Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Serious Classroom Novel

Yesterday, as you may know, I reviewed John Charles Lawrence's novel Never, Ever Land in tribute to the fifth anniversary of his passing. I'm happy today to present another review of this novel on the actual anniversary date.

I hope you enjoy Professor Barry A. Morris's review below and that you're moved to read Lawrence's novel.

To Sir With WTF!
John Charles Lawrence, Never, Ever Land
(Bloomington, Indiana: Xlibris, 2011).
Available in hardback, paperback, and e-book.
There aren’t many serious classroom novels in any given generation. The location stales quickly. The points of conflict become rigid overnight — teacher vs. student, teacher vs. system, teacher vs. student vs. parent become so played out so quickly that a fresh noun can become cliché before it hits the verb. The ones that leap out at you — A Separate Peace, To Sir With Love, Blackboard Jungle, Up the Down Staircase — work not because they illuminate the conditions of education, but because they illuminate the conditions of life from within the halls of education. Lesser efforts style themselves as indictments of the institutions of learning, mockeries of the motives of educators, or maudlin caricatures of children as dead souls or pubescent time bombs. The best are not about school children; they are about children who happen to go to school.

In Never, Ever Land, John Charles Lawrence has written more book than he thinks he has, and in so doing places himself among the masters listed above and in opposition to their pretenders. He sets out to chronicle in fiction his real if brief career as a teacher in a tony private Long Island school — to satirize the pretensions and foibles of rich kids, their richer parents and the necessarily sycophantic administrators who accommodate to them. Lawrence makes a big mistake, though, that lifts his work to a higher level than that to which he aspired. He fails to realize the deep and honest affection he has for his subjects. He displays the requisite impatience, ironic detachment and self-deprecation, but it doesn’t wash. These people and those times defined his trajectory more than he’d like to admit.

This is why Never, Ever Land doesn’t reduce itself to the banalities so constant in the genre. It is terse without being mean. It is critical without being judgmental. It is insistent without being strident. This man loves learning and those who learn so deeply that he can try with all his might to seem otherwise and brilliantly, tenderly fail. Never, Ever Land is like one of those ridiculously expensive dinners you rarely have occasion to sit down to. How can such small portions make you feel so full? It’s all in the technique. And just like the students, parents and teachers in this book — not to mention the author — the reader will be nourished by the experience.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                   Barry A. Morris
Pace University

Thanks, Barry. Such an insightful review. You rock, ol' buddy.

Friends, I have known Barry for over thirty years, since we were graduate students together at Indiana University, and I'm pleased to be able to present his work in this way.

Buy the book, friends. You'll enjoy it . . . I guarantee. Also, as I wrote yesterday, if you have "pull" at a major press or if you are a literary agent, I hope you will help get Never, Ever Land picked up by a large commercial press.

Won't you please comment to Barry or to me? Look for a blue link below that says “Post a comment”; if you don’t see that, look in the red line that says “Posted by” and click on the word “comments.”

Take care, friends — ingat. I hope you're having a wonderful week. Please come back to the blog and read more!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Wonderland of a Novel

Seems like I’m always apologizing on the blog. Well, not always. It’s just that I often have big gaps of time in my blogging. Life gets in the way, you know? So after each long gap, I re-start the blog and find myself apologizing.

Well . . . this time, no apology. Instead, I’ll tell you that I’m reviving the blog to give you a review of a novel. The occasion of this review is that tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the author’s passing. He died young of cancer in 2008 and his book was published posthumously by Xlibris.

I am certain John Charles Lawrence would have been a major American writer. A major writer, period. Never, Ever Land, is his first and last book. And actually Lawrence is a major writer already but only a handful of people know it.

I hope a major commercial press will pick up this fine literary novel and give it a wider publication and audience. Never, Ever Land and John Charles Lawrence deserve nothing less.

John Charles Lawrence, Never, Ever Land
(Bloomington, Indiana: Xlibris, 2011).

 in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

Never, Ever Land by John Charles Lawrence is one of those books you call up friends in the middle of the night about: “You have got to read this novel, really. Best thing I’ve read in years!” You know those books? The people you call up about them are often underwhelmed and then you think, They just don’t know what they’re missing.

