Archive for January, 2009

Jan 28

This is why I like…

… Paige’s art “The Pole” so much as seen on the cover of The Maze 2008 ( For me, all the history and important-world-changing stuff that happened inside the fence is put into perspective. Her focus on the pole instead of the historical building reminds us to pay attention to the little things, the ignored, the trivial, to the seemingly insignificant stuff, that many times makes up all that big stuff.

Art takes a back seat to sports and politics often. Not here. The pole is part of an intricate piece of art. Sure it’s a barrier around a famous building, and perhaps a frame to draw attention to the importance of the history contained within, but the fence is a beautiful sculpture too.

Furthermore, the pole is a mirror. If we stand close enough and gaze into its reflective globe, it contains our image. From the right seat on a freezing February day, or on another day in the heat of August, that object held an entire city of people ready for change.

From an artistic point of view, I like how the pole mimics the shape of the capital dome. Others might snicker, “It’s just a pole!”


Jan 22

Star Trek: A Poetry Connection

I ran across some interesting info recently. Robert Beltran (Chakotay on the Voyager series) recorded a poetry CD. He reads the work of other Latino poets (he’s part Mexican and part Native American), including two very famous poets, Neruda and Paz.


Jan 06

Intro to a list of my favorite poems

About a year ago I listed my ten favorite poems as a handout for a writing group. The idea came from the numerous top ten and one-hundred book and movie lists that populated the Web, and I had recently discovered Roger Housden’s book, Ten Poems to Change Your Life (even though published in 2001).

Starting any kind of list is dangerous for it can lead to a second, third, and fourth list. Then you are really in trouble, as any list-person like me knows. I got into difficulties from the very beginning. I jotted down any poem that came to mind that I really liked, but then it became necessary to form a second list.

That list was of criteria. I wanted to determine how to decide if one poem was better than another. This second list grew to a third list. Questions flowed. Are favorite poems those I have read or studied frequently and extensively? Should I list my favorite poets, and then note their most well-known poems, then pick from that list? Must others consider the poets I choose as famous or skilled at their craft? Can a one-poem-poet make the list? Should I limit the number of poets, of poems, of poems per poet?

To add insult to injury, I liked different poems and different poets for different reasons. On particular days I liked poet X and on other days, I liked poet Y. Of course, all this says more about me. I cannot think of a food I do not like, and do not even ask what my favorite color is. I like them all based on the occasion, time, location, or article associated with each.

So at that point, I changed the rules. I dumped all my lists and resolved to record poems that I loved until I could jot down not a title more. I ended with forty-six poems even though I know there are many missed and more not discovered.

In retrospect, I made two discoveries. One poet I liked a lot had no poems that made my final list. This leads me to believe that a poet’s biography or voice in a poem can sometimes influence my estimation of their work in a more positive way. This is typical of most I suspect. Similarly, I liked a few poems very much, but the poet did not seem to merit inclusion on my list. In conclusion, poems have less to do with the poet than most times we give the poet due. Furthermore, objectivity about a poem is difficult when we know who the author is.

In the end, my favorite poems share several characteristics. They are those that move me with each reading. Either they make me feel intensely or they introduce language that is new and exciting. Also, favorite poems stay with me. I retain a phrase or an image or an expertise of technique. Lastly, my favorite poems correspond to subject matters or themes that I find interesting enough to read or think about during my daily routines.


Jan 03

Star Trek: Puzzle pieces and the Borg

My dog chewed up a piece of a puzzle we had almost completed except for an expanse of blue sky. A friend had two days prior asked me to glue the finished work together so she could hang the panoramic scene as art in her basement. Now, staring at the wadded glob, it occurred to me that the puzzle was trash. (Of course, not really trash. You can still work on a puzzle with one, several, or many pieces missing.) But the perfectionist in me saw no use with a puzzle that one could never finish. Conversely, the Borg operate as a collective, one mind, many hands. One downed drone would not disable the entire hive. Or in puzzle terms, one piece of puzzle would not make the entire puzzle incomplete.