SPRING HAIKU CONTEST WINNERS!

Thanks to all who submitted. Many wonderful entries. the winner is:

Jeff Casselman:

Through gold alluvial
Azure flowers bloom, small plumed
Footsteps to the sky.

Congratulations Jeff!

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Second place is:

Ingrid Philipp:

golden grasses stab
faintly clouded brilliant blue
skies stretching endless

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And 4 Honourable Mentions:

Jan Jorgensen:

Light penetrates sky,

dances through blue flower field –

what joy to live here!

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Courtney Aslop:
Blue flowers listen
Yellow fields hold my secrets
(The town a witness)

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Shannon Tien:

Wake Up

The dreamcatcher breaks

its promise, does nothing when

ocean becomes sky.

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Ilona Martonfi:

Van Gogh’s luminous light

budding plum trees  cornflowers

clump of blue-purple houses

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Hope these haikus will bring spring to us here in Montreal. Still -15 out today. But the sun is out. Congratulations to everyone!  /ez

BLAST FROM THE PAST#1: john donne

From “Satire III”

“…

As streams are, power is; those blest flowers that dwell

At the rough stream’s calm head thrive and do well,

But having left their roots and themselves given

To the stream’s tyrannous rage, alas, are driven

Through mills and rocks and woods, and at last, almost

Consumed in going, in the sea are lost.

So perish souls which more choose men’s unjust

Power from God claimed than God himself to trust.”

John Donne, born 1572.

The changing of the Guards

Worlds are a little sadder with the passing of Terry Pratchett, and Leonard Nimoy, recently. We live in a sadly realistic world but one full of illogical fictions. It is ironic to think that the fantasy worlds of many talented authors may be more true than the real world we know today. RIP great lights of the imaginary.  /ez

http://www.thejournal.ie/terry-pratchett-died-1988715-Mar2015/

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fantasy

Who, Why, How, What to Write: A Crisis

What is literary art today? It doesn’t mean the same thing it did in the past. Now, we are keen on jargon and mired in cynicism. Yes, Machiavelli was a cynic, but today the culture as a whole drinks this tainted milk as opposed to the views of past sporadic writers. Writing today has lost connection. To what? To whom? Who is the writer writing to? Is he or she just writing for the sake of writing?

We have Art for Art’s Sake and this would seem to include writing as an art form. The novel has become an extension of thought, sometimes idle, sometimes noteworthy, at the expense of careful crafting or technique. Now, writers feel they can say anything, disregarding grammar and logic. If it sells, it is good. If a movie deal is struck, then bingo. Society is sold on making a fast buck in any extended way possible.

Fifty Shades of Grey is an example of despicable writing that has been sensationalized by virtue of its warped content. I have not read the books nor seen the movie. I do not even like Nabokov for his pedophilic matter, let alone twisted sex and violence, which is all the Grey connection amounts to. And why should our culture become so hyped up by sexual content that it can’t bear to tear its greedy little eyes from the sordid? Why is this kind of writing so attractive? What does this kind of writing mean?

It’s hard not to become cynical. To write once meant something beyond the ordinary, and in some world spaces it still prompts revolutions and inspires respect. But in our Western culture, there are so many unregulated, opposing and dissenting voices—so many thoughts. Everyone feels they can write simply because they learned some words in school. But not many have studied philosophy, or tried to study the perspectives of the other, be it another culture, gender, sex, race etc…. Everyone wants to speak. Does everyone have the right to speak? Do the lunatic fascists need to write a book on how they burned the black neighbourhood or ousted the Jews? But I’m not for censoring, either. Good voices may be stifled, have been stifled; bad voices have been encouraged. By whom? Who is the higher “judge” that deems this writing good and that writing bad?

It is the public who decides. It supports that which pleases it. Shades of disillusionment. I just listened to a broadcast with Jonathan Kay, editor of the Walrus, who defended the question: “Why is the Walrus so Boring?” Is it truly boring, or are the articles serious in a meaningful way, sans glitter and glamour? Is this what we have amounted to: a society of quick, cynical and circular thought-voices that wouldn’t know quality if it bit them?

Maybe there are fewer good writers out there because fewer study literature and philosophy, and even fewer can discuss what is really at stake in the world. It seems people now only write like birds eat; along with the perpetual tweeting. Although Vallum has a twitter account, I will not be on it. This kind of “quick fix” is not for me. You’ll find me around, writing and reading, and probably being somewhat cynical. Some habits are hard to break. But writing should come from deep inside, with some meaningful conviction that points to the betterment of humankind. Enough with the chirping already!

–ez

VALLUM CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

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12:2 – HUMOUR ISSUE

In the midst of chaos, a little humour is often necessary. Even in the most trying of times, humanity has been able to see the lighter side of things, to commune with the part of life that is meant for happiness and enjoyment. 12:2 will feature poetry that is funny, absurd, comedic, in its various and different forms. Of course, we will also consider some dark humour. A little doggerel, light verse, limerick or rhyme—all will work to create a kind of humour that will give us some respite from today’s grime and grind.

Send us your best work!

DEADLINE:  May 1, 2015

http://www.vallummag.com/submission.html

ANNOUNCING: THE VALLUM AWARD FOR POETRY 2015!

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Vallum: Contemporary Poetry is now accepting original and previously unpublished submissions for the annual Vallum Award for Poetry 2015.

