Tuesday, May 18, 2010

P.S.: Music and a Poem

An addendum to yesterday's post, which I didn't have time for then:

I went to my friend Kelly Fineman's reading at Barnes and Noble in Marlton last night. She was great, and read poems from her manuscript-in-progress: a collection of poetry on the life of Jane Austen. Kelly also has an excellent blog, which you can find here.

Music: Well, the music year is already about 3/8ths over (really - figure it out!) and already there are a bunch of candidates for best albums, so it looks like another good year for music. Here are some of my early favorites:

The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever
Beach House – Teen Dream
The National – High Violet
Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do
Yeasayer – Odd Blood
The New Pornographers – Together
Natalie Merchant – Leave Your Sleep
Spoon – Transference
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way
Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Straight No Chaser – With a Twist
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Broken Bells – Broken Bells

Natalie Merchant's new album, by the way, is a collection of children's poems set to music - poems by the likes of Edward Lear, e.e. cummings and Robert Louis Stevenson, along with some lesser-known poets. It's a really fine 2-disc collection with a beautiful hardcover booklet that includes the poems and bios of all the poets. Ms. Merchant will also be a featured artist at the West Chester Poetry Conference (with which my friend Anna Evans is also involved) next month.

Poem of the Fortnight: I thought I'd share my poem that got such a big response when I read it at the Celebration of Literary Journals on Sunday (see blog below). This was originally published in Up and Under: the QND Review:

The Conjoined Twin

Crown to crown, our skulls
a figure-eight, we were bound
by bone and red trees of blood.

I felt your cries, and strained to find you,
always over my head. Sometimes
we chattered in the secret language of twins.

But the doctors - so many doctors –
decided it best to cut you away from me.
In our long sleep, they carved at skin and bone,

reconnected tissue, sewed and threaded capillaries,
relieved our brains from their morbid embrace.
But while I slept, your heart surrendered.

Sometimes I look up for you, sister,
but you have not come back.
The blood we shared still runs in my veins,

and memories flicker in and out,
the loss I felt as they opened, then closed
my head to the heavens.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Journal Fest!

I just returned from the “Poetry Festival: A Celebration of Literary Journals” in West Caldwell, NJ. This annual event is organized by poet Diane Lockward, and features about a dozen poetry journals from the NY/NJ region. Editors of the journals have tables to sell their issues, give out submission guidelines and network with poets. They also invite two poets who have been published in their journal to read two poems each during an afternoon-long reading. There are also poets’ books for sale, refreshments and an assortment of freebies. It’s always a great way to spend an afternoon. I went with four of the five members of my poetry group, Quick and Dirty Poets. Two of our members, Kendall Bell and Anna Evans, represented The Raintown Review and Up and Under, respectively. Up and Under is our group’s own journal, and Don Kloss and I represented the journal at the reading. We were the last readers of the afternoon on the schedule, and Don got a good response for his two poems before I came up. I made some self-effacing remark about the pressure associated with being the closing poet of the festival, and then I read my two poems, “What to Play at My Funeral” and “The Conjoined Twin”. I was amazed at the response I got to the latter poem – about ten people came up to me afterward and told me how much they loved it, and two of them bought my chapbook on the spot, based on my reading of that poem. I sold three books in all that day, though I spent all the proceeds on other poet’s books and sample copies of journals. It was good to see a lot of poet friends and acquaintances there too. If you are within a few hours’ drive of this festival (usually held in May), I urge you to attend next time. Click here for Diane’s website if you would like to keep up with her news:

Also, here’s a list, with links if available, of this year’s participating journals:

Edison Literary Review

Exit 13

Journal of New Jersey Poets


New York Quarterly

Paterson Literary Review

The Raintown Review

Schuylkill Valley Journal


Up and Under: The QND Review

US 1 Worksheets

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

38 Poems in 30 Days!

That's my final total for National Poetry Month and the Poem-a-Day Challenge. It's exhilirating for me to be that prolific, because lately I've been writing one or two a week at the most. Again, not all of them will be worthy of publication, but that's not really the point. The point is to write for writing's sake and separate the wheat from the chaff. I have about half-a-dozen favorites that are probably ready, or almost ready, to share with the world at large, and at least half-a-dozen more that will be ready with some revision. I sent five of them off to Robert Brewer of Poetic Asides, who promised to publish his 50 favorites from among all the participants of his challenge. He also will declare a "Poet Laureate" from the April challenge. I don't expect to win that honor, but it would be nice to have at least one of my poems recognized among the best of the month. We'll see.

I'm making this a short one, but will still share another poem from April with y'all. This is just a light verse, but a timely one:


I blog, I tweet, I text,
I devour whatever is next
in the techno-social soup
that links me to any group.
I’m surfing the net all day
to see who wants to play.
My thumbs are working like mad
to message all the friends I’ve had.
The world is mine for connectionto
anyone of my selection.
My list of friends is extensive,
my tech knowledge comprehensive.
It’s truly a “global village”,
only why do I still feel so lonely?