Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year, Everyone!


Many thanks to those who have faithfully read my blog all year.
Apologies again on the blogging being so sparse. Have a splendid
and prosperous new year, everybody.


Created this image in my phone, a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
Hope you like it! Season's Greetings, friends.  

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment,
look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click
it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts
Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Announcing Catherine's Other


Friends, I'm very pleased to announce that my good friend Catherine Pritchard Childress has a poetry chapbook titled Other coming out soon from Finishing Line Press. You may recall Catherine as the poet who produced a poem a day with me during April 2012. (Click here to see those NaPoWriMo posts.)

About Catherine's Other chapbook Jesse Graves (Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine) said, "The poems in Other move seamlessly between worlds, invested in the biblical and the contemporary, the mythical and the uncomfortably real. . . . Essentially, this is a book of enchantments." Don Johnson (Here and Gone) wrote about Catherine's writing: "as her characterizations of biblical women cut through our received notions of their roles and destinies to construct other women who defy easy categorizations, so do the 'personal' poems resist the easy labeling of confessional." About the themes of this collection Linda Parsons Marion (Bound) said, "Other teaches and tempts us with guerrilla knowledge of the female experience."

If the proof is in the pudding, as the old adage says, the proof here would be in the poetry. Here is one of the poems in Other. I hope you enjoy its "guerrilla knowledge."

Wedding Vows

When she stood before God and all those witnesses to say I Do
What she really meant was I Don’t. I Won’t.
She meant You’ve got to be kidding me.
Who wants to spend the rest of her life with some poor, old, sick guy?

What she meant is I don’t intend to wash your clothes or wear lipstick any more.
I won’t walk barefoot in your kitchen.
I promise to gain at least twenty pounds, to honor my Daddy’s name,
And to obey a plethora of self-help books.

She could have meant I Do.
I do have a mind of my own, my own life, friends, musical taste.
I do know how to order take out and maintain separate accounts.

She meant with this ring I will have a headache, often!
I will leave the lights on at night so I can read.
I will breathe down your neck, and in your face with morning breath.
I will forsake shaving my legs from the knee up

Until Death Do Us Part.


—Catherine Pritchard Childress, Other (forthcoming 2015)

Besides sharing her poems in this blog during NaPoWriMo 2012, I have also had the great pleasure and privilege of publishing Catherine's poetry in the North American Review: her poem "Hush" in the Summer 2012 issue. Catherine has also appeared twice in the North American Review blog: her interview of Charlotte Pence (November 2013) and her Next Big Thing Interview (April 2013). That last item would be very interesting to look at now since it concerns the Other collection.

Catherine Pritchard Childress lives in the Appalachian Mountains
of East Tennessee and teaches at East Tennessee State University
and Northeast State Community College.

I hope I've enticed you enough to pre-order Other by Catherine Pritchard Childress. Click here to reserve a copy from Finishing Line Press.

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Princess Grace and Amanda Blue Gotera


Yesterday, I posted about a musical performance by two of my daughters, Amelia and Melina. Today, some mad props for my other daughter, their oldest sister Amanda.

Amanda taking a snapshot at a family
gathering on Fathers' Day, 2014.

On 15 August 2014, Amanda Blue Gotera won a prestigious award from the Princess Grace Foundation. She is the proud recipient of a 2014–2015 Princess Grace Film Graduate Award, specifically the John H. Johnson Film Award. The monetary prize associated with this award will support Amanda's MFA thesis film at the University of Texas in Austin.

The Princess Grace Foundation supports emerging talents in fields that Princess Grace Kelly worked in during her career: film, theatre, and dance. I feel this award presages a magnificent, scintillant career for Amanda in film. Congrats, Amanda!

Here's the wonderful news release Amanda's department at UT posted to announce her award: http://rtf.utexas.edu/news/mfa-student-amanda-gotera-wins-princess-grace-award.

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Amelia and Melina Gotera, Hearst Center, February 2014


Yesterday, I posted about the February 2014 Final Thursday Reading in which I was the featured presenter. If you watched yesterday's video, you saw that my daughters were also interviewed. They had performed music in the open mic section of that night's event.

It was quite an interesting performance for Amelia and Melina. As an acoustic duo (voice and guitar) they play at bars and coffeehouses, and this was their first time playing for an artsy crowd (and I mean that in the best possible sense). Their usual fans and audience members can be a racuous crowd but at the Hearst — our city's arts center — the people in attendance were quiet and attentive. As much as they love and appreciate their bar fans, Melina and Amelia told me later how refreshing this audience experience was for them.

It was certainly a wonderful evening for me. I loved being able to perform on the same stage, same night, with Amelia and Melina. That night was also a kind of preview for our performing together the following week: my band The Random Five played a benefit concert at the Lutheran Student Center at the University of Northern Iowa on March 7 and Amelia and Melina opened for us.

Anyway, at the same time that yesterday's video was launched on YouTube, the Cedar Falls Cable TV station uploaded a video Amelia and Melina's whole performance that evening. And I am proud and pleased to present that video below. I hope you enjoy it.

