So I read that Tommy Page died. Apparently suicide at age 46. I’d been listening to his cheesy love songs. Hey I’ve nothing against cheesy love songs. Maybe it’s even a secret pleasure? His hits are “I’ll Be Your Everything”, “Paintings On My Mind”, “A Shoulder To Cry On”, among others. On a different note, I also read a poem by Elizabeth Bishop called “Insomnia”.
The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she’s a daytime sleeper.
By the Universe deserted,
she’d tell it to go to hell,
and she’d find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well
into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.
In your poem write about remembering and like the moon, “find a body of water, or a mirror, on which to dwell.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock, we’ve started on a new theme for the journal. “Sweet Sorrow” it is. It calls for one to revisit the past, find the sap at wherever points can be found, and let it, at each point, to all ooze out. That’s one reading I suppose. This time round I want you to stick to this theme if only to try and come up with a cohesive body of poems. It’s to create a thread I suppose. And in case I haven’t spoken of it (and I haven’t), the idea is to eventually come up with a poem manuscript of 20-30 poems. If you do come up with that many poems, and if they’re are good enough (yea every single one of them), then you could submit to Red Wolf Journal. We’re looking at poem manuscripts from now till pretty much the rest of the year to publish digital collections by individual poets. But if that’s too much for you, then you could still write random poems and submit to our Spring/Summer 2017 issue. Submissions open!
So tis the last day of submission. I’m sorry guys, if your poems weren’t selected. Don’t stop trying. Your poem’s got to move me in different, sometimes unexpected ways. Who said writing poems would be easy? But there’ll be a new issue coming up shortly, so you’ll still be able to submit if you wish. Whatever it is, if you’re a poet, you get to live a creative life, which isn’t quite what ordinary folks get up to. Other folks get creative in other ways of course. Dance for instance. Whatever you do get into the groove. Then you’d be happy. Meanwhile I’ve got to get changed and go for a musical. That makes me happy. Write a poem about what makes you happy.
It’s almost the penultimate day to the final day for submission. How’s your mood? Are you in the mood for writing? For submitting? For not submitting? I’ve just finished reading Emile Zola’s The Belly of Paris. It is set in and around Les Halles, the enormous, busy central market of 19th Century Paris. It contains pretty robust descriptions of a real-life market. For instance, pigeons being slaughtered by breaking necks and slitting throats. I’m old enough to remember how live chickens were slaughtered in the markets where I live. The theme of the story is in the final punchline: “What bastards respectable people are!” Respectability is a veneer, associated with prosperous living and the willingness to sacrifice truth, practice deceit, to preserve that at any cost. I also came across an article in which Pope Francis said that it’s better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic. Hmmm. Write a poem about hypocrisy, either of a person or in general terms.
Hey guys there’s about a week left for you to submit to our Fall/Winter 2016/2017 issue. Submissions close on 25 February. The theme is, The Heart Knows. Knowing is terribly important, is it not? In Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, the prince had met a wild fox who’d asked him to tame it. Once you’ve tamed the fox, he won’t be just a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. He’d have become your friend, the only one of his kind in the world. Same thing with roses, said the fox. “It’s the time that you gave to your rose that makes your rose so important,” he said.
“People have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible for ever for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose…”
That’s why the prince had to die. So that he could return to the only rose on his planet. And thereafter the narrator would always think of his friend, the little prince, when he looked at the stars.
The secret, said the fox, is that “you can only see clearly with your heart. What’s essential is invisible to the eye.”
See if this quote inspires a poem.
It’s almost the end of the season for our current issue. Some of you might be looking forward to the next issue and wondering what the theme might be. I’d say, whatever it is, themes all kind of overlap one another. Love, loss, lies, spies, and the process of making art. So you just feel deeply whatever your godhead is, and write from that place. The theme would be one that’s familiar. I just defamiliarize it by putting a name to it, that’s all, marking a new season of spring/summer. If you are in reality in the fall/winter of your life, look back on your spring/summer. The second time round (you wish) would be just as sweet.
Everyone has a life story. What if you had to write a memoir? What would you tell? Would you list down events, expositional style? You know, the “and then” “and then” way of setting things down. Someone had said life has three great events: birth, sex and death. Would those be the hooks from which you’d expound your mini stories? Someone had also asked, what three things would you remember most about a person. Perhaps you’d try and answer that, as if your narrative is really an attempt to paint a character. Character is all. If someone remembers you as kind, curious, and has a sense of humor, would you be happy? I think I would. Your prompt would be to write a familial story.