‘Welcome’ a new book by Scott Zeidel

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has released Welcome, a colletion of poems by Scott Zeidel. The collection is available in paperback and e-book.

From the publisher

These poems are peaceful celebrations of the Southern California desert, Scott Zeidel’s home. He writes about the desert’s profound beauty found in simple, unassuming plants and critters like desert dandelions, blue agaves, monarch butterflies, mockingbirds, kestrels, verdins, and doves.

But Zeidel’s poetic voice has room for other things, too—a nostalgic tribute to his youth in “Childhood Quintet,” a sweet whimsical cycle in “Four Love Songs,” the humorous satire of “Headless Chicken Fish” and “The State of the Union Address,” and the political anger of “To Be Exact.”

Zeidel often uses a poetic language that’s simple and direct, inspired by the Japanese haiku. He uses this concise language to discuss big things like birth, death, rebirth, and time. In Welcome you are invited to enter Zeidel’s world of big questions with no answers, his world of bewilderment and wonder.

The title poem begins:

I have eyes in the back of my head,
see things living and dead,
sense things like the cat sneaking
out the back door.

Zeidel, who painted the cover art also contributed artwork for Who’s Munching My Milkweed by his wife Smoky Zeidel. Scott Zeidel is a retired music professor and classical guitarist.

Old Poems, Old Lines, Old Memories

In high school and college, our English/Literature professors included a lot of poetry. When I come across some of the best poems in the canon–The Waste Land, Leaves of Grass–I admire them today even though my favorite lines come from a smattering of other work.

Sara Teasdale | Walk of FameI’m aware that Pulitzer Prize winning poet Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) was once popular and now appears unknown or ignored. Nonetheless, I’ve never forgotten “The Coin”:

Into my heart’s treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin,
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.

I’m not sure how the powers that be rate Poe’s poetry today. Yet the first stanza of his “To Helen” sticks in my mind as one of the best stanzas I’ve read, especially the last two lines:

Helen, thy beauty is to me
   Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
   The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
   To his own native shore.
New Directions Publishing | Dylan ThomasMy favorite poem is “Fern Hill” written by Dylan Thomas in 1945:
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
          Trail with daisies and barley
     Down the rivers of the windfall light.
This and the following verses are wonders and, perhaps a cautionary commentary on the paths our lives take. I identify quite strongly with this poem. Perhaps more peolple are familiar with his “Do not go gentle into that good night.” My generation more or less memorized it and saw it as dogma as age approached. Here are the first two verses:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Like many who were in high school and college in the 1960s, I liked RodMcKuen’s bestselling poems. They seem dated now, but there was a time when everyone knew every word. As  we said then, his poem’s were a happening, fresh and new, as in “Listen to the Warm”:
I was rich in those days, for a week I had everything.
I wish I’d known you then.”
Joy Harjo | Poetry FoundationNow, I think, my tastes run more toward the work of poet and sax player Joy Harjo, as in “She Had Some Horses”:
She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break
What about you? Do you find yourself thinking–seemingly without foundation–of bits and pieces of poems you studied in school” They bring comfort to me like old songs.
Some have said that bits and pieces of my work are somewhat lyrical. Yes they are. Poetry’s influence is always in the background.

National Poetry Month: ‘Ariel’ by Sylvia Plath

“The collection contains some of her most celebrated poems: Lady Lazurus, Daddy; The Moon and the Yew Tree and the titular piece Ariel.  Many of these are poems written in a burst of creativity shortly before she took her life. They are poems I’ve read many times over, but only ever as individual pieces of work. When you read them as a collection, the intensity and darkness that’s visible in an individual poem is heightened and magnified many times over.”

Source: Ariel by Sylvia Plath: #1965club read ‹ BookerTalk ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

I first read Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and her collection of poems entitled Ariel when they first came out in the United States. Their combined impact on me was enormous. and, to this day, “Ariel” remains my favorite poem, second only to “Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas.

The original edition of Ariel was published after Plath’s death wasn’t what she intended. Her husband, poet Ted Hughes, changed the selection. I see that as a travesty and an arrogant intrusion into her work. I still have the original version of Ariel on my bookshelf. But if you want what the poet intended, take a look at the restore edition from 2004 shown here.


National Poetry Month: Harjo Wins Jackson Poetry Prize

“New York, NY – April 25, 2019 – Joy Harjo has won the 2019 Jackson Poetry Prize. The prize, endowed by John and Susan Jackson, is awarded annually by Poets & Writers to an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition. It carries a significant monetary award, increased this year to $65,000, and aims to provide what poets need: time and encouragement to write.”


Best of news. Of course, I’m biased. She’s one of my favorite current poets, mentioned here earlier this month


National Poetry Month: ‘She Had Some Horses’

This month I would like to mention several collections of poetry that speak to me. Let’s begin with Joy Harjo’s 1983 collection She Had Some Horses with its powerful title poem of the same name. Harjo’s poems are wind, rain, earth, fire, and spirit. Read them when you have time to meditation upon the pure, non-human and essential wildness of the natural world at its most basic and primitive level. This book is a good first step.

