But is it Poetry?

My 2¢

I couldn’t resist..

The Observer, as mentioned in the previous post, published an article entitled Poetry guardians reject modern verse. The Observer writes:

Members of the [Queen’s English Society – QOS], set up to defend the ‘beauty and precision’ of the English language, have turned their attention to contemporary poetry and poets, arguing that too often strings of words are being labelled as poems despite the fact they have no rhyme or metre.

What defending the “beauty and precision” of the English Language has to do with defining poetry is unclear. After all, there are any number of free verse “poems” Observer Linkcontaining English that are both beautiful and precise. If the Queen’s English only wants a beautiful and precise definition of poetry, then I assume that the Encyclopedia Britannica’s editors probably live in the same neighborhood.

It seems, however, that they had already decided what that definition should be:

‘A lot of people high up in poetry circles look down on rhyme and metre and think it is old-fashioned,’ said Bernard Lamb, president of the QES and an academic at Imperial College London. ‘But what is the definition of poetry? I would say, if it doesn’t have rhyme or metre, then it is not poetry, it is just prose. You can have prose that is full of imagery, but it is still prose.’

The campaign is being spearheaded by Michael George Gibson, who said it was ‘disgraceful’ that the Poetry Society had failed to respond properly to his demands for a definition. ‘For centuries word-things, called poems, have been made according to primary and defining craft principles of, first, measure and, second, alliteration and rhyme,’ said Gibson. ‘Word-things not made according to those principles are not poems.’ True poems, he said, gave the reader or listener a ‘special pleasure’.

While I may be mildly sympathetic to their angst (if not their goals) stating that “true poems” give readers “special pleasure” is hardly a beautiful or precise definition. Everyday my WordPress Spam filter weeds out hundreds of comments promising “special pleasures”. Were they all poems? – beautifully nubile, inviting and precisely suggestive? I’ll have to turn that filter off…

The Poetry Society's Definition of Poetry?

The Poetry Society’s Definition of Poetry?

On the other hand, the Poetry Society’s response was equally ridiculous, if not more so:

The Poetry Society has responded to the criticisms. One trustee told Gibson: “There is poetry in everything we say or do, and if something is presented to me as a poem by its creator, or by an observer, I accept that something as a poem.”

This is the kind of airy fairy poetry definition that makes the Queen’s English Society look good. If the Poetry Society truly responded that everything is a poem just because somebody told them so, then they are brain dead. If nothing else, their poetry “trusteeship” isn’t to be trusted and should be revoked. Try telling your local journal editor that your Aspirin bottle’s ingredients list is a poem. (Evidently, that would be good enough for the Poetry Society.) There’s a reason colleges rake in millions of dollars from MFA programs. And it’s not because anything and everything is a poem.

Another trustee, Ruth Padel, dropped back and punted a T.S. Eliot:

Ruth Padel, a prize-winning poet who used to be chair of trustees at The Poetry Society, added: ‘As for “what poetry is”: in The Use of Poetry TS Eliot said, “We learn what poetry is – if we ever learn – by reading it.”‘

Apparently, her prize-winningness doesn’t do well with definitions of poetry. Padel, in effect, is putting words into Eliot’s mouth. What Eliot meant and what Padel meant could have been two entirely different things. But we’ll never know because Eliot isn’t around to clarify (which is why you should always quote the dead). My own opinion is that Eliot’s quote doesn’t help her cause. The poetry that Eliot would have read and learned from didn’t  include the free verse of the 20th century (which he thought had gone too far). Rather, it included the very poetry that Gibson and QOS would consider… well… Poetry.

Michael Schmidt, whose “word things” Gibson and the Queen’s Snark refused to consider poetry, responded thusly:

Schmidt, professor of poetry at the University of Glasgow, argued that for centuries poets had added variations to patterns and rules. ‘It seems a primitive and even infantile notion that there are rules poetry must obey,’ said Schmidt, who accused the QES of placing poetry in a ‘straitjacket’. ‘Poetry that follows the rules too closely is bad poetry. I think every form of verse, free or metrical, establishes a pattern and plays on variations of it.’

To which one can only respond: “It seems an equally primitive and even infantile notion that there aren’t any rules poetry must obey.”

The Queen's English Society's Definition of Poetry?

The Queen’s English Society’s Definition of Poetry?

Of course, Schmidt immediately contradicts himself. (It’s hard to be consistent when you don’t have a definition.) He says: “Poetry that follows the rules too closely is bad poetry.”

Quoi?

That is, Schmidt admits that there are rules that should be obeyed, but not too closely. OK, so he thinks there are rules but they’re not really “rules”. But wait a minute, Schmidt then muddies the mud. He says that “every form of verse… establishes a pattern… and plays on it.” And just what pattern would that be? And is a “pattern” the same as a rule? And who decides on the pattern? It seems, once again, that a poem is whatever the author wants it to be. Hieronymus Bosch anyone?

