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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Drink Coffee. Work. Read. Write. Sleep. Repeat.

Ride bus to the Transit Center. Catch another bus to the office.

Waiting for the bus

Ride bus to a noon meeting and then back to the office. Ride another bus home for supper. Drive back to the office after the children are put to bed.

This makes a very long day and an even longer week (not to mention month).

Waiting for sleep

You might think I don't have time to read and write and submit work for publication. Not so, poetry and prose have been published recently in local publications. More on that in another post.

One Minute Manager
Not my first choice in reading material, but since I need to manage my work and personal life better, I thought I'd read this book and see what wisdom I might gain. One Minute Manager is a bestselling business book that delivers simplistic anecdotal narrative with fluffy didacticism. The book provides more Sophism than archetypal business models. Here is a good subtitle for One Minute Manager: "how to be a manager without really trying." The success of the One Minute Manager may explain why American businesses fail.

The only take-away point that is of any practical use is the practice of writing your project's mission in 200 words or less (i.e. one sheet of paper).

Of the business management books I've read, this is the just another cottage industry publication that aspiring managers and CEOs read to feel better about their failures. The best business books are never found in the business section of the library. I've found that the best books on how to organize and succeed in business are found in the military history and philosophy sections. I recommend Machiavelli's The Prince, Sun Tzu's Art of War, The Christian Bible, Jeffrey J. Fox's How To Become CEO (which I already reviewed here) and Robert E. Howard's Conan novels ("To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!"). Okay, so the Conan addition is a joke. My point is that one does not enter into the trade of buying and selling goods and services with the goal of failure. One enters the trade of buying and selling goods and services to succeed first for his or her person, second for his or her family and finally for his or her community.

Deep Writing
Found this book at the library. Deep Writing has some very practical thoughts for writers desiring to go deep and produce well crafted novels, plays, poetry collections, memoirs, etc.

The annoying thing about this book is the author includes a few fictional composite characters and "helps" them through his seven principles to deep writing. These fictional writers reveal their fears and troubles as they explore deep writing. I found most of the fictional therapy boring and uninteresting (sort of like listening to a psychologist role play with his X-Men action figures).

Other than that, Deep Writing offered concrete applications as well further understanding of the creative process that allowed me to re-examine why and how I write.

Half Wild
As a member of The Academy of American Poets I received 2005 winner of the annual Walt Whitman Award book as part of my membership. In brief, Half Wild offers a lyrical experience exploring the spiritual and sensual aspects of the natural world.

Like many writers from the Upper Midwest, Mary Rose O'Reilley expresses a deep connection between the land and its people through poems like "Clearing the Land for the Lotus Pool:"

"He tosses the rocks
in a pile.
They roll together,
exchanging the names
of men and women,
stories and wounds,
a few notes of music
stones know."

In "When I Imagine My Soul," she writes:

"When I imagine my soul
I think of a bear,
shambling across tundra.
I think she's escaped from a circus,
the scars of a ring in her nose:
fat, loping, patient untiring bear."

Though I enjoyed reading Half Wild, in part because it resonates of my Upper Midwest birthplace, I thought is was rather typical of what The Academy regularly chooses. Maybe I expect too much, but I'd like to see a winning book that really challenges the American poetry landscape. Something like... Invisible Bride.

Invisible Bride
I attended Tony Tost's reading back in May and was blown away by his work (his reading was less than spectacular). Invisible Bride is one of those few books that I reread just to make sure I didn't miss something or revisit for inspiration; in this case, both.

Invisible Bride is a winning selection for the 2003 Walt Whitman Award. The judge's citation reads, "A strange and penetrating book." I think that best describes a book written in prose poem essays (if that's what they are) with the abandon of a postmodern poet. The poems question and explore and rethink and question again the unknown in a very disarmingly accessible sometimes bazaar manner.

In an untitled poem (Seriously, the poem has no title. It resides on the page as verse only.), Tost writes:

"Aging is the great escape... ‘God created airports because he needed to tell stories,’ Agnes tells me as we set up our tent...”

In “Twelve Self Portraits” he writes:

“The snow is dark and nothing is sad and I was, once upon a time, a child. I knew what weather meant, was hardened the way only a child, after all, is.

“The first ten years are full of rain. I watched the shadow flee away.

“The snow is something else, tonight, as I stand, grown, naked (I’m in the living room, the lights are off): invisible and filling up.”

The last line of Invisible Bride’s prose line collection mystifies me and I want to turn to the next page or at least turn to the first page and start over again:

“Get my swan costume ready, I’ll be in Texas when the sun is out.”

Invisible Bride is the kind of brilliant poetry book I expect from The Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award selections.

Laugharne Poems
I met Thomas Rain Crowe for the first time a few months ago at special event. I had purchased a copy of Laugharne Poems in the spring and read through it before presenting it to Mr. Crowe for a signature. He was a bit surprised to see it due to the fact that a foreign published book is rare in American bookstores.

In Laugharne Poems, Mr. Crowe explores the land and people of Dylan Thomas. Two pilgrimages to Laugharne and the Dylan Thomas Boat House in the 1990s provide the foundation that the poet builds upon.

“Go down Gosport Street with only the rooks/ awake at this hour and a couple gulls in/ The Grist. . . “ he writes in “Dylan’s Walk.”

“down steps through flowers and small trees
and ‘round railing deck and door
down wooden steps to the table in the morning sun
and write.”

In the elegiac “Barques” he writes: “Always, I want to go back.”

“Gone were the big fish and the whales.
The triple mast and the double hull.
Nothing now
But smaller ships that search a shallow sea.

Times got as rough as the reputation in Laugharne.”

Thomas Rain Crowe’s eye for detail allows you to taste, touch, hear and smell the Welsh landscape, people and music that inspired Dylan Thomas.

Reporting the Universe
This is one of those serendipitous discoveries during a recent library visit.


I'm one of those people that patronize the library for other

than DVD/VHS rentals.

But I’m getting a bit drowsy

and will have to report on this read

at another time when

the coffee goddess allows me

to wake



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