The best in poetry, (and poetic things), this week with Matthew Kreider.
When I was a boy, I often accompanied my grandfather on visits to his favorite used bookstore. The store was a mess. The floors creaked. The air had a musty, cluttered smell. I loved every bookish bit of it. Over the years, I’ve returned to that store many times in my imagination. But after walking through this gallery of the 20 coolest bookstores in the world, I think it’s time to book some airline tickets.
As much as I’d like to tour the bookstores of the world, it’s not exactly practical right now. I have two small children. But something like a new bookshelf? That’s something I can justify. So I found myself strolling through bookshelf heaven. Some shelves are pure art.
President Obama commands thousands of followers on Pinterest. All it took was a few recent pins and his numbers began to soar. Social media sites provide a relatively safe space to graze with the herd. But Obama’s presence on Pinterest highlights the different plans people have for using their media space in 2012. At this time officials with T.S. Poetry Press are not at liberty to comment on the President’s potential appearance at a future Tweetspeak Twitter party.
Once again, New York City subway commuters can feast their eyes on poetry. That’s because the Poetry in Motion initiative is back in service this week after a four-year break. Organizers of the program plan to post new poems every three months.
Are you currently writing or planning to write a book? Is it smart to target as broad an audience as possible? No. Jane Friedman advises to clearly visualize your prospective reader(s).
So, your grandmother thinks Kindle is a travesty? It’s okay. This technology is fundamentally altering the daily diets of a whole new generation of writers. How do you explain to your grandmother that Kindle is changing the structure of plots? Could poetry be the next victim or beneficiary?
I’ve never played Farmville. Nor Mafia Wars. I was shocked when I read The 4 Secrets of the Social Gaming Model. People spend thousands of dollars every month playing with this stuff. Zynga has certainly created something powerful. Writers and publishers might do well to meditate on this interesting model.
How much are you worth in cyberspace? Andrew Sullivan spills the beans about Your Digital Self Worth. “User profiles — slices of our digital selves — are sold in large chunks, i.e. at least 10, 000 in a batch. On the high end, they go for $0.005 per profile, according to advertising-industry sources.” But now consider your worth from an advertising perspective.
If furniture could talk, I’d sit in an Eames lounge chair, heels resting on the soft leather ottoman. Wearing an impeccably tailored Don Draper suit, I’d chit-chat with Charles and Ray Eames, listening to them articulate the luscious and understated curves which sparked an organic, mid-century revolution in form and function. Shake and pour a dry martini and listen to Charles Eames discuss his thoughts on good design.
Some days just aren’t creative days for me. Sometimes my brain feels like a half-empty carton of eggs. Six self-contained thoughts just sit there, without doing a thing. Leonardo Da Vinci might be the inspiration I need to help me make a good, healthy mess. According to an article at Psychology Today, “Leonardo da Vinci was the first creative thinker who talked and wrote about the importance of introducing random and chance events to produce variation in his thinking patterns.” Michael Michalko offers techniques to exercise your creativity. Just see what your eggs can do.
It’s time to leave your house and enter your tool shed. Writing is a hard craft, and we need regular practice at measuring and cutting the wood. We need to get familiar with the different grains and smells. Draft is a feature at The New York Times that helps writers practice good craftsmanship. Be prepared to study both the shape of a sentence and the form a tweet. You’ll find endless Saturdays of enjoyment here.
In the afternoons, Hemingway visited the Musée du Luxembourg and fed on sandwiches and Cézanne. Writing is just as visual as painting. Here’s a lunch menu for you to try. Explore a writing prompt inspired by Hemingway’s Brush Strokes.
I thought it was cool when the U.S. Mint began featuring the states on its quarters. But when I found this mix of poet laureates from across the country, I knew I found something much more valuable. State Poets Laureate offers a collection of place poems. “Our process involved a shared document, a short time line, and magic within and between the lines.” Here’s a piece from my state. Can you guess it?
Though a blizzard of December rain drowns
veterans’ late homecomings, assembly lines of aunts
still pinch the half-moon rims of pierogies,
wrap tamales by the hundred in corn-shuck jackets,
or ladle cheesy macaroni into waiting pans.
I remember exactly where I was sitting when I first stumbled across the writing of Will Willingham. His clear-eyed insights and focused voice had me hooked immediately. If this is your first introduction, please take note of your present location and read Willingham’s “The Adjustor Explains Her Delinquency”.
Alice Walker is a wise poet who knows about change. “All the changes in life draw poetry from us, those of us who are in touch with it. It’s direct even sometimes when you have to turn it upside down to understand it. There’s still something embedded in it that directness [that leads] to the heart. Especially in times of revolution and times of great upheaval and change.” Read this interview with Alice Walker. You’ll find yourself focused on the heart of the matter.
Politicians and poets make strange bedfellows. One writer and English professor writes, “In utopia, we won’t occupy Wall Street, we are Wall Street.” When I find yummy nuggets like that, I’m convinced politicians and poets should hang out more often. Rub shoulders and butt heads in this interview with Charles Bernstein.
Beauty is a fine teacher. Allison Backous gives an honest reflection on her experience in teaching writing workshops at a community college. She concludes that beauty is evangelistic. “What I tried to do was look for beauty with the people who needed it most, ” she writes.
Institutionalized education and poetry often find themselves embroiled in conflicts. A Cambridge University student was suspended for seven terms recently after using poetry, not profanity, during a protest against an education minister. The PhD student’s poem included these lines: “You are a man who believes in the market and in the power of competition to drive up quality. But look to the world around you: your gods have failed.” Other protestors caught on and began chanting lines from the poem.
10 Sound n Motion
Artists will do anything to gain perspective. Musician Andrew Bird chose to hunker down with a mission in western Illinois. “Let’s see what happens when I stop listening to records, move out in the middle of nowhere, and have the space to experiment.” Hear a fresh perspective take shape on Andrew Bird’s new album, Break It Yourself.
Finally, here’s a dose of unusual perspective for all of us: Billy Collins does a poetry TED Talk.
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In March we’re exploring the theme Angels.