Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exercise to Destroy Writer's Block

Years ago I had a college poetry class where the instructor claimed all novelists were failed short story writers, and all short story writers were unsuccessful poets. I’m not sure if it was an original quote by her, but I always found the idea amusing. If you’re an avid reader and poet, you’ll enjoy this exercise I created for myself. Take any book you’ve read, and try to boil it down to the bare essence; in other words, make a poem out of it. I suggest starting with your favorite book, but it can be a book you just read, too. Write in your favorite poetry form, pull out the richest images from the book or go with your own emotional take of the book. None is wrong, and you’ll find it destroys writer’s block.
Being in college and reading many assigned books, I turned it into a fun poetry writing exercise. Instead of dreading to write essays on books selected by the professor in a literature class, I wrote poems. You can only write so many essays on books when you’re an English major before the act becomes tedious. I took a risk and wrote poems for every book in lieu of essays. My professor was pleasantly surprised, and he handed out my collection of poems to the class to review for the final.

Example: by Frank G. Poe, Jr.    

Peter Pan, Mr. Pan

Mr. Pan, thousand year old boy
How could you forget Tinker Bell?
Discard her memory, outdated toy
How could you forget Tinker Bell?

Mr. Pan you’re like Captain Hook
Remember black heart pirate you killed, dead
But Barrie wrote you in a book
You may live forever instead

Your first set of teeth shine like oyster pearls
While your skeleton leaves, fit tight
All just to seduce little girls
And take them on naive Neverland flight

Offered ventures with Indians,
Pirates, even house in the trees
Rambling on about mermaids and lions
Forgetfulness is your disease

When spring cleaning comes like soiled gloves
Peter discards and forgets his sweet loves

Returned, now, they’re matured in shame
Threatening your dagger, when you’re to blame

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Challenge to Jon Stewart, Where Oh Where Have Your Matzo Balls Gone?

Usually, Jon Stewart and I are on the same page when it comes to our political views; however, we seem to be splitting apart regarding the aftermath of the Arizona shootings. On a recent show he criticized inflammatory rhetoric, again. Somehow Jon believes every time someone compares anyone to the Nazis it is wrong. In the words of Steve Martin, “WELL EXCUSE ME!” My last political blog accused the violence being conducted by the Tea Party movement as likened to the violent behavior of the Brown Shirts of Nazi Germany, and I compared the Republican Party to the Nazi Party. My whole point was the Nazi party of Germany used the Brown Shirts as thugs to commit vicious acts against the Jews, but what I failed to mention is they were, also, used against political adversaries. Although affiliated with the Nazi Party, the Nazis made sure they could deny direct control over the acts the Brown Shirts committed. People accepted it even though common sense said the Nazis condoned their actions until it was too late for anyone to stop the Nazis or the Brown Shirts. Does this sound familiar, Jon? I challenge you to say there isn’t a historical parallel.
Admittedly, I didn’t write the blog to be inflammatory. I wrote it because I believe we must study history as to not repeat mistakes. It seems to me there is an obvious parallel between the actions of the paraRepublican independent Tea Party and the paramilitary independent Brown Shirts, and the true seditious rhetoric coming from Republicans over the entire 2010 election year and the Nazis speeches during the period of Kristalllnacht or the Night of Broken Glass. See the video link from March 2010 about national Tea Party violence incited by several GOP officials .  Violence continued in several states all through 2010 by various members of the Tea Party in several states including the Commonwealth of Kentucky where a woman was pushed to the ground and her head stomped, . I used the incident in Kentucky only because I live in Kentucky, and I abhorred the violence. Please Jon, I challenge you to watch the videos, and you can explain to us all how you do not see any historical parallels.
Indeed, many of us can see the similarities, and we don’t want to make the mistake of being passive until it is too late. The time to call them out on their actions, like President Ronald Reagan called out General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev, is now. President Reagan didn’t worry about making his rhetoric too tough for the last head of state for the USSR. He flat out called them the “Evil Empire” and stood up to them ending the Cold War. Americans need to stand up right now and demand and end to the Tea Party violence starting with the Tea Party themselves. I said they should take back their party from the perpetrators before trying to take back America because I believe it is time to end the Cold War going on in Washington, D.C., between the Democrats and the Republicans. I happen to agree with the Tea Party idea of taking back our government from lobbyists. I’m not sure we agree on which lobbyists, but I’m calling it like I see it which means I’ve big enough testes to do just that. Speaking of mucho grande cojones, a tip of the hat goes to Michael Moore for not being afraid to mince words. He put the spot light on the provocative web pages and Republican speeches immediately. Do you still have a pair Jon? Where oh where have your matzo balls gone? Your only defense is to claim you don’t see any historical precedence for standing up now.
Undoubtedly, you’re saying tone it down to the wrong people. You keep demonizing everyone bringing up comparisons to Nazis. Could it be the fact that one of Jared Lee Loughner’s favorite books was Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler? Yes, I admit making a Sarah Palin joke saying she was a female version of Hitler, but I later explained she was going to take a political hit for the Arizona attack despite the fact several other Republican leaders can be seen on the above video using much more threatening language. After watching her “blood libel” speech, I was upset with Palin. Why should we treat this latest act of violence like a single act of a lunatic? It’s not, and we should call the Republicans/Tea Party out for their horrific behavior caught on video or proudly presented on web pages. I agree we all need to tone down our political rhetoric on the Republican side, but where, Jon, is the inciting rhetoric from the Democratic side? Truth is I could no longer stomach the way the Republican Party was acting and switched my voter status to Independent.
But then again Jon, you are acting like you are going to run for office on the Tea Party ticket. I realize the Tea Party movement is popular, and I think I made it clear I believe prone to terroristic behavior if you politically disagree with them. Are our elected officials to tremble in fear of them and do what they want instead of the people who elected them want? What next suspend our civil rights because we’re afraid of being targeted by the mob? We should all be standing up in this country for our government to quit supporting countries that have slaves and other human rights violations. Julian Assange is not even an American, but he is trying to make a difference. How can anyone disagree with the positive impact Wikileaks had in Tunisia? Now, Tunisia hates us because our government knew about the excesses of their dictator and did nothing but good business with him. We need to start thinking about all humanity not just playing dumb and letting things go by passively. Seriously Jon, grow a pair.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dabali Shairi and Magalia Shairi Poems

