Friday, December 25, 2009

Season's Greetings!

the snow is bright
in the morning light
the yard echoes shouts
as kids go about
the precarious business
of falling downhill

we must take care
with the air we breathe
it's been laced with joy
since Christmas eve

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sea Trails: the Virtual Tour. Starting at The Thirteen Blacbirds. Don't Miss This!

Sea Trails is out and has full sails. Enjoy this Virtual Tour by a contemporary poet you don't want to miss! This post's title is a link to take you there - just click on it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


(for Debbie)

i have a day
i thought was lost

you were in the mirror
when i looked the first time
after that you were gone

everyone knows
they don't want
to be alone
to know the tragedy

that life is
when it is
theirs alone

mine was about yours
until i got our pronoun right

Thursday, August 06, 2009

January's "Got poetry" campaign

(You will find this post in the comments of the blog you go to when you click on the title of this post.)

January, I'm glad you came back to this issue with some new information and some more thoughts. I think back to Edna St. Vincent Millay and her trips across the country doing readings to huge crowds and wonder where poetry has lost all the popular appeal it once so apparently enjoyed.

On the subject of self-promotion, I definitely agree with both you and Collin on this issue. Additionally, I think we must also jump on each other's bandwagon, so to speak and relentlessly promote other people's poetry that we find important to us as well.

If you look at the difference between the indie and the large publishing house, you immediately see that the latter focuses on a small number of writers and promotes them professionally. Please don’t mistake me for thinking badly of indies, I publish all of my writing there currently and am extremely grateful for their existence. What I am trying to illustrate is that about half the reading public goes to a handful of large houses and the other half goes to a group of indies that is only slightly less numerous than the readership it serves. Among the indies, the promotion ranges from none to rather professional and they don’t repeat-print works (first timers only, please) although that is beginning to change. The net result is a very diffuse and huge group of near nameless poets for whom little or inconsistent promotion is generally applied and for whom the per capita sales of each author are rather small. When compared with the big houses, we can see how effective is their concentration on a small number of name-recognition level writers and strong promotional support for each of those names.

Still, the interest in those names doesn’t seem to approach the level of popularity of Millay, Frost, and a handful like them. It seems to me that something has happened to the perception of poets as interesting, odd, exciting people worthy of, perhaps for lack of a better word, gossiping about. I guess poetry now is about ordinary, if slightly eccentric, people living ordinary lives and legendary figures of immense popular appeal are not to be found in this group anymore. Maybe I’m just trying to take a poke at a windmill here as I really can’t seem to put my finger on why poetry has slipped out of the popular view. If it was just about professional marketing, wouldn’t the big houses already be so successful that the indie market would never have even been able to assert itself? I’m obviously missing something here and would be deeply indebted if someone would be so kind as to point it out.

I hope others will have something to say about this topic and so I’m going to post it to my blog and refer them to yours where this all started. Thanks again January for continuing your discussion of this important issue.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The 'previously unpublished' versus the 'piece that is becoming popular' question is a big issue for me. This is something poets and publishers need to actively discuss because I believe that a wrong choice here can diminish the chance that a poem which has attracted some public interest will ever achieve the distribution and therefore exposure it would have experienced under the older print media system (which had its own flaws, let me hasten to add).

Much of the current electronic publication activity is, at best, counter-productive for the success of poetry in general (we need readers who are recreational and not just other poets). The small presses are struggling with minimal interest on the part of the consuming public and therefore are in perpetual financial difficulties. Many of them react to this situation so conservatively and narrowly that, believing they are serving their own best interests, they further limit the possible interest of the larger consuming public that poets and publishers used to enjoy in the past.

People (poets and non-poets) like to have their current favorite works available to read multiple times. Furthermore, they like the reassurance that others are just as excited about those works as they are. The more places in which their favorite poems show up, the more they feel as if their personal preference is justified. They like the critical interest generated by popular poems because they better learn how to understand them by reading what scholars are saying about their favorites. These issues are key ones to those who do not already possess educated specific background in poetry and poetry writing. The perilous inaccessibility of some modern poetry which demands deep technical understanding and considerable intellectual aesthetic attention is an understandable putt-off to people who already have no clue as to why MFA poets write the way they do.

