Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Snow had fallen, Snow on snow, Snow on snow..."

It seems like such a vicious cycle: I don’t post often on my blog because it doesn’t get much activity, but it probably doesn’t get much activity because I don’t poet that often. So if I promise to post more often, will folks start visiting and commenting more? Maybe it’s worth a shot. One thing’s for sure: once a month on the average isn’t often enough.

It’s been one heck of a winter – most snow on record in one season here in the Philly-South Jersey area. I think we had three major storms that dumped between one and two feet of snow each (and a predicted fourth one last week that fortunately turned out to be not that bad). That’s almost unheard of around here – over 65 inches since December, I believe. At least until recently, we had more snow this winter than they’d had in Maine, or in Vancouver for the Olympics. Thank goodness for March, though we’re not out of the woods just yet. One thing’s for sure: I am no longer wondering why I bought a snow blower about four winters ago. (Note: the title quote is from Christina Rossetti's poem "In the Bleak Midwinter" - some of you may know it from Gustav Holst's hymn arrangement, played at Christmas season.)

One of the bright spots this winter was the engagement party we threw for my son and his fiancée. We rented a very nice banquet hall, did all the food and beverages and entertainment ourselves (with help from some friends and family), and had about 70-75 guests. They were very happy with it.

Poetry News: I do have some publications coming up this year in Edison Literary Review, US 1 Worksheets, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and (if they get some funding) Mad Poets Review. I’m still waiting for my poems to appear in a future issue of The Lyric. I did enjoy a formal poetry gathering last month at the Mannyunk Art Center, hosted by Peter Krok of the SVJ, and which I attended with friend Anna Evans, an estimable formalist who gave a brief talk about Philip Larkin and Edna St. Vincent Millay. She has also been running a series of formal poetry workshops over there. Also, our group’s journal, Up and Under: The QND Review, has its launch party next month, and we have another excellent issue coming out, if I say so myself. My poem “What to Play at My Funeral” will be included, along with a poem by my son, who uses a pseudonym. I’ve been filling my pocket planner with upcoming poetry events, and it looks like a busy year in the making – I’ve been invited to a few readings, including a co-feature with Nancy Scott at the South Brunswick Library in December. This is also the year of the biannual Dodge Poetry Festival, so that’s on my radar too. The only downside is that I feel I’ve become rather lazy with my writing work ethic – not too productive lately – even the weekly prompt from Poetic Asides is a struggle sometimes. Oh yeah, that reminds me: Robert Brewer of Poetic Asides cited one of my recent prompt poems, “Taking It All Back” on a blog-radio show interview recently, and I got such good feedback, including from my critique group, that I retooled it as a blank-verse sonnet (suggested by Anna) and sent it off as a submission. We’ll see what happens.

Music: The music year has got off to a rather slow start. Other than the new Spoon and Vampire Weekend (both of which I enjoyed but don’t feel compelled to rave about), there’s not much new stuff yet to excite me. I did, however, enjoy doing a “love songs” mix on my iPod for my son’s engagement party – anything pop, rock, and even some jazz from the 1930’s right up to the present. I even burned some CD’s from the playlist to give away as gifts. A sample playlist:

Love Songs of the 80’s
Addicted to Love - Robert Palmer
Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen
Everyday I Write the Book – Elvis Costello
Genius of Love – Tom-Tom Club
She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
Higher Love – Steve Winwood
In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel
Head Over Heels – The Go Gos
Head Over Heels – Tears for Fears
Kiss on My List – Hall and Oates
I Just Called to Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
Smooth Operator – Sade
Kokomo – The Beach Boys
Have I Told You Lately – Van Morrison
Woman – John Lennon
The Longest Time – Billy Joel
You’ll Accomp’ny Me – Bob Seger

Poem of the Month: Spring Training has begun! My Phillies should be contenders again this year, especially after signing Roy Halladay, arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball. What does this have to do with poetry? Well, to bide my time till the season begins, I just finished the book Baseball Haiku, an anthology edited by Cor Van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura. It’s a collection of Japanese and English-language haiku and senryu on the subject. The Japanese have been writing haiku about baseball since the late 19th Century, starting with Shiki, one of the modern haiku masters who is also credited with helping popularize the sport in Japan. Jack Kerouac is credited with writing the first American baseball haiku. the editors argue that baseball and haiku are such a good fit because both take place in natural settings (grass fields, sandlots, etc.) and both emphasize the “moment”. This entertaining collection inspired me to write a few of my own:

time called –
a stray cat
steals second base

Star-spangled Banner –
while the shortstop sings along
the pitcher chews gum

extra innings –
manager swats at a bee
with a scorecard

spring rain
nourishes outfield grass –
no game today

1 comment:

Kelly Fineman said...

LOVE "In the Bleak Midwinter" - Christina Rosetti is marvelous; I'm glad someone else thinks of that when there's a lot of snow about.

I hope you will actually post more often.