Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Irony in GOP Election Hypocrisy

For some time the Republican party has systematically sought to enact stringent Voter ID requirements state by state. They have argued this is to stem voter fraud in spite of the fact that independent studies around the nation have uncovered no evidence that this has in fact been a problem.  These changes have in fact been sanctioned by the Republican party for one purpose only: to suppress the votes of voters such as the elderly, minorities and students, all of whom traditionally have been Democratic constituencies.

Okay, if voter fraud were a real concern for Republicans you would think they would have adopted more stringent safeguards for next week's Iowa Presidential Caucuses, but not so. Since this has never been about voter fraud  the GOP will again not bother to make Iowa Republicans show such ID before voting in their caucuses.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties control their own nomination process rules and this is not left to the whims of legislative bodies so in Iowa this hypocrisy is directly within the Republican Party control. Seem strange to you?

Oh, and before you say oh, such requirement isn't really a deterrent to anyone casting votes, check here and here and here.  These are real people, real voters.

natural energy resource

Poetry is a natural energy resource of our country. It has no energy crisis, possessing a potential that will last as long as the country. Its power is equal to that of any country in the world. ~ Richard Eberhart

A Blog post worth reading! Reasons to be thankful!

Kelli Agodon on Thankful Thusday - some real food for thought!  If you don't think you have cause to be thankful read this and think again.  Thanks Kelli for the eye opening post!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2 for 1 on Creativiy

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something. ~ Frank Capra


A wonderful emotion to get things moving when one is stuck is anger. It was anger more than anything else that had set me off, roused me into productivity and creativity. ~ Mary Garden

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession. Christmas has come and gone. So has Festivus and Boxing Day. Of course the last two aren't on my radar for celebrating but I really feel like Christmas passed me by this year. Thanksgiving too. Illness visited me for not just one but both holidays. I did get out to a couple of holiday events but really overdid it at both. I was back at work today but I confess I'm still not 100%.  Do I dare hold out hope of feeling well for New Years?

I confess that today I started thinking about a Subway meatball sandwich as early as 1 p.m. (my lunch salad just settling in my stomach)  By 4 p.m. I called my wife at work and asked her if she'd like to stop at Subway on the way home for dinner. I'm not a big Subway fan so this probably came as a shock to her. She was up for it so we did.  It was ummmm - good!

The Iowa caucuses are one week away and while I've been following  closely I admit it seems so totally foreign because it is all about the GOP.  Iowa is a neighboring state and there are many times I've joined others who have migrated to the state to campaign for candidates in advance of the caucuses.  Each of these have been for democratic candidates and so I confess that thinking of Iowa void of early Democratic battles is surreal. 

I confess that after paying 2.85 recently for gas my stomach did not make it's traditional growling sound. I have no delusions of it lasting.

Yes, it's Resolutions time again.  Will I have some? I confess I'm split over it even as the year is ticking away.  I will settle on an answer by New Years and let you know.

May the rest of your 2011 keep you safe and see you into the New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

In the Spirit of Giving and Taking....

I have only the faintest delineation of Thanksgiving 2011 and Christmas 2011.  This emanates largely because I've been ill during both.  Not quite the same illness but I'm sure one is related to the other so like everything else presently the lines seem a bit blurred.

One thing that has seemed permanent during this period is my writing has been best described as ill as well.  And there I go... the better or stronger adjective surly is sick! See what I mean?

Over and over I've tried kick starting stuff with free-writes, prompts you name it. I pretty certain the the Grinch stole my creativity. He sucked it right out of me!

So the past couple of days I've stepped back and taken a look at creativity and writing in general through the eyes of others.  This is the "taking" part and sharing it here with you is the "giving."

