Check me out in Volume 10 of “StepAway Magazine”

issuetencoverI first learned about StepAway Magazine from my friend Gregory Luce, a regular participant in the Small is Beautiful poetry workshop I host. His poem “On the Green Line” appears in volume 9.

With a goal of becoming an “online repository of walking narratives,” StepAway has a specific mission to capture the unique sensory experience of various neighborhoods, districts or zones within cities. The inspiration for the magazine comes from Frank O’Hara’s poem: “A Step Away from Them.”

My poem “Predatory Nature” appears in the newest issue, volume 10, and captures the experience of biking in D.C.

I hope you will check it out!



First publication of the year!

After a bit of a dry spell, I just got news this morning of my first poem publication of the year! My poem “Predatory Nature” will be appearing in the June 21st issue of StepAway Magazine, an online magazine whose title “draws inspiration from Frank O’ Hara’s landmark flâneur poem, ‘A Step Away from Them.'”

Stay tuned, once the poem has been published, I’ll include a link.

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1922, 1925, 1928)

edwin-arlington-robinsonThree-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, Edwin Arlington Robinson is an often overlooked poet according to Donald Hall who edited The Essential Robinson collection of selected poems. Having read this collection–I tried to get my hands on the individual volumes for which he won his three pulitzers, but they were not available, nor was his collected works, from the library, so I had to settle on this selected works–I understand why he isn’t more popular today. His writing is very old fashioned and somewhat stuffy. While his fidelity to form is impressive, I often found myself feeling like I didn’t find anything enduring in his poems, nothing that spoke to anything deep inside me.

While I often find this the case with traditional verse, I found it much more so with Mr. Robinson. I found plenty to appreciate from Millay, for example. Robinson wrote a lot of sonnets, broken into two stanzas (8-lines then 6-lines), almost all titled with a name (it’s unclear if they were real or imagined people). Most of these I found to be rather dry and boring.

One of the things I found most interesting in this book came actually from the introduction by Donald Hall, in which he realtes an anecdote of Robinson responding to a fellow poet who was boasting of having written over 100 lines that day: “Speaking slowly, or stingily, he told how he had spent four hours in the morning placing a hyphen between two words–and another four hours in the afternoon taking it out.”

For all this attention to detail, I found the language itself in Robinson’s poems lacking–there was just so little beauty that stirred an emotional response; it was almost as if his commitment to form were an academic exercise, rather than something that bent his words towards beauty.

Some poems I did enjoy:

Favorite lines:

  • “The shame I win for singing is all mine,/ the gold I miss for dreaming is all yours.” (from “Dear Friends“)
  • “In books that are as alters where we kneel.” (from “George Crabbe“)
  • “Let the man go: let the dead flesh be dead, / and let the worms be its biographers.” (from Verlaine“)
  • “I’m calm as this Atlantic” and “And all your laughs are lies” and “I’ll talk while you diminish, / and listen while you grow.” (from The Clinging Vine“)
  • “And when you met, you found his eyes were always on your shoes, / as if they did the talking when he asked you for the news.” (from “Staffords Cabin“)
  • “he may by contemplation learn / a little more than he knew / and even see great oaks return / to the acorns out of which the grew.” (from “Hillcrest“)
  • “There’s more to be heard than a wind that grieves.” (from “Fragment“)
  • “Gripped like insidious fingers on her throat, / and then went foraging as if to make / a plaything of her heart.” (from “Aunt Imogen“)
  • “In Art’s long hazard, where no man may choose / whether he play to win or toil to lose.” (from “Caput Mortuum“)
  • “And Conscience always has the rocking-chair” (from “New England“)
  • Years? I have never seen such things / why let your fancy give them wings?” (from “Hector Kane“)

Day 30: Congratulations!

NaPoWriMo_sunriseCongratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the 2013 NaPoWriMo challenge. Hopefully, you’ve got 30 new drafts! Whether you have 3 or 30 drafts, I hope you have enjoyed participating in the challenge and that it has helped you make space in your life for writing!

Poetry Prompt #30: Recycled Poetry

Choose a common saying or idiom; this could be a figure or speech or a proverb (examples: the glass is half empty/full; cat got your tongue?; no rest for the weary; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, etc.).

You might consider looking up the history of this saying. Now try to turn this saying on its head in some way–dissect it or challenge it, use it in a different context, add new dimension to it. Play with the language, indulge in word play. Use this as an entry point into your poem.

Day 29: Almost there…

NaPoWriMo_sunriseYou’ve been working hard all month. I know one thing I like to do to take a break is escape with a great movie. Well, your work isn’t quite done, but maybe today’s prompt will feel like a break 🙂

Don’t forget, if you want to participate in the NaPoWriMo Retrospective Reading at Bloombars on Thursday (5/2), contact me ASAP.

Poetry Prompt #29: Ekphrastic Poetry: Movie

Pick a movie that means a lot to you, something that has some real depth to it. Recall the scenes that are most vivid in your memory. What about those scenes stick in your memory? What about the characters of the film stand out? Try to distill these things down to emotions, images, impressions. Now try to write a poem that starts with these things as its essence; be careful not to just write a poem about the movie, you’re not trying to create a tribute, you’re using it as a jumping off point for your orginal art, a way to tap into and access a different vibe than your poetry might usually embody.

Day 28: Historical Persona

NaPoWriMo_sunriseHave you always wondered what it would be like to be someone else? Or maybe you’re fascinated with a particular event in history. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was there!

Poetry Prompt #28: Imitation & Persona

Choose an important figure from history. Choose an event in which this figure was involved. Now write a poem from this figure’s perspective either musing about the impending event or reflecting upon the event after it has happened.

Examples: Benjamin Franklin just after his famous kite flying experiment in a thunderstorm. The pilot who dropped the bomb to end WWII, either just before or just after. Amelia Earhart just before she disappeared (you can fill in the details surrounding her disappearance).

Day 27: Bird Song

NaPoWriMo_sunriseWe’re closing in on it now. You’ve made it this far, you can make it a little farther!

Poetry Prompt #27: Ekphrastic Poetry: Bird Song

Today’s prompt is a different take on Ekphrastic poetry, looking at (or rather listening to) nature as a work of art. Here’s what to do: go to Cornell University’s Macaulay Library and browse the audio recordings of various birds (or mammals, reptiles, etc.). Choose one and listen to it several times; close your eyes. Let the recording set a mood, conjure up images of a place, a time, a setting. Write about what you see, hear, smell. How do you feel in this place? Why are you there?