Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blue Fifth Review - Vol. VI - Issue 7 - Fall 2006 is Out.

Blue Fifth Review is online with work by Peter Pereira, Robert Lietz, Vicki Hudspith, Sheema Kalbasi, Donald Illich, Susan Elbe, Gerhardt Thompson, Leslie Marcus, Evie Shockley, Will Roby, Nick Bruno and more -

Monday, October 30, 2006

Here's a Picker-Upper

  1. We never know the value of our own work, and everything reasonable leads us to doubt it: for we can be certain that few contemporaries will be read in a hundred years. To desire to write poems that endure—we undertake such a goal certain of two things: that in all likelihood we will fail, and that if we succeed we will never know it.
  2. But for some people it seems ambitious merely to set up as a poet, merely to write and to publish. Publication stands in for achievement—as everyone knows, universities and grant-givers take publication as achievement—but to accept such a substitution is modest indeed, for publication is cheap and easy.
  3. True ambition in a poet seeks fame in the old sense, to make words that live forever. If even to entertain such ambition reveals monstrous egotism, let me argue that the common alternative is petty egotism that spends itself in small competitiveness, that measures its success by quantity of publication, by blurbs on jackets, by small achievement....

----------------------------------------------------------------------Donald Hall

The Poem must become more important than the Poet!

"Poetry and Ambition" was originally delivered as a lecture at a meeting of the Associated Writing Programs, then turned into an essay with the addition of material from another lecture given at New England College. It appeared in the Kenyon Review, n.s., 5, no. 4 (1983), and was reprinted in Pushcart Prize IX: Best of the Small Presses, 1984-85, and the AWP Bulletin, Feb.-Mar., 1987. Published in 1988 in Poetry and Ambition: Essays 1982-88 by Donald Hall.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sylvia Plath


The woman is perfected
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

"Selected Poems of Sylvia Plath" edited by Rebecca Warren
(York Notes Advanced) (Paperback) Longman (28- Sep- 2001)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Poetry in Vitro - Vol 1. No. 10

Marked and Stranded

Gauntly relating a man to a camel,
he stood at the dais; taking

us on the elevator down
to the basement; leading

us to the graveyard to find out why
his poetry had been eaten;

offering us a napkin
to wipe the ink off our faces.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Running on Empty?

After 8 years (his last book of poetry being "A Blizzard of One" for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999) Mark Strand has come out with a new collection of poetry - his eleventh: "Man and Camel" - (Knopf - 2006). Here are some reviews:

"Our skills are limited, our power / to imagine enfeebled." That's Mark Strand in his newest volume of poetry, Man and Camel, and, at least as far as his own work is concerned, it's hard to argue. The poverty of imagination on display would almost seem parodic if there were any indication that Strand had a sense of humor. "

-----------------------------------------------------------------Noah Berlatsky

"This eleventh collection by Mark Strand is a toast to life’s transience and abiding beauty. ... As always with Mark Strand, the discovery of meaning in the sound of language itself is an act of faith that enlightens us and carries us beyond the bounds of the rational."

------------------------------------------------------------------Borzoi Reader

"...Strand allows this new book to show all the signs of pruning and purging. The sieve of art descends into the well of intimate contemplation and retrieves 23 closely reasoned poems remarkably consistent in the character of the Baffled Seer persisting in the double terror (or is it joy?) of all Strand's expression: evanescence of the longed-for Other, desolate wonder of the self."

-------------------------------------------------------------------Richard Howard

An excerpt:

Man and Camel

On the eve of my fortieth birthday
I sat on the porch having a smoke
when out of the blue a man and a camel
happened by. Neither uttered a sound
at first, but as they drifted up the street
and out of town the two of them began to sing.
Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me—
the words were indistinct and the tune
too ornamental to recall. Into the desert
they went and as they went their voices
rose as one above the sifting sound
of windblown sand. The wonder of their singing,
its elusive blend of man and camel, seemed
an ideal image for all uncommon couples.
Was this the night that I had waited for
so long? I wanted to believe it was,
but just as they were vanishing, the man
and camel ceased to sing, and galloped
back to town. They stood before my porch,
staring up at me with beady eyes, and said:
“You ruined it. You ruined it forever.”

Black Sea

One clear night while the others slept, I climbed
the stairs to the roof of the house and under a sky
strewn with stars I gazed at the sea, at the spread of it,
the rolling crests of it raked by the wind, becoming
like bits of lace tossed in the air. I stood in the long,
whispering night, waiting for something, a sign, the approach
of a distant light, and I imagined you coming closer,
the dark waves of your hair mingling with the sea,
and the dark became desire, and desire the arriving light.
The nearness, the momentary warmth of you as I stood
on that lonely height watching the slow swells of the sea
break on the shore and turn briefly into glass and disappear . . .
Why did I believe you would come out of nowhere? Why with all
that the world offers would you come only because I was here?

