Monday, December 29, 2008

Beauty you can wear.

Find more photos like this on W.A.R.M.

Haze McElhenny, from the new W.A.R.M. site for women in the arts (Womens Art Recognition Movement started by Cheryl Townsend, artist/poet), is making me a hand designed casual skirt dress made of recycled tee shirts , the sale of which benefit charity, and with her artwork on it. Click on her profile at W.A.R.M. and you'll also find links to her sites with more illustrations. She designs clothes for a living, too, so this is a neat sideline for her. If you're interested in anything you see, tell her I sent you. She likes to know where her referals come from.

PS I chose the face and the turquoise color on the above slide show for the dress/skirt. I love it and it's perfect for Florida casual living and weather. Can hardly wait to see it now. The part I'm buying comes to waist or above bust. She's showing it worn with various tops that aren't attached to the outfit and you pick from your own wardrobe.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Dead Mule presents Christmas poems

It's rare and wonderful for a journal to focus just on poems about the holidays. Many of us have written one or more but there's never any real place to show them off in a setting created just for them.

The Mule put out a call 'just' for holiday poems and the issue is out. Poets previously published in The Mule could submit poems published earlier in other journals for this call, along with new ones.

If you'd like to read mine, this is my page. Click the link 'poetry' at the top to read poems from other contributors.

Thank you, Dead Mule!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Randy Newman...songwriter, singer, social commentator

Below are excerts about an extraordinary songwriter, one of my favorites. I would highly recommend reading the entire article here at The High

If there’s any American pop musician who embodies the notion of knowing something is no good but loving it anyway, it’s Randy Newman. The most supremely ironic songwriter ever produced by a country that has never had a particularly friendly relationship with irony, Newman might be a superstar if he was French, or even French-Canadian. Unfortunately, he’s not only a product of the U.S. of A., he’s a resident of Hollywood, a city that simultaneously generates massive amounts of irony and seems superhumanly immune to it. Evidence of this curious duality can be found in his best known song, “I Love L.A.”: it became a massive hit and was even used as an anthem for the 1984 Olympics, and listening to the overblown synthesizers and canned drums, it’s easy to mistake the song for what it appears to be: a big, blowsy love letter to Los Angeles. But then you hear him singing the praises, inexplicably, of run-down Victory Boulevard; you hear him sing about “that bum over there, man, he’s down on his knees”; you remember that this is Randy Newman singing — the least likely man on the planet you can picture tooling along with the top down, the Beach Boys cranking, and "a big nasty redhead" at his side.


But the most misunderstood of all his songs, and the one that comes closest to showing the nature of the man who is both sincere and cynical in his best moments, is “Rednecks.” The opening track to his stunning Good Old Boys album, it’s a song that receives a wide range of receptions, almost all of them based on a fundamental misreading of the song. I’ve seen two live performances of the song where it was received quite warmly — once by an audience of white southern, well, rednecks, who seemed to think it was an anti-P.C. celebration of their own ignorance and racism; and once by an audience of well-bred, wealthy east coast liberal types who seemed to think it was nothing more than an attack on white southern rednecks. AllMusic’s review of Good Old Boys features a typical read on the song, calling its songs “simplistic,” “mean-spirited” and possessed of “willful cruelty” — but against who? Were the rednecks right, or the liberals? The answer is painfully clear, when, after giving voice to the song’s main character, a Jew-hating, virulently racist Georgian, he twists the knife in the final chorus:

Down here we’re too ignorant to realize That the north has set the nigger free Yeah, he’s free to be put in a cage in Harlem in New York City And he’s free to be put in a cage on the South Side of Chicago and the West Side And he’s free to be put in a cage in Hough in Cleveland And he’s free to be put in a cage in East St. Louis And he’s free to be put in a cage in Fillmore in San Francisco He’s free to be put in a cage in Roxbury in Boston.

Randy Newman is kidding, but he’s kidding on the square. He’s anticipated — and repudiated — almost every possible reaction to the song. He’s damning the southern redneck, tempting you into what he’s often accused of: a patronizing, sneering contempt for the subject of the song. But the second you succumb to it, he steps aside and lets you throw yourself over a cliff: and how are you keeping the niggers down today? In every petty lowlife character study Newman has written — from the bewildered square of “Mama Told Me Not to Come” to the impotent hillbilly of “A Wedding in Cherokee County” to the two-bit hustler of “Can’t Fool the Fat Man” to the abusive monster of “I Just Want You To Hurt Like I Do” — he has discovered that sweet spot where contempt and understanding muddle together, where you know that they’re no good, but you love them anyway. Randy Newman is neither a righteously angry Phil Ochs, condemning the evils of the world with his every word, nor a too-sympathetic Lou Reed, who all too easily finds himself inhabiting the headspace of even the worst of his creations: he’s musical proof of Richard Rorty’s notion that irony creates solidarity, that an ability to formulate an understanding of even those things you condemn lets you find a basis for dealing with them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

However you view the holidays...

