Sunday, February 24, 2008

Speaking of Bad Record Keeping... bad is this: I contacted an editor who had asked me for a specific piece asking how to send it, print or post, only to find out that she already had it because I had sent it to her already. Oy.

Embarassing, yes, but I have found the NJ poetry community, despite all the labels it can wear, to be quite generous and forgiving of such gaffes. In this particular case, I'm lucky to have "offended" an editor who has been very good to me over the years - for example, upon hearing a piece I was trying out at an open mic, she stopped me on the way back to my chair, pulled me down into the seat next to her, took the page from my hands, and applied her red pen quite specifically - much to the improvement of the poem.

But as we say in engineering (some of us, anyway): In the failures are the learnings.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fifty-fifth place?

Well, my manuscript wasn't one of the top 54 finishers in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook contest. A little disappointing, since this contest openly prefers themes, so I thought I'd have a chance for a good reception, but I'm not discouraged. I'm actually more discouraged by how crappily Blogger has been behaving for me lately - this is the first time in 6 tries over the last two weeks I've gotten as far as the "New Post" screen! I know the problem is at least partially the fault of my archaic and soon to be replaced dialup access, but STILL!

Also realizing lately that I've gotten far away from my strengths in the submission game. Someone once told me that I had probably the only submission tracking system that was potentially ISO 9000 certifiable (I mean, I had form numbers!). Shopping myself out to teach some workshops this spring, I realize I'm not in that kind of record-keeping shape anymore: No neat proposal form, no ready-to-print synopses of my prepared workshops, etc. Shameful for an engineer. Just shameful.

So it's back to what I'm good at to restart the engines: Alphabetize the poetry library in the basement to facilitate access. Refresh the portfolio binders and weed them - thoroughly. Get my notebooks typed in and my drafts onto the screen - or they'll never get finished and to the page. This is where being a project manager is mighty handy. Mighty handy.

And for the two of you who understood the ISO reference without following the link: Yes, I'm still writing poetry.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Letter from a Legacy

My grandmother would have been 94 this month. This week, cleaning my office to make room for the FIOS tech, I came across a note she wrote to my wife and me and toward the end of the time she was able to take care of herself. She was in the process of bequeathing her apartment one box of trinkets and saltshakers at a time. The note was tucked into an Ogden Nash book she was sending to us because "David's a poet". I hadn't opened the book since she first sent it. That would have been about 10 years ago.

Ron Silliman was writing recently about Ogden Nash as someone who was popular during his own day, but whose work was destined not to last (he was placing Billy Collins and Ted Kooser in this category). Nash certainly didn't drive changes in the collective conscience (nor does Collins, nor Kooser), but I don't agree that the work hasn't lasted - I think there are dozens of Nash's short works that continue to be quoted and retold ("Candy is dandy", anyone?). I do think that as a collection, Nash's legacy isn't well-known, but whenever I've come across his poems, I've found something interesting, clever and still familiar. The works have separated from his name, perhaps. And it's not the kind of work that one turns to for reference when crafting presidential speeches or lectures on the history of modern art. It's not "Nash's legacy", maybe not even a noticeable legacy, but it's a present one.

And then there's my grandmother's note tucked into that Nash book.

Happy Birthday, Nana.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bits for a February Evening

Terrific event yesterday in the Spoken Word Series. Featured two local artists, one a market researcher, one a high school teacher, both entertaining poets. This was Catherine Magia's first feature (I love that we can provide that opportunity), and S. Thomas Summers has two chapbooks to his credit. A great contrast in styles and presentation (and even in appearance), which really enhanced the event for me. You should have been there.


I had the over (or would have, if I bet on football). But who cares?


Finally finished reading the first of my Christmas presents: How Life Imitates Chess, by Garry Kasparov. My review is up at Goodreads, if you'd like to know more about how I liked it (which I did). Interesting polarization on the Goodreads reviews of this book: mostly 2s and 4s, some 1s and 5, few 3s. Is that typical of this site? I suppose this genre (celebrity business/advice) does tend to bend along with the star, with fans preferring the book. But I'm not sure why non-fans would even be interested to read the book. And I am I the only person who tends to dismiss ratings with no rationale posted?


Fifteen days to Johan!


Yes, reading the Kasparov book got me thinking about poetry and chess again. Also reminded me how far my chess skills have fallen since founding the chess club in high school and taking the club on the road to compete against other local schools. No, really.


Super Tuesday is upon is. Not important to me who you vote for, just that you vote. I've said many times here that your politics predict little about the quality of your writing, but I do find a correlation between the ability and willingness to invest in forming quality political opinions and the willingness to invest in creating quality literary product. If you're interested, my first choices in both parties have already packed up the pamphlets for 2012; that's all you're going to get from me on the subject.