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

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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

What else have I been missing?

via the always thought-provoking and entertaining Arts & Letters Daily, I just read “‘An Imp with brains': The forgotten genius of Charlotte Mew”, written by Julia Copus, at The New Statesman.

I’d forgotten Charlotte Mew myself, though after reading a bit I did recall some of her work, and before finishing the article I was off to Amazon to buy a used library edition of her Collected Poetry and Prose. I got the only one, so there’s no useful link, but there are available copies (including a Kindle edition) of her Selected Poems and print only editions of her Collected Poems and Selected Prose. But it wasn’t just the generous quotes from Mew’s poetry that brought out my debit card—Ms Copus writes wonderful, insightful prose, so I looked her up as well, and after finding this poem and discovering she’s been short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize, I ordered the Kindle edition of The World’s Two Smallest Humans, her latest book.

Maybe I should stop reading Arts & Letters Daily before I go broke.

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June 14, 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

Slippery Burke

In an interesting article at The Financial Times, John McDermott reviews two new biographies of Edmund Burke. He begins by noting that both Wordsworth and Yeats wrote poetry in praise of Burke, and then writes “It is difficult to imagine Karl Marx, Jeremy Bentham or John Rawls inspiring such poetic effervescence. Notions of the superstructure, utilitarianism and the difference principle would pose issues for cadence. Burke wrote gorgeous prose. But his attraction for poets hints at another aspect of his legacy: his slipperiness.”

Whether Burke is slippery or not—it’s been decades since I read him—I am not at all surprised to see poets, as a class, described as being drawn to slipperiness. But I do think that’s wrong.

More later, maybe …

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June 3, 2013   No Comments

Poem Accepted at Big River Poetry Review

The online journal Big River Poetry Review, which also issues occasional printed volumes of all poetry accepted since the last print volume, has accepted my sonnet “A Little Grace.” Hoopla!

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May 31, 2013   No Comments

About Time

For the first time in nearly 2 years I sent out some poems today, and I’ll send more tomorrow to another market.
On another front, my friend Ming Diaz helped me get the humbucker on my Phoenix Jazz mandolin reinstalled today so I’ll be playing it this Friday at Big Larry’s Comic Book Shop in Leonardtown, MD. I want to particularly thank Kent Armstrong, the maker of the pickup, for his generous offer to fix it free of charge if it had failed and for his time re-soldering its connecting wire when the pickup itself checked out OK.

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May 28, 2013   No Comments

Linkedin—you’ve broken your presence on the iPad

First, your app sucks. It’s hard to find anything. Requests for connections don’t appear at all. And now you’ve broken the web site on the iPad also, since no matter how trivial an action I perform, the entire screen fills with an invitation to download the app. Used to be, that if I dismissed the invitation, things would continue as normal on the web site. Now it loses what I was trying to do. Which it also does when I accept the suggestion. If it’s not fixed, I’m leaving.

5/28/13: They fixed it. Hoorah.

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April 1, 2013   No Comments

Does Greatness Require Difficulty?

If what one means is that there is always difficult work to do in preparation for doing great work in some field and, sometimes, even more difficulty in the production of some particular great work in that field, I’m on board.

But in a fine essay at The London Review of Books , “Is Wagner bad for us?,” Nicholas Spice says this near the end:

The compression of information characteristic of much great music, the speed at which it passes, the bewildering density and delicacy of its over-determination, makes it difficult in the way that poetry is difficult. Like poetry, music deflects our gaze. It is an elusive medium which we grasp only partially through an endless process of interpretation.”

I know that’s meant as a compliment to poetry, but I’m glad for that “much” immediately before “great music,’ and I’d be very glad for a similar qualifier applied to “poetry.”

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March 28, 2013   1 Comment

Starting All Over

Well, not really.

I’ve just started violin lessons. I’ve owned a decent violin for years, but I never played it much, mostly because you actually have to read music to play the thing. It’s not like mandolin (which is tuned the same way), where it’s easy to find tablature which tells you just what fret to use, and in any case there are no frets on a violin so you have to be much more accurate with the left hand and you have to stretch your left hand fingers just a smidgen more than you do on a mandolin. I’m flat all the time except when I overcompensate and go sharp. It feels like starting over.

But when the band died a couple of months ago I found myself with some time and decided to take the plunge and learn to read music by learning to play fiddle. I’m terrible at it, and, without scheduled practices where other people are depending on me, I’m not so good at scheduling the time I thought I’d have for private practice.

I’m not sure it’s a good thing my teacher is patient. I think I could use a few raps on the knuckles with a ruler.

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March 14, 2013   2 Comments

I Blame Goodreads

It’s a long story, but here are two limericks—

The truth of those tales of old Sodom
Is nothing is there at the bottom
Of infinite space,
Of faith or of grace—
So light ‘em up boys, if you got ‘em.

The cruelty of gods is assured,
Though we’ve become somewhat inured.
A moment of mirth
Has infinite worth—
Ask Job after what he endured.

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March 6, 2013   No Comments