Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Hass Beating/Poets & Songwriters/from David Madgalene/

Flash: To the Barricades, Fellow Poets and Artists

As I write this on Sunday morning November 20th 2011, following the beating of former United States Poet Laureate Robert Hass and his wife by police at Occupy Cal (UC Berkeley), I am hopeful that neither was badly hurt. If Mr. and Mrs. Hass have come through this travesty relatively unhurt, then I submit that this may turn out to be a big step toward progress in the movement toward economic and social justice in this country.

Seemingly forever in the United States, we have lamented the lack of status afforded poets and artists in the political field. While in Czechoslovakia, Russia, in fact throughout Europe and Latin America, artists have been revered and frequently have changed politics and nations for the better, here we have been second or third class citizens in terms of effecting major difference.

Now we have the example of Robert Hass and a more visible doorway into the fray. Think about it and act!

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(watercolor by Ed Coletti)

From the Very Quirky David Madgalene, the Walt Whitman of His Generation

I Can't Wait Until December 21, 2012 Because...

Every morning will be Tuesday Morning.

Atlantis will rise again and so will Lemuria and Mu.

Every man will have his own personal Britney Spears robot.

Not only that, but every other sexual fantasy you’ve ever had in your life will come true and all at once! That’s right, baby! No more sex as a spectator sport! No more porn! We’ll be doing it all ourselves! Apple will release a new program called iOrgy starring Me!

Not only that, they will remove the asterisk from Barry Bonds’ name!

The police, the CIA and the FBI will all arrest themselves!

Al Queda and all the suicide bombers are going to become Sufis and the only thing we’ll have to worry about is that when they’re whirling around they might bump into us or step on our toes!

You can eat all the high fructose corn syrup and transfat you want and not get obese or diabetes!

You can drink antifreeze and live! You can cut your wrists with a razor and it’ll be like a temporary tattoo!

Sarah Palin—whoops! I mean Newt Gingrich—whoops! I mean Obama—whoops! I mean Jeb Bush—whoops! I mean Snoop Dog will be our next President (Say what you will Obama has been a failure as our First Hip-Hop President. Obama? he aint hardly busted out any good rhymes) and President Dog is going to move our nation’s capitol to South Central LA!

We’ll unlock the mysteries of the Great Pyramids and we can all build one ourselves in our own back yard in South Central!

We’ll find Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster!

The dolphins are going to crawl ashore and take over!

You’ll never have to brush your teeth or go to the dentist again (Except to flirt with the hygienist)!

You’ll never have to work again! Even in China! They’re going to say “Take this job and shove it! I want to party!”

The dinosaurs are going to be our friends!

The Beatles will reunite! And Julian Lennon will be part of the Beatles, too!

Jesus will come back again and you and all your friends will be raptured and live forever in paradise and all your enemies and the people you don’t like will go and burn in hell! It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or not!

Poo-poo won’t stink!

Carlos Castaneda will be on the up-and-up!

Columbus will have never discovered America!

You can jump off the Golden Gate Bridge and laugh and swim away!

George Lucas will keep making Star Wars movies and we’ll keep Gene Roddenberry’s brain alive in a vat so he can ride herd on those clowns and make sure they don’t screw up Star Trek anymore!

Aleistar Crowley is going to take over, the Illuminati are going to come clean and the Rosicrucians are going to hold a bake sale—and not only that their brownies are better than Starbucks’!

You can throw away your cellphone and your iPad and the Internet and everything else, baby!

You won’t even have to talk again unless you want to!

Because we’ll all have a chip in our heads and start communicating mind-to mind!

We won’t need cars because we’ll be teleporting!

We won’t need airplanes because we’ll be levitating!

All you have to do is Google it and it won’t give you Search Results! It will take you there! Google hell! All you’ll have to do is think it aloud three times and you are there—

And, man, no more toting all that luggage around! You know what I mean? No more giving the gift that keeps on giving! Yes! We will find the cure for herpes!

All the atomic bombs and nukes in the world are going to go off at once and they won’t even faze us no more than a fart of a baby chipmunk!

Any Hummers left out on the road are going to shrivel up and die!

O. J. Simpson will find the murderers!

And no more sidekicks! Only equals! It’ll be Tonto and the Lone Ranger! Kato and the Green Hornet! Robin and Batman! Number One Son and Charlie Chan!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer won’t slay jack! Vampires rule!

And Linda Blair’s gonna tell the priest “Exorcise this!”

