Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Black

02
Nov
16

Poetry Assignments: The Book (Online): New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions

POETRY ASSIGNMENTS

Brian Warner's The Cave

“The Cave” by Brian Warner. Used with the permission of Brain Warner.

or 100 Jackhammers for the Poet with Writer’s Block;

or 100 Ways to Jumpstart the Engine;

or 100 Pencil Exercises;

or 100 Ways to Stimulate Your Next Wine, Cheese, & Poetry Night

//

Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End
  2. Imaginary Worlds
  3. Science, the Universe, Time, & Other Evolutions
  4. Fun with Letters, Words, Language, & Languages
  5. Forms: Obscure, Updated, & Invented
  6. New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions
  7. Miscellany; Trying to Relate the Unrelated; or These Gotta Go Some Place . . . So Here
  8. Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America
  9. Responses; or Calling All Poets (Dead & Alive); or Talking to Eternity
  10. It’s All About You

//

New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions

Verbal Cubism

Here’s a phrase that probably exists, & if it doesn’t, it should. I’m sure it’s from somewhere. Let me know if you know.

One of the aspects of cubism is using multi-perspectives in space & time on one canvas. Consider Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8". Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest. (333.1939) Image licenced to Tom Holmes HOLMES, TOM by Tom Holmes Usage : - 3000 X 3000 pixels (Letter Size, A4) © Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8′ x 7′ 8″. Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest. (333.1939)
Image licenced to Tom Holmes HOLMES, TOM by Tom Holmes
Usage : – 3000 X 3000 pixels (Letter Size, A4)
© Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource
Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) © ARS NY. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on Canvas, 8’x7’8″. Acquired through the Lille P. Bliss Bequest (333.1939). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” © 2007 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Can we do this in poetry? Consider the following Natasha Sajé poem from her book Bend (Tupelo P, 2004):

   I See 

   the cats playing with a rose fallen
   from a wreath: a stiff silvery stem 

   topped by a dark pink ball.
   How curiously they bat the rose, 

   sniffing it with glee, and that’s what
   makes me bend, and see that it’s really 

   the long dried tail and entrails of a rat.
   I laugh: If rose & rat are not so far 

   apart, then what can’t be mistaken
   for something that it’s not? 

   The turn’s a way of telling me
   to make each breath a self-revision.


   “I see” from Bend by Natasha Sajé, published by Tupelo Press. Copyright 2004 by Natasha Saje. All rights 
   reserved. Reproduced by permission of Tupelo Press.

The assignment then: Bend as many perspectives as you can into a poem – a poem to not exceed one page in length (consider it your canvas). And please, don’t rely too heavily on line breaks.

Helpful hints to achieve this assignment: pretend you are inside Picasso’s mind or Einstein’s mind.

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GemALEgedicht – The Pintist School of Poetry

Let me tell you a story of the forgotten school of poetry that Ralph Black & I (Tom Holmes) have recently discovered. This school arrived in the late nineteenth century & early twentieth century in a few dank, town pubs in Northern England, Scotland, & on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland. This poetic movement wasn’t a response to anything, it grew organically from the hops & yeast in Pints of Ale.

The Pintists, as they were called, believed in writing poetry whilst drinking pints of ale. Though they preferred to call their composing of poetry in this manner as Pinting. This school of poetry held firm in their beliefs of Pinting: everything could be explained by using only objects in the bar as a metaphor for the human condition; they believed the bartender was a high priest, or priestess; and their muse, their god, was represented in the below picture painted by Brian Warner.

Brian Warner's One More Time

The painting “One More Time” by Brain Warner is from the collection of Tim and Trinity Barnosky and is used with their permission.

Yes, the Pintists held strong til they read these lines from The Waste Land:

   HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
   HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME

These lines shook many Pintists to the core. They believed they had been stagnating by drinking only one ale. The Pintists slowly fractured. First came the experimentalist who started binging on the German Ales. Then some of them even split into a smaller group of fringe avant gardists who downed Indian Pale Ales whilst writing their poems (& they were sure to use “whilst” as often as possible in their poems because they believed “whilst” had etymological connections to “whistle”, which they thought keen because they were always wetting their whistle, which later became their underground, hip word for pencil, because the pencil, they believed, couldn’t create unless it was wet with ale. (Some deep-hearted, avant garde, IPA Pintists actually took this literally, & dipped their pencils into their pints of IPA, like a fountain pen into an inkwell, as a ritual before they wrote. A few years later, these poor soles, these writers in the primes of their youths & artistic expressions, died from lead poisoning. This sorrowed all Pintists, & they slowly vanished like the sputtering of an empty keg.)).