So, where does that leave us?

My own feeling is that arguments about the definition of poetry are futile (but a great spectator sport). The term Poetry, during the last 100 years, has been applied to everything. In certain ways, the Poetry Society is correct (though not in their intended sense). The word Poetry is meaningless. It means whatever you want it to mean. I can understand how that would depress or enrage some connoisseurs of poetry and the English language. The word Poetry has caché. It’s got class. Everybody wants a piece of it and everybody got a piece of it. In the latest issue of Poetry, cartoon strips are now considered poems – albeit with the appellation conceptual.

A Subtle Truth…

You know how women poets resent being called women poets? – as if they were a subset of real poets (read men). If you really want to get under their skin, keep saying things like: “Yeah, she’s great for a woman-poet.” Well, the same thing works for writers of free-verse. If you really want to get under their skin, consistently refer to them as free verse poets, as though they were a subset of real poets (that is, poets who write rhyme and meter).

The subtle truth is that there is already a name for the “word things” that word thingers have been writing for the last century. It is called free verse. The next time you meet a word thinger who tells you that he or she writes poetry – ask whether they mean free verse or poetry. Keep a lawn chair close by. You’ll want to be comfortable.

Gibson should take comfort from the fact that the average reader makes a distinction, rightly or wrongly, between poetry and free verse. Ron Silliman has gone on at length railing at this subtle injustice (conspiracy). It’s one of the reasons why he futily attempts to break down poetry into schools. If he could just pull it off, then all schools of poetry would be on  equal footing. There wouldn’t be Poetry and/or free verse. There wouldn’t be Poetry and/or the avant-garde. One could point to any given poet and say (succinctly, beautifully and precisely) that he is a member of this or that school. Finally, all poets would be equal.

Poetry and/or Free Verse

But there’s a reason to distinguish between poetry and free verse poetry. As I wrote in a previous post, The Art of  Rhyme and Meter, poetry began as an oral tradition – and many free versifiers have studiously eschewed that tradition.

Consider Homer’s Odyssey. The original tale is probably far older than Homer and may have been handed down for centuries from one storyteller to the next. Each storyteller probably added details and expanded the story until, by the time Homer learned it, the epic was a real feat of memorization. And as every reader of Mother Goose knows, a ditty or poem that has a rhythm or rhyme is easier to remember than one that doesn’t. And the rhythm of the Odyssey is the  Dactylic Hexameter. The meter made the epic easier to remember.

But even before Homer, the tightly wound relationship between dance, music, rhythm and sound was demonstrated by recently discovered poems from ancient Egypt. National Geographic's Egyptian Poetry DiscoveryIn a book called The Ancient Egyptian Culture Revealed, Moustafa Gadalla writes:

The Egyptians perceived language and music as two sides of the same coin. Spoken, written, and musical composition follow the same exact patterns. Both poetry and singing followed similar rules for musical composition. Poetry is written not only with a rhyme scheme, but also with a recurring pattern of accented and unaccented syllables. Each syllable alternates between accented and unaccented, making a double/quadruple meter and several other varieties. Patterns of set rhythms or lengths of phrases of Ancient Egyptian poems, praises, hymns, and songs of all kinds, which are known to have been changed or performed with some musical accompaniment, were rhythmic with uniform meters and a structured rhyme. ¶ Ancient Egyptian texts show that Egyptians spoke and sang in musical patterns on all occasions and for all purposes–from the most sacred to the most mundane. [p. 155]

This oral tradition continued with the very first works of the Anglo Saxons, the alliteration of Beowulf, right up until the start of the 20th Century, when poets like Frost, Cummings, and Yeats, continued to imbue their poetry with the sounds and rhythms of its oral, storytelling ancestry.

Maybe its controversial to suggest that free verse is a new genre (only tangentially related to the poetry of the previous 2000 years), but the assertion isn’t to the detriment of free verse. Free verse practitioners have themselves, to varying degrees, deliberately avoided the traditional rhythms of a regular meter; have eschewed rhyme; have avoided alliteration; and whole schools have rejected techniques like metaphor. All these techniques grew out of an oral tradition – frequently, or so scholars think, as mnemonic aids or for musical accompaniment.

Free verse is the child of the 20th Century printing press (which isn’t to say that free verse can’t be read aloud and enjoyed as such). And it’s not to say that free verse doesn’t borrow techniques from the oral tradition, but free verse doesn’t do so systematically (Poets, like William Carlos Williams, studiously avoided anything short of what he considered plain speech or plain English and the avant-garde is premised on the avoidance of anything that smacks of traditional poetry.) It was the explosive availability of the printed word that made the visual cues of free verse possible. Aurally, there is frequently nothing that distinguishes free verse from prose.  Cleave Poetry, for example, is defined by its visual appearance  (rather than any aural cues).

Free verse declares itself poetry on the page. (No listener could reconstruct the poem by ear.)

