Monday, December 25, 2006

Blog Update

I have switched over to the new blogging system here, and I like it. I like the ability to add labels, to see which posts have comments attached in the edit window, and republishing much more quickly and easily. I like being able to see what has linked to my posts. It's a much more convenient system.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Nature and Poetry

Recently a discussion about blind people writing haiku and people writing from imagination versus direct experience occurred on a workshop list. I had the following comments to make:

Experiencing nature directly provides material which can be turned into a poem now or later. I see a definite difference between poems written from those written from direct experience and those which are only imaginary. This is not to say that one is superior to the other, but I much prefer those written from direct experience myself. They are much more likely to offer new insights and to avoid the risk of being vague or generic.

Consider the difference:

summer day
birds on pylons
one different

summer day at the port,
a seagull among the baygulls
perched upon the pylon

How many people realize how many different kinds of seagulls there are? And would a person assume 'marina' or even 'riverfront' unless they were told 'port?' And having picked 'port' doesn't it call to mind other resonances, such as a big container ship among the much smaller pleasure craft, as compared to the seagull among the baygulls? Etc.

These truths of the world do not need to be viewed directly with the eyes, and your blind friend is very wise to point out the importance of perceiving the world through other methods. All too often, those of us who can see base our poetry on what we perceive with our eyes, but the other senses are just as important. In poetry they can be extremely effective for the simple reason that the other senses show up much less frequently than sight, and are therefore more likely to be fresh.

after scurrying
across the cement floor
in bare feet,
how welcome the warmth
of the laundry room


NB. 'Baygull' is local terminology for inland gulls; they're on the Chesapeake Bay, not the sea, so they must be a 'baygull,' right? True seagulls are huge by comparison to baygulls.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Haiku Writing Prompts at OneBreathPoetry

I stumbled across OneBreathPoetry blog while searching the web and found they had reprinted a poem of mine as a poem for inspiration. (Naughty, naughty, you're supposed to ask first! Consider yourselves to have had a finger wagged at you, ladies.) I liked the sight and was flattered that they thought well of my poetry, and I am even more flattered that they keep referring to me as a haiku poet of international standing, in spite of me telling them that when it comes to haiku I am nobody in particular. I have had a few things published in Modern Haiku, Fish in Love, Haiku Miscellany, Simply Haiku, and Haiku Harvest, but the quality and quanity of my haiku are both inferior to my tanka.

Nonetheless, I like the way they are approaching the teaching of haiku by offering writing prompts, poems for inspiration, and links to participating poets' blogs. The presentation is attractive and not overwhelmed -- too many sites try to do too much and wind up with a page crammed with gewgaws and bad poetry. If you're interested in practicing haiku in a different form than the usual online email lists and bulletin boards, check it out.

Poems for the writing prompts:

Delicious Autumn:

one yellow leaf
clings to the branch
in a world of grey.
~M. Kei from


basket womb
full of the fruit
of life
~ M. Kei, from


white fur blending
into white snow
the dead cat


Monday, December 18, 2006

Fire Pearls - Errata

Fire Pearls was a large and complex project, and like all such projects, is slowly accumulating errata.

All instances of bottle rockets should have been lower case, not Upper Case.

Robert Wilson's poem 'explore with me' was previously accepted for publication in Wisteria.

My guidelines required all previously published poems to include information on prior publication so that they could be properly acknowledged. In all cases when the poet provided the information to me, the necessary credit appeared. Several poets included previously published material without acknowledgement, and these have been handled on a case by case basis as necessary to satisfy the previous publisher.

As I ranted in a previous post, I am disimpressed with poets who fail to follow published guidelines and disrespect me and their prior publisher by failing to provide proper acknowledgement. It's unprofessional and unacceptable.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bird Haiku

I love blue herons, but other kinds of birds interest me as well. I am interested in the birds I see before me and I am trying to learn their names. So many of the birds, such as the crow and wild goose, have become cliches in poetry. It is hard to write about them. But less common birds and their habits are excellent fodder for poetry.

the slate-backed junco—
a little bit of storm cloud
hopping around my yard

Previously appeared in Nisqually Delta Review, Winter/Spring, 2007.

On a night like this,
not even the owls
have anything to say.

