Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Poets Without Education

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm getting sick and tired of all the MFA and PhD talk about what school and which degree makes good poetry lately - as if nothing else mattered.

Just for the record, with a good memory and about 20 minutes worth of research, here's a few poets WITHOUT the all-important credentialing that goes on nowdays.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY - ambulance driver

ANNE SEXTON - advanced education consisted of attending Finishing School.

CARL SANDBURG - left school at 13, went back and re-tackled academia at a later date but left before completing a 4 year degree.

HART CRANE - dropped out of high school and took to the sea and the streets.

LANGSTON HUGHES - left college after two semesters and eventually ended up doing a myrid of things - two of which were washing dishes and writing.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLY - expelled from Oxford

EMILY DICKINSON - returned home after one year at Mary Lyon's Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and seldom left home again.

DYLAN THOMAS - left school at 16 to become a reporter.

BOB DYLAN - left college after his first year.

EDGAR ALAN POE - gave up formal education in 1927 at the age of 18 after losing his tuition money due to a gambling problem.

WALT WHITMAN - His mother was barely literate and his father was a carpenter. In 1823 the family moved to Brooklyn, where for six years Whitman attended public schools. It was the only formal education he ever received.

CARL SANDBURG - joined the army during the Spanish American War, spent 2 weeks at West Point, left for another college in Galesburg and then left there without a degree.

ROBERT FROST - attended both Dartmouth and Harvard but never obtained a formal degree from either.

WILLIAM BLAKE - never attended school - was educated at home by his mother.

PABLO NERUDA - gave up his formal studies at the age of 20 to devote himself to writing.


ROBERT BROWNING - In 1828, at the age of 16, Browning enrolled at the University of London, but he soon left, anxious to read and learn at his own pace.

WILLIAM BLAKE - When he turned fourteen, he apprenticed with an engraver because art school proved too costly. In 1782, he married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. Blake taught her to read and to write, and also instructed her in draftsmanship. Later, she helped him print the illuminated poetry for which he is remembered today.

LORD BYRON - once he inherited the title and property of his great-uncle in 1798, he went to Dulwich, Harrow, where he excelled in swimming, and Cambridge, where he piled up debts and aroused alarm with bisexual love affairs. It's unclear as to whether he actually got a degree in anything or not.

DANTE - studied at home, as was usual for the times.


"Educated poets" seems to be a late 20th century type thing. Maybe that explains why there are so few real poets left, hey what? Perhaps while the universities are busy turning out cookie-cutter-poets - with poet-teachers intent on recreating their poet-students in their own image, poetry is, in fact, dying. It sometimes seems as though no one who claims to be a contemporary poet knows (or wants to know) anything about a life composed of anything other than than the relative safety of academia and academic publishing. I mean, really, publish or perish might be the Sword of Damocles to some - but, trust me, it isn't the worst thing which can befall an individual, yanno?

Perhaps I'm just jealous, but I don't think so. I think I'm just pissed off at the current attitude which seems to imply that if you didn't go to school you have no business trying to write poetry - for that matter, if you didn't get at least a BA you might as well be declared functionally illiterate.

Not so, sayeth the drop-out.

The fact that I couldn't spell Damocles without help is immaterial. That's what the dictionary is for. Last I heard you didn't need a college degree to be capable of using one.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


If you like football - or even if you DON'T like football but have an overwhelming fondness for really sharp witty sarcasm, intelligent opinion, and/or lively ruminations on poetry, religion, relationships, sex and politics - here's a really good blog to visit. PatriotsexPatriot

Anyone who can bury SEX in the middle of his header by appearing to merely repeat the name of a football team is bound to be interesting.

Advice Not Taken

Better titled - "My Summer Vacation - A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words."

When I landed last week at Midway Airport for a short 5 day visit it was raining. When I left Midway Airport after what turned out to be a very emotional, very upsetting, very busy, very grueling, and very long EIGHT day visit, it was still raining. And by "still raining" I mean it never once STOPPED raining.

When the plane landed in DC, it was raining. When Dan stopped at McDonalds to buy me a burger - he rear-ended the car in front of us. When we left McDonalds and came home we found not one but several police cars along the side of our building, several police cars in the parking lot of our building and a few more police cars (and an ambulance who wasn't in a very big hurry to leave) in front of our building. Apparently, according to the man at the front desk, someone left the building via a 9th floor balcony.


Welcome home!

And yes, in case you're interested, it's STILL raining.

Everywhere, I think. Or maybe just on me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Disorder In the Court

These are hysterical!!! They are excerpts (supposedly) from a book called "Disorder in the American Courts." I googled to find the book but couldn't - which is a shame, because I'd surely like to read it.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-one-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

And the best for last

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law

Thank you, David Anthony, for posting them in a place where I could find it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Off With The Old

On with the new!!!

I am removing dead links - such as Jessica Smith's Look Touch blog because, as you can see, the link no longer goes anywhere.

In it's place, I am adding Patti McCarthy's new blog, Fools Like Me. Patti's one heck of a poet and a good friend as well which makes her doublely (is that a word?) worth the read.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the cats have taken to eating plastic of all sorts and I am sitting at my desk eating brown sugar straight from the box. It's a toss-up as to which of us will get sick first.

I am outa town bright and early Saturday morning. I am going home to see two kids, one daughter-in-law, one girlfriend-in-law, one grandchild, 3 nephews, one niece, one mother, one aunt, thirty seven former co-workers, and, hopefully, a whole bunch of old friends.

No blogging until I return. Maybe not even then. Because I get home just in time for Dan's birthday, my birthday and THE DRAFT!!!!

After that, it's football season. And we've got our brand new 22 inch flat screen TV all set up in the bedroom and ready to go!!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Score One for The Herd Animals

This is long - but worth the watch.

