19
Nov
22

Redactions: Poetry & Poetics 2022 Pushcart Nomination

Redactions: Poetry & Poetics has made its nominations for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. In the order of appearance in issue 25 are:

  1. Jeannine Hall Gailey: When I Try to Write an Elegy (page 12)
  2. Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas: The Wheelchair (page 14)
  3. Cliff Saunders: Blank Page (page 16)
  4. Xiaoly Li: What Language (page 23)
  5. Susan Cohen: Lost in Sutzkever (page 27)
  6. Melody Wilson: When it comes down to it (page 38)

For two years in a row, the poems that appeared on pages 14 and 38 were nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

To read these poems go here: https://redactions.com/pushcart-poems.asp or order a copy of issue 25 from here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/redactionspoetry.

12
Oct
22

Four New Poetic Forms

For the poetry club at Nashville State Community College, the participants asked me to prepare some lessons on some poetic forms. I decided to go with new forms. With the help of Facebook, I found a quite a few, and then I narrowed the list down to the four below. Perhaps they will be new to you, too.

The Gigan

This form was invented by poet Ruth Ellen Kocher. Kocher named the form in honor of her favorite monster from Godzilla.Gigan

Here are the rules:

  1. The poem is 16 lines.
  2. The lines are broken into couplet, tercet, couplet, couplet, couplet, tercet, couplet.
  3. Line 1 is repeated as line 11.
  4. Line 6 is repeated as line 12.
  5. Ideally, the closing couplet should put a twist on the poem.

(from https://bit.ly/3CQ6BXo)

Samples at above link

The Bop

The Bop is a form of poetic argument consisting of three stanzas, each followed by a repeated line or refrain. The first stanza is six lines and presents a problem; the second stanza is eight lines and further expands upon the problem; and the third stanza is six lines and either resolves or documents the failure of resolving the problem. . . . Afaa Michael Weaver . . . created the form during a Cave Canem writing retreat (from https://www.pw.org/content/the_bop)

To me it appears that the overall structure resembles a sonnet with the open two quatrains acting as a thesis, the following quatrain acting as antithesis, and the couplet acting as synthesis.

Sample: https://poets.org/poem/rambling

The Duplex

Jericho Brown introduced the poetry world to the duplex form with the publication of his 2019 collection, The Tradition, which includes several poems written in this style. In an interview, Brown revealed that the form came about when he was trying to “gut the sonnet,” as he wanted to create a “disparate couplet” and move the repeating lines of the sonnet closer together. In the end, the duplex became a sort of hybrid between the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues.

The poem starts with a couplet, then the second line repeats and the poet adds a new line, following this structure until seven couplets form the poem. The last line of the poem repeats the first, with an increased or changed resonance that the rest of the poem’s context provides. (from https://bit.ly/3erboFr)

Sample: https://www.aprweb.org/poems/duplex-i-begin-with-love

122

Created by Charles Bernstein and unearthed by me. 😀 There are twelve stanzas. The first line of each stanza is five syllables, the second line has three syllables, and the third line has four syllables: a Pythagorean triple 52=32+42. Each stanza has 12 syllables, so there should be 144 syllables or 122 syllables. That’s the promise, but the promise is broken. Because of the broken promise, the poem actually has 145 syllables. There is also no punctuation and there is a line between each stanza. In addition, there are no articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”) or superfluous adjectives or adverbs.

For more on the form and for a sample poem, see: https://wp.me/pS37c-1kG

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13
Aug
22

Introduction to the Sitcom Section of Redactions Issue 27: A Rough Draft

Welcome Back, Kotter

Below is a draft for the introduction of the sitcom-themed section of Redactions issue 27, which is due out in early summer 2023. I am posting it here to give people a better sense of what I am looking for in submissions for the sitcom issue. I hope you enjoy it, and if you are submitting, I hope it helps provide directions for my expectations.

For submission information, please visit: Redactions: Poetry & Poetics: Submissions and Ordering.

//

Many of us grew up watching sitcoms. For some, it was a family bonding experience. For me, that was about the only time our family got along and were quiet. Also, for me, having returned to America from England midway through second grade, a sitcom allowed me to have something to talk about with fellow students in an attempt to make new friends.

