Saturday, May 02, 2009

Rain in May in the Bay Area!

I can't stop writing poems about it, rain in May, a benediction and a beknighting both -- for our choral concert in Union Square this afternoon it's a dubious blessing, for our landscape it's bounty. Okay, I'll stop alliterating.

Missing my Napowrimo group and the pressure to not only write every day but post and critique. It was an excellent exercise among a group of talented poets, and I look forward to our next workshop venture. Perhaps a Napo week in November? Feel free to offer ideas for convening such an event.

I suppose you've heard about Carol Ann Duffy, the new English Poet Laureate - first woman laureate England has ever had.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Poetry Month almost over

And I'm sorry to see it go. I wrote more than 30 poems, posted them and critiqued with a talented group at Alsop Review's Gazebo, an activity I was hesitant to undertake. My deal with my muse is that I can write things I will show nobody, but I surprised myself by being able to write those and many more things I would show others, even in their raw, 24-hour-old form. I used some old drafts as springboards but mostly composed from scratch at the start or end of a day, used a lapse of some hours to let the idea settle and enrich, and revised quickly, then posted. I commented on many poems, if not all, every day. You can read all of it, poems, comments and the general daily free-for-all of comedy. Shared dilemmas yield hilarity, I find.

In all, I must have spent an average of two hours a day on poetry, a lot more than I usually do. I reminded myself of my friend Lynne Knight, a marvelous poet who has a rigorous morning writing routine I have long admired.

By the way, for those of you in or near the Bay Area, Lynne is reading from her new book Again at Moe's on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. The reading is tonight at 7:30 pm. She's well worth journeying across bridges to hear.

Now, from the profound to the ridiculously trivial. I am so excited about my birthday present, which has been ordered and is on the way: an Eternity phone. No, it's not one you can use to call people in the afterlife (silly name) but an iPhone clone with an actually good phone (unlike what I hear of the iPhone). I tried one in the store and can't wait to have the Internet in my pocket. Look out. My blogging may become severely frequent.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Book Awards

Winning his second Pulitzer Prize for a new collection, The Shadow of Sirius, poet W.S. Merwin said he was pleased and that the book was "a happy accident." He described it as having a first section about childhood and remembering childhood, “not from a distance, but from inside.” The middle section is a collection of elegies to dogs, and the final section is about later life. Publisher's Weekly called it his best book in a decade. So if you're a Merwin fan, place an order now.

Speaking of big poetry prizes, the National Book Award for poetry went to Mark Doty for Fire to Fire. Powell Books describes Doty's work as encompassing "both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought." Doty is one of the few major poets who blogs, posting beautifully wrought and accessible essays on the art and his life in it, is eminently readable and re-readable, universal in speech and subject. I think that speaks to his sense of equality in poetry. I find his poems compelling and deep-reaching, with a great chance of being work we'll be reading in hundreds of years. (For those of you who subscribe to the idea of reincarnation, you might enjoy the "we" in that sentence.)

I wonder how many big book award winning books will be around that long. Do we care? The poetry we love finds its way to us in some mysterious fashion, often through anthologies, the Internet, zines and litmags that themselves don't last long - just long enough. I always consider it fortuitous to discover a poet I really like, and can follow. And I really don't care for reviews, they help almost not at all in this quest. Nor do book awards, usually.