Thursday, August 28, 2003

I've Decided Something

The Black Doll still needs work. It's missing... Something. I guess what they say is true, stories arenever really finished just abandoned.

I have a couple of ideas for expanding the characters and adding in some new scenes but I will leave the current version up for now. I'm still taking suggestions for improvements. All comments welcome.
Do They Still Make That Stuff?

I recieved my first homework asignment for Grad School via e-mail last night. It's been a while but I think I still remember how it works...

I know, I'm going on about Grad school al ot and not mentioning books very much but bear with me. Soon, the book talk will resume. I should have a stirring comment or two concerning the first chapter of The orgonization of Information sometime next week.

I just finished Lulluby and will have something to say about that very soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Old Dogs and All That

Iíve made a few revisions on the Black Doll. Nothing major (yet). Just a few grammar and spelling errors that I missed the first time around.

Iím still pondering the fate of this story. Should I put up on blocks in the yard for some extensive reworking or just leave it as is? If I rewrite it, what needs work? Iíd like to maybe expand Vivian Thelemaís character a bit, perhaps connect her more directly to the Knights Templar, possibly in a historical context with the Doll, which would require showing more of the Dollís history. That could be fun. Also, Iím thinking of getting a little more into Uncle Rudolphís dubious past, make his unacceptable predilections a lot stronger (and thus, creepier).

Any thoughts?

Monday, August 25, 2003

In Case You Were wondering...

No, there's nothing wrong with your computer. I chose a new template for the Invisible Library. Something a bit more simple, a little less green and jarring. There might be a little more remodelling going on here but this is the most drastic. So don't worry, everything will be OK.
I'm tired and rambling but just thought you should know...

So orientation for Grad School was Saturday. I feel all oriented. Now if only I could find a way to not spend 300 bucks on textbooks! No, I didn't think there was either. There's just no hope, I'm afraid.

I have classes with sexy names like Information Access (oh yeah!) Information Use (Use me! Oh, Use!) and Information Technology (Oh!) And Information something else, but I forget what at the moment. They should be fun and interesting in a book geeky, geeisn't that swell sort of way.

Yesterday I met some of Elvira's friends and had a blast driving all over Baltimore. We went to the American Visionary Museum, which houses an extensive colection of folk, outsider and just plain batshit crazy art. Lots of fun.

I spent today runing around getting my student ID, finding out that they don't sell the MLS books at the cheepo book store off campass oly at the really expensive store on campus and getting a parking tag so my car won't be towed away and I won't be stuck inside the beltway that close to DC all alone and in the cold cold dark.

I'm having second thoughts about The Black Doll. I'm thinking I should not have been so eager to post it. I'm thinking it needs a lot fo work. Thanks to the American Viusionary Museum though, I have plenty of ideas for ways to improve the story. It calls for some considerable expansion but I think it will ultimately make it a better story and really, isn't that whaty it's all about?

If anyone has any thoughts on the matter, drop me an e-mail and let me know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Iím off to Grad School!

So I wonít be posting for about a week, what with the driving twelve hours from Georgia to Maryland, and the family visiting and moving and settling and flaven.

Despair not!

Iíve been teasing you for the last two weeks with hints and innuendo concerning my latest story, The Black Doll. So here it is, the complete and unabridged tale of a young girlís touching relationship with a demonic doll of ancient origin. Read. Savor. Enjoy. Send comments and critiques and let me know what you think.

See you in September!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Todayís Rant
Brought to you by the American Medical Association

I have Chronic Sinusitis. This sounds horrible, I know, conjuring up pictures of your author, hunchbacked and drooling snot from his eyeballs. But really, it isnít too bad. Mostly, I get a mild headache whenever itís about to rain and the once a year, on average, a Sinus Infection.

Iíve been lucky the last four years and havenít had one. But my sinuses are making up for it this yearñ currently, Iím in day four of a righteous headache and pressure so bad, my teeth hurt.

In the last ten years Iëve had about a dozen such infections, all of them quickly cured within three days by antibiotics. This is not my gripe. My gripe is the Sisyphean challenge involved in getting the antibiotics.

