Tuesday, November 30, 2010

International Poem of the Week: Message to the Editor


Sir –

The Lord pardon the people of this town
Because I can't.
When I dropped dead in the street
Three weeks ago
I thought they'd bury me in style.
A state funeral was the least of it
With Heads of Government and the Nobility
In attendance.
I even looked forward to the funeral oration
In Irish
With a few words on my past achievements:
Our greatest poet, a seat in heaven to the man
And how I deserved better.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meet Poets & Writers Editorial Director in Santa Fe

Join Poets & Writers for a Discussion on
The New Frontier of Publishing
Poets & Writers invites you to join Ted Rogers, a member of the Poets & Writers' Board of Directors, and Mary Gannon, editorial director of Poets & Writers, for a breakfast discussion on The New Frontier of Publishing: What writers need to know about working with an agent in the current environment, pursuing new publication outlets--including online magazines, e-books, and  print-on-demand technology--and leveraging new media to build a readership.

Mary Gannon is the editorial director of Poets & Writers, Inc., where she oversees the publication of Poets & Writers Magazine and the production of the organization's Web site, pw.org. She is also co-editor of the book, The Practical Writer: From Inspiration to Publication, which was published by Penguin in 2004.

Where: The St. Francis Hotel
           210 Don Gaspar Avenue
           Santa Fe, NM 87501

When: January 7, 2011, at 8:00 A.M.

Admission is free, but space is very limited.  Reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.

RSVP to:

Emily Brown
212-225-3586, ext. 202

Poets & Writers | 90 Broad Street | Suite 2100 | New York | NY | 10004

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Last Chance to Enter your short fiction

One of those FYI items from Writer's Digest.

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Show Us Your Shorts!
To make a long story short, the
11th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition
is now accepting entries!
We're looking for fiction that's bold, brilliant…but brief.
Send us your best in 1,500 words or fewer. But don't wait too long—
the deadline is December 1, 2010.
The Grand-Prize winner
will receive $3,000
(that's $2—or more—per word).
For guidelines, prizes and to enter online, click here.
Plus, the 1st- through 25th-place manuscripts will be printed in the 11th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection.
Click here to learn more about this special collection and to reserve your copy today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Writing Conferences & more

New Pages :: Good Reading Starts Here


A useful list of writing conferences, workshops, retreats, centers, residencies & book & literary festivals. If you know of a creative writing conference, workshop or retreat that is not currently listed, please let NewPages know: newpages<at> newpages<dot>com.

"NewPages is the Portal of Independents! News, information and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, independent bookstores, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies and more."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We regret to inform you...

... of a gap in the NM poetry firmament. No more wonderful Wayne's List winging its way here from Las Cruces. Wayne Crawford writes...

During the last decade, Wayne's listserv for writers has helped promote well over one thousand literary events. Alas, there will be no more of Wayne's Literary lists. For health reasons, it must be discontinued.  I want to thank all of you who attended and supported lit events and those who sent information to be included in the lists.  I hope you will continue to seek out these events and continue to support our writers and poets, their publications, and the readings and open mics where they share their work and develop our community.  Wayne

What better farewell than in his own write... more about Wayne and more poetry links

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.

He was fine in the air but lift-offs and landings
--painful! Doctor attributed arthritis
to his arches. Of course, the doctor
didn't know about Mr. Kent's secret life,
the burden he placed on his feet, bounding
into space, lifting the weight of the world,
constantly landing on surfaces meant
for rubber tires.

You're strong as an ox, his doctor said.
Fundamentally, there's nothing wrong
with your body, nothing except your nerves.
Your nerves are like steel. You mustn't give
all of your energy to The Daily Planet. Keep it
up, even your strength will dissipate.
You must listen, Mr. Kent. You must relax.

This evening's news headlines
reported a crime spree in Metropolis.
I probably shouldn't reveal this
but Superman woke up today, massaged
his feet, and went back to bed.

.. also no longer accepting submissions but still online for you to read and enjoy: 
LUNAROSITY Vol. 9. No. 7.