Sitcoms are still a way to interact with others. Who hasn’t bonded with someone or someones by singing the theme song to The Brady Bunch, Cheers, or Gilligan’s Island? (According to critics the Gilligan’s Island theme song is the best theme song because it is catchy and because it informs the viewers of the situation and the characters they will soon encounter. It informs the viewers of the show’s premise.) For me, sitcoms were also a learning experience. My parents were quite distant, and I hated reading, but sitcoms taught me. The Fonz from Happy Days taught me ethics. Yes, the Fonz had a code. One Day at a Time and Alice taught me about the increasingly frequent situation of a single mother raising children. (Julia, however, was the first to cover this topic from 1968 to 1971, but I was unable to watch that show.) Welcome Back Kotter exposed me to a neighborhood of diverse students that I was unfamiliar with. Good Times showed me the life of a struggling black family, and The Jeffersons celebrated a wealthy black family and the mother (Louise “Weezy” Jefferson) who was uncomfortable with her wealth.

Sitcoms, especially in the early seasons of their run, tried to explore issues of the day. For instance, The Brady Bunch in season one tried to explore an increasingly common experience of two formerly married people with children remarrying, and the issues that arise when two families combine. After season one, the show slowly became ridiculous and a little absurd. All in the Family explored many topics, especially racism via Archie Bunker. Archie, though compassionate, would argue about many topics with his liberal son-in-law, Meathead. I usually thought Meathead won the arguments, but I had my doubts when he left Gloria for another woman. Archie and Meathead were so contentious that they even argued about how to put on socks and shoes. Kate and Allie proposed a new definition of what constitutes a family. Who’s the Boss challenged gender roles in adults as it presented the idea that a man could perform “woman” chores without the stigma of castration being present, and it presented gender fluidity in children. And The Golden Girls and Valerie (later Valerie’s Family and then The Hogan Family) addressed AIDS in unique ways that undermined the bigoted idea that AIDS could only be transferred via gay sex or drug addicts. All of this was important because sitcoms reached a large audience of people who were uninformed on these issues. As a result, the sitcom with its huge audiences had huge responsibilities. Sitcoms became an active learning experience. Sitcoms attempted to teach serious topics through a comedic approach, and I, like many others, was an avid student ready to learn without having to read.

No place was this more evident than in M*A*S*H. Robert Frost once said about the poem, “If it is with outer seriousness, it must be with inner humor. If it is with outer humor, it must be with inner seriousness. Neither one alone with the other under it will do.” I didn’t know this at the time, but I intuited this about M*A*S*H. Rather, I was shocked. I thought a sitcom was just supposed to be funny, but M*A*S*H was humorous on the outside and serious on the inside. This, in a sense, means sitcoms are more than just ha ha laughs. Sitcoms can be used to explore serious issues that one might not otherwise encounter, especially for me as a non-reader for about the first 19 years of my life. Sitcoms are tools that help the viewer explore . . .  at least in the early seasons, as noted above. Eventually, most sitcoms will jump the shark. Initially, however, they have serious goals: “If we happen to laugh hysterically along the way, all the better because humor has always been a successful way to look at our differences and find our commonality” (Robinson, 99). This is what I hoped this section would explore.

I find it challenging to write about a sitcom. One reason is that a sitcom seems so antithetical to poetry, and perhaps it is. However, many poets of my age have ingested sitcoms, and those television shows are part of them like real memories. The nostalgia plus the antithetical spirit creates the difficulty of writing a sitcom poem with integrity. M*A*S*H is important to me, but I can’t yet find a way to bring it or its characters into a poem. This might be true of all subjects, but tv and poetry have historically been judged at opposing ends. In this issue of Redactions, I hope the ends will meet. I hope when reading these poems, you will find humor outside and seriousness inside, or even seriousness outside and humor inside. Perhaps a bit of both. //

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Works Cited

Robinson, Mark A. Sitcommentary: Television Comedies that Changed America. Rowan & Littlefield, 2019.

