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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Wakefield’

Curve, 1993, woodblock print, from private art collection of student work, artist unknown, photo alteration © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Curve, 1993, woodcut, from private art collection of student work, artist unknown, photo alteration © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


While perusing the health and vigor of our categories last night, I had a realization: writers rarely write about sex. Our Sex category has a measly 5 posts, which leads me to wonder, why bother to have a sex category at all?

I thought about my favorite literature writers and tried to remember what they had written about sex. I did come up with a chapter in Stoner, a book assigned to us in a Natalie Goldberg Taos Intensive last year. It’s a favorite on my bookshelf now, and contains one of the most subtly erotic accounts I’ve ever read about making love.

(If you don’t know about Stoner or John Williams, read the dynamic interview, John Williams: Plain Writer by Dan Wakefield in the 10th Anniversary issue of Ploughshares.)

Some see making love and sex as two different things. And now that I think about it, so do I. But different how? I’m not sure I can answer that in an on-the-fly blog post.

I remembered last night, that about 4 years ago, I wrote a tasteful erotic piece called Lean Into The Curves, about the virtues of making love as compared to learning to ride my Honda Rebel. There is something sensual about motorcycle riding; and the instructor who wore scarlet Harley boots with flames shooting off the sides, only added fuel to the fire.

I stood up at a microphone (dressed in a crisp, white, open-collared blouse, dangling silver earrings, black Levi’s, cherry lipstick, and a black, short-cut blazer) and read the piece at a venue in Minneapolis (no longer in existence) called hotBed. The audience was full of 150 women who all laughed at the right places and cheered at the end, wildly clapping when Ella Fitzgerald’s At Last echoed through the room as I read the final lines.

The sound woman was right on cue.

It’s hard to imagine standing up and reading that same piece today. Have I lost my edge? Or are there too few places to submit that kind of work.

Most people have sex at least once in their lifetime. And it’s alive and well on family TV and in G-rated films. So why don’t writers write about sex? Or the erotic? Or making love?

I don’t have any answers. Only to say that, thank goodness, some do.

Here is a poem from Galway Kinnell called, simply – Sex. Exquisite. I heard him read it at the Fitzgerald Theater earlier this year. I’m heading to the writing table right now. Maybe I’ll get inspired.


Sex
by Galway Kinnell

On my hands are the odors
of the knockout ether
either of above the sky
where the bluebirds get blued
on their upper surfaces
or of down under the earth
where the immaculate nightcrawlers
take in tubes of red earth
and polish their insides.

-from Strong Is Your Hold, Poems, Houghton Mifflin, 2006

posted on red Ravine Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

-related to post, Forget Vonnegut – Jane Kenyon Lives On 

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When I was doing research on Ted Kooser for a piece I was writing, I stumbled on his America Life in Poetry Project. As I read more about the nature of the project, I realized that Ted is a bodhisattva – he gives back to the world – not only through teaching, writing, and his support of other writers, but by offering viable avenues to ensure the next generation of printed word maintains integrity.

You don’t have to be a poet to appreciate his great effort.

I am a big fan of writers and artists who are generous of spirit – those who give or have given back to the world without concern for themselves. Dan Wakefield , author of New York in the ’50s, teaches writing in the prisons. For me, he falls into this category. As do Alice Walker, Natalie Goldberg, and James Baldwin.

Quiet, compassionate determination to aid all beings. If you have men and women like this in your life, show them gratitude. It’s the greatest gift you can bestow.

You can sign up on the American Life in Poetry website to receive a poem a week in your inbox with a short intro by Ted. If you register, you can publish the poems in print or on your blog, as long as you include the copyright permissions and credit info.

Below is a little about the project, taken from the American Life in Poetry website. You can also click on the link for the full text.

The Poetry Foundation has formed a partnership with the Library of Congress to support the American Life in Poetry project, an initiative of Ted Kooser, the 2004-2006 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry, and we believe we can add value for newspaper and online readers by doing so. There are no costs or obligations for reprinting the columns, though we do require that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration, along with the complete copyright, permissions and credit information, exactly as supplied with each column.

“Newspapers are close to my heart and my family,” said Kooser, whose wife and son both work in journalism. “As Poet Laureate I want to show the people who read newspapers that poetry can be for them, can give them a chuckle or an insight.”

Poetry was long a popular staple in the daily press. According to Kooser, “Readers enjoyed it. They would clip verses, stick them in their diaries, enclose them in letters. They even took time to memorize some of the poems they discovered.”

In recent years poetry has all but disappeared from newsprint. Yet the attraction to it is still strong. Kooser observed that “Poetry has remained a perennial expression of our emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives, as witnessed by the tens of thousands of poems written about the tragedy of September 11 that circulated on the Internet.

Now I’m hoping to convince editors that there could be a small place in their papers for poetry, that it could add a spot of value in the eyes of readers. Best of all, it won’t cost a penny.”


-from American Life in Poetry


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, February 15th, 2007

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