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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stalking the Stanza

Recently, listening to Rebecca Farivar's Break the Line podcast, I heard an interview with filmmaker and poet Ram Devineni, about a web series he directed, called Verse: A Murder Mystery (available at Koldcast TV online).

The web series follows a poet who stumbles upon a part of a manuscript of a(nother) murdered poet. The hero of the series then proceeds to solve the 30-year-old mystery surrounding her death by using clues out of her poems to identify her stalker and killer. Apparently the series scriptwriter, herself a poet, actually wrote a complete poetry manuscript in the persona of the murdered poet, and said manuscript is downloadable, should you become that involved in the series. Farivar points out that some of the poems in the manuscript don't have anything to do with the stalking/murder, as a poet would naturally write about many different subjects, so you don't have to worry that reading it will spoil your enjoyment of the series, as the clues are thus not obvious.

All episodes are available online free of charge. So far there are seven episodes available, and I haven't finished watching, so I don't know if that's the entire series or where more will be posted later. But I wanted to tell you, as it could be something interesting to watche this summer.

Extras and trailers available at the Rattapallax YouTube Channel.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cover Cliches

Avid book readers will laugh aloud at these clichéd book covers from BuzzFeed UK, including the "spooky road to nowhere" and the "woman looking out over water" and the "child's sad face, handwriting font."

How many other cover clichés can you think of? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Terry Tempest Williams Interviewed

Terry Tempest Williams is a writer I admire more than almost any other: for her inimitable and insightful writing, for her reverence and passion for nature, and for her courageous response to her family's heritage, a heritage we share and have similar reactions against, though I have never been as courageous as Williams in that respect.

Lorraine Berry has interviewed Williams at the blog Talking Writing, and here are some quotes from the interview.

"Time for a writer translates into solitude. In solitude, we create. In solitude, we are read. If we’re lucky, our books create community having been written out of solitude. It’s a lovely paradox. It’s the creative tension that I live with: I write to create community, but in order to do so, I am pulled out of community. Solitude is a writer’s communion." Terry Tempest Williams

"TW: In When Women Were Birds, you write that the biblical Eve “exposed the truth of what every woman knows: to find our sovereign voice often requires a betrayal.”" Lorraine Berry, reading back to Williams a quote from her book

"Art can transform patterned thinking. It shows us what’s possible. It brings us home to ourselves, quietly, forcefully. Art disturbs." Terry Tempest Williams

These last two quotes remind of a time I wrote a poem that I was frightened to read afterward. Every time I read it I got a sick feeling in my stomach, a feeling that I was going to hell, even though I don't believe in hell. I can read that poem now without such a visceral reaction; I have come to accept the feelings and truths I accessed in the poem that had been buried so deeply inside me prior to that time. That's the kind of writing I aim for, but all too often fail to achieve.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Student Poetry Reading

I hosted a poetry reading today for my students. This semester they have studied many of the traditional Japanese poetic forms, including: the sendouka, the chouka, the mondouka, the haiku, the cirku, the lune, the tanka/waka, the renga/renku, the haibun, the haiga, the jisei, tanka prose, the senryuu, and the kasen. We learned about each of these formal traditions in Japanese (including their history), and also studied how they have been adapted for usage into English. Part of the way the students learned about these adaptations was to try writing each form in English. We had a unit on the problems of translating Japanese poems into English, and the students had a go at that as well. We also did various traditional games/activities based on the forms, including karuta (a card game based on tanka), a ginkou (a haiku walk), and renga games (timed writing of linked poems).

Today was the culmination of our class: each student had to read three poems at a reading (two original poems and one from the literature, which they may or may not have translated on their own). Many students chose to share visual poems such as haiga and cirku, and that was very gratifying for our audience. Each student also was responsible for giving our audience a brief explanation of one of the forms we studied.

For her senryuu assignment (a haiku-like poem which is often ironic, and sometimes sexual) one of my students wrote about the irony of learning about Japanese poetic forms in English from an American teacher, rather than in Japanese from a Japanese teacher. I enjoyed her poem, and felt I had really succeeded is helping her understand what irony was.

All in all I'd say the semester and today's reading were both successes, and I'd encourage other teachers of English in Japan to consider using Japanese poetic forms as a classroom device.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have refreshments at the end of the reading!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spike: Me on 3 Quarks Daily

Some days the number of people viewing my website spikes, and I don't know why. Sometimes I try to figure it out (though usually I'm too busy plus I have found that trying to figure it out is a waste of time anyway; plus it's just embarrassing to be looking for information about one's self). But I did just find that a spike last month was due to a poem of my being reposted (from Thrush Poetry Journal) to the very cool site 3 Quarks Daily. (They reposted the lack of a stanza break too. Oh well.)