We’ll find out that Harry Potter was really named Larry Potter !

And remember how I said that we’re going to keep Gene Roddenberry’s brain alive in a vat? Well, it gets better than that! Star Trek is real, I mean Star Trek is going to be for real! And I'm going to be the Captain of the Enterprise! And Captain James T. Kirk will be my bitch!

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My Favorite David Alpaugh Essay

Scene4 Magazine: What Poets Can Learn from Songwriters | David Alpaugh October 2011

by David Alpaugh at

Scene4 Magazine-inSight

October 2011

In Finishing The Hat, Stephen Sondheim zeroes in on the essential difference between the art of the lyricist and that of the poet: "Poetry doesn't need music," he writes, "lyrics do." Poetry is the art of "concision," written to stand on its own; lyrics, the art of "expansion," written to accommodate music.

And yet, the line between song and poem is not as firm as Sondheim suggests. William Blake called his greatest books of poetry Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Walt Whitman called the opening poem of Leaves of Grass "Song of Myself." In both cases, their work straddles the line between the genres. Blake's

    Piping down the valleys wild,
    Piping songs of pleasant glee,
    On a cloud I saw a child,
    And he laughing said to me

practically begs to be set to music, and has been by more than one composer. Whitman's great elegy, beginning

    In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house
    near the white-wash'd palings,
    Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing…

is one of the loveliest "songs" in the Kurt Weill / Langston Hughes musical, Street Scene.

Perhaps the most significant divergence between these sister arts today is the way in which poets and songwriters imagine their audiences. Whereas poetry is aimed almost exclusively at a limited number of fellow poets, hundreds of millions of men and women listen to songs on ipods and smart phones and millions more sing them in showers, kitchens, and karaoke bars. And almost none of these song lovers have ever written a song in their life.

Regrettably, too many poets are proud of their tribal isolation. Songwriting, they believe, is a commercial enterprise, aimed at the masses; poetry is the high art of the super-educated (formal poetry); super-sensitive (confessional poetry); or super-intellectual (language poetry). Poetry has always been and is at its best, they argue, when it is "caviar to the general."

Poets who reject such snobbery and want to achieve wider readership might consider the qualities that attract so many intelligent men and women to their sister art. Here are three that strike me as crucial:

1. Songwriters wholeheartedly embrace the obligation to entertain. They know that even the most serious, melancholy song must delight the listener; that the core emotion, even when the subject is loss or grief, is never depression, always joy.

Unfortunately, the word "entertainment" makes most poets shudder. They think there is something cheap about delighting readers and listeners. Because wit, humor, and satire are undeniably "entertaining" the prejudice against them is widespread. I have heard Billy Collins badmouthed by "serious" poets who have difficulty selling more than a few dozen copies of their own books!

Yet no less a poet than T.S. Eliot defined poetry as "a superior amusement"; and William Shakespeare, who delighted audiences that included both noblemen and groundlings, is our greatest poet and dramatist (as well as a brilliant songwriter) not despite being entertaining but because of it. Poets, like songwriters, should embrace the fact that they are entertainers. The only question is whether or not they are successful ones. We must (to re-phrase Auden) "love the reader or die."

2. Song lyrics usually minimize the specific individual in favor of a more generic, user-friendly, singable voice. Is there a single person on earth who cannot "remember April"?; who doesn't want to be danced "to the end of love"?; who wouldn't like to tell the powers that be that "the answer is blowing in the wind"? Emotion in songs is actually heightened by generalization. Pete Seeger's "When will they ever learn?" would be far less powerful were it "When will George Bush (or Anthony Wiener or Muammar Gaddafi) ever learn?"

Poetry used to be written from one human being to another. Too many contemporary poems are written in the voice of the poetry specialist speaking to his or her colleagues. Many poems are overburdened by trivial autobiographical details that discourage outsiders from reading them in the study, let alone reciting them in the shower. A poem should be as easy to "sing" as a song; but when I hear that narcissistic, self-absorbed, "poetic" voice, muttering to itself, I find myself shouting, "Hell, no, I won't go!"

3. Last, but first in importance, the primary mission of the poem should be the same as the primary mission of the song. Is it to educate? to describe the human condition? to make you laugh or cry? to make things happen? to change your life—or the world?

Songwriters know that it is none of the above. Though a song may accomplish all of those laudable deeds it can do so only after first achieving its primary goal: to make the listener want to hear the song again and again!

