Give Me a Leonard Cohen Afterword

There are some endings that are absolutely perfect.  The two part series finale of Sex and The City.  The finale of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I ignore the subsequent seasons as much as possible).  The last issue of The Sandman.  The final “poo-tweet-tweet” of Slaughterhouse-Five.  The last scene of Romeo and Juliet

This will not be one of those endings.  There is no easy resolution here.  No good wrap up.  No way to stop without leaving huge gaps in the conversation.  This is emphasized especially by the nature of all my recent posts about Burma, for which the story is nowhere near the end.

But I’m giving up the blog.  There, I said it.

This has been a long time coming.  I’ve spent too much time here that should have been devoted elsewhere.  I teach.  I write poetry.  I read.  I blog.  I have my own life and a wife and two cats.  And I only have 24 hours in a day.  Something has to give.

I’ve been posting so much lately that my mind is all about posting.  And my pace got so quick that I don’t see myself going back to a slower, once every week or two pace.  I don’t know that I even want to go back to that pace.  So I’m done.

I said I would keep the spotlight on Burma and I guess I lied about that.  Or was I just wrong?  I don’t know.  I do know that I am not writing poetry the way I used to.  And, in the end, if I need to free up time and the only things I can cut out are blogging and poetry, then the answer is real easy.  I will write poetry and stop blogging.

I’ve been thinking about this for a week, at least, though I haven’t really talked about it with anyone.  It may seem sudden, but it isn’t.  I have a book of poems sitting in my office and it needs to be fininshed and I’d rather finish it than post on this blog.  That’s the simple truth.  So finish it (and my many other poetry projects) I will.

I have answered all of the comments on the blog.  In order to keep the comments visible, I am leaving the comments section open, but I have set the blog to moderate all comments.  And since I am not blogging, I won’t be moderating.  Which means, if you post a comment, it will never appear.  Effectively, commenting on this blog is finished.

I have more news reports about Burma that I have been collecting and maybe this weekend I will post links to those stories.  Otherwise, expect no new posts.

I feel a little sad, I will admit.  I hoped I keep this up for at least one year.  But I mostly feel releaved.  It was difficult to chose between poetry and this blog because I enjoy both.  But I can’t balance them both.  And, as already said, I will always chose poetry over a hobby.

So please, keep reading the news though I won’t be reporting it here.  Keep learning about Burma, keep fighting for equality and justice and keep working to make the world a better place.  I will be doing those things, even if I’m not posting about it.

How do I end this?  I don’t know.  So, the best I can think to do is end with some personal beliefs.

I believe poetry can be found everywhere, from books to newspapers to gas stations to the looks on people’s faces.  The world is beautiful and horrific and that is poetic.

I believe Gwendolyn Brooks may well be the most underrated American poet.

I believe Sylvia Plath was a fine poet but had she lived a full life, she would have turned into Elvis — sequins, a mockery and likely performing in Vegas.  Still, The Bell Jar, is a necessary rite of passage for all angst-filled teenagers.

I believe the most beautiful prose can be found in the novels of Barbara Kingsolver.

I believe America is the greatest nation in the world.  I believe we are the greatest nation in the history of the world.  I believe we can be a whole lot greater and should be.

I believe there is something wrong with a nation that considers itself to be good, moral and just, but which also needs to pass, repass and re-repass legislation defining torture.  I believe a truly good, moral and just nation would take the general rule of “If it might be questionable, then lets be safe and not do it.”

I believe there is no hell.

I believe the only real sins are vanity and greed.  All other evil stems from these.

I believe in the afterlife and reincarnation.  I believe in angels, ghosts and aliens.  I believe all are among us right now.

I believe Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President and Guiliani will be the Republican nominee.  I believe at some point during the debate, Guiliani will accuse Clinton of being “more liberal than Ted Kennedy”.  I believe Americans are a lot smarter than that bullshit.

I believe a hate crime is the most serious crime.  History matters. 

I believe anyone who uses hate speech, who condones hate speech, or who sits idly by while hate speech is used, has the blood of hate crimes on their hands.  I believe I have blood on my hands.  But for the world to be saved, we must all acknowledge the blood on our hands.

