Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Madgalene's Response/Whalen Tribute/SoCoCo At the Toad

Reminder: SoCoCo Reading Series Resumes 2PM Sun. Jan 11th as "SoCoCo At the Toad" Toad In the Hole, Santa Rosa with Lu Garcia, Gwynn O'Gara, Ed Coletti, David Madgalene, Mark Eckert, and Centa Theresa.

San Francisco Bay Area Poet David Madgalene Responds

November 6, 2008

Dear Ed,

I want to respond to Joseph Bednarik’s lament, “The Law of Diminishing Readership,” which you posted on your blog. I can’t help thinking about a recent concert I attended by South African drummer, Baba Shibambo. Shibambo asked us all to dance, to clap, and to make noise. He said, “In my village, there is no audience. We all participate.” With Shibambo’s encouragements as my touchstone, I should like to counter Bednarik’s argument that the fact more people are writing poetry while less people are reading it is a bad thing. I have to believe that the more people writing poetry, regardless of readership, or lack of it, is all for the best. Because that means that more people are attempting to enunciate their own experience for themselves rather than to have others do it for them. While it truly is a shame that many good poets, such as most of my friends, and, I might as well say, with no false modesty, in my opinion, a good poet such as myself, will never get the audience that we think we deserve, isn’t it better for us that we are at least trying to write poetry rather than just to live in sycophantic adoration of someone like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost? And by the same token, if I believe that, must I not likewise extend the same courtesy to some young poet (or perhaps not-so-young poet), and believe that they, too, must be better off writing their own poetry, however humble, rather than to merely in live in sycophantic adoration of my own humble efforts? I am not Robert Frost, and I may not have one iota of his poetic gift, yet nonetheless, is it not a good thing that I write poetry anyway? Should indeed there be some misbegotten young sonneteer out there who has not one iota of my poetic gift, is it nonetheless not a good thing that he or she is writing poetry anyway? If nothing else, is not an act of true courage for someone like me, a mere pygmy at the feet of Robert Frost, to nonetheless, utter, “I AM…?” Is it not nonetheless an act of true courage for a mere pygmy at my poetic feet (if such a thing were even possible, I’ll grant you) , to nonetheless utter, “I AM…?” True poetry, I believe, is written for the self, regardless of readership, or lack thereof, while I am still generous-hearted enough to empathize with anyone, who bitten by the poetry bug, honestly thought, encouraged by family, friends, or teachers, could possibly write poetry to a world that had even the slightest trifling interest. However, I, for one, will never, never bemoan that fact that more people seem to be writing poetry than reading it. I’d prefer to echo the words of Baba Shibambo, and declare that I should rather wish to live in a world where there is no audience for poetry, because we are all poets!

David Madgalene

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Santa Rosa Philip Whalen Tribute Reading/Word Temple/Copperfield's Books/Nov. 7, 2008

If You're So Smart,
Why Ain't You Rich?

I need everything else
Anything else
But I have nothing
Shall have nothing
but this
Immediate, inescapable
and invaluable
No one can afford
Being made here and now

(left to right Gail King, Phyllis Meshulam, Pat Nolan, David Bromige(sitting), Clark Coolidge, Terri Carrion, Bill Hawley, Michael Rothenberg, Brian Howlett, Katherine Hastings, and Ed Coletti)

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Avanti Popolo

Avanti Popolo (Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus) Manic D Press, San Francisco, 2008. Includes writing by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane di Prima, Ed Coletti, James Tracy, Gil Fagiani, Lawrence DiStasi, Thomas Centolella, Kim Nicolini, Kim Addonizio, Giancarlo Campagna, and many others.

Columbus, the Mafia, & Denial

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the Ocean blue.


Columbus Circle
June 29th 1971
Joe Columbo
shot into 7-year coma
not by
Laughing Otter
nor by
Green Rock Woman
not even Crazy Horse
Crazy Joe Gallo
but by
an African-American
Jerome Johnson.
It was about
Columbo’s thing
not our thing
as in my thing
but Cosa Nostra as in
Mafia’s Thing
as in
Christopher Columbus’s
thing, that made-man who
dwells among us ever since.

