Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Limerick, a Rondeau, and the Best Songs of the Year

With a nod to the topic of my last blog post, I just wanted to congratulate two friends who recently tied the knot.  Best wishes, Rachel and Donna, on making it official, and good luck in your life together.

I attended the biannual Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival again the year.  My son, who gave me admission as a gift, joined me, and we had a fine time. We attended craft talks by Billy Collins and Rita Dove, as well as a reading by Marie Howe, my poet friend Catherine Doty, and two other poets.  I went to an open mic reading while he went to panel on "pride" in poetry.  I also went to a poets' happy hour hosted by Winter Getaway Conference founder Peter Murphy and got to schmooze with a lot of poet friends and acquaintenances I hadn't seen in a while. Then I stayed for the evenign program, whose theme was military veterans and their families. One of the highlights was Vietnam vet Yusef Komunuyakaa reading his famous poem about the Vietnam War Memorial, "Facing It". I also got to "meet and greet" with Billy Collins, got an autograph and chatted for a moment about his upcoming workshop in Key West which I will be atending. He said, "We'll have fun."  Though I still don't like the newer venue (Prudential Art Center and vicinity in Newark NJ) as much as the old location in Waterloo Village, it's still a fun and worthwhile experience.

I'm involved once again in a poem-a-day project, the annual Chapbook Challenge on Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. The idea is to have enough new poems by the end of the month to compile a chapbook. So far I haven't come up with a theme, so I doubt this crop of poems will immediately produce a chapbook of new material, but at least it's forcing me to write again, for better or worse.
I've written a couple of poems that may be worthy of being sent into the larger world. I may try shopping around the baseball poem chapbook that I compiled from last years' challenge - Finishing Line Press is offering a free reading fee for any manuscripts sumbitted in November.  Publication-wise, my poem "Groundskeeper" appears in the new issue of Spitball - they have now published four of my baseball poems, and another one is under consideration.  Also my Australian friend Rosemary Nissen-Wade published a chapbook of "somonka" called The Imagined Other, which features two somonka on which we collaborated, one of which previously appeared in Writers Digest. (A somonka, in case you've forgotten, is a Japanese form which is two tanka usually written on a love theme, with one poet writing the first tanka and another writing the second in response.)

In other news, I received "ink" (honorable mention) in the weekly Style Invitational humor contest run by Pat Myers of the Washington Post. The contest was to write a short poem using a word from a list of rare or archaic words that sound dirty but aren't.  Here's the limerick I wrote:

A famed entomologist, Lance,
was performing a curious dance.
To our question of "why"
came his frantic reply:
"A cockchafer fell down my pants!"

[A cockchafer is a type of large beetle.]

Music: WXPN-FM in Philly is once again compiling their list of best songs of 2014.  I'm still lamenting the fact that they no longer do a best-album list each year, but I still submitted my list of my favorite ten songs of the year:

1. Brill Bruisers - New Pornographers
2. My Sad Captains - ELbow
3. Take Me to Church - Hozier
4. Under the Pressure - War on Drugs
5. Happy - Pharrell Williams
6. Digital Witness - St. Vincent
7. Talking Backwards - Real Estate
8. Spinners - The Hold Steady
9. Shit Shots Count - Drive by Truckers
10. Let's Get Drunk and Get in On - Old 97s

and here are some runners-up:
High Hopes - Bruce Springsteen
The Rent I Pay - Spoon
The Miracle of Joey Ramone - U2
Sky Full of Stars - Coldplay
In Your Shoes - Sarah McLachlan
Rainbow - Robert Plant
Gotta Get Away - The Black Keys
Louder than Words - Pink Floyd
Word Crimes - Weird Al Yankovic

Later, I'll compile my list of top albums of the year.

Poem:  Here's one of the ones I wrote this month. It's a "British rondeau".


I know you're there because I've seen
the wreckage where your force has been.
I've seen the books strewn on the floor,
I've heard each time you slammed a door.
You have the temper of a teen.

I've watched the china closet lean,
found holes punched in the window screen.
I've read the supernatural lore -
I know you're there.

Is your world somewhere in-between?
The chessboard - you knocked down my queen.
Perchance you're settling a score.
I wish I knew a little more
about what makes you act so mean.
I know you're there.