Click here for entire essay

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Friday, September 16, 2011

New Alpaugh Essay/Makuu in Korea/Great App for Poets/

David Alpaugh - Götterdämmerung for American Poetry?

Once again, David Alpaugh comes aboard as a provocative guest columnist. If you read No Money In Poetry regularly, you probably are familiar with his earlier pieces (scroll down to June 2, 2011 for) The Seven Deadly Guidelines - or the Invasion of the Poetry Editors and earlier still (March 3, 2010), The New Math of Poetry along with my own comments on the latter.

Today we have Alpaugh's undoubtedly controversial Götterdämmerung for American Poetry?
I'll begin with some meaty excerpts and then will provide a link to the entire article.

Excerpts from Götterdämmerung for American Poetry?

....Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 92; Richard Wilbur, 90; Gerald Stern and Maxine Kumin, 86; W.S. Merwin, John Ashbery and Galway Kinnell, 84; X.J. Kennedy and Adrienne Rich, 82; Gary Snyder, 81. The celebrity poets coming up behind them are already in their 70s or close to it: Mary Oliver is 76; Stephen Dunn, 72; Billy Collins, 70; Sharon Olds, 69; Louise Gluck, 68, Kay Ryan, 66.

But surely there are young poetic geniuses waiting in the wings? There are, in fact, more "emerging" poets in their 20s and 30s today than our current 2500-plus poetry journals can publish. College MFA programs are cranking them out by the thousands each year. The cream of the crop get book awards and teaching posts; but, unlike Levine and the other poets just mentioned, none is attracting many readers outside their limited poetry-writing circles.

Are we about to witness an authorial twilight of the gods? Is it Götterdämmerung time for American poetry?

To answer that question we need to go back fifty years to 1961 when our legendary Modernists were in the gloaming: Robert Frost was 87; Carl Sandburg, 83; William Carlos Williams, 78; Ezra Pound, 76; Marianne Moore and Robinson Jeffers, 74; T.S. Eliot, 73; E.E. Cummings, 67. Within twenty years they were all gone, along with younger Modernists Elizabeth Bishop and W.H. Auden.

But there wasn't a hint of Götterdämmerung in 1961 because several vibrant poetic revolutions were already underway. In 1955 Alan Ginsberg had published his controversial Howl and Other Poems, followed in 1958 by Ferlinghetti's popular A Coney Island of the Mind. In 1959 Gary Snyder imported Chinese, Japanese, and Zen models in his influential collection Rip Rap. In 1960 Donald Allen published his New American Poetry anthology which introduced readers to "The Beats," "New York School," "Black Mountain," and "San Francisco Renaissance" movements via Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Frank O'Hara, Charles Olsen, Denise Levertov, John Ashbery, Robert Creeley and other strong voices busy transforming America's poetic landscape.


Nor did the excitement end there. In 1959 W.D. Snodgrass published his Pulitzer Prize winning Heart's Needle and Robert Lowell his epoch-making Life Studies and "Confessional" poetry was born. Anne Sexton joined them a year later with To Bedlam and Part Way Back. And by 1962 Sylvia Plath was at work on the poems that would appear posthumously in Ariel and Other Poems, a collection that would have as much impact as any volume of 20th century verse.

These newcomers were not writing as adoring disciples of the Modernist masters. Siegfrieds and Brunhildes on the ramparts, they were profoundly dissatisfied with Valhalla and eager to burn it down. The Modernists and their New Critic supporters didn't speak to their experience and times. They were too reticent about biographical, cultural and political matters and too constrictive and patrician in style. The new wave of poets raised diverse aesthetic hammers and smashed the Modernist mold, forging many distinctive voices, talking about all aspects of their personal lives—sexuality, drugs, war—nothing was off limits. A new generation of readers arose to greet them saying, "Here, at last, is the poetry we've hungered for."

Surprisingly, we have not had a comparable revolution in poetry since the 60s. Oh, there were and still are "the new formalists" and "new narrative" poets—but that's a reinvigorating of a past aesthetic rather than a true revolt. Some will point to the "language poetry" that began back in the 70s (now on life support); but an elitist movement limited to a tiny group of theorists is more terrorism than revolution.

Why has poetry been running in place for fifty years? Why are younger poets content to dance with the ghosts of poetries past? Why is it hard to think of poets now in their 30s or 40s who are likely to achieve the wide readership that Levine and the above mentioned poets enjoy? ....

Several More Excerpts with Comments

First of all, while the following strikes me as being Alpaugh's ongoing theme in several essays, I'd only respond that poets need to begin somewhere in order to later unleash a "New-where."

