Poets and Poetry in the Shadowland of Technology and Social Networking

bright flower at nightI believe in the power of poetry; and I believe we can extend that power when we make strategic use of it in that very mixed blessing, the shadow land of technology and social networking.  That is why I spend much of my valued time in these arenas and much effort supporting other writers and activists who are doing profoundly important work. I’m no longer able to storm the gates, but I can still pound the heck out of a keyboard.

After eight years, however, I find I’m losing my tolerance for those who use poetry and social networking – ostensibly to raise the community consciousness with regard to want and inequity – only to proceed to thoughtlessly undermine the care, hard work and long hours invested by others who actually do put the “active” in activism.

It is also one thing to use the tools of social networking to connect with family and friends, to form friendships based on affinity, and to earn our bread or to support those causes in which we believe. It’s quite another thing to do it as a narcissistic indulgence, especially when that indulgence is at the expense of people who need us to be – not self-concerned and histrionic – but measured voices that walk our talk in the daily play of living, working, spending, teaching (in the greater sense all good poets are teachers) and – yes! – social networking.

Poetry can be assertive and should be. If justice poetry, however, isn’t balanced and well-considered, if it isn’t complemented with right action and right living, it is the work of a poet who enjoys the sound of his or her own voice. It is in danger of devolving into an exercise of smug in the service of ego and sanctimony in the service of voyeurism.

If our compassion is all talk and no legs, it isn’t compassion at all. In the same vein, justice poetry needs teeth and its teeth come from actions consistent with values expressed. English poet and scientist, Jemma Borg, writes this in The Poet and the Planet, a feature article in the November 2015 issue of ARTEMISpoetry:

” . . . ‘art prepares us for thought’ and ‘thought prepares us for action’ (as the political activist and poet, Rukeyser wrote). There must be poetry, there must be activism; it is a continuum. So, poets can give society a guilty conscience, they can be legislators. But we also need people camped outside Shell to protest against drilling in the Arctic …”

© 2017, words and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved


The recommended read for this week for children, Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem by  Jack Prelutsky,  named the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Pizza, Pigs and Poetry, How to Write a Poem is ideal for children grades 3-6.  He engages by sharing funny stories, light poems and creative technique, not forms. This seems entirely perfect for encouraging – not discouraging – this age group. Fun and funny Pizza, Pigs and Poetry would make great summer reading – and writing – and is perfect for a birthday gift or a gift for some other occasion.


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Liberty Circus … A Rogue Band of Outlaw Songwriters and Poets

The Liberty Circus are Malcolm Holcombe, Al Maginnes, RB Morris and Alan Kaufman: a rogue band of outlaw songwriters and poets who have thrown in to criss-cross the land in a performing celebration of good old democratic open-heartedness. They say that “A lion’s share from the proceeds of our shows will directly benefit organizations working with immigrants and refugees. Along the way we’ll invite local performers to our stages and grow our Liberty Circus into a big national family of love and support for Lady Liberty’s tired, poor masses yearning to breathe free.” Follow them on Facebook HERE.  A worthy project that promises to be fun.

Thanks to Alan for the heads-up on this. Alan Kaufman – “citizen poet” with five published volumes including The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry has been featured here before and was also featured in The BeZine.

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events and Other Information and News

img_3688 CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

AMETHYST ARSENIC is open submissions of poetry. Payment: $10. Featured poet receives $50. Deadline: March 31, 2017. Details HERE.

COLD CREEK REVIEW, a literary journal is a fledgling quarterly that accepts poetry, fiction, nonfiction and art.  “… we are partial to submissions that demonstrate examples of troubled emotions…We want your submission to leave us paralyzed and distressed. We challenge you to alarm us.”  This publication also plans to produce a special biannual – The Shallows – which does not share the same theme as the review. For details on both publications. link HERE.

ODYSSA MAGAZINE “accepts submissions for every monthly issue in the section “Story,” “Go,” “Family,” and “Think.” …. The look for fiction up to 700-1,000 words and buy first electronic and online rights exclusive for three months.  Each issue has a theme.  More detail HERE.

