Monday, June 28, 2010

The launch of ABQ Writers Co-op

Reposted from Miriam's Well by Miriam Sagan, 6/25/10

Lynn C. Miller and Lisa Lenard-Cook announce the launch of ABQ Writers Co-op, offering classes, contests, salons, retreats and community.

river & mountain

We’re already offering classes in fiction and memoir writing and holding a monthly critique group. In October we’ll host our first writing salon. Watch for our first short story contest in November and the launch of our literary magazine, Bosque, in March 2011. Next summer, we’ll introduce our first writing retreat. Future plans include creating a dedicated space where you’ll be able to write —  and meet other writers.  Until then, please visit our website, Abq Writers Co-op. Write to us, or, to discuss what kinds of programs would fill your writing and community needs.

15 Poems to Write Now

exercises for students, teachers, poetsself-paced workshoppers, DIY dabblers...


You can start these 15 Poems immediately. Besides being challenging and fun to do, the templates can lead to some strong poems.

For best results, paste the activity into your word processor, or print out a hard copy. Then write quickly and freely, trusting your imagination, hunches, gut feelings. When you finish, read the poem. When you're ready, share the poem with a partner or in a small group.

As you work with these approaches and techniques, you'll begin to sense how you can slice, dice, and blend them together in poems you make from scratch.

via Poetryexpress | Poetry Community

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poetry at Paul's

On July 10, 2010 Rosé will recite FUTURE EVOLUTON, canto 7 of his 30 year ongoing epic poem 


4 pm potluck, 5:30 pm reading will begin
30 minute open mic to follow, directions below.

Dear Poetry enthusiasts,
I just set up a meetup poetry and prose website. I encourage you to become a member of the Meetup Poetry and Prose Group.  I'll be listing events on that website instead of my regular emailings so bookmark the website if you want to keep informed.  If you'd like to post an event, or workshop that is Poetry oriented please contact me and I'll post it on the meetup site.

More info and to become a member of the group;


Friday, June 18, 2010

DaDa en poésie et peinture

Poème par Tristan Tzara; peinture par Roberto Matta

SurrealismMatta1 [web520]

Pour faire un poème dadaïstes
Prenez un journal
Prenez des oiseaux
Choisissez dans ce journal un article ayant la longueur que vous comptez donner à votre poème.
Découpez l'article.
Découpez ensuite avec soin chacun des mots qui forment cet article et mettez-les dans un sac.
Agitez doucement.
Sortez ensuite chaque coupure l'une après l'autre dans l'ordre où elles ont quitté le sac.
Copiez consciencieusement.
Le poème vous ressemblera.
Et vous voici un écrivain infiniment original et d'une sensibilité charmante, encore qu'incomprise du vulgaire.

Manifeste sur l'amour faible et l'amour amer, 1921, chez L'aventure surréaliste

from the Guardian: Poetry's future

What is poetry for? Who is it for? And can it really be on the ascendant? Stephen Moss (who has, sadly, not become the next Oxford professor of poetry) reports from the front line. Poetry's future via Culture | by Stephen Moss on 6/18/10

The winner of the election to decide the Oxford professor of poetry will be announced today, with the victor almost certain to be Geoffrey Hill. In a drunken moment, I foolishly joined this race and am very likely to come last, an excellent demonstration of hubris quickly leading to nemesis. In an effort to salvage something from the wreckage, I recently attended a poetry "slam" in Oxford with four of the other 10 candidates for the professorship – this odd election has attracted a curious collection of poets, performance artists and desperate self-publicists. I went to read a few of my own poems, but also to ask the audience a question: what is poetry for? I also crowdsourced a poem about frogs, but will spare you the results of that exercise.

The answers were varied, but many embraced emotion: "to draw emotion and deepen insight"; "to enlighten in both senses of the word"; "to turn a rush of emotion into a form of music"; "to engage with emotional reality"; "to make language work as hard as possible"; "for singing out loud"; "to encourage social awakening"; "to delight so that it may inform"; "to illuminate the world"; "to clarify and express feeling". People see poetry as the means of expressing powerful emotions, but often that will rein in the imagination, and produce a one-dimensional statement rather than a representation of the world in words.

I remember during the 1991 Gulf war, when the midnight bombing raids were being carried live on TV, we used to receive numerous poems at the Guardian from people expressing their horror at the grisliness of war. In times of stress – look in the bereavements column of your local paper – people turn to poetry. But it is almost invariably bad poetry: all emotion, no tranquillity.

