Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some very nice words ...

Rus Bowden, who does Poetry and Poets in Rags over at the Interboard Poetry Community, sent me a very nice email this morning, which he has graciously said I could quote from. Specifically, he wrote that "In the announcements, I have referred to you as our friend, especially that you came though for us, and the way you have. Thank you, friend." I am honored to be thought of as friend of the IBPC. It's one of the best things that's happened to me since I became The Inquirer's book editor five years ago. It's the sort of thing that makes the job worthwhile.
This connectionm that can take place between and among people who communicate over the Internet is one of those things the mainstream media has failed to notice much, let alone appreciate. It comes, I think, from the simple satisfaction you get from encountering others who are passionate about the things you are passionate about yourself. I actually didn't think I was doing the IBPC a favor by judging their competition; Ithought they were doing me a favor in asking. In a sense I learned more about the contemporary poetry scene from reading the poems they sent me than I could have from going through all the books of poetry that are in my office.
Martin Heidegger was a dubious man and, in my view, an overrated thinker. But he did say at least one thing that is worth pondering (because it's true), that poetry is the essential form of speech. To write a poem means to use the full potential of language -- using a word in such a way that its different senses apply simultaneously, arranging the syntax in such a way as to maximize the meaning, shaping images that resonate both emotionally and intellectually -- and maybe even viscerally. All of that and more. If more people studied and practiced poetry fewer people would be taken in by cheap rhetoric and specious arguments. More might also come to realize that there really are sins of thought and word, as well as deed.


  1. Bravo! It is such a joy to read about the relevance and importance of poetry. Although I have a 'day job' that I am dedicated to and that I love, I am at heart a poet. I often describe poetry as the orange juice concentrate of language--all of the 'pow' and nothing watered down.

    Thank you for helping out the IBPC this month.

    best regards,
    (moderator,, one of the IBPC member boards)

  2. Each Tuesday night, after David Ayers, the IBPC President, does his web magic and puts the new Poetry & Poets in Rags on line, I then get busy writing an announcement and posting it at most of the IBPC forums, and a few private and other forums that are not IBPC members.

    I wrote what is below, tonight's announcement, really in response to your post here, Frank.



    Dear Poetry Fans,

    Poetry & Poets in Rags

    There was some debate, when IBPC took the name "InterBoard Poetry Community," as to whether "community" could apply to people who are not physically able to shake hands and speak with each other, as if in the same neighborhood. When studying Community Social Psychology, one of the first things students get to, is defining "community." Yes, "community" applies to the IBPC.

    On the other hand, as how we learn to sell automobiles, it becomes important in the first minute of the "meet and greet" to establish common ground with a customer. Yet we don't first think of that as meaning physical ground, the common neighborhood, the streets we take that circle and intersect, although it may. We think of it like Frank Wilson, our friend from the Philadephia Inquirer says about such on-line connections in Books, Inq.: Some very nice words . . . , being "passionate about the things you are passionate about yourself." Where the rubber hits the road, passion has more to do with bonding a community than physical proximity.

    Some of my best friends love poetry--and I have met many in person after meeting them on line. One is Pam Varnum of Vermont up Route 89 . . . I mean of As many of you know, she made The Guardian's shortlist this past month in the "Poetry workshop" there. You'll find this article, as well as one by Frank Wilson, in our "Great Regulars" section this week.

    As many of you also know, Frank Wilson judged for us in the InterBoard Poetry Contest, and selected a Jude Goodwin poem representing The Writers Block, for an HM--Jude, a Canadian, being the same IBPC poet who has made The Guardian's workshop shortlist several times this year. But we should also circle back to, where Dennis Greene, the Australian, is from, whose poetry Frank had good things to say about in an e-mail to me, and so whom I e-mailed, with Frank's permission, cc-ing to Frank. One never knows which connections could be important in a community, and people ought to be properly introduced.

    As our community's circles continue, I e-mailed our friend Sarah Crown of The Guardian, to mention that we were linking to three of her articles this week, but also another one which may be of interest to her, the one from Bexhill Today (with offices in East Sussex, by the way), that someone in "the community"--not that I used those words--has died; Stephen Magee, ring a bell? It should to many of you. I Googled. Stephen Magee, as I wrote to Sarah, "is probably the same poet who wrote both 'Rightly' that appears in John Burnside's workshop [that has Pam Varnum's], and "Temeraire" in David Harsent's."

    It was his sister Anna Elliot's words in the article, not the later connections made through Google, that convinced me his death should be announced in our new "Poetic Obituary" section, by saying that he "loved to write and had some of his poetry published." It only follows that like many of us who are so passionate, Stephen Magee would submit his poems to The Guardian.

    This announcement, by the way, is also written in response to Frank Wilson, and will be posted in his blog Books, Inq. at Some very nice words . . . He has a message you may be interested in, as well as one here: And the winner is . . ."


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