So that's an exciting discovery. I still don't know what caused today's spike though, and may never find out......

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More on Long Poems

So a month after I blogged about journals that accept long poems, an intern at The Review Review compiles a list that looks suspiciously a whole lot like mine, plus a few extra.....Hmmmmmmm. Well. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that if she (spontaneously and completely on her own) pursued the same quest as I did, it's not surprising that she should get similar results.

So if you are still looking for a home for your long poem, enjoy this resource too.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Slippage: Math and Science in Literature

Today, via CRWOPPS, I learned of a new literary journal for "the confluence of science and art". It's called Slippage Literary Magazine, and its first online edition features poems by Bill Knott and Dave Bonta, as well as lots of visual work.

While many journals publish science- and/or mathematically-inspired art, this is the first one that I've that is devoted to the genre, although there are a number of anthologies (including Kurt Brown's Verse and Universe) and single-author collections available.

If you're interested, here's a blog about "mathematical poetry" by Kaz Maslanka. These tend towards the highly visual/representational, which is one end of the spectrum.

Or see my earlier posts about mathematics and poetry: Calling All Bards of the Binary Code, or What's Neat on the Net: Visual Edition.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vintage Japan

Taxi today features vintage photos of 19th century Japan with a stereo-optic twist. Enjoy this work from the collection of Okinawa Soba.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tracking the Muse

Blackbird has reinstated its "Tracking the Muse" feature, in which contributors to the journal, including Joshua Gottlieb-Miller and Corey van Landingham, comment on their creative processes. Cynthia Marie Hoffman follows a process similar to mine when working on a project (a series/cycle of poems), while other processes described contain new ideas for me.

I love reading these kinds of things. I'm not sure that they help my process in any particular way, but in general they give me a sense that there are writers out there working hard, and that I should be working hard. Not in a competitive way, but in an inspirational way. (Most of the time, that's how it works anyway.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Black Tongue

I've just serendipitously discovered an amazing (newly-)online journal called Black Tongue Review, which pairs poems with original artwork in "a triple dog dare to create art by sending poems to other countries and asking that artwork be made as a reaction".

The current issues features work by poets I've long admired, such as Mary Biddinger (paired with artist Valerie Hegarty), Ocean Vuong (paired with the work of Izziyana Suhaimi), Chad Sweeney (together with the art of Chris Maynard), and Tony Trigilio (with visuals by Greg Dunn).

The styles of poetry and art featured are varied and interesting; this is a site you can spend hours at and not feel you've wasted a single minute.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Week of Glitches

This week: 2 rejections, 1 acceptance, and 2 glitches in the communications of such. I can live with the odds, and am amused by the glitches....

First glitch: I opened up my email inbox to see two emails from the same journal with the same message line. Looked like a rejection to me, with a failure in the system used by the journal to send rejections. So I opened up the older email and it was a form letter rejection. I almost deleted both emails at once, since I have twice now received duplicate rejections from two other journals and really who needs to be told twice? But I decided just before hitting the delete button to open the second email, and it was an apology for the first email, which had inadvertently been sent me, and they actually wanted to accept two poems. So yay for that, and beware, writers: open the duplicate-appearing emails. On occasion they may be more than just repetitive rejections.

Second glitch: a journal solicited work from me, or perhaps not from me, since the solicitation letter came to a name very similar to mine, but slightly different. Still, I had met the editor personally a few months before receiving the solicitation and thought he probably just made a small slip-up, and there were no poets with the name of the email, so I supposed it was me that was being solicited for work. So I sent work. Seven or so months later, I get a rejection from this journal, to the wrong name again, though I had obviously sent the submission with my actual name and mentioned our meeting and such. And it was a form rejection. So, I don't know how personally to take this rejection, and of course I don't know whether I was solicited or not. It's a journal I think is a good strong journal, but this amusing mishap will probably keep me from submitting to them again. I certainly don't expect anyone to know who I am when I send to the slush pile, but having been solicited, I find it all a little odd. I probably had my name entered incorrectly into some database there, but I did give them a chance to update their database, but no go.

Anyway, still pretty good odds, and no complaints...just a bit of head-scratching and wondering.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Literary Cities

Poets & Writers blog has a list of city guides which give the literary side of some 17 US cities, including Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon (the other Portland has a guide too!). Written by writers familiar with these locations, the guides list known haunts and homes of authors, famous bookstores, relevant museums, cites made famous by literature, book festivals and other literary events, etc. Check it out and see if your city is featured, or give your next vacation that literary bent.