The Woven Thread, Issue 2

Hullo all: just a quick post today.

The second issue of The Woven Thread was just sent out. It’s a good issue this time, with some very good poets writing for it.  Some shameless advertisement: if you’re interested in receiving The Woven Thread, just email TheWovenThread@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post with an e-mail address, and I’ll make sure you’re added to the distribution list.

If you’re too ambivalent to click the link on your left to get to the actual page, The Woven Thread is a monthly newsletter and poetry anthology, aimed at a workshop setting. You can submit one poem a month, and it will get in to the Anthology automatically. You’re only obligation afterwards is to choose two other poets from the issue and respond to their poems via e-mail, thus establishing not only a good anthology of poetry but a dialog about the poetry as well. How delightful.

I like to point out that, because of the nature of the newsletter, it’s great for writers who aren’t necessarily full time poets, but just like to putter around with the art. You can get and give feedback, and it’s a place to get published without having to worry about impressing anyone. If you yourself are thinking of giving poetry a try, go ahead and sign up. If you don’t like poetry, but you might be interested in seeing what we’re doing, there is going to be material for non-poets as well (editorials, writing resources, and the like). If you don’t want anything to do with us, but have a friend who might, point them in our direction.

And now that the shameless plug is out of the way, I’ll go to sleep.

Thanks everyone,

~DK

The Bluff

Ideal, for a kid,
About a mile back in the forest.
Easy to find, if you know the way,
Impossible, if you don’t.

It’s along the trails, out in the woods across the house.
Past the ropes course, and past the lean-tos.
The forest opens up, along the east side of the trail,
And there used to be a dropoff there, probably 10 feet
Shows off the opposite side of the valley,
Green or flaming or bone-white, depending on season,
And the cracked ribbon of road, Rt. 19,
Where everyone has to drive to get in and out of town,
Unless they know the back roads.

Place’s got a fire-pit already made,
Don’t have to search for stones,
And there’s logs already around it,
Starting to rot a little, but
I don’t mind dirty jeans.

And spots for tents,
So that in the summer we’d come up
With hot dogs and sausages and mallows
And stay up all night, pretending to sleep,
And when the sun would come up,
We’d all sit on the ledge of the dropoff, wait until
The sun rose from the opposite side of the trees,
And then all burst, and the top of our lungs,
The opening of the Lion King,
Spouting our own Swahili mumbo-jumbo
Cause we couldn’t remember the right words
And wouldn’t know what the meant even if we could.

Each year, I’d go back, there was a little less of the Bluff there,
Rain and animals and stupid kids like us kicking at the ledge,
Didn’t realize that the dirt that fell down wouldn’t come back up.

Some years come by, whole trees had slid down the hill
(It’s a hill now, the cliff crumbled away)
Roots and all, taking little islands of dirt with them,
Clutching at anything to help them stay upright,
As their foundation crumbles from underneath them.

And we’ll still go camping—come by with sausages and
Mallows and chocolate,
Pitch our tents about ten feet further back than we used to
Because where we used to isn’t there anymore,
And spend the night pretending to sleep,
(Thinking about the years, sliding away like the trees).

And then, we would go out,
Sit on the ledge, which is more like a steep slope
Now,
And as the smallest sliver of tomorrow slipped over the valley walls,
We would breath and sing at that fiercely rising sun:

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!
Here comes a Lion, Father!

Flower Gardens

I had a good laugh today. It was a beautiful day out, and I enjoyed the ability to run around to some flower gardens.

Now, I’m normally not the biggest fan of flower gardens, because I always find fauna more interesting than flora. But I it was a simply beautiful day out, and it was a wonderful opportunity to go walking with the parents, so I went and enjoyed myself. And the gardens really were beautiful—the azaleas were out in full bloom, and the tulips were just on the decline. It wasn’t the peak for the other flowers, but the garden itself was lovely as well.

It was set up in sections, divided by ivy-covered walls and sculptures. There were nature-poems carved into the rock of the wall. Most of them were romantic, which doesn’t score many points in my book. By and large the sloppy ‘nature is the be-all end-all of existence’ sort of thing. Not much thought, lots of fluffy imagery.

It put me in a cynical mood, but pleasant one—the wort of mood where you’re throughly enjoying being a curmudgeon.

Did you know, for instance, that when flowers are in bloom, they aren’t doing it to be pretty. They’re having sex. Lots and lots of sex with as many partners as they can get their hands on. Plants normally don’t have genders, or secondary sex traits, so they’re not choosy. Walk through a garden in bloom, and you’re walking through a veritable vegetable orgy.

The sculptures I mentioned earlier were almost exclusively the traditional naked-people. The lovers embracing, or the curvaceous nymph dancing amongst the flowers, not much minding that her shirt has fallen off, or the baby cherub peeing in the fountain.

Now, I should point out that I don’t mind nudity in art, and that the sculptures were very beautiful, and that the plant life themselves were simply gorgeous. There were huge Live Oak trees (which refers to a specific breed, rather than a state of animation), which spread out and interlocked their branches, wider than they were tall. They were majestic, and made me feel very small, which most plant-life doesn’t manage to do very well.

Nevertheless, the nagging perception at the back of my mind that I was walking through a land ripe with romanticism, free-love and softcore porn filled me with a certain amount of internal giggling. And then, as we were wandering a small roofed-area of the garden devoted to sculptures, there was one amidst the plethora of Greek goddesses and nekkid fairies, that depicted St. Francis of Assisi. He was in a monks habit, and huddled upright, but in the fetal position. He had a haunted look on his face. And no, I am not making this up.

It was entirely too much, and I started laughing, earning a number of stares and ‘tut-tut’ sort of looks from more civilized people.

