For the last five years or so, I have been working on a novel about a contemporary American who was in New York during 9/11 and experienced the wars in the Middle East—a kind of philosophical parable about America and its loss of moral mooring in a chaotic time.
Well, I'm excited (and relieved) to announce that I have finally concluded it.
Now that the fun is over, the hard work begins - getting the monster on the desk published.
The people on the train were not a distraction, but the long string of beads being turned over and over in the hands of a man opposite me pulled me away from my book in a way I could not have anticipated. Dozens of beads were strung in a loop like a long necklace, warm, medium brown wood, varnished so they would slip easily over his fingers. There were small silver beads that marked them into thirds and short red tassels. His hands were moving while his thoughts were fixed on the beads.
This would not have been an event today if it hadn’t been for the group of friends sitting on my return train home later in the day. There was, in my one subway car, a group of people fingering their beads, identical to the ones from this morning; two middle-aged women, sitting in two different sections of the car, accompanied by one young man, and two young women. They were speaking to each other over the noise of the train and I got the impression they were visiting New York as a group. And they were all holding nearly identical prayer beads.
Poetry has been declared dead – or on life support – for years. I did a search of my blog and found a dozen entries back to 2005 where I've written about some pundit burying poetry before its time. Alexandra Petri is the latest undertaker in a Washington Post op-ed in the wake of Richard Blanco's inaugural poem on Monday. While Blanco's poem wasn't spectacular, I thought it was very good and had some lovely lines. Occasional poetry is difficult to write (I'm working on one right now, actually), so I give Blanco a pass. Encompassing the hopes and dreams of a nation in one poem (written in just three weeks) is an impossible, thankless task.
Petri suggests that poetry "might not be loud enough" and that the last poetry reading she attended was just a bunch of students suffering through it for extra credit. My suggestion to Petri is that she needs to get out a little more.
Lots of books talk about how to write fiction, but few of them talk about how to approach language issues in fiction. This frustrated me quite a bit when I was a young writer. So I wrote the kind of book I would have liked to have had back then--one that helps fiction writers sort through issues of grammar, punctuation, and style.
New and Selected Poems, 1957-2011 (Red Hen Press) is culled from Robert Sward's newest and best works, including both previously unpublished poems and selections from his 20+ books of poetry. It is the definitive Sward collection, exhibiting throughout his signature style: outwardly zany and fanciful, but inwardly serious, troubled and questioning. They cover the territory Sward has covered so well--love, divorce, multiple marriages, aging, loss, and the challenge of bringing up children in a highly unstable world...
The new African-American Museum at the Smithsonian acquired sixty prints from his unique collection of glass negatives of immigrant and black communities in early 20th-century, Lincoln, Nebraska. Buy Lincoln in Black and White, 1910-1925».
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