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Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Poetry Month: Writing

And so I didn't get a post together for Thursday because I was writing poetry.

I finally put together a submission for Poetry in Transit, which was harder than I expected. While trying to get there, I hacked out some lines about the car I'm about to junk. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Poetry Month: Planned posts

Spent the evening at an open mic in Scranton, followed up with some shopping, mostly for cat food. I'm tired now, and a little down because of the looming prospect of having to dispose of my broken-down twenty-one year old car. So, no post today.

One thing this National Poetry Month exercise has made me realize is how very few poets I'm actually familiar with. I need to remedy that.

I have two non-poem posts planned before the end of the month: one about the value of a writing group to a poet, and another titled "Who gets to write poetry?" But those are for other nights.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National poetry Month: Francesco Marciuliano, I Could Pee On This

I know quite a few poets. Many I've met in person, a few I just know online. Only one has had his book of poems on a New York Times bestsellers list.

Francesco Marciuliano has been the writer for the comic strip Sally Forth since 1999, and has more recently taken over writing duties for Judge Parker. I first met him online when he left an encouraging comment on a post on my blog back in July of 2007 when I observed that Ted Forth and I had lost our jobs at the same time. In early 2011, he did a series of blog posts that paired up quotes from Charlie Sheen with pictures of mischievous cats, and this evolved into a series of poems by cats, which developed into a book of poems where each poem was paired up with a cat photo - I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats.

I have often joked that Francesco's success with this volume and its sequels (I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs and I Knead My Mommy and Other Poems by Kittens) has resulted in him getting a death mark from the Union of Professional Poets. But I do wonder how much "serious" poets resent the success of his work. Frankly, I hope they take his success as an inspiration and an encouragement.  His book struck a chord with the book-buying public, appealed to the cat-loving public, and also was a perfect gift. May many other poets have the same sort of success that he has!

Monday, April 24, 2017

National Poetry Month: Emily Dickinson, Before I got my eye put out –

A poem for the Spring. One I have never seen before tonight.

Before I got my eye put out –
by Emily Dickinson

Before I got my eye put out – 
I liked as well to see 
As other creatures, that have eyes – 
And know no other way – 

But were it told to me, Today, 
That I might have the Sky 
For mine, I tell you that my Heart 
Would split, for size of me – 

The Meadows – mine – 
The Mountains – mine – 
All Forests – Stintless stars – 
As much of noon, as I could take – 
Between my finite eyes – 

The Motions of the Dipping Birds – 
The Morning’s Amber Road – 
For mine – to look at when I liked, 
The news would strike me dead – 

So safer – guess – with just my soul 
Opon the window pane 
Where other creatures put their eyes – 
Incautious – of the Sun –

Lliacs and lawnmowing

Just some quick notes:

First lilac blossoms noted: April 21
First lawn mowing: April 23

Tulips are in full bloom

Daffodils and Irises are apparently past bloom

Sunday, April 23, 2017

National Poetry Month: Poets in their own words

I was first exposed to Langston Hughes in Fourth Grade, when I was eleven ten or so. I didn't know what he sounded like, but for some reason I did know what the famous actor Paul Robeson sounded like. Having very little personal experience - that is to say, none - with people outside of my lily-white Polish community, I assumed that Paul Robeson's booming, rolling bass tones were typical of all men of his racial persuasion. So I imagined Langston Hughes' words being spoken in Paul Robeson's voice. I carried this assumption with me until just a few years ago when I heard a recording of Hughes for the first time.

I was taken aback by his soft, lilting voice. That isn't how he's supposed to sound, I thought. That isn't how this poem is supposed to sound.

How should a poem sound? The written word is a funny thing. Some people experience it visually. Others experience it audibly. Some experience both simultaneously. Is our audible experience of a poem as valid as the poet's intended phrasing?

Poet Sara Holbrook wrote about why she will not explain her intended meaning of a poem to students. Once a poem is released into the wild, the right of interpretation passes to the reader. Inflicting a single "correct" interpretation of the meaning on all readers is to take away the experience of discovering the resonances and relatability of the poem for the individual reader.

So too with the sound of the poem. What rhythm the poet intended to be present in the poem should be encoded into the poem itself, waiting for the reader to discover it. Finding out that the poet had read the poem completely differently than the reader has been hearing it can be a bit of a shock - but it is one that should not detract from the experience of the poem, nor does it invalidate the reader's interpretation.

