It’s not me, it’s you.

A Bad Date

This, in a nutshell, is what too many modern poets and the poetry establishment, publicly and privately, has been telling themselves and telling the modern reader for over half a century: It’s not me, it’s you. Just recently I was discussing the matter with another blogger, who I like, but who contemptuously characterized the modern reader as only interested in greeting card poetry or  poetry for children.

Why I Wake Early - Mary OliverThe poetics of the last 60 years has largely been a failure. And who’s to blame? You.

What do I mean by failure? I mean that poetry, as a genre, has failed to engage the modern reader and audience.

There are exceptions. Mary Oliver would be an exception. So would W.S. Merwin. Oliver and Merwin, like all poets, have written good poems and bad poems (they don’t need me to defend them), but  they have engaged the modern reader in a way that no avant-garde  poet has equaled – certainly not Ron Silliman or Ashbery. At Amazon.com, Mary Oliver’s “Why I Wake Early” has a sales ranking of 8,636 (the best, so far, of any poetry I’ve found). John Ashbery CollectedBy way of comparison, the best John Ashbery  (the darling of the modern poetry establishment) – The Library of America’s Collected Poems: Volume 1 – has a sales ranking of 245,215. The book that is considered by many to be his masterpiece and very best, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, comes in at 427,389. Ron Silliman’s Alphabet ranks at 523,241.

This means that, at Amazon, Oliver’s sales rank, compared to Ashbery, is 28 to 1; compared to Silliman 60.5 to 1.

And yet Ashbery was the poet who Library of America chose to glorify. In fact, according to Amazon, Oliver has consistently outsold every English speaking avant-garde poet on the planet. What does this say about her poetry? The ignored poets will tell you that popularity is no indication of quality, let alone greatness because: what do you know? – even while they themselves yearn to be read by you (read popular). This is a convenient belief and goes some way toward explaining why a poet like Oliver or Merwin, both of whom are far more widely read and appreciated by the modern reader, is overlooked in favor of Ashbery. And it gives you an idea of what the modern poetry establishment thinks of your taste: if the modern reader wasn’t such a lazy dolt with child-like attention spans and greeting card aesthetics, then the truly deserving poets (apparently not Oliver) would be popular. Really, it’s you.

By the way, and because the subject will inevitably come up, here’s how Amazon’s Sales rankings can be understood:

47.9% of Amazon’s sales consisted of titles ranked better than (under) 40,000. 39.2% of their sales were books ranked between 40,000 and 100,000.5 Titles ranked between 100,000 and 200,000 accounted for 7.3% of sales, while titles ranked from 200,000 to 300,000 accounted for only 4.6% of sales.5 Anything above that accounts for only 1% of sales.

Researchers at MIT (Brynjolfsson, Yu and Smith) studied publisher-provided data of one publisher’s weekly sales for 321 titles, and compared the figures to Amazon’s sales rankings for the same week. The observed weekly sales of these books ranged from 1 to 481 copies and the observed weekly rankings ranged from 238 to 961,367.5 Morris Rosenthal of Foner Books also analyzed performance based on a brand new book he published. Combining the information culled from both studies, if a book is ranked 100,000 you’re looking at selling about 1 copy per day. At a ranking of 30,000 it’s averaging between 1 and 2 copies per day. The 10,000 ranking calculates to 2 copies a day. The 1,000 ranking is estimated at 11 sales that day. A book with a rank of 10 is estimated to get 700 sales a day.

Keep in mind that a ranking at any single point in time is not indicative of actual sales. Selling two copies of a title, regardless of whether it has ever sold before, will propel it into the top 50,000 for at least a few hours. If the same book otherwise sells very rarely, or never, it will drop 100,000 rankings the next day, 400,000 rankings over the course of the week, another 200,000 rankings the next week, and so on. Eventually it will hover around 2,000,000.

So, keeping that in mind, I’ve been watching the sales rankings of both books, Oliver’s I Wake Early and Ashbery’s Collected Poems, for the last 8 weeks. They have both remained fairly stable. And as this post ages, you can check them again and update me. I’ll do the same. I’m all about the evidence. The long and short of it is this: Oliver’s book represents a part of the 47.9% described above, Ashbery’s book represents a part of 4.6% (which is all the more damning given the fanfare surrounding the Library of America’s publication). And if we’re making a fair comparison (single book to single book), Ashbery’s Masterpiece is found in 1% of Amazon’s sales.

Lastly, and as of 2008, Amazon represented 70% of the online book market. By any standard, that makes Amazon a fairly reliable indicator.

Is the audience out there?

Another refrain you will hear is that the audience for poetry no longer exists; poetry isn’t a genre that people care about. And you may also hear that the modern American reader can no longer distinguish between great poetry, good poetry or bad poetry. Both of these have to be among the most self-serving arguments ever concocted. It’s you, really, it’s you. We’re writing great poetry, you are just too clueless to recognize it.

In Tyler Hoffman’s book, Robert Frost and the Politics of Poetry, he opens with a lovely anecdote: “In 1919, Frost wrote a letter to his daughter Lesley. who had entered and lost a poetry contest, urging her to beware of caring about the reception of one’s [sic] work: ‘Setting our heart when we’re too young on getting our poems appreciated lands us in the politics of poetry which is death.'”[Intruction p. 1]

Hoffman continues:

As Vernon Shetley has shown, this hostility to modernist difficulty is not unique to Frost; other sophisticated readers saw that such difficulty spelt the demise of the “common reader” – a condition Shetley argues, from which we have not recovered: “The last time they [general readers] were sighted in large numbers was in Frost &  Politics of Poetrythe 1960s, refreshing themselves in the New England landscapes of Robert Frost.” Although the recent rap-meets-poetry scene has done much to reenfranchise the common reader, or, more accurately, the common listener, Shetley’s point is well-taken. [Ibid 2]

And finally:

To be sure, Frost’s poems seem on the surface fairly accessible by virtue of their colloquial sounds, and the appearance of his poetry in such mainstream magazines as Haper’s, New Republic, and Scribner’s attests to his success in attracting a popular audience. (…) In a 1913 letter, Frost made clear his ultimate intention of getting out beyond the poetry circle in his hunt for money and fame:

[T]here is a kind of success called “of esteem” and it butters no parsnips. It means a success with the critical few who are supposed to know. But really to arrive where I can stand on my legs as a poet and nothing else I must get outside that circle to the general reader who buys books in their thousands…. I want to be a poet for all sorts and kinds. I could never make a merit of being caviare to the crowd the way my quasi-friend Pound does. I want to reach out, and would if it were a thing I could do by taking thought. [Ibid 3]

And this is what Frost’s poetry continues to do, along with Oliver’s. They reach the crowd. And the crowd, contrary to the insinuations of modern poets, has no trouble recognizing the good poetry from bad. They continue to buy Yeats, Frost, Dickinson, Cummings (today’s sales rank 32,675), Keats, Eliot, etc… If they didn’t sell, publishers wouldn’t stock bookstores with multiple issues – never mind the numerous books on haiku, sonnets, love poetry, erotic poetry, etc…

Don’t be fooled. The audience is out there, but if sales are any indication, they don’t want to read disjunctive, non-grammatical poetry. A great poet may emerge out of the conceptual or avant-garde aesthetic, but it won’t be by badmouthing or ignoring the judgment of the “common reader”.  If these poets want to succeed (and with more than that success “of esteem” or the teapot-approbation of their own establishments) they will have to do it the same way every great poet has done it, by engaging the “common reader” intellectually and emotionally (which is what those other best-selling writers condescend to do, otherwise known as short-story writers, dramatists and novelists).

