What is in Whose Pocket?

On March 10, it was announced that poetry was going mobile.

Poetry in your pocket, or Poets.org in poetry's pocket?

One wonders...

Gov Spam: The Bush Dimension

In a memo to the State Department

made public by the White House,

Bush said:

I hereby


that the furnishing

of defense articles

and defense services

to Kosovo

will strengthen

the security

of the United States


promote world


Spam Lit: The Ivory Dimension

I am

an alive young



ivory dimension

which seeks

to correspond


the skin flick


Uh, okay. Whatever.
I couldn't possibly make this stuff up,
might I try.

Academy of American Poets Launches First Mobile Poetry Site

Percy Dovetonsils (Ernie Kovacs) and his iPhone

Poetry has gone mobile! I have just received the following press release from Poets.org

Introducing Poets.org In Your Pocket

March 10, 2008—Today, the Academy of American Poets announced the launch of a mobile poetry archive which provides free and direct access to the entire collection of over 2,500 poems on Poets.org, as well as hundreds of biographies and essays, all in the palm of a hand.

On the web at:

No Computers, No Books, No Wires

Designed using Web 2.0 Internet Standards and Apple's Developers Guidelines, the site is optimized for the iPhone, and formatted for effortless access on most mobile devices. Now, for the first time, mobile users have unlimited access to the rich resources of Poets.org, one of the largest poetry destinations on the web, a site which has steadily expanded and evolved since it was first launched over a decade ago.

Pioneering Poetry

"I have always believed that poetry has a necessary place in daily life," said Tree Swenson, executive director of the Academy of American Poets. "As the first arts organization to offer mobile content, the Academy of American Poets affirms its imperative to connect people to poetry by creating free and simple access for everyone. Ezra Pound said, 'Literature is news that stays news,' and now you can find poems while on the go, as easily as you can read the news, find a map, or check the weather report."

Woo or Woe on the Go

Poems can be browsed by author, title, occasion, or form, and searched easily by keyword. Visitors can read a poem, anytime, anywhere—whether to fill a spare moment, woo a darling, toast a friend, find solace, or recite a few immortal lines—verse is now at your fingertips.

Poetry in Your Pocket

This new mobile archive offers unlimited access to Poets.org just in time for National Poetry Month in April, a month long celebration of poetry and its vital place in American culture, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. On April 17, mobile users can instantly celebrate the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day by reading poems and sharing them with co-workers, family, friends, and even strangers.

Helen Keller, 1888 Photo Found and a Personal Experience

(This 1888 photo released by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston shows Helen Keller when she was eight years old, left, holding hands with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, during a summer vacation to Brewster, Mass., on Cape Cod. A staff member at the society discovered the photograph in a large photography collection recently donated to the society. When Sullivan arrived at the Keller household to teach Helen, she gave her a doll as a present. Although Keller had many dolls throughout her childhood, this is believed to be the first known photograph of Helen Keller with one of her dolls.

--AP Photo/Courtesy of the Thaxter P. Spencer Collection, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, New England Historic Genealogical Society-Boston)

By MELISSA TRUJILLO, Associated Press Writer

Thu Mar 6, 6:14 AM ET

BOSTON - Researchers have uncovered a rare photograph of a young Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan, nearly 120 years after it was taken on Cape Cod. The photograph, shot in July 1888 in Brewster, shows an 8-year-old Helen sitting outside in a light-colored dress, holding Sullivan's hand and cradling one of her beloved dolls.

Experts on Keller's life believe it could be the earliest photo of the two women together and the only one showing the blind and deaf child with a doll — the first word Sullivan spelled for Keller after they met in 1887 — according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society...

More on Helen Keller


I have always admired Helen Keller, the way she was handed two major life challenges and still managed to become one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century. Of course, Annie Sullivan should receive much of the credit--two great women coming together and changing the world--at least in the way that showed that so-called handicaps could be overcome and even used in positive ways. In another family, Helen Keller might have been hidden away and viewed as subhuman, a great mind locked away forever.

I have a bit of a personal angle here.

As a child, I think I met Helen Keller, but I'm not 100% sure, so I'll just tell my story and let you, my readers, decide.

It was early 1957; I was just six, living in Alhambra, California, in a boarding house with my mother and stepfather, who were trying to save their marriage. (Why we had to live in a boarding house for that purpose, I'll never know, but it didn't work--another story).

As boarding houses go, it was a pretty nice place. The owner and her daughter were very loving people who made me feel welcome and safe at a time when I was very unhappy and somewhat naughty (their neighbors ended up building a fence because I was beating up on their kid).

