Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Now, the tree is decorated with bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness. And they are welcome. Innocent, and welcome be they ever held, beneath the branches of the Christmas Tree, which casts no gloomy shadow! But, as it sinks into the ground, I hear a whisper going through the leaves. "This in commemoration of the law of love and kindness, mercy and compassion. This, in remembrance of Me!"

Charles Dickens
"A Christmas Tree"

A joyful Christmas to us all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Daily Dose of David

Well, for one day, anyway. Please click over to Your Daily Poem and see more!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sound the Jingle Bells!

The Christmas shopping (pending the arrival of a few Amazon boxes) is complete! This is a momentous occasion, coming as it does more than a full week before the Day itself. This permits a number of good things, including the avoidance of the mall exit of the highway until the 28th and focusing on the parish events (and there are several!) in the coming week. Good for us.


I was able to participate in a great class yesterday at work. I probably shouldn't report a great deal of it here (wouldn't be fair to the content owner), I did volunteer a lesson I've learned from my blogroll and you, my six loyal readers, so I should say at least that much: There is clear evidence that a sense of gratitude, in general and specific, is a contributor to managing you stress and to permitting you to operate at peak efficiency; if you click through the links at right, you've known that poets - for whom the distance between work product and feedback may be the longest of any profession - have known for a while. Thanks for that teaching, Kelli.


Three days to the Christmas poem's arrival here. And to the end of the Jets' playoff hopes. Which I look at as a gift, as it will save me a lot of anxiety the next few Sundays....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speaking of Occasion Poems....

Well, as Jayne Jaudon Ferrer notes in today's installment of Your Daily Poem:

So what do you do when you want a poem for a specific occasion and can't find one? You write it yourself. I find it hard to believe that no Scandinavian poet ever felt the urge to write about the lovely Lucy, but I sure haven't been able to come up with anything. So here you have it: one of my own, hot off the press. One does what one must...

The occasion in question here is Saint Lucy's (or Lucia's) feast day, which is today. Such occasions - ones steeped in history but less commonly known and certainly less commercialized - are where poetry can serve us well. Overuse, secularism, and cynicism are less likely to have turned your readers away before they read your opening line.

You can read Ms. Ferrer's poem here. While you're there, be sure to subscribe.

The countdown-to-Christmas-poem continues...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Musing about The Holiday Poem Process

Well, the Christmas poem is complete. While it's something I enjoy and feel very good about doing (for myself and for the two or three of you, my six loyal fans, who engage the Holiday the way we do in my house), it's become (or I have made it) a bit more challenging in recent years.

First, there's the act of crafting. With all due respect to the 83 emails I've received since Thanksgiving containing 30-couplet rhymes restating "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day*" presented in curlicue reds and greens, they're really, really bad poems. Forgive me, Lord, for passing judgment during the season, but it's the truth. To receive decent marks as a poem, a work must have an awareness of its structure and deploy some element of craft. Rhyme is one, of course. But rhyme with haphazard meter, without awareness of other elements of sound, with no sense of pattern... is distracting and lazy. Or, more likely, it's an attempt at a poem by someone who's never read a poem. I don't enjoy this. I don't choose to create anything like it.

Next there's the selection of subject. While subject is (truly) infinite, it's hard to imagine connecting potholes, or the Yankees, or health care reform to the Christmas season (though some have tried on that last point, to poor effect). Frequent offenders are shopping, decorating, and travel; the Gospels make their appearance in there, of course. In my own Christmas poem history, I've taken as my source material shopping (badly), events/scenes at my church (mixed effect), my children (OK), and Bible verse (better). There's a balance between personal investment and objectivity that you need to find in a poem that tends toward the sentimental.

Then there's theme. I accept that poems in general need not have themes (and certainly not "messages"), but it seems to me that an occasional poem is the exception, that a poem attached to an event needs somehow to be part of the purpose or presentation of that event. The most frequent themes I've seen in the couplet parade are "slow down at Christmas" and paraphrasings of the Ghost of Christmas Present introducing the children beneath his robe**. It's easy, too, to turn to a child's experience of Christmas and apply it to the adult world. I've been writing these poems for a number of years. I want to find something fresh to say.