If  the vast majority of latter, 20th century poets aren’t read as widely as they might be, maybe it’s because their poetry isn’t as good as it might be?

Is it them, and not you?

And of course, my standards apply to me. If my own poetry is abysmally under read (and it is), then I’m not going to blame the readership. The audience is out there. I’ve certainly failed to reach it and I have failed to market myself (this blog is a start). I happen to think my poetry is great poetry but I haven’t put it to the test. I blame myself for that. Given the chance and exposure, suppose I fail?

Emily DickinsonThen it’s likely I’m a poor judge of poetry, especially my own.

I’m not going to blame my lack of success on the mediocrity of the masses.

Is popularity the same as quality?

This is the direction these discussions inevitably go. If one judges the worth of a work according to its sales, what about all those mediocre poets and artists who were also, in their own day, best selling? Think of Longfellow or Salieri.  Longfellow wasn’t a bad poet, but was hardly the equal of Whitman or Dickinson.

But the question isn’t whether mediocre artists can’t also be popular, but whether the better poets weren’t.

The foremost example of the great poet who wasn’t popular is Emily Dickinson. But her example is flatly misleading. In her own lifetime, Dickinson never courted the public. She effectively sequestered both herself and her poetry. What if she had tried to court the public? We don’t know. What we do know is that once her poems reached the public, after her death and, albeit , in an edited form (primarily normalizing punctuation and spelling according to scholars), they were a definitive success – rapidly adopted by the reading public.

Poetry FreedomWalt Whitman achieved considerable success during his own lifetime. So did Tennyson, Shelley, the Brownings and Wordsworth. Keats didn’t live long enough to see success in his own lifetime. And though his reputation ebbed and flowed, his influence was ever present. Among the moderns, T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost were both recognized by the general public and saw their work widely disseminated.

Looking back through history, the pattern is the same (though what it meant to be successful depended on the era). Shakespeare retired a rich man.

The bottom line: modern poets can’t argue that obscurity or neglect doesn’t portend continued obscurity and neglect. If this generation’s self-selected great poets are being largely ignored by the general public then, according to history, it’s a reliable sign that they will continue to be ignored.   How long will the current generation’s establishment continue to champion poets who aren’t being read? Probably right up until the next generation quietly (or not so quietly) removes them from their pedestals. That’s the way it’s always been.  While popularity isn’t a reliable sign of greatness, it’s a fairly reliable sign of mediocrity. Poets who courted the general public and were marginalized in their own day continue to be marginalized by later generations. Right now, I can’t think of any exceptions.

What poets are being read by the general public? They are, first and foremost,  the poets who write to be understood. Their poems possess imagery that the average reader can make sense of, along with clarity and unity of thought. The public continues to buy and read poetry written in rhyme and meter. The youngest audiences instinctively gravitate toward language that possesses rhythm (accentual and accentual syllabic meters) and rhyme. They find it in nurseryThe Shadows of Sirius - Merwin rhymes and later in rap and popular music. Go to a site like Poetry Freedom if you want to see what the youngest poets and readers enjoy.

It’s easy for modern poets to dismiss these young poets and their poems as trivial and mawkish, but the techniques they use, are learning and enjoy are the techniques of the great poets: Frost, Keats, Shakespeare, Cummings, Dickinson, Eliot, Yeats, along with poets like Simic, Merwin and Oliver. They’re the audience of the future.

My bet is that they know great poetry when they see it.

(W.S. Merwin’s Book, The Shadows of Sirius, as of July 22nd, 2009, has a sales rank of 5,406. Just checked at 4:30. Someone must have bought another copy, Merwin’s ranking jumped to 2,879.)

[The Frost book which I’m following is the Library of America Edition – same as the Ashbery. So is the Whitman, which I’ve included just out of curiosity. Ron Silliman is represented by his new book, the Alphabet. Christian Bök is represnted by Eunoia.]

———–Oliver-|-Ashbery–|-Merwin-|-Frost—|-Silliman-|-Bök——-|Whitman

July 23: 8,632 –|-346,513—-|-15,010—|-181,394-|-630,876—-|-555,938—|43,348
July 24: 8,192–|-371,296—-|-4,085—-|–71,003-|-678,531—-|-631,346—|38,318
July 26: 5,255–|-87,204——|-11,116—-|-184,614|-705,812—-|-206,932—|127,792
July 27: 8,618–|-94,564——|-8,527—–|-87,657-|-252,553—-|-344,750—|122,208

Vermont Poetry Newsletter June 1 2009

[The Vermont Poetry Newsletter is not issued by me but by Ron Lewis, by whose permission I post this.]

Vermont Poetry Newsletter

Your Poetry & Spoken Word Gateway in the Green Mountain State

June 1, 2009

  1. Newsletter Editor’s Note/Notes to Otter Creek Poets
  2. Writing Assignments/Suggestions/Exercises/Prompts
  3. New England Review (NER) In Trouble
  4. Meetinghouse, NH Readings
  5. Burlington Writer’s Group
  6. Poetry Types
  7. Resources: Books on Writing
  8. Interview With Ravi Shankar
  9. Donald Hall
  10. Book Review: The Story of William Carlos Williams & Emily Dickinson
  11. Sky Meadow Writing Retreat
  12. Book King Reading
  13. Did You Know? Derek Walcott Resigns
  14. Ponderings – Ving, Vang, Vong
  15. Poetry Quote (Carl Sandburg)
  16. US Poets Laureate List
  17. Failbetter Poem
  18. Linebreak Poem
  19. Copper Canyon Press Poem
  20. American Life in Poetry Poems (3)
  21. Vermont Poet Laureates
  22. Contact Info for Publisher of VPN: Ron Lewis
  23. Vermont Literary Journals
  24. Vermont State Poetry Society
  25. Year-Round Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  26. Other Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  27. Year-Round Poetry Writing Centers in Vermont
  28. Poetry Event Calendar

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About the Vermont Poetry Newsletter Network

The Vermont Poetry Newsletter Network is made up of people of all backgrounds, ages and skills who appreciate the craft of poetry and want to promote it in the beautiful state of Vermont. The network consists of a free e-mail list, an eventual web site, workshops, open mics, poetry performances and other literary events.  The network provides opportunities to meet local poets, talk about and enjoy poetry, and motivate and inspire yourself in whatever writing projects you are involved.

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1.)

Dear Friends of Poetry:

For the Otter Creek Poets only – directions to our annual Potluck and Poetry Feast at Deanna Shapiro’s on June 4th.  12:00-1:00 Potluck, 1:00-3:00 Poetry:

From Route 7 south: Proceed north on Route 7 from Middlebury. Go through two traffic lights in Vergennes. See Ferrisburgh Grange Hall on left. See Rokeby Museum on right. Make the next right turn after Rokeby Museum which is Robinson Road. Go up hill to top. Road bears left. We are the first and only driveway on the right. 628 Robinson Rd. Come up driveway to house.

From Route 7 north:  Proceed south on Route 7 from Burlington, through Shelburne and Charlotte to Ferrisburgh. See Dakin Farm on right. See Starry Night Cafe on right. Make first left after Starry Night Cafe onto Robinson Rd which is directly across Route 7 from Greenbush Rd. Proceed up hill as directed above.

In both directions on Route 7 there are green signs that announce Robinson Road/Greenbush Road.  The precise address is 628 Robinson Road, Ferrisburgh.

It’s pot luck at 12:00 noon and poetry at 1:00 as usual. Looking forward to welcoming you. Deanna

As usual, bring about 20 copies of a poem to have critiqued (we had 16 poets at the last meeting), and enough of whatever food item you’re bringing to also meet about 20 hungry poets!

