Sunday, December 28, 2008

PoeBiz Biz

Here’s a teaser about some upcoming poetry biz you can expect to see on Robert Frost’s Banjo in the New Year:

The long promised (threatened?) feature on poetry & song: You all thought you got off lightly with that Robert Creeley post, didn’t you? No. I really want to dig a bit more deeply into this one, so be on the lookout for Greek lyric poets, William Blake, Elizabethans & folks like Townes Van Zandt; not yet sure if this will be a series or a one-time post.

A series on various poetic forms: The virtues & vices of poetic forms have sparked debate/arguments/vitriol—possibly fisticuffs, tho I’ve never personally witnessed that. Amazing as it may seem to you non-poebiz types out there, this subject can get card-carrying poets plenty hot. As someone who has been called both a “beat formalist” (a term I like, coined by poebiz pal Mari Hata) & a “new formalist” (more or less accurately in Charlottesville, somewhat misleadingly, I think, in terms of my San Francisco poems & the handful that have come since) I’ve been embroiled in several of these discussions. Throwing caution to the winds, I’ll be writing about some of the well-known forms: the sonnet (which William Carlos Williams termed “fascist,” yet which distinctly non-fascist poet Ted Berrigan used so wonderfully), the sestina, & the villanelle, with examples of each. I may include a couple of other set forms, too.

“How to” read poetry: Some folks have expressed varying degrees of bafflement about the poems I’ve chosen to post, e.g., what they mean & how to read them. I realize Robert Frost’s Banjo has a diverse & general readership, which I like. I also realize that these days in the U.S. reading poetry is a habit only among poets themselves & some lit crit types—most other folks just aren’t used to it. So in response to requests for same, I’ll weigh in with my thoughts on the subject (& of course encourage any readers with thoughts on the subject to weigh in via comments). As with the poetry & song feature, am still debating whether this will be a one-time post or not.

More poems by yours truly: Eberle & others have urged/encouraged me to post my own poems on the blog on some sort of regular basis. I’ll be posting one a month for a while—it’s possible I’ll be posting more often during the spring & summer, but I’ll get into that when the time comes. Because some of my better poems are relatively long, these would be the morning “post of the day.” Shorter poems would be a secondary post in the afternoon. They won’t be weekend “poems of the week,” however. I may pick a regular day for them, but I won’t necessarily post a picture or commentary to accompany my own work.

& finally, with many thanks to Ron Silliman of Silliman’s Blog I now know how to make an indented line in Blogger—no simple feat, that. Not only does this give me more flexibility in choosing poems for the “weekly poem” series, but it also allowed me to correct the lineation on a few poems I’d already posted. These would be “A Wicker Basket” (corrected shortly after posting, so probably most folks saw it that way); “Final Farewell”; “Poem”; & “Sickly Autumn.”

& speaking of blogs, I’m always on the lookout for good poetry blogs to put on the Blogroll. While I’m often disappointed in the poetry blogs I run across…(I originally typed more about this disappointment, but politeness edited it)…I did find one original & fun poetic blog—or I should say, that blogger found Robert Frost’s Banjo. Be sure to check out The Y River (blue in green) for something novel. I’m not going to try to describe the writing—this sort of thing is better experienced than explicated—& while some of the music selections may not be quite in line with Robert Frost Banjo tastes, the concept & the writing far outweigh that as a consideration (& there is Miles Davis for cryin’ out loud). I’ve added The Y River (blue in green) to the Blogroll.

Hope you enjoy these features.

I’m not sure who took that photo of me reading at Williams Corner Bookstore in Charlottesville, VA back in ’87—it may have been old grad school pal, fiction writer & Timbuktu editor Molly Turner, who also read that evening.


  1. Thanks for the link and I'm looking forward to learning a lot from you.

  2. Here's a poetry blog I like:

    She changes the picture at the top every day, and it's almost always something unusual.

  3. Blue in Green: You're welcome!

    K.: Thanks: I checked out Radish King, & it does look good; definitely want to read more. She also had a link to a blog called (I think) Riley Dog, which also looks promising. In a word (or two) I like poetry blogs that are entertaining & thoughtful.

    What irks me no end are the poetry blogs with the endless debate about which poets are forces of good vs. forces of evil (or alternatively, whether MFA programs are forces of good or evil)& all sorts of related clap trap, & why aren't people in the States reading poetry blah, blah, blah-- re: the latter-- deal with it, that's the reality in the U.S.; re: the former: why do we need to rank & canonize & make sweeping generalizations? My rant for the day.

  4. Okay, what's the trick for the indented line? I couldn't find the "how-to" on Sillimans blog....

  5. Hi Premium T:

    It isn't on his blog-- should've specified that. Anyway, this has to be done under the "edit html" tab, NOT the "compose" tab-- for reasons I don't understand, it has to be done the last thing before you post-- i.e., you can't go back to "compose" after doing this. The code is:


    That includes the semi colon, but you don't need to use any sort of brackets. You also can add a space after this code before the first word. Each code string as above=one indent space. So, e.g., the following would be a 5-space indent:


    & so forth. It works like a charm-- I've seen other explanations but could never make them out. Anyway, hope this is clear. If not, don't hesitate to comment again or email me directly.

    John H

  6. Uh, hmm. I think something's missing.

  7. Hi Again Premium T.:

    It is a pesky business-- don't know why Blogger makes it so hard.

    I just went over it again myself because there was one early poem on this blog I'd forgotten-- so the steps are clear in my mind:

    1. I enter the whole post, including any pictures, just as I normally would in the "Compose" tab.

    2. Once everything is as I want it except the indents, I switch to the "Edit HTML" tab. I don't type the command string in-- per Silliman's suggestion I usually paste it-- so I have a MS-Word document that just has a long string of that code & I select as many as I want. The code is

    One space=


    Two spaces=


    3.There should be a space between each instance of the code & a space between the final instance of the code & the first actual word of the line.

    4. I click "Publish Post" while still in the "Edit Html" tab. For some reason going back to the "Compose" tab after entering this code invalidates/deletes/messes with, etc. its effect. When I follow these steps it always has worked, tho I admit after Silliman posted a comment about how to do it, I had to try several times. It is persnickety.

    Please let me know if this works for you. I've managed to correct the lineation in about a half dozen poems, & once I got the sequence right it's worked every time.

    Best luck,
    John H

  8. Geez Louise, I guess it pays to look at what actually posts. I guess when I typed the code in it wouldn't post. So sorry! I'm pasting Silliman's comment, & hopefully along with the info I gave, this will get you where you're going. Note that Silliman put spaces between each character (probably to get it to post in the comment box, but in reality there is no space between the characters in the code. He said:

    To create a space you enter (sans the spaces I'm putting between them)
    & n b s p ;
    And to create an indent you add several of these -- you can put a space between each occurrence and that will be picked up by HTML as well.

    Keep a set of them in an old Word file and insert as needed.

    Hope this works-- sorry for the confusion!



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