Saturday, December 28, 2019

Brian Beatty Ends 2019

Nebraska 

“Stuck in traffic in Nebraska” isn’t a phrase you ever expected to hear yourself say in your life. Then it’s game day and football fans statewide are determined to watch their team win or lose in person. Because there’s nothing else to see in Nebraska, you figure, besides that corn palace. Fan vehicles, festooned in team red and white, creep along Highway 80 from Omaha to Lincoln at a funeral pace. You’re in your car so long you forget where you thought you were going. 

- Brian Beatty


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NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Brian Beatty On Amiri Baraka

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty

Amiri Baraka

Thelonious Sphere 
Monk
I’m thinking 

with his name 
typed/hyped out here like so 
many black & white 
piano 

keys dancing 
(solo, mumble shouting “Go!”) 
up & down the stage 
of the page 

ought to be all the poem
anyone I know needs
thanks.

– Brian Beatty


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Learn more about Amiri Baraka:







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click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Open Reading: December 15, 3-5 at Space Cowboy in Joshua Tree!



The open reading will be held on the stage behind the store. Bring something of your own to read or a passage that inspires you. Prose is limited to two minutes. You're also welcome to simply come and listen to your neighbors. We invite the entire community to come in, share, and simply have a good time! All ages invited, and every event is free! See you there =:-) 

The celebration of the 80th anniversary of Lou Harrison's first publication is held jointly by the World Split Open Press, Harrison House, and Cholla Needles. Featuring 18 readers celebrating the love Lou was able to imbue into all his work. Come and enjoy the love!


Planned Readers:

Susan Abbott
Tanene Allison
Cynthia Anderson
Rose Baldwin
Bonnie Brady
Caryn Davidson
Anna Olivia Eve
Greg Gilbert
Gabriel Hart
George Howell
Peter Jastermsky
Dave Maresh
Kim Martin
Robert Morris
Susan Rukeyser
Kurt Schauppner
John Sierpinski
Eva Soltes
Rich Soos
Sylvia White

Brian Beatty On Dylan Thomas

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty

Dylan Thomas

The sun burns going down
like a pour of cheap whiskey.

For all your talk, you don’t raise 
a fist against the night.

You hide behind bolted 
doors pained by the twilight.

– Brian Beatty


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Learn more about Dylan Thomas:







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click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Tobi Alfier - Jolabokaflod: A Grand Tradition


In 1999, I read an article about “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri. This was a debut collection of stories that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. As you may know, I generally don’t prefer short stories with just a few exceptions, but something about this article made me buy not one, but two copies; I knew I would want to give a copy to someone else as a gift and that was true. They loved it as much as I did.

Twenty years later (last week), I was reading an NPR article about Jolabokaflod (click here).
  
According to Wikipedia, The “Christmas book flood” (Icelandic: Jólabókaflóðið) is a term used in Iceland for the annual release of new books occurring in the months before Christmas, as it is common to publish new titles in the weeks before Christmas.

Newly published books are listed in a yearly compilation that is distributed to all households for free.

The NPR article talks about how books are given as gifts on December 24th, and people stay up all night reading them. How cool is that?

There are so many things I never considered about a tradition like this:

  1. I have a terrible (aka no) reading lamp on my side of the bed. The lamp is on Jeff’s side, so I watch him read. When I can feel him shaking, I know he’s laughing about something he’s reading. He reads me that part, or tells me about it. So I kind of read what he does, and that’s just silly. Why don’t I get a lamp for my side? It’s not like they’re a million dollars or anything.

Note: Jeff JUST texted me from our beloved independent bookstore. He’s reading “Tiny Love”, the new book of stories by Larry Brown. He wrote “Holy cow, one of Larry Brown’s stories has my sides splitting. Can’t wait to read you the excerpts later”. Jeff takes his already purchased books with him every day, with the receipt taped inside. Sometimes he buys another book or poetry journal, sometimes he doesn’t. He always buys coffee and has never had any trouble with the store, just so you know.