As I mentioned yesterday, parts of this video are also dark because of the way the room was lit that evening. Many thanks to Shelby Gappa for her great work. If you would like to hear part of Shelby's interview of Amelia and Melina, watch yesterday's video.

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

Amelia and Melina Gotera, Hearst Center, February 2014

http://youtu.be/2sXn0rFdrOE

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Final Thursday Reading, February 2014


On the last Thursday of February earlier this year, 27 February 2014, I had the privilege of being the featured reader for the Final Thursday Reading Series here in Cedar Falls. In this event, I read some fiction and some poems; I also sang a couple of songs on an electric guitar, my trusty Gibson SG.

A few days ago, the news department of the City of Cedar Falls posted on YouTube a video they had filmed of that event, and I'm honored to call your attention to it. My colleague at the University of Northern Iowa, Jim O'Loughlin, founder of the series, had been for the first time in over ten years unable to attend and MC the reading. So in a way, this will be Jim's chance to "attend" the reading, however late. Well, at least, a brief 4-minute program about that reading.

Parts of the video are dark because of the way the room was lit that evening. The person who opens the video is Rachel Morgan, English prof at UNI, who was subbing for Jim O'Loughlin. Many thanks to Shelby Gappa, the reporter in the video, for her great work.

Incidentally, the still from the video (see below) shows my two daughters, Amelia and Melina, who were at the reading that night. Check back tomorrow for a video featuring them at the same event.

I hope you'll check out the Final Thursday Readings. They take place at the Hearst Center for the Arts on the last Thursday of each month in the school year, except for November when that month's reading is held the week before Thanksgiving. As always many thanks to Jim O'Loughlin for creating and maintaining this important mainstay of our cultural life here in Cedar Falls.

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

Vince Gotera, Final Thursday Reading, February 2014

http://youtu.be/LGRGnVBtYx4

Monday, July 21, 2014

At the INK! Performance Slam on 7 July 2014


On the first Monday of this month, 7 July 2014, I had the pleasure of being a featured performer in our community's monthly INK! Performance Slam. As the showcard below says, it's "The Cedar Valley's #1 Talent and Open Mic." This particular INK! was number 21, so the series is almost two years old.


The Octopus Bar in Cedar Falls has been the home of INK! since the inception of the series in 2012. Because of recent bar closings in our town, the Octopus is now quickly becoming the go-to place for emerging music acts as well as established ones. If you're on facebook, you can "visit" the Octopus bar here.

Anyway, back to INK! (Which, by the way, you can check out on facebook here.) That evening, I had the privilege of being on the same bill with Jerica Crawford, one of my former poetry students and now a mainstay of the local poetry scene. Great performance, Jerica!

Josh Hamzehee, one of the INK! organizers, filmed many of the performances that evening. And he very kindly shared two videos: me singing the Van Morrison song "Moondance" and also reading one of my own poems, "Aswang." Thanks, Josh!


Vince Gotera, "Moondance" at INK! July 2014

http://youtu.be/U8iTzFJXaog
 
Vince Gotera, "Aswang" poem at INK! July 2014

http://youtu.be/CQXC7Ru848Q
 

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.     See you at INK! first Monday next month?


Monday, July 7, 2014

The Virtual Blog Tour


The "virtual blog tour" is an excellent, friendly way for writers, artists, and other creative folks to bring attention to their own work as well as that of others. It begins with an invitation from another artist or writer. Then in your blog you acknowledge the person who invited you, answer four given questions about your work and your process, and then invite three other people to participate. These people then do the same thing, referring their blog readers to the blogs of three more people, and so on. It's a wonderful sort of "pyramid scheme" that's beneficial for everyone: the artists and writers as well as the readers of their blogs. We can follow links from blog to blog and then we can all learn about different kinds of creative process and also find new writers and artists we may not have known about before.

The person who invited me to take part in the blog tour is Bruce Niedt. He and I met a few months ago during NaPoWriMo in April 2014. (That stands for "national poetry writing month" during which poets around the world write a poem a day and share them with one another. It's also called the Poem-a-Day challenge.) We discovered each other's work during this process and found that both of us enjoy writing in (and playing with) poetic forms, not just traditional inherited forms like the sonnet, but also more recently invented forms such as the hay(na)ku.
Bruce W. Niedt is a "beneficent bureaucrat" from southern New Jersey whose poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Writer's Digest, Writers' Journal, The Lyric, Lucid Rhythms, Tilt-a-Whirl, Mad Poets Review, US 1 Worksheets, Spitball, Chantarelle's Notebook, and Edison Literary Review. His awards include the ByLine Short Fiction and Poetry Prize, first prize for poetry at the Philadelphia Writers Conference, and two nominations each for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has workshopped with Jane Hirshfield, Marge Piercy, Molly Peacock, and Stephen Dunn, and is looking forward to working with Billy Collins in January 2015. Bruce's chapbooks include Twenty-four by Fourteen, a collection of sonnets and other short poems published by Maverick Duck Press, and Breathing Out, from Finishing Line Press. His "poetry and miscellany" blog Orangepeel is at bniedt.blogspot.com.
As this bio states, Bruce will be studying with former US poet laureate Billy Collins next year. Interestingly, Bruce a few years ago "improved" a poetic form that Collins invented. This form, the paradelle, was intended by Collins as a parody of the villanelle form. I believe, in fact, that the beginning of the word "parad-elle" echoes the word parod-y. It's a notoriously difficult form, where lines are repeated (line 1 of a stanza comes back as line 2, then line 3 comes back as line 4) and then all the words in the opening 4 lines of that stanza are reassembled into a different order in lines 5 and 6. For example, here is the opening of Collins's inaugural attempt, "Paradelle for Susan":
I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Thinnest love, remember the quick branch.
Always nervous, I perched on your highest bird the.
This type of thing goes on for two more stanzas (line 1 = line 2, line 3 = line 4, lines 5-6 recycling the words from those 4 lines). And then a fourth six-line stanza reuses all the words from the previous three stanzas.

