Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolved for 2009

Resolutions for poets from One Night Stanzas

Want to make a New Year's Resolution that you can actually keep, and which might also benefit your writing? Check out my suggestions…

You: are fairly new to the whole writing process. 
Resolve to: read, read and then read some more. Read actively, paying attention to voices and styles in other writing. Then write as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

You: have been writing for a while but only as a hobby, and want to take things to the next stage. 
Resolve to: join a writing workshop and start letting other people see your poetry. Take constructive criticism on board and use it to start polishing up your poems.

You: think you might be ready to start publishing in magazines. 
Resolve to: start reading zines and journals and marking out ones that seem right for your poetry. Make sure you feel ready to publish, and then get started!

You: have been published in a couple of places but keep getting rejected. 
Resolve to: get to the bottom of why this might be happening, sort it out, and keep trying! If all else fails, read some more poetry.

You: have been published in loads of magazines and are wondering about the next step. 
Resolve to: seek advice (from me, if no one else!) about what to do next. Make sure you feel ready to move on from magazine publishing, and start working towards something bigger.

You: have a publication that you want to get ‘out there.’ 
Resolve to: send review copies around literary publications, along with a sweet cover letter — and don’t forget to include ONS!

You: are having trouble writing anything much at all! 
Resolve to: read, read, read. Lower your standards and just write — regardless of whether you think it’s amazing or rubbish, just let words tumble out. Experiment with new styles and forms. Find writing prompts to challenge yourself.

You: want to meet more writers like yourself, but don’t know how. 
Resolve to: join a workshop group, or start up your own. Attend poetry readings, and if you feel able to, try performing at them too. Set up a blog and use it to find other writers online.

Or keep it short - make just one Poet’s Resolution for the New Year: Spend your winter evenings putting together & polishing your poetry manuscript, and send it out to a chapbook or book publication competition with a winter or spring deadline

And a short version of my own blogging resolutions - up and out so you can hold me to them.

  1. Blog daily - no matter how short the post.
  2. Try out new features and topics
  3. Learn something completely new about blogging.
  4. Don't get in a design/layout rut: make changes
  5. Encourage comments and two-way conversation.
  6. Respond to all comments.
  7. Visit more poetry blogs and post comments to them.
  8. Be bolder
As for #1: I have two Mountainair blog and two teaching blogs - daily posts on each and every one would not be a realistic resolution. I think I can manage the rest and certainly will try.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Road Less Traveled

The Florence Griswold Museum's "The Road Less Traveled" exhibit links Artist Thomas Nason with Poet Robert Frost

Thomas Nason’s Rural New England, on view at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut from January 17 through April 12, examines the visual poetry of printmaker Thomas W. Nason (1889-1971).


The exhibition draws parallels between the carefully carved, deliberate lines of Nason’s wood engravings and the thoughtfully chosen, measured language of poet laureate Robert Frost, with whom he collaborated. Several of Frost’s and Nason’s rare chapbooks and other limited editions are also on view along with a choice selection of items from Nason’s studio, to help to illuminate the technique and career of one of New England’s most revered printmakers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Obituary - Poet Adrian Mitchell

Inspirational poet, playwright and performer Adrian Mitchell, who died this Dec 20, was a natural pacifist.

Obituary by Michael Kustow, The Guardian, December 21, 2008: 'A beacon hope in darkening times ... ' Adrian Mitchell


The poet and playwright Adrian Mitchell, in whom the legacies of Blake and Brecht coalesce with the zip of Little Richard and the swing of Chuck Berry, has died of heart failure at the age of 76. In his many public performances in this country and around the world, he shifted English poetry from correctness and formality towards inclusiveness and political passion.

Mitchell's original plays and stage adaptations, performed on mainstream national stages and fringe venues, on boats and in nature, add up to a musical, epic and comic form of theatre, a poet's drama worthy of Aristophanes and Lorca. Across the spectrum of his prolific output, through wars, oppressions and deceptive victories, he remained a beacon of hope in darkening times.

