Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
(B.F. Loomis Ranger Station, Lassen Volcanic National Park)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Lore, shouted by ranger-hatted Dave Ashcraft
through window panes in a basalt seismograph booth:
A micro-Washington Monument stands in for Earth,
one quiverable yet obelisk-stolid shaft.
This vibrates a stiff inertial cylinder drum,
fixed to an armature of small needles sketching
gramophone-fashion across a bigger drum-etching
of what the beneath world mutters as it rumbles.
State-of-the-art in nineteen-twenty-nine.
A scroll of seismic paper called glassine
gets changed each twenty-eight hours. Just a gearspin
rotisserie-style clicks a fresh drum down in
or lifts the last-used one up and out for study.
[Dave, confiding:] "Where applied science is pure research,
good in itself; and to me, a thing of wonder."
Odd how each glassine flimsy endures as if sturdy
its paperclipped trial-by-smoking with kerosene fire
—so many Turin Shrouds, so many subsurface thunders.
Thanks, Tom! Tom Goff writes: It struck me, in the light of your recent call for "found poems," that there's an intellectual basis for all who engage in such appropriation or collage-like activity: a relevant (and engaging) article is Jonathan Lethem's "The Ecstasy of Influence," in the February Harper's. Lethem's web site, which links to this article, also connects to a web site for a movement called, I think, "Open Culture."
Starting National Poetry Month with PoemSpirits:
Speaking of Tom Goff, he and his lovely wife, Nora Staklis, together with rattlechapper JoAnn Anglin, host PoemSpirits on the first Sunday of each month. This is a warm and wonderful reading series (which I inadvertently left off this week's calendar—I am so sorry about that); tomorrow (Sunday, 4/1) at 6 PM they feature Sacramento's Tim Bellows, together with a presentation by JoAnn on Poet Jane Hirschfield. They meet at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, 2425 Sierra Blvd., Sacramento. Free, open mic, and refreshments. Info: 916-451-1372. [See Medusa's February 15 post for a profile of Tim Bellows.] Give yourself a treat to kick off National Poetry Month—be there!
Of National Poetry Month:
Bill Gainer sends us the following (thanks, Bill!): Of National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets says, "In 1996, with the help of a variety of government agencies, educators, publishers, sponsors, poets, and arts organizations the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month. The concept was to create a month-long, national celebration of poetry to increase the attention paid – by individuals and the media – to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage, and to poetry books and magazines. In the end, the Academy hoped to achieve an increase in the visibility, presence, and accessibility of poetry in our culture. National Poetry Month has been successful beyond all anticipation and has grown over the years into the largest literary celebration in the world."
(Medusa started National Poetry Month a day early, with a photo of Wordsworth.)
Sign up for Poem-a-Day:
Nine years ago, Knopf began a tradition. To celebrate National Poetry Month, they sent a poem a day by e-mail for 30 days to anyone who asked to receive them. Now, with over 25,000 subscribers, they are proud to continue with a whole new series of daily poems. Each day during the month of April, you will receive a poem from some of the best poets in the world including Mark Strand, Sharon Olds, and Laurie Sheck, as well as classics from Langston Hughes, Robert Burns and more. This year, we'll also be featuring audio clips from The Knopf National Poetry Month Collection, special printable broadsides, signed books and more. If you know of someone who might like to join the poem-a-day party, to sign up, they may visit http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/poetry/poemaday/
Youth poetry workshop in Berkeley:
Next Thursday (4/5), 4-6 PM: The 15th Annual Youth Arts Festival will hold a Youth Poetry Workshop. The poetry topic is peace poems. Send any interested youth you know to Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street (inside Live Oak Park), Berkeley.
It is the nature of poets
to believe that they are
great (or will become great)
that their lines will echo
down the ages and be studied
by schoolchildren but this
is statistically unlikely
the latest figures from the
NEA estimate that there are
about 100,000 more or less
literate poets in the USA
(of whom 10% are graduates
of creative writing courses)
I think my favorite of all
these poets is a young man
I met in Santa Fe he played
the role of a poet because he
felt like a poet but he never
took the risk of writing a
single poem his life was
his poetry and he was happy.
This poem (and the next three) are from a wonderful book called This Art: Poems About Poetry, edited for Copper Canyon Press by Michael Wiegers. To kick off National Poetry Month, let's have a give-away! Send me your poems about The Writing Life—any take on it that you see fit—by midnight Wednesday, April 4, and I'll send you a free copy of Steve Williams' new rattlechap, Skin Stretched Around the Hollow—or any other Rattlesnake Press chap of your choosing (collect 'em all!). Send your musings and commiserations to email@example.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Remember: prev-pubs are A-OK for Medusa, but please cite previous publication.
This month, we're extending the freebee to include a photo, drawing—any visual about The Writing Life (loosely interpreted) that can be posted on Medusa. Email them or snail them before midnight on Wednesday, and you'll get a free chap, too. Or send me a picture AND poem(s) and get TWO freebees! Such a deal...!
EARLY SPRING EAST OF TOWN
The best time for a poet is when spring is new
when willows turn gold but not completely
if you wait until the Royal Woods look like brocade
everyone will be out gawking at flowers
(translated from the Chinese by Red Pine)
REVISIONIST POEM—OCTAVIO PAZ
The world is an invention of the spirit the spirit
Is an invention of the body the body
Is an invention of the world
"POETRY IS VERDANT"
Poetry is verdant—in spring
it is born from each raindrop, each
ray of light falling on the ground.
How much room do we have for them
between a morning and an evening
or upon a page in a book?
But now, in autumn when black clouds
slide low above us, brushing
high-tension pylons and crows
dozing there in the dusk, because
there is hardly day at all, the night is
two long black fingers holding day
and us in a grip so tight we barely have
room to breathe or think. Everything I write
is in spite of this weight
that comes, comes again, wanting
to plunge us into sleep,
into the dreams of decaying leaves and grassroots
and of the earth itself where
all our unthought thoughts and unborn poems hide.
(translated from the Estonian by Jaan Kaplinski, Riina Tamm, and Sam Hamill)
Maybe it's no accident that National Poetry Month is during the most active month of Spring...
Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events to firstname.lastname@example.org (or snail ‘em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)
SnakeWatch: Up-to-the-minute Snake news:
Journals: Rattlesnake Review #13 is available at The Book Collector; next deadline is May 15. The new VYPER #6 (for youth 13-19) will be out April 11. Snakelets 10 (for kids-12) is available; next deadline is May 1.
Books/broadsides: Current releases are Skin Stretched Around the Hollow by Steve Williams and littlesnake broadside #32 by Brad Buchanan: Ultrasound. Next release: April 11, 7:30 PM, at The Snake’s Third Annual Birthday Bash and Buffet at The Book Collector: SnakeRings SpiralChap #7 from D.R. Wagner: Where The Stars Are Kept, and littlesnake broadside #33: Swallowed By This Whale Of Time by Ann Menebroker.
Something new: Rattlesnake Interview Series also premieres April 11; #1 is Ann Menebroker.