Sunday, August 29, 2010

Great Moments in Product-Placement Poetry.

More post-Picnic therapy.

call for submissions: Vallum 8:1

Vallum 8:1 "Futures" call for submissions /

We plunge forward, often with our eyes closed, not knowing what is in store for us. Realities unfold, dreams are realized or fail to materialize. Many possible futures are on the verge of happening. What do we have to say about the time that has yet to come, the Future(s) of this world?

ALSO: Special Section on "Found" and "Overheard" Poems.

Audio files, visual art, reviews, essays or poet interviews can be submitted by email. Poetry must be submitted by regular mail.

DEADLINE: October 1, 2010. Please mail all poetry submissions to: 
PO BOX 598, Victoria Station
Montreal, QC H3Z 2Y6

Saturday, August 28, 2010


The Wall Street Journal reviews a new anthology of parodies. Here’s a nice one, a take on Sumer Is Icumen In:

Plumber is icumen in;
Bludie big tu-du.
Bloweth lampe and showeth dampe.
And dripth the wud thru.
Bludie hel, boo-hoo!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Picnic Performance Schedule

12 noon Welcome, emcees Kenneth Gurney and Dale Harris

Open mic until 1 pm

1 pm Charles Usmar – historian, Lincoln County War

1:15  Music by the New Mexico Celtic Singers

2:20 Tani Arness
2:30 Donald Levering
2:45 Sirena Rayes
3:00 Gregory Candela

3:15 Music by the Blue Rose Ramblers

4:00 Gary Brower

4:15 Mitch Rayes

Open mic until closing 5:30 pm  

Introduction: ABQ UNIDOS

2010 Featured Group as represented by team members Reed Bobroff, Eva Crespin, Miguel Figueroa, Olivia Gatwood and Faustino Villa.

from bottom, clockwise: 
Reed Bobroff, Eva Crespin, Tescia Schell, Olivia 
Gatwood, Khalid BinSunni, Miguel Figueroa

The 2010 ABQ Unidos youth poetry slam team is the sixth youth poetry slam team chosen to represent Albuquerque. Represented by Reed Bobroff, Eva Crespin, Olivia Gatwood, Khalid Binsunni, Miguel Figueroa and Faustino Villa, whose individual performance took a People's Choice Award. Coached by Kenn Rodriguez and Tracey Dahl, the team placed third at the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam in Los Angeles, California, July 2010. The Finals were filmed for broadcast on HBO, which will air the one-hour show in November.


I like to include featured reader samples - usually poems - with introductions, but video, not text, is the medium for getting acquainted with this group. Let them speak for themselves:

Introduction: Gary Brower

Gary reading a 2009 Picnic, accompanied by John Bullock

Featured Reader Gary Brower's most recent project is producing and editing Malpaís Review; his latest chapbook is For the Wild Horses of Placitas and Other Equine Poems (2009). He also instigated and participated in a bilingual stage production, Para que yo me llame Angel Gonzalez/So that I might be called Angel Gonzalez (a tribute to Spanish poet and friend, Angel Gonzalez), with the Teatro Paraguas Theater Group, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and at the Teatro Paraguas Studio Theater in Santa Fe, in September, 2009. Born in Kansas City, Mo., Gary lives in Placitas, NM. Look for his CDs and books at the Picnic. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dale Harris

Dale HarrisAlbuquerque, formerly of Mountainair and Torreón and still connected, is a potter, a poet, book artist, spoken word performer, prolific organizer (who may not be as tireless as she often seems) of New Mexico poetry events, featured reader and facilitator at poetry festivals and workshops and published in various NM poetry venues. Dale founded Mountainair’s annual Poets & Writers Picnic in 1998, edited/published the Central Avenue monthly poetry broadsheet, is associate editor of new poetry quarterly The Malpaís Review. She enjoys performing her poetry at regional arts venues. Her poetry recordings are available on the internet at CD Baby, where her poetry CDs include Once We Were Winged, Cibola Seasons, and Like A Hummingbird

Her poem, Manzano Sunflowers, once an Art Alley installation, has long been the Sunflower Festival signature poem.