Were I to reside in Canada, or any one of the European Union (or heck, even Mexico) I could take a leisurely stroll down to the corner druggistís and purchase the necessary antibiotics over the counter for about the price of aspirin. And were I to live in Mexico, the same amount of money would get me the family size bottle and Iíd still have enough pesos left over for a taco. But I donít live in any of these backward countries. I live here in the land of the free market, home of the brave entrepreneur, America!

Here in America, first among the first world nations, if I want to acquire antibiotics I have t go see a doctor and get a prescription. The fact that I havenít had health insurance in over a year makes this chore even more difficult. The fact that Iíve been only moderately employed during that year makes getting insurance impossible. I prefer to eat, thank you.

So I go to the county free clinic, thinking I might be able to save myself some money. They tell me itíll be $45, minimum (ìDepending on what the Doctor saysî) and schedule an appointment for ten o clock the next morning.

So wait, I have to wait 24 hours before seeing a doctor, just so I can tell him the diagnosis and ask for a prescription, pretty please? Fuck that.

I call my wife at work and tell her about my appointment and she suggests, since itíll cost nearly $50 bucks anyway, that I just go to the local Doc-in-a-box, where I can just walk in and theyíll see me, no appointment. The one nearby even fills your prescription on premises. So I do.

Three hours and $80 bucks later...

I finally have the antibiotics*. And my headache is worse because I havenít had anything to eat, because Iíve spent all morning trying to find a Doctor. See, America is apparently in short supply of Doctors because they have to consult on everything from heart transplants for Death Row Inmates to splinters. Because we donít dare let the citizens take their health into their own hands or self medicate for fear of even more ridiculous lawsuits, like the fatso who is suing Mc Donald's for making him fat.

And donít even think about Nationalized Health Care. Thatís a dirty conspiracy concocted by a triumvirate of French, German and Canadian pot smoking Socialists. Why, if we were to have Universal Health Care we might lower ourselves to the level of those darn Canadians and who wants that? With their lack of crime, higher educational standards, tolerance of homosexual unions, lenient and rational drug laws, a working two party democratic system and functional separation of Church and State, why, theyíre about as Un-American as you can get!


*Despite the fact that I told the Dr. I am allergic to Penicillin, thatís what they handed me at first. Luckily I checked the label or my wife would have been rushing me to the Emergency room later that night. The staff at this particular place seemed rather harried and apologized profusely when I pointed out to them that they nearly poisoned me. The moral here: Caveat Emptor, folks. Especially when dealing with the American Medical Establishment.

Update: One of the little known side effects of a Sinus Infection is that it impares grammar and spelling. Antibiotics fixes it, though.

Friday, August 15, 2003

I just checked my mail and found to me delight and surprise, my very first fan letter from someone not related to me:

I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog. You mentioned that only a few people read it, and now you can add me to that number. I've shared it with some of my friends. We're all English majors on the East Coast.

Thanks. Keep blogging!

Thanks to Kim and all those English majors on the East Coast. And keep reading, they're are some surprises coming soon, just you wait and see... Bwah ha ha ha ha ha! Cough. Ahem.
Fair and Balanced: the Fox News Legacy
(Trademark)(Copyright)(4 ever)

Iíve never watched Fox News. Ever. I donít even have cable. Heck, I only watch Fox to see The Simpsons and Futurama and theyíve canceled Futurama. However, this will not prevent me from offering my own Fair and Balanced review of Fox News, that pinnacle of Fairness and Balancedness. If anything, my unfamiliarity with the News Channel over qualifies me for the Job; Iím the very model of journalistic integrity: Iím so objective itís silly.

As everyone knows, Fox News was not so much started as summoned into being by the need of the American People for a Fair and Balanced source of Infotainment.

Now let me say something about Infotainment. Itís the wave of the future. No longer do we need to partition our ëtainment from our info. No sir. Thatís so 20th century! Information over yonder and entertainment delivered from the gaping holes of those Liberal schlock hockers in Hollywood (or as I like to refer to it, Sodomizemeontheconstitutionville). Now we can blend them together like a giant media swirlycone, getting our Info all mixed up in our ëtainment, just like God intended. And itís a little known fact, Fox News was the first to do this. In fact, I think they have a copyright on the word ìInfotainment.î So watch your back.

