Poem for Burma

I’m still sifting through today’s news.  I’m finding it more difficult to find reliable information – I fear the world may be turning its eyes away from Burma – so my next post about what is happening in Burma may be a day or two away yet. 

But this morning I was reading the latest issue of Poetry Magazine and, in the commentary section, found a discussion of a poem that struck me as particularly apt.  I was moved, though I can’t say why.  And I kept reading and re-reading it and thinking about what has been happening in Burma. 

“Missing Dates”
by William Empson

Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.
It is not the effort nor the failure tires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is not your system or clear sight that mills
Down small to the consequence a life requires;
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.

They bled an old dog dry yet the exchange rills
Of young dog blood gave but a month’s desires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is the Chinese tombs and the slag hills
Usurp the soil, and not the soil retires.
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.

Not to have fire is to be a skin that shrills.
The complete fire is death. From partial fires
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

It is the poems you have lost, the ills
From missing dates, at which the heart expires.
Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

Do with it what you will.

Got Books? Don’t Want Them Anymore?

Do you have a ton of books?  Are you sick of them piling up in your office, bedroom, bathroom, attic, and anywhere else you can find to cram them?

Or maybe you want a book but can’t afford one.  And you don’t want to bother with the library and the due dates and the late fees. 

Well, maybe you want to try this website:

BookCrossing

You go to the site, find what books are available in your area and find where they are hiding.  Then you go to that place and pick up the book.  Quicker than you can say, “Wherefore art thou Romeo,” you’ve got a free used book!

Or, you can print up a BookCrossing label, drop your book off somewhere and post it on the website.  Then you can check in to see if people have picked it up and where it ends up.

Last I checked, there are 708 books available in Ohio.  There is one book, a Murder She Wrote novel, in Toledo at an Arbys. 

And there is a German book that has traveled to 287 different people!

Sound like fun?  Then let the crossing begin.

Sphere

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.

e-poem and e-magazine of the month: September 2007

Okay, so this isn’t from September, 2007.  Nor is it an e-poem or from an e-magazine.  But I’m still upset about Petraeus, Bush’s speech and the Iraq war.  So …

This month’s e-poem and e-magazine are:

Rane Arroyo’s “For a Bitter Veteran Student Who Is 24 Years Old” from Beloit Poetry Journal

Enjoy!

See all of FrameWork’s e-poems and e-magazines of the month

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

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.