I believe Western Society is built upon false dichotomies of white/black, male/femal, straight/gay, Catholic/pagan (note the little p), etc.  Those oppositions permeate our language, our politics, our thought process and our societies.  Until we deconstruct and destroy those dichotomies and realize the truth of our nonlinear, non-oppositional selves, until we create a society of unity instead of dichotomy, we will never evolve as a species.

I believe contemporary America is a rape culture.  The world will not be saved until women and children are safe.

I believe the thing that distinguishes us from the beasts is art.  Unfortunately, most higher order primates (who are mostly about to become extinct) have a better appreciation of art than most humans.

I believe, after we get out of Iraq, a period of isolationism will dominate American foreign policy.  I believe this will be a terrible tragedy for America and the world.

I believe Burma is prime example of where America has gone wrong.

I believe in peace, love, understanding, justice and hope.  And courage.  Mostly courage.

Thank you for reading.

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Grunge in Ohio: An Interview

Well, I’ve tried many different ways to get information regarding The Grand Rapids Literary Review, and so far nothing has worked.  The site may be gone forever.  It may just pop back up.  Who knows? 

I don’t know what I am going to do about the poems.  I may put them back on the market.  Or I may consider them published (since they were) and keep the credential.  I still have to think about that.

The interview I did, though, is a whole different story.  That was a GRLR exclusive, as it were, and won’t be being republished anywhere or used in any way by anyone except the editors of that journal, which as I far as I know is a journal that no longer exists.  So I am reprinting it here.  Should GRLR return, I will take this post off the blog.  Until then, enjoy!

 Grunge in Ohio: An Interview with Feature Poet, Anthony Frame
            by the editors of The Grand Rapids Literary Review

1. Tell us about your book manuscript in progress, Postmodern Guernica.

Postmodern Guernica is actually a chapbook (I hope). It began basically as an experimentation. I wondered about cubism and poetry. Could they be combined? I read some Wallace Stevens (especially “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”) and a lot of Gertrude Stein (especially “Picasso”) — a lot of modernist poets since they were working amid the cubist revolution. Then, as I experimented, I found my politics and my personal life merging. In later drafts of the poems, the personal vanished (a first for me!) and only the political remained. This is when I reviewed Picasso’s famous painting, Guernica. I read about it, thought about it and tried to see if I couldn’t do poetry the way Picasso did Guernica. It has been a strange journey working on this chapbook and it has pushed me to rethink what I write about and how I write about it. And it has been a lot of fun.

2. We loved the 90’s grunge rock references in your work. What do you think that particular music movement was all about?

Change. Youth. Politics. It was a turning away from the glamor and glitz of the 80’s and it was a reaction to the lived experiences of the 80’s (as opposed to the decadence and privilege that 80’s rock and roll claimed was real). Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Bush, etc… all seemed to have real resentment toward the fact that their lives were very different than the lives being shown in Poison videos, for example. So they wanted to talk about what it was like to live in the real world. Bush examined sexuality. Pearl Jam examined violence. Nirvana examined drugs and the subconscious. Smashing Pumpkins examined childhood. It was all personal, but in classic artistic fashion, the personal quickly became the political (as in “Jeremy” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”).

3. How do you balance teaching and writing in your life?

It can be difficult, to be sure. This is especially true for those of us who are part time college instructors and therefore have to teach, write, likely hold a second job (I am a writing tutor, for example), and worry about money and on and on. But luckily I get to teach what I love and what I do: writing. So in addition to forcing myself to set aside a little bit of time each day (even if only a few minutes) to write, I also get to think about writing all the time. The work my students do also push me to write. Their narratives make me think about my narratives. Their research makes me rethink how I research (and sometimes inspire lines in my poems). So, basically, I don’t balance teaching and writing. I merge them.

4. What have you been reading lately?

A lot of nonfiction. I’ve just finished Bill Clinton’s biography (what a tome!). Before that I read Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. But I’ve also been reading poems by Rane Arroyo (he has a few new books coming out in the next year or two), Maya Angelou, Naomi Shahib Nye, Tony Hoagland, and on and on. I’ve also been checking out a lot of online magazines on a regular basis: No Tell Hotel, The Pedestal Magazine, DIAGRAM, H_NGM_N, Front Porch. Oh, there is so much!