For the rest of you, the reading last Friday at the Book King in Rutland was very cozy.  6 of us took turns reading from our own poetry.  The theme was “Spring” or “Signs of Spring.”  Readings are to take place on the last Friday of every month, which means to next reading is on June 26th at 6:00 p.m.  The theme, suggested by the poets themselves, which is a 180º shift from the first reading, is “Poems That Make You Cut Your Wrists.”  That’s right, poems that make you cringe, jump off a bridge, yell for help.  Should be a lot of fun!  Let’s hope we all leave in one piece!

Until next time!

Ron Lewis
VPN Publisher
247-5913

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2.)

THIS WEEK’S WRITING ASSIGNMENT/SUGGESTION/EXERCISE:

What do your poems keep praised for?  When someone points their finger at you, and says “that’s the thing,” what is “that thing” about you and your writing to which they are alluding?  Whatever “that” is, do more of it.  Load your next poem with “that thing.”  Lay it on thick.

LAST WEEK’S WRITING ASSIGNMENT/SUGGESTION/EXERCISE:

See Vermont Poetry Newsletter May 18 2009

(All Assignments are products of David Weinstock unless otherwise indicated)

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3.)

NEW ENGLAND REVIEW:

Literary journal vies to stay afloat. College cuts could cripple publication

By KATHRYN FLAGG
Addison Independent
Thursday, May 28, 2009

MIDDLEBURY — Mention the “New England Review” on Middlebury College’s campus, and most students might not know that title refers to the quarterly publication housed in book-lined offices on the edge of the campus.
But mention NER in conversation with literary aficionados, and you’ll likely learn that the college-affiliated magazine is among the most prestigious literary journals in the country.

But now the publication — which after 31 years is an august old-timer in the world of such magazines — is on the chopping block. In the latest round of budget cuts handed down by Middlebury College administrators, college President Ronald D. Liebowitz gave the magazine two and a half years to eliminate its operating deficit, or the college will cut ties with the nationally renowned publication.

The budget ultimatum was one of several announced this month, part of the college’s effort to trim $20 million from its spending plan. In the original budget recommendation, the committee in charge of compiling these cuts recommended that the college end its relationship with NER and wind down the magazine’s operations at the end of June.

Editor Stephen Donadio and Managing Editor Carolyn Kuebler are optimistic about the magazine’s prospects — the two-and-a-half-years extension on the initial recommendation buys them time to raise funds for the magazine.

But the recommendation nonetheless comes as a blow to the magazine, which can’t survive on the cost of subscriptions alone.

“My sense is that the determination was that the “New England Review” was not considered central to what is sometimes called the ‘core mission’ of the college,” Donadio said, referencing the Budget Oversight Committee’s initial recommendation regarding the journal.

And, some Middlebury faculty argue, things like the journal could be viewed as secondary to the school’s primary focus on undergraduate education.

“In a time where every institution is facing crisis economics, priorities have to be laid out transparently — I think all of us in the Middlebury community have faced up to that reality for the most part,” one faculty member wrote in an online discussion of the cuts at Inside Higher Ed.

Donadio and Kuebler counter that argument by citing the journal’s longstanding ties to Middlebury faculty, alumni, and programs like the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Donadio said a journal like NER can’t be perceived as a “house organ,” and so the journal has never actively promoted the work of Middlebury faculty or alumni. But over the journal’s tenure, NER has published the work of more than 30 members of the faculty, several alumni, and many writers associated with the prestigious writers’ conference. In recent years, the magazine has also brought on two students every semester to intern behind the scenes.

The journal is also ranked nationally among the best literary journals, and NER writers have recently won or been chosen as the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

According to Kuebler, the journal receives around 4,500 submissions annually, and publishes 2 percent of the poetry submissions it receives and less than 1 percent of the prose submissions.

The college’s “core mission” aside, Donadio said journals like NER provide a way to sustain and encourage these writers — and provide a way for universities to support intellectual and cultural vitality.

“It’s really the role of journals of this sort to keep alive certain possibilities of intellectual community, to keep open a range of literary options that would simply die if they weren’t supported in some way,” he said. “It’s a matter of choice and priorities with respect to what you think a vibrant culture needs to survive and to flourish.”

That sort of support often needs to be subsidized, he went on, offering classical music as another example of an art that might die out without the support of nonprofits, philanthropists and academic institutions.

But the magazine has, to this point, relied on support from the college to stay afloat. NER’s “deficit” doesn’t mean the magazine overspent its budget, Donadio said — far from it. In fact, he went on, NER scrupulously came in under budget for years.

Simply put, the revenue brought in by subscriptions doesn’t cover the magazine’s spending, which includes payroll, small subsidies for readers who cull through literary submissions, and the cost of printing. NER prints 1,500 copies of each issue. Of those, around 800 are sent out to subscribers, 450 head to bookstores, and roughly 100 are purchased as single issues.

That’s far from uncommon among small magazines — both literary journals and more commercial publications alike.

“There is not a single literary magazine that could survive without support,” Donadio said.
What’s more, he said, the publications that critics often cite as the ones literary magazines should emulate, in order to be more financially viable, lose millions of dollars a year. Those include publications like “The Atlantic,” “The New Yorker,” and “Harper’s.”

“These are magazines that are thought of as appropriate models. People point to them and say, ‘Look at them, they make their own way. They’re really OK.’ In fact, they’re not,” Donadio said. “I think that’s true, generally speaking, of magazines committed to offering significant intellectual content.”

Despite the cuts, Donadio and Kuebler are hopeful — in large part because the college has agreed to help the magazine raise funds over the next two and a half years. Kuebler said that ideally, NER would build up an endowment over that period to fund its endeavors in the years ahead. The upside of the budget recommendations, she continued, is that the magazine will emerge more financially robust in the end.
Ultimately, Kuebler said that the magazine’s long relationship with the college has been taken for granted — both by the publication and by the school.

“I think this has come to a point where we’re really going to redefine what we mean to the college, and vice versa,” Kuebler said.

In the meantime, Donadio said he wasn’t surprised that news about the magazine’s precarious fate had kicked up a flurry of chatter among literary types online and off. Discussion about the magazine was featured last week on Web sites like Inside Higher Ed and a Los Angeles Times blog, and the Addison Independent was copied more than 10 letters to Liebowitz from concerned NER supporters. Donadio said the magazine’s staff played no part in the letter-writing campaign.

“People who are surviving as serious writers are intensely aware of the need for publications of this sort,” Donadio said. “When it looks like one of them — and one of the most prominent and prestigious — may cease to exist, they see that as an ominous indication that what they do may cease to exist. There’s a passionate interest in this. … Journals like NER make possible the creation of new literature in a way that nothing else can.”

What’s more, he said, many writers recognize that there may be nowhere else to publish their work, should magazines like NER go under — particularly in an age when publishing houses aren’t willing to invest in projects that won’t achieve success with mass audiences.

That’s where journals, albeit subsidized ones, step in: NER strives to foster intellectually rigorous poetry, fiction and nonfiction that might not find a home in more commercial publications.

“Cultures can make choices to do without these things, but they are coarsened and made shallower as a consequence,” Donadio said. “It’s possible to obliterate everything that isn’t in effect intended for a mass audience, on the assumption that anything worth having should be able to demonstrate its value by paying for itself. If everyone believed that, colleges and universities, as well as libraries and museums, would have disappeared from the face of the Earth long ago.”

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4.)

  • I usually don’t promote poetry events happening outside Vermont, but I find the following exceptional, and within an easy drive outside our state’s boundaries.

