Tag Archives: poetry
Since this is the month to celebrate poetry and poets, I thought I would provide you with a list of the poets I have previously featured on my other blog, Reading Recommendations. All links will take you to each poet’s promotion.
For about three years now, a group of poets from London, ON, pack up their words and wine and head for Bayfield during July where they book holiday cabins for a week and enjoy a self-directed writing retreat. I had been asked previously by my friend, Frank Beltrano, to join them, but this was the first time I was actually “in the neighbourhood,” so to speak, and while I didn’t choose to participate in the retreat itself, I did drive to Bayfield for the afternoon of their public reading that had been organized on the main street of town by Patina Studios.
It was a beautiful day for a drive and a poetry reading and the main street was filled with tourists strolling the boulevard. Parking was tight, too, because of all the visitors, but this is not unusual for a town like Bayfield, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. It’s a pretty little town with several public beaches and parks and a large number of boutique shops and services catering to the influx of visitors every summer. I did not notice a single chain or national store along that main street, either.
Patina Studios is one of these businesses, owned and operated by local artists. Joan Bailey was very welcoming and had set up a canopied “stage” in the garden area in front of the gallery, complete with sound system and mobiles dangling from the canvas cover, lines from poems printed on pieces of cardboard that twirled in the breeze.
Each of the poets had written the titles of their poems on slips of paper and the audience and passers-by were asked to draw titles from a basket. Reading that afternoon were Ron Stewart (a previous Coffee Shop Author contest winner, by the way), Kevin Heslop, Jan Stewart, Joan Clayton, Jennifer Chestnut, and Frank Beltrano.
We all had a most enjoyable afternoon, and many of those walking by, both young and old, stopped to listen for a while. When the reading was finished, we gathered around a picnic table back at the rented cabins and enjoyed the cheese I had brought from The Pine River Cheese & Butter Co-op near Kincardine. (The caramelized onion cheddar was a big hit!) I knew poets would require sustenance after their performances and that they already had brought a quantity of wine with them.
They decompressed and we all discussed the reading, the generosity of Patina Studios in providing the venue, and the perfect weather we enjoyed. Even the roofers working on a building across the street had stopped at one point to listen to poetry being read on the street on a sunny, summer day.
Bruce Meyer is an author (poet) living in Barrie, ON, Canada, who was previously featured on Reading Recommndations. He recently posted to his status update on Facebook, and I found what he had to say about being an artist so interesting that I asked his permission to share this with all my blog readers. Thanks, Bruce, for your insight and the advice! smt)
I had a very startling experience on the weekend. I had to move my computer desk to reset my modem and get a new power cord for it. I found an old address book — about 30 or more years old. In it were the names and contact info for people in the literary world. At one time the book was a kind of who’s who of publishers, publicists, authors, reading venues, and cultural administrators (some of who were really lousy to a young poet). What I found startling was that there are only a handful of survivors of those days. Some people left the world and I’m sorry for that. Others, just drifted away from writing. Those who survived (and you know who you are because I’m in touch with you all frequently these days) are survivors because you paid the price for your passion. Joseph Campbell says we should find our bliss, but what he forgot is the fact that we have to pay for it in so many ways. An artist’s longevity is based on several things:
1) Don’t let people put you down for what you are doing. If they put you down for what you are doing without expressing a note of compassion or creative suggestion for how you can develop what you do, tell them to f— off. They’re idiots.
2) Be prepared to pay the price for what you do. My first book of poems was rejected by over 1000 publishers. Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That might be true for physics, Albert, but life doesn’t work according to equations. Keep doing what you are doing.
3) Sticky by your guns. You know what you can do. For years I carried a quote from the jazz great, Thelonius Monk, in my wallet. He said “Play your own way. Don’t play the way people tell you to play. Play your own way. Eventually people will catch on even if it takes them twenty or thirty years.” I agree.
4) Failure is not a negative thing: it is a chance to learn more. I am paraphrasing my Victoria College compadre, Malcolm Gladwell here, but that was a mantra that some of the finer profs slipped to us during our undergrad days. Those who got jobs right out of their PhDs stopped at that particular point in time. Many of those (and I’m not talking about everyone but a number of folks) didn’t have the pressure to constantly learn and reinvent their thinking. Reinvent yourself continually. Learn as much as you can. When you bomb, that’s just a chance to push the reset button.
5) If you fail one place, just pack up your act and move it somewhere else. The place where you fail is just a stop on a longer journey. I know. I got shot down here and there over the years. I take great solace in the story of Snoopy and the Red Baron: up 99 times, shot down 99 times.You are a road act. Be prepared to play Peoria every now and then. And remember if they don’t appreciate you here and now then just wait. You will show them.
6) Never, ever give up believing in yourself. You are your own investment. There are always going to be people who behave like pests at a picnic. They hover. They can sting. They will be annoying. Their presence is short. Your presence is long term. You live with yourself. Live your life with a vision that you will keep pursuing what you know you can do, and the better you get at it, the more you learn from failure, the stronger and more accomplished you will become at what you do.
7) And make sure what you do is the best you can do. To my survivor friends out there (God bless you — we’re old troopers and I’m sure you know this), those who endure are those who always strive to do their best. They are their own harshest critics. They are never satisfied with themselves. Yes, a person can be hurt by criticism but you have to ask yourself (after you put aside the bastard’s ego and blah blah prejudice that always comes with criticism) what the criticism really contains because even when it is meant to sting there is an ounce of usefulness in that. Find that usefulness and you will overcome the moment.
8) Keats had one major review of his poetry during his life. It was a horrible, negative review. No one reads the review (except Keats scholars and literary bloodhounds such as me). People read Keats though. The world is full of crap. Don’t pay any attention to it and don’t let the bastards get you down because the world is full of wonders that are trying to speak to you if you listen to them. Negativity from others shuts down the ears of our souls and blunts the whispers that the world is trying to share with us. Be aware that the naysayers vanish (poof!) like magic. They are soon replaced by more naysayers. There will always be naysayers because there will always be people who feel insecure and threatened by what you do and how well you do it. They are even worse when you make it look easy (and it isn’t easy — it is hard, long-fought for work and they bloody well don’t know it and they don’t need to because hard work counts for nothing). The only measure of what you accomplish is whether it stands the test of time. The moment is nothing. The accolade is meaningless.
The real reward is when someone you hardly knew, someone who was standing just out of the corner of your eye whose name you failed to record in that address book thirty years ago writes to you out the blue and says “what you did had meaning, what you said has stayed with me, and what you dreamed has pointed the way for me.” That is when you know it was all worth it.