Mother and Son

The son enters the mother’s room
and stands by the bed where the mother lies.
The son believes that she wants to tell him
what he longs to hear—that he is her boy,
always her boy. The son leans down to kiss
the mother’s lips, but her lips are cold.
The burial of feelings has begun. The son
touches the mother’s hands one last time,
then turns and sees the moon’s full face.
An ashen light falls across the floor.
If the moon could speak, what would it say?
If the moon could speak, it would say nothing.

My Name

Once when the lawn was a golden green
and the marbled moonlit trees rose like fresh memorials
in the scented air, and the whole countryside pulsed
with the chirr and murmur of insects, I lay in the grass,
feeling the great distances open above me, and wondered
what I would become and where I would find myself,
and though I barely existed, I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.

from- "Man and Camel" - by Mark Strand - 2006
Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Blog Squatters, Birthdays & Other Matters


Yesterday evening as I posted the entry that you presently see under Sunday October, 22, denoting that I would be taking a break from blogging, a “Blog Squatter” proceeded to post their announcements as comments under three separate posts. Now I don’t mind doing a little PR for somebody if they let me know about it, but an ad hoc comment which is simply an advertisement and doesn’t even feign interest in the post at hand is pretty low in my book.

Well needless to say, this infuriated me. And I said to hell with this hiatus. Nobody is going to hijack this blog. Whatever this reader thinks about it, it has my stamp on it and it is something I developed on my own without anybody else’s input. I realized that I cared enough about its existence that I deleted the offensive comments and made some editorial decisions regarding its content. This ain’t over by a long shot.


Yet another birthday is upon me and as a result it has me reflecting on this year’s yield and consequently I am reevaluating what I have accomplished with my blog. First, I must say that this blog has exceeded my expectations. Going into this, I hadn’t expected any readership. I did not anticipate that it would take off at all. After all, this blog grew out of the need to collect my thoughts on poetics and figurative art. By doing so I realized how much my tastes ran parallel in both domains.

Art had always been there for me. Growing up, I could always immerse myself in a composition in whatever medium. Painting and drawing were always second nature to me. Poetry has been a recent development. But here too I have already surpassed expectations. I started writing in 2001; started publishing in 2002 and have published over 35 poems in 23 journals & anthologies. Considering the turn-around time for most journals, I consider these figures to be quite good (at least by my standards).

What has eluded me so far mainly due to the fact that I have sent out a grand total of 2 MS. and have yet to enter a contest is publication of a chapbook. Perhaps, however, it is time to either put up or shut up. Book publication has not been a priority for me. I did not want to publish just for the sake of publishing. I wanted to be published when I had amassed enough material that I though worthy enough. I believe I have enough poems of worth to warrant a chapbook. And so I have started to entertain the thought.


Lastly, I am thankful that this community of poets (many of them are on my blogroll) has accepted me “tel comme je suis”. They have linked to me in greater number than I had ever thought possible without my intercession. But more importantly they have commented on what I have tried to communicate here in this on-line journal. Grazie a tutti!

I would also like to thank those of you who have sent me e-mails to the effect that I should continue blogging. Many pointed out that my blog was listed on their blogrolls and that they enjoyed my slant on things. But one e-mail in particular caught my attention as it directed me to something which had escaped me. This e-mail directed my attention to the fact that my poetry at The Arabesques Review is among the most popular receiving over 800 hits and counting. Furthermore, the poem “No.249 on the S.S. Saturnia” is highlighted in the “What’s in This Current Issue” blurb.

I am to say the least very happy about this. It means that my poetry is reaching readers that I never thought it would. It means to me that it is registering with the reader. Then I realized that that is the kind of success that I had wanted all along. It hadn’t been about the books or the critical acclaim. It had always been about the poem and the reader. So that whatever, I get coming to me after this is only icing on the cake. And yes, I really mean that!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Because We Are Not Taken Seriously

by Stephen Dunn

Some night I wish they'd knock,
on my door, the government men,
looking for the poem of simple truths
recited and whispered among the people.
And when all I give them is silence
and my children are exiled
to the mountains, my wife forced
to renounce me in public,
I'll be the American poet
whose loneliness, finally, is relevant,
whose slightest movement
ripples cross-country.