2009 Meetinghouse Readings
Canaan, NH
Canaan Meeting House
Phone: 603.523.9650
Canaan Street & Roberts Road

Thursday, July 9, 2009
7:30 pm Pamela Harrison and Tracy Winn Canaan Meeting House (Canaan Street & Roberts Road)
Author Reading & Book Signing
 Canaan, NH

Thursday, July 16, 2009
7:30 pm Robert Pinsky and Elinor Lipman Canaan Meeting House (Canaan Street & Roberts Road)
Author Reading & Book Signing
 Canaan, NH

Thursday, July 23, 2009
7:30 pm W.E. Butts and Paul Tremblay Canaan Meeting House (Canaan Street & Roberts Road)
Author Reading & Book Signing 
Canaan, NH

Thursday, July 30, 2009
7:30 pm April Ossmann and Ha Jin Canaan Meeting House (Canaan Street & Roberts Road)
Author Reading & Book Signing 
Canaan, NH

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5.)

  • A note from the Burlington Writer’s Group:

Hey fellow writers –

Just wanted to let you know –

BWG meets on Tuesday evenings from 7-9 PM and has a new home at the Unitarian Church in their little white house off of Clark St., 2nd floor. We’d like to let people know and also invite anyone interested to join us whenever folks are in town or as often as they’d like.

The Burlington Writer’s Group is a free drop-in group. We decide on a prompt and write for 20 minutes, followed by a go-around reading. We can usually get in two writes depending on group size. All genres and experience levels are welcome and there really are no rules other than don’t interrupt folks while they are writing. We don’t really do much critiquing though some spontaneous reactions occur! Mainly it’s good practice to just show up and write for 40 minutes and share the writing if so inclined…

Maybe we’ll see you there?

Best,
Cynthia Hennard

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6.)

POETRY TYPES

by Cella Bella

Let me start off by saying I think all poetry is beautiful, no matter how simple or complex. I wanted to post this to share the many types of poetry and to give some insight on some of the many types of poetry you may see on P&Q. I must say, free verse is always wonderful but, you might be surprised how challenging and unique formed poetry can be. Happy writing.

Poetry TypesTypes:

1. Villanelle
The villanelle, in my opinion, is one of the more difficult styles of poetry. A villanelle consists of 19 lines, including five tercets and a quatrain at the end. Each tercet is made up of three lines. The rhyme scheme for each tercet is aba. (the first and last have the same end rhyme, which just means the last word in each line rhymes) The concluding quatrain consists of four lines. The rhyme scheme is abab. Now, this is where it gets tricky. Two lines are repeated throughout the entire poem. -The first line of the last stanza is repeated as the last line in the second and fourth stanzas and also as the second-to-last line of the ending quatrain. -The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the third and fifth stanza and as the last line in the ending quatrain…

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7.)

  • A couple of great resources, according to some Otter Creek Poets, are:

BECOMING A WRITER
By Dorothea Brande

THE ARTIST’S WAY
By Julia Cameron

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8.)

  • Here is an interesting interview of Ravi Shankar – the poet, not the fellow who plays the sitar!  Ravi is the poetry faculty member for the 30th Annual University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Writers’ Conference, which takes place July 19-25.  If interested in this conference, go to http://www.usm.maine.edu/stonecoast_wc

Riding the Boat
Ram Devineni interviews Ravi Shankar
 editor of the Internet magazine Drunken Boat

…on editing the Drunkenboat.com, ethnopoetics, and deconstructing hypertext poetry.

This piece is 3,700 words or about eight printed pages long.

Riding the BoatObviously, the title ‘Drunken Boat’ comes from the famous Rimbaud poem. Why did you select that title?
I have a bipartite response to that question, the first reason being that Rimbaud, in his work and in his life, was perhaps the first truly modern poet. What Beat doesn’t have Rimbaud memorized when he states ‘the poet makes himself into a seer by a long, prodigious and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons, and keeps only their quintessence’?
    I personally am more interested in Rimbaud the synesthete who, with all the hubris and wild inventiveness of a narcissistic genius, exclaims, ‘I created the colors of the vowels! A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green — I made rules for the form and movement of each consonant, and with instinctive rhythms, I flattered myself that I created a poetic language accessible, someday, to all the senses.’
    Isn’t that the primal goal of each poet, to look out at the landscape she finds herself in, and like Adam in Eden, provide each thing its necessary name? [Click on Image to read more.]

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9.)

Intimacy and Solitude
By PETER STEVENSON

THE NEW YORK TIME BOOK REVIEW
Published: November 7, 2008

New York Times“In childhood nothing happened.” So Donald Hall writes in his enchanting memoir, and what’s admirable about that sentence is not just the pleasure in coming across such a cheeky volley in the opening pages of an account of a life in our post-Freudian age, but the choice Hall made not to insert a comma between “childhood” and “nothing.” A comma — “In childhood, nothing happened” — would have insisted on a dramatic pause that the reader would be expected to applaud politely, nodding at the poet’s foreshadowing that clearly something did happen and it must have been simply stupendous, and here we go. But Hall means what he says, repeating the phrase “Nothing happened” twice, like a chorus or incantation, on the following page. [Click on Image to Read More.]

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10.)

THIS WEEK’S REVIEW (2)

NY Times 2 Reviews1) A RIVER OF WORDS
The Story of William Carlos Williams
By Jen Bryant. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Unpaged. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. $17. (Ages 7 and up)

2) MY LETTER TO THE WORLD
And Other Poems
By Emily Dickinson. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Unpaged. KCP Poetry/Kids Can Press. Cloth, $17.95; paper, $9.95. (Ages 10 and up)

When I was 8 or 9 I copied a poem from a library book in loopy cursive and taped it to the wall over my bed. I was enchanted by Robert Frost’s catchy claim that he was “one of the children told” that “blowing dust” was “really gold.” But the real nugget for me was “the Golden Gate.” Frost and I were both born in San Francisco. And he, too, I learned with delight, had lived in Vermont, loved apple trees and bendy birches. [Click on Image to Read More.]

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11.)

Writing & Oneness:
Creativity and Deep Discovery Through Two Transformative Practices

June 5-7, 2009
Sky Meadow Retreat
Northeast Kingdom, VT
Cost: $350, includes tuition, food, lodging
To register: Send a non-refundable $50 check to:
Michelle Demers
382 Northview Court
Williston, VT  05495

Come and experience a weekend of creativity and deep discovery in the silence and natural surroundings of Sky Meadow Retreat.  You’ll have a chance to see how the practices of writing and Oneness Blessing can work together to deepen and complement each other and create transformations.  You will be introduced to both practices, then have many opportunities to experience each one and see how each works to deepen each experience.  The weekend promises to be devoted to writing, transformation, and deep listening in an atmosphere of kindness, openness, and non-judgment.  No experience is necessary in writing or Oneness Blessing.

For more information on Oneness Blessing (Deeksha):
www.onenessvermont.com

For more information on Writiing Practice:
www.firstthoughtswriting.com

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12.)

Poetry Readings Resume at The Book King, Center Street, Rutland

The Book King is returning to having public poetry readings, to be held on the last Friday of each month, at 6:00 p.m.  The next reading will be on June 26th.  There will be flyers at the Book King counter.

Please contact me if you’d like to read.  The theme is:

“POEMS THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO SLIT YOUR WRISTS”

Poets and listeners will be checked at the door for sharp implements.

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13.)

Did You Know?

Ugly fight for top Oxford poetry post divides British academia, raises issues of race, gender

RAPHAEL G. SATTER | Associated Press Writer
May 26, 2009

Ugly FightLONDON — A fight over who gets to be Oxford University’s top poet has set Britain’s      pens racing — and weakened the careers of two well-known wordsmiths.