The poetry of rhyme and meter declares itself poetry in the listener’s ear. The roots of traditional poetry are in music, song and lyric. (The attentive listener could, with a good memory, reconstruct a poem’s shape.)

In short, free verse didn’t evolve from the poetry of the oral tradition, it replaced it.

But is Free Verse Poetry?

Yes, but it’s the poetry of the printed page. It’s a different genre.

If all the printed records of free verse were lost and if all we had were audio recordings, only a handful could ever hope to be reconstructed on the page (depending on how pointedly the poet paused after each line break). What traditionally distinguished poetry from prose was regular linguistic patterning, not length or subject matter. Without any kind of regular linguistic pattern, there is nothing to distinguish  free verse from a paragraph of prose. If free verse isn’t printed, the genre provides no clues as to how it should be lineated.

Put Paradise Lost into one long prosy paragraph, and I will relineate it exactly the way Milton intended. Do the same with any of Shakespeare’s sonnets and I, or any one familiar with the sonnet form, could put them back together.

So, if the Queen’s English Society really wants to pursue a beautiful and precise definition of poetry, let them start there.

Just give me time to get my lawn chair.

❧ September 15, 2009 from up in Vermont.

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 July 16 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

July 16, 2009 – In This Issue:

  1. About VPN/How To Print
  2. Newsletter Editor’s Note
  3. Writing Assignments/Suggestions/Exercises/Prompts
  4. Poems By Dawn Potter
  5. An Interview With Dawn Potter
  6. The Poetry of Science
  7. Slam Poetry Books In The New York Times
  8. Is Slam In Danger Of Going Soft?
  9. League of Vermont Writers Meeting 7/25
  10. Cleave Poetry, A New Poetic Form
  11. Digital-Poet-In-Residence
  12. The United States of Poetry
  13. Peter Cook, A Deaf Poetics
  14. Meetinghouse, NH Readings (Note Change)
  15. Robert Frost Farm Fund
  16. Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference –
  17. Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House
  18. Poetry Workshop: 001
  19. Interview With Kathryn Stripling Byer
  20. Book Review: Darwin By Tony Lopez
  21. Interview With Ron Silliman
  22. Book King Readings
  23. Did You Know? Table Of Forms (Poetic Techniques)
  24. Ponderings – The Marginalization of Poetry
  25. Poetry Quote (James Dickey)
  26. US Poets Laureate List
  27. Failbetter Poem
  28. Linebreak Poem
  29. Copper Canyon Press Poem
  30. American Life in Poetry Poems (2)
  31. Vermont Poet Laureates
  32. Contact Info for Publisher of VPN: Ron Lewis
  33. Vermont Literary Journals
  34. State Poetry Society (PSOV)
  35. Year-Round Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  36. Other Poetry Workshops in Vermont
  37. Year-Round Poetry Writing Centers in Vermont
  38. Poetry Event Calendar

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1.)

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.

About Printing the VPN, or select pages:

Note: I don’t expect many of you will take the time (and paper/ink!) to print out the Vermont Poetry Newsletter in its entirety, but there are some of you that do.  Warning, each VPN can be 45-90+ pages long!  If you want to print out a certain page or two, then you can always take that route as well.  To do so, go to File, Print, Preview.  Then, find the pages that you’re interested in printing, then select Cancel.  Go again to File, Print, then type in that page or pages you’re interested in printing, then Print.  A second way to go about it is to open the VPN, highlight the area you want, go to Edit, Copy, then Paste it into an already opened Word document.

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2.)

Dear Friends of Poetry:

I took part a week ago in one of the finest poetry readings in Vermont, ever (since Nov. 3rd, 2006, when accomplished Vermont poets, inspired to give personal expression to the threat of climate change, met at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester)!  Headlined by Paul Muldoon, there were such fine poets as Gary Margolis, David Huddle, Ray Hudson, David Weinstock, Paige Ackerson-Kiely, Leonard Gibbs, Mary Pratt, and more!  Half the Vermont Bookstore was standing-room only!  It was a true privilege to read in front of such a large crowd, and to friends of poetry.  That all poets could feel the power of such words, such community!

Ron Lewis
VPN Publisher
247-5913

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3.)

WRITING ASSIGNMENT/SUGGESTION/EXERCISES

Writing Prompt (July 16)

Click on the image for the current writing prompt.

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4.)

Poems by Dawn Potter

  • On August 9th, you will have an opportunity to hear Dawn Potter read her poetry in Shoreham!  Along with her, Dawn’s mother will also be reading her own poetry!  Don’t miss this double treat.  Here are examples of Dawn’s work.  Below, I’ve also placed a poem written by her mother, Janice Miller Potter.

Dawn Potter - Three Poems

Psalm for Appalachia
By Janice Miller Potter

Turning shifts for decades, he left a chair by the door
where he tied and untied the broken laces in his boots.