...describe one of a possible many that you remember the most or that had most meaning to you.

I have a number to choose from. Ones from my youth in a small southern town are among the contenders. As teens, we would gather after Christmas morning and go from house to house. The town was small enough that you could walk it end to end if nobody had a car. Cookies and punch were always available. We would ohh and ahh over the tree and what our friend got and sit under the tree for a while. One present was the standard then and nothing very expensive, a way of doing Christmas that seems to have faded over the years into excess. Perhaps with harder economic times those days will return. A charm bracelet as the 'big' gift and perhaps and new nightgown was pretty much par for the gift course. Another possibility is when my husband and I went caroling in Boston on Beacon Hill, fog coming out of our mouths the air was so cold.

Another very special time, for multiple reasons, was when my father was dying. He was in a hospital bed at home under Hospice care. I'd been flying up since lung cancer took him to the floor four months earlier. My father, so strong into his eighies. My home town rallied around him that season. I flew up before my husband did because of his work. 'Santa' came to visit, a man from the Fire and Rescue Squad that my father had contributed generously to over the years...then carolers. They came into the bedroom and sang several songs. Children and adults from the church. When they sang silent night, my mother stepped in with the group and joined them. She had a beautiful alto voice. I'm glad he was still aware, even though his speech was garbled at that point. He died the day after Christmas. This post is for you, Daddy. (and yes, Southern gals still refer to their fathers as daddy forever).

I wrote the following poem in 2001. I could probably do better by him now, but...for better or worse, it's below. Thank you, Dead Mule, for publishing it.

my father

My Father's Many Funerals

My father,
superintendent turned gardener
in his retirement,
attended nearly every funeral
over his lifetime of losses in our
small southern town

'We must pay our respects,'
as bulletin in hand,
he sang farewell hymns
passed down from generations
of farewells chainlinked before us.

At age 83 he joined them,
the dry, warm seeds
for that spring's
planting, abandoned

A thumbnail of mourners,
I told myself.
No gathering suitable for
final respects he cradled
as diamonds in value.

The limo snailed up the steep hill
towards that tiny brick church
where my father
had taught Sunday School,
served as elder,
taken communion,
bowed head in prayer
Front pew
Same seat every Sunday.

Edging over the rise.
the limo offered first
steeple, roofs.
Hundreds of car roofs.
A garden of color spilling
from parking lot into field.
Standing room only.

Respect, my father's winter harvest.
Our town's final gift.

Later, at my parents' home, I tucked
my father's seeds into pocket
to carry to my own home
for next season's planting.

I feel sure that he knew.

Pris Campbell

Published in The Dead Mule, An Anthology of Southern Literature,
Fall, 2002.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Whoever said certain songs weren't poetry...or philosophy??

(whatever you call it, I love this song!)

Heart of The Matter

Don Henley, formerly of The Eagles

I got the call today, I didn't wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin on the phone
She said you'd found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love's open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?
I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again
I've been tryin to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think its about forgiveness
Even if, even if you dont love me anymore
These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
The trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They're the very things - we kill I guess
Pride and competition
Cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us
You know it doesn't keep me warm
I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
And the more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I'd figured out
I have to learn again
I've been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think its about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore
There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby; life goes on
You keep carryin that anger; it'll eat you up inside, baby
I've been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thought seem to scatter
But I think its about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me
I've been tryin to get down
To the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinkin about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me
Forgiveness - baby
Even if, you don't love me anymore

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Contemporary Holiday Movies

We've all seen Miracle on 34th Street and a few other old classic movies that come back again and again each season. What about today's movies? Will any become classics? I have no idea, but these are two movies set over the Christmas holiday that I really enjoyed. Both move me, but in different ways.

This first two videos show scenes from Love Actually. I couldn't decide which I liked better and the two are accompanied with different songs from the movie so I'm posting both.

The other movie is The Family Stone. The music with these scenes aren't in the movie. It's not a music driven movie like Love Actually but I love this one and could watch it multiple times.

So, how about you? What movies would you recommend for the season??

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unsettling Changes

Sara thinks she's met someone.
He never stayed out all night dancing,
never painted roses on city walls,
doesn't write steamy poetry,
or wear jeans with holes in the knees,
patches stitched up and down.
He brings her broth when she's ill,
opens doors, touches her as he passes.
His hands are careful, eyes soft.
Ten years ago she would've found him boring.
Ten years ago she wasn't a mom.
He takes the boy to the zoo, movies,
baseball games, wants to marry Sara
adopt the boy. After all, Norman
hasn't been seen in years.
Sara doesn't know how that works.
She would have to face Norman.
Would her pulse race?
Would she want him again?
The boy's still Norman's son,
still that piece of Norman she wraps
her heart around like a pearl.
With the boy adopted, Norman may fade.
That part of her heart may collapse inward.