St. Lucia-born Derek Walcott pulled out of the race for Oxford’s Professor of Poetry after letters were distributed highlighting sexual harassment allegations made against him at Harvard and Boston Universities in the 1980s and 1990s.

His rival, Ruth Padel, resigned from the prestigious post Monday after admitting she sent e-mails to journalists publicizing the claims.

Some commentators called the move poetic justice, but others say the controversy uncovered the racially and sexually charged undercurrents still coursing through the uppermost reaches of academia. [Click on Image to Read More.]

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14.)

“Ponderings”

Ving, Vang, Vong. Or, the Pleasures of a New Vocabulary.
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Published: April 9, 2008

Ving Vang VongLately I’ve been thinking about the word “vang.” It is a sailing term, and if you look it up in the glossary of Royce’s “Sailing Illustrated,” you find that it refers to a line to prevent “the peak of a gaff from falling off leeward.” That is how it goes when you’re learning a new technical vocabulary. The language seems self-enclosed at first, each new definition an opaque cluster of words that themselves need defining. I was taught, during vocabulary in grade school, to try using a new word in a sentence. “There is a vang.” “Can someone show me the vang?” Those are my best efforts so far.

Part of the trouble is that I have never seen a vang. But it’s also that “vang” doesn’t sound like a noun to me. It sounds like the past tense of “ving,” which sounds like something you might do to a “vong.” And those are words with no meaning — nautical or otherwise. [Click on Image to Read More.]

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15.)

Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits…

Poetry Quote by Carl Sandburg

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16.)

Poets Laureate of the U.S.A.

  • A Net-annotated list of all the poets who have served the Library of Congress as Consultant (the old title) or Poet Laureate Consultant (the new title). Biographies & general reference sites are linked to the poets’ names — for the recent Laureates these are our own poet profiles with book-buying links at the bottom. Many of the other linked biographies are pages from the Academy of American Poets’ Find a Poet archive, a growing & invaluable resource. If there is no general information site about the poet, we have searched the Net for sample poems or other writings or recordings & listed those below the poet’s name.

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17.)

Lorenzo After Driving Drunk
By Mark Neely

FailBetter - Lorenzo

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18.)

  • Linebreak is an online journal with a bias for good poetry. Here is a poem from their web site this week:

At Ruann’s, Having Tea with the Future
BY SALLY MOLINI

Sally Molini’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in LIT, Beloit Poetry Journal, elimae, and 32 Poems, among other journals, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is co-editor for Cerise Press, an online international magazine and lives in Nebraska.

LineBreak - Having Tea

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19.)

Copper Canyon - Love

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20.)

American Life in Poetry: Column 217

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

American literature is rich with poems about the passage of time, and the inevitability of change, and how these affect us. Here is a poem by Kevin Griffith, who lives in Ohio, in which the years accelerate by their passing.

American Life Col 217

American Life in Poetry: Column 218

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006


Here is one of my favorite mother-daughter poems, by Marie Howe, who lives in New York City and who has a charming little girl.

American Life Col 218

American Life in Poetry: Column 219

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

As we all know, getting older isn’t hard to do. Time continues on. In this poem, Deborah Warren of Massachusetts asks us to think about the life lived between our past and present selves, as indicated in the marginal comments of an old book. There’s something beautiful about books allowing us to talk to who we once were, and this poem captures this beauty.

American Life Col 219

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21.)

VERMONT POET LAUREATES

1) Robert Frost – 1961
2) Galway Kinnell
3) Louis Glück
4) Ellen Bryant Voigt
5) Grace Paley
6) Ruth Stone

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22.)

If you ever have a need to contact me, here’s how to go about doing so:
Ronald Lewis:
Phone: 802-247-5913
Cell: 802-779-5913
Home: 1211 Forest Dale Road, Brandon, VT 05733
Email: vtpoet@gmail.com

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23.)

VERMONT LITERARY JOURNALS

1) The Queen City Review

Burlington College’s  The Queen City Review is a yearly journal of art and literature and accepts the work of new and established writers and artists in the areas of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, photography, and fine art, as well as essays and criticism on all aspects of the aforementioned. They seek to publish high quality work that ranges broadly in topic and genre.

The Queen City Review can be purchased by 2-year subscription or individually.  The price of one issue is $8 plus shipping charges ($1) for a total of $9.  Subscriptions can be purchased for #$14 plus shipping charges $2) and includes the Fall 2008 and upcoming 2009 issues.  They accept cash, check, and credit cards.  You can mail your payment to them or by calling (802) 862-9616 ext. 234 to place your order over the phone.  If mailing your payment, mail details to:

ATTN: Heidi Berkowitz
Burlington College
95 North Avenue
Burlington, VT  05401

2) Bloodroot

Bloodroot is a nonprofit literary magazine dedicated to publishing diverse voices through the adventure of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction.  Their aim is to provide a platform for the free-spirited emerging and established writer.

The price of a single issue is $8.

Editor, “Do” Roberts
Bloodroot Literary Magazine
PO Box 322
Thetford Center, VT  05075
(802) 785-4916
email: bloodroot@wildblue.net

3) New England Review

A publication of Middlebury College, a high quality literary magazine that continues to uphold its reputation for publishing extraordinary, enduring work.  NER has been publishing now for over 30 years.

Cost: $8 for a single issue
$30 for a single year (4 issues)
$50 for two years (8 issues)

New England Review
Attn: Orders
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753

NEReview@middlebury.edu
(800) 450-9571

4) Willard & Maple

A Literary and Fine Art Magazine of Champlain College, Burlington.

Willard & Maple
163 South Willard Street
Freeman 302, Box 34
Burlington, VT  05401

email: willardandmaple@champlain.edu

5) Burlington Poetry Journal

The Burlington Poetry Journal is a new nonprofit publication interested in creating a means for provoking opinions, ideas, and thoughtful responses for poets in the Greater Burlington area. While there are numerous outlets for writers to gather and share privately in Vermont, there is no publication that brings together poetry of all styles and writers of all ages for the enjoyment of the general public. It is our hope that this journal will inspire writers to share their work with others who may be unaware of their talent, and for those who have never considered themselves writers to try their hand at poetry. We invite you to submit your work and share with others your thoughts and abilities with the Burlington community. The work you share will produce a dialogue as writers become aware of each other and begin to expose themselves and others to new poetry. The eclectic nature of the Burlington Poetry Journal will serve to stimulate its readers and authors.

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24.)

STATE POETRY SOCIETY
Poetry Society of Vermont

The Poetry Society of Vermont, founded in 1947, is an association of poets and supporters who join in promoting an interest in poetry through meetings, workshops, readings, contests, and contributions to the society’s chapbook. Anyone may join the society including high school and college students and non-residents of Vermont. We welcome both writers and appreciative readers.

In September 2007, The Poetry Society of Vermont will celebrated its 60th Anniversary.

Membership in PSOV

Benefits:

  • 2 luncheon/ workshops a year where a professional poet critiques your poems
  • one hands- on writing workshop and reading under the direction of a professional poet
  • the opportunity to enter contests judged by professional poets and to win awards
  • fellowship with appreciative readers and writers of poetry
  • opportunity for publication in the PSOV chapbook, The Mountain Troubadour

How to join:

  • mail dues of $20.00 to Membership Chairman, P.O. Box 1215, Waitsfield, VT 05673
  • include your name, mailing address, telephone, and e-mail address for Membership List
  • memberships are renewed by January 1 of each year

The PSOV has 2 current books available for sale:

1) The Mountain Troubadour – 2008 – Curl up with 44 pages of interesting, award-winning poetry from a wonderful group of poets.  This book is only $8 (+$1 to mail).  To get yourself a copy, call or write to Betty Gaechter, 134 Hitzel Terrace, Rutland, VT 05701, 773-8679.  This little booklet may be just the thing to get you involved with the PSOV for a lifetime of friendships.