The pencil-marked white table hosts his dinner bucket
whose lid should clank it another dent, whose waxed

paper is balled up for the garbage. But he’s left that.
Damp as dug coal, the night has hauled out hard scrabble.

Shirring and bounding, crickets clear weeds and grass.
A moth-eaten beam passes over the room and shatters

the table and the ladderback chair, coal-stained as a lung.
In the skillet, soot marls the sickly white bacon grease

left for a supper of fried eggs which never break.
Nobody is coming back. Nobody is ever coming back.

[from the chapbook Psalms in Time (Finishing Line Press, 2008)]

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5.)

An Interview with Dawn Potter
Dawn Potter lives and writes in rural Maine with her husband and two sons, teaches poetry, and chops her own firewood. The SR recently caught up with Dawn to discuss her work with Milton, literary influences, and the pains and triumphs of writing.

Sewanee Review

Click on Image to read the Interview.

A Second Interview with Dawn Potter!!

Potter Second Interview

  • Potter is one of several poets taking part in the Frost Place conference on Poetry and Teaching from June 30th to the Fourth of July in Franconia, NH. For more info visit the Frost Place website:

Frost Place Interview with Potter

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6.)

The Poetry of Science
By DAVID CORCORAN
NY Times, July 15, 2009

NY Times Poetry is Science

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7.)

Slam Poetry Books in the New York Times
By Joe Kraynak

NY Times Poetry Slam Books

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8.)

Is Slam in Danger of Going Soft?
By Larry Rohter
NY Times
June 2, 2009

NY Times Slam Going Soft

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9.)

League of Vermont Writers

“Writing on the Lake”

July 25, 2009 – LVW July Meeting

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Vergennes, Vermont

with Kate Messner – “You Had to Be There…But What If You Weren’t?”
and Daniel Lusk – “Lake Studies: Meditations on Lake Champlain”

10:15 am – 2:15 pm

Register here (only $23 for non-members): http://www.leaguevtwriters.org/July09meetingregistration.pdf

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10.)

WHO SAID THERE WAS NOTHING NEW IN POETRY?

CLEAVE POETRY, A NEW POETIC FORM

What is Cleave Poetry?

What is Cleave Poetry

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11.)

DIGITAL-POET-IN-RESIDENCE

The Bowery Poetry Club is pleased to announce our first Digital-Poet-in-Residence-

Dr. Christopher Funkhouser

Over the next year BPC will commission a series of digital poems. These poems will reside in the front window of the BPC. As part our new media outreach BPC has installed a digital display to bring cut-edge digital poems to the Bowery.

Click here to see Dr. Funkhouser’s commissioned poem.

Dr. Christopher Funkhouser is a poet, scholar, and multimedia artist who teaches in the Humanities Department at New Jersey Institute of Technology. A leading researcher in the developing genre of digital poetry, Funkhouser was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, in 2006; in 2007 he was on the faculty of the summer writing program at Naropa University. He is a member of the scientific review committee of the digital literature journal regards croises, based at Universite Paris 8, and has produced and edited many online and printed publications, including an early Internet-based poetry magazine, (We 17, 1993), the first literary journal on CD-ROM in the United States (The Little Magazine, Vol. 21, 1995), and ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey (1999). Since 1986 he has been an editor with We Press, with whom he has produced poetry in a variety of media.

Funkhouser is author of a major documentary study Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995, published in the Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series at University of Alabama Press (2007). A bi-lingual collection of his creative and critical writings, Technopoetry Rising: Essays and Works, which includes a CD-ROM of electronic artwork, is forthcoming in Brazil. The Faculty of Creative Multimedia at Multimedia University issued Selections 2.0, an eBook (CD-ROM) of his writings and artwork (Malaysia, 2006). His critical work and creative work is widely published, and he has lectured in numerous countries, including France, Great Britain, Brazil, Thailand, and Singapore.

For more info see:
http://web.njit.edu/~funkhous (homepage)
http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Funkhouser.html (PennSound)
http://www.wepress.org (We Press)
http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/funkhouser/ (Electronic Poetry Center)
http://www.trickhouse.org/vol1/sound/chrisfunkhouser.html (book review: not a b (pdp remix)
http://web.njit.edu/~funkhous/prehistoric.html (Prehistoric Digital Poetry)
http://www.myspace.com/2007eleven (Myspace)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Funkhouser (Wikipedia)

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12.)

THE UNITED STATES OF POETRY

Sounds kinda’ funky, doesn’t it?  But worth a little of your time to explore: http://www.worldofpoetry.org/usop/

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13.)

This is also the site that I learned of Peter Cook:

  • PETER COOK is the most astonishing poet “writing” in American Sign Language today. Of course, for Peter the poem is composed “on” (in? through?) his body, where prepositions fail. For those who cannot speak (read?) sign, his language appears as an amalgam of gesture, dance, and almost-mimed theatrics. With the overlay of the (unspoken) language of the deaf, Peter’s performance becomes a metaphor for “The United States of Poetry”: giving voice to those who have not been heard. A native of Rochester, New York, Peter now lives in Chicago, where he teaches ASL Literature in high schools and acts in Deaf Theater.

