The Real Paul Jones

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Something Wonderful on #REDPUBPOD

I got to talk poetry and about my part in the Israeli moonshot with Robert Canipe and Patty Thompson of Redhawk Publications on their podcast.

They say:

Not only does [Paul Jones} share how you might want to read his poetry, but he gives you hints on how you might want to read poetry in general. “You need not know that” was a recurring theme during the RedPubPod’s discussion with the author. In short, it’s okay to read and feel how you “read and feel” a poem. All feels are valid! If you are a seasoned poet, you might dig a little deeper and find those extra layers, but poetry should be accessible to readers that read regardless of their relationship with poetry.
This episode is geared to poetry fans as well as for those that might be initially intimidated by reading poems. Very instructional and engaging!

Listen to us here

Something Wonderful in One Poem Review

Thanks to John Murphy of The Lake (UK) for including Something Wonderful represented by Moving From House to House in this month’s One Poem Review:

Moving from House to House

We live in a sacramental universe;
Every small act becomes an act to redeem us:
A brocaded coat repaired and handed down,
A kind of ancient music teasing the attic air,
The bats ganging up between screen and eave.
Sacraments hold us up when we fall down.
No longer dead rites, but buoyant, ebullient
As the dust of past lives settles after crossing
Thin bars of light. Light taunts the bats. It flies from
What’s left of beads and silver woven into the coat.
But the music is something misremembered
Like postmen and doctors knocking at the front door,
Or the cool, but kind, last look from a head nurse,
Or the dark moon that calls “black wings, black wings.

“Start the Game” backstory

Christal Ann Rice Cooper’s on-going feature, “Backstory of the Poem,” allows me to say a few things about writing “Start the Game,” a tribute to my father’s final day.

For more backstories of poems and other features see: Art and Humanity in Photofeature.

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?

So many of us begin with emotion and progress, as Wordsworth in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads would have it, to evoke emotion in a state of tranquility by writing in such a way that our words evoke that emotion in readers.

Fair enough, but for Eliot, writing in Tradition and the Individual Talent, emotion isn’t enough. Writing, for Eliot, requires an awareness of where we fit in the tradition of poetry as well. No word is new. Each word, each line no matter how inventive echoes something in tradition.

In the ideal poem, for me at least, the words, emotion, and tradition as well as invention all align in some ways. The best poetry, for me, speaks to the long poetic past and look to a poetic future while addressing the present. I try to do that in every piece of verse. Take, for example, this mono-rhymed villanelle “Start the Game.” You could see it as a formal exercise, but I assure you it isn’t.

More at: Christal’s blog

Griffin Poetry features Something Wonderful

Many thanks to Bill Griffin for featuring Something Wonderful on his Griffin Poetry Blog

And thanks for these good words:

I’ve always been a bit in awe of Paul Jones’s poetic gifts. Envious even. Not only because he can make rhyme so damn modern but even more for his capacious breadth and depth. What an imaginative reach! I’m not reprinting To a Tuber here but read it and you will become convinced that the potato is within all the vegetable kingdom most elegant, elevated, and worthy of praise.

So I knew before I ordered my copy of Paul’s new book Something Wonderful that it would be, and it is. The sly wit is there, waiting to pounce, but also heartfelt longing and wry uncompromising looks into personal finitude. You don’t really discover why the cover is covered with 19th century illustrations of bats until page 80 and the title poem. Take the time, make the trip. It’s worth it.

Poems to be read for Nexus Poets – September 1, 2020

At 7 pm EDT on September 1, 2020, I will be the featured poet reading with the Nexus Poets (largely in New Bern, NC). An open mic follows so follow me over on Zoom and bring a contribution of your own.

I will be reading these poems which have been released online in the past few months:

Ode to a Certain Feeling of Optimism from Red Fez
At Seventy from Red Fez
Beach at Corolla, NC from South Writ Large
My Roommate Jeoffry from Light Poetry Magazine
Cicadas from Grand Little Things
Slugs from Vox Poetica
Pigs Eyes from Unbroken
The Trouble with Macaques from Triggerfish Critical Review
Skinnydip in the Millpond from Speckled Trout Review
In Praise of Small Disturbances from 2River 25th Anniversary
Moving from House to House from Broadkill Review (nominated for Best of the Net)

Poetry Publications – May 2020 – 2022 (see Page for most recent)

Accepted for future publication:

Hudson Review.
Geode. 2022.