Joe Columbo
only 40
youngest mob boss ever
maintained to the press
“There ain’t no mafia
no cosa nostra!”
And that Christopher Columbus
was a “great Italian role model.”
Today we might call him
A made-man
by those
Cappi di Tutti Cappi,
somehow Spanish
Cabezas de Todas Cabezas
Jefes de Todos Jefes”
who kissed Cristobal
on each Italian cheek
The naming is the creation:
“Let there be
Cristobal Colon
from Cristofero Columbo,
And there was.
Hence forth this
to make our History!


Indians! Indians! Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

Columbus announced,
“When you ask for
something they have,
They never say no.
Give me, give me
Gold, Gold, Gold!
Give me, give me
Slave, Slave, Slave!”
And I seriously doubt he ever said,


He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

Joe Columbo and the Gambino gang
Traded in heroin all over Harlem.
They didn’t bring it to a king or president.
They just brought it along with
Protection, prostitutes, and numbers rackets.
“Their ain’t no mafia, no cosa nostra,”
Columbo cried, but La Cosa Nostra
Sails on and on like those
Three little ships...(that) left from Spain
(Columbus, this poor excuse for an Italian)
Sailed through sunshine, wind, and rain.

by Ed Coletti in Avanti Popolo, 2008

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Shnozzes &Knowing/Poetry Bailout/ Foreleg Eardrums/

Fewer & Further Press is pleased to announce the publication of Ed's son John Coletti's Same Enemy Rainbow. Same Enemy Rainbow is 30 pages, hand-sewn, and printed on laid paper in an edition of 200 copies, 40 of which are special editions.

Copies can be purchased for $8, postpaid. Please visit the Fewer & Further Press site for an excerpt and cover image. Payments can be made through the site with Paypal.

The special editions are signed by the author and include a small double-sided broadside, for $10. If you would like to purchase a special edition, please contact the editor for availability.

If you would like to pay by check, make check payable to Jess Mynes, and mail it to:

Jess Mynes
121 Lockes Village Rd
Wendell, MA 01379

Thank you very much.

Jess Mynes, editor
Schnozzes and When We Know by Ed Coletti

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Poetry Bailout Will Restore Confidence of Readers

By Charles Bernstein in Harper's September 26, 2008

From a statement read at an event marking the release of Best American Poetry 2008, held last night at The New School, in New York City. David Lehman is the series editor of Best American Poetry, and Robert Polito is the director of the writing program at The New School.

Chairman Lehman, Secretary Polito, distinguished poets and readers—I regret having to interrupt the celebrations tonight with an important announcement. As you know, the glut of illiquid, insolvent, and troubled poems is clogging the literary arteries of the West. These debt-ridden poems threaten to infect other areas of the literary sector and ultimately to topple our culture industry.

Charles Bernstein’s most recent collection of poetry is Girly Man. His poem “Pompeii” appeared in the August issue of Harper’s Magazine; his essay “Wet verse at The New Yorker” appeared in the November 1989 issue.

Cultural leaders have come together to announce a massive poetry buyout: leveraged and unsecured poems, poetry derivatives, delinquent poems, and subprime poems will be removed from circulation in the biggest poetry bailout since the Victorian era. We believe the plan is a comprehensive approach to relieving the stresses on our literary institutions and markets.

Let there be no mistake: the fundamentals of our poetry are sound. The problem is not poetry but poems. The crisis has been precipitated by the escalation of poetry debt—poems that circulate in the market at an economic loss due to their difficulty, incompetence, or irrelevance.

Illiquid poetry assets are choking off the flow of imagination that is so vital to our literature. When the literary system works as it should, poetry and poetry assets flow to and from readers and writers to create a productive part of the cultural field. As toxic poetry assets block the system, the poisoning of literary markets has the potential to damage our cultural institutions irreparably.

As we know, lax composition practices since the advent of modernism led to irresponsible poets and irresponsible readers. Simply put, too many poets composed works they could not justify. We are seeing the impact on poetry, with a massive loss of confidence on the part of readers. What began as a subprime poetry problem on essentially unregulated poetry websites has spread to other, more stable, literary magazines and presses and contributed to excess poetry inventories that have pushed down the value of responsible poems.

The risks poets have taken have been too great; the aesthetic negligence has been profound. The age of decadence must come to an end with the imposition of oversight and regulation on poetry composition and publishing practices.

We are convinced that once we have removed these troubled and distressed poems from circulation, our cultural sector will stabilize and readers will regain confidence in American literature. We estimate that for the buyout to be successful, we will need to remove from circulation all poems written after 1904.