A Deaf Poetics

Part I: A Poem

AboutPoetry Deaf Poetry Part 1

Part II: An interview with ASL/deaf poet Peter Cook

AboutPoetry Deaf Poetry Part 2

Part III

AboutPoetry Part III

Poetry is out of hand for masters of signing
From: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester,NY,USA – Jan 29, 2005

Words alone can’t convey what they have to say
Greg Livadas 
Staff writer
Poetry is Out of Hands

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14.)

  • 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.

PLEASE NOTE: A Change for July 16th – Cleopatra Mathis is taking the place of Robert Pinsky.

2009 Meetinghouse Readings
Canaan, NH
Canaan Meeting House
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
Phone: 603.523.9650
Info: http://www.meetinghouse.us/

Thursday, July 16, 2009
7:30 pm Cleopatra Mathis and Elinor Lipman
Canaan Meeting House (Canaan Street & Roberts Road)
Author Reading & Book Signing
Canaan, NH
Phone: 603.523.9650
Info: http://www.meetinghouse.us/

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
Phone: 603.523.9650
Info: http://www.meetinghouse.us/

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
Phone: 603.523.9650.  Info: http://www.meetinghouse.us/

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15.)

Robert Frost Farm Fund

College establishes Frost-related funds 
to maintain farm, support writer in residence

Frost Farm Fund

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16.)

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

The Conference will take place from Wednesday, August 12, to Sunday, August 23.

Bread Loaf Writer's Conference

Clicking on link will open a PDF file.

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17.)

Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House

“The Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House at NYU has proved to be the loveliest of boons to the New York literary community at large. It is a total delight to be there. The intimacy of the place combines with the fervor of literary enthusiasm, and the result is both charming and nourishing.”
-Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America

Lillian Vernon Writer's House

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18.)

  • Here’s a nice piece of work, showing how critiquing a poem works, how a poem gets rewritten.

Poetry Workshop: 001
Posted by Robert Lee Brewer

Poetry 101

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19.)

  • This is a particularly nice piece, talking about the “literary community” of a state, something the VPN has tried to bring to Vermont.

Interview with poet Kathryn Stripling Byer
Posted by Robert Lee Brewer

Interview with KS Byer

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20.)

THIS WEEK’S REVIEW
(From Ron SILLIMAN’S BLOG)

Darwin
By Tony Lopez

Silliman Reviews Darwin

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21.)

Ron Silliman Interview (1985)
Modern American Poetry

Interview with Ron S

Ron Silliman has written and edited over 30 books to date. Silliman was the 2006 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, a 2003 Literary Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2002 Fellow of the Pennsylvania Arts Council as well as a Pew Fellow in the Arts in 1998. He lives in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two sons, and works as a market analyst in the computer industry.

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22.)

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 July 31st.  There will be flyers at the Book King counter.

Please contact me (Ron Lewis – vtpoet@gmail.com) if you’d like to read; we need readers!

The theme is:

“POEMS THAT BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE”

Poets and listeners will be checked at the door for happy poetry.

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23.)

Did You Know?

Table of Forms

FITZPATRICK-O’DINN, Dominique. Table of Forms. Urbana: Spineless Books, 2006. Bridging the sonnet and palindrome through a rich taxonomy of new literary forms, Table of Forms is a collection of experimental, ludic, constraint-driven poetry; a puzzle book; and a writing manual. Dominique Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn and her skilled team of collaborators have created the most comprehensive survey of noncanonical poetic techniques since the Oulipo Compendium. Offering myriad reading paths, this multisequential anthology includes a Table of Contents, Table of Forms, Glossary of Forms, and a matrix on the back cover.

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24.)

“Ponderings”

And now for a Rosetta Stone in the language writing movement:

By Ron Silliman
The Marginalization of Poetry by Bob Perelman

marginalization of poetry

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25.)

“Poetry lies in order to tell the truth.”

Poetry Quote by James Dickey

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26.)

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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27.)

Black Roses
by Karen Rigby

Black Roses

failbetter.com is an online journal that publishes original works of fiction, poetry and art

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28.)

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

This week’s poem from Linebreak

If There’s Nothing You Need
by Adam Houle

If there's nothing you need

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29.)

Richard Jones

Noon

The Blessing

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30.)

American Life in Poetry: Column 224

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

When we’re young, it seems there are endless possibilities for lives we might lead, and then as we grow older and the opportunities get fewer we begin to realize that the life we’ve been given is the only one we’re likely to get. Here’s Jean Nordhaus, of the Washington, D.C. area, exploring this process.

Column 224

******************************

American Life in Poetry: Column 225

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

There have been many poems written in which a photograph is described in detail, and this one by Margaret Kaufman, of the Bay Area in California, uses the snapshot to carry her further, into the details of memory.

