poems, mostly metrical, and rants and raves on poets, poetry, and the po-biz (with 8-string stuff)
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Category — Personal

Maxine Kumin, 6/6/1925—2/6/2014

I was very lucky, back in the 1970’s, to be able to work with Ms Kumin in workshops arranged by Sena Jeter Naslund at the University of Louisville. She had a tremendous influence on me at the time, and I’ve never stopped reading her work.

I’ve always particularly loved her book The Retrieval System. When I learned of her death I immediately thought of that book’s title poem and, especially, “The Excrement Poem,” which ends 

 

I think of what drops from us and must then
be moved to make way for the next and the next.
However much we stain the world, spatter

it with out leavings, make stenches, defile
the great formal oceans with what leaks down
trundling off today’s last barrow-full
I honor shit for saying: We go on.

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February 8, 2014   3 Comments

My Sonnet and a Danish Science Fiction Club

SFC, a Danish science fiction club and independent publisher which also hosts Stig Jørgensen’s sci-fi blog Ekkorummet (Echo Chamber), is publishing a book of the same name, consisting of selected entries from that blog.

I’m extremely pleased that the book contains an essay, “Teaching Breakfast How to Love You,” the title of which comes from a line in my poem “This Morning’s Man”, and that my poem is quoted in full in that essay.

If you read Danish, or if you’d just like to see the poem, the book is available here. Below is the English translation of the book’s blurb:

“Atoms in love

We humans are a fleeting substance, an ever-changing configuration of atoms that we absorb from cucumbers and pork chops. And this arrangement of matter can feel great affection – and a deep sense of wonder at the universe. This is a mystery. How do we connect the scientific description of the nature of time, matter, and our brains, with our experience of the world as conscious beings feeling hunger and ambition and grief and infatuation? – from the essay ‘Teaching Breakfast How to Love You’

The starting point for this book is the meeting of science and aesthetics and the ‘softer’ aspects of human existence. This meeting unfolds in science fiction – a branch of literature that ideally deals with the significance of technology and the scientific picture of the world to human life – but also in many other places: in the visual arts, poetry and music, in philosophy and scientific thought experiments. Consequently, the essays and articles in the book cover a wide range of topics from the theory of evolution to the Danish painter Otto Frello, from mathematical logic to erotic fantasy, from the philosophy of language to the mutual references between the comic-book writer Neil Gaiman and the singer/songwriter Tori Amos, from artificial intelligence to the poetry of Henrik Nordbrandt – for the inspiration of the intellectually curious reader.”

The book is based on pieces from the blog Ekkorummet [Echo Chamber/ Echo Space], which Stig W. Jørgensen, a science-fiction expert, translator and linguist, wrote until 2012. Jørgensen’s echo chamber is “an open space, a place characterized by resonance where various scientific and cultural topics are given room to resound and reverberate.”

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June 23, 2013   No Comments

My Mother’s Very Ill

Not quite as bad as earlier reports, but still serious and I’ll still be on the road for a few days.

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June 5, 2013   No Comments

In Other News …

Last night at band practice our bass player surprised me with a nifty setting to Tuesday’s triolet. I think we’re going to add it to the repertoire.

And I’ve added a link to Jingle Monster‘s very nifty Times in Rhymes, rhyming couplet commentary on the (mostly Australian) news of the day.

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September 29, 2011   No Comments

Just for Kicks

My band, Fractal Folk, on You Tube, doing part of a song Krys Baker set from a poem I never finished. Thanks, Tess!

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March 28, 2011   No Comments

Back Home with You

Counting the trips from there and back to there,
To there and back to here’s two thousand miles,
And every mile I drive, no matter where,
Counting the trips from there and back to there,
I think of you back here, and can’t despair —
While I am yours, such paltry exile smiles —
Counting the trips from there and back to there,
To there and back is just two thousand miles.

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January 1, 2011   2 Comments

Not a Manifesto

But I think I’m done pretending that I give a shit about contemporary poetry. Sturgeon’s Law wouldn’t begin to explain the situation were it not that the law also applies to theories and schools, and poetry is as beset by that noxious pair of hydras as any human activity—more than most since there’s no market for poetry. A grant-and-university-supported art is an art with no consequence, and if even those institutions fail the young poet, the Internet makes it so easy to find a thousand like-minded fools that each can believe himself or herself in the vanguard of a movement.

Of course there are living poets, many younger than I, whose work I admire, and I’ll be glad to name a few of them: A. E. Stallings, Tony Barnstone, Jill Alexander Essbaum, R. S. Gwynn, Catherine Tufariello, Dick Davis, Annie Finch, Marilyn Nelson, Kim Addonizio—I’ll stop before anyone thinks I’m trying to be exhaustive. These are just the ones who occurred to me waiting for dinner to served at the banquet for English-learners in the St Mary’s County schools. And I’m hungry.

And here’s what I hunger for in poems: the sound of a human voice or of human voices, speaking to at least one other human, to a reader at least, expecting to be understood, or at least expecting some human response; speech that exists in at least the penumbra of a story, of human action; speech made memorable by craft, by the rhythmic organization of stress and repeated sounds.

I hunger for slam poets and sonneteers.

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November 30, 2010   5 Comments

After Hard Rain

Yesterday it rained and they closed the schools and sent us home from work and the rain never stopped while I was conscious. This morning, no rain, but neither was there sun. This morning I took Lew Turco‘s (here’s his wikipedia page) The Book of Forms from the shelf and opened it at random to the cyrch a chwda, a nearly mono-rhymed heptasyllabic Welsh octave with a cross rhyme from the penultimate line to mid-syllable of the last line, and gave myself two hours before stopping to prepare for tonight’s gig (more later). I made one:

That Rain

From first light the light was drowned
And all day the only sound
Was water always earthbound
Or spilling from the high ground
To the low until it found
Some way inside earth or wound
Itself in stream, pond, or lake,
And could retake the world around.

The third word of the last line changed just now, from “remake.” The day was really quite sinister.

But today was quite different. I’m pleased with the poem, and a 3/8th fraction of Fractal Folk, just Krys, our trombonist/flautist Greg DiCristofaro, and I, did a damned good job playing the sidewalk outside Larry’s Comic Book Café (but the Leonardtown Location).

I’m a happy man.

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October 1, 2010   2 Comments

In Case You Haven’t Guessed …

NaPoWriMo’s not going so well for me. “The world is too much with us …” But I like 2 of the 3 sonnets, and I’ve got drafts for 3 or 4, so maybe it worked out OK after all.

In other news, Victor Keegan at the Guardian has produced a nifty iPhone app, City Poems, which uses location services to display poems associated with where you are in London. Which I am not.

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April 14, 2010   1 Comment

Lewis Turco: Odd and Invented Forms

Lewis Turco, a wonderful poet both under his own name and as Wesli Court, is the author of The Book of Forms, the first edition of which first introduced me to real formal possibility. He’s started a collection of “Odd and Invented Forms” and he’s asking for contributions. Submission information is on the page.

I’m very pleased that Lew has included a form I concocted for Twitter, the twiplet (formerly twinnet). For a little while at least it’s the last item on his page.

Update 2/22/2010: Changed the URL to Lew’s new location,. Thanks to greywyvern for the heads up.

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September 14, 2009   6 Comments