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The Brady Bunch – Marcia

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Bewitched

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Taxi

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17
Jul
22

On Diane Thiel’s Questions From Outer Space

A version of this review (and a better edited version) may appear in a future issue of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics.

//

Diane Thiel -- Questions from Outer SpaceDiane Thiel is the author of eleven books of poetry, nonfiction, and creative writing pedagogy, and Questions from Outer Space (Red Hen Press, 2022) is her third collection of poems. I purchased this book when I was visiting Asheville, North Carolina, and wandering around a bookstore. I liked the title as I assumed it would reveal poems about astronomy, cosmology, astrophysics, etc., which are topics I enjoy. I read a few poems, and it appeared my assumptions were correct. When I eventually sat down with the book, I found more interesting topics. Questions from Outer Space has four sections, and each section behaves a bit differently, but all seem to be revolving around the idea of the last lines of the last poem in the book “Time in the Wilderness”:

not to miss the trees
for the theory of the forest,

turning an old saying
around a child’s observation,

the simplest question
opening the world again.

It is the final line, really, that this collection of poems achieves. More specifically, a major theme of this book is meaning making, such as making meaning on this small planet that is remote from other life forms, meaning making as a child and a family, and meaning making while living during a pandemic and ever catastrophic and self-destructive world.

One way section “I: Questions of Time and Direction” attempts meaning making is through Martian poetry. For instance, “The Factory (Questions from Outer Space)” examines the harmful effects of the internet, such as the lack of personalism or abundance of people being impersonal. (The poem also brushes up against the issues of free speech and pollution.) In observing human life like a Martian might, it “perform[s] the service of reminding poets that part of their job was to look afresh at what was in front of them” (Paterson, 160), and in turn the reader must reexamine what they experienced and, as a result, create new meaning in a seemingly declining planet of humans.

Section “II: Notice from Another Dimension” turns, for the most part, to domestic issues with an underlying theme of choosing. This section also implements form poems, such as: a tritina (A condensed sestina consisting of three tercets and a one-line envoy. The teleutons are repeated in each stanza ABC, CAB, BCA, and the final line contains A, B, and C.) that appears in “Tritina in the Time of the Machine”; a poem where the line on the left side of the page mirror the words on the right side of the page in “In the Mirror”; and a sestina in “Changing Reality.” In “Tritina in the Time of the Machine,” Thiel treats the coronavirus particle as if it were a machine trying to replicate itself and survive and creating its “meaning of alive.” In doing so, the poem overlaps the anxiety of the virus with the anxiety of technology in our lives and how both seem to be a on a path of unstoppable growth.

Section “III: The Farthest Side,” which also has formal poems, such as a pantoum, villanelle, and haiku, turns, for the most part, to issues of family and children, memory, and meaning making. For example, the “Library of Veria, Greece” is about Syrian children, who the speaker is teaching how “to think about the future and the past.” To do so, they draw maps and “some had the past falling off the page” as if it had fallen off the edge of the flat earth into “monsters circling beneath.” It is a past they choose to forget or repress. They then turn to drawing a future hopeful place with the “possibilities in their hands.” Thus, there is an underlying idea of how art can create meaning and hope for those who need it, as the Syrian children did.

Section “IV: Time in the Wilderness” focuses, for the most part, on children, aliens, and meaning making. “Living with Aliens” begins mysteriously with aliens somehow inhabiting people until the aliens suddenly reveal themselves. The people in turn become submissive to the aliens. (It feels almost like Star Trek’s Borg species.) The aliens quickly evolve as a baby might by “star[ing] at their own hands” and “acquir[ing] the sense of object permanence.” The aliens then plan to take over the world, and they do so by asking questions that undermine humans’ everyday assumptions until one dawn the people “step . . . / on an unrecognizable planet.” So, it is questions, even the simplest ones, that help create new meanings and understandings.

While the book title is Questions from Outer Space, there are questions right here on Earth that need asking, especially as we come out of the pandemic and with our new lens on life from the James Webb Space Telescope. Diane Thiel, in the end, provides hope.//

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Thiel, Diane. Questions from Outer Space. Red Hen Press, 2022.

