About Me

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I am a writer, poet, and free-lance editor. Author of Lawmen of the Old West: The Good Guys and Lawmen of the Old West: The Bad Guys. I've had poems and stories in di*verse*city, Blood and Thunder, West View, The Enigmatist, and others. I love poetry but enjoy all forms of writing and editing. I'm the author of two books of poetry, Songs on the Prairie Wind dealing with the people, land and history of the rural Southwest and Voices of Christmas, the traditional Christmas story in free verse persona poems. I do contract editing of other writer's manuscripts. I'm the worst guitar player in the Common Folk band at Trinity Episcopal Church. I'm an imperfect husband to the perfect wife (she might read this sometime), father (great grown kids) and grandfather (they're great kids, too)

Friday, August 01, 2014

Just Dreamin'

I have been thinking lately about my own shortcomings as a writer and, to a certain extent, as a person. This will be very much less about my strengths (I think I have some.) and mostly about my weaknesses and what I wish I was able to do. It will also be an open invitation not only for comment but to consider getting involved.

I am disorganized, unfocussed, lacking in technical expertise, and prone to procrastination. These are not good qualities for someone who would like very much to be involved in creating a journal of good (or at least, attractive to me) writing. On the other hand, I'm a good editor, I am passionate about writing, I have numerous contacts in the writing world, tremendous patience with beginners who want to learn, and the time to devote to the work.

I am a very fortunate man. Through the serendipity of love I found a life partner who fills most of the holes in my personality and temperament as far as the ordinary (and the extraordinary) parts of life but her artistic drives are in a different direction than mine. That isn't a problem for the most part but it leaves me with a dilemma. I need to find someone with my passion for sharing literature who fills the empty spaces in my skills in the literary world. They need to be someone I can like and work with, whose ideas of what is good in the written word are compatible with mine, and is good at details, record keeping, collaborative effort, and organization. They should be someone who cares enough about publishing that they don't mind if little or no money is ever made from it. Money would be nice but we need to be satisfied as long as we aren't spending a lot of our own to do this. Also nice would be if this person was more technically proficient than I am so that they could give me guidance on those sorts of issues.

Let me make this clear. There would be some start up money necessary to do what I would like but I'm not looking for a bankroll. It would. however, be necessary to share whatever monetary risk was involved. Would I object if someone with deep pockets said, "You do the artistic work and I'll handle the business end and fund the project. Spend whatever you need."? Don't be silly. Of course I wouldn't. Am I expecting someone like that to show up, or even exist? Of course, I don't.

Am I just daydreaming here? Probably. Few dreams ever come true but on the other hand, pretty much every great thing started with one.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Book Review of Her, by Fatima Hirsi

Once again, I have abandoned this space for a while. I’m not sure why I keep doing that but the interruptions are many and, for the most part enjoyable, so I’m not really complaining. I spend time playing with grandchildren, making music, playing World of Warcraft, and running around with the amazing Spice of My Life, Isabel, so I’m not really complaining. That said, I could be keeping up with this blog and I have a lot to talk about so here we go again.
A couple of years ago an old friend emailed me to say that a young woman who was working for him in the store he managed was writing poetry and, he thought, really good poetry but she didn’t have contact with other poets. He suggested that if I liked her work as much as he did that maybe I would give her some encouragement and contact with the local writing community.
Her name is Fatima Hirsi. I was impressed and we talked. She was eager, open, and talented. I really liked her writing. That first year, at my suggestion, she went to the Austin International Poetry Festival. She was a big hit just in the open mike readings (she was among the “last poets standing” at 6am after the Midnight to Dawn Instant Anthology Open Mic reading.) She has continued to write, improve, and perform. This year, 2014, she was asked back to AIPF as one of the poets who are specially invited so that their work can be featured. That’s an honor not many of the poets who have attended for years have had and it’s completely a result of the quality of her writing and its intense engagement with her deepest feelings.
This year Fatima gave me a copy of a new chapbook, self published as is most poetry. My regard for her work continues to grow. It is a very interesting and self aware group of poems. The title is Her. Let’s look at some of the poems.
I started writing this because I wanted to honor my friend and her work. I started after reading several of the poems, out of sequence, at various times. One thing a honest reviewer must do is sit down, more than once, and read the entire book straight through. I have done that and am now uneasy about writing about it.
I mentioned before that Fatima’s work reached into her deepest feelings and in each individual poem that is true. What rocked me back on my heels was the power of the collection when read all at once. The theme here is the author’s overwhelming desire for a child. Not just any child, either, but the one that appears at the corner of the writer’s eye, “…never straight on but always loud in her presence.” The one with the, “White dress. Wild lion mane of hair.” that is always there and may be a spirit of the dead or, “waitin to be born.”
Interesting to me is the fact that there are two poems here in forms that I’m not fond of. There is an “alphabet” poem, Demeter’s Grip, one that totally escapes the “child’s alphabet book” model to stay entirely within the theme of the book. The book ends with, The Place-Holder Child, which is a prose poem or poetic prose, whatever you want to call it. Whatever you call it, it is a powerful conclusion for this collection.
There is power here and honesty, so much of the writer’s—well, as I said before, “deepest feelings.” I can’t recommend this little book enough but the reader coming to it must be prepared to share that much of the writer. You must be prepared to experience the joy of love, the fear of never finding, the pain of loss, the very real emotions that come through these poems. I’m not going to give you one of the hardest ones by any means, you’ll have to get the book for those but here’s the one that opens the discussion.

The Quiet House with Loud Dreams

One window of our new house does not have a screen.
After reading bedtime stories by the man who wrote
The Book of Lost Things it’s impossible to sleep
In this storm. The rain is harassing the bare glass and
It sounds like someone is tapping to come in—
The Crooked Man is scratching or those faeries
Who steal children have found the wrong home—
I am alone with my man and there is no crying
In the next room. We have no one to soothe
After giant claps of thunder but me
And the two restless cats.

I know I'm expected to give some critique when I do a review but if there are poetic faults in this book they are obliterated by the power of the poems. The only thing I can come up with is that some of the poems, like the one reproduced above start every line with a capital letter which I find to be a minor annoyance in reading poems. What a desperate attempt to include a negative in a review.

You can contact Fatima at flowerwordspoetry@gmail.com to buy the book. It's not expensive at $7.00 + s&h. I think you should get a copy