Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shame, Shame...

...on me for not keeping up this blog. My son, who is becoming an estimable poet in his own right and has his own poetry blog, has shamed me into writing tonight. I have no right to whine about lack of readership if I'm not posting more than once a month at most. So I plan to try to put something up at least weekly from now on. I'll try to keep it from getting too inane.

I did in fact finish the Poem-a-Day Challenge run by Robert Brewer on the Poetic Asides blog, which was a huge success with over 25,000 poems entered over the 30 days. The judges will select the 50 best for an e-book publication in July. I even volunteered to help out by reviewing one day's worth of poems (about 800!) and selecting what I thought were the the 50 best for that day, then I sent them off to Robert and Tammy Brewer to cut the list down to five. Those five then go to a "celebrity" judge (one for each day) who selects the best one for that day. Robert and Tammy then select 20 more of their favorites, rounding out the 50 winners.

It's looking like a busy summer poetically for me. Monday night I was featured reader at Barnes and Noble in Marlton, NJ, sponsored by the poetry group there of which I am a long-time member. Next week I am one of the readers for the journal launch of the new issue of Philadelphia Poets (who are publishing my poem, "Record Store"), and in July my friend Kendall Bell and I are featured readers for the Burlington County Poets. Our own group, Quick and Dirty Poets, has our summer series already set with readings in June, July and August. My next-door neighbor has asked me to give a talk on poetry and publication with her writing group soon, and I hope by the end of the summer I will hear something on my chapbook from Finishing Line Press. I've also sent some formal poetry out to a print journal, The Lyric.

I feel badly that I haven't enrolled in any workshops or conferences this year. The Princeton Festival was great, but it didn't offer opportunities for workshop and critique. I skipped the Philadelphia Writers Conference, who have been so good to me these last few years, and I again missed out on the West Chester Poetry Conference, which my friend Anna has attended and raves about. There's also the Rutgers Summer Writing Conference, which a week of commitment (and time off work) and not something I wasn't quite ready for yet. Oh well, there's always next year.

Music: I really like the new album by White Rabbits, It's Frightening. They sound a bit like Spoon, so it's not just coincidence that Britt Daniel of Spoon produced it. Two drummers and a piano up front make it as very percussive and catchy band. Their leadoff track, "Percussion Gun", is one of the most addictive songs of the year - I can't get it out of my brain!

I still can't figure how to attach a video directly to the blog. Can someone offer a little tech advice?

Poem of the Month:

National Record Store Day was in April - its purpose is to convince folks to patronize their friendly neighborhood independent record store, a dying breed. Here's a poem I wrote right around the last Record Store celebration in April 2008. This is the poem that will be featured in the new issue of Philadelphia Poets:

Record Store

Brick-and-mortar dinosaur,

endangered species, whose habitat

is encroached by mp3’s,

mail-order websites and big-box

superstores – why am I still drawn

to you, why do I still walk right into

your welcoming mouth? It must be

your organized jumble, alphabetic chaos

of racks and racks of cases and sleeves,

CD’s and vinyl LP’s lined up

like thousands of ribs. What is it

about the air inside you that renders me

amnesiac, forgetting everything else

to do in the world, as I flip methodically

through the rows, searching for treasure?

I could hunt for hours, the stack

of booty growing in my hands –

a used Miles Davis CD, a cut-out

copy of Bach cantatas, a mint-condition

vinyl of Dark Side of the Moon.

If the guy at the register plays

something I like, I could languish

all afternoon.. There’s something

real here, the slightly musty smell

of old records, the rainbow sheen of

the CD surface I inspect for scratches,

the lost art of the gatefold sleeve,

even just the heft of my catch,

that one can never get from watching

the crawling bar on a monitor

and the message, “Download Complete”.