Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Launching Quintillas

David Milnor

—David Milnor, Sacramento

The villanelle is hard to write.
Initially the two refrains
must, meshed together, come out right;
to rhyme them in tercets again
takes a poet most erudite.

If you have a story to tell
of ladies, knights and derring-do
the ballad stanzas tell it well.
Rhyming problems are very few;
of four lines you need rhyme but two.

Pantoums are never very fast
with four steps forward two steps back.
While snappy rhythms they must lack,
they perfectly present the past
as they recoil along their track

Sonnets are a versatile case.
From Petrarch’s envelope quatrains,
with sestets and their stately pace,
and Shakespeare’s couplets in their place,
they’re resurrected now again.

Blank verse would always seem to be
an ideal form of poetry.
Unencumbered by any rhyme
the poet lets his thoughts wing free
from Milton to Frost in our own time.

About free verse we’re not sure yet
if now it poses such a threat
that metered verse will go away.
A few of us still like to play
the game as always with a net.


Thanks, David! David Philip Milnor was born in 1931 and grew up in San Francisco but went to high school in Wilmington, North Carolina. He entered the Naval Academy, graduated, and accepted a commission in the Air Force in 1954. After graduating from Navigation school in Houston Texas in 1955, he was assigned to Germany in 1955. He studied at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton Ohio 1958-1959, receiving an MSEE. After assignment to the Air Force Missile Test Center at Cape Canaveral, he flew many missions to South America and Africa and the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. He left the Air Force in 1963 and spent several years in graduate school, including two years at Cornell University in the Field of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He returned to engineering and hired on at McClellan AFB in 1973.

David retired from the Civil Service in 1996. He was married to his wife Gloria, of San Salvador, El Salvador in 1988. They live in Sacramento. They have visited Central America many times. David speaks Spanish and has an interest in Latin American history and archaeology. He especially enjoys the works of Gabriel García Márquez. He has had a superficial interest poetry most of his life, but didn’t try writing it until 2006, inspired by a family member. He found metrical verse appealing and has written about 70 Italian sonnets of varying quality and assorted villanelles, terzanelles, pantoums, triolets, rondelets, sestinas, quintillas and one ballade. He is a regular member of the Wednesday Workshop held at the Ethel Hart Senior Center. He has previously been published in the Midweek Musings Anthology of the Hart Center’s Wednesday Poetry Workshop, and he received an Honorable Mention for a terzanelle in the 2008 California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. contest.

Our Seed of the Week takes its cue from David's quintillas: try your hand at five lives, eight syllables per line. Lines 1, 3, and 5 rhyme; as do lines 2 and 4. For more quintilla examples, go to www.janhaag.com/PODesIntro.html and scroll down to quintilla. No deadlines on SOW's; toss 'em over as they come.


Submissions for Manzanita!

Writers Unlimited and Manzanita Writers Press is now accepting submissions for Manzanita: Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra, Vol. 6. Manzanita is a literary journal of poetry, prose, photography, and art inspired by the Mother Lode and Sierra regions of California. You don’t have to be a current resident of the area, but your work should reflect the sensibilities of the region. Submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, photography, and artwork that may speak to our readers’ interests. See some sample poems from Volume 5 on the web site. Electronic submission only. Go to www.manzanitacalifornia.org. Submission Guidelines are detailed on the web site. Deadline is Dec. 15 for target publication date of Spring 2010. Writers Unlimited and Manzanita Writers Press are affiliates of the Calaveras County Arts Council, a nonprofit organization. They rely on business benefactors and donors. If you’d like to advertise in or become a patron donor of Manzanita Volume 6, contact the editor at www.manzanitacalifornia.org or call Monika Rose at 209-754-0577.

Creative Nonfiction Workshop in Davis:

Rae Gouirand’s ongoing, five-year-old CREATIVE NONFICTION workshop will continue to meet in Davis on Sunday nights, September 20-December 20, from 7-9 PM. This is the perfect workshop for writers who find group structure helpful for sustaining an ongoing writing practice—the group reads memoirs/essay collections together, discusses craft and process issues, generates exercises to keep stretching their work, and workshops an incredible variety of new pieces. While the attention focuses mainly on the essay, several poets and fiction writers use the workshop to develop work in other genres.

Rae is also planning a new session on Thursday nights, 7-9 PM, September 17-December 17, if enrollment is high enough to run a second, concurrent group.

The course fee for either session will be $225, and there will be two books to buy: Eula Biss’ Notes From No Man’s Land (published by Graywolf), and Deborah Tall’s A Family of Strangers (published by Sarabande). The group will also be reading a supplementary third book (recommended, but not required): John D’Agata’s The Lost Origins of the Essay, which was just published by Graywolf this week.

To register, please reply (rgouirand@gmail.com) with ALL of the following information, even if you’ve been in this workshop before: name, email, phone, and, if you live in Davis, whether you could host a couple sessions of class (don't worry if you can't—not a requirement), and your preference for the Thursday or the Sunday group. If you haven’t taken a workshop with Rae before, please include a couple of sentences about what you’re hoping to get out of the workshop, and anything you’d like her to know about your writing life.

All registrations and section assignments will be confirmed by the first week of September at the latest. The course fee will be due one week from the date of confirmation.


