Category Archives: Poetry

The Woodstock of Poetry!

Because I now believe in poetry and all of its possibilities and because I spent many years being oblivious to poetry, I’ve created a new website!  My ultimate, ultimate goal is for people far and wide to say, “Poetry is fun,” “poetry is relevant,” and “poetry is pop.”  Because even if all of it’s not, there’s plenty of it that is.  Like this (to give an extreme example).

If you’ve ever been saddened by having to dissect a dense, ancient poem in school, PoetryStock.com aims to make you happy again!

If you’ve ever wanted to write a series of haikus about the pH level of shampoo (or something), PoetryStock.com wants to hear them!

If you’re up to this challenge that Nietzsche poses — “A subject for a great poet would be God’s boredom after the seventh day of creation” — PoetryStock.com will smile.

And he will, too.

There are plenty of places to post your poems on the internet, but Poetry Stock is different because there will be an annual poetry celebration connected to it. Also, there will be a podcast that gives poets a chance to read a poem they’ve posted on the site and talk about it (or whatever they want) for a few minutes.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing this month. Lately it’s always something other than this blog…but I love this blog. This blog was the first real outlet I ever had to express my thoughts and try to craft them into something people would enjoy. So I’ll always be grateful to this blog. And even if I don’t always put regular blog posts on it, I’ll at least let it know what I’m up to.

P.S. This child is smarter than I’ll ever be:

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Three things

If you’re at all interested in matters of comedy or depression or life or human beings, this episode of this podcast is worth listening to:

http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_190_-_todd_hanson

And if you’re at all interested in poetry or rap or people who have sex with Beyonce, this clip is worth a view:

And if you’re at all interested in where I’ve been the last three months, this explains it (to a certain degree):

http://www.helpmebacon.com

A young writer

I recently got a rejection e-mail from a magazine.  It was a very nice rejection letter.  It didn’t sting all that bad because I recently had my first ACCEPTANCE email from a magazine.  I first saw it on my cell phone while crossing a street.  A huge smile came over my face and I said, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.”  Then I got hit by a car.

Not really.  But back to the rejection email.  The following sentences struck me: “We are impressed with the fresh, appealing voice of these poems, especially since you’re such a young writer! We wish you lots of luck with your work, and hope to hear from you in the future.”

First, it’s incredibly nice of them to write such personalized sentences.  That rarely happens.  And I really do appreciate them taking the time to say what they did.  But…

I’m disappointed in the huge role that age plays in their message.  I’m disappointed in their implication that age and good writing go hand in hand.  You know?  That’s a bummer.  Sure, it stands to reason that the longer you’ve been alive the more time you’ve had to practice and hone your craft.   And if I read between the lines then they’re probably implying that although fresh and appealing, the poems can stand to be honed.  Which is perfectly acceptable.

But I can’t help feeling like it was a folly on my part to have given this magazine clues about my relatively young age.  The truth is, I’ll never know how much my age factored in to their decision.  Again, maybe it wasn’t a real factor at all.  Maybe it was only an afterthought.  A thought after they’d already decided to pass on the work.

Anyway, that’s all that’s on my mind.  In conclusion, poetry is great.  I especially like when it’s not boring and it’s not maddeningly abstract.  Here are a couple lines from a poet I’ve been reading lately named Marge Piercy.  It’s a rare thing, and such a cool thing, when a poem can make you stop and think.  Rarer and cooler, still, when a poem makes you think about something in a new, more illuminated light.

I cast myself on you, closing

my eyes as I leap and then opening them wide

as I land.  Love is plunging into darkness toward

something that may exist.

Poem from the Poem-A-Day

So, I’m on the Poem-A-Day mailing list from the Academy of American Poets. When I signed up for it, I thought I’d only be receiving poems every day in April, National Poetry Month. But then they just kept on coming. Which is great. Except…most days I don’t read them. I just move them into a folder in my Gmail account I’ve aptly titled “Poetry.”

But somedays I do read the poems. And sometimes I’m like, “Meh.” But sometimes I’m like, “Wow.” And today’s poem, by John Koethe, was a wow. This critic’s quote sums up why the poem did it for me: “Koethe’s poetry is ultimately lyrical, and its claim on us comes…from the common human dream that our lives make some kind of sense.” I didn’t realize that was my human dream, but, yes, I think it is. (I also like the poem because it mentions a cat.)

