Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feeding Ourselves with Food and Poetry

 I had a really nice holiday. The tree was pretty. One son was here for the full week. We had good food, often joined by our other two kids. My daughter did Christmas dinner for eleven and really outdid herself. A beautiful pork tenderloin, herb-encrusted, with a tasty but subtle gravy. Sweet potato dish, fantastic stuffing made with Italian bread, shallots, and dried cranberries. My brother and sister-in-law were up from North Carolina and contributed a yummy salad. I contributed a broccoli casserole and my best dessert, Boccone Dolce. It was completely devoured.

We even had a baby with us this year as my nephew and his wife joined us with 7-month old Jake who is adorable and exceedingly sweet. He just enjoyed our company and never made any noise other than some gurgling.

One of my gifts was the 2011 Microsoft Ofice which I loaded onto my computer yesterday. Now I need to learn the differences between the new and the old. And get back to my writing schedule. I've been working on revisions and have done some submissions. Now it's time to generate some new work.

If you haven't already subscribed to my monthly Poetry Newsletter, this would be a good time to do so. The next issue will go out on January 1, just in time to start off the new year. If you need some inspiration—and who doesn't?—you'll find a poem and prompt, a book recommendation, some links to writing-related sites, a poetry-related video, and a Craft Tip. This month's tip will come from poet Ingrid Wendt. Ingrid offers some great ideas on how to use discarded lines, you know, the ones you loved but had to admit weren't working in their poems, or the ones that were the only good parts of failed poems. If interested, use the sign-up form in the right-hand sidebar.

Or Go Here to sign up. Once you sign up, be sure to hit the confirm link.

Happy New Year, Everyone, and may your year be filled with poetry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yes, Virginia

Each Christmas I like to revisit the following essay from the The Sun. My grandmother read it to me many years ago. I've always remembered it. If you don't already know this piece, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a Merry Christmas if that's what you're celebrating. And I hope you'll have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being a Blogalicious reader. And a special thank-you to all who have supported my poetry this past year.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's The Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial September 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Here's Virginia's letter:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


Here's the reply:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Revision in The Poetry Gymnasium

Click Cover for Amazon

I am not quite finished with this book, but I want to mention it now in case some of you might be interested in getting it as a holiday gift. This craft book would be a perfect gift for any poets you know who are looking for instruction and stimulation. Perhaps you yourself are just such a poet? Then treat yourself.

The book seems a bit pricey at $35, but it's a textbook so is priced as such. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't use it outside of the classroom. If you're a teacher looking for a good poetry textbook, this could be the very one. If you're a poet working on your own but hoping to expand your knowledge, this book really does contain the classroom.

If you keep in mind that Hunley offers 94 exercises, then the price does not seem so high. But there's more, much more. Each exercise is preceded by a rationale and some background (tons of information here) and then followed by model poems.

I found Hunley's revision strategies particularly interesting and exciting. I recalled and looked up Kim Addonizio's words about revision in Ordinary Genius: "If you don't think your work needs revision, here's a tip: Don't try to be a poet. You will never—and I mean never—be any good." Firm, but true. She goes on to say: "If you take your art seriously, you will write the poem again and again until you get it right, or as close to right as you can make it. Revision separates the professionals from the amateurs and the wannabes."

Sometimes, of course, that's easier said than done. You have the poem in front of you, ten drafts in. You know you've got something worth working on, but you're not sure what to do at this point. On page 52, Hunley provides a list of four suggestions. I immediately embraced the first and put it to use on two poems I'd been wrestling. Here's the suggestion for revision:
Reread some of your text. Along the way, collect five words or phrases from your text and freewrite on each word. Let the word or phrase take you anywhere. See if any of this new material helps you open up the draft; can you insert the new material at the point you find the original word or phrase? Somewhere else?I found this strategy very helpful in opening up the poem and forcing me into new thinking and material. I then incorporated some of the new stuff into the draft. To the poem's advantage, I think. Then, of course, some cutting was necessary. (I confess to not doing this with all five words or phrases. I revised the suggestion a bit.)

I think you'll also find much in this book to stimulate your own work.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Just in Time for the Holidays

Click Cover for Amazon

I'm happy to have a poem in this new anthology, The Best of the Barefoot Muse, published by Barefoot Muse Press. Editor and publisher Anna Evans has gathered together sixty poems from over fifty poets, all of whom had their poems selected from Evans' online journal, The Barefoot Muse, which for five years published formal and metrical poetry. The collection includes contemporary examples of the sonnet, villanelle, triolet, and sestina as well as more unusual forms such as the ghazal and the fib and many poems in structures of the poet's own devising.

