Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Another deep breath 

That's right, I never left my day job - 64, and I'm a substitute teacher, in a welding shop of a high school. The guy had a computer, so I'm updating my blogs, thinking of beginning a poetry project, and reflecting on the nature of poetry in general (see articles on instagram poetry below).

My six or seven volumes of haiku never went anywhere in particular; and, they pressured me. I pressured myself to write a thousand in a year, until I was sick of writing it, and didn't want to write another haiku. My next project, if it comes to pass, will have no such deadline. e pluribus haiku: the novel will be enormous and substantial, but might take five years. whatever, i will plug away with it and keep you informed here.

a poet friend of mine, Tony Hoagland, died recently. I knew him in Iowa City and, though I don't remember clearly, we had good times together. He took the Writer's Workshop route, and I wanted to get a hold of him to discuss the relationship between actualism and the Workshop; he became an established poet, and taught at various universities. He died in Santa Fe, and I plan to write something about him, if not include him in my novel about Iowa City and actualism, which is still on the back burner. Here is a good obituary of him, and I hope, myself, to come back to this spot, read it more carefully, and ruminate. He did, after all, take the other path. I could have done the English major thing, and I knew it, and avoided it like the plague, and in fact, still do (I am qualified to teach English, and can't bring myself to do it). He was a friend though. I often wonder, if I had gone that route, would I too be dead at the age of 64. I too am 64.

So the instagram poetry articles are, basically, for my haiku novel. The main character will be an instagram poet. His love interest hangs Warhol exhibits in major metropolitan museums. Their love is eternal.

And that's all. Good night.

Instagram Poetry 

Fallon, Claire. (2018, Oct. 4). Instagram Poetry Is A Huckster’s Paradise. HuffPost. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/instagram-poetry-atticus-duncan-penn_us_5bb2df2de4b0ba8bb2104b1b. Accessed 10-18

Del Rio, B. (2018, Sept. 20). These contemporary poets churn out lines that are relatable AF, preen.ph. https://preen.inquirer.net/83261/contemporary-poets-churn-lines-relatable-af. Accessed 11-18.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ha, Thu-Huong. (2018, June 8). Americans are reading poetry again because of Instagram. Quartzy. https://quartzy.qz.com/1300792/poetry-is-popular-in-the-us-again-because-of-instagram/. Accessed 6-18.

Ha, Thu-Huong. (2017, Nov. 17). Americans are reading a lot of poetry right now, if you count “Instagram poetry". Quartzy. https://quartzy.qz.com/1133842/milk-and-honey-milk-and-vine-i-hope-this-reaches-her-in-time-are-bestselling-instagram-poetry-books/. Accessed 6-18.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

report from the haiku trenches 

The new e pluribus haiku has come out, and I am trying to back off and get perspective on it. Much of what I've done, writing a thousand haiku per year for about three years, has been kind of pointless, in terms of the attention or sales that I've generated. OK, so I did it for myself, really, to see if I could, and because that sense of traveling is always with me. And now I'll do a kind of traveling publicity for it. I'll put it on every twitter, on every blog. My publicity machine, such as it is, will get fired up and let the world know about it.

If it comes to its conclusion, which would be a single book, with about five thousand haiku, that was like a novel, that would be excellent. That would also be a lot of work. I find myself exhausted after just a thousand. The truth is, I started out ok - when 2017 was published, I took about a month off, but when I started, I was able to do five or six a day for a long time. I figured I had to do 3-4 a day if I could sustain it all year, but if I lose a month, I'm already up to about 4-5 a day. OK, so I did fine, May until about October. Then for some reason I swooned and was unable to write. This went on for a couple of months. I just couldn't pen one, for any reason. OK, so I don't force myself, I don't worry, I just move along, and I did. When I finally got back on track, I was ok again. Now I had to do 5 or 6 a day, but I did. ANd this carried on, right through the holidays.

But then I closed in on my thousand, right in March when I was supposed to. I saw the numbers reach up into 950, 960, almost done. Now, I shut down again. I simply had no more to say. Haiku Day (Apr. 15, my target) came and went; I couldn't finish, couldn't write a single one. I did some publicity hoping it would get me on track; it didn't. Logjam. Writer's block. Nothing happened.

