Thursday, May 31, 2012

Follow the bouncing ball...

I did...  I followed it to Target tonight.  This is one of two large balls outside one of the entrances of the Target Store. I chose to post the picture because this is a part of exercising my creative muscles.  Let me explain...

I've come to the realization that my creativity has suffered in recent weeks. Hell it's probably been stalled for over a month if truth be known and I decided it was up to me to do something about it. Of course this requires me to chart some kind of proactive plan.

In the car this morning I asked myself what I needed to improve my writing - I mean besides actually taking the time to write.  If my self-evaluation of my past few weeks has been that my poetry has been too little and less then satisfying, then perhaps my problem is like artistic atrophy. I think it is safe to say that I do feel my poetic strengths have been weakened and are feeling pretty light weight. So I decided I needed to start a creative exercise program.

My drive into the city then became a workout. I decided to pay special attention to things I encountered on the drive and think about them not simply what these things were - but how I saw them. The TV tower was not just a tall steel structure but as it poked through the clouds it was a portal into the heavens. So throughout the day, I've tried to be mindful of things around me and my exercise of the cerebral muscles was to see them in a new light.

My initial day of flexing my imagination went well. But like any exercise program the results don't come overnight. I'm going to follow the bouncing ball each day and see where the poetry takes me. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


How I Create: Q&A with Poet & Writer Samantha Reynolds

Only a year ago, in 2011, Reynolds pledged to write one poem a day to try to “be present” and not miss the fleeting first year of her son’s life. Now she wouldn’t know how to stop even if she wanted to. Bentlily has sparked a movement of people around the world to slow down and savor their lives.  Read Interview here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Confession Tuesday - What day is it anyway edition?

Dear Reader:

It has been 2 weeks since my last confession. What a week anyway? I confess that my days have seemed like they have all run together for weeks now. Most of the time I'm scratching my head and wondering exactly what day it is.

Three day weekends usually make Tuesday like Monday to the Max. After work I've been busy with a lot of physical lifting and moving at home and this has created a viscous cycle. Tired when I get up -more tired when I get home and so on.

I confess that I am delinquent with library books.  I expect to be pulled over by the Library Police. I picture a female officer with her hair pulled back and thin black wire glasses.  She clears her throat and asks to see my library card. She reminds me I have books overdue and says she will issue me a warning but next time she will be forced to suspend my license.

I confess that my writing has been neglected recently. Less frequency. Out of my routine. It really has been hard amid all these run-together-days to tap into creativity. I know that I have the ability to tackle this problem and no one else. I need to make an effort to create some real defining differences to each day. Give myself a chance to be more observant - maybe get out for a short walk each day and try to stretch my mind to unlock the creativity that has been hold up and missing in my days.

Oh, and note to self... Trash pickup is a day late this week. Thursday - note to self. Trash to curb in two days.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bouncing Thoughts

Just finished mowing the front lawn. Came in with a diet coke - sweating and here I sit at my laptop and realizing it's just past 1PM I suddenly feel a large portion of my weekend  has slipped by with nothing to show for it (except a challenge to the people on the north and south side of us to take their lawn down a notch.

I've read several things this week (mostly on blogs) that have caused me food for thought.  Here are some of the items bouncing off my cerebral walls.

1. The first has nothing to do with blogs or reading...I simply  missed confessing on Confession Tuesday. The fact is my past week has been busy at work and at  home and I really had nothing exciting to say except I was out of energy and time.  Too much going on and it's still out there like a stationary front on the weather man's map. It's just hanging over the city all sultry. But enough of that because this is one super ball I want to find it's way outside my scull.

2. There is a long standing story that my writing poetry is an attempt to find a loophole in mortality.  So when I read in Book of Kells this week about poet Patrick Lane at the Skagit Poetry Festival how after a poet died the wife of the poet had the family and friends of her husband memorize each 5 poems of his. In this way, each of them had five of his poems alive within them and they would be able to share them with others. By doing this she was keeping her husband and his work alive in the world. So I'm thinking this immortality thing for poets can work.... kind of.

 3. Reading an earlier blog post by Martha Salino I marveled at the description of the writing relationship with Heather McHugh during an independent study. Sure, from what I've read of Heather and her work I've been exposed to this was the kind of thing any serious writer would likely be ga-ga over. Still, what this brought to my mind was not specifically anything about Martha and Heather but the value of interaction of writers in general. I've often thought for instance of writers I'd love to even just have an hour lunch with to talk poetry in general. Their writing processes or motivations. Where do they feed their creative hungers? Things they try never to do when they write. I think about who I'd tag for such an occasion - it's all fantasy - but after all, poets are good at dreaming of the far fetched. I always enjoy reading the letters of poets because there often is the more personal and revealing side of the artist that comes through.

I've read several poems online this week that have me thinking about various different topics.  Strife in third world countries, couple of poems about rather mundane items and last but not least, travel. These things have been rolling through my thought process because I like to thing about poems that I read that truly seem to bring fresh approaches to writing. For example, I've thought a lot about in writing collections of themed poems, how do you talk about one or two things for say 35 poems and keep your reader wanting to read the next poem? How do you keep it fresh... moving and different?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Never to Be Seen

Patches invigorate the ready to wear line

she put to test and no one could be certain—

she ever came out of the blind.