The simplest and best answer I got at the event in Oxford was "for paying attention". Judith Palmer, director of the Poetry Society, echoes that phrase. "One of the things poetry gives all of us is a way of developing an attentiveness to life, a way of observing the world, of noticing things and seeing them differently," she says. A good poem looks closely at the world; does that Martian thing of trying to see it for the first time. Everything else – the emotional charge, the lyrical delight, the intellectual pleasure – is secondary.

The Hungarian-born poet George Szirtes, who teaches poetry at the University of East Anglia, says poems try to capture a reality that is deeper than language. "You're trying to say: I know what this thing is called," he says. "It's called a chair, and that thing is a table. I've got this word 'chair' and I've got this word 'table', but there's something peculiar about this chair and table which using the words chair and table will not actually convey." Readers, he says, may race through novels because they want to know what happens, but they should look to inhabit poems. "Nobody reads a poem to find out what happens in the last line. They read the poem for the experience of travelling through it."

I ask Szirtes whether he thinks "What is poetry for?" is a valid question. To my surprise – because plenty of poets think it's an absurd question and that no art form should worry about its function – he believes it is far from academic. "It's a question that does preoccupy you the longer you do it," he says. "When you first do it, you never ask that question. But as time goes on, you begin to be conscious of it. My sense now is that when people begin to speak, when language develops, there are two essential instincts: one of the instincts says, 'What is this?'; the other one says, 'So what happens?' So what happens is the beginning of syntax, of storytelling. The other feeling, where you are confronted by some aspect of reality for which language is always inadequate, is the instinct that goes into poetry." Poetry, he suggests, "begins with a cry" – of anguish, fear or frustration. Szirtes quotes Emily Dickinson's maxim that "a poem is a house that tries to be haunted". A poem should not deliver all its secrets at once, if ever; it is not there to be solved.

Ian McMillan, the poet, lyricist and presenter of Radio 3's The Verb, would agree. "A poem is not a Rubik's Cube. 'I think I know what it's about, it's about moles,'" he says. "In the end, it's about itself."

'Poetry has not been taught well in schools for a long time'

The Poetry Society's Palmer says the open-ended nature of poetry worries many readers, and the effect can be most insidious with teachers. "Poetry has not been taught well in schools for a long time," she says. "Because of the national curriculum, teachers have not been allowed to try things out freely. So instead of looking at a poem and saying 'Don't you like these words?', or 'Doesn't it make you think interesting thoughts?', they are saying to students 'Where is the adjective and the adverb here?' Knowledge of poets is shockingly low among primary school teachers, and because people are now teaching who were themselves taught under the national curriculum, they are scared of poetry. They look at a poem and ask, 'Is this right?', as if it's a puzzle you can unravel, but poetry is ambiguous and multi-layered. Poems will mean different things to us at different times in our lives."

"There are two ways to take the question 'What is poetry for?'," says Don Paterson, poetry editor at Picador as well as an award-winning poet. "You can ask it neutrally, in which case there's a good answer. But you can also ask it as a challenge – what use is it? But you don't need to answer that one. Poetry shouldn't be on the defensive, because poetry doesn't have a case to answer."

It's a combative beginning – Paterson is a sharp Scot who quickly latches on to my limited reading of contemporary poetry – and it seems sensible to concentrate on the neutral question. "If you burned every poem on the planet and you wiped every poem from every human mind, you would have poetry again by tomorrow afternoon," he says. "It's not something you do to language, so much as language does to itself under specific conditions – mainly shortness of time and emotional urgency. Any time that comes up, its grain and structure suddenly become apparent, all its music, rhythm and capacity for invention."

Paterson says poetry in the UK has rarely been more buoyant. But aren't poetry sales declining? No, he says firmly. "It sells perfectly well – it sells far better than many novels and outsells an awful lot of first novels." Palmer tells me poetry sales are difficult to quantify, because so many collections are published by small presses and sold at readings or poetry festivals, but says her sense is that sales are holding up well. She also points to a curious phenomenon, perhaps unique to poetry. Social media is revolutionising the way it is distributed, with poets and publishers using Facebook and other sites to attract readers, yet at the same time there is an upsurge in the number of presses printing beautifully crafted books of poetry in limited editions. "We are seeing a return to the analogue, hand-made nature of book consumption on the one hand," she says, "alongside increasing digital pamphleteering on the other."

