From my very first post I wanted to pay homage to the speech which inspired the title of my blog, Ain't I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth. Such a beautiful speech, such a beautiful name, such a beautiful woman. It is one of my favorite pieces. I strive to emulate this style in my own work. Poetic and powerful. Honest and unafraid. Memorable. And I like brevity. It too is beautiful. This is the standard I wish to be held to as I explore the question with you ~ ain't I a writer?
"Obliged to you for hearing me, and I do have a few things more to say..."

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

John Sinclair at Jazzmouth

     Jazzmouth: The Seacoast Poetry and Jazz Festival is half over, but has already been fully fulfilling.I attended three different events yesterday, and heard poetry by many wonderful writers, most to musical accompaniment. Most notably one of my favorites Eric Mingus, son of Charles Mingus, and John Sinclair, a still inspiring poet activist. You may remember him from this;
Earlier in the evening I had read a spontaneously penned haiku at the poetry dinner that had a travel theme, as well as a poem written by my friend Hugh Harter titled Andrin, Spain. Here is my haiku;

Lusting for spring break in Greece
volcanic ash fall
dictates stay home, sky at rest.

This year's Jazzmouth chapbook, for which I wrote the introduction, is now on sale. If you can't come to the festival to get a copy contact Sargent Press.

I'll be hearing many others read today and tomorrow, including former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. You can join us. http://www.jazzmouth.org/.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Camping on The Merrimack River

     Here is my Earth Day gift for you; http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4232
     I didn't know until long after I had grown up and moved away from home that Henry David Thoreau had traveled to and written this book about canoeing and camping on the river that I grew up on. It bothered me to think that this information wasn't shared with all of the children who grew up in that town and went to the little country school a short walk from the river's edge. I think literary links like that can be very influential to a kid and wonder what I would have thought of it then. I'm certain I would have brought it up as a topic of conversation at one of the many teenage beer drinking parties I attended in those same woods where he camped.
     Granted there was no Gutenberg Project in those days making classic literature easy to give away. I commend this project for the fine work it does, helping to make the world wide web a real sign of progress. I think Thoreau would really approve.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Working Weekend

      Check out this link to a NYT article that has many messages for the struggling writer within, and a wonderful local link that makes me smile; http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/books/19harding.html?pagewanted=1.
     The Writer's Day conference that I attended on Saturday was inspiring. I met writer Nicholson Baker and bought a copy of his latest book which I am anxious to read. It too has lots of local references and connections to my own life. Right on page two he mentions a guy I've been smitten with for years. It's charming. This is it;


     The biggest lesson I think I took from the day was that I am not submitting enough. One of my instructors said something to the effect of ~ you'd have to live to be at least 300 years old to justify sending things out to one publisher at a time, and that is what I have been doing, while patiently waiting for the reject letter to come. Instead we should be sending things out in batches, with a 'first response gets it' attitude. So I am going to try to adopt this overtly aggressive strategy, and have already sent something out this morning.
     I also attended a poetry workshop where we engaged in a fun little writing exercise that resulted in the following untitled poem;

Back when the world was divided
between the haves and have nots I fell
to Earth like a burnt martyr
volcanic ash disrupting flight.
I slept for years in an antique-white bassinette
before I woke to the the voice of Janis Joplin.
For years now I've been singing myself to sleep
with this refrain;
     I'd trade all my tomorrows
     for one single yesterday
     to be holding Bobby's body close to mine.
I am a cat between nine and five, and a racoon
for the rest of the day. Rabies on the rise.
What can I say as long as that music plays in my head.
My viens were filled with sangria before I fell to Earth.
It takes a long time to grow young. My future
has already occured and I'm here to live it as planned,
so passionately blind.
Give me a sword to write on the ground.
I make this promise to the world;
before the end of my tomorrows
I will sing every song that driver knew.

TJT

    I also went out of town all of Sunday afternoon to participate in a poetry reading to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. I was one of four featured poets performing in a little coffee shop where $433. was raised. Very rewarding.