First prize: $750

Second prize: $250

+ publication in the magazine

Deadline: July 15th, 2015

Contest Judge: Stephanie Bolster

Entry Fee: $25 (includes a 1 year subscription to Vallum). Entries accepted by Paypal and by posted mail. For more information visit: www.vallummag.com/contestrules.html

Some of the best poets in the world have graced the pages of Vallum.
Get your game on!

The Literary Hub: Coming Soon to a Computer Near You

Bookshelf

Since my last post, I’ve been on a bit of a “literature in the age of the Internet” kick, googling around with the following question in mind: where and how can literature find its way in the digital sea? With a shrinking readership and a population of consumers who forgo bookstores for online shopping or electronic readers, publishers are racking their brains for means to stay relevant and continue to engage in a conversation about literature. So, what’s out there?

Well, it’s the Internet, so there’s a lot. And not all of it is good, but I did come across a little something that has promise. Morgan Entrekin, President of Grove Atlantic, in collaboration with a broad range of booksellers, literary magazines, and publishers, is in the process of developing the Huffington Post of the online literary world—a website called, quite simply, “Literary Hub”.

Set to launch on April 8, 2015, the website will focus on fiction and nonfiction (no mention of poetry, alas, but one can hope). The Literary Hub will feature personal and critical essays, interviews, daily book excerpts, bookstore profiles, a weekly review of books, and a daily roundup of literary news. As of now, there are no plans to sell books anywhere on the site, which is refreshing (if they stick to it). And just in case you’re one of those literary types who still prefers to read on that archaic hand-held device known as paper, the website plans to offer special printer-friendly versions of each contribution for your tactile consumption.

Publishing whales such as Scribner, Knopf, and Farrar Strauss and Giroux, and literary magazines such as the Paris Review are set to contribute. One can only hope the Literary Hub will make sufficient room for small independent publishers as well.

To stay in the loop and subscribe to the Literary Hub’s newsletter, visit www.lithub.com

The World of Fakes

With today’s advancements in technology, one is aware of artificial development. It is largely a question of what is real and what is fake. There has been constant questioning of the meaning of reality throughout history, with different philosophical schools battling it out. Is the world a dream in the dreamer’s mind, does actual physical reality exist out there? Are we reduced to different dimensions, atoms, constellations? Are we real?
Today we are questioning even our own sanity, which would seem to be the base denominator for our reality. If one is insane, then he or she becomes a figment of the imaginary, an unreal aspect. The Bible of modern psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), is bordering on calling nearly every human experience a mental illness, the latest being a preoccupation with health:
“Orthorexia nervosa is a label designated to those who are concerned about eating healthy. Characterized by disordered eating fueled by a desire for ‘clean’ or ‘healthy’ foods, those diagnosed with the condition are overly pre-occupied with the nutritional makeup of what they eat.”
The DSM covers an enormous range of human pathologies, which are out of control. Mass media, government and corporate autocracies create the fears and the DSM creates the conditions. People are no longer able to grasp their own beingness, to assert their reality, their sanity.
The artificiality of this world, ranging from politics, to quack religions, to unreasonable space/science claims, to untenable “truths” that are in constant circulation, destabilize the meaning of reality. Although I like postmodernism, the word “random” has come to mean something negative for me. It is in fashion to speak of random art, art generated by computers and such AI nonsense (see link below). I want to see art with some intent, some truth, some reality. Yes, art and creativity come from the worlds of dream and imagination. This is the paradox. In an unreal world, how much more “unreal” can we sustain? It is a radical thought that the true artists to come will actually create art that will bring reality and truth back into focus. Is this possible?

Some Random Art:

http://www.random-art.org/about/

“Time is Money”– really?

The phrase “Time is money” has always annoyed me. It runs rampant in our current money-headed world. This phrase was coined by Benjamin Franklin in “Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One.” I would wager that this phrase has been largely responsible for the rise of contemporary greed and concern that one’s every minute is subject to a money value.

James Merrill writes about his bourgeois father’s obsession with time and money:
My father, who had flown in WWI,
Might have continued to invest his life
In cloud banks well above Wall Street and wife.
But the race was run below, and the point was to win.

Too late now, I make out in his blue gaze
(Through the smoked glass of being thirty-six)
The soul eclipsed by twin-black pupils, sex
And business; time was money in those days.
(ND, 27)

This excerpt is quoted in Vernon Shetley’s excellent work of criticism entitled,
“After the Death of Poetry,” where he proceeds to write that “The phrase ‘time is money’ posits a universal law; the poet’s [Merrill’s] rephrasing denies its universality. ‘Time is money’ again embodies the conventional wisdom of the hard-headed businessman, a wisdom whose truth the poet both acknowledges and distances himself from; his financier father may have transformed time into money, but time retained its own powers of transformation.” Merrill continues to write that: “Time is not money.”

When asked to translate an experience into monetary terms, the basis of that experienced is removed from lasting personal or emotional value. Money is an exchange. Time is experience. To say that experience is an exchange is suspect. Experience should be rooted in the here-and-now, the singular moment of the present time, which helps construct past times in the form of memory. The time of the future is groundless; we should not think of the future in terms of dollars, nor the present. Time is free, or should be. Or as singer Stevie Nicks says, “Love is time.”

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