5.Tell us about living in Ohio–

Well, what do you want to know? I live in NW Ohio, which has been in the news a lot lately because of all the storms. There has been a lot of flooding, especially in Findlay, Ohio. I live near the Maumee River, which is quite high right now (higher than I’ve ever seen it). Earlier in the summer, we were having a drought and the river was lower than I had ever seen it. Which is a good metaphor for Ohio. What do you want? We got it. You like cities? Visit Cleveland, Ohio, Cincinnati. You want something more rural? There are plenty of areas like that. We have hills and valleys and flatland. Cornfields, soy fields, tomato fields and asphalt fields. Political hotbeds and places where apathy drips from the trees. Anywhere in Ohio is pretty close to a major area of another state (Toledo is quite close to Detroit, for example) so even if you can’t find what you want, you need only drive a few hours to get to where you want to go.

6. If you were on Death Row, what would your “last meal” be? (Describe in detail)

Hmm … my wife’s chili. Because it tastes better than anything I’ve ever eaten in my life and it will clear my sinuses no matter how stuffed up it is. And I don’t want to be sniffing as I say my last words.

Some Poems I’ve Been Reading This Week

It has been a strange week already, filled with sadness, anger, grief, and futility.  There have been good moments, of course, with my wife, our cats, my students and family.  But on the whole this week has dragged on me.  I’ve been reading a lot of poems online.  I thought I would share them with you.

Gary Snyder’s “Falling From a Height, Holding Hands

Probably the most beautiful 9/11 poem I’ve yet read, Snyder captures the horrific image of the people jumping from the windows of the World Trade Center with grace, simplicity and reverence.  An interesting anecdote: Snyder, 74, was climbing Mount St. Helens during the 9/11 attacks.  After descending the mountain, he was told the news.  The image, to me, is chilling.

W.H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939

Auden’s poem reappeared, as it were, after September 11th, and has since become the defining poem of the event.  And, I think, rightly so.

Wislawa Szymborska’s “Photograph from September 11

This poem, by the Nobel Prize winning Polish poem, describes the same scene as Snyder’s poem above, just as beautifully.  It is translated by Clare Kavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak.

Linda Paston’s “The Months

Though not specifically about 9/11, (it was first published in 1999) I am for some reason drawn to this poem every year at this time.  I can’t fully explain why, other than that the sense of loss that pervades much of this poem seems to apply.  And I am particularly struck by the ending of the first section: ” as if/ this time/ there will be/ no autumn.”

Poems by Teenagers About September 11, 2001

Some of it isn’t the best poetry as far as technique and form, but these poems are nevertheless incredibly emotionally realized.  I especially like the second poem, “…Mom and Dad say we are safe” by HeartString.

The remaining three poems I’ve been reading are from the website Poets Against War.  If you like these, I recommend the anthology of the same name that was published in 2003 and that includes a cameo by my Congressional Representative, Marcy Kaptur.

Nancy Johanson’s “Death Poem

Susan Kelly-Dewitt’s “The Gods Went Out the Door

Wendy Brown’s “What I Did for Peace Today

Finally, a song I’ve had stuck in my head all week:  Guns N Roses’ “Civil War”:


Guns N’ Roses – Civil War” posted by Kiran015

Test the Nation

Last night, my wife and I watched a game show of a different color on CBC, the Canadian Broadcast Channel.  In Test the Nation: Watch Your Language, seven teams (Celebrities, Comedians, Fraternities/Sororities, Romance Novelists, Word Gamers, English Teachers and Ad Writers) competed in a test of their knowledge of the English language and related subjects.  At the same time, six Canadian schools also participated in the test.  And all over Canada (and some parts of America), viewers took the test.  My wife and I took the test together and got about 80% correct (we got in trouble when the test turned to Canadian related questions like “What is a person from Saskatchewan called?”). 

So, how do you think you would do?  Take the test:

Test the Nation: Watch Your Language 

Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You

I’m deluged with papers, student assignments and random stuff from the Writing Center.  So a quick post today.  Hopefully, by the end of the week I will have a real post.

I just took an online quiz: Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You?

Apparently, I am …

 ashbery

“You are John Ashbery. People love your work but have no idea why, really. You are respected by all kinds of scholars and poets. Even artists like you.”

