Verses

photo

Illustration by Jesse Kuhn / Raw Toast Design

Rotwood drifts.
Doctor, closer.
‘I’m right here.’
The rains have fallen, the skies have cleared.
Nurse, a bath.
‘She’ll be right—’
Forget it.
Cottonwoods uncling their seeds.
White tufts float, drift, pool in puddles
with rotwood. Things become stagnant.

You see that poem, reader? I just wrote that poem. Is it any good? Who gives a flying spatula. It’s National Poetry Month, reader, and so it’s your civic duty to write and read and think all the poetry you can before the month is through, as it almost is.

There’s a woman in town named Jane Live. She works as a program coordinator for continuing education at KU, she goes on a lot of walks, she sometimes dances. “I don’t think of myself as a poet,” she says. But she writes poetry because she likes to. “I don't effort at it,” she says.

Past Event

"Big Tent: Stories and Poems in Three Acts"

  • Thursday, April 23, 2009, 7 p.m.
  • Raven Book Store, 6 E. Seventh St., Lawrence
  • All ages / Free

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Past Event

Fiction reading: Clancy Martin and Christie Hodgen

  • Friday, April 24, 2009, 7 p.m.
  • Wonder Fair: Art Gallery & How!, 803 Mass. St., Lawrence
  • All ages / Free

More

Past Event

Reading: "Emerging Voices"

  • Sunday, April 26, 2009, 7 p.m.
  • Lawrence Percolator, In the alley behind the Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence
  • All ages / Free

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Local poet Denise Low, the Kansas poet laureate, remembers when her grandmother would tell her how she would have to memorize poem after poem in school and recite them in class. Not so anymore. Poetry isn’t a standard staple of entertainment as it once was. This much is obvious.

And when we do read poetry, it is often the poems of poets picked and distilled through one national media outlet or another, meaning the poems that come across our plates here in the Great Midwest are often the work of New Yorkers or other elsewhere poets a million miles away.

A poet from New York or French Indochina or Moscow, Idaho, can speak to you, of course, but there is something particular to be gained from reading a local poet. “People have become disconnected from the poetry of their region,” Low says.

When we read this stanza from local poet Dixie Lubin’s “Hanging Out With Maya,” we know her sighing Kansas breeze:

When my daughter takes the clothes out
She doesn't hear the catbird's repertoire
Or notice the sun caressing her strong arms.
Her mind is far away with lovers and friends,
Where she is going next, or how
Ticked off she is.
The homely chore annoys her: she prefers the dryer
To the sighing Kansas breeze.

Past Event

Poetry Night at Aimee's

  • Monday, May 4, 2009, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Aimee's Coffee House, 1025 Mass., Lawrence
  • All ages / Free

More

Past Event

Fresh Ink Spoken Word and Poetry

  • Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 10 p.m.
  • Jazzhaus, 926 1/2 Mass., Lawrence
  • 21+ / $3

More

Local poet Natalie McAnulla wrote her first poem in second grade after reading “So Young to Die: The Story of Hannah Senesh” by Candice F. Ransom, a book about a Jewish Hungarian spy and poet who was captured and killed during World War II. “When I was younger I could relate to that,” McAnulla said.

Robert J. Baumann can’t really articulate why he likes poetry. He tries to, saying how the work of the mind is more fragmented than the narratives and forced order so often created in art, business and life. Poetry is one of the rare forms that can capture the way the mind works. “I like poetry that tries to deal with that fragmentation,” he says.

And so the jibber jabber is cut short. We’ve collected a veritable slew of poems, for us, by us. Some are printed here, more are online. There are also a zillion and five local poetry readings and contests going on all the time, and even more now in honor of the almighty National Poetry Month. So have a bite, dear friend, from the barbecue of the mind, and tell ’em Itchy sent you.