The only Amazon reviewer of this novel was one of those underwhelmed friends, whose opinion did a 180: “This book kicks ass. I started reading it somewhat reluctantly because I knew John and have always been squeamish about reading stuff by people that I actually know. When a friend called to say ‘you gotta read this, it’s awesome . . .’ I picked it up, held my nose and dove in, and am thrilled to have done so.” This reader, who goes by the handle “bookie,” compares Lawrence to David Foster Wallace and Tom Perrotta, calling Never, Ever Land “a closely observed, hilarious tale of a place (the north shore of Long Island) and a time in a young man's life. Its so vibrant and full of life.”

I couldn’t agree more. This book does kick ass. DFL and Perrotta, yup.

The Xlibris press release about Never, Ever Land says, in part, “It is Bright Lights, Big City mixed with Dead Poets’ Society with a smack of Lolita and Vox, set in the land of The Great Gatsby.” The novel weaves together “gossip and hearsay, text messages and police reports, poems and stories, newspaper clippings and whispered conversations — the gathered evidence that forms the mystery and wonder of Never, Ever Land.” While this is obviously marketing schtuff, it does a marvelous job of capturing the allure and joy of Lawrence’s novel.

A brief review in the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle suggests my approach to this novel: “Prep school English teacher and Harvard graduate Benjamin Goodspeed mimics the language and manners of his literary heroes.” These heroes are not just literary characters, like Holden Caulfield or Billy Pilgrim, but also literary authors: Lawrence writes with the panache of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the smarts of Toni Morrison, the toughness of Chuck Pahlaniuk and the sensitivity of Sandra Cisneros.

Lawrence explores the inner lives and minds of not just the cynical protagonist Ben Goodspeed but also other characters, esp. his student (Wendy) Love, who is cast by the community as nymphet but refuses to be a mere Lolita. Through the (mis)adventures of his fascinating and often funny characters, Lawrence satirizes and sends up the social order whose privilege and hypocrisy both make and menace these anti-heroes. Lawrence has a sharp eye for culture and society like both Margaret Atwood and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Besides such literariness, Lawrence just plain can write. Check out Love’s first appearance in the novel: “She wore lambskin jodhpurs, knee-high black leather riding boots and carried a horsewhip. . . . A white blouse appeared on two fingers as if it were a laboratory specimen and then fell to the floor. A bouquet of red roses and a gold trophy landed next to the blouse. The trophy struck the metal locker door, which rang like a concierge’s bell. One crystalline chime. Perfectly pitched. Fading off in ripples.” What a poetic and clear portrayal. Love’s powerful yet brittle personality is hinted at amazingly by such sharp phrasing as “lambskin jodhpurs” and “crystalline chime.”

Never, Ever Land is full of all sorts of accurate descriptions and riffs on our everyday lives and heartaches; like Flannery O’Connor or Kurt Vonnegut, Lawrence never caves or takes the easy way out — he doesn’t flinch and he’s not afraid to tell the tough truth. For example, Ben Goodspeed is a high school teacher and this is what he says about the daily nitty-gritty of his job: “My school day equaled five 50-minute improvisational theater pieces, usually put on solo — using a variety of voices and the occasional disguise. I am a troupe of one. . . . Fear drove this performance model of teaching. Fear of being shown for what I am: a fraud, a dolt, a sap, a weakling, someone who can’t cut the mustard, walk the line, hold his smoke.” I was a high school English teacher like Ben Goodspeed three and a half decades back, and this description is precisely and painfully on target.

But then Goodspeed goes on, and this is Lawrence’s unflinching part: “Fear bred fear. Insofar as I was afraid to be exposed, my students too would be afraid. Everyone dragged a knapsack filled with fears, insecurities, desires, expectations, needs, resentments — the list could go on forever — into the classroom. But the main component was fear.” So tough and so true. And of course this is reminiscent of all of our lives, all our endeavors, all of our everyday fear. Genius.

I hope you will get John Charles Lawrence’s Never, Ever Land and give it a chance. It’s available online and in bookstores — you’ll need to special-order — in cloth, paper, and e-book. If you have an in at a nationally ranked commercial press or if you are a literary agent, I hope you will help to get this book picked up. In any case, I bet you’ll be calling up pals at night and reading bits to them to try to convince them to read it too. And you'll be buying copies of Never, Ever Land as gifts for friends and relatives on their birthdays, for housewarmings, and for the holidays. Most of all, I know you will enjoy this book. It’s a wonderland of a novel.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                   Vince Gotera, Editor
North American Review

Okay, that’s all for today’s return to the blogosphere.

Won’t you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says “Post a comment”; if you don’t see that, look in the red line that says “Posted by” and click on the word “comments.”

