Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quotes on Poetry

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
--William Butler Yeats

Poems are just stories...with the boring parts left out.
--W. H. Auden

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
--T. S. Eliot

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.

A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.
--Salman Rushdie

I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world.
--Russell Baker

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.
--Robert Graves

Poetry is to philosophy what the Sabbath is to the rest of the week.
--Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

Poetry is life distilled.
--Gwendolyn Brooks

Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does.
--Allen Ginsberg

Poetry is a journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.
--Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Poetry Gets a Bad Rap, but Both are Spoken Words

Poetry isn't bad rap, good rap is poetry. I got the rap on poetry; life imprisonment.

Poetry began as an oral tradition, part of the lives of working people and ruling people. It was a part of relating oral history, stories, myths, genealogy, law, and liturgy. Gradually, it became a practice more common in academia than in everyday life. Despite rap and slam poetry (which have done much to popularize spoken word), poetry is now often said to be obsolete. That's just silly. It is as vibrant as ever.

I love poetry for the same reasons I love other art forms: the feelings it evokes; its ability to teach and uplift; the appreciation of human similarities and differences it gives; beauty; the sense of awe and community it fosters; its humor; the transcendence amidst suffering it offers.

I feel passionately that poetry can be as accessible as any other art form. As in music, movies, painting, sculpture, photography, and dance, there is great variety in spoken word; but, perhaps because of the way it is taught, or lack of exposure, many people believe they don’t like poetry and poetry is not relevant to them. I believe many people can appreciate poetry but have not yet found the kind they like.

That's a wrap.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Writers on Writing

I'm interested in why and how other people write. Check out these resources for ideas on writer's block, allowing yourself to write badly and other struggles in writing and living.

Writing Resources & Advice

To pick out a book to read that's appropriate to your current mood, try: Forager. Book Browse. All Readers. Bibloiomania. Read the dictionary, or, at least, look up new words: Oxford English Dictionary. Webster's Online Dictionary & Thesaurus.

Use your local library. Use the internet (with salt and pepper); try Wikipedia. Avoid literary scams.

Find Community
Poets and Writer's Magazine. PEN. (See the sidebar for some of my local communities.)

Play with Language
World Wide Words. Translating Dictionaries.

Question Authority
Q & A.

Please Yourself
The Bulwer-Lytton Contest. Exquisite Corpse, the writing game. Poetry for Pleasure. Write erotica.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Arts Community

Seattle has a vibrant arts scene, and there are many worthy readings and open mics. I like to mix it up sometimes, but I do tend to frequent some venues more than others. For me, it's half about poetry/performance (or music) and half about community.

Last Monday night I hit Bai Pai, a Thai restaurant in Ravenna. The open mic is hosted by Jed Myers and includes music, poetry, and much cross-pollinating improvisation. I saw friends, met new people, and had a lovely late evening. A few of us swapped poems and read each others' work. It can be a little intimidating to read an author's work when she or he is in the audience, but it's also very rewarding. And I got a huge kick out of listening to others perform my work. Aaron did a lovely reading of "Milkman's Holiday" and Jed turned "Three Cheers for Dumb!" into a funny blues song, performed Lou Reed style. They both got me to thinking about my own work in a new way, which was very refreshing.

Friday, March 02, 2007


is part of every writer's life
isn't personal
is a rite of passage
can contain valuabe feedback
doesn't mean you should give up
means you are sending your work out
is nothing to be ashamed of
has been suffered by many great, published authors

People say all this and more about rejection. But rejection still feels bad.

Here are a couple other looks at rejection:
Interview with Angela J. Fountas... "rejections usually fall into one of three categories: (1) work isn't ready for publication, (2) work is ready for publication but not right for the anthology/magazine, or (3) work is ready for publication and came very close, but the other x number of pieces being considered won out when the editors duked it out in their editorial meeting."

"Rejection Letter from Gertrude Stein" - poem by Marjorie Manwaring (or listen to her read it - 26 minutes into the show

The Rejection Collection website