Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Poems in Vitro - Vol. 1, No. 2

The Unencumbered

Thanks for the e-mails.

Friday, May 26, 2006

It Ain't me, Babe!

Today We Are Shooting Poets
by Peter Sansom

not bad or good poets
not metrical, not free verse not concrete
or performance poets,
not poets who write about nothing but poetry
and poets

not confessional poets,
English but like pop groups singing in American,

not poets writing as if they were talking as if
anyone ever talked like that,

not poets who write about what it is
never to be able to write, or love poems
or sex poems or poems about the colour of
their oppression or about the gender
of their oppression or about its class,

not poets with words all
over the place and lowercase i's,
not incomprehensible even to themselves poets

not poets who get famous for something
be it poetry or who they are or what they do
besides writing poems

not neglected poets
nor the experts on their own poems
who read nobody for fear of influence,

not poets up to the ears in scholarship
and not a spark in them

no. We are shooting the other poets.

You know who they are and I do.
Let's go buddy, let's do it.

Peter Sansom is Director of the Poetry Business and editor of The North and Smith/Doorstop Books. His own publications include Writing Poems (Bloodaxe), January and Point of Sale (both from Carcanet). He was poet-in-residence for Marks and Spencer during 1999.

Summertime & the Living is Easy...

Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)

"Summer Afternoon on a Lake "
(oil on canvas)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sometimes The Answer is Right in Front of You - (or Maybe Not)

There’s an old story about the time Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping. They hadn’t been asleep but a short time when Sherlock suddenly awoke and shook his companion.

“Watson, look at the sky and tell me what you see.”

“I see millions of brilliant stars,” answered Watson.

“And what does that tell you?”

“Well, astronomically, it tells me there are countless galaxies. Theologically, I see that God is the Creator of all and we are small and insignificant. And you Holmes?”

Holmes paused. “What I see, Watson, is that someone has stolen our tent!”

Friday, May 19, 2006

Poems in Vitro - Vol. 1, No. 1

The Gathering

Thank you for your comments & insights.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

"After a Brief Shower"

John Pototschnik
(oil on canvas)
circa 2005

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Poetry Contests on a Shoestring Budget

Thank you for your responses. Most illuminating.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006)

--------I played my game for keeps--
for love, for poetry,
---- and for eternal life--

---------------------------------------(from "The Testing-Tree ")

The Round

Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees;
this morning I saw light kiss
the silk of the roses
in their second flowering,
my late bloomers
flushed with their brandy.
A curious gladness shook me.

So I have shut the doors of my house,
so I have trudged downstairs to my cell,
so I am sitting in semi-dark
hunched over my desk
with nothing for a view
to tempt me
but a bloated compost heap,
steamy old stinkpile,
under my window;
and I pick my notebook up
and I start to read aloud
the still-wet words I scribbled
on the bloated page:
"Light splashed ..."

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.


Monday, May 15, 2006

From: "A Consideration of Poetry " by Kay Ryan

"...the poem is a trap—that is a release. It’s a small door to a room full of gold that we can have any time we go through the door, but that we can’t take away. "

* Source: Poetry - May 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

From The "You Couldn't Make This Up" Department

I recently bought a new barbeque grill. Of course the box included some rather detailed instructions & an owner's manual. The manual's 24 page booklet included four purportedly blank pages. Each page read as follows:

Brought to you by Char-Broil (Keepers of the Flame)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Saturday in The Park

Max Ginsburg

Park Bench (circa 2005)
(Oil painting - 40 x 60 inches)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


The Gleaners

They stand
bent over like
a Millet painting by
the train tracks picking dandelion
greens before they flower
as though their time
had come.

How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck...?

Maxine Kumin

Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.

Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.

The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .22, the bullets' neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck's face.
He died down in the everbearing roses.

Ten minutes later I dropped the mother. She
flipflopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next. O one-two-three
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawkeye killer came on stage forthwith.

There's one chuck left. Old wily fellow, he keeps
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form. I dream
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they'd all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.

From Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief, by Maxine Kumin,
published by Penguin Books. (1972)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

Multi-Tasking is Taxing The Quality and Depth of Our Thought Processes – Now Where Was I?

Let’s face it, during the last decade or so, our society has become more and more multi-task oriented. What with cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, IPODs, Palm Pilots, Blueberries, Raspberries & Strawberries – I’m not quite sure anymore whether they're electronic gadgets or whether I'm ready to make fruit salad.

“As for multitasking devices, social scientists and educators are just beginning to assess their impact, but the researchers already have some strong opinions. The mental habit of dividing one's attention into many small slices has significant implications for the way young people learn, reason, socialize, do creative work and understand the world. Although such habits may prepare kids for today's frenzied workplace, many cognitive scientists are positively alarmed by the trend. "Kids that are instant messaging while doing homework, playing games online and watching TV, I predict, aren't going to do well in the long run," says Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Decades of research (not to mention common sense) indicate that the quality of one's output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks. Some are concerned about the disappearance of mental downtime to relax and reflect. Roberts notes Stanford students "can't go the few minutes between their 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock classes without talking on their cell phones. It seems to me that there's almost a discomfort with not being stimulated--a kind of 'I can't stand the silence.'" Time Magazine (March 27, 2006)

I.E.: During the simple act of commuting by automobile we are quite often expected to talk on our cell phones, listen to music on an IPOD/ MP3 player or heaven forbid the boring car stereo, watch a DVD, Look at the GPS display for directions, converse with our passengers, tell the kids to stop yelling, “Are we there yet?” & Oh Yeah…and did I forget - drive! If this is not multi-tasking then I don’t understand the concept!