Old: Bring It by Barry R. Barnes
I will not grow old gracefully.
I will be toothless, ruthless, loud and proud.
I will wear stripes with plaids and funny hats.
I will sing and dance. I will be in your face
I will be all over the place.
I will be that crazy old man at the end of the block
Who drinks too much coffee and loves to talk.
I will put on a bathrobe and house slippers and go to the store.
I will volunteer. I will help the poor.
I will fight for rights. I will protest wars.
I will not judge because one way or another we’re all whores.
I will wear Depends so I won’t have to stop.
I will act lost and disoriented when I’m dealing with cops.
I will not be bald. I will be aerodynamic.
I will hang out at the Senior Center and work with ceramics.
I will wear my bifocals with pride.
I will kick, scream and spit.
I will not go quietly into the night.

Go Naked by Barry R. Barnes
I have run naked down highways
Danced naked in the rain
Swam naked in lakes
You may think this insane.
But what is sanity ?
After years of thinking it over
I wished I would have done these things sober.
I once danced naked on a stage with 100 people
in front of 2000 people. A sober controlled situation.
A Bill T Jones creation
One day I will go naked. I will go free.

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Peter Wright

songs of dumuzi by Peter Andrew Wright
pilgrimage
i love the hours
past midnight in which
flickering retablos silently
shuffle in spiral procession
a circus party
where freaks dance
to the bleet of lamb
whose sacrifice brings her
the ecstatic enigma
of decision
i am ambivalent
about the dawn when voice
seduces all things into a far orbit
insulated from the teeming center
of poetry
alas the algebra
is cast with verse
sculpted by each word’s
longing to be uttered akin
emptiness

photo

Robert J. Baumann

my short poem by Robert J. Baumann
is almost done just
some organizational shit and a few
transitions
name your price
what?
ok not seriously but
only cuz i
've been working on it so long i can't even see its
big blob
what are you
talking about
writing a poem
to end going crazy greasy
hair crazy
wide-eyed-small-pupil
crazy
i am going to use that as a short
poem 'found poem' then i will be famous
like William Carlos Williams awesome
and once a year on this
day you can come
visit me in the asylum haha
like Pound
do you hate Jews?
b/c Ezra Pound did.
no but pound
cake's a good start
pound cake is always a good start

Changeling: to My Husband by Anne L. Haehl
My parents sadly missed
the child the Faery Folk had stolen,
leaving behind their discard,
the oddling,
me.

Mother often glanced at the replacement
in vague disappointment, but
my father screamed
at the usurper
of his child’s cradle.

Who can imagine then,
who can believe the wonder—
all history turned upside-down--
in your arms
I belonged.

Tribute to an Old Priest by Anne L. Haehl
Such an ordinary
tragedy;
an old man
forgetting
his life..

Perhaps
his involvement in love and learning
was so deep
he could only leave memory
first.

Digging
Jubilee Community, 1999

by Anne L. Haehl
Three feet down
in the red Georgia clay
shovels no longer work..

The refugees
make the picks ring
against the rocks
calling out
“Es para mi padre
mi hermana
mi hijo—“

“my father
my sister
my son”

laying to rest
in these homeless men
those beloved left behind
unburied.

Neighbor Kid by Amy Bertrand
Neighbor kid
kicks and screams
bosses and cries
bleeds and whines for a kiss
smarts off and runs away
At the end of the evening he comes back
with a smile and
a little hand placed into his mother's
they go inside together
and their household settles down for another night

The Depth of My Sea by Amy Bertrand
It's deep
I've been way down
But I suspect there's still
at least twice the distance more
Each level has a different light
different life
a different temperature
Sometimes I'm tempted to breathe in the water
and stay down
I may be a mermaid
But, so far, I've come back up for air
For my next trip, I'm thinking
of scuba gear and maybe a harpoon
in case I need to slay a fearsome deepsea beast
Or maybe he'd turn out to be my brother?

Neosho City 4th of July by Denise Low
I pluck a clear blue marble from river silt.
Every river is old.
This is Historic Tour Point 6
and the rodeo starts at 7.
The cowboy has a handlebar mustache.
His wife is thin.
Southern wind blows the striate flag.
It is one wing beating.
No, a beating heart.
A dragonfly floats on blue iridescent wings
away from shimmy of cat’s-eye water.
Another horse trailer rattles the road.
Bricks stagger row by row
down the long aisle of Main.

Red Canyons by Denise Low
Across the ceiling of this land
vultures tilt and coast—
dark eclipses over rocks.

