April 25, 2009

Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 30

April 30 is the second national Poem In Your Pocket Day.

Just select a poem you love and carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 30.

Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores.

In this age of mechanical and digital reproduction, it's easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own PIYP day event.

Here are 10ideas from poets.org of how you might get involved:

  1. Start a "poems for pockets" give-a-way in your school or workplace
  2. Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  3. Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  4. Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  5. Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  6. Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  7. Add a poem to your email footer
  8. Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  9. Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
  10. Text a poem to friends

One Web 2.0 way to celebrate the day is with your cell phone. The entire collection of over 2,500 poems on Poets.org, as well as hundreds of biographies and essays, is also available in a mobile format which provides free and direct access to poetry in the palm of a hand.

To reach the mobile site, simply go to www.poets.org/m. (You can preview the mobile site from your computer too, but it will look a bit odd. )

Designed using Web 2.0 Internet Standards and Apple's Developers Guidelines, the site is optimized for the iPhone, and formatted for effortless access on most mobile devices. Now, for the first time, mobile users have unlimited access to the rich resources of Poets.org.

If you are in the NYC area, you can join an evening of poetry readings from the new Poem in Your Pocket Anthology. It will be Thursday, April 30, at 7:00 p.m. at The Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway (at 12th Street) in NYC.

April 21, 2009

W.S. Merwin Wins Pulitzer Prize

The 2009 Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists were announced yesterday at Columbia University.

The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin won for Poetry.

William Stanley (W.S.) Merwin (born September 30 1927 ) made a name for himself as an anti-war poet during the 1960s. Later, he would evolve toward mythological themes and develop a unique prosody characterized by indirect narration and the absence of punctuation. In the 80s and 90s, Merwin's interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology also influenced his writing. He continues to write prolifically, though he also dedicates significant time to the restoration of rainforests in Hawaii, where he currently resides. more info

Pulitzer Prize winners in the Letters categories also include:

Olive Kitteridge: Fiction by Elizabeth Strout for Fiction

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham for Biography

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon for General Nonfiction

Ruined by Lynn Nottage for Drama

April 20, 2009

Policy Change

Last week, I posted (along with many others) about a situation on Amazon.com. Today I'm posting an update.

On Monday, Amazon.com said that due to “an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error” thousands of books categorized as gay and lesbian themed lost their sales rankings. That also caused them to be more difficult to find in basic searches.

Amazon's apology came after a lot of online criticism from bloggers and from Twitter users who quickly accused the bookseller of homophobia, discrimination and censorship.

Amazon did not give a full explanation of how the error occurred which lead some critics to question whether the mistake was in programming or if that was an excuse for a bad decision to suppress gay and lesbian subjects.

More than 57,000 titles were affected, from E. M. Forster’s Maurice to the the children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies.

Was it an online mob mentality or justifiable outrage? Even this article in The New York Times seems to have mixed feelings.

The original post is below:
Amazon is a company I use very frequently. I think they have done a lot for readers - and readers have done a lot for them. It's a place I often find (new or used) poetry books that I can't find in local stores.

So I am disturbed to read (on Mark Doty's blog) that the company seems to have instituted a policy of identifying books they classify as "adult material" and leaving these titles out of their sales rankings and thus off their bestseller lists.

Mark feels they are targeting gay and lesbian content. He notes that some titles like Mark Wunderlich's Voluntary Servitude: Poems, Paul Lisicky's Lawnboy and Mark's own Heaven's Coast: A Memoir.

You can take your business elsewhere (Support local and independent booksellers!) but that doesn't change a bad policy by Amazon. There is a petition drive at Care2 and that's a start.

(I included links to those 3 titles at Amazon above - hopefully if you're clicking those links some time after this posting, you might see a ranking because things have changed.)

April 13, 2009

Prompt: What Sustains You in Tough Times?

I thought that in these tough times, it might be good to write this month about those things that actually help us through these periods.

I started looking at poems, but I was probably a bit too focused on the economic aspects of our current crisis. Then, I came across "The Hungry Gap-Time" by Thomas Lux from his collection, God Particles. I like the poem which depicts hope on a farm that is facing lean times but with a harvest coming. 

But there's more than our need for food to sustain our bodies. Dreams are also necessary to sustain our spirits. I passed the poem on to a fellow poet, Steve Smith, whose response forms the basis for our April writing prompt. 

What dreams sustain us in times of scarcity, worry, or exhaustion? What's left to do as Lux says, but "lie on our backs and stare at the blue" when "our work is done, our bellies flat," and read poems for hard times, and think toward some future fulfillment that will hopefully arrive "soon, soon." 

 In the Lux poem, the larder is depleted, but the harvest is near. Everyone seems filled with expectations of what is to come (Soon, soon there will be food again), now that the hard labor is done. Slack times have not dampened the simple hope of life's continuance as expressed by Albert and Harriet's father. Even the pigs and the lambs will share in the bounty when the bins are filled with corn. The river is now low and the water is cold, but that too is part of a natural cycle familiar to people who make their living farming the land. The fact that the people are living "above the fault line/ beneath the mountain" suggests that whatever life's disruptions, life endures. 

We ask you to write a poem about whatever sustains you through tough times. If you are new to Poets Online, take a look at the prompt on our site, read our submission guidelines, and look at some poems in our archive from earlier prompts in order to get a sense of the types of poems we publish.


April 10, 2009

Poets Online Renewed

Spring and all,
bare trees starting to leaf,
blue sky,
warming weather

so poetsonline.org
(the main site)
gets a fresh coat
of digital paint

(It was due -
after all,
it's in its 11th year.)

We hope you'll like the look
and excuse the rough edges
that we haven't quite smoothed

The archive seems
(some of those poems
smell musty
and some code seems to have
that is on the summer list
of things to do.

Post a comment if
something looks
(or looks better)

and thanks for dropping by.

April 3, 2009

A Poem A Day

Throughout April and partway into May, you can sign up with Poets.org and they will send one new poem to your inbox each day to celebrate National Poetry Month.

That's a nice way to start your day over breakfast or send it to your work email and use it as a poetry break (along with the coffee or tea).

The poems have been selected from new books published this spring.

You can also find links to the poems online.

There are lots of other sites that offer a poem-a-day all year round. The best known is probably Poetry Daily. Take a look at today's poem.

April 2, 2009

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Though many of us think it runs all year, the Academy of American Poets started the month of celebration back in 1996.

It's a good thing because every April publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country pay attention on celebrating poetry.

There are literally thousands of readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events that occur across the country.

Why was April chosen for National Poetry Month? According to AAP:

In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians, and teachers, the Academy chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation. Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women's History Month (March), and on the advice of teachers and librarians, April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry—in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round.

T. S. Eliot wrote, "April is the cruelest month." It is our hope that National Poetry Month lessens that effect.

On a lighter note, Chaucer wrote:

Whan that April with his showres soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flowr

Finally, Edna St. Vincent Millay asked, "To what purpose, April, do you return again?" For National Poetry Month, of course!

By the way, April is also National Humor Month. What you might want to do in this age of multitasking is read (or listen to) some humorous poetry.