This will be a fresh start, a new dawn of a new day. Without these illiquid poems threatening to overwhelm readers, we will be able to create a literary culture with a solid aesthetic foundation.

I’m Charles Bernstein, and I approved this message.

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Foreleg Eardrums
by Amy Trussell

Stop and put your shirt on the fence and look heavenward.
They say there is a hexagon at the top of Saturn’s pole,
though your naked eye doesn’t register it. Trust it anyway,
like your affection for another person, embedded
with a type of gem not found inside the earth’s dark muscles.
You cannot bear it away to keep forever.
It will not melt away on the tongue like mousse from Maison du Chocolate,
But softens the blow of any tumble and pops the rib back into place
when the heart is large and broken.
It sets sail with a full mast,
and it’s anchor does not break coral.
Listen, the grasshoppers hear your tale of survival
with the delicate eardrums on their forelegs.
They invite you to come through the wormwood,
the sprouting hemlock, and the wreckage of Fall still
lying in the yard.
Release strife and be glad of the bees’ return,
their hives oozing with royal jelly, oblivious to cell phones.
Dig the afternoon when the gods of light come on like honey,
nodding at your delicate capture and release fishing.
When you get home, throw the black drape off of the piano
and pound the keys as if it were your last song, or your first.

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oblivious / More On "Glut "/Petaluma Poetry Walk, City Lights, etc.

Oblivious by Eddie C.

Petaluma Poetry Walk
& 2 Other Readings

Ed Coletti will be reading at

Petaluma Poetry Walk - Sept 21st
with Michael Rothenberg & Terry
Carrion at the Apple Box 6 Petaluma
Blvd N. at 1 PM.
Diane DiPrima
will read at Apple Box the following
hour. Here's a link to the full
2 pg Poetry Walk Brochure

City Lights Books - SF - October 13th at 7PM - Avanti
Populo Reading - In addition to
Ed Coletti, also the great Diane Di
Prima, James Tracy, Kim Nicolini,
Cameron McHenry and Giovanna Capone.

Arrividerchi Restaurant - San Rafael - Monday Nov. 3d - 6 PM - Ed Coletti and great Italian Food!

Triolet On Time

“For boys add to their woe by sitting still”
Was the best line of my youthful poem.
Now age and illness ask again why will
Such boys add to their woe by sitting still?
You’d think of this they’d had their awful fill
And, dreaming dreams of life they’d finally sow them.
“For boys add to their woe by sitting still”
Was the best line of my youthful poem.

(October 13, 1985 - uncovered July 08)

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

More On So Called "Glut" Of Writers

It took awhile, but I finally got Poets & Writers to get me the following very interesting article on our recent subject of supply and demand. By the way, many of you believe (correctly) that it's better to have lots of artists rather than lots of almost anything else. I, of course, agree. And none of us is going to stop writing just because there are so many of us, however...

The Law of Diminishing Readership

by Joseph Bednarik

As marketing director of Copper Canyon Press, the thirty-four-year-old independent publisher of poetry in Port Townsend, Washington, I am required to read a lot. While most of the titles on my reading list are poetry collections, I recently read two nonfiction texts that got me thinking about the "economics" of creative writing.

So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance (Paul Dry Books, 2003), by Mexican poet and business consultant Gabriel Zaid, and Reading at Risk, the sobering report published by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2004, articulate the challenges faced by the swelling legions of creative writers longing to find a readership. Consider the following statements extrapolated from Zaid's book and the NEA report:

1. Production of creative writing far exceeds consumer demand.

2. Accredited MFA programs in creative writing continue to proliferate, while the practice of literary reading is in steady decline.

3. Many publishers require underwriting to produce and distribute literary titles because sales do not support production costs.

4. Publishers can, with relative ease, attract a thousand manuscript submissions-plus reading fees-by sponsoring book contests.

What's wrong with this picture? If you're running an MFA program, a book contest, or a writer's workshop, or selling other goods and services that support the writer's life-absolutely nothing. If you want your book published and read by an audience other than friends and family-everything.

In a statistical mood, I once estimated how many "good poems" were being produced by recent graduates of MFA programs. Keeping all estimates conservative, I figured there had to be at least 450 poets graduating nationwide each year. If each MFA graduate wrote just one good poem a year for ten years, at the end of a decade we would have 24,750 good poems-not to mention 4,500 degree-bearing poets, each of whom was required to write a book-length manuscript in order to graduate. New poems, poets, and manuscripts are added to the inventory every year.