Triggerfish Critical Review.
smoke fire. July, 2022.

North Carolina Literary Review
At the Watermen’s Dock. Summer, 2022. Honorable Mention. James Applewhite Prize.

Indelible (Feminine Issue).
Betty’s Current Status. February 2022. (First seen in Broadkill Review)
A Place Less Foreign. February 2022.
The Queen’s First Door. February 2022.

8 Poems.
Verse in Which I Should Probably Be More Charitable Towards the Gift of a Book of Mediocre Verse. TBA. 2022.

2020 Ekphrastic Poetry Book from Craven Arts Council and Gallery.
After A Sudden Blow. Print only sometime in 2022.

Available for Reading Now:

Grand Little Things.
All new writing is about grief. February 1, 2022.

O.Henry Magazine.
Pinestraw Magazine.
Against Desirelessness. In O.Henry. January 2022.
Against Desirelessness. In PineStraw. January 2022.
(First publication in Snapdragon: a Journal of Arts and Healing, November 2019).

Silver Birch Press. How To Heal the Earth series
At the Big Sweep. January 16, 2022.

Wine Cellar Press.
Operating System. January 15, 2022.

Red Fez.
Guarding Watermelons. January 13, 2022.
At the Butchers’ Souk. January 13, 2022.

Sheila-Na-Gig.
Death Came For The Cardinal. Winter 2021.

As It Ought To Be Magazine
Magnificent Frigatebirds. November 19, 2021.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
25th Anniversary Issue.
Of A Marriage. November, 2021.

Wine Cellar Press.
Triolet of Zoom Impatience October 15, 2021.

Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath
Joseph Bathanti & David Potorti, editors.
Press 53, publisher.
It Strikes a Contemporary. September 2021.

January Review
My Life as a Scorpion. August, 2021.
My Precious Death. August, 2021.

101 Words.
Tender Tentacle. August 7, 2021.

Wine Cellar Press.
Hot Now! An Ode to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. July, 2021.

O.Henry Magazine.
Pinestraw Magazine.
Walter Magazine.
On An Okra Flower. July, 2021.
—in O.Henry
—in PineStraw
—in Walter.
(First found in Red Fez).

Bare Back Magazine.
Encircling. July 2021. (NSFW)

The Lake
Spiders in the Bathtub. July 2021.

Prime Number Magazine, Issue 197.
Ireland as Seen From a Porch Swing in Hickory, NC. July 1, 2021

Cider Press Review.
Cardinal. Summer 2021.

Indelible (Food and Nurture Issue).
Bread. June 25, 2021.
To a Tuber. June 25, 2021.
Artichokes. June 25, 2021.

Adirondack Review
Traces of a Portrait of Che Guevara on a Wall in Oaxaca. Summer 2021.

Live Nude Poems.
Mellow Gorillas. May 24, 2021.

Grand Little Things
Homage to George Herbert, Invitation of a Damselfly in March, Same Jay Seen Twice. May 20, 2021.

Red Fez.
Red Clay Way. May, 2021.
How Firm a Foundation. May, 2021.

Speckled Trout Review.
Swifts. May, 2021.

Asses of Parnassus
Sndbrg April 20, 2021 and Frst April 28, 2021. (two short poems made shorter as haiku).

Silver Birch Press. Still Waiting Series.
Still Waters. April 20, 2021.

Anti Heroin Chic.
This Old Dog. April 2, 2021.

Spoonfeed.
The Executioner s Love Potion. March 28, 2021.

Ekphrastic Review.
After A Sudden Blow. March 11, 2021.

Silver Birch Press. How To Series.
How I Avoid Assassination and You Can Too. March 10, 2021.

101 Words.
I Do This and That. March 9, 2021.

The South Shore Review.
When The Shadow Took the Day Off. March 7, 2021.

O.Henry Magazine.
Pinestraw Magazine.
Pairing Mantids. March, 2021. (First appeared in Panoply)

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
The Disappointment of the Comet Kohoutek. March, 2021.

Literary Yard.
”Emancipation of the Mermaid Tattoo,” “Larger Concerns,” “An Aran Sweater,” “Radio, Bosnia,” and “Against Bird Poems.” February 27, 2021.

