Saturday, April 19, 2008

Poetic Bytes

  • If I handed you a 300-page epic poem about werewolves in modern-day Los Angeles, would you want to read it? William Weir of The Hartford Courant writes about Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow , a novel in free verse. Dare ya!
  • Oh, oh. When is a poem a "poem?" The Queen's English Society in reference to contemporary poets has espoused that "too often strings of words are being labeled as poems despite the fact they have no rhyme or metre." (sniff, sniff) The QES believes The Sun Rising by John Donne is a poem, but not so for contemporary poet Michael Schmidt's poem entitled Pangur Ban, excerpt below. What say you?
Jerome has his enormous dozy lion.
Myself, I have a cat, my Pangur Ban.
What did Jerome feed up his lion with?
Always he's fat and fleecy, always sleeping
As if after a meal.
Perhaps a Christian?
Perhaps a lamb, or a fish, or a loaf of bread.
His lion's always smiling, chin on paw,
What looks like purring rippling his face
And there on Jerome's escritoire by the quill and ink pot
The long black thorn he drew from the lion's paw.

  • From Richard K. Weems' drive-by poetry to Dave Johnson's charity poetry-on-the-spot, and the original Douglas Goetsch's poetry stand, we have the newest spin-off poetry-on-demand presented by Bainbridge Island West Sound Academy high school's celebration of National Poetry Month.
  • The People's Poetry Gathering stretches a clothesline of poems from around the world across the streets of Lower Manhattan.
  • WordFest 2008, a poetry showcase created by pioneers of Asheville's poetry movement, in Asheville, NC, starts Thursday - April 27 all over town. Featuring Pulitzer Prive-winning poet Galway Kinnell, four-time National Poetry Slam champion Patricia Smith, renowned translator of Sufi Poet Rumi, Coleman Barks, NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer, Jewish Arts Institute's Richard Chess, Cherokee poet MariJo Moore. Read WordFest highlights here.
  • Dont Miss Out on This! LibraryThing, Favorite Poem Project, World Class Poetry, Poets Who Blog, or Blogsboro Poetry Club.
  • New Hampshire poet Martha Carlson-Bradley reminds us to not overlook the wonders of nature - she uses them to tell us about ourselves - in her poetry book, Season We Can't Resist. Read article by Rebecca Rule of the Concord Monitor here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Your Pocket Guide to Poetry

This post is a product of an article by Cornell Green for the Erie Times-News about around-the-town National Poetry Month activities and particularly about the "Art House, 201 E. 10th St., where kids are learning to express themselves in colorful, constructive ways." Last evening (I just learned this) the Inner-City Neighborhood Art House celebrated Poetry, presented the winners of the "Keep a Poem in Your Heart" contest, hosted a performing poetry troupe and also poetry readings by adult members of the community.

But wait - there's more - 13 year old Rokey Butler, who along with other children who take after-school classes in 'everything from poetry to violin' at the Art House, recited a poem at the celebration entitled "The Rapper as Light," a poem by Kate Rushin. Rokey not only put the poem to memory, but did a little 2-step shuffle while he belted out verse, "When the sun sees me coming he hust steps aside. ..So listen to my rap, see the glint in my eye. You'll feel a glimmer of hope. I electrify." Rokey didn't think much of poetry before, but now in his own words, he says, "poetry is amazing. Say you're mad or something.. you can just write it in a poem, and you can just get all your anger out in that poem." (This is an astute youngster, by my estimation. :) Poetry has become a way to let loose, say other students at the Art House.

Twelve year old Shane McClelland, a student at Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School, says, "It's fun. You get a chance to express yourself and move around and act funny. You get to see what other people's ideas are, and their moves." At last night's Celebration of Poetry, Shane performed the poem "Monday" by David L. Harrison. It's a poem about how the beginning of the week starts out as a "bummer" but he also likes Langston Hughes' work the most. Sharon Szymanski, a 6th grade reading teacher at Wattsburg Middle School, said poetry helps to deveop speaking skills, learn to fine-tune the English language, and most of all, for me anyhow, really boosts their self-esteem. She told Cornell Green that her students went from being "literally petrified" at the thought of performing in public to being "cool and confident." Sharon Szymanski further goes on to say that poetry provides the most effective way to teach metaphors, figure of speech and similes, all things that a student needs to know for their state achievement tests. She goes on to encourage every teacher to have a poetry slam at their school. Once the kids are "hooked on poetry," she can "throw anything at them, and they love it."