Holly Hopkins, a young poet who works as an education assistant at the Poetry Society, believes the poetry collection as artefact remains important, but agrees social media is transforming poetry. "It's now possible to build a readership for your work very cheaply," she says. Whereas Hopkins argues that the sifting role of editors and publishers remains important online, performance poet Francesca Beard believes they can now be bypassed. She sees the internet breaking down barriers, making it possible for anyone to publish and for everyone to be readers and critics. "The model's completely changed," she says. "It's complete bullshit, this old model of one person disseminating culture to the masses, and then a small circle around them being the critical approvers or gatekeepers. Now everyone has the potential to be creative. It's not feudal any more."

'Poetry has not crumpled because of the recession'

The energy of the current poetry scene is evident everywhere you look. Entries for the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition are up 46% year on year; new poetry magazines are springing up; slams, in which poets compete against each other, are increasingly popular; there are numerous poetry festivals; music festivals such as Glastonbury and Latitude feature well-attended poetry events; and rap has become a sort of street poetry. "Poetry has not crumpled under the financial pressure of the recession," says Palmer. "A year or so ago when I said poetry was in good shape, I felt a bit like David Steel telling the Liberals to go back and prepare for government. Now the Lib Dems are in power and poetry really is in rude health." Poets still struggle to make a living – few get by on sales of their work alone and many rely on teaching – but Palmer reckons that if it comes to a choice between being fed or being read they will usually choose the latter.

Paterson says poetry only feels marginalised beyond the festival circuit because the mainstream media give it less prominence than novels and non-fiction, which is undeniable. When did you last see a poetry collection leading a review section? Perhaps Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters in 1998, and then only because of the book's supra-poetic aspects. I tell Paterson that at Blackwells in Oxford, an otherwise wonderful bookshop, poetry is tucked away in a part of the store called "Poet's corner", a twee marginalisation all too typical of the way we treat poetry, because it is difficult and requires close reading.

He argues that its demanding nature should be one of poetry's strengths – by reading well, readers can take possession of a poem. "If the poem's any good they probably have to work at it," he says, "but working at a poem is half-authorship. You're making it your own. That's the whole point of poetry. That's the poetic contract. That's what you're trying to do – establish that weird, close relationship with the reader that I don't think you can with any other verbal medium."

Al Alvarez, the poet and critic who was crucial in changing the tone of British poetry in the late 1950s and winning attention for the work of his close friend Sylvia Plath, strikes a cautionary note. He worries that we are losing the ability to read closely. "People don't know how to read any more," he says. "You can't read poetry diagonally the way you read a newspaper." For Alvarez, a poem represents the search for perfection. "It's like one of those bank locks with God knows how many numbers," he says. "The point is that until every single word is in the right place, it's not finished and you know it's not finished. But when you've finally got it, a door swings open and you think, wow, that was wonderful, and you send it out to be published or you don't. You don't get that ever with prose. You can get near to it, but you don't actually get it. It's about getting something perfect."

That may be what Kingsley Amis meant when he used to chide his son Martin, as the latter told me recently, with the line, "I don't seem to see your first book of poems. I look, but it isn't there; it's very puzzling," usually employed when he felt his precocious son – with two bestselling novels under his belt by his mid-20s – was getting a little bit too cocky. Kingsley, poet as well as novelist and lifelong friend of the fastidious Philip Larkin, had a special reverence for poetry, its purity and precision.

'It's really about the audience'

Perhaps the most dramatic development in poetry is the growing influence of performance. Traditionally, the poem on the page has been accorded more reverence than the poem on the stage, but that's changing. "In the last 10 years there's been more of an acceptance that the poet standing up and performing isn't a second-class citizen," says McMillan. "In the past it was always seen as a lesser art." Beard tells me she began writing for the page, but in the mid-90s discovered the buzz of performing. Now the performance aspect has taken over, and she treats her readings as theatrical events; as jazz sessions, too, editing her poems as she reads them in response to the moment and the audience. It is the antithesis of the poem as perfect, polished artefact. "I do really admire form," she says, "but personally, right now, I couldn't give a fuck about it. It doesn't mean anything to me. And subject matter, while it has to be good and you have to be able to justify everything, is just a vehicle for communication. It's really about the audience." This may be an extreme reading of Paterson's poetic contract.

Can poetry change the world? Is that its purpose – to call its readers to arms? Carol Ann Duffy, who became poet laureate last year and is proving an electrifying presence, seems to believe it can. Her response to her new public role has been very different from that of most of her predecessors, prompting poems not on happy royal occasions but on war, the expenses scandal, the banking crisis, climate change. She recently argued that poetry was "in the ascendant" among young people, and that as they rejected materialism they would channel their thoughts and ideas, especially on green issues, into poetry.