Here, for example, is T.S. Eliot reading The Waste Land," a poem many encountered in high school. Does this differ from how you had heard it in you head?

There is a video with a clip of William Butler Yeats reading "The Second Coming," but it makes use of a visual gimmick so bizarre and disturbing I will not include it here. Surprisingly, his recitation is very close to how I imagined the poem to sound the first time I read it.

Here is another recording of Yeats where he tells an anecdote about another poet's reaction to hearing his own poetry read by someone else. He also recites several of his own poems, as he intended them to be heard.

There is value in hearing poems read in the poet's own voice. I have books that contain poems that I have heard read aloud by their authors, and it is fun to read them in the voices of the poets who wrote them. But the voice in which you hear the poem as you read it is just as valid. Perhaps more so. The poem as read by the poet involves just the poet and the words. But the poem as you hear it involves an interaction between poet, the poem, and the reader.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

National Poetry Month: Walt Whitman, When I Heard the Learn'd Astonomer

A decade and a half or so ago, I worked at a DVD Compression / Encoding / Authoring facility. We would get the various bits and pieces that would go onto a DVD as raw video and audio assets, subtitle files, image files to be transformed into menus, and so forth. We would process them - compressing video, encoding audio - and then "author" them into a finished, assembled DVD project to be sent on to the next stage of production . (I was the guy who calculated how the video would be compressed, and then figured out how all the pieces would have to fit together onto the finite space of a DVD.) One Fall day in 1999 or 2000, I was getting ready to head home. We had some large windows that looked west, over the rooftops of our neighbors in Olyphant, and gave a great view of the setting sun. The sunset that day was spectacular, magnificent, a symphony of colors and textures, layer after layer of clouds in gold, red, orange, and yellow. (My synesthesia kicked in and I was also hearing the sunset, a Wagnerian orchestra playing sweeping crescendos and booming fanfares.)

I stopped dead in my tracks. Two of my co-workers saw me looking out the window and stopped to see what was going on. I pulled out my cell phone and called my mom, thirty-five miles away, to tell her to look out her window and see if she was seeing the same thing.

I have a degree in Physics, with a second major in Philosophy. I have studied the physics of rainbows and sunsets. One of my favorite books is Light and Color in the Outdoors by Marcel Minnaert, in which amazing optical phenomena of the natural world are discussed and analyzed in loving detail. As I looked at the sunset I was awash in the physics of it all: photons generated by the sun through thermonuclear fusion, traveling tens of millions of miles to Earth's atmosphere, being refracted just so, the red and yellow and orange and yellow being bent down, down into the layers of clouds, great masses of water vapor floating in the air, drifting gently in the currents, buoyed up by temperature and pressure differences, and...

"How can anyone look at this and doubt the hand of God?", one of my co-workers said.

I was knocked out of my reverie. Yes, of course. God. Why is the sunset so beautiful? God wants it that way. Why does it rain? God. Why does the wind blow? God. Why do the birds sing? God. God. God is the answer to everything. Forget science, that's for the nonbelievers. God. End of discussion.

I've never been a big fan of Whitman. I hear he's good. Bram Stoker was impressed enough by him to model Dracula on him. I haven't read much by him, but one thing that stuck with me was a poem I read in high school. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, 
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Was Whitman expressing his contempt for science? Was he just saying "Math is hard"? It seems to me that he got it exactly wrong. Or maybe Whitman was in desperate need of an interlocutor, someone who could bridge the gap between the learn'd astronomer and the not-so-learn'd layman audience member. Maybe he needed a Carl Sagan or a Stephen Hawking, a Bill Nye, a Richard Feynman, a Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a Marcel Minnaert, someone to let him know how amazing and wonderful and beautiful science is, and how much more deeply an understanding of science would have allowed him to appreciate the wonders of the world, and the universe.

Check out "A Glorious Dawn," the first video from "Symphony of Science" - a project that turns the words of scientists into music, and scientists into rock stars.