I can’t think of a process more alien to this than our current small press activity. Are the current trends for publication in them actually endangering the growth of a real group of public readership (which would really be in the best interest of them specifically and modern poetry in general)?

Monday, April 13, 2009

On writing for NaPoMo

I'm not much of a 'write for contests' kind of guy, preferring to commit to art rather than things which would produce some kind of personal recognition but I have participated, for the first time, in National Poetry Month because it is, in part, about something in which I believe. For any of you who are unfamiliar with it, this is an American event created to specifically promote poetry and increase public awareness of poetry and poets, in general. What is asked of us during the month of April is to write a poem each day of the month. I begin to be a little uncertain here, wondering if some quantitative value is going to do anything worthwhile for poetry but, what the heck; it’s for a good cause so I can tolerate a portion of sloppy logic to go with the good intentions.

I’m used to external discipline as it is applied to learning. I’m a teacher and I try to do this for my students all the time as I also help them with the process of learning how to do that for and by themselves (called learner autonomy). In my life as a poet, I frequently find I need to learn more about my art. How does W. C. Williams bring that larger context along with that object, The Red Wheelbarrow, with such a simple, short poem? How does Basho find the soul of something physical and familiar to us? How does a sonnet or sestina work? I must learn from these external things so I can do what the art of poetry demands of me.

When I seek to gain knowledge from external sources I am practicing learner autonomy in my own life. If a poet acquaintance like Robert Lee Brewer takes upon himself to post a daily prompt for each day of National Poetry Month for use by hundreds of poets on the internet, this is another form of external discipline because now I must write not only daily (which I already do) but on a specific theme. Sometimes a thousand or more poets respond and post their themed results on an internet location where they can be collected and judged. I am the kind of poet that likes to revise and this regime gives no time for that activity to take place. In essence, we are being asked to produce the best work we can with rather short notice and with very little opportunity to revise before submission. This is so far away from the writing regime I have been using for years but I find I am learning some unplanned lessons in areas I usually don’t even think about by participating in this experience.

We are nearly half way through and it is not too late to pick up your pen and join in the fun. If, like me, you would never consider doing such a silly (although well motivated) thing like this, I invite you to give it a try. After all, being a holy person in the isolation of living on a high mountain is one thing but coming down and trying to be pure in the city with its myriad temptations is a whole ‘nother. Join the crowd!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another trip to Luciole Press

The Spring/Summer Issue is out! This is a big issue just packed with all sorts great art by some wonderfully talented people. It is an honor to be included in their company. Enjoy this!

(The previous post about the fall'\/Winter Issue will take you there also. I don't know if they have archives or not but will try to find out)

Thursday, March 12, 2009


what’s old is the ancient quest of restless dreams
chugging through the night
what’s new is that in the gathering pre-dawn
birds sing eagerly
bells urging me to find that empty pew in
the church of my heart

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Undeclared Love

He smells her hair,
He holds his place.
It's so unfair,
This lovely face.

There's no broken heart
For him to mend.
This is the part
That doesn't end.

A languid limb
Of hers reclines;
For beauty’s hymn
Sorrow defines.

Of all the ways pain can name,
This is the one he would not claim.

The first two stanzas of this poem were written as a group effort at English club at K.I.M.E.P. recently and are the combined efforts of several people, including Nurmerey Shakhanova and Akerke Almanova. The last stanza and the couplet I wrote subsequently and the poem you have just read is the result. I want to say thank you to those who participated in the creation of this sonnet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Go read Luciole Press

You will find two of my poems in the winter issue. Just click on the title and it will take you to them. There is some wonderful poetry in this issue so please take some time to enjoy a few of the many fine works while you are there.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Go read the Blue Fifth Review!

Blue Fifth Review has graciously published one of my recent poems. It is called dream and you can find it in the first section of their Fall 2008 edition. There is so much wonderful poetry in that issue you couldn't go wrong even if you got lost reading and it took you a long time to find my poem. Enjoy!