May 27, 2010

Garrison Keillor: Too many writers killing culture

Filed under: General — crcb @ 7:02 am
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I generally like Keillor, but he can be a back-in-my-day codger sometimes. According to a new op-ed by Keillor, book publishing is “about to slide into the sea,” and all because it’s too danged cheap and easy to write and publish and read. His prediction: “18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75”

I’ll let others discuss the financial side. They can parade examples of self-published authors who have large followings and make good money, like the enjoyable and prolific Cory Doctorow. Instead, I call William Blake to the stand. Blake’s work never would have survived any editorial vetting process in any era, even ours, and without his egotistical determination to print it himself, the world would be a poorer place.

If I can play the codger myself, back in my youth we had something called “the zine explosion.” Cheap photocopying and cheap postage made it possible for anyone to be a publisher. There were zines on coin collecting, zines on librarianship, racist zines, peace zines, erotic zines, religious zines, zines espousing socio-politico-economic theories that been developed with the aid of powerful chemicals, mobs of music zines, and literary zines — oh, were there literary zines! I saw my own poetry and satire published across the world: Finland, Turkey, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. (My readership was small, but it was cosmopolitan.) I read poetry and fiction and humor and rants and manifesti from those countries and more. And it was good. Not all of it, not most of it. But I would pluck a piece from the spillage and, as Keillor says, “read the first three sentences” to decide if I wanted to read the rest, just as I do with fiction in The New Yorker. I found many poems, stories and articles that were just as good as those in mainstream publications, but I never would have read them there.

For Blake, creative work was synonymous with worship; every poem, book, story, song, drawing or sculpture was another stone laid for the New Jerusalem, and he exhorted every Christian to contribute to building that city. I’m sure many aspects of modern technology would have troubled him, but “everyone an artist” would not have been one of those aspects.


May 26, 2010

Worth reading: Cory Doctorow’s “Jammie Dodgers” story on Shareable Futures

Filed under: General,What I'm Reading — crcb @ 8:52 pm
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Not great literature, but enjoyable. Makes me miss the ‘zine explosion of the 80s, it does. Plus he names names.

May 7, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010, Days 23 Through 30

Tech issues have made it difficult for me to blog, but I did continue my poem-a-day through April — two poems on the 28th. Every one of my personalities pseudonyms got the podium at least, some more than once. I wrote some awful stuff, but also some poems worth saving and revising. The poems for days 23-30 are below.

The Passionate Realist to his Love

Come love with me, and be my life.
Our time in flesh is far too brief
To wait for one to take a hook,
Or trade conceits of fish and lake.

I don’t have cottage, sheep, golden sands;
I wish I did. My kitchen floor slants,
The ceiling sags. But this dump will be
Our country garden, our hideaway.

I’ll buy fresh daisies from a shop downtown,
Paint the walls sky blue, dye the curtains green.
Summer mornings we’ll nibble frozen fruit,
And thaw the winter nights with lovers’ heat.

If these and I are enough to make you move,
Bring your baggage soon, so I can start to live.

— Adam Ives, 4/23/2010



The three lilac trees
in the yard are graceful
and well-behaved. Keeping
them so makes your hands
calloused. If I die
first, I’ll inhabit the lilacs,
and maybe in your grief
you’ll let me, a little,
grow wild.

— Mary Contrail, 4/24/2010


The Animals

I could never live with the animals, so peaceful and resigned.
Sure, I like to watch them, feed them,
have a chat now and then.
They suffer as we do, but unless you can help they don’t whine. But not one
has visions, not one fights its nature
or longs to leave itself behind, not one
would ruffle a nap over making me weep.

— Nathaniel Leaming, 4/25/2010


Lunch Fast

A burger that tastes
mostly of salt,
shaped chunks of chicken flesh
the same, ditto fries: to drink,
a glass of sugar. Li Po
would not have drowned on this diet,
but what would he say to the moon?

— Carl Bettis, 4/26/2010


The Art of Interpretation

It was a bright day. In the parking lot of the sandwich shop, a young man who wore yellow galoshes and a hairstyle thirty years dead loped around in a crouch, hooting and crowing. Three varied pairs of boots lay under a nearby tree. When I came out half an hour later, he was gone, and eight boots sprawled in the shade. I know everything that happens under the sun has meaning for our dreams, but neither my grandfather nor Coleridge nor the river nymphs can puzzle this one out. Maybe Emperor Phocas is right: maybe waking life is a random set of sensations, all coherence and story merely faces in the clouds.

— Eli Seif, 4/27/2010



I do not step high
when the grass is wet & tall, I don’t
kill snakes when I visit their woods, I don’t think
I’m alone in this house & I don’t call it mine
or sweep every corner searching for lost coins, I don’t take
facts for truths, I won’t sign
the Creator’s time sheet not for is kind of work, I don’t feel
well but I do not believe
in vicarious convalescence.

— Rameshi, 4/28/2010


sunrise patio,
the birds’ morning conference —
a squirrel dissents

— Carl Bettis, 4/28/2010

Not a haiku. By some standards, it’s too long for an English-language haiku, and it uses figurative language, which is a big no-no.


Ripeness Is All, but Not Too Much

There are thirty-eight minutes
in a pear’s existence
when it’s perfect for the eating.
A little too long, and you might
have it for breakfast
as you read the paper,
but you won’t sink all senses
into its flesh, or exclaim
How juicy it is!

— Vivi Groesbeck, 4/29/2010


Portentous Renditions Of Swaggering Enigmas

Fundamentalist romantics bysshe over everyone
career dadaists dominate capital for two-hundred-ninety-one dollars a half-hour
(roleplay. adam & eve in latex fig leaves.)
the renga poets form a conga line but don’t last long
the surrealist has a train ticket
has an aeroplane ticket
has tram trolley & fairy tickets
has a ticket to ride the great Russian rose
signed in cuneiform by Breton himself
Professor Munton the poet laureate of western southeast Sandhill Corners
assigns his latest ninety-six page chapbook for writhing reviews
when yellow was naked it was gray
the faces of memory give me a credenza
I don’t know what a credenza is does it have leaves does it have rhythm can you believe in it
hrum hrum hro it kheeps me busy
now you know my brightest secret
the orphan twins pine for me
from the nineteenth century they are ashamed
of their yearning & turn it into novels
full of raw weather & clean handkerchiefs
Hegel has been reincarnated as a three-legged stool
in the kitchen of Kierkegaard the housewife
she stops ironing her husband’s pants
& stands on Hegel to kill a spider
while there she declaims (as Blake the flea sips from her scalp)
Every Startle Carries Existence
Average Minutes Stand Rigid Building
The Charge That Destroys Them
My Mate Rides With Folded Hands
The Self-Steering Vehicle Of Desire
Bought On A Note Never To Be Paid
her husband that good man Byron comes in
she wears his smallness on her face
it introduces itself to him with a wink
he takes it out to a dirty bar

— Basil Cartryte, 4/30/2010

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