Posts Tagged ‘free verse’

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Poetry Month: Pleasures Of The Damned

April 25, 2016

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I still had a few lingering thoughts about Poetry Month, so I thought I’d run my 2008 review of Charles Bukowski’s Pleasures Of The Damned.  It was the poet’s final and mammoth posthumous publication.  Bukowski’s impact on free verse cannot be overstated, and without his influence, there would be no Breathing Room(s).  This review originally ran in Buffalo Rising. -Tom

As far as Charles Bukowski’s work is concerned, you either enjoy his work or you don’t. As far as I’m concerned, any artist who can pen 54 books is worth looking into. Almost two years ago, a friend of mine read a poem of his aloud, with a roaring campfire in the background, during a summertime couple’s cocktail get-together–and I was hooked for life.

I’d rather read books, listen to music or watch films from an artist who’s consistently above-par than fixate on the tiny visionaries who knock one or two dingers out of the park and then disappear. It’s a testament to the poet’s already extensive and prolific career that he passed away in 1993, and Ecco books has been publishing uncollected volumes of his work practically every year since. Even death couldn’t shut Bukowski (aka: ‘Henry Chinanski’) up. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and The Pleasures Of The Damned: Poems, 1951-1993 (Ecco, 2007) marks the final note in a swan song the dead, drunken lout has been singing for fifteen years beyond the grave.
The final note plays like a familiar variation on an old jazz standard because a lot of work previously published in other collections makes a return visit in the pages of this fanatic-magnet of a hardcover. Bukowski’s heirs must have scoured the final drawers in his writing nook for one last run at the residual checks, as a smattering of new, previously uncollected verse can be found peppered throughout.

It doesn’t help that I just recently tore through The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems 1946-1966 (Ecco, 2002) along with The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems (2007). Make no mistake, I don’t regret the purchase, and jump at the chance to buy any hardcover from a writer I’m enthusiastic about. It’s just a bit of a letdown to find out that I’ve already read more than seventy percent of the work within.

If you’ve read Bukowski’s work and you don’t own much of it, or if you want something literary and high-minded to show off on the coffee-table nook for your pretentious cocktail guests or in the bathroom for quick laughs and heartwarming forays into the fragility of the human soul, buy it at once. If (like me), you are systematically collecting everything the author has written and you’re starting with the larger volumes first and working your way down to the slimmer collections, you might want to hold off. There are better posthumous selections out there and they’re all marked up at boutique prices in whichever eccentric local book retailer or soulless conglomerate you can find them.

And for the uninitiated, Buk’s work is certainly worth reading. He was a champion of the underdog and an anti-elitist in the best possible sense of the term. A drunkard, a womanizer, a socially challenged citizen and a compulsive (and mostly successful) gambler at the race track, but a genius just the same. His work truly appeals to poetry lovers who think that they hate poetry. That’s how I got sucked in, and two years later, I’m still voraciously devouring every last verse in whichever books I haven’t bought yet.

Many critics bemoan the fact that his work was more structured, honest and true in the poetic sense before he become an underground sensation among skid row types, loose women and those who aren’t afraid of five to ten stiff drinks. While this may be true, the testament and the sheer weight of his own Akashic library will live on forever. His style of free verse has left a generation-spanning cacophony of enthusiasts, acolytes and derivative hacks. Present party included.

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Poetry Month: (homesick) ryan inlet

April 21, 2016

breathing room vol.I cover

I’m going to close out this little exercise with a final poem about a place that’s very dear to my heart: Rushford Lake.  Fun fact: The cover image for Breathing Room Volume I: Free Verse was a picture of my boat dock from our cabin in Rushford.  This poem found its way into Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick (2011, Doubt It Publishing), my third and, in all likelihood, my final book of poetry.  I had a few lingering thoughts about the month that I might entertain next week. 

Thanks for reading!

-Tom

 

(homesick) ryan inlet

cold feet padding past

freezing linoleum

morning fog rolling down

the channel

red embers from the previous

evening’s bonfire cooling

crows caw cacophonously

carp flop out of the water lazily

coffee drips deliberately

quietly counting out the

remaining days of a vacation

my Love shifting

snoozing

tossing/turning

beautifully

first cigarette stings

delicious pang of an

a.m. buzz

1950’s space heater

kicking into first gear

near my toes

lean back into a plush

leather chair that’s been through

three or four generations

three or four different families

ashtray precariously balanced

upon the arm

smoke curling up from a green

mug with coin insignias etched

into the clay

(grandpa’s)

duck’s diving in for a landing

on the middle of a placid

liquid landing strip

curtain’s down at the folk’s cabin

crack another comic book

drop another on the stack of the

finished pile

the start of another perfect day

four left.