There were rumors, I’m sure

you’ve heard that she never wanted to be

seen after he left her; after all the fuss

over Palm Springs, over the night the moon lapsed

into a deep coma and the best that he could do

was a sad impersonation of a neurotic art whore.

The things he did for a painting or two…

no wonder the poor dear would cloth herself

in camouflage.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Turning to Stories–Alzheimer's Patients Improve Interaction

First off, I want to acknowledge NPR for this post but also say a few words in general about their value in the community. NPR fills a hole in the media landscape that I really don’t see anyone else really touching, besides a higher quality of journalism then what we get from  the rest of the media gene pool. With the decline in network television and the sensationalism of Cable we have lost something that those in their in their 30’s and under really have never experienced. Yes, modern times have given us much progress, but we’ve paid a price in other ways. But I deviate from this post.

What I really want to say is that I was impressed with the NPR story about a program in Seattle where volunteers are working with patients with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia to find ways to improve interaction with others in a low-stress environment.

Using a program called Time Slips, volunteers utilize poetic language of improvisational storytelling to invite people with dementia to express themselves and connect with others. The program founder Anne Basting describes the importance of their work this way… "People with dementia start to forget their social role; they might not remember they're a spouse ... a parent," says Basting. "They need a social role through which they can express who they are, and the role of storyteller really supplies that."

You can listen to the NPR Story HERE.

Naomi Shihab Nye latest book reviewed by Thomas Devaney

Book Review: ‘Transfer’ from Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the most spirited voices in American poetry. The author, editor, and translator of more than 30 volumes, she is best known for her poetry collections Fuel (1998) and You and Yours (2005), and her award-winning anthology of international poems for young people This Same Sky (1992). In her affirming introduction for that book, she writes, “Whenever someone suggests ‘how much is lost in translation!’ I want to say, ‘Perhaps — but how much is gained!’ ” »Read story

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Katrina Vandenberg - New Poetry Book

Katrina Vandenberg wowed me several years back with her first poetry manuscript published as "Atlas." I had the opportunity to hear her read personally in Kansas City and purchased her book later as a result.  I saw an article online that appeared in the Twin Cities Star Tribune about her  her latest book... "Using letters as a frame, Vandenberg exercises restraint in her poems, letting the personal and historical inform one another." Catch the complete write up here. This will have to go on my books to buy list.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Confession Tuesday - It's All Good

It’s at time once again. Let’s go to the confessional.

Dear Reader:

A week since my last confession and a much better week weather wise. The weekend I wanted to Xerox and run off like 365 days like it.

Today it was actually warm in my office in the afternoon which resulted in my turning to a fan for some relief. I confess I get crank when the office gets warm. A co-worker visiting me in the afternoon on a mater thought it cold. I swear I don’ know what she was talking about. I felt like at best I was pushing around warm air. I confess that I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Thursday as our office is going to the ball game and I’m counting on this weather to continue.

Last weekend I wrote a very good draft in one sitting.  I confess that makes me uneasy to say because I know how rate those instances are. Still, I’ve done one rewrite – one very small change rewrite on it and I’m just letting it sit a bit longer while I think about it some more. I want to write like this all the time though I confess I realize how totally unrealistic that is. That’s why I tend to not get too excited about NAPOWRIMO in April. I’ve done it and produced some keepers but it tends to ad stress to the writing mix. Not a good ad-in ingredient.

I confess this month has some very exciting components yet ahead. My son is getting married and my daughter who has been away in school is retuning permanently. No kidding, this is not a dream. I keep pinching myself and I have the red marks to prove it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Behind the Deak

A shadow fell across his leafy brow.
The sinister one. The heavy one.
His feet were big as his buckets
propped on his desk-
it was the mammoth dark wood desk
that created a chasm between him
and anyone who strolled in.

Casual was not his color.  Casual was too close.
It allowed for comfort and that tilted the scales
in the wrong direction.  Always he strives to be
that backhand shot across the net that comes to you
in such a way you have to lean hard and fast to return
the serve and only with dumb luck will the volley be back
in his court anytime soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Poem Takes Place

"A door opens, a door shuts. In between you had a glimpse: a garden, a person, a rainstorm, a dragonfly, a heart, a city. I think of those round glass Victorian paperweights ...a clear globe, self-complete, very pure, with a forest or village or family group within it. You turn it upside down, then back. It snows. Everything is changed in a minute. It will never be the same in there - not the fur trees, nor the gables, nor the faces. So a poem takes place."  ~ Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Thank You Maurice for the Gift of Your Imagination

"I believe there is no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we're not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young. 
Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do."

Maurice Bernard Sendak  - 10 June 1928 – 8 May 2012

Let the wild rumpus start in heaven!

Confession Tuesday - Roundup Edition

Dear Reader:

I have the day off today and it suddenly occurred to me that I should have a day off every Confession Tuesday.  I actually have it off because it's Harry S Truman's birthday. I know that some of you may find that odd, but around here the nation's 33rd President is a pretty big deal.  And who am I to question a paid holiday. It could be celebrate dirt clod day and I confess it would be happy to have it off.