Dabali Shairi and Magalia Shairi are poems originating from Eurasian Georgia around the 12th century. They have a minimum of 4 lines, but they can be any length as long as it is a multiple of 4. Each line is strictly 16 syllables in English versions. Each form is explained in more detail below.  Sometimes called Rustavelian Quatrains after Shota Rustaveli, the poet who wrote The Knight in the Panther's Skin, Georgia's national epic, these poems or Shairi come in two forms, Dabali or low form and Magalia or high form. Rustaveli alternated these two forms in his epic poem over 1500 quatrains long. Yes, you read that right, over 6000 lines. These forms are difficult in English; however, they are great exercises.
In the Dabali (low) Shairi the 16 syllables in each line are 5, 3 - 5, 3. There is a caesura or pause in between the first and second 5, 3 syllables count. The entire quatrain in mono rhymed and the final 3 syllables count in each line should be a triple rhyme. The triple rhymed syllables are difficult but not impossible; however, modern poets will reduce this to a double or single rhyme to avoid making the poem feel forced. The strict diagram would look like the following:
Traditional Triple Rhymed
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (abc)
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (abc)
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (abc)
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (abc)

Modern Unforced Single Rhymed            Modern Unforced Double Rhymed
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xxa)                              xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xab)
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xxa)                              xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xab)
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xxa)                              xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xab)
xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xxa)                              xxxxx, xxx  -  xxxxx, (xab)

In the Magalia (high) Shairi the 16 syllables in each line are 4, 4 - 4, 4. There is a caesura or pause in between the first and second 4, 4 syllables count. The entire quatrain in mono rhymed and the final 4 syllables count in each line should end in a double rhyme; however, modern poets will reduce this to a single rhyme to avoid making the poem feel forced. The strict diagram would look like the following:
Traditional Double Rhymed                        Modern Unforced Single Rhymed
xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(ab)                             xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(xa)
xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(ab)                             xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(xa)
xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(ab)                             xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(xa)
xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(ab)                             xxxx, xxxx  -  xxxx, xx(xa)

As with all poetry forms, feel free to experiment. Even in some traditional Shairi, poets have used 15 instead of 16 syllable lines. In the following example, I try the Dabali (low) Shairi, but I use the double rhyme instead of the triple; however, for fun I used it before the caesura as well as the end. I then use a Magalia (high) Shairi for my next stanza.   
Example: by Frank G. Poe, Jr.
Blue Bird Over Tunisia
Dictator ruling, completely, - King’s entitlements, perverted
Ice cream brought by jet, discretely, - Wikileaks email, exerted
Blue Twitter Bird Tweets, so sweetly, - Thus deadly snipers, averted
King flees power shifts, and neatly, - To common people, reverted

Poor Julian’s, reputation, - And now on trial, he is going
For top secret, revelations? -  No, for a condom not growing
Accidental, rape? Frustration - Assange’s defense, should be showing
What next black cats? Superstitions? - To keep us in, dark unknowing

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another 4 out of 5 Star Review for Raven Wings

Check it out. Another 4 out of 5 star review from Chrissys World of Books for Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales. Everyone seems to agree that the stories are twisted.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tea Party Quickly Becoming the Brown Shirts of the Republican Nazi Party

