Monthly Archives: October 2012

Advice to a Young Poet

The world from earth to sky shows itself hostile to genius.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, the lies I have told to my own energies!

There isn’t time for good taste.

Never be ashamed of the strange.

–Theodore Roethke

The Great Betty Lavette

I told a great artist today how her art affected me. Betty LaVette, the great lady of soul, was on a panel at Wordstock in Portland, talking about her new memoir.

I told her after the panel how electrified I was by her performance at the 2012 Portland Blues festival. I had seen her friends and contemporaries, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, but never understood what soul singing meant until I heard her sing. Her singing is full of humanity, generosity and unlimited depth in what the human voice is capable of expressing.

She held my hand, kept saying “oh baby, thank you baby,” the way we all do when someone has really listened to us from the heart.


Fine Whine

Eye rhymes are tough,
he rasped through his cough,
sounding as though
he were in a slough.

It’s just no good,
I’m not in the mood,
my mind is like wood
tossed high by the flood.