Category: On Books

Jan 27

Fluttering of wings above great fortune

Tooting my horn remains difficult though I know that self-promotion is crucial these days. I hide my little successes under modesty, trying to stave off a pet peeve – pride. But, my recent luck (really nothing in the scheme of things) amuses me. Yesterday an editor phoned seeking to publish one of my poems. Mind you I’ve had almost a hundred works published and it’s not The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, or even Poetry, but it is — an editor from out of state who had enough interest to call. Thank you, Gail of Kaleidoscope Magazine. You’ve given me a flicker in my recent dusking of spirit. Poets always dream of being widely read and crafting words that move others, but perhaps love and the care of another human being in need may be my greatest accomplishments while on this earth. My words may be more like the fluttering of wings above that great fortune.

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Sep 08

Live long and google

Live long and Google! Thanks to our innovative and happening friends at Google my day has been made (right here in the home stretch to the midnight hour)! Not sure how long the Star Trek interactive icon has been up, but I just saw it and checked it out. Great stuff, Google. Happy 45 years to all forward thinkers and dreamers. This almost tops my Star Trek find at Goodwill this week. Thanks also today to Valerie Johnson of Chicago’s best poetry magazine ever,  Poetry. How many can claim they’ve done it for 100 years, yet alone, done it right (and/or done it with poetry). Valerie made the trip to Springfield to collect a Centenarian award from the Illinois State Historical Society. Beyond 100 years, and Star Trek and Google, good folks like Valerie, surpass the stars in my books. There’s nothing better than the humble and kind. Make sure to check out the Poetry Foundation, and if you are in Chicago, the awesome new green building they are housed in (by John Ronan Architects).

 

 

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Jun 03

The poetry of birds and fish

Years ago, I wrote a sonnet about flying in my dreams. It is titled, Flying, with the closing couplet, “To flight, to search for freedom, we fleet/While fish they wish their fins were feet.” This ties into my day. Today, with great sadness, I watched my dog attack a bird. The bird suffered. Though upset, I was intrigued by the other birds. The robins were screeching. A mourning dove sat guard for a while after the robins pecked a grackle away. A few finches and wrens came and sat on the fence to see what was going on. I wonder if birds do everything on instinct or if there exists some small kind of feelings under all those feathers. On a happier note, Springfield Poets and Writers‘ teen anthology Navigating the Maze is published and copies distributed to contributors. With SPW and Adonis Designs Press, I design and edit the publication, of which the art selected for this year’s cover is titled, Fish. It is the image that one will see on these websites. Now I must tell you, the poem makes allusion to evolution. Fish may love to swim if they too have any feelings under those scales. As a swimmer, I must also tell you that it is as glorious to swim and it is to fly in your dreams. It’s all poetry to me!

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Apr 05

Poet laureates

Happy National Poetry Month! Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein heads to Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, Apr. 21 to be the featured poet at the Vachel Lindsay Home Historic Site, 603 S. Fifth Street. The site’s recurring series, Poets in the Parlor, begins at 2 p.m. Stein will read from his new book, Poetry’s Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age. Seating is limited at this intimate venue. Stein teaches at Bradley University in Peoria and has been Illinois Poet Laureate since 2003. Read all about our current U.S. Poet Laureate and past laureates at one-of-my favorite websites – the Library of Congress.

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Sep 20

In the Heart of Contemplation – Daniel Day Lewis

Recently saw a photo of Daniel Day Lewis dining at Augie’s Front Burner in my hometown of Springfield, Illinois. A first date with my sweetie was there. Wish we might be in conversation with Lewis over dinner about poetry or metaphysics. Last of the Mohicans continues to be a favorite—unusual since Westerns and historical films are not my forte. But what a masterpiece— the music, the story, the scenery, the acting, DDL with long hair—. I dare say that we all expose a fraction of ourselves in the choices we make, whether that is from words in a blog or the acting jobs we take. I find a sort of poetry in Daniel Day Lewis from Gandhi to The Unbearable Lightness of Being to The Crucible. In fact, fondness for poetry motivated me to buy one of his father’s books when I discovered C. Day Lewis was poet laureate of England from 1968 until his death in 1972. Complete Poems was published in 1992 by Stanford University Press with an introduction by his widow, Jill Balcon. As many times I do in a game of chicken with fate, I flipped open the book and gazed upon a poem, “Is It Far to Go?” followed by an asterisk that notes, “The third stanza is on CDL’s tombstone in Dorset.” The book’s introduction states that Lewis is buried near Thomas Hardy—my footsteps have fallen there. Then there’s Lincoln. DDL plays Lincoln in a 2012 movie by the same name. A story I tell too often at readings is about the synchronicity of landing in central Illinois, the land of Lincoln, with my dog, already named Lincoln when I adopted him from an east coast pound. “An Address to Lincoln” remains a favorite poem, crafted based on the love of a dog and the Gettysburg Address.

