Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kickstart the love, my friends. A soulful, funkalicious project

Send your love now! To

Fanny Franklin Soul-Oo Record!

Okay, I'll back up.  First.  That's Mark Cross on keyboards.  He "wailed all through the first year of his life." A natural-born musician.

The line is from my poem "The Rebirth Live" -- my contribution to the anthology, Say It Outloud: Poems About James Brown.

What's happening? Mark is collaborating with soulful, funky temptress Fanny Franklin on getting a CD out there, there!, so you can download the love.

Love costs, my friends, sadly, these days. The project is on Kickstarter, however, so, really, all the love will cost you is a minimum of, say, $1.  Say, $5.  Say, $30.  More if you have more. 

But really love doesn't cost so much as work. Love works. It does. So if you don't have money, send love. Here's a thought, you could send both.  Okay, I'll shut up. I'll end this with another line from the poem.

"God is in the funk the beat the blues."

Believe. Believe it.

Fanny Franklin Soul-Oo Record!

For more info about Say It Outloud, go to James Brown.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alas we live in the Age of Cupcakes . . . (2 poems in Scythe poetry journal)

A quick howdy to tell you I have two poems in Scythe, a poetry journal created by Joseph and Chenelle Milford, which, as the two explain on the journal's landing page, originated in the spirit and mission of The Joe Milford Poetry Show.
The Milfords are one of poetry's energy fields. They produce an online interview show, archive same and edit a literary journal. And raise kids. And write.  

So thanks to them and I hope you enjoy "No Need for a Door" ("The lotus was a premise, floating / and so what") and "Look Now" ("Alas we live in the Age of Cupcakes. / Those who know the past are likely as those / who don't to forget to bake at 350° 'til /springy to touch. . .").

In case I haven't been self-serving enough, let me guide you to the archive of the The Joe Milford Poetry Show, wherein you will find, what?, yes!, my name!, Sarah Sarai, yes, an interview with Sarah Sarai. Oh joy!

Scythe, Issue IV: includes work by J.P. Dancing Bear, Oliver de la Paz, Arielle LaBrea-Lancaster, Jee Leong Koh, Lyn Lifshin, Laura Carter and many others.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Your Daily Prayer, Courtesy of Rumi

*caption below
My Peeps.  I just saw this on the Parabola website.  This poem is enough beautiful and enough true it must be shared with as many as possible.

All bodies are temples.  We forget all bodies are homes.  I don't know what liberties Coleman Barks took with the title or the translation in general, but I do know we are all guests to poetry.

And, "Every morning a new arrival."

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


From The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am rejected. Because I write "stories like this."

The editor thinks I'm weird.
I'll give him weird.
Here's a new rejection letter for two short stories.  I found it painful and useless.  While I understand the editor was being generous in writing me and that you, My Reader, probably think I'm crazy for being offended, please understand. I have never followed up on a letter like this and had a story accepted.

In other words, while this editor thinks he has his reasons for not selecting this specific submission, he simply doesn't like my writing and doesn't understand that. My experience tells me he is going to keep finding fault. Been there. And there. And there.  No thanks.

His utter lack of specificity left me confused. Kind sir: don't like my writing. Fine. But if you don't (and this relates to fiction), give me at least one sentence or scene you'd make different. 

Weird? I am posting the letter in full (but for redacted titles and names) in hopes of getting rid of some of the ick.

Dear Sarah,

We've decided to pass on ...... But I want to encourage you pretty strongly to submit again. Here's where what should be a fairly standard rejection letter becomes longer and oddly personal, but I think it's worth doing.

See, I myself wrote--and, to some extent, still write--stories like this. And for a number of years, I got rejection letters that said, in essence, "these stories are good, but they're too weird." I didn't want to get more normal. So I was determined to reverse the clauses in that sentence--you know, write until I got a letter that said "this story is weird, but too good to pass up." So it was a question of making the weirdness more accessible, without becoming less weird; to give someone a really compelling reason to keep reading despite the weirdness.

I can tell you now that there is an audience for that sort of thing. Not a very big one, but it's pretty dedicated--and I myself am in it. Of course, you can write however you wish--maybe the direction I've described is not at all interesting to you--but in any case, I'm interested in reading more from you, and I'd like to see where you go next.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reader, if you were a seam, I'd take you out anywhere: 3 new poems

Painting by Megan Hinton
Well, there's not much to be said here except that POOL's latest is online and three of my poems are in it.  POOL publishes once a year, used to be print, has always been chic.

And Californian.  No, not just Californian, but Southern Californian.  It is of my hometown. 

Thank you, editors Judith Taylor and Patty Seyburn.  Thank you fellow contributors, whose names await you here, at POOL, a journey of poetry.

My three poems are "Commerce for the Good of the Peoples," "You Are the Confusing Identity I Write For" and "On the Way to the Gallery."

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11, an excerpt, "I remember thinking, They are shades. They are gone."

I'm letting myself feel it this year. One moment I was thinking about my mother who'd died in August, the next moment I was in a new kind of numb.

It is strange, or not, but I watched the second tower fall on a television in a bar. I'd called an elderly friend on a routine check-in, she started screaming at me and I had the sense to go outside and pay attention. I don't have a television. During the next days and weeks I was thankful for the absence of repetitious terror, visually, at least.