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Poetry Month: Lonely

April 19, 2016

Here’s another little ditty from Breathing Room Vol.I: Free Verse (2008, Doubt It Publishing).  While I am my own worst critic, I don’t hate this one.  We’ll hop over to a different book tomorrow.

Lonely

more often than not

we do it to ourselves

in quiet rooms

silence roaring

watching the sun

slowly race

from one end of the room

to the other

 

stretching the distance

between ourselves

and everyone else

paying more attention

to the buzzing sadness

between our ears

giving in to the little

voice of indecision

screaming itself hoarse

hiding out from

inner peace.

 

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Poetry Month: Stealing Their Spirit

April 18, 2016

In honor of poetry month, I thought it would be fun to post five poems in the next five days.  This one (‘Stealing Their Spirit’) originally appeared in ArtVoice in 2007 under the wrong title (‘Prize Fighters’).  It’s from my first book of poems Breathing Room Volume I: Free Verse (2008, Doubt It Publishing). 

 

stealing their spirit

i used to take photographs

of the girls I wanted so desperately

to sleep with.

 

there are albums filled with their

quizzical wonder

impromptu smiles

forlorn profiles

in dim lit bars

as the flash

took them by surprise.

 

these were shortly

followed by landscape

scenarios

with the muse in question

somewhere in the foreground

taken with the camera

and the man behind it.

 

then bedroom motifs

ruffled hair

morning breath and no makeup

dark sunrises where sex hid

in dawn shadows

in black & white

 

turn the page and they are gone

not a trace

no hint as to what transpired

the blossoming subject

vanished;

replaced by a new lass

a new love

as long as the 35 mm rolls contended.

 

no sign of a fight

nor glimpse of hurt feelings

drunken fumblings

discovered cheating

just rolling pastures, crisp monochrome profiles

& the sweeping ephemera

of neon bar signs, snowscapes,

bedposts, apartments in

dissarray

shortly followed by their replacement.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Big Words Video 10.5: ‘Phonaesthetics’

June 2, 2015

Justin Karcher was like a force of nature once the camera started rolling for this bonus segment.  I’ve seen a lot of poetry readings in my time and I’ve been around that world more than a bit and it was pretty clear watching him work that he has a well-worn place in his head where he goes when he reads from his poems. It was something to see in person behind the camera and that energy translated very well into the segment. Check out Big Words Video 10.5 right HERE:

Karcher is the real deal when it comes to poets.  He’s not a tourist and not a ‘hobbyist’.  I look forward to seeing how his bibliography plays out.  Please take an extra minute to SUBSCRIBE to the Big Words Video Channel to receive updates on new shows as they arrive.  There are only a few episodes left before Season One comes to a close and there are still some great guests down the road!

Tom

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Poke The Scorpion Publicity Junket Rescheduled For Late October

August 13, 2011

I try to follow my instincts, and my gut tells me that it’s a smarter idea to promote Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick during the actual Scorpio season, which runs from October 23rd through November 21st.  While the book is already out online, it makes more sense to promote it effectively during the boom season for the rest of my tribe, so to speak.  While I’m not superstitious and while I don’t cling to too many pat philosophies, there are too many parallels and far too many coincidences associated with the Scorpio sign that are worth giving tribute to.  The entire book is devoted to the Scorpio mentality along with scorpions as a species.
While my poetry collections make up a very small percentage of my overall revenue, the new book is still worth hitting the road and promoting.  Some people shut down instantaneously when you even mention the word poetry, so they’re not going to even be receptive.  Other people’s ears perk up at the notion of something new and innovative.  Others can be converted given the right circumstances.  That’s the market I’m going after.  It’s my wish to incorporate a few readings, signings and related events along with some old tricks that have worked in the past.  Mark McElligott will be joining me on the journey in Buffalo and beyond.  The Monsters Of Verse will get back into the habit this fall with a few coffee houses and a few bookstores.  I’m entertaining the idea of even doing some guest bartending stints just for the hell of it.
Breathing Room Volume I was wildly successful considering the miniscule hopes I had for it.  Volume II did just okay by comparison, but it was weirder, so that’s okay.  The few people who picked up the first batch of Scorpion books have called it ‘the best poetry book I’ve written so far.’  It may be my last.  Locking into that frame of mind is difficult to do, but I’d be happy to go out on a high note where poetry is concerned.
Please enjoy your summers and free up a few weekends in late October and November.  Poke The Scorpion will be hitting you where it hurts soon enough.  In the mean time, I’ll be crouched in a small dark place waiting to strike.  Like most scorpions.
Thanks for staying tuned,
Tom Waters

