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dumbfoundry

Poetry news, poetry blogs, poetry magazines, poetry journals, poetry sites, poetry links, etc.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Comes to an end
'IT IS never too late' is the message behind Patchwork Poetry, a new anthology by first-time writers in their 80s and 90s.

The group of five has met regularly at the Adelaide Club in Ryde over the past year to write poetry under the guidance of Carol Jaye of Healing Arts. [...]

"The ideas have been extremely varied: a teapot, a piece of embroidery, censored letters from the Second World War, a seed packet and a coin collection. [...]

The writing sessions will come to an end this autumn, when Healing Arts funding for the project comes to an end.

Members of the group said they have enjoyed working with Carol.

"I will be very sad when it comes to an end," said Molly Wright, 89, who lives at Puckpool Close. "We will miss Carol dreadfully."

A Controversial 'Struga Poetry Night'
The 43rd annual Struga Poetry Night ended under the shadow of political debates.

Macedonians boycotted the festival because Albanians, as a result of the Local Administration Law approved by the Ohri Treaty, will overtake Struga's municipal administration.

Despite the protests, two separate venues in Ohri and Uskup (Skopje) continued.


Where is Struga?
Struga is situated on the northern part of the Lake Ohrid, on the both sides of river Crn Drim.

Now you know.

Anonymous

I would like to see a poetry magazine that accepts only anonymous submissions.

If writers wanted to identify themselves after publication, the magazine could identify the writers in subsequent issues, but only after editors (and readers, if the stuff is accepted) have had time to decide for themselves what they think of the work.

Writers could use free email addresses to submit their stuff and correspond anonymously with the editors, and possibly to reveal their identities later. The anonymous address could be published with the poetry (as a placeholder for a name and as a way for readers to contact writers).

The editors could also remain anonymous, but that's a different deal. You could have anonymous writers, anonymous editors, anonymous commentary, or any combination.

Is there such a place on the net?

-------------------

Later: Ivy tells me about ANON and Anon. Hmm.

-------------------

And Chris tells me another thing I should have known: "Badgurrrlnest is anon in works both poetic and editorial." (Though is that only for anonymous bad grrls? Or can, say, anonymous good boyz also contribute?)

Diagram is fresh.
TEXT // Nin Andrews :: R. S. Armstrong :: Robin Behn :: F. J. Bergmann :: Jason Bredle :: Spencer Dew :: Diane Furtney :: Dan Gutstein :: Austin Hummell :: Janet Kenning :: Sharon Kraus :: Lisa Lee :: Matthew Lippman :: Juliet Patterson :: Marjorie Power :: John Schertzer :: Eric Schwerer :: Alan Semerdjian :: Marcus Slease :: Molly Tenenbaum :: Jen Tynes :: Aaron Welborn :: Susan Settlemyre Williams

ART // Gary Joseph Cohen

SONICS // Viv Corringham

Friday, August 27, 2004
Poet's tormented life ends in night of terror:
A Hollywood woman who wrote poems about a stormy, violent relationship was slain early Thursday morning just hours after attending a poetry reading at a popular downtown nightspot.

Police found the body of Lorie Nicholson-Tennant, 25, shortly after 4:25 a.m. in her locked bedroom in the 6700 block of Forrest Street, dead from a ''severe trauma to the body,'' said police Capt. Tony Rode.

Friends and neighbors say her throat was slit. [...]

An information technology specialist, Nicholson-Tennant put her computer skills to work for Bell, designing a poetry website, www.eliterarycafe.com, where some of her own writing can be found. [...]

Meanwhile: Remembering Czeslaw Milosz, a poet worthy of protest:
In the 1970s, Czeslaw knew that the Soviet authorities in Poland were beginning to rehabilitate his reputation when an official reference work alluded to him - unmistakably, though not by name - as one of several poets in his generation who were of no particular significance.


Pictures from today's funeral ("Nastepne" means "Next").

