Friday, September 29, 2006

More on the Found Robert Frost Poem

September 29, 2006 Washington Post
On the opening page of a small leather-bound book in a University of Virginia library, graduate student Robert Stilling found an inscription in brownish-gray ink. It was a poem by Robert Frost, in the poet's own hand, unknown and, Stilling believes, unpublished. "It's like coming across aruin," he said, finding a poem that Frost seemed to have abandoned. "It was a complete bolt out of the blue," said Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, the kind of dramatic discovery that scholars dream of as they pore over manuscripts and letters. The poem, "War Thoughts at Home," has particular resonance now, Stilling said. It will be published, for thefirst time, it is believed, in the Virginia Quarterly Review available Monday.


I believe that when you begin writing you must apprentice yourself to the trade. You need to master the forms, practice the exercises, like learning and practicing scales on a piano…. But now, when I write a poem, I discover the form as I write…. The first draft may happen quickly. I then try to recognize the poem’s configuration, its meter or rhythm, and attempt to give the poem voice and shape. What intrigues and fascinates me is how complex a creature a poem can be. The content, the emotion, the images will leap up at you, but the subliminal formal elements are at work in the background.

--Elise Paschen


Fortune Cookie 9/27/2006:

No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

OBSCURE ROBERT FROST POEM DISCOVERED BY GRAD STUDENT September 27, 2006 Associated PressAn unpublished Robert Frost poem, a tribute to a friend killed during World War I, has been rediscovered and will appear next week in the fall issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, the University of Virginia announced Wednesday. "War Thoughts at Home" first emerged in 1918 when Frost inscribed it in a copy of "North of Boston," his second collection. The poem was not seen again until a graduate student at the University of Virginia, Robert Stilling, recently spotted "War Thoughts" while looking through some Frost papers

ROBERT FROST POEM IS DISCOVERED September 28, 2006 New York TimesA previously unknown poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963) is to be published on Monday in The Virginia Quarterly Review. Found by a graduate student, Robert Stilling, in a collection of books and manuscripts bought by the University of Virginia, the 35-line poem, "War Thoughts at Home," was written in 1918, not long after Frost's friend and fellow poet Edward Thomas was killed in World War I.

FROST POEM FOUND AT U.VA. / GRAD STUDENT DISCOVERS HANDWRITTEN WORK IN UNCATALOGED PAPERS September 28, 2006 Richmond Times-DispatchA U.Va. graduate student, poking through a box of uncataloged material at the school's library, has found an unpublished poem by Robert Frost. The poem, "War Thoughts at Home," was handwritten by Frost in a copy of "North of Boston," his second collection of poetry. The poem is signed by Frost and dated January 1918.


Let the readers do some of the work themselves.

--Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

T. S. Eliot

Someone said: “The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.” Precisely, and they are what we know.

--T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)

Nobel Prize winner Thomas Stearns Eliot is considered the greatest poet of his generation, and a major influence on future generations. Like so many other poets, Eliot received help from Ezra Pound in publishing his first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, in 1917, two years after Eliot had left the U. S. for Europe. In 1927 he became a British subject and converted to Anglicanism, the official Church of England. His major breakthrough was the publication of The Waste Land in 1922. Eliot’s poetry can be difficult for readers because of its use of allusions, foreign and historical terms, and classical and complex images. Mystical ideas appear also, especially in his final volume, Four Quartets (1943), and other late religious poems. The reader is called upon to supply an overall sense to Eliot’s seemingly disorganized structures. The poet expected the reader to approach poetry the way he would listen to music, understanding on an emotional level if not an intellectual one. Eliot insisted that poetry was supposed to be difficult. His Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats became the basis for the musical hit Cats.

--From Poetry Speaks


I received a rejection from RATTLE yesterday.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I need to update my links to fellow bloggers. If any of you list my blog on your blog and you don’t see your name listed on my blog, please leave a comment so that I can add you. Thanks.


I received a rejection on Saturday from the Burnside Review. One of the editors wrote “Thanks” and signed his or her initials. The text of the rejection slip invited me to submit again in the future.


Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand—a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods—or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values.

--Willa Cather



Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

--William Ernest Henley

From Wikipedia:

Invictus is a short poem by the British poet William Ernest Henley that is the source of a number of familiar clichés and quotations. The title is Latin for "unconquered". It was first published in 1875.

The poem in popular culture

In this poem, Henley gave the world the familiar phrases "my head is bloody, but unbowed" and "I am the master of my fate". These lines have been quoted many times by people who may not be familiar with the source. They seem an hyperbolic epitome of the "stiff upper lip" that popular culture has made of traditional British virtue and a comforting image of stoicism in the face of disaster.

In the climax of the 1942 film, King's Row, the poem is recited by Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) to friend Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) in an effort to overcome the latter's depression following a permanent injury.

It is also the name of an album by the Heavy Metal band, Virgin Steele, which use occasional lines of the poem as lyrics on the album.

Outlaw Country Music singer/songwriter David Allan Coe also named a 1980 album after the poem, calling it "Invictus Means Unconquered", reprinting the poem on the back sleeve, coupled with an original poem apparently intended as an homage and personal follow-up, to the Henley original.

The poem recently gained further notoriety for being quoted by the American terrorist Timothy McVeigh, who used it in a communiqué released shortly before his execution for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing. He used the full poem as his final statement in 2001.

More recently, American terrorist Eric Rudolph alluded to the poem when in court for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 20, 2005. Rudolph made the following remarks: "By the grace of God, I am still here -- a little bloodied, but emphatically unbowed".

This poem was also used in the WB teen drama, One Tree Hill.

The American flashlight company Surefire uses this poem as part of an advertisement.