Epilogue: I had a bit of a crisis at the March 29, 2017 Be Daring Open Mic at Adezzo in Scranton. The International Space Station was scheduled to pass over the area that night, and I wanted to see it, but I didn't want to miss the open mic. My set ended just a little before the flyover time, so I stepped outside as the next act set up. Adezzo is located in the middle of a block, at the intersection of two alleys, and the buildings surrounding it are surprisingly tall. But thanks to the predicted timings and location from Heavens Above, I was able to watch the ISS pass over, almost as bright as it could get, its solar panels reflecting the Sun which was now well beneath the local horizon. Thanks to a bunch of learn'd and dedicated astronomers, I was able to see this glorious phenomenon - and then step back into the open mic to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Not much opportunity to observe the ISS as it passes over - unless you know just where to look.

Friday, April 21, 2017

National Poetry Month: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

When I was a kid in the early 1970's, we had these things called "encyclopedias," a sort of printed version of Wikipedia, only with fewer entries. These entries were written (in theory) by people with special knowledge of specific topics. Every family of means had a set, especially those with children, and some people made a decent living as door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen. Supermarkets would often hold promotions where during one week for this amount of money you could get Volume 1 of an encyclopedia, next week you could get Volume 2, and then after that you could buy the rest as a set. These would sometimes be specialized encyclopedias geared towards children, covering science or animals or the world in general. My parents bought a set of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias - my mom still gets their annual supplemental yearbooks, after more than fifty years - but my sister, my brother, and I managed to convince them to get us volumes 1 and 2 of a lot of specialized sets.

One of those was the International Wildlife Encyclopedia. I ate those up. I learned all about axolotls and aye-ayes, anemones and acorn worms, anoles and aphids. The pictures were especially appealing, photographs and paintings and even microscopic images for "amoeba" (or possibly "ameba.") One illustration in particular stuck in my head, an ink sketch (actually a Gustave Dore woodcut) of a bedraggled man, a huge dead bird hanging around his neck. This was in the entry for "albatross."

The image had a bit of text beneath it:

And I had done a hellish thing, 
And it would work 'em woe: 
For all averred, I had killed the bird 
That made the breeze to blow. 

OK, that was weird. What the hell did it mean? I read further and I learned that the lines were from a poem called "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I filed that away.

I wouldn't encounter the poem itself until high school. It is long, brutally long, but it is filled with enough images of death and horror and misery to catch a teenager's attention. It is, as they say, totally metal. Iron Maiden thought so when they abridged and adapted it into a song on their album Powerslave in 1984.

Clocking in at over 13 minutes in length, the song is epic, and includes a central interlude that features a direct recitation of a passage. Iron Maiden's version is a faithful adaptation of Coleridge's work, to the point that, when we began to cover this in my senior year English class, several metalheads perked up and said "Hey!! I know this one!" and paid attention for the first time all year.

So, thanks to Iron Maiden, a lot of people are familiar with "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" who might otherwise have paid no attention to it.

(Because of the immense length of the poem, I have put it beyond the cut. You can also find it here.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

National Poetry Month: Ogden Nash, Everybody Tells Me Everything

Everybody Tells Me Everything
by Ogden Nash 

I find it very difficult to enthuse 
Over the current news. 
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens, 
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

National Poetry Month: E.E. Cummings, All in green went my love riding

I was first exposed to E.E. Cummings in high school. His poems were radical - the nonstandard capitalization! The rhythm without rhyme! I had never heard such a thing before, and it made me realize that poems didn't have to rhyme - or play by the rules.

Garrison Keillor read this poem on The Writer's Almanac on October 12, 2012. His reading begins at about 2:40.

All in green went my love riding
by E. E. Cummings

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the merry deer ran before.

Fleeter be they than dappled dreams
the swift sweet deer
the red rare deer.

Four red roebuck at a white water
the cruel bugle sang before.

Horn at hip went my love riding
riding the echo down
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the level meadows ran before.

Softer be they than slippered sleep
the lean lithe deer
the fleet flown deer.

Four fleet does at a gold valley
the famished arrow sang before.

Bow at belt went my love riding
riding the mountain down
into the silver dawn.

four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
the sheer peaks ran before.

Paler be they than daunting death
the sleek slim deer
the tall tense deer. 

Four tall stags at the green mountain
the lucky hunter sang before. 

All in green went my love riding
on a great horse of gold
into the silver dawn. 