It was a good day.

As just a bit of book keeping, I’m about to add a page to the ‘pages’ navigation entitled “The Woven Thread.” It has the information on the poetry newsletter I’m running, so check it out.

~DK

Posting from Myrtle Beach

Spring break started yesterday at Houghton. The second classes left out, my parents and I piled in a car and headed for South Carolina. Myrtle Beach.

My brother has a time share, but couldn’t use it. He let us take a vacation. Very kind of him.

It’s wonderful down here. I walked out on the beach in shorts—I haven’t been able to wear shorts since sometime in September. That’s about six months. Entirely too long, in my opinion. It is warm here, and vaguely tropic. There’s pine trees, at least. It feels enough like vacation that writing more than simple sentences seems a chore.

I’ve brought Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson with me, and have been enjoying it throughly so far. Since my current project is cyberpunk, I feel I have a need to read as much in the genre as I can. I hope to be able to secure a copy of Neuromancer by William Gibson as well. Neuromancer, for those of you who don’t know, isn’t necessarily the first cyberpunk novel, but is quintessential to the genre in much the same way as Lord of the Rings is to high fantasy. I need to read it before I can properly write.

(Speaking of which, no word count this post, because it hasn’t gone up in any significant portion. Been busy packing, and I can’t really use my computer in the car—to many jitters on the road to type proper.)

I’ve been thinking about cyberpunk for a while, and the difficulties this particular genre presents to the writer and reader, but I need to ruminate a bit more before I’m ready to share them. I think I might write an essay.

Speaking of essays, I hope my last post didn’t surprise anyone. It was the essay I used to head up the charter issue of The Woven Thread (more about that soon to come). Just some thoughts on the way writers interact with one another.

In any case, I hope to be able to take this week easy enough to have time to think thoroughly about this and that and the other, and then also have time to write about it. I find that if I don’t have time to do both, I end up just thinking a lot, which don’t actually help me at all as writer, now does it. That, I think, is how Philosophers are born, and heaven help me from that fate.

I hope to have some seafood tomorrow. Seafood is always good for the soul, but not always for the stomach. And, I also hope, there will be lots of time for sleep.

Looking forward to a relaxed week,

~DK

P.S. Found another writer dealing with this whole writing-of-the-novel bit. Working on a work of high fantasy, and seems to have a good head for a rather tricky genre. Added him to my blogroll, but figured I’d give a little plug to his blog, Five Circles.

A Community of Poets

There was a time, oh, when I was somewhere between seventeen and eighteen, when I was an insufferable know-it-all. Now, this isn’t particularly unusual in a kid approaching the end of his teenage years, but I was probably marginally worse, because I was intelligent—or, at least, I got good grades and I was the son of a college professor, and it’s the same thing until you look closely.

Somehow, despite the fact that I already knew everything (a symptom of a condition I came to realize later was stupidity), I managed to figure out that I wanted to be a writer. It started slow, and mostly stemmed from the fact that I really liked telling stories (read: lies) and I always ended up getting A’s on my English papers, which wasn’t saying much. So I shoved the two haphazardly together, and started writing fiction. Everything I did, for most of that time, revolved around fiction. I wouldn’t go anywhere near anything else, especially poetry, which I disdained.

If I had to blame anyone besides myself, I suppose I’d blame the environment. I didn’t like poetry because I didn’t know what poetry was—there was no community there to show me the way. There no poets, or, if there were, they had no public community.  My total introduction to poetry was being forced to scan Frost’s The Road Not Taken, and if scansion has given birth to a poet even once in all of time, I’ll be impressed.

I recently discovered the community I had missed before. I wrote a poem—not quite on a whim, because I was taking a poetry class in the coming semester, and wanted to at least have tried my hand at it once before I walked in.

I enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting to.

The class was nice—good fun was had by all. I didn’t realize what it had done to me, though, until the semester drew towards a close. When it had, I looked back and saw that I knew names. I had contacts. I would get e-mails saying, “Hullo, I just wrote this, do you like it?” and I would write back, “Yes indeed, but stanza 3 drags a bit. Perhaps make your language a little more nimble?”

Community got me, without me noticing until it was too late. I didn’t mind though; it was nice.

I had been dragged into appreciation. I listened to my fellow poets, and they listened to me. We respected one another, and our writing flourished. We had our place within one another—an encouraging word, a bit of advice. Poets need to bump heads with people sometimes, and fight for ideas. We provided the heads for each other to bump.

And we found our place among the greater community—the Poetry Universal. We were doing things. We weren’t just smearing words on a page, we were doing something that, if you squinted, looked like art.

Then the semester ended, and the e-mails stopped. No mode heads to bump. No more ego boosts when someone mentioned that they like what I had written. No more community.

And the words stopped coming.

Community is necessary for a poet, but it’s fragile. The challenge is to have one that’s not based around something other than what it ought to be. Community based on GPA will dry up once the 4.0’s roll around. Community based on location can get disturbed by anything from an earthquake to a noisy group of kids moving to the table next to yours.

Community—a lasting community—has to be based on something more permanent: the poetry itself, and the poets. Community must be rooted in community, a self-sustaining web of connection.

T.S. Elliot once wrote that this thing we call ‘art’ is not just a lump of all the individual works, but something larger. Each piece of poetry is woven in to fit into a great framework of the stuff. There isn’t a piece of art—of poetry—that doesn’t affect the whole.

The community is the same way. The poets—the integral parts of the community—we’re already here. In a very real sense, the community of poets is already in place, as permanent and strong as the whole of poetry itself.

We just need to reach out and find those connections. If we could…