—David Milnor

I’m sitting in the glass nose of a B-26, droning through the soup at 10,000 feet, the engines roaring away on the wings with the distinctive harsh note peculiar to R-2800s. Conversation is impossible without the intercom. It’s night and blacker than black, except during those moments in which our rotating beacon flashes by the nose, reflected in briefly glowing red patches in the murk. It’s winter and thirty below outside and inside, and I’m warm enough in my old heated suit except for that hot spot in the groin. I glance back toward the cockpit at the dark shape of the countermeasures officer, silhouetted against the green glow of his screen. He’s taking bearings to locate the Russian radar site which is tracking us; they know what we are doing. With my feet in heated boots resting on the R/T unit, I squint into my radar scope, and strain to pick out targets; I take a fix on Braunschweig-on-the-Oker. I remove a glove just long enough to plot the fix on my chart and put us safely on our side of the East German border and out of reach of the MIGs waiting in the dark on the other side.


—David Milnor

He always walked erect, his swinging stride
betraying army years of long ago.
The Marne, the Meuse-Argonne—I came to know
these names he’d sometimes choose to toss aside
with only just a hint of hidden pride.
Another war had passed him by and though
he’d volunteered, they wouldn’t let him go;
which, now and then, he’d bitterly confide.
A little seedy now, he’d stroll the street,
and at the Legion bar his day would end—
a faintly comic character on the scene.
Acquaintances he daily stopped to greet
could not envision that young captain then—
in bleeding France in nineteen-seventeen.


(A Villanelle)
—David Milnor

The sonnet puts a premise on display
in two quatrains with wording apropos;
the sestet always goes another way.

A volta then is needed to convey
a different view when, ab initio,
the sonnet puts a premise on display.

Two quatrains in ordered rhymed array
present a certain idea blow by blow;
the sestet always goes another way.

The outcome of this poetry by-play,
until the volta, can’t be known although
the sonnet puts a premise on display.

The verdict of the sestet, yea or nay,
appears when, past the volta in the flow,
the sestet always goes another way.

The tension here, the sonnet’s main forte,
now vanishes as I’ve gone on to show:
The sonnet puts a premise on display;
the sestet always goes another way.


(After T.S. Eliot’s "Prelude I")
—David Milnor

An ancient Model A it was,
and roughly painted Lincoln green.
The cab was gone.
A painted tarp was stretched between
the windshield and the old truck bed
which, over head,
would shield the driver from the rain.
The squarish fenders, crude, home made,
could not contain
a splashing soaking damp cascade
when puddles on the street remained.
The driver got a little wet,
but transportation needs were met.


Today's LittleNip:

I can't write five words but that I change seven.

—Dorothy Parker



SnakeWatch: What's New from Rattlesnake Press:


Join us Weds., August 12 to celebrate
Joyce Odam
’s birthday month with two new books from her:
Peripherals: Prose Poems by Joyce Odam
(illustrated by Charlotte Vincent)
and Rattlesnake LittleBook #2 (Noir Love).

That’s at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Free!

WTF!: The second issue of WTF, the free quarterly journal from Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe that is edited by frank andrick, is now available at The Book Collector or through rattlesnakepress.com, or send me two bux and I'll mail you one.
Deadline for Issue #3 (which will be available at Luna's Cafe on
Thursday, August 20
) was July 15; next deadline will be Oct. 15.
Submission guidelines are the same as for the Snake, but send your poems, photos, smallish art or prose pieces (500 words or less) to fandrickfabpub@hotmail.com (attachments preferred) or, if you’re snailing, to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726 (clearly marked for WTF).
And be forewarned: this publication is for adults only, so you must be
over 18 years of age to submit. (More info at rattlesnakepress.com/.)

RATTLESNAKE REVIEW: Issue #22 is now available (free) at The Book Collector, or send me four bux and I'll mail you one. Or you can order copies of current or past issues through rattlesnakepress.com/. Deadline is August 15 for RR23: send 3-5 poems, smallish art pieces and/or photos (no bio, no cover letter, no simultaneous submissions or previously-published poems) to kathykieth@hotmail.com or
P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. E-mail attachments are preferred, but be sure to add all contact info, including snail address. Meanwhile, the snakes of the on-going Medusa are always hungry; keep that poetry comin', rain or shine!
Just let us know if your submission is for the Review or for Medusa, or for either one, and please—only one submission packet per issue of the quarterly Review.
(More info at rattlesnakepress.com/.)

Also available (free): littlesnake broadside #46: Snake Secrets: Getting Your Poetry Published in Rattlesnake Press (and lots of other places, besides!): A compendium of ideas for brushing up on your submissions process so as to make editors everywhere more happy, thereby increasing the likelihood of getting your poetry published. Pick up a copy at The Book Collector or write to me (include snail address) and I'll send you one. Free!


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 kathykieth@hotmail.com (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.) Medusa cannot vouch for the moral fiber of other publications, contests, etc. that she lists, however, so submit to them at your own risk. For more info about the Snake Empire, including guidelines for submitting to or obtaining our publications, click on the link to the right of this column: Rattlesnake Press (rattlesnakepress.com). And be sure to sign up for Snakebytes, our monthly e-newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on all our ophidian chicanery.