In New Republic, "An Honest Description of Myself With a Glass of Whiskey at an Airport, Let Us Say, In Minneapolis"

Later: Poland Buries Nobel Poet Milosz Amid Controversy:
KRAKOW, Poland (Reuters) - Thousands of Poles turned out to mourn Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz Friday, ignoring protests from a small group of conservatives who opposed his burial alongside national heroes.

Earlier this week, a handful of right-wingers demonstrated against plans to bury Milosz, who died on Aug. 14 at age 93, in the Crypt of Honor at a monastery in Krakow, saying he had betrayed Poland with his liberal views and a brief flirtation with communism.

The protests, supported by fringe nationalist media, embarrassed Polish authorities and delayed the decision on where the poet would be buried.

The protests were muzzled hours before the ceremony, when newspapers published a letter from Polish-born Pope John Paul II saying he shared the same spiritual goals as the poet.

Thursday, August 26, 2004
Daytime jobs for poets, part 749: Yemeni poet faces hearing at Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - A Yemeni poet accused of crafting terrorist propaganda asked to represent himself today before a U.S. military commission, but the panel said it was not allowed.

Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al Bahlul, 33, of Yemen, is charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes. He appeared with his head shaved, wearing tan pants and a gray polo shirt. [...]

Al Bahlul is accused of being a "key al-Qaida propagandist who produced videos glorifying the murder of Americans to recruit, inspire and motivate other al-Qaida members" to attack the United States and other countries.

UC Berkeley Lunch Poems schedule.

Bloggers in The Best American Poetry 2004 (Guest Editor: Lyn Hejinian):

Khatir Afridi — the pride of Khyber
By Ghafar Ali

PESHAWAR: It is unfortunate that a great literary figure like Misri Khan Khatir Afridi has been forgotten. However the 36th death anniversary of the John Keats of Pashto passed uneventfully because no literary organisations bothered to organise recitals and functions to remember the life and works of the great poet.

It is ironic that the NWFP Cultural Department, the Pashto Academy of the Peshawar University, the Pashto Adabi Board, the Academy of Letters in Islamabad and over two hundred Pashto adabi jirgas did not arrange a single seminar to honour Khatir. No special pamphlets or supplements were published by any of these organisations to mark the genius of the internationally acclaimed poet. Even foreign radio channels such as the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America that often broadcast Pashto programmes, did not air any programmes on Khatir. [...]

Also, the Faroe Islands neglected to commemorated him with a set of new stamps. But I will blog about him.
From pashto.org:
There would be hardly a Pakhtoon who may not know a verse or two of Khatir Afridi and would be difficult to find a Pakhtoon singer who might not have sung him. But Khatir ironically is the most sung unsung poet. “At the age 17, Misree Khan Khatir Afridi was introduced to me by Hakim Shah Basir at his Qahwa Khana at Landikotal Bazaar; he read out a portion of his verses, I made correction here and there. I encouraged him a lot. Khatir was a natural poet. I made him learn writing Pashto script. He was my first student. I loved him very much. He was a true gentleman and used to be very obedient to poets. Khatir had a very sharp sense of humour. Khyber Afridi was his rival in poetry. The universal and mass popularity that Khatir gained after Rahman Baba could not be attained by any other Pashto poet. Allah had best upon him brilliant mind and mental capabilities. He was a very sensitive person. A fatal disease (T.B) attacked him and affected his health adversely, had he been alive a little longer, he would have contributed some more beautiful poetry. He would frequently visit the critical and mushaira sessions of Khyber Pakhto Adabi Jirga. Sometimes my advice to him to get proper treatment for his ailment would annoy him. Khatir met me a day before his death, when somebody conveyed the news of his untimely death to me the other day, I could not simply believe it because I had seen him a day before. His poetry has the kind of candour, which is not carried by other Pashto poet in his poetry.

‘Da Khatir rangeen ghazal ta hairanaigam, Pa dey kharr Khyber ke sa dee be la khhaorro, [...]

Poet's plea for return of poems:
TEN years' work has been stolen from a poet on a visit to the The Orchard, Grantchester.