80 more miles. A truck passes.
He waves across dried blood
on asphalt and settled starlings.

The next turn, 40 buzzards
appear on fence posts
all naked pink wattles and grins.

The car moves past roosts,
past highways, past hearths
and a road turning at a washout

ending at an arroyo where
the world re-folds into itself
leaving red boulders as dust.

Whose? by Daniel Bentley
Whose poems would I pocket
in clandestine book stores?
Whose words would I palm
and make reappear on a stage
transformed like a silk scarf into a rabbit
from a motheaten tophat?
Whose poem would I keep in a bag
near my heart like old Whitman
so that its mystery would rub off on me?
Whose meters would I ride into publication?
Who cares?
Whose poems were first anyway?
It's all recycled many times over at this point anyway.
Picasso said when he visited other studios
"I come as a thief"
but truly he came to spirit away
the medium for magic vicissitude.
Who can say whose poems will be the last,
final permutation of the language
on paper,
on the tongue?
Whose are mine?

Fist by Daniel Bentley
I wrote a poem
and the wet ink
printed my fist.
I suppose I could threaten you with it
or ask you to kiss it
but I will just hold it up,
this backward writing on my flesh,
for you to read in a mirror.

Hodgepodge by Jane Live
Reading through my carry around
notebook, I learn that
I am a hodgepodge.
Hodepodge, what a weird word
Like my notebook,
Full of jottings,
Full of blottings:
Sense and nonsense,
Phone numbers, dates,
Happenings, poems, plans.
To-do’s, are they ever done?
“Whose telephone number?”
A hodgepodge of mind and soul,
Fragmented, some might say
An ADD notebook
Focus! Focus!...

Winter- 3 degrees F by Jane Live
Winter- 3 degrees F.
Soggy soul, drying out
On the couch
Couch potato?
Lazy? Damaged?
Who would not let an old alky friend
Have some respite?
He’s in my space, though
No problem and sober.
“Do you have a plan?”
“What plan” he chuckles, a little nervously.
Lonely, good-hearted
Damaged goods.
But it’s my space, I complain silently.

Bliss, January 30 2009 by Jane Live
January 30, 2009
Bliss (addendum to Winter- 3 degrees)
Bliss is awakening to nobody
On the couch.
No TV at 4 a.m., inaudible to most.
The white noise of comfort to some.
Bliss is an aloneness,
A personal space to wake
Not noisy, not silent, and
Not tiptoeing around.
My guest found a different berth,
at least for a night – on the message machine:
“I’ve found somewhere for this evening” ‘
Sounds of laughter in the background.
Sobriety isn’t much fun, I think.

Right Now by Natalie McAnulla
the tick tocks roll swift these days
200 hundred plus day pages fly away
before i saw how dizzy intense this fall
had come down on me,
how high up i got laid.

my serpentine needs roll and heave
in search of fulfillment until i reel backwards
and stumbling just now noticing
maybe this aint possible.

unreal needs and possible dreams
fill my daytime. sights set so high
yet im still wingless so,
needless to say I cant yet fly.

I battle the crazy. I battle the ill. with my trusty tools:
a bottle, a shot, a bowl, and some pills.
out of my mind time, every night time
is what i need to stay alive.

i need to stick around to see what goes down next,
to see if this shit gets any better,
or to see if i can get her any wetter.
cuz thats what i really want.

her hot breathe washing across my neck,
turning on the ignition in my hips...
to the tune of our engines we swell and dip:
supple belly. liquid thighs. lips all over my face.
melting insides.
She's what I need to stay alive.

ive never been soo many highs, all at the same time
speakin of time did i mention its pickin up speed?
a cause for celebration and my girl are all i need
to make my moments complete-

photo

Natalie McAnulla

my days by Natalie McAnulla

~my day starts at 7:30 a.m., my phone vibes to get me going again~

i need to quit
i need to wake up
get dressed, look fresh
i need to sleep...
go in and out of what others think
finally decide you just want to be understood
care only about what feels good
care about the future
take care
think outside the cosmos
get that wide wide perspective
til you can't touch ground
then dive back into skin and
hold your lovers hand
anguish over life spent behind bars
over life spent behind counters, or
steering wheels of cars
need to get off soo bad you had to masturbate
at work....... on your lunch break
need to be inspired right now
need to pass out right now, then go to work
then pass out and live in a land of dreams
work 57 hours a week
blow your money on books and herbs
trip balls listening to poetic verbs run away
with extended metaphors
fall into bed, pain killed in your head
fold into her sleeping form
where the love is real, and real warm

POETS by Nancy Hubble
Who is a real poet?
Who should say?
The child who wrote
their first poem today?

