100 Years of Poetry: Re-Reading Reviews by Joel Brouwer

22 August, 2012 § 13 Comments

Joel Brouwer

Joel Brouwer of poetryfoundation.org

Check this out! This is the best review of literature reviews that I’ve read in a long time.

100 Years of Poetry: Re-Reading Reviews by Joel Brouwer.


Ah Bet E’ll Fall | Part 1 of 3

4 May, 2012 § 3 Comments

In September of 1932 Charles Clyde Ebbets took a picture that ended up defining his career. It was called Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper.  Its subjects were the fearless construction men who built the Rockefeller Center in New York City having their tea and cigarettes in a break room that would make even the most lenient of OSHA officers go into cardiac arrest. As an art receiver, when I saw this picture my stomach turned inside out for those men but I didn’t give much thought to the photographer himself. After all, the construction workers are the ones out on the crossbeam, dangling their leathers hundreds of thousands of feet in air. The point is that I never questioned Mr. Ebbets’s safety when I looked at this picture.

I imagined his feet firmly planted on a platform taking pictures of people who were decidedly in a more precarious situation. The truth is that Charles Ebbets was in as much danger of falling as the men who debuted in this historic photograph.

The concept of being two hundred thousand feet above 6th and 49th fashioning art that makes you look like you have your feet firmly planted on a wrought iron platform is what I like to call the principle of scaffolding. Without scaffolding no artist or author could get high enough to snap, paint or write about the situations that peak people’s interests. There are two types of scaffolding that an artist or an author has to deal with. The first is the chronological scaffolding of his or her influences and the second is his or her mechanical scaffolding.

Continued Next Friday: Chronological Scaffolding

Pleading the Proverbial Fifth

17 February, 2012 § 7 Comments

I’m going through a reduction of conversations in life: time, money, writing–in order to communicate a clearer message. Today at 5:15pm I will be deactivating my Facebook account. Not in pointless protest of change or any such ridiculous thing, but in order that I might more intentionally live life and share in life’s immediate conversations more poignantly.    There are two reasons for taking this measure and they are the pressure of being present and my philosophy of people.

Having given it 24 hours since I announced my leaving of Facebook, I have already spoken to one person who feels freer now to deactivate her Facebook account because my wife and I are leaving. This led to a realization that I hadn’t quite fully grasped, but had an idea of, when I announced my leaving. People, especially friends and family who we’ve both recently moved away from, expect a great deal of involvement in their lives because of our presence on Facebook, and when that involvement isn’t met there is hurt and resentment. The pressure of being present on Facebook is enormous. I have a friend who never bought into the whole, “get a Facebook” craze, because of the pressure involved, and now I understand some of that.

Not only is the pressure of our presence so poisoning (had to), but I’m also realizing that my philosophy of people doesn’t agree with the philosophy that Facebook promotes of how to build an effective relationship. Information alone doesn’t constitute a healthy relationship. On Facebook, you don’t even really have to know the person to know their birthday, relationship status and what they ate for breakfast. In this ever shrinking world, with implements like Facebook, texting, twitter and the like, you are never sure who heard (or misheard) you. That analogue afternoon never happens. I can really only keep up with so many conversations before the input that I have to give in these conversations becomes so paltry that I might as well have not spoken.  I don’t want to speak in every conversation. Neither I nor anyone I know is a true renaissance man, and to be honest, I don’t want to be.

I plead the fifth.

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