Tuesday, June 14, 2016

**RANDOM WRITING Rides Again!**

The next RANDOM WRITING poetry workshop series will be at:

The ARTBAR, 674 Broadway, Kingston, NY

4 Sessions: 

Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14; $75

RANDOM WRITING Poetry Workshops combine Inspiration, Word Play, Text Maneuvers & Peer Feedback to make poems sharper, brighter and BETTER!

-INSPIRATION: provocative prompts, 'hot-button' topics drawn from personal experience & unexpected sources-- right under our noses! 

-WORD PLAY: dictionary games, classical & modern forms, aural/oral gymnastics! 

-TEXT MANEUVERS: altering the physical material a poem is written on, & being open to what future work might be suggested by resulting accidents!

-PEER FEEDBACK: refines work in a sensitive, honest group, gives poets perspective on work impossible to obtain working alone. 

Other RANDOM WRITING topics include:

-Open Mics & Other Literary Events!

To Register: Call (845) 339-8686, or Email dorothyy62@yahoo.com

Friday, March 11, 2016

**Poem: "Facebook Wants" **

Facebook Wants
Facebook wants to know what I’m up to.
Facebook wants my Social Security number for verification.
Facebook wants to know the color of my eyes.
Facebook wants to know how many fingers he’s holding up.
Facebook wants me to read the chart on the wall behind him.
Facebook wants to be the change I wish for.
Facebook wants my number and maybe we can get coffee sometime.
Facebook wants to know what I’m wearing.
Facebook wants all good Americans to come to the aid of their country.
Facebook wants tan shoes with pink shoelaces.
Facebook wants peace in our time.
Facebook wants to know the name of my tailor.
Facebook wants me to raise my arms and cough.
Facebook wants me to reconsider.
Facebook wants to get a kitten.
Facebook wants a god of his very own.
Facebook wants a night out on the town.
Facebook wants you kids to just get along.
Facebook wants pizza, Sicilian with anchovies and black olives.
Facebook wants the Beatles to get back together.
Facebook wants me to know he’s doing fine, fine, kicking around the old
          homestead, straightening up, and was wondering
what am I doing?
CAR  3/10/16

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


    In the past, I have attempted collaborations with some musician friends of mine. Rather than working together, I offered them a handful of poems, and they either ran or didn't with an idea inspired by my words. Generally the results were far removed in mood and style from my original notions, although it's always been fascinating to see someone else's take and elaboration on your creation.

    Although I have prided myself on having excellent pitch ever since my elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Deutsch, told me I had it, I have never had the urge to create my own music. When I write, I hear the rhythms of the language, the flow of the words, and nothing more. I admire songwriters who can write both words and music, but they are definitely doing something different. Kissing cousins, but not identical twins.

    I still recall a one-time attendee of the Hudson Valley Folk Guild Kingston Coffeehouse who, while nervously introducing himself, remarked that he used to be a poet but that now he was a songwriter. The implication was clearly that his art was more complete now that it contained both words and music. Oddly, I don't recall his performance.

    My friend Guy and I are in the early stages of putting together a chapbook of poems by both of us. I consider this a collaboration of sorts, although the work we use will not be new. I have suggested a conversational format, with us sitting down and tossing poems back and forth until they fall into some organically logical order. It will be an experiment.

    It will also be an extension of the conversation Guy and I have had about poetry and life for the last fifteen. We've been to countless Dodge Festivals (RIP), and even more open mics and literary events throughout the Hudson Valley. We have never tried to compose a poem together, and I can't think of a truly meaningful way for me to do that with him, or with anyone. My poems are personal and rise from my memories, reactions and experiences. To mingle those images with someone else's doesn't seem to me at the moment as a way to producing substantive work.

    That being said, I do know of some amazing work that Will Nixon is doing with other poets. He's been writing collaborative poems in what I understand to be a back-and-forth process, something like an 'exquisite corpse'. They are rich, vivid and highly entertaining, but pretty far removed from my own poetic practices. In recent years, I have made an effort towards experimentation, but this has progressed more slowly than I might like.

    And in the meantime, the poems keep on coming in the old way, one line sticking in my head, urging me to get it down, following the stream of words and images trickling out of my untethered brain, until I reach the conclusion that my subconscious was aiming for all along. It's not pretty, but it generally works for me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

**Video: Albany Wordfest '12**

(courtesy of Albany Poets: www.albanypoets.com)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lyrics Versus Poetry-- The Debate Continues

Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
-from “Lazarus,” David Bowie

     With the recent passing of the kaleidoscopic David Bowie, the notion of lyrics as poetry crossed my mind. Cryptic images in Blackstar, Bowie’s last album, have suddenly become blatantly prophetic as details of his illness emerge. Among his many talents, Bowie had a powerful command of words, and this will contribute to his body of work outlasting his physical body for many years.