If, as I have argued, dissatisfaction with existing poetry is essential for the creation of exciting new work, degree-granting MFA programs make true creativity difficult if not impossible.


The programs naturally encourage complacency rather than dissatisfaction. Young poets flock to university campuses to learn from teaching poets because they admire them, often to the point of idolatry. They want to learn to write like their professors who would be masochistic were they to suggest that their own poetry must be rejected before the difficult work of creating authentic new work can begin.

The following conclusion is extremely important

Independent poets are rarely awarded significant honors by the professionals; their poetry is seldom taught in program workshops; nor are they invited to read at university venues. They are kept offstage, away from the spotlight. Were a young independent poet to write astonishing new poetry not many would get a chance to read it.

So, alas, it may be Götterdämmerung time for American poetry. Still, we can take heart from the fact that the French Académie eventually failed to stop the Impressionists. I'm confident that sooner or later, the purveyors of mediocrity will fail. Meanwhile I'll pull Wotan and Fricka and Levine down from the shelf and enjoy their excellent verse once again. Who knows? Having just turned 70, I may still be here when Siegfried and Brunhilde come on stage and the next poetic revolution begins.

Personally, I still reserve hope of being the different savior or even an incarnation of Eliot's il miglior fabbro. Any poet worth his/her salt does. Because I was away from poetry for a full fourteen years, I like to believe that I returned fresh. Lamentably, George Oppen, who few mention these days, returned very fresh following twenty years in the wilderness.

For me, the idea of poetry movements or of a poet's recognizable style are not what make poems or poets new. I pride myself in not attempting to practice a definable "Coletti" style. I'm constantly changing.

The "new," the "different," or the "great" have little to do with line length, great ideas, or with how much white space a poem has or hasn't. The greatness or even the newness of a poem or of a poet are qualities as evanescent as poetry itself.

Thank you once again, David Alpaugh, for your rich contributions filled with the stuff of thought, reflection, controversy, and call for response.

Press here for the Full Alpaugh Article

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Makuuu Eckert

I received this wonderful email correspondence from friend and Sonoma County unique poet-character Mark Eckert currently teaching English in Korea.

Hello Mr. Coletti (or Edwardu as you would fondly be dubbed by the local bards),

I just wanted to drop a quick note from the middle of nowhere, Muan, South Korea. Think Point Reyes, Tomales Bay and Puget Sound along the southwest coast of Korea and you have some idea of my new environs. The difference here being rolling, dense forests of pine cypress and spruce intersperced with traditional orange green and blue pagoda roofed houses, burial tombs of the next of kin behind each. Throw in the ear piercing ratcheting of the yechi (cicada) and the brayings of the tofu ladies and gentlemen and you've got it.

Watch your step, Ed or you may find yourself knee deep in one of the surprise rice terraces so ubiquitous to Chungye gu as the local province is called.And should you slip up and find yourself sinking down into the mud, just start reciting some of that fine Round Barn verse of yours and some able bodied ajima (the brazen old farmer's wives who do ALL the heavy planting and lifting in Korea) will yank you out pronto!
Send Denner on over and I'll treat him to a mountaintop temple stay in Naju which is perched magnificently on a craggy Mt. Wolchusan due north of here. Then just to cover all the bases, we'll head down below to partake of the statue of the Virgin Mary that reportedly has been weeping real tears for the past year or so. Actually, that might be more for the great Italian poet saint himself,

Tell Mr. Madgelan I will be e-mailing him next. All the best to Joyce.


Mark (er, Makuuu) Eckert

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Wonderful App For Poets

Featured in the Sept/Oct 2011 issue of Poets & Writers, this app works wonderfully well, and I especially enjoy the category permitting searches directly by poet name, but all the features are very useful and fun.

The Poetry Foundation’s free POETRY app promises to turn your iPhone into a portable library of verse. A shake of your device reveals a random collection of poems, catalogued under intersecting themes, with various emotions and sensations—Anger, Insecurity, Joy, Optimism, and Boredom, for example—paired with topics such as Life, Youth, Celebrations, Nature, Spirituality, and Arts and Sciences. Once you’ve hit on a theme, you can call up poems by literary luminaries such as Robert Creeley, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, and Pablo Neruda, and contemporary writers including Rosmarie Waldrop, Kevin Young, and Matthew Zapruder, some featuring audio of poets reading their work. A tap of the star icon below each title adds a poem to your personal favorites list, and poems can be promoted via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail with a tap of the Share button.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Bryant & Coletti/Stupid Poetry Book Contests/iNVASION OF tHE pOETRY eDITORS/

Following a review by "Maggie" at Amazon.Com of my new book of poetry When Hearts Outlive Minds, I wanted to check out the work of William Cullen Bryant. I did so, and, in addition to Bryant's amazing "Thanatopsis," I found the following poem which somehow, in both theme and color reminded me of my own poem"Backyard Appeal."