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Works Cited

Paterson, Don. Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre. Faber & Faber, 2018.

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29
Jun
22

In Search of Lost Time 6-29-2022

I am about 20 pages from finishing The Guermantes Way, book three of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Sometimes I wonder if a novel, short story, or poem has a thesis. I think they do, but they are usually implicit, but in this long novel, I believe Proust explicitly tells us the thesis of In Search of Lost Time: “There is no need to travel to be able to see it again; we need to go deep into ourselves to find it” (85). In Search of Lost Time, as many critics have acknowledged, is based on Marcel Proust’s life, and Proust is not time travelling to see a something or someone again. He is digging deep into himself to re-experience past events in vivid detail, details that often last 5, 10, or even 133 pages.

Much of this book is also about experiencing time. Sometimes we experience time moving fast and sometimes slow. Proust on occasion will write about a detail, such as the inside of a church or person’s appearance or personality, for five to ten pages. When he does this, time slows for the narration. It’s like a lyrical moment in a narrative poem. Time stand stills. The Guermantes Way is 595 pages long and covers quite a few years from around 1895/1896 (based on referencing new evidence of the Dreyfus Affair but happening before the invention of the aspirin in 1897) to 1906/1907 (there is a reference to Richard Strauss’s Salome, which premiered December 9, 1905, but the characters wouldn’t have heard it until 1906 or 1907 (the year of the first recording of Salome)). So ten, eleven, or twelve years have passed in 595 pages. However, at least 133 pages of the book is devoted to a dinner party or 148 if count when the narrator finally leaves the party. That means one quarter of the book is devoted to a dinner party. So a couple of hours receives 148 pages. Time has crawled to a stall. Perhaps, he did that to mimic how boring the dinner party was. Much of the passage reads long and boring. Proust, at times, is clearly making fun of dinner parties and how people sometimes act at dinner parties. This isn’t a dinner like you or I would have with friends. This is a dinner party with aristocracy, wealthy people, and people who want to be wealthy and aristocrats or to know them or be acknowledge by them. So Proust shows how boring these type of people are. Proust even tells us so a little after the dinner party ended when he writes, “Dinner parties are boring because our imagination is absent, and reading interests us because it is keeping us company” (567). Oddly, there was very little description of the food. Nonetheless, if you want to read a a book with lots of detail including psychological detail, In Search of Lost Time is the book to read.

//

(Side note: while doing research to figure out the time line of this book, I discovered that on July 22, 1799, the metric system became the only legal standard for measuring length and mass in France. Also, many consider Garbiel Mouton as the inventor of the metric system as he “proposed a decimal system of measurement that French scientists would spend years further refining” (https://www.metricmetal.com/history-of-the-metric-system/).) I did not realize the metric system was so old. 

//

During this novel, we encounter racism and quite a bit of anti-Semitism. The racism is a bit different than what I was a aware of. The characters often describe a person from a country as a race, like the Greek race or Turkish race, which I found odd. I also found it odd that Bloch, a pretentious Jewish friend of the narrator, made anti-Semitic remarks. What I found odder was that the Guermantes family was considered a race and that servants were considered a race. It’s not clear from just reading In Search of Lost if Proust was racist or anti-Semitic or if he is just depicting the racism and anti-Semitism of the day. But there is a lot of anti-Semitism is this series. 😟

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Words of the Day

anfractuous (p. 34) – sinuous or circuitous

madrepores (p. 52) – any true or stony coral of the order Madreporaria, forming reefs or islands in tropical seas. “Mother of pores.”

orrisroot (p. 77) – the root stock of orris, used in perfumery, medication, etc. (orris – an iris [an unexplained alteration of “iris”].)

nielloed (niello) (p. 90) – ornamental work. “A black mixture, usually of sulphur, copper, silver, and lead” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niello).

