Saturday, August 28, 2010

Delete Your Darlings

Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. - Samuel Johnson
(courtesy iGoogle Quotes of the Day)

Best. Advice. Ever.

This was the hardest thing for me to accept as I entered the home stretch with "To The Ones...". On an intellectual level, I realized that I wasn't objective about some parts of the manuscript. A lot of that's because there are scenes in there derived from real-life experiences with my kids, and it's hard to separate neutral-to-negative comments about the associated writings from neutral-to-negative comments about the events and kids themselves. Of course, that's complete nonsense, which I know - on one level.

I had some great and generously honest feedback on my manuscript that left me with two choice: reject the consistent feedback of poets I admire and defend my personal position on poems I'd been close to for years, or accept that maybe - just maybe - I might not be seeing those poems clearly.

You'll have to read the book for yourself and tell me whether I was successful in processing the feedback, but my clear intent was to listen.

I've also passed Johnson's advice along to other writers; usually I add "because those are the parts you're not objective about". Aside from "Read, read, read", I think it's the best guidance a writer can take to heart.

What's your favorite bit of advice?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Appearing in the Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow 3....

Very pleased to announce I'll have two poems in THE RUTHERFORD RED WHEELBARROW 3. Take a look at the company I'm keeping in this issue. My thanks to the editors for permitting me entry to this prestigious club!


The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow No. 3
ISBN 978-0-557-58376-8
Paperback: 232, Price: $15
Red Wheelbarrow Poets, August 2010

Editor: Jim Klein
Managing Editor: Mark Fogarty
Managing Editor: Sondra Singer Beaulieu
Designer: Claudia Serea
Editor Advisor: John Barrale
Editor Advisor: Céline Beaulieu
Editor Advisor: George DeGregorio

Contributors (in alphabetical order):
John Barrale
Céline Beaulieu
Sondra Singer Beaulieu
Marian Calabro
Teresa Carson
George DeGregorio
Gil Fagiani
Jane Fisher
Mark Fogarty
Elissa Gordon
Max Greenberg
Roxanne Hoffman
Pamela Hughes
Josh Humphrey
Gail King
Jim Klein
Melanie Klein
Janet Kolstein
Joel Lewis
Maria Lisella
Pete Loria
Zorida Mohammed
Michael O'Brien
Moira O'Brien
Tony Puma
Gabriella Radujko
Susan Rappaport
Susanna Rich
Dan Saxon
Claudia Serea
Ed Smith
Rosemarie S. Sprouls
Anna Toher
John J. Trause
Miyuki Tsurumaki
David Vincenti
B.J. Ward
Dorinda Wegener
Don Zirilli
Sander Zulauf

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Rounds

Finally, an appropriate piece about the death of publishing, by The Morning News's Non-Expert.


Via Diane Lockward, a new online anthology, with the pleasant surprise of work from old favorite Joseph Bruchac and the promise of more from other terrific poets soon.


Fascinating debate raging on the New-Poetry mailing list about Robert Frost, the gyst of which seems to be that he wasn't genuine in the character his poems suggested. Or that his poems are too cliche or out of touch to be meaningful today. I think there have been so many Frost imitators that we lose sight of what Frost was when his work was new, and I still think he's among the best ways to introduce poetry to kids. A short side thread wanted to compare Frost to Williams and to Stevens, which is - in my opinion - like comparing (in no particular order) spaghetti with sushi with hot dogs. Sure, they're all food, but what does the comparison get you?


Note to Monopoly fans: If you fancy yourself a serious player (which I do) and you allow yourself to join a game using a Disney(tm) Princess Junior game set (which I did), you should expect to lose to the youngest player by 4x the starting bankroll (which.... no comment).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hey, buddy, can you spare a workshop idea?

I have an ongoing relationship with dandelions. The first poem I ever had accepted for print by someone who wasn't also grading my term papers was called "Dandelion". It was a lovely bit of syrup and I remember fondly the poem and the time in my evolution as a writer it represents (my "early Crayola" period). When I first started shopping around to lead poetry workshops with kids, that poem was one I turned to as an example - it was simple, suitable for audiences as young as 3rd grade, not entirely awful, and contained a few teachable elements - but I never thought of it having much use for workshops with adults, or even older kids.

This month (well, next month, actually), I'll be looking for ideas to jump start a new writers' group, and I like the idea of starting with a workshop based on dandelion poems. It's subject matter everyone can attach to, both visually and metaphorically, yet have a range of reactions to on either axis. That's key for me, because this group will contain writers at levels ranging from accomplished to novice.

The old blogroll will serve me well in this case; starting right at the top with Adele Kenny, there are a dozen good ideas easily accessible (in the IT sense, not the New Formalist or any other "school" sense). But I'm open to suggestions, too.

Do you have any workshop ideas that you've seen work with a widely divergent audience?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Don't even think of talking here

Ron Silliman has turned off the comments stream for his blog because he chooses to no longer moderate the vitriol. Somehow, some people have interpreted this as an offense against readers who do not favor L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. I'm not sure how anyone can reach this conclusion.

A number of people calling into sports shows I follow have lamented that "because of steroids", Alex Rodriguez' 600th home run is meaningless. Really? While I understand people's disappointment in tarnished heroes, I don't know how, at least if you're not a Yankee-hater, you dismiss the accomplishment.

Wil Wheaton is attending a gaming convention this weekend and has decided to execute a Howiemandelic maneuver and not shake hands with people during the covention as a way to avoid illness. This has some people offended, and they've made that known in his comments stream.

Common thread here seems to be to find a way to subtract from the importance you assign to persons of accomplishment who do somehow not permit us to apply our values to their work. Or maybe that without the direct link we want to a person with talents we recognize, we choose instead to have no links at all. I don't get this at all.

It's not that we can't feel loss, even deprivation at something taken away. But how does it subtract from the pleasure of experiencing the artistic product to have diminished respect for the artist? I'd have to delete half my playlist if perfect respect for the performer were a requirement for enjoying the music. The message is "I am not interested in your talent of you don't deliver it to me in the way I choose."

In the specifics of Silliman's comment stream, my question is: if you have something to say in response to one of his posts, why is the only place you can say it on his website? If you object to the elimination of his comment thread, isn't that the same thing as resenting losing a forum for your own words? Does he have an obligation to provide not only his time and energy, but also an audience for his readers?

That's the question. What's the answer?