Rokey Butler and Shane McClelland get your poetry on!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rick Mobbs - Artist Extraordinaire! - Figurative Painter & Poet

I've been wanting to share Rick Mobbs talent with my dear readers for quite some time now. Rick Mobbs is a phenomenal figurative painter of the highest caliber as you can see for yourself by visiting his beautifully appointed website and his blog, Mine Enemy Grows Older. Also my little chickadees, you get a two-fer when you visit Rick. Not only does Rick paint the most original, dreamy, and otherworldly subjects, scenes and sensibilities *wink* but he writes, too! Be prepared to spend lots of time reading, oooooo-ing and ahhhh-ing when you first visit Rick's blog because its absolutely packed with plenty of interesting paintings and personalia. Oh, and did I mention Rick's blog encourages reader participation? This is how it all plays out: Rick puts up one of his ethereal paintings and his readers are invited to write a poem or short story to accompany the painting! I was around for the beginning of this enterprise and I want to share with you what did unfold when Rick put up his painting under a post entitled, Standing in the Shadows, on March 29th. Johemmant, author of floresence, wrote the wonderfully evocative story to accompany the painting which was an instant hit! She captured the essence of the painting for me in a most poignant manner. I'll share part of the story with a link to the original post. I urge you to visit Johemmant's blog site because she writes with a deft hand neurally connected to one amazingly creative, insightful brain! Now on with an excerpt of her story:

We were resting after a long day in the fields when the children came running, shouting excitedly of angels and unicorns. We would have thought it a game and sent them away but an elder pointed to the sky silver with cloud and told us to listen to the wind in its lament. We rose then and followed their raggletaggle to the edge of the village where the salt flats begin. And the children were right, these were not figments but the archetypes of our dreams.

I stand at the edge,
a myth sheltering under
my outstretched wings,

their eyes hostile
holding us here though

I have been amongst them
every day, a shifting

shadow, a soft breath
on a tired cheek.

But I see my mistake.
Men do not want proof,

they would rather
have faith.

Follow the rest of her story here.
Johemmant's ekphratic poem inspired another poem by poet, Ozymandiaz, who you can find on his own blog Ocellus which is exceptionally well-written and thoughtful. His contribution below:

Neath the ashen sky
Her spirit strong and true
Some saw but a mare
But the wisest knew
The painted desert soul
Watching o’er this land
Known well as the wind
Known well as the sand
Presents herself this day
To run and to fly
In form seldom seen
Neath the ashen sky
Ozymandiaz's poem put an entirely different feel to the painting; a genuine Native American voice - wise and grounded. I just love his interpretation, too.

There's so much more to Rick Mobb's Mine Enemy Grows Older; Rick is one of those incredibly creative, innovative, multi-talented people who grace us with artistic delight and reverence. He draws from a deep well of experience and a rich inner life that connects with the heavenly. He can charm us and keep us enrapt in his world - as is evidenced in his poem, Mary Draws from Silence, with it's companion painting, below.

Mary Draws From Silence

Mary draws and Mary writes from silence,

silence that uplifts and holds her. These strings,

she thinks, are more than finite. They wrap all things

and draw them to her. Every weight and every measure,

all things tossed or turned or treasured,

all things simple, green or rusted, doubted, doubled, drummed

or busted, all things filtered out and saved, or wasted,

all things stirring, dead, or passive

all the unknown multitude of things

enormous as a whole, and as a whole, so quiet.

Like Mary’s eyes, so quiet. Mary draws from silence.

Poem and Painting by Rick Mobbs

Please give yourself a well-deserved break from day-to-day harsh realities and engulf yourself in a world of aesthetic sensibilities brought to you by Rick Mobbs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seabuscuit's Chris Cooper Reads Walt Whitman for PBS

Wow, how cool is this! Chris Cooper, who starred in Seabiscuit, will be reading poetry by Walt Whitman for PBS tonight at 9 PM. The movie, Seabiscuit, is the true life story of the famous, under-sized racehorse that lifted the spirits of a nation and symbolized hope during the Great Depression, memorialized by author Laura Hillenbrand.

Cooper says he felt a shared experience with Whitman when reading from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry: "Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh'd; Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried."

"That's the beauty of his writing," Cooper says. "One hundred years later, he's talking to the person of the future."

