Feb 15, 2009

The Poetry of Micro-Stock Photography

What do micro-stock photography and poetry have in common? Well, if you are like me, it's the "Hey, I can do that" first reaction. And then the "Darn, this is harder than I thought" a few weeks later.

After having all my favorite pictures rejected by iStockphoto I did a little reading, set up a really cheap studio, and started experimenting. I figure I won't start making money until sometime around 2012, but I'm having a lot of fun playing around with ideas and learning more about photography. 

And that's a lot like poetry too.

Aug 8, 2008

Quads and The Reluctant Blogger

Ok, time to admit that I'm not really keeping this blog up and running.  It is more like up and snailing. There are reasons for this beyond my basically lazy nature. I'll go over them when I've got it straight in my head.

In the mean time, here is an old exercise I did for fun. You write four line poems ending in four letter words (most of the time) revolving around four consonants. I call them Quads.

You take a four letter word that can be reversed with similar consonant and vowel sounds. You also need to be able to set another pair up by only changing the vowel sounds. This gives you a set of four words to use as end rhymelikeness: time, mite, mate, and tame.  You can also use longer words that end in the proper sounds, like stime, smite, estimate, and, um, tame.  Exact sound matches are not necessary, but I think it works better when you keep it close.

Here are some examples, my better ones.  I won't show you the really bad ones.

If I could be an act of love

I'd be the naked vole

who under darkness of the vale

builds a root enclave.

A newsprint kite

waddles behind a tike.

The wind will take

them soon, Kate.

The bird was male

and not lame,

but the act sublime.

I followed him a mile.

It is a very limiting form, and that is the beauty of it.  You end up with junk, or ideas you would have never come up with if you were writing without constraints.

Jul 13, 2008

The Wish

If a wish could fly

I'd lift my wings tip to tip

and rush into the sky,

the cool wind a sigh

against parted lips.

If a wish could fly

and the land go by and by

as wings whip

and rush into the sky,

I'd slip among the clouds to spy

a dream of rainbow drips.

If a wish could fly

I'd grab a star by eye,

it's promise in my grip,

and rush into the sky.

No where, no why,

only my heart skips,

'if a wish could fly

and rush into the sky.'

May 9, 2008

back thought

I rest, 
back to the up
eyes to the down
mind to the deep
black ground

around, around,
I came, but never the same
step took twice,
never a sane
interest found
in rest

More filler, I know. I'm busy reading poetry books and preparing for a potential new job. Another article soon, I promise.

May 2, 2008

Filler Poem Today (pun intended)


I've discovered a great profundity,

when I eat I gain rotundity.

When I diet I often lose a pound

but find it the following round.

Apr 30, 2008

The Poet and The Critic

Have you ever submitted a poem for critique? The web is full of poetry forums. Some of them are dedicated to giving and receiving critiques. Many have boards dedicated to critique. Each has its own rules and mission. 

Here are a few guidelines that should apply to all of them. Following them will help you get the most out of any forum.

Rules for the critic:

  • Read the poem once without being critical.  Give it a chance.
  • Read the poem three times before starting your comments.  More is better if it is a difficult poem.
  • Be honest.  Trust the poet to know that you are discussing the poem.
  • Make sure you are discussing the poem and not the poet.
  • Resist the urge to entertain yourself at the expense of the poem. Clear and concise are more important than fun to read or write.
  • Understand the difference between a literary critique and a forum critique.  The first is to help the reader, the second to help the poet.  You want to help the poet.
  • If you want good critiques give good critiques.  Put some thought and effort into what you say, and give more than you get.

Rules for the poet:

  • Post one poem at a time and spread them out over a reasonable period.  If you dump on the forum you'll wear out your welcome and receive fewer quality critiques.
  • Refuse to take any comment personally, even if it is personal, especially if it is personal.  Arguing with the critic is a no-win situation. If the comments are more than you can endure, contact a moderator privately and let them deal with the problem.
  • Give the critique some thought.  You don't have to agree, but you should understand.  The critique that completely misunderstood your poem may have the insight you need.
  • Always thank the critic.  Ungrateful poets are uncritiqued poets.

