Thursday, November 30, 2006

If my family didn’t want me to write about them, they should've behaved better.

--Anne Lamott


from an Essay on Criticism

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!

--Alexander Pope

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Poetry is a sword of lightening, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley


On Monday this week I received a rejection from The Southeast Review. One of the editors signed her name, and the slip’s text invited me to submit again.

Monday, November 13, 2006

[Poetry is] such a portable art, for one thing, it travels. And it is made of this common medium, language. Through its very being, poetry expresses messages beyond the words it is contained in; it speaks of our desire; it reminds us of what we lack, of our need, and of our hungers. It keeps us dissatisfied. In that sense, it can be very, very, subversive.

--Adrienne Rich

Friday, November 10, 2006

200th Post!

I received a rejection from The New Orleans Review yesterday.


The poem should be what it means to readers. They can grow with it. If some reader really likes a poem, he might read it five years later and see in it something very different, because he’s lived a little longer and suddenly sees something very startlingly news. But if he were informed of it then, he might not be ready, or it may not be wanted or needed.

--Anne Sexton

Friday, November 03, 2006

I received my contributor copies of Yemassee yesterday. Hurray! I like the look of the black and white cover with a ruffled-looking little bird perched on a rail staring straight at you. I feel like my two poems are in select company considering that there are only a total of fourteen writers in the issue. I’m happy with the look of my poems on the pages except that they broke up one of my tercets in “Response to the Examined Life” so that two lines are at the bottom of the page followed by one line at the top of the next page. “Churchyard” looks fine.


Poetry is a human art, and we’re really talking about our lives, and poetry which is most readable is that which is most intimate and touching. At the same time, it requires a tremendous kind of craft to walk that tightrope of talking intimately about feelings or talking feelings and not producing a certain amount of gush.

--Diane Wakoski


I’ve been trying to come up with a better title for the chapbook I’ve been assembling. It was suggested that I look at CD titles I like and determine why I like them as a way to see techniques behind good titles. See the paste below from an email.

Here are some CD titles I like and why:

- Staring at the Sea: Creates an instant image in your mind and evokes associations with contemplation, eternity, danger, origins, and the subconscious.
- You Must Believe in Spring: Like the imperative and makes you question what you must believe in about spring.
- The Better Life: Makes you ask yourself what is a better life or "the" better life.
- No Need to Argue: Associations of peace and rationality.
- Californication: An invented word from California and fornication.
- Automatic for the People: Not sure what I like about this. It's a mysterious title to me but interesting.
- Screaming for Vengeance: Can't you hear the shrillness and anger from these three words?
- The Ultimate Sin: Makes you think about what is the ultimate sin.
- And Justice for All: Taken from the end of The Pledge of Allegiance.
- The Sinister Urge: A malevolent sounding title and makes you wonder what the particular urge is.
- The Headless Children: Works as a horrible image and as a metaphor for unthinking or lost children/people.
- Educated Horses: Interesting because horses don't go to school like humans do if they go to school at all, so you wonder if it is a metaphor for humans (I think it is a sexual reference to women in the context of the song or possibly a fetish reference).
- Ride the Lightning: Creates for me a mythological image of someone like Thor or makes me think of the violence of a thunderstorm.
- Brand New Day: Like the optimism of the title. Fresh starts and beginnings.

Like our talks about effective poem titles before, the above titles are interesting to me overall because they

- Create an image or sound
- Give you a command
- Make you think about what the title could mean at a deeper level
- An invented word that's effective and communicating something
- Are an allusion to something else
- Argue for something or suggest thoughts/feels through association

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. . . says heaven and earth in one word. . . speaks of himself and his predicament as though for the first time. It has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose in half the time.

--Christopher Fry (1907 - ) English dramatist, playwright


Western Wind

Western wind, when will thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The essence of poetry is will and passion.

--William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)


I received a rejection on Monday from The Gettysburg Review. My Yemassee contributor copies should be arriving any day this week.

Here’s a word frequency counting web site if you ever need the service. My poetry friend J. passed it on to me after she found it on the web. I was using Control F in Word to count up key words in my chapbook.


I dreamed a few days ago that I was driving an ice cream truck in reverse and keeping up with the traffic around me. I remember looking for a side street where I could turn around and drive normally on the main street. I felt confused and impressed with myself as I drove in reverse.