Steve Larkin said the unpublished poetry was invaluable to him and pleaded with thieves to return it.

The collection was stolen from his car along with a bag containing a mobile phone, purse, cash and credit cards.

When Mr Larkin called the mobile phone to plead for the possessions to be returned he was insulted and abused. [...]

Make copies of your work. Put those copies somewhere besides the little home that is going to burn next week when you get drunk and try frying stuff. Having two copies in the same place is the same as having one copy.

Poet to be honoured with stamp:
"Grovelling is the fate of man,
the speech of worms from mire and capes,
Ugly dwarfs do tread their dance,
bent in servile shapes."

‘To The Faroes III’ - Janus Djurhuus

The most celebrated poet to emerge from the Faroe Islands is to be commemorated with a set of new stamps on 20th September. [...]

Ten stamps make up the release, each one based upon one of Djurhuus more nationalistic poems and selected by designer Anker Eli Petersen. These are listed below:

Atlantis
Grimur Kamban
Gandkvaedi Trondar
Til Foroya I – III
Min Sorg
Loki
Í Buri & Slatur
Heimfred Nolsoyar Pals
Moses a Sinai fjalli
Cello

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
A message from Tim Peterson [Massachusetts, USA]:
Dear Friends,

I would like to announce The Analogous Series. This upcoming reading/event series based in Cambridge delights in exacerbating a productive confusion between different media, especially through the process of collaboration.

Events are free (no entry charge), and each will be followed by a potluck dinner at my place in Somerville -- everyone's invited. Looking forward to seeing you there...

Best,

Tim

* * * * * * *

THE ANALOGOUS SERIES

Readings take place at one of three locations: 45 Carleton Street (room
111), 77 Massachusetts Ave (room 1-190), or 77 Massachusetts Ave (room
2-105). See below for details.

FALL 2004 CALENDAR:

September 11, 5 PM
Gary Sullivan and Brandon Downing
poetry and comix
77 Massachusetts Ave, room 2-105

September 18, 5 PM
Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno
on e.e.cummings' visual poetry
Patricia Pruitt and Ben Watkins
text/image collaborations
77 Massachusetts Ave, room 1-190

September 24, 7:30 PM
Simon Pettet
James Schuyler's art writing
reading from "Talking Pictures" (his collaboration with photographer Rudy Burkhardt)
45 Carleton St., room 111

October 16, 5 PM
Charles Borkhuis
poetry and drama
Kelly Sherman
text art
77 Massachusetts Ave, room 2-105

October 30, 5 PM
Nick Piombino
language collages
Jack Kimball and Brenda Iijima
multimedia collaboration
77 Massachusetts Ave, room 1-190

November 12, 7:30 PM
Charles Bernstein and Susan Bee
collaborations with poets and artists
45 Carleton St., room 111

December 4, 5 PM
David Shapiro and Peter Gizzi
45 Carleton St., room 111

December 11, 5 PM
Maria Damon and Alan Sondheim
New Media poetry
77 Massachusetts Ave, room 1-190

December 17, 7:30 PM
Christina Strong
Flash poetry
Allison Cobb and Jen Coleman
multimedia collaboration

WEBSITE COMING SOON....

A message from nthposition.com's Val Stevenson:
I'm very pleased to announce that nthposition's first anthology of poetry and fiction will come out at the end of October. An Arts Council grant will cover the print bill; a rather fine cover has been commissioned from Belgian illustrator Alex Severin (a thumbnail image is attached); the content is, I think, wonderful (there's a list of contributors below); the first back-cover blurb is en route; and it goes to press at the beginning of September.

Unless the book is properly publicised, though, it won't reach much of its potential audience, and marketing and publicity cost money. nthposition hasn't covered its running costs over the two and a bit years it's been going. Nobody involved in the site has made a cent out of it, so thank God it's been interesting! Which is why I'm asking for help...