Or perhaps the professor
who studied for years,
knows all the classics,
has wept the right tears?

The best poet's a pirate
who waylays the brain,
sizzles yer innards
with words of flame,
slices the air
with swords of rhyme,
whirling about
to disorient time.
ker whicker,
ker WHACK
and you're flat on you're back,
mumbling lines to yourself
about a Jellicle cat.

Open the Book by Nancy Hubble
Open the book and read to me.
Oh, life with you is mighty good!
Running through the words for wood
To burn in fires of poetry.

Life with you is powerful good!
Singing, as we climb each tree,
To burn in passions of poetry,
We spurn the elemental should.

Singing as we climb the tree,
Apples of the Sun for food,
To spurn the elemental should,
Open the book and read to me.

Something about Africa by Robert J. Baumann
There´s something about Africa
something mystical, for instance
Africa is so different from
my other favorite continents—real
Walking Students and congregations take action on
Yahoo! Answers
i heard genocide on the radio Since
I was 11 years old
17 photo Bits
of Africa: I only need to see
The darkest thing about Africa
To counter ignorance and bias, we need
more and more white Americans to make
living in Africa something very special.

prove that you know something
about Africa by telling me
Good News From Africa periodically
throw your arms in the air in resignation
about Africa, for instance
suggest answers to why the African people
wear masks.
for instance,
If you would just say “Africa is large” three times . . .

photo

Sara Glass

Straight Line by Sara Glass
Stripping down thought
Punching through time
Scattering dots to form a line
Straight to your mind from
My tongue out my chi
Reaching in to find out
That one reason to believe

To Be by Sara Glass
Human beings
that being said
being born also means
being dead
being that we are
all busy being so free
both beings have not
been bothered to believe...

Epic by Sara Glass
We're all here
and we're aware of it
so we might as well take good care of it
come share a bit of this prayer or wit
to bare this spit, unfair or unfit
I will spare you my itch, I'm
sincere in shifting gears
cuz' we're all here
we're all unnumbing
we are all
becoming

THESE ARE MY HANDS by Dixie Lubin
These are my hands
Knobby and utilitarian,
painful with arthritis
wrinkled, veined, unbeautiful.

These are my hands
That create without ceasing
Chopping vegetables
Kneading dough
Making image after image.
These the hands that bless
The bodies of my loved ones,
Pressing acupressure points
For headache and constipation
Smoothing tension
From brows and necks.

These are the hands lifting
Babies to the sun and air,
Wiping bottoms.
These the hands that caress
The beloved, caress the self
And fill the pages.

These are my hands:
Magic hands, powerful hands, old hands,
Beautiful hands.

HANGING OUT WITH MAYA by Dixie Lubin
When my daughter hangs out the clothes
She doesn't shake each piece to get the wrinkles out
Nor strategize how to pin, so sun and wind
Can do their best job.
She uses one pin where three are needed,
Or no pins at all, flings them carelessly
Over two lines, so I find them later
Blown around the yard and newly dirty.

When my daughter takes the clothes out
She doesn't hear the catbird's reperatoire
Or notice the sun caressing her strong arms.
Her mind is far away with lovers and friends,
Where she is going next, or how
Ticked off she is.
The homely chore annoys her: she prefers the dryer
To the sighing Kansas breeze.

When my daughter brings the clothes in
She overloads her basket with stiffened garments
Gnarled by the sun, then slings them on the table
Or dumps them on her floor atop the dirties.
Smoothing and folding do not occur.
My girl is young and hungry, has no time
For the drifting fragrance of honeysuckle.
My slow world is as bleak and blank to her
As a map of Antarctica.
Is there any way to tell her
How much the sweet, subtle meat of life
Cleaves tightly to the bone
Of each particular moment?