Read Complete Bednarik Article

Here's someone attempting to disprove the title of this site -- "No Money In Poetry"


after reading in Baltimore, photo credit Michael Ball

There are thousands of Americans everyday who are looking for a safe place to invest their money. Poets are the best source for removing negative charge from your wealth, and raising the collective conscience of the planet. You can change your life FOREVER by sponsoring a poet today! CAConrad is one such American poet serious about making poetry a lifelong quest, ready and willing to refine your money! If you are interested in sponsoring this poet, call (215)563-3075, or write to You won't believe the difference a poet will make!

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Friday, August 08, 2008

No Poetry In Money Either

(art by eddie 2008)

The Operative Word Is “Skillions”

Because of the network of creative writing workshops,
there are skillions of good new young poets each year

...and no money in it.
(Richard Silberg 7/11/08)

So is the world a better place for this?
There was a time I craved coffee houses
with Italian espresso machines
like in North Beach and Greenwich Village,
And it took such a long time
but we got them with a Starbucks
on every block in San Rafael and Stockton,
Coffee so burned that overroasting
became the standard for mediocrity
unchallenged until skillions of MFA
poets competed to cave-dwell
in cramped musty corners —
New Yorker, Poetry, Paris Review,
VQR, Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review —
And so it goes with coffee and with poetry.

- Ed Coletti / July 2008

The following response comes from friend and wonderful poet Jack Crimmins

Ed, thanks for the ancient Chinese madman poem (See Du Fu's poem below and also Jack Crimmins' poem "The End of Poetry.")! I liken it somewhat to your ancient Open Mike Max madman poem which I think captures City Max very well.

And re "Skillions", it is very interesting to me at this time about the world of poets, poems and money.

The poet Jack Gilbert has said that money ruined poetry, i.e. that the money in it for those who make it; teaching at universities, publishing w/trade presses, big prizes (gary snyder just won $100, 000 from somebody), has made poets keep producing the same work/ same books over and over, when sometimes they had only one good book early on but needed to keep going to make money.

And Silliman cries out that the big publishers keep giving the prizes to writers who publish with their presses, like Robert Haas, cuz it keeps people buying their books.

And money, lack of money, lately has me asking myself questions about my own publishing. Whether to put one's own money into books, then hawk them oneself, and really thinking I probably won't do that much more. There are so many poets now that to find a publisher that is willing to pay for producing a book is a crap shoot, and highly unlikely w/out moving in the right circles, mostly teaching, or some kind of post-avant press world, or getting a huge write-up from Silliman.

Which then makes me question why then write poems except for the joy of it. Jack Gilbert only published a few books, in part saying he thinks publishing takes some of the joy out of poetry. Of course, if one doesn't publish, there is no money, no anything, except the joy of writing.

Which then makes me think, why not go body surfing instead? Anyhow, check out the attached poem.

Best, jack

I Am a Madman

My thatched cottage stands
just west of Thousand Mile Bridge

this Hundred Flower Stream
would please a hermit fisherman

bamboo sways in the wind
graceful as any court beauty

rain makes the lotus flower
even more red and fragrant

but I no longer hear from friends
who live on princely salaries

my children are always hungry
with pale and famished faces

does a madman grow more happy
before he dies in the gutter?

I laugh at myself -- a madman
growing older, growing madder.

- Du Fu (712 - 770)

The End of Poetry

emptiness no emptiness
done again
with words done
fire outside of time
the shallow end
pools of desert water
fool’s gold
a fever
in the mountains
a fortune found
writing again
emptiness no emptiness

~ Jack Crimmins / January 18, 2008

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Our New Name and "Carlos"

Our New Name - "No Money In Poetry"

Well, our previous site names, "Ed Coletti's Poetry Blog" and "Poetry Venue" no longer need be used. Recall that I hate the word "blaaahhhg," and "Poetry Venue" was rather lame. So we are now "No Money In Poetry."

The new name had been staring me in the face all along. Note the long-time introduction to the site at the top, Robert Graves' quote, "There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either." Then, a few days ago, Richard Silberg sent me an email about publishing and correctly observed, "no money in it." However, for Richard and most of you reading this, poetry is its own reward, thank god.

