Let me be clear: this first item—Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style—has pretty much nothing to do with poetry. But it’s so flipping creative I just had to include it. Besides, what else are you going to do on a trans-Atlantic flight?
Since we’re going trans-Atlantic, we ought to bring a map or two, just in case our smart phones aren’t as smart as they think they are. Seriously, I love maps. We use them as decoration at our house: a world map in the hall outside the bathroom and a U.S. map behind my closet door (there wasn’t any other wall space large enough for it). So I was thrilled to find these gorgeous maps, including a map that is also a pictorial history of my beverage of choice. Any guesses what that might be?
Poetry makes waves in Germany: when a poet with a Nazi past writes an anti-Israel poem in a country where Holocaust guilt and shame still linger, well, it’s hardly surprising that said poem creates a maelstrom of commentary and confusion.
Former U.S. poet laureate Reed Whittemore passed away last week. He was 92. The New York Times retrospective of Whittemore illuminated his urbane exterior that concealed, or perhaps allowed, a strong subversive streak:
Mr. Whittemore’s poetic style bespoke an artisanal attention to craftsmanship. Often described as spare and elegant, it combined the natural cadences of speech with precise metrical control, keen wit and the judicious use of both end-rhyme and internal rhyme. But beneath this composed surface his verse sounded notes that ranged from mordant to melancholy.
I’m a babe in arms when it comes to social media. I still don’t really get the appeal, but I’m starting to: someone retweeted me! Someone else shared a link to my Tuesday blog post! I’m smart and funny and people like me! But wait, I only have 111 Facebook friends and an even paltrier 73 Twitter followers. Maybe I’m not smart or funny. Maybe no one likes me. Maybe they just followed or friended me out of pity. Craig Santos Perez isn’t quite as neurotic as I am, but he gets the ludicrous nature of social media. And he’s smart and funny, too. I just might like him.
For more on the Amazon vs. Everyone Else controversy that’s stirring the publishing waters, check out this fascinating (if long) look at Amazon’s grant-giving to the very people who love to hate them. Is this disinterested philanthropy or the ploy of an evil predator creating dependence in its prey? You decide.
In related news, more than a few someones at Amazon are probably dancing on Steve Jobs’s grave over the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Apple and the Big Six publishers.
Poet and pick-up basketball player Catherine Woodard reviews a new book, From Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball, that may relieve the doldrums for basketball fans who languish in a wasteland between the end of March Madness and the beginning of the NBA/WNBA seasons. Perhaps April won’t be the cruelest month this year after all?
Or maybe it will be. If you like your poetry on the dark side, there’s possibility in Michael McGriff’s new collection, Home Burial. Jeff Gordinier lauds McGriff’s language as “simultaneously spare, cinematic and tactile.”
Do you need a little pick-me-up to get you in the mood to write again? To hone your focus so you can face that blank page and tell procrastination to take a hike? Step on over to Colin Nissan’s inspiring article that will have you writing the best dang poem EVER before you’re even done reading it. Guaranteed. (Sort of.)
Maybe, but even
if it’s not, at least you can
post it on Twitter!
Or if haiku’s not your thing, you could fixate on the color blue, say, or the word raven or whatever you like to fixate on. See how many times in a day that fixation recurs. Collect the incidents or images into a poem. Call it “A Message from the Universe.”
Here in Seattle, we have poetry on our buses. Sometimes it’s even good. But even when it’s not, it sure beats reading the fine print in the ad for Intel…or Viagra.
Poet Anne Doe Overstreet lives in the Seattle area, too, though I don’t know if she’s ever written a poem for a bus. No matter. You can still read her poem about Icarus, in which she captures a brief moment of flight before falling:
As the horizon looms, flips over to present
an endless span of waves, I give up, surrender.
My fate’s the fate of falling. I guess I hoped for recognition,
that when I pushed my arms into the hostile sun
he would look up and see my face, the frame
of limb so like his lover, perhaps invoke my name.
Guy Kawsaki distills the vision behind the Apple Store, the most profitable retailer in the United States. Rule #1: Don’t sell stuff.
Kawasaki also promotes poetry as good business. At least, that’s how L.L. Barkat interprets his advice to make your message “swallowable” by using metaphor, simile, and brevity.
The Irish really took their poets seriously: 12 years of training to become an Ollambh, the highest poetic post; 7 years for a mere Bard. And we think a three-year MFA is killer.
If you’re feeling ambivalent about vitamins and want to see an immunologist, you can thank 1912 for giving you the words you need. These are just a few of the words that appeared in print for the first time 100 years ago. Others include punch-drunk, nosedive, sodding (thanks to that sodding rotter D.H. Lawrence) and Oreo. Who knew?
10 Sound n Motion
It’s fascinating to me that sound and motion—in this case, music and video images—can change the feel of a poem. This one became dark, even scary:
And just because I liked it, I’m including Robert Frost reading “The Road Not Taken.” The man has a fabulously deep voice. If you prefer to watch as well as listen, take a gander at Frost reciting “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
Photos by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In April we’re exploring the theme Candy.