Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sidewalk Chalk Poetry

Today, I took my honors English class out to the front of our school and we wrote poems on the sidewalk.  It was a guerrilla art project, in that we only alerted the Principal, the Building Supervisor, and a few key faculty members we were going to do it.  Waiting until after everyone had settled into class, we snuck (sneaked) out with our poems and chalk, spending the remainder of the class period writing poems on the sidewalk.

What impressed me most was the wide range of work my students chose to copy out.  A week ago, I pulled a bunch of my poetry books off my shelf and let my students explore them, looking for poems which caught them off guard or made them think.  Here is a partial list of the poets they chose:

William Blake
Edgar Allan Poe
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Robert Frost
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Linda Pastan
Etheridge KnightDylan Thomas
Pablo Neruda
W.S. Merwin

Kelli Russel Agodon
Charles Jensen
Peter Pereira
Kathleen Kirk
Steven Schroeder

See those names at the end, there?  Who says contemporary poetry is dead? 

The kids had fun and I had a blast watching them work around each other, doing their best to work next to each other and modify their writing to circumnavigate the cracks in the sidewalks.  Some students chose multiple poems and others worked on single, long passages, and everyone helped everyone else.  After we had filled out all of the available space, we went back and drew lots of little pictures to go with the poems and then invited the office staff and other 'free' faculty members to come out and take a look at what we had done.  At the appointed hour, the students left for the day and were met with dozens of poems and fragments of poems, courtesy of the WWHS English III/IV Honors Class.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Winding Down

I have been doing very little poetry writing this month.  A few poems here and there, which translates to abouyt two or three I want to use in my latest manuscript. 

What have I been doing? 

A whole lot of missing school and trying to catch up.  I have also been reading a lot of submissions for Hobble Creek Review.  I have had a lot more this issue than in the past, but I think I will still have about the same size issue to give you all when everything is finished.

I am still trying to get myself away from the specifics of my Springville manuscript.  It's hurting my creativity too much being so pointed with my writing.  I need to have the freedom to write what I want to write and not worry about whether it fits into the manuscript.  Instead, everything I start to write ends up being pointed right at the book.  Worse still, I know which section the poem is supposed to be in and I almost immediately know exactly where it is supposed to go.  Some people might make the claim I am simply channeling, much like Blake, but I don't buy it.  I m not a mystic poet, nor do I think I have the ability to channel anything without a remote control in my hand.

I am having so much trouble with my manuscript, I am thinking of hiring out an editor to look at what  have and reign me in or kick me in the backside---whatever is needed.

* * *


This is the visual representation of my poetry life this month.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Thoughts (redux)

Right now I am sitting in my classroom as part of an "Open House" for parents, wherein it is likely no parents will show up (at least to my classroom).  I am listening to John Lee Hooker and behind me, the sun is setting and the magic hour is about to begin.  All hail John Lee Hooker and his guitar, his ability to escape the 12 bar blues format, and that incredible voice.

This is National Poetry Month and this is the least poetic I have felt in a long time.  I am stuck, you see.  I am stuck on a few poems for my Springville manuscript, and I just can't get them into the right context.  I have resorted to doing about 7x the research I normally do for such a poem of this kind and I still can't find a way to talk about it.  I have the first section down, but I cannot divorce myself from the story enough or something.  I want to incorporate real words written by people who were there, making it into a hybrid of found poem and original composition, but I still need to write the poem part of the poem so I know where to insert the text.  I have talked about this before.  Somewhere in this is my belief I am not a good enough poet to write the poem which deserves to be written, but at the same time I am of the opinion I am the person meant to write the poem.  Does that mean it's a waiting game?  Maybe.  What I do know is I cannot seem to write other poems right now because of this poem and the others which will not allow themselves to be written.

Six months ago, Burnt Bridge accepted four of my poems for their "upcoming issue," but now I read they no longer accept unsolicited poems.  I have tried to find some other way of contacting them by looking up the editors and searching all of their pages, but I cannot locate an e-mail.  I am wondering if they are in fact going to use my poems or if I have been cast into purgatory.  If you happen to know how to get hold of them, please contact me via FB.  I would appreciate it.

A few posts ago I mentioned I m a little peeved at the poetry community.  I am still a bit upset, but I have decided it is mostly my own fault for putting too much faith in others rather than any specific act committed.  Usually that is where I end up, knowing I was too naive, too optimistic.  I am not letting anyone off the hook, but I am coming around to the idea I can't do anything about all of the bullshit, and I may as well just move on.  This poem really sums up how I feel about the poetry community right now:

Hey, by the way, I have a lot of copies of my book, Friday in the Republic of Me, so if any of you are interested in buying a copy, just let me know, either here or on FB, and I will tell you how you can buy a signed copy.  It's $11, shipping included, and I will sign it in green ink, anyway you want.   The book is a mix of humorous and serious political poems.  As George Bernard Shaw once said, "If you are going to tell people the truth, you had better make them laugh."  If you don't want a copy of my book, I have to wonder what your problem is, really.  Seriously.  What is your major malfunction?  This book has some incredibly good poems in it, not to mention one kick-ass title and cover image.  What are you waiting for?

Well, that's about it.  I'm about all randomed out for now.  Go do some fun poetry shit and don't stay out too late.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Impromptu Poem



Bone white ash,
scent of rain, evening lilac.

Ribbons of wind
confusing the landscape,

kicking up dust
for a hundred year storm.


Silence troubling the air.
Nothing new,

nothing learned or gained
throughout the night.

Everything has turned
from white to black.