And when the revolution frees me,
its leaders wanting me to become
"Poet of the Revolution," I'll refuse
and keep a list of their terrible reprisals
and all the dark things I love
which they will abolish.
With the ghost of Mandelstamon
one shoulder, Lorca on the other,
I 'll write the next poem, the one
that will ask only to be believed
once it's in the air, singing.

from: New & Selected Poems 1974-1994 - by Stephen Dunn -
Published by W.W. Norton, 1994 - 10110. ISBN.0-393-03618-9,

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Homer and his Guide

William Bouguereau (1825-1905)

1874 - Oil on canvas

82 1/4 x 56 1/4 inches (209 x 143 cm)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A) - Which character in “Casablanca” actually said: " Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.' " ?

1-Rick Blaine
2-Victor Laszlo
3-Guillermo Ugarte
4-Ilsa Lund
5-Capt. Louis Renault

B) - In “The Godfather”. to whom is Don Corleone speaking when he says, “I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse. Now, you just go outside and enjoy yourself, and uh, forget about all this nonsense. I want you, I want you to leave it all to me.” ?

1-Michael Corleone
2-Pete Clemenza
3-Johnny Fontane
4-Moe Green
5-Tom Hagen

C) - From “Raging Bull” – Who is this addressed to: “You know what that means? No matter how big I get, no matter who I fight, no matter what I do, I ain't never gonna fight Joe Louis.” ?

1-Vickie Thailer
2-Tommy Como
3-Joey LaMotta
4-Salvy Batts

D) - In “Citizen Kane”, Charles Foster Kane answers, “Yes. "Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war." in reply to whom?

1-Jedediah Leland
2-Mr. Bernstein
3-Mary Kane
4-Mr. Rawlston
5-Susan Alexander Kane

E) - From the movie adaptation of Tennessee Williams’, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” – Who is Big Daddy addressing when he says the following: “Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?...There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity...You can smell it. It smells like death.” ?

2-Big Mama

F) – From “2001: A Space Odyssey” , who is the speaker of the following, “Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?” ?

1-Hal 9000
2-Dr. Charles Hunter
3-Dr. Jack Kimball
4-Dr. Victor Kaminsky
5-Dr. Frank Poole

G) – “Ben Hur” has Charlton Heston speaking these lines, “Their flesh...carries Rome's mark...the deed was not Messala's. I knew him, well, before the cruelty of Rome spread in his blood. Rome destroyed Messala as surely as Rome has destroyed my family.” to whom?

1-Quintus Arrius
2-Tiberius Caesar
4-Pontius Pilate
5-Sheik Ilderim

H) – Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” utters “...All right, I promise, for Christ's sake, I promise never to take out Elaine Robinson...Let's not talk about it. Let's not talk at all.” to which character?

1-Elaine Robinson
2-Mrs. Braddock
3-Mrs. Robinson
4-Desk Clerk
5-Mr. Robinson

I) – Jem, the narrator’s brother in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is describing Boo Radley as follows: “Well, judgin' from his tracks, he's about six and a half feet tall. He eats raw squirrels and all the cats he can catch. There's a long, jagged scar that runs all the way across his face. His teeth are yella and rotten. His eyes are popped. And he drools most of the time.” to whom?

1-Charles Baker 'Dill' Harris
2-Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch
3-Atticus Finch
5-Sheriff Heck Tate

J) – Last but not least who is Marlon Brando speaking to in "On the Waterfront" when he says, “You don't understand. I could'a had class. I could'a been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.” ?

1-Father Barry
2-Johnny Friendly
4-Timothy 'Kayo' Dugan

Ans. A) 4 B) 3 C) 3 D) 2 E) 5 F) 1 G) 4 H) 3 I) 1 J) 3

If you scored a 0 - And your name isn’t Paris Hilton or George Bush – What’s your excuse?

If you scored a 1 or 2 - I’ll assume that you were born after 1980 and think that movies in black and white are what they are referring to when they use the expression “Film Noire”

If you scored a 3 or 4 – I know somebody that’s related to a guy that shook Roger Ebert’s hand. Maybe he could give you some pointers.

If you scored a 5 or 6 –“ Why you look-a so sad? It’s-a not so bad. It’s-a nice-a place! Ah, shaddap a you face!” – Sorry for some reason I was channeling Joe Dolce.

If you scored a 7 or 8 – Look at the bright side: at least you don’t have to get pointers from that guy who shook Roger Ebert’s hand and never washed it.

If you scored a 9 or a 10 – You probably deserve a Movie Trivia Prize – But I ain’t givin’ you one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006




I wanted to come home,
it just took too long to find the right plane.
Two years of eating grapes meant for wine,
wondering where the skin goes
when the flesh is juiced and fermented.

Maybe I would have thought of us
less if France had been more than cheese
and yardstick bread, more than yellow countryside
like Illinois when the corn is tall.