I actually went a month, two months, before it clicked again. Finally I just churned a few out and it was over. I was sick of it. I wanted the 960 that I'd already written to be out there. I did it, pulled together the book, and put it out there.

It's the first thing I've published since my father died, in January. That actually set me back, that and noticing that my son was pulling in a thousand a month from a you tube channel. I get a little depressed knowing that I do all this writing, basically for nothing; I have a kind of reputation on kindle, and acx, but don't sell much in the way of hard-copy amazon books. This summer I'm working on making it so I have some kind of income; I'm starting with acx, and with my stories. If one reads a book for a living, one makes a living. It too may be paltry, but let's face it, poetry is not hauling in the cash. I'm reaching the point where I want some of my hard work to come back at me as I sit here in this chair, so I don't have to keep getting out of it, to make more cash. If I'm a writer, the world should recognize that and let me write.

The problem is, the stories are the same way. They have some audience; I make some money. I get noticed, a little. But, they're like poetry; there's a sea of words out there, and people can't distinguish this set from that set, and it takes a while to get a reputation, when you're doing your own publicity. I put my stuff on blogs, but who reads blogs? I have a page on Facebook, but who's going to find it? My Amazon author's page leads to my promo blog, but who reads either one?

Maybe it's time for some creative publicity....

Then again, here's the good news. I found out the other day, or rather realized, something I'd known for quite a while: we, here, in southern New Mexico, and you're talking Las Cruces, Deming, Alamo, Carlsbad...we are in the 5 - 7 - 5 area code. That's right, we have pop haiku phone numbers. Give us a call. Or better yet, come visit. If you change your phone, you too can have a haiku area code. Apparently, around here, they've had them all along.

e pluribus haiku 2018 

$6.00 + shipping on Amazon

$2.99 on Kindle

1000 original haiku from fifty states and the District of Columbia - written in an original 5-7-5 style. Haiku are colorful and physical and include a season word or hint. Because the USA is geographically spread out, geography clues are necessary too.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

haiku day announcement 

OK, Earth Day and birthday are gone, haiku day five days past, and still no e pluribus haiku. You deserve an explanation. Here it is.

I got to about 975, which is pretty good for a single year; I had really hustled, and written as many as five, six a day. But suddenly, right around the time my dad died, I got obsessed with the Puritan Leveretts, absolutely obsessed. Turns out they were pretty wild characters, with all kinds of surprises in there. The guy I was named after signed the document that started the first American public school. His son was the first student. That son became governor, and was the first important colonial to flip off the crown. He literally told them that their instruction was of no consequence to him; he even refused to take his hat off in the process, which was a quakerly kind of thing to do, but very symbolic in the sense that he really didn't care for the crown as he saw it, and let it be known very clearly.

so he kind of told them to shove it you know where, and they came back and revoked the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and a whole chain of events was set off from there.

But there's more. A simmering brewing feud between the Leveretts and Cotton Mather came to a head around the time of the witch trials. Poor Cotton got tarred by his involvement in those witch trials. But what he wanted was the presidency of Harvard, and he didn't get it; John Leverett did. By now we're down to the fourth generation, not our ancestor, but nevertheless, this guy, by his opposition to Cotton Mather, established liberal education as we know it in the USA.

SO all the time I'm reading this stuff, and I can't write a single haiku. Zip. Now I've reached the point where I can sit down and just write a few, but all of a sudden, writer's block. Nothing.

So I roll with the punches. It's the pressure, really, that I put myself under. But once Haiku Day, Apr. 17, my self-imposed deadline, passed, and I got back on the crank. Here I am today at about 997, and a little editing to do, have to get the redundancies out of there. Which I will do.

Keep your eyes out. After that, it's the novel.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

e pluribus haiku the novel 

OK here's the plan. I've been writing about a thousand a year, three or four a day. I now have a few thousand, from all fifty states and the district, and what they do is make a background. It's very visual, physical, organized by seasons. So, you start out in Alabama and go summer, fall, winter, spring, and then you go to Alaska, that is, until or unless I organize it some other way.