2) Brighten the Barn – 60th Anniversary Anthology – 1947-2007 – An Anthology of Poems by Members of the Poetry Society of Vermont.  99 pages of quality poetry; that’s a lot of beautiful poetry for only $12.  If you get it through me (Ron Lewis), it’s only $12.  If you want it shipped to you, the PSOV wants an extra amount to cover tax and shipping ($0.72 + $3.00).  This book retails for $15, but a reduced price is now in play to unload the few remaining copies.

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25.)

YEAR-ROUND POETRY WORKSHOPS IN VERMONT

BELLOWS FALLS

1) Great River Arts Institute – See details elsewhere in this newsletter

2) Poetry Workshop at Village Square Booksellers with Jim Fowler (no relation to owner Pat).  The goal of this course is to introduce more people to the art of writing poetry and will include a discussion of modern poetry in various forms and styles. Each week, the course will provide time to share and discuss participant’s poetry. Poetry Workshops on Monday mornings (9:30-12:30 I believe)- Jim Fowler’s sessions continue, with periodic break for a few weeks between sessions.  Students should bring a poem and copies to the first class. The course will be limited to 5 to 8 students to allow adequate time to go through everyone’s poetry contributions and will meet in the cafe at Village Square Booksellers. James Fowler, of Charlestown, New Hampshire, has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science with a major in Nature Writing. He was the editor of Heartbeat of New England, a poetry anthology. Fowler has been widely published since 1998 in such journals as Connecticut Review, Quarterly of Light Verse, and Larcom Review. Fowler is a founding member of the River Voices Writer’s Circle, and a regular reader at Village Square Booksellers-River Voices Poetry Readings. The fee for this 6 week Workshop is $100, payable to Mr. Fowler at the first class. Pre-registration for the Poetry Workshop is suggested and may be made by calling Village Square Booksellers at 802-463-9404 or by email at vsbooks@sover.net or  jfowler177@comcast.net.

BERLIN

The Wayside Poets, who share their poetry publicly from time to time, have been meeting irregularly for the past 25 years.  They used to be called The Academy Street Poets.  Membership is by invitation only.  They meet now at the Wayside Restaurant & Bakery in Berlin.  Members include Diane Swan, Sherry Olson, Carol Henrikson and Sarah Hooker.  You can contact them through Sherry Olson at: solsonvt@aol.com or 454-8026.

GUILFORD

The Guilford Poets Guild, formed in 1998, meets twice a month to critique and support each other’s work.  Their series of sponsored readings by well-known poets which began at the Dudley Farm, continues now at the Women and Family Life Center.

MIDDLEBURY

The Otter Creek Poets offer a poetry workshop every Thursday afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:00 in the basement meeting room of the Ilsley Public Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury.  This workshop, the largest and oldest of its kind in the state, has been meeting weekly for 13 years.  Poets of all ages and styles come for peer feedback, encouragement, and optional weekly assignments to get the poetry flowing.  Bring a poem or two to share (plus 20 copies).  The workshops are led by David Weinstock.  There is considerable parking available behind the library, or further down the hill below that parking lot.  For more information, call David at 388-6939 or Ron Lewis at 247-5913.

NORWICH

This group meets on the first Sunday of every month at the Norwich Library, 6:30 p.m.

STOWE

There is another poetry workshop happening in Stowe, but unfortunately I know nothing much about this group.  If you do, contact me!

WAITSFIELD

The Mad River Poets consists of a handful of poets from the Route 100 corridor.  More on this group in the future.

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26.)

OTHER POETRY WORKSHOPS IN VERMONT

BURLINGTON

Scribes in the making put pen to paper as part of an open verse-writing session at the Fletcher Free Library, 235 College Street.  Three consecutive Thursdays, starting January 8, 2009, 5:00-6:00 p.m.  Free.  Contact information: 862-1094.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

The Writer’s Center
58 Main Street, White River Junction, Vermont

Instructor: April Ossmann (author of Anxious Music, Four Way Books, 2007, writing, editing and publishing consultant, and former Executive Director of Alice James Books)

Info: (802)333-9597 or aprilossmann@hotmail.com and http://www.aprilossmann.com

  • Note: If you know of any others, or have personal information about the workshop in Stowe and Guilford, please send me that information.  I realize that there are several smaller groups or workshops around the state.  However, because of their intimacy, they are not posted above, allowing them to offer “memberships” to close friends or acquaintances that they feel would be most appropriate.

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27.)

YEAR-ROUND POETRY WRITING CENTERS IN VERMONT

BURLINGTON

The Burlington Writer’s Group (BWG) meets on Tuesday evenings from 7-9 PM and has a new home at the Unitarian Church in the church’s little white house off of Clark St., 2nd floor. They’d like to let people know and also invite anyone interested to join them whenever folks are in town or as often as they’d like.

The Burlington Writer’s Group is a free drop-in group. They decide on a prompt and write for 20 minutes, followed by a go-around reading. They can usually get in two writes depending on group size. All genres and experience levels are welcome and there really are no rules other than demonstrating courtest while people are writing (don’t interrupt).  They don’t do much critiquing though some spontaneous reactions occur. Mainly it’s good practice to just show up and write for 40 minutes and share the writing, if so inclined…

SPRINGFIELD

A Writer’s Group has started to meet at the Springfield Town Library on the fourth Monday of each month, from 7 to 8 pm.  For more information, call 885-3108.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

The Writer’s Center is for serious writers and nervous beginners. It’s for procrastinators who could benefit from regular deadlines – and for the prolific who could benefit from quality feedback. It’s for anyone with a manuscript hidden in a drawer, or a life story or poem waiting to be written. It’s for people who don’t know where to start or how to end. And for writers who are doing just fine on their own, but would like the company of other writers.  The Writer’s Center is for anyone who is writing or wants to write.  One of the Center’s consultants is April Ossman (www.aprilossmann.com).  Founded by Joni B. Cole and Sarah Stewart Taylor, the Writer’s Center offers instruction and inspiration through a selection of workshops, discussions, and community. We would love to see you – and your writing – at The Writer’s Center!  For more info, http://www.thewriterscenterwrj.com/.

UNDERHILL

Women Writing for (a) Change supports the authentic experience of women who honor themselves through creative writing.  Our community supports reflection as we move into our questions and awaken to change.  Participants enhance expressive skills, strengthen their voices, deepen themselves as women as writers for positive change in all spheres of life.  Creative writing in all genres is our shared vehicle.  Women Writing for (a) Change is for women who, 1) dream of writing for self-discovery, for personal or social healing, 2) hunger for creative process in their lives, 3) yearn to explore their feminine voice, 4) crave reflective, space, and 5) are in transition.  For more information, go to their web site at http://www.womenwritingVT.com/ or contact Sarah Bartlett at either 899-3772 or sarah@womenwritingvt.com.

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28.)

POETRY EVENT CALENDAR

Poetry EventBelow please find the most current list of poetry happenings in Vermont for the near future.  Please be aware that these events can be found on Poetz.com, but there is usually additional information that is typed here that would be cumbersome to place on Poetz.com.  Please note all events are Vermont-based unless they are of extreme importance or happen to lie just outside our borders.  If you would like to save on paper and ink, please just highlight what you need, or perhaps only events for the coming month, and print that information.