     But I don’t believe that lyrics can always stand on their own as good poetry. They are conceived of as half of an expression, with music being the other half. I know that when I write a poem, I don’t hear the possibility of music, only the rhythm of the words. The unconscious goal of my poems is to imitate the rhythm and breath of human speech. Bearing that in mind guides me in line breaks, word order and stream of thought and image. The songwriter must hear differently, hears the words as riding on a tune, a flexing helix of languages. Much as I admire that art, it is not mine.

     At a folk music coffeehouse in Kingston years ago, a guitar player introduced himself onstage by explaining that he used to be a poet, but that now he was a songwriter! The implication that songwriting is a natural progression, and perhaps even the art of maturity still amuses me. In my mind, they are two separate endeavors, and both can be practiced well into one’s so-called Golden Years.

     I have from time to time attempted a sort of collaboration with some of my musician friends. Basically it involved my offering a selection of poems to the musician, and he or she playing with the words to convert them to lyrics, then fitting a tune to them. It wasn’t truly songwriting as much as providing a source for inspiration. The results have usually strayed quite far from my original poem, but I am always flattered when someone expresses an interest in working together.

     One of the things I enjoy about writing poetry is the solitary effort involved. David Bowie wrote songs and sang them for millions of people around the world during his all-too-brief life. Poets rarely enjoy such exposure, especially in modern times. But I’m OK with that.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Something Old, Something New

In 2015, I assembled a couple of chapbooks with old poems, and sent them around to a couple of contests. Predictably, neither of them found a home. Collections I've published in the past have never been based around a theme, or even written at the same time. Poems in the past have come to me one by one, and the only discernible theme has been, "me, me, me."

I did try a couple of years ago to write poems around the theme of horses. As it turns out, I had a tenuous connection at best with these beautiful creatures, although growing up on Long Island, next to a corral and next door to my grandfather's barn, they were common as squirrels. Of course, that very estranged relationship could be what I was supposed to be writing about in the first place, and not just a bunch of portraits of, "Horses I Have Known."

So, I have four or five decent poems about horses, and Long Island, and childhood. I have other poems about childhood too, so my last attempt at putting together a manuscript from poems I've already written will be to combine childhood poems with horse poems. This could work. Again, they have been written over twenty or thirty years, so they will require major revision to hang together, in my opinion. So, that project is in the pile.

This year, I decided to write one poem a month with the starting off point of current events in my life. The weather seems to open most of them, but after warming up, I think I've come up with eleven (so far) decent poems. These, perhaps with a couple others that I wrote outside of this exercise, should make a decently cohesive chapbook. As I wrote them, I just typed them up and put them in a folder, so perhaps my memory of them is a bit rosier than is warranted. We'll see in January.

I began a rather experimental project too, inspired by the works of Katrinka Moore, Anne Gorrick, and Adam Tedesco, among others. I stumbled on an old paperback copy of Valley of the Dolls over the summer. I copied ten random pages, then cut out pill-shaped chunks from the middle. I then switched around the cut pieces, and typed up rough, abstracts drafts of ten poems. I intend to make each successive draft looser and less connected to the original gibberish, but of course the results make more sense than you would think. This seems to be a good project to jump into when I can't think straight, or I'm too tired to write a "real" poem. Not thinking straight is absolutely required for this kind of word play. 

Basically, I am cutting myself some slack over the holidays, concentrating on relaxing (!) and enjoying the season. I'm also planning a trip to Florida in mid-February, via Amtrak, a less stressful mode of travel for both myself and my Roommate. I'm letting life lead for the time being. The poems wait, will wait, have waited, will be waiting. And will demand to be written when they will, always.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

**Poem: "Imperfections" **

Even in daylight use
black mascara liberally,
wear fresh stockings
when you can, continue
to play gently with  the
faults of others.

The point is to keep on living,
to know we all reside within
our consequences.
You’re the one I can be
imperfect with,
share the daily news with,
curl my legs around in sleep.
Coffee from unscrubbed urns,
box wine served in well-
worn carafes, we entertain
ourselves with guitars,
with words and gestures.
Your quiet penance is
spending your life with me.

Memory of season
rises Ashokan blue
in your hard eyes,
then fades, quickly submerged.
Moustache flecked with
some regret and grey,
recorded in your humble
chin are motel birthday
celebrations, after school
detours, misguided teddies.

Your freshly pressed persona—
antique shop? Goodwill?—
narrow tie, somebody’s tie tack,
white button-down dreams--
For love you have been stupid, too.
I find your imperfections
sexy, a powerful attraction
to your stumbling, natural life.

CAR  5/8/10