Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Call 4 Poems about the recent Sichuan Earthquake tragedy

By way of Charles Bernstein's weblog a call for contributions to a pending anthology of poetry dedicated to all those affected by the Sichuan Earthquake, also known as the Wenchuan Earthquake, in China. As you may already know, this earthquake was the most catastrophic since the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake and so far its been confirmed that 67,183 people are dead and more than 360,000 people have been injured. Calls have been put forth to all countries of the world for help, be it material or spiritual and its in this spirit that Charles Bernstein makes his stand for solidarity in piecing together an anthology of poems, blessings and prayers to honor and mourn the victims of this terrible tragedy. The only caveat is that this anthology is scheduled to be published as soon as possible so poems have to be submitted by June 25, 2008. For more details about submission and compensation please visit Bernstein's weblog. I'm signing off on this post by expressing my deepest sympathy to all the men, women, and children who were caught up in this horrific catastrophe with prayers that you'll regain your peace of mind and personal stability post-haste! Lastly, for all you poets out there who hear their calling - GET YOUR POETRY ON!

Photo Source: Szbluewater

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Talk about 'learn by heart' !! That would be Jimmy Mac (Mc Aleer)

Here's a poet for you! Jimmy Mac, real name Jim Mc Aleer, does poetry presentations - at senior retirement homes, senior citizens' groups, children's parties, you name it and he'll do it, it seems. Mc Aleer is particular about what he will recite, though. He sticks to rhyme-and-rhythm poetry. Doesn't do free verse. Mc Aleer calls it a hobby (oh-oh) and has been performing for the past 4 years, but his love for poetry is lifelong. He's been a student of poetry for as long as he can remember. Jimmy Mac puts everything into his performances; his aim is to bring poetry to life . The poet uses humor, different voices for different characters, is rambunctious when called for, even going into costume using such things as crazy hats. He loves what he does so much, regardless of whether he's paid for his performances, or not. Amazing thing about these "gigs" is the poems he recites - are from memory! Learned by heart, if you will. He recites, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Tennyson and his favorite poet, Robert Service, performing 30 of his poems. Jimmy Mac Aleer knows 433 poems by heart. (I'm ashamed to say I can't recite even one of mine by heart. Blech.) This poetry performer's repertoire even includes his own poems! His business card reads, "I recite 'em & I write 'em." Cute, huh? The longest poem he's memorized is "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" - yes, you read that right - and it takes 43 minutes to recite it! He can recite "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," one of his favorite poems of his favorite poet, Robert Service, in 5 minutes and 28 seconds. Yup, he timed it.

Jimmy 'Mac' Mc Aleer finds time to memorize more new poems and write his own. He's never been published - he doesn't do much advertising for his gigs either - yet, he keeps busy with gigs at churchs, parties, retirements, reunions - all done by word of mouth.

The wonderful thing about this man is that he'd love to start a non-profit organization with like-minded people who want to share rhyme-and-rhythm poetry with seniors and lead workshops on memorization, even writing poems, all to benefit local seniors. He states that "memorization is a great way to combat memory loss in older adults."

Debbie Humphrey, activities coordinator at Sun Tower, says, "Practicing memory skills like that really works your brain; you're going to remember things much better." It's just amazing what he can do, and I think that's what people find fascinating about him. There's not a lot of people that do that type of thing. You don't see a lot of that around."

"Memorization is great for the mind." -- Jimmy Mac Mc Aleer

For more information or to schedule a presentation, call Jim Mc Aleer at 249-0485.
Source: Yakima Herald-Republic Online

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hallowed Ground to Asphalt Sky

I've chosen this intriguing painting by Rick Mobbs to highlight Jo Hemmant, a participant in Rick Mobb's invitation to readers to write poems for his paintings. I also chose Jo Hemmant because I want to tell my readers about a superb new online literary journal, Asphalt Sky, of which Jo is an editor. Asphalt Sky is an elegantly appointed journal that is "committed to publishing emerging and established artists and giving a place for thoughtful and engaging poetry, prose, and art work." My thought is to present a juxtaposition between earth and sky, highlighting the poet whose feet are firmly grounded on terra firma who has the ability to guide us into the heavenly through the written word. Asphalt Sky has just stepped into the world of online publishing. A very impressive first issue revels in earth's nature while taking the reader up, up, up and away into self-mesmerizing day-dreamy thoughts and images provided by these exceptional writers, poets and artists. I love that this first issue reminds me of all things earthbound but takes me into quiet contemplation that speaks to otherwordly thoughtscapes. I find myself scultping images into solid landscape and bucolic meanderings. I say kudos, and a cartwheel to Asphalt Sky's first foray into online literary journaling. Artists Cris Halverson and Catherine Farmer further attest to the otherworldly glimpses I experienced while reading this splendid issue.

Jo Hemmant
's editorial essay, Beginnings, featured in Asphalt Sky, is as fresh as a newborn babe's first slap and hits you as strong as that first slap's wail. Please read it. Here's just a snippet of the essay, followed by Jo's poem written for Rick Mobb's painting gracing the top of this post. Enjoy!


"Language surrounds us, defines us, is how we express our selves, how we try to decode the universe. When I visualize it, it is as water flowing, meaning always and endlessly deferred, passing through the connections, the spaces between words and moving on, understanding contextual. And this deferral means that there can be no endings as such. Yet still the records are made, and they come out of two very different beginnings -- origin and starting point."

To which Jo goes on to describe these two very different beginnings.

Hallowed ground

he has exposed history for us,
fortified walls arc over earth
as deceptive as love, territory

cross-sectioned, the blade finding
the soft beginning of the belly that
mounds then slitting the fundaments
from pubis to throat.

Note the foreground, a woman’s head
resting on an arm as if sleeping,
a child close, tender shorn,
these two recognisable in a scree of
faceless figures, a continuum,

a latitude, the others vulnerable curvature,
ribcages scored like the knife’s
sliding through skin, muscle,
bone to marrow’s...

Please follow the linked last line to read the remainder of this poem at Jo Hemmant's blog florescence.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Noah the Great !

You thought wrong

It's okay to think
happiness won't come to you,
because I want you to know
it was me that brought it,
I want you to remember
I heard what you said,
I was listening to every word,
but, you think you're alone,
I'm here with you,
when you look forward,
I look toward you,
but as you turn your head,
I look away,
though, my eyes don't pull you
out of view,
I may look bored,
but I'd rather be here
than anywhere,
I may pick on you,
but it's only because I care,
nobody else is worth my attention.

I chose this poem to share with you because I'm touched by it's sentiment . It reminds me of my younger self watching someone who was watching someone else. Poet, Noah the Great, may have a different idea behind this poem, but for me it speaks of unrequited love. You know it reminds you of that, too, dontcha? The first 4 lines tell you all you need to know about how it feels to have someone you're mightily attracted to tell you they'll never be happy, when in fact, there's much laughter and warmth between the two of you when you're together. I know this has happened to you, too. Sometimes your love is hiding in plain sight. You don't notice because you think someone else is bringing the Happiness pill to you.

If you enjoyed this poem, you have the opportunity to visit Noah's awesome blog. He's also running a start-up community blog you can check out. Noah is a student who writes constantly and gets good grades. He's a thoughtful, engaging young man who enjoys his solitude, would rather write and create engaging poetry than party-hardy. Noah is also a member of the Blogsboro Poetry Club. Oh! And he plays guitar! (I love guitar!) So get yourself over to Noah the Great's awesome blog and leave him a comment about his poem. In other words - go Get Your Poetry On!

Wouldn't you like to know what's behind Noah the Great's most excellent poem? Why not ask him?