He was a natural pacifist, a playful, deeply serious peacemonger and an instinctive democrat. "Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people," he wrote in the preface to his first volume, Poems (1964). For all his strong convictions, he abhorred solemnity. From Red Pepper, a small leftwing magazine, he gleefully accepted a nomination as "shadow Poet Laureate", and demolished royalty, cultural fashions and pretensions in monthly satirical sallies.....

[At] Christ Church, Oxford,... he became editor of the student weekly Isis....wrote poems in the disciplined forms of the Movement, won prizes.... [H]e joined The Oxford Mail in 1955 and then the Evening Standard's "Londoner's Diary," until 1963. Later he became a television critic and wrote about pop music; the Sunday Times fired him for reviewing Peter Watkins' embargoed anti-nuclear film The War Game.

But he had set his sights on becoming a writer and, with a small legacy from his mother, left journalism, and wrote a television play and his first novel If You See Me Comin' (1962), a bluesy, chilling account of an execution in a glum provincial city. Like all of his portrayals of injustice, it is coloured by a barely suppressed sense of terror. Meanwhile he was reading his poems in the burgeoning British movement of performed poetry. I met him in 1962 at one such reading, for Arnold Wesker's Centre 42 arts festivals for working- class audiences. He leapt on stage in a many coloured coat like a Blakean challenger and a rock'n'roll hero. He had fine music-hall timing, and a gravity under all the quickfire jokes and patter.

He began to bring out a steady flow of poetry volumes, from Out Loud (1968) to Tell Me Lies (it will be published next year) -- 15 books of free, syncopated, carnivalesque poems about love, war, children, politicians, pleasure, music. 'He breathed in air/He breathed out light/ Charlie Parker was my delight.'....

"To Whom It May Concern," a riveting poem against bombs and cenotaphs and the Vietnam war, with which he stirred a capacity audience in Mike Horovitz's pioneering Poetry Olympics at the Albert Hall in 1965, has lasted through the too many wars since: a durable counting-rhyme to a rhythm and blues beat.

The 1960s brought two life-changing events for Mitchell. He met the actor Celia Hewitt, working for Tynan on ITV's arts programme Tempo. She was his partner for the last 47 years. He also met Jeremy Brooks, literary manager of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He showed his lyrics to Peter Brook, who was looking for someone to adapt a literal translation of Peter Weiss's play Marat/Sade. Brook jumped, and Adrian worked to the bone to meet a rehearsal deadline and make a glittering, dark text for this 1964 kaleidoscopic play about revolution on the street and in the head.

The encounter with Brook was an upheaval, and Adrian went on to join Brook's team for the collectively authored US (1966), about the Vietnam war, created out of 14 weeks rehearsal and no pre-existing script. His song lyrics, including "Tell Me Lies About Vietnam" already famous in the anti-war movement, sharpened the ironies of the show; his involvement in heated group debates about the direction of the show was critical, gentle and firm. My own favourite as a team member was Barry Bondhus, a talking blues about a father who dumped human excrement into army filing cabinets. It showed a love of Adrian's true America, the land of Whitman, Guthrie and Ginsberg, which marked him out from simplistic anti-Americanism.

From a play about Blake, Tyger, (1971) for Olivier's National Theatre, a time-traveling musical about a visionary 18th-century poet in today's fallen times, with music by long-term collaborator Mike Westbrook, to a version of Pushkin's Boris Godunov for the RSC (due next year) Adrian wrote more than 30 plays, operas, children's plays, classic adaptations. Some were for major companies, many more for the alternative British theatre, from regional playhouses to site-specific groups such as John Fox's Welfare State. The Liverpool Everyman in its heyday staged his Mind Your Head, a phantasmagorical bus journey. His Pied Piper ran at the National for three years, and his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe became a perennial favourite at the RSC. He made a Beatrix Potter trilogy for the Unicorn Theatre for Children, adapted Spanish classics and Gogol's The Government Inspector for the National, and wrote songs for Peter Hall's version of Orwell's Animal Farm. In 2006, for the Woodcraft Folk Global Peace Village, he staged The Fear Engine in a vast field, a panorama of threatening world politics for a cast of hundreds of young people....

