Saturday, April 27, 2013

Twenty Little Poems That Could Save America

…a discussion of poetry in the American school curriculum and the deadly, stultifying effect of explicating set pieces to death instead of enjoying. True, I remember it - don't you? Still though, this may be less of a problem in parts of NM with its robust slam, youth slam and poetry in the schools programs. These, however, are more urban than rural. How well do these programs reach furthest corners of outlying school districts? In Mountainair, for example, not even the arts council has supported poetry well. Perhaps the community blogs need this more than Picnic... coals to Newcastle and such. 
Sappho, Edwin Austin Abbey,

What went wrong? Somehow, we blew it. We never quite got poetry inside the American school system, and thus, never quite inside the culture. Many brave people have tried, tried for decades, are surely still trying. 
Let us blame instead the stuffed shirts who took an hour to explain [a] poem in their classrooms, who chose it because it would need an explainer; pretentious ponderous ponderosas of professional professors will always be drawn to poems that require a priest. 
Still, we have failed. The fierce life force of contemporary American poetry never made it through the metal detector of the public-school system. 
....But largely, c’mon — you and I both know — real live American poetry is absent from our public schools....This is more than a shame, for poetry is our common treasure-house, and we need its aliveness, its respect for the subconscious, its willingness to entertain ambiguity; we need its plaintive truth-telling about the human condition and its imaginative exhibitions of linguistic freedom, which confront the general culture’s more grotesque manipulations. 
....If anthologies were structured to represent the way that most of us actually learn, they would begin in the present and “progress” into the past....The second part of the fix is rather more complicated: in addition to rebooting the American poetic canon as a whole, we must establish a kind of national core curriculum, a set of poems held in common by our students and so by our citizens. In the spirit of boosterism, I have selected twenty works I believe worthy of inclusion...
Read all of the Suggestions for and commentary on Twenty Little Poems That Could Save America, by Tony Hoagland | Harper's Magazine

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pinsky translates Parker

Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky and his band perform "Horn," a poem set to music about hearing jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker play.


 Full video available free at

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why Write Sestinas?

Oh yes, why write sestinas?In addition to "why not" and "it's national #poetrymonth's #napowrimo, here are more reasons, shamelessly reblogging  Harriet: The Blog. Now, someone, rewrite the following as a series of sestinas...

Supernova remnant from NASA’s Chandra x-ray observatory
Supernova remnant from NASA’s Chandra x-ray observatory
  • The challenge of the form: six stanzas with six end-words that have to repeat in a particular rotating pattern (twice in the three-line envoi at the end) like playing ping-pong with six balls and six other players. Sestinas are tricky.
  • The repetition of the end-words gives you a chance to mull over the themes that obsess you. In Wuthering Heights, I noticed that Emily Brontë lingered over the words: heaven, hell, windows, revenge, power, heart—a perfect opportunity to make a sestina out of those lines when I have other things to do. A sestina lets a poet go Gothic.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dan Chelotti’s Haiku-A-Day

…Here's today's poetry month post, courtesy of McSweeney's which is featuring a haiku-a-day from poet Dan Chelotti (whose book x is out this month) as their way of celebrating National Poetry Month. Now to add a graphic or so and a few links (reminding myself that a long post about a brief genre would be). Enjoy! If not already on it, keep McSweeney's in mind for your regular reading list.

- - -


One sea cucumber
Seventeen sea cucumbers
Any difference?
- - -


Dogen flea market:
Eagle keychains are eagles
Mountains in their eyes
- - -


Used bookstore glances
The gathering distance mounts
The internet breeze
- - -


Pushkin in a dream:
Air conditioner repair?
You do not need this
- - -


Standing in Boston
Smoking outside the bookfair
I long for Boston
- - -

Dan Chelotti’s Haiku-A-Day by Dan ChelottiSign up for the McSweeney’s Poetry Series too. Presumably there will more Chelotti haikus next Friday. I don't know about week-ends. 