Ingat — take care, friends — and peace out.

Added 9 October 2013: The day after this post, I hosted a review of Never, Ever Land by a friend, Barry A. Morris, a scholar from Pace University. Click here to read it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11     +12

Friends, as you know, today is the twelfth anniversary of 9/11. During the Poem-a-Day challenge of NaPoWriMo 2013, I composed a poem looking forward to this specific anniversary. Seems only fitting to re-post that poem today.

Dedicated to all the dead and wounded from that fateful day in 2001, from the wars that ensued, from the entire aftermath of the thing.

9/11     +12
    —a hay(na)ku sonnet
sparrows fell
from ashen skies.

loomed from
fog of ash.

Twelve years later,
still entangled:

Bin Laden dead.
Hourglass sand

us downslope: ash
inferno downfall empire.

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

Like many of you, I'm sure, I wish we were done with 9/11 and the awfulness it engendered. Please, God.

For more on this poem and the circumstances of its writing, take a look at the original blog post in which it appeared.

Won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments."

Ingat, everyone. Peace.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Wild Nights, Wild Nights

First poem after April's poem-a-day hullabaloo. Dedicated to Kathy Lawrence, my lovely muse.   ;-)

P O E M   R E M O V E D

while being submitted for publication.

Please come back later. The poem may
return at some time in the future.

Thank you!

Again a terzaiku sonnet: haiku stanzas rhymed in terza rima. Many thanks to Emily Dickinson for the post title I nicked.

Friends, won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 30 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 30. One of the hallmarks of my "teenagehood" was the slogan of the youth movement of the '60s: "Don't trust anyone over 30." This turned out to be a severe irony of youth because all those people eventually turned 30 (who'll you trust then, Mac) and surely most of them are now double 30. Mick Jagger, for example, will be turning 70 soon. Who'd a-thunk it? He's still doing live performances with the Rolling Stones but now keeps a tank of oxygen just offstage so he can keep up his energetic on-stage persona.

In today's last NaPoWriMo prompt, Maureen Thorson suggests, "Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite. . . . Your first draft of this kind of opposite poem will likely need a little polishing" (NaPoWriMo). Robert Lee Brewer's final Poem-a-Day Challenge assignment is the usual "Two-for-Tuesday prompt . . . a finished poem [or] a never finished poem" (Poetic Asides).

I have assigned Maureen's prompt to my poetry students in the past, so I know it works, but I just wasn't in the proper mood for this prompt today. Similarly, Robert's prompt is interesting, and his sample attempt at a poem responding to the prompt cleverly includes both themes of unfinished and never-to-be finished. But his prompt didn't click for me either, so I struck out on my own today.

Epiphany While Laying Out

                                        for Kathy

I can't recall now if I was invited,
or if I just happened to come upon you
catching some rays out front on your new lawn
at the little apartment you'd recently rented
for the summer. Soon I was next to you,
both in swimsuits, while you stifled a yawn.

You were holding a torch for our classmate Red.
I was so dazzled by your plum bikini and the sun.
"I’m gonna take a shower," you said. I asked to
join you and you smiled yes. I knew then you wanted
                much more than a tan.

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

How do you like that? It's been at least 30 years, maybe more, since I've written one of these — a curtal sonnet á là Gerard Manley Hopkins (like his poem "Pied Beauty"). Though I imagine Father Gerard wouldn't much appreciate what I've done with the form he invented to praise the Lord. But love is love, right?

Okay, that's the end of National Poetry Month 2013. Hope you've enjoyed not just my 30 poems but also the others that have appeared all over the blogosphere. Congrats to all my fellow NaPoWriMo poets and Poem-a-Day Challengers. See you all here next April?

Won't you comment below, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 29 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 29. Couldn't find much of interest about the number 29, except to follow up what I said yesterday. 29 is the number of days in the month of February 25% of the time.   ;-)

Moving on to National Poetry Month concerns. Maureen Thorson's prompt today: write a poem that uses "at least five words in other languages" (NaPoWriMo). Robert Lee Brewer's prompt: "take a line from one of your poems (preferably one of your April poems), make it the title of poem today, and then, write the poem" (Poetic Asides).

I tried all day to make these two prompts work, together or apart. Searched my April poems for a suitable line or phrase to make into a title. No luck. The "other languages" notion in Maureen's prompt led me to a vaguely remembered scene in the university dorm where Kathy and I met, but no "five words in other languages" except for place names, at best. No way this poem is done, pretty much an early draft. An unrhymed haiku sonnet. Anyway, here you go.