Last week he rang me. He sounded better than during his last three months of illness. "Can I read you this poem?" he asked. He did. It was a celebration. Next night he died. But this poem (below), and the poems and the plays and the politics -- he went to Faslane on the anti-Trident demonstration and got arrested -- will last. He is survived by Celia, two sons, three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Adrian Mitchell, poet, playwright and performer, born 24 October 1932; died 20, December 2008

My Literary Career So Far

As I prowled through Parentheses
I met an Robin and a Owl
My Grammarboots they thrilled like bees
My Vowelhat did gladly growl
Tis my delight each Friedegg Night
To chomp a Verbal Sandwich
Scots Consonants light up my Pants
And marinade my Heart in Language
Alphabet Soup was all my joy!
From Dreadfast up to Winnertime
I swam, a naked Pushkinboy
Up wodka vaterfalls of rhyme
And reached the summit of Blue Howl
To find a shining Suit of Words
And joined an Robin and a Owl
In good Duke Ellington's Band of Birds

Thursday, December 25, 2008

a lyrical Christmas to all

Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales (text) and audio file of DT reading plus an account of how the story came to be recorded.

For the more frivolous and pop culture minded - consider the "Twas Night before Christmas" and its many, many parodies - including a Goth version. Counting song as germane to the genre, "Twelve Days" is equally parody prone - Computer, Teachers, Students (12 Days of Research), even a Foodies 12 Days version and more. I'll spare you Boudreaux's 12 days on da bayou sent by a friend in Delcambre

Dylan Thomas' entry is narrative not verse. Given lyric kinship of song and poetry, carols and hymns are the "canon" (whatever that is). Yet let's not dismiss either carols or popular Christmas poems. Diss them not: they are (along with Mother Goose and Purple Cow) our first exposure to poetry. Even the lofty sonnet began as popular song, possibly sung by women to work by.

Serious (whatever that is) Christmas poetry is thin on the ground. The older it would seem, the better - 17th c puts contemporary to shame. So much for the illusion of progress.

The True Christmas
Henry Vaughan (1678)

So stick up ivy and the bays,
And then restore the heathen ways.
Green will remind you of the spring,
Though this great day denies the thing.
And mortifies the earth and all
But your wild revels, and loose hall.
Could you wear flowers, and roses strow
Blushing upon your breasts’ warm snow,
That very dress your lightness will
Rebuke, and wither at the ill.

The brightness of this day we owe
Not unto music, masque, nor show:
Nor gallant furniture, nor plate;
But to the manger’s mean estate.
His life while here, as well as birth,
Was but a check to pomp and mirth;
And all man’s greatness you may see
Condemned by His humility.

Then leave your open house and noise,
To welcome Him with holy joys,
And the poor shepherd’s watchfulness:
Whom light and hymns from heaven did bless.
What you abound with, cast abroad
To those that want, and ease your load.
Who empties thus, will bring more in;
But riot is both loss and sin.
Dress finely what comes not in sight,
And then you keep your Christmas right.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

January poetry in NM

from Cirrelda Snider-Bryan , thin pipes lit lines 2008 + 2009, via Dale Harris

Sun Jan 4th, 3 pm, Janine Pommy Vega @Acequia Booksellers, 4019 4th St. NW Albuquerque. Poet, Teacher and World Traveller will read from her work. Free. Contact Gary Wilkie 505 890-5365

Sun Jan 4th @ 2 pm Poetry @ Paul's: Celebrate Paul's Birthday Open Mic @ Poetry at Paul's north of Santa Fe in ChupaderoFree. Contact & directions: white@grappawireless.com, 505-988-1082

Sun Jan 4th @ 3 pm First Sunday Reading Series: @ the Dresp Room of the library, 200 E. Picacho Ave in Las Cruces. reception following. Sponsored by Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, the Branigan Library & Friends of the Branigan Library Free. Contact Wayne Crawford, wayne1@zianet.com

Sat Jan 10th @ 6:30 pm Treehouse Open Mic Featuring Karin Bradberry @ the Sumner & Dene Gallery, Upstairs 517 Central Ave NW in Albuquerque 1.5 hour open mic, small break, Featured Poet. Free. Contact: S&D (505) 842-1400 or adam@destructibleheart.com

