Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Spam, Amy Holman, and Ruy Lopez

(wherein we celebrate Ms. Holman's return to the blogging world with a sincere but ridiculous title).

(1) Re: Spam, let me say that I have received my favorite bit of unsolicited kilobytes in quite some time. Apparently, an underintelligent bot, presumably through entries like this, has flagged me as a Dodge enthusiast.

Dear blog author:

We recently came across your site,, while searching for bloggers who blog about Dodge issues.

A small group of us have started a new site called">Dodge Bloggers . Our intent is to bring Dodge bloggers closer together, and make a positive contribution to the Internet community.

They do promise they will not "send this message (any) more than twice... intentionally". For the record, this is a Ford house, sir. At least until the next recall.

(2) Re: Amy Holman, a comment below and a fresh post over at Literadog lead me to believe that Amy is over computer issues and back to her infrequent but in-depth commentary on publications publishing. Her most recent commentary (on The Potmac Review) shows why we should value the opinion of this author and teacher so highly: she speaks with passion and intelligence on just about all literary fronts.

And (3) Re: Ruy Lopez, consider this, the opening gamibt (if you will) of my comparison between playing chcess and writing a poem: There are many ways to open a chess game. Most are conventional, and will take you to conventional gameplay if you let them. Some are unconventional, and will take you to game situations which can be fascinating or brutal - or both.

Get where I'm going, yet?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Book Five: Anthologus Majorus

So I've been trying to decide on an anthology to end my little series of recommendations that people NOT intimate with the art of poetry should try. I keep coming back to Poetry 180, not necessarily because it's a great collection (it's pretty good), but because it seems to be the book most consistent with my purpose: To expose people who "like poetry but don't always get it" (the excuse I hear most often) to good work of a style or set of styles that they can appreciate at two levels: the first, sheer entertainment; the second, the emergence of the details of craft.

A poem like Gouge, Adze, Rasp, Hammer is first an interesting read, next a good springboard to talk about concretness of language. Cartoon Physics, Part 1 is a poem almost anyone can inhabit, but it's also a great vehicle to talk about how unique connection and observation is at the center of all good poems. The exposure to form is purposeful and obvious (to a poet), but it is not intimidating or didactic. It's not the reason most people stop reading poetry as high school sophomores.

180 More has better poems, I think, but they're smirkier. There are more inside jokes, more poems for poets to share with each other. The uninitiated can go from 180 to More, but I don't see More hooking them in the same way.

Looking back over my list, I'm satisfied that my recommendations are what I set out for them to be - good poems in collections that hang together well that kick open doors and encourage people to walk through them. I hope you approve.

Next up: had a short exchange with Jeff about (how I perceive) a similarity in attacking technical work and poetic work. I think that to say the two are somewhat dissimilar is fair. But to say that the two attacks share neither strategy nor tactics does disservice to both writing process and engineering innovation. I think I can sway you.

However, I don't think you, oh my 6 loyal readers, are disposed to that argument just yet. So next up is a transition point: Why writing good poetry is like playing chess well.

Anyone want to try to get in front of me on this one?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Excuses, Shmexcuses...

Brief summary:

  • Holiday houseguests
  • unexpected project(s)
  • a four-day Christmas (typical)
  • unexpected project(s) for the Mrs.
  • 60% of the house sick with something (at least one double pink-eye sinus-infection whammy)
  • expected project(s)
  • Essential Love, 180 More, a pile of BAPs, et al. in a pile waiting for me to finish my little project.

I mean, really.

I'm online about 8 minutes a day right now, so if you're waiting for something from me, well... sorry. As a peace offering, here's a recent discovery that you'll enjoy if you share my interest in the writing process:

Be back soon.