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

and now something a little bit different

3 Pages From "Carlos"

(Round Barn Press 2008 - drawings by author)

Here is a tease from my long "Carlos" sequence. I began these quirky moody poems almost 20 years ago during a rough patch. They've finally gotten a home.


carlos on the turn of shore don't watch
ocean sky
drown or blaze
drifts half inch above the sand
carlos is the tidal pool, starfish mind,
carlos cool
he know he
carlos half inch 'bove the sand

carlos undercover

this me he say
to the fat man in the hat
with the gun like a hard on
up his shiny yellow coat
gonna get his today and carlos
he the law get the job done
be respectable when the law
jump the jive dude maybe give
carlos a sack of his blow
for reward and he sell it to geronimo
a little for himself, take the dough,
buy rosa and lito present.
first he got to get by
the fat man in the pink hat
with the gun like a hard on
up his shiny yellow coat.

the shore

carlos walks
the shore
like he going
to walk around the world
the shore
it don't stop
he could walk like this
all the time and keep walking
and right now carlos
need that keep walking
like it never end
the shore

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Family Matters/Other Poems/

Recent Release From Round Barn Press
(cover illustration by Jim Spitzer)

The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

-W.H Auden “In Memory of W.B. Yeats”

Eternal Gardens

Had my father written me poems,
Nasturtiums would have sprouted from my navel,
Dahlias from my rectum, and, of course, he did not,
But my children and their children
May walk in all my colors—
So many gorgeous beckoning gardens!

The most moving part of your reading was from Family Matters; I'm really enjoying the poems on the page, too. They're so honest and heartfelt without being sentimental.
- Lynne Knight author of Night In the Shape of a Mirror

2 Unrelated Coletti Poems

Kiki Smith Takes On Politics

If the sculptor or print maker
recreating the body perfectly
as pain, as pain the body is,
could apply the same chisel
to any politician’s cardiovascular
digestive and nervous systems,
she would attempt to capture only
that deep clenched grimace under
lying all such unrelenting
hyper extended artifice.

Center of the Universe

In an expansive universe similar to our own,
eyes and tongues staring speaking,
distant little planets move about
you their center star
certain all is for you,
all critiques directed towards you,
“too hot” “not enough”

Whether you shine or hide,
smaller planets hold
little sway over the sun,
perhaps a bit of a tug on a ray here or there
a deflection, an errant beam set straight.
You are all about light
but dim noticeably
when you strain to imagine
what some tiny unnoticed planet
might soundlessly
extract from you today.

And please don't forget

2008 Marin Poetry Festival - May 14-18 - including May 18th reading by Robert Bly, Eavan Boland, and Jane Hirshfield at Dominican College in San Rafael.

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read
the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or
"Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign
some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use
what you like. If you have any difficulty, email me at

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Audio of Moe's Reading/Poem for Lynne Knight/The Poetic Character

Second Reading At Moe's Books in Berkeley

I really enjoyed reading (my second here) with Lynne Knight at Moe's in Berkeley March 25th. Check out the following link at which you can listen to us read. Click on "listen to Ed Coletti" and you'll first hear Owen Hill introduce me. Then I'll begin, and, I recommend, in the interest of time that you pull the button about a third of the way through the reading to where I really begin picking up some steam. Here's the link with photos, bios, and audio.

Poem For Lynne Knight

I don't recall whether or not I've previously shared this here.

After a Reading About Her Mother

It’s not that I hear my conscience chiding.
I do.
It’s not about all those times
people didn’t approach me after a reading.
It is.

Not that her time spent with her dying
demented mother wasn’t moving.
Not that the child in me is too shy
or that in her vulnerability
I see my ego wanting more
than she or I or any audience can deliver.

Her poetry has rocked me speechless.
I’m not ashamed that I have no words to give her
except some day this poem.

And if tonight that’s only self-importance
then at my next reading
when no one tells me that I’ve moved them
I’ll remember Lynne Knight and how not speaking to her
freed me from my greediness for praise.

The Poetical Character

"John Keats wrote that the poetical character 'is not itself— it has no self— it is every thing and nothing— It has no character— it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated.' And thus 'a Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity— he is continually in {forming} and filling some other Body.' " (Peter Ackroyd in Shakespeare: The Biography)

...A cardinal
Passes like a flying tulip, alights and nails the green day

(Phillip Schuyler in Hymn to Life)

2008 Marin Poetry Festival - May 14-18 - including May 18th reading by Robert Bly, Eavan Boland, and Jane Hirshfield at Dominican College in San Rafael.

