Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Genius of Mark Twain

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Celebrating Mark Twain's birthday or merely a genius?

Genius, like gold and precious stones,
is chiefly prized because of its rarity.

Geniuses are people who dash of weird, wild,
incomprehensible poems with astonishing facility,
and get booming drunk and sleep in the gutter.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

And So I Waver from the Pen of Tom Kauwling

What is a poet?
my granddaughter asked of me
with the energetic inquisitiveness and expectation
that only a seven-year-old can bring to the table
as she tries to probe the depths of life
from a grampa who should know because
he is eleven times her age.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Many Poems of Nikolai Tjongarero

A portrait of the poet...

see I've scripted many poems for women
that will never know those pieces were meant for them,
for the mere fact that they told me I wasn't meant for them ...
but now they keep asking who I wrote them for and
my heart forces my mind to tell them lies
which cover-up the truths stuck within the grains
floating in and out of the shadows of time.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Quaint Sayings of Uncle Jeff: On Choice of Companions

Water finds its own level.

Uncle Jeff ruminated on thoughts and themes from sorrow to happiness at the turn of the last century. His niece, Iva, noted nine such sayings. As a young woman of 26 in 1929, Iva was determined to collect and write down the quaint sayings of her Uncle Jeff for posterity's sake. She wrote down his homespun adages within the pages of her second-hand copy of Three Centuries of American Poetry and Prose.

As we come upon the holiday season we look at what Uncle Jeff had to say about companions...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Jack London Credo of 1916

The Jack London Credo is inscribed on the the base of the Jack London statue.

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze
than it should be stifled by dry-rot.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Him and Her at City Lights Bookstore

photo © Mark Butkus 2017
Taking a peek inside the world famous City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.

Where they keep the poets
I’m sitting beside Ferlinghetti
Looking at the alley out the window
The fire escape, the bricks
The tiles

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cheemah, Mother of the Spirit-Fire

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
Cheemah, Mother of the Spirit-Fire at Jack London Square in Oakland, California.

Cheemah is the bright and shining spirit
of our beautiful Mother Planet
and is within each and every human.
Cheemah is the spirit of life
and is all light on our Earth.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mi barrita querida… de Hugo Becerra

Mi Barrita querida,
Tu que me has visto crecer,
Enfermar, sangrar, llorar y reir.

Que me diste una nueva familia,
Muchos amores, muchos amigos,
Y inspiracion para mis canciones,
Que me abriste las puertas a otros paises a otras culturas.

Friday, November 17, 2017

George Peele's A Farewell to Arms

photo © Mark Butkus 2011

His golden locks Time hath to silver turn'd;
         O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth 'gainst time and age hath ever spurn'd,
         But spurn'd in vain; youth waneth by increasing:
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

In the Woods with Naomi Replansky

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
For Bea and Edith with love, Naomi.

They walked in the world together
And came to the end of play.
Each of them clung to the other
And each pushed the other away.

That forest was not so scary
And two should be warmer than one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Frank Bidart Wins 2017 National Book Award for Poetry

The cover of Frank Bidart's's winning "Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016."

Frank Bidart has won the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry. In a ceremony tonight in New York City, Bidart beat out a stellar group of finalists to claim the National Book Award for his career encompassing collection volume of poetry — Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers).

Library Way: Marianne Moore and the Enchanting Mind

There are many stories behind the writers, poets and artists that adorn the plaques on Library Way in New York City. Marianne Moore (1887–1972) has the distinction of having been employed by the New York Public Library, one of the sponsors of Library Way. Her tenure as a part-time librarian at NYPL began in 1921, the same year her first volume of poetry, Poems was published. Without her permission.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On Finding Van K. Brock and These Words

photoart © Mark Butkus 2011
These words leave a ringing in my ears.

The words I had for you were small
presents saying light things, and I had
filled them with my breath, like a bouquet
of balloons. Then, I thought they might
float off unless I tied them to you
or pressed them firmly into your grasp.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Poet Jean Toomer is 50th Inducted into the American Poets' Corner

photo © Mark Butkus 2015
The Poets' Corner, dedicated to American Literature honors poet Jean Toomer in 2017.

The poet Jean Toomer (1894-1967) was inducted into the American Poets' Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on Sunday November 12, 2017. The ceremony began with a reading of November Cotton Flower by Poet in Residence Marilyn Nelson.

Toomer's literary output does not compare to past honorees but then again few American writers have been able to capture the essence of a people in a particular moment in time as Toomer did with the publication in 1923 of his incomparable book of poetry, Cane.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Evening Song for Jean Toomer

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
"Facing West, a somnolent Moon reflects tranquility from a joyous Sun smiling to the East."

Full moon rising on the waters of my heart,
Lakes and moon and fires,
Cloine tires,
Holding her lips apart.