Notice though that at the end of Collins's first stanza, there's a leftover "the" tacked on. That's part of the joke, the hoax. The projected poet writing this paradelle — not Collins himself who's gleefully giggling on the sidelines — is not up to the task and ends up with leftover words. Just click here to see the whole poem. Hilarious.

What happened, however, is that many poets did not take the paradelle as a hoax. They thought it was indeed a medieval French form, as Collins had stated in the footnote he appended to "Paradelle for Susan." And people began to write them in earnest. With quite a lot of success it turned out, and an anthology of paradelles eventually appeared: The Paradelle, edited by Theresa M. Welford.

Okay, getting to the point of my story. Bruce was one of those poets who took on the paradelle. But he followed a different tack that will give you a sense of Bruce's particular genius. I'm guessing he couldn't see the sense of the first four lines and their odd repetitions (line 1 = line 2, line 3 = line 4); what Bruce saw instead was a resemblance to the traditional blues stanza: a statement, the statement repeated, and then a response to that statement, with the third rhyming with the first two. So Bruce "improved" Collins's paradelle by making a blues paradelle, or as he called his first one, "Paradelle Blues." Here is the opening of that poem by Bruce:
Well I feel so bad now,
Can't write a paradelle;
Well I feel so bad now,
Can't write a paradelle;
A paradelle so bad,
Feel now I can't write well.
Brilliant. The form now makes sense as a blues song, and yet satisfies all the word-repetition requirements of Collins's form. Check out Bruce's whole "Paradelle Blues" here.

It should be interesting for Bruce Niedt and Billy Collins to meet since Bruce has surely outparodied the parodist: "Paradelle Blues" complains about the difficulty of writing the paradelle while simultaneously reinventing it!

Okay, that's my intro to Bruce Niedt. Check out his work. Links to his collections are in the bio above. And here is a link to his virtual blog tour post in Orangepeel: "Billy Collins and the Virtual Blog Tour."




And now let's get to the four "virtual blog tour" questions:


1. What are you currently working on?

I am about to start to begin work on a collection of poems about Philippine mythology. Some of my existing poems will fit into this project, "Aswang" and "Born from Bamboo," for example. Starting in August, I will be on sabbatical from my professor job to study Philippine myths and then write more poems about them.


2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Boy, that's a tough question. I'm not sure what's different in my work from the work of other poets except that it's a reflection of my own interests. One of these is my focus on poetic form, particularly inherited traditional forms, and stretching them so that they still retain that form (sometimes only tenuously) and yet become something new. For example, the poem "Aswang" mentioned above is made up of three sonnet stanzas, with a separate one-line closer. Within these sonnet stanzas, I use slant rhyme which is sometimes so slant that a person not watching for the rhyme scheme because they don't recognize that these are sonnet shapes will see the poem as free verse. I like that kind of blurring and on-the-fence sitting.


3. Why do you write/create what you do?

I don't really know that either. I'm driven to do it. I've been writing poems since I was in first grade, I believe. Or perhaps I should say I've been versifying. With my job as a creative writing professor, I sometimes don't have much energy left over for my own writing, ironically. That's why I'm really looking forward to my upcoming sabbatical, which will allow me to devote all my creative energies to the poems on Philippine myth. That's also why I appreciate NaPoWriMo — it's a concentrated challenge to write a poem a day, and I love challenges. I can't always devote such poetic energy year-round but can achieve it for a month.

I don't know that I'm really answering this question. I'm probably dancing around it.

Each poem is for me a little world, a little universe, and I love the challenge of trying to say something I didn't know I was going to say — as Stephen Dunn advises us to do — and then I love even more being able to get out of that little world and leave it a complete universe unto itself.


4. How does your writing/creating process work?

Man, these are tough questions. I think ultimately one's creative process is invisible to oneself. We don't know how we do it. We just do it. Or . . . we think we know how it works but it works some other unseen way. So much of the process is within the unconscious. That's how, as I said earlier, we are able to say something we didn't know we were going to say. That's how the creating becomes discovery rather than exposition of something we already know about.

