Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ed Coletti and Katherine Hastings On Poets & Political Activity/Ed Coletti&Katherine Hastings Poems/Trump's Dog?/Resistance Anthology/On Lindsay's Book by Michael Rothenberg with James Spitzer/

                     (James Spitzer Woodblock Feb 2017 https://jimspitzerart.wordpress.com)

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For the longest time, I referred to myself as a non-joiner.  I after all am a poet, a painter, one who speaks out through art.  However, in this age of Trump and the growth of fascism in America, I’ve had to reassess this stance and have begun joining organizations including the Sonoma County Democratic Club, Indivisible, and also others such as Swing Left and Sister Districts for efforts beyond my own geographical area.  Additionally, I have been making trips to Congressman Mike Thompson’s office and have attended his recent town hall on the ACA and healthcare in California.  I have learned quite a bit.  I even attended the Democratic Club’s recent fundraising Crab Feed along with 13 of my close friends.  Another group of 13 responded to our invitation and joined in a brain-storming "Huddle" at our house.

For those of  you poets who may feel that such involvement is not for you, I suggest that you, as have I, look into yourselves and ask “Is what I am doing by writing anti-Trump poems (but see below for a bit of humor) and speaking out among kindred poetic spirits doing enough?  Is it effective in reaching an extensive audience?  The title of this ten-plus year old blog may contain a clue.  While most readers may agree that there is very little money in poetry, we should realize that, beyond the purity and value of art for art’s sake, we may be having little impact upon the broader population which must be reached to effect social change.

I commend Bay Area poet Katherine Hastings (see below) for her material involvement in political organizations working to influence congress.  I use her as example here.  I am certain that many other poets are working through grass roots organizations and the Democratic Party to effect change.  We now realize that merely writing and grousing is not going to get the job done.

Overhauling the words of Milton, “They really do not serve who only stand and wait.”

- Ed Coletti 3-9-17 


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And now for a humorous interlude...


Does Donald Trump Have a Dog

Sam on my lap I scratch his ear
            gaze into his sadly happy eyes
wonder just what I’ve done
                                                to deserve
him he who can also be
                    the loud barking nuisance
startling the hell out of me
                                      who in Vietnam
daily heard both loud
                       and more muffled blasts
constantly reminding me
                     mortality expends its time
as explosion or terrier barking.


So to the question of whether or not
          our self-centered president-elect
ever even pondered the company of
     a pup he would need to kibble-feed
I only can attempt to imagine
            the starved and wanting puppy
explosively reminding The Donald
                about food that one necessity
required and craved, sustenance and
                              attention withheld by
President-elect in Scotland playing
          golf texting Kelly Anne Conway,
"Is that greedy little mutt still around?
        Feed its ass and name it anything
except Ted or Jeb Ben Mike or Marco
                                                   all losers
And give my dog whatever
                                              you name it
the blue ribbon for terrificness
                                         such a winner!
Huge!”


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Ed Coletti and Katherine Hastings On
Poets and Political Activity



  Since the election of a reality television host to the “highest office in the land,” surrounded by white supremacists and misogynists, a cacophony of conversations have been taking place almost everywhere I turn.  These conversations range from “How could this have happened?” to “What can we do?”  From “This is what I’m doing” to “This is what I’m not doing.”  Some people feel all we can do is wait; others feel this is an excellent time to show, through meaningful action, just how important combatting this administration is.  Marchers have marched, ghost lights have been lit, and poetry readings have been arranged around the theme of resistance.  It felt wonderful to participate in all of these actions and more with like-minded people.

            What am I doing personally?  I could say I’m staying focused on the issues at hand and doing at least one action every single day.  A handful of examples include (1) signing on to swingleft.org to try to influence the outcome of the 2018 elections, rendering the current administration powerless in two years, (2) joining other truly active organizations like Indivisible and the NAACP, (3) sending financial support to organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, among others and (4) calling a meeting in my home with immigrants to go over in detail what their rights are if they are stopped by ICE or police, or if they show up at their front doors. Where I can, I educate.  “Yes,” I answered someone recently who asked if it’s a bad thing that the government wants federal protections to revert to state’s rights when it comes to LGBTQ people, “that’s a very bad thing.”  For instance, no one should have to worry about job transfers from one state to another because of who they love; we should all have the same rights.  “Civil rights are human rights.”