Dale Harris : Cibola Seasons

Introduction: Greg Candela

Greg, guitar ~ 2006 Picnic

Gregory CandelaProfessor Emeritus, UNM-Valencia, English, Ph. D. in American literature, creative writing instructor, poet, performance artist, folk musician, poetry book reviewer for the Valencia News-Bulletin, editor of Valley Visions, and author of Surfing New Mexico, a book of poems about the spirit of New Mexico and its people. Greg's short story "Will" and selected poems appeared at Lunarosity, he has had several poems in Central Avenue, and his dramatic poem, "El Mozo Regresa," was produced for KUNM's Radio Theatre, May 2003. Greg also organized UNM Valencia's annual Valley Cultural Festival

Read selected poems published at Lunarosity.

Introduction: Sirena Rayes

Featured reader Sirena Rayes is 18 years old. She is the only one in her family who was born in Albuquerque, and is very happy to hold the first generation slot. Writers on the other hand, show up in her family repeatedly from generation to generation. Luckily that gene made it to Albuquerque, and Sirena is honored to have held a pen long enough to be considered one of the poets.

The past three years she has been proud to be a student of the Voces program, which is a month long intensive writing workshop, among so many other great things. Sirena has performed poetry throughout this city on many stages as well as many sidewalks and feels very privileged to have that choice.

Esperanza Drive (Ditch Rider's Sunday Poem, June 20, 2010)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Workshop - CANCELLED

Yes, the Sunflower Poetry Writing Workshop, Thurs-Sat, August 26-28, has been cancelled.

But not to worry, there will still be a lot of FRESH POETRY Saturday at the Poets and Writers Picnic.

Introduction: Mitch Rayes

By his own minimalist account (despite not of an age or level of consciousness to be a reliable witness), featured reader, 'burque poetry fixture and foundation slammer, Mitch Rayes was born breech in Detroit in 1958, the first of six children to a former Irish nun and a Lebanese chemist. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit as a Merit Scholar and Naropa Institute in 1977, before the school was accredited. During the 1990's, he was influential in the developing Albuquerque poetry scene as a founder of the poetry non-profit Flaming Tongues, editor of the Tongue newsletter for eight years and producer of several Albuquerque Poetry Festivals.

Mitch, photo by Wes Naman, 
from Local IQ cover story, March 2010
"why local poetry matters" (an oral history)

At present, Mitch lives in his contractor’s office in Albuquerque’s industrial corridor and is currently working on converting part of his shop into an arts space called The Projects.

Introduction: NM Celtic Singers

Another musical return (refrain): the Celtic Singers of New Mexico, represented this year by Jenn Brooks, Michele Buchanan, Carol Conoboy, Nancy Costea, Dale Harris, Livia Kohn, Erika Kretzmann, Gwen Montgomery, Scott Sharot and Kathy Wimmer, is an informal group dedicated to learning and enjoying selected forms of traditional Celtic song, including Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Broad Scots and others. The ensemble performs at various events in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The group meets every 2nd and 4th Sunday afternoon to sing, eat and socialize.

Contact Nancy Costea at if you'd like to join the group's email list.

Introduction: Chuck Usmar

Our lone prose reader, Manzano High School teacher and historian Chuck (Charles) Usmar is also a petroglyph preservation activist and regular participant in Harwood poetry productions. Usmar, who read a non-fiction piece on the Lincoln County Wars at the 2008 Picnic, presented a paper on "The Lords of Lincoln County - Murphy & Dolan", two key players in the Lincoln County Wars at the Wild West Historical Association Conference in Ruidoso. This year he'll read a chapter  titled "The Man Who Was Hanged Twice" from his forthcoming book on the Lincoln County Wars The Perfect Thorn at the Poets & Writers Picnic

Recently quoted in ABQ Journal on the current controversy about Billy the Kid, Usmar, who is currently working on biographies of the Kid's adversaries Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, said the Kid should never receive a pardon, given his role in gunning down lawmen, explaining, "Whatever one thinks about them, they were still the legally constituted lawmen in the county, and he (Billy) killed four of them,"

Introduction: Blue Rose Ramblers

making a return Picnic engagement, Jessica Billey and Bud Melvin, aka the Blue Rose Ramblers, are a violin, banjo, and vocal duo from Rio Rancho, NM known for their memorable styling of western ballads, swing favorites, and jazz classics

featured on the May 2010 ABQ Arts cover

In addition to their website at and their 2008 plog page, you can view more pictures, listen to more music on MySpace at

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Introduction: Wayne Crawford

Picnic 2010 featured reader Wayne Crawford, travels north to Mountainair from Las Cruces NM, where he is beyond merely "active" in state and area poetry scene. He has had scores of poems published in literary journals and magazines, founded the online journal, Lunarosity (2001), and serves as co-managing editor of the annual southwest anthology, Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal. Publications include print and audio: a poetry book, Sugar Trail (2007), a music with spoken word recording, Oasis Bound (March 2009) and a CD of poetry, Wayne Crawford Reads (Vox Recordings (October 2009), and a forthcoming book of poems, Dancing Skin.