...and revisiting an 18th century publishing model. Many publishers asked patrons to buy their copies in advance. The publisher had funds to print it (or publicise it, in this instance), and the patrons were listed, with thanks, in books they had helped bring to fruition.

Please consider buying your copy (or copies) now. You will get your book as soon as it comes back from the printer, weeks before the late-October publication date. You will be listed as a patron. And nthposition will be able to give a fine book the push it deserves - it would be a shocking waste for poetry and fiction of this calibre to go unnoticed.

The book goes to press on 3 September, so I'll need to know by 31 AUGUST whether you would like an advance copy. You can order by cheque or online: -

>>> BY CHEQUE
'In the criminal's cabinet' costs £10.99 plus a contribution to postage & packing at the following rates:
* UK: £1.50
* EU: £2.50
* USA & rest of world: £3.80
Please send a cheque (sorry, but UK sterling only) to:
VAL STEVENSON
IN THE CRIMINAL'S CABINET
38 ALLCROFT ROAD
LONDON NW5 4NE
UK.
Remember to include your name and address, and make cheques payable to VAL STEVENSON. If you think your cheque may not arrive in time but you would like to be listed as a subscriber to the book, please email me (val@nthposition.com)

>>> ONLINE
I am setting up a PayPal account on the site (see below for information if you haven't used it before), but I am still ironing out a couple of technical queries. If you KNOW you want to buy a pre-publication copy and will be paying by PayPal, please email me (val@nthposition.com) so I have the details in time, and I can then let you know when the damn thing is up and running. 'In the criminal's cabinet' costs £10.99 plus a contribution to postage & packing at the following rates:
* UK: £1.50
* EU: £2.50
* USA & rest of world: £3.80

Poetry to the people
Ahmed Goda was among the first foreign journalists to enter Basra following its fall to coalition forces in May 2003. A writer with the respected Asharq Alwsat newspaper, he arrived amid the chaos of the invasion to find himself pursued through the streets by a hostile crowd who assumed the Egyptian would be sympathetic to Saddam. Goda explained he held no such partisan views and was, in fact, a journalist based in London who counted many exiled Iraqis among his friends. Among them, he went on, hoping to win the crowd over, was a man who had himself escaped imprisonment and torture at the hands of the regime.

The crowd demanded to know the name of this so-called "friend", and although Goda thought it a rather pointless request, he told them anyway: "Nabeel Yasin, he's a writer, a poet." The effect was immediate. Anger dissipated into generous applause, while many recited lines from Brother Yasin, a poem they seemed to know by heart. Goda was astonished. He had no idea that his friend's name meant anything to the people of Iraq - which Yasin had left in 1980 - nor that this poem, a personal recollection of life before and during Saddam's regime, published modestly in exile, had become the object of such obvious public affection.

Goda returned to London and immediately called Yasin - both poet and poem had got him out of a sticky situation. When Yasin heard the story he was similarly incredulous. The discovery that Brother Yasin and its sequel Brother Yasin Again had been smuggled into the country came as a total shock. No one, least of all its author, could have predicted the poems' decade-long journey right to the hearts of Yasin's countrymen and women. [...]

THE POET GOES STRAIGHT:
JACKIE SHEELER was among the first purveyors of one of the most successful street hustles ever to hit New York. In the early 80s, she was a strung-out heroin addict weighing in at about 100 pounds. As the news of the AIDS epidemic first made the papers, she put on a business suit that hung off her and sat on a corner near Wall Street with a sign that read: "AIDS cost me my job."

"In about 20 minutes I had $80, and I knew I had a good con going. The problem was that you could only stay on a corner so long before it got busted out. I eventually started working the subways, which is a lot harder, but I still made money."

Luckily for Sheeler—given her addiction history—she never did get AIDS. What she did get, however, was her life together. By 1989, she'd enrolled in a drug program. Having always wanted to write, Sheeler went back to her muse, started writing poems and eventually garnered success in that tough field. For the last five years, she has run a Friday-night open mic for poetry reading at the Cornelius St. Cafe; she also started poetz.com to help neophyte scribblers. What's unusual about Sheeler's pedigree is that she was raised in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn by a street cop. [...]

