Archive for February, 2008

When poets go bad, part 2: Poetic Justice.

For those of you who have followed along with the sad tale of the Pissed-Off Poets in the Pikes Peak Region, let me give you the details of last night’s Special Meeting.

So, to kick things off, we need a little bit o’ this:

Yeah, okay, I know. He wasn’t really there. But he coulda been, is all I’m sayin’.

So, President Fruitcake insisted on presiding over the meeting since he was the President after all. And the first thing he did was to recognize Vice President Passive Aggressive, one of his cronies, who immediately made a motion to adjourn the Special Meeting until April. With a motion on the floor, and ominously waving pieces of paper in his hand which were (apparently) his proxies he’d gathered during the past week of furious emailing, he admonished the membership once again with poorly-organized legalese that the membership was a bunch of idiots who didn’t know the first thing about holding a special meeting and that he alone, the fabulously talented yet much misunderstood president of all things acrimonious, could get the organization back on track to its original plan of doing whatever it was that he deemed important.

After going on in that manner for about a minute, he was interrupted by a somewhat quiet, new member to the organization who just happened to be a practicing attorney who’d recently decided to try writing poetry and who also just happened to have with him a somewhat large black leather-bound book that just happened to contain all the statutes that one might want to use as a guideline when conducting such a special meeting. This new member put a stop to the tirade President Fruitcake had gotten into and reminded him there was a motion on the floor to adjourn and that it was time to vote on that motion.

So they voted, and the score came out:

12 votes in favor of VP Passive Aggressive’s motion to adjourn…

and 18 votes to continue the meeting as planned.

(All proxies on both sides were included in the vote.)

Our new member, the fledgling poet holding the little black book of statutes, then reminded everyone of the next order of business, which was to nominate people for a new board of directors. He was rudely interrupted by President Fruitcake, who was beginning to get a bit red in the face. President Fruitcake demanded to know WHO THIS MAN WAS and demanded proof that this man was a dues-paying member.

Proof was provided, as requested, and our Lone Hero, our future John Grisham of poetry, then proceeded to try to bring the proceedings back to the next order of business, which, if you’ll remember, was to nominate people for a new board of directors….

But he was rudely interrupted once again by President Fruitcake, who challenged him on a legal point.

And our new member, our Lone Hero, our future John Grisham of the poetry world, simply pulled out that Little Black Book of Statues and read from it and set the President straight again.

It went on like this for some time. And at some point, before they even got to the next order of business, another vote of the legality of something or other was called for by the President and Vice President and the vote came out again as 12 votes in support of President Fruitcake’s agenda and 18 votes against him.

And what happened next, you ask?

Well, President Fruitcake, redder than ever, shouted at the top of his lungs that HE QUIT! HE RESIGNED AS PRESIDENT! HE WAS THROUGH WITH POETRY WEST FOREVER AND EVER. And then he stomped over to the door, turned back once more and screamed his resignation one more time, and then he left.

After a few moments of stunned silence, Vice President Passive Aggressive stood up and walked calmly over to the door, saying that he was leaving the meeting, but not leaving the organization, and then he left.

And then, the people that were left, got down to business. They made their nominations for a new board, a new president, a new vice president, etc. They discussed what to do next. And the very few remaining people that had come in support of President Fruitcake quietly slipped away one by one. And by the end of the meeting they say that you could already feel the rift closing. We lost some members, it may be true. But Poetry West will go on.

The next morning, Vice President Passive Aggressive sent out an email to everyone in the organization, announcing his resignation, and basically called everyone a bunch of jerks, and then (my favorite part) urged Poetry West to come up with a policy on mass histrionic emailing.

It took every ounce of my self-restraint to NOT email him back and tell him: You do realize that you sent out a mass histrionic email calling for an end to mass histrionic emails?

Also in email this morning: Former President Fruitcake demanded his 2008 dues (a whopping $25) be returned to him immediately. We’ll be sending him a certified letter that assures him he’ll get his 25 bucks just as soon as he returns the mailbox keys and all other property of Poetry West that he terrorized the membership into handing over to him.

And as for the rest of us? The ones left standing to pick up the pieces? Well, we’re sort of doing this today:

Imagine those silouettes to be a bunch of sweet little old ladies, along with a smattering of younger poets, including one Future John Grisham of the Poetry World.

Feel free to join in our little happy dance.

And then, go write some poetry, dammit.

T minus 0:21 and counting.