Grand Little Things
Two Triolets. “The Saint of the Trees” and “Erasure.” February 5, 2021.

Verse Virtual.
Wine, Age. February, 2021.

Red Fez.
The Impossibility of America. January 14, 2021.
Poem in Which I Forget Myself. January 14, 2021.

Panoply, A Literary Zine.
Pairing Mantids. January 2, 2021.

American Journal of Poetry.
I Too Dislike Them. January, 2021.

Broadkill Review.
Betty s Current Status. January 1, 2021.

As It Ought To Be Magazine
Something Wonderful. December 23, 2020.

The Rusty Truck
Visions of Andrew December 11, 2020.

Thoughts on the Power of Goodness, co-edited by Timothy F. Crowley and Jaki Shelton Green.
Rising with the Moon on Advent Eve. December, 2020.
Print only. Order here

Deuce Coupe Poetry
The Good Butcher and Lunar Exploration December 9, 2020.

Redheaded Stepchild.
Firing Pottery on the Night Before Winter Solstice. Fall 2020.

little death lit.
All the Way Up. Issue 5. Fall 2020.

The Phare.
Can Crows Kiss? November/December 2020.

Grand Little Things
Eastbourne in May. October 28, 2020.

Madness Muse Press
Who Would Not Celebrate the Changes. October 11, 2020.
In one hand, mine. October 11, 2020.

Prime 53 Poem Challenge
One Red Maple. October 1, 2020.

River Heron Review.
Return to Kurdistan. Special Issue. Poems, For Now. September 15, 2020.

Ekphrastic Review.
Unnamed Early 20th Century Burial in St Matthews Episcopal Church Cemetery, Hillsborough, NC (2020). September 8, 2020.

2River View.
25th Anniversary Issue.
In Praise of Small Disturbances. September 1, 2020.
In an Unripe Season September 1, 2020.

Frank Gallery
Essay on Ekphrastic Poetry. August 17, 2020.

Red Fez.
To a Certain Feeling of Optimism. August, 2020.
To Very Small Devices. August, 2020.

Ekphrastic Review.
Lewis Morley’s photograph of Christine Keeler sitting the wrong way round on a copy of an Arne Jacobsen chair (UK) 1963. July 22, 2020.

Grand Little Things
Cicadas. July 21, 2020
Prayer to a Deer in Summer. July 21, 2020

Unbroken Journal.
The Church of Misdirected Saints. July 2020.
Pig’s Eye. July 2020.

Redheaded Stepchild Magazine.
Pulled Up My Socks. Spring 2020.

Vox Poetica Magazine.
Slugs. Spring 2020.

South Writ Large.
Bee Fall. Spring 2020.
Beach at Corolla, NC. Spring 2020.

Third Wednesday Magazine.
The Happiness of Fear. Summer 2020.
An Honest Talk To The Shadow. summer 2020.

Triggerfish Critical Review.
Visiting Lhakdor. July 2020.
The Trouble With Macaques. July 2020.
The Hidden Buddhists of Baikal. July 2020.

Turtle Island Quarterly
Early Fall Full Moon. January 2020.

Broadkill Review
Seventy Three. March/April 2020.
Moving From House to House. March/April 2020

Poetry in May (so far)

This week saw three of my poems published:

  • Slugs in Vox Poetica

    They are so unlovely and unloved

  • Beach at Corolla, NC and Bee Fall in South Writ Large

    Inside the beached whale was a library

    Can goodbyes last past parting
    or are they, like bees visits
    to clover, intense moments
    of working passion, nectar
    searching, the sweet flight begun
    soon after? Home to the hive.

Also I will be going to the Sewanee Writers Conference. Not this year but in 2021 as this year the conference has been COVIDed into Master Classes.
I have not been to such a conference since being at Warren Wilson in the very early 1990 and before that at Breadloaf in the very early 1980s.

Looking forward.

The Great Pestilence of 1855 in Virginia

In June 1855, a ship, the Benjamin Franklin, coming from the West Indes was placed under quarantine in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The captain broke quarantine. 3000 people–1/3 of the population of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va.–died of yellow fever.

The first doctor treating patients to die was Dr Richard Silvester (he thought he might have immunity from previous exposure) in August. In September, his wife Lydia, his son Richard also a Doctor, and a younger son, William, were struck by the fever and died. Before winter, a daughter, Margaret, also died of the fever.