Robert McCrum writing for the Guardian in his Fifty things I've learned about the literary life had a few interesting point to ponder.  Some of the ones that struck me as the most interesting are:

  • Less is more. Or, "the only art is to omit" (Robert Louis Stevenson). This is probably even more relevant to poetry. *Note to self: stop over writing.
  • A great novel can cost as much as a pencil and a pad of paper – or a whole life.  *I think the same can be said about poetry books.
  • In writers, vanity is the cardinal sin.
  • Keep a diary. It might keep you.
  • The "overnight success" is usually anything but.
  • Literature is theft. *This has to be true... I've heard so many variations of it.
  • Ebooks are not the end of the world. Ebooks are not the end of the world. Ebooks are not the end of the world. *Okay, if you say so. (heavy sigh)
  •  A secret is something that is only repeated to one person at a time.
  • Everything is fiction. *Even confessional poetry. By the same token, all poetry is true (in some contest)!
  • Amazon is not "evil" (J Daunt).
  • Poets are either the lions or the termites of the literary jungle. * While I have no idea what he's suggesting here, I liked the way it sounded so it makes my list.
Other things that I've come upon in my search for greater wisdom in the pursuit of creativity in my writing:

According to psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, "External factors such as stress play a much heavier role in determining innovation than anything intrinsic."  Have I been stressed out lately? Do bears shit in the woods?

I ran across three quotes that all hit home with me.  Only one do I actually know the author of and I hate to post something without attributing it to it's author (so if anyone knows the source of these please speak up):

"It's not what you look at that matters it's what you see."  - unknown

"When you are stuck walk away from the computer. It will teach you how to see."  - Gerard Huerta

And lastly - "Art Is what you can get away with." - unknown

After all this I get the feeling that successful writing is really pretty simple. That is not to say it is easy, but simply. Perhaps the hardest part is to not overthink. To simply be quiet and listen to yourself, be observent and open it new and different views. Actually write and do so often but be willing to step back as needed and allow yourself to see the view through an different portal.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

deja vu all over

Sick through Thanksgiving and a resurgence hitting me ahead of Christmas. I went to the doctor this morning and returned home for bed rest. I'm feeling the Grinch has stolen my health for the holidays.

It's difficult to focus on anything - head hurts from all the coughing. I go from chills to hot. I want to sleep but I'm tired of sleeping.

Writing and reading are easy with my headache and my eyes feel strained without even trying to read.  It's not a pretty picture. 

If you were looking for an uplifting post, you came to the wrong place. But there is hope... maybe tomorrow or even Saturday things will turn around.I may not be flat on my beck for Christmas as I was on Thanksgiving,  My fingers are crossed. I'd cross my eyes too but it hurts too much!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Star’s Top 100 Books of 2011 -

The Star’s Top 100 Books of 2011 -

Among the Top 100 the Star select the following Poetry Books:

  • “Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems,” by Mark Jarman (Sarabande Books). Following the development of Jarman’s poetry and his uncompromising vision of poetry-making as sacred work, our contributor, Michelle Boisseau, found herself amazed again and again at how the unaffected discipline of Jarman’s craft helps him plumb the reaches of human experience. One of the most moving and exhilarating experiences she had this year reading poetry.

  •  “Anthony Hecht: Selected Poems,” edited by J. D. McClatchy (Knopf). Hecht, who died in 2004, was a poet of technical brilliance and terrifying depths who made unforgettable poems that have achieved permanence in the American canon. 

  •  “Space, in Chains,” by Laura Kasischke (Copper Canyon). It takes a poet of Kasischke’s extraordinary gifts to render fragmentation and loss with the intense clarity of dream in her eighth collection. • “The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry,” edited by Ilan Stavans (Farrar Straus). Work by 84 poets from 16 countries, translated (by the likes of Elizabeth Bishop, Samuel Beckett and W.S. Merwin) from Portuguese and Spanish as well as from languages like Mapuche and Zapotec. This thrilling, dynamic multilingual anthology includes monumental figures like Borges and Neruda and introduces to wider audiences indigenous poets like Elicura Chihuailaf and younger poets remapping the New World.

  • “The City, Our City,” by Wayne Miller (Milkweed Editions). The muse of this exquisite collection is an imagined contemporary metropolis (with flashes of Kansas City, Miller’s current city) that thrives simultaneously with the lost cities it has risen from and falls toward, allowing the poet’s urbanites to grasp the continuity of human tragedy and joy. 

  •  “Taller When Prone,” by Les Murray (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). In the newest of his 14 poetry collections, the brilliant Murray crosses the globe and his beloved and infuriating Australia, leveling his muscular wit at our foibles in poems that are inventive, tender and water-tight. 

  •  “The Wrecking Light,” by Robin Robertson (Picador). Coming from a place along the icy fathoms of the North Sea, the currency of this major Scots poet is spare, heart-rending lyrics and haunting narratives that suggest the salt glinting from the granite.
Read more here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Confession Tuesday - One of those moments

Tuesday again... how does this happen?