Crawford has emceed Las Cruces' monthly open mic series for the last six years, and been a featured reader in various NM universities' reading series, coffeehouses, bars, libraries, galleries, studios, and homes. Follow Las Cruces area poetry events on "Wayne's List," available by email subscription as well as on this blog. Crawford holds a Ph.D in English Studies from Illinois State University.


Superman .... of course. I've written a series of poems about him. Here's one that listeners always seem to enjoy.

Clark Kent Takes Off....
Sunday night is the time he colors his hair.
He’s tried for years to undo the callick
that twists his hair into one big curl
on his forehead, but thinning, trimming,
graying and spraying haven’t loosened its grip.

Last year, the x-rays began blurring a little.
He could still see the big picture
but the little things weren’t so keenly
recognizable--pocket knives, for example,
or a stolen key in a breast pocket. He needed
to wear prescription glasses
to read fine print. And the glare of lights
during night flying had never been worse.

Introduction: Miriam Sagan

Featured Picnic reader and Writing Workshop guest instructor, Miriam Sagan writes, 

I've been working again at The Land/An Art Site. My present project, Winter Stars Midden," is a collaboration with glass sculptor/installation artist Leah Stravinsky. The text grew out of participating in "Azimuth: Writing on Walls," Albuquerque's Land Art show and citywide event last summer, and a visit to sculptor Charles Ross' "Star Axis." The opposite of a monolithic structure, it looks within, to an inner north star.

Writing on Walls reception, THE LAND gallery
More about LAND ART projects  (Extreme Media Studies)

I enjoy teaching in a setting that is both outdoors and an art site. In the plein air workshop session at THE LAND ART's Mountainair location, we'll use words, images, installations, and natural setting as inspiration. My "Star Midden" text started out as a pantoum, a wonderful repeated form, which will also be the basis of some of our exploration.

My website / blog, Miriam's Well, covers my Star Midden project among many other topics, including interviews with poets, travel writing, reflections on place, writing poetry, teaching and more, poems ~ mine and others.

Miriam, writing "on site" at THE LAND/an art site


winter stars, pebbles in the arroyo
what do you gather in, hold

islands in the seas, the body
as an image of the cosmos

what do you gather in, hold
alaya–a storehouse of senses and seeds

as an image of the cosmos
a place marked and swiftly abandoned

alaya–a storehouse of senses and seeds
like a Anasazi stone granary

Introduction: Tani Arness

Picnic 2010 Featured Reader Tani Arness is very grateful to have had the chances to travel in over 30 countries and live for two years in a Northern Alaskan village before finally nestling into beautiful Albuquerque, NM. Since completing her Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico, Tani has been teaching, writing, publishing, hiking, painting and walking her dog along the Rio Grande. Some days she wants to shout from the mountain top, “Poetry makes life better!”

Collecting by Tami Arness

It begins with the first thing you see,
the city, where every beautiful thing has
been killed once, and I gather candles around me
and cast light onto the memory of my mother.

In times of long nights and cold I string red lights between
fingers of wrought iron,
and snow clouds of brown-eyed dreams
wait behind every tree branch, bared
and reaching for the thing that happens after the story –

I don’t have any stories—like glass, fired,
and blown into heart-shaped beads—
not even the story of my life, which reminds me, I

never told you about my
mother – no need
she is soft and pink and rubs the palm of her hand,
traces fingers, across my back

What else to say?  I want her back—
The words are worse than the white space—
like I painted green slashes across all the white space once—
short slashes that looked like leaves—fluttering, but not falling,
and all those shades of green, hanging on thin stems,
they haunted me—

Not very many people have wanted to know about my life,
I don’t have the right stories—
but everyone has wanted me to point out something glorious.
And so I have collected feathers and stones and little tickets
full of words like phantom and swan

I have stood decorating dull green city trees with gold
that shimmers messages to sky, to day, to god.
God, another small word
fitting into all the empty spaces—
I have stood trying to explain the moments, the missing narrative,
chanting Hebrew blessings:
תודה על כל הדברים הרעים הטובים שהביאו אותי לרגע הזה

What else did you expect me to say?
Thanks for all the bad good things that brought me momentarily this