Poet Kay Ryan: A profile:
Kay Ryan may be the only American poet who describes her writing process as "a self-imposed emergency," the artistic equivalent of finding a loved one pinned under a 3,000-pound car. These "emergencies," she says, allow her to tap into abilities she wouldn't normally have, much like a father who single-handedly lifts a vehicle off his child. In Ms. Ryan's case, however, what has survived because of her efforts over the past three decades is a singular voice and vision. Her poems - with their compact size and technical precision, their wit and sharp intelligence - have been praised by critics for their ability to do and say things that none of her contemporaries can match.

Prize committees have also taken notice. This past spring she won a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship and the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Prize, which acknowledges an extraordinary body of work. [...]

Since then, Ryan has fashioned a life conducive to poetry, one in which the essential elements of that bike trip - repetition, expansiveness, and large intellectual leaps - shape both her daily routine and her voice as a writer.

Practically speaking, that means a lifestyle with few obligations. Thus, she has taught the same subject - remedial English - at College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., for the past 33 years. She limits her classes to Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

"I've tried to live very quietly, so I could be happy," she says, explaining that the simpler her routine, the more complex her thinking can be. [...]

Monday, August 23, 2004
U.S. poet laureate to speak in Peabody:
PEABODY --To poets, poetry-lovers and National Public Radio listeners everywhere, the news that Robert Pinsky, the United States' poet laureate, is coming to the North Shore is exciting.

Everywhere? What is this fascination everyone everywhere is the world has for the Massachusetts North Shore?

Also:
There may be other reasons why Pinsky would take an interest in Peabody.

He lives just down the road and it's an easy buck?

Lucia Howe and Winter Road Hill.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Burmese literary pioneer Min Thu Wun passed away:
The well known Burmese poet and scholar Min Thu Wun, also known as U Wun, died at his home in Rangoon on 15 August, aged 96.

The ethnic Mon-Burmese writer was a legend in Burma’s literary circles for his output of poems, reference books and pedagogical texts. He was also credited with creating the Burmese Braille writing system. [...]

In the following years, Min Thu Wun cemented his legacy with a prolific output of children’s poems, and for helping to modernize Burmese literature, through a movement called Khitsan (“New Writing”).

He also helped write Mon-Burmese and Pali-Burmese dictionaries. His unique teaching methods have helped countless Burmese learn to read.

He was elected to Burma’s parliament in 1990 as a National League for Democracy (NLD) member. He resigned from the party in 1998, under heavy pressure from military authorities.

The junta has barred Min Thu Wun’s writings from appearing in local magazines and periodicals.

It has also banned other writers who mention his name or refer to his works. Fellow authoress Ludu Daw Ama wondered if his obituary notice will appear in the press controlled by the junta. [...]


Let’s Go A-gathering "Thabye" Plums:
In Wazo and Wagaung, rivers are in flood.
Come let’s go a-gathering
ripe and luscious "Thabye" plums.
But, Oh! Beware, the big black leech
in yon thicket of thorns
may clamp and cling and suck.
Does a black leech possess horns?
Well I fear not
even snakes or dragons!
But nor do we, so together
let’s go,
leaving behind the palm frond ox.
Let’s go, let’s go!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Dance notes:
Every year the Battery Dance Company presents its terrific Downtown Dance Festival, with bleachers set up under the shady plane trees in Battery Park, at Manhattan's southernmost tip. The lineup this season [includes] Jonathan Hollander's Battery Dance Company, in a work inspired by the poetry of Robert Creeley.

The Downtown Dance Festival will run from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday in Battery Park, near the entrance at State Street and Pearl. It's FREE. Call (212) 219-3910 or visit www.batterydanceco.com.

Monday, August 16, 2004
No Tell Motel is new.
With great fanfare and the cutting of ribbons we announce the opening of No Tell Motel (www.notellmotel.org), an online poetry journal.