Four lean hounds crouched low and smiling
my heart fell dead before.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

National Poetry Month: William Shakespeare, Sonnet 147

Sonnet 147
William Shakespeare

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th’ uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept, 
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care, 
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed:
    For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
    Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

Monday, April 17, 2017

National Poetry Month: Oscar Wilde, Requiescat

Oscar Wilde

Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone,
She is at rest.

Peace, peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life's buried here,
Heap earth upon it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

National Poetry Month: Open Mics

The final Third Thursday Open Mic at The Vintage, Scranton, August 2014

Open mics are incredible resources for poets and fans of poetry. For a small cover charge - or, more often, no charge at all - you can treat yourself to an evening of poetry presented by new and established poets. If you are a poet, then you can sharpen your skills in presenting your work, and gain experience reading in front of an audience.

Chaz Bennett, May 2012, Jen Diskin Memorial Open Mic, The Vintage Theater, Scranton. Chaz passed away in October 2015.
Not all open mics are ideal settings for poetry. Some are specifically intended for poetry and other spoken word presentations. Others are geared towards music, or comedy, or a combination of the two. Some are truly "open" mics, open to everything. But at these locations, audience expectations may dictate how anything outside the normal fare will be received.

Kait Burrier, May 2012, Jen Diskin Memorial Open Mic, The Vintage Theater, Scranton

Richard Aston, May 2012, Jen Diskin Memorial Open Mic, The Vintage Theater, Scranton

Harold Jenkins, October 2013, inaugural Kick Out the Bottom Open Mic, Embassy Vinyl, Scranton (photo by Alvin Nurse)
Some open mics will be full of people you know. Others will be full of strangers. As a performer and an audience member, both situations present useful experiences.

Eric Wilson, December 2013, Kick Out the Bottom Open Mic, Embassy Vinyl, Scranton

Kyle Rebar, December 2013, Arts Seen Open Mic, Wilkes-Barre

Alvin Nurse, March 2014 Third Thursday Open Mic, The Vintage, Scranton
Christina reads "Stay With Me", March 2014, Kick Out the Bottom Open Mic, Embassy Vinyl, Scranton
Some of the readers will be regulars, presenting at every opportunity. Some will be first-time performers. The quality of the material presented can vary wildly. Some established poets will insist on reading the same pieces over and over again. Others will use the open mic as an opportunity to field-test new works. Some presenters will be there on a lark, basically mocking the format, presenting dirty limericks or other random stuff. Some will be starting out in poetry, looking for feedback and support. Others will just be lousy poets, inflicting their words on the audience, unconcerned with how they are received or how they could improve. Most heartbreakingly of all, some will be poets you have never seen or heard from before, who present works of staggering beauty - and then disappear, never to show up at another event of any sort.

Wendell Bullock, April 2014 Third Thursday Open Mic, The Vintage, Scranton

KK Gordon, July 2014 Third Thursday Open Mic, The Vintage, Scranton
Open Mics will draw a mixed crowd to the audience, some regulars, some just there out of curiosity. In the latter case it's fun to see if first-time audience members become regulars. If you're a poet, you might be the one responsible for getting them hooked!

A cabbie who had read about the upcoming Third Thursday Open Mic at The Vintage decided to come and present some of the poems he had been reciting to his fares. Sadly, this was the final Third Thursday Open Mic, and I don't know if he ever got a chance to perform again. The Vintage, Scranton, August 2014.

Liz Lewis, February 2015 Kick Out the Bottom Open Mic, AFA Gallery, Scranton

Maddy Brozusky, March 2015 Kick Out the Bottom Open Mic, AFA Gallery, Scranton

Charlotte Lewis, final Kick Out the Bottom Open Mic, August 2015, Scranton Iron Furnaces
Open mics come and open mics go. Once upon a time I had a dream of a network of open mics throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, all supporting and scheduling around each other, each one advertising and promoting and encouraging attendance at the others. For a while, it worked, and it seemed like the biggest problem would be an embarrassment of riches, multiple open mics every week in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Tunkhannock, Stroudsburg, and elsewhere. But, as I had been warned, eventually personality conflicts got in the way. Or perhaps the issue was competition for a limited audience - how many different events could people be expected to support? (This assumes that the audience is a limited resource and cannot be expanded beyond a fixed value.) Add to that the difficulty of putting on a show every month, or every week, as well as the finite and sometimes transient nature of venues. In time, all of these factors played into the breakdown of the network. Eventually, several of the open mics involved closed down.