MawMaw by Chantel Guidry
Ethel is ninety-two, and she’s still kickin’.
She birthed seven kids and grew food to feed them
in her garden. She could butcher a chicken,
cook it in a gumbo, sew up a hem,
while tending to her children and lovely plants.
A hardworking woman, she got the job done.
She never put on skirts; she only wore pants
and didn’t use makeup or get her hair done.
She only showed her family smiles and laughter,
but in a life so long, she must have shed tears.
She married young, as was custom, but after
her husband died, she lived alone thirty years.
Did she stay single due to colossal grief?
When he passed, did she sigh in great relief?

Beginner by Caryn Mirriam Goldberg (Kansas poet laureate starting July 1)
Where is that heart,
the center of the field
swung open by the wind
so we can see what’s naked,
still wet and unfurled?
Where’s the ledge? Where’s the grief
that tears apart all the fencing?
Where's the sudden quiet
when the light through the cedars
dissolves shadows, and the grasses
ignite against the changing dirt?
Where’s the exact location
where no answers matter?
What does it mean to inhale
this surrender, to exhale into
the sky that holds up
twisting charms of goldfinch
and battered clouds, ready
to change into something else?
How do I bend to get there?

Something Missing by Amy Nixon Karsmizki
We live deep inside the lie;
we always have,
wrapped up in habit.
It winds around us,
swirling tight
then tighter -
sucking down
to the tip, where
there’s nothing much
to breathe but
memory residue and grit.

It looks well enough,
this life,
glossy and pale,
perfect in a hurricane vase
from Pottery Barn,
for that beachy effect.

My naked carcass
huddles, though, just
at the curling cusp,
wishing
for salt-tasting red
pincers to snap
me up.

Integumentary, My Dear by Amy Nixon Karsmizki
Working it loose is an art

lifting this edge
and that

just right

tricking the
dermamother
into letting her
rind-baby go

you have to do it
over and over

this same precise
breathless
dance

sometimes it gets hard
to stay the course

sometimes you just
have to rip it

clean off

to see the red wash
away any sign
of progress

all the little cells
rush like spiders
to knit you
back together again

but still you remain
ungrateful

Comments

SaraSerendip 8 years, 7 months ago

If you are to write an article on poetry... at least put some effort into it, hell I'll write it. for free. because love and passion and POETRY! that GDforsaken six letter word) are all free. and that's the beauty. of freedom !¡!

...granted lawrencedotcom is free to write what they will, while I must realize not everyone CARES about 'poetry' persay. But for those who DO care, what ABOUT that 'scene' here in lawrence is magical, yet so oft overlooked¿ ever been onstage and had everysingleperson in audience hang off a next breath¿ ittt'sssss breathtaking…

it's erotic. it's pure energy. and it's honest.

Honestly, hard to find these days buried beneath sunflower broadbands and callahan creeks crossing America these ways. (well maybe not the erotica, but honesty... please, what was that again Ms. Low?

“People have become disconnected from the poetry of their region?” Well then let's bring it to them lawrencedotcom... bring it on!

I'd wish larryville to list at least a FEW of the ‘zillion and five local poetry readings,’ because I only know of ONE that happens consistently once a month, and I'd appreciate the dissemination of information, really. I want to know what YOU think, YOU, the POET, the PERSON, what is YOUR point?

Further, is it too much to ask for an article on poetry, on language, on organization, that really questions these lines that define our ‘defininatory’ means. (yes, I am a poet, I get to makeup words)

bythat I mean, what does it MEAN to be a poet... to DO spoken word? to REcite, to REhearse, to REform, oups I mean PREFORM. to connect to our root chakras and explore our vibrational patterns in the presence of other beings WHY even BE? why wRitE? why worship words?

and what about Hip Hop. yeah. oral tradition. chant. a campfire as a macrophone. where does YOUR story lie from your lips. how do you tell it and why does it even matter?

you can learn from the past, but what counts in the big league is today. today, you, me, we reading writing interacting at this moment in time and deciding what you make of me… what do I take of you? The unthoughtable has been proven. The universe is infinitely finite. I am totally a white Jewish college graduate who wants to rap when she grows up. hellO a halfmuslimBLACKman is president. At this point in time, anything is possible. We are all witnesses. We are all one. We are all on point. THE point. My point?

who knows when the next soul will walk on water

but we sure as hell better be able to document it, eh...