So please, watch it!!

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Drafted

Bush War Czar Says Draft Worth a Look

I reiterate:

Those Dead

The gods have whispered war, let each sane woman wonder why.
They have no say as men go forth to die perhaps today.
Their men are lonely heroes all; those dead - those still to die.

The gods destroy while women mourn a future passing by.
They have no choice as men go forth to die in disarray.
The gods have whispered war, let each sad woman wonder why.

False gods are seeking sacrifice. Each woman hears the lie.
They have no say as men go forth to hold those gods at bay,
for men are lonely heroes all; those dead - those still to die.

Young children wail and old men weep, yet women simply sigh.
They have no choice as men go forth to fight in distant fray.
The gods have whispered war, let each brave woman wonder why.

Their silence sings a sad refrain of each unsaid good-bye.
They have no say as men go forth, both predators and prey,
for men are lonely heroes all; those dead - those still to die.

So let the widowed women weep, let history hear their cry.
They've had no choice as men went forth and died too far away.
The gods have whispered war, let each lost woman wonder why
their men are lonely heros all; those dead - those still to die.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Second Judge Declares "Abusive Driver's Fee" Unconstitutional

Richmond General District Court judge, Thomas O. Jones, ruled Friday that the fees violate the 14th Amendment's guarentee of equal protection under the law because they aply only to state residents.

The ruling by Judge Jones has not been appealed by The Commonwealth.

It's not over, but it looks promising to those of us who were concerned solely with the inequality of it. David B. Albo (Remember him? He's the Representative from Fairfax who was the primary backer of the fees. He's also a partner in the law firm of Albo & Oblon, where he handles (you guessed it) mostly traffic cases) is busy drafting legislation for the 2008 General Assembly that will include out of state drivers, even though he still believes the current law is constitutional.

The Henrico verdict has been appealed and is scheduled to be heard later this week in the county's circuit court.

The thought's been offered from somewhere in the governor's office that the lawmakers do not believe the law was intended to impose a "disproportionate burden" on Virginians. They were more thinking it was, perhaps, a matter of "administrative convenience."

Gosh, that makes me feel so, so - so icky, yanno?

Stay tuned for further developments.

Poetry Is Where You Find It - Sometimes You Find It In Leesburg, Virginia

Dan and I went to hear Susan McLean read at a poetry reading sponsored by the Leesburg Poetry Series in Leesburg, Va. on Friday night. Afterwards we were invited by Claudia Gary Annis, the inexhaustible woman who organizes the entire series, to join her and Susan and several other artists at a nearby Chinese restaurant for dinner and drinks. It was a wonderful evening and I was, as always, struck by the sheer and simultaneous beauty and violence of words and language when held in the hands of a poet or writer.

It was, however, the aftermath of the evening which has stuck with me - and which has, once again, shown me that reality can never truly be duplicated by words - nor can language alone ever hold the same terrible and awesome power that life, itself, possesses.

After taking leave of our new-found companions, Dan and I were walking towards our car. I was flush with the excitement and the joy of the night and the beauty of the town which is Leesburg and, as usual, I was not really paying much attention to the rest of the world. I did, however, at the last possible moment, notice a rather large group of wildly gesturing teenagers in front of The Tally Ho Theater and I was sufficiently aware of the hour and the darkness that I prudently considered the idea of crossing the street right now might be a very good one. As we were jaywalking across we noticed two of the young boys (who had been obviously arguing with the only adult present) suddenly breaking free from the group and running down a nearby alley way. From our vantage point across the street, we could see that a third boy, probably about 12 or 13 years old, had been left leaning against the building, holding his head in his hands.

As we got into our car I was struck with a sudden severe case of medic/mother remorse and guilt and so I asked Dan if we could drive back and make sure the boy was not seriously injured. By the time we drove around the block and returned to the scene there was a core group of approximately 8 or 9 young teens standing around the injured boy who was, by now, holding a very large bag of ice to his left eye area. Of those still standing around, four or five of them were young girls, the rest were equally young males and there was still the one adult who later turned out to be the boy's father. I identified myself as a former medic and asked if there was anything I could do. The boy immediately lowered his six-pound ice bag and offered his head and eye for examination. He'd been popped pretty good, with both swelling and bruising already present but the laceration itself was not large and, while actively continuing to ooze, was not profusely bleeding. The ice was a good idea, but the application of ice directly onto unprotected skin is never the optimal mode of delivery. I asked the crowd around him if anyone had a handkerchief (yeah, right, in this day and age) or some other type of cloth with which the ice could be covered and almost immediately one of the girl, a pretty little blonde who was noticably dressed to impress in her Friday night best, shrugged off her immaculate and obviously brand-new white sweater and offered it to me. I was reluctant to take it, telling her it would get bloody and that bloodstains do not come off, ever, and she smiled and said, "I don't care. He's my friend."

Poetry conveys - life is.

There's been no poetry ever written in this world, past, present or future, which says more or which speaks so eloquently or which offers more hope.


Saturday, August 04, 2007


Henrico County Judge Declares Va. "Civil Remedial Fees" Unconstitutional

Finally, a judge with sense! Thank you, Judge Archie Yeatts of Henrico County, Virginia. It's good to know that some people in positions of power still understand the basic concept of fair play for all.

It's onto the Circuit Court now - one can only hope those judges have the same sense and sensibility that Judge Yeatts apparently possesses.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How Not To Email Your Students

Robert Olin Butler - A Classic Example of Passive/Aggressive Behaviour Via E-Mail

Damn!!! And he's embarrassed and unhappy to find his artless little "loving and compassionate" missive on The Internet?


Um, Excuse Me, Please,

This would be my side of the bed.