McMillan, too, believes some poets hope to influence society, but says they shouldn't be judged – or judge themselves – on whether they succeed. "Not every poet wants to talk to society, but poetry can and it should. But it shouldn't worry if, when it tries to talk to society, society completely ignores it or gets the wrong end of the stick or has a go at writing back."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sin Fronteras Journal Seeks Submissions

 Dr. Wayne Crawford <> writes from Las Cruces, 

Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders is seeking submissions for its 15th annual anthology.  Submissions of poetry, one-act plays, fiction and creative non-fiction should be sent between April 1 and June 30, to P.O. Box 3416, Las Cruces, NM 88003.
Also, please include a cover letter, short bio (2-3 sentences), phone and email address.  All manuscripts will be recycled at the end of our reading period. Final  decisons in 2010 are expected in late-August. We are not accepting work via email at this time. Submissions without SASE (that includes envelopes without stamps) will NOT BE READ)
Send 4-5 poems or 1-2 short stories or works of creative non-fiction (10 page maximum) or one-act play (no longer than 10-pages total). Manuscripts must be typed, with writer's name and address at the top of each page.  Also, please number your poems by placing a number at the top of each poem next to its title.  Sin Fronteras does not at this time.  Writings are judged on merit, regardless of subject matter. Payment is one copy of the annual journal.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Quarterly Conversation

Poetry, translations, reviews, international literature ~ emphasis on Latin American ~ and a summer reading group. Conversation about books and reading... Give it a try and if you like it, subscribe or follow on your own. Do you have a favorite online literary "publication" to recommend? Send the link and your review ~ brief or moderate ~ to


New Issue

Roberto Bolano

The Quarterly Conversation is pleased to announce its Summer 2010 issue, with tons of great stuff, including Reading Bolano in Tehran, The Mythology of Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Alberto Manguel, and a little book optioned by Spike Jonze.

The Constant Conversation

David Markson

Don't forget to check out our recently launched group blog, The Constant Conversation. Recent posts there include a mini-review of a new volume of James Schuyler's uncollected poems, a tribute to the recently passed David Markson, and iconic covers of teh 20th century.

June 15: The Summer of Genji

The Tale of Genji

We've teamed up with the crew at Open Letters Monthly for a summer-long group read of The Tale of Genji. We've broken it down into bite-sized portions of about 90 pages per week, and we'll be blogging it every step of the way. If you'd like to join in, we're going to be blogging the read starting June 15 at The Summer of Genji. And we've chosen Royall Tyler's translation, which can be purchased here as a Penguin Classic.

Thanks as always for reading The Quarterly Conversation!

Scott Esposito, Editor-in-Chief
The Quarterly Conversation | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How do ye write? Let me count the ways

cheerfully recycled from the Book Bench, the New Yorker's lovely book blog

type.jpgVoltaire did it in bed, on his mistress's back. Churchill did it while standing and walking. Benjamin Franklin liked it in the bathtub. Hobbes did it on his bedsheets while locked away; when he had finished with those, he continued on to his legs. As Harry Bruce makes clear in his new book "Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers," the work of composing literature has been done all over the place, and with all sorts of objects. Victor Hugo apparently liked to do his scribbling in what Bruce calls, "a glass cage on his roof. There, he stood before a lectern and wrote, naked. On occasion, for variety, he dumped pails of cold water over his head and rubbed his torso with gloves made of horsehair."

Why this weird custom? Judging from Bruce's book, the writer's desire to control his creative process ~ hours, positions, implements ~ is near universal. For some, it's about pace. Shakespeare, whose writing Coleridge said "goes on kindling like a meteor through the dark atmosphere," wrote so fast he couldn't even insert punctuation, often churning out four thousand words a day with a cumbersome quill that would make a modern pen seem, well, much lighter than a feather. For others, it's about the instrument. John Barth, for example, said that he could write with nothing but a fountain pen, while Kerouac swore by the typewriter.

John Hersey has said that "every writer becomes habituated to a way of working that may matter to him a great deal." As it turns out, it matters to us, his readers, too: it's often the first question asked at the end of a reading. Mac or PC? Pen or pencil? Morning or night? We like to think we can understand the genius of the writing if only we have better insight into the method by which it was composed. And then, like the writers, we fetishize the objects used in the process (see, for example, the purchase of Cormac McCarthy's typewriter for $254,500).

Perusing Bruce's compilation of these peculiar rituals ~ rituals viewed with gravity by both writers and their readers ~ had to wonder: is there a feng shui to writing? Methods for concentration we can all employ? How important are these habits, anyway?