At any rate, I can tell you what I think is happening. Often a poem starts for me with a scene or situation seen darkly as in a dream; or a phrase spoken by someone heard within the inner ear; or a strange, marvelous imagined person who is quirky and mysterious and begs to be known and unraveled; or sometimes something not even as developed as those . . . just an image: a flash of color, a sudden remembered scent, a snippet of music. Such things become the beginning of the little world I mentioned earlier, and the writing of the poem opens a doorway or window or maybe just a keyhole into that world. And the writing uncovers the world, shows me what it's made of, what its marvels and magics are. Then, as I said, I try to finesse that glimpse into an entire universe before I leave and return to everyday life and then the next poem.




Allow me to introduce to you the three people I'm inviting to participate. Two writers and a visual artist.


First, Meena Rose. I have known Meena for several years; we first met through NaPoWriMo. We are also friends on facebook and her gentleman caller, as people used to say, is an old friend I introduced to her. Meena is a poet whose blog "Two Voices, One Song" is a shared project with the poet Claudette Young (so you get two poets for the price of one!). Here is the bio she gave me:

Meena Rose is a multi-lingual world traveler and transplanted Oregonian; a mother of three children (one boy and two girls) who works as an analyst by day promoting creativity through writing, storytelling and role playing wherever she goes. Meena blogs at 2voices1song.com.



Second, Barbara Jane Reyes. I have known Barb for many years also, through Filipino American literary circles. We also a share a place: San Francisco. We were both raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and many of our subjects and interests overlap. I have also had the pleasure of publishing Barb's poems and reviewing her books in the North American Review. Here is Barb's bio.

Barbara Jane Reyes is a Pinay poet and educator based in Oakland, California. She is the author of Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata. She blogs at barbarajanereyes.com.



Third, Chris Durietz. I met Chris in a facebook group of native San Franciscans. We were both born and raised in San Francisco. Interestingly, I knew her older brother in high school, though we weren't close. I think I might have known her younger brother too; at least his yearbook picture seems vaguely familiar. Besides the blog mentioned in her bio, Chris has blogs for her photography and graphic design.

Aloha! My name is Chris Durietz, and I live in Honolulu. I love nature, photography, cooking and eating good food, growing lovely things in pots, and listening to jazz music. I am also a freelance graphic designer. For this blog tour, I'll use my food and photography blog at goodreasontosmile.com.



Next Monday, July 17, visit their blogs to see the continuation of our virtual blog tour.

Comments, anyone? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  




P.S.  Here are links to the virtual blog tour posts by the three people I invited.
Meena Rose — Two Voices, One Song
http://2voices1song.com/2014/07/14/virtual-blog-tour-makes-another-stop

Barbara Jane Reyes — Poeta y Diwata
http://www.barbarajanereyes.com/?p=8271

Chris Durietz — Good Reason to Smile
http://www.goodreasontosmile.com/2014/07/15/the-virtual-blog-tour

(Added 6 August 2014.)


Monday, June 30, 2014

Popular Culture 101


Hello, friends. Sorry there hasn't been much by way of poetry since National Poetry Month. More to come later.

For now I'd like to announce a book project I'm working on with my girlfriend Kathleen Lawrence (to whom you have seen poems dedicated for a couple of years now) . . . an undergrad textbook tentatively titled Popular Culture 101.


Kathy and I are looking for pop culture essays to include in this book. The essays would be pretty short — 2-4 pages, about 500-1000 words — on any aspect of popular culture. You don't have to be a professional or an academic. You can write, for example, on being a fan of Doctor Who or video games or '60s soul music . . . whatever you are into.

The deadline is Sunday, 27 July 2014. About four weeks from today. Won't you consider taking part? We'd really love to see and perhaps feature your essay. Or essays if you want to write more than one.

For more, go to our Popular Culture 101 blog at http://popc101.blogspot.com. For the nitty gritty details about writing and submitting essays, click on the screenshot from the blog directly above.

Comments, anyone? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  


Saturday, May 31, 2014

My National Poetry Month 2014 Reading


During this year's National Poetry Month, I had the pleasure of giving a poetry reading at Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa, in their SCC Visiting Writers Series. Here's a video of that reading, from 14 April 2014.

Vince Gotera Poetry Reading, 14 April 2014
Southeastern Community College, Iowa



Many thanks to my gracious host, Professor Charles Burm, and also to the lovely students who hosted me at a really pleasant dinner, as well as to the generous and responsive audience.

Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 30. The last day of National Poetry Month in 2014, the last day of NaPoWriMo, the last poem of Poem-a-Day. But not your last day — one hopes — and not your last poem — one hopes again. Poems can last many many MANY days if one writes them down . . . so write them!   

Today's "official" prompts . . .   Maureen Thorson: "a poem of farewell" (NaPoWriMo). Robert Lee Brewer: "a 'calling it a day' poem" (Poetic Asides). Thanks, Maureen and Robert, for prompts that fit together so well, from those of us who are merging them. They fit together marvelously but are not at all the same, so brava and bravo.