I confess that this past week we've had too much rain for my liking. I can hear the green stuff growing again and that means I need to mow the lawn. [sigh]

This past week I've been moving lots of things around including adding the book case above to our bedroom. I confess that I have a habit of many books scattered all about the house. I have book cases in my office but I will still carry books out including especially the bedroom. Now I don't have an excuse to let them pile up in the bedroom and I will be able to find many of those transitory books with greater ease.

Another benefit of the new book case and cleaning in my office I have managed to locate what I believe to be nearly all of my personal journals. I confess that these did not have a specific home and now about 20 of them occupy one shelf dedicated just to them. I confess this has inspired me to plan to recycle through these some 4,000 plus pages looking for gems that I can go back and inspire me to take them steps beyond where I left off.

Reading in Remembering Randall - a memoir of Randall Jarrell written by his wife Mary von Schrader Jarrell, she discusses Randall's work on Translations as something he turned allowing him to use his writing energies  even when he felt poemless himself. She talks about him at times wondering if he had already written his last book.  I confess that reading this was encouraging to me in that I realize someone the callabur  of Randall Jarrell also had doubts and dry periods.

I  confess that I'm looking forward to a summer free of dry writing periods. Hey, I can hope!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Pen and the Bell

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a book—it’s a beautiful, quiet path into the deep woods of contemplative practice through the medium of the written word." ~ Norman Fischer, from the Foreword to The Pen and the Bell

I don't know about you but this sounds pretty sumptuous to me.   Check out the author's site here:

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Mag 115: The Way To Read...

   image by Manu Pombrol         

Barely anything else is relevant
the surroundings conically insular;
reading aloud has ringing quality
reverberating off Mason and water.

Did I say water? I hardly notice it
we have become temperate equals.

This is the way to read a superior literary work—
aloud, to yourself and the rest of the world be damned.

Michael A. Wells

Friday, May 04, 2012


Outstretched is how this week as been
with multiple vulnerabilities sacked out
in bunk beds resting up for the next day.

The weekend is nigh but I fear it
hardly will differ from the last
with no demarcation, no reverence,

no amount of appreciation for
white space, for quiet on the page,
for ink that might occur if given
half a chance.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

What my Biorhythms say about my day today...

Your intuition is intensified. You can foresee events and sense which way the wind is blowing. Such ability will give you a greater understanding of others, and will be advantageous in current situations. Be aware of opportunities that may present themselves today. Plan for the future. New long-term contracts could turn out to be successful.

Physical state: Negative
Emotional state: Negative
Intellectual state: Positive
Intuitive state: Positive
Emotional minimum
The emotional minimum is characterized by a decrease in desires and a tendency toward depression, apathy, and irritability (usually women are more strongly affected). This is a difficult period for creative people, due to feelings of apathy. For the same reason, this period is not conducive to love.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Good - Bad

"If good poetry is to be written, enormous amounts of bad poetry must be written too, if only because it is important for a serious poet to know what it is she/he is trying not to do." ~ Germaine Greer, The 
Independent on Sunday, 7 May 2000

Confession Tuesday - Poet Crush List Edition

May Day, May Day! 

Dear Reader:

Can you believe it’s May first already? It’s been a week since my last confession and I have no idea where time is flying to this year.  Let’s get started.

So Poetry Month has come and gone.  I confess that I did not write a poem a day.  But I didn't fall off the NaPoWriMo band wagon because I never really go on it.  Let's say I wrote a number of poetry drafts - some of which are keepers and I avoided the stress of the Poem-A-Day Rat Race.  I confess that I have no shame about my approach this year.
It’s been about six months since I’ve done a Poet Crush list so today’s confession is a good point in which to reassess the members of my ten person list.   (see last list here) I’ve actually given this some thought for several days now. The thought process goes something like this…
·        If I’m stuck in a writer’s funk, who are the poets I go to over and over and read for a jump start with some inspiration?

·        What poets am I likely to find on my night stand on any given night?

·        Who do I often refer to persons who ask, “Who should I read next?”

·        Whose body of work do I most like to read for shear enjoyment?

·        What poets would I like to pick their brain over lunch or dinner?

·        If I hear the word poet or poetry who are the first to come to my mind?
Invariably application of the above will produce repeat poetry practitioners and those ten who most often repeat in these categories represent my poetry “crushes.”

I would say this list is often in flux.  I suppose I could reassess monthly its members but I think a six month checkup is probably often enough.
So here it is… I confess these ten poets currently comprise my Poet Crush List.

1.      W.S. Merwin

2.      James Richardson (new to list)

3.      Sharon Olds

4.      Kelli Russell Agodon

5.      Dean Young (new to list)

6.      John Ashbery

7.      Mary Biddinger (new to list)

8.      Charles Simic

9.      Ada Limon

Note:  these appear in no special order - Also , these are all living poets.  I could do a dead poet crush list too, maybe I will.

So who are your poet crushes?