Mon Jan 12th @ 7 pm Sanjevani Poetry Circle Featuring Mitch Rayes @ Sanjevani Health & Lifestyle Center 7920 Wyoming NE Suite B in Albuquerque
Free. Contact: Bill Nevins bill_nevins@yahoo.com 264 6979

Sun Jan 25th @ 3 pm Duende & Friends: Doris Fields, Jim Fish, John Orne Green, Cirrelda Snider-Bryan @ Anasazi Fields Winery 52 Camino de los Pueblitos in Placitas, 30 minute open mic at the end - sign up starts at 2:30. Free. Contact: cirrelda@laalamedapress.com, http://www.anasazifieldswinery.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Newspaper Blackout Poems

from Carla at the English Teacher blog

In a reverse of the found poem, Austin Kleon writes blackout poems. He is even sponsoring a contest on writing Newspaper Blackout Poems at his blog, Austin Kleon.

The idea is to start with a newspaper article — the one in the contest is a tragic story from August 1908 — and a black marker. Mark out everything except the words that will form a poem. If necessary, connect words with white space.


As long as you or students mark copies and not books, a blackout poem could be a great way to respond to reading both fiction and nonfiction.

Kleon points out, “What you are doing when making a blackout poem, in the words of Allen Ginsberg, is ’shopping for images.’”

  • What words stand out in this piece? (Kleon recommends a focus on nouns and verbs.)
  • What connections do you see between these words and other words or phrases in the piece?
  • What conclusions can you draw/summary can you compose/theme do you see?

Sample blackout poems from Kleon’s site:


  • A blackout poem based on Rachel Carson’s “A Fable for Tomorrow” from Silent Spring
  • A blackout poem based on the prologue to “Romeo and Juliet”
  • A blackout poem based on an author’s biography

Sunday, December 21, 2008

BOOKS: 2 reviews and an essay

Poetry’s Shadow’ - review by Karl Kirchwey of An Aquarium: Poems by Jeffrey Yang. 63 pp. Graywolf Press. Paper, $15

Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, by Naomi S. Baron. Oxford University Press. Reviewed in Times Higher Education (UK) by Frank Furedi, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, University of Kent.
Safire on Baron's book in his NYT language column, Dec 19, 2008:

If you have one book to give to a lover of the lingo, latch on to “Always On, Language in an Online and Mobile World,” by Naomi Baron (Oxford, $30)... Baron... tackles a big question of interpersonal communications: What is e-mail, instant messaging, mobile phonology and other forms of Internetese doing to our spoken and written language? ....Will electronically mediated language — with its frantic need for speed in transmission leading to shortcuts in spelling and the elimination of spaces between words ­— influence offline communication? Of course it will. Should educators resist the trend in the name of thoughtfulness and clarity? Sometimes, not always.

My Turkish Library by Orhan Pamuk, Translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely, New York Review of Bookx, Volume 55, Number 20 · December 18, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Solstice Reading in Placitas

click ▲ to view/ print larger version

Here's hoping for a follow up report (maybe even with pictures) .... then you'll be even sorrier you missed it and will try harder to make next years' solstice offering... and other Placitas poetry happenings...

More about Solstice & its origins, pictures of winter solstice at Stonehenge & making a solstice wreath

The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

Now, where do you suppose the first couple of lines of this carol came from?

There is a whole series of medieval English carols on the subject of the rivalry between the holly and the ivy. In many of them, the holly and ivy symbolized male and female, and the songs narrated their often rowdy vying for mastery in the forest or in the house.

And the next time incessant repetitions of "the Carol of the Bells" annoy you, consider this: it's a remnant of the pre-Christian winter solstice carol.

Friday, December 19, 2008

2 for the 20th

Dale Harris writes, "Wanted to let you all know about this lovely event. See link to flyer. There's a map and directions to the church at http://www.lasplacitaschurch.org. Wishing you the happiest of holidays!"