Fare Well
                            for KL

Was it the ancient Romans who used to say
ave atque vale, hail and farewell?
From an ode, it seems, written by the poet Catullus.
Kathy, when you and I call it a day,
In your queen bed in New York or in my double
in Cedar Falls, or on the phone, with us

in thousand-mile-apart recliners, I say
farewell. Not as in goodbye, like we’ll
never meet again, but just good wishes:
May our life be evergreen, fresh. And may
                                                      we always love us.


—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Kathy and I always look at the official prompts together first thing, and she was disappointed this morning upon seeing this last set. I knew she was thinking "no love poem today." Although a couple of my April poems alluded to our relationship sweetly, I hadn't written a proper love poem yet. So this poem is a surprise for my love; yes, I was able to write a love poem while also saying farewell and calling it a day. Hurray!

In terms of this curtal sonnet's craft, its sonnetly charms, I replaced the usual d rhyme with an a, so the rhyme scheme is abcabc/abcac. Aren't those three repeated abc's cool? Beyond that, in fact, the last line contains (accidentally) an internal b rhyme within it — "al" . . . in which case the rhyme scheme would be abcabc/abca[bc], with the brackets indicating two rhymes within a single line, the last. Thus, it's abc's all the way down. Ha! (Though maybe I'm stretching here because that "al" sound is in the middle rather than the end of a word.)


Okay, now here's Alan's final NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day sonnet. He says, "I believe I have combined Brewer's 'call it a day' with Thorson's 'poem of farewell,' if you can call a 'kiss off' poem a 'call it a day' poem. Why is it sometimes easier to write a poem when I'm ticked off?"

To the ’70s Era Avocado Refrigerator

I was not there when they wheeled you away,
although I emptied almost all your shelves.
I wish that we had rolled you out ourselves
and done it long ago, before that day
your coupling broke, permitting water spray
behind to saturate the floor and bow
our basement ceiling, water filled below,
until the drywall burst, God damn it. Say
goodbye, good riddance, thank you, go; but may
somebody find a use for all your parts —
your whole is worthless — and, with all our hearts,
we will be glad to meet with you someday,
converted to some lids on pickle jars
or stamped into a set of Hot Wheels cars.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes     [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]


Ah yes, fridges can be infuriating, right? But sometimes they can be cool for the oddest of reasons. In the early '60s, we had a Fridgidaire that made a soft whirry, bubbly noise that sounded exactly like the Blob. You should google a clip from that movie to "hear" my childhood fridge.        Actually, here's a suitable clip; this link should start you up at 3:47 where the sound is pretty clear for the next while. Oh . . . uh . . . sorry about the bad pun on "cool" in the second sentence of this paragraph, regarding fridges.

In terms of sonnetly charms, Alan's is an interesting example of a Petrarchan sonnet: in the closing sestet's rhyme scheme of addaee Alan begins with a third envelope quatrain — so cool! — and then ends with a Shakespearean-ish couplet. Fun. The poem is fun in its content (if you don't think too much about the water damage) and in its bravura technique. Bravo, Alan!


Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  

POEM-A-DAY 2014 • Pick a day in April: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 29. Two days to go. Or, at the time I'm writing this, one day and one hour to go in National Poetry Month!

Robert Lee Brewer has a two-for-Tuesday prompt in honor of Gabriel García Márquez: "Write a realism poem" and/or "Write a magical poem . . . Or write like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and do both!"(Poetic Asides).

Maureen Thorson's "prompt is called the 'Twenty Little Poetry Projects,' and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. . . . the challenge is to use them all in one poem" (NaPoWriMo).

Twenty Little Poetry Projects     by Jim Simmerman

  1.  Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2.  Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3.  Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4.  Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5.  Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6.  Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7.  Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8.  Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9.  Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
10.  Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
11.  Create a metaphor using the following construction: "The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . ."
12.  Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
13.  Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in "real life."
14.  Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
15.  Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
16.  Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
17.  Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
18.  Use a phrase from a language other than English.
19.  Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
20.  Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that "echoes" an image from earlier in the poem.

Okay, here we go. Not trying to channel Gabriel García Márquez at all. Just trying to channel both real and surreal (which I hope evinces some magic) while trying to do the Simmerman projects in order. Thus mixing all three prompts.

Carnac the Magnificent & Dancing Cactus

The sun rises in the east like a bubble of lava,
streaking the sky with stripes of flowing magma
that smell like pine tar & taste of cinnamon,
loudly sounding red & white like candy canes
forged by Santa Claus & his elves in Hell.
Yes, the sky was riddled with Christmas suns,
riddled wth Easter grass, riddled with Chinese
firecrackers that sh-boom sh-boomed merrily.
The sky's blue was caused by the fireworks.
&, speaking of fireworks: "sis boom bah!"
The magnificent Carnac of happiness brings
us the Light of Truth: "Describe the sound
when a sheep explodes." Johnny Carson will
surely rise from the dead, just as Vince will
not. Incandescent water, the hard texture
of incense smoke . . . let's get real. Let's get
down & dirty. Johnny Carson lives in all
our hearts, a celebrity who was respectful
of all people & all cultures, who raised
a diseased camel from its egg to its coffin.
El camello enfermo de amor. Let's get back
to the real world. Where a saguaro cactus
pulls its legs out of the ground & dances
a poisonous tarantella, a lovely fandango,
bowing to the west like a man of green lava.


