Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wisdom from Parker and Hood

Smile, and the World will smile back at you;
Aim with a grin and you cannot miss;
Laugh off your woes, and you won't feel blue.
(Poetry pays when it's done like this.)

Reading Not Much Fun - The lost poems of Dorothy Parker, which after a quick thumbing seems more interesting for its abbreviated biography than Parker's poems. But she had a great gift for pun, which (for me) is always worth a closer look.

Great dialog about "giving up writing" over at first draft. I'm not really enough of a writer to be taken seriously when I propose to give it up, but the writers engaged in discussion in that corner of the world have some insights you might be interested in.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Two weeks later, the phone rings....

Oy. Just when you feel like you've got time to pick up a book.

Numerous good things this weekend if you're puttering around NJ looking for poetry:

George Witte and Tina Kelley are reading at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center on Friday night.

Opposite them, unfortunately, Joel Allegretti relaunches the North Jersey Literary Series at Blend Cafe in Rutherford (note courtesy of the never-idle John J. Trause, who also support poetry at the Williams Center). Of course, you could catch George and Tina and still make Joel's late set

And just in case this isn't enough poetry for one weekend, spend Saturday at the Warren County Poetry Festival. Linda Pastan, Kurtis Lamkin.... something for everyone, guaranteed.

As for me, I need to get to the TV immediately...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Word From My Inner Ed Sullivan

One marvelous thing about hosting the Spoken Word Series is that I get a chance to meet some extraordinary artists and to have them play for a moment in my sandbox (they bring their own sand, of course, and take it with them when they leave, but now I've completely shattered what was once a promising metaphor).

Anyway, there have been a couple times - just a couple - when the series has been a small part of a truly remarkable artistic moment, and I heard recently from visual artist Nancy Tobin of the continuing momentum of one of those moments.

Last year, due to that magical combination of serendipity and familial obligation (just kidding!), we were able to host a collaboration between Nancy and the great Jerome Rothenberg as part of the Visible Word, an annual event at which we select visual artists and solicit new ekphrastic (sp?) poetry in response to their art. That collaboration is now available in a beautiful edition through SPD, and their joint work is also part of an exciting anthology called "Viz Inter-arts Event A Trans-genre Anthology".

By the way, not only are these terrific pieces of verbal and visual art for to have on my shelf. Also, for me, these books will be reminders of having had the chance to meet and work with Nancy and Jerome, who were just phenomenally friendly and accommodating throughout the process. I don't mean to imply that my offer of a stage and some wall space was essential to their creations. But I respect the legacy of the Really Big Shoeman enough to know how special it is to be there at those great moments in the arts. Even if all you do is recite the names and step to the left.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mister Congeniality

Another pleasant and encouraging rejection this week, with a request to try the journal again. I appreciate these notes. I do believe that even form rejections come in flavors - the "What were you thinking?" variety through the "This guy gets it, but just missed" kind, and my most recent rejections were of the latter sort. I have a goal of having two submissions pending at all times, and this last flush brings me back down to one, so it's time to fire the engine back up. I do have to packages to prepare for editors who have requested specific poems they've heard me read - but I'm not letting myself consider those submissions, since even the nicest editors (and these two are just tops in the nice department) don't ask for what they don't want. Back to the portfolio.

Interestingly, both these recent rejected packages contained poems that had once before received the "You're so close..." rejection once previously, and now I'm thinking that my whole body of work tends to fit this description. Maybe it's time to take a serious look at the last couple years' production with this thought in mind. I wonder.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Watch the Watch

Spent a lot of time in traffic with my cousins yesterday and - as tends to happen with this bunch - a joke-telling fest was called for. Usually, I find myself sitting back and laughing - I'm a fair storyteller, but don't have a memory or knack for jokes. As things got going, an old joke leaped out of my mental file cabinet and into the room. Happened again a short while later. And when we had a quiet time a few minutes following I realized the connection between the jokes was that my father had told me them both. And a minute after that I looked down at my wrist, at the tuxedo watch I took from my father's jewelry box after he passed away. First time I had worn the watch (at least in a couple years), first time I remembered any jokes during joke time (at least in a couple years).

No, I don't know what that means.

Confidential to Yonkers: My father says "Face it: This one, you hit right".

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bits II (The Back From Vacation Version)

Just getting back from a week on the gulf coast of Florida, swimming, eating, (two words which interestingly can be easily combined into "sweating") and visiting some great local attractions (among which I do not include the surprisingly many street corners featuring early stumpers for Ron Paul). Didn't keep tabs on the blogroll while away, which seems to have been consistent with the plans of most of my listed-at-right writers.

Some things to regain my momentum for the coming months: