“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

So It Goes...(Slaughterhouse Five-Vonnegut)

I just finished reading my first Vonnegut book, Slaughterhouse Five. I have always been a little leery about reading Vonnegut, mainly because of what I heard about his writing style. Whenever his name was brought up, I imagined he was like others I've read from the latter half of the twentieth century, someone who was in the literary conversation of "the greats." It seemed though that no one could pin him down; some say he's science fiction, others find his style abhorrent. After a while I began to picture his style as something rather like Faulkner, who I tried to read a couple of times with no luck(though, I will try again.) I simply found Faulkner hard to follow, and assumed that I was just not in the right head space at the time. With all the varying opinions on Vonnegut, I just figured I could always come back to him (and Faulkner.) I had plenty of other books to read in the meantime.

I finally dove in...
On the cover of my edition of Slaughterhouse Five there is a blurb that touts a thundering moral statement that underlines everything else in the book. Unless that moral is "life goes on," I didn't see it. If that was the moral, I would not call it "thundering." Maybe in 1969 (two years before I was born, by the way) it would have been, but here and now in 2015 it seems a bit cliche.

Other blurbs inside the front cover talked of Vonnegut's satirist's view and his black humor as well as the science fiction leanings of the book. I can see how they could be construed as such, but my take on Billy Pilgrim's story was that of an old man, possibly with dementia or Alzheimer's looking back and remembering in tattered snatches the goings on of his own life, with some mis-remembered or unexplained gaps in his mind being filled in by the Tralfamadorian saga. Billy is an intriguing character, you get the feeling that he did not live his life rather, simply let life happen to him. He has two "love" interests in the book of seemingly polar opposites. In each case though, these women seem to be proffered to him, all be it in very different circumstances. None the less, he did not search them out or chase after them. This is a recurring theme in the life of Billy Pilgrim.

I found this to be a wonderful story, with a lot going on, but with all the jumping back and forth between time and setting, I never felt lost.Vonnegut gives the illusion of trying to lose you in the story but somehow you are always kept in the loop by the simple declarative writing. I found it interesting too, how the main character is Billy Pilgrim and at times you imagine him telling the story but in fact it is an unnamed narrator who rarely inserts himself into the story after the first chapter, which is used only to get the ball rolling. He is somewhat of an innocent bystander, much like our protagonist, Billy.

The back cover blurb said it best; "Splendid art... a funny book at which you are not permitted to laugh, a sad book without tears." -Life


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Open Mic At Java Dock Cafe Port Washington, WI

It is time for another open mic session at Java Dock Cafe. Please join us from 3-5 pm Sunday June 28th.

Open to acoustic music, poetry, prose, short fiction, essays and general ramblings and musings.
Welcoming, friendly atmosphere as well as good food(soups, sandwiches, gelato, bakery) and excellent coffee. All set in the picturesque town of Port Washington, WI.

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's that time again...

Time for Java Dock Cafe's open mic

Sunday June 28th
performers, please arrive by 2:30 to sign up

come and enjoy some music and poetry with your coffee or tea and
maybe a scone or muffin to hold you over until dinner.

if you have something to share, please do, we are a welcoming group

see you there

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Open Mic @java_dockcafe

The open mic at Java Dock is always a good time. It is a very open and welcoming environment for poets and musicians. We are hoping to get some more people in to present their work. This past weekend we had Howard and Davey playing some music and singing. Chris and Chad read some poetry. Howard also read a piece by proxy for Derek Strohl and we had a new performer; Roxy, she did a great job and was complimentary of the whole atmosphere. It was a real treat to hear her poetry. I hope she is able to stop in again. That being said, we need more, don't be shy, you will be welcomed.
your host

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Traffic, Stop!

Hey folks,

    I really appreciate the uptick in traffic to my blog recently. If you enjoy what you read here, please comment, share, re-post and hey, even follow the thing. If you think there is something I could do better, I would appreciate hearing about that as well. Let's keep it civil though, huh?


Thursday, May 21, 2015

After the killing...