Although I don't remember their names, I do remember the owner reading me stories at night and making sure I had a goodnight kiss and was properly tucked in--the kind of love that all kids need and deserve. I'll never forget her face and will always be grateful to this stranger who treated me, a paying guest, like family.

The daughter introduced me to the joy of tacos and also taught me how to make them. She also allowed me to watch as she built a frame for her slip, a kind of plastic Rube Goldberg device that allowed teenage girls to swing around in those those pouffy poodle skirts.

We stayed a few months, almost a lifetime for a six year old, but most of the guests were short term; people seemed to come and go all the time, and being used to moving around all the time, I didn't think too much about it.

One day, two new guests arrived, an elderly woman with a cane and her assistant.

The owner introduced them to me, but, again, I don't remember names--which is why I can't be definitive about who I met back then.

The owner told me that the lady with the cane was deaf and blind, but added, "She can hear you with her fingers."

The woman said something to me and with help from her assistant reached out to me and touched my neck.

I remember being frightened (I'm also ticklish).

"It's okay," the assistant said. "Just introduce yourself."

The woman gently touched my neck.

So I said, "I'm Jennifer."

"Hello, Jennifer." Her fingers still on my neck. It's strange, but when she touched me, I was no longer afraid, nor did her touch tickle me.

Still, I couldn't figure out how she knew what I had just said. I blurted out, "How'd you do that?"

She just laughed. "My fingers are my ears."

Needless to say, I was totally fascinated and taken with this woman who could neither see or hear. Even then, I understood the obstacles this lady must have faced; still, her fingers were gentle and tactile, even though I didn't understand how vibrations could be translated into words.

She and her assistant stayed just a few days, but whenever they were around, I was a total pill, hanging close by, yakking at this lady and trying to figure out how she was able to communicate.

This is what I remember: My new friend (and her assistant) explained to me that she was able to "hear" me through her fingers because the voice makes certain sounds which then translates into certain words. But most of the time we just talked about mundane "kid" topics, and I soon forgot about her "handicaps." In the way that kids seem to do, I adjusted quickly to her reaching for my neck and soon didn't even think twice about it. Yet, had anyone else reached for my neck, I would have screamed and squealed.

Fifty-one years later, I still don't know how this extraordinary lady was able to communicate so easily with a hyper six year old whose nickname at that time was "The Question Box." But she did, and even tried to answer my incessant and annoying "why this and why that" questions.

When the lady and her assistant were packing up to leave, I bawled and begged them not to go. But people have their lives and must move on. Even then, I understood loss on many levels, and this lady seemed to understand that. Her goodbye was gentle but definitive.

If the woman I met was Helen Keller, I'm not sure why she was in Alhambra or why she was staying in that particular boarding house. I can only guess that she was in Alhambra for a seminar or speaking engagement.

I like to think that the blind-deaf woman I met was Helen Keller, but no matter who she was, she had a huge impact on my life.

Come to think of it, maybe it doesn't matter at all who she was.

It sure didn't back then.

Best, Jennifer


Slightly Off-topic: C'mon, Cut Gloria Steinem a Break...

Michelle Malkin, author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, is the epitome of conservatism gone totally loony--definitely not the "compassionate conservatism" touted by our own George W. Bush.

Quote from Malkin's 5 March 2008, column, The Death Cry of Gloria Steinem:

"From once-ripe feminist icon to idea-barren harridan, [Gloria Steinem] offers nothing to young women but anachronistic man-hate, anti-military bigotry and woe-is-me wallowing."


I would like to remind Ms. Malkin and other pipsqueaks like her that she enjoys a certain status because of brave women like Gloria Steinem--that Malkin enjoys the right to spew vitriol (and get paid plenty for it, thank you) at a national level.

Thirty-seven years ago, Ms. Steinem showed great courage in publishing Judy Brady's (Syfer's) seminal essay I Want a Wife in Ms Magazine; she took a lot of heat from the establishment, good-old-boy network who accused feminists of not knowing their "true" place: in the bedroom, nursery, and kitchen and out of the boardroom.

I'm not even going to bother quoting anything else from Malkin's spew--the quote above pretty much sums up the entire tone of Malkin's "article."

But the hatred and prejudice exhibited in the 21-word spew (I counted the hyphenated terms as one word) makes one wonder if women's rights have taken a giant leap backwards.

Let's deconstruct that sentence:

1. The word "harridan" suggests that "old" women no longer have value in our culture. An "old" woman with a viewpoint should just shut the hell up and let the young decide what is best. Ageism.