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Sep 24

Oh Where, Oh Where is Natalie Merchant

Natalie Merchant has a new two-disc CD out titled, ” Leave Your Sleep.” It consists of poems by famous poets or authors that Merchant has set to music, some that she once sang to her children. The CD comes with a small book containing 25 poems and a short bio written by Merchant on each poet. I should love this CD. There’s a book for heaven’s sake. But, I don’t. Merchant claims she is no poet, those she calls, ” our soft-spoken clairvoyants,” but her own lyrics are more clairvoyant, interesting, unique and beautiful than any in this collection. Shucks, I even think Merchant’s CD title is more creative than its poems. It surprises me because four of the poets are personal favorites: EE Cummings, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Christina Rossetti, and Robert Graves. Perhaps the ditties will grow on me. I’m ready to leave this opinion behind.

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Jan 27

Beets and poetry

Two subjects linger in my mind on this Tim Burton-like day, where black trees with spindly branches seem to reach into the rain as if the drops might medicate their gloom. Beets and poetry. Yes, beets and poetry are on my mind. While the sun fails to shine outside my kitchen window for the umpteenth day in a row, lunch consists of beets, cottage cheese with mandarin oranges, and mushroom soup. Ah, you might say…there lies the rub, but no, the soup is Campbell’s soup. The last time I checked, Campbell’s was not in the pharmaceutical business. Beets play a role in the book, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I enjoyed reading this book, but that was years ago. The book was better for me because beets were in it, not beets tasted better to me after reading the book. I don’t remember if this was in the book, but I thought the beet, a heart, a symbol of immortal love. Anyway…I love beets. Why? I do not know. They taste a little woodsy. Perhaps there’s an unconscious connection to the outdoors or trees or some other earthy thing I adore. Though I can’t place what it is about the color that is attractive to me, the color is deep and rich, and an unusual color for a vegetable. The texture may be the key. Cooked beats, like turnips, don’t fall apart as easily as potatoes, retaining their form, though they can get very soft. Yum. Beets taste good. Particularly pickled beets with hard-boiled eggs. I plant and harvest beets, boil them until the skins slid off easily, mix up a concoction of vinegar, water and sugar, boil some eggs, drain and peel the eggs, put everything together and refrigerate over night. Abracadabra. According to Wikipedia (a source I might add that you should use at your own risk), “the first known mention of the word abracadabra was in the 2nd century AD in a poem called De Medicina Praecepta by Serenus Sammonicus, physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, who prescribed that the sufferer from the disease wear an amulet containing the word written in the form of a triangle. Abracadabra…beets and, I feel a little beeter, I mean better, and I haven’t even gotten to the poetry.

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Dec 02

Book overload

I have too many books. Occasionally I lose my sanity and sell some to the local used bookstore. I almost always regret it. A year or two ago I got rid of an attic-full of science fiction books. Biggest mistake of my life. Well, maybe not the biggest, but stupid all the same. I love books. I like the cover and spine colors, the different shapes and sizes of letters and words, the interesting publishing logos, the way they stand tight up against each other in my bookcases, or lean slightly upon one another. I like the texture of books bound in glossy paper, or knobby cloth or smooth, soft leather. I haven’t even commented on the smell, the sound, or the feel of them. I like that a thousand images and a thousand ideas sit inside them, not to mention a thousand characters, a thousand worlds. On the right wall they provide insulation. In the right space, decoration. In my life, just the right volume of intelligent noise.

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Jun 10

On Caregiving

Awareness is a blessing or a curse. It is a blessing if knowledge, beauty, or possibility finds its way to you. It is a curse if short-comings, ugliness, or self-pity leap upon you like prickles from a cocklebur field. Many days Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, comes to mind, and in the awareness of his words, I question if I face unavoidable suffering, and therein if I do, do I meet it with dignity. So many days it seems all I do is try to pick burrs from the cloth of my being.

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Jan 28

This is why I like…

… Paige’s art “The Pole” so much as seen on the cover of The Maze 2008 (adonisdesignspress.com). 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!”

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