Me=Featured Poet at the Uptown Poetry Slam on Nov 9th

Standard

Be there or be a knucklehead. This is not “Me” as in Jan Stone. This is “Me” as in Emily Calvo who created this book and published it in one year courtesy of winning a grant through the city of Chicago. You MUST come. Yes, you must. Bring a $20 or two. Holiday season is coming up, and this is one of the best gifts for anyone on your list 🙂

In Emily's Head

Green Mill Nov 9, 7 pm come to 4802 N. Broadway in Chicago

That’s right. Mark your calendar for Sunday, November 9, 7 pm. I will be featuring at the Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, 4802 N. Broadway in Chicago. (The $7 cover is well worth it.)  Come early to get a good seat. My new book, “Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd” will be available in print and hopefully in eBook form. If you’re one of those people who always tells me that they’d like to come sometime, THIS IS THE NIGHT. For real. Come early to get a good seat.

Introducing...Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd

I’ve already sold 51 copies and the eBook isn’t even out yet. I’m humbled by all the wonderful feedback. It’s so rewarding to hear how people connect with my work. Isn’t that what every artist wants?…

View original post 43 more words

Most of the U.S. Doesn’t Get it Anyway

Standard

We’re in the middle of an election year. Big Deal. Nearly everyone demands the right to have their semi-automatic dug out of their rigor mortis hand after a fight they’ll have denied until death has to do with the color of each other’s skin despite the hypocrisy of such an ugly color it doesn’t even have a name.

Others are flipping out about the one Ebola death in the United States, totally ignoring the fact that we’ll all long be gone way before Ebola because we refuse to believe in climate change. Yeah, dumping tons of oil into deep water wells has nothing to do with climate change, animals becoming extinct, disease among them running amok, yada, yada. Way too hard to understand so blame Ebola and an African-American president.

Who cares anyway? One percent have the jobs 50% once had— which OF COURSE is because of the color of someone’s skin because that’s oh-so easy to blame, and why bother doing any research when most of the country will believe anything FIX news will say despite it’s proven over and over and over again they don’t check facts. But who cares? We. Have. An. African. American. President. And the world as we know it will change.

It’ll change because those who are afraid people of color may have IQs higher than their own can make the right changes is only part of the problem. Just wait until―hang on to something if you’re not sitting down―a person with a uterus runs for president because a woman cannot be smarter than, say, a Bush, or that trickle-down Reagan, and let’s not forget the genius of Johnson and Watergate. I mean, what did Mother Teresa know, or Queen Elizabeth, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Indira Gandhi, St. Teresa of Avila, Margaret Thatcher, Anne Frank, to name a few.

I’ll tell you what they knew. In their own ways and by their own means they led with love and they changed they world. They made it a better place and I bet if any guy’s reading this, they don’t even know who half these ladies are.

I’ve said it before, and I won’t quit. We’re just passing through. If we don’t start using more of our brains and compassion and less of our bully and brawn there’ll be little worth living for anyway. Get over yourselves and start caring about being the best possible version of yourself. Start teaching your children and grandchildren what that means. Because even of a glimpse of it otherwise is beneath us, and it’s an insult to those who had the courage to make this work even a tiny bit better.

Get going. Time’s running out. Don’t you have any pride?

Words or Pictures—THAT is the Question

Standard

Read this then buy this book. It’s great!!!!

In Emily's Head

Now that I have a my first collection of poetry coming out, a lot of people have asked how long I’ve been writing. Here’s the scoop about that: My first poem fell out of me in second grade. I knew it was good because Mrs. Kepple pinned it on the bulletin board for a really long time. Even better, it was in the center among the other kids’ poems that made the cut. However, since I hadn’t found it very difficult to write, I didn’t believe it was very good. I mean, it wasn’t like subtracting or anything.

I'm not even holding a pen. I’m not even holding a pen.

In a fourth grade parent/teacher conference, Mrs. Schweitzer told my mother that I should be a writer. No, she told Mom I WOULD be a writer. That declaration seemed strange since I’d been sitting on my dad’s drawing board since I was in diapers. I was…

View original post 271 more words

We are still that child we vaguely recall

Standard

This might be long but IT IS WORTH IT.  From Brainpickings. Do consider donating a mere $3/month if you can for this fascinating material (I’ve added the bolded material):

The Mystery of Personal Identity: What Makes You and Your Childhood Self the Same Person Despite a Lifetime of Change

by 

Dissecting the philosophical conundrum of our “integrity of identity that persists over time, undergoing changes and yet still continuing to be.”

Philosophers and New Age sages have long insisted that the self is a spiritual crutch — from Alan Watts’s teachings on how our ego keeps us separate from the universe to Jack Kerouac’s passionate renunciation of the Self Illusion to Sam Harris’s contemporary case for self-transcendence. Modern psychologists have gone a step further to assert that the self is a socially constructed illusion. Whatever the case, one thing is certain and easily verifiable via personal hindsight — our present selves are unrecognizably different from our past selvesand woefully flawed at making our future selves happy.

In a remarkable passage from Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity (public library), her biography of the great 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, philosopher, writer, and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Goldstein considers the perplexity of personal identity:

Personal identity: What is it that makes a person the very person that she is, herself alone and not another, an integrity of identity that persists over time, undergoing changes and yet still continuing to be — until she does not continue any longer, at least not unproblematically? 

I stare at the picture of a small child at a summer’s picnic, clutching her big sister’s hand with one tiny hand while in the other she has a precarious hold on a big slice of watermelon that she appears to be struggling to have intersect with the small o of her mouth. That child is me. But why is she me? I have no memory at all of that summer’s day, no privileged knowledge of whether that child succeeded in getting the watermelon into her mouth. It’s true that a smooth series of contiguous physical events can be traced from her body to mine, so that we would want to say that her body is mine; and perhaps bodily identity is all that our personal identity consists in. But bodily persistence over time, too, presents philosophical dilemmas.