Niello Exmaple

Niello example: Devotional Diptych with the Nativity and the Adoration. Other examples include rings, spoons, figurines, brooch, etc.

rubieund (p. 91) – red or reddish, ruddy

tu (multiple places) – a French word for “you,” but it is an informal, singular, subjective pronoun that indicates an intimate, amicable, and/or equal relationship between two people. This becomes an important pronoun between the narrator and Saint-Loup. When the narrator references Saint-Loup by “tu,” Saint-Loup acts as if the narrator had just said, “I love you.”

telephonist (p. 128) – an operator of a switchboard

Punchinello (p. 128) – a short, stout, comical looking person

tilbury (p. 132) – “is a light, open, two-wheeled carriage, with or without a top” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilbury_%28carriage%29)

Tilbury

agglutination (p. 166) – the act or process of uniting by glue or other tenacious substance. That which is used to unite.

bluestocking (p. 179, 189 (2x), and 443) – an intellectual or literary woman

praetorian (p. 236) – of or relating to praetor. (In the ancient Roman Republic, one of a number of elected magistrates chraged chiefly with the administration of civil justice and ranking next below a consul.)

pronunciamento (p. 236) – a proclamation, manifesto

demimindaine (p. 260) – a woman of demimonde. (demimonde – (especially during the last half of the 19th century) a class of women who have lost their standing in respectable society because of indiscreet behavior or sexual promiscuity.)

brigand (p. 292) – a bandit, especially one of a band or robbers, in mountain or forest regions

Brigand

febrifuge (p. 293) – serving to dispel or reduce fever. A cooling drink.

ciborium (p. 320) – Any container designed to hold the consecrated bread or sacred wafers for Eucharist.

ignipuncture (p 321) – surgical closing of a break in the retina due to retinal separation by cauterizing the site of the break with a hot needle

jongleur (p. 366) – (in medieval France and Norman England) an itinerant minstrel or entertainer who sang songs, often of his own composition, and told stories

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Happy Hour Food and Drinks

chocolate – 7 (“chocolate drop”), 75 (2x, once as “cup of chocolate”), 342 (“cup of chocolate”)

wine – 11, 20 (“white wine”), 20 (“red wine”), 74, 157, 158, 165

coffee – 11,228

grapes – 11

meat – 20, 406 (“butcher’s meat”), 500

cherries – 20

toast – 20, 21, 501 (“buttered toast”)

liqueurs – 25

orangeade – 25, 510 (2x), 511 (2x)

bonbons – 34, 36 (2x), 37 (2x, once as “cherry bonbon”)

fruit – 36

milk – 70 (3x)

egg – 70, 202 (2x as “eggs”), 500, 501 (4x, once as “ortolan eggs” and once as “rotten eggs)

cream – 70

champagne – 74

partridges – 74

tea – 89

chickens – 92 (2x), 398 (“cold chicken wing”), 404 (“chicken wing”)

pigs – 92

lobster – 92

fowl – 92

fish – 92, 112 (“a fish cooked in court bouillon”)

grouse – 92

woodcock – 92

pigeons – 92

desserts – 92

oyster – 112 (“scaly-surfaced stoup of the oyster”)

grapes – 112

bluish herbs – 112

shellfish – 112

satellite animalcules – 112

crab – 112

shrimps – 112

mussels – 112

water – 157

champagne – 158, 164 (2x), 404

brandy – 167

tea – 192

cakes – 192

cider – 202

petits fours – 237

beer – 398

hot toddy – 398

poultry – 406

cream–stuffed éclairs – 439

biscuits – 454

chestnut purée – 484

bouchées à la reine (“bites to the queen”) – 484 

bouchées à la reine

A puff pastry with a savory filling.

Gruyère – 486

asparagus – 496 (“asparagus sauce mousseline”), 3x (once as “green asparagus”)

poulet financière – 500

poulet financière

A classic French dish made with chicken, mushrooms, and chicken livers.

omelette – 501

brill poached in carbolic acid – 502

sublime potatoes – 506

Yquems (a white wine) – 510

ortolans (Eurasian bird) – 510

tilleul – 510, 511

stewed cherry – 511

pear juice – 511

juice – 511

fruit-juice concoction – 511

vanilla flavoring – 514

ice cream – 514

madeline – 549

madelines

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The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

The Cave

Material Matters

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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