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Birch Bay Public Market

Friday, May 10 through the end of summer, Cathy and I will be selling her hand-made soaps, lotions, and toiletries, along with my photography, note cards, calenders, books, etc.

Come see us!

Across the street from the C Shop

4825 Alderson Road, Birch Bay, Washington 98230

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I had an automated blogroll here, powered by Google Reader, but Google, in its near-infinite lack of wisdom, killed Google Reader. Prior to this murder, all I had to do to put a blog on my blogroll (or to take it off) was to place it in a Reader folder called, appropriately enough, "blogroll" (or, of course, to remove it). I use The Old Reader now for following blogs, but it seems to have no way to something similar regarding the blogroll. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.

A Reposted Repost

I may have posted this here before, but it’s still good.

It was originally written some years ago, and was posted to the forum of a writer’s group I belonged to at the time.

I wrote my first poem in 1966. I still have it. No, you cannot read it. Let me just point out a few salient facts about this lovely piece: it is thirteen iambic pentameter quatrains, ABAB after ABAB after ABAB, without so much as a trochee or an ABBA to break the deadly monotony. After each ghastly stanza, like the row of identical telephone poles whipping past to let you see that you are most assuredly moving, and may, in fact, be going somewhere, comes the refrain: "I am America! I am beautiful!" Give me a break; I was eleven.

But wait, gentle reader! The story goes on, and it gets worse.

Picture this: myself and some half-dozen college youth, lying about in various poses of ennui in a dorm room somewhere. Wine bottles sporting candle wax mantles adorn the smoky lair. Friend A (still my best friend thirty years later)[now thirty-five years] says to me "So, Levi, have you written any poetry lately?" I could gleefully have strangled him. There was, among those present, Friend B (no, let’s call him Acquaintance B), well known for his pedantic ignorance, the opinions of whom I was most eager not to gather. But Friend C (still my best friend thirty years later)[now thirty-five years] was all for it, and between A and C, they talked me into it.

I handed around my most recent piece, which made extensive use of tetrameter because I find it sets a melancholy mood, and which had so much rhyme in it I was almost embarrassed (but it was ok, because at least it was all internal). B reads it, a little bemused. A and C talk me into showing him some more. He reads them all, getting more and more confused. Finally, he says to me “This is very good writing, but I just have one question: why do you call it poetry? It doesn’t rhyme, and it doesn’t have rhythm.”

Needless to say, I was a little put out, since I had worked so hard at using enough meter to help set the tone, while still using it, not letting it use me. Ditto the rhyme issue, so I commence trying to show him these things. He wants a definition of meter, a definition of rhyme.

Ho ho, my fine fellow! I have you, now! I am well equipped for giving definitions, and I haul out Poetry Handbooks and Poetry Encyclopedias and Dictionaries of Poetry Terms till he is fairly buried in the drift, but he denies them the right to define the terms of their own craft. He wants a Webster’s (which I do not have; I despise Webster’s).

Finally, believe it or not, I drag out “I Am America.” He reads it. He sits stunned. He has (I swear to you I am not making this up) tears in his eyes.

“Now, that’s poetry!” he says reverently.

2 comments to A Reposted Repost

  • I’ve had similar experiences with my writing. I have written some unpublished and probably unpublishable short stories for competitions and women’s magazines. My women’s magazine stories have the cliche twist-in-the-tale ending. At a writing circle when I read out one of my more serious short stories a response I once had was “that was OK but I loved that one last week where the protagonist turns out to be a dog….” Sometimes I want to scream. But of course, the reader is always right. Aaaaaaaaaagh! :)
    Christopher Wills´s last blog post: How to write the first scene of your novel