Friday, August 20, 2010

Introduction: Kenneth P Gurney

Kenneth P. Gurney, returning as this Picnic's emcee (Master of Ceremonies if not time and space), is a poet and publisher of poetry (Hodge Podge Poetry, 1995-1998; Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry, 1998-2006; Origami Condom, 2007-2008), with an anthology of New Mexico poetry, Adobe Walls, appearing soon.  According to Kenneth, his work appears mostly on the web as he spends SASE and reading fee dollars on pumpkin spice cookies for his lover (changed from last year's flowers or the occasional bar of dark Belgian chocolate for himself). His four collection of are all available through Amazon. More about Kenneth, publications and Adobe Walls at The site includes a dizzyingly comprehensive list of Kenneth's poems online, with links.

Alexander Pope on poets in August

an 18th c. salon, at which Pope might have read the following

From "Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot"
Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigu'd, I said,
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages! nay 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand, 
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.

    What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide;
By land, by water, they renew the charge;
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge. 
No place is sacred, not the church is free;
Ev'n Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
Then from the Mint walks forth the Man of Ryme,
Happy! to catch me just at Dinner-time.

Continue reading the complete annotated text from Jack Lynch's excellent 18th century literature resources


Sirius, the dog-star, is visible in late August; that time of year is known as the "dog-days." It was traditionally a time when poets read their work in ancient Rome: see Juvenal's third Satire.

Bedlam, or Parnassus

Bedlam, "[Corrupted from Bethlehem, the name of a religious house in London, converted afterwards into an hospital for the mad and lunatick.] A madhouse; a place appointed for the cure of lunacy" (Johnson). Parnassus is a mountain in Greece sacred to the Muses, and is therefore associated with poetry and the arts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Love Poem + Critique

from Savage Chickens by Doug Savage. Now, if we could only get the chickens to come read... If they bring the Amazing Poet-Bot, Zombie Chicken Poets and the character that looks like a 2x4 with a nail through it with, that would make a group. 

Savage Chickens - Love Poem

More poetry from the Savage Chickens group

Thursday, August 12, 2010

About writing workshops: the real thing

On writing and writing workshops because PWP, 2010 no exception, includes a poetry writing workshop.... Have you signed up yet? Ask about rates for partial workshops, e.g. a single day or session.  Contact Dale Harris, for more information. 

Excerpted from The real thing via Books: Books blog | by AL Kennedy, 8/10/10

At their best, writing workshops can show us the intangible magic of inspiration taking shape.

I have just – I hope – put the finishing touches to an essay on writing workshops....Turning to that essay, I am glad I put an end to my major distractions by writing about workshops. This isn't so much because I like them – in fact, much of the essay was taken up with detailing what can go wrong with workshops and how un–useful the standard "lets sit round in a circle and read ourselves and each other with inadequate attention in a strained setting before allowing the blind to lead the deaf" type of workshop can be. But it also allowed me to remember the sheer wonder of a successful workshop. 

Apart from anything else a good workshop can allow us to see – as near as we ever will – writers writing, writing happening, the thing itself. There are few things better than sitting in a room that is suddenly united in action, that suddenly has that tingly, ozone-y feeling of something on its way – of inspiration taking shape, of words struggling or plummeting or bubbling through. When we work ourselves, we're too engrossed in the process to really be aware of it – to be frank, once we're aware, it tends to have gone away. 

When we see it in others – perhaps as part of group authorship, perhaps in a series of solo contributions – then there are moments when we can actually grasp the ungraspable, when we can see a very specific type of joy: the way a face clears and becomes beautiful when it is absolutely focused; completely itself and yet open to something other than itself, touched.

Part of what annoys me about the deadline and contract side of publishing is that it really has nothing whatever to do with writing, nothing to do with that beauty – the same beauty you see when someone is really reading, completely engrossed. I always say that writing and readers are misunderstood, because if you glance casually at people who are reading and writing, you may simply see people who appear serious, frozen. But if we happen to glance at people just before they kiss (not in an intrusive or unpleasant way, Best Beloveds) then their expression is the same – oddly solemn, intent. And yet nobody ever suggests that kissing is dull, or pathetic, or a bit of a waste of time. I happen to believe that giving and receiving a kiss operates very much along the same lines as giving and receiving a word – it's simply that the giving and receiving are done in different rooms at different times – they are still an attempt to touch, be touched, be recognised, to exist in passion, to be human.  Onwards. AL Kennedy

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