 (not sure about SIN FRONTERAS: Writers Without Borders but will let you know)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TOEFL Poetics

Ryan Daley on Buffalo Poetics writes about Tests of English as a Foreign Language...

Back in May, and back when I was teaching a TOEFL test instruction class, I would spend so much time preparing and teaching per week that my writing was suffering. Then I came up with an idea. 

On the TOEFL test there is a 30-minute essay segment. Test takers have 30 minutes to write a 300 word essay in answer to an assigned question. These questions are usually somewhat mundane, i.e., one custom from your country you would share, etc. My goal was to write at least 75 essays and to repurpose them. While doing this, I also like I was sticking it to the powers observing us (Cameras were placed in each room, for "quality control").

To cut it short: I have roughly 60 TOEFL (poetic) essays up  at my blog, http://charitablegiving.blogspot.com. Check 'em out! And thanks for reading!

Sample essay

Q. If you could change one aspect of the public school/schools you attended, what would you change, how would you change it, and why? Use reasons and examples to support your response. 

A. Education is a tricky subject. As with figuring out anything, many variables involved in the deep process. Students emerge from schools at the end of the day and it's easy to forget that they belong to a community housed within several fortifications, cafes and playgrounds. I would change a few things about my school's construction and the administrative hierarchy. 

Schools are built much like prisons. We are interested in keeping children and their noises, their dramas as well as their affinities, inside and locked away. A brighter school with less restraints would improve matters for children. They would not feel the cold gray sky behind the gratings on the windows, would not lunch in the same linoleum room like those dentists use to calmly wash out patients' mouths, would not sing on a stage so lofty that the smallest squeak cannot be heard. We silence the children, and we assume they behave better this way. However, when children are unleashed they destroy property. This is because they hold their emotions so pent up. Generous little beings are not captivated by the dull school surroundings. Gym balls will bounce with resounding joy if only we update the facilities which school our children. 

School administrations refuge in lonely temperance behind desks which expose children early to alienation of processes. How many times will they see desk housing a person? Fresh new faces entice all guests to share the most important information with the desk's occupant, and in the quickest manner. Imagine what fresh faces enliven the office environs, while increasing productivity. To this end, all school admins and educators who are entrenched should be alternated every 5 years. A bargaining period is born of this, during which time admins would prove their worth. However, teachers are accustomed to unstable living situations already. Administrators and office dregs should share in this renewal.

The Poetics List is moderated & does not accept all posts. Guidelines: http://epc.buffalo.edu/poetics/welcome.html

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Can You Do in Twenty-Five Words?

Now that Mountainair and environs has a growing writers group, The Manzano Mountain Scribes (meeting 10am today at Alpine Alley), I may eventually have to decide where to blog them: Poets and Writers Picnic or Mountainair Arts. Until then I am cross-posting to both blogs and upping writing related posts on Arts (as in Arts and Letters). Before there was a plog, poetry and writing related posts were regular features on Mountainair Arts. Decamping 100% to plog may not have been such a good idea and misleading to boot, implying a dearth of local interest in matters lettered.

Ian Crouch in The New Yorker:

Hintfiction-thumb-233x324-54309 A hinting story, Swartwood explains, should do in twenty-five words what it could do in twenty-five hundred, that is, it "should be complete by standing by itself as its own little world." And, like all good fiction, it should tell a story while gesturing toward all the unknowable spaces outside the text.

The book is divided into three sections: "life & death," "love & hate," and "this & that." Several stories too fully embrace the gimmick, becoming tiny O. Henry tales complete with tidy setups and kickers. Something about the space constraints make the stories go for too much, rejecting intimacy for some trumped up idea of scale. The best, however, share an off-beat and generally macabre sensibility. Here are two good examples:

"Blind Date," by Max Barry.

She walks in and heads turn. I'm stunned. This is my setup? She looks sixteen. Course, it's hard to tell, through the scope.

"Houston, We Have a Problem," by J. Matthew Zoss.