Column 225

******************************

American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.

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31.)

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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32.)

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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33.)

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) Vermont Literary Review

A Literary and Fine Art Magazine of Castleton State College, Castleton.

The first issue of Vermont Literary Review was published in 1994. The review is published once a year. Work featured in the review includes poetry, fiction, drama, and personal essays from and about New England.

From its inception until 2006, students and professors reviewed the work submitted and selected work to be published. They used to jointly edit and design the review as well. After a brief lapse, the Vermont Literary Review has resumed publication in 2008 as a journal edited and designed solely by English Department faculty. The Literary Club, which used to help create this journal, is now putting out a publication of student work.

Vermont Literary Review receives funding from Castleton State College, Castleton, Vermont.

Submissions

Vermont Literary Review invites creative work from and about New England. Poetry, fiction, drama, and personal essays should not exceed 4,000 words. All submissions must be postmarked between September 30 and March 31. Include SASE. Payment: two copies. Vermont Literary Review, Department of English, Castleton State College, Castleton, VT 05735. Editor is Flo Keyes. No simultaneous submissions. Submissions will not be returned unless SASE with adequate postage is included. Authors will be notified by mail and/or e-mail. Electronic submissions are not acceptable.

Purchasing Information
Current issues are available for $8.00 plus shipping. Shipping is $1.50 for 1 copy, $2.25 for two copies, $4.00 for 3-5 copies, and $5.00 for 6-10 copies. Checks should be made out to Castleton State College, but Vermont Literary Review should be noted somewhere on the check.

Vermont Literary Review
Department of English
Castleton State College
6 Alumni Drive
Castleton, VT  05735

Editor: Flo Keyes, (802) 468-6049
email: vir@castleton.edu

6) Green Mountains Review

A Literary and Fine Art Magazine of Johnson State College, Johnson; in publication since 1987.

The Green Mountains Review is an international journal publishing poems, stories, and creative nonfiction by both well-known authors and promising newcomers.  The magazine also features interviews, literary criticism, and book reviews.  Neil Shepard is the general editor and poetry editor of the Green Mountains Review.  The fiction editor is Leslie Daniels.

The editors are open to a wide range of styles and subject matter. If you would like to acquaint yourself with some of the work that we have accepted in the past, then we encourage you to order some of our back issues here. The following is a short list of writers of varying styles who have published in Green Mountains Review: Julia Alvarez, Robert Bly, Charles Bernstein, Charles Bukowski, Hayden Carruth, Stephen Dobyns, Mark Doty, Carol Emshwiller, Linda Gregg, Donald Hall, Michael Harper, Yusef Komunyakaa, Maxine Kumin, Phillip Lopate, Heather McHugh, William Matthews, Valerie Miner, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Molly Peacock, Robert Pinsky, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Ntozake Shange, Reginald Shepard, Alix Kates Shulman, Gary Soto, Debra Spark, David St. John, Gladys Swan, James Tate, Walter Wetherell, Meredith Sue Willis, and Charles Wright.

There have been several special issues: one devoted to Vermont fiction writers, a second called Women, Community and Narrative Voice featuring short stories by women, a third filled with new writing from the People’s Republic of China, and another devoted to multicultural writing in America.  Our 10th anniversary double-issue surveyed the state of American poetry at the end of the millennium, our fall 1999 issue featured works of literary ethnography and our 15th anniversary issue, also a double-issue, featured comedy in contemporary American poetry. Our 20th anniversary issue, Literature of the American Apocalypse features poems and prose, darkly comic or deadly serious, that centers on American dread, inspired by everything from the current Administration’s war on terror and war on privacy, to continuing threats of environmental degradation, nuclear annihilation, world-ravaging disease, corruptions of culture and language, takeover by clones and computers, natural disasters that some say are caused by global warming and others say are acts of an angry god, or whatever else can be imagined by an end-of-days mind.

Subscriptions to the Green Mountains Review are $16.50 for one year (includes postage within the U.S.A.).  For Mexico and Canada, please add $2 per issue. For an overseas subscription, please add $7 per issue for shipping.

Green Mountains Review
Johnson State College
337 College Hill
Johnson, VT  05656

email: GMR@jsc.edu

7) 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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34.)

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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35.)

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.