I'm represented by the poem, "Love Test: A Ghazal." Here's a list of all the poets:

Mike Alexander    Tiel Aisha Ansari    Peter Austin    Michael Battram    Kendall A. Bell    Kate Bernadette Benedict    Kim Bridgford    Chris Bullard     Michael Cantor     Catherine Chandler     Edmund Conti     Maryann Corbett     Robert W. Crawford     Erica Dawson     Frank De Canio     Jehanne Dubrow     Robert Klein Engler    Julie R. Enszer    Annie Finch    Carol Frith    Ona Gritz    Lois Marie Harrod    Penny Harter    Paul Hostovsky    Juleigh Howard-Hobson    A.M. Juster    T.S. Kerrigan    Deborah Kreuze    David W. Landrum    Quincy R. Lehr    J. Patrick Lewis    Diane Lockward    Austin MacRae    Laura Maffei    James Scannell McCormick    Susan McLean    Rick Mullin    Bruce W. Niedt    Eric Norris    Amber Norwood    Chris O'Carroll    Frank Osen    Aaron Poochigian    Ray Pospisil    Jennifer Reeser    David J. Rothman    Marybeth Rua-Larsen    E. Shaun Russell    Paul Christian Stevens    Clay Stockton    Peter Swanson    Gail White    James S. Wilk

The collection is now available at Amazon, just in time for a wonderful holiday gift. In fact, what could be a better gift than a book of poetry? This one is very reasonably priced at $10.95.

New Chapbook Now Available

At last! This new chapbook has been published. I say "at last" as it's been well over a year since I was first invited to participate in this series. Although I was told then that the chapbook would be available for that year's AWP, which would have been 2011, that simply did not happen. Apparently, there were some problems that caused delays. In fact, the delays went on so long that I had pretty much concluded that the chapbook just wasn't going to happen.

But happen it did. The original publisher, Pudding House Publications, sold the series to Kattywompus Press. Once the new publisher took over my manuscript, the process moved along at a brisk pace. So I went from thinking it wouldn't happen to a box of 20 copies on my doorstep.

This collection consists of 12 poems, the ones deemed my "greatest hits." Selection was challenging, but I think I have a good variety and all three of my full-length books are represented. The collection begins with an essay detailing the history of the poems. I could provide a list of the poems here, but I'm not going to. I'll leave it to you to guess. Then if and when you get the chapbook, you can see if you were right. Make a game of it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My New Toys

I recently succumbed to the lure of the Amazon Kindle Fire. I'm glad I did. I love it. This is my first Kindle so I have nothing to compare it to, but so far I'm happy. Although I love all things Mac, I passed over the iPad and opted for the Kindle Fire at less than half the price. It doesn't have all the options of the iPad, but I didn't think I wanted all the fancy stuff. I also liked the slightly smaller size. Among other reasons, I wanted one of these so I could download my newest book which recently became available for Kindle. I wanted to see how it looks. It looks great. There were two poems with one bad break each due to line lengths. I simply reduced the size of the font and the lines became just right. I'd noticed earlier when I added a book sample to Amazon's free desktop reader that the table of contents consisted of all blue links except the links were inactive. In the actual Kindle book, those links are active. Click on a title and you're immediately taken to that poem.

I haven't loaded on any additional books yet, but I plan to. In the meantime, I've been using my new toy to check email and hop onto the internet. Very convenient—and fast. Another feature I find very fantastic is Amazon Prime which I recently signed up for. You get a free month with Kindle, but I'd already signed up for it. At $79 per year, it strikes me as a huge bargain. Any book I order now comes with free shipping and two-day delivery. No more waiting until I have enough books to equal $25 so I qualify for free shipping. I get instant gratification, something I'm quite fond of.

Now with Amazon Prime, I can get one free Kindle book per month. I can get magazines and a good selection of movies—for free! I can't see myself watching movies on a reader, but it's nice to know that I can if I want to.
Now for my second toy, the Roku. A month or so ago I missed an episode of "Boardwalk Empire." I missed my weekly dose of violence, so I signed up for HBO GO. That enables me to get all HBO shows and movies on my computer. Since I have a big screen, watching on the computer is very comfortable. I get a weekly email now from HBO listing all the shows. In one of those newsletters, they had an offer for Roku. It's a game box, very small, about 3" x 3". You hook it up to your TV—with a USB cable for standard definition or an HDMI cable for HD. Either one is a very easy, fast setup. Once that was set up, the Roku screen appeared and took me through all the free offerings. For each one that I wanted, I had to go online, put in a code, and bingo, the channel was activated. We can get all the HBO shows, Amazon movies—again, many for free now that I'm a Prime subscriber—and a few other movie channels. I don't watch a ton of movies, but now that I can get so many for free instead of paying $5 each with FIOS, maybe I'll watch more. Of course, there's all kinds of stuff I could pay for, but for now I'm resisting any more temptation.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...