I'm sorry, but there's not enough air in here for everyone. I'll tell them you were a hero.

Violence is a lingering theme, often conveyed with a power that lasts long after the short time it takes to read these tales. Take "Cull," By L. R. Bonehill, a compressed post-apocalyptic snapshot:

There had been rumors from the North for months. None of us believed it, until one night we started to kill our children too.

More here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mad Love to the Youth Poets at Highland. Respect.

More good stuff from Hakim BeLink and the cover of the Metro Section of yesterday's Journal: Students' Writing on Motel Sign.  Note from Hakim, "Respect to Hailey Heinz too, she is good peoples." Wouldn't it be cool to have one here (or wherever you are)? Maybe a sign trailer and moved to different locations about town ~ handy for underground / samizdat poetry.

By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer

          Most people probably don't know where the poetry is coming from. 

        On a sign at the southeast corner of Central and San Mateo that once advertised the Tradewinds motel, poems have been appearing periodically over the past year, staying up for a few weeks before they are traded for new verse. At first, the word "closed" was in the center of the board, so the poetry was built around it: "The bus is never closed to crazy," it read at one time. Another time it said, "Forget closed dreams wanted," with one word on each line. And another time it said, "The eyes are never closed just the mind that refuses to see.
      The poems are contributed by the slam poetry club at Highland High School, a group of teenagers who get together weekly to write and share poetry, critique one another and prepare for spoken poetry competitions. The teens also write poetry for the sign, in collaboration with Friends of the Orphan Signs, a group started by University of New Mexico professor Ellen Babcock. As part of the project, Babcock has a two-year lease for the Tradewinds sign. 

        Lilly Lawrence-Metzler, 17, is the president of the poetry club, and she said putting poems on the sign is a good motivator for the club. She said it was especially exciting when her own words were on display. "I'm driving down the street and I'm like, 'I wrote that. It's up there,' " she said. "It's definitely cool."

        But she also said the format can be scary for younger students. "I think it's kind of a double-edged sword," she said. "Some of the less-experienced writers are intimidated by the fact that it's so public."

        Heather McGuire, the teacher who sponsors the poetry club, said the students' work is seen by a lot of their peers, especially since the sign is near a bus stop many Highland students use. The unsigned nature of the poetry lets the students be heard but not individually identified. "I don't think they all know where it comes from," McGuire said. "That's part of the reason our students are able to feel so free."

        She said Babcock has urged the students to be more artistic than preachy, but in their poems for the sign they gravitate toward verses with a message, like "Where you are from does not determine who you are."

        "It gives them a chance to interact with their community in a kind of low-pressure way," McGuire said. 

        Babcock said she reached out to the students because she wanted the words on the sign to represent the nearby community, not the perspective of an outside artist. "It was this idea that it's a new model of public art," she said. "Rather than putting up my own text, I wanted to come to a community and have it be from them." 

        The Orphan Sign Project will collaborate with student artists at Highland later this year to design a two-sided, lit sign to refurbish the skeletal former sign for the El Sarape restaurant on East Central. This sign will eventually be professionally produced and purchased by the city as a permanent public artwork, Babcock said. 

Read more: ABQJOURNAL NEWS/METRO: Students' Writing on Motel Sign

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poems of War and Remembrance

Poetry for Veteran's Day from About Poetry and elsewhere 

"The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance.”  Herman Wouk

Still can't beat either the Iliad (war) or the Odyssey (a veteran's homecoming). Nor the Aeneid (defeated escape into exile, memories of loss) for that matter. Lucan's Pharsalia either. Then there are the medieval epics: El Cid, Roland and others. 

and now to About's War and Remembrance feature ...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Community-wide reads with Big Read

The Big Read is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations seeking funding to conduct month-long, community-wide reads between September 2011 and June 2012. The Big Read is a national program designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture. 

Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read will receive grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000, access to online training resources, educational and promotional materials, inclusion of your organization and activities on The Big Read Web site, and the prestige of participating in a highly visible national program. Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected by a panel of experts. The deadline to submit applications is February 1, 2011.

The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. The Big Read catalog includes the great American poets Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robinson Jeffers, and Edgar Allan Poe.

To review the Guidelines & Application Instructions visit The Big Read web site.

Call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or email, TheBigRead@artsmidwest.org

Reposted from The Poetry Foundation newsletter. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mountainair Writers Group meets Nov 9

Writers from Mountainair, Punta de Agua and Manzano held their first meeting October 12th at Jerry's Ancient Cities Restaurant in Mountainair to discuss forming a writers group.

The group decided to hold meetings twice a month on the second Tuesday evening of the month at the Ancient Cities starting at 6:30 p.m. and the last Saturday morning of the month at the Alpine Alley Coffee Shop at 10:00 a.m.  Due to Thanksgiving, November's Saturday meeting will be held November 20.

Tomorrow, Tuesday November 9, Ben Steinlage will present a short lecture on publishing e books. Members are encouraged to bring their personal writing for discussion and will decide on a name for the group.

Writers of all genres and experience levels are invited and encouraged to join. If interested or have questions contact: Ben Steinlage at happyplate@wildblue.net or Dixie Boyle at mtairtwo@wildblue.net.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Falling Back

Six poems to mark the end of daylight saving time via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza on 11/7/10, From the Op-Ed page of the New York Times:

Light Verse

It's just five, but it's light like six.
It's lighter than we think.
Mind and day are out of sync.
The dog is restless.
The dog's owner is sleeping and dreaming of Elvis.
The treetops should be dark purple,
but they're pink.

Here and now. Here and now.
The sun shakes off an hour.
The sun assumes its pre-calendrical power.
(It is, though, only what we make it seem.)
Now in the dog-owner's dream,
the dog replaces Elvis and grows bigger
than that big tower

in Singapore, and keeps on growing until
he arrives at a size
with which only the planets can empathize.
He sprints down the ecliptic's plane,
chased by his owner Jane
(that's not really her name), who yells at him
to come back and synchronize.

VIJAY SESHADRI, author of "The Long Meadow"

More here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Poems for election day

via Harriet: The Blog by Poetry News on 11/2/10

The highly-anticipated 2010 midterm elections are finally here, so let's restore a few shreds of sanity with some poems about voting and the political process. Harriet is exhausted by stale rhetoric, political yakety yak and partisanship, so these poems are organized by interest or affiliation rather than political party.

If you're an optimist tired of hearing that Washington is broken, then listen to Whitman trilling a love song to our deteriorating empire. "For You O Democracy" is an ode to America, and you can listen to a related Whitman podcast here.

If you're a cynic who would rather contract swine flu than reach across the aisle, then read Jerome Rothenberg's "A Poem for the Cruel Majority." It perfectly captures the vitriol and hopelessness that distinguishes this election cycle. "Today the cruel majority vote to enlarge the darkness," he writes. Uplifting!

For idealists, Marxists, and vegan hipster farmers, there's Vachel Lindsay's  "Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket."

Political dilettante might enjoy Hemingway's ruminations on democracy, dictators and farts in "The Soul of Spain With McAlmon and Bird the Publishers." He even wrote the line "Democracy is the shit" in a time when that didn't make democracy a good thing.

For everyone there's "Poem on the Occasion of the Midterm Election" by Matthew Rohrer, to be published by Wave books in his forthcoming collection, Destroyer and Preserver.

If these poems are too breezy for you, then why not revisit some contentious prose? Check out an old blog post about why it's problematic to automatically align poets with the bleeding, sensitive hearts on the left, or this article about Hillary Clinton branding the Obama campaign with the scarlet letter of poetry when she criticized the president's lofty language.

For wordsmiths, revisit these posts about the Queen Bee of Political Poetry, Sarah "Refudiate" Palin.

Will these poems restore faith in the democratic process? Probably not, but suffrage is a cherished and hard-earned freedom, so wear that "I Voted Today" sticker with pride.

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