As it happens, with the approach of the World Cup, I've also been noticing a few of the strange pre-game habits of professional soccer players. Some wear the same socks game after game. Some must always lace their shoes in a prescribed order. One even used to make his wife wash the windows the day of a game (poor lady). Lucky numbers, lucky jerseys, lucky post-goal celebratory leaps: somehow in soccer it seems more silly but also more obvious. It's about superstition. And in both cases I suppose that superstition, however odd, is about what helps you get your game on.

How do ye write? Let me count the waysfrom The Book Bench 

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Relenting Book Party Friday 11, 516 ARTS

From past Picnic featured reader Lisa Gill via Dale Harris....

Dearest Friends,
I wanted to invite you to the celebration for my new book this coming Friday June 11th at 516 ARTS on Central. The Relenting (New Rivers Press), which you can consider either a long poem for two voices or a play, is based on finding a rattlesnake in my living room last September---only now the snake speaks back and is embodied by Kevin Elder of Tricklock. (I've been sewing leg rattles out of pistachio shells for him, much fun!) 

  • 7:30 PM Doors open so you can take in the Artificial Selection Exhibition and enjoy some snacks and also a special mix of cross-genre "Snake Songs" compiled by DJ Mitch Rayes

  • 8pm Showtime: we have a staged reading of the Relenting where Kevin and I will perform together and which will last about an hour... 
  • 9pm music by th3 e1emental orke5tra, one of my favorite bands, led by Mike Balistreri on bass, also with Mark Weaver on tuba and Shawn Woodyard on percussion, flute, sax, etc. 
Suggested donation, $5 or book purchase.

It'll be a lovely night and I'd love for you to come out and help me celebrate a book that marked a really pivotal life-experience--I believe the rattlesnake encounter helped reset my nervous system :) and alleviate old trauma stuff. I even have some science to back up my theory... though the end result is simple: more joy!

Have a great week and I'd love to see you Friday. Meanwhile, check out this book cover below! I asked Travis Farnsworth to paint a rendering of the Minoan Snake Goddess and he did a great job and then JB Bryan of La Alameda Press designed the book beautifully!


Link and more details at

516 WORDS: The Relenting - Reading and Book Release Party

Happy summer to you! And art, writing, music, film, the whole creative shebang!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What is poetry for?

WWNorton   In Chicago, February 2009, at the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, eleven poets were asked the question, "What Is Poetry For?" Here is what they had to say.

Poets featured: Martha Serpas; Todd Boss; Molly Peacock; Major Jackson; Cole Swenson; Kim Addonizio; Kimiko Hahn; Willie Perdomo; Beth Ann Fennelly; Julie Sheehan; Honor Moore

For more information on all featured poets visit and/or

"Instrumental" by The Microphones from The Glow Pt. 2. Permission generously granted by the good people at K Records in Olympia, WA (

Las Cruces poetry: Lunarosity and Wayne's June short list

Friday, June 4, 2010
5:30-7:00 pm. Open Mic Lit Night at the Rio Grande Theatre, downtown mall, Las Cruces. Wayne Crawford, host.

Tuesday, June 15
7:30-9:00 pm.  Open Mic in the Patio at Palacio's Bar, avenida de Mesilla, Mesilla. Michael Mandel,host. 

Wednesday, June 30, Deadline 
for submissions to Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal 15.  Poetry, fiction, literary non-fiction, one-act plays. For more details, go to

LUNAROSITY Vol. 9. No. 7.


M.V. Montgomery, Brian Brown, Devorah DeNicola, Jan Keough, Liz Dolan, Marissa Pelot, Steve Trebellas, Patricia Welingham-Jones, C.S. Fuqua, G. Taylor Seawell, Maryann RUsso, Dorothy Spruzen, Rebecca Shepard, Marc Carver, Gautam Sen, Jason Sturner, Ron Yazinski, Jennifer Hudson, and Karen Schubert . 


Bob Tomolillo, David Kyea, John Bruce, Janet Yung, Ed Markowski, Wayne Scheer, and V. Ulea.

SIN FRONTERAS: Writers Without Borders

 Currently accepting submissions through June 30. Poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, one-act play. details:

Open Mic--First Friday of each month, 5:30-7, Rio Grande Theatre on the Downtown Las Cruces Mall.

Open Mic--Third Tuesday of each month, 7:30-9:30, Palacio's Bar (The Patio) avenida de Mesilla, Mesilla, NM

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