  1. As a writer with a new book forthcoming next year, I do want it to come out as early as possible. I would never think of waiting until just before Christmas. It’s not like I sell them anyway, I mostly give them away, but I want to do that as soon as I can. I must admit I’ve bought twenty-three copies of “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” so that Amazon can package and deliver them, and we don’t have to go to the Post Office. Is that another silly thing? I cannot deny that. But I’d rather spread the cost throughout the year.

Truly, I think that most writers would rather have their books come out earlier rather than later so they can schedule readings and book tours, and weather does factor into that. So does time. Most would like as many reviews as possible too. Susan Tepper has 31 reviews of “What Drives Men” on Amazon, and that just came out June 21st! Also, for writers interested in submitting their books for awards, they are usually eligible if published any time during the year, so why not get it as early as possible?


Back to Jolabokaflod, it’s the middle of December already. Do you have all your shopping done? It’s definitely something to consider. When my son was grumbling about reading short stories in college, I empathized a hundred percent, and sent him copies of the few collections that I loved. When he came home for Thanksgiving, he brought me a book he thought I’d love. That meant so much to me.

What are you enjoying reading these days? Cholla Needles has an amazing catalog of books that are beautifully made, and reasonably priced. If you are lucky enough to live in the High Desert you are near five local independent bookstores. I’m not suggesting that any of them stay open all night so you can bring a friend and read there, but I am suggesting that no matter how young or old, there’s a book out there for everyone, and you probably already know what it is.

In the words of Marcel Proust:

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (from Les plaisirs et les jours: "Soyons reconnaissants aux personnes qui nous donnent du bonheur, elles sont les charmants jardiniers par qui nos âmes sont fleuries. Mais soyons plus reconnaissants aux femmes méchantes ou seulement indifférentes, aux amis cruels qui nous ont causé du chagrin. Ils ont dévasté notre cœur, aujourd'hui jonché de débris méconnaissables, ils ont déraciné les troncs et mutilé les plus délicates branches, comme un vent désolé, mais qui sema quelques bons grains pour une moisson incertaine. c.f. Luke 6:35"


Marcel Proust


I think we know that books can help us all do this. What better gift is there in the world? xo

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Review of David Chorlton’s Speech Scroll

By Greg Gilbert
  
               Speech Scroll, the most recent book by the prolific David Chorlton, offers 158 eighteen line poems that follow the path of his desert world through the seasons of a calendar year, winter to winter. David, who grew up in Manchester, England, moved to Austria in 1971 before making his home in Phoenix in 1978, alongside his wife, Roberta, a violinist and an Arizona native. Residents of the Morongo Basin may recall David sharing passages, a little more than a year ago, from Reading T.S. Eliot to a Bird at Space Cowboy while accompanied by his wife’s violin. As a transplant from rainy, industrial Manchester, David’s keen poetic observations of desert life and America offer the reader a companionable take on his new world.

                Among the many reasons to appreciate David’s latest tome is that the poetry offers a feeling of a long walk with a close observer. His poems follow the sun, study the natural world, and comment with incisive wit on the background noise of social and political happenings. While he avoids heavy handed didactics, his images are instructive. In poem (10) “. . . Another slice falls / from the Earth: a forest disappears,” and later in the same poem, “. . . The circling hawk can’t find / the bough he perched on yesterday.” Most wonderfully, David’s work employs humor, often with a bite. In poem (13) he considers the instructions for assembling his day, “. . . There’s a handle / and a washer and flowers and / weeds and religions and opinions / and the print with deceptions / is as small as that for truth.” David’s eye for details reveals a mind of nesting dolls where ironies and inferences join hands and allow readers to draw their own conclusions: “the universe expands, the noonday sun / turns cartwheels over / the golf course pond. The unemployment / rate comes down, goes up, / and the hourly rate / for leisure stays the same (15). In (17) he writes “. . . The ocean / can’t cough up the plastic.” And later in the same poem, “. . . We’d put ice / on the wounds, but it’s melting / fast and depression / moves into its place.”