MUNSTER LITERATURE CENTRE publishes a biannual journal, Southword, which features poetry, fiction and reviews. Details HERE.

THE JOURNAL OF COMPRESSED LITERARY ARTS  seeks “compressed creative arts” including fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media and visual arts that are “compressed in some way. ” Publications are weekly. Details HERE.

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL seeks submissions of poetry and story for numberous publications.  Christmas and Holiday Collection – 2018, deadline October 31, 2017. Miracles and More , deadline August 31, 2017.  My Crazy Family! – June 30, 2017. My Kind (of) America – March 31, 2017. Positively Happy! – May 31, 2017.  Stories of Redemption – August 31, 2017. Details HERE.

PURITAN MAGAZINE seeks submissions of fiction, poetry, essays, interviews and reviews all year round and from anywhere in the world. Details HERE.

MUGWUMP, a literary revolution – Arocentric Anthology: Afrofuturism – publishes fiction stories in diverse settings, featuring diverse people. Payment: 1 cent/word. Deadline: March 31, 2017. Details HERE.

THE BeZINE, a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, a virtual arts collective, is a digital publication that is published on the fifteenth of each month. The deadline is always  on the tenth. Submit via email to bardogroup@gmail.com.  Each issue is themed and the themes for each month are included in Submission Guidelines.  Please read the guidelines, one or two issues AND the Mission Statement before submitting. Special issues are April for interNational Poetry Month and September when we host a virtual 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) event for reader participation. This year 100TPC will be on September 30 and the September issue will post on the fifteenth as usual. The site was established in 2011 and the Zine is in publication now for three years. The theme for March 2017 is Science in Culture, Politics and Religion with a deadline upcoming on March 10. Submissions of poetry, essay, fiction and creative nonfiction, music videos, photography and art are welcome.


COMPETITIONS

Opportunity Knocks

THE POETRY SOCIETY (UK) “awards £16,000 in prizes each year. Poets at all stages of their careers are celebrated, and prizes also include ways to support writers’ development: courses, books, membership and publication. The competitions and prizes are a central part of The Poetry Society’s work.” Details HERE.


Award Winning British Poet, Myra Schneider (b. 1936), Writer, Writing Coach, Consultant to Second Light Nework of Women Poets

Award Winning British Poet, Myra Schneider (b. 1936), Writer, Writing Coach, Consultant to Second Light Network of Women Poets

SECOND LIGHT POETRY COMPETITION FOR LONG AND SHORT POEMS BY WOMEN 2017Deadline Tues, 15 August.
JUDGE MYRA SCHNEIDER will read all entries. Myra Schneider’s latest and recent books are Persephone in Finsbury Park (SLP), The Door to Colour (Enitharmon); What Women Want (SLP); and the writing resource, Writing Your Self (with John Killick). Myra is a Poetry School and Second Light regular tutor. More at Myra Schneider website. £300 First Prize for each of Long (no upper limit) and Short (max 50 lines) poems. £150 Second Prize (1 poem from either category). £75 Third Prize (1 poem from either category) Winning & Commended Poets published (in full or extract) in ARTEMISpoetry. Winners offered a London reading.
Entry: £6 each per long poem. Short poems: £4 each or £9 for 3, £14 for 8. Enter by post (2 copies) or online.
**Members are entitled to one free entry into the competition. Join now to be eligible.** (See About Second Light/Joining. Recommended ladies. I’m a member.) more: Rules & Entry direct link to payment at [Anne Stewart’s] poetry p f online shop, The results of the competitions will be posted on the website by 30th September. Once winning poems (or extracts) are published in ARTEMISpoetry. Second Light Network was founded and is managed by Dilys Wood.


EVENTS

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THE THIRD DUBLIN WRITERS CONFERENCE sponsored by The Society of Authors is scheduled to be held at The Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 from the 23rd-25th of June 2017. Seventeen speakers are scheduled.  Details on conference, programme and to purchase tickets are HERE.  The Society is offering a lower early-bird registration rate.