Rules for the critique:

  • The subject of a poem is neither good nor bad.  Stick to how well the subject is supported or presented.
  • How well you like/dislike a poem is critique only if you support it with examples and explanations.
  • Correcting grammar and punctuation is valid critique, but it is also the least valuable form of critique.  Give your opinion, and back it up.  Share insights about the structure or subject that may improve the poem.  Suggest a technique that might apply.  Be more than a reference book.
  • Learn the forum's formating commands. Use them to make the critique easy to read.  Use quotes from the poem where applicable.  Observe and follow the standards of the forums where you post.
  • Rewrite poems only if there is no better way to illustrate a point, and then only if it is an acceptable practice on that forum.  If in doubt, ask.
  • Everyone has pet peeves and standard lectures.  Be sure they apply before using them. Occasionally the poet really did know what they were doing.

Rules for the poem:

  • The poem should be your best effort. If you know how to improve it, do. Then post.
  • Check the spelling and grammar before you post.
  • Unless it is essential to the structure of the poem do not center align. It makes the poem harder to read.  It also makes it harder to format a readable critic.
  • The poem must stand on its own.  If you have to explain it then it wasn't ready to leave home.  It it gets beat up wait until you get home to apply the bandages.  Critique is a rough game.

Rules for the human:  Caution, humans, highly fragile, this side up.

  • There is a person on the other end of that critique or poem.  Fallible, opinionated, and prone to misunderstandings these creatures are attempting to communicate through the substantial barrier of the internet.  Give them credit for tying and meet them halfway.
  • You can not learn if you are not willing to be wrong. Poems die in critiques. Sometimes the poetry dies too. Then, if you are lucky, you get to start all over again; a new poet, new poetry, and better for the experience.

  • Forgive your critics.  Forgive yourself.  Write on.

Apr 25, 2008

More About Poetry and What It Is.

Last post I posed some questions about poetry that were intended to make you think. Today I'm going to give you my own ignoble and uninspired answers.

To balance the drudgery I've also provided a link to my workbook pages where I've been gathering other answers to "What is poetry?" I know I said you should come up with your own answer, but I never said it had to be an uninformed answer.  I enjoyed many of these articles and I hope you will as well.


What is poetry?

Poetry is the art of language.

Every art centers arround a medium. Painting is the art of light. Yes, I know they use paint, but that is because it was the most sophisticated way of manipulating color for many centuries. Modern painters often work with computers and manipulate light more directly. Sculpture is the art of shape. Dance is the art of human movement. Music is the art of sound. You can go on and on with a bit of thought.

Other types of writing can also be art, but they are not as directly connected to language as poetry. A novel is about the story, and I believe best described as the art of story telling. That is why it is much easier to translate a novel than a poem. A translated poem becomes a similar but new poem. A translated novel tells the same story.

So, I see poetry as the art of language.  To me it means that every aspect of language is mine to manipulate, twist, and torture in the name of art. But it does pose a bigger question. What is art?


Why do I write poetry?

I write poetry because I like the attention. Ok, that's not very noble, but after a great deal of navel gazing I have to admit that this is the core of my motivation. A distant second is that I enjoy writing poems. 

If I really had some all important message to share I'd use prose. It's more effective. If I had some deep emotional need to express myself I'd write constantly. I only write when I think someone might read and like my stuff.

I wouldn't mind making money, but I don't have much hope for that endeavor. Besides, money is the ultimate proof of attention. That, and you can buy stuff with it.


How do I write poetry?

My philosophy of poetry changes constantly and has too many side issues to cover fully here. I'll just list some of the highlights.

I try not to make excuses for the poem. I works or it doesn't.

The reader is more important than I am. What I meant to say is irrelevant. What I did or did not say is all that matters.

A poem is never finished. I've just lost interest in it for the time being.

I will always strive to be honest with myself and others. But I will lie my ass off to a poem if I think that will improve it in the slightest.

Poetry is about the poem, not my issues, my message, or the truth. I will sacrifice any of these to preserve and improve the poem.

I reserve the right to be inconsistent in my critiques, my poetry, and life in general. Why should I be chained to some silly philosophy of poetry.