Chester

Wallace Stevens is beyond fathoming, he is so strange; it is as if he had a morbid secret he would rather perish than disclose . . .
—Marrianne Moore to William Carlos Williams

Another day, which is usually how they come:
A cat at the foot of the bed, noncommittal
In its blankness of mind, with the morning light
Slowly filling the room, and fragmentary
Memories of last night’s video and phone calls.
It is a feeling of sufficiency, one menaced
By the fear of some vague lack, of a simplicity
Of self, a self without a soul, the nagging fear
Of being someone to whom nothing ever happens.
Thus the fantasy of the narrative behind the story,
Of the half-concealed life that lies beneath
The ordinary one, made up of ordinary mornings
More alike in how they feel than what they say.
They seem like luxuries of consciousness,
Like second thoughts that complicate the time
One simply wastes. And why not? Mere being
Is supposed to be enough, without the intricate
Evasions of a mystery or offstage tragedy.
Evenings follow on the afternoons, lingering in
The living room and listening to the stereo
While Peggy Lee sings “Is That All There Is?”
Amid the morning papers and the usual
Ghosts keeping you company, but just for a while.
The true soul is the one that flickers in the eyes
Of an animal, like a cat that lifts its head and yawns
And looks at you, and then goes back to sleep.

“If you touch me you’ll understand what happiness is…”*

*That’s a mighty claim, Andrew Lloyd Webber…

Yesterday I went to the Salvation Army. My plan was to buy a coffee table. The thing that’s so great about thrift stores like the Army, though, is that you never know what you’re going to find. For instance, in the electronics department I found these:

TWO televisions simultaneously playing “Cats”, paired with one television playing J. Lo and Matthew McConaughey’s “The Wedding Planner”. These three screens distracted my attention for at least five minutes. (Five of the best minutes of my life.)

In the end, I didn’t go home with a coffee table.  Nor did I go home with a TV or a VHS copy of “The Wedding Planner”.  (I already own it on DVD.)  Instead, I went home with a pair of rollerblades and a plaid shirt that was in the men’s department even though it’s clearly a woman’s shirt.

Updates on future failed attempts to purchase a coffee table to follow.  I wrote a poem about a coffee table when I was in college.  It was just a list of stuff that had been left on the one in my dorm room after a particularly drunken weekend.

Poets are so pretentious.


Please experience 3:00:

Gosh, I hate it when she posts poems.

The First Thursday in September

I stop in Bryant Park and watch the men
playing ping pong at 10:30 at night on a Thursday.
They bring their own paddles and balls–
they’re serious.  Over where the grass usually is
other men are busy.  They set up a tent.
Maybe for Fashion Week.  I guess for Fashion Week.
I forget it’s Fall, unofficially, considering Labor Day.

I only stop in hopes one of the men will invite me to play,
but after I try and fail to catch a stray ball
that flies near my head and one of the men says, “Good try,”
(in a way that makes me think he found it endearing that
I’d even attempted as it was obviously futile considering
my vagina) I walk off.

In line for the public restroom the two women behind me
talk about a bartender–
“You should totally marry him.”  “Yeah,” the other one nods.
She describes the way he peers into her eyes over the bar
as she orders: “Intense.”  They nod.
“He’s dreamy.”  “Yes, dreamy. That’s
a good way to describe him.”

A door opens and a person emerges.
It’s my turn and I take a piss.

Today’s my birthday, but I just wanna talk about dictators.

I think about Kim Jong-Il fairly often, and I’m not sure why.  He strikes me as a really tragic man: his angry little frame, his angry little outfit, his beady, dark eyes.  There’s something so bizarre about him.  Well, about all dictators.  And the way the West talks about them–with this air of superiority (as in Parade Magazine’s annual feature “The World’s Worst Dictators“).  We denounce their human rights violations and we pity their oppressed people.  We shake our heads, sigh, and vaguely acknowledge our good fortune to live in not that country.  We realize we don’t even really know what that disease is that people are dying of in Zimbabwe, but we think our great-great grandmother might’ve also died from it. 

On one extreme we do nothing.   Or, on the other, we capture the dictator, imprison him, send him to his death, and “liberate” his people.  (“We,” “them,” and “him” used loosely.) 

…I was reading a Sherman Alexie poem earlier today in which he writes, “Poetry = Anger x Imagination.”  It seems an apt equation.  Ways to channel anger, sort through anger are pretty vital to mental health.  Otherwise you end up sending ballistic missiles into the Pacific Ocean (so to speak).

Oh!  I just remembered why I began writing this post.  To recommend Poets.org’s Poem-A-Day emails in honor of April, National Poetry Month.  I especially like when they send ones that don’t suck.