At the same time everyone was reading the lines “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME”, & whilst the avant garde IPA Pintists were slowly killing themselves, feminists got involved in the movement. They believed, & rightly so, that they too could drink as much & write as well as any of the male Pintists. This group of women would become known as the Ale-Wives. And whilst they believed in the Pintist school of poetry, they also believed the words “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME” was a good suggestion to all that it is time to go home. The Ale-Wives stressed the importance that there are certainly a few things outside of the pub that are important to consider. They also stressed the cyclic nature of life – all good things must come to an end, but tomorrow is just the beginning of more good things.

Around the time of the rise of the Ale-Wives, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, & Gertrude Stein were in Dublin, Ireland, trying to raise rent money for James Joyce. They met Joyce in a bar in Dublin to give him rent money so he wouldn’t be evicted & so he could concentrate on his writing. Joyce was so touched by the love & concern that he started buying drinks to celebrate this act of love. Eventually, when the rent money was almost all gone, Joyce started buying drams of ale instead of pints. He was trying to conserve what little money he had left. At which point, Ezra asked Joyce if he had heard or read anything of the Pintists. Joyce responded, “Yes, they are so dramatic & grandiose in their expositions. What they need to do is start drinking these drams, like us!” Soon the minimalist school of Pintists was born, & they called themselves the Pintalists. The Pintalists lasted the night, & the school was never heard from again. Though one poem was recently discovered by a Pintologist from Brockport, NY. This Pintologist was in SUNY Buffalo’s library of archives doing research on Ezra Pound. Whilst going through Pound’s journals, he found a cocktail napkin with a poem on it. He believes the poem was written during the night of the Pintalists. The poem reads:

   In a Tavern in Dublin, Ireland

   The apparition of these faces –
   bubbles on a dram of ale.

Ok. Your assignment is to revive the school of Pintists. You will find a bar & compose poems whilst drinking pints of ale, um, I mean, you will involve yourself in Pinting.

Go forth.

Oh, one last thing, all Pintists believed in good tipping practices. They believed it healed the soul. They believed the better they tipped their high priests & priestesses, the less hungover they would be in the morning.

Ok. Now, go forth.

//

Katzenjammer Poesie, Jeg har tommermenn Poesi, Katza Poezja, Mamurluk Poezija, or Hangover Poetry

There’s a somewhat new & most unique book out: The Wrath of Grapes: A Complete Hangover Cookbook & Guide to the Art of Creative Suffering (XOXOX Press, 2004). In a smart & fun & creative manner, the author, Patrick Meanor, educates us in ways to deal with our hangovers. And it will be most useful for us poets, since this book is culturally aware & informs us through poems, poets, writers, movies, music, etc.

One of the things The Wrath of Grapes notes is that there is very little written about the hangover, creatively or medically. But it does note that Peter Fallow, the anti-hero from The Bonfire of the Vanities, is “the first official Hangover Hero in American literature.”

Your assignment is not to get drunk & hungover, but to be on the forefront of a new genre: Hangover Poetry. This will be a poetry that deals with the hangover on some level: as a starting point for a metaphor, a place to turn a metaphor towards, a launching point for something else – but it must include the hangover. We need to see what we can learn from the hangover? how can it inform us? etc. . . .

A sub-genre would be poems that were written while hungover, but this is not advised.