Mon, Jun 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  Poet Eamon Grennan to read.  Eamon Grennan was born in Dublin in 1941 and educated at UCD, where he studied English and Italian, and Harvard, where he received his PhD in English. His volumes of poetry include What Light There Is & Other Poems, (North Point Press, 1989), Wildly for Days (1983), What Light There Is (1987), As If It Matters (1991), So It Goes (1995), Selected and New Poems (2000) and Still Life with Waterfall (2001). His latest collection, The Quick of It, appeared in 2004 in Ireland, and in Spring 2005 in America. His books of poetry are published in the United States by Graywolf Press, and in Ireland by Gallery Press. Other publications include Leopardi: Selected Poems (Princeton 1997), and Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century, a collection of essays on modern Irish poetry. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in many magazines both in Ireland and the US.  Grennan has given lectures and workshops in colleges and universities in the US, including courses for the graduate programs in Columbia and NYU. During 2002 he was the Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University. His grants and prizes in the United States include awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Leopardi: Selected Poems received the 1997 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and Still Life with Waterfall was the recipient of the 2003 Lenore Marshall Award for Poetry from the American Academy of Poets. His poems have been awarded a number of Pushcart prizes. Grennan has taught since 1974 at Vassar College where he is the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English.  For info, 635-2727.

Thu, Jun 4: Otter Creek Poets Annual Potluck and Poetry.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.  Members only, meeting at the home of Deanna Shapiro (directions above).

Thu, Jun 4: Howe Library, Mayer Room, Hanover, NH, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Author Reading & Book Signing: April Ossmann.  April reads from Anxious Music.  For info, (603) 643-4120, Ellen.Lynch@TheHowe.org.

Wed, Jun 10: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Robert Frost’s poetry is known, among other things, for its ability to evoke the seasons of New England in all their complexity. Join Peter Gilbert, the Vermont Humanities Council’s executive director and the executor of Frost’s estate, in reading and discussing some of Frost’s spring poems. Participants are invited to either read the poems in advance or upon arriving. Refreshments served. RSVPs are encouraged at 802.262.2626 x307. Walk-ins welcome.

Thu, Jun 11: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Thu, Jun 11: Parima, 185 Pearl Street, Burlington, 8:45 p.m. -10:00 p.m.  Poetry Jam.  This is a continuing series, happening on alternate Thursdays.

Sat, Jun 13: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

Thu, Jun 18: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Sat, Jun 20, 7:00: Ball and Chain Cafe at the Briggs Carriage Bookstore, 16 Park St., Brandon, 7:00 p.m.  Poetry/Music Performance.  David Cavanagh reads poems from his new book, Falling Body (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), interspersed, entangled with and accompanied by the music of Blackbird (Bob DeMarco and Rachel Clark).

Thu, Jun 25: Parima, 185 Pearl Street, Burlington, 8:45 p.m. -10:00 p.m.  Poetry Jam.  This is a continuing series, happening on alternate Thursdays.

Thu, Jun 25: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Thu, Jul 2: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Thu, Jul 9: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Thu, Jul 9: Parima, 185 Pearl Street, Burlington, 8:45 p.m. -10:00 p.m.  Poetry Jam.  This is a continuing series, happening on alternate Thursdays.

Thu, Jul 9: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Michael Ryan to read.  Michael Ryan has published three collections of poetry, including In Winter, Threats Instead of Trees, has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and God Hunger, as well as A Difficult Grace: On Poets, Poetry, and Writing, and the memoir Secret Life. His work has appeared in Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, New Republic, and elsewhere. Ryan has been honored by the Lenore Marshall Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and a Guggenheim. Ryan is Professor of English and Creative Writing at UC, Irvine.

Sat, Jul 11: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

Thu, Jul 16: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Thu, Jul 23: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Wed, Jul 22: The Norwich Bookstore, 291 Main Street, 7:00.  Pamela Harrison.  Norwich resident Pamela Harrison is a “Must-Hear.”  This time it is to celebrate the publication of her new poetry collection. Out of Silence is an unsentimental portrait of her parents that mines a rich story from her family experiences.  Info, 649-1114.

Thu, Jul 23: Parima, 185 Pearl Street, Burlington, 8:45 p.m. -10:00 p.m.  Poetry Jam.  This is a continuing series, happening on alternate Thursdays.

Mon, Jul 27: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Doreen Gilroy to read.  Doreen Gilroy’s first book, The Little Field of Self  (The University of Chicago Press, 2002), won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares.  Her second book, Human Love, was published by the University of Chicago Press in October 2005.  Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Slate, TriQuarterly and many other magazines.

Thu, Jul 30: Ilsley Library, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Otter Creek Poets.  The best-known poetry critique workshop in the state.  Operating weekly for the past 12 years under the directorship of David Weinstock.

Sat, Aug 8: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

Mon, Aug 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Cole Swensen to read.  Cole Swensen is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver. She is the author of five collections of poems, including Try (University of Iowa Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Poetry Prize; Noon (Sun and Moon Press, 1997), which won a New American Writing Award; and Numen (Burning Deck Press, 1995) which was nominated for the PEN West Award in Poetry. Her translations include Art Poetic’ by Olivier Cadiot (Sun & Moon Press, Green Integer Series, 1999) and Natural Gaits by Pierre Alferi (Sun & Moon, 1995). She splits her time among Denver, San Francisco and Paris.

Thu, Sep 3: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Marge Piercy to read.  Marge Piercy has published 17 books of poetry, including What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, and most recently her 17th volume, The Crooked Inheiritance, all from Knopf. She has written 17 novels, most recently SEX WARS in Perennial paperback now.  Her memoir Sleeping With Cats is also in Harper Collins Perennial.  Last spring, Schocken published Pesach for the Rest of Us.  Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Her CD Louder We Can’t Hear You Yet contains her political and feminist poems. She has been an editor of Leapfrog Press for the last ten years and also poetry editor of Lilith.

Sat, Sep 12: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

Thu, Oct 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Pattiann Rogers to read.  Pattiann Rogers has published ten books of poetry, a book-length essay, The Dream of the Marsh Wren, and A Covenant of Seasons, poems and monotypes, in collaboration with the artist Joellyn Duesberry. Her 11th  book of poetry, Wayfare, will appear from Penguin in April, 2008.   Rogers is the recipient of two NEA Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2005 Literary Award in Poetry from the Lannan Foundation, and five Pushcart Prizes.  In the spring of 2000 she was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy.  Her papers are archived in the Sowell Family Collection of Literature, Community and the Natural World at Texas Tech University.  She has taught as a visiting professor at various universities, including the Universities of Texas, Arkansas, and Montana, Houston University, and Washingon University.  She is currently on the faculty of Pacific University’s MFA in Writing Program.  Rogers has two sons and three grandsons and lives with her husband in Colorado.

Sat, Oct 10: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

Tue, Oct 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Major Jackson to read.  “Jackson knows the truth of black magic. It is a magic as simple as the belief in humanity that subverts racism, or the esoteric and mystical magic of making jazz, the music of hope and love.” —Aafa Weaver.  Major Jackson is the author of two collections of poetry, Hoops (Norton: 2006), a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry. and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), winner of the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.  Poems by Major Jackson have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Callaloo, Post Road, Triquarterly, The New Yorker, among other literary journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He has received critical attention in The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Parnassus, Philadelphia Inquirer, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.  Jackson is an Associate Professor of English at University of Vermont and a faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. In 2006-2007, he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Sat, Nov 14: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

Tue, Nov 17: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet Sebastian Matthews to read.  Sebastian Matthews is the author of the poetry collection We Generous (Red Hen Press) and a memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps (W. W. Norton).  He co-edited, with Stanley Plumly, Search Party: Collected Poem s of William Matthews. Matthews teaches at Warren Wilson College and serves on the faculty at Queens College Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing. His poetry and prose has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, New England, Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Seneca Review, The Sun, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Writer’s Almanac, among others. Matthews co-edits Rivendell, a place-based literary journal, and serves as poetry consultant for Ecotone:
Re-Imagining Place.

