Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some days

I'm aware that poetry just doesn't matter.

Not at all.

Not even a little bit.

Nine Firefighters die in Charleston, S. C.

Rest in peace. Your brothers and sisters salute your bravery and your dedication and we mourn your passing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hot Metal Press

Oh Happy Sunday!

Woke up this morning to hot tea already prepared, cats already fed and a brilliant sun shining through the balcony doors. What more can one ask for?

How about a poetry acceptance letter?

Got word about an hour ago that Martin Willitts, who is editing an anthology on Cancer for Hot Metal Press, has accepted my one and only offering, In Utero, for inclusion in his upcoming project which was sponsored by a grant from The Chenago County Individual Artist Grant Program 2007

YAY me!!

The acceptance letter was a bit different. I almost didn't finish reading it because it read very much like the standard rejection letter I've come to expect. It began with the familiar:

"Thank you very much for submitting your poem, ________________. I received many more submissions than expected and cannot possible include them all. Many good poems and poets had to be eliminated.

I am pleased that so many people from around the world participated. I hope
I provided a slight chance to represent some good poetry. Unfortunately I
could not accept everything.

But at the end of the familiar two paragraph explanation was the unfamiliar single stand-alone sentence:

"I would like to accept your poem."

Talk about a pleasant surprise!!!!

It's always gratifying to have a poem accepted for publication - always - and no matter how many poems get accepted there's always that same catch of breath and that same sense of wonder and pleasure at the proof that someone, somewhere, considers you good enough to publish so that other people can also read you.

When the poem is accepted by a publication with an underlying worthy cause, however, there's a special feeling of pride and an accompanying sense of fear that the poem will somehow not live up to the initial vote of confidence. The book will be reaching out to an audience other than poetry lovers - and this one will be reaching out to a group of people who have lived through fear and tragedy that I have only written of - to people with a courage I cannot imagine possessing. How will it meet with them?

I've always felt that being capable of writing poetry is as much of a responsibility as it is a gift.

Now I know it is.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The 13th Annual Poetry Conference at West Chester

We left town early yesterday to attend the last day of the 13th Annual West Chester University Poetry Conference. Actually, we didn't "attend" much - mostly we just hung around and met people in person that we've known in print for years. It was great to finally put faces to names - Michael Cantor, David Landrum, Toni Clark, Greg Dowling, Bruce McBirney, and Wendy Sloan from Eratosphere, and Robin Kemp and Marilyn Taylor from Formalista. There were a few others attending that I really wish I had been able to locate but time was short and the few hours we had there flew by and the day was over long before I was ready for it to end.

We hung around long past prudent leaving-time in order to hear Alicia Stallings, Dick Davis and H. L. Hix give readings and I'm really glad we did so.
They were, all three, wonderful. Dick Davis read several very funny and well-written poems loosely centered on random events at last year's conference which kept the audience in stitches throughout. Alicia read from Hapax as well as from her newest collection and gave us a long poem on the Plague from a translation she's been working on for over a decade. H. L. Hix read several poems which were fashioned solely from phrases taken from Bush speechs and one framed around words spoken by Saddam Hussein. He also did a most moving rendition of Shield of Achilles by W. H. Auden. Unfortunately we had to leave at that point and missed the readings by Molly Peacock and X. J. Kennedy.

It struck me while I was there that I was surrounded by the rarest of all poetic breeds - poets and artists who lived and breathed in form and meter and rhyme. I was talking to them, I was eating brats and drinking beer with them, I was listening to them read. For one brief and shining moment I was not a freak, I was not alone, I was not uncomfortable, I was not "different," I was not out of place. I was just like everyone else - albeit not nearly as talented.

Next year - as God is my witness - next year, by hook or by crook, by scholarship or by cash, we will attend the entire event.

I'm fired up.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

This Would Be - My Family

Dominic Slide Show - What Fun!!

Wheeee!! How cool is THIS??

Poem For Ari

This is how you thought they'd learn -
by being drawn and quartered,
humiliated, abandoned, set in stone.
But before the lesson's end,
before you grinned and walked away,
you should have turned your head
and taken one long and lasting look
into the lion's eyes. You would have
seen how still they shone.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Introducing "Ari"

Meet Ari!! Ari is Hebrew for "lion" and this particular lion named Ari happens to be a "Shameless Lion" and by virtue of my adopting him, this blog is now a member of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

He still needs a poem, though. And I'm still working on it.

Tomorrow, the poem will be here tomorrow.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Tell Myself

I Tell Myself

(for Patti)

I cannot bear to talk of how you died
by your own hand. I cannot bring myself
to cry in front of anyone. My pain is shame;
my grief is guilt; there is no way to blame
this loss on God or fate - and so, each time
I'm asked, I lie. I say that I've survived
your death and life goes on and nothing's changed
except you're gone. I do not speak of things
unspeakable - I mutter platitudes.

I keep the circumstances of your death
tucked hidden with your note. I lick the blood-
stained envelope to seal away the pain.
I tell myself repeatedly that guns
and ropes and razor blades are just the same
as unchecked cancer cells and others die
in self-same ways a hundred times a day.

I cope. (I do not cope.) I comprehend.
(I will not ever comprehend.) I cry.
(I'll never cry again.) And when I'm asked
if I am on the mend, I tell the truth.

(I lie.)