Thursday, June 25, 2009

New poem up at qarrtsiluni

My poem "Penny" can be read and heard -- at quarrtsiluni, their new ECONOMY issue. No, that doesn't mean short poems, though I guess it can. Editors Dave Bonta and Beth Adams came up with a theme that resonates on many levels, goes in lots of directions.A good theme, I think -- being a person who's thrifty, time-conscious, and even occasionally concise.

PLUS -- a recording! This new thing in zines is what makes Internet publishing superior to print, in my view. A poet reading adds textural dimensions of breath, persona and pacing to what's on the page. I'm with Camille Paglia that it's a tragedy that we have lost the enrichment of context in poetry critcism.

I work on my readings. Could use one of those cool Snowball microphones, however. The built-in mic in MacBook will not do. Ambient noise abounds.

In case you wondered, the word qarrtsiluni is an an Iñupiaq word that means "sitting together in the darkness, waiting for something to burst."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

News that stays with you

A couple of things about the revolution in Iran that struck me are today:

Good summary of the current situation and the possibilities for the coming week by blogger Black Hat Journalist. I'll be following this blog.

And a new Wikipedia entry for Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman gunned down Saturday, June 20 in Tehran, allegedly by a Basij gunman. Lighting a candle tonight in her memory.

Women of Iran - "lioness" is a Farsi word that comes to mind when I see the images of protesting women and read about Zahra Rahnavard, Moussavi's wife, taking a leadership role.

Someone on my poetry listserv posed the question of the emotional content in poetry and its equation to "importance" of a poem, citing a craze for emotionalism with linebreaks that's become a trend among teenagers. While I like to think that anything is fair game to interest youth in our lovely art form, that kind of verbal emoting may so far debase any art form that it defeats the purpose. This has been an emotional week for me, watching singular events unfold in a country I haven't till now thought much about. The only poetry I have dared to work on is far, far from these themes.

I thought of Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads, and this statement that connects poetry to our common humanity:

To this knowledge which all men carry about with them, and to these sympathies in which without any other discipline than that of our daily life we are fitted to take delight, the poet principally directs his attention.

And
at the same time, I thought of this, also from the Preface:

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Spontaneous, yes. Overflow, certainly. The wisdom is in recollecting it from tranquillity.

A candle for Neda, Iran

Seldom do you get to watch history unfold so rapidly -- unless you live in times such as ours. What was the Chinese curse? May you live in interesting times. I think curses are meant to be transformed into blessings of insight through hard work, endurance and love. In Iran this weekend, they are doing very hard work, deciding what they want to be as a country, and standing up, one by one, for their own individual answers.

One young girl in Tehran yesterday was standing up for her answer when a Basij sniper peered down at her from a balcony. For some reason, he decided to aim straight at her heart and he was a good shot. She died in her father's arms while an amateur videographer captured the tragic event on film and uploaded that video to the Internet. The film rocketed around the world via a new use of technology whose power we are just discovering as Iranians discover their use of it to get out word of these events.

The girl's name -- I've read that she was only 16 -- is Neda, which means voice or call in Farsi. It has in 24 hours become a rallying cry for the cause of freedom. How remarkable an event this is, helped to unfold by people like us, fingers poised over our keyboards, alone in our offices and rooms, expressing our thoughts and feelings about such events in often brief but moving posts. Here's one I just grabbed from Twitter. It touched me deeply:

Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it. --Mahatma Gandhi #neda#IranElection