Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Friday, July 29, 2011

"pity this monster," by e.e. cummings

What Are Your Favorite Words?

When I teach poetry-writing, I sometimes invite students to make lists of their favorite words--favorite chiefly because how they sound or intuitively "feel" to the writer, and favorite (secondarily) because of some personal connection to or memory about the word. I advise the students not to include too many words that they like simply because of a concept the word represents, like "freedom," unless the sound appeals, too.  But of course I don't "prohibit" such words. 

Such a list is useful in itself, but then you can also begin to work toward a poem by stringing some of the words together--going from specific language (with no subject in mind yet) toward a subject--and there's no rush.

Here's a link to a poem I read for Youtube, one made up of some of my favorite words; it's just a list poem, with "of" thrown in a lot as a kind of binding agent, mortar:

"Genitive Case"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

British Poets--Youtube

It turns out I've read 88 poems by British poets on Youtube. The most viewed is "Cherry Ripe" by Robert Herrick--I don't think I read it very well because I tried to sound like a market-barker in the first few lines. The least viewed is "On Gut," by Ben Jonson.  Anyway, here is a link:

British poets

"Thomas Hardy and A.E. Housman," by Max Beerbohm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Sestina: Ellis Island, Amelia Earhart," by Hans Ostrom

Novel Out a Year--Set in the Sierra Nevada

HONORING JUANITA, a novel I wrote, has been available for about a year. It hasn't appeared on the New York Times best-seller list, but I imagine that's just an oversight. It's a contemporary tale set in the Sierra Nevada and concerns a woman who decides to protest the building of a dam on a pristine alpine river. Her husband happens to be the county sheriff, so he has to arrest her. Complications ensue, as they often do in novels. A secondary plot is historical--the lynching of a Mexican woman during California's Gold Rush.  This part's based on an actual event that happened in a town near where I grew (a town by the name of Downieville). Anyway, these stories were something I'd wanted to write since I was in about the fourth grade--well, at least the historical plot was. 

The novel-publishing world is mad to categorize novels--just look at any literary agent site. Of course, "romance" is the big category. But then there's chick-lit, fantasy, multi-cultural, "literary," mystery, and so on.

 HONORING JUANITA seems to have a bit of the "women's novel" about it, as far as I understand that category. And multi-cultural: Juanita is/was Mexican, and Mary Bluestone & her husband Lloyd are of mixed ethic backgrounds.  And environmental?  Is that a fiction-category? Also relatively short. Don't you love relatively short novels? I do, even though the enormous WAR AND PEACE remains my all-time favorite piece of fiction. But just looking at one of Georges Simenon's thin Maigret novels makes me smile. I see I've digressed.



HONORING JUANITA is available in traditional form for $11.95, less than that used on amazon, and VERY cheap on Kindle: less than a dollar! Such a deal. This post constitutes my major advertising-push and has left me exhausted.  A link:

HONORING JUANITA

Poems (Translated) From the Sanskrit

Here's a link to poems from the Sanskrit I've read for Youtube--all very short, and all (or most) from John Brough's wonderful translation--Poems From the Sanskrit--from Penguin, a book that should be on poetry-readers' shelves, in my presumptuous opinion:


Sanskrit poems

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Langston Hughes's Poems--Youtube

Here is a link to the poems by Langston Hughes that I've read for my Youtube channel (which is named langstonify, after all)--and grateful acknowledgement is hereby sent to Knopf and the Estate of Langston Hughes; if you don't own Hughes's Selected or Collected yet, you might want to get them.  --A highly under-rated poet, still.

Hughes poems

Friday, July 8, 2011

Amusing Poems

Here is a link to some amusing poems (well, I think they are) that I've read on my Youtube channel:

Humorous Poems

Monday, July 4, 2011

Animal Poems

Here is a link to the "Animal Poems" playlist on my youtube channel, langstonify. By the way if you're a) a poet, b) stuck regarding what to write about and c) interested in getting un-stuck, writing a poem about a creature, any creature, usually gets things going, although a pet-creature is not always the best way to go.


Animal Poems

Friday, July 1, 2011

Poems About Money and Work

Here's a link to poems (chiefly by others) I've read for Youtube that concern money and/or work:

Money/Work Poems Playlist