When I began writing this blog entry tonight, the Phillies and Cardinals were beginning the fifth and deciding game on the NL Division Series. Two aces, and best buddies off the field, Roy Halladay and Cris Carpenter, were squaring off in what promised to be a real pitchers' duel. And it was just that - the Phils lost to the wild-card upstart Cards, 1-0, thus ending their club-record 102-win season. The difference, I think, is the Cards' bats got hot just as the Phillies went cold, and the Cards clawed and scraped their way up the standings in the last month of the season to steal the wild card from the Braves, while the Phils were on cruise control, riding a big lead and clinching in mid-September. Sometimes momentum is everything. We've seen superb pitching but streaky offense from this Phillies club all year, so in a way I'm not surprised that it ended, not with a bang but a whimper. Guys, you had a great regular season, but once again you broke my heart.
On a brighter note, autumn is in full swing, and school's back in session - my youngest is now a high school sophomore, and we have a new international student from Korea, who is also a sophomore, staying with us this year. We've weathered an earthquake and a hurricane in one week, and attended our biggest social event of the year, the wedding of my son and daughter-in-law's friends Pat and Jenny in Maine. What a great wedding it was, and she was a lovely bride. (It's not often you see a bride in a top hat!) It had a lot of the same vibe - and many of the same friends and family - as my son's wedding last year.
In poetry, there's not a lot of news. I did get one more acceptance: Shot Glass Journal published my short poem "Good Advice". I also attended the launch party of the 10th anniversary issue of Edison Literary Review. It's quite a milestone, and it includes a poem of mine and one by Pulitzer Prize-winning New Jersey poet Stephen Dunn. GIna and John Larkin and Tony Gruenwald deserve a lot of credit for putting together this quality journal for a decade.
I'm waiting patiently for a few submissions: to Daily Haiku, a Canadian online site with a daily featured haiku and a semiannual print journal; the 2013 edition of Poet's Market, in which editor Robert Brewer will be publishing, for the first time, new and original poetry; and an anthology edited by Peter Murphy, mastermind of the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway, late of Cape May and coming this January to Galloway (near Atlantic City) NJ. I'm excited about the concept of this one: He invited former attendees of his past conferences (which have run for about 19 years now) to submit poems they have written in response to the conference's famous writing prompts and have subsequently been published. I have had three published from among the poems I wrote at the two conferences I've attended. With a little luck, at least one of them will be in the anthology. I also plan to return to the conference this January. It was in rather dire financial straits, according to Peter, until Richard Stockton College stepped in to help out. There's a change of venue this year (for the better, I'm told, though not right on the beach as it was in Cape May) and the list of big-name poets is shorter, but it still should be a fine weekend. Stephen Dunn is there, as always (I took his workshop at the 2010 conference and it was great). There are some nice success stories among the faculty poets who have participated: Dunn, of course, has won the Pulitzer Prize since he began his association with the conference. James Richardson, whose workshop I took also in 2010, was nominated for a National Book Award last year and won the prestigious Jackson Prize. And Kathleen Graber, who started out years ago as a conference attendee and wrote her first poem at the conference, was also nominated last year for a National Book Award. The conference in past years has also attracted big names like Mark Doty and his partner, fiction writer Paul Lisicky; and last year, poets Patricia Smith and Dorianne Laux.
It's very cool when you get to meet and work with a famous poet, as I did earlier this year. But it's just as cool when you continue a correspondence with them. A few months ago, I shared the good news of a poem publication in Writers Digest, and I got a brief but sincere congratulations from her. About a month later I e-mailed to tell her how much I enjoyed a new publication of hers, and brought her up to date on my poetic exploits. I ended it with something self-effacing like, "I hope I haven't taken up too much of your time." Well, shortly thereafter I got a reply from her that was twice as long as my e-mail. The other night I sent another e-mail praising her new book of poetry and telling her I was looking forward to seeing her again at an upcoming reading. She responded with a another nice, relatively long e-mail within the hour. I feel like we're actually becoming friends. She really is a wonderful person and an amazing poet.
Music: It's time to start thinking about my favorite albums of the year, and though for me the field is not as impressive as last year's, there's still been a lot of really fine music. One that will surely be in my top 10, if not top 5, is the new album from the Philly band The War on Drugs, Slave Ambient. It's a unique amalgam of roots rock and electronica, kind of like Springsteen, Dylan and Petty meet Moby and My Bloody Valentine. Sounds like an aural mess, but it works amazingly well, and "Baby Missiles" is one of the most enjoyable songs of the year.
Poetry: Here's the poem that appears in the new issue of Edison Literary Review:
She declared she could never
but he insisted that he will always.
She announced that she frequently
but he stated that he rarely.
She offered that she might occasionally
and he admitted that he usually.
They agreed to sometimes.
Now they often.