3) InkBlot Complex Poetry Workshop runs through the Vermont Independent Media’s Media Mentoring Project and is held at the Rockingham Public Library at 65 Westminster Street in Bellows Falls.  No previous writing or journalism experience or even class attendance is required.  Participants are invited to bring a project or share successful techniques.  The workshop aims to lift poetry from the page and reveal how it is a living force in daily life.  Originally taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago to great acclaim, its interactive nature and inclusion of multiple art forms leaves dry, academic notions of poetry behind.  It functions through three tenets: 1) Presentation of the art form as a living element of our daily world, 2) individualized, personal enrichment and free range of expression for each student, and 3) artistic ecultivation through unexpected means.  Taught by seasoned arts journalist, cultural critic and poet Clara Rose Thornton, this free event explores the poetry we encounter all around us – in songs we hear, the ways we express ourselves, even the advertisements we see.  In the final session students then create their own works with an increased sense of connection to the way words construct meaning.  All materials are provided.  Instructor Clara Rose Thornton is an internationally published film, wine and visual arts critic, music journalist, poet and former book and magazine editor.  Her writings on culture and the arts have appeared nationally in Stop Smiling: The Magazine for High-Minded Lowlifes, Honest Tune: The American Journal of Jam and Time Out Chicago.  Currently residing in an artists’ colony in Windham County, she acts as the biweekly arts columnist for the Rutland herald, staff writer for Southern Vermont Arts && Living and a regular contributor to The Commons.  A portfolio, bio and roster of writing and editing services can be found at http://www.clararosethornton.com.  For more information about the Media Mentoring Project, visit http://www.commonsnews.org or call 246-6397.  You can also write to Vermont Independent Media at P.O. Box 1212, Brattleboro, VT 05302.

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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36.)

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

ANYWHERE, VERMONT

Revived for the 2009 academic year is the InkBlot Complex Poetry Workshop, designed for upper-elementary and high-school-age students, grades 7-12. The curriculum functions through three tenets:

·     Innovative presentation of the art form as a living element of our daily world
·     Individualized, personal enrichment and free range of expression for each student
·     Artistic cultivation through unexpected means

The workshop debuted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, during a three-week summer program, entitled Project C.H.A.N.C.E., for underprivileged sophomore and senior students from area high schools. It was a fantastic success, and the program director requested its return. With this encouragement, I decided to expand and adapt the workshop for various age levels, as an educational/arts supplement for after-school programs and enrichment programs and an arts elective for more traditional academic settings. The response has been wonderful.

The curriculum is designed for a six-week duration, with one class held per week, per age group. The InkBlot Complex Poetry Workshop can be tailored to your program’s needs. It is especially conducive to schools with a progressive, child-centered philosophy. Please view the synopsis below.

CURRICULUM:

A) Duration of Workshop: 6 weeks (also available as a 3-week session); one 1-hour class each week

B) Classes 1 and 2: Presentation of poetry as a force in our everyday lives, as opposed to it being a dry notion that people are forced to study in schools and think of as separated from their lives and reality. Poetry is in the music we hear, the stories we read, even the advertisements we see. These introductory segments aim to bring poetry off of the page and show how it is a lot closer to the students’ lives than they may realize. These segments serve as a way to introduce poetry by connecting it to things students are already familiar with and enjoy.

Classes 3 and 4: The study of two songs’ lyrics as poetry. I choose two songs of very differing genres, and have copies of the lyrics printed out for each pupil. Without the class being told what the songs are, their titles, or who they are performed by, we study them for meaning and expression, and the way the meaning is expressed through words. Studying them anonymously, without the connotation or attachment of what the songs may mean popularly, lets us focus on the fact that it is poetry and study how the words and metaphors are connected. At the end of class four, we listen to each song, and the students can compare what they’d imagined about the sound in their minds purely from the words, to the actual song.

Class 5: Each student creates his or her own poem, and I collect them at the end.

Class 6: I return students’ poems with any corrections for grammar and spelling and work with anyone who has questions, so that students can gain a better grasp of written expression. Then, volunteers read their poem aloud, and we discuss them as a class–what the poet was trying to express, and the unique route to that expression that he or she took–to gain better understanding of the art form and allow it to become a personal experience.

C) Instructor Fee: $600 (or $300 for 3-week session)

If you are interested in having the InkBlot Complex Poetry Workshop taught at your school or program, please, get in touch.  (802) 275-7799, clara@inkblotcomplex.com, http://www.clararosethornton.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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37.)

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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38.)

Poetry Event

POETRY EVENT CALENDAR

  • Below 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.

Thu, Jul 16: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  Poet Michael Ryan. 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. (Event originally scheduled for July 9.)

Mon, Jul 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  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.  (Event originally scheduled for July 27.)

Tue, Jul 21: Lawrence Memorial Library, Bristol, 2:00 p.m.  Poetry and Creative Writing Workshop for ages 11-18.  For info, 453-2366.

Tue, Jul 21: Colchester Meeting House, 898 Main Street, Colchester, 2:00-3:30 p.m.  “That Poetry Guy” Ted Scheu shares his penned works before participants compose fun rhyming stanzas and share them aloud.  For info, 878-0313.

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.

Wed, Jul 29: Stardust Books, 1276 North Craftsbury Road, Craftsbury Common, 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.  Back by popular demand–Stardust Books & Cafe is pleased to host their second Poetry Slam of 2009.

Poets, listeners, and art enthusiasts of all ages are invited to attend this high-energy literary event. Poets should bring two original poems. A voluntary donation of $1 is requested at the door. Income from donations goes to the winner. Poets are free to perform original works in any style on any subject. No props, costumes or instruments.