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Poke The Scorpion Book Giveaway Contest

July 13, 2011

This month I’ll be giving away three random signed copies of Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick.  What do you have to do to get it?

 

1. ‘Like’ Poke The Scorpion on FB by following this link:

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/poke-the-scorpion-with-a-sharp-stick-selected-poems-2008-2011/16130225?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1

 

2. Rate the book on lulu.com.

 

3. Post a link on your Twitter, FB, Google + or any other website you may have.

 

4. Leave  a comment on this post.

 

5. Drop me an email at bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com with ‘Contest’ in the subject heading.

 

Final deadline is August 1st, 2011.  Whether you live in Buffalo or beyond, I’ll hold a random drawing at the end of July.  If you’re local I’ll hand you a copy at the first scheduled reading or signing for Poke The Scorpion in August.  If you live out of state or in another country, I’ll send you a signed copy out of pocket.  I’d like to launch this book with a bang and I need your help to do it!

 

Game on,

Tom Waters

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Final Wraparound Art For Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick

June 12, 2011

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Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick Cover Art

June 7, 2011

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Also (an excerpt from the upcoming collection Poke The Scorpion With A Sharp Stick, e.t.a. 2012)

January 8, 2011

Also

f scott & zelda

had the right idea

hemingway

knew what he was doing

ellis

mcinerney

capote

chinanski

 

tie one on

 

(& off topic entirely)

salinger

 

shut out the voices

the muses

the drive to keep writing

day & night

find asylum

detox

sanctuary

a sanitarium

or a safari

away from everything

& try to forget

 

(although it goes against the grain)

 

slough it off python-like

a maturing

let it go

find comfort in 80, 90 & near toxic

proof

(s)

 

if only it were the seminal

prodigious

30s again

with a wellspring of talent

a readership chomping at the bit

& a sun that rose

also.

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Bonus Poem! Conduct Unbecoming

April 4, 2009

This week has been a bitch and a half and I was thinking about this poem earlier today.  It applies to quite a bit.  Instead of giving a ten minute explanation for a one page poem, though, I’ll just let you read it.  It’s from the upcoming poke the scorpion with a sharp stick, which I’ve been working on quietly with what little free time I can spare as of late.  Enjoy! -Tom

Conduct Unbecoming

i would rather tell people

exactly

how i feel

when i feel it

than mince words

pretend that there isn’t a problem

or join the longstanding tradition

of stabbing others in the back

or misdirecting my anger on those who aren’t deserving of it.

i prefer to go for long periods

without saying anything

in favor of lashing out

saying something i’d regret

or resorting to physical violence.

i choose to beat myself up

by various methods

instead of

channeling my rage, confusion or sadness

towards the people i love

& when all of these subroutines & behaviors fail me

i default

& retreat inward

for a season or three.

It’s a sad, dysfunctional, pathetic, pathological world

when i’m the misfit for carrying on as previously stated

& the norm for dealing with others

is quite to the contrary.

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Breathing Room Volume I: Free Verse First Editions Available NOW!

September 14, 2008
Gang,
 
    After two years of writing, two months of selection, proof-reading, spell-checking, brainstorming and another two months of exceptional interior layout design by Nicholas Peterson, I’m very, very proud to announce that the first volume of my two volume poetry brainchild is finally ready for purchase!  I received my first 20 copies and with a reading in Rochester coming up in less than two weeks, the odds of obtaining a copy from me are pretty slim and grim.  Please, PLEASE feel free to order directly from my distributor at the following link as soon as possible:
 