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read
the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or
"Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign
some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use
what you like. If you have any difficulty, email me at

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mom Died/2 Poems/6-Word Memoir

My Mom
Anna Cavellini
June 23, 1914 -
February 26, 2008


This weird wonderful
weaving lattice of illusions
simultaneously held and disregarded.

My sister believes my dear
demented mother left
for heaven sometime ago.

Simply put, Mom has gone
somewhere farther away
even than New York is

from San Francisco, some
where our mother attempts to
explain from an infinitely interesting

tower of tongues as though she were
the Oracle of Delphi at the last moments
providing wisdom to her children straining

to comprehend what wandering meanings
she finds for where she’s been when back
to time she journeys home to us.


Switch thrown
dawn engulfs
mom and me.

We both toddle
in unfamiliar recognition.

My mother knows she loves,
not why this love,

Her smile beatific
looks into me,
to know
something of
her longing.

When I attempt
to remind her,

this fascination
shatters to bewilderment,

“You mean
you came
through me?!”

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read
the comments of others too. Log in
"Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please
be sure to sign
some facsimile of your name. Actual name
is best, but use what you
like. If you have difficulty,
email me at

Six-Word Poetry Memoir

I was tagged by Don Wentworth of the Lilliput Review to participate in the Six-Word Poetry Memoir forwarded by World Class Poetry Blog.

The game is an interesting twist on a challenge Earnest Hemingway was once offered. He bet $10 that he could sum up his life story in six words. He wrote: For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Evidently, this was discovered by Bookbabie who originated the current meme.

I'm tagging anybody who reads this and linking to a few folks below. So, if you're reading this, consider participating.

Here's my own 6-word memoir.

"Less frightened than engaged, he lived."

Here are the rules:
  • Write your own six word memoir
  • Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
  • Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
  • Tag five more blogs with links

Don Wentworth and Lilliput Review

Big Bridge and Michael Rothenberg

Jim Spitzer's Art Gallery

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who Reads Poetry?-Part II and Ted Greenwald Interview

(photo of Ted Greenwald)

Who Reads Poetry - Part II

In the previous edition of our "Poetry Venue," we began attempting to answer the question "Aside from poets, who reads poetry." You can read that article beneath the one at hand. Readers have weighed in with the following gems,

Don Wentworth, Editor of the award-winning Lilliput Review weighed in:

Recently, at the ripe old age of 56, I had the experience of teaching poetry for the first time. It was to a class of lifelong learners. Something drew them to sign up, caused an interest, from mild curiosity to some vague nostalgia or something else. It's the something else I'm particularly interested in.
Folks who don't normally read poetry seem drawn to it particularly in times of crisis, in times when we turn to ritual. Births, weddings, funerals. Poetry resonates in a way in these situations for folks that it doesn't in their normal everyday lives: in times of remembrance, celebration, and grief. It is as if during these times people are in touch with something else in their lives they don't normally see but is there all the time, all the same. It is almost like another life.
That is what most poetry readers are trying to do all the time: to get in and stay in touch with that "otherness." It is the constant remembrance that we are going to die, that there is sorrow and love and pain and beauty. Perhaps, in the average life, this is too hard to face all the time, which is why people don't generally read poetry, but nonetheless always say they wish they had time to read more, they respect those who read and write poetry, and they wish they understood poetry better (don't we all!).
So for me the question is not "who reads poetry" but "why read poetry." To quote the Bard of our generation, "it's life and life only." Don Wentworth, Lilliput Review.
P.S. The Spicer poem rocks.

Blogger Poet Hound said...

The people I encounter typically believe poetry is "too hard" and I am convinced that some children's schools ruin the chance to enjoy poetry by diving in too deep with translation of a poem's meaning or setting too many guidelines for students' creative writing. I went to those schools as a child. I love it because my father was smart enough to read me poems and leave it at that. Now I have a personal mission to get more and more people to enjoy poetry for its own sake. Sometimes the way words are put together are entertaining enough. Other times, the poems provide solace or bring forth poignant memories. Either way, every single person should be able to enjoy poetry. There is something for everyone.

David Rollison, a community college English Dept Chair wrote:

Another answer is that scholars and professors read poetry--often quite scrupulously but very differently from the way poets read poetry in some respects. This is particularly true of highly charged poetical periods such as British Romanticism or American Modernism--the profs are doing some reading and writing that is poetry in and of itself.