The elder Dr Silvester was my great-great-great-grandfather. The story of how the family was nearly wiped out by the captain breaking quarantine has been in my family since.

Yellow Fever was localized, carried by mosquitoes (that was not understood at the time. Vapors and the like were blamed), but ravaging. Today’s pandemic is at global scale, but the swiftness of the spread, the quarantine, and costs of particular lives echoes the so-called Great Pestilence in Virginia.

(note to myself: add links to this later)

Open tabs, new words

Yesterday, my friend Eric (the Silent K) asked folks on Facebook:

Hey, word-smiths. Is there a word that describes the sensation of doing something normal in abnormal times?

In response, I coined not one but two related words – Abnotopia the sensation of doing something normal in abnormal times and Abnophoria Feeling elation in an abnormally weird or scary time. They’re now in Urban Dictionary. Vote ’em up!

Incidentally some open tabs in my browser:

  1. The Myth of Voice by Sean Igoe in The Lark
  2. “All You Have To Do Is Say The Words” Some notes regarding Robert Hass’s “Summer Snow” by Jonathan Farmer in Believer Magazine’s Logger
  3. Windows, Emily Leithouser’s translation of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fenêtres in LIterady Matters
  4. Narasimbha – the 4th avatar of Vishnu. The half-man/half-lion avatar is a one time use god. He incarnated, he killed a very bad deamon, and that’s it.

Prosing in Poetry

After being heavily tied to verse, I’ve taken a vacation into prose poems. This despite Robert Pinsky’s warning in his appreciation of Robert Hass’ A Story About the Body:

“A standard form for young poets these days, as the sonnet might have been for another generation, is the prose poem. It seems that most first books must contain one or two prose poems, if only to demonstrate the poet’s ability to manage the form, or awareness of fashion.”

In part this is also driven by my reading through “A Cast Iron Airplane That Can Actually Fly,” an anthology with commentary that includes Robert Hill Long and Charles Fort, which includes a wide variety of prose poems.

I did one prose poem a while back for Triggerfish Critical Review, but now have 3 or 4 more.

Anyone else working in this genre? Have favorite ones? Say Hass’ Paschal Lamb or Carolyn Forche’s The Colonel?

Update: Since posting this I’ve had three new prose poems accepted by Triggerfish Critical Review for their 24th issue due out online in July 2020.

Poems literally on the Moon

A manuscript of my poems was sent to the moon’s surface April 11, 2019 as part of Arch Mission Foundation’s Lunar Library delivered by SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander.

Just my manuscript?

First, let me be a bit more modest. We, Arch Mission, created a library designed to be landed on the moon via SpaceIL. The library contains over 30 million pages of text and images etched into 40 micron thick nickel foils. My manuscript is only about 60 pages of all of that.

All of Project Gutenberg, all of the English language Wikipedia, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (in all of the recognized languages), the PanLex datasets (from the Long Now Foundation, a linguistic key to 5000 languages, with 1.5 billion translations between them), and some “private collections” (the entire works of Peter Drucker, the poetry of Kathleen Spivak, and more) make up a few of the other pages in the library. Some contents are yet to be revealed for various reasons but see The Lunar Library Overview for details on content and on the physical construction of the disks and etching process.

How am I involved with Arch Mission?

I’m on the Advisory Board for the Arch Mission Foundation helping the founder Nova Spivak identify free and open content to represent our human endeavors in the library. I also give advice as to categories of material to include. I was delighted that Nova asked me for a manuscript that might become lunar.

Where is the Lunar Library?

That’s a good question. The Beresheet lander landed really hard. That is to say it crashed on the lunar surface somewhere near or in the Sea of Serenity. The Library could have been ejected or sailed off at impact or… well, we’re not sure. Nova and other team member have created a document that speculates on the fate of the library.

So it’s on the moon. Even likely in one piece. But it’s small and waiting to be discovered.

And there are tardigrades!

At least we think so. Nova (I wasn’t part of this bit) had the library coated with protected resin in which there are, as far as I know, water bears aka tardigrades, embedded. Tardigardes are the roughest creatures on earth and can survive in a state of limbo for a long time under adverse conditions. While their inclusion concerned some people, the very idea that some form of earth life might be part of the library effort is novel.

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