While April might be a joke to some, still language, in any form, is a very real and personal and powerful tool to those who allow oneself to wiggle around in such an empty, creative space. Embrace it. Make love to it. Write a poem about it, and please, come find me.

"The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper" -- Eden Phillpotts

Jaylee 8 years, 7 months ago

sharp criticism considering you got plugged in this article like five times not including your comment ha doesnt your poetry night post on here anyway? you could have posted a link.

editer 8 years, 7 months ago

Letter to the editor received via email from Peter Wright:

A Poetry Page We watch sport, what we watch for is poetry. I was not at the town hall meeting on the 31st of March when Chancellor Hemenway was asked whether a true symbiotic relationship exists between the KU athletic department and the university itself. I do not know the extent of how the question was asked or all the details of Hemenway’s answer. It was reported that, “Hemenway said, ‘There’s not a poetry page,’ in the local newspaper. ‘The reason there’s a sports page is that’s where the demand is.’” Where sport ceases to be poetry it slumps into that end of the spectrum defined by vulgarity; a pandemonium fed by greed that deadens the consciousness of its audience. Our heroes in sport are those who reach beyond themselves to create something new. We love Michael Jordan, Tiger, Ali because their performances each are a singular dance that transcends what was previously believed possible thereby evolving their sport. Whether we are teammate or spectator, we follow and are inspired to elevate our own game. One might be a poet.

Poetic Justice is what happens when the thugs lose whether it’s in basketball, politics or the economy. We do not love A-Rod, Plaxico Burress, Bernie Madoff. These names will either fall into obscurity or be recorded as agents of a tragic time. Sport does not reward sheer talent, strength, showmanship for long without heroic conduct. Reference Melville’s Moby Dick or McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Our heroes in any venue know the demand is poetry, it’s why they play the game. Hemenway, being a professor of literature, has had the opportunity to highlight this timeless synergy between sport and poetry, to use its omnipresence to inspire material change in policy effecting the more integrated symbiosis mentioned above. That would be sport, it would be poetry, it would be heroic. Perhaps he feels that he has done this but it certainly wasn’t apparent in the way he was quoted responding to the question. Nor is it apparent “as one entity proposes major capital improvements and the other braces for budget cuts”. Regardless of funding streams the fact remains: there is no sport without poetry. As it goes, soon KU will have a new chancellor. Maybe he will be “full of that oldest human longing—self revelation” as Zora Neale Hurston might say and rise to the occasion with a trey in the last seconds to send the game into overtime. One might be a poet. Maybe even the powers that be at the Journal World will go beyond themselves and expand the poet’s corner on Sundays to a poetry page edited by a real live poet. Innovation sometimes comes from the most unlikely places.

ActualKansas 8 years, 7 months ago

Peter, I admire your intentions and passion here, but I can't say, even as a "poet" myself, that I agree, at least not on all accounts. First, your analogy seems to suggest that poetry=excellence: we love MJ, Tiger, etc. because they make poetry of the games they play, etc. No matter who you ask, bad poetry exists: poetry is not synonymous with excellence. Furthermore, I think that your analogy evokes an outdated idea of "poetry" that is part of the very reason that many people don't seek out poetry, or why venues like the Journal World don't "expand" their publishing of it. The idea of graceful manipulations of old tropes (which is what your analogy makes me think of) doesn't really do much for me, and I bet a lot of people agree. Poetry needs to be more challenging than that to be good, nowadays. It simply needs to do something new. To try to put it in terms of your analogy, Michael Jordan wouldn't just dribble, defend, jump shoot, and inspire his teammates in ways that wins championships, he would play a new kind of game that no one else is playing. Because, see, when Michael Jordan's career is said and done (which it is), the sport itself will not have evolved (well, maybe in terms of market share and other capitalist senses), and it will need someone to take the torch. Start a new game, and as long as people are playing that game, they're doing it because of you.