A branch of theme argument is tone - I do not choose to be a Scrooge, and it is my choice to stay close to the religious spirit of the holiday. This excludes some themes, I know, but it's consistent with my approach to the Holiday, and it's how I want to approach the work.

Finally, and this is a limitation I choose to impose, there's accessibility. This annual is a work I compose specifically to reach the broadest audience, which includes reaching friends who don't read poetry. These are folks I don't expect to take an interest in my work as a rule, who are on my email distribution list only because they want to encourage me, or are friends of my mother, or some such. I value the energy these people lend my artistic effort, and I want them to experience the Christmas poem in a way they might enjoy. Am I a sell-out? I dunno. But you wouldn't write a love poem to someone in a language they don't speak and still expect them to fall into your arms, would you?

In a nutshell, I'm trying to write something that maintains sufficient poetic craft to satisfy myself but offers enough dangling threads to engage a wide audience spanning secular and religious, artists and skeptics, young and old, deeply loved family and the friends-of-friends-of-friends.

It'll be here in a few days. Please drop by so you can tell me how I did. In the meantime, the American Academy of Poets can keep your sleigh's engine idling.

* - which, by the way, was a Longfellow poem before it was a carol. In case you were interested.
** - if you didn't get this reference, which many of the emailers wouldn't have either, go read "A Christmas Carol" - the original - immediately. Watching the Alistair Sim movie version will do in a pinch.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Testing the Facebook Connection

Have you checked out my Facebook Fan Page? The link is at the top right. I'm trying to connect all my outlets into one stream, but my IT expertise peaked with DEC Pro-BASIC some years ago. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

We regret to inform you....

... Linda Radice will not be able to participate in the Spoken Word Series this weekend due to injury. We look forward to having her as part of next season's program. Meanwhile, be sure and stop by for Hudson County's friendliest open mic event!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Linda Radice this Sunday in Hoboken

Linda Radice
December’s Spoken Word Artist
For Immediate Release: November 17, 2009

Performance Date: December 6, 2009, at 3 p.m., with open microphone following
Location: Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington St., Hoboken, NJ (Accessible by PATH & Light Rail),
Admission: FREE, with $3 suggested donation
Information: or 201-216-8933

Hoboken, NJ: For the fourth installment of the 2009–2010 Spoken Word Series, DeBaun Center for Performing Arts and curator David Vincenti have chosen a well-published artist to be featured on Sunday, December 6, 2009, at 3 p.m.—Linda Radice. The Spoken Word Series, co-hosted by Siobhan Barry-Bratcher and David Vincenti, is presented monthly at Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington St., Hoboken, NJ.

Linda Radice is a poet and essayist, and has had her work published numerous journals and anthologies. She is the second place recipient of the 2007 Allen Ginsberg Award, and Honorable Mention in 2008. She is a member of the Fanwood Arts Council, and assistant director of the Baron Arts Center Poets Wednesday reading series. She works by day to keep the lights on, and is a furious scribner by night in the home she shares with her husband Sam and a cat named Shakespeare. She owes her writer/poet friends and mentors her undying gratitude, and never forgets how blessed she is to have them in her life.

Linda will read from her works and then the microphone will be open to the public to share their work. Although it is not necessary to pre-register to attend the event, those interested in sharing their work during the open mic are asked to sign up at 2:45 p.m. Open mic participants are asked to limit their work to five minutes per person.

The Spoken Word Series takes place at Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington St., Hoboken, NJ. Symposia is the only used bookstore in Hoboken and has great prices for used books, wireless Internet access and many events every week. This is the sixth year DeBaun Center for the Performing Arts and Symposia Bookstore have teamed up to co-produce the Series. With each reading, more and more people are introduced to this wonderful bookshop and the work of many superb artists.

For more information, please visit, email or call 201-216-8933.

The next Spoken Word event will be on February 7, 2010, at 3 p.m. with Farrah Field.