All members of the public are invited to listen, compete or judge. Free refreshments will be served.

Poetry Slam, the art of competitive poetry can incorporate
elements of storytelling, hip-hop and stand-up comedy. The open format of the competition, along with the absurdity inherent in trying to quantify art, have inspired slammers to take the stage for over 20 years.

For more information, call Stardust bookstore at 586-2200 or email stardust AT vtlink.net.

Fri, Jul 31: Book King, Center Street, Rutland, 6:00 p.m.  Poetry reading: Poems That Put a Smile On Your Face.  Ron Lewis and friends will read from their own poetry with aforementioned theme, upstairs in the beautifully restored historical building in downtown Rutland.  Gauze and bandages will be available.  For info, Ron at 247-5913.

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.

Sun, Aug 9: Platt Memorial Library, Shoreham, 7:00 p.m.  Poet and musician Dawn Potter from Harmony, Maine, will be reading with her mother, Janice Miller Potter. Dawn is the author of BOY LAND AND OTHER POEMS (2004), and is a freelance book editor and associate director of the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching in Franconia, New Hampshire. Her memoir Tracing Paradise: Two Years in Harmony with John Milton is due out from the University of Massachusetts Press in May 2009. In 2010 CavanKerry Press will publish her second poetry collection, How the Crimes Happened.  New poems and essays are appearing in the Sewanee Review, Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals. A member of the Beloit Poetry Journal’s editorial board, she has taught at Haystack Montain School of Crafts and for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. She has also worked extensively in the public schools, both as a visiting poet and as a staff music teacher.

Wed, Aug 12-Sun, Aug 23: Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Ripton.  Poetry readings TBA.

Wed, Aug 12: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30-6:30 p.m. “You Come, Too.” Spend autumn lingering on Robert Frost’s celebrated depictions of the rural life with Peter Gilbert’s readings and discussion of his seasonal poems.  Free.  For info, 262-2626, x307.

Wed, Aug 12: Bradford Academy, Main Street, Bradford, 7:00 p.m. “Poems & Pieces.” Audience members contribute to an evening of poetry readings by sharing their favorite works – with special emphasis on local materials.  Free.  For info, 222-4423.

Wed, Aug 12: Outer Space Café, 208 Flynn Avenue, Burlington, 7:45 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.  “Get the Word Out.”  Mouths form a medley of audible thoughts through slam poetry, open mic spoken word, rap battles and more.  Free.  For info, 318-6162.

Wed, Aug 19: Village Square Booksellers, 32 The Square, Bellows Falls, Alice B. Fogel,  Strange Terrain: A Poetry Handbook for The Reluctant Reader.  This book and workshop fills an empty place.  It is an essential resource for anyone who wants to feel more comfortable with reading poetry: individuals, reading groups, teachers, even friends and families of poets.  In 8 simple steps, readers will find the tools they need to make their own confident way through poetry’s strange terrain.  For info, 463-9404, vsbooks@sover.net.

Thu, Aug 27: First Congregational Church, Route 13, Newcomb Room, Thetford, 7:30 p.m.  Readings by the authors in Bloodroot literary magazine.  Readings of poetry and prose are by VT and NH authors published in the 2008 and 2009 editions. The event is free, open to public and there will be light refreshments served after the reading.  (Also, Bloodroot is accepting submissions for the 2010 edition, deadline is Sept. 1, 2009, and The Poetry Contest deadline is Sept. 15, 2009. Guidelines are on their website: http://www.bloodrootlm.com.)

Wed, Sep 9: St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, St. Johnsbury School, St. Johnsbury, 7:00 p.m.  “Readings in the Gallery” Series: Poet Marge Piercy, author of the 17 poetry collections and most recently Sex Wars, shares her printed words aloud.  For info, 748-8291.

Wed, Sep 9: Outer Space Café, 208 Flynn Avenue, Burlington, 7:45 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.  “Get the Word Out.”  Mouths form a medley of audible thoughts through slam poetry, open mic spoken word, rap battles and more.  Free.  For info, 318-6162.

Thu, Sep 10: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  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. (Event originally scheduled for September 3.)

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.

Wed, Sep 16: Vermont Humanities Council, 11 Loomis Street, Montpelier, 5:30-6:30 p.m. “You Come, Too.” Spend autumn lingering on Robert Frost’s celebrated depictions of the rural life with Peter Gilbert’s readings and discussion of his seasonal poems.  Free.  For info, 262-2626, x307.

Mon, Sep 21: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  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. (Event originally scheduled for August 17.)

Thu, Oct 1: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  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 13: Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier.  Poet David Cavanaugh reads.  More on this event later.  For info, 229-1069, info@bearpondbooks.com.

Tue, Oct 20: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, 8:00 p.m.  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, 8:00 p.m.  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, 8:00 p.m.  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

(Gal-Ols)

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