Tonight, somewhere in a quiet suburb of Colorado Springs, Colorado, a bunch of pissed-off poets will finally meet together in one large room to SETTLE THIS THING ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Somebody…cue that spooky whistling music they play in cheesy westerns in the final high-noon shoot-out.

You’ll know as soon as I do.

In the meantime, while we’re waiting, sit back and enjoy this:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/223

It’s worth the 15 minutes.

Update on the mad poets out west.

Thanks, everyone, for laughing with me on this one. Ya know, I wish I could figure out podcasting, because this whole thing would work so much better if I could add in that cheesy cliche organ music they used to play at the beginning of soap operas way back in the 50’s. (They also used that music on the Muppet Show during the Pigs In Space segments, remember?)

Anyway….I still haven’t ruled out a separate blog just for this happy little situation.

Now, for those of you who are curious about the poem that was supposed to have a shape, I really wish I could print it here, but that falls into the flaky category of online publication, and since it’s not my poem, and since I really don’t want to contact the writer of the poem and ask permission to put it on my blog because that might make her think that she should write more poems like it, and BELIEVE ME, she shouldn’t, I can’t put that in here, much as I wish I could.

You’ll just have to take my word for it: it wasn’t that good, and I still can’t figure out exactly what shape she was going for. Maybe a dagger? Maybe? But then she said in her email before she put the poem in: See that shape it’s in? Let’s work on reversing it. Which didn’t help clarify a damn thing. At all.

As for my one published poem, it’s in this little anthology: Poems from the Baca Grande. You can either buy it, or you can wait until April, when National Amphibian Awareness Month (or whatever it is) kicks in, and I hold another prestigious and long-awaited THINKING ABOUT GIANT FROG HEADS blog award program. I could offer a free copy of the book as a prize. It’s either that or the hideous chandelier in my dining room.

As for the Mad Poets Out West, today’s battle rages on. Right now, they’re arguing over how to arrange the room. Should they try to get there early to arrange the seating into a circle? And what if the President and VP get there first and arrange the seats differently? And the sweet little old lady who’s designated to actually conduct the voting itself, who just happens to be recovering from a broken neck and hip from a couple years back wants to know 1) if she’ll be allowed to sit in a chair during the proceedings and 2) does anyone has a gavel? And what about security? Is there any available?

And I’m thinking: Gee, RegularDad knows a lot of guys in the Heavy Metal Music Scene out there who would be more than willing to show up (tattoos and nose rings and scary facial expressions in full display) and provide the all important INTIMIDATION FACTOR by sitting beside all my sweet-little-old-lady friends, the oldest of whom is 95 and slowly going blind, as they try desperately to wrest back ownership of what was once a nice little group of local poets.

I’m telling you: this would make the greatest PodCast Soap Opera ever.

When poets go bad.

So, like I’ve mentioned before, I write poetry. I’ve published a poem and everything. If I could find a spare hour or two that didn’t involve me locking myself into the bathroom and sticking my fingers in my ear and singing LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! when the kids start going crazy, I’d probably have a lot more published poetry. I’ve got lots of poems that are ready for publication, but not a lot of time to sit down and do the clerical work involved with sending them out to journals.

 But..anyway.

So, I’m a poet, and when I lived in Colorado I hung around with a lot of other poets. We were all part of this little rinky-dink organization called Poetry West, and we’d have workshops, and readings, and we’d get better known poets that were coming into the area for lectures to stop by and give us readings and signed copies of their books, and we’d take them to dinner and listen to them talk, and once a year we’d go up into the mountains for five days to a quiet place where we would write poetry.

And it was just really GREAT.

Right before I moved away, the presidency changed from a good friend of mine to this really strange man who’d been with us for years, and always wanted the slot, but no one really trusted him with it because he’s a fucking fruitcake little bit crazy, and we weren’t sure he’d make a good leader. But the current president had served for 5 years and really needed a break from it, and she couldn’t find anyone else to take over for her except for this one man, so we were stuck with him.

And he’s run this organization into the ground, basically. He’s gotten all excited about bringing the organization into the public eye, and he’s applied for some state funding so he can hook up to some other unknown poetry organization, and I guess they’ll all be unknown together. And he’s been so rude and horrible to people, making them serve on committees, and making them draft up mission statements for these committees (these are POETS, for God’s sake…ask a bunch of poets to write a mission statement and you’ll make their heads explode, is all I’m sayin’), and then after making them suffer through the agony of writing said mission statements, he reviewed the statements, then REJECTED them and made everyone start over. Not a whole lot of new poetry is getting written in Colorado Springs this year, apparently.