First time I saw you,
Kath, was at an Eigenmann
tenth floor meet-up thing.

and grad students' dorm "blind date."
Kuwait, Tennessee,

Afghanistan, Rome —
name a place, we were from there.
I glimpsed your brown mane,

your freckles, green eyes
shyly turned when you saw me.
First time our eyes met . . .

turquoise and brown slid apart
then locked: destiny, kismet.

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

Pretty raw. I'd love to hear if you think this sonnet could be a keeper. Let me know in a comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 28 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 28. Four weeks exactly. Two fortnights. 28 is the maximum number of days in February 75% of the time. But let's get back to April . . .

And so the gurus of April today. Robert Lee Brewer says, "write a shadorma. For those new to the shadorma, it’s a fun little 6-line poem that follows this syllable count: 3/5/3/3/7/5." Here's Maureen Thorson's prompt: "Today, I’d like you to pick a color. How many synonyms are there for your color (e.g., green, chartreuse, olive, veridian)? Is your color associated with a specific mood (e.g., red = passion, rage, blue = hope, truth)."

I've written six shadormas today, all on the color blue, specifically blue (or near blue) flowers. Hope you enjoy them!

Morning Glory
(Ipomoea purpurea)

Sky weeps tears,
blue at each new dawn.
Tight spirals
unfurl small
aquamarine nebulas,
bright indigo stars.

Canterbury Bellflowers
(Campanula medium)

Canterbury bells
peal blue songs
from tall stalks,
their campaniles of cobalt:
come, see, sniff, love, dream.

English Iris
(Iris latifolia)

Blue Iris
sticks her yellow-streaked
tongues way out,
plus la belle
clown of the flora circus,
ravishing trickster.
Bitter Nightshade
(Solanum dulcamara)

Star-shaped blooms—
called blue bindweed too
—stay away!
Berries like
soft plump juicy tomatoes
are Snow White apples.

Meadow Sage
(Salvia pratensis)

Latin name suggests
slim towers
of ultramarine reaching
high to blue heavens.

Sky Blue Asters
(Aster oolentangiensis)

Faces turned
skyward, asters seek
bright blue star,
one true ruler, messiah,
lone primeval root.

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

Man, those shadormas are tough. Kinda claustrophobic: those 3-syllable lines are so small. The 7-syllable penultimate line feels like a domed stadium! Anyway, that's the end of Day 28 for me. Two days to go. See you tomorrow?

Won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

Morning Glory
English Iris

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 27 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 27. Love this number. 27 = 33 = 3 x 3 x 3. 3 3's multiplied together. 3 3's = magical.

27 is an interesting coincidental in rock 'n' roll: "Many talented and famous rock/blues musicians died at age 27. These include Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Ron McKernan, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. The musicians who died at this age are often referred to as the 27 Club" (Wikipedia).

I knew about Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain being 27 at their deaths but didn't know about the others' 27-ness, especially Ron McKernan, "Pigpen" of the Grateful Dead, the person who first suggested putting together that band. Of the musicians in the 27 Club, Pigpen is the only one I've seen in person. As a kid growing up in San Francisco, I used to see Pigpen now and then in my neighborhood, i.e., the Haight-Ashbury district.

It just occurred to me that I lied, albeit inadvertently. I didn't know about Janis Joplin's 27-ness, though I might have at some point. What I was incorrect about was that Pigpen wasn't the only person I've laid eyes on. I used to see Janis on the streets of the Haight also, perhaps more often even because she was so see-able, so visually striking. And I used to see both of them frequently on stage, on flatbed trucks in Golden Gate Park or The Panhandle.

Okay, on to today's prompts. On the Poetic Asides stage, DJ Robert Lee Brewer says, "write a mechanical poem. Either you’re mechanically-inclined, or you’re like me and hit things to make them work after they break (which, by the way, rarely works)."

At the NaPoWriMo turntables, DJ Maureen Thorson says, "Think of a common proverb or phrase — something like 'All that glitters is not gold,' or 'If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.' Then plug the first three words of the phrase into a search engine. Skim through the first few pages of results, collecting (rather like a poetic magpie) words and phrases that interest you. Then use those words and phrases as the inspirations (and some of the source material) for a new poem."