Edited by Reb Livingston and Molly Arden, No Tell Motel features a new poet each week, a new poem every weekday. Each year will see the publication of 52 poets and 260 poems. Featured poets in August and September will be Jennifer Michael Hecht, Anthony Robinson, Karl Parker, Heidi Lynn Staples, Shanna Compton and others.

* * * Call for Submissions * * *

Poems by poets young and not so young, broadly published and obscure will be considered. Any subject or style is acceptable.

Send no less than 5 poems and no more than 8. Poetry will be featured on a daily basis throughout the week. Exceptions may be made for long pieces.

Send submissions to submit@notellmotel.org with "(YOUR LAST NAME)_submission" in the subject line. We only accept submissions via e-mail.

Sunday, August 15, 2004
Polish Poet Czeslaw Milosz, 93, Dies:
Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, 93, one of the major poets of the violent 20th century whose unflinching view of man's inhumanity was tempered by his love of the world's beauty, died Aug. 14 at his home in Krakow, Poland.

No exact cause of death was reported. His assistant told the Associated Press: "It's death, simply death. It was his time -- he was 93."

His life, forged from the start in the crucible of Russia and Eastern Europe, straddled the chaos and the cataclysms of the century. He spent 30 years in self-imposed exile in France and the United States but returned to Poland in 1989 after the overthrow of Communist rule. His poetry inspired his countrymen for decades before he won the 1980 Nobel Prize for literature, which made him one of the best-read poets in the United States. [...]

More about Milosz:

Thursday, August 12, 2004
11-year-old poet walks away with tastee top prize:
Eleven-year-old Andre Rodney, a student at Crescent Primary School, secured his place in the finals of the Tastee Talent Contest when he walked away winner of two of the most prestigious prizes of the event. The annual contest- now in its 25th year-was held July 29 at the Tastee Outdoor Theatre,Cross Roads.

Performing an original poem titled Me Waan Know What a Gwaan, Andre tackled some of the burning issues of Jamaican society. From crime and violence, to the state of the educational system, he called for answers and solutions. The crowd echoed his concerns, as they too begged for the answers to themes raised in his poem. Andre's 397 points total earned him $55,000 cash from Tastee Limited. He also walked away with a second cash award of $10,000 for the 'Best Original Entry' and will now advance to the finals in December. [...]

That's Jamaican dollars, I figure. In fact, I figure 893.306 USD + 162.419 USD. But still, good work, Andre. And I also waan know what a gwaan.

Nebraskan Ted Kooser named poet laureate:
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Great Plains poet Ted Kooser of Nebraska will be the next poet laureate of the United States.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington planned to officially announce the appointment Thursday.

"Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America and the first poet laureate chosen from the Great Plains," Billington said. "His verse reaches beyond his native region to touch on universal themes in accessible ways."

Kooser, 65, replaces Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Gluck in the eight-month position. [...]

Just eight months? That's eighteen every ten years. The line forms to the left.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Beekeeper poet has a distinct voice
Poet Haz Saïd begins his intriguing book, Town and Country, with this quote from Horace: "What expatriate escapes himself as well?" The answer constitutes much of the charm of his slim volume of verse. [...]

"Off the Grid" is Saïd's expatriate poems written in San Francisco and, apparently, here where he is working as a beekeeper and ranch hand at Blue Lake Ranch.

Every poet needs a real job. His would be the one for me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
The No Mountain College of Poems is open.

Monday, August 09, 2004
Jacket is freshening. About Issue 25 ("not yet complete"):
Among dozens of other pieces, Jacket 25 will feature material on Carl Rakosi, Barbara Guest, Kathleen Fraser and Gael Turnbull. Some material is already posted, at

http://jacketmagazine.com/25/

I have room for a dozen more pieces, so if you would like to send something relating to any of those writers -- a review, memoir, article, or poem -- I will consider further contributions between now and the end of September.

