Sunday, April 24, 2016

Welcome the Spring/Summer Contests for 2016!

Spring is not the time for Ginger O's although I'm sure that these cookies would make grading papers easier.  Instead, it's time for the spring/summer contests!

All poems and flash fiction submitted between now and September 1 will be eligible for Thelma's Prize.  Poems and flash fiction from poets based in the Washington, DC area (including Baltimore and Frederick) are eligible for the local prize.  Submitted artwork is eligible for Callie's Prize.

I want to encourage you, though, to submit work to these two contests:  poems & flash fiction inspired by Latin/Latino/a culture (thank you, Allyson) and poems & flash fiction inspired by jazz musicians born in the 1920s.  The works submitted to the Latin/Latino/a culture contest may be in translation or in Spanish with translation.  Just be sure that you have the rights to the work whether it is unpublished or previously published.  Some of the jazz musicians born in the 1920s include Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Ahmad Jamal, and Barry Harris.  The poems and flash fiction need not be about these musicians.  Just listen to their music and write.

Here is some music for both contests.  I'll start with some Latin music.

Does Los Lobos count?

Here Lila Downs sings "La Patria Madrina" with Juanes.

Years ago my husband and I were amazed by Grupo Cimmaron from Colombia:

We also loved Ecos de Borinquen from Puerto Rico:

Now for the jazz....

Let's start with Miles Davis.  Here he is playing with Prince (RIP):

Or you may prefer earlier Miles:

John Coltrane plays "Blue Train" here:

Chet Baker plays "Almost Blue" (a song by Elvis Costello) here:

I'll finish with some Charlie Parker.  This is "Yardbird Suite":

I'm looking forward to seeing your work!  There will be prizes...and judges, too.

Please send your work to thesongis at gmail dot com .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Congratulations to the Winners of the Fall/Winter Contests!

As April speeds past, I think that we can say that winter is gone.  Certainly, spring semester is almost gone.  Tonight I'll take a break from grading papers to post the results of the fall/winter contests.

First, though, I would like to thank Michael Oliver and Catfish McDaris for judging Thelma's Prize (fall and winter), the 1900/1910 contest, and the local poets' contest.  I am honored that you are judging these contests--and thrilled to announce the winners (and honorable mentions).

Let's start with Thelma's Prize (Fall) whose winner Michael selected: poet, editor, and publisher A.J. Huffman for "In the Shadow of Song."  Congratulations!  This poem truly packs a punch.  Michael also singled out Angelee Deodhar's haibun "Xeriscape"  as well as the Scottish poet John McDonald's haibun "MONK (Thelonious that is...)" for praise.   It's wonderful to see the haibun draw more attention.

Catfish chose the eminently suitable winner for Thelma's Prize (Winter): John McDonald's winter haiku.  Newcomer Toula Merkouris' "Walking Amongst Time"  and noted poet Mark Anthony Rossi's "Short Poem for the Bluesmen" earned honorable mentions.

In the 1900/1910 contest, judged by Michael, the winner was John McDonald's "MONK (Thelonious that is...)." Bea Garth's "Always Too Big" (a poem inspired by Fats Waller) and local poet John MacDonald's "Those Parties We Talk Shit About Monk" received honorable mentions as well.

Each of the poets who submitted poems to the Latin Jazz contest took a distinct approach.  I chose Claudine Nash's "Clean Up" and Felino A. Soriano's "Oh, the joy"  although Allyson Lima's "House Musicians" was a very moving poem that reminds us of what it was like to be a woman in the 1950s.

Among the poems in the local poets' contest Catfish awarded the prize to Alex Conrad for his "Tower of Babble."   Congratulations to my multi-talented former student!  Catfish also praised Will Mayo for his poems "a wisp of smoke," "The Call of the Crow," and "Autumn Mill, 1998" as well as John MacDonald for his "Those Parties We Talk Shit About Monk."

Finally, the winner of Callie's Prize for visual elements is Kerfe Roig.  I especially liked her drawing of Sonny Rollins!

Congratulations to the winners of the fall/winter contests!

Thelma's Prize (Fall): A.J. Huffman for "In the Shadow of Song"
Thelma's Prize (Winter): John McDonald for his winter haiku
1900/1910:  John McDonald's "MONK (Thelonious...that is)"
Latin Jazz: Claudine Nash's "Clean Up" and Felino A. Soriano's "Oh, the joy"
Local: Alex Conrad for "Tower of Babble"
Callie's Prize: Kerfe Roig

Now Thelma reminds me that I need to post a little music.  I'll start with some Monk.