Previously appeared in Haiku Harvest, Spring/Summer, 2006.

low tide,
ducks and yachts
coast into the marina

Previously appeared in Clouds Peak, Fall, 2006.

Traffic radio,
"Wild turkeys in the road."
Rush hour, country style.

Previously appeared in 'Wandering the County,' Honorable Mention, Lighthouse Poetry Contest, 2006.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Occasional Kyoka - Call for Submissions

From Kyoka Mad Poems

Okay, folks. I've been thinking about this kyoka, and I don't have the space, time or energy to edit a journal, so I have decided to try a small experiment. I have a blog: where I ramble and rant on things poetic and boats. I have decided to try a feature called 'Occasional Kyoka' in which I publish kyoka submissions from others from time to time. There is no fame or glory here, but maybe down the line I'll be able to do another kyoka feature somewhere.

If you'd like to participate in Occasional Kyoka, send me up to ten kyoka for consideration. There is no deadline; I'll be putting up the post when I have the time/urge/enough poetry. Preferably before or during the Christmas break (hey, kyoka is a good stress relief, right). So don't worry about 'the best kyoka,' just something that made you laugh. *I* can use some stress relief right now myself!

You can share this with your friends if you like, but please don't propagate it to other mailing lists since it's not a formal journal. It's just a chance for us to mess about with our poetry a little more and maybe put some of it into an orderly presentation.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fire Pearls Marketing Efforts

Work on Fire Pearls: Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart continues. For those of you who think that publishing a book is hard work, wait until you try marketing one! Nonetheless, progress is being made.

Upcoming: Fire Pearls will be featured as a Valentine's Day tie-in for the newsletter. Fire Pearls will also be featured at a Valentine's Day Coffeehouse at Cecil Community College, North East, MD, also as a Valentine's Day tie-in, complete with chocolate and flowers. I have also submitted the pdf to to be processed for their 'Search Inside the Book' program. This allows an excerpt of the book to be read online by a prospective buyer. I have faith that the quality of poetry is such that should a reader read it, they will want to buy it!

I am also working on getting review copies out. This requires proofreading and personalizing the press releases as I am including them with the review copies. I have made splash sheets to go with them saying 'LOCAL AUTHOR' and "GREAT TIE-IN" with listings of upcoming relevant observances, including Valentine's Day, Poetry Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Mother's Day, and June Weddings. I'm a little disappointed that Fire Pearls seems to be getting pegged as a Valentine's Day product by mainstream media, but I suppose it's better to be seen at Valentine's Day than not seen at all. I remain confident that should the book come to reader's attention, it will interest them.

Due to the individual attention I am providing the review copies, and due to the fact that I work fulltime (and sometimes more), plus serve on the board of a directors of a local museum during a Capital Campaign, I don't have as much time as I would like. Still, every week I do something to get Fire Pearls noticed in the world. Oftentimes what I do results in email and mail going into the great round file in the sky, but I do it. This is the kind of thing where persistance pays off. Frankly, if only 5% of the effort results in something tangible, that's still pretty good. All it takes is one Oprah to notice the book...

Yes, I've submitted my 'suggestion' to Oprah's Book Club. Haven't heard back and don't think I will... but you have to try. It's their job to reject my efforts, not mine. This is something that many people don't understand. They think that you should try to guess in advance if you're going to be successful, and if you think you won't be, don't even bother trying. If you don't try, you won't succeed. I think it was Edison who said he learned more from his failures than his successes.

Marketing a small press book is no easy thing, and poetry is a notoriously hard sell. Tanka especially so. Currently, if a book of tanka sells 300 copies, it's a hit. My goal is to sell a 1000 copies of Fire Pearls . If I recall correctly, the initial print-run on Goldstein and Shinoda's translation of Tangled Hair was only 1200 copies, and it's been in print since then and is now considered a classic. I hope for something similar for Fire Pearls .

Having gotten my hands on most of the anthologies of English-language tanka published in the last one hundred years, I can say that Fire Pearls compares well. I have even laid hands on hard to find books such as Maple (1975). I haven't gotten hold of all the anthologies; several still elude me (see previous books wanted post), but I do have about 3/4 of the English-language anthologies ever published in my possession. Expect to see future articles derived from this research!