Looting Versailles

Looting Versailles
My first book of poems, just released by Alabaster Leaves Publishing

Friday, January 17, 2014

Really System Issue One published a poem of mine!

New poem published at Really System: http://reallysystem.org/issues/one/stasis_in_ragtime/

The journal has a great, friendly editor who asked that I encourage all my writer friends to submit their work for issue 2, so get to it guys!

This is an interesting piece for me: it’s the first I wrote after finishing my first book and taking several months off. It’s a rondeau, an underutilized form, in my opinion. Paul Laurence Dunbar (Dayton’s native son) has a famous one, We Wear the Mask: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173467

Another famous one, probably more well-known, is In Flanders Field by John McCrae: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19464

I’m happy with this poem, and after it was written I read it at Bess Embers’ poetry circle (at that time at Kettering’s Library on Far Hills). That June Saturday afternoon another poet there asked what inspired it, saying she was especially moved by the image of the horse in the air. I said I had been watching the news around the time of the Moore, OK tornado this past spring, and I felt, as a poet, one of my tasks was to “bear witness to my time,” and “testify” to present and future readers. It was going to be a theme behind my burgeoning, inchoate second book, bearing witness to current events, etc. Well, that poet really liked the idea, and came back with a sonnet of her own based on that image and idea the next month. (I remember a friend’s reaction, having been present for mine and hers: “Whoa.”) She’s an award-winning poetess, so I recommend checking out this month’s Mock Turtle Zine (http://mockturtlezine.com/online-issue/) if you want to see a fine example of sonneteering. The title may clue you in.

And on a sort of random note, while we’re talking poetry, there’s an interesting article on the Poetry Foundation website by Ruth Graham this month, about a certain trend that emerged in 2013: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/247130

(I feel compelled to mention the other poet's piece so that when mine is read it isn't presumed I heard the image from her, as mine was the second to be published. The feelings are only mildly hard, as intimated by the timely Poetry essay.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quick addition to the "falling in love" post

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”

This is a great Elie Wiesel quote (first heard by me in a Lumineers song). I think if one is viewing art in a form they aren't accustomed to - i.e. almost everybody's experience reading poetry, even some people who write it - then the best way to gauge whether it's "good" or not is 1) how much it "grabs" you (catches your attention and holds it), or, the other end of the spectrum, 2) how much it leaves you indifferent to it, that is, how little your mind returns to it, or how quickly it discards the sensory data (information, art object) and moves on to something different. 

So my advice to novice audience-members of any art form is - just go with the flow; experience the art. If you can't escape it afterward, if it resides in your mind after you're no longer viewing it, it's 'subjectively' (you being the subject) "good"; if you forget about it, it was "bad." 

What irks me is hearing other poetry writers / readers laud every poem they see...not EVERY poem they see, not the poems people they know have written, but the poems on websites or in books or journals, because they assume some authority has deemed it a "good poem" and that they, the readers, aren't good enough yet to tell what is good on their own. It took me a couple years to learn there is no such thing as an objectively good poem; the poems that live on are considered "good" by a vocal and powerful few, and then are accepted as good by the unwitting or naive majority (namely college students or retirees). Fortunately, if you stay with poetry, you'll see some of these vocal and powerful few were actually right, or their tastes agree with yours (I often find myself agreeing with Bloom on matters of aesthetics; if I were a critic I'd champion Crane, Stevens, Ashbery and Dickinson, too), but first you have to stop thinking everything is great. Poetry is like TV, Hollywood movies, pop music - 99.9% of it is CRAP. (See Sturgeon's Law.) 

For me, what's attention grabbing is still what's new, so I think the only critic who's ever remained valuable to me is Pound; fascist, anti-semitic Pound. If you want to know how to read, read http://www.amazon.com/ABC-Reading-New-Directions-Paperbook/dp/0811218937

Monday, January 6, 2014

Three New Poems Published...

Great journal. Includes my play on the abecedarian (look where the letters are :) ), a sonnet for one of my best friends (just engaged) in a sonnet form I invented, and some Sapphics I wrote for my nuclear family (pets included!):


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Two new publications

A poem I wrote almost exactly two years ago when I was still finding my footing:


Three poems I wrote this past year:


(Shared 21 times on Facebook! Exciting :) )