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“For Love of Lit” Reading, February 28

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Reblogged from http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com for my local followers.

Sin Fronteras (the organization, not the Journal), in conjunction with Artforms, is sponsoring a poetry reading Saturday, February 28, 1-3 p.m. at the Branigan Cultural Center (Swartz Room), 500 N. Water St. in Las Cruces.  The reading, “For the Love of Lit,” will be part of For the Love of Art celebration.  The following poets will be reading:  Win Jacobs, Michael Mandel, Catherine McGeehan, Lee Ann Meadows, Joseph Somoza, Tim Staley, Gerry Stork, Dick Thomas, Joanne Townsend, Frank Varela, and Ellen Roberts Young.  The reading is free and open to the public.

February has been “For the Love of Art” month in Las Cruces for many years.  This is the fourth or fifth annual “For Love of Lit”  reading.  The readers are local poets who may or may not be connected with the Journal.

Issue #19 of the Journal has just gone to the printer and should be out in about a month.

Ft. Craig, Part II: Long Term Rivalry

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Ft. Craig sits on the western side of the Rio Grande.  In this photo the river is hiding below that dark line, where the land drops to the river’s level, and soon rises to the mesa on the other side.rio grande

To the west, there is mesa for some distance to the mountains.  These mountains are one set of geologically recent protrusions which have pushed up at intervals, scattered across the landscape.  This view is taken from a lookout site at the top of one of the large storage structures.366west warmer

These photos are closer to what I experienced as the color of the land and bushes than the ones I posted in my previous post.

And to the north is Black Mesa.  On the north side of Black Mesa one of the important battles of the Civil War in New Mexico took place.  The site is Val Verde, a set of arroyos and streams that drain into the Rio Grande.  The Confederate troops came up the eastern side of the mesa; the troops from Ft. Craig went up on the western side.black mesa 3.warmer

While the regular soldiers fought, New Mexico Volunteers, led by Kit Carson, held the fort.  The South won the battle, but the New Mexicans would not give up the fort.  The Confederate troops did not have enough resources to lay siege, so they withdrew.

The Battle of Val Verde took place on February 21, 1862.  On March 28 that same year, the Confederates lost a battle at Glorieta Pass, near Santa Fe, and their push to control the west was over.

I wondered why the New Mexicans were so supportive of the government from far away.  I was told it was because the Texans had already made a grab for New Mexico land earlier.

Kit Carson Slept Here (maybe)

Kit Carson Slept Here (maybe)

This rivalry continues.  I heard two instances of it just last week.  In a meeting about education in the state and financing, the new PARCC testing was discussed.  This testing is created by the Pearson company.  How much are they benefitting from adoption of this testing?  The question was asked “How much money is going to Texas?” where Pearson is based.

On another occasion, in a discussion of Voter I.D. laws a researcher, whose work had led a Texas judge to decide against a new law for that state, got a big laugh when he said, “Let’s see what we can learn from Texas.”

New Mexicans around here go down to El Paso often.  Some even work there.  But they still like to put down Texas.  After all, the Texans did try to take our land.

Ft. Craig, Part I: Ruins

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I drove up to Santa Fe to visit the Legislature this past week.  When I make a trip like that I think it is good to mix some pleasure with business, so I stopped at a historic site I hadn’t been to before.  Ft. Craig is near the Rio Grande roughly 100 miles north of Las Cruces.  It is located just south of Black Mesa, which was a landmark from the earliest years of Spanish travel into what is now New Mexico.  The Rio Grande curls around the mesa.

Black Mesa

Black Mesa

Ft. Craig was the largest of several forts built around the time of the Civil War, partly because of the war, partly to secure the area for people moving in to territory which had been acquired by the United States in 1848.  This fort was in use from 1854 to 1885.  Most of the buildings were built of adobe which has collapsed.  A guardhouse was built of stone.guard house

The remaining walls of the commanding officer’s quarters have been covered with material to preserve them.   Paths have been created by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, which has jurisdiction of this property) around the parade ground which doesn’t look like one anymore.

Parade Ground

Parade Ground

Some mounds turn out to be walls.

Wall

Wall

Other walls remind me of Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” poem.  I associate this poem with ruins like this because there are wall long & signmany collapsing territory-marking walls back east in what is now woodland.  “Something there is that does not love a wall,” I used to think as I walked a section of the Appalachian or the Horseshoe Trail.  Yet parts of them persist.storeroom above

Adobe work can be seen in a set of large storage buildings, which were buried in dirt after construction, the only way to keep things cool in hot New Mexico summers.

Storeroom

Storeroom

I took so many pictures I’ll save a few for my next post.  And maybe before then I can figure out how to correct the color in these photos.  The yellow of the grass and the green of the bushes do not come through as they should.  New Mexico is not really this purple.

Anniversary and More

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The Biography

The Biography

Today, February 8 completes three years on this blog.  It has had its busy and its slack times, but I’ve enjoyed it all.

I began this blog to publicize my biography of John Emerson Roberts. This was one piece of an effort which involved a variety of Linked In Groups and even Linked In Ads, as well as connecting with other bloggers.