To the Fringed Gentian
by William Cullen Bryant
Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven's own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.

Thou comest not when violets lean
O'er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines, in purple dressed,
Nod o'er the ground-bird's hidden nest.

Thou waitest late and com'st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.

Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue--blue--as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.

I would that thus, when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,
Hope, blossoming within my heart,
May look to heaven as I depart.

Backyard Appeal by Ed Coletti

Bluest sky moment,
I paint you as words
spring maple yellow.

Photinia bush
redden my flesh, be my sun,
rain memory has fled.

Mirror of sea,
sky unblemished blue,
sing your song.

Copper fields slip
green to cyan,
oxygen’s funny magic.

Black dog come to me.
Tell me what you fathom
beneath this our common ground.

Published in Blueline (2007)

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Poetry Book Contests

Jack Crimmins hipped me to this very interesting Huffington Post article by Anis Shivani about poetry contests. By the way, my non-poet friend and reader Duncan Lee offered the following reply to my recent publication of the dismal statistic regarding the problems older poets encounter in poetry contests,

Is it necessary for a poet to win? I can see that winning a contest can add to a resume, but does a poet need/want a resume? I'm not for or against entering contests, I do all the time in my favorite pastime (auto racing). Perhaps it's just a necessary evil, how else does a poet get recognition?

Poetry Book Contests Should be Abolished: Why Contests Are the Stupidest Way to Publish First Books by Anis Shivani

Huffington Post 6-2-11

In the May/June 2011 Poets & Writers, there's a feature on writing contests. Editor Kevin Larimer (all credit to him for asking the right questions) interviews four poetry first book contest administrators, Stephanie G'Schwind (director of the Center for Literary Publishing and editor of Colorado Review), Michael Collier (director of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference), Camille Rankine (program and communications coordinator at Cave Canem Foundation), and Beth Harrison (associate director of the Academy of American Poets and administrator of the Walt Whitman Award), discussing issues of fairness, impartiality, process, revenues, and results. (Full Disclosure: I've been published in Colorado Review and consider G'Schwind an excellent editor; and I know Collier from Bread Loaf).

The contest model means a poet submitting a manuscript with a fee of around $25, and being part of a pool of anywhere from a few hundred to more than a thousand manuscripts judged "blindly"--we'll see soon what that means in poetry contest parlance. The winner gets about a thousand dollars along with publication, and publicity in cloistered academic poetry circles. The 999 losers print out another copy of the manuscript and write another check to yet another contest, never giving up hope.

Poetry contests are about the only remaining way to publish a first poetry book. And that's one way poetry is being killed in this country, reduced to consensus-by-committee, stripped of individual vision, yielding vast parchments of conformity and mediocrity, worth only as means of boosting resumes and securing academic jobs. Our poetry is haunted today by a blind adherence to lack of ambition--and the poetry contest model is part of the problem.

Is this the best way to discover new poetry talent in the country? What happens to editorial judgment, consistent aesthetic vision, commitment to particular values, building a movement, advocating for a particular style, and creating a critical mass of new writing if the contest model is allegedly based in "impartiality" and "blindness"--in other words, pretends to be the exemplar of democracy, egalitarianism, and disavowal of values? Has institutionalization gone too far? Would we all be better off--far-fetched as it sounds--if the contest model were eliminated and consistent editorial judgment were allowed to enter into the process of first book publication again? Read the full Shivani article here.

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Katherine Hastings sent along this amusing to-the-point piece by David Alpaugh. Take a look.


The Invasion of The Poetry Editors

We can only consider submissions during our reading period--July 1st to July 15th. Poems received on June 30th or July 16th--or any of our other (hallelujah!) 348 non-poetry-reading days will be tossed into our dumpster unread. (Editors have lives to live, places to go, pot to smoke; and no one can expect us to read scores of crappy poems 365 days a year!)

