Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Two For Tuesday

The incomparable Joni Mitchell

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Since You asked

Who the Hell is Zelig?

"Zelig is a 1983 mockumentary movie written and directed by Woody Allen. ... The film is set in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. The title character, Leonard Zelig (played by Woody Allen), is a man who has the ability to change his appearance to that of the people he is surrounded by. For example, if he is among doctors, he transforms into a doctor, if around overweight people, he quickly becomes heavy himself. Zelig is called the "human chameleon". He is first noticed at a party by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow) is a psychiatrist who wants to help this man with this strange disorder, when he is admitted to her hospital. With the use of hypnotic techniques, she discovers that Zelig aims for approval, so he changes to fit in. Dr. Fletcher's determination allows her to eventually cure Zelig, but not without complications; on the road to recovery, Zelig temporarily develops a personality which is intolerant of other people's opinions.

Zelig used a very innovative and distinctive method to create the mockumentary feeling of this movie. For the film, Allen took real newsreel footage from the 1920s and 30s and inserted himself and other actors into the footage via bluescreen technology. To provide an authentic look to his scenes, Allen and his cinematographer used numerous techniques, including the arduous task of locating some of the actual antique film cameras and lenses used during the eras depicted in the film, and even went so far as to simulate damage, such as crinkles and scratches, on the negatives to make the finished product look more like vintage footage. The virtually seamless blending of old and new footage is highly notable in the fact that this was achieved almost a decade before digital filmmaking technology..."

*source Wikipedia

THE POET - written by Jo Overfield, illustrated by Liam Brazier


A Pensive Poet on a Midsummer Night in a Garden: Kashmir, 1630

Is there any other kind?

Friday, July 27, 2007

From Cover to Cover

Jeannine Hall Gailey Asks:

Which ten books are the books that have inspired the most writing from you? The books you read that you couldn't wait to put down so you could write afterwards? These aren't neccessarily your "favorite" books, but the books that have helped you generate the most new work. If you are a poet, they do not have to all be poetry, they can be fiction, non-fiction, etc.

-------------------------------------------------------------from Jeannine Hall Gailey's Blog

Cows, Pigs, Wars & Witches - Marvin Harris

1984 -George Orwell

Faust - Goethe

Selected Poems - T.S. Eliot

The Social Construction of Reality - Berger & Luckmann

The Island of Dr. Moreau - H.G. Wells

Almost Anything by Aldous Huxley (especially The Devils of Loudon & Brave New World)

The Time of Indifference - Alberto Moravia

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion - Yukio Mishima

The Moon & Sixpence - W. Somerset Maugham

I had to leave so many books off the list for lack of space -

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Not Get Rejected by the Best?

Copper Canyon is the leading U.S. independent publisher of poetry. From its home in Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Wash., it publishes poetry by numerous Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winners, including Pablo Neruda, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin and W.S. Merwin and such leading American poets as Jim Harrison, Olga Broumas and Ruth Stone. Its books look attractive to the eye, feel solid in the hand and engage the mind.

---------------------------------------------------------Jeff Baker ( The Oregonian )

Thanks to Jilly for pointing me to this article.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Zelig's Other Complaint

Yesterday I received another manuscript rejection. (Publisher's justification: "I'm all booked up and am not taking any unsolicited manuscripts".) Now don't get me wrong I haven't really sent it out to too many places (maybe half a dozen) but each rejection hits closer to the heart. Perhaps it's because I see these rejection notices as a rebuff of my work in its entirety and by extension my poetic voice and vision. (Which may not be 20/20 like some poets - but is also not as myopic as others.) Each one of these notices takes me one step closer to throwing in the proverbial towel. Have I been deluding myself for the past five years in thinking that I had something pertinent to add to the already corpulent body of modern poetry?

The problem is that I have never walked away from anything in my life. A couple of years ago I had the same feeling (as today) when most of the poets that I knew had published in print. Some of those told me to pack it in and that I just didn't have the poetic acumen to get into a "real poetry journal". Still a poem that was much derided by them as vacuous was printed in a reputable magazine. (Of course this event, in and of itself, did not repudiate their claim. But I took it as a sign from the poetry gods.)... Yet, by and large, poetry keeps pointing me towards the emergency exit. And I keep thinking about Bukowski's poem, "so you want to be a writer? :

....don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you. ...

Now I'm thinking is this just indigestion or is "the sun inside me burning my gut"?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is Where I'll be in August

Sandra Beasley will be recreating the NaPoWriMo experience in August. She asks other like-minded poets to join her. If you have the itch to write next month -- visit her blog and let her know. Unfortunately, in August I'll be here:

More specifically here:

You can stop clapping now - April is just around the corner!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The Opening

Every meeting is fateful.

A bot fly lays her yellow eggs on the leg of a horse.

A door latch slips into place
and the story once told behind it is over:

A sentence turns in mid-stride and
becomes a question.

No one knows why.

But mostly we keep on asking.
A sound like many small birds in a tree.
A sound like rain.