I named this blog “Freethought and Metaphor” in part because I hoped that I would in

My new poetry collection

My new poetry collection

future have poetry books to advertise – and now I have one.  I realized as soon as I came up with the title that these are indeed two sides of my mind, as my subhead says.  My left brain thinks about ideas and my right brain creates poetic material.  Sometimes these two sides cooperate, sometimes they wander down different trails.  And there are times when my left brain pretends to cooperate but really wants to run the show.  Those times do no produce successful poems.

Humans are bilateral, but who really had only two sides?  A third place where I put my energy is work on hunger and justice issues.  There are disputes about what constitutes justice, but most people agree on what hunger is, even when it is hidden under fancy names like “food insecurity.”

I was delighted to discover Word Soup, an organization which uses poetry to support hungry people by asking for a small donation to their local food bank to accompany submissions.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to combine these two usually separate parts of my mind.  They accepted two of my poems, which can be found at: http://wordsoup.weebly.com/issue-five-february-2015.html

My father-in-law used to count his age not by years completed, but by the year he was in.  He was well into his 99th year when he died.  Today is not the end of three years for this blog.  It is the beginning of the fourth year.  And I plan to keep going, though I have no plan laid out for it.

Please check back to see what I come up with.  And check out my books on the Books page.

Happy Feast of Brighid

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I thought of calling this post “Stupid Groundhog” but why be so negative?  That “Will there be six more weeks of winter?” question was meaningless back in Pennsylvania, where I knew I couldn’t get out in the garden until late March – and then only on good days.  It is equally meaningless here in the desert southwest where this is the beginning of spring.  But I suppose there must be some place where the question is worth asking.

I’ve celebrated the Feast of Brighid instead for several years now.  She is a Celtic goddess who is also a patron saint of poetry and smithcraft,  I use this date as a moment to consider what I’ve accomplished since the solstice, and ask whether there’s anything I’d like to do differently in the approximately six weeks until the spring equinox, that official start of spring.  Working for myself, I don’t have any deadlines to speak of, so a check-up point seems like a good idea.  But, since an artist never really knows where she’s going, it is all approximate.

One thing I do know.  This is the date when I realize that once again I am behind on the garden work.  So many plants should be cut back in January, I never get to them all.

Close up of rosemary branches that need to be cut back.

Close up of rosemary branches that need to be cut back.

After the Snow

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We had a serious snowstorm – for southern New Mexico – last week.  The Superintendent of Schools didn’t think it was bad enough to close schools, with the result that there were five or seven children in classes that officially numbered 20.  They ended up closing early.  Two days later, everywhere the sun could reach had melted.  The shady areas took a few days longer.

I went out to see how the garden had fared in the snow.  The parsley was very happy.  parsleyThe rosemary decided it’s time to start blooming.rosemary flowerI decided to bring a few branches indoors to add some green to my study.  rosemary in vaseI hadn’t thought about how much rosemary looks like an evergreen tree until I started working with these close-ups.  It’s leaves are like fir or spruce.  And I found one source on odors of herbs in cooking, which calls rosemary “piney.”   Looking at the vase of rosemary in my study, I started playing with these ideas.

An untitled work in progress

What’s rosemary to you?  When Ophelia
said “remembrance” I pictured
a soft leaf to brush against the cheek,
not this sturdy stiff-needled bush.
This kind of memory stays green,
refuses to go away, an ugly scene
replaying from an old movie.

Words From Mary Ruefle

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“Metaphor is not, and never has been, a mere literary term.  It is an event. . . .   If you believe that metaphor is an event, and not just a literary term denoting comparison, then you must conclude that a certain philosophy arises: the philosophy that everything in the world is connected.”
(“Madness, Rack and Honey,” p. 131)

“Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.  If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?”
(“Someone Reading a Book Is a Sign of Order in the World,” p. 191)

“A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”
(“Kangaroo Beach,” p. 222)

“I remember “remember” means to put the arms and legs back on, and sometimes the head.”
(“I Remember, I Remember,” p. 245)

SHORT LECTURE IN THE FORM OF A COURSE DESCRIPTION
My idea for a class is you just sit in the classroom and read aloud until everyone is smiling, and then you look around, and if someone is not smiling you ask them why, and then you keep reading―it may take many different books―until they start smiling, too.”
(“Twenty-two Short Lectures,” p. 255)

“When students are searching for their voice, they are searching for poetry.  When they find their voice, they will have found poetry.  When they find poetry, they will live to regret it.”
(“Twenty-two Short Lectures,” p. 259)

“I will tell you that if you think I know something or anything, I am just pretending to know as a way to pass the time.  Personally I think we should all be in our rooms writing.”
(“Lectures I Will Never Give,” p. 279)

These statements come from Mary Ruefle’s book of lectures/essays, Madness, Rack and Honey. There is plenty more in the book to savor, ponder, and even question―or to play with as a prompt, if you like.  Ruefle is a complex person, as these samples suggest, and she doesn’t worry about smoothing over complexities or contradictions.

Ruefle has published several books of poetry.  She is also known for “erasures” in which she takes a printed page and removes all but a few scattered words to make her artistic statement.  See http://www.maryruefle.com.

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