We do NOT want to see meter or rhyme. Rhyme because its huge popularity via rap, rock, slam, cowboy poetry, light verse, greeting cards, and advertising (ugh to all that shit!) might attract the great unwashed, whereas our goal is to provide 'caviar to the general' (and we don't mean Petraeus). Meter because it asks us to approach poetry as a quasi-musical composition, whereas we all know that it is merely a sub-species of prose where the 'poet' imposes an arbitrary line and stanza structure to make boring personal anecdotes look like stuff remembered from Norton Anthologies back in Freshman Comp.

We ONLY want to see meter and rhyme. If you are writing antiquarian verse on stock themes--'Love,' 'Time,' 'Death'--using predictable end-rhyme and dee-dumb-dee-dumb pentameter that make your 'work' a footnote to stuff written by dead white guys centuries ago--send it along. (All we ask is that you know the difference between an anapest and an amphibrach!)

We adore ghazals, pantoums and other faddish imports--anything without a track record in English (faux form always raises the non-Emily-Dickinson-hair on the back of our non-poetic-necks). We abhor native forms that have produced 'The Best Loved Poems of the American People' (please, no couplets, quatrains or--heaven forfend!--sonnets). Poetry being 'what gets lost in translation,' we love to see poets like Rumi, Rilke, Neruda, Hikmet disappear in a puff of prose!

Before submitting, be sure to check our web site for the upcoming THEME. Our Spring 2011 issue will be devoted to Poems about Spiders. Send us a poem about a flea or tiger, and we'll return it nine months later with a note scrawled across your cover letter that WE'RE ONLY READING POEMS ABOUT SPIDERS, STUPID! (If you don't have a poem with eight legs write one!) We wouldn't know a great poem if it bit us on the ass, but, damn it, we know a passable spider poem when we see one! Besides making our job easier by cutting down on submissions, telling poets what to write allows us to piss on our bete noir--ORIGINALITY. (The theme for our Fall issue will be 'My Summer Vacation.')

Short poems have a much better chance than long ones. To be candid, we are not so much publishing poems as accrediting poets. Send us a superb multi-pager--a 'Howl' or 'Prufrock' or 'Mauberly'--and you are, in effect, asking us to accredit one poet versus three or six or ten. (Who the hell do you think you are?--John Fuckin' Milton?) Publication is about something much more important than readership! That job at Cuckamonga Community College or reading at the Bonky-Bonky-Bo Book Shop may depend upon it! In order to accredit as many poets as possible we frown upon 'long' poems (which we define as any piece of chopped prose that exceeds 36 lines).

We do require a short bio with your submission. Only a few contributors (and their Facebook sycophants) will actually read your poem--but all will want to compare their credits against yours. Did YOU win the Conkerman Prize? Spend a week at the Daughters of Robert Bly Writer's Retreat in Northern Idaho? How many of the 75,000-plus Pushcart Prize 'nominations' have you arranged for yourself over your career? (Lyn Lifshin has more than 200!)

Speaking of prizes, we urge you to enter our poetry contest. You can't expect us to cover even a fraction of our production costs via our seventeen subscriptions (and no one is crazy enough to waste money advertising to a half dozen or so community college adjunct instructors who supplement their incomes by waiting tables at The Olive Garden). If you and 1000 other wannabes fork out a measly $25 you'll each have a chance to win $1000 and publication in our prestigious journal--and we will gross $25,000! That should allow us to pay the winner and grand prize judge; print 1000 copies of a 60-page 4-color paperback for distribution to the 999 losers; and still have $10,000 to remunerate our editorial staff for their tireless efforts on your behalf. Everybody wins! (except the losers--but, hey, y'all have much better odds with us than with Powerball!).

© David Alpaugh 2011

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Rothenberg Interview/diGiorno Collages/Age vs Success/Coletti Book/Art Exhibit

Ed Coletti Interviews Michael Rothenberg founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Q: Michael, how did you dream up this ambitious project?

A: Two months ago I was chatting with a friend on Facebook, complaining about the world, and I said in desperation, "There ought to be 100 Thousand Poets for Change!" My friend replied, "That's a good idea." So I created an event page on Facebook asking my Facebook friends if they would be interested in a demonstration/ celebration of poetry to promote serious social and political change?

Q: How many countries are now involved in staging poetry events on (what's the date?)?

A: So far 170 cities and 44 countries have signed on to organize events on September 24. Nearly 100 events in the USA!

Q: How many total venues.