So here's the question: is it possible to superimpose a novel onto this background? A novel, it would be, with a main character, a love interest, a plot, an ongoing story of some kind? Of course it would be possible, and, such a thing could fit into a single book with, say, five thousand. I've begun plotting it out already.

e pluribus haiku 2018, which will have this year's thousand, is already in the works. With all the other crazy stuff in my life - dad in hospice, wife in repair from knee surgery, four kids, uncertain job picture (though I'm technically a sub in the Alamogordo schools) - the one thing I stick with is my haiku; I've been able to write four a night. Last night, for example, it was South Dakota. I write & publish and I try to keep them coming. I have been developing an obsession with Warhol (see picture above) though I've let go of the idea of actually making money. Money schmoney. When it's all over, the money will be gone, but there will still be 5-7-5, all over the place.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

haiku & kindle 

I like haiku, you write a thousand of them in a year; they must be doing something for you. You write poetry for yourself though. I can't see doing my best on a single poem and then hoping people read it seriously and give me feedback. I've tried that kind of poetry before, and found I didn't have the patience or the social sensibility to carry it all the way through.

But I care passionately about what I write, and I care passionately that it doesn't always appear in Kindle as a single block of three lines, with no caps, and some punctuation but not much. I want it to look a certain way. I want the reader to see the three lines together.

Kindle is relatively new, and when they set it up, they didn't know how to give the authors control. A lot of them, like me, came straight over from CreateSpace, exhausted from setting up our own book, with formatting requirements, on Createspace, and they say, you want it on Kindle? and I say yes and upload my file and they say, oh we don't like pdf, so I go back and give them a word file. But for a long time they didn't show me what the readers saw. So if my page broke at 58 lines and theirs broke at 20, they would just cut, and I was none the wiser. Now they let me preview it before I tuck it back in. And lo and behold, all my kindle books are skewed. They have spaces where there shouldn't be spaces, and they have haiku, ingloriously split with two lines on one page, one on the next.

I'm going back and changing them all, by golly, one at a time. I have 2017, which just came out; it looks good. I just finished 2016; it took about half an hour now that I know what I'm doing. I'm going to make sure Kindle customers get a good haiku experience.

Actually the haiku are like the books: people who actually read them, really like them. As I've said before, only one out of a hundred or two hundred people will even read a poem, once they get out of high school, and even fewer actually do the mental preparation necessary to really appreciate them. I'm speaking to a very limited crowd here.

But I don't care about that either. One of my goals is to become like the Warhol of haiku. Warhol, you remember, was famous for being ubiquitous; for becoming the bellwether of the art world (his work sets the standard for other work that compares to it), and for being bold, in your face, strong, yet still interpretable. What does the Marilyns painting really mean? I doubt more than one in ten people could give you a reasonable explanation, and the three or four good ones you'd get would be all different (assuming, of course, that you asked about a hundred). Yet it's the most recognizable painting of the 20th century; everyone's seen it. Everyone knows it.

I can't imagine haiku could ever be like that - people care way more about art than about haiku - but, there is a 5-7-5 culture out there. There are people who like 5-7-5 - and, in spite of being Japanese, our own 5-7-5 is uniquely ours, since our language is so unique and different from Japanese. I've found a home in 5-7-5, and I'm incredibly free to express myself. Suddenly, quickly, intensely - kind of like pop art. My first problem was getting a thousand, and making them unique, and getting them to tell a single story. Now, I'm not bound to the seventies for the next one - I'm going Warhol a little, freeing myself up, but sticking to the conventions of haiku, at least some of the basic ones, the ones that serve me. I have no problem with the season clues; I'm getting better at it. I have rules and am sticking to them the best I can.

I'm going to be all over kindle with haiku. People will be able to read the good ones, if they want. Starting now (it's the season for e pluribus, since we're running right up on the fourth) - the best of the e pluribus series, namely the last three years, will be in cycle, free on kindle, at one time or another. I'll keep revolving them around - why not? one wants people to read it. if it's free, people will find it.

but it has to look good. That's my first requirement.

e pluribus haiku 2017 

a thousand original haiku

Available at Amazon $6.29 + shipping
Available at the Createspace Store $6.29 + shipping
Available on Kindle $3.59

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