Sat, Dec 12: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, In the Café, 2:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Open Mic River Voices Poetry Reading on the second Saturday of each month.  The session is open mic, with individuals reading their own poetry or poems from their favorite poet.  Listeners are welcome to attend.  Light refreshments are served.  To reserve a place at the table, e-mail vsbooks@sover.net or call (802) 463-9404.

2010:

Mon, Feb 22: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, exact time not yet determined.  Poet David Shapiro to read.  David Shapiro (born January 2, 1947) is an American poet, literary critic, and art historian and . Shapiro has written some twenty volumes of poetry, literary, and art criticism. He was first published at the age of thirteen, and his first book was published at the age of eighteen. Shapiro has taught at Columbia, Bard College, Cooper Union, Princeton University, and William Paterson University. He wrote the first monograph on John Ashbery, the first book on Jim Dine’s paintings, the first book on Piet Mondrian’s flower studies, and the first book on Jasper Johns’ drawings. He has translated Rafael Alberti’s poems on Pablo Picasso, and the writings of the Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Shapiro has won National Endowment for the HumanitiesNational Endowment for the Arts fellowships, been nominated for a National Book Award, and been the recipient of numerous grants for his work. Shapiro lives in Riverdale, The Bronx, New York City, with his wife and son.

Again, if you become aware of an event that isn’t posted above, please let me know. My apologies if I have left off anything of importance to any of you, but it can always be corrected in the next Vermont Poetry Newsletter.

our finitude as human beings
is encompassed by the infinity of language
—Hans-Georg Gadamer

Your fellow Poet,

Ron Lewis

Rhyme and Meter Online: March 8, 2009

  • As with last week, many discussions on various forums which, though interesting, are too changeable to reference.
  • If any readers would like to recommend sites or blogs please do! Feel free to recommend your own blog or poem if you like but please don’t post your poem in the comment field (provide a link and the first lines).
  • Search terms used to find these posts: Rhyme, Meter, Formal, Formalist, Poetry

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Poetics and Ruminations

Robert Lowell from Soup to Nuts

Robert  Lowell  began as an arch-formalist deeply indebted to the Modernists, in particular his teacher John Crowe Ransom, and  his mentor-friend Allen Tate, both members of the so-called “Fugitive” poets of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Ransom was himself a leading member of the formalist New Critics, and the precepts he held close to his heart were those of the English Renaissance and the “Metaphysical” poets of the 17th-century.

Birthday of Richard Wilbur

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Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns

The Structure-Form Distinction

Perhaps you asked yourself about content, and so you discovered that you like a wide variety of topics in your poems: desire, death, hope, nature, relationships, nightingales.  Perhaps you asked yourself about form, and so you discovered that you like a lot of forms—a lot of sonnets, some villanelles, a smattering of sestinas.  But one question you probably didn’t ask yourself was: do these poems turn?  If this question, which likely only arose if you had a number of sonnets on your list, in fact seems strange, then it is imperative to investigate this strangeness for it indicates that the turn, a significant shift in the poem’s rhetorical progress, which is so vital in poetry, is rarely recognized as such.

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Today’s Woman writing Community

Writing Advice: How To Write Great Children’s Poetry and Rhyming Stories


Children love rhyme. The rhythm of the text, the way the words bounce off the tongue can be especially appealing to young children who are mastering language and reading. There are two vehicles for verse in the children’s market: poetry and rhyming stories. Both have special guidelines.

Rhyming Stories. Often at writers’ conferences editors will say they don’t like stories with rhyming text. That’s not exactly true — rhyming stories are published all the time. What these editors are really objecting to is bad rhyming text. Too many writers try to copy Dr. Seuss, the master of the rhymed story. They imitate the form of his work but not the substance. The rhyme is a vehicle to tell the story, not the other way around. It must still follow all the rules of a good picture book: a strong opening, believable characters, an interesting plot, a satisfying ending. Every word must advance the story – you can’t throw in extra phrases simply to complete the rhyme. Consider the opening lines of The Cat in the Hat. In eight short lines Dr. Seuss establishes setting, mood and conflict. Few books written in prose do so much with so little…

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Poemshape

W.B. Yeats & Long Legged Fly: Meaning & Meter


The supreme act of creation, the genius of mind, moves outside its own awareness – becomes like the long legged fly that moves upon the stream or the the source of being and mind. It must not be observed lest the mind too, become aware of itself, and so slip from the supple surface of its contemplation. The beautiful metaphor of the fly upon the stream is Yeats’ expression of true genius – the state in which great art is produced…

(G)reatness & Style: Jack Stillinger on John Keats

…my feeling is that content (great in thought or otherwise) has all too readily been equated and conflated with (G)reat Poetry. There’s a difference (or at least one is inclined to assume so) given the broader public disregard of contemporary poets in favor of poets like Keats, Dickinson, Frost, Shakespeare, Millay and Cummings – all poets who were and are famous not just for their ideas, but for their poetry (the language and style in which they expressed their ideas).

What is: Heroic Couplets

The term Heroic refers to Iambic Pentameter and Couplets refers to any two, paired, rhyming lines.

Open Heroic Couplets: Open Heroic couplets are rhyming couplets that are enjambed.

Closed Heroic Couplets: Closed Heroic couplets are rhyming couplets that are, first and foremost, syntactically discrete, meaning that each couplet is end-stopped with the end-of-couplet rhyme…

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suite101.com

Understanding Emily Dickinson’s Wild Nights


The poem’s final stanza deepens the enigma that is Emily Dickinson. A little less than a year after the poem was allegedly written, Dickinson largely disappeared from society. She became a local Amherst eccentric, always dressed in white. Near the end of her life, she shunned company of any kind. This image of Dickinson, along with her austere portrait, taken at the age of 18 at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, have jointly impressed on readers the notion of the poet’s ascetic restraint. But “Wild Nights” depicts a more radiant inner existence, to which she has allowed readers only a glimpse.

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How to write heroic couplets

Heroic couplets were once the epitome of poetry. If you had to read Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.you’ve read heroic couplets. Poets used this form not just for “regular” poetry, but for social commentaries, arguments, political dissertationsanything and everything you could think of was put into heroic couplet form. It’s name was even derived from the distinguished and loft subject matter often contained in it’s verses. This form of poetry was immensely popular until about the end of the 18th century…

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TimesOnline

Poetry is the cornerstone of civilisation


You can’t teach being a poet, you can’t train to be one. I was once a judge in a poetry competition, and I can’t tell you how many people who aren’t poets write it. I have yet to hear a convincing explanation of where poetry comes from and how it arrives, but I do know it is the highest calling of a cerebral, emotional, aesthetic existence. Poetry, along with dancing and drumming, is probably the most ancient of all our arts. There was rhythm and rhyme before written language. Its meter resonates from our own heartbeats to make stories. Before somebody wrote down Homer’s Iliad, it was memorised and repeated. Poems lit up the memory of our collective past, told us who we were and where we came from, and they still do…

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Delight in Disorder

Imperfections and inconsistencies can enhance the appeal of a person, a place, a thing, an action, an idea, and so on. For example, an imperfection—a crack—helps make the Liberty Bell one of Philadelphia’s most popular tourist attractions. Likewise, a very noticeable imperfection helps make the Leaning Tower of Pisa one of Italy’s foremost tourist draws….

….A single mole on the cheek of a beautiful woman tends to increase rather than diminish her beauty. And graying temples can turn a middle-aged man into a distinguished gentleman…