—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

I don't know how Johnny Carson came to be in the poem but when I was driving to Chicago last week (a five-hour trip) I heard a talk show about TV comedy and heard the Carnac the Magnificent "sis boom bah" bit. (That's when I actually heard this "piece of talk" recently.) I bet not many people know anymore that "sis boom bah" was connected in the late 1800s to fireworks watching and then later in the mid-1900s to cheerleading.


Now on to Alan's poem for Day 29. "I think that I have managed to merge Maureen and Robert's prompts for today. I am not certain what to make of this attempt, though."

Thomas Crofts and I Consider Haruspication
and Routine Examinations of Middle-Aged Men


Outside the English building, near the street,
I hold the map to my most inner self,
the pink and rounded corridor of flesh,
provided me when I awoke from dark
in digital, 600 dpi, my name
in bold across the top, results of tests,
the endoscopic plumber’s snake they probed
down my esophagus, to foretell all.
My printout prophecy provided me
and Thomas Crofts, medievalist, the chance
and welcome opportunity to mourn
the mystery of life, now mapped the way
an unmanned Google car can plot a town.
I told him how the sweatbee sting, a vein
on my right hand, felt nothing like the bland
green plastic guide they had me bite down on
so that the camera probe would never touch
my teeth, my swollen, bitten lips, my fog
and doubt of what I might have said as I
awoke from anesthetic sleep. “And yet,”
he said, “far more routine and comic goes
the colonoscopy, in through the out,
as Led Zep punned, another orifice,
another oracle, to the same end,
to read our guts and tell us times to come.”

“In times to come”—before us stand in scrubs
of rainbow hue to designate the role
of each, a surgeon’s staff encircling one
who lies beneath an arc of burning white,
his abdomen split open to reveal
the sum of what has been and what’s to come.
The surgeon speaks, “Let’s have a poke around.
He has a chance at twenty years, but see
his gut distended, tears in tissue here,
the liver knobbiness—just close him up.”
Supine, the patient turns to smile at us,
to gesture Blue Cross has o.k.’ed our turn,
extended palm of state-insured in full.

I smirked to mask my gasp of churning guts,
reminded of a vivisected frog
my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Freeman, flayed
in front of us, its spinal cord in two
from her deft ice pick plunge. Her thumb was black
from silver nitrate. She had stopped me once
when I was wiping off electrolyte
from naked wires my partner had plugged in.

“If diagnosis tells the future, I’m an ass!”
Regret I said it followed; here I was,
aware that part of me is mess and tubes, aware
Yossarian has learned the same, “There, there,”
a spoken breath as Snowden shows a truth
that I have printed on my desk, refute
it as I might, repeat, “Wo ist der Schnee
vom vegangenen Jahr?”
I taste that blank
white bitterness and nurse my ruptured lip.

Then Thomas said, “Entrance intransigence!” and laughed
that anyone would transfix on his frailty.
“I guess nobody told you, Cousin, why
it is that men die early? ‘Cause they can!”
I heard it echo from the science hall.
Then I fell hoarse from laughing, flecks of blood
sprayed on my wrist, and I took off alive,
relieved to have a rank companion free
to chide me, send me home to feed my kids,
to fall asleep turned on my side to grasp
my sweet one’s side, behind me the machine
that forces breath down through me as I sleep.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes     [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Well, Alan, that was fun. Though I gotta say, I have no idea what to make of any of either of our poems. I certainly am not sure how to even come close to illustrating your poem with an image!


Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

Ingat, everyone.  


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Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 28 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 28. We're 14/15 done with National Poetry Month. Crazy, huh?

"Official" prompts today. Robert Lee Brewer: "a settled poem" (Poetic Asides). Maureen Thorson: "Today I challenge you to find a news article, and to write a poem using (mostly, if not only) words from the article! You can repeat them, splice them, and rearrange them however you like" (NaPoWriMo).

I decided to create an erasure poem to satisfy Maureen's prompt, and it took up an inordinate chunk of the day. I found a "news" article and used only the words in it. So basically a found poem. The article is "Jennifer Aniston's Brief Romance Revealed!" by Jackie Willis, from the website Yahoo! TV. I've retyped the article below and circled the words I'm keeping. You should follow the red lines to get the sequence of the narrative. If you need to see the erasure poem larger, just click on the image. I was able, just barely, to mix in Robert's prompt as well, basically in the last sentence. It was very difficult to accomplish.

Hot Teenage Romance Settled


The poem is really the altered page above, but to help you read:

They dated back in the day, a romance based on 17-year-old
smoldering. To we immaturions the torrid romance seemed
extra hot. [N]ow married they can offer little dirt.

