishwasher :: liquid
  • 10.Underneath :: car

    Get your own list here

Friday, January 07, 2011

Magpie Tales 47 - Poem: Deranged


The drip a mystery,
the puddle, rust flavored;
the drain too far away.

A contorted idea-
a trick knob,
the mirror of a sick mind.

2111 © Michael A. Wells

Thursday, January 06, 2011

"...point out the inequities, nothing to lose but our chains."

I read this blog post today by Kristin Berkey-Abbott: Artifacts from the Deep Freeze of the Cold War.  It was her trip back into the past as she visited the Cold War years and concluded a poem she had written. The final stanza reads:

I write my own poems. I imagine they will change
the world, that all I must do to rid the planet of injustice
is to point out the inequities, nothing to lose but our chains.
These lines so expressed what I believe many of my generation put so much stock in. Thinking that calling out inequities would lead to an end of a multitude of injustices.  Idealistic? Naive?  Still, as I began to adapt to the life of a poet, putting such things into "my poet perspective," I've had to ask myself if I really believe I can change the world with poems?  Do I think anyone can?

Over a year ago, another poet introduced me to Carolyn Forché, an incredible poet who has established a reputation as a poet of witness. Carolyn very often writes poems that take us very gently into social injustice. I'm not sure if she is changing the world one reader at a time but she certainly has the ability, with great subtlety to unmask things that might otherwise go unnoticed by many. 

What do you think?  Can poets change the world?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Confession Tuesday

A new year and a first confession of the new year.  Come follow me to the booth...

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession.  One week of crazy weather ranging from nearly 60 down to the mid to lower teens. A week of sniffles (go figure) and reflections (looking back on the year, not staring in the mirror in an act vanity). But I confess I am I am already getting acclimated to the new year.

As a rule I don't plan out resolutions as such. But I do hold some hopes some goals close to my heart. Some things that will require me to be better at things this year then past.

On New Years day I cranked out my first packet of poetry submissions of the year.  I posted this in my Facebook status to which Diane Lockwood replied, " Don't brag. It's unattractive."  Her remark made me laugh, but I confess I've come to resist submitting my work these past two years like the plague. But my post was my way of establishing some accountability. The next day, I sent off a second packet. I'm finished for the week except for some home work of planning my next victim, I mean venue to submit to next week.  The thing is that I kicked myself in the butt to get started and I want to keep some feeling of momentum.

If I'm happy and upbeat about submitting my work, I'm cranky about the price of gas. I confess that every time gas nears the $3 range or above I get this way. I'm trying to be more positive and upbeat about things, but it seems that not only are we shelling out more for gas, we are driving a lot more these days. When I hear on NPR about countries paying $7 a gallon I don't know how they do it.

Someone at the office cheered my up this week reminding me that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training camps soon. (mid February). "Right around the corner." I believe where her words. I confess my interest in Football has run it's course since my fantasy league is over. Even the Chief's surprise of reaching the playoffs does little for me.  For one thing I'm under no delusions about the team's chances. I'm ready for baseball. But, when have I not been?  ;)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

My attempt at algebra for today

If, as Carlos Fuentes says, "Writing is a struggle against silence" ~
then I'm thinking submitting is a struggle against failure. 

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Unconscious Mutterings - week 413

You say.... I Think:

  • 1.Detective :: Holmes
  • 2.Bra :: Underwire
  • 3.Prove it :: Confirm
  • 4.The end :: Conclusion
  • 5.Messy ::  Trashy
  • 6.Immovable :: Stationary
  • 7.Jingle ::  Rhyme
  • 8.False ::  Wrong
  • 9.Comprehend :: Understand
  • 10.Scream ::  Yell
Get your own list here

    Gold Star

    First day of the new year - I've sent out a submission with four poems to kick off 2011.  Got to be better about this!