And so what if a few measly details like facts get left on the cutting room floor? The important part is that we have manageable sound bites for the folks in Peoria and Poteet. These are hard working people, barely keeping it together, what with the way those nasty Liberals keep refusing to raise the minimum wage and all. They shouldnít be bothered with too much info, especially during the ëtainment hour.

And whom does Fox News have to deliver these pearls of bite sized wisdom? Only the hardest working gang of talking heads on Television! Bill OíReily, Sean Hannity, the Ghost of Edward R, Murrow, who regularly drops through the roof of the studio to spin in circles every time their guest pundit says the magic word of the day (usually some variation of ìFuck me with your Texas Man Steak, George W. Bush!î) They are also graced with the amusing antics of Anne ìThe Manî Caulter, who I think is a trained spider monkey who does the weather. Oh wait? Sheís not a monkey? My editor has just informed me that Anne Caulter is not in fact a deformed Spider Monkey as I previously believed. I was obviously misled by some Unfair and wholly unbalanced and utterly fiendish Liberal Plot. Well, fool me once, Michael Moore, but Fool me twice and Iíll sue!

Now I have to give the man his due: Mr. Bill OíReily. Itís a bold move on the part of Rupert Murdoch to hire an openly avowed Metrosexual. Thatís Fair and Balanced! Just look at those immaculately manicured nails, that twinkle in his eye (do I detect a hint of eyeshadow, Bill? You Manly Dog, You!) and that expertly quaffed hair. The thing is, heís not some simpering homo trying to pass as a strait guy and failing like those ìQueersî on Will and Grace. Heís the real thing. A Manís Man (wink). So what if he likes to look nice for the ladies? And heís quite the Intellectual giant as well. When he cuts the microphone of some hippy about to trump his Infobites with obviously manufactured ìFactsî well, itís simply breath taking. You wouldnít see that sham, Donahue doing that. Itís pure Bill and itís pure genius!

Oh and Anne Caulter! I love it when they let her jump around the studio like a mawkish monkey that fell in a taffy-pulling machine! And her books are top notch. The detail involved in all those footnotes; they make my head spin, just like that time in Tijuana when Poncho gave me that punch he said was made with a special cactus...

Now, Iím sure youíve heard the rumors that she is assisted by a hundred monkeys at a hundred typewriters but I want you to know itís all Liberal Slander! She wrote every damn word herself! So let her have her glory wonít you, Bill Mahr?

All in all, these Special Folk at Fox News do an amazing job presenting a Fair and Balanced view of world events, in light of all the backhanded shenanigans form the Liberal Media Giants like ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN, the Cartoon Network, Bravo, and that Uber Media conglomerate personified by John Stewart, Comedy Central. Damn you John Stewart! Damn! You! All! To! Hell! Oh how that man makes me laugh! With rage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Busy, Busy, BusyÖ

Getting ready for Grad School is time consuming so posting will be light for the next to or three weeks.

Currently, Iím reading Cages by Dave McKean which is probably the single best Graphic novel Iíve ever read.

Now, Iím a big champion of the comics medium (my undergrad degree is in comic books, seriously) but even I will admit that most graphic novels tend to be lightweights compared to prose novels. But not Cages. The subtlety, the mystery, the structure and subtext is all on par with the best prose novels Iíve read and far surpasses a lot of the work by other certain authors, who will remain unnamed.

Iíll have an in depth review up in September as well as an excerpt from the Black Doll. Now I have to go decide which books to take with me and which ones to leave. My wife needs something to read while Iím gone, after all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fair and Balanced

For some reason, Fox is suing Al Franken for using the words "fair and Balanced" in the title of his new book. They apparently think they own the words "Fair and Balanced". That and they have no sense of humor what so ever. So a number of bloggers are also being Fair and Balanced. I fgured I'd jump on the band wagon because Al Franken is one of the funniest, most inteligent Liberal comedian/commentators out there today. And because Fox is a sad and pathetic excuse for a news source, having long since abandoned any resemblence to actual journalism in favor of "Infotainment". Gods and Monsters, what a horrible jingoistic buzword that is. Edward R. Murrow's ghost should haunt Rupert Murdoch's dreams until the man either comes to his senses or succumbs to some horrible rich man's disease. Limmo Rot or Moneybagitis. Something expensive, anyway.
Where to Put my Dolls

Iíve finally finished The Black Doll, my short story about a young girlís touching relationship with a demonically possessed Doll of ancient origin. Itís a coming of age story. The problem is itís a little too long, coming in currently at just over 10,500 words, roughly 47 pages. I need to do a little checking around but Iím pretty sure Iíd have to cut about 2500 words in order to get it down to a publishable length. But I donít see loosing more than 500 words, tops. So perhaps Iíll post it here for the enjoyment of the three or four people who read this blog with any regularity.