Excerpt from USA Today, 4/14/08

Monday, April 7, 2008

2008 Pulitzer Prize Winners for Poets

Congratulations to -

Time and Materials, by Robert Hass (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Failure, by Philip Schultz (Harcourt)

Citation for Bob Dylan - Well, he is a poet..:)

Source: The Associated Press via

Huffington Post Reader 'picodegallo54' Gets My High-Five for 'Comment' Poem

The Huffington Post carries a feature article "A Quick Guide to National Poetry Month" by John Lundberg, well worth reading, that elicited a response from picodegallo54 in the Comment Section a la poem:

my generation

they call us boomers
and we go boom
throw ourselves
on the floor
hold breath
turn blue in face
get our way
with our dollar
and our vote

we don't die and refuse to get old
we hold on tight and won't let go
this land is our land
not your land
this land is our land


You can read the rest of picodegallo54's poem here, near the top of the Comment Section.

I glean several layers of meaning here.. heh heh.. so kudos and a cartwheel to picodegallo54 from Poetmeister !

Why The Young Men Are So Ugly by Tony Hoagland

The following is one of my favorite poems by Tony Hoagland, Poetry Professor at the University of Houston who just won the Jackson Poetry Prize, an award of $50K "for writers of great talent, but less fame.. he risks wild laughter in poems that are totally heartfelt, poems you want to read out loud to anyone who needs to know the score," wrote the judges, who included poets Philip Levine, Robert Pinsky and Ellen Bryant Voigt. Continued here.

Why the Young Men Are So Ugly

They have little tractors in their blood
and all day the tractors climb up and down
inside their arms and legs, their
collarbones and heads.

That is why they yell and scream and slam the barbells
down into their clanking slots,
making the metal ring like sledgehammers on iron,
like dungeon prisoners rattling their chains.

That is why they shriek their tires at the stopsign,
why they turn the base up on the stereo
until it shakes the traffic light, until it
dryhumps the eardrum of the crossing guard.

Testosterone is a drug,
and they say No, No, No until
they are overwhelmed and punch
their buddy in the face for joy,

or make a joke about gravy and bottomless holes
to a middle-aged waitress who is gently
settling down the plate in front of them.

If they are grotesque, if
what they say and do is often nothing more
than a kind of psychopathic fart,

it is only because of the tractors,
the tractors in their blood,
revving their engines, chewing up the turf
inside their arteries and veins
It is the testosterone tractor


You can read the remainder of Tony Hoagland's poem here.

Autism's Special World Experienced through Insightful Poetry

Sometimes I come across a poetry site that moves me in such a way that I can't help but share it with others. Such a site is Poetry by Stacey , poetry that will put you through an emotional stew with a myriad of ingredients; humor, wit, spit & fire with delicious poignant tidbits that let you know you've just enjoyed a spicy & delectable meal! Such is Stacey's poem entitled His Special World, a poem written through the eyes of a child with Autism. It's uncanny in its telling of the world an autistic child deals with on a daily basis. What's so striking is the depth of understanding Stacey exhibits and an ability to express it in poetry that makes it truly special to me.

His Special World

Hurt and anger that comes from inside,
Frustration confusion that can't subside,
Trying to comfort but pushed away
A blank look upon his face.

Our world is so different within his eyes,
Words that are spoken not recognized
People around him are pushed away,
Being alone is part of his day.

Senses much stronger than yours and mine,
From a touch in his hand to hearing a noise.
A taste on his tongue and different smells
Just adds confusion within his world.


You can read the remainder of this poem at Poetry by Stacey here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

If You Dig Slam Poetry.........this is 4 U!

I had to chuckle when I came upon an article about National Poetry Month activities which included a plug for "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slam Poetry" by Marc Kelly Smith and Joe Kraynak. I grinned - finally! - someone's read my thoughts! Not thoughts that I have about slam poetry but that I'm an idiot, and someone's finally given me recognition for it!! Until I read further that it was Marc Kelly Smith who actually invented Slam Poetry in 1984 - at which point I bowed in reverence to the man who jump-started a resurgence of poetry readers and writers as well as branded poetry into the nation's conscience. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but probably not by much.

"Slam poetry attempts to invigorate poetry by giving equal weight and integrity to the poetry and the performance," stressed Marc Kelly Smith. In his book he goes about explaining the concept and gives up the skinny on how to go about it. Cool!