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                Throughout the book, David’s poems, for the most part, begin with simple sentences, an actor acting (“The night sky peels away,” “The light cuts,” “The sky drinks,”), and once the reader is anchored within an action, he introduces a blend of characters and a dynamic setting where disparate images often encounter one another, as in (19): “Today weighs lightly on the mountain’s back / A thrasher on the mailbox / waits for the news. / The trees along the street soak up / what light remains / now that starlings have stripped / the feeder to its metal frame / and the president is lonely / with nothing but his power / for company.”  These are poems that simultaneously take us everywhere while remaining grounded in the passing seasons of the desert. The problem with reviewing David’s book is that there is so much to want to share, phrases where one stops reading to linger on the moment, “On the country music station / the singer has a voice / covered in sequins . . .” (21); “History has granted / no charity / while the moon on the night / horizon is a coin / rolling in a metal begging bowl” (28); “. . . It doesn’t matter / which party is in power, / they pledge allegiance with their noses / to the prevailing winds” (34). As the poems move through the seasons, the natural world and news events, we experience a year in review, one very like our own thinking processes as the poems look everywhere and create contexts within contexts. In one poem, David considers the carcass of a coyote, its surprising smallness when viewed up close, and in the next poem (89), “. . . The supermarket shelves cry / Freedom! While the Senate / convenes to decide / who it’s for.”

                Taken as a whole, David Chorlton’s Speech Scroll offers a poetic journal of higher innocence that travels a circuit between the noise of the world and the silent vacancy that is his ultimate source. Perhaps that explains the haiku incisiveness of his observations and the moments of Zen laughter that his works evoke in this reader. With that, I’ll allow David the final word:

 (74)

Reading an American poet who’s
reading a Chinese poet
who reads only the sky; where
does it end? May as well
go straight to the source,
that vacancy where everything
begins. 
                      - David Chorlton

http://www.davidchorlton.mysite.com/







Brian Beatty On Robert Creeley

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty

Robert Creeley

The stories 
I told for years  

all ended 
when audiences 

like forests suddenly 
filled with light 

through the trees
only wanted

to hear their own 
obituaries. 

– Brian Beatty


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Learn more about Robert Creeley:








- - - -


click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Tobi Alfier - Statistics and Superstitions

As you may know, I did a stint in gymnastics when I was in Junior High and High School. Mostly so I wouldn’t have to wear the horrible gym clothes. Gymnastics and modern dance sounded MUCH better than “corrective PE”, and both were better, and better than the green shorts and a white short-sleeved blouse of our regular PE clothes. Consequently, I can tell you that Cathy Rigby was 5’2” and so was I, but I don’t know much about regular sports.

It does seem that baseball has the most statistics of any sport ever. And baseball players seem to have a superstition for almost every statistic. If you know more than this, or if you’ve written any sports poems, submit them to Sport Lit — we’ve talked about them before. 

But there are some statistics I do keep track of, and thanks to a friend of mine, Pamelyn Casto, we encouraged the participants on the LinkedIn group I moderate to do the same. Pamelyn has published many articles and essays on flash fiction, myth, critical insights, and more, in Writer’s Digest, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading, The Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field, and so on. She is also Associate Editor at OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters. This is a lovely online journal you might want to explore and submit to. They published me; they might publish you too.

Pamelyn is always juggling twelve plates and loves to research whatever interests her, but bless her heart, she is a wonderful, generous, accessible person who always has room for one more thing.

She just posted (on the LinkedIn Group):

“Post Your Writing Accomplishments for 2019 It's that time of year again-- a time to look back at the previous year and a time to look forward to what the future might bring. Please do post your writing accomplishments for 2019 (and that might urge you to either get more work out before year's end or get more work out there for 2020). It's always fun and informative to see some of the writing accomplishments of our writer colleagues. I look forward to reading all about it.”

This year people seem to be posting about individual collections they published. I look at something completely different. I count:

  1. The number of poems written;

  1. Number of submissions done (not the number of poems submitted, the number of journals to which I submitted);

  1. Number of acceptances received, and of course—

  1. Number of rejections

I do not count the poems written or submitted in 2018 that were accepted in 2019. I have the means to do it, and it would certainly take into account those journals with long turnaround times, but for me, it’s not that important.