Here’s an excerpt from an early part of The Wrath of Grapes that suggests something you should not do when hungover:

Don’t study the physical habits of your pets, especially the dog. Cats are mercifully enigmatic and won’t evoke too much paranoid response from you, although their piercing stare could unnerve you if you observe too long. Dogs, however, especially their incredibly quick eyebrow movements, should be avoided. Their eyebrow activity may pull you into the emotions that they seem to be expressing and will exhaust your mind by trying to follow their quickly changing feelings from sadness-to-happiness-to-fear-to-illness-to-daffiness, and so on ad infinitum. This is called “dog’s eyes syndrome.” It’s the old problem of what poets call the “pathetic fallacy”; that is, projecting human emotions into simple animal actions that mean nothing – which is really pathetic. Their eyebrows are probably adjusting to light refraction since most dogs are half blind anyway and they’re simply trying to see you. But don’t think about that too much, either.

(Patrick Meanor quote from The Wrath of Grapes is used with permission of XOXOX Press. Please visit their website at www.xoxoxpress.com.)

//

18
Oct
16

Poetry Assignments: The Book (Online): Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End

POETRY ASSIGNMENTS

Brian Warner's The Cave

“The Cave” by Brian Warner. Used with the permission of Brain Warner.

or 100 Jackhammers for the Poet with Writer’s Block;

or 100 Ways to Jumpstart the Engine;

or 100 Pencil Exercises;

or 100 Ways to Stimulate Your Next Wine, Cheese, & Poetry Night

//

Between 2002 and 2006, or so, I composed, borrowed with permission, or modified 100 poetry writing prompts. A publisher approached me to publish this collection of poetry prompts in book format. All the credits and permissions were gathered (and at times paid for) from writers, publishers, artists, and museums, but, alas, the book did not come to be.  Anyway, I will reproduce the book here at the rate of one or two chapters each week, along with credits and permission statements.

//

Author’s Note

Poetry Assignments first appeared around 2002 as an email to a few friends to inspire us to write and to have something to share at our wine, cheese, & poetry nights. The first one was “The Reader’s Digest Experiment.” Eventually, the assignments went online at the Redactions: Poetry & Poetics complemental website, www.redactions.com. Each time a new assignment was posted it got a number, with the first one being #1 and the last one #100. As I posted the assignments, almost one per week, there was rarely a connection between the assignment posted, the one preceding, and the one that would follow. In this book collection, however, I have grouped the assignments by theme.

These assignments were also written in a similar manner to writing a journal. There has been little rewriting, other than correcting typos and the such. As a result, there will be inconsistent idiosyncrasies that change based on how I changed through the book’s composition. In addition, I have kept time references in their original state. I hope the reader can realize the book was new at the time of the writing and will continue to understand the nature of this journal.

I hope these assignments provide inspiration for writing and new ways of thinking about writing, especially fun ways. I hope the aesthetic responses in part two provide you with new ways to think about poetry and to help you see how other poets view poetry.

Okay. Enough said.

Go Forth!

//

With special thanks to contributors, Laura Hinschberger, and Thom Caraway.

//

Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End
  2. Imaginary Worlds
  3. Science, the Universe, Time, & Other Evolutions
  4. Fun with Letters, Words, Language, & Languages
  5. Forms: Obscure, Updated, & Invented
  6. New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions
  7. Miscellany; Trying to Relate the Unrelated; or These Gotta Go Some Place . . . So Here
  8. Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America
  9. Responses; or Calling All Poets (Dead & Alive); or Talking to Eternity
  10. It’s All About You

//

Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End

a: First Words Are So Hard

[This assignment arose from a Michelle Bonczek idea, and is used with permission.]

Take a poem . . . any poem. Ok.

Now get rid of every word in the poem except the word that starts each line. With the word that starts the first line of the old poem, start a new first line of a new poem. With the first word in the second line of the old poem, start the new second line of the new poem, etc.

For example, take the poem by Frank O’Hara “On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday,” from Lunch Poems (City Lights, 1964), & use only the first word of each line to start the lines of the new poem.

   Quick! [insert rest of new line]
   off [insert rest of new line]
   Onset, [insert rest of new line]
   playing [insert rest of new line]
   of [insert rest of new line]
   into [insert rest of new line]
   junk [insert rest of new line]
   I’m [insert rest of new line]
   miserable [insert rest of new line]
   of [insert rest of new line]
   amethyst [insert rest of new line]
   is [insert rest of new line]
   on [insert rest of new line]
   You’ll [insert rest of new line]

b: End Words Are So Difficult

With the same idea in mind . . . erase all the words in the poem except the last word of each line & then fill in the line with your new words.

