Tagged: poetry

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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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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Mar 19

Space and experience

Recently I’ve mused about how space plays into experience. This came about after listening to Dave Matthew’s CD, Big Whiskey in my bedroom then my car. It sounds different. Now I know that’s a concept even an elementary student would theorize might happen, duh…you snort, but just thinking about these little variables that play into experience inspire and thrill me. Imagine if we speak with someone in a bus as compared to a superstore. Imagine if the length of a poem’s line runs on for twenty words instead of two, and then you read it in a coffee shop as opposed to an outdoor fair. Imagine how incredible life is – that so much must come together in each moment. Space; heck, spacetime – the fun frontier. Here’s to being in the right place at the right time. Here’s to Samuel Coleridge who said, “Poetry: the best words in the best order.”

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Feb 10

Automatonphobia, Geeks and Nerds, and Sci-Ku

It began with Jeff Williams. Who is Jeff Williams? He’s a Springfield artist and musician from a popular local band NIL8. Fabulous performers, the kind that made you think, “these guys will make it far,” the group toured nationally, opening for famous bands including Smashing Pumpkins. Recently, Williams passed through my life because his work is on exhibit at Robert Morris Gallery in downtown Springfield. Williams kicked my geek meter up a notch on two fronts (or maybe it’s nerd meter). First, his art is titled Automatonphobia. Google that one! Love it, love it, love it! Second, after speaking with him about the show, he referred to himself as a nerd. This prompted an extensive search of the terms “nerd” and “geek.” What is that quote about no man in his own country? In postscript, in the ever turning synchronistic cogs of my life, I also at this time came upon a literary magazine that listed a page of Sci-Ku poetry. Having invented our own Low-Ku here in Springfield (Low-Ku — the poetry, not of nature, but of urban life and all its unpleasantness), it was delightful to find Sci-Ku. Love it, love it, love it. Not to mention the Fibonacci Sequence…plasmoids…white dwarfs…but that’s another post.

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May 27

Desperate for poetry

The world seems desperate for a new poetry. A fad new to me is Flarf poetry. Just yesterday it was brought to my attention by a fellow writer who read an article in The New Yorker about it. Flarf is similar to found poetry, but instead of using the page to find words, one uses Google. Just the word, flarf sounds too close to barf, and fluff, and fart for me to feel comfortable in relation to poetry. Oh, I love a good bodily function as much as the next guy, and I’ve done workshops using what I call clip-poetry, where we cut words from magazines and craft a poem by pasting them onto a page. These are legitimate ways to find inspiration and fun and to build poems. And I immensely adore Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, but didn’t someone say that all fun and games makes Jack a dull boy. When it comes to poetry, I don’t always want a cartoon, or the chipmunks singing, or improv, or a reality show. Sometimes I crave Andrea Bocelli or Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh brilliantly in the lead. You see, well written-on-the-page poetry can be complex and beautiful and crafted as fine wine is aged or a good movie built using great actors, an interesting layered story line, stunning costumes, dialogue, set, etc. Enough said. The world is desperate for easily accessible everything. Simple reality shows, U-Tube, and simple fun, loving sitcoms. We all want and need that at times. But we need the other stuff too. We need the basic written, well-crafted poem. In the same way we try to train our college students to be better thinkers and close, discerning readers, we need to be desperate to extend that lesson to everyone, at every age, even to ourselves and our kids. That’s the stuff that makes our brain bigger.

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Mar 25

Beets and poetry, continued

The other subject that was on my mind during my beet feast (and has continued to pop up over and over again in my thoughts like a hang nail) was a comment made by a friend about poetry. I’ve heard the statement before. It irritates me every time I hear it. It bothers me even more when the person is a fiction writer that lets the bomb fall, and it torpedoes me like a big piece of bird poop flung on target. “I don’t understand poetry.” Who would ever walk into an art gallery and say to a fellow artist whose work was on exhibit, “I don’t understand realism or sculpture!” Who walks into a concert given by another musician and says to him, “I don’t understand the blues or country!” I won’t go on and on about this. Read the introduction to The Maze 2008 if you want to hear me preach more about this pet peeve. Just remember, if you dislike poetry or a poem, be honest. Tell the poet, “I dislike poetry.” Or confess, “I don’t like this poem.” Those are statements poets may hate, but can understand and respect. If you’re a nice person you can substitute, “Ah, poetry’s not really my thing.”

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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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Aug 28

Cummings: Poetic Genius Led by Freedeom of Creativity

Cummings is to poetry what Picasso is to art. Purposeful deviation equals freedom of creativity. Coupled with the self, it forms poetic schools, creates poetic genres, and molds our most prized poets. I hope Cummings never had to hear Creeley chatter, “Never write in generalities if a particular, a detail, a specificity would do.” Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town ranks as one of the best poems ever written. While Creeley would have responded that detail wasn’t appropriate in this instance, his statement like so many more like it today, steers would-be-better poets into conformity or mediocrity. I’m not talking about complete chaos when I speak about a poet utilizing freedom of creativity— for freedom of creativity is control of chaos. It is not poetic license either, for poetic license drives the artist as opposed to creative freedom that drives the art.

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Jun 23

The Continuous March Toward Perfection

People always awaken at some point, whether at a place in their lives or in a time period as large as a civilization, and want a life of truth and freedom and justice. Gandhi led the Indian people. King led African-Americans. The Dali Lama leads in the same way, in peace and non-violence with a reverence for all life. The Tibetan monks cradled their religion before being tossed out of Tibet, as if the hand of the universe thought their words were worth sharing with the world.

The Fatherland: Bod

Among rock, the tree widens crevice,
kneels to dirt born from wind and rain
lives to serve the elements.

Among rock, snow tips from the tops
of mountain breasts,
melts each Spring into mouths below.

Among mountains, monks rock in lotus
turn prayers to steady minds
meet paradise to transform evil

empires into compassionate countries.
The highest point in the world leaps further down.
Pushed out, he slowly spreads his way.

Anita Stienstra
2007

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