2. "Once-ripe" suggests that youth and physical beauty are the only attributes that offer women the right to speak out and be movers and shakers. Aegism and Lookism.

3. "Idea-barren" is simply the inverse of #2. It is also imprecise because Gloria Steinem is still a mover and shaker and will be remembered long after Michelle Malkin has faded into the sunset. Ageism. Also, "barren" suggests a prejudice against women who cannot or choose not to bear children.

4. "Man-hate" is also imprecise; Steinem has never stated that she hates men. In fact she enjoyed a long-term marriage to, guess what? a MAN!

5. "Anachronistic." Interesting word choice, one that I would not exactly associate with liberal thinking. Hmmmm. Somehow, GWB pops into mind, along with "ineffective," "ignorant," "narrow-minded," etc.

6. "Anti-military." Interesting term, perhaps a bit overstated. Ms. Malkin seems to equate anti-Iraq war with being anti-military. Most reasonable people accept the reality that the U.S. needs to maintain a strong military; however, it is our right to protest what we feel is an unjust war, while, at the same time, supporting our troops and hoping that our young men AND young women (take note, Ms. Malkin) come home alive and without too much psychological damage.

7. "Bigot: one intolerantly devoted to his or her own church, party, or opinion." Merriam-Webster Dictionary." If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck..., well you figure it out. In short, "Bigotry" is a word that should be used sparingly and precisely, not just tossed around like confetti.

8. I have never read anything by Ms. Steinem that has had a "woe-is-me" tone, nor does she "wallow"; she is a person who gets things done, and she does it in ways that are empowering.

Do I agree with everything Gloria Steinem says? Of course not, but I respect the way she has helped women find their collective voice.

Michelle Malkin, you should kiss Gloria Steinem's feet; your current position is possible because of her and others like her.

Tomorrow is International Women's Day. Rejoice and celebrate.


Political Smackdown in Pennsylvania?

Hillary Clinton has pulled off a significant victory on "Junior Tuesday," coming back from the brink and keeping her candidacy viable; once again, she has surprised political pundits and naysayers by rising from the ashes, albeit still hobbling slightly behind Barack Obama.

I'm no political guru, but I do live in Pennsylvania, and already the buzz is reaching a fevered pitch.

Hillary or Barack? Who knows?

All I can say: this is the most exciting election year since 1960 when a young upstart named John F. Kennedy turned conventional wisdom on its ear and became the first President born in the 20th Century. (Back then, being young was viewed as an impediment; being young meant listening to your elders and not questioning the establishment. How attitudes changed in a few short years, starting with JFK's bold political campaign against Richard Nixon, a seasoned and well-connected politician.)

Could Barack Obama pull off one the most major wins of the 21st Century, becoming the first African-American President?

What an exciting possibility!

I must admit: right now, I'm leaning toward Hillary, but I would also be happy with Barack.

In any case, should Hillary Clinton win the presidency, we have not heard the last of Barack Obama; he has a bright political future ahead, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Best of all: No More Bush.

No more Bush. No more Bush. No more Bush. No more Bush. No more Bush.


But I digress.

For the next few weeks, Pennsylvania is likely to be swarmed with national media, candidates and their supporters, rallies, and incessant buzz. Once seen as irrelevant in this election year, Pennsylvania may actually emerge as "the decider state." It's too soon to tell for sure; a lot can happen in five weeks.

One thing for sure: Pennsylvania is likely to be a bloody political ground, with lots of negative campaigning and ads.

A Hillary-Barack smackdown.

If the opponents can make it through the political bloodbath without suffering fatal injury (metaphorically speaking), Pennsylvania may also have a hand in finalizing the Democratic ticket: Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton.

IMHO, either configuration would equal victory in November.

That alone would be cause for celebration.

However, in election year 2008, one thing is for sure: nothing is for sure.

Conventional wisdom be damned.




The Spoon River Poetry Review: Update


The Spoon River Poetry Review contest page is up to date, announcing the winners of the 2006 and 2007 winners and the deadline for the 2008 contest.

Bruce Guernsey, the new editor, has completed Volume XXXII, Numbers 1 and 2 (contest issue with the 2007 winners). In the contest issue (which he sent to me), Mr. Guernsey explains the contest process--definitely a positive step.


I wish more contest directors would consider opening up to their subscribers and contest entrants, thus being more transparent.

If you entered the 2007 contest, you should have received your contest issue by now; if not, just get in touch with Mr. Guernsey. He has been very pleasant in his dealings with Post Foetry and seems to want to do the right things for his readers.