My apologies to anyone following my blog regularly.

We’ve been in the process of moving, which has constrained my time considerably, and I haven’t posted anything in much too long.

However, we seem to getting towards the end, or the beginning of the end…

Also, I just received welcome news regarding my film “Astronaut Goes From Migrant Fields To Outer Space.”  It has been selected as the Third Place Winner, in the Experimental Film category, at the Los Angeles International Film Festival.

Lank, Beak & Bumpy is an intriguing and attractive chapbook freshly out from iota press, which sets a production standard with work this good. The chapbook is elegantly designed and beautifully wrought, handset in Ehrhardt 12 pt. type, & printed on Mohawk Superfine paper with a 1913 C & P supercool foot-powered platen press.

Author Mark Jackley earns his keep as a business writer in the Washington, DC, area. He’s also a thriving poet. His work has appeared in numerous journals in the U.S. as well as overseas and over borders in India, Australia, England, Ireland, and Canada. In addition to Lank, Beak & Bumpy, he is also the author of two previous chapbooks and the full length collection, There Will Be Silence While You Wait (2009, Plain View Press).

Lank, Beak & Bumpy contains seventeen short impressionistic poems which cohere well thematically and emotionally. They feature strong images and a minimalist economy, and often have a haiku-like feel in the sense of breath but an intimate American diction. Jackley’s voice is both informal and musical and I found myself easily drawn in.

The low orange moon
makes the Ohio River shine
like a black pearl
among the hushed sheds
of Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

I am radiant and massive.

(from “Orbits”)

This has that Southern concern for rural space, tainted but still worshipped in an effort to honor the permanence of the observed and felt though fleeting, however subtle or ordinary. Here the poet figures more prominently and less plaintively though and the scene becomes a kind of minor monument in memory, a piece of the life lived. The poem becomes the vehicle.

While he uses the South as a reference frame, Jackley is spare overall in terms of geographical concerns, and his verse often roams indoors, though the materials and themes defy domestic tranquility, or at least complacency:

Like a Shaker bowl
the house contains the silence
of belief, and
like a Navajo basket
containing none of our business
it is keeping quiet

(from “Later On Our Wedding Night, Two Silences In The House”)

Jackley writes primarily from a first person perspective, and often begins in medias res, which creates a natural tension because of the compression demanded by each poem’s brevity. To paraphrase and also invoke Williams, as these poems do, at least for me, so much depends upon a few very tangible and personal details. I think Jackley intends the heritage, as one of his poems is titled, “A Picture Of You In Cut-off Shorts Grinning At The Chickens.”

In contrast to Williams and his red wheelbarrow, Jackley’s attention and connection to detail is decidedly more expressive than mysterious:

is on the bulletin board
but the pinhole’s
in my heart

Jackley writes more knowingly than Williams does, which one must of course in 2010. However, rather than troubled the work more often feels satisfied with itself and with the world, but never smug:

These lines strung out like
a goose hung on a Chinese
market window hook…

…are indelible without
the flame of your attention

(from “Minimalism”)

Verse this brief leaves little room for error as any missteps are painfully obvious and in general unforgiven. The work will crash and burn. Fortunately this does not occur in Lank, Beak & Bumpy. I was impressed with this chapbook, which has much to recommend, both in terms of its physical presentation—a solid well made book to hold and read—and with the precise, realized ambitions of the poems.

Lank, Beak & Bumpy ISBN: 0-9773843-2-2
Iota Press, 925-c Gravenstein Hwy., Sebastopol, CA 95472

Simulposted On We Write Poems

Here is a recent podcast interview I did in anticipation of the screening of “Astronaut Goes From Migrant Fields To Outer Space” at the WILDsound TORONTO Film Festival this Saturday, May 1st.

I’m happy for the publicity, both for the film and hopefully the compassionate, coherent side of the immigration issue, given the current experiment with codified racism and a Geheime Staatspolize version of the American Dream in Arizona.

Sadly, hatred and ignorance remain omnipresent and galvanizing forces despite the sublime milestone of a black president and our unique history as a nation of immigrants.

From the Associated Press: “Key provisions of Arizona’s immigration legislation, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday:

Makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally by specifically requiring immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Repeat offenses would be a felony.

Requires police officers to “make a reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Race, color or national origin may not be the only things considered in implementation. Exceptions can be made if the attempt would hinder an investigation.

Allow lawsuits against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. Would impose daily civil fines of $1,000-$5,000. There is pending follow-up legislation to halve the minimum to $500.

Targets hiring of illegal immigrants as day laborers by prohibiting people from stopping a vehicle on a road to offer employment and by prohibiting a person from getting into a stopped vehicle on a street to be hired for work if it impedes traffic.

The law will take effect by late July or early August.”

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

–Emma Lazarus, 1883 (Inscribed on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty)

War, Mental Disorder and Suicide

(Loncar et al. Coll. Antropol. 28 (2004) 1: 377–384, Zagreb)

“War as a human disaster of major significance has led to an increase in the number of suicides committed by people suffering from mental disorders. Considering the results of similar research, we were particularly interested in the effect that war has on the incidence of suicide among of people with mental disorders. The research included 16,362 patients with mental disorders, treated at the Clinic for Psychiatry at the Clinical Hospital Split during the nine-year timeframe which were divided into pre-war (April 6th 1988 – April 7th 1991), wartime (April 6th 1991 – April 7th 1994) and post-war (April 6th 1997 –  2000) periods… In our research, we found a statistically significant difference in suicide incidence between three observed periods …with the incidence being the highest during the wartime period …With this research we intended to offer a better understanding of the complexity of the suicide problem…”

During WWII the cherry blossom was a symbol of the beauty and transience of life used to motivate kamikaze pilots.   Fliers painted them on the sides of their planes or carried branches with them in their cockpits.

Here in Philadelphia for the past week, we have enjoyed tranquil, temperate weather and the blossoms have emerged in force.

These were taken at Morris Arboretum.


Lillian and David Brummet are the gracious hosts of the blogtalkradio program, Authors Read, a weekly fifteen minute broadcast presenting live as well as prerecorded readings by storytellers, poets & writers.   Produced in Canada, the show is international and both the featured artists and the audience are diverse, representing many styles and approaches to writing.

This coming Monday the 22nd at 12:00 PM , I’ll be reading from
Primitive Mood.   Since the show is archived, it’s possible to listen to it any time after it appears, using the link here.

I recently received more good news concerning my film, “Astronaut Goes From Migrant Fields To Outer Space” which has now also been selected for screening at both the SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival in Pawtucket and Providence, Rhode Island (April 7-11, 2010), and the Imago Film Festival in Elgin, Illinois (April 5-9, 2010).

So based on this latest information, the film will actually premier at the SENE Festival’s Opening Night kickoff in Pawtucket on April 7th, rather than on the 10th in Delaware.

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