—Erasure Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

I do want to make sure to point out, just so there's no misunderstanding, that the cool phrase "To we immaturions" is not mine. It was coined by Jim Nelson, editor of the magazine GQ. Of course, since it's a found poem, and more specifically an erasure poem, I didn't coin any of the language.


And now on to Alan's poem: "I got out early this morning," Alan tells us, "and looked around; I mowed grass all day Saturday, and the yard got a good drenching last night from one of the thunderstorms moving through the region this week. Being outside so early in the morning reminded me of being ready to go outside as soon as possible when I was smaller. I cannot recall seeing a mimosa here in my part of East Tennessee, but the further south I drive, the more I see them."

Mimosa

A forked mimosa grew some yards away
from our back porch; I never climbed it far
because its branches would not bear my weight,
but I could climb it high enough to see
its yellow gum ooze from the breaches torn
through outer bark, the stress from violent wind
or maybe me as I shinned in it. Late
most afternoons, I saw its fans of leaves
fold closed; some mornings, I might catch the sun
and watch the leaves respond to light. July
would bring the last of its red blossoms, puffs
of pink unlike most flowers everywhere. I sawed
its broken branches off; my fingertip,
like rays of light, could make its leaves fold, too.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes     [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

Ah yes, I remember getting leaves like those to fold up when I was a child. I like in your poem how the speaker's finger, the body, really, is likened to light. Bravo, Alan. Nice blank verse sonnet, by definition unrhymed.

Mimosa Tree
Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day 27 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 27. Four poems to go, counting today's.

Robert Lee Brewer's prompt today: "a monster poem" (Poetic Asides). Maureen Thorson suggests a "poem from a photograph," providing four photos one could use, though one could also use a photo of one's own (NaPoWriMo). Here's the photo I've chosen.



Skeleton Talks to Pumpkin

I'm not so much articulate as articulated.
Though I can talk a goodly amount. Thank God

for museum techs and the colony of hide beetles
that devoured the flesh from my bones. It tickled

when the larvae crawled all over me and munched
munched munched. Then the techs reconnected my bones

with rods and screws. And so I became a meatless
zombie. But smarter and nicer than any zombies

you know. None of that pointless grunting and hissing,
that staggering and grabbing, mindlessly grubbing for brains.

I don't need brains. I get along fine without them.
And you, brother pumpkin, I know you feel the same.

Though you are stuffed with seeds and pulp and fiber,
and my skull is full of nothing but atmosphere,

We are the same. We are happy only to be.
We love the sun and the moon, the trees and the sea.

We desire nothing. We compete with no one else.
We love everything. We gladly brook all fools.

We only seek to please, help others delight.
Provide sweets and joy when they trick or treat.
And for that we need no brains, we need no meat.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

This poem was a joy to write because I had no idea where it was going to go and where it was going to end up. Just three lines from what is now the ending, I told Kathy I had no idea how to get out of the poem. And I'm still not sure how this ending came to me. I just had to empty myself of ideas and walk downhill, if you will.

I also enjoyed this process because I started off with rough blank verse and didn't know these were rhymed couplets — okay, slant rhyme — until I hit line 14 or so. And then I saw that indeed there were slant rhymes already there, though some were exceedingly distant, like beetles/tickled or munched/bones, which to some are probably not rhymes at all. From that point, I began to rhyme more consciously, as in be/see and else/fools. And really, it was trying to work the rhyme that got me to the end. Or that revealed, however mysteriously or impossibly, what might make an ending.

The zombie material came up because a few weeks ago, my friend Gary Beeler, who was my classmate in a beginning poetry writing class when we were first-year college students, challenged me to write a zombie poem. I tried to twist this poem in that direction, but it wouldn't go. So . . . sorry, Gary, this isn't the zombie poem.


And now on to Alan's poem. He tells us, "I am following Maureen Thorson's prompt inviting an ekphrastic poem for today. This poem does not describe anyone in particular; I see what, in my opinion, should not happen in promotional shots for writers, and I post this poem with the usual disclaimer (not intended to represent anyone you or I know in the entire span of human history) and with the hope that should I be put in the line of lens for having published something, I will remember this criticism. To be clear: I am not talking about the celebratory selfie/snapshot of when a person just gets hands on something newly released or has a friendly encounter with a reader somewhere. I am talking only about professionally produced promotional photos."

To the Poet Who Poses for Promotional Photos


I look at back covers, flaps
inside dust jackets, faces
at three-quarter, indirect
turn, in denial a photo
reveals any mystery,
keeping reserve behind eyes
almost always directed
at some potential readers.
You hold your book in the woods—
your own book. I look at you
and wonder, “Why your own book
in the woods?” I have taken
drafts into the woods to work
on them, to read them out loud
and hope for an echo out
there near the hollow, but I
find that your holding your book —
your own book — in the woods calls
for my projecting meaning.
You want me to think of you
bonded with nature, your book
an extension of kinship,
not to think that backdrop trees
or trees like them were cut down
to publish your new volume.
Mention to your publicist
the value of an inset —
separate published poets
from their published works, avoid
redundancy. The poet
stands a mere inspired corpus.

