1) HOLD A SPELLING BEE
Between Barrack Obama and John Boehner. Winner opens the government his way. This is great way to get regular ol ‘Mericans to come out and support nerds. Sadly, just like most regular ‘Mericans, both Obama and Boenher will lose this academic contest. Speaker Boehner will surely spell the President’s name “H-U-S-S-I-E-N” and President Obama will spell “B-A-N-E-R” because that’s how you pronounce Boehner—not “Boner.”
2) LET THE SUPREME COURT DECIDE
This went over really well for Republicans in 2000. Maybe they’d go for it again. But The Dread Pirate Roberts and his Black Robed Bandits did uphold The Affordable Health Care Act last session. That’s got to go for the Democrats. But the Velvet Nine also said Corporation = Person. One more for the Republicans.
But the Shady in Satins also said Person =/= Unicorn. As in, if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry it doesn’t logically follow that a person can then marry any animal of her or his choice—like a unicorn, eagle, or goldfish. So it’s a stalemate–Just like the government right now!
This is not really a solution. I just like George Clinton. I think he’s an American Hero. In fact, maybe he could come up with an answer given his amazing insight, full throttle all-the-time creativity, and right on style belief in the power of music to bring everyone of all persuasion and (hair) color together.
4) LET TODD AKIN DECIDE
Remember him? He’s the Missouri Congressman who in a televised interview said we all know women can’t get pregnant if they’re raped because their natural defenses kick in. Aiken thinks women have an internal defense system like laser beams that zaps the incoming sperm of an attacker: Pew, pew. Got ‘em. [Smoke rising from laser gun.]
He is a prime example of the kind of shallow-pond thinking that, when promoted to the national stage, retards meaningful progress. When Akin is allowed to multiply, the result is the cluster of Tea Party Republicans demanding the dismantling of a program designed to help poor people and those taken advantage of by bloodless behemoths who would literally rather let you die than provide the coverage you already bought.
5) HOLD A TELETHON
Air it on PBS and let Big Bird, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Benedict Cumberbatch host. John Ashcroft can perform with his quartet The Singing Senators, W. can do a little shuck and jive, and Bill Clinton will fetch a fine price in the live auction for a day/night of services.
Shirley MacLaine will appear in character from Downton Abbey and give Americans a kick-in-the-bullocks pep talk by comparing us to the intransigent Brits [a word only British people actually know], and Mark Wahlberg (the other Mark Wahlberg—from PBS’s American Roadshow, not the eternally hot, but also graciously philanthropic actor) will auction off bits of the National Parks and FEMA memorabilia. It’s a funny thing, what most people don’t know is whichever Wahlberg you’re talking about, he looks amazing without a shirt.
Hey Past Poetry Contributors.
Are you interested in attending a fabulous poetry revision conference in the Berkshires sponsored by Tupelo Press?
From the description:
Offered during the foliage season in the Berkshire mountains of Northwestern Massachusetts, the Conference in the Round is easily accessible from Hartford Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport. It includes:
Intensive workshops and real-time individual responses and from three of the most insightful publishers/editors around: Jeffrey Levine, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press, Veronica Golos, award-winning Poet & Editor, and Jessamyn Smyth, Editor-in-Chief of the Tupelo Quarterly.
Can you carve out a little more time? You’ll have an opportunity to “stay with it” by extending your stay from Monday morning through Wednesday morning additional more guided writing and workshop commentary.
Either way, you’ll leave prepared for the submission season with feedback and guidance geared toward what editors will want and expect from your poems.
As one of Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project poets and a past poetry workshop participant myself, I can pass one 20% discount along to another poet.
Who better to extend the discount offer to than the beautiful poets of dirtcakes?
For full conference details, read the link here.
If you’re interested in attending and would like to be able to use the discount, please comment for me here and I’ll pass along details. I’ll work off a first-come, first-gets-the-discount model.
Tabula Poetica, run and organized by Anna Leahy—“Girls Will Be Women” contributor, Chapman University Professor, and author of Constituents of Matter—will host Pulitzer Prize winner C. K. Williams as part of its 2013 speaker series.
Williams, who will appear Oct. 15, has also received the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent poetry collections are Wait, and Writers Writing Dying, along with the non-fiction studies On Whitman, and In Time: Poets, Poems, and the Rest.
Sept. 24— Sholeh Wolpé, whose three poetry collections include Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths. Wolpé received the 2010 Lois Roth Translation for Sin– Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, has also translated Leaves of Grass into Persian.
Nov. 5—Nina Corwin, whose volumes include The Uncertainty of Maps. Corwin is an advisory editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal.
