Take it back


Tad Hargrave is a different kind of marketing coach.  His latest news on marketing deflects a list of the sound bites for headings that can cause panic, and his message is, “panic is not a business strategy. What if we all . . . slowed . . . down? I don’t know if panic is a norm for small businesses, maybe just for those earning less than 35,000.00 a year. We certainly can feel subject to the trends and leveraged markets of the powerful. So often we see how it works, creating the impression of how their products or services feed individualism. Maybe it’s time to take back our taste.

It often seems like so many things in life make us feel invisible, less of an individual. So it follows that marketing, in an almost subliminal way, offers us back our individuality. Are we falling into a place where we can’t read something abstract like poetry, we cannot look at abstract art, or look at conceptual art, because we may be losing our capacity for understanding, our lives are so filled with time and work and chores, there seems little space for the quiet and the slow, for contemplating what others are saying.

The World Disguised as This One

A new work by Mimi White, a year in Tanka.

I have a writer friend who has consciously taken herself off-grid intellectually, so to speak. She is very concerned with language and communication of a personal level, teaching creative writing and with the act of writing, how forms of communicating have changed not only technically but by effecting language, expression, and imagination. We often talk about the imagination. How having everything served up to our senses might be effecting imagination.

Consider the world of the late nineteenth century, the Civil War and after, if you have ever taken time or been shown the letters from that time, experienced through them the thoughts and feelings of the people writing, it’s no surprise to mention the fact that writing was how the world communicated, putting pen to paper, hand and eye coordination while imagining, a rather quiet undertaking. You may think that writing via keyboard and desktop is the same but is it?

The World Disguised as This One will be available soon, sometime in early July,; also The Conversation: Learning to Be a Poet by Dawn Potter will be available in about one week from the Website, just so you know.

Did you know that Schubert might be considered the father of modern song?

What does it mean when a retired director of the Met says, “I don’t believe art has redemptive qualities.”

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What We Can’t Forgive, poems by Martina Reisz Newberry; a review


In this book Martina Riesz Newberry compels us to move forward. There are no labyrinths to her expression, though perhaps a mirror or two, as hers is a personal expression that reminds me of Wislawa Szymborska.

The cover states: “a richly textured collection of poems defining the incongruent regions of the heart—new life breathed into each of them by the music of imagination. ” I am not sure what to do with “new life breathed into them” (did they have another life?) but I would emphasize imagination. Sometimes descriptions are pedantic, while being encouraging, don’t have so much to do with the work contained in the book. It seems a rather unique yet almost misleading way of saying that the author, through the language of these poems, shares what she knows of the heart and what we can put it through. This is not to say they are about pain only. The poems are unique and “accessible.” I would say these poems are about familiar human conditions without being cynical but sometimes sad. From a perspective she builds over time, Martina asks that we look at the edge which is all around each one of us, and for all the emotions we must move through, to find that we have the ability to make the choice for redeeming the moment we have spun. She does not create this beauty directly but with what I call implied metaphor, by the relationship of her words. What is direct is the unfortunate aspect that we as people have trouble forgiving, we resent and carry grudges, our own anger and worries can keep us from living with any sense of what is sacred and precious. Martina reminds us that the heart is subject to things real and imagined, it is vulnerable and often illusive.

From Habit Unresisted

Does the nuclear-blast luster of our sins blind God?
We look straight into the sun without fear,

But can’t look into the faces of neighbors.

ending with

The world is breaking down, and we sleep,
dreaming of salt water, and the sweet scripture of lust.

These poems bring us to the threshold of spirituality simply by serving up just enough reality without being truly gritty.

From Our Drive Through the Projects in Praga Pólnoc
(based on my mothers journal during her trip to Poland)

Understanding, like some gypsy man,
dances through the curdled concrete

of the blown out projects,
stares, stares longer and listens . . .

later

. . . What trees there are
have leaves heavy as cement.

They do not blow in the wind. It is on these streets
and in the alleys behind the streets that Understanding

Sees the girls’ short skirts and dresses pulled up
around their bellies for easier rape,

From Smoke Rising

All night, the sirens warn of some new disaster and,
in our throats, our breathing catches. We hear the sound of
our eyelashes scraping the pillowcase and the
sirens’ last whines fly by our street. . . .

If it is not by incongruity, it is by inconsistency and silence that we find our bits of personal wisdom, and these poems whisper and shout like a zen master who slaps us to awaken us and then opens our understanding to the beauties and perils of life. Through the authors sagacity we essentially hold our own heart and through our own opening we rediscover experience. It is remarkable. I have not been able to put my finger on it until now because it is so simple. Once I attempted to describe what it was I found in reading these poems, like so many fine collections of poetry, comes the sense of transmission. Not that things happen for a reason but how turmoil tells us of peace, how injury can motivate goodness.

