Thursday, July 15, 2010

I write like Chuck Palahniuk?

I found a website that purports to analyze your writing and identify which famous author your style is closest to.  I thought, heck why not?  I submitted a few poems and got matches to James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, J. R. R. Tolkien.  Not bad -- no women authors in the database, I guess.  I tried a few more writing samples. 

After while I seemed to hit a consistent pattern.  Much of my prose, and many of my poems that I feel closest too -- well, let's just say they point to a match that surprised me. 

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fiddler Crab Review

Fiddler Crab Review has been writing chapbook reviews for over a year.  They've reviewed a few of the Cherry Pie chapbooks. 

Their reviews cover a vast range of small presses, and the reviewers are varied in background.  It makes for an exciting mix.  The reviews have gotten better over the last year, so that often now I find the review is at least as interesting as the poems. 

Laurie Rosenblatt's recent review of Edge by Edge from Toadlily Press is exactly that kind of review -- interesting, fair, with a good sense of what the poems are about, and (this is the good part) giving specific examples of what works and what does not, and why.  I found myself stepping back every few paragraphs, remembering one of my own poems where I'd done exactly what she was faulting in the poem she was reviewing.  Hmmm. . .  Her examples, and her insights on what works and why, and where the poems fall short, are all spot-on.  For the price of a review (free, in this case!), you also get a mini-writing lesson, and a very good one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Writer's Block Cure #2

What, still can't write?  No inspiration? You poor thing.

Try thinking like a horse. Clear your mind, just focus on the art...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Writer's Block Cure #1

Having a bad day? No confidence? Can't get any writing started?  Sigh.

Cure:  Just start.  Surprise everyone.  Pooey to doubters.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Inside Poet's House with Bill Murray

Here's a great article about Poet's House, which counts the Cherry Pie chapbooks among its treasures. 

Poet's House now has over 50,000 works of poetry.

On the Poet's House website, you can find treasures such as links to a video of Bill Murray reading poems of Lorine Niedecker and Emily Dickinson to constructions workers taking a break.  Priceless, the rapt look on the workers' faces during the Dickinson reading  Equally priceless, Murray's ability to see the audience is as important as the poems (watch the video all the way to the end.).

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Fourth of July, The Great Reunion of 1913

I ran across this, my favorite 4th of July story ever, about veterans of Gettysburg who gathered 50 years after the battle to reminisce and to celebrate the unified nation that had resulted.  Veterans of both sides attended the event. Here is an excert from the story (by Stefany Anne Golberg) of the reunion:
The Great Reunion of 1913 was an amazing historical event, the largest gathering ever of Civil War veterans, who came together for a week of solidarity and celebration. On July 4, President Woodrow Wilson arrived and made a speech. But it was July 3 that people remember most. As part of the week’s festivities, thousands of old veterans — most in their 70s, the oldest 112 — took their respective places on the former battlefield and commenced with a tottering reenactment of Pickett’s Charge. At 3 p.m., the surviving Confederate soldiers of General Pickett’s division stormed Cemetery Ridge, a clattering assortment of long beards and crutches and canes. Slowly approaching the stone fence at Bloody Angle, some of the codgers croaked out the rebel yell when they were “surprised” by a group of men from the former Union Philadelphia Brigade. But instead of shooting each other, they all shook hands across the stone wall and exchanged ceremonial flags. Some fell into each other’s arms, weeping. Other just sat down in silence and looked sadly across the field.
The full story includes pictures of the reunion from The Library of Congress.

What does this have to do with poetry?  Maybe not much. It's such a good story I couldn't help but pass it on.  Yet it does say a lot about memory, which is one of the more powerful antennae of poetry.  And it says something about unpredictability (read the story!), which also reminds us of the world of poetry, where words unexpectedly collide to form new things and unearth things unknown.  Although the Great Reunion was in many ways a healing and celebratory event, a look back is always fraught with more dimensions than you might have planned.  Golfarb writes, "But the reunion was not all flowers, candy, and homogeneity. Time may heal all wounds but memory rips them right back open."  Yes, just like a good poem. 

Your assignment:  Read the story, and then go write a poem looking back at something (any real event) that happened 50 years ago, as if you were there to celebrate the anniversary.  (If you're over 50, up that to 100 years ago, to equalize the challenge.)  You may see an event much differently than you anticipated, and it might turn out to be a good poem.