http://www.lulu.com/content/2962892
 
    After looking over the inaugural batch of the first volume, I can honestly say that this is the most professional book I’ve ever been honored to be a part of.  It was definitely a group effort, though.  This book wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless spell checking and irreplaceable feedback from Carrie Gardner as well as the far-above-par layout skills of Nick Peterson.  The same team is (or already have) pitched in on Volume II: rhymes & relics, which will be available by the middle of October (just in time for the first Monsters Of Verse booking at the Center For Inquiry on Saturday, October 25th).
    The book is also available as a download.  Don’t feel bad either, as I make more money through the web site on downloads than I would from print copies.  If you absolutely have to have a physical copy of the book, contact me as soon as you can as supplies are painfully limited for the next two weeks.  I promise to sign every copy of every book purchased and that’s a fact.  In addition, I’m offering a money back guarantee on all saleable condition copies that any of you are willing to try if it’s not your cup of tea.  Men who have read the book (in one sitting, every single one of them) have been more ardent supporters of these two books than women, and women have been pretty fond of it, too.  Give it a chance.  You’ll be surprised. 
    Another chapter of my life is complete.  I’ve got more good news but I’ll save it for another day.  So start your engines.  Start ordering now.  After Slapstick & Superego drops next May, I’m out of the Print On Demand business altogether.  I’ve got enough networking connections, enough tools and contacts at my disposal, and a firm enough grasp of the marketing/publishing hierarchy that it’s high time to go into business for myself.  Ladies and Gentleman, after two (and soon to be three) very successful ventures as publisher, proprietor and CEO of Doubt It Publishing, I’ll be going into business for myself. 
 
     Order the new book.  Order two.  Or five.  Here is the retail breakdown:
 
    Trade Paperback: $14.99 (154 pages)
    PDF download: $9.99
 
    And please, let me know what you think.  The money back guarantee is not a fluke.  If you’ve read the book and you don’t like it, I will pay out of pocket including the shipping charges.  And lest I forget, Lulu’s standard USPS shipping is lightning fast.  Many of you have complained in the past about the long wait times for online ordering and you’re not going to have that problem with Breathing Room.  My first twenty copies were printed, bound and on my doorstep in six days.  Not business days, but six calendar days.  Scoop up a copy.  I’ll give you all a shout out sooner than you think.  Thanks for entering a new phase in my life with me,
 
Tom Waters
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giving it away for free: madhouse

August 8, 2008

the pathetic thing is that this isn’t even part of either volume of breathing room.  i’m working on a 400 page hardcover in my idle (right!) time that i’m gonna set for completion in 2010 called poke the scorpion with a sharp stick.  this october (when my b-day rolls around), i’m going to get a tattoo that i’ve always wanted.  a traditional scorpio symbol from the zodiac in black with his tail reaching out of a circle like a bat-signal for my sign.  that’s gonna be the cover.  it’s good to have goals.  it’s good to visualize these things five moves in advance, too.  anyhow, here’s one i wanted to share that i transcribed from my notebook three minutes ago.  enjoy!

…the whole World is a

{ MADHOUSE }

a looney bin

full of

ranters

ravers

whiners

screamers

schizos

alkies

uppers

downers

punchers

(ragers)

nail-biters

ankle-grabbers

cutters

rapers

the raped

the debauched

the hunted

the haunted

guilt-ridden

pyromaniacs/sodomaniacal/nympho-maniacal/mid-life/crycyle

meltdowns

-i’m not the only inmate.

-i’m not only an inmate

(but)

i’m also the president.

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More work (still) to be done on Breathing Room(s)

July 18, 2008

I got my galley proof in the mail from Lulu.com this afternoon and the page breaks, headers and footers are a catastrophe.  Carrie Gardner sent me the back half of the manuscript for Volume I and it’s riddled with typos.  I’m strongly considering pulling all the page breaks, page numbers and headers and let all the poems cozy up next to one another so that people can either browse them, power-read them or flip through at their leisure.  Two more weeks and copies will be in reader’s hands come hell or highwater.  My photographer has two more days to get me a picture for the cover concept on the first one and after that I’ll just take matters into my own hands.  Two more friends (Ian from Don’s Atomic and his moll Rachel) perused the first volume and gave me some solid and glowing feedback.  I just might have two minor hits on my hands.  You’ll be able to judge for yourself soon enough…

And one more thing.  If you want a free teaser (3 poems each) from either collection, you can find them easily enough over on my Myspace profile.  Thanks!

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