John Tranter, Editor, Jacket magazine

Out of poverty, riches:
Isabella Lickbarrow: the name sounds made up and slightly comic, like a character in a sitcom. Or so I thought, when I first came across her poetry just over a decade ago. At that time, the best of her books, Poetical Effusions, had been out of print since its first appearance in 1814, available only to those with a reader's ticket to a copyright library: 180 years of total neglect had done to her what they would to any writer, irrespective of the quality of their work.

Last month, the enterprising Wordsworth Trust published the first collected edition of Lickbarrow's poems, compiled and introduced by Constance Parrish. It enables us to read her, for the first time since 1814, on her own terms, revealing that, even if she does not loom over the Romantic period like her near-contemporary and near-neighbour, the gizzard of Grasmere, her voice is every bit as passionate and original as his. [...]

Poetical Effusions by Isabella Lickbarrow

Sunday, August 08, 2004
Obituary: DONALD JUSTICE: Writer won Pulitzer Prize for his poetry
Poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Justice, a Miami native and author of more than 10 books, died Friday from pneumonia at a nursing home in Iowa. He was 78.

More on Justice at:

Saturday, August 07, 2004
Melic Review is fresh.

Friday, August 06, 2004
Third sound of the African Empire:
A number of years ago I received a phone call from a fellow who had written a musical – the book to a musical, that is. He was looking for a composer to write the music. I’m afraid he was something of a crank – the kind of person who starts off by hectoring you on the qualities he doesn’t want in his musician. His show would be set in the 1890s, he said, and he wanted to be sure that any music I wrote would show no sign of the awful influence of jazz, blues, or rock and roll. I don’t remember just how I put him off, but his comments made me think about how difficult it is to imagine writing music without the influence of jazz, blues, or rock and roll – music, in short, before Western music had been colonized by Africa. [...]

The European polyphony which reached its apex in the music of J. S. Bach involves a complex set of rules and procedures to make music in which several melodic lines maintain their independence from one another while still agreeing, in the moments when they line up, on coherent progressions of harmonies. African polyphony requires that different rhythmic layers should maintain their independence, should be heard as distinct, and yet in combination should create a rhythmic whole greater than its parts. A useful term for this phenomenon might be the one with which Salvatore Mannuzzu titled his 1995 novel, Il terzo suono, by which he refers to a third sound which appears unbidden from the superimposition of two other sounds. The “third sound” is evident in even the most basic forms of rhythmic polyphony derived from African music. The most basic example I can think of is Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Here, the drumbeat layer stresses the backbeat – beats two and four – while the melodic stress is in counterpoint to it, on beats one and three. To appreciate the effectiveness of the third sound, imagine its absence: sing a new melody that places its emphasis with – not against – the backbeat: We WILL, we WILL, rock YOU. [...]

If I were in Chicago, I'd see what David Kodeski and his friends are up to with Filet of Solo this weekend at the Live Bait Theatre.

Thursday, August 05, 2004
Drive-By Poets Strike Again
One day he was sitting around with his roommate, poet Sam Shavel, lamenting the inaccessibility -- literally -- of poetry. Poetry, they realized, is even more insulated from the public than the other high arts. Painters have their galleries, dancers their stages, and classical musicians their concert halls, but poets are hidden inside the covers of their books, in the dank recesses of libraries and bookstores. I said, says Neill, What if we just started putting poems up?' Tear the cover off the book, and catch people by surprise.

Unlike most of us, who have wonderful ideas all the time but never the gumption to bring them into the world, Neill created Drive-By Poets. He designed a logo, took one of his own poems and made a hundred or so copies, posting them to bulletin boards and hanging them in store windows throughout Northampton. At the bottom of each he gave an email address and requested submissions.

Since then he's posted about 25 poems. He has no regular schedule, but instead waits for a submission good enough to justify the effort. At first, that poem came in about once a month. Now it's closer to once a week. His taste is catholic. I like surrealist poetry, he says. I really like prose poems -- James Tate is one of my favorites -- and I like shorter poems. We once did a Drive-Through Haiku. There are no criteria for the authors except that they be from the area.

