Poetry: It's National Poetry Month again, which means, at least in my general vicinity, there is something poetry-related going on just about every day of the month. It's enough to give me new energy to write again. My month really started in March, with the "Poetry Ink 100 Poets" event at Robin's Bookstore in Philadelphia on March 30. It was quite a "happening", as we used to say back in the day, with one hundred poets scheduled to read. There were some fairly well-known poets there, at least on a regional basis, like Lamont Steptoe, J.C. Todd, Leonard Gontarek, Tree Riesener, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, and a host of others including several poet friends of mine. There was a commemorative chapbook for sale featuring over half of the readers that afternoon. We were each allotted two minutes (of course some poets decided to extend that time limit to their own ends). And when I left after four and a half hours, it was still going on. But it was a very positive vibe, despite the varying quality of the poetry. I also was able to put a few copies of my chapbook up for sale on consignment.
This past Sunday my "Quick and Dirty" pals Anna and Rachel and I journeyed to Princeton to participate in the US1 Worksheets publication party - Issue #53, their 35th anniversary issue. We all had poems in this issue and read them along with a few dozen other poets who were included. I also read a poem from the journal by NJ poet B.J. Ward. We generally agreed that the overall quality of the poetry in this issue may not have been up to their usual standards. But again, it was a generally positive experience, and I get out so rarely any more for poetry events that I' m not complaining. Other events I have lined up are the Rutgers Writers Conference on April 12, and hopefully a reading in Haddonfield on April 23. Anna Evans is also a featured reader on the 17th for the Burlington County Poets - I will try to make that one too. Then in June once again, it's the Philadelphia Writers Conference! Anna is attending the West Chester Conference, which I'd like to do some year, but it overlaps this year with the PWC. Richard Wilbur will be there, and Anna herself has been asked to be a panelist for a poetry symposium.
Finally, I'm taking up the "Poem-a-Day Challenge" for National Poetry Month. I thought it would again be a good way to goose the ol' muse. And since I actually wrote a poem on April 1st, I considered that a sign that I should take up the challenge. So far I've cranked out six poems for six days - I still need to do one today. More on this later....
Personal Note: My father passed away in March, after a long bout with strokes and a broken hip. He chose not to continue treatment - he was 78. We weren't as close as some fathers and sons are, emotionally or geographically, but it was saddening, especially since he was the last surviving parent of my wife and me. She lost both her parents in the winter of 2007, and my mother died about four years ago. I've been trying to write a poem about him, or at least how I felt about his death. One of the results can be found below.
Music: It's been a slow year so far, although traditionally the music business, like the movie business, tends to pick up later in the year. So far, some of the standout CD's for me are:
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
R.E.M. - Accelerate
Bell X1 - Flock
Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Ryan Bingham - Mescalito (actually a late 2007 release)
Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart
Poem of the Month (maybe next time I'll have a Poem of the Week):
Unmoored, the last of the boats
drifts into the current,
prow pulled out toward the sea
by incessant undertow.
We stand at the banks on the dock
watching the vessel disappear
in a glint of ripples on the river
lit by evening sun.
We are the elders now
and our children are building our boats.