Once, in the long midsummer drought
of coastal California, I heard a sound that puzzled.
I went outside to stars,
my outstretched hand unwetted.

But from every tree around me, water came hard,
the downpour still at full in its falling.

The gutters made the sound they throat while working.
My hand was dry.

I stood inside the mystery,
no question in my heart's fast beating.

first appeared in Margie -Volume 2, 2003

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Two For Tuesday

Five Man Electrical Band “Signs” & “Absolutely Right”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Dante": Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)

"I wept not, so to stone
within I grew."
--------------------------------------Dante Alighieri

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poetry by Design versus Poetry by Revelation

As you probably know, if you’ve visited this blog on more than one occasion I’m not a prolific poet, even at the best of creative times. In most instances - within the scope of the creative process – the poem strikes me like lightning – a flash of a phrase appears and then once the blinding effect fades (and my poetic eyes adjust to the light) the rest of the poem emerges as bits of a receding ship refusing to remain submerged.

Oddly enough, this is usually the rule rather than the exception. Of course there is always the editing (the lesser god of poetry) that must take its perfunctory course. But by and large poems coalesce almost immediately - emerging in full-bodied form from the outset.

So when I took on the NaPoWriMo challenge, I really was slitting my poetic wrists. To be perfectly honest with you I didn’t think that I was going to make it. But a month and about 30 terrible poems later I was still alive… poetically speaking. In retrospect it’s interesting to note that some decent tropes did surface. But it is difficult for me to write “poetry by design”. However, I know that most poets routinely planify the creative poetic process (i.e. for poetry collections, a series of poems etc...) .

In your experience does the poem that you create by design stack up favorably to the poem that comes to you via inspiration? Or is this, in effect, a moot question?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

Zelig's Complaint

Deborah Ager of 32 Poems asks: “ I “know” poet-bloggers in an odd way. I know a lot about them, yet we’ve not spent time directly communicating in most instances. We have not spent much time together in person.... Do people think they know me because they read my blog? Do they?“

To which I responded:

You ask an interesting question. No, I would not presume to think that I know you or anybody else for that matter that I have met on-line. Whereas meeting someone on-line facilitates discourse of a certain kind. Written symbolic interaction is not a sufficient condition to arrive at the conclusion that we know someone. Instinctively we need to engage in other forms of symbolic interaction to supplement the verbal. IMHO it is somewhat like attempting to watch a movie with only the audio & a blank screen. Perhaps adequate enough to get a gist of what the movie is about but not consummate enough to make any presumptions.

Every day I religiously go through my blog roll and click. I read about someone’s publishing news, personal crisis, and vacation or just about anything else they want - me - the reader to be privy to. How much of this is social exhibitionism? I’m not sure. This is the kind of information that you might share with a friend and/or close confidante. Certainly, these bloggers appear to have busy social lives and do not seem to lack camaraderie. I am perplexed as to why these bloggers of which I am - I suppose - part & parcel of and who are for the most part successful at what they do, feel the need to share (at times), some of their lives’ most intimate details with an audience - that they don’t really know.

They would appear to be seeking affirmation from like-minded individuals and yet many of the bloggers I read are part of a literary milieu. Would it not be more satisfying to receive recognition for their work from a more immediate source?

I, for example, am not part of the literary world per se. None of my (real-time) friends are poets, writers or editors for that matter. My sole window onto the literary vista that is poetry - is via the internet and the books I read of course. Would I like to be more a part of it? Yes, but with certain reservations. I have read from various sources and on various blogs about the numerous venues that serve as platforms for just this purpose. I would very much like to meet and socialize at these functions. It might certainly prove interesting to meet some of the poets that I have become acquainted with on-line. (Would they in “real life” match up to my conceptualizations of them?)

But by the same token I would not like to lose the objectivity (on the part of both parties) that my marginality affords me. If an editor who knows of me from my blog chooses to publish my work it is safe to assume they are doing so strictly on that basis alone. However, I'm not so naïve as to think that networking has not proven beneficial to the career of many an author. And so it goes...

If I may redirect the gist of this post, I’d like to ask the reader which blogger(s) they would like to meet in real-time and why?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Poetic Relativity

I cannot even bear to look at the smattering of poems that I wrote as an adolescent. The poetry that I wrote as a graduate student (in Sociology) contains, perhaps at best, a few choice lines, forms of comparison and transfers of meaning that I have haphazardly tried to incorporate in some of my present poetic work. ….Heck, even some of the stuff I wrote a few months ago (during NaPoWriMo) - I read and go …Huh???

I was over at Greg Rappleye’s blog only to read a preface to the posting of a poem as follows:

It's from my first collection, Holding Down the Earth (Skybooks, 1995). I wrote this book before getting my MFA. I think it's obvious that I had a lot to learn, but I still like the poem.

This may not be a seminal question, but do we as poets (and I loosely define myself as a poet here -- although certainly not with the poetic acumen of Greg Rappleye) ever look at our previous work and go: “I wouldn’t change a thing.” -- or are we forever possessed by a sense of misgiving vis a vis our efforts twice (or even once) removed?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007