The Spicer poem--which I have a very nice broadside of, printed by Graham Mackintosh, late of Black Sparrow Press--says no one listens to poetry but makes poetry a natural force like the ocean--no one listens to the ocean either but that's because it's awesome and hypnotic powers overwhelm us.

Painter Jim Spitzer (see drawing above) said...

Poets-Poetry and all the other "Tender Arts" expose an often negative part of our culture. They become the target of people who have never developed a sensitivity to the intimate expressions and dreams of others. These, sometimes mindless people, playing their IPODS and UZIS to dull their inner noise that Might give meaning and credibility to their existence are a wall between between small islands of green on a dying planet.
To them---ALL OF THEM---I would say
DON'T JUDGE THE MEANING OF MY ART by your inability to understand.

Ed Hagan of Nice, CA is to the point,

We are all poets.

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too.
Log in
under "Nickname" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign
some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you
like. Or email me at

Excerpts and a Poem From Ted Greenwald (see photo above)

Not being particularly conversant with Ted Greenwald or his work,
I was impressed reading his provocative interview with Arlo Quint
in the Dec.07/Jan 08 issue of the Poetry Project Newsletter.
Here are excerpts from the interview followed by a poem.

"The key is, you know, how ambitious are people? Do you all think that
you're the most important poets who are alive at the moment? Now if you
feel that way then you're gonna have a scene. If you don't feel that
way, if you assume you're just another poet, then you might as well
hang up your cleats right there."

"Sometimes competition is nota half bad thing where you sort of, somewhere in your
head, compete with someone who you think writes really well...But what I'm really
talking about is people whose work you like. You read a nice piece, and
you go home, and you've gotta write a piece. That's the competition."

"I think people get it wrong when they say they're waiting for some bigger
thing. Take what you have and say that it's an important work. I don't
make any distinction between chapbooks and big books because, to me,
when I have twelve pages I make a book of twelve pages. Basically, I'm
modeling it after an LP record--there's 12 cuts. It's a real book.
Everything should be a real book if you're gonna do it at that level.
It shouldn't just be a throwaway where you waste time and energy and
money...everything should be worth something. If you yourself don't
think it's good, how the fuck are other people gonna think it's any

"So let me just go line by line. What that does
don't get into the issue of how to turn the line, so then you get a
whole different other kind of shape happening. Every poet in the world,
once you get to that turn, then it turns proselike in the second line.
That first line is poetry, the second line is always prose if you
continue that particular thought. If you stop the thought and let that
thought go out that way and do another line, another thought or
something...whole other thoughts, whole other lines, and you move along
that way and see where that goes." (Ed's note: Somewhat belied by the
Greenwald poem below)

"I read a lot, but if I'm going to mine
things that I'm reading I'm going to look for things that are 'spoken
nuggets' as it were. I think that the most interesting thing in the
language is the noise. You can't have any communication without it. You
have to have a sense of delivering the work in public. A competitive

" people get older, they have a tendency to want to
introduce their own work, which I find tedious. I don't think that work
should be introduced...You lay it out. I don't want to discuss how I
wrote this."

" seems to me that you want the work out in front. The work should
be what people look at."


The long and the short
Of it is
I have to keep pushing
I feel myself
Pushing against the
Lead-in to beauty
And take a hunch through
With me
Ito the halls
Where the everyday
Seems like eternity
There's no fooling around
About something
As serious
As it is beautiful
There's no match
For the feeling
That gets there
When I get there
And absolutely no sense
Of duration
And no telling
How everything turns out

Ted Greenwald was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, and has lived in New
York City his entire life. During the course of a career that has
spanned some 30 years, he has been the author of numerous books of
poetry including
Two Wrongs (Cuneiform Press), his recently published
collaboration with the artist Hal Saulson.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Who Reads Poetry (other than poets)? Part 1

Notice that I've changed the name of this site from "Blog" to "Venue." I hate the word "Blog" and feel it to be off putting to others as well. So, welcome, once again, this time to "Ed Coletti's Poetry Venue."

Drawing by Jim Spitzer
Who, Aside From Poets, Read Poetry

As I suspect it might with many of us, this question was troubling me a year ago. I put it out there to several folks. The following were attempts at figuring this out.

Please do join in with your own responses.

First something older from Jack Spicer

Thing Language

This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
Tougher than anything.
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter.
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry.