Iím actually thinking of going in the direction of self publishing, in which case I might do The Black Doll as a small 48 page book, maybe with an illustration or two and sell it here on the site, and shop it around to publishers.

Youíve got to be creative these days to get noticed. I mean, Iíve been following the rules, sending out the submissions and the query letters to agents and publishers but the unanimous response Iíve gotten thus far is, ìYou arenít a best selling author therefore weíre not even going to reads your MS because it wonít make us oodles of cash money, yo. So fuck off.î

OK, they didnít say, yo. But generally thatís the response Iíve gotten.

And the thing is, I donít want to be a best selling author. Honestly, I donít. Too much of a hassle. Iíd be happy if there were just a dozen or so people out there besides my family and friends who read my stories and got some enjoyment out of them. So maybe Iíll start a little self-publishing revolution and teach those Capitalist Pigs who are ruining the Publishing Industry a lesson.

Yeah, Iím sure thatís just what will happen.


I canít get the comments scripts to work so for now, just send comments, suggestions, flames whatever to my e-mail (in the little green box above). If youíre polite and friendly and have constructive criticism (not just a terse little, ìBorges also wrote poetry.î Sort of note) I might even post your letter here and respond to it point by point. Wonít that be fun?

Thursday, August 07, 2003

More Fury Than Sound (Thinking)

Over at Bookslut they have an interview up with Author Steve Almond who has this to say about literary criticism in America:

ÖIt's like they're saying we can't just write about literature and the emotions expressed in literature, we need some sort of hook or angle that will appeal to our readers. Fuck off on that. Find beautiful books to advocate for. Why do you want to read a bad review, so you don't buy a bad book? Save yourself a little money? It makes sense if it's Stephen King or Tom Clancy, but why not just find the books that deserve to be praised and direct people to them? Maybe that's too Pollyanna-ish.

I donít think itís Pollyanna-ish at all. Thatís what Iím all about, toiling away here in the Invisible Library, ranting and raving about the books I love. Go back and read the little blurbs and reviews Iíve written so far. Not one is of a book I hated. I donít write about hate. I write about the books that inspire me. That make we want to kick out the stained glass windows and light the moon on fire. That make me want to write, in other words.

The literary culture of America, and very likely the world is in trouble. Itís become deluded, self referential and isolated form life. Most books written these days are about writing, not about living. And that is the problem, authors who donít go out and mix it up and knock themselves down trying to live the hell out of life. We writers have the reputation of being a bunch of anemic, closet cases, fearful of sunlight and strong wine. And to a degree itís well earned. To write you must isolate yourself and let your insides come out.

But then you have to stuff ëem back in, tie up your boots and go to a Goth club and drown yourself in vinyl skirts and slender thighs clad in fishnet stockings. Or something, anything. That way you have something to write about other than what your therapist said last Tuesday and how that made you feel. Fuck your therapist. Get drunk and spit fire onto paper and then, find a publisher.
The Forgotten Ones

So, to recap, hereís my list of the 10 books left off the lists of the 100 best of the 20th century:

1. The Hearing Trumpet, Leonora Carrington
2. In watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan
3. Radio Free Albemuth, Philip K. Dick
4. Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
5. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
6. Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins
7. Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges
8. The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll Pataphysician, Alfred Jarry
9. The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
10. Illuminatus!, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea

My friend and regular correspondent, Jason offered an alternative list, though with the caveat that these sorts of lists are highly flexible and are apt to change from day to day.

1. Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
2. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
3. Radio Free Albemuth, Philip K. Dick
4. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
5. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
6. 60 Stories, Donald Barthelme
7. Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon
8. Steppenwol, Herman Hesse
9. Transparent Things, Vladimir Nabokov
10. Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Heck, I made a substitution or two along the way and while writing the reviews, thought of a dozen more that I could have mentioned in their place. Best Of lists are, by their nature, subjective. I donít think anyone but the most egregious egomaniac would dispute this fact.

You may have noticed we both included Radio Free Albemuth, which I suppose makes us Dick heads. His list has Mason & Dixon, while mine almost had The Crying of Lot 49. I just thought it didnít fit into the top ten. Itís certainly in the top twenty though, along with Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed and another Vonnegut classic, the Sirens of Titan.

The great thing is that there is such a wealth of wonderful literature from the 20th century that this list could go on forever. So far the 21st century isnít shaping up too hot but hey, itís just started and I havenít published my novel yet, so thereís still hope.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Drum Roll...

And here we are, number 10 on my list of the ten books left off of everyoneís 100 best of the 2oth century lists:

Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea

This book has everything. Fencing, fighting, chases, escapes, true love... wait. OK yeah it has all those things plus: mind bending conspiracy theories, sex, drugs, rock and roll, political commentary, Quantum Physics, zombi Nazi soldiers, Ancient Sea Monsters, Anarchistic philosophy, Jungian Synchronicity, Atlantis, ceremonial magik, detectives, talking gorillas, Dolphins in scuba gear, a yellow submarine and, AND, yes, even... Fnords.

You really have to read the book to find out what a Fnord is because I couldnít begin to explain it and frankly I donít want to ruin it for you.

Technically, the book is a trilogy, but it was artificially cut into one by the publisher as well as having something like 500 pages excised. And the book is 1200 pages as is.

ìBut I thought you didnít like books longer than 200 pages,î you say. Well yeah but... Illuminatus! is the exception to every rule.

Personally, I think those extra 500 pages were rewritten by Robert Anton Wilson into Schrodingerís Cat as many of the same characters show up there as well.

So read both books and get your head blown apart by a literary hand grenade. Youíll thank me later.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Maybe On Mars

Number 9 on my list of the ten books left off the 100 best of the 20th century:

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

Overlooking The Martian Chronicles is a mistake. It might not have the epic detail of Dune or be chock full of robots like the Foundation Trilogy, but what Mr. Bradberyís book has that these and few other sci-fi books have is a poetic heart. A sense of introspection. A willingness to blur the line between our humanity and all life formís inherent alienness.

Let me explain what I mean by this.

Humans decide to colonize Mars. But over the years, when they arenít looking, they become colonized by the planet as well. The ones who escape Earth and the nuclear war that destroys civilization on our home world become, ironically more human only after they become Martians and learn what it means to be not just human, but alive.

If ever their was a reason to maintain our manned space program, itís illustrated superbly in The Martian Chronicles, if only so that one day, we might be able to achieve that distance, that perspective that will help us gain the wisdom necessary to become better humans.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Those wacky folks at Rum and Monkey have too much time on their hands...

My Iraqi Leadership Name is al-Tikriti Tahir al-Faisal Samir.
What's yours?
Powered by Rum and Monkey.

"May rats shit on the yes of your enemies."


Friday, August 01, 2003

Faustroll, Bigger than Faustroll

Number 8 of my ten books left off the 100 best of the 20th century lists:

The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician by Alfred Jarry

OK, technically, this book belongs on the list of 10 books left off the 100 best of the 19th century list, as it was written in 1898. But it wasnít published until three years after Alfred Jarryís death in 1907. A minor technicality. Faustroll is the essence of the modern novel. Itís so modern itís post-modern and so far ahead of that, even that it circles back on itself and becomes pre-modern. Yeah, itís that weird.