Then, because he was applying for state funding, he forced this little rinky-dink organization into an AUDIT. For the love of God, Poetry West is gonna be audited. So, he demanded all the checkbooks and account numbers and post office mailbox keys, and when people were like, “Gee, I’ll give you copies, but I’m not just handing all this over to you,” he disbanded the annual publication, drove to people’s houses and forced them to hand in keys, and then proceeded to harrass the treasurer via emails to the point where she’s about to have a nervous breakdown. He then contracted a probono lawyer to start sending legal notices to the treasurer to HAND OVER THE DOCUMENTS.

 And apparently, after months and months of this, some of the original founding members got together and said, “Gee, maybe it’s time we ask him to step down.” So they asked him, and he FREAKED out, and started screaming about how they couldn’t get rid of him until the elections were held in the spring. (Elections? What elections? We’ve never had elections….We always have trouble getting anybody to do ANYTHING. If someone agrees to volunteer to do something we’ve always said OH MAN! THANKS! instead of making them actually run for the office.)

So, then, the founding members and some other long term trusted (eg: not insane) members (the majority of whom are just a bunch of sweet little old ladies) got together and did a little bit of talking and decided it was time to call a special meeting for the purpose of electing a new board of directors whose first job would be to IMMEDIATELY fire the current President, and Vice President (and the other cronies that are in on this ridiculous situation) and try to get this organization back on its normal path which has always been: bringing the best poets into town to speak, read, and teach us about poetry, and generally supporting the local community of writers in developing their poetic skills.

So, at this point, one of them emails me, and that’s how I found out that all this shit had gone down in the year since I moved away. And me, just a bit wistfully, but not at all seriously, I say: Gee, I wish I was still a member so I could support you in this. I don’t know, send you a proxy vote or something. If there is such a thing. And 24 hours later, I get this email from the founding members saying my membership has been reinstated, and I can go ahead and send my proxy along. So I do, because I love these people and it breaks my heart that It’s Come To This. That this could be the end of Poetry West.

And what happens? I end up on the email list again. And for the past 10 days or so, my inbox has been INNUNDATED with nasty email arguments between the fucking fruitcake current president and the treasurer and everyone in between. The current president is now campaigning for his re-election as if he were Hillary himself. He even emailed me and asked for my vote. Not that he’ll get it.

It’s a train wreck to top all train wrecks, my friends. They’re all slinging names at each other now, and typing in all-caps, and making fun of people’s misunderstanding of the Blind Carbon Copy feature of email programs. And we’ve even got one member (we’ll call her the Rodney King Contingent) who keeps writing poems about the DEATH OF POETRY WEST and emailing it out to the entire membership, and apparently her line lengths are supposed to paint a picture in one of them, but it’s hard to tell exactly what it’s supposed to be because she didn’t realize that when she emailed it, the fonts would change all over the place, so it just looks like one big blob. And it’s not even a good poem, either. But she keeps sending out her little poetic blips of “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

It’s pretty bad. So bad that I’m sort of thinking about starting a new blog where I can post all these emails, so you can see what it looks like when poets go bad. Something like: passiveaggressivepoets.wordpress.com, or how about: they-made-us-write-a-mission-statement.net.

The special meeting is this Thursday evening. If they even hold it, at this point. Today’s big fight was whether or not members are even allowed to vote, and if they’re not, that means the president has all the power, and if that’s the case, why have a meeting at all?

And I’m thinking well, because that way you could all bring your week-old tomatoes to sling at each other.

Female cardinal, I think.

cardinal.jpg

Even Crayola couldn’t touch this.

snow1.jpg

7-year-old: Look! Outside! It’s snowing! It’s finally snowing!

4-year-old, awestruck and breathless: Wow!

7-year-old: Isn’t it beautiful?

4-year-old: It’s all so white. It reminds me of a coloring book.

There’s always the moon.

eclipse3.jpg

eclipse1.jpg

eclipse4.jpg

My uncle sat and looked at the moon, its silvery light spilling over the mountains, making all things quietly beautiful.

“Poor man,” lamented my uncle. “All I had to give him was my tattered robe. If only I could have given him this wonderful moon.”

“Your uncle sounds nice,” said Addy. “I don’t think I could have given away my only robe.”

“I know how that is,” said Stillwater. “But there’s always the moon.”

— from Zen Shorts, by Jon J. Muth


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