The bar wasn't usually open so early. I don't think, I didn't track its timings and now it's under new ownership, and shiny and glossy so I don't have the luxury of sentimentality, another plus.  Anyway. Anyway. Anyway.

. . .an excerpt from "Everywhere Woman Is Born Free,"* which I posted here in full, a few years ago.  It's in my collection.

Carr Futures/Tower 1/WTC
I remember working one Wednesday
on the 92nd floor.  The people were pleasant,
like they’d all make great neighbors.
I remember pangs in my stomach.  An ulcer?
and asking a friend if I should see a doctor. 
I’m going out on a limb here, Sarah,
but you gotta have some fun.
I remember my mom died a month earlier.
I remember Martha called to say she was
in Jersey and did I want to visit.
I remember being asked back to Carr Futures
after Martha and I made plans.  I called
my friend on a limb.  Should I turn down
work right now?  I remember I went to Jersey. 
It was a Thursday.  I remember rolling down
grassy slopes with Martha’s grandkids. 
I never went back to Carr Futures.
By 11 a.m. on Tuesday everyone was gone. 
Everyone.  Every employee of Carr Futures
who was there that day was gone. 
Where were they?  I remember the floor plan:
the oblong lobby, the maple reception area. 
The offices beyond.  I remember wondering
if any of the exits were contemplated. 
I remember praying it all went fast.
I remember thinking, No one
I remember thinking, So many in such a short time?
I remember thinking, They are shades.  They are gone.
I remember thinking, Not one person made it out
Poof.  I remember, No one?

The Armory
I remember the Armory across the street became the
first DNA collection center.
I remember my neighborhood a media event.
I remember streets blocked for two weeks.
Everything darker than a nightmare.
Candles, vigils, wax on sidewalks, shattered flames.
Flyers on every wall.  Photographs of smiling people
with their hair well-groomed, missing.
I remember being interviewed:  Do you want revenge?
I remember telling the people of France I wouldn’t
put anyone through this. 
I remember hoping someone understood.
I remember there was no getting away from it. 
The doors of my building opened to the funeral train.
I remember the line down the block and around
the corner.  Loved ones waiting to register.
I remember trying to give blood.
I remember being asked to hand out fliers.
I remember crying because I wanted everyone
to understand I cared as much as Jennifer Lopez.

Sarah Sarai...excerpt from *"Everywhere Woman Is Born Free," (click on poem title for full poem), in The Future Is Happy

Carr Futures was a commodities broker/trader. They've merged. Jennifer Lopez had given money or visited the troops.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The power & the glory & the Blaze & the VOX meet a pouter. My 3000 Loving Arms hug Gatza.

Earlier today I was googling sleep studies, trying to help a friend find a study which meets his peculiarities. Which reminded me that if I am going to sleep tonight I better say something or other about the rather unhappy young fellow who complained, yesterday, about BlazeVOX [books]. {Links at the end.}

I have two somethings to say. One is that Mr. Unhappy went public. That, to glorify his sense of great injustice, this young fellow who was so grievously treated by life as to get an MFA, have been an editor for a respected publication, be young, complained in a blog sure to attract attention. Because of its affiliations. And his blogging was somehow confused for thoughtful writing or journalism. So many people added their two cents which more often than not amounted to a hill of beans signifying a singular inability to think clearly or seek truth as if one were a missile bound for the heat of great soul, which one must be at all times if one to survive and remain beautiful and honest and dear. Transparency is one thing. Untempered and false transparency is an agenda.

Complaint two and final.  He went after my publisher. I'm not personally affronted. I'm enough arrogant to believe in my work insofar as my work deserves its place, not that it is better than.  I'm not threatened with the prospect no one will ever respect me again. My publisher, who selected my manuscript from a pile of a gazillion, is de facto, de jure, without doubt, my friend.
So the loyalty button was pressed.

Bonus round with many extra points for valor of a grand and petal-y blossoming nature.  Geoffrey Gatza of BlazeVOX [books] does so much good for poetry. Has rescued manuscripts gone out of print (as by Anne Waldman, yes, Anne Waldman, ahem). Has given a chance to so many new though old poets (as in Sarah Sarai, yes, Sarah Sarai, ahem).  He has made the world better, which is a cliche perhaps but cliches can be factual.

So bug off,

Reb Livingson speaks out at No Tell Books Supports BlazeVOX. She also provides a background and links.
Shanna Compton deconstructs vanity in its poisoned dartness at BlazeVOX hurled, at Oh vanity.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Say It Outloud: Poems About James Brown

Exciting news. 

Say It Outloud: Poems About James Brown has just been released from Whirlwind Press.

Featured poets are Patricia Smith & Amiri Baraka.

Intrepid co-editors (and writers) are Mary E. Weems & Michael Oatman. They got the whole project rolling.

Whirlwind Press, P.O. Box 109, Camden NJ 08108-0109. 

ISBN: 0-922827-32-X.

Poets include Kim Arrington, Ashkari, D.C. Copeland, Beth Bosworth, Erin Bower, Emotion Brown, James E. Cherry, Curtis L. Crisler, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Tim Joyce, Reginald Lockett, Randolph Lewis, Rachel Loden, Michelle Rankins, Vince Rogers, Nia l'man Smith, Sarah Sarai, ValJean Jeffers-Thompson, George Wallace, and many others.

I received a copy in the mail yesterday and am sending it off today to my nephew so I, too, need to order a copy. 

Not much more information available but I will update.