Nov. 19—Seth Michelson, whose Eyes Like Broken Glass received the 2013 International Book Award.
Maureen Alsop appeared earlier in the season. Video of her poetry discussion and reading can be access at the Tabula Poetica website, as can that of all speakers. Alsop’s books include Mantic and Apparition Wren.
All events take place at Chapman University in Orange, CA. Poetry talks occur at 2:30 p.m., readings at 7 p.m.
Given the recent Guilty verdict for the four men who raped and murdered a 23-year-old woman on a bus in India, this AP study is timely. Sadly the vehemence of the protests–outside the courtrooms crowds of men and women alike shouted “Hang the rapists!”–is belied by the findings that at least a quarter of men in India have raped a woman.
Many have pointed to patterns of sexist abuse in the region before. The tradition of child brides so powerfully brought to light by National Geographiclast year is another embedded symptom. And while this case has thankfully gained international attention, others go unnoticed, such as the April 30 rape and subsequent death of a four-year-old who was lured by the offer to buy bananas, according to The NY Times:
The number of reported sexual assaults of girls under the age of 18 has climbed steadily in India since the 1990s, and reported rapes of girls under the age of 10 have more than doubled from 1990 to 2011.
For readers in the Western world though, Even more startling is Slate’s meta-analysis by L. V. Anderson. She accurately calls out AP staff for its misuse of the data and language. The antiquated vocabulary, the vital omission, is a dangerous slide.
The Associated Press headline is horrifying: “Study: 1 in 10 Men in Parts of Asia Have Raped.” …The problem—apart from the fact that many men answered that question in the affirmative—is that the AP headline is wrong. The study didn’t find that 1 in 10 men had raped a woman. The study found that 1 in 4 men had raped a woman
In the latest issue of The Writer’s Chronicle, “Oh Baby!” contributor Norman Minnick defends Robert Bly as well as anyone can. It is a spirited, studied show of support for a poet Minnick readily aligns with Walt Whitman—and not just for the ostentatious hair.
Bly is a rabble-rouser, agitator of the common & comfortable—politically, culturally, spiritually. He has his canonical detractors, as Minnick immediately points out, but Bly is a herald of all things poetry. A devoted champion of the spirit of poetry & other poets in the form of his translations, anthologies, & magazine work. He is a cagey poetry heavyweight and promoter all in one.
I’m happy to see Minnick laud Bly the way he does in “Greatness has a Defender: Robert Bly in the 21st Century.” One of my first doors of poetry took the shape of Bly’s first major anthology News of the World: Poems of Twofold Consciousness. A nerdy teen stacking shelves at a bookstore downtown, hovering mostly around the poetry corridor, when the pages prompted me to open them the poems delivered me to a world underneath, alongside, & infused in the grit of suburban cement and currency. The poets collected there stretch from Goethe to Neruda to Simic to Levertov, emanating a neo-Romanticism that any youngster is sure to fall—and with any luck live—for. It is one of my earliest companion books and has accompanied me for two decades.
As Minnick states at the end of his appreciation—with a piercingly placed verb— “It shouldn’t take catastrophic events to hurt people into reading poetry because there is something in it we all need in ordinary times.” This living for poetry, to poetry, and of poetry to uplift our normals and extend our blisses is what Bly and Minnick both champion.
One of the elements I most appreciated in the essay, though, is the quirky obsession with feet Bly seems to have, which Minnick illuminates citing four passages that deal with feet and/or toes. After that, it was particularly fun to come home & read Neruda’s “Ode to my Socks,” translated by Bly and collected in his second anthology, with James Hillman, & Michael Meade, The Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart:
Maru Mori bought me
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
I slipped my feet
as though into
with threads of
my feet were
two fish made
two long sharks
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
in this way
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
like two decrepit
of that woven
of those glowing
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as learned men
the mad impulse
to put them
in a golden cage
and each day give them
and pieces of pink melon.
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
to the spit
and eat it
I stretched out
my feet and pulled on
then my shoes.
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
To extend the metaphor, the overdue “Oh, Baby!” has finally been delivered and she is a darling. Here is a glimpse of her: The editor’s note that reveals much of what awaits the audience in the form of poets, essayists, & issues.
During the course of assembling this issue of dirtcakes—which is focused on the health & wellbeing of children—20 of them were taken in the Newtown Elementary School killings by what was arguably still another; my three-year-old son entered the hospital and kept on oxygen for a week; and a cousin I hadn’t seen in 30 years—whose earliest years included juvenile hall & drug addicted parents—hanged himself from a tree in his yard.