For instance, take Charles Wright’s “Silence Journal” from The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990 (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1991).

   [insert rest of new line] vowel
   [insert rest of new line] fall
   [insert rest of new line] us
   [insert rest of new line] moon
   [insert rest of new line] snow
   [insert rest of new line] holds
   [insert rest of new line] text
   [insert rest of new line] true

Note: this poem has no punctuation.

//

Bed Time

This poem will be about the first sleep of humans.

This idea came to me after seeing Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’ painting “Sleep” at The Met in NYC (www.metmuseum.org).

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’ “Sleep.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.95.253). Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’ “Sleep”. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission.

It might also be useful to recall the following lines in Virgil’s Aeneid: “It was the time of first rest for tired mortals” (ll 268-69).

Of course, you might want to sleep on this assignment first.

//

Do You Hear That?

[This assignment arose from a Michelle Bonczek idea, and is used with permission.]

You are to imagine you are the first person who discovers Niagara Falls.

You are to imagine what you were doing to lead you to the falls in the first place – the experience of approaching & seeing the falls – & maybe even to tell of the after effects of finding the falls, such as trying to tell your friends about your discovery.

Ok. Go Forth!

//

The Book of Firsts

This assignment was inspired by “a 35,000-year-old flute made from a woolly mammoth’s ivory tusk [that] has been unearthed in a German cave by archaeologists.”

Part I of this assignment: write a poem about that flute, the people who made it, & the people who played it.

Part II of this assignment: continue writing about firsts, such as the first sleep (See “Assignment: Bed Time”), the first one to discover Niagara Falls (See “Assignment: Do You Hear That”), the first one to discover fire, socks, wine, beer, pizza, or whatever. When you are done, you could have a wonderful manuscript you could call “The Book of Firsts.”

Here’s the article on the flute:

Ice Age ivory flute found in German cave

(BERLIN) – A 35,000-year-old flute made from a woolly mammoth’s ivory tusk has been unearthed in a German cave by archaeologists. The flute, one of the oldest musical instruments discovered, was pieced together from 31 fragments found in a cave in the Swabian mountains in southwestern Germany.

The mountains have yielded rich pickings in recent years, including ivory figurines, ornaments and other musical instruments. Archaeologists believe humans camped in the area in winter and spring. The University of Tübingen said it planned to put the instrument on display in a museum in Stuttgart.

Source: Reuters (10 December 2004)

//

Invention of the March Hare; or April is the Cruellest Month Marinating Hasenpfeffer; or Invention of May’s Dinner

Ralph Black came up with the idea of invention poems . . . or so he thought. Seems Cole Swenson beat him to it in Goest (Alice James Books, 2004). But alas, a poetry assignment can be had, plus options. So here we go.

When Swenson does her invention poems (with titles like “The Invention of the Weathervane” or “The Invention of the Mirror” or “The Invention of the Pencil” or “The Invention of the Night-Watch”), she seems to go at the invention in a somewhat direct manner, but imaginatively.

When Black does his invention poems (with titles like “The Invention of Cathedrals” or “The Invention of Angels”), he tries to create a scene for the need of something, or how something might have arisen. With the angels, he is writing a poem in present times, though obviously angels have already come to be. But he gives rise to their need.

As Black said in an email, “Seems to me that such poems are a big part of a current crop of ‘Myth poems’ – which has as much to do with tone as anything else (witness Merwin’s poems in The Carrier of Ladders or The Lice).”

So we will write invention poems using either, or both, strategies. The first assignment, though, will be to write about the invention of the poem – my knee jerk reaction is that you would have to incorporate both strategies into that poem. Yeah, & let’s give it a mythy tone. Oh, the possibilities are endless, & thus a book of inventions is possible.

Go Forth. Be Thomas Edison with the poem.

//

A Timely List of Firsts

Ok. So you just wrote a poem about the invention of the poem. Excellent. Now you are to pretend you are that first person writing the first poem & write the first poem that has ever been written.

Now you will pretend you are the person writing the first poem in the year 0 & write the first poem of the year 0. (Yea, I know there is no 0 year. It goes 1 BCE then 1 AD. But this will make it more fun.)