Seriously, we are expected to believe the violence in Arizona was a single lunatic’s psychotic episode? Web pages with targets on Democratic politicians who voted for the healthcare bill had no influence? Are we all playing dumb? The Tea Party is quickly becoming the Brown Shirted goons of the Republican Nazi party, and Sarah Palin is becoming the female version of Adolf Hitler. Before another episode of Tea Party violence breaks out in another state, I have two words for you, plausible deniability. The Nazi party in Germany simply denied having any real control over the paramilitary SA or Brown Shirts as they performed their program of thug violence on the Jewish population during the period of Kristalllnacht or the Night of Broken Glass. The Brown Shirts were pivotal in bringing Adolf Hitler to power with terror, fear and violence. Is that what the Tea Party wants in our country to get their way or else?
When they come for our duly elected officials are we to do nothing?
It seems Sarah Palin is lawyering up and covering her butt from civil suits just in case some of the victims’ families want to inflict punitive damages on the person actually giving a speech saying, “reload and take aim” and causing the poisonous atmosphere of hate. I thought this country had laws against inciting violence? Was anyone fooled by her “Blood Libel” speech? Maybe I could believe it if this were the first case of violence caused by the Tea Party, but I live in Kentucky where the newly elected junior Senator Rand Paul’s Tea Party supporters think Brown Shirt violence is the Republican Party normal. See the video link from March 2010 about national Tea Party violence incited by several GOP officials .  Violence continues in Kentucky where a woman is pushed to the ground and her head stomped, .
So why are we treating this latest act of violence like a single act of a lunatic? It’s not surprising one of Jared Lee Loughner’s favorite books was Mein Kampf by Sarah Palin. Oh, I mean Adolf Hitler. I agree we all need to tone down our political rhetoric on the Republican side, but where is the inciting rhetoric from the Democratic side? When Sarah Palin states both sides who is she talking about? Is she talking about Michael Moore for pointing out the PAC web pages with crosshairs on Democratic targets and reminding people of certain speeches where Tea Partiers are told to “reload and take aim”? If I was any of several GOP politicians, not just Sarah Palin, on the above video spouting intimidating innuendo reminding the victims’ families that most juries might find it easy to conclude with a 51% probability they were libel for causing the atmosphere whereby the Arizona shootings took place then I’d consider that threatening rhetoric.
I’m not against the idea of taking back America. The Tea Party needs to police itself and get the people inciting violence out of their party, namely the Republican plants who hijacked your independent party. Just like the Nazi Party had the Brown Shirts to use as their thugs, the Republican Party is using the Tea Party as their thugs. Sarah Palin might even end up being the fall girl for this episode when the above video from March 2010 shows it was all the GOP leaders. My advice to the Tea Party is to take back your party before you try to take back America.

Monday, January 10, 2011

eBook Versions Now Available

Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales is now available for Kindle at and for Nook at barnes & Save on price and no shipping costs!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Naga-Uta Poems

Naga-Uta poems or songs (also known as Choka) are Japanese style long poems with a 5-7-5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern. Although the minimum length of a Naga-Uta poem is 7 lines, they have no line limit and longer versions of the Japanese long poem or song are common. The only restriction is to follow the syllable pattern of 5-7 and finish with another 7 syllable line. Much like the Tanka (see previous blog entry), Naga-Uta poems or songs could be sent or sung between lovers; the man or woman would start the Naga-Uta and then let their love interest add to it. They would alternate until the poem or song was finished. In the past each line represented individual images which melted together into one whole like the marriage or desired union of the couple writing or singing the Naga-Uta. These poems or songs could, also, be used to immortalize a warrior hero or tell of the individual’s emotional state. Unlike with Haiku (see previous blog entry) or Tanka, images of nature are not required to play a central role. In general, each 5-7 set of lines consists of an emotion and an image in no particular order. The final 7-7 coupling to finish work together to make a final statement about the person being immortalized, the individual’s emotional realization or in the case of lovers to attempt humorous, bawdy innuendo. In the example below, I do not adhere to the image, emotion balance, but I use the final 5-7-7 to make a statement about my father’s military service. My attempt is to immortalize my father an American warrior and personal hero. He served one combat tour in Korea and three combat tours in Vietnam much like todays soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq with multiple tours in combat. They have served more time in combat then anyone should ever be asked to do. They are true heroes.

Example: by Frank G. Poe, Jr.

Nag-Uta for Dad
Before I was born
You serving in Korea
Combat tour before
You were old enough, fifteen
Grandfather sent you
To find your older brother
Success, brother found
After a year of combat
Later Vietnam
Called, again, to serve and fight
Jolly green giants,
Young American warriors,
Daily I watched news
Wondering if you’d be on
Three combat tours done
Shave and a shower you’re home
Then teaching recruits
At Fort Polk how to survive
Then to Fort Belvoir
Army Corps of Engineers
Fishing on the banks of
Potomac River
Raccoon strolls across my lap
Eating our cut bait
Family living on base
Military retirement
Always remembered
Combat stories you told me
Always respected
Your military service
In Korea, Vietnam