Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Son by Kevin Tasker

        Cathy made clay pots on her days off. Rode her bike past the theater and the Polish restaurant where her husband worked on her way to the crafts store. She purchased the clay on credit and transformed her unsuspecting kitchen into a glorious art studio where she toiled until the early morning when he arrived home, near comatose from stress and sweat and flung his tip share toward her before heading wearily up to bed.
She followed him sometimes.
Their split-level was newer than most. A large chimney and grey trim. Too many paper plates and too much plastic cutlery. Too many of Cathy’s clay pots she sometimes filled with sweet smelling hibiscuses and geraniums and her oddball assortment of multi-colored roses.
Her husband pruned them in the mornings, dry-eyed with his coffee, clipping with over-sized garden sheers. He was wiry old soul, a happy thing with a lot of time to live and no plan for his escape act. He had done the things she dreamed of, like sky-diving and sport-shooting and he’d lived on the open plains. 
They’d married young. Never quarreled. Drank milk and wine with dinner. Watched old movies and picked out each other’s outfits. She loved him. He sometimes felt the same way. They had a son. Named him Anthony after the saint and Cathy took time off to care for him. Her husband worked more. Nights so long he found little time to prune the roses. But she had already migrated to the backyard where she carried the baby in a wide white bassinet and sat with him as she planned the garden she would plant when he was old enough to help. 
At the Polish restaurant, her husband fought often with his manager and lost his job one cool gray afternoon when the baby was nearly two. Cathy didn’t yell at him, only spooned creamed vegetables to the baby, who spit them out.
While her husband looked for more work, Cathy contemplated selling her pots. The roses had all died but their gentle elegance seemed wasted anyway as an accompaniment to their empty rooms. Her husband smoked every day as he ran the shower, occasionally moving the water with an arm thrust through the curtain- in case she happened to be listening close. Eventually, he learned to angle the shower head toward the wall and he would sit on the toilet tank, blowing his smoke into the fan.
When the boy was ten, they went on welfare and Cathy’s father sent money to support them. Her husband worked days and she never seemed to see him. The boy helped her make more pots to replace the ones she had sold. And together they began to till the soil, going in broad strokes over everything with hand-me-down shovels and a rake with a rusted handle. 
When the boy was eighteen, he joined the army and steadily the garden grew.
Cathy got restless when war broke out.
She always carried a rolling pin when she went out gardening. It was foot long and wooden and she swung it at the bees. She swung it at the knotted blend of fauna that had arisen around her. One day she flung it through the bay window where her husband would watch her, drink in hand, the television mumbling in a way he couldn’t figure out. The rolling pin landed in front of him and he scowled at it. Rubbed his foot in the glass. She was at the window, squinting in.
He wobbled to her.
“Our son is dead,” she told him.
Standing in the garden with his back to them was a stranger in uniform, holding his hat to his chest as he admired the rose bushes.
“Shall I make him a drink?”
“No,” she said, “he’s leaving.”
Her husband went upstairs and showered for a while and she broke in as he was lighting up. He glared at her in disbelief as she turned off the water, took the joint and smoked it down before running it under water in the sink. Then she made lemonade and he grilled burgers for dinner and they ate on their little brown porch in the twilight.
Later her husband wrote a eulogy and Cathy had trouble sleeping. Her husband told her it would pass. She didn’t really believe him. They got a dog and then her father was old and came to live with him. Cathy fed him mashed vegetables that he spewed. 
  Outside her garden flourished.
Her husband tried his best to mow around it. 

Brando Facsimile by Kevin Tasker

The man carting jugs up Union
looks a lot like Brando in later years;
a steamed carcass making tracks, 
besting impossible odds with each step,
each tiny triumph over gravity.

The man carting jugs up Union
sees the world through port holes
in his wrinkled grey skin,
folded delicately as grandma’s
prized, yellow comforters;
the ones they wrapped 
the TB kids in, before Old Scratch
or whomever came rapping at 
the door to take them. 

The man carting jugs up Union
is a sallow ghost without direction.
He has not gone out in search
of some vain glory,
like sleeping on ice for 
the perfect sway of burnt-longing,
or plucking frogs from the river
only to take a bite and throw them back. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

THE GROUP Posters 2008-Present

'THE GROUP' posters created by Kevin Tasker 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Should Poetry Critics Go Negative"

Hello Writers,

Travis Nichols of the Huffington Post addresses an interesting dilemma in the world of Poetry,"Should Poetry Critics Go Negative". (If you click the post title I'll link you to his article).

Here's an excerpt:

Colin Ward asks, "Does the critic who stands silent against a tidal wave of blurbing on a sea of mediocrity really 'do no harm'?"

Cheryl Gilbert says, "Poetry is a variety of things, but it is also a conversation. Poets and critics and readers grow through interaction. This can be separate, even if negative, from a notion of love."

Kent Johnson asks, "Where would radical Modernism have gone without negative critique? What would [Ezra]Pound have done with himself, for example? The avant-garde, ipso facto, has always relied on it."

Henry Gould: "A critic's task is to educate popular taste - to help readers discover the best their culture has to offer - & WHY it is the best."

Sina Queyras: "Tougher criticism to me means more probing, less judging."

What is your opinion on the matter?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

THE GROUP Constitution

Hello Writers,

               I'm not sure if this matters much. This formality doesn't fit THE GROUP. Plus, this was adapted and revised from -- so it's neither extremely original or creative. 
              But here it is anyway. 
               Seth, President THE GROUP


1. Title
The group will be called THE GROUP – an Ohio University Writers' Group and, thereafter will be referred to as "THE GROUP".