It seems the tragedies & traps that wait for our children can spring from the safest of havens, lash out with unexpected force, or lay dormant for decades. Regardless of their specificity, such physical & psychological traumas always appear unjustified.
But during those same months, my older son started to get his 1st grown-up tooth; dirtcakes Art Director Jessica Quadra traveled around the world to see her brand new niece; and a baby girl in Mississippi, given aggressive doses of medication at birth, was diagnosed as HIV-free, apparently completely cured of the disease that has run rampant for half a decade.
It seems also the wondrous renewals that accompany children wherever they sprout—meaning everywhere—are just as unjustifiable, joyously so, freeingly so. Children are illogically liberating in their infant enthusiasm & heartachingly fragile on this whirling world.
That is why here in “Oh Baby!” the giant span of childhood is explored, from the modern woods filled with new wolves to the unbearable lightness of giggles.
Often the darker dangers seemed to take focus in the writing & artwork. There is shocking abuse that comes in the form of other people—not always strangers—in writing by Elizabeth Weaver & Hannah Webster; accounts of cultural abuse that (mal)form the populace by Sean Patrick Dougherty & Brian Glaser; and the deeper, more unbelievable betrayals that come from within, as in the haunting psychological study of imagined pregnancy by Anne McGrath, or the cover of this issue.
The doctored image of a favorite, fun-time childhood food, the candy bar—specifically Nestlé’s Baby Ruth—is not just a visual pun; it is a calling out of the camouflaged confectionary. Nestlé sits atop a network of non-chocolatey endeavors, such as the recent horsemeat scandal and relatively recent poisoned milk discovery.
Specifically regarding it’s duplicitous actions towards children, The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) pins Nestlé to the top of its list of ethics violators regarding the marketing & manufacture of breast milk substitutes. Naming Nestlé the “market leader” in its 2010 report Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules, IBFAN records instances of Nestlé & other baby formula companies aggressively & fraudulently marketing to mothers across the world to supplant their natural breast milk for supposedly healthier processed alternatives.
Western hospitals are often complicit in this, sometimes unwittingly or contradictorily. When both my sons were born, my wife was visited by a lactation specialist to help with latching & other new mom & baby needs. At the same time, we were given a swag bag stuffed with baby goodies including a few months supply of premium formula. The insignia sewn on the bag read Gerber, which is owned by Nestlé.
In developing countries the issue can be more dire: access to water needed to mix the formula can be limited; that water can be contaminated; poorer mothers may mix less formula than is required to stretch the can; directions for the formula are often in English or other non-native language. Yet supplement are aggressively marketed across the globe.
Much like the witch who lives in a candy house & devours Hansel, Gretel & other little children, Nestlé has been growing fat for decades off the corporate malfeasance that takes place deep in the shade of today’s scary forest. According to IBFAN, “global sales are expected to reach up to US$42.7 billion by 2013.” How much gets spent on promoting the healthy, totally-normal-since-ever method with proven chemical & psychological benefits to both mother & child?
Not that we are all doomed from the start. The marvelous fun of 1st sensory stimulations is also present in these pages. Emma Townley-Smith recounts the birth of her inner Indiana Jones as she climbs a neighborhood tree; Bill Neumire revels in the enchantment his new child brings.
And then there is the transformative prayer from Sinta Jimenez that weaves its way through the journal, links it together from start to finish like a vital spine. Dedicated to her own daughter Chloe, “Nine Months” brims with majesty, magic, reverence. Divided into nine radiating stanzas, one begins one of the nine sections, which have been provided titles we hope accurately connect the elements of the stanza, that month of pregnancy, and the writing in the section.
Whole, fragmentary, in English, or original tongue—three poems, precisely, appear per section. Usually, they take forms you would readily recognize. But sometimes they come within other texts, as in the Naomi Shihab Nye excerpt from “Someone I Love,” Tricia Casper-Ross edgy, but charming account of decades-distant mirroring violent actions by first her brother, then her son.
Translations by Wendy Burke & Liang Yujing represent more than single voices, too. Where Yujing’s translation is of a different person—Chinese poet Xidu Heshang—and presents with spare somberness an equally quiet & condensed revelation, Burke’s inspirational interview with Nature summons once again those ancient forests we pillage & replace with an industrialized wild—their old stories ignored, language allegedly lost.
Finally, each section is also prefaced by a dirtcakes-procured ultrasound, a window to the writing inside provided by a literal glimpse of the unseeable. We hope all of it buoys & deepens your individual experience of “Oh Baby!” As always, thanks for choosing dirtcakes.