A: I estimate the number of venues at around 200 venues to date. In Cincinnati there will be a "crawl" down Main Street from shop to shop, an hour poetry reading in each shop. So there might be 8 venues in Cincinnati but I am not counting those! In the Bay Area there are 10 venues.

Q: What are some of the more surprising examples? (I'm going to say something like only Jupiter and Saturn not staging events)

A: Yesterday I signed on a world famous bookstore Al Kotob Khan in Cairo, Egypt. We have had very positive response from African nations, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and South Africa. And the Slam community is into the event in a big way. They are calling their events SLAM FOR CHANGE, participants include Oakland Slam poets, Austin Poetry Slam, Hilo, Hawaii slam, Boise, Idaho, Spokane Poetry Slam and Thess Poetry Slam in Athens, Greece. I expect there will be many more.

Q: Most heartwarming response?

A: I received a video in my email from Limerick, Ireland. It was a recording of a gathering of The Whitehouse Poets where they announced their decision to participate in a global movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and expressed their desire to be the center of this movement for all of Ireland. I also liked to hear from a group in Canada who are not poets but want to read poetry about political and social change on September 24. And I am inspired by the planned gathering of the most famous poets in Bangladesh, Nirmolendu goon, Joyonta deb, Aditto anik, and Syed Shamshul hoque in Bogra, Bangladesh for September 24.

Q: Funniest response or reaction thus far?
Someone told me they weren't interested in the program because they liked to keep their poetry and politics separate.

Q: How are you coping? Are you sure you're doing enough?

A: Sigh. It is inspiring and exhausting. I am drawn in by the enthusiasm of others. I never feel that I have done enough.

Q: I was joking. I admire you for the amount of effort you put into helping poetry count both with this and your previous Katrina projects.


We want to live like movie stars

We don't trust politicians but still

Let them run our lives

What's another landfill of radios at 20 ft

Computers at 10ft. Poetry at five

Polyurethane embryos and vinyl blood

Take a sample, smear it on a slide

Bombard it with laser, atoms, literary criticism

Snow falls in Sierras 3 inches per hour

Chains required on major passes

Too late to turn back

(Michael Rothenberg 1999)

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The Joy!

Bay Area Poet Geri diGiorno also is a wonderful portrait collagist currently being featured at Big Bridge. Here's the link to Geri diGiorno collages.

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The Horror!

Check this out from Poets & Writers study "The Anatomy of Awards." Of 1,064 contest winners, 129 won prizes resulting in the publication of a full-length book. Of the winners aged 65+, a mere 4 percent prevailed! What do you conclude?

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In case you missed this on the P3, I'm very proud of the book and will repeat this here in "No Money in Poetry."

Coming Out in June!!!

Double-Click on Cover to Enlarge (so you can read review blurbs)

June Painting Exhibit

Double-Click to Enlarge

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Patrick Dunagan's Gustonbook/Jack Foley on Money in Poetry/Henry Miller Too/Indispensable Donald Hall Essay/

Unconnected Snippets from SF Bay Area Poet Patrick James Dunagan's marvelous and curious new book There Are People Who Think That Painters Shouldn't Talk: A GUSTONBOOK

A hand moves
eye starts
words go
Forget order
impose nothing
onto things
Pulling things up
rooted resemblances
of what

Pilings of stuff
tangled roots
early Zephyr surf team
cutting through
pillars of burned
out Santa Monica
pier late '70s

When shit gets petty
get petty
right back

(for Ted Berrigan
& Alice Notley


One makes the world
of the poem
making the world
of words the poem makes

Language is color
the medium resists

there are no hierarchies, no infinite, no such many as
mass, there are only
eyes in all heads,
to be looked out of

A sudden brilliance

& then

Ideas acquire years

It cannot but be

More than

to be

notes that
any one
so might

of their own

What's meant

I did this thing
I did
in the dark of light
I dig

this thing I did

just being here
touching me
other one
here, here
just touch

You would be certain
of that brick

bits incomplete
echo any interest

I am so jealous of color

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Now back to the title of this site No Money in Poetry

But is there poetry in money?? Check out Bay Area poet Jack Foley's humorous take followed by that of Big Sur's Henry Miller


—Dr. Johnson

why would you want to

tra la tra la sang isadora

publish a book

as she danced

if you didn’t want

in practically

to make money from it

nothing at all

why would you put

mi chiamano Mimi

money into it

says the pretty young girl

if there were no money

in the opera written

to be got out of it

in the hope of gaining

why would you want to

fame &

write a poem


if you didn’t want

you gotta eat don’t you?