Haiku-Poetry Month news from the Houston Chroncle, haiku how-to for you to try writing one,, a comprehensive web site devoted to the genre ~ more than you ever wanted to know, a lovely illustrated page on the form ~ teaching it, its history and its masters, and even a game, Haiku Hero. By now, no one can keep up with all the different PoMo (not to be confused with Post Modernism)  poem-a-day challenges. That could make a fair post in itself. Haikus do have the distinct advantage of brevity.

kutabirete/yado karu koro ya/fuji no hana
As I seek a bower
Weary from travel, I find
A wisteria flower

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A birthday, a time to march, a time to sow

a post that cover many bases, wears many hats: poetry (for National Poetry Month), birthdays and assassinations, food, social justice, a petition, precarious labor, organizing…Read the whole piece and the poem, visit People's World, bookmark the page, add to your rss reader, sign up for email updates, find them on Facebook…and don't forget to sign the Fast Food Forward petition.
Happy birthand sign the Fast Food Forward petition. day Maya Angelou! Did you know that in addition to her books of poetry, fiction and autobiography she has also written cookbooks? I have 2 in my collection: "Great Food All Day Long" and "Hallelujah! The Welcome Table."
Ms. Angelou, like great cooks everywhere, has been cooking all her life and has always loved to "feed other people." The "Hallelujah!" book is full of wonderful recipes accompanied by delightful stories. "Great Food" is based on her ideas for weight control that can be summed up as "cook splendidly, eat smart." Delightful!
Still I Rise  by Maya Angelou 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Today April 4, fast food workers from across New York City are marking the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by standing up for what's right and going on strike to demand better wages and the right to form a union without intimidation. Click here to sign the petition from Fast Food Forward, and here to visit their Facebook page.
Read the rest of Food News: A birthday, a time to march, a time to sow | peoplesworld. Another day another poetry post...this challenge is more my style. Now to find something suitable to post then back date to April 1... time is not linear, why should I be?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A National #PoetryMonth Announcement

…with a #NMPoetry twist to it, courtesy of Elaine Schwartz, who, with a single email, rescues my my poetry-month-post-a-day plan that almost went off the tracks today. It was one of those days. I hoped tomorrow will not be another one. Until then, enjoy this neat link and the concept moving it. I wonder if A Confederacy of Dunces is on the list too... (yes, it is). Now to share the remix page with an online international book group and cultural coffeehouse.

Poets to Create Found Poetry from Pulitzer Prize Winners

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

CP Cavafy's "Aboard the Ship" & "Birth of a Poem"

…Knopf's classy PaD contribution to National #PoetryMonth. Yesterday afternoon, I changed the cover picture at Picnic-Facebook but otherwise drew a complete blank on an April poetry kick-off post after losing connectivity from sometime after 8 pm yesterday to sometime after 8 am or so this morning. With 28 days left to use them, links collected for yesterday won't go to waste. I won't do NaPoWriMo but may try Camp NaNoWriMo, which has a "write whatever you want" format that includes poetry. Instead, I'll try for daily posts, keeping up better with area announcements and I( hope) posting lots NM PaD Challenge poems... so send them this way. Other online projects have been sneaking off with way too much of my personal blogging time. I also hope setting a daily blogging goal will get me back on track. It also means more short posts and forwards....

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Alexandrian Greek poet C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933). We will be celebrating his work throughout the month with a series of audio recordings of the poems read by contemporary writers who cherish his work, along with readers all over the world. As Daniel Mendelsohn reminds us in the introduction to his translations of the Complete Poems, "Cavafy's popular reputation currently rests almost entirely on the remarkably prescient way in which [his] 'sensual' poems...treat the ever-fascinating and pertinent themes of erotic longing, fulfillment, and loss; the way, too, in which memory preserves what desire so often cannot sustain."

Here are "Aboard the Ship" (1919), from the well known, published work, and "Birth of a Poem," a 1922 draft from a group of some thirty works that were still in progress at the time of Cavafy's death, left labeled and dated by the poet, but not discovered among Cavafy's papers until many decades later, and translated into English for the first time by Mendelsohn. Please click below to hear Daniel Mendelsohn read the poems, and watch throughout the month for further Cavafy audio events.

To share the poem-a-day experience with friends, pass along this link >>

Aboard the Ship

It certainly resembles him, this small
pencil likeness of him.

Quickly done, on the deck of the ship:
an enchanting afternoon.
The Ionian Sea all around us.

It resembles him. Still, I remember him as handsomer.
To the point of illness: that's how sensitive he was,
and it illumined his expression.
Handsomer, he seems to me,
now that my soul recalls him, out of Time.

Out of Time. All these things, they're very old—
the sketch, and the ship, and the afternoon.

Birth of a Poem

One night when the beautiful light of the moon
poured into my room . . . imagination, taking
something from life: some very scanty thing—
a distant scene, a distant pleasure—
brought a vision all its own of flesh,
a vision all its own to a sensual bed . . .

More on this poem and author:

Excerpt from THE COMPLETE POEMS. Introduction, notes, commentary, and translation copyright © 2009, 2012 by Daniel Mendelsohn. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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The Borzoi Reader Poem-A-Day 2013
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