Come with me to the confessional... 

Dear Reader:

It's been one week since my last confession. One circular week I fear.  Between yesterday and today I fear the pneumonia is trying to make a comeback for the Christmas holiday. Tried to get in to see my doctor and can't be seen till Thursday morning (sigh)  I confess that this is disheartening because it takes a lot for me to reach the point of wanting to go to the Doctor. Damn!  Psyched up for nothing and I'll have to do it all over again tomorrow night in order to be ready Thursday morning. Assuming I'm still alive!

Now there is a much bigger confession coming.  One that has had my family laughing.  During this past week my daughter called one afternoon and asked me to take Gabe out for her. Gabe is a dog temporarily in residence with us. I went down to the family room and retrieved him from his kennel and escorted him up the stairs and out back. After doing his business I lead him back downstairs on his leash.  We walked right past his kennel and I opened a door to the utility room. Inside I turned the light on with the pull chain. Then stooped to open the door to the front load washer wider. Looking back a Gabe I saw a dog with the most contorted quizzical look on his face looking at the opening and them back to me. It took me a moment to realize what I'm sure Gabe already knew...  And now you know too!

May you know the dog from the laundry in the week ahead!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thought for the Day

"A man's life is nothing but an extended trek through the detours of art to recapture those one or two moments when his heart first opened." ~ Albert Camus

It's In the Mail This Week

I love it when I get mail that relates in some way to poetry. It always beats the electric bill or any other for that matter.

In the mail this week I received my Jan-Feb issue of Poets and Writers magazine. Yeah!!!  I also received a Holiday / New Years post card of sorts from a poet friend.

No rejection letters this week but then no acceptances either.

I've already alluded in an earlier post to the fact that the latest issue of Poets & Writers is awesome. If you don't subscribe to it, pick it up off the shelf. Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do Not Miss the Jan-Feb 2012 issue of Poets & Writers

I've had a peek a the Jan-Feb issue of Poets & Writers magazine and it looks like a wonderful issue. First of all it has the 7th Annual look at Debut Poets.  I always love his feature and have sometimes in he past known one o two of the poets. Even so, it's always fun to see things like their age, experience, time spent both writing and then finding a home for their book, advice, etc.

There is a special section in this issue that is on inspiration.  Several articles that deal with things like:
  • Clearing some of the stumbling blocks to creative thinking
  • Opening your writers mind
  • Inspired reading
  • Inspired revision
to name a few.  Some pretty interesting stuff to think about in this material.  Reading the fist one on stumbling blocks to creativity opened my eyes to some things and also reinforced some notions I've come to on my own in recent times.

I was particularly interested in the author's citation of some of the material from Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For example his 5 stages of creativity:
  1. preparation
  2. incubation
  3. insight
  4. evaluation
  5. elaboration
Most of these really require some shield from the bombardment of simulation hat comes from outside interferences/influences like you would have while exposed to an Internet connection.  Csikszentmihalyi talks also about the 4 obstacles to creative accomplishment.
  1. Psychic exhaustion
  2. easy distraction
  3. inability to protect/channel creative energy
  4. not knowing what to do with energy
These articles would be a great read during the holiday beak in advance of the new year and (gulp) need I say resolutions?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Confession Tuesday - one click mistake edition

It’s Tuesday but feels to me like it should be Friday. Come with me to the confessional.

Dear reader:
When it’s Tuesday night and you feel like you’ve already endured a whole work week this is not a good thing, but I digress.  It’s been a week since my last confession. A week of coughing each morning and thinking that tomorrow I’ll be better. I confess that I thought I would be more on the mend by now.
I recently bought a poetry eBook by accident. I was on my Blackberry and from my Kindle app I was trying to download the preview. If I liked the preview I would likely buy the title as a real book. By accident I clicked the wrong link (they were next to each other and on the phone app it’s hard to tell which is highlighted).  I realized it immediately and contacted Amazon. I never opened the download and it remained in my archive until they did a refund. I decided with my Amazon account set on one click purchase I needed to change this. You ask, “Why are you telling me this?”  Ah yes, that would be my confession. I cannot see me buying poetry in eBook format.  Maybe a novel, maybe non-fiction, but poetry, no!
I like my poetry in print on a page. If I look at a poetry book and I like it, I’m probably going to read it over and over. Many of my copies are ultimately autographed by the author. Do that on your eBook reader!   So am I just a crazy old guy that refuses to change?  Don’t feel obligated to answer that.
In spite of the week feeling like it should be over I confess I have no idea how we got to the 13th of December already. I think I’ve missed a lot of opportunity this year.  I started out like gangbusters submitting work but cooled off late summer to a crawl.  A lot of my writing plans went by the wayside this fall but I don’t really want to lament – I’d prefer to think about next year since it will be here lickity split. Besides, 2010 was a dry year for publication and this year I did have successes. There is that to be thankful for.
What are you thankful for this year?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Little Butt Crack Showing...

