GALE ACUFF : Exodus
RAY FOREMAN : I'd Like to See You Write Better Poems
DAVID BARNES : Précis
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GALE ACUFF has published three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). ACUFF is highly skilled in narrative verse

Exodus I'd Like to See You Write Better Poems Précis


GALE ACUFF
Exodus
  In Sunday School today Miss Hooker said Let my people go! Or Moses said that to Pharoah, not to me. But then again maybe I have some, people I mean, I keep as slaves but not real slaves but slaves all the same. I have to think about that one. And I don't live in a pyramid or wherever Mr. Pharoah lived. I live in a little white frame house about one mile from church so I walk here and of course back again. It's a kind of exodus, unless that's one of those new foreign cars. I forget. And I sleep in the attic. Maybe that's a kind of upper room. I'd like to try a manger out to see what that sleeps like but I'm ten years old so it might be a little small for me but just right for Jesus, even though He was --or is--a kind of king, even bigger than old Pharaoh but a little later in history. I'm not stupid--so what if I failed the second grade. Not by much, I'm proud to say. It's not false pride, either. But the only slaves I think I own are my dog and goldfish but I treat them right. They're free to come and go as they please--well, not the goldfish, they would drown in the air. And my dog doesn't seem to want to leave. Good boy. But I do have parents, Father and Mother, I mean. Father goes to work. He's a geography teacher so we're poor. Mother stays at home but still works hard. She works hard for Father and me and he works hard for us and maybe I don't work as hard for them as they do for me but that's natural, I guess, and I'm a lot smaller and not so educated and I don't drive or shave. Not that Mother does, shave I mean, unless you count her legs. She has two, last time I checked. Ha ha. Maybe I do own slaves, then. I hadn't thought much about it. I don't have much to think with yet. One day I'll have more. Then they'll be free, Father and Mother. I'll let my people   go, but by leaving them. I'll graduate and get a job and get married and have babies and be their slave. That's what you call justice. I'm going to pay for my crimes. I just hope that I don't go to Hell but if I do and I should see that Pharoah I hope he doesn't laugh at me. Too much. Anyway he drowned and now he's in hot water again in the flames of Hell or something like that. If he laughs at me I'll point that out, that God made him all wet, then turned up the heat. If he says back, You're here, too, I'll say, Well, yeah, but I'm proud to be. So there. And that he let my people go.
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Exodus I'd Like to See You Write Better Poems Précis
RAY FOREMAN
I'd Like to See You Write Better Poems
You call yourself a poet because you've written a few poems that friends or family tell you are good, although they wouldn't know good from mediocre, and you've sent some to the small magazines in Poet's Market that have been accepted. If that was all that was required to be a good poet, then America is drowning in bad poetry and lousy poets.

As a small magazine editor I continuously receive submissions. I shake my head at the problem: too many poets don't know what good poems are and how they're put together. Why, because they don't read poetry other than in the smalls, usually those they receive as contributor's copies. Too many of those poets are self absorbed and are not going to write decent work until they know what good work is. Believe me, few, if any, learn it in a poetry workshop. For sure, not in a sweetheart poet's group.

If writing poetry is something you seriously want to learn to do well or better, I'm going to tell you a secret.

The best place to learn writing good poetry is drowning yourself in the contemporary poetry anthologies written during the past twenty years. I repeat, anthologies, rather than collections by specific authors. Go ahead, ask why? Because literary organizations and individuals, for whatever reason, financial or love of the art form, have taken the trouble to gather together examples of good poetry by a wide variety of contemporary poets. Some anthologies have a focus, some not. I have never run into a bad anthology. Publishers want to sell their books for a long time; a bad one would be a dead one.

I'm going to list a smattering of anthologies on the shelf behind me: The Generation of 2000, Unsettling America, Before Columbus Foundation Anthology, New Los Angeles Poets, The Maverick Poets, The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Aloud, 19 American Poets of the Golden Gate… and many more. Some are out of print, so check used bookstores.

For those of you who write poems because you have no choice, allow me to share these thought with you.

There's a time after a poem is written when
a vibrancy, call it life, clings to it like a new baby
crying to tell you it has been born. There's life there,
others may feel it too when it is published.  

We've all experienced a poem left sitting long, years,
and it loses its fizz and our life outlook has changed,
the juice of that poem
       isn't flowing through our veins anymore.
The air around it is still.  

As we reread the poem for the hundredth time
we feel the old drawing and we rework it and
maybe, for a moment or two we know that poem
will always be a part of who we were,
maybe still a part of who we will always be.


Face it, other than poets, few people read poetry today. That's sad because many poets have something worthwhile, valuable, and rich to say. Hold yourself back from writing quantity, stay with quality. Writing anything but great meaningful poems is like planting dandelions in a mature lawn. RAY FOREMAN background

Born in Chicago, I received the best education money can't buy living on Nelson Algren and Studs Terkel's Division Street during the '30s, '40s and '50s. Writing? Eating came first. You sneak writing in. Mostly psychology and political bla bla. Poetry came when I heard guys in saloons bleeding out life.

I rode bike for 20 years and loved every minute. Did I expect to become Evil Kenevil? No. Same with writing poetry and short stories. I love writing and have no visions or desire to become a Bukowski. Then it becomes work which I hate. In 1990 I started publishing Coffeehouse Poets Quarterly. Too eclectic, dull. I have to love it. Closed in 1996 and started Clark Street Review focusing on interesting narrative poetry. There's real heart in this stuff. It's not like eating Chinese with MSG and everything tastes the same. This I love. Love what you do and you have it made. Hershey bars you buy at Albertson's.

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Poetry endangers the established order  of the soul - Plato

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Exodus I'd Like to See You Write Better Poems Précis


DAVID BARNES
Précis
Shade moves to the rise and fall of the sun... it has no profile, no force shape of its own no colour, motion; yet casts a never-ending array of intricate patterns on shifting landscapes: and I shall not be in rage, when my shade fades in the dying sun; who will ever know I basked in sun, shadow soothed, at twilight. Let the glitter of stars and time fill your eyes, let the end of all define you, against the dying light.
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GALE ACUFF : Exodus
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