Illustration by Salvador Dalí from his rare 1969 ‘Alice in Wonderland’ series. Click image for more.

To probe those dilemmas, Goldstein pulls into question the biographical and biological criteria we use to confirm that our childhood selves are indeed ourchildhood selves — roughly the same criteria we apply in identifying that the world’s oldest organisms are indeed continuously living individuals. Goldstein writes:

The series of contiguous physical events has rendered the child’s body so different from the one I glance down on at this moment; the very atoms that composed her body no longer compose mine. And if our bodies are dissimilar, our points of view are even more so. Mine would be as inaccessible to her … as hers is now to me. Her thought processes, prelinguistic, would largely elude me.

Yet she is me, that tiny determined thing in the frilly white pinafore. She has continued to exist, survived her childhood illnesses, the near-drowning in a rip current on Rockaway Beach at the age of twelve, other dramas. There are presumably adventures that she — that is that I — can’t undergo and still continue to be herself. Would I then be someone else or would I just no longer be? Were I to lose all sense of myself — were schizophrenia or demonic possession, a coma or progressive dementia to remove me from myself — would it be I who would be undergoing those trials, or would I have quit the premises? Would there then be someone else, or would there be no one?

She then turns to the quintessential threat to such bodily continuity, the source of our greatest existential anxiety and most profound longing:

Is death one of those adventures from which I can’t emerge as myself? The sister whose hand I am clutching in the picture is dead. I wonder every day whether she still exists.

Echoing Meghan O’Rourke’s poetic assertion that “the people we most love [become] ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created,” Goldstein writes:

A person whom one has loved seems altogether too significant a thing to simply vanish altogether from the world. A person whom one loves is a world, just as one knows oneself to be a world. How can worlds like these simply cease altogether? But if my sister does exist, then what is she, and what makes that thing that she now is identical with the beautiful girl laughing at her little sister on that forgotten day? Can she remember that summer’s day while I cannot?

Alan Watts had an answer, but Goldstein is more interested in the question itself as a gateway to our deepest humanity:

Personal identity poses a host of questions that are, in addition to being philosophical and abstract, deeply personal. It is, after all, one’s very own person that is revealed as problematic. How much more personal can it get?

Complement with pioneering educator Annemarie Roeper on the “I” of the beholder, Anaïs Nin’s bold defense of the fluid self, experimental philosopher Joshua Knobe on the mind-bending psychology of how we know who we are, and psychologist Daniel Gilbert on how your present self’s delusions limit your future self’s happiness.

How do you manage your writing time?

Standard

Outside of ensuring my family and friends are happy and healthy, I have only two big goals over the next two years. The first is to move, and that’s simply a matter of timing. The place is ready to be shown. We already did the “big” downsizing when our girls had the audacity to leave us so this next one is much easier.

My second goal is to finish the two-year Writing Certificate program at the University of Chicago. Tonight is class #2. I’ve done my homework, and I’m excited to get to know my colleagues and teacher better as well as learn to become a better writer.

Still there is also so much info on the web to read from credible sources like “What turns editors on?” “What gets you thrown off the slush pile?” “10 ways to impress an agent,” “How to manage your time!” Then there are the magazines—Poets & Writers, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Sun not to mention all the great literary publications from Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, Fifth Wednesday JournalAnd the on-line journals and blogs—way too many to list. But so many great ones to read.

I’ve worked hard to keep up a writing routine. In the morning I go to my desk. It’s somewhat away from the hub of the house so it’s relatively quiet. But people know how to find me! At least once a week I go to my girlfriend’s. She lives on top of offices. We work in the offices, and truly get very few distractions so we do get a lot of work done.

But we never end a long and intense day without feeling like there’s so much more we need to do, learn, research, double-check. Writing is hard, time-consuming, and we know it’s unlikely to make us wealthy. But writers have to write.

Any suggestions? I guarantee I’ll find time to read those.

What an overwhelming week for family & friends

Standard

Two infected teeth, preparing for my first day of school and my daughter having the audacity to step into 30 years of age, fearlessly, makes today feel like Saturday already. But on top of that,  25 copies of Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd by my girlfriend Emily were delivered early to allow for a “soft launch” of her poetry and watercolor book at Ed Hinkley Studios this Saturday and Sunday, October 4 and 5. His 16th annual Waterworks exhibition will include some of the paintings included in Emily’s book, some new ones, and of 20141002_113331course there will be the first pile of books on sale!

It’s so great to watch good things happen to good people. Here they were this morning waiting to open up the first box of books! If you have a free time between noon and 5 pm, come join us celebrate this awesome piece of work at 4052 N. Western Avenue.

By then despite how my teeth feel, I’m going to enjoy the wine, cheese and excitement surrounding a new exhibit. And I’m getting some holiday shopping done at the same time.

As for my daughter Jill, it seems three decades flew by faster than three years. I remember being in the hospital for two days as they induced labor for this little pip-squeak who’d clearly moved in. Thankfully, my doctor wanted to make it home for dinner the second night, and delivered she was. Perhaps a little well-done, but otherwise perfect. As fast as the time seems to have flown, the 21760_380724235336667_1537020678_nyears I’ve spent being proud of her mountain of accomplishments assure me it’s been at least 30 years.

But now I understand why my mom was bummed when my sister turned 30. She said it made her age 10 years―to 49 years old.

Those were great days. And so are these. I’ll take two messed up teeth as my family’s biggest problem any day.