Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kelsey Tanasiuk of University of Alberta CANADA this is for U!

As promised, Kelsey, here is your reserved space on Poetmeister 4 Poets! Or, if you like, you may email me and I'll put it up here for you. I want to make you famous!

Robert Bly named Minnesota's first poet laureate

Governor Tim Pawlenty named Robert Bly as Minnesota's first poet laureate calling Bly "a Minnesota treasure." This means Bly, 81, may use his new official position to promote the reading and writing of poetry and to preside over poetry contests and award ceremonies. He may also write poetry or designate other poets to compose works for significant state occasions and other state functions as he sees fit.

In an interview, Bly said he didn't have any specific plans for his new position other than "Just to stay alive, I guess, is about it."

That sounds like a good plan for this distinguished poet who's written more than 30 books on poetry and a prose best seller he's best known for, "Iron John: A Book About Men." The Governor further stated, "His many works, impressive 40-year career, and national reknown will help promote poetry in Minnesota."

Now isn't that a great reason for staying alive? Check out Robert Bly's site at

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black Studies Dept. of Cal State hosts S. Pear Sharp, an accomplished author, poet and filmmaker

"Sometimes, you know, you write just to heal yourself, to get yourself through something, but you never know if it might also heal somebody else," Sharp said. "Poetry is very personal. You can spend your whole life just writing for yourself if you wanted to, so when it connects with somebody, then that's important. Then the poem is doing its work in the world."

--S. Pearl Sharp, author and poet, presentation "Voices and Visions of Color and Depth:
Poetry Readings by Artists of Color" at the Beach Auditorium,
Cal State Long Beach; Daily 49er

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Poetry On-line Community You Must Join - NOW

So, you've been writing poetry for a while. Your friends and family - even your dog - loves the written word. Yours, especially. Your poetry blog is deev and readership is growing like wild fire. Something tells you it's time to meet other poets on-line but you don't know where to start looking. Hey! That's what I'm here for [takes a bow]. Right off the top of my pin head I think of Poets Who Blog community and Blogsboro Poetry Club. How easy was that! Now get your awesome self over there and have some fun!

Poet Laureate Charles Simic on Writing Poetry

A few things to keep in mind while sitting down to write a poem:

  1. Don't tell the readers what they already know about life.
  2. Don't assume you're the only one in the world who suffers.
  3. Some of the greatest poems in the language are sonnets and poems not many lines longer than that, so don't overwrite.
  4. The use of images, similies and metaphors make poems concise. Close your eyes, and let your imagination tell you what to do.
  5. Say the words you are writing aloud and let your ear decide what word comes next.
  6. What you are writing down is a draft that will need additional tinkering, perhaps many months, and even years of tinkering.
  7. Remember, a poem is a time machine you are constructing, a vehicle that will allow someone to travel in their own mind, so don't be surprised if it takes a while to get all its engine parts properly working.

This is from the Library of Congress Poetry website.

Well, I just finished tinkering with a 109-line poem, my longest by far, and now I learn a poem ought not be longer than a sonnet. I don't even know how to write a sonnet. Ooooooh, yoo-hoo, David Pitchford-of-the-bestest-and-wittiest-sonnets, where for art thou?! Yoo-hoo?!? You must trot right over to Bitterhermit's Hideout right now - read some of the most well-thought out sonnets on-line. Truth.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

UK Poetry Contest: Pupils to Imagine Life as a Detainee - write about it

Amnesty International is hosting a poetry competition called You Can't Jail Minds for secondary school children in the UK. Students are to imagine life as a detainee in prison and to find expression without using pen and paper. It's up to them to scavenge up a way to express their poetry, i.e., napkins, toilet paper, disposable cups, clothes etc.

Amnesty International hopes that by asking pupils here in the UK to try and replicate the efforts that went in to producing the poems, it will encourage them to take a closer interest in human rights and question their own values and attitudes.

We also look forward to receiving some wonderful and thought-provoking entries.

--Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK

On the one hand, I think trying to put oneself in the shoes of the oppressed or imprisoned is a good lesson in empathy and understanding, but on the other hand, I also wonder what other more subtle psychological ramifications might be to such a role reversal exercise. Induced, glamorized Stockholm syndrome or cyclical nightmares?

What do you think about exposing secondary school students to the harsh realities of surviving life as a terrorist detained in captivity akin to the infamous American-run Guantanamo Bay prison camp? Would you want your children involved in such an endeavor?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Eva Cassidy Birthday Week

Poem collage of Eva Cassidy’s Live at Blues Alley CD

I heard an angel sing
my silver chord affirms
this; a voice so sweet
so pure, no crystal known
could ring as clear,
nor take the soul so far
from earth, or all the pain upon it

this voice sang through
this voice rang true
country jazz or bluesy blues,
she sang them all
she paid her dues
made strong men cry too

I heard this angel sing,
my silver chord affirms
this; so-tall Georgia trees
abloom sunlit breeze
her bridge too far
for silver birds to fly,
her troubled waters all gone by

I think willows weep now

sway mournfully, whisper
eva eva eva, we grow so high
to shade you so,
if only through the thicket
you would go once more

I heard this angel sing
my silver chord affirms
this; she knew misery
merriness run through
man, yet had no bridge across
troubled waters,
her courage
all women giving birth

we will remember you
you sang us through fields of barley


these falling leaves drift past
my window, I hear you
in every color red green and


I swear eva if I had
wonderful life to give you
I could never weave one as fine
as you have done,
it takes a journeyman to portray
life's rainbow design - and you -
your heartsong rings through it.

In loving memory,
Eva Cassidy 1963-1996

Please visit Eva's website created and maintained by her cousin, Laura Bligh, to learn more about Eva's phenomenal talent. While listening to Eva's Live at Blues Alley recording for the first time, I couldn't hold back the tears as I heard the breath-taking clarity and emotional depth of her voice. Listening to her stirred an urgent need to write down what I was experiencing. Thoughts rushed into my mind so quickly and flowed onto paper in the form of what some people consider automatic writing producing this poem, Eva, which incorporated some of the words of the songs she sang and I just ran with it. I don't think I've ever been touched so mightily by a voice before and I doubt I will again in my lifetime. Eva sang jazz, folk, pop, gospel and blues. She sang lead, background vocals and, on Oh, Had I A Golden Thread by Pete Seeger, not only did she sing lead in a jazzy-gospel-goose-bump rousing rendition, but the back-up choir vocals as well. On many a song she did sing all vocal parts; lead, background, & choir. I'm of the opinion the level of talent possessed by Eva Cassidy comes but once in a hundred years or so and singing wasn't her only gift to us; she was an accomplished instrumentalist who played acoustic & electric guitar, keyboard, cellos, and strings. She was an artist extraordinaire - painting, sculpting, drawing, decorating furniture & clock faces, designing jewelry. She studied the works of great painting masters such as Van Gogh and Vermeer. It can be said nature became her - she hiked, bicycled and worked as a landscaper. From the moment I first heard her voice - her true essence - she made a home for herself in my heart. And for me her greatest gift is the ability to transform the heart, elevate the soul into the ethers where pure music is made. She now dwells among the stars forever - she passed over into Eternal Love which is God.