Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bloghopping & twitterflitting

Just blogrolled Michelle McGrane's appealing and eclectic blog, Peony Moon. Featured today is an exhibition of poems about sharks. Yes, "sharks, poets and other endangered species."

#Iranelection has been moving fast again since Rafsanjani spoke against the government at Friday prayers. This morning if I looked away for long, 32 or more tweets had scrolled on this topic. This one especially interested me:

@WomenOfIran: Challenging old traditions: #women stood in front of men in prayer lines on Fri #iranelection #iran. The link takes you to a photo. Changing of the old order!

And there have probably been 50 or more tweets since I began typing this.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing prompts

Summer's such a good time to change it up in your writing, experiment, push yourself. Because it's going against the grain already, just to be writing in summer, let alone challenging your muse to give it up. Karen Weyant has an interesting exercise at Scrapper Poet from her "jailbreaks" workshop. ReadWritePoem is always good for a jumpstart - this week's is Fun With the Dictionary.

Word lists seems to be popular prompts, so of course I've written a poem about word lists. I was always a bad student. I would take an exercise, stand it on its head, turn it into a poem or play and present the result to the teacher. If it were a multiple choice test I would make a prose poem out of it. I should write The Rebel's Guide to Better Grades. They always gave me A's because they had no idea how to comment on what I had done. But if I wrote that book, all you parents would have to hate me. All of this bad student history is in my memoir, Rocket Lessons. If anyone knows of a publisher interested in a bad attitude rocket kid, let me know.

And of course, childhood, as Rilke said, is a great touchstone for poetry. Here's my prompt: write down five confusing things that happened to you before you were nine. Pick two and combine them in a poem. You can do the same with five awful things, five surprising things, etc.

Speeding you the Muse!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New resource - Poetry readings around the U.S. & world

Amy King's blog has a fabulous new resource, a calendar of poetry readings around the U.S. and other countries. For poets who like to combine their travels with readings in other places, this is an invaluable guide to who, what, where, when and how to set up a guest spot. Visit, make your plans, send her updates on reading calendars for your town.

Plus, Amy has just guest edited Issue #2 of Ekleksographia (and I am just so impressed with myself that I could spell it).

Twitterflitting + bloghopping

I'm putting them in reverse order because lately I've spent a lot of time on Twitter, following #iranelection and related topics. If you want to find out what's going on in Iran, you pretty much have to go on Twitter or wait several days to a week for CNN and others to summarize what they've been reading on Twitter. The newest news is that there may be a big demonstration when Rafsanjani leads Friday prayers. That's only hours away now.

They keep arresting journalists in Iran, which I find mordantly funny. As if the news weren't getting out by every citizen with a camera cell phone and a clue about secure networks. Journalists are all well and good, but when the government shuts down mainstream communications networks and arrests journalists, where is the news? And that's where we are with news from Iran. Vive la revolution en journalisme! (Sorry, it's just been Bastille Day.)

Since we're political today, check out truthout. Another different kind of journalism. Interesting opinion piece today on the idea of taxing the wealthy to keep everyone healthy.

See that tab thingie to the left of the screen? Click on it to check my recent tweets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bloghopping + Twitterflitting

A new editor interview is up at Very Like A Whale - this one with Kate Bernadette Benedict, editor and publisher of the supremely rereadable electronic journal Umbrella. Yes, I do have a vested interest in mentioning this, being a contributing editor for Umbrella. Also, I am (thanks, Kate!) mentioned in the interview, along with fellow contributing editors C.E. Chaffin and Robert Schechter.

If you live near San Francisco and you care about fashion, you must check out SF Style, the guide to glorious street fashion. If it's happening here, you'll be wearing it in two years. Right now, over-sized hair accessories. I'm just reporting the facts, folks. Grab a great big bow or feather and slap it up there. They say: This trend has been building steam for a while now, and we predict it is soon to hit critical mass and implode.

Wouldn't that be explode? Maybe not, in SF.

Of course I found it on Twitter - where I find everything lately - along with Happen_in_SF_Bay which keeps me apprised of every event in my vicinity, right down to the nearest coffeehouse music event. Assuming I wait until the last minute to plan my Saturday nights. I feel so young again! As long as the party doesn't go past 11.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Prose Poem: Going viral on FB

Yesterday, some of my literary friends on Facebook started doing an exercise that went viral. It seemed to appeal to everyone. All that was needed was a handy book. Having just returned from a poetry reading, I was in a mood for creative ideas. I did mine and watched in fascination as the accumulated entries started to take shape as a whole. Below is the prose poem I saw forming.


A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done. boiter: limp; fig: de raisonnement, be shaky, not stand up very well; boiteux, -euse (chaise, table, etc.), wobbly; fig: raisonnement, shaky; ĂȘtre boiter d'une personne, to have a limp. That's so funny, something missing from paradise. So many lovely pigmentations!

Pasternak experienced this sense of the objectivity of a work of art -- the feeling that the force that produced the work is above and beyond the artist who is responsible for the work - when he wrote MY SISTER. Prepared by such a life and following so safe a course, he was not disturbed at the approach of death. But if there is some crisis at hand, shouldn't your divine counselor be with you? Baba took him on his lap, loved and kissed him for a few minutes.

Designed as an arrow in the heart of forever.

~ Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharoah, saying, "I would make mention today of my own offenses."

Ranajit Guha has written insightfully about the manner in which "the Muslim" has becomes the preferred villain in early-nationalist writing, an intellectual device for focussing proto-nationalist resentment with the present condition while simultaneously not transgressing the ground rules of colonial discourse.

~ They thought they would find the "goodness of Jah" in one so deceptively named, the copycat of the true substance. ~ He had chosen to reject and not draw near what might have been his true base of authority, the Living Word, the Word which Samuel represented.

But it isn't always possible to start from the small and work into the bigger picture. I need you to help me remember. I have seen the general dare the combers come closer. Designed as an arrow in the heart forever.


This is the exercise:
Grab the book nearest you. Right now. * Turn to page 56. * Find the fifth sentence. * Post that sentence AS YOUR STATUS. AND POST these instructions in a comment to this status. * Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST book.


Thanks to Deborah Joy Shore, Michael Creighton, Marjorie Altman Tesser, Max Reif, Melanie Huber, K.R. Copeland, Patricia Wallace Jones, Craig Bryars, Cati Porter, David Dacus, and Tony Paterniti, for allowing me to take your sentences and play around with them. Not everyone gave attributions, but some of the sentences were from: a short story collection by Steven Saylor; Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God; the Langenscheidt Pocket French Dictionary; Letters: 1926 by Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva and Rainer Maria Rilke; Growing Up With God by Sheila Kalchuri; the Bible.


Here's the next exercise, for those who want to play some more. Take this prose poem and rearrange the sentences. Let's see what the alternatives might be!