to make money from it

consider the lilies of the field”

why would you want

not everybody has a heavenly father

to paint a picture

or as we say in the theater

why would you want to write a song

a sugar daddy

(are you crazed? do you think you’re a bird?)

or golly a sugar mommy

if there were no money in it

or even a sugar nephew

why would you want

don’t be a diabetic sweetie

to do anything at all

you need something

anything at all

to put in your coffee

why bestir yourself

or your coffer

why get thee out of bed

before you get put

why make something beautiful

in yr god damn coffin

whoo the old moola

so go out there swinging

if you don’t want

shake that thing

wow the green stuff

but don’t be too bohème honey

to make money

when you show em your legs

(gimme the coin I want that sweet)

make sure they show you

why would you

their credit cards


you want to be kempt

if you couldn’t anything

but you gotta be “kept”

why would you money

“better to go down dignified

publish money a

“with boughten friendship at your side”

money if you money

a poet said that and he made lots of it

didn’t money

want to money








- Jack Foley's recent bio = Balding. "Ubiquitous." Tap dances. Writes. Erases

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I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year ago, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am. Everything that was literature has fallen from me. There are no more books to be written, thank God. This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, and defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty

To walk in money through the night crowd, protected by money, lulled by money, dulled by money, the crowd itself a money, the breath money, no least single object anywhere that is not money. Money, money everywhere and still not enough! And then no money, or a little money, or less money, or more money but money always money . and if you have money , or you don't have money, it is the money that counts, and money makes money, but what makes money make money? - Henry Miller

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Indispensable Essay by Donald Hall

When I read this, I wondered what poet could live without it. Then, putting it on here, I couldn't imagine abridging it. However, since it's "longish," I'll provide it's beginnings here and add a link to the full essay. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing!

Poetry and Ambition
by Donald Hall

1. I see no reason to spend your life writing poems unless your goal is to write great poems.

An ambitious project—but sensible, I think. And it seems to me that contemporary American poetry is afflicted by modesty of ambition—a modesty, alas, genuine ... if sometimes accompanied by vast pretense. Of course the great majority of contemporary poems, in any era, will always be bad or mediocre. (Our time may well be characterized by more mediocrity and less badness.) But if failure is constant the types of failure vary, and the qualities and habits of our society specify the manners and the methods of our failure. I think that we fail in part because we lack serious ambition.

2. If I recommend ambition, I do not mean to suggest that it is easy or pleasurable. "I would sooner fail," said Keats at twenty-two, "than not be among the greatest." When he died three years later he believed in his despair that he had done nothing, the poet of "Ode to a Nightingale" convinced that his name was "writ in water." But he was mistaken, he was mistaken. ... If I praise the ambition that drove Keats, I do not mean to suggest that it will ever be rewarded. We never know the value of our own work, and everything reasonable leads us to doubt it: for we can be certain that few contemporaries will be read in a hundred years. To desire to write poems that endure—we undertake such a goal certain of two things: that in all likelihood we will fail, and that if we succeed we will never know it.

Every now and then I meet someone certain of personal greatness. I want to pat this person on the shoulder and mutter comforting words: "Things will get better! You won't always feel so depressed! Cheer up!"

But I just called high ambition sensible. If our goal in life is to remain content, no ambition is sensible. ... If our goal is to write poetry, the only way we are likely to be any good is to try to be as great as the best.

3. But for some people it seems ambitious merely to set up as a poet, merely to write and to publish. Publication stands in for achievement—as everyone knows, universities and grant-givers take publication as achievement—but to accept such a substitution is modest indeed, for publication is cheap and easy. In this country we publish more poems (in books and magazines) and more poets read more poems aloud at more poetry readings than ever before; the increase in thirty years has been tenfold.

So what? Many of these poems are often readable, charming, funny, touching, sometimes even intelligent. But they are usually brief, they resemble each other, they are anecdotal, they do not extend themselves, they make no great claims, they connect small things to other small things. Ambitious poems usually require a certain length for magnitude; one need not mention monuments like The Canterbury Tales, The Faerie Queen, Paradise Lost, or The Prelude. "Epithalamion," "Lycidas," and "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" are sufficiently extended, not to mention "The Garden" or "Out of the Cradle." Not to mention the poet like Yeats whose briefer works make great connections.

I do not complain that we find ourselves incapable of such achievement; I complain that we seem not even to entertain the desire.

Please press here for the full essay!

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