            This forum could be an excellent place to tout what I’m doing.  That is not my intention; I like to share ideas for action in case any of them appeal to others. The truth of the matter is, I’m finding activism a bit like grief itself.  One day I wake up accepting the reality of the mess and saying This is what I can do! and do it.  On another day I wake up so depressed (anger turned inwards) about the latest situation — yet another hard-working father ripped from his family, or another Jewish cemetery desecrated, or another environmental protection flushed down the coal toilet  — that I wonder if there is anything to be done that can possibly bring enough change fast enough.  Woe is me.

And then I remember it’s not about me, and do whatever the best action of the day seems to be, measured by its potential. 

I ask myself time and time again “What is the solution?”

I’ve learned to leave Facebook off for the most part. “Liking” someone’s outrage is an inaction.  I try not to judge people by what they’re doing or not doing.  (“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt)  I often fail.

I give myself a break now and then.  This is going to be a long, difficult fight that has been going on for some people in the country since the first Europeans landed, since the first slave ship arrived.  I don’t want to burn out before my work is done. 

                                                                                    Katherine Hastings
                                                                                    February 27, 2017

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Dear Ashraf Fayadh,

Outside my window men speak
in a tongue I do not completely
understand.  These are the men
who work the soil, the vineyards,
who pray to another god and the
god’s mother, who sing you are
never alone.  We are all orphans
searching for light, harmony lost
to the stark meaning of man-made
laws.  In our hearts, the poem of
Love is perfected, is the most holy
relic of Time.  Dear Ashraf Fayadh,
may you live happily among the
living, neither lashed nor beheaded,
on little islands of wonder, feeling
for all the gods what they are
incapable of feeling, each word,
each brush stroke, a golden bee
bathed in the breath of heaven.


    Katherine Hastings from her collection

from Spuyten Duyvil NYC, 2016


Note:  Ashraf Fayadh is a Palestinian poet and artist living in Saudi Arabia who as sentenced to death by beheading on a charge of apostasy, or renouncing Islam.  After the sentencing, his father died of a heart attack.  Due to public pressure (after this poem was written), the courts reduced his sentence from death to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes.  Efforts are ongoing to free him. 

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This is a huge anthology featuring many of America's greatest poets.  Press the link to see all of their names. 

http://www.spuytenduyvil.net/resist-much-obey-little.html

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 Lindsay's Book
Poem by Michael Rothenberg
Art by James Spitzer


International poet-force Michael Rothenberg (publisher of  Big Bridge www.bigbridge.org ) writes poignantly of his first great love and the searing loss of his lover to death in her young twenties.
The poem is set in Florida.  California painter Jim Spitzer, collaborates with Rothenberg and provides startlingly spare images which must be seen.  This beautiful little book packs a tender punch and must be read.  You can purchase Lindsay's Book by sending a check made out to Michael Rothenberg at PO Box 2724, Tallahassee, FL 42304. 

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Friday, January 06, 2017

Novalis Quote/Poetry Project's Fiftieth/Sven Birkerts/4 Ed Coletti Poems/David Meltzer Tribute/

POETRY HEALS THE WOUNDS INFLICTED BY REASON

 -Novalis (the pseudonym and pen name of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, a poet, author, mystic, and philosopher of Early German Romanticism.)

 POETRY HEALS THE WOUNDS INFLICTED BY REASON

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from "Onward"  by Sven Birkerts (editor of Agni) in the AGNI Newsletter December 2016 following the 2016 presidential election:

As Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, "There is prodigious strength in sorrow and despair... There are levels and levels, of course.  Czeslaw Milosz famously asks, in his poem "Dedication": "What is poetry which does not save/Nations or people:"  This is a gauntlet as much as it is a frame.  It forces us to ask what kind of saving he means, for surely there is no literal way in which poetry or any literature, directly achieves that aim.