“I discovered “She Had Some Horses” while preparing for the poetry class I teach at an elementary school in San Francisco. Harjo’s poems ache with grit, grief and nature. They feel like that moment of insomnia when twilight breaks. Her lines are curt and heavy but they construct delicate stories. I thought She Had Some Horses would be perfect for kids this young, whose imaginations are still lush and wild. To them, horses are still spirited creatures, not farm workers.” – Julie Morse in The Rumpus

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She has written seven books of award winning poetry. She also writes and performs original music, available on five CDs

In her introductory remarks to the 1997 edition, Harjo writes, “I do not know how to explain the horses, how to tell you about the genesis of the poems, or the poem “She had some horses.” I am asked often about these poems, to elaborate the process, the history, the mythic sense, the horses, I have changed as much as these poems through the years. Nothing ever stays the same, whether it be poems or humans. When I look back over the many lines between then and now I remember a very young woman with a typewriter, entering the field of imagination with a great trust, even wildness. And there were the horses shimmering in the sun and rain on the battlefield of gains and losses, always revealing the possibility of love.”

For the current 2008 paperback edition introduction, she says, “Horses, like the rest of us, can transform and be transformed. A horse could be a streak of sunrise, a body of sand, a moment of ecstasy. A horse could be all of this at the same time. Or a horse might be nothing at all but the imagination of the wind. Or a herd of horses galloping from one song to the next could become a book of poetry.”

The horse is my totem animal. Perhaps he nudged me into this book. Or maybe it was the wind or the gods. You will find your way into this marvel if the universe wills it. If so, you will never leave. Every time you walk from page to page you will be changed. That’s the nature of the words you’ll find here.




National Poetry Month

“National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.

“Thank you for joining in the celebration by listing your events and attending other events in your community, displaying this year’s poster, participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day, recommending the Dear Poet project to a young person, signing up to read a Poem-a-Day, and checking out 30 more ways to celebrate.

Source: National Poetry Month | Academy of American Poets

A time to celebrate for those who write poetry, read poetry, or simply find the existence of poetry makes for a better world.


Ruminate’s Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize Deadline is May 15th

“For people feeling overwhelmed by life’s frantic pace, a contemplative and imaginative space changes everything. Join our community, and let’s practice staying awake together.” – Ruminate Magazine

  • What: Two previously unpublished poems per entry; 40 lines each or less
  • Entry Fee: $20. Includes copy of the magazine
  • Deadline: May 15th; winners notified in August
  • Prizes: $1,500 + publication for first place, $200 + publication for second place
  • Submission Page: https://www.ruminatemagazine.com/pages/poetry-prize; full guidelines page (more info than the submission page)
  • Finalist Judge: Shane McCrae
  • More: Scroll down from the submission page for a link to a free excerpt of the winning poems from a past year. This will give you an idea of what the magazine is looking for if you’re not a subscriber.

Briefly Noted: ‘Voices of the Elders’ by Shelly Bryant

Shelly Bryant (Cyborg Chimera, Under the Ash) is a prolific poet whose work never fails to inspire readers with pointed and poignant images that rise from the earth on the wings of spare words. Her new collection Voices of the Elders from Sam’s Dot Publishing is startling in the risks taken, the variety of its forms and references and the scope of its vision.

The fifty-five poems in this 59-page volume, many of which have appeared in “Aoife’s Kiss,” “Scifaikuest,” “Sloth Jockey” and other publications, are grouped into four sections—seduction, obstruction, destruction and abduction.

Jason Gantenberg aptly describes Bryant’s scope in these groupings in the book’s introduction: “What I’ve always loved about Shelly’s writing is the breadth of genres and periods in which she embeds her thoughts. There are few writers who will quite so fearlessly juxtapose classical Anglo-Saxon fantasies about fairies and dragons with ruminations on supernovae, historical fiction with futurism, cynical politics with whimsy.”

In “Oort” Bryant writes of “a failed planet” that’s “denuded of destiny,” followed by “Styx” an “eternal river” with an “ever-changing flow,” followed by “Bargain Hunter” about a young man in a store who makes a five-dollar purchase out of books for “aficionados with loads of cash.” The poem ends with these lines:

producing pleasure
properly pirated porn
just like the real thing

“Keep it in the Family,” begins:

and its child
creep into familiar lines

And “Voice of the Elder” ends:

the elder dryad
to the swirling storm
raises his dying howl

I will return to “Memories Shared, Standing on Your Balcony,” the writer’s block in “Project,” “Men of Renown” with their Achilles heels and the other fresh-faced words in Voices of the Elders many times, for while they speak to me of today’s world in today’s language, they are, I think, penned by an old and very wise soul.


New STRAT Recording Released

Orlando, FL, PRLOGJun 07, 2011 – A recording of Dave Campbell (aka STRAT) performing his poem “only love”, was released this month and is available from lulu.com.  

Previous releases include the CD “big bad slam poet” which has a collection of 14 poems written and performed by Campbell and a book with the same name as the CD.   

Campbell, who died in 2008, won numerous poetry slams and rap battles.  He is known to many in the Orlando area arts community and beyond as a talented poet and hip hop artist.  He grew up in the Orlando area and refined his poetry and hip hop skills while working at various jobs.