Poetry.com and Brian Plante

Brian Plante updated his Chronicles of the Garden Variety Writers today. I found almost nothing offensive in this week’s entry, though it did still feel a little smug. I agreed with the assessment he made of a member’s “winning” poetry publication in a national contest. You can find one of mine from a similar “contest” somewhere on their website.¬†After accepting my poem and lavishing all kinds of praise upon it, they informed me that it was selected (with thousands of other poems) for publication in a beautiful, cloth-bound volume which I could purchase for my coffee table. Then, later, they told me that my poem had been one of the “few” selected to be recorded for their poetry CD, which I could purchase for my CD collection. Finally, they told me that I could attend their convention, hosted by Florence Henderson, for only $595 plus. Oh, and one of the nearby hotels was offering a special rate of $120 per night to International Society of Poets members. If I attended, I would receive a trophy consisting of a large silver bowl on a cherry wood pedestal (a $170 value!) I guess that means they would only clear about $400 on my at that convention.

(“Oh my gosh, Mr. Johnson. You mean Poetry.com is really just a vanity press? My word!”)

To be fair, there are a lot of great poems submitted to Poetry.com. It’s just too bad they will only be read by people who search for the poet’s name on the site or buy the overpriced books (and probably not even then.)

More Throbbing

I don’t feel well today. I’ve been fighting ear infections off and on since the first of the year, and one seems to have made a comeback in my right ear. It’s been throbbing all day. I stayed late at work tonight, trying to finish a presentation I have to make at a quarterly manager’s meeting on Friday. Not much creativity happening today.


The Old Possum’s Writing Group met tonight. Two new members showed up, and one old member who had been in absentia for a few months. My right ear started throbbing during the meeting due to an ear infection (another one! What’s up with my ears this year?) so I kind of wavered in and out of the meeting, but I think I was mostly present. I told Ed Bryant that I would not be able to make it to the Writer’s Circle group this Wednesday due to my workload and upcoming manager’s meeting on Friday.

That will probably force these creativity journal entries to be a bit thin, as well.

Renaissance Festival

Today was my wife’s birthday, and we celebrated by going to the Colorado Renaissance Festival. We had a great time, and saw Ded Bob and his dummy smuj for the first time in a couple of years. (Evidently Bob’s not very happy with the “cheap bastards” and the “golf claps” at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. All I can say is that I contributed my $5 …)

We also saw Rick Stratton’s hypnotist show, and I was one of the subjects chosen to get on stage under hypnosis. I had mentioned to my wife before the show that I wanted to be hypnotized, and it came through. For me, the most interesting revelation about stage hypnosis was that it was old hat. I’ve been in that state many times; I just didn’t know it was hypnosis. I’ve done enough meditation and visualization exercises that it was easy for me to drop into a deep relaxation; the big difference between the stage hypnosis and the visualizations I’ve done before is that I was not being directed to do things under the visualizations.

Here are a few observations about stage hypnosis as I experienced it.

1.) I was fully conscious of everything going on around me at all times. When I was “asleep” and limp on the stage, I was not really asleep, just relaxed enough not to care what position I was in or who I was leaning on.

2.) I was fully able to choose whether to do anything that Stratton suggested, and in fact I don’t perform a couple of the actions that he suggested to us because they were against my basic nature. However, I did not feel resistance to most of the suggestions, even though they were not things I would do under normal circumstances.

3.) If I had been in the audience, I would have been rolling on the ground laughing. However, on stage, I did not laugh at the hilarious things going on around me (except when Stratton planted a suggestion about laughter.) I was definitely in a different state of consciousness in which my interpretation of humor had changed.

4.) I was very tired and a little out of it for about an hour afterward, despite Stratton’s suggestion that I would feel awake and refreshed. I felt drained.

I’ll add more observations as I think about them.

Later in the evening, I managed to squeeze in some time to critique the chapters for the Old Possum’s Writing Group tomorrow.

Goodbye, Phil

I did hear back from Brian Plante after sending him feedback on the GVW Chronicles. I’m pleased to say that he was very pleasant and civil, and that he addressed some of my concerns about the anonymity of the group to my satisfaction. I still have some issues with the moral implications of what he’s doing, but I told him I would keep reading the chronicles based on the reply he gave me.

Yesterday, I sat down to write the review of Zen Guitar and got some shocking news about its author. Evidently Phil Sudo died while I was in the process of reading his book.

When I read a book, I get a sense that I’m sharing something personal with the writer. That was especially the case in this book, since it was written in the framework of a martial arts dojo. I felt like Phil was teaching me while I was reading. When I found out that he had died of cancer in June, I experienced a stillness in my thoughts. I felt as if I had been conversing with a ghost for the last month without realizing it.

I wish Phil’s family the best, and I want them to know that Zen Guitar gave me focus in my playing, and the book will stay by my bedside and in my gig bag for some time to come.