I can’t do better than to recommend the review that Chris Murray has written of the reading by Dale Smith and Hoa Nguyen.  It was excellent.  My only disappointment was that David Bart didn’t have a chapbook to offer at the event.  I picked up Hoa’s book Your Ancient See Through (I already had Dale’s American Rambler), and got both signed.  Chris is not kidding when she talks about Hoa’s presence.  What a dynamic and engaging speaker.

The University of Texas at Arlington

 and

 The Writing Center

Are proud to present:

A Poetry_Heat 2004

POETRY READING

By

Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Award winning poet and Author of Reading Berryman to the Dog

with

Mary Kim Kitchen

and

Robert Flach (That’s Me!)

Wednesday, April 7th @ 7:00pm

in

The Rady Room 6th floor Nedderman Hall

I’m going to start working my way through Lewis Turco’s Book of Forms, writing one form a day, in alphabetical order. The intention is both to keep me focused on my craft, to provide the occasional inspiration, to broaden my poetic horizons, and to provide you, my faithful readers, with more regular entertainment.

Check out my updated links! Lots of good lit mags. Got a lit mag you think I should list. Send me the link and tell me why.

Also, the University of British Columbia has listed me (along with some other blogs) as an example of “lit-cultural weblogs”. Pretty neat.

Kasey Mohammad wrote a response to Mike Snider‘s post on meter that was strikingly similar to mine. Mike also posted a new entry which addresses, for the most part, the concerns and questions raised in both of our responses.

Kasey also opens for debate the question of whether or not a poem (or poetry) should be taken seriously if it doesn’t involve hard work. He says, “I just mean that writing poetry–any kind of poetry–is hard. And then, you know, only sometimes. Sometimes it’s easy!” Mike claims “red herring” status for that discussion, saying, “I don’t believe it should always be hard work to write a poem. Some are gifts, and I’m always grateful. However, I do believe that no one can consistently produce good poems without having done a lot of hard work at making poems.”

Of course, for academicians, it would seem to be a red herring because no one (in academia) truly questions the fact that poetry comes from craft (you know, 10% inspiration/90% perspiration applies to poetry too); craft requires [is] a set of skills; and skills come from dedication, study, and perseverance. The fact that an individual poem may be produced with little effort at some point is the result of the unswerving effort of the poet in the past. This is what Mike is saying (I think). Rather than being a red herring though, I think it is a very important point, one which is sometimes forgotten, even in academia, today. I would even go so far as to say that if one is consistently producing (so-called) poems with little effort, he or she is probably doing something wrong.

River Six by Chris Murray was just published in xStream. Congrats, Chris! I was enamored of this poem when she first read it in our poetry group, and it has only improved since then.

As to the magazine itself, I have two criticisms. The first is that an ostensibly literary magazine should not misspell “which” as “wich” and let it stand for as long as that one obviously has. Such errors proliferate throughout the front page, at least. The second is a more serious criticism that comes from a technical perspective.
BEGIN RANT
The site uses frames without offering a frameless alternative. WAKEUP CALL! FRAMES ARE BAD!!!! For instance, I can’t link directly to Chris’s poem without losing the side menu. More importantly, I can’t see in the address bar where in the site I am at any given time for whatever reason. I can’t save a particular issue as a favorite; I can’t send a link to a back issue to a friend. (Well, actually I can do all those things, but someone with a little less technical savvy couldn’t.) This failure is even less excusable since the zine is strictly an online one. If you are going to publish electronically, you should know your medium. You should especially know the conventions, standards, and general preferences of users of the medium. The message of xStream‘s medium is “We want to be as inaccessible as possible within the framework of our chosen venue.” Perhaps this is intentional. After all, they are an “ezine focused to[on] experimental poetry.”

END OF RANT

However, despite these technical concerns, the magazine is well worth the read, and not just for Chris’s poetry. I recommend it for its content, despite the container.

(P.S., I forwarded this rant to the editor (including the ameliorating recommendation), so hopefully these deficiencies will soon be fixed. On the other hand, I may just make an enemy of the editor (not my desire)… Oh well, such is life.)

UPDATE: ‘Wich’ is now ‘which.’ Nothing else is fixed, including the missing impersonal pronouns before the various predicate nominatives, the ‘to’ to ‘on’ that was in my original rant, the sentences fragments such as ‘Published 4-8 times in a year.’ the missing punctuation such as the comma before the second ‘which,’ and the missing possessive pronoun in the final sentence. Wow! That is one heck-of-a-lot-of-errors.

I now have over 100 entries on every category under the sun, and I am coming up on the occasional search at both google and Yahoo (though at yahoo only under the directory listings, never under the web search) click this link here now.

Well, I had almost 2000 words written last night intended for this blog, and then I closed the wrong word document and lost it all irretrievably. I’m sure you are all heartbroken… Oh well, life goes on.

Thanks to Michael Snider for his interesting and informative comments on my analysis of “To A Critic” (The poem can be found here). He suggests that because of their more readily identifiable rhythmic nature short lines can better handle substitutions than longer lines such as IP in opposition to my statement that there were too many substitutions. I think that there is certainly some truth to that, but it brings up an interesting question.