Building a boat, which is also a sieve, Dr. Faustroll shanghais a bailiff named Panmuphle, come to levy a fine and together with a hydrocephalic, sail through a series of imaginary islands that are complex prose poems, many of them referencing the Parisian artistic scene of the late 19th century. Along the way, Dr. Faustroll illustrates the basic tenets of ëPataphysics, the science of imaginary solutions. Jarry spent most of his life developing this strange branch of epistemological monkey business and Faustroll is its culmination. Any further explanation of Pataphysics I will leave to Jarry,

ìPataphysicsÖ is the science of that which is superinduced upon metaphysics, whether within or beyond the latterís limitations, extending a sfar beyond metaphysics as the latter extends beyond physicsÖ Pataphysics will be, above all, the science of the particular, despite the common opinion that the only science is that of the general. Pataphysics will examine the laws governing exceptions, and will explain the universe supplementary to this oneÖ Pataphysics is the science of imaginary solutionsÖ pataphysics is the scienceÖî

Think of it as the Odyssey, if Homer were an Absinth fiend and Odysseus, a combination of Captain Ahab and Dr. Frankenstein, who succeeds in smiting the sun and sailing away on the carcass of the White Whale to engage in a telepathic discourse with Lord Kelvin on the dimensions of God.

I can understand why most people would pass over Faustroll. A lot of people dismiss experimental literature as weird for the sake of weird, utter balderdash passed off as Literature with a capitol L. But Faustroll is the greatest sort of balderdash, being both profound and nonsensical. To dismiss Jarry is a literary crime and to not read Faustroll is to live an incomplete life.

My Mormon name is Veithe Friends Forsaken !
What's yours?

Rhyme and Meter

I was informed by e-mail that Borges also wrote poetry. Which is true. Some very good poetry, in fact. I did not mention this in my review of Labyrinths for the simple reason that the book contains one poem by Borges and was rather beside the point.

But since Iím on the topic...

I consider the world of contemporary poetry to be in a deplorable state of affairs. I mean really, just awful. Iíve known this for the last seven or eight years, ever since one of my poems was accepted by the National Library of Poetry for their annual anthology, which in 1996 was entitled ìTomorrowís Dream.î This should have tipped me off right then. What a horrible title for a poetry anthology.

But I was young, recently graduated from High School and about to start college. I was proud to have had one of my poems accepted for publication. And by the National Library of Poetry, no less. Big stuff, I thought.

Then the anthology arrived and I was horrified to discover that it was as big as a frickiní phone book, over seven hundred pages long with roughly seven poems squeezed onto about six hundred of those pages, the other hundred or so devoted to miniature biographies of the poets. That tallies up to roughly 5000 poems in that anthology. Quite a feet.

Thumbing through this tome I discovered that my carefully crafted, symbolist poem was planted among odes to Jesus, sonnets about kitty cats and enough ruminations on the subject of love to put the Hallmark Company out of business come Valentineís Day. Iím not saying my poem was the greatest. Rereading it now, itís rather embarrassing. So embarrassing that Iím not going to even reproduce it here because frankly it sucks compared to the state of my writing these days. Iím sure that in seven years, Iíll feel the same about what Iím writing now but thatís another topic altogether.

My point is poetry has become something anyone can do, badly. But the fact that anyone can do it doesnít mean everyone should do it as the result is a collection of horrors not to be inflicted on those who genuinely respect the written word and regard the crafting of it to be an art form. Due largely to the efforts of the National Library of Poetry and its competitors, the over saturation of horrible, horrible poetry has rendered the traditions of the art form meaningless. This problem has only been exacerbated by Rap Music (ìI know, Iíll emphasize every beat, because thatís how you read poetry, like a nursery rhyme!î) and the Poetry Slam movement, with itís promotion of inelegant, staccato ramblings on the harshness of the street hustlerís life, the tragedy of teen pregnancy and the crassness of the rich as actual examples of modern poetry.

To my words,
pimps and hos:
Maybe if we just
keep throwing
more crap out there,
itíll actually
catch on,

It doesnít help that at this years Tony awards, a show that promotes this very Eminem flavored crap won an actual award. This must stop, before another generation of would-be-poets has a chance to stand on the street corner and chatter about their love affair with God or the length of their penis and expect to be elevated to the level of Dante and appreciated as a ghetto Milton.

There is some great modern poetry out there, of course. Also some fabulous classical poetry and I agree with Ray Bradbury, that every writer who wants to know how to write well should devour poetry by the bucketful. Just make sure youíre reading Shakespeare, Neruda, e.e. cummings, Homer, and oh yeah, Borges instead of some sorry excuse for a greeting card.