I believe milosz means us to think how expressions affect the soul, how they might hearten when there is loss of hope, or clarify when there is confusion - or expose rhetoric and cant and, as the adjuration has it, "speak truth to power."

Those are the considerations that I have felt reactived, and they create the context - the frame - of my reading.  I can't not ask myself" is this work telling me something I need to hear in this new order of things?  I'm not saying it must directly protest abuse or injustice or mendacious opportunism.  But do I feel that the words have been put to the page out of some recognition of larger human urgency"  Do they - if only in their fresh or arresting placement - signal that this is not business as usual?  Are they blowing the dust off all the things that Matter?...

...Not that we can travel back in time to recreate what was.  Of course we can't.  Our model is a spiral: a circular momentum forward in time.  These are not the days of the counter-culture; we are not back at that place of origins.  But - and this is important - we do see the logic of certain repetitions.  And these repetitions tell us that if nothing was gained once and for all, neither was it lost... 

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Village Voice Article "The Poetry Project's Half Century of Dissent"

 

February 10, 1971, on a Wednesday night in the East Village, a full moon glowed in the wintry sky over St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. Inside, a group of New York's most cutting-edge scene-makers gathered at the Poetry Project to hear a reading by poet and Warhol aide-de-camp Gerard Malanga. Andy was there, as was Lou Reed, along with poets Gregory Corso, John Giorno, Joe Brainard, and Bernadette Mayer. First up that night was a dark-eyed, lanky young poetess by the name of Patti Smith. An up-and-coming playwright named Sam Shepard, with whom she'd recently become involved, was there in support, as was her closest friend and collaborator, Robert Mapplethorpe.

Read the entire article 

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Check out these 4 Ed Coletti Poems (good ones) from 

an interesting site!



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Gerald Nicosia contacted me in response to this posting and to share with us his fine poetic tribute to the recently deceased great Bay Area and world-renowned poet David Meltzer.  Thank you, Gerald.

 
The Poet as Proteus

                                                            for David Meltzer (written when
                                                            he was about to turn 70)



Every time I see him he’s someone different
Sometimes he’s a merry red-faced
George Burns with a cane
Sometimes an aging cowpoke
In faded jeans and ten-gallon hat
Sometimes a minor movie star
Eyes hidden behind shades
Nothing visible but huge moustache
And sly smile
Not giving a damn about Academy Awards night
He’d rather spend the night
Alone writing another poem in
Those endless small cheap notebooks
He’s been filling for over fifty years
With his humorously disguised
Stiletto intelligence
I remember him as the minister
At Jack Hirschman’s wedding
Giving a sermon about “Alpha and Omega”
That no one could understand
Least of all frowning Hirschman
Waiting to grab and kiss his new wife
He’s also been my serious and optimistic
Literary advisor on numerous occasions
He always turns up like
An angel or
The bearer of a mitzvah
Just when I most need him
Like the ABA in L.A. in ‘94
When my big book on veterans
Had been orphaned and he
Pointed me toward the next publisher
I’ve always loved the fact that
He scorns anyone making
Poetry for money
But he gives a kind nudge
Not a slap when he
Sees me or anyone else
Slipping a bit off
The altruistic path
No one funnier to listen to
Even at almost 70
No poet sexier to the ladies
He carries his greatness
Lightly like a shawl
Of memories, joys, and
Sadnesses
Always with him
But hardly noticeable
Until he takes it off
And asks you to
Hold it for him
Awhile
And you feel its enormous weight
And wonder how
He has worn it so long
With that perpetual
Soft easygoing cheerfulness
That will be the mark
He leaves on all of us
Whether we
Read his poetry or not
And he doesn’t care
If we read it or not
The joy is
In the making
And he doesn’t sell
That secret
Like most great writers
But gives it
Not even for the asking
But just along with
The grace of
His company
To those
Lucky enough
To find it.

                        -- Gerald Nicosia


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