(This is one of my 'aftermath' poems to the Sara/Norman collaboration of poems Scott Ownes and I did. We're submitting that collection now)

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Annette Marie Hyder, Literary Editor of In The Fray, just tagged me with this book related award called Bookworm.

I have to adhere to two rules:

RULE ONE, I have to grab one of the books closest to me, go to page 56, type the fifth line and the next two to five lines that follow.

Okay, mind you that I'm sitting at my computer surrounded by manuals for different programs. Let's see what I grab...hmmm..first book didn't have 56 pages. Here goes again..

When you drag an element near a guide, the element 'snaps' into alignment with the guide--as if the guide had some sore of magnetic pull. If you don't want stuff to snap to guides, choose View/Snap or Crt plus (different code for a Mac. Choose the command again to turn snapping back on.

From Photoshop for Dummies.

Perfect choice, hey??:-)

RULE TWO, I have to pick five people who love books and who could receive the Bookworm award with honor. My five picks are:

I'm not hotlinking anybody. I have an endo appointment tomorrow and my tooth is telling me it needs for me to go smear something on it again, so I'll put names and try to leave a comment for each of you I think will do this.

Jim Knoles
Collin Kelly
Sam Rasnake
Helen Lossee
Brian Campbell

Anybody else can join in by writing theirs in the comments section, too.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Review of my chap in Wild Goose Poetry Review

I feel co-editor Scott Owens hit at the core of what I was aiming to say in my book, Hesitant Commitments in his review at Wild Goose Poetry Review. Just click on my name in the review list. The link opens in a new window.

The rest of the journal is good, too. Congrats to the staff.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Infuences on your poetry/prose/scripts

I know the answer to this question changes over time, sometimes within a day, but who or what do you feel impacts your current writing style the most?

I had the pleasure of interviewing John Sweet for a journal a while back. He says music is the big inspiration for his poetry. He also has said in previous interviews that most poetry bores him, one of the main reasons he set out to create his own style. He's done a good job of it.

Other writers I know online have mentioned specific authors/poets and some are influenced by an accumulation of work they've read.

One poet who inspires me is Rebecca McClanahan. Read some of her poetry here Cortland Review. Her book, Deep Light, has me reaching for it time after time.

I also love the poetry of Sharon Olds and Anne Sexton. Add in Mark Hartenbach (most of his work is in print published by Pudding House). Many others. I've lucked out in recent chapbooks I've purchased from poets not 'well known' yet and found collections of poems that make me aspire higher. I'll never remember all of the names, so won't try to list those for fear of leaving someone good out.

Art inspires a good deal of my poetry, though no particular artist affects me more than another. It's generally a specific work of art. I don't write to describe the art, but rather the feelings that artwork brings up in me.

I realize that this is a question that's been asked thousands of times, but I've not asked it here and to the many talented people who read my blog, so I'm curious...


Monday, December 01, 2008

A Pushcart Nomination!

Given the number of small presses, an actual win is rare, but the nomination, itself, is an honor. When I first started publishing I wanted to be nominated so badly, then when it didn't happen, I let that wish go. Now today, with my tooth.jaw into a bad pain cycle from drilling down in prep for a crown and nauseated from trying percocet for the pain, here comes this wonderful nomination from the editor of In The Fray.

The poem is at this this page (All of my poems on the page are illustrated by Mary Hillier, an artist I know and like very much, so it's worth a peek there, too, if time permits). I enjoy publishing in this journal since it includes news, issue discussion, essays along with its short stories and poems.

The Pushcart Prize is a prestigious American literary prize by Pushcart Press that honors the best "poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot" published in the small presses over the previous year. Magazine and small book press editors are invited to nominate up to 6 works they have featured. Anthologies of the selected works have been published annually since 1976.

The founding editors are Anais Nin, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Newman, Daniel Halpern, Gordon Lish, Harry Smith, Hugh Fox, Ishmael Reed, Joyce Carol Oates, Len Fulton, Leonard Randolph, Leslie Fiedler, Nona Balakian, Paul Bowles, Paul Engle, Ralph Ellison, Reynolds Price, Rhoda Schwartz, Richard Morris, Ted Wilentz, Tom Montag, and William Phillips.

This is the nominated poem:

Colorless Rooms

In the lineup of old lovers,
he never appears,
yet he was the one who peeled back my skin,
slipped fingers beneath breastbone.
Odd, his disappearance, when a decade
of heart thumps had to pass
before flesh closed and healed.

I wonder if his next love remembers.

Maybe those men who once slung their arms
'round our necks, painted hieroglyphs with lips
on our breasts, wake now in colorless rooms,
bewildered to find no woman beneath them.
Maybe they remember a dimming face,
a distant laugh...a sigh,
& dream of those days when their hands
still forged fingerprints into the hollows of time.

Pris Campbell

In The Fray, September 2008