Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Odd Sentence from the Pen of Keith Badowski

Each person dealing out castigation was carefully screened by a panel of big-tent clowns and varsity football mascots to make sure that no merciless hecklers were granted a federal license and issued fully loaded cream pies in error.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Anne Sexton on Letting Out 'Some Extraordinary Animals'

Patricia Marx asks Anne Sexton what she means when she says, "The form is always important."

PM: Do you mean by form just the physical look of the poem?

Anne Sexton: Yes, sometimes, but also the sound. But I think of it as something you can hold. I think of it with my hands to begin with. I don’t know what the poem will be and I start out writing and it looks wrong. I start a long line and that looks wrong, and a short line, and I play around with rhyme, and then I sometimes make a kind of impossible syllabic count, and if I can get the first verse and it’s right, then I might keep on with that for four more verses, and then I might change it because I felt that it needed a new rhythm. It has as much to do with speech as it does with the way it will look on the page, because it will change speech—it’s a kind of compression. I used to describe it this way; that if you used form it was like letting a lot of wild animals out in the arena, but enclosing them in a cage, and you could let some extraordinary animals out if you had the right cage, and that cage would be form.

from “Interview with Anne Sexton” (1965)by Patricia Marx in Anne Sexton: The Artist and Her Critics edited by J.D. McClatchy (1978)

Anne Sexton seems to be saying that by using formal structure in poetry, the poet is liberated in terms of content. Sexton, at least, found form to be freeing instead of limiting. One way this might be characterized is that the form occupied the logical part of the brain, allowing the creative side to sneak out and go wild. --Keith Badowski

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Paltz Alumni Poetry Reading

Anne Gorrick reading at the SUNY New Paltz Alumni Poetry Reading on Thursday, December 4th, 2008. Anne gives a delightful reading and the music goes wonderfully with it. I don't know Anne, but I did graduate from New Paltz many years ago. The aura reminds me (fondly) of those days. Perhaps someday they'll invite me!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poetry and Writing Stunts

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a sucker for writing stunts, such as the “spontaneous poems” I did for awhile. (By the way, I fully intend to get back to that stunt one day very soon—so keep tuned in!)

Anyway, I found my way to the website of René Battelle, who has explored several varieties of writing stunts.
See: http://afternoontea.250free.com/SpecialEvents/EventsFrontpage.html
Main Page: http://afternoontea.250free.com/

The following Writing Stunt ideas are inspired by René Battelle’s projects. In several instances, I’ve slightly modified what she describes on her website. Whatever the case, the credit goes to her for the inspiration.

Poem-a-day challenge—It’s self explanatory isn’t it? Write a poem every day for one month, any style, any length. (I’ve also heard of other poets doing this for an entire year, but that would be a Herculean feat!)

Stanza-a-day challenge--Write a four-line stanza for each day of the month, then post the entire poem for the 30th. The only real rule is that you are not allowed to look at the previous stanzas while you move forward with the poem. You can't look at any of them until the entire thing is done.

24-Hour Surrealist Poetry Marathon!--Produce one poem, written during that day sometime, that is no less than 10 lines long. Then the fun begins! All night, from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., produce at least one poem per hour. There are no form or line restrictions for those hours, and since you’re awake all night it could get weird, which is where the Surrealist bit comes in!

Midnight Madness—For one week (or month if you can stand it), write a poem every night at midnight. Wake yourself up from a dead sleep (if necessary), and give yourself a mere hour to compose, edit, and post a lovely piece of verse for general consumption.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words--See if you can produce a thousand words for a picture. . . . All right, maybe not a thousand, but how about as many as you can? The challenge is to produce poems and/or stories from pictures in magazines or any other source of photography.

Ten Hour Shower—For ten hours, 8:00 p.m. -- 6:00 a.m., write a poem an hour, two if possible. Start out writing in your bathtub or shower stall. From there move to other unusual writing locations as needed, such as under the kitchen table or with your feet in the fireplace.

Poetry Duel—Find a fellow poet with a strong constitution and challenge him or her to a poetry duel. Go back and forth each day and write poems in response to each other's poems. See if you can keep it up for an entire month.

Morning Minute—For one month, every morning, within minutes of opening your eyes from sleep, taking no more than a minute (but less, if it happens) to write everything you’re thinking.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Denis Leary, Poetry Fan?

I've noticed that there are crossroads in various places between stand-up comedy and poetry. I've come across a number of poets who when they read their poems attempt to crack up their audience with their wit and delivery. Poets like Billy Collins and Thomas Lux weave humor into their poetry like it's the most natural thing in the world. My friend Ron Self, Columbus, GA attorney and poet, has this flare for comedy in his poems. Another friend of mine, stand-up comic, Joe Bronzi used to write brilliant poems; he still writes incredible dialogue in his scripts. As far as I can tell, poetry and stand-up comedy go well together. Both arts are language driven. Word choice, rhythm and style of diction have everything to do with it. You must love language to be good at either craft. So I wasn't too shocked to read in a recent interview published in the Chicago Tribune that, actor/comedian, Denis Leary is an avid poetry reader.

Q:So when you put your book on your bookshelf, what else is there?

Denis Leary:I've always been a fan of poetry. People may be surprised by that. Early in college [Emerson College in Boston], I had a huge crush on this poetry teacher ... that probably helped.

And also a plethora of sports books and history books, biographies. Any book about the Boston Red Sox, any baseball writing—it's the most prosaic thing in the world. I like Hemingway. But if there was a Hemingway book and the Robert Creamer book on Babe Ruth—I've read that book about three or four times—that's the one I'm going to pick up.

Q:What poetry's on your shelf?

Denis Leary:Tom Lux and [former U.S. Poet Laureate] Charles Simic and Bill Knott. Tom Lux and Bill Knott taught at Emerson College. I'm not really a classical guy because I grew up in the city. I actually don't get Shakespeare. I would never be able to perform Shakespeare. Scorsese's films "Taxi Driver" and "Mean Streets"—that's the first time I saw guys in the movies who I felt like I grew up with them. That's like my Shakespeare.

Q:As a college student, you had two poems published in the distinguished poetry magazine Ploughshares [published by Emerson College]. Does it help your comedy writing that you once wrote poetry?

Denis Leary:It's the rhythm of it. I just learned this whole thing about rhythm, listening to these teachers talk about it.

For the entire article http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-denis-leary-1208dec08,0,6606675.story

Monday, December 08, 2008

History Among the Rocks by Robert Penn Warren

The reader of this Robert Penn Warren poem has a hypnotic voice. I'm impressed by the reading and the poem itself. Click play, lean back in your chair and treat yourself.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Apes Invade London

Den of Geek posted this picture and several others. I just love seeing these Apes roaming around London. In this picture, I love the fact that just as always the subway riders seem to be ignoring everything going on around them! The other pictures are well worth a look if you're an old time Ape fan like me. As a kid, I'd watch those Planet of the Apes movies every time they aired on television. One of my fondest memories is of viewing Battle for the Planet of the Apes in a drive-in with my family. It was a double feature with Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. There is a rumor going around that there will be another Planet of the Apes movie, despite the lack of enthusiasm around the Tim Burton outing. I'd be curious to see another take on the concepts of the old films. However, if I'm honest with myself . . . those old films live best in my memory and will never be topped or replaced by any "reimagining".