The phrase I worked with was "take for granted" and I learned a lot from googling that: what (or whom) we take for granted, how we do it, why . . . as well as why and how we are taken for granted. Fascinating. So here's my prose poem á là Maureen, with a little dash of Robert in there, one mechanics-oriented section.

P O E M   R E M O V E D

while being submitted for publication.

Please come back later. The poem may
return at some time in the future.

Thank you!

Okay, just three more NaPoWriMo/PAD days left after midnight. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 26 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 26. Two baker's dozens. 26 is also half a deck of cards, meaning there are 26 red cards and 26 black cards. Finally, as I'm sure we all know, 26 is the "number of spacetime dimensions in bosonic string theory" (Wikipedia).

In today's prompts, Robert Lee Brewer suggests "a casting poem. Casting can take on several meanings, including casting a spell, casting a line (such as in fishing), casting the actors in a play, and I suppose even the act of creating a cast." (Poetic Asides).

Maureen Thorson proposes an erasure poem: making a found poem from someone else's text by "systematically eras[ing] whole words and even lines, while maintaining the relative position of the remaining words" (NaPoWriMo).

There's a website that helps a would-be "erasure poet" by providing texts to erase. You use your mouse to turn words in a text "on or off," that is, visible or erased. This website, "Erasures," is sponsored by Wave Books. Give it a try . . . lots of fun.

Interesting as both Maureen's and Robert's prompts are, I opted for another terzaiku sonnet, a love poem. Once again, haiku stanzas rhymed in terza rima, interlocking aba bcb cdc ded ee. The last stanza is a couplet, 7 syllables in each line. Here we go.

The Summer Before
We Broke Up, 1983

                                              for Kathy

"Lift up your chin, Kath.
Shoulders to the left a bit.
Perfect! One, two —" click.

You gasped. "You promised
you would shoot on three!" We laughed
then tenderly kissed.

Back home in SF,
the photo clerk said, "Just bad
chemicals. We’ll give

you free film." I had
only sun-glint on your face —
mind’s camera — that

lovely chin you shyly raised.
One two click. Soft precious kiss.

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

Okay, friends, four days left in National Poetry Month. Incredible how quickly it's gone by.

Won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 25 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 25. 5/6 of the way through National Poetry Month. 5 squared. 5 times 5. 25 is the first number mentioned in the title of one of my favorite Chicago songs: "25 or 6 to 4." I was 18 when that song came out in 1970 and I learned Terry Kath's bravura guitar solo in it by listening to the record over and over, working out the solo note by note. Even now, 43 years later, Kath's influence on my lead guitar playing continues to be substantial.

Here are today's "official" prompts. Maureen Thorson proposes trying a ballad. She notes "sub-genres . . . including the sentimental ballad (think 'Danny Boy'), the gruesome murder ballad, and of course, the power ballad. The form's come a long way from the folk songs with which it began, but the narrative aspect of the ballad remains intact. . . . If you have any musical talent, it might be fun to try and actually make a tune for your ballad!" (NaPoWriMo).

Robert Lee Brewer suggests an "Everyone . . ." title today. "Possible titles could include: 'Everyone Thinks I'm Crazy,' 'Everyone Knows the World Is Round,' 'Everyone Needs to Leave Me Alone,' or whatever it is that everyone is doing (or not doing)" (Poetic Asides).

My ballad titled "Everyone . . ." today is a parody of a well-known '60s song recorded by Jimi Hendrix, "Hey Joe." This song doesn't follow ballad meter but does feature what Maureen called "the narrative aspect of the ballad." If you don't know the song "Hey Joe," it might be a good idea to listen to it before you read the poem so you can catch on to what I'm lampooning.

Everyone Knows "Hey Joe"

                  —apologies to Jimi

Hey Joe, where you goin'
with that bun in your hand?
Hey Joe, I said where you goin'
with that bun in your hand?

I'm goin' down to the bakery.
The bun is rotten, my friend.
Yeah, I'm goin' down to the bakery.
The damn bun is rotten, my friend.

Hey Joe, I heard you took
that rotten bun back.
Hey Joe, I heard you took
that old rotten bun back.

Yes, I did, went down there,
but they wouldn't give my money back.
I said, Yes, I did, went down there,
but they wouldn't give my money back.

Hey Joe, what you gonna do?
Where are you gonna go?
Hey Joe, what you gonna do now?
Where are you gonna go?

To the Better Business Bureau,
where I'll lodge a formal complaint.
Oh yeah, to the Better Business Bureau,
and I'll lodge me a formal complaint.