I forgot how days pass in New York –
stubborn mist shaking its mane on the highway,
snow that siestas in the sky for days.
His green towel, folded and hung
on the bathroom door, smelling so much like him.


First it was Vezélay. Clutching the skirt
of Mary Magdalene, who told me of her years
of desert shelter – the crows, the sand,
the sucking cactus. There were no angels
that delivered her to Christ’s oyster bar.
Just a jackrabbit she tore open with her hands,
blood she drank religiously.

Then Santiago de Compostela, where the hermit
found James under a transept of star,
his marrow drained, hair cleaned from skull. He waits
in stone sombrero, a staff cocked
in his left hand, a closed text in his right.
They think it’s the Bible, he winks,
and that these are my bones.

Finally, Ravenna, blackcaps warbling
on the telephone poles. Just south
of the pinewoods strangled by heather,
dog-rose, I ordered wedding soup.
I was finished with leaving,
with Europe
with the thousand stone churches
that starved their towns.


Somehow this would make more sense
if there were myrrh or bdellium involved.
Because then he would laugh, open
his palms that clench and unclench at his thigh,
smile at the plastic snow globe
I bought in the Turin airport.

I look at him, but he's watching the planes
lift like storks from the sandbar willows.
Didn’t you hear, he says when I ask
how Michigan has been. Christ came back
as a bamboo shark last week.
And the Devils brought home the Cup.

* From - Boxcar Poetry Review - September 2006

Erin Elizabeth Smith is a PhD candidate at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi where she serves as editor-in-chief of Stirring and founder of Sundress Publications. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Third Coast, Crab Orchard, West Branch, Willow Springs, Natural Bridge, Gulf Stream, Good Foot, Slipstream, Bellingham Review, and Reed Magazine among others.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Poem You Asked For

by Larry Levis

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the light,

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it money,

my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in

my hands, and carried it gently
out into the soft air, into the
evening traffic, wondering how

to end things between us.
For now it had begun breathing,
putting on more and

more hard rings of flesh.
And the poem demanded the food,
it drank up all the water,

beat me and took my money,
tore the faded clothes
off my back,

said Shit,
and walked slowly away,
slicking its hair down.

Said it was going
over to your place.

"Wrecking Crew", by Larry Levis - 1972 - University of Pittsburgh Press

Sunday, October 01, 2006

VALPARAISO POETRY REVIEW : Volume VIII, Number 1 - Fall/Winter 2006-2007

What do Mark Conway, Frannie Lindsay, Jared Carter, Beth Simon, Jeff Knorr, Sarah Brownsberger, E.G. Burrows , Helen Ruggieri, Richard O'Connell, Heidi Czerwiec, Thomas Reynolds, Elizabeth Kirschner, Jason Huskey, Jeanine DeRusha, Nick Bruno, Carol Hamilton, Scott Welvaert, Jordan Sanderson, Rane Arroyo, Taylor Graham, J.D. Schraffenberger and Lynn Strongin have in common? They all appear in the current issue of VALPARAISO POETRY REVIEW. Editor Edward Byrne has once again assembled a group of poets who know how to "fine-etch" a poem (So what am I doing in such illustrious company you may ask?). Witness featured poet: Mark Conway's, "HAVING GONE TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH" -

The Romans had a way
of talking to the dead: bring them
----- a bowl of blood.
But the blood
must be warm, which means
it must be yours.

Holding the long-
desired face between numb
hands that can’t feel shit
is difficult for some to take—others

find the whole scene over-
done. May I ask
what you would do,
given the chance?

Or Jared Carter's, "PROPHET TOWNSHIP":

The coffin would be kept in the parlor
for three days and nights. The watchers
took turns. After the funeral, neighbors
helped carry the box up to the attic
or set it out in one of the back rooms
so it would stay cold but not freeze.
Before the men tacked down the lid,
they filled it up the rest of the way
with rock salt. This was a custom
learned from their grandparents—
how to make it through till spring,
how to handle hardship on their own.

Or Perhaps Richard O'Connell's, "VOLADORES":

Spiral on spiral they undulate down
In aerial daring in the desert at dawn
Until the sun sets with the deified dead,
Celebrating the delirious death of all fear:
Sky diving, free falling, space walking delight,
The umbilical lethal dive into life.

Add to this fine collection of poetry, book reviews by -- D.A. Jeremy Telman, Barbara Crooker, Roger Sedarat, Mike White, Lynn Strongin and Edward Byrne and essays entitled "Elizabeth Bishop's Poetic Voice: Reconciling Influences" by Laura Ebberson & "Marianne Boruch and the Art of Surprise" by Claire Keyes and you have an issue well worth the price of admission.