From Rain
for my son

I lived in an uneasy solitude before you were born. I said “Hello”
and “Goodbye” to each day and spent long hours brooding

over all my wrong decisions. I thought about loss of self
and loss of friends and loss of air, of breath.

later

Well, I am no fool and explaining my life to you seems
important even though you have no need to hear it. I insist

on shouting my love and pride, though it gives you some slight
embarrassment. As if it matters, son of mine, I keep asking

the same questions. Because it matters, you give me the same
answers. It’s not the weather’s fault, but it rained so hard today, I

was tricked into writing these things, bamboozled into
writing what is almost too much to write.

So often great poems transform, leave us with a question, or they reaffirm a preponderance. There is an honesty in Martina’s poems that reminds us that the world consumes itself, that being human is to avoid madness at almost any cost, and looking back, wonder why we stayed in a place of unrest for so long.

The cover is the best part of the design of the book featuring a quilt design by Do Palma, titled “There Is a Crack in Everything” from a song by Leonard Cohen. I wish that the typography for the content had what went into the cover. It almost takes away from the poetry with its seeming thoughtless use of bold san serif caps for titles and what seems like an almost condensed san serif for the verse, which is not done well enough to seem futurist but rather systematic and without proportion or sensitivity to the complexity of the poems. Nonetheless they should be commended for publishing this author.

Jeffrey Haste, June 2011

What we Can’t Forgive
Infinity Publishing
68 pages $9.95
ISBNS: 0-7414-6524-8;  978-0-7414-6524-5

Martina Reisz Newberry has several books, been published in magazines, and was awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony, and Anderson Center for the Arts, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

More on imagination


In a quandary may not be where you want to find a publisher is at. They are supposed to do things like make things happen for authors, set examples of credibility and scholarship, bring us truth and information about things we didn’t know, record history as it unfolds, and bring it into the present so we don’t forget it and make the same mistakes.

In an article from The New York Times Magazine March 13, 2011, Bill Keller points out with added design and pixel-like images of wires and computer parts, that things aren’t always what they seem when it comes to media. All The Aggregation That’s Fit To Aggregate or How much more of itself can the media consume? is a short sweet statement of hope, but only after viewing the evidence that may give many of us pause. How an online aggregator, or a kind of magazine that reprints and rehashes “content” becomes worth $315 million I assume leaves many of us baffled, but as Mr Keller suggests that “much as the creative minds of Wall Street found a way to divorce investing from the messiness of tangible assets, enabling clients to buy shadows of shadows, we in Media have transcended earthbound activities like reporting, writing or picture-taking and created an abstraction – a derivative – called Media in which we invest our attention and esteem.”

What Mr Keller speaks of is aggregation. He speaks to the heart of journalism and it’s craft and judgment being in the institutions, the many men and women working to bring us the truth we should still hope to value.

I am grateful to Mr Keller for this self-effacing article which began with his noting the mystery that he is considered the 50th most powerful person in the world by Forbes list makers (26th most influential in the country by Vanity Fair).

Aggregation, to bring together, to herd, to make whole, sounds like a worthwhile foundation for human activity. Think of concrete, that Roman invention sometimes aggregated with pieces of fallen sculpture. One size doesn’t fit all for all products. Whenever I see those screen clips or whatever they are called, they might have been called subliminal ads once, that say “TV to talk about” etc., I wonder and am moved to try to write something like a previous post about imagination. To me this is what underlies Mr Keller’s hope that journalism may be about to experience a renaissance, still, there is cynicism in his parting words as well.

So I too am in a quandary. Whether it is better to be honest about my ability as a writer or to forge onward and hope I don’t seem to be pretending. There is no pretending about the situation many book stores and publishers find themselves in these past few years and the question of how to get by. I was told by one small press that it could not exist if it were not a non-profit. The Teaching Company has been having a sale on The Great Courses. Prices are slashed from 249.00 to 39.99. A sale is in the forecast. Spring sale for poetry month. Even sales don’t work if your audience is not showing up. If promoting a fine and exciting poet doesn’t interest people in seeking out the book, what can you do, tell them they can have it for less. A book store in California I spoke to said people can’t buy. A store in New Hampshire is gathering used books to try to keep up some sales. Many stores have trouble financing the new stock they normally order.

Somebody is probably joking that maybe it’s my imagination. It takes time and aggregation. I took out a Facebook ad that gets two or three hundred impressions but only one click. I started to read the Longer Long Tail but was glad I flipped around and eventually found on the last page that for  the average small press the long tail doesn’t promise you riches but if what you are doing has value, it promises more attention, reputation, and readership. Hail to the chief with the long tail of marketing.