The poem is also the motto of BUD/s Class 228 in the song, "The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228" by Dick Couch. It represents the indomitable spirit of the class members who finished the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition School training in their quest to become Navy SEALs.

The Invictus is also the name of a covenant of vampires in a role playing game published by White Wolf Publishing. The Game is called "Vampire: the Requiem".

Nelson Mandela famously quoted this poem during his prison years on Robben Island.

The Belgian black metal band Ancient Rites uses the poem as lyrics to their song Invictvs on the album Rvbicon.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

At first I was enthralled by certain tall, mysterious poems. Then some ordinary-looking poems that turned out to be great dancers captured me. Some poems don’t dance at all. They speak to you from deep inside their chairs, and you know that you are forming a friendship with them that will last your whole life.

--Molly Peacock

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

AQR and My Sternum Biopsy Dream

I received a rejection yesterday from Alaska Quarterly Review. There was a wee bit of ink on the rejection slip. Above the usual verbiage of a rejection slip someone wrote, “Re: Your August Poetry Submission.” At the bottom of the slip this person also wrote, “Thank You.” I’m choosing to interpret this ink as an indication that my poems interested them at least a little and prompted someone to take a few seconds to say thanks. AQR is one of about six literary magazines that I would love to be published in some day.

Coincidentally, fellow blogger Justin Evans has an interesting post about how AQR focused just on poet Albert Goldbarth in their latest issue. Goldbarth’s 16 poems took up all of the poetry space and apparently 13 of the poems have been published previously. I too am at a loss trying to understand why AQR would publish 16 poems of Goldbarth’s and not other poets when Goldbarth is already a well-established poet. Add to this that 13 of the poems have published already—it doesn’t make sense to me.


I dreamed this morning that my PCP needed to do a biopsy on my sternum. I was in a private hospital room and had to stand and lean over the metal foot of the bed so that Dr. M. could cut at the right angle. I didn’t want the biopsy done and was asking lots of questions and delaying things. The details are hazy now, but somehow I managed to get out of having the biopsy done. I remember walking the halls of a hospital floor and realizing that I desperately needed to urinate. I ducked into an empty patient room and used the bathroom, locking the bathroom door behind me. While I was washing my hands and getting ready to leave the bathroom an orderly came in with a patient, and he tried the bathroom door. At this point I opened the door and beat a path out of the room and down the hall. The orderly got a good look at me as I went by and blessed me out as I walked down the hall. I remember walking down some steps outside towards my car and wondering if I would be reprimanded at work or even fired.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yesterday I received a rejection from Southern Poetry Review, and I received notification that I was not among the finalists of The Ledge’s poetry contest.

I finished my second read of Poteat’s book. I have eight or nine pages of notes for my review. Since I only have 500 – 1,000 words to work with, I’ll have to determine the most important aspects of the poetry collection and comment on those.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I haven’t felt like blogging lately, probably because I feel dry creatively, but I keep working on revising and writing new poems anyway. I’ve also not done any work on the Joshua Poteat book review for about a week. At least my review’s second read and note taking is about 75% done at this point.

I stayed up late last night working on a batch of submissions. I’ll mail them after work today. Then it’s off to the gym.

I’ve been thinking about William Carlos Williams’ “no ideas but in things” and T. S. Eliot’s objective correlative. I would like to have more and better imagery in my poems. To me, fresh imagery seems to come from intense feeling or actually observing something and taking notes on it. With my 8 to 5 job I tend to use my rational mind a lot more than my intuition or feelings. I can also be lazy to tell rather than show.

Tomorrow I will go with my wife to her high school reunion. Both of us are hoping that we have an okay time.

I wish there were some movies out that I actually want to see. I’ve felt generally disappointed in the movies that are out for about the last six months. Netflix is a lifesaver!

I need something new in my life. I think a change would do me good to echo the song. Something like a new CD, trying a new restaurant--something to get me excited about life for a couple of days. I had performance appraisal training at work this morning and found myself enjoying it; it was a variation from the normal grind of the work week.


Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.

--Joseph Pulitzer

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Always When You Least Expect It

An acceptance! Poetry Southeast accepted the revised version of my villanelle that Barrow Street almost took a few months ago. I’m very excited about Poetry Southeast accepting one of my poems because the list of poets in their last issue includes quite a few “name” poets.

Interestingly, Poetry Southeast does not ask for first rights:

“Authors retain all rights and copyright to their works. PoetrySoutheast DOES NOT request one-time, non-exclusive rights to print your work.”

I wrote Poetry Southeast to confirm my interpretation of this paragraph. They confirmed that if another literary magazine expresses interest in "For a Wreath on a Live Oak, Route 22" and wants first rights to it, they can do that. Poetry Southeast advised me to just explain upfront the Poetry Southeast situation in case the interested literary magazine has a problem knowing that the poem will also appear in Poetry Southeast.

My poem will appear in Poetry Southeast in the Spring 2007 issue.


Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.


Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Illusionist

My wife and I saw The Illusionist starring Edward Norton on Saturday. This is one of the better movies I’ve seen in a long time. I recommend it. My only complaint is that the plot was somewhat predictable. While exiting the theater, I was surprised to hear that quite a few people who watched the movie were confused by what happened. I mentioned this to my wife. We both agreed that the plot wasn’t that hard to follow. She noted that the people who seemed not to be able to follow the plot were mostly young and in their teens.

I’ve been revising poems and working on some new ones. I may send out some more submissions in the next week or so. I’ve also been working on my review. I plan to do some writing after work today.


There is pain in staying the same and there is pain in change. Pick the one that moves you.

--Earnie Larsen