I couldn't resist this. A picture I shot a while back with cell phone mid-day as I stretched my legs over lunch hour. Some days I actually have a humorous streak.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Foxtrot - appearing in WestWard Quarterly Fall 2011

Earlier this fall my poem Foxtrot appeared in WestWard Quarterly.  Since this is a print publication there is not link to it but now that a little time has passed since the publication I have included now on the published poems page - see tab above or click here.

Magpie 94 / Poem: LUNCH


Clock ticking
1800 seconds and ticking
rows of busy heads
bobbing and chewing
throats likes snakes
swallowing a rabbit

to a minimum-
like they each have some place
to go-
they do

half an hour for lunch
the the rest of their eight hour day

it's robotic-
circuitous               each day 
the same         each day
           the same

Michael A. Wells

Magpie 94

* photo credit - Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Knock My Socks Off Wednesday

Just one poem today...  but one awesome poem that knocked my socks off!

Enjoy Fire and Ice  by Lucy Biederman  - appeared in No Tell Motel

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Dance edition

It’s that time again – Mind if I eat my lunch in the confessional?

Dear reader- I’m eating Turkey Chili with beans for lunch all he while I confess that my mind is centered on the nachos with jalapeños I had a the hockey game Friday night. I’d much rather be enjoying those again rather them Turkey Chili form a can.     

Speaking of Friday and the game, I went with my daughter Shannon and two of her friends.  We had just gotten out of the car in the parking lot, traversed a few steps when this van pulls in with music blaring. I don’t exactly know what possessed me (and possessed is the story I’m sticking with) but I confess  that I broke out dancing as did Shannon though I don’t believe either was aware of the other until people started cheering, applauding and I’m pretty sure there was some laughter mixed in there too.  We both looked at each other and realized what was happening and of course in our moment of supreme embarrassment both stopped at once.  

I confess that the first thought that entered my mind was finding out the next morning that the dance routine had been taped and went viral on you tube.  In my defense, this culminated a period of  lots of bed rest and I can only surmise I was overly anxious to hit the streets.

Finally, I confess that I recently went more than a week without any Diet Coke.  Those who really know me will say I had to be sick. I was

Ted Hughes Honored Today

Ted Hughes (left) is honored today by his inclusion at the Poet's Corner in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey.  The practice of honoring  the greatest poets with a tomb or stove is a 600 year tradition in Britain.  (pictured on the right is photo of some of the markers)

The list of those honored before him include the likes of Dryden, Browning, Tennyson, Shelly, Keats, Blake, Hopkins and Eliot.

Hughes' inclusion came after some heavy duty lobby  by a number of poets including Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage.  Britain's Poet Laureate from 1984 till his death in 1998 on might have though Hughes o be an early lock for the honor.

I've read a number of Ted Hughes' published works. While his first book, Hawk in the Rain is outstanding and won critical acclaim  when published in the late 1950's it is Birthday Letters, published the year he died that I most remember him for.  This work forever links him and his response to the final work of his first wife Sylvia Plath.

I have to say that while Hughes is a masterful poet, I have often wondered how long i would have been before his talents were truly recognized without Sylvia.  I was her belief in Ted and her dogged work typing manuscripts and sending them off that netted his recognition  for Hawk in the Rain. I have always seen Ted as the more laid back Brit and Sylvia with that American ambition driving him forward.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

From the Hard to Believe Department

It's hard to believe Catch 21 is 50 years old.  I tried to recall my age at first reading it  and it threw me me.  I read it in the very late 1960's Probably '68 or '69 and did not realize that it was not not fresh off the presses then. Or maybe I knew but have forgotten.  It just seems that in my mind it was so relevant to the time.  Realizing that Joseph Heller actually began writing it in 1953 makes the story line even more remarkable to me.

also, a couple of notable local events...

