August ‘Everlasting’

It’s not often that you pick up a book and the first paragraph speaks to your situation in time and space so exactly that it makes you take pause and say, “Wow. Yeah.” That’s what happened this afternoon when I opened ‘Tuck Everlasting’ and read this:

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.

Isn’t that amazing? So beautiful and poetic and then it throws that provocative bit in at the end, so completely reeling you in. Somehow I never read this book up until now. And now I find myself with eight-hour shifts of work with very little to do. Which is nice.

That opening paragraph makes me wish I wasn’t in this crowded, urban place. Makes me wish I didn’t have the luxury of escaping into my apartment and turning on the A/C. That’s not the August that Natalie Babbitt is writing about.

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:

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.

Landscaping is expensive

It’s easy to watch this commercial without even noticing the bushes and shrubs magically being groomed while these attractive, active, young women go about their happy, privileged lives:

I’m not against the thing.  The thing itself looks convenient enough.  It’s just the fact that the commercial goes so far out of its way to just come out and say it: “This lets you trim and shave your pubic hair.”

Instead you have to see those bushes and realize that those are a metaphor forwell, bushes.

You know what does make me skeptical?  This commercial implies that the un-groomed bushes are somehow less nice or less worthy.  Before and after shots, and the after is always preferable.  Always more beautiful.

I say, do whatever you want with your bushes.  Don’t let Schick and it’s silly advertisements influence how you landscape.  There’re just a bunch of men behind them, I’m sure.  Don’t let a bunch of men tell you that you’ve gotta fork out $12 if you, too, want to be attractive and active and happy.

Ai Weiwei — “I’m so fearful”

It’s strange when you stumble upon something–a book, a movie, a person, idea–and it changes your whole concept of the world.  It happened to me just now when I watched this PBS Frontline profile of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.  I simply did not know that he existed.  And now that I know he exists, it seems he doesn’t exist–his whereabouts have been unknown since April 3rd, with most people suspecting that the Chinese authorities are detaining him.

Below is an installation he did of 9000 children’s backpacks, a response to the children who died in poorly constructed government schools in the Sichuan province earthquake in 2008.  The backpacks spell out a sentence that a mother told Ai about her daughter: “She lived happily for seven years in the world.”

What the PBS profile really gets across is that Ai puts his life in danger doing provocative, controversial things.  He doesn’t mind risking his life to try to fight unjust things.  At the end of the profile, the filmmaker asks Ai, “Do you ever examine yourself to say, why is it that you are so fearless compared to other people?”  And he says, “I’m so fearful, that’s not fearless.  I’m more fearful than other people maybe.  I act more brave because I know the danger is really there.  If you don’t act, the danger becomes stronger.”

Come see me and Kevin Bacon!

I’ve got this new project.  It’s about Kevin Bacon, and me, and my life.  It’s about finding the purpose of my life in 90 days.  It’s about how Kevin Bacon doesn’t relate to that at all, except that he’s a celebrity and therefore has all the answers to life’s big questions.  It’s a satire.  But it’s also my life.  So it’s serious.

That’s where I’ll mostly be until July 4th.  Come see me there!  HelpMeBacon.com