Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Amazon, New Poet Laureate, Pirates, and Other Stuff.

I got an interesting e-mail today from Amazon.com. They invited me to join "Amazon Vine", an exclusive "club" for their most popular and helpful reviewers. I have 137 reviews posted on Amazon, mostly music reviews, and some DVD and book reviews as well. As a "Vine" member, I'll be getting free promotional releases and pre-releases (which I get to choose), with only the requirement that I write reviews for some of them. How cool is that?

My latest favorite CD is The Cat Empire's Two Shoes. It's almost as energetic and fun as the band was in person at the XPoNential Music Festival a couple of weeks ago. It will definitely be on my best-of-the-year list.

My youngest is in the midst of his two-week Boy Scout camp in Bucks County, and from all accounts he is having a swell time. In light of that, and as a public service, I am about to introduce a new feature: the Weekly Top 10. This is culled from the XPN website - I started a bulletin board thread a few months ago that's still going strong, where members suggest ten songs with a common theme. We've had some rather ho-hum themes, and some pretty creative ones too. So this week's Top 10 is:

Songs About Camping, Scouting, Hiking, or Similar Outdoorsy Activities

1. Honeymoon with "B" Troop - 10cc
2. Tent - Bonzo Dog Band
3. A Campfire Song - 10,000 Maniacs
4. Be Prepared - Tom Lehrer
5. Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (Camp Grenada) - Allen Sherman
6. Fishin' Blues - Taj Mahal (my son's going for his fishing merit badge this week)
7. Battle of Kookamonga - Homer and Jethro (a spoof of "Battle of New Orleans" set at a kid's summer camp)
8. Poison Ivy - The Coasters
9. Under the Milky Way - The Church (sleeping under the stars)
10. Kumbaya - Pete Seeger (the ultimate campfire song!)

Thanks to my XPN boardie buds, jtd7, skatenlayton, cromag, and obi y kenobi for some of the suggestions.

Poetry: Charles Simic has just been appointed the new Poet Laureate of the U.S. Interesting choice - I like his work; it's whimsical and sometimes a bit surreal, but I never found a real emotional connection with it. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the post - he does - but I was really hoping it would go to my favorite American poet who hasn't held the title yet: Yusef Komunyakaa.

Still not doing much these days poetry-wise - I've written hardly anything worthwhile in about a month, and I'm getting pretty disgusted about it. Still waiting on some submissions, the most noteworthy being Poetry magazine. Their non-response so far could be because (a) they're backlogged with a mountain of submissions, since they invited poets not previously published by them to submit, and haven't been able to respond as quickly as they promised; or (b) my poetry is so unworthy they won't even dignify it with a response; or (c) I did something horribly wrong, like inadvertently insult the editors in my cover letter, or forget to enclose a SASE; or (d) my poetry is so wonderful that they're holding it for possible publication. I think "a" is the most likely scenario, followed by "c" and "b".

Poem of the Week: I'll go with this one, which was published in The Fairfield Review (Winter 2003) and was also selected by them as an Editor's Choice:

Heart’s Pirate

There’s the story they tell on the Outer Banks
about Blackbeard, and the other privateers –
how they would hang lanterns on mules
and run them up and down the sandy beach.

This confused incoming ships
especially in the fog of night –
they thought they sighted a lighthouse
and sailed into the sound,

scraping the shoals, running aground,
helpless to the plunderers
who awaited ashore
and waded across to breach the gunwales.

That’s how it feels
to talk to you.

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