Coming up: Sunday, December 11 - 2 p.m.
Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Guy Masterson: Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales

Welsh-born actor Guy Masterson reads A Child's Christmas in Wales, one of the most popular works by Welsh writer and poet Dylan Thomas.

And at The Writers Place: Friday, December 16, 2011 7:00 pm
Holiday Holiday Reading and Party with the Music of Jim Abel and Kevin Hiatt
Readers will include Shawn Pavey, David Hughes, Michelle Pond, Martha Gershun, Tim Pettit, John Hastings, Lindsey Martin-Bowen, Carl Rhoden, Tina Hacker, Eve Ott, Susan Peters, and Phyllis Becker.
All donations will go to the Phil Miller scholarship.

Company Policy or Simply Hate?

U. S. Crane, LLC is a company with it's Corporate Headquarters in Waco, Georgia. It's principal business is Overhead Crane and Hoist Sales as well as replacement parts and Structural and Electrical Engineering for such products.   They recently made the news because the have promoted their stated company policy on bumper stickers which they have placed on the fleet of vehicles which the company operates in for their business.
As seen at the right, the bumper stickers read:  NEW COMPANY POLICY - WE ARE NOT HIRING UNTIL OBAMA IS GONE.  I don't know about you but I've never worked for a business in my entire life who put company policy on bumper stickers. In Human Resource memos, in Company Handbooks, but never as bumper stickers on vehicles.  Of course the use of bumper stickers for political discourse is widespread and time honored.  That is what really is the heart of the matter here with U.S. Crane.

Bill Looman, the owner of U. S. Crane would have you believe that he is just an American Patriot trying his best to save our economy from the President.  He has indicated that he wants to hire everybody but just can't afford to because of Obama's policies.  But Looman's motives actually go beyond the scope of any policies.

In a Facebook post-  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 5:30am, Bill Lomman, III says of President Obama, "HE HAS BEEN TRAINED FOR THIS AND HE IS A MARXIST/ISLAMIC TOOL TO TEAR APART OUR ONCE GREAT NATION." 

His Facebook post is titled DARE TO PREPARE AND WHY?  In it he goes one to list a series of steps he feel necessary for him to take.  The list is as follows:

My question is, after reading this, do any of you think this sounds like an individual who is especially
focused on his business operations and development of company policy?  It appears that so much more going on here some business' Human Resources policies on hiring. Sadly there are people who continue to drape themselves in the flag and religion to mainstream their ideological hate - and attempt perpetuate it and grow that hate.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Denise Duhamel - No Home Wrecker

Denise Duhamel is a poet whose wit and craftiness caught my attention a long time ago. Ooops, mayby it was not that long ago. Or heck maybe she was in grade school when I first read her poems. (How's that for a save?)  Anyway, she is the featured poet on How a Poem Happens for today.

In the interview questions by Brian Brodeur I especially enjoyed the question about inspiration and her comment about meting the muse halfway.  Great post!!

Do you believe in inspiration? How much of this poem was "received" and how much was the result of sweat and tears?
I do believe in inspiration and the muse. But I also believe you have to meet her halfway, show up everyday whether she shows up or not. As a writer, you (I mean, I suppose, I) have to be there to receive her whims. I write a lot of pages that never wind up in poems. When I reread my free writing, often a draft of a poem is there proceeded and followed by gibberish or cliché or nonsense. Then I excavate the draft and begin revising. I don’t believe in sweat and tears associated with writing because I love writing so much. I think of it as high-octane play and fun.

Catch the whole poem and interview here! 

Magpie Tales 93 / Poem: How Size Matters

How Size Matters

a time
a place to stop
a sofa
against a rock solid platitude
on the main street of a life
of obligatory divestiture
of  inflexible options
of throwaway propositions
of too big to fail
of too small to matter

Michael A. Wells

Friday, December 02, 2011

spiraling words

Words can have no single fixed meaning. Like wayward electrons, they can spin away from their initial orbit and enter a wider magnetic field. No one owns them or has a proprietary right to dictate how they will be used. ~ David Lehman