Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Know, I Know...

Only one post the whole month of December, and none in January till now. I guess I was a little disheartened by the apparent lack of interest in this site. Of course, everybody has a blog these days. Who has time to read them all? I can't seem to shake these writing doldrums, either - still hardly any poetry production. I have been, however, writing reviews for Amazon, spurred on by my membership in their "Vine" club, where I get a couple of free products a month in exchange for my reviews. My favorite products so far (four stars out of five) are the CD's Moo, You Bloody Choir by Augie March, and Mockingbird by Allison Moorer; and the DVD's A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim version, with bonus features) and the Japanese film Hula Girls.

The holidays and some minor health concerns, along with everyday obligations, have eaten away at free time to write, but even when I do have time, I don't seem to have much motivation. I think time on the internet and with the boob tube have eroded my creative spark as well. Time for some self-discipline! I need to keep a journal again, or set aside scheduled blocks of time with just reading and/or writing poetry ( a TV- and internet-free zone, preferably). My poetry group, a great bunch of folks, have started a monthly writing assignment, which should help me get off my duff. The results of this month's assignment appear below. The task was to write a title of nine words or more, which contained at least one adjective, a food, and a current cultural reference. Mine turned out to be a somewhat snarky, prosy affair, but it got a few laughs at the meeting, so I'll offer it here.

In other poetry news, my poem "More Than Halfway Home" appears in a new e-zine called Still Crazy, which is for poets over 50, or poems about over-50 subjects. The first issue is a rather spartan design, but it does contain some pretty good poetry and prose.
I'm looking forward to this year's poetry events, too:
(1) The Rutgers Writers Conference in April will feature Paul Muldoon and Joyce Carol Oates.
(2) The Philadelphia Writers Conference (where I've won first prize for poetry the last two years) will be in June - as a past winner, I get to go for free, and I've informally offered to judge one of the poetry contests - not sure if they'll take me up on it.
(3) The West Chester Poetry Conference in Pennsylvania is in June also. My friend Anna (the new MFA) wants to go, so maybe we'll carpool. If I read their site correctly, Richard Wilbur will be there this year.
(4) And, as an even-numbered year, that means it's Dodge Festival time again!

The year 2007 was an awesome year for music, considering the sheer volume of excellent album releases. Maybe it's partly because I bought/downloaded so many, but I can't remember a year when I had so much trouble just narrowing my favorites down to a top 20. So here instead is my top 40 - an expanded version of my previous list that I presented in November:

1. The Shepherd's Dog - Iron and Wine
2. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon
3. Wincing the Night Away - The Shins
4. The Remider - Feist
5. Two Shoes - The Cat Empire
6. Challengers - New Pornographers
7. Magic - Bruce Springsteen
8. Moo, You Bloody Choir - Augie March
9. Sweet Warrior - Richard Thompson
10. Once: Motion Picture Soundtrack - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
11. Armchair Apocrypha - Andrew Bird
12. Writer's Block - Peter, Bjorn and John
13. We All Belong - Dr. Dog
14. Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
15. Neon Bible - The Arcade Fire
16. Grand National - John Butler Trio
17. The Search - Son Volt
18. The Flying Cup Club - Beirut
19. In Rainbows - Radiohead
20. Boxer - The National
21. Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
22. Shine - Joni Mitchell
23. Versatile Heart - Linda Thompson
24. Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
25. This Is Ryan Shaw - Ryan Shaw
26. The Stage Names - Okkervil River
27. One Man Band - James Taylor
28. An Ancient Muse - Loreena McKennitt
29. I'm Not There - Various Artists (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Various Artists
30. Hoots and Hellmouth - Hoots and Hellmouth
31. Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krause
32. Person Pitch - Panda Bear
33. Andorra - Caribou
34. Release the Stars - Rufus Wainwright
35. Not Too Late - Norah Jones
36. Easy Tiger - Ryan Adams
37. Beauty and Crime - Suzanne Vega
38. Alright, Still - Lily Allen
39. Costello Music - The Fratellis
40. Meet the Smithereens - The Smithereens

That's a real mish-mosh of old favorites and upstart newcomers, and the ranking changes from week to week depending on how I feel about certain CD's at the time. But all of these have something to recommend them.

Poem of the... er, Month:

10 Reasons Why Britney Spears Reminds Me of Chunky Peanut Butter
by Bruce W Niedt

Because there’s more than a little nut in her.

Because she has spread herself way too thin.

Because there’s nothing smooth about her, or her very public life.

Because she’s been insanely popular but not necessarily good for you.

Because the press makes sure she sticks to the roof of our consciousness.

Because the flashy label sometimes doesn’t give you an idea how thick and sticky the stuff is inside.

Because she used to make “white bread” look pretty good, but like too much of anything else, you get tired of her day after day.

Because she’s had as many partners as peanut butter has had on sandwiches (jelly, bananas, Marshmallow Fluff, Kevin Federline, etc.)

Because kids like her – or at least they used to. Now they’re into Mega-Lunchables and Hannah Montana.

Because she always seems to land the way a piece of bread with peanut butter does: face down.