Even when that is done in poetry, let's face it, the Journal World is not the arena for it. Poetry, even in its most technical and alienating forms, has always been a personal, intimate endeavor. There are much better venues for such a thing. With hundreds of small presses publishing thousands of poets (good and bad, according to all tastes), and with the proliferation of DIY capabilities, there's more poetry in print (and on the web) now than ever before. Go find it if you want it. Support the people that are already making sacrifices to make this stuff available, or become one of them yourself. We can complain about the arts not receiving funding, but how much do we support the artists working in our communities right now? If we had more poems in the local newspaper, for free, would we ever seek any other poetry out?

At the same time, I whole-heartedly agree with you about the "funding issue." While creative writers (and other artists) are often looked down upon even within their own departments, they produce sociological material that will be studied by future generations of scholars--they are responsible for advancing the disciplines. In that a University is first an institution meant to cultivate the mind, there must be that symbiosis. We need to field competitive teams to bring in money: athletics must have their share of funding. But the athletics exist in the first place because of the institution, because people want to learn.

-robert j baumann

ActualKansas 8 years, 7 months ago

SaraSerendip (and anyone else who cares to):

email actualkansas[at]gmail[dot]com to subscribe to the email list for the reading series that i help run. or visit anactualkansas.blogspot.com -- we try to combine one local writer with one "traveling talent".

also, there's the new series at The Raven, "Big Tent" that features writers from vastly differing aesthetics on the same bill. it happens every third Thursday at 7pm, if you didn't know about that one.

i think there's an open mic at Aimee's every other Monday.

KU has a graduate student readings series that happens every other Sunday at 5pm at Mirth Café.

KU also brings in visiting writers several times a year. for instance, Salvador Plascencia is reading on April 28 at 7pm in the Jayhawk Room of the KU Union.

Dennis Etzel Jr. runs a great series in Topeka that features area poets. for more info there visit: topcitypoetry.blogspot.com

Joe Harrington's blog usually has local literary events listed at the top of the page: josephharrington.blogspot.com

boom. poetry.

maclothier 8 years, 7 months ago

Healthy and spirited debate about poetry...HOT DAMN!

Robert, it seems, in your statement, "It simply needs to do something new," that you're subscribing to the Pound axiom of "Make it new." But is sheer "newness" enough? How then to explain something like Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock version of "The Star Spangled Banner"? While his interpretation of the tune could be considered "new," he's still playing an old song, and a song which had its music lifted from an earlier drinking ballad. Hendrix's version also seems so powerful because the original context of the lyrics, the War of 1812, was now joined/replaced/overlaid by the War in Vietnam. So, Hendrix is actually tapping into a deep tradition rather than just "simply...do[ing] something new". The complexity of the tradition and context aid in making Hendrix's "new" version so compelling. That and it kicks ass!

Also, has poetry ALWAYS been "a personal and intimate endeavor"? It seems to me The Iliad and The Odyssey, while dealing with personal themes, are national poems - epics. Shakespeare's plays, Dante's work, Whitman - all personal and intimate on some level, but all definitely fit for mass consumption! Poetry once had a significant place in newspapers around the country, though the quality of the verse was definitely "questionable"...wasn't Sandburg often published in newspapers? (Not saying Sandburg is bad.) But I say, "Why not poetry in newspapers?" The UDK publishes the inane telephone commentary of (hopefully drunken) KU students as the "Free For All" - a very small space couldn't be set aside for poetry?

But I'm also reminded of Williams...

It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.

A point to all of this? Not really - just thought I'd join the fray!

Matt

maclothier 8 years, 7 months ago

Apologies to WCW for the spacing snafu in my quotation!

SaraSerendip 8 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Matthew... good to see you combing these grounds. And thank you Actual Kansas for the plethora of poetic events. Response? I've been to/featured at the Raven, even the people at aimees don't know which Monday are having the poetry and which aren't, but I did bookmark your blog, very nice, thank you.