Interesting.  I’m not really a big Ashbury fan.  Oh well.  Can’t argue with a quiz.

Updates, The Smashing Pumpkins and More

Okay, so I have a few updates about previous posts that I need to make.  So here goes.

“Good News, Part Two”

As expected, Judge Hanson’s ruling didn’t last very long.  A stay on the ruling was issued less than 24 hours after Hanson made his decision.  In between the ruling and the stay, 27 same sex couples filed applications for marriage but only one made it to the courthouse.  Read all about it:

Iowa Gay Marriage Applications Halted

“Grand Rapids Literary Review Issue Two is Now Available”

I don’t know what is going on with the web site for The Grand Rapids Literary Review, except that the site is down.  I have emailed the editors in hopes of finding out.  If the site is down permanently and the journal no longer exists, then I don’t know what that means regarding the poems that were published there.  I still have the interview in my email, so at the least I will post that here.  The poems, if I am allowed, will likely have to be resubmitted elsewhere if the site is down.  I may be overreacting though and it may be resolved soon, in which case I will post another update.  My apologies to anyone who has been trying to find the poems and the interview.

“Bring Anthony Bourdain to Toledo”

The Toledo Blade has an article in today’s paper about a project in Columbus that is similar to the Live/ Work/ Create project that Toledo artists and Mayor Finkbeiner recently announced.  Check it out:

Short North in Columbus offers vision for Toledo

“Poetry Challenge”

There are a lot of great spontaneous poems in the comments section of Rane Arroyo’s “A Challenge And Be Eye Candy Too” posting.  If you haven’t read them yet, you are missing out.

“A Question for Young Americans”

The comments section of this posting has involved a discussion of the current U.S. economy that has mentioned many issues, including the housing market, interest rates, and the unemployment level.  The New York Times issued a report last Wednesday about the economy based on the results of the recent census.  Read the report, by Abby Goodnough:

Census Shows a Modest Rise in U.S. Income

“And So Ends Another Summer”

My classes are settled, the students are registered and I’ve compared the gender ratio of my students to the average reported in “And So Ends Another Summer.”  The national average says that 57 percent of students registered nationwide are female.  Approximately 62 percent of my students are female.  I’m above average!

“Election Fatigue”

Many of us might be fatigued, but Reuters apparently is not.  Today they announced:

Race for the White House kicks into high gear

Many debates, rallies and speeches to go.  And four more months before the first vote is cast.  Meanwhile, everyone is still asking if Fred Thompson is in the race or not.  It seems this week we will find out, according to The New York Times:

After Months of Flirting, Thompson Is Almost In

“Let’s do the Time Warp Again”

Read this interesting article, also from The New York Times (what can I say, I get free copies at school), regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban using race to assign children to public schools.  Unfortunately, to read it you have to have TimesSelect (meaning you pay for the ability to read “older” articles) or you have to purchase the ability to read just this one article.  But here’s the link anyway:

A Successful Plan for Racial Balance Now Finds Its Future Uncertain

If you google the title and find the full text of the article for free, let me know so I can post it.

And because I’m upset no one can see my poems, here is something fun:


Smashing Pumpkins – Rocket” posted by jfu79

Finally, I’m adding three new editorials to the Supplemental Readings page (yes, from The New York Times) by Paul Krugman.  One is about Race and the G.O.P.  The other deals with the current administration’s failures, highlighting Hurricane Katrina.  The last has to do with the attacks on universal health care and that scary, scary word, “Socialism.”  The full text of these are archived on the blog Economist’s View .  And you can read them here:

Paul Krugman: Seeking Willie Horton

Paul Krugman: Katrina All The Time

Paul Krugman: A Socialist Plot

Enjoy!

UPDATED 9/19/07: 7:59 PM

The New York Times has changed its policy regarding the TimesSelect articles.  They are now available for free on their website.  You may have to endure a short ad, but there is a “skip this ad” button for those of you who, like me, are impatient.

Grand Rapids Literary Review Issue Two is Now Available

Issue two of The Grand Rapids Literary Review  is now available.  Do check it out if you have a chance.

Highlights (for me at least):

  1. I have three poems included in the issue
  2. There is a short interview the editors did with me
  3. And I am the featured poet!

Many thanks to those editors for their interest in my work.  Enjoy!