—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes     [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

I know exactly what you mean, Alan. There's such hubris sometimes in those promotional photos. I tried to find something to illustrate without portraying an actual writer. The closest I could get is this image.


This guy's pipe (Hemingway-ing, anyone?) and his bowtie and suspenders matching his typewriter's blue color are all over the top. And really, who uses a typewriter anymore? Actually, one of my most prolific writer friends still uses legal pads and a typewriter, and he's published something like fifty books, so I take back that snark about typewriters. But the rest of what's pictured is clearly faux writer schtuff. Almost as bad as Hef's satin smoking jackets and pajamas. Ya know? (Hef smoked a pipe too.)


Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day 26 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2014


Day 26. Gettin' near the end, friends. Well, I shouldn't dwell on the ending but rather on the great 25 days we've had so far. Cause for celebration, don't you think?

"For today’s prompt, write a water poem," suggests Robert Lee Brewer (Poetic Asides).

Maureen Thorson's prompt today is one I suggested to her: the curtal sonnet, invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I wrote one on Day 20 for the "family member" point-of-view prompt (NaPoWriMo). Basically, the curtal sonnet is 3/4 of a Petrarchan sonnet. If you figure out 3/4 of 14, you'll get 10 1/2 lines. Fr. Hopkins split that line pattern into a six-line opening stanza rhymed abcabc and a 4 1/2–line closing stanza rhymed dbcdc or dcbdc.

I hope you won't think it vain that I'm posting directly below what the NaPoWriMo blog looks like today. If you click on the image, you'll see my name in the fourth paragraph. I'm such a fan boy, huh? I am nonetheless both honored and humbled. Thank you, Maureen!


Okay, on to today's poem, merging the two "official" prompts: a curtal sonnet on water, then.

Water

I fill my glass from the faucet, get ice from the fridge,
sit down to watch an episode of Swamp People,
who hunt alligators in murky, brown water
that makes the monsters invisible. How rich
the ways H2O affects us, both lethal
and harmless. Did you know we all can walk on water?

If it's white and crunchy. It can be unseen yet blue,
giving sky its tint. It makes Earth a marble
glowing aquamarine and pearl in outer
space. None on this planet can live without you,
                                                              our trusty friend, water.

—Draft by Vince Gotera    [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

And now to Alan's poem. Alan says, "I attempted to follow both of the prompts today, and I was glad about the curtal sonnet assignment, and I though the water part would be easy. But, strangely enough, thinking about water made me think about chores for this weekend, and I was considering how wet grass requires more attention to mow.

"But the real problem, Vince, is Hopkins's 'Pied Beauty' for an example, because I was wanting to follow that model carefully, rhyme scheme and all. But look at that thing! It looks as if it is abc/abc/dbc/dc, because it's 'things/cow/swim//wings/plow/trim//strange/how/dim/change/him.' But, being from the Deep South myself, I was tempted to claim that 'strange' and 'change' almost rhyme with 'things' and 'wings,' claiming a slant rhyme or some such, but I figured that folks from other parts of the country would consider my claim specious or my rhyming lazy, so I decided to treat the a and d rhymes as if they rhyme with each other exactly.

"There are times when my Southern accent works to my advantage, given that 'guitar' can be either iambic or trochaic, depending on the need, but I want to play fair."

First Mowing after Easter

First mowing after Easter, moisture clumps
                new fresh-grown grass. My mulching mower slows,
                                and I, to clear the clogs, must leave the lawn
for pavement, banging wheels until the lumps
                extrude to free the blade. And, yet, I chose
                                this time to work, an hour after dawn,

for what, mown, this lawn brings, the bird that jumps
                from plainsight bug to bug, how wet grass goes
                                to new-mown pasture smell, the haying done
past family clearing timber, burning stumps,
                                                now gone.


—Draft by Thomas Alan Holmes     [Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]

What a great poem, Alan. Such a fine ending when the poem goes to family memory. Beautiful.

In your poem, "clumps" and "lawn" (a and c) do rhyme distantly or, depending on one's dialect, more closely. I think it's perfectly defensible to claim what you claimed earlier about a rhyme between "strange" and "things" — not to mention the Deep South pronunciation, there is also the eye rhyme of "ng," don't you think? Quite a Hopkins-ish claim, actually. Remember how in "The Windhover" Hopkins used "-ing" for his a sound and "-iding" for b? That's pretty outrageous, bodacious even. So why not "strange" and "things" as emulation? Works for me, Alan.

Also, making a the same as d is not a violation of the curtal sonnet scheme. It's merely a tighter interpretation of the pattern. Again, works for me. Hopkins in "Windhover" has an a and b that could be seen as both a. Fun.


Won't you comment, please, friends? To make a comment, look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. If you don't see that, look in the red line that starts Posted by Vince, then find the word comments and click it once.

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