The third piece in our fill-in project took a drastic turn, as things usually do with Paul. He did not title his piece, but I refer to it as After The Killing. I sent Paul the odd lines of my 20 line poem and this is what he came up with. Enjoy.

sips of coffee
with you after the killing

take the place of

under the table
is safe,

our feet, not seeking
silk sand or red carpet ache

to just be still
as can be;

in no hurry to start
the pain again, we hope for sex

and sections of newspaper
devoted to weed and poetry...

finally broken  by the whine
of my daydream, the ghost screams

to relieve herself
of me,

and sun on face, you ask
for a refill.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Red Dog

I sent the even lines from my 20 line poem to Steve Pump and this is what he came up with to fill in the lines. He seemed to hone in on the dog from my piece, possibly because it appeared more than once in my poem.

the red dog

a poem in hand
and subtle glance

transcribed the play of
morning talk

in which I was the red
dog lazing between

dreams of knees, fed on
attention, content

to move within a single room
in the morning light.

I heard the song of the dumb gods,
mugs refilled, salty skin

still smelling of sleep, eyes
exchanged, the silence

broken by my poem, the song
of the dog needing

a familiar shadow to follow,
back door opened,

asking nothing as if to say,
"what do you want to do today?"
I really like the idea here of the dog following his shadow...

Friday, May 15, 2015

More on collaborative poetry

There are probably thousands of ways that collaborative poetry can be approached. My suggestion; mix it up. A recent project between myself and two of my co-poets explored one facet of collaboration. This project was a lot of fun and, we all three agreed, turned out some pretty good pieces.

The parameters we set were minimal, we were each to write a 20 line poem on any topic. Next, we sent one of the others  only our even lines and the other, only our odd lines. The second poet was to fill in the blanks, keeping each piece at 20 lines. The only other caveat was to not create too long of a line compared to the ones preceding and following for the sake of symmetry and visual appeal.

Today, I will share my original 20 line poem. The revisions or fill-ins will follow shortly.

Sunday Morning

sips of coffee
and subtle glances
take the place of
morning conversation
under the table
dog lazing between
our feet, not seeking
to just be still
in the morning light.

in no hurry to start
the day, mugs refilled
and sections of newspaper
exchanged, the silence
finally broken by the whine
of the dog needing
to relieve herself
back door opened
and sun on face, you ask

“What do you want to do today?”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Let's make a scene

3rd installment of

Java Dock Cafe's open mic will be:

Sunday May 31st 3-5pm

please arrive by 2:30 to sign up
if you wish to perform

bring your best...

poetry, prose and/or acoustic music

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Get your voice heard!

Well the first session got off to a rocky start due to some folks getting there a bit late but we eventually got going and ended up having a really good first session, even if we were mainly performing for the other artists there. Connections were made and some friendships as well. All in all a good day.

So, with that being said, we are doing it again, hopefully with a little better turnout.
It is time for another Open Mic at Java Dock Cafe
Twitter @javadock_cafe

Sunday April 26th from 3-5 get there by 2:30 to sign up.

Get your voice heard!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Open mic @ Java Dock Cafe

Hey folks,

Just dropping a note to say that I am very excited to be curating an open mic series at The Java Dock Cafe in beautiful Port Washington, Wisconsin. We are opening this for poetry, prose and acoustic music. The first set will be on Sunday April 12th starting at 3pm. I will host each session and will be the featured reader for the 12th. I am hoping to get some great poets in to be the featured reader each time we offer this. The hope is to do this at least once a month, with two this April, the second being April 26th.

Java Dock is a special little coffee shop with a great atmosphere, they concentrate on offering great coffee drinks and excellent bakery items made fresh daily, in-house.

I look forward to this new venture and to seeing all of you out there, either presenting your work or just to hang and listen.

you can find Java Dock on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Making a push...

Hey world!
Here I am!
Look at me!

That is what sending my work out for consideration to be published feels like to me sometimes.
Yet, it has to be done, I mean, otherwise what am I doing this for? No, I'm not really asking you, I am asking myself. As a writer/poet, we are often asked (yes, even by ourselves) why we write. Depending on the day or my mood, the answer varies, greatly. Sometimes, I feel like an observer or reporter of the world, or at least my own environs. Other times, it feels as if I am just journaling, jotting down my thoughts. Still others, I feel like I am locked in a bare, windowless room with bare feet, pounding on the door,begging to be heard or acknowledged in some small way.

So... fingers crossed. I just sent five poems to www.caketrain.org for their consideration. Let's hope they hear me, because I really have to pee.