Saturday, December 28, 2013

Happy Holidays, and a Couple More Lists

I hope everyone has had a joyous and healthy holiday season. just a quick post today to tell you about two more lists that this list-ophile has composed.  The first was by invitation: Robert Brewer of Writer's Digest and the Poetic Asides blog invited me to list five favorite poetry collections - poetry books that have been significant or important to me in some way.  Here is the link to his blog and that list:

The other list is one I recently posted on Facebook, which tries to list your 20 biggest moments on the site in the past year (apparently based on "likes" and comments). They actually got some of them right, but I posted my own personal list of top 5 events.  Here, though, I'll expand it to 10:

1. The birth of our first grandchild, the beautiful Isabel
2. Celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary with our first trip ever to Las Vegas
3. My youngest son's achievements, including college acceptances, making Eagle Scout, and attending Boys State (where he was elected "State Senator")
4. My wife's retirement (although she still seems as busy as ever)
5. Attending the Winter Getaway Poetry and Prose Writers Conference with my talented poet son, and workshopping with Dorianne Laux
6. Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time (during our Vegas trip)
7. Attending the Poets Forum in New York, which included hanging out with my New Yorker sons and getting to say hello to my famous poet friend Jane Hirshfield
8. Our family vacation to Massanutten, Virginia, which included a trip to the spectacular Luray Caverns
9. Poetry appearances, including co-hosting a haiku workshop and reading at The Collingswood Book Festival, and a featured reading in Atlantic City for the South Jersey Poets Collective.
10. Poetry publications, including my autobiographical poem "Nine Innings" in the journal Spitball, plus my article mentioned above.

Next year promises to be a big one too, as we prepare for my youngest son's high school graduation and advancement to college, and my own impending retirement. I hope everyone reading has a happy and prosperous new year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

ANOTHER Music List!?

Last time I gave you my list of the top songs of the year.  So this time it's a list is my favorite albums of the year.  Note that my “baby boomer” bias is showing by including three artists well into their 60’s or better, and one who’s been dead over forty years (but had a really fine album of unreleased material this year).  Don’t get me wrong though – some of the music these young kids are making these days is groovy too.

1. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
2. Elements of Light - Pantha du Prince
3. The Next Day - David Bowie
4. The Worse Things Get… - Neko Case
5. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
6. Bankrupt - Phoenix
7. Trouble Will Find Me - The National
8. Electric – Richard Thompson
9. Kids Raising Kids - Kopecky Family Band
10. Walking in a Pretty Daze – Kurt Vile
11. Innocents - Moby
12. Paracosm – Washed Out
13. People, Hell and Angels – Jimi Hendrix
14. Hummingbird - Local Natives
15. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
16. The Silver Gymnasium – Okkervil River
17. Modern Vampires of the City - Vampire Weekend
18. The Electric Lady – Janell Monรกe
19. New – Paul McCartney
20. Push the Sky Away - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
21. Muchacho - Phosphorescent
22. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow
23. Ghost on Ghost - Iron and Wine
24. Sound City: Real to Reel – Various Artists
25. Southeastern – Jason Isbell
26. Stories Don't End – Dawes

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baseball Poems, Teenager Achievements, and Best Songs of the Year

Well, the holidays got off to a busy start in our household, with the usual Thanksgiving feast followed closely by my granddaughter's baptism and the after-party at my house with 40-plus people.  I am exhausted.  I also just finished another poem-a-day challenge for the month of November, the "chapbook challenge" on Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. As usual, he gave participants a daily prompt, and recommended that we try to write poems on a certain theme to include in a possible chapbook manuscript, after which he will run a contest for the best manuscript.  I chose baseball as my theme, and I did manage to write at least thirty poems on the theme in November.  Most are hardly future classics, but I think they hang together well enough to make a decent chapbook.  We'll see.  Also, I will be featured on the blog sometime later this month with an article about my five favorite poetry books.

Not much in publication or conferencing news - I will probably skip Peter Murphy's upcoming Winter Getaway, just because the time and money involved make it impractical to do every single year.  Also my son's Eagle Scout Court of Honor will probably be the same weekend.  Speaking of my son, he got his first two college acceptances.  Woohoo!

Music: XPN is getting ready to compile their annual list of the best 200 songs of the year, as picked by their listeners, who are asked to submit their top 10.  Here's mine:

1. Down Down the Deep River - Okkervil River
2. Lose Yourself to Dance - Daft Punk
3. Trying to Be Cool - Phoenix
4. I Had Me a Girl - The Civil Wars
5. A Case for Shame - Moby
6. Good Things Happen to Bad People - Richard Thompson
7. I'd Rather Be High - David Bowie
8. Reflektor - Arcade Fire
9. Ragtime - Neko Case
10. Heavy Feet - Local Natives

And some Honorable Mentions:

The Perfect Life - Moby
Get Lucky - Daft Punk
Night Still Comes - Neko Case
Super 8 - Jason Isbell
Heartbeat - Kopecky Family Band
Entrance/It All Feels Right - Washed Out
Don't Swallow the Cap - The National
Goldtone - Kurt Vile
Photon - Pantha du Prince
Jubilee Street - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Song for Zula - Phosphorescent
Caught in the Briars - Iron and Wine

Poetry: I thought I'd share one that I wrote on November. This is a not-so-light verse:


Forget those things I said about
the home runs that you've hit,
how you never are an easy out,
that you're muscular and fit.

Forget about the time I said
you're wizard with the glove,
you chase balls like a thoroughbred
with hustle that we love.

Forget the times that I was pleased
you won all those awards,
World Series rings and MVP's
and tricked-out custom Fords.

Forget the glowing things I'd say
to praise you as a true
role model for the kids who'd play
to grow up more like you.

Forget all that, it's all erased;
those drugs, your hangman's rope.
So why, if you're the one disgraced,
do I feel like the dope?