Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pushcart, A New Book, Trivia, and a Loss

Late again!  Now that there’s little nip of autumn in the air and the school year is back in full swing, it’s time for an update.

The big poetry news is that I’ve been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for my poem, “Postcard to the Ex”, which appeared in this year’s issue of US 1 Worksheets.  (Click here to see it on their webpage.)  It’s my second Pushcart nomination, and even though I now realize that there are probably a couple of thousand nominees each year, it’s still quite an honor.  It would be even sweeter if my poem made it into the annual Pushcart Prize anthology, but I’m not holding my breath.

I’m planning to publish a new chapbook by next month - it will be a collection of sonnets and other 14-line poems titled "Twenty-four by Fourteen".  I plan to have it out just in time for a reading sponsored by my publisher, Maverick Duck Press, at 7:00 on Friday, October 19 at The Daily Grind in Mt. Holly.  If you’re a local friend or acquaintance, come on out for what I hope will be an entertaining evening.

It seems I’ve become a bit of a legend at my local Mexican restaurant and watering hole, Tortilla Press Cantina, where they have a weekly trivia (“Quizzo”) contest.  I’m a trivia fanatic, and I’ve won a few prizes there playing solo (usually against several teams of two to four people).  At one point, one of the MCs dubbed me “Bruce the Shark”, and the name stuck as my “team name”.  I haven’t won the last three times, but my “consolation prize” last week was that one of the other teams named themselves after me, something like “Was Bruce at Shark Camp All Summer? Welcome Back!”  (I took a bit of a hiatus during the summer.) That was nice of them, but they didn’t win that night either.

On a sadder note, I lost a longtime friend to cancer a couple of weeks ago.  I’d known Bill since just after college – his girlfriend and future wife Marlene was a classmate and good friend of my wife’s.  We shared many good times together over the years, the most significant being their only son, and our second son, who were born just days apart. Bill was a taciturn, laid-back, genuinely nice guy who shared my love of music and the Phillies – I watched them win their first-ever World Series championship in 1980 on his TV.  He is the one who took a spring training trip to Florida to see the Phillies play in March.  I will miss him.  I’ve been writing some poems about this lately, like this one:


You walk down the long hall for the last time.
Framed photographs hang on both walls -
your memories lined up as a gallery.
When you reach the other end,
your picture will hang there too.

Finally, to lighten things up a bit again, here's an educational and entertaining animated video about the metaphor, narrated by one of my favorite poets (and people) - of course I'm talking about Jane Hirshfield:



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Limericks, Another Music List, and Incongruous Trees II

I can't believe September is already upon us.  School starts next week, and we already have our new international student staying with us (our third in three years).  She's from South Korea, as the others were, and she will be a sophomore this year. My wife is over the moon that we have a girl living with us, after raising four boys for almost her whole adult life.  Now she has a shopping companion, for one thing.

I'm in another one of my writing funks, having written about two "serious" poems in the last three weeks, though I've still been cranking out those limericks for Mad Kane's Limerick-offs. (Host Madeleine Kane provides the first line, and participants write the rest of the limerick.) I did get a couple more honorable mentions last week and this week for these:

A father was very obsessed
with the way that his teenage girl dressed:
"You inveterate flirt,
that's a belt, not a skirt,
and your blouse reveals most of your chest!"

A woman was peeved at her mate,
a Saudi-rich oil ponentate:
"We had a big fight,
'cos he's drilling tonight,
but by that he means wife number eight!"

I also entered a new limerick contest at Salon.com a couple of weeks ago and was picked as one of the winners.  The topic of the week for the limericks was the new vice-presidential candidate:

Paul Ryan, would you please explain
how your budget plan isn't insane?
I can tell you with surety
that Social Security
is not what I'd call "gravy train"!

By the way, you may recall the poem "Incongruous Trees" from my last blog post.  Well, here's a photo of one of those infamous trees outside of Mass MoCA:

And here's a actual art work in the window of their gift shop that may make you writers chuckle:

Music:  I love music lists, and as I reported before, WXPN is getting ready for their annual Top 885 Countdown - this year's theme is "Greatest Rock Songs".  I shared my top 10 a couple of blogs ago, but some of my fellow "boardies" (regulars on the xpn.org bulletin board) have been complaining about how much "classic rock" will make the list, as opposed to other subgenres like punk and modern alt-rock.  So one of them suggested making a list of the best albums from 1980 or later, not released by a "classic rock" artist.  I came up with a pretty good list, I think, though it pained me greatly not to include three of my all-time favorite post-1980 albums (Paul Simon's Graceland, Peter Gabriel's So, and Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights).  I also decided to stick with personal favorites over albums that I  acknowledge were "great", like Radiohead's OK Computer or The Clash's London Calling.  So here's my "Favorite Top Ten Non-Classic-Rock Albums from 1980 to Present":

1. Talking Heads - Remain in Light
2. World Party - Goodbye Jumbo
3. Los Lobos - Kiko
4. Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend
5. Spoon - Kill the Moonlight
6. Decemberists - The Crane Wife
7. New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
8. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
9. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
10. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

(Dire Straits are borderline "classic rock" but they debuted in 1978, so they're not quite of that era, nor are Talking Heads, who also debuted in the late 1970's but were more a product of the punk-rock era.)