2. Objectives
The group aims to provide a practical support network for aspiring writers in the
following ways:

2.1 The group will provide a regular meeting place where members can share in
and mutually support each other in the process of developing their writing.

2.2 Will provide a meeting time and place for members where they can give and receive
honest feedback on each other’s work.

2.3 Will provide members with information and advice on getting their work
published and will also share information relevant to creative writers, example:
literature events, public readings, open mic nights, competitions and courses.

2.4 Will provide members with information on techniques and ways in which they
might improve their writing ability in order to develop their work to a high
professional standard.

2.5 Will provide members with the opportunity to participate in activities such as
public readings, guest lectures, workshops, and seminars.

2.6 The group welcomes all creative writing but will not generally deal with nonfiction
such as technical writing, or the writing of textbooks. However, it does
include travel writing, feature writing, creative non-fiction, children’s literature as well as poetry, fiction and memoirs.
 The organization will not deal with helping students write 4-5 pg papers for a certain course outside creative writing, nor provide feedback for those papers.  

3. Membership

3.1 Members of the group must be 18 years of age or over or enrolled as an Ohio University student.

3.2 The group will keep a data base of members’ contact details and may
occasionally send details of competitions or other items of information. By
joining, the group members will have agreed to receive this material either by
email or by post.

3.3 Members are allowed to be removed from the email list by addressing the Secretary prior to a meeting or in an email.

3.4 Members will be expected to adhere to the group’s equal opportunities policy
at all times. No one will receive less favorable treatment within the group and its members shall not discriminate against any individual on the
grounds of sex, color, race, nationality, ethnic or racial origins, disability, marital
status, sexual orientation, trade union activity, age, political or religious beliefs. Any member violating this policy will be swiftly removed from the group.

3.5 Any Member deemed to be disruptive or not in accord with the group may be
expelled by a majority decision of members and Committee members. Disruptive members will first receive a verbal, then written warning before expulsion. We want this to be the most positive environment for writers as possible.

4. Workshop Structure

4.1 Besides taking charge of the group for the evening, it is the President’s duty
To email put workshop notices to members, to ensure that the
meeting room is available, give out any information or leaflets and to hand
‘Welcome to the writer’s workshop’ sheets to any new members. Every new
member should be handed a copy of the constitution.

4.2 The Treasurer will collect and handle any money that is given to the writer’s group and will ensure that the money is
deposited in the Writers’ Workshop bank account.

4.3 The actual workshop will be free format, creatively guided by the workshop leader, chosen by the group members, or volunteered, in
any way he or she sees fit. There will normally be readings of work brought in,
followed by feedback from the other members. There may be writing exercises
and occasionally there may be casting of dramas, improvisations etc. There may
be special types of workshop announced in advance.

4.4 The Writers’ Workshop is a not-for-profit organization. All profit is to be
reinvested in publication projects, events and group conveniences. No member will
receive any finance, except documented and approved expenses incurred with
the prior approval of the committee. All outgoings must be fully authorized in
advance by the committee, fully documented with dated receipts and

5. Officers

The Committee comprises of:

President - Chairs the committee meetings, appoint a new advisor if position becomes vacant, represents the group externally
and manages the other members of the committee.

Vice President – Maintaining communication with President. In absence of the President, assumes the duties and roles listed under President. 

Secretary – Handles e-mail and produces a rotation of workshop leaders.

Treasurer - Manages the bank account and group finances

Publicity/Marketing- Is in charge of taking pictures at events, recording readings for website

Webmaster- Performs maintenance and handles website

6. Election of Committee / Officers

6.1 All Committee members shall be elected from and by, the members of the

6.2 All Committee members are elected for a period of one year, from the start of Fall Quarter to the end of Spring Quarter. Elections will be held in May. Committee members may be reelected
to the same office or another office the following year. Voting will take
place during a scheduled meeting where members will be given slips of paper where they’ll write who they would like to be Committee members. Those with the most votes will be given the position.

6.3 Members who would like to become Officers must state their intent during a scheduled meeting in May, TBA.

7. Committee

7.1 The affairs of the group shall be controlled by the committee and by the
members of the group. The Committee shall meet at agreed intervals and not
less than four times per year.

The duties of the Committee shall be:

7.2 To control the affairs of the group on behalf of the Members

7.3 To keep accurate accounts of the finances of the group through the
Treasurer. These should be available for reasonable inspection by Members and
should be audited before every Annual General Meeting.

7.4 Provide the best environment for writers to share ideas, network and critique each other’s work.

8. Advisor

8.1 Our organization advisor must be a member of the faculty, administration, or staff of Ohio University.

8.2 Should the position of advisor become vacant during the year, it is the President’s job to find a new advisor.

9. Alterations to the Constitution

9.1 Any proposed alterations to the group Constitution may only be considered at an
Annual General Meeting and should be accompanied by a written proposal. Any alteration or amendment must be proposed by a Member of
the group and seconded by another Member. Such alterations shall be passed if
supported by not less than two-thirds of those Members present at the meeting.

10. Acceptance of the Constitution

10.1 Members are expected to abide by the rules as set out in this constitution.
Anyone who persistently refuses to abide by these rules will be asked to leave the Writers' Group.