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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Poetic Connectivity For Sale

My second attempt to list "Poetry Review Reading Comment Feedback Evaluation on Your Poem by Published Poet" on eBay was a lot more mutually fruitful than the first. Upping the ante from one cent to one dollar weeded out eBayers who just wanted to exchange positive feedback, a crucial element in the eBay culture of trust.

Instead, I connected with one Peter Rocha who paid 99c (66c after PayPal's cut) for what turned out to be 1,000 words of feedback on his poem — and my utter pleasure.

It was amazing to engage in the sincere creative output of a complete stranger, to find it in the gem of personal truth and to reply with honest feedback including what grabbed me and what I wasn't as excited about.

Overall the poem pleased me, and the exchange between us even more so. He said he was leaving university soon and worried he might not find such a ready source of creative sharing as he has enjoyed in school. Maybe that's why he turned to eBay. And that's fine. The connective tissue is all around us, waiting for us to engage what we need.

It's New Year's Eve and I'm feeling very tired and somewhat rambly. A lot of friends are laying low tonight. I hope to be asleep before the tape-delayed New-York ball descends on Denver televisions.  I'm over the numbers thing, personally. I don't feel interest in suspending disbelief this year. Not to bah-humbug, but when the odometer clicks from 99,999 to 100,000, the mile before and the mile after are basically the same; and when I "don't see you until next year," January second or fifth or tenth will still be much the same kind of day as this one. Whatever the last digit of the year is, I am grateful you are in my life and I am always delighted to be with you.

More like "Ah, HUG-bug."

Monday, December 29, 2014

Words keep changing

Today I swapped in naturally for needlessly
because why should any dramatic action be judged
causeless if it's still worth mentioning? Or why
should it be judged at all when even a shrug
puts something into the mood? I want these words
to roam like mountain goats in Death Valley,
to be their own reasons with curled horns.
And when in illness, age or avalanche they fall,
I want to know their bones bleach sharp and clear,
in the canyon nobody visits, in the blazing air.



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lipograms just because.

Lipogram day! Lipo- in this case means lacking or leaving though the spelling is the same as lipo- meaning fat. It's fascinating how the prefix in liposuction works two ways at once!

Lipograms are writings in which one more more letters of the alphabet are consciously omitted. This morning I began to recast "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as a lipogram series. My warm up was omitting the letter B, an uncommon  letter, but significant as it begins boat and but. The B lipogram:

Row, row, row your raft
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life: it is a dream.

Leaving out W was also pretty easy as it only appears in row and down. But replaying row is a little tricky. As an ancient monosyllable, it doesn't have many monosyllabic synonyms. Using paddle destroys the meters. I fell back on a somewhat uncommon verb:

Punt, punt, punt your boat
gently on the stream...

The rest is the same.

M is also uncommon, but has a big impact here due to stream, dream and merrily:

Row, row, row your boat
gently down the creek.
Happily, happily, happily, happily.
Life is so unique.

Change boat to skiff and happily back to merrily, and you get and A lipogram. This poem is short, so it's easy enough to make lipograms from it, even omitting the most common letter, E:

Row, row, row your boat
slowly down a brook
Happily, happily, happily, happily,
I think I spy a rook!

A rook being a type of bird. I strayed a little from the theme in that version. Now for a real challenge, I'll omit the letters B, O, A and T. Single-syllable synonyms for boat are easy enough to come by, as we've seen, but the big challenge here is not being able to use the articles the, a or an, nor the easy substitute pronouns this or that. Still at least line three is untouched:

Push, push, push my skiff
in limpid, rippling rivers.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life such fun delivers.

I want to try the opening verse of  Jabberwocky without Es.

’Twas brillig, and four slithy toobs
Did gyral and gambor in a wayl:
All mimsy sat yon borogoobs,
And all moom raths outgrail.

Kind of feels like cheating: easier than it should be and sneakily fun. So now, My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke, without the letter E.

My Papa's Waltz
The original

The bourbon in your sigh  
Could throw a boy with funk;   
I hung tight though high 
through waltzing as a drunk.

Two wildcats had our pans   
Falling from pantry hooks,
And mama wrung two hands  
And shot us dirty looks.

My hands within your fists—
I saw your nicks and scars—
Dancing with your cysts,
Colliding, I saw stars.

Your raps on my hair
put rhythm in my mind.
Our waltz took us upstairs 
to night's oblivion kind.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Revised: Poetry Review Only Kind-of Sells

Here's something I knew about eBay: ratings are VERY important.
Every registered eBay user has a number associated with their user name,
and that number is associated with a star.
This higher the number, the fancier the star.
This more positive feedback is left for you, the higher your number goes,
and the fancier your star becomes.
The fancy star and the high number—
and the high the percentage next to the legend "Positive feedback,"
the greater the trust from eBay buyers as a class.

What I've learned about today's eBay
is that sellers will spend the time to find penny auctions
and spend the few cents just to exchange positive feedback.
I looked and found several eBay listings for nothing more than positive feedback.
Many start at a penny, but there are people asking 99 cents for the service.

I bid six cents and should know soon if I've won.

There will be no poem coming from the car-parts seller
who purchased my offer to read and give comment.
That is something I would do for free anyway,
which is why I thought to list the service to begin with.

I will try again, starting at $.99.
That means it will still be free for me to list,
but hopefully smart eBay sellers will consider
that price too high for nothing more than a "Like."

Yep. Six Cents. I won.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poetry Review Sells for eleven hundredths!


When you're ready, please send your poem for me to review and respond to.

Let me know anything you'd like about the kind of feedback you wish, what you want out of writing poetry, whether you intend to publish or share your work with others, and any other thoughts you have for me before I read. I will then read your poem and respond.

Afterwards, you can pay me the 11 cents, or if you think what I provide you is worth more, I am certainly open to a tip :)

Sincerely yours,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Experiment in the value of being read.

I'm auctioning a poem-readiing-and-feedback correspondence on eBay.
As of this writing, the value is cash American is six hundredths of a dollar.
But I know from recent exchanges with a talented but relatively new poet
that being earnestly read and commented on is a considerable heart value.

This experiment is also one of marketing: how do I make the eBay listing
more alluring and more expressive of the intangible value it represents?
Can I begin to accumulate testimonials over time? The truth is, I do
this sort of thing for free when I'm in the mood. I think it will be

a good learning. And perhaps I will ask permission to post poems
and my feedback and correspondence here. But it will be the poet's perogative.

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 Somersaults

Thrilling post today:
got my copy of 2015 Poet's Market
starring me!

So cool to see my name in print,
even on the thin paper of this seminal directory.

My essay is on creative techniques—somersaults—
for editing poetry on a level beyond the typical checklist

about excising cliches and converting to active voice.
No, my essay is about mind-space,

creative oil to get the word libido
as juiced as it is in the drafting or conception of poems.

How to recapture that fervor for the focused and slow
process of weighing and retasting each word?

I feel my essay in the book takes its own space
and says something that hasn't been said before
in this way.


Also piqued to see an essay about rhyme,
one of my favorite subjects,
that treats, to my surprise
only in true rhyme: true blue lou
and actually disparages off rhyme!

Emily Dickinson and I
William Blake and I
William Carlos Williams and I
A gillion poets, music makers and hearers of sounds strongly beg to difer.
Rhyme is complex as wine, or can be.
More than ever, I feel dedicated to pitching an article for 2016 about rhyme
and all the things it can be. It will be my third attempt.