I have heard countless discussions of poetics in which iambic pentameter was referred to as embodying the “natural rhythm” of the English language. I had always found this somewhat distressing, since when composing poetry, my phrases naturally tended to fall into tri- or tetrameter. Now I begin to wonder if the “natural rhythm” of the English language hasn’t changed somewhat since IP was established as the meter of choice for great English poetry. I found at least one reasonably respected source who has a similar leaning, at least with regard to American speech: Ronald Wallace, PhD. (scroll down a ways or search twice for tetra). Our language has been transformed from the highly inflected Old English to a much more word order driven paradigm. Contractions have abounded, especially in American Idiom. Our basic beliefs about the pragmatics of communication have changed. Have we lost syllables along the way, poor syllables waving goodbye as we march on without them? I’m not sure about this, for certainly when I do write Sonnets, I generally stick to IP rather than to the variation that allows tetrameter. But then, I am very concerned with my “free verse” friends’ criticisms of my predilection for a lack of enjambment.

Mr. Snider, at least, doesn’t seem to think so. He says of IP, “no other line is as capacious as the pentameter.” So we have a dichotomy between the fit of the English language to IP and the idea that it is at the same time less amenable to substitution than other line lengths. What is the resolution? Perhaps the type of substitution is important? Perhaps it is the placement? I could write an entire sonnet with headless iambs beginning each line, and no one would blink an eye or argue that it was something less than IP. In the same way I could write one with trochaic substitutions beginning each line, or with the last or next to last foot always anapestic. Is it then consistency that matters? And regardless, is it possible that shorter lines are actually a better fit, but that we have been conditioned so well by history and tradition that to consider another line length is virtually impossible? Not that either, I don’t think. I don’t have any answers, only questions. Which brings me back to my thoughts on shorter meters and the fact that they often seem more natural to both my ear and my tongue. I feel like I have noticed more sonnets lately (though of course I can’t locate any examples at the moment) written in iambic tetrameter, though as I said I can’t be sure. But I have digressed rather far (interesting though it has been for me) from my initial topic.

Ok, back to the trimeter of “To A Critic.” Looking back at it, I realize I may have stated my case a little to harshly, though I stand by my evaluation with the following caveat. The trimeter is well established, and I am not trying to suggest that it ever breaks down to the point of unrecognizability. What I am saying is that the points where there are significant departures cause a slight hiccup if you will in the reading in places where that hiccup doesn’t accent the content. Let me just give one concrete example:

The final two lines of the first stanza read “I have known only two,/Dick Wilbur and Tony Hecht.” I’ll take the next-to-last line first. I can scan it without much difficulty in two ways: trochee/iamb/iamb or iamb/iamb/iamb (I suppose you could also claim headless iamb/anapest/iamb but I apply Occam’s razor and remove this possibility). Now, since the meter up to this point has been unfailing iambic trimeter, I am willing to read it the second way, but the meter has brought itself to my attention. The first way is the way that I would read it if I had no established meter to go on, and the need to accent the first person pronoun followed by a typically unstressed helping verb at the beginning of the line is difficult to surmount. I notice the substitution in the first foot though I may choose to regularize it. The final line can also be read in two ways: spondee/anapest/iamb or iamb/anapest/iamb. Again, the first is the way that it would be pronounced without the influence of an established meter. And in this case, neither of the stresses of the Spondee are easy to demote, which gives us four stresses for the line. Not only that, but we have two substitutions out of three feet! And all of this, immediately following a line with a difficult conversion to make.

What do these significant blips in the meter imply about the content, or what purpose do they serve in drawing our minds so forcefully to the meter? As far as I can tell, none. Now, the really bad part comes. All that has to be done to remove the difficulty with the meter is to remove the word Dick. The use of the last name only is perfectly acceptable, even when combining it with a first/last name combination, and then the final line’s meter matches the penultimate’s: trochee/iamb/iamb. When multiple lines make the same metrical “burble” our ear just accepts that meter as the norm for those lines. So to summarize, not every substitution in a short line is a problem for me (in fact no substitutions may tend to the boring), and it may well be that IP can handle substitutions less well than shorter rhythms, but in this particular piece there are at least a couple of occasions in which the substitutions work against the flavor and flow of the whole.

Now all of this is not intended to somehow shore up or defend my analysis from one critical remark (though possibly to extend and explain that analysis). I am perfectly willing to be taught. It is simply the thoughts, questions, and re-evaluations that Mr. Snider’s awesome comment engendered. Thank you again Mr. Snider. (Oh, and thanks to Chris Murray as well, who commented even as I was writing this response. We missed you Thursday!).

Well, we have working category pages and comments. I’ve done what I said I wouldn’t and played a little bit with the layout of the site, plus I’ve written some javascript to make the category pages more manageable.

I’ve launched a second Blog which will be devoted to disseminating great works of authors that are in the public domain. The new blog is called “Free Text” and you can find it here. Check it out.

Please feel free to post comments to any of the posts you find here. Comments are unmoderated, so let your true feelings show. Thanks

I’ve been posting mostly new work to this blog, but have begun to add a few things here and there from my portfolio as I have time, especially literary criticism. If that’s not your bag, its a good thing you can go directly to my poetry page at http://www.allauthors.com/poetry.html or to my fiction page at http://www.allauthors.com/fiction.html. Instead of looking at all the crazy stuff on this homepage. Enjoy.

The Moveable Type editing system has been installed on the website. For now I will not play with the templates and layout as the whole purpose of this system is to generate content, or more specifically, to encourage me to generate content.

Hopefully I will shortly have a significant number of my already published works uploaded, and then I will begin to build the other parts of the site, and try to add to my own work daily.

This entry is also a test to familiarize myself with the system, and I don’t know yet if it will be left in… Probably so.

This is the extended portion of the entry, the part that hopefully doesn’t show up unless you click on the view more button or whatever.

I suppose you ought to get something worthwhile for looking this far on such an inane post, but guess what…

You’re not going to.

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