Jaylee, I purposefully did not post a link to MY show because I did not want my comment to come off as shamelessly promoting the jazzhaus. But, since you cared to ask: The first Wednesday of the Month, May 6th, Open Mic Freshk Ink: Poetry SLUR at The Jazzhaus. An open freewrite starts at 9:00 p.m. with the open MIC starting at 10:00. The evening will open with Gino Morrow, a national poetry slam winner from NY. All readers are welcome. We've got visuals, we've got audio (live electronics by J Phoenix), we've got hands on creative ways to participate if you are not a poet. Bring what you got, and share it with us.

And please, Mr Tankard.... weren't you IN a poetry class with me at one point at KU? While I very much appreciate your humor, and I'm honored you decided to write an article on poetry and 'include' me and my peers in it, instead of making fun of our craft, perhaps you could try to remove your opinion and instead get to the facts concerning what may make poetry poetic.

frankt 8 years, 7 months ago

Ahhhh, I just wrote a response and accidentally hit back and now it's gone. I hate lawrence.com...

Anyway, Sara, first, I love poetry. I read it. I write it. Poetry class with Prof. Brian Daldorph was one of my three favorite classes at KU. When friends of mine say, "I just don't get poetry," I say things like, "Maybe you just don't like the poetry that seems old and stale when it's shoved down your throat in school, no more than you'd probably like music forced on you in school."

There were three points to this article:

  1. Print a bunch of poems by local poets.
  2. Plug some upcoming poetry readings and events (some of the events got lost in the production shuffle--thanks, Robert and Sara, for posting more info)
  3. Generate some kind of conversation about poetry--which, hey hey, happened

To tie it all together, I briefly interviewed a few poets and wrote an intro. There were a few things I didn't want to do in the intro. I didn't want to tell people why they SHOULD read poetry, presenting it as some kind of civic obligation, like attending a city commission meeting, or as an elite art form, like the opera. I also didn't want to write something about how poetry is all around us-in hip-hop lyrics, etc.--not because it's not a valid point but because I've heard that a million times and so has everybody else.

What I decided to write was something light and humorous that presented poetry not as something that needs to be spelled with a capital P. Poetry can be daunting. It's hard to write a good poem. I purposefully included the likes of published, badass poets like Denise Low with amateurs such as myself. That's why I included my poem at the top. Not a great poem, but an honest effort. Hey, who cares if my poetry's not as good as Denise Low's? That's why I included quotes such as Jane Live's. I'm not saying Live's poems are better or worse than mine or Denise Low's, but she said she just DOES it, because she enjoys it. That's my point.

If I were to write a more serious, heavy-handed intro--My Treatise on Poetry in 200 Words or Less by Francis D. Tankard--it would have been lame. Not to say a good intro in that vein couldn't be written. Just not be me.

that_will_do_pig 8 years, 7 months ago

Frank--I'm glad you responded, this debate has been REALLY interesting and insightful to read, a "great discussion" thumbs up to everyone.

I myself am... well... I'm not going to lie. Never cared too much for poetry because sometimes I like rules and boundaries. But that also means that when I read a poem that hits me in the gut, rocks my world, "good" or not, it really jars me and makes me happy... and makes me want to write poems. I think that Frank has accomplished a lot with this article, because though the piece might be lacking, he got the people with the know-how to explain it, and to show me how passionate poets are about their art. I think that's great. Simply unfortunate that the print version of this paper can't include user comments, right? And I must agree here that the hip-hop oriented modern conversation about poetry is a bit of an old story. It's definitely integral to the genre, and it's ever creating and changing its face and purpose all the time due to the lyrical prowess of these musicians/artists, but it was nice to hear about some other aspects of poetry as well...

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to everyone for enlightening me a little bit on something I understand so very little about!

maclothier 8 years, 7 months ago

Jenny - don't be fooled by the 20th century's intense pre-disposition to free verse! There are a lot of "formal" poets out there, meaning poets who are interested in forms, some of which (the sestina, por ejemplo) are quite challenging to do well. And the skilled poets who take free verse as their preferred mode, do think in terms of "rules and boundaries," but might think in terms of the content of the poem driving the form rather than the form of the poem driving the content. I highly recommend Charles Olson's mid-century essay, "Projective Verse":

http://homepages.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/proj.verse.html

For many of these poets, their "forms" aren't necessarily traditional forms such as sonnets - it's just a matter of coming to terms with those forms.

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