Friday, August 29, 2014

Postcard from Georgia O'Keeffe

Photo by Ansel Adams at 
I do not like the idea of happiness — it is too momentary — I would say that I was always busy and interested in something — interest has more meaning to me than the idea of happiness.
  • Abiquiu, New Mexico, notes to Anita Pollitzer 

~ Kells
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Monday, August 25, 2014

32 Statements about Writing Poetry by Marvin Bell:

Many of you know these, as Marvin teaches them, but they are always as powerful to me as when I first heard them.  (I bolded my favorites.)

And if you share, please do attribute these to Marvin Bell.

32 Statements about Writing Poetry by Marvin Bell:
1. Every poet is an experimentalist.
2. Learning to write is a simple process: read something, then write something; read something else, then write something else. And show in your writing what you have read.
3. There is no one way to write and no right way to write.
4. The good stuff and the bad stuff are all part of the stuff. No good stuff without bad stuff.

5. Learn the rules, break the rules, make up new rules, break the new rules.
6. You do not learn from work like yours as much as you learn from work unlike yours.
7. Originality is a new amalgam of influences.
8. Try to write poems at least one person in the room will hate.

9. The I in the poem is not you but someone who knows a lot about you.
10. Autobiography rots. The life ends, the vision remains.
11. A poem listens to itself as it goes.
12. It's not what one begins with that matters; it's the quality of attention paid to it thereafter.
13. Language is subjective and relative, but it also overlaps; get on with it.
14. Every free verse writer must reinvent free verse.
15. Prose is prose because of what it includes; poetry is poetry because of what it leaves out.
16. A short poem need not be small.
17. Rhyme and meter, too, can be experimental.
18. Poetry has content but is not strictly about its contents. A poem containing a tree may not be about a tree.
19. You need nothing more to write poems than bits of string and thread and some dust from under the bed.
20. At heart, poetic beauty is tautological: it defines its terms and exhausts them.
21. The penalty for education is self-consciousness. But it is too late for ignorance.
22. What they say "there are no words for"--that's what poetry is for. Poetry uses words to go beyond words.
23. One does not learn by having a teacher do the work.
24. The dictionary is beautiful; for some poets, it's enough.
25. Writing poetry is its own reward and needs no certification. Poetry, like water, seeks its own level.
26. A finished poem is also the draft of a later poem.
27. A poet sees the differences between his or her poems but a reader sees the similarities.
28. Poetry is a manifestation of more important things. On the one hand, it's poetry! On the other, it's just poetry.
29. Viewed in perspective, Parnassus is a very short mountain.
30. A good workshop continually signals that we are all in this together, teacher too.
31. This Depression Era jingle could be about writing poetry:
      Use it up / wear it out / make it do / or do without.
32. Art is a way of life, not a career.

~ Kells
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Postcard from Kerouac: "My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them"

Photo by Allen Ginsberg

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” 

        ― Jack Kerouac

~ Kells

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More Summer Book Mini-Reviews: Poetry

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men on the Words that Move Them by Anthony & Ben Holden.

First line: Late one afternoon in the mid-1990s, a close friend of long standing called to tell me of a sudden domestic crisis.

What is interesting about this book:  It's always fascinating to see what poems people (in this case, men) are moved by.

What is not interesting about this book: The majority of poems that men are moved by are by other men.

Thank you Terrance Hayes for choosing Gwendolyn Brooks. Thank you Billy Collins for choosing Victoria Redel. Thank you both John Ashberry and Andrew Solomon for choosing Elizabeth Bishop. Thank you Colin Firth (yes, celebs are in this book as well) for choosing Emily Zinnemann. Thank you Anish Kapoor for choosing Adrienne Rich and Marc Forester for choosing Mary Oliver and Douglas Kennedy for choosing Emily Dickinson.

There may be a few others I missed, but not many (or should I say men-ee).

While some of the men offered lovely insights, some of the poems and thoughts fell flat. I think this is a great idea for a book, but just not executed precisely or as well as I would have liked.

I prefer this book and highly recommend it:

First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them


Wild Thing in our Known World by Claudia Putnam
First line: Running the Highline:

This book is grounded in landscape, in earth, sea, and sky. Mother Nature is twofold--what is outside & a mother and son. A chapbook that seems to move effortlessly between both relationships--human and nature. Though as poets, we know nothing is ever effortless, it's craft.  We exist in the beauty of the images throughout this chapbook.


And Now This by Terry Persun.
First line: I'm standing in the corner,

The poems in this collection tell a beautiful & heartbreaking story from childhood to adulthood dealing with life, loss, struggle and coming to terms with our own lives.  The narrator is easy to connect with, the narrator who "lives among invisible winds."  These poems share stories and many of the images stayed with me long after the book was set down.

~ Kells
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Recipe from Emily Dickinson: Coconut Cake!

Emily Dickinson's Coconut Cake, Retouched for the 21st Century
(This recipe was adapted and modified from the original — Letter #665 in The Letters of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas Johnson, and is indebted to several measurement suggestions in Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as Cook.)
2 cups Coconut Secret® coconut sap sugar
1 cup Earth Balance® butter substitute
2 cups brown rice flour (Arrowhead Mills® gluten-free "Improved Texture" mix works well)
6 eggs (separate yolks and whites)
1 ½ to 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut (can also use flaked coconut, coarsely chopped)
1 cup coconut milk
Rather than make a simple icing, standard fare in the 19th-century, based partly on the ingredients I had lying around, I decided to go with this topping instead. It worked very well.
1-2 cups flaked coconut, unsweetened
½ cup orange blossom honey
Zest of four limes
Juice of two limes
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, blend butter-substitute and coconut sugar. Add brown rice flour and beaten egg yolks. Beat egg whites until slightly frothy and add to batter. Gradually add shredded coconut and coconut milk, blending all ingredients thoroughly. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with coconut oil. Pour batter into the greased dish (the baking dish should be half full). Bake for 25 minutes in a convection oven (probably 30-35 minutes in a regular oven). Mix the coconut-lime topping. Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes, spread the topping evenly over the cake.

Full NPR Article by Nelly Lambert here:

A Coconut Cake From Emily Dickinson: Reclusive Poet, Passionate Baker

~ Kells
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Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Deviced & Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement

The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Deviced & Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement by Art Donovan

If you love Steampunk (or just art, or art from mostly found objects), this is a book that can inspire.

It's broken down by artist and the images are sharp and on glossy paper.

I just love to browse through it and let my mind wander. But if you want to learn more about the artist's vision and/or thoughts, that is included as well. There's also a 4 page essay called "Steampunk 101" written by G.D. Falksen where he answers so many of the questions asked about steampunk.

If you ever wanted to know more about steampunk or be inspired by its art and artists, this is the book for you.  Absolutely beautiful stuff.

~ Kells
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