Rich Howells, final Youth Scene Open Mic, April 2016, Adezzo, Scranton
But new open mics have come into being since then. For a while Rich Howells of NEPA Scene presented the Youth Scene Open Mic at the Adezzo coffee shop in Scranton. This was an open mic specifically geared towards readers ages 14 to 20, though readers of all ages were welcome. He eventually brought it to an end, but almost immediately segued into the NEPA Scene Stage Time Open Mic, an over-21 event every held every Tuesday at Thirst T's Bar and Grill in Olyphant. The Be Daring Open Mic almost immediately filled the open space at Adezzo, and has been running the last Wednesday of every month as an all-ages open mic.

Al Man, Be Daring Open Mic, November 2016, Adezzo, Scranton

There are several other open mics continuing to run in the area. Most are not specifically geared towards poetry, but are open to it. There will be more in the future, and perhaps someday there will even be a network connecting them all and encouraging them to cross-promote.

If you are a poet looking for an opportunity to read before an audience, or a poetry fan looking to hear live poetry, seek out your local open mics and find out what they have to offer. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

National Poetry Month: Stabat Mater

Tomorrow is Easter, which brings to an end the observation of Lent, the season of reflection and sacrifice leading up to the celebration of the Resurrection. As a child going to Catholic School in the 1970's, a big part of Lent was the weekly participation in Stations of the Cross. 

This would take place in the final hour of the day each Friday in Lent. We would line up by classes and process up the hill or through the side passage to the church. The ceremony wasn't an ordinary Mass, but instead a series of ritual prayers said at each of the twelve dioramas mounted on the walls of the church. The priest and two of the older altar boys (eventually including me) would make their way through the church, moving from station to station*, with the priest making the ritual call "We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee," and the congregation giving the response.  As this was a children's version of the rite, we would say the special, simplified prayers on each page of our booklets.

A little too simple for my tastes. My mind and eye wandered. I picked out the background details in the pictures - pictures I would later learn were black-and-white reproductions of color paintings, and not carefully rendered pencil sketches. But I would also focus on the three lines at the bottom of each page, three lines that seemed to come from a poem. The first three lines bore a title: STABAT MATER.

The poem was something different, something odd, something I could focus my mind on instead of the childish chants or the half-sung, half-mumbled prayers from the priest or the incessant rounds of kneeling and standing.

It wasn't until years later that I would learn that the Stabat Mater is a thirteenth-century prayer poem, a hymn, and I was reading Edward Caswall's nineteenth-century translation of it, woven into the pages of the Stations of the Cross. The Stabat Mater wasn't part of the ceremony; it appeared in our booklets but was skipped over. Like much of the rest of grade school, I found the stuff we didn't cover to be much more interesting that the stuff we did.

*If you ever wondered where David Bowie got the title for Station to Station, now you know.

Friday, April 14, 2017

National Poetry Month: Dr. Seuss, In a People House

Nursery rhymes may be the first examples of poetry that we are exposed to as children. Many of the classic nursery rhymes were written in the nineteenth century and earlier. While these rhymes have intrinsic value, they are generally things that children born centuries after they were written cannot relate to.

When I was a little boy my mom received a mailing from the Dr. Seuss Book Club. I had heard of Dr. Seuss, but had never read anything by him. I was about four, so I probably hadn't read much at that point, aside from comic books, MAD Magazine, the newspaper funnies, and the solutions to the daily crossword, which I assumed was a game of "find the things that are words." The illustrations in the flyer excited me, and I begged my mom to sign us up for the club - not just for me, of course, but for my older sister and little brother, too.

"In a People House" was one of the books included in the introductory package, and I fell in love with it. I remember it as a fun book with fun illustrations. Recently I came across a version of the story set to music, and realized that the story was also an excellent introduction to poetry.

It's great to experience this story in a new way, and realize the effect it had on my life. How about you? What was your earliest introduction to poetry?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

First blossoms of 2017: Cherry and Forsythia

Just a note for now: I first noticed cherry and forsythia blossoms this year on April 11.