HALI POETRY WORKSHOP WITH RUSS GREEN hosted by Long Island Poetry on March 8, 150 Brightside Aven, Central Islp, New York 11722. Russ Green is a guest poet with The BeZine.

SECOND SATURDAYS AT CYRUS with Terri Muuss and Patricia Spears Jones, hosted by the featured poets and Matt Pasca.March 11, Cyrus: Chai & Coffee Company, 1 Railroad Plz., Bay Shore, New York 11706.

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH is celebrated on April in the United States. Look for announcements of events and celebrations on this site throughout the rest of this month.

interNATIONAL POETRY MONTH at The BeZine is April. We will feature a special issue and submissions are encouraged. Deadline is April 10.


NEWS


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY


51kdxwtdml-_sx331_bo1204203200_The recommended read for this week is Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Pulitzer Prize winning Megan Marshall who studied with Bishop at Harvard. This biography is richly spun,  energetic, engaging and even inspirational despite the breathtaking depth of Bishop’s losses, her sense of marginalization and her head-long push into alcoholism. Indeed, some of the inspiration comes because with all her loses, Bishop managed to hold poetry tight. Her poems were for her a charm “against the loneliness they often expressed.” The book covers Bishop’s relationships with other poets and her romantic interests, the last was for me the singular wearisome downside, much overrided though by the book’s pleasures and values. It is laced with Marshall’s own stories and together the lives of these two bare witness to the power of words to give shape, sense and meaning to life. We come away with a strong sense of Elizabeth Bishop, one of America’s most extraordinary poets. A page-turner. A must read or everyone who loves and writes poetry.

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When a prompt strikes a cord . . . Jamie Dedes and/or/Is the Feminine Divine by Gary W. Bowers

Poet and Artist, Gary W. Bowers

Poet and Artist, Gary W. Bowers

Gary Bowers (One With Clay) is one of our triple-threat poets: poetry, art and humor.  Words like “quick-witted” and “pithy” come to mind. He is adapt at combing his talents and this is a post he created, which I will cherish. It’s always nice to be acknowledged and Gary is particularly kind to me. Thank you, Gary! This is sweet and clever. There’s a lot more of Gary’s poetry, art and unique style to be enjoyed on Gary’s blog,where he often acknowledges other creatives. Recommended. J.D.


Jamie Dedes is alive, though she was given but two years to live in a prognosis delivered before the end of the last century. She credits her son and “an extraordinary medical team” for her continued existence. Though I don’t know her well–I don’t even know how many syllables are in her last name, much less how to pronounce it–I would venture to add that Moxie also has something to it.

For she has Moxie in abundance. She cares enough about poetry and its practitioners to have created and maintained an outstanding resource-blog called THE POET BY DAY, which connects poets via showcased poet exemplars, essays, links to items of interest to poets, her own poems, and on Wednesdays, those springboarding challenges known as prompts, which are invitations to write about a specific thing, or on a certain theme, or some other limiting, focusing factor.

And it was a week ago Wednesday that I responded to one such prompt. This one:

Write a poem, a fiction or a creative nonfiction piece telling us how you envision a feminine God or about the feminine side of God. What might S/he be like? Does/would such a view change the way you feel about yourself and the world? Would it change the world? How? You don’t need to believe in God or in a feminine aspect of God. This is an exercise in imagination not faith. Have fun with the exercise and if you feel comfortable, share the piece or the link to the piece below so that we might all enjoy.

For some reason this prompt struck a chord and got me going. I don’t know if there is a Supreme Being. I have certain feelings but I don’t trust them, being a rationalizer and wishful-thinker. A much more intelligent man than I am, Stephen Hawking, envisions a cosmology that, in the words of Carl Sagan in his introduction to Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, gives “nothing for a Creator to do.” In other words, Hawking’s universe has no need for a Creator.