When that is done, you will do the same for the year 1000.

When done with that, you will do the same for the year 10,000.

And when you are done with that, you will imagine everything is done. Yes, you will write the first poem that is written after the universe freezes, contracts, explodes, or gets recalled for maintenance by some higher entity.

//

a: Bottoms Up

[This assignment & its sub-assignments were inspired by Melissa Rhoades’ idea, and is used with permission., and is used with permission.]

Write a poem from the last line to the first line.

b: The Greek Twist

The Greeks used to write their plays by writing the ending first & then writing from the beginning & wrote to get to the already made end (that is, as far as I have understood how they write).

Let’s try that with a poem. Write the last line first, & then start on the first line & write to the end.

c: Amateurs Borrow. The Great Ones Steal

Steal the last line from someone’s poem & then write your own poem to the stolen end.

I suspect it’s best not to use the last line from too famous a poem. I suspect you don’t want your last line to be:

   And miles to go before I sleep.

But maybe:

   Between a sleep and a sleep.

                                 (from a Swinburne chorus in “Atalanta in Calydon.”)

Ok. Good Luck!

//

. . . But who will be my audience?

Imagine the world is going to end soon. Perhaps an asteroid is about to crash into the earth. Perhaps a big plague is killing everyone. Perhaps global warming has burnt the planet dry. Or perhaps it’s not the end of the world. Perhaps everyone has stopped reading & writing.

Now imagine you are writing the last ever poem. The last poem on Earth is yours to be had. What could possibly be said at that point? Of importance? Who would care? Why would you care to write the last poem? Who would publish it? Nonetheless, you are motivated to do so.

So go write the last poem on Earth. You can pretend you are the last person or creature on Earth if you wish, but it isn’t necessary.

For example, consider “Notes Toward the Last Poem on Earth” by Mike Dockins.

   NOTES TOWARD THE LAST POEM ON EARTH

   The air-raid sirens are silent.
   No thin layer of ash covers the town.

   The corners are not speckled with metal-band bullies.

   The townsfolk only wish they’d glimpse
   a mugging, pass a squashed frog,
   catch a raccoon tumbling into a garbage can.

   Gaggles of frat boys read Nietzsche,
   stare reverently into abysses.

   Even the coffins lack menace.

   There’s nothing sinister about the idling schoolbuses,
   nothing risky in the melodies seeping from Jeeps.

   The last Italian sonnet, in shreds, has fallen into a trash can.

   Every sock is saved from the dryer,
   & car keys hang on their hooks in plain sight.

   All the ferries arrive on time.

   Cellular phones idle on hum,
   & the whining of mosquitoes barely ripples the swamp.

   The barbershop teeters between open & closed.
 
   No one’s heart has burst on the 14th hole.

   The final haiku is adrift on the Sea of Japan.

   Mars is not even in its retrograde.

   That Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a storm
   twice the size of Earth impresses no one –
   not mail carriers, cosmonauts, pool sharks,
   bartenders, hippies, cheerleaders,
   hockey stars, Arctic explorers, blackjack dealers . . . 
   not even astronomers, & certainly not the girl next door,
   who can’t even complain about acne
   or a strained relationship with her mother.

   Every crossword box has been penciled.

   No lovestruck bachelors repent
   atop the dilapidated water tower.

   The villanelle has failed.

   The libraries, though deserted,
   have been flame-proof for centuries.

   Postcards fall through mail slots into neat piles.

   Beehives are silent,
   & crickets strum a predictable hum.

   Nobody fumbles the quadratic equation,
   & the Laws of Thermodynamics are intact.

   The pantoums have crumbled to crumbs.

   Outcrops are barren of dinosaur skeletons –
   not a glimmer of quartz to inspire a geologist.

   The eons have blended
   into a single monotony of style.

   Glacial ice recedes at a sensible rate.

   No one has stamina for a sestina.

   The sunset has never been so ordinary.
   Same with birch trees, river ice, & the Moon
   which at dusk might as well be a high cirrus wisp.

   Jet contrails spell out nothing in particular,
   rip across shapeless clouds – no tricycles or crocodiles.