Things I wish I HAD kept track of:

  1. The number of short fiction pieces written. I save everything under my “poetry file”; sometimes I remember, sometimes I don’t;

  1. The number of short fiction pieces submitted. At the risk of jinxing everything, I rarely, rarely write short fiction. I have always submitted it, and it has always been accepted, for which I am completely amazed and very thankful. But so far I have been, and always will be, 98% a poet. The other 2% is a mix between this blog post, moderating the LinkedIn site, the occasional jacket blurb, and short fiction. I am grateful to be developing all these skills but I am a poet.

ENOUGH ABOUT ME, LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU!!!!

IF you even care about this, I would encourage you to measure your work in some way. Just for yourself. I know a lot of novelists who measure how many words they’ve written each day; that is an important statistic to them. I measure how many words my blog posts are—no more than 1,000 words or someone will stab themselves, I mean, stop reading.

If you write, whether or not you choose to submit, you are a writer. If you are not currently measuring your progress in some way, think about it. You don’t have to tell anyone, post it anywhere, brag about anything or be sad about anything. It’s just that if you don’t know, you don’t know.

In the words of the amazing and brilliant Steve Almond:  

You don’t always know whether you’re writing well or badly, even in the middle of your career. Sometimes you write out of desperation. ”—On why we write


Stay warm, be safe, write well (sorry, Steve), don’t walk under any ladders, and measure if you want xo

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

December Issue Released! Cholla Needles 36!


The loving seasonal cover this month 
is by the marvelous Rik Livingston, of Zonoart.

The beautiful words and dreams within are by

Lou Harrison
Tobi Alfier
Greg Gilbert
Danielle Hanson
John M. Bennett
Kelsey Bryan-Zwick
T. K. Splake
Romaine Washington
Francene Kaplan
Alan Catlin


This issue also contains photos from 

four different Art Tour Events 
featuring Cholla Needles.


We encourage our neighbors to buy Cholla Needles books at 
Rainbow Stew, Space Cowboy, JT Coffee, and Raven's Books. 
Support our local distributors!

New Book - David Chorlton - Speech Scroll



                    The chainsaw’s dawn song rings
                    out. Another slice falls
                    from the Earth: a forest disappears,
                    a mountaintop tumbles,
                    and a tree in someone’s yard
                    loses a limb. When the limb
                    is gone a pain remains, seeping
                    from the rough cut end. Where
                    have all the lost cats gone
                    whose photographs are posted on
                    local power poles? Their owners
                    want them back, but what about
                    the jaguars and the parrots
                    once common in the mountains
                    Geronimo fought to keep? Nobody
                    offers a hundred dollars
                    for their return. The circling hawk can’t find
                    the bough he perched on yesterday.

                           - David Chorlton
---
BIO
David Chorlton came to Phoenix from Europe in 1978 with his wife Roberta, an Arizona native. He quickly became comfortable with the climate while adjusting to the New World took longer. Writing and reading poetry have helped in that respect, as has exposure to the American small presses. He and Roberta have shared their living space with many cats and birds over the years.
Publications
Gilded Snow (Cholla Needles, 2019)
Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird (Hoot 'n Waddle, 2018)
Bird on a Wire (Presa Press, 2017)
A Field Guide to Fire (FutureCycle Press, 2015)
Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2014)
The Devil's Sonata (FutureCycle Press, 2012)
Waiting for the Quetzal (March Street, 2006)
Return to Waking Life (Main Street Rag, 2004)
A Normal Day Amazes Us (Kings Estate, 2003)
Forget the Country You Came From (Singular Street, 1992)
Prizes
The Slipstream Chapbook Award (2009)
The Ronald Wardall Prize (2008)





We encourage our neighbors to buy Cholla Needles books at Rainbow StewSpace Cowboy, and Raven's Books. Support our local distributors!