Even as a poet I am often expected to be multi-tasking:

i) surf the net for info on poetry
ii) write a poetry blog
iii) workshop poetry on-line
iv) workshop off-line
v) read on-line poetry journals
vi) read print poetry journals & books
vii) partake in poetry readings
viii) submit to on-line journals
ix) submit to print journals
x) put together a poetry manuscript
xi) write & edit poetry

All this from a guy, who admittedly has trouble keeping a thought, and crossing his legs at the same time. I guess I’m not really a multi-tasking kind of guy -- just a run of the mill taxing kinda guy!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not Big on Multi-Tasking &/or One Year Blogging Anniversaries

About a year ago this week, I started blogging. Before then I hardly knew what a blog was. I first encountered the word on an on-line poetry workshop. Of course it immediately piqued my curiosity. After finding out that the poet in question, whom I admire blogged, I thought that I’d give it a whirl. What I found was a community of like-minded poets that on the whole gave each other support.

It seems logical that after a year of blogging, I thought that I’d take stock of what I have accomplished in the interim. I am surprised to have had any readership at all let alone my site meter hitting five figures within the last few months. I’m not sure what this tells me but I think that all in all the experience has been a positive one:

1-I have met some interesting people on-line, who also happen to be fine poets and I have enjoyed reading and learning about their work.
2-I have become aware of poetry with a grittier edge than one encounters in workshops.
3-I have become better informed about current poetic trends.
4-I have received feedback on my poetry.
5-My poetry has received more attention from a wider group of people than I ever thought imaginable.
6-I have learnt about a thriving poetry scene in the form of live readings/symposiums both locally and nationally.

However, there have been some questions raised. The blogging experience has not been beneficial or at best ineffective as follows:

1-I have found that my poetry has not improved during this period.
2-I have found myself with less time to write poetry as a result.
3-I have, for whatever reason, been less inspired to write poetry.
4-I have had less time to critique poetry, which I enjoy tremendously.
5-I seem to be sending out less poetry submissions.
6-Those subs that I do send out seem to be less well-conceived.
7-I have not as yet gotten a chapbook manuscript together at
the ready for submission
8-I still don’t know where I would send it, even if I did.

In the course of the last year of blogging I have received several e-mails intimating that I should be more forthcoming about my personal life. You will have noticed if you have dropped in from time to time that I do not like to talk about what I do outside of the sphere of poetry.

1-I have (in the past) traveled extensively but lead a more sedate life at present.
2-I am M.W.C. and loving it.
3-My wife (Aurora) had a thyroidectomy to remove a lump in December 2005.
4-Thank, God, that she’s finally been given a clean bill of health.
5-My recurrent back problem which stems from a herniated disc operation some years ago recently reared its ugly head.
6-I am presently in physiotherapy to alleviate the pain & strengthen the leg that has been affected.
7-My children (two girls) Carmen & Elizabeth never cease to amaze me.
8-I wear the “Poet” hat only intermittently (as frequently as time allows) & am jealous of those of you who can spend inordinate amounts of time on poetics.
9-I’d love to enroll in a part-time Creative Writing program. (Low-Residency MFA Program) but cannot.
10-I have no strong emotional disposition (one way or another) towards etiquette (social or otherwise), but I do not agree with the assertion that appeared in a comment on another blog (which I have paraphrased here) that: ‘etiquette is employed by unstable persons in order to blend in.’

And so this is where I stand at this point in time. I enjoy writing this blog but am not sure at times, if it is in my best interest to do so. What I do know is that it is poetry that has gotten me here. It is poetry that matters to me in all of this.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Clifford Garstang's Analysis of Pushcart Prizes in Fiction

Clifford Notes: "My Pushcart Prize ranking is now complete .... There were several surprises for me in preparing this list, the biggest of which was by the margin by which Ploughshares beats the field. There are several magazines in the Top Twenty that I don’t know particularly well, but you can bet that I’m going to do some investigation."

Here are the top 50 on Clifford 's list. For the complete analysis visit his site: Perpetual Folly

1 Ploughshares 90
2 Paris Review 55
3 Zoetrope: All Story 53
4 Conjunctions 47
5 Southern Review 46
6 Tin House 40
7 Threepenny Review 36
8 Epoch 34
9 TriQuarterly 34
10 Georgia Review 33
11 New England Review 31
12 Witness 31
13 Ontario Review 30
14 Five Points 26
15 Missouri Review 23
16 Gettysburg Review 22
17 Kenyon Review 22
18 McSweeney's 22
19 Chelsea 20
20 StoryQuarterly 20
21 Doubletake 19
22 Shenandoah 18
23 Agni 15
24 Boulevard 15
25 Idaho Review 14
26 Third Coast 14
27 Antioch Review 12
28 Oxford American 12
29 Manoa 11
30 News from the Republic of Letters 11
31 Salmagundi 11
32 Iowa Review 10
33 Glimmer Train 9
34 Harvard Review 9
35 Hudson Review 9
36 New Letters 9
37 Prairie Schooner 9
38 Virginia Quarterly Review 9
39 Willow Spring 8
40 Yale Review 8
41 Alaska Quarterly Review 7
42 Fence 7
43 Graywolf Press 7
44 North American Review 7
45 Pleiades 7
46 Bomb 6
47 Boston Review 6
48 Calyx 6
49 Colorado Review 6
50 Speakeasy 6