Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's All Over But the Shouting!

The election is finally over, and so are those incessantly annoying campaign ads. And
I for one am quite pleased with the results. Mr. Obama made history on Tuesday night, and I hope he rises to the occasion - he certainly has his work cut out for him. I have a feeling that anyone who expects him to be a savior, or to change the country's woes overnight, will be in for a disappointment. He's certainly an intelligent and extremely capable man, though, and with the right administration behind him, he could make a real positive difference for this country.

Poetry: Finally, I got the results of the Writer's Digest contest. I knew I didn't make the top 10, but I was disappointed to learn the other day that I didn't even place in the top 100. I've made it into the top 100 each of the other three or four times I have entered, and in 2005 I placed 10th. I figure there are three possible explanations: (1) they never received my entry, (2) I somehow disqualified myself, or (3) the competition was stiff this year and my poetry just wasn't good enough. I did notice that some entrants placed as many as eight of their poems in the top 100, which means they may have entered at least a dozen poems for the competition. That's a small fortune in entry fees.
(Writer's Digest charges $10 for the first entry and $5 for each additional entry.)
So maybe the fact that I only entered three poems (as I usually do) was a factor - I may have been crowded out by some poets the judges considered better. Oh well.

On the good-news side, I also learned that my poem "The Jena 6" was selected as a finalist for the annual Mad Poets Review contest. I have entered that contest several times before and hadn't won (although I've had poems accepted for publication by them before). The judge was Leonard Gontarek.

Also, and I think I mentioned this before, my poetry group, the Quick and Dirty Poets, is now accepting submissions for our annual journal, Up and Under: The QND Review. Click here
if you want to read our submission guidelines. The deadline is 12/30/2008.

I'm also involved in another "poem-a-day" challenge for the month of November. Robert Lee Brewer, whose Writer's Digest blog I've mentioned before, has offered an alternative for poets to the National Novel Writing Month challenge: write a poem a day this month, preferably with a unifying theme, with the intent of having enough material for a chapbook at the end of the month. He says he may even have a prize for the best chapbook collection when the month has ended. I needed something to spark my productivity, so I figured, "why not"? I"m trying for a music theme with this series of poems.

Music: I'm really into downloading lately, and it has probably exceeded buying CD's as my preferred method of music acquisition. Besides my eMusic membership, I look for cheap or free downloads on iTunes and Amazon has had some pretty sweet deals lately, from classic album downloads as low as $1.99, to free full-length samplers, and one of the best deals of all, which I just acquired today: the equivalent of a 12-disc box set from ECM, one of the premier jazz labels, for $18.06. That's 124 jazz tracks for less than 15 cents a song. If you love jazz (specifically, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Jack De Johnette, Paul Motian, Carla Bley, and a host of others), you can't pass up this deal. I've also been enjoying Paste Digital magazine's free album downloads of "discovery" artists. This month featured The Rosebuds, an excellent power-pop band.

Poem of the Week/Fortnight/Month: I'm not sure what to call it lately since I post so sporadically. How about this one, which is practically brand new. I wrote it for the second day of the Poem-a-day challenge this month. The prompt was to write a poem that makes a statement about your theme, possibly in the voice of another person, real or imagined. So without further ado, here's John Lennon:

An Open Posthumous Letter from John

Let me remind you people,
it’s only music, and I weren’t no bloody saint.
Just because that crazy git gunned me down,
doesn’t mean you need to canonize me.
Yeah, it was a bummer, but life goes on,
doesn’t it? If I was still around, would I still
be with Yoko? Who knows? Would I be proud
of me sons? What do you think?
Would the Beatles’ve gotten back together?
Not bloody likely. ‘Course, we lost George too –
poor old George, and now we got “Sir Paul” –
that’s a laff. But why worry about all that –
why not make your own bloody music?
That’s right, pick up a guitar, pull up to a piano.
Learn a few tunes – “Imagine”, maybe –
God, I was proud of that one.
Stop yer bleedin’ whining and play,
then make yer peace – I know I made mine.
Leave the world happier than you found it.
I hope I did that too.