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Photo and Poem

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Actually, the poem came first.  The photo is an illustration.  It shows approximately the view through the window by my desk, which inspired the poem.

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Rest

Rock walls bound my back yard,
the gray of weathered wood
or a sensible suit, the no-color
of dust on the long disused.
At first, planting my garden,
I thought the walls dull, conceived
a plan to paint their flat stones
southwest yellow or Mexican red.

My limited skill prevented me
from adding such loud color.
The company of a young tree,
tall grasses, suits this border;
I’d have ruined a place of rest,
the calm of gray without pretense.

 

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Sin Fronteras Issue #21 is Out

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As one of the poetry editors for Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal, I am very happy to report that this year’s issue is now out.

sf 210001The cover art is by Tom Holland (www.tomhollandsouthwestart.com)

This issue includes poetry by:
Michael Berton, Zoë Bird, Terry Blanchard, Janet Cannon, Blair Cooper, Beth Copeland, Erin Cummiskey, Ruth Deming, Claudette Franzoy , Grace Marie Grafton, Richard Green, Kenneth Gurney, Lois Marie Harrod, Lisa Hase-Jackson, Terry Hertzler, Diane Kendig, Sandra Kolankiewicz, Jane Lipman, Nadine Lockhart, Eileen Malone, John Mannone, Jayne Marek, Carolyn Martin, Angela McCabe, LeeAnn Meadows, Mary Oertel-Kirschner, Marilyn O’Leary, Simon Perchik, Claire Scott, Michael G. Smith, Joseph Somoza, Joanne Townsend, Frank Varela, Phyllis Wax, Sarah Brown Weitzman, Michelle Wing, and Matt Zambito

And prose by Reuben Sanchez, Robert Joe Stout and Bill Vernon.

We think we’ve got some good writing here.  To find out more, go to http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com.

Poems on Line

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I have three poems in a brand new online journal, the Ibis Head Review

http://www.theibisheadreview.com/eryoung-sep2016.html

The three poems, “Burned” “Pulled” and “Congruent” are poems I want to include in a book manuscript which includes some very personal poems about my childhood, education and parenting.  (These three fit that later section.)

“Pulled” for example begins,

Tulips are intractable, the wedding florist
says, “They bend as they please,
don’t use them.”

The poem describes the years of a couple largely, not entirely, like my own marriage, and ends:

Fingerprints washed from door sills,
the wall reattached to the flooring, she
discovers they bend toward each other.

I have a second reason for liking this publication.  The masthead for Ibis Head Review uses the Egyptian hieroglyph of an ibis (not, fortunately, just his head).  I have a fondness for all things pertaining to ancient Egypt.

Have a look.

 

 

Written Words in Silver City, New Mexico

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This past weekend I attended the South West Festival of the Written Word in Silver City. Silver City has a lovely compact old downtown, preserved partly by the collapse of main street into a flooding river over 100 years ago. It is now a big ditch.P1000639

Across the ditch from the visitor’s center is an area of art galleries, coffee shops, antique stores and a few other services, on sloping streets and sidewalks with huge steps at some of the corners.  There are even a couple of small independent hotels.  I stayed at the Murray Hotel. P1000629

The Festival of the Written Word is an enormous undertaking. I was told the steering committee consists of 24 volunteers, and many more assist at the event. There were as many as four events – readings, panels, lectures, etc.- going on at once, and one could easily walk from one to another.  At Javelina coffee shop I heard two young poets lamenting lost languages.P1000635

At the Old Elks Lodge, Demetria Martinez talked about writing and activism.P1000634

Later, several writers gathered in the same place to discuss their inspirations and their frustrations.

A sample of the mix of art and artifacts inside Elks Lodge.

A sample of the mix of art and artifacts inside Elks Lodge.

Many local businesses supported the event by hosting programs. At Seedboat Gallery I listened to two poets: Simon Ortiz read about injustices suffered by his Navaho people and the trials of Vietnam vets; Jules Nyquist shared her work in progress about nuclear weapons and their influences.P1000632

And those were just one person’s choices on one day. Between events I noticed some of the decorated walls around town. One building features native shapes.P1000636

Another looks like a Mondrian.P1000638

This weekend event is held every other year. I am looking forward to the next one in 2017.

Remixing Kenneth Goldsmith

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Kenneth Goldsmith has an essay in a recent issue of Poetry called “I Look to Theory Only When I Realize That Somebody Has Dedicated Their Entire Life to a Question I Have Only Fleetingly Considered.”    It is in the form of one and two line comments, with an occasional paragraph thrown in.  The topic is art, particularly poetry, and modern internet culture.  I should say the topics are, among other things, poetry and the internet.  The statements vary widely.  The essay is 14 ½ pages long.  Among the one liners are these:

”Sampling and citation are but boutique forms of appropriation.”

“Remixing is often mistaken for appropriation.”

So I’m calling this “remixing” because he makes it sound better.  But I’m really picking a few statements to comment on.

He writes, ”If you’re not making art with the intention of having it copied, you’re not really making art for the twenty-first century.”

So I think he would approve of this copying of his words.  Though this is not copying.  True copying would be reblogging, a favorite way of circulating material on the internet.

In a similar vein, many pages later, he writes: “When the art world can produce something as compelling as Twitter, we’ll start paying attention to it again.”  Who is this “we”?  He’s already paying attention to what he says isn’t working, is he not?

“All language presenting itself as new is recycled.  No word is virginal; no word is innocent.”  Well, duh!  If words didn’t have histories how could we (my “we”  is myself and you, the reader, here) use them to communicate.  Consider the failure of created languages.  When did you last read about Esperanto?

“Poetry as we know it―the penning of sonnets or free verse on a printed page― feels more akin to the practice of throwing pottery or weaving [sic] quilts, artisanal activities that continue in spite of their marginality and cultural irrelevance.”  I guess there’s no way to know how many bloggers are drinking artisanal coffee in hand-crafted mugs while they write their posts.  These are certainly not separate sets.  And as for piecing quilts, this activity seems continually to fold up and spread out again, like fabric over a bed.

He’s made a very gender-biased statement.  More women than men quilt.  Do more women than men care what mugs they drink from?  Has anyone figured out the ratio of men to women in the blogosphere?  Do more men or more women spend time putting their ideas out in cyberspace?

Enough.  I cut this essay from the magazine hoping to find poems out of playing with his 14 ½ pages of language about language and art.  Maybe not: too much theory.

Upcoming Readings in the North

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Northern New Mexico, that is.  I am scheduled to do two readings from my book, Made and Remade, at independent bookstores in Santa Fe and Albuquerque during April.Paley front cover

I’ll be in Santa Fe on Saturday, April 11, at 3:00 p.m. at op.cit. books, Sanbusco Center, 500 Montezuma Ave.

I’ll be in Albuquerque on Saturday, April 25, at 3:00 p.m. at BOOKWORKS, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW.

If you’re in either area on the day I’m reading, please come by and say hello.

The poems in Made and Remade respond to William Paley’s book, Natural Theology, published in 1802.  Famous for his analogy, “suppose I had found a watch upon the ground . . . the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker . . . .,” the book presents Paley’s case for creation by design.  As cracks developed in a once coherent world view, we are left with patches and pieces – the material of poetry – with which to make meaning.  The poems move in many directions, reflecting on how much has changed in 200 years.

Dreaming

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I have a poem in the just released issue of the online magazine Melusine.

It’s called “Floor Plans,” but what it’s mostly about is dreams, the daydreams of a child and the night dream of an adult.

Melusine is an elegant site, nicely organized.  I recommend it: http://www.melusine21cent.com/mag/current.

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