If poets only write poems about poems
or about poets writing poems about poems
then no one who reads poems
but doesn't write poems
will care to read poems

(Katherine Hastings)

well, if you teach a kid to write a poem in a non-traditional way
that kid will have a massive head start when it comes to
learning how to read a poem....which is maybe like
bringing a kid into the kitchen as you cook fish and asparagus
down the line that smell and that involvement might allow them
to enjoy them instead of hide from them

just a thought

(John Coletti)

Poetry Reading At The County Dump

Salvador studying English comes across
my poems filled with typos tossed to recyle.

“Lying On a Swing in August” transports Sal
to the sky and momentary respite.

“Bologna Station Caffé” returns him
to the Zocalo in Qaxaca Centro.

“The Wasteland by Edward Coletti
confuses him with its shape.

He can smell the familiar rotting carcasses
in “Much More Than Roadkill.”

“What” easily translates to “Que.” but
“¿Como se dice “Treatise” en Español?

“ ‘A Treatise on What,’ what does it matter
why the pigeon disturbs this Coletti?

“Why does this Edward worry that
no one will read him? There is an address,

a phone number, email, should I presume
to contact him? Would he be angry?”

(Ed Coletti)

Poetry Foundation's Findings

The Poetry Foundation commissioned the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to conduct a large-scale, national research study on the state of poetry in America. This groundbreaking study replaces the usual anecdotal information about poetry with factual information about Americans' attitudes toward and experiences with poetry. This research will enable the Foundation, and other literary and cultural institutions, to better understand the factors that bring poetry enthusiasts to their appreciation of poetry as well as those that may dissuade people from engaging with the art form.

Why Poetry?
Poetry is one of the art forms that defines our culture. It improves the quality of life both for those who create it and for those who appreciate it, educating and invigorating the citizenry, and enhancing people's lives by providing them with deeply meaningful experiences. The extent to which poetry achieves these goals is neither well understood nor easy to quantify.

Key Findings
  • 64 percent of adult readers think that people should read more poetry.
  • Poetry is appreciated by a broad and demographically diverse portion of society; individuals from all walks of life and education levels read and enjoy poetry.
  • Poetry readers tend to be sociable and lead active lives. They listen to music, read a variety of genres, use the Internet, attend cultural events, volunteer, and socialize with friends and family at significantly higher rates than do non-poetry readers.
  • Most poetry readers (80 percent) first encounter poetry as children, at home or in school. 77 percent of all readers were read nursery rhymes as children; 45 percent of current poetry readers also had other forms of poetry read to them as children.
  • Poetry readers believe that poetry provides insights into the world around them, keeps the mind sharp, helps them understand themselves and others, and provides comfort and solace.
  • Readers turn to a variety of sources to find poetry: single-author books (77 percent), anthologies (58 percent), television (48 percent), radio (41 percent), the Internet (36 percent), poetry readings (29 percent), poetry magazines (20 percent), reviews/commentaries about poetry (19 percent), poetry slams (12 percent).
  • When people encounter poetry in unexpected places such as newspapers, general-interest magazines, and public events, even non-poetry readers read or listen to it: 99 percent of all adult readers indicated that they have incidentally encountered poetry, and 81 percent reported that they read or listened to the poem when they encountered it.
  • Approximately two-thirds of the respondents thought that both poets and poetry readers are people who are generally respected; 70 percent would like to meet poets, and 66 percent would like to meet poetry readers.
  • Among the most frequently cited reasons that people don't read poetry are lack of time, loss of interest, lack of access, and the perception that poetry is difficult and irrelevant.
  • Former poetry readers, while crediting poetry with many of the same rewards as do current readers, do so at much lower rates and are more apt to say that they personally received no benefits from reading poetry. Of those former readers who did find poetry rewarding, most championed poetry for its entertainment value and were less inclined to note intellectual or psychological benefits.
  • While more than 80 percent of former poetry readers find poetry difficult to understand, only 2 percent of respondents don't read poetry because they feel it is "too hard."
  • More than half of all current poetry readers read or listen to contemporary poetry, that is poetry written since 1945. About one-third restrict their involvement to contemporary poetry, and about one-quarter read or listen to both contemporary poetry and the classics.

    Poetry in America can be downloaded as a PDF at

  • Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in
    under "Nickname" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign
    some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you
    like. Or email me at