Friday, November 30, 2012

10 Poets among Kansas City Star top 100 books of 2012

Poets selected for the KC Star top 100 books include Julianne Buchsbaum, Heid Erdrich, Jack Gilbert, Lucille Clifton, Albert Goldbarth, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Natasha Trethewey, and Mary Jo Bang (translation of Dante's Inferno). Poets with nonfiction books that are in the list are Kevin Young (The Grey Album) and Gerald Stern (Stealing History).

I was honored to be one of 17 curators for this "best-of" list, edited by Steve Paul of the KC Star. You will see the KC-area and national perspectives represented in fiction, non-fiction, mystery, poetry, and young readers. See more details:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Painting & Poetry Salon Nov. 17, Sat. and "Flint Hills Lullaby" by Denise Low

"Flint Hills 1" by Thomas Pecore Weso

Here is a sample poem and painting for the Runaway Pony event and chapbook. Do join us at 603 Tenn., Runaway Pony B&B. 

     “A landscape has its own spirit; it is neither dead nor alive.”                                                                                         Thomas Weso

 My grandparents still live here.
They exist in grasses confused by western trade winds.

Even before they died they were ghosts.
Their lungs whooshed air of winter and summer storms.

The land is neither dead nor living but something
else. A third property. More.

White strata collapse into ruins at their moments of creation.
Processions of thunderheads tumble through empty counties.

I am alone here and I am caught in lay lines of gravity.
This is my birth and death, my continuum beyond names.

When space colors this place, that dark-moon hue of void,
may all our bones lie together, at rest in the dark.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Launch of Runaway Pony, poets respond to paintings by Tom Weso, 7 p.m. Sat. Nov. 17, 603 Tenn. St., Lawrence, KS

RUNAWAY PONY: An Anthology of Verse after Paintings by Thomas Pecore Weso is a collection of “ekphrastic poetry,” poems written about specific artworks. The collection commemorates an opening and reading at the Runaway Pony Bed and Breakfast, November, 2012. The vivid, acrylic and black-light paintings of Weso inspire diverse, award-winning authors, including:  
Diane Glancy, Julianne Buchsbaum, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Xánath Caraza, Silvia Kofler, Denise Low, DaMaris B. Hill, Allison Serina Hearn, James Benger, and Kevin Cummings.
Critic Mick Braa writes of Thomas Pecore Weso’s paintings: “He paints mostly bright, high-contrast colors to records what he has discovered, borrowing styles and figures from varied Indian art traditions to symbolize what he sees senses, and learns. Forms can switch back and forth between foreground and background, perhaps illustrating our constantly changing sensations of place, spirit and things in between.”  (Lawrence Magazine 2012)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Government Funding for Poetry: The Latest on the National Endowment for the Arts Budget

With new constellation of fiscal issues in DC, the future of funding for the arts, including poetry, is serious. One of the most effective advocacy groups is Americans for the Arts Action Fund, which has a useful website full of facts about economic as well as personal benefits of the arts.   One of the most active spokespersons for the arts is David Fenza, executive director of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs and poet (recent work in American Poetry Review). He sent out this commentary about the election aftermath:

 “What's mainly changed in arts advocacy is that the House has a few more rookies, and more rookies who are smaller-government zealots. The NEA and Americans for the Arts have never done a better job in quantifying the economic and educational benefits of the arts. But these many studies hold no sway over the advocates of smaller government in the House. The Senate, however, will continue to serve as the saucer into which we may pour the fulminations of the House to cool, to echo George Washington.

 "The automatic "sequester" budget cuts remains the biggest threat to the NEA, and the possibility of Congress triggering another recession is probably the biggest immediate general threat to arts organizations, to arts education, and to AWP. Tax reform may also diminish the incentives for charitable giving to arts organizations, but Congress seems incapable of addressing tax reform expeditiously.

 "The sequester, the federal budget, tax reform, and the federal debt ceiling all require immediate attention. Just one of these issues, in the past, has been enough to inspire Congress to enact a spectacle rather than a compromise. Unfortunately, rough handling of the sequester, debt ceiling, or tax reform could trigger a recession. Probably, Congress will pass legislation to defer the sequester and then pass a continuing resolution to fund government at last year's levels--rather than make a new budget--while they renew some or most of the Bush tax cuts for a limited duration in a stop-gap half-measure. For Congress, it's always best to postpone till next year whatever requires compromise this year.”

Thanks to Fenza for permission to reprint his lucid summary. For more information, see  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review of Hadara Bar-Nadav's new book THE FRAME CALLED RUIN

Hadara Bar-Nadav, director of creative writing at University of Missouri-Kansas City, is on a roll with this book, her first one A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight (Margie Book Prize), and the next book, Lullaby (with Exit Sign), winner of the 2012 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize for 2012. Recently she read at the Raven Bookstore Big Tent reading, Oct. 25, and I heard her voice in person--energizing the verse. She mentioned her poodle, which I was not able to work into the review, although I wanted to--indeed a poodle is a sub-motif. My review of The Frame Called Ruin, "Rewriting the Rules of Poetry," looks at poetic structures as formulae, perhaps a stretch (see what you think?), but it gave me an entry point into the work:
"Mathematicians posit infinite dimensional spaces that can be plotted with numbers. In her second full collection of poetry, The Frame Called Ruin, Hadara Bar-Nadav explores word-based worlds beyond the read of traditional verse." For the entire review, go to:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Walt Whitman's "Election Day, November, 1884"

Election Day, November, 1884
Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies,
     appearing and disappearing,

Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:
This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name—
     the still small voice vibrating—America's choosing day,

(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadrennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d-sea-board and inland-Texas to Maine—
     the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.