I also saw a bumblebee on April 13.

National Poetry Month: Craig Czury, Thumb Notes Almanac

Poet Craig Czury lives in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, the huge "play" of natural gas situated beneath much of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The region has, in the past decade, been transformed from a bucolic, laid-back, economically stagnant rural area to one peppered with wells for gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the roads thick with trucks, and a lucky few landowners flush with cash paid to them for the right to drill on their land.

Craig set out on a project to hitchhike up and down a several-mile stretch running through this region, taking rides as they came, making conversation and gathering material. "Thumb Notes Almanac: Hitchhiking the Marcellus Shale" is the result of that project. In it, Craig weaves his experiences and conversations into dozens of poems - or perhaps one long one. We hear the voices of the winners and losers, the gas workers and the landowners, the people happy to be making money at last, the people bitter about seeing the landscape they had known all their lives transformed forever. Here a young man dies at a traffic light, his pickup crushed by a runaway wastewater truck. There the CIT O stands, a rundown antique gas station in a boomtown, lacking the resources to replace the G on its sign. Over there a poet composes music by firing a shotgun at blank composition sheets on a line.

Thumb Notes Almanac captures and preserves an image of a region at a moment in time, the middle of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Anyone seeking to understand the complexities of the effects of fracking in rural regions would be well advised to start with the poems of  Craig Czury's Thumb Notes Almanac.

Thumb Notes Almanac: Hitchhiking the Marcellus Shale

Digging Deeper: Albright College Spotlights Craig Czury

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

National Poetry Month:

No poem today. Just this amazing resource for poets and people who love poetry. Even the po-curious will benefit tremendously from the wealth of poems contained within - if you're not ready to commit to a poet's chapbook or a poetry anthology, sample a few poems and see what you like!

Poetry Foundation

From their About page:

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

National Poetry Month: Brian Fanelli, Raking Leaves read by Garrison Keillor on the September 20, 2016 edition of The Writer's Almanac. (Brian's poem begins at 3:05.)

You can hear a half-hour interview with Brian from WVIA's artSCENE by Erica Funke from October 6, 2016 here.

You can also see the latest from Brian on his blog.

And be sure to check out Brian's labor of love, The Writers' Showcase, on April 29 art the Olde Brick Theatre in Scranton from 7 - 9 PM. $4.00 admission for an evening of poetry and prose by new and established writers! (This was where I had my first feature performance!)

Image may contain: cloud, sky, tree, text, outdoor and nature

Monday, April 10, 2017

National Poetry Month: Poetry in Transit Call for Submissions!

Poetry in Transit is an amazing program that puts short works of poetry in the advertising space of the buses of the Luzerne County Transportation Authority. They have just put out their annual call for submissions! I have had the honor of having my work featured in this program for the last three years, but I look forward to seeing all of the works that are selected each year.

The theme for this year is "Migration." Can you come up with a six-line (maximum) poem on that theme? If you can, submit it, and maybe your poem will be featured for the coming year!

Call For Poems
~ Poetry In Transit 2017 ~
Let us put your poem on the bus!

Poetry In Transit, an award-winning community program, invites your participation. Patterned after the Poetry In Motion program on New York's Transit System, along with London’s Poems on the Underground, Poetry In Transit displays poetry in advertising space inside Luzerne County Transportation Authority (LCTA) buses. The poems stay up for one year (September – August), with a monthly rotation so that riders can see the entire 2017 collection.

Winners are chosen by an advisory board of faculty from five area colleges: King's College, Misericordia University, Pennsylvania State University - Wilkes-Barre campus, Luzerne County Community College, and Wilkes University.

Here are the specs:

* Length: 6 lines or less (excerpts from longer works are fine, but you must choose the 6 lines to send)
* Limit: 1-3 poems per author.
* Theme: Migration. We are a nation of immigrants. Immigration can also be understood in a broader sense, not just between nations. We invite poems that examine the concept of migration in any of its definitions.
* Please avoid profanity, outright political screeds, or religious statements
* Languages: Any language, if accompanied by an English translation

Submit your poems by Friday, April 28th, 2017:

* Email your poetry to:


* Mail your poetry to:
Poetry In Transit
c/o Mischelle Anthony
Chair, English Department
Wilkes University
84 W. South St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766