   On the evening news, no terrorizing snow drifts,
   mushroom clouds, local scurvy scares,
   or celebrities dead of brain cancer.

   Compost heaps are heaped with ghazals.

   No monsoons, patches of quicksand, vagrant icebergs, tsunamis . . . .
   Storm chasers stare blankly at blank radar.

   Gas stations are free of sniper fire.

   Beefed-up cars glide through town, noiseless & patient.

   Rubberneckers, bored, have collapsed into hibernation.

   The abecedarians are a jumble of foreign alphabets.

   Neon signs are dusted with a prescribed number of moths,
   & the wafting of fireflies lacks a muse.

   Tavern jukeboxes no longer eat quarters,
   & ponytails swing perfect orbits.

   The ideal lime swims in the ideal gin & tonic.

   Even the hangovers are tolerable.

   No more quatrains about autumn or digger wasps.

   Kindergarten classrooms are hiccup-free.

   Dodge balls scattered across sandlots
   are properly inflated, & the open baseball mitts
   catch the usual stream of neutrinos
   from an uncomplicated universe.

   Physicists crawl inside their telescopes,
   undisturbed by the swallowing nothingness.

   The sky tonight will be cometless,
   not one meteor ooohed upon.
   The handful of visible stars will twinkle
   the same old twinkle, constellationless.

   The galaxy’s spiral arms have an eerie regularity.

   And even the subatomic world
   makes a kind of sense: quarks reveal themselves
   in cohesive narratives, all chaos washed away
   in a quarky tide.

(“Notes Toward the Last Poem on Earth” first appeared in Quarterly West #58 (Summer 2004). It is used with the permission of Mike Dockins.)

//

The After Life of Objects

[This assignment arose from a Michelle Bonczek idea, and is used with permission.]

You are to write a poem with the title: “The Afterlife of _______.”

You get to fill in the blank. For instance, Michelle’s poem is “The Afterlife of Pennies,” but you can choose whatever, such as pizza boxes, socks, school notebooks, etc.

Ok. Go after it!

//

27
Oct
11

The Godfathers of Rochester Poetry – The Huff Black Reading (11-19-11)

That’s right ladies and gentlemen. The Godfathers of the Rochester, NY, poetry scene will be reading together at the heart of where the whole Rochester poetry scene really began – Brockport, NY.

Come one. Come all. Come to the November 19th reading at A Different Path Gallery on 27 Market Street. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and it’s free.

Steve Huff Ralph Black Reading Flier(To see the poster full size, click it. To download a printable copy, click Huff Black Reading Flier PDF.)

There’ll be wine, food, and maybe cannolis.

So who are these fine readers? And why are they the Godfathers of Rochester Poetry? That’s because Steve Huff does significant work at the epicenter of the Rochester literary scene – Writers & Books. And Ralph Black co-runs the long running (if not longest running in the United States) reading series – The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport. So all poetry in the Rochester area must first go through them. Or else!

Here’s more about them.

Ralph BlackBefore Ralph Black became a respectable citizen of Western New York: he delivered The Washington Post to Spiro Agnew (after Agnew resigned from office). He cleaned carpets in government buildings in the nation’s capital. He was Fritz in the Nutcracker. He painted houses in Maine. He waited tables at a swank Italian restaurant that turned out to be a front for a Mafia-led cocaine operation. He hitchhiked to Williamsburg, VA, on a school day, to interview a craftsman who made miniature replicas of Viking ships. He ate peyote buttons while sitting in a cave in the Shenandoahs. He was bounced on Isaac Stern’s knee. He stole a 20 lb. tin of cashews from the deli where he worked. He fought fires for the Forest Service in Idaho. He nearly fell off a mountain in the backcountry in the Olympics. Ditto for a cliff in Maine. Ditto for a cliff in Virginia. Presently, he lives in Monroe Co., NY, where cliffs are few and far between.

Steve HuffSteven Huff is the author of two books of poems, most recently More Daring Escapes, and a collection of stories, A Pig in Paris. A Pushcart Prize winner in fiction, and an O.Henry Prize finalist, his poetry has been read on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, and been chosen by form US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser for his American Life in Poetry feature news column. He is Director of Adult Education and Programs at Writers & Books, and teaches writing at RIT, and in the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston. From 2002 through 2008 he was host of Fiction in Shorts, a regular feature on WXXI-FM and WJSL-FM.