Solstice reading Sat Dec 20th @ 7 pm at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, Hwy 165 - 7 miles east of 1-25 in Placitas. A joint offering of The Partnership for Earth Spirituality and The Earth Care Fellowship, LPPC

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Winter's Promise: A Reading for the Winter Solstice
featuring Michelle Holland, Jim Fish, Gary Brower, Jim Burbank, Renny Golden, Tani Arness, Kimberly Summers, Dale Harris, John Myers, John Tritica, Cirrelda Snider & John Orne Green

On the longest night of the year, an evening of poetry, silence, and music to the light of a single candle. Eleven poets of the Southwest and beyond, each reading one poem. A tradition now for eleven years. Refreshments served afterwards — All are invited. Free.

For more information please contact John Green at 867-0240 or email jogreenalb@aol.com

And from abqslam: Urbane Expo featuring Duke City Youth Poetry Collective THIS SATURDAY

Saturday night Dec 20 at North 4th Arts Center (on 4th street north of Griegos), is the Urbane Expo presented by Warehouse 508. It's a fantastic show featuring music, poetry and visual arts with a featured set by members of the DCYCP and and open-mic for all ages as well!

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In addition to the art showing and prizes for the different categories, there will be poetry, open mic and guitar serenades throughout the evening. Please come and enjoy a sophisticated night of art in ABQ!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inaugural Poet Chosen

According to Poetry.About.com,
Soon after Election Day we asked “Who should be the inaugural poet for President-elect Obama?” — and you, dear Readers, responded with lots of names and incisive comments. Now, a month later, the program for Inauguration Day is taking shape, it has been decided who is going to read a poem during Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony — and it’s someone whose name never made it onto our list: Elizabeth Alexander, poet, essayist, playwright, Professor of African-American Studies at Yale University, and board member of the Poetry Society of America and Cave Canem.
Elizabeth Alexander's website, selected poems, WaPo article & YouTube: “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe” from American Sublime, read by Elizabeth Alexander

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”)
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Ars Poetica #28: African Leave-Taking Disorder

The talk is good. The two friends linger
at the door. Urban crickets sing with them.

There is no after the supper and talk.
The talk is good. These two friends linger

at the door, half in, half out, ‘til one
decides to walk the other home. And so

they walk, more talk, the new doorstep, the
nightgowned wife who shakes her head and smiles

from the bedroom window as the men talk
in love and the crickets sing along.

The joke would be if the one now home
walked the other one home, where they started,

to keep talking, and so on: “African
Leave-Taking Disorder,” which names her children

everywhere trying to come back together and talk.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Literature-Map - The tourist map of literature

Of course we are also readers. Here's a reader's toy for you. Fun to play with as well as opening new reading doors...

What else do readers of a particular author read? The closer two writers are on the "literature map," the more likely someone will have read / be reading both.

From something called Gnooks, books /music/ movies oriented and a "self-adapting community system" (whatever that is) based on the gnod engine. It proposes to help you discover new writers the system thinks you will like, travel the map. of literature and discuss favorite books and authors in forums. The map is interesting - the rest, combines interesting, presumptuous and creepy

Gnod (in words of developer Marek Gibney, Germany)
is an experiment in the field of artificial intelligence, a self-adapting system, living on this server and 'talking' to everyone who comes along. Gnod's intention is to learn about the outer world and to learn 'understanding' its visitors. This enables gnod to share all its wisdom with you in an intuitive and efficient way. You might call it a search-engine to find things you don't know about.
Hello Hal?

H-New Mexico Book Reviews

Sometimes I forget but the plog is not just about poetry and poets - it's the poets and writers picnic blog (but I'm not going to come up with another name). So here's a writing / (cv-able) online publishing opportunity from Tomas Jaehn, H-NewMexico Editor. If you are interested in writing reviews, you will have to join the H-NewMexico Discussion Network at http://www.h-net.org/~newmex

After having gone through the certification process for Book Review Editors, I am now also H-NewMexico's Book Review Editor. This will allow me to request and post book reviews pertaining to New Mexico on H-Net. The H-Net system for reviews is rather tightly structured and reviews have to go through (me and) the H-Net review software/database system.

I might ask individual list members to consider reviewing a book, exhibit, film, etc. for our list. If some of you are interested in writing reviews for H-NewMexico, please let me know off-line and indicate what subjects/topics/format/etc. you might prefer.

Thanks, and I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.
Best wishes, Tomas Jaehn, tjaehn@csf.edu
H-NewMexico Editor

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