For the stores, mostly bookstores, who post the drive-by poetry in their windows, Neill uses fancy cardstock. For the rest, a run of about 150, he uses standard copier paper, which he staples to bulletin boards in Northampton, Amherst and other parts north. Laundromats, I think, are my best venue, because people have to wait there. [...]

To submit poems to Drive-By Poets, email dbpoets@yahoo.com [...]

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Trying to Make the Pen as Mighty as the Sword:
The program, called "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience," is aimed at preserving stories from the battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. The endowment expects to hold 20 or so workshops at American military installations between now and next spring (Camp Lejeune was the second stop; the first was Fort Drum in upstate New York in June), with a formidable roster of participating writers selected by an independent panel of editors appointed by the endowment. It includes military thriller heavyweights like Jeff Shaara and Tom Clancy, as well as prominent literary lights like Tobias Wolff and Richard Bausch.

The program, which will cost about $500,000, is being paid for almost entirely by the Boeing Company. And the Defense Department (an unlikely-seeming bedfellow for the endowment, which is also providing $1 million for a program that will take productions of Shakespeare to military bases) is providing logistical services. [...]

At Camp Lejeune, a sprawling base that is home to 40,000 marines, the workshops were taught by Ms. Mason; another novelist, Erin McGraw; and a poet, Andrew Hudgins. They partly conformed to the image of the visiting-writer workshop that traumatizes visiting writers at colleges, Kiwanis Clubs and bookstore talk-backs.

There were the familiar, irrelevant questions: How do you find an agent? How do you decide whether to write a poem or a story? Should I submit my writing simultaneously to more than one publication? And the writers dispensed the tried-and-true advice that has been dispensed to fledgling writers since time immemorial: Be specific. Write every day.

"If you all go home thinking, `Journals and details, journals and details,' we've done our job," Ms. McGraw said. [...]

Alzheimer's caregivers, patients given tribute by artist and poet:
"Two years ago, I was exploring the town of Globe when I made a discovery," Takata says. Tucked under a stairwell was a wooden chest packed with poem-filled wine bottles. She sat cross-legged beside the chest for an hour reading the hidden poems of Native American John Cauthorn. [...]

Memorial for Japanese poet restored in Vladivostok:
A memorial for Japanese poet, author and activist Yosano Akiko was restored and reopened in Vladivostok, Monday.

The memorial for Akiko was erected near the Institute for Oriental Studies within Far Eastern National University (FENU) 10 years ago as a sign of friendship between Russian and Japanese people, and featured an engraved verse by Akiko. However, later the memorial was destroyed by local vandals, who removed the plate made of non-ferrous metals for profit. [...]

Yosano Akiko (1878-1942), a prominent pacifist and feminist, best known for romantic verse, visited Vladivostok in May 1912, where she stayed for several days when on her way from Japan to Paris.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Revenge as poetry and poetry as revenge:
The porter comes in, announcing that a Bedouin with a bow and arrow, claiming to be a poet, is waiting at the door. The new Caliph orders the porter to allow the poet in: "this is my uncle Sadif" he says. A tall black Arab comes in; leans on his bow, imitating the old pre-Islamic hero, Antara who is said to have improvised his epic poem while leaning on his bow, and started reciting one of the most famous and most bloody poems in Arab history [...]

Poetic Injustice:
It was a poem about Stalin that led to his first arrest in 1934:
Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can't hear our words.

But wherever there's a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

poetic inhalation is fresh.

Rupert Brooke was born today in 1887. He is most famous for the poem that begins:
I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree

No, wait. That was Joyce Kilmer. Brooke wrote the one that goes:
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.

He died in 1915 of blood poisoning (probably from a mosquito bite) on a French hospital ship just off a lovely Greek island, and was quickly buried there. And so he missed Gallipoli. Later his mother had him dug up and reburied in a graver grave. But before all that there was an August third and a mother and a screaming baby Rupert.

Monday, August 02, 2004
nthposition is fresh.