Ain't no one gone mess with me there.
Ain't no baker gone dismiss me.
Ain't no one gone mess with me there, no.
Ain't no baker gone dismiss me.

I'll go back to the bakery
where they’ll give me a bun for free.
I'll go back to the bakery, yeah,
and they gone give me a bun for free.

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

Okay, that's it for Day 25. Won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

P.S.  Remember a few days ago, on Day 19 I showed you the NaPoWriMo cover photo I created for my facebook? I thought I'd show you the current one I put together. Much calmer and more easy-going.

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 24 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day Two-Four. Let's see, 24 hours in a day, 24-carat gold. Of course, 24, the TV action series starring Kiefer Sutherland in which each episode comprised the 24 hours of a single day. And from our childhoods, the 24 blackbirds in the nursery-rhyme pie. I remember being freaked out by that as a child. I didn't have trouble with the blackbirds being cooked, but then they would sing. So they were still alive after being baked. Horrifying!

Okay, here are today's prompts. Robert Lee Brewer suggests we "write an auto poem. Auto could mean automobile, automatic, automaton, or any number of possibilities" (Poetic Asides). Maureen Thorson proposes we "think about words buried in words. In particular, think about the words buried in your own name. Plug your name into an anagram generator, like this one, and try writing a self-portrait poem using words that are generated" (NaPoWriMo).


              self-portrait using
              only letters in my name
              without repeating

ace action active
age antic aortic arc
argent avenger

centavo cento
conga creation ego
garnet gear genie

giant gnat granite
grieve grin grit icon iron
native neat nectar

never no novice
o ocean orca ova
overnice rain range

raven reaction
regain reign rent rice riven
rivet taco tag

tang tango tea tear
tiger tinge toga tonic
trace tragic train trance

triage trio vain
vector veering vegan vein
vent verge vertigo

veteran veto
victor vigor vinegar
vino vintage voice

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

I tried to do both prompts, as usual. I used only words that can be made of letters in my name, not probably what Maureen meant quite. So there's no syntax per se, only the overlapping of meaning zones around each word. As each word appears, it adds its aura to that of the others, and they bounce around a bit, like free magnets aligning themselves into force patterns. I also kept them in alphabetical order — my specific alphabet, in a way — which serves as a matrix holding each word in place but floating. That the words are also bound within haiku syllable-count restrictions also affects the overall sense.

Did you notice by the way that there are 24 lines in the poem? Though there are 9 haiku. How was that possible, do you think?

Very interesting to be constrained by using only the letters in one's name. Of course, we are affected every day by the 26 letters in the English alphabet. The Filipino alphabet, in contrast, has an extra letter ng that sounds like the English ng but can be used as an initial consonant; an English speaker learning Filipino would have trouble with a word like "Ingat" that I end my blog posts with. In the Filipino alphabet there is no letter f so a Filipino learning English would have difficulty with a word like "father."

There are fewer consonants and vowels in one's "auto-alphabet"; in mine, there are only 6 consonants c, g, n, r, t, and v. All the vowels except u. So it's an alphabet poem but one that comes from an idiosyncratic alphabet. Fun, hey?

Okay, we're 4/5 done with National Poetry Month. Won't you comment, please? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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 23, 2013

Day 23 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013

Day 23. Today is Shakespeare's birthday, born 1564. Had he been an Old Testament patriarch, he would be turning 449 today. Or maybe if he was Methuselah's lesser-known sibling, then four and a half centuries would be a walk in the park.

Maureen Thorson prompts us today to write a triolet, an old medieval French form that has continued to be written through the centuries, though it's quite rare in our time (NaPoWriMo). Robert Lee Brewer's customary "Two-for-Tuesday prompt" suggests writing "a love poem" and/or "an anti-love poem" (Poetic Asides).

Now you know I tackled both prompts, right? Doing both today was a walk in the park. Out of Robert's two roads diverging in a yellow wood, I chose this path: the love poem road, driving a Chevy Triolet.

Tryst in a Safe Place, 1983
for Kathy
Stealing kisses in the ironing room,
that's when I fell in love with you.
When you and I lived in the dorm,
stealing kisses in a common room
was unheard of. But I knew no one
ironed any more: perfect place to
steal kisses. In that ironing room
we fell in love, just me and you.

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

Kind of a "stretchy" triolet. I took a lot of liberties with the form. Could I get you to comment about that? Look for a blue link below that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that starts "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, everyone.   ;-)

POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

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