But if there IS a Supreme Being, it makes sense to me, since the Supreme Being brought us all to be, that since that Being birthed us all, that She be a mother. And so I took a weird word from a conspiracy theory about our 44th President, Barack Obama, for a title, and was off to the races imagining God as Mom:

*****

birther

o god
thou residest betwixt r and t

god s be thy name
birther of us all
mixmistress of galaxies
crecher of clusters
ovulatrix of ylem

thy mother’s care is in the dew
thy admonishment is in the don’t
and when we want to play in the woods of reckless fun
thou respondest “we’ll see”
which almost always means “fat chance”

thy human smartalecks speak of heat death
it is merely a pause
in thy menopause
and soon thou’lt bake us cosmic cookies again

thanks for Ever
y
Thing,
maman

*****

Sure was fun to write, and oddly, bouncily, spiritually uplifting. Things just seemed to naturally occur: the Heat Death of the Universe resonates with the “hot flash” of menopause–hey how bout that, menoPAUSE–perhaps prelusive of the Big Crunch and the next Bang–and double up on “baking us cosmic cookies” with us being some of the cosmic cookies She bakes–and Everything with the y, possibly the Spanish “and,” joining Ever and Thing–and the French word for Mama, maman, slightly hinting at both “amen” and “ma MAN.” Wrote it first, realized it later. Could it be that She helped? Fun to think so.

I posted “birther” in the Comments section of Jamie’s post, and she replied that she loved it and wanted to include it in her following-Tuesday post. I happily agreed, and supplied a photo and my poet’s curriculum vitae at her request. She published my and three other poets’ responses to her prompt last Tuesday, and I was proud and happy enough to be in such august company that I put a link to her post on my Facebook Timeline.

As fate would have it, the next day was Jamie’s Birthday, and it was there I learned about her “Sixty-seven Years on the Razor’s Edge.” You can too, and I think you should. HERE is a link.

One thing I’d left out of my poet’s biography was the fact that my specialty is Acrostic poetry, i.e. poems where the first and/or last and/or midstream letters of the poem form words. In my gratitude to Jamie, and wanting to show off a little of this weird skill, I composed and illustrated a birthday acrostic for her, thus:

jamie-dedes-02222017

Here are the words of what may be the first birthday-occasion, acrostic, limerickal, end-words-all-rhyme-or-nearly-so poem in human history:

Jamaica may thrill, undenied,
And Nawlins is burstful with pride;
MARVEL at, though, who’s hied
In the clouds with her stride,
Energetically shifting the tides.

Thanks again, Jamie, for Ever y Thing!

… and thanks again to YOU, Gary!  J.D.

© 2017, words, artwork and photograph, Gary W. Bowers, All rights reserved


sonjabenskinmesher2011Another triple-threat talent, Sonja Benskin Mesher‘s (sonja-benskin-mesher.net), responsed to last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt, which was hosted by Michael Watson (Dreaming the World, On the Arts and Healing in Difficult Times). Sonja’s bio is HERE.

.the first time.

when was the first time.the first
time it was noticed that some one
was helping.

kindness.

the first thought on the sentiment there.

the beauty of it all.

it has been said before. that hate and anger
bring hate and anger more.

it may be the brains’ addictions.

we stopped by tescos and thought of you all.

here is a photo of one man who helped another man.

sbm.

© Sonja Benskin Mesher


51u0fnastll-_sx309_bo1204203200_The recommended read for this week is Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets.  There’s so much I like about this manual.  For one thing, Ted assumes that if you are a heavy-duty reader, you already know quite a bit.  After all, one of the best ways to learn to write is to read. He operates on the moral principle that if you have a gift then you have the obligation to offer something by way of giving back. He says, “I hope I won’t exhaust your patience” and he doesn’t. He assumes that our ultimate goal is to reach others and to move them, so there is a great deal of emphasis on the relationship between the poet and her reader. He discusses our job as poet – not money, not fame – but “to serve the poems we write.”  This perspective makes reading and working with Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual an refreshing guide to the poetic terrain for both budding and experienced writers interested in creating work that is fulfilling and truly artistic.

By shopping at Amazon through The Word Play Shop and using the book links embedded in posts, you help to support the maintenance of this site. Thank you! (Some book links will just lead to info about the book or poet/author and not to Amazon.)

The WordPlay Shop offers books and other tools especially selected for poets and writers.

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