Sunday, May 31, 2009

Poetry in Vitro....I Lost Count

The Sealed Fountain

I'm in a room.
It's smaller than I thought
it would be.
The verticals, though closed
allow slivers of sunlight to hit
the wooden slats on the floor, to form
parallel bars of incandescence.

In the corner is a futon
that has seen better times.
I am sitting on a folding chair
at the center of my world.
I am a sealed fountain spewing.


By the way this blog is four years old....Believe it, or not!


Sunday, May 17, 2009


I'm not sure that I'm a poet anymore. I'm not sure of too many things these days. I mean the inkling or creative urge to write doesn't seem to surface much anymore. It seems stifled by the logic that I have very little to show for several years of devotion to poetry. My detractors will be saying at this point that I finally have seen the light and that thankfully I'm not writing poetry anymore. Perhaps they were right all along. I have very little in the way of proof to the contrary.

And although I am sure that a workshop - whether online or real time - would probably definitively resolve the question as to whether I was meant to write poetry or not, I am at a loss as to why I am not participating in a workshop at this time. I was saddened to see that the Gazebo had become a derelict. This has left me with no creative place to go online. I long for a time when I would visit an online poetry workshop and revel in how a writer or reader could completely misconstrue the gist of a poem or worse yet MY poem.

I have been reading about bloggers who are changing directions. I believe that Sandra Beasley is right on when she asserts:

A blog just...waits. Like a plant waiting to be watered. Except if this plant dies, you can't just surreptitiously pitch it down your building's trash chute in the dead of night, swearing to yourself that you'll do better next time. It's a little more public.... Blogs aren't the place for firm conclusions, at least not for me. I see them as organic structures, plants with dirty, messy, unstoppable roots. You can feed them, or tear 'em out by those roots when the time comes. argument here. I've tried to tear this blog out by the roots but have been unable to destroy what has now turned into a four year labor of love???? There is a part of me in every post and yet I'm no longer that person that wrote this blog four years ago when I could barely keep up with responses to the blog or ideas for another post. Turning to Facebook hasn't worked for me. It hasn't reignited my interest in poetry. That lack has been translated into my recent posts and I get the feeling that people come back to this blog out of a morbid curiosity and no longer to read what I have to say.

The odd thing is that I keep getting invitations to submit my work, but I don't know quite what to say. My shoulders hunch and the air seeps out of my lungs till the last breath.

I'm in a... Billy Joel - "State of Mind"

On Aging:

"I'm not a looking back kind of person. What I've realized about turning 60 is I'm not just one age, I'm every age I've ever been. Sometimes I'm 11, sometimes 16, sometimes I'm 25, sometimes I'm 42, sometimes I'm in my 50s. I'm all over the place. And it comes in handy, especially in this line of work."

On Being a Musician:

"I don't think there will ever be a time when I stop being a musician. Possibly not being a performer, possibly not recording anymore, but I will always be a musician."

I guess that also holds true for a poet. Whether they write anymore or ever get published again, they'll always be poets.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

And Now....Some Canadian Content - Neil Young

"It's better to burn out than to fade away."

.......................................Neil Young

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nine Through Twelve

You Begin
Margaret Atwood

You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.


Acquainted With the Night
Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain --and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.


Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job,
here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,


Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse,
and under his ribs the heart of the people,


Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.


Because We Are Not Taken Seriously
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 Mandelstam
on 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.

N.B.: I'll come back later and explain my choices

19th Century Macchiaioli Artist: Silvestro Lega

The Macchiaioli were a group of Italian painters from Tuscany, active in the second half of the nineteenth century, who, breaking with the antiquated conventions taught by the Italian academies of art, painted outdoors in order to capture natural light, shade, and colour. The Macchiaioli were forerunners of the Impressionists who, beginning in the 1860s, would pursue similar aims in France. One of the most notable artists of this movement was Silvestro Lega (8 December 1826 - 21 September 1895).

From top to bottom and left to right:
1. Le Rose Della Primavera
2. Un Dopo Pranzo (Il Pergolato): 1860
3. Ritrattto di Giueseppe Garabaldi: 1861
4. Autoritratto - 1859-1860
5. Il Canto di Uno Stornello: 1867
*source wikipedia

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

Some More Bad News

I missed the opportunity to take this workshop with a poet I admire:


Workshop leader: Mary di Michele

How admirable!
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.
- Basho

Whether it’s a wildly imaginative simile, Roo Borson comparing the sunset to an armful of dying flamingoes or a plain yet penetrating image like Issa’s farmer pulling radishes pointing the way with a radish, imagery is at the heart of poetry. It is the single aspect of poetry that can easily be translated. It is the music of the senses. All our perceptions are communicated, indeed filtered, through language. But we stop seeing the particularity of things in all their colours and textures when words become overly familiar; we accept the grey carton without tasting the eggs. Poetry seeks to revitalize language and our senses by stripping away familiar associations with words and the things they point to. Basho, a 17th century Japanese poet said that a poem works through plainness and oddness; Russian theorists in the 20th century called it defamiliarization, making the commonplace seem strange or new; poets of disparate ages and cultures seem to agree that this essential tension between what we think we know and what is suddenly revealed is poetry’s way of illuminating existence, of seeing the world in new ways.

Imagery is what makes writing ‘vivid;’ it is cultivated by poets but serves prose writers too so a study of how it works, or a refresher course, is useful for all writers and at all levels. In this class we will examine how images work in poetry and in your poems. By closely reading the poems of great image-makers among classic and contemporary poets we will learn to identify what makes an image vivid and memorable. We will learn to spot and weed out common errors in writing like clichés and mixed or muddled images.

In our sessions participants will: 1) share and respond to each other’s work each week, 2) on occasion try some writing exercises, and 3) discuss poetics regularly. Questions about publication will be addressed at the last class. For the first meeting participants are asked to bring 12 copies of either a poem of their own or a poem by someone else with images that they would like to discuss.

For the sheer pleasure of reading it and because it also provides a useful anthology at the back, Kenneth Koch: "Making Your Own Days" is recommended reading.

Mary di Michele was born in Italy and raised in Canada. She is the author of two novels and eight books of poetry, including Luminous Emergencies, short-listed for the Trillium Prize and Debriefing the Rose, short-listed for the QWF's A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. She teaches in the creative writing program at Concordia. Her latest book, Tenor of Love (2005), a novel, was published in Canada and the U.S. and translated into Serbian and Italian.

This would have fit the bill nicely for this poet gone AWOL!

Two For Tuesday on a Friday