Poets do the Colonnade

I just returned home from a dinner with great people as well as great poets. In attendance, at what I hope to be the first of many, were Rupert Fike, Collin Kelley, Karen Head, Christine Swint, Julie Bloemeke, Chelsea Rathburn, Cleo Creech, and “little” ole me.

The food was great, but the conversation was even better. I was thrilled to finally meet Christine Swint and Julie Bloemeke. I have only had the pleasure of chatting with them via Facebook. Hopefully, I didn’t give them too big of a dose of Dustin– Christine was across from me during dinner and Julie was to my right. It was great to see Karen, Chelsea, and Rupert as I haven’t seem them in a while. Well, Collin and Cleo, I see your mugs each month for the AQLF meetings. (See the two of you tomorrow!)

I would love for each poet from the dinner to post one of your own poems in a comment to this post. Please.

Dear Mr. Rove: 32 Letters to Karl Rove

OK. The second item I think you should buy!

After reading Kate’s blog entry and CK’s blog entry about Justin Evans’s chapbook Dear Mr. Rove: 32 Letters to Karl Rove, I went over to Lulu and purchased the chapbook.

After reading about three or four letters I thought to myself, this is the kind of chapbook I want as a winner when LW sponsors a chapbook contest. Dear Mr. Rove was my first taste of Justin’s writing, and I plan on placing my hands on more. I think you’ll do the same after you read Dear Mr. Rove.

Some of my favorite lines:
First, am I still protected under the First Amendment of our Constitution if I call you a Douche Bag? Does profanity play into any decision you might have urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to look into my background in the event I called you a Fucking Douche Bag?


However, if you do find it absolutely necessary to call me back to service, I sure hope you take into account that I am bit overweight and I will need uniforms with a slightly larger waist than normal.


Remember Mr. Rove, I am a teacher, and if I sound pushy about you finishing school, it’s because I care.


I would like a My Little Pony. Anyone the FBI suspects of being a cross-dresser (I am only assuming they suspect you) should know where to find a My Little Pony.

Justin’s letters are witty, funny, and thought provoking. I have no doubt you’ll feel the same after reading his chapbook. (I’m even buying a copy of Dear Mr. Rove as a birthday gift for a friend.)

Click here to purchase your copy today!

"Why Do I Write" ~ Laure-Anne Bosselaar

WHY DO I WRITE ~ Laure-Anne Bosselaar

“Two years ago, I read Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech and so loved one particular part of it that I copied it in my journal. Here, very slightly edited, is his response – which, I feel, could also be mine and one so many writers would make theirs. (I did add – in italics — one more reason I’d have given!) So, most respectfully quoting Orhan Pamuck:

The question we writers are asked most often, the favorite question, is: Why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write. I write because I can’t do normal work as other people do. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can partake of real life only by changing it. I write because I want others, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at everyone. Perhaps I write because there is so much I want to sing and love. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a page I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all life’s beauties and riches into words. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but—as in a dream—can’t quite get to. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.”

(Click here to read the whole speech.)

"Why Do I Write" ~ Kurt Brown

Why Do I Write ~ Kurt Brown

The question, for me, is unanswerable and surely almost everything in my life and experience argues against it. If I could help myself, I wouldn’t write at all.

I read somewhere that John Keats said if everything he’d ever written was destroyed overnight, he’d get up the next morning and start writing again. I’m only paraphrasing, but something like that applies to me when it comes to writing. Not being John Keats, of course, but the insane urge to keep writing words and arranging sentences into lines looking for that one good poem that someone else might find moving and important and crucial to their life. One good poem. A person could spend his whole life pursuing that, and never achieve it. And as soon as one poem is finished, which he might think is good and strong—a real poem, that is—he discards it as a failure, and begins working on another poem, hoping this time for success.