This event is sponsored by A Different Path Gallery, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, and Lift Bridge Book Shop.//

16
Sep
11

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day 100 (Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007)

Hurray. Finally, it’s Day 100 in the Pursuit of the Juiciest Wine Tour. I’ve been saving the Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 for quite some time and for quite some occasion. While tonight is a quiet night, here’s what’s been going in the last couple of weeks. Hmm. How to order them. I thought of listing by order of importance or magnitude, but, hmm, they are all pretty big. So randomly.

Finally, I got new job! Yay. Thanks Gerry Fish. I’m going to be an editor, which is something I love to do. The job begins Monday in St. Louis. I’ll stay there for a week. Then the rest of the gig is working from home.

Working from home on my new laptop. A Toshiba Satellite P705D with an AMD A6-3400M APU with Radeon HD Graphics 1.40 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM (thank goodness. that’s really what I wanted most), Windows 7 Home 64-bit, and 640 GB hard drive.

What else. Oh, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics issue 14 – The I-90 Poetry Revolution with guest editor, Sean Thomas Dougherty came out and we had a release party reading for it. It was a great reading held at the Alumni House at SUNY Brockport. (Thank English Department for hooking me up with space!)

SUNY Brockport is new thing. I’m teaching Introduction to Creative Writing there one night per week. I just started a few weeks ago. What fun.

I got that job thanks to Ralph Black, Steve Fellner, and Anne Panning and because I’ve a number of published books, including one that just came out two weeks ago. The book is Poems for an Empty Church from Palettes & Quills.

Poems for an Empty Church front cover

I’ve hired The Critic to speak on my behalf for this book.

The only way to shut him up is to BUY MY BOOK.

So I’ve had a lot going, and I’m not listing some other items, too. That’s enough. So tonight some good wine for the 100th day in pursuit of the juiciest wine.

Tonight’s wine is Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Napa Valley. It was number 5 on the The Wine Spectator Top 100 wines of 2010. So the wine should be perfect for tonight.

I got the wine on hearing its name and its rank. I did not know how it was spelled. I thought it was going to be a Spanish wine from Altamira. I was hooked because I love Spanish wines and I love the Altamira Cave with all the paleolithic cave art of which I’ve been writing poems about.

Altamira Bison

Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon 2007Enough of this. Let’s get to this 96-point wine.

The is an inky wine that’s dark purple in color and 90% opaque. It also has a tall meniscus. Is this wine even ready?

Thinking of tall, the bottle is tall and skinny. Odd.

The nose is smoky with dark berries, cassis, and black pepper. Yet with all that going on, it’s mild. My girlfriend says it smells inky. I get a hint of that, too.

Wow, that’s weird. It almost vanishes on the finish but then resurfaces.

It’s smooth going in like liquid air. And thinner than you’d expect from a cab. It’s actually kinda flowery when it gets in the mouth. But there’s also the counter of the inkiness and cassis. The cassis is on the beginning of the finish.

When you first taste it, it’s kinda like grapes. Like grape jelly but not as sweet but with the same wobbly texture.

My girlfriend picks up mushrooms. She also thinks its weird, but she thinks it’s weird because “It’s juicy, but I can’t define any of the berries.” After some time, she gets blackberries. I agree. That is, I think I can feel and taste those little blackberry hairs that poke out from in between the little blackberry bubbles.

Blackberries with hairs

This is a really mild wine. I quit enjoy. I give it an A.

The longer it sits, the juicier it gets and spicier, too. It gets more and more delicious. I can’t believe how much better it has become in the last 15 minutes. This bottle has been open for about an hour now, and it’s blossoming. It’s slowly becoming an A+. It’s coming alive with juiciness and youthful vitality. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein watching his monster come alive or, more specifically, Young Frankenstein watching his monster come alive.

The Altamura Cabernet Sauvignong 2007 is engaging. It’s flirting with me. It’s seducing me. Mmmmmmmm. I have been seduced.//




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

The Cave

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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