The week’s best online poetry with excerpts, links and (occasional) commentary by yours truly. This week features poetry by Marvin Bell, Debra Marquart, Reginald Harris and Jen Benka.
Early last month I made a commitment to writing a blog post every day for “the rest of the year” – 23 days/23 blog posts. Although I fell short (I produced 16 posts in 23 days), the end result was exactly what I was looking for. I have formed a writing habit.
Not as interesting as, say, forming a coke habit or as healthy and inspiring as running 5 miles a day…but to a writer, it’s the difference between life and death (or, at the very least, it’s the difference between being a writer and being someone who just calls themselves a writer).
Ironically, I did run in to novelist Tom Franklin in the chips and beverages aisle of our local Kroger the other day. Unfortunately, he was alone and not surrounded by other thinkers and artists of our community, and he didn’t have time to engage in a political discussion. Alas. Kroger is probably not the best location for the revival of the Blue Stockings Society. And so I left thinking that someone should really write a how-to on starting and running a modern-day version of the 18th century salon. Finding no one in the meat department, I’ve opted to attempt it myself.
When is the last time you remember a woman gracing the cover of Time Magazine for little else than her ability to throw a really great party?
Perle Mesta, from the cover of the March 14, 1949 issue of Time, is credited with being “the capital’s No. 1 hostess, a position she had inherited, almost by default, from a long line of free-spending, haughty, and sometimes charming dowagers.”
I have a very good friend who does this little “wrap-up” every year and thought it was a nice tradition and way to keep tabs on a life that goes by much, much too quickly. The questions are borrowed (with permission) from All & Sundry – I deleted some of the original questions that didn’t seem to pertain to me, in particular, this year and added some that I’d like to keep track of in the future.
1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
JOE: You wrote her letters? SCHUYLER: Mail. It was called mail. NELSON: (fondly nostalgic and kidding it slightly) Stamps. Envelopes. JOE: Wait. I’ve heard of it. It was a means of communication before I was born.
It’s always nice to have snow for Christmas. Living in Mississippi means waiting ten to thirty years for such an event. So this year, we decided to stack the deck and headed to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Mother Nature did not disappoint.
I have to ask.
Do the owners of Billboard Ministries or those who run the isheinyou.com website (oh yes, that’s the actual name of the site) have a wickedly sharp sense of humor, or are they just clueless? And who, pray tell, is the intended audience for this message? Continue reading
“I’m giving thanks that we don’t have to go through this for another year. Except we do, because those bastards went and put Christmas right in the middle, just to punish us.” –Home for the Holidays
The much anticipated (for book geeks like me) publication of the first volume of Samuel Clemens’ autobiography has been given as a “powerful argument for writers’ burning their papers” according to Garrison Keillor’s scathing review in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. Keillor, much like Clemens’ himself, notes a score of missteps in this autobiography – forcing the reader of his review to suffer the tedium of his reading of the damned book. The review is, in fact, so tedious with tedious quotes, that, rather than eliciting even a morbid curiosity about the “fraud” that is The Autobiography of Mark Twain, I now have absolutely no desire to read it. In fact, I have a strange and sudden urge to instigate a book burning.
It just so happens that writers get caught in their own papers all the time. It’s the problem with print. It tends to stick around, and what might be interesting or of note or even good one day, may in fact be pure crap 100 years from now. Many writers, those with foresight perhaps, do, in fact, burn their papers. Willa Cather did it. And then she went a step further by putting a provision in her will that forbids her letters from being published. Ever. This fine print has made researching her, if not difficult, at the very least inconvenient for scholars. But after reading Keillor’s review of Twain’s papers, I have to give the lady props.
Of course, Mr. Clemens has only himself to blame. Had he allowed the book to be published in his lifetime (or even shortly after his death), he might have been forgiven. But to put so much pressure on a piece of writing – to require it not be published for 100 years and to subtitle the thing “The Complete Authentic Unexpurgated Edition, Nothing Has Been Omitted, Not Even Scandalous Passages Likely to Cause Grown Men to Gasp and Women to Collapse in Tears — No Children Under 7 Allowed to Read This Book Under Any Circumstance”…well…
It would seem he was asking for it.
Even so, I can’t help but feel a little bad for the man. I mean, 100-year-old promises are hard to keep. Especially when one promises a blockbuster of a book that won’t be read for a century. Still, even with Keillor’s review, the book is doing well and no doubt stuffing the coffers of Mr. Clemens’ benefactors. And let’s face it – who among us doesn’t want something we’ve written to be on the New York Times’ Best Seller List for seven weeks straight (and counting) a century after we’re gone? Of course, if we aim for that, we’ll no doubt find ourselves in the same embarrassing predicament as Mr. Clemens.