The process usually goes something like this: some phrase or subject or idea piques my interest, and at one point or another I begin to write; then I become captivated by the idea, and the writing, and I work hard until I think the poem is finished; then I experience a sense of euphoria, because I am still in the halo of intensity it took to write the poem, and I think “This is a good one, this is a real poem”; then, over the next few days, as I read the poem over and over again, I begin to see it is rather ordinary, flawed, a failure in fact. It has been robbed of its initial glory by a more sober approach, by the time it takes to as assess it with an objective eye. Which is the eye of a reader, not the writer. Then I vow never to write again. Then, slowly, after a few days or weeks, I begin another poem. This is what I meant by the word “insane” above.

Maybe, like Keats, everything I’ve ever written is destroyed—over and over and over again. I write in hopes of writing one good poem. I live for it.

NOTE: This may seem melodramatic to some, and I understand why. Some of the best poets I’ve ever known have a much cooler, more skeptical view of writing. Perhaps they only backed into it, initially dreaming about becoming something else. Not every artist is passionate about his art. If, as Edward Hirsch claims, being drawn to poetry—and to write—is something like falling in love with a real person, then I fell in love a long time ago and I’ve never gotten over it. Perhaps it’s the Muse I love, and she disdains me. Isn’t that the plot of a thousand novels and television shows? A little less passion might help my writing. I live for that, too.

"Why Do I Write" ~ Cecilia Woloch

Why Do I Write ~ Cecilia Woloch

Such an interesting and impossible question! My first impulse is to steal an answer Samuel Beckett (I think) gave to this question: “Because I can’t help myself.” My second impulse is to say that I began to write, I think, from sheer love of language, of the sounds and images words can create, and from intoxication with the music of language and how the inner life could be made manifest — or almost — in words. These days I’m writing more prose, and there’s a strong impulse to communicate with others,
to tell stories that might not otherwise be told.

"Sometimes the First Boys Don’t Count"

Since I posted Denise Duhamel’s answer to “Why Do I Write?”…. I thought I’d share a Duhamel poem that I thoroughly enjoy.

Sometimes the First Boys Don’t Count

Walking home through the woods from a movie at the plaza
that I didn’t remember minutes after it ended,
an action adventure that I didn’t want to see, but said yes to
just in case you held my hand, and you did.
Walking home by the shortcut, the path
the developers made because they’d be building houses soon,
we had nothing to say. It was our first date
and you stopped to kiss me, the cold of the mud
wetting my feet. Your tongue, like an animal’s
rough and eager, through the chain link of a zoo’s fence.
I didn’t know you, but you put your hands up my shirt
like it was nothing to either of us.
You cupped each of my breasts as though holding me back,
or measuring me for something, then kept walking,
not taking my hand anymore. Even at fifteen,
I knew you were the type that after the first kindnesses,
the honeymoon was over. Your face in the night
was even flatter, less pronounced than it was in the light.
I knew, before this, that I didn’t love you or even want
to talk to you the next day in school.
I told my girlfriends you weren’t very smart. You took shop
and fixed cars with your dad, not even the intricacies
under the hood, just body work. And when I went to that garage
in your back yard because we were going to another movie
and your mother said I should get you
so we wouldn’t be late, I saw calendar pages curling under a picture
of a topless woman in short-shorts. She was holding a wrench
to her lips. Your dad looked at me the same way you did,
but that was how I wanted to be looked at then — that was how
I thought it should be. You washed the grease from your hands,
wiped your brow with your forearm and were ready. A few dates later
I held your penis as though it were a science experiment
and put it in my mouth when you asked. A kind of aspic squirted out.
I swallowed like a brave girl, taking her medicine.

~ Denise Duhamel, from SMILE

"Why Do I Write" ~ Dara Wier

At the Key West Literary Seminar, I participated in Dara Wier’s workshop, and she asked the workshop participants why we write. I thought this would make for a great blog topic, so I’m going to feature the answer of some of my favorite poets.

Why Do I Write ~ Dara Wier

I write to keep mortality in check. I write because all the poets before us wrote and lent us their genius and showed us ways to write with abandon. Because making up something whether it be the shape of a poem or content there in amazes. I write because there’s nothing better to do. And I mean nothing. Because writing renders one unselfconscious, a state to prefer, to be lost in writing’s miraculous ways. Because it’s preferable to be lost in writing.