"Lulu's Back in Town" is a good choice:

This version of "I Mean You" is from 1969:

I'll finish with "Bolivar Blues":

I have been listening to Ben Williams lately, so I'll include two of his songs.  The first is *his* version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

His "Moontrane" will start us thinking about the spring contests!

I'd like to pass on Catfish's words of wisdom:

 Thanks again for inviting me to judge. All the poets are winners, there are no losers. It takes courage to be a writer and you'll never be lost.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sleeping with the Fish by CATFISH MCDARIS!!

Available Now!
Sleeping With the Fish
by Catfish McDaris
ISBN-13: 978-0692671320
ISBN-10: 0692671323
Pski’s Porch has been busy this Spring, and is happy to add another new book of poetry to our catalog, this one from Mssr. Catfish McDaris. Besides being right tasty, Catfish has been loosing his poems and prose on the world for more than 20 years:

Cell phone madness was driving the world insane. People walking into things, holding phones up to the side of their heads, blue gadgets stuck in their ears, finger stabbing on tiny keyboards. Folks not speaking to one another, only concerned with electronic communications. Families sitting down for a meal, each and every one of them ignoring each other caught up in their own personal world. Quick warned his daughter to slow down with all her cell phone usage. He explained his theory about phones consuming all human intelligence and conquering the world. Quick’s kid, just shook her head like her old man was hopelessly behind the times. A few days later Quick went to wake his child up, her head was covered by sheets and blankets. When she finally struggled to get up, she had no head. From the neck up was a cell phone. He yelled for his wife and they went berserk, they tried to talk to their kid, but got no response. Quick’s wife sent her a text and it appeared on her face phone. They called an ambulance and reported the incident. They were informed that Phombism was a wide spread virus. There were laboratories and hospitals working on a cure, but all cell phones must be confiscated and destroyed, before a useable vaccine could be developed to treat the Phombies. Quick looked out the window and saw people with cell phone heads stumbling down the street. It was utter chaos, he went to the refrigerator and poured a glass of buttermilk.
We strongly recommend you get some Catfish love before it’s all gone and the sun collapses in on itself. And no, that’s not him on the cover.

Here is some Catfish music for you, too.  The first is Gary Clark, Jr.'s "Catfish Blues":

We also have something by the Catfish Band, an Italian jazz band:

They also play "Who'll Stop the Rain":

I'll finish with some Monk since Catfish won the Monk prize a while back:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

RIP, Bohemian Caverns

While we're in between fall/winter and spring/summer, I thought I'd post the news that DC's Bohemian Caverns is no more.  My husband and I have fond memories of seeing artists like Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, Barry Harris, and Gerald Clayton there.  It's a shame that this venue is no more.

I thought I'd post my poem set in Bohemian Caverns.  Enjoy!  The poem originally appeared in Felino A. Soriano's Of/with.

Summer Solstice on U Street

Let’s pretend that it’s midnight
as saxophonist Gary Bartz
steps onto the stage.
The room darkens;
candles on the table flicker.
Shadows hide the thickset men at the wall.
The ceiling lowers;
tiny lights strung above stand in for stars.
Imagine moonlight rippling on salt water.
The scent of mango dusted with
chili powder and cinnamon
trickles in with the piano and drums.
We taste fruits we don’t know the names of.

Tap your toes, for sure,
or sway, following the pianist’s lead,
but when the horn starts in again,
carry yourself a little straighter.
Cameras flash.  Wedged in,
we are all caught in the glare. 

All too soon imagine
the empty streets above.
Playing the last song, Bartz retreats
into the early morning’s shadows,
the color of his long-tailed jacket,
and climbs the back stairs
to his refuge above the club.

When we leave by the front stairs,
it’s still daylight on U Street.
We can no longer pretend.

Here is another jazz poem.  This one appeared in A.J. Huffman and April Salzano's Pyrokynection.  

After The Summer of Young Men in a Hurry

The young men in a hurry played
all that summer in Manhattan,
the once black and white city
ripened beyond lavender into red.

The piano sounded
like storm clouds on the horizon
in a neighborhood
with only fans and open windows.

The high-hat shivered
like the taste of ice chips
about to melt.
The saxophone slipped 

into the tightly-packed room
and across rough brick walls
like the last breeze
before September.

Listening to them, you wonder
how they would have sounded
in winter when clouds mean warmth
and storms spawn the steady fall of snow.

Let's listen to some music, too.

We'll start with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra's version of "Alone Together":

Here the Ralph Peterson Sextet plays at Bohemian Caverns:

Nicholas Payton and XXX are here:

I'll finish with Ben Williams' version of "Toy Soldiers":