from Blood Upon The Moon… ‘America, Now’

Tormenting The Monkey

America, who are you trying to convince?
You have the smartest people in the world
enslaved to their experience, your propaganda
claims its own victims not in foreign lands alone, but here
in the minds and souls whose control you refuse
to forfeit for an ideal of power you no longer own.

This is the new world, again. The battle lines
define the country you set to waste like high school
adolescents or sport fanatics eager to establish
victory as a state of being. Cowards and bullies
of manufactured courage, you hobble the brave souls
who would tell you of your indulgent treason. Your
machine more important to you than jewels or real love.

America, you are deserted, vacant and empty
as a nuclear city, you have fuelled the lies, the
familiar hypocrisies like scarecrows thrown up
against the foreign demons, the barbarian horde.
They’re all Negroes, Catholics, you know…

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My Books, and Publishing….

I was fortunate enough to start having my work published in the early 1970’s.
I say fortunate since a lot of what I submitted was handwritten as I didn’t yet have a typewriter, though
once I started seeing a few checks my father decided to buy me a typewriter.

I saw my work published alongside Lawrence Durrell, which thrilled me as I was enthralled with the work of his friend Henry Miller with whom he was sharing a place in Pacific Palisades at the time; and due to the fact that I had decided to go to Corfu, Greece as soon as possible, though that would take a few years of shitty jobs to save enough.

A partial list of literary journals, university magazines, etc., can be found here. Literary Publications

I won several awards and unsolicited grants; for best work published in a literary journal during a particular year, etc.

Though I had associations/friendships with some of the greatest poets working in Canada, and the USA at the time, this did not result in any publication of a book. The first actual chapbook I had published was in 2010, The Herald, through Mad Poet Press.

Over the years I had accumulated thousands of poems, prose poems, prose pieces, and book reviews (having zero $ it was an easy enough way to get some books I wanted).
I began sifting through these in 2014 with an eye toward publication through self-publishing, all the while writing more; and sometimes more than I could keep up with, since I tended to scrawl a few lines, write entire poems in notebooks before typing them out.

I decided to use the CreateSpace platform, and with constant editing each month – 6 weeks from 2014-2016 – would further edit, thematically arrange, and trim down the contents of each new book, while creating the covers as well.

If you look here on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM, you can see throughout the publication dates for the 20 + books I’ve published so far during that time beginning with 2014.

This has been accomplished without formal or professional literary associations, academic positions, so
obviously without the benefits of distribution and wider awareness that might be the outcome of such things. Plus, with money being tighter than the proverbial nun’s you-know-what I have yet to see most of the books in physical form, and thus haven’t been able to distribute copies for reviewers. Plus of all the poets professionally published who follow me and whom I follow on Twitter and Facebook, despite my constancy in paying attention to their postings, in two years only have 3 even clicked a ‘like’ three times on my multiple posts containing poetry.  There isn’t  even any informal ‘recognition of myself as a writer, or my work.
That isn’t to say that such practicalities won’t change.

Which would be very welcome since selling 2 books in the last 16 months or so bites ass, whether that makes me merely the persistent poet, or persistently deluded that the work deserves a greater audience.

©Dean Baker

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Sunday After Life

If it’s as true as rumored that the dead occupy planets in the far-reaches of our galaxy through celestial heavens so far misspoken of in literature and religious texts, then I have a deep need to master space travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it’s as true as rumored that the dead occupy planets in the far-reaches of our galaxy through celestial heavens so far misspoken of in literature and religious texts, then I have a deep need to master space travel.

It’s not hotter than too hot yet I’m sitting in a shade drenched in humidity over 90 degrees while flies populate and breezy by.

The puppies are mud-ensconced in their kennel while I drink somewhat warm coffee and hallucinate desert hills, cool nights and more: cold drinks, night sky without bugs, music. Contentment.
Nobody else is outside on the afternoon lawns reminiscent of landing strips in Phoenix in summertime.

Wages are way below poverty level but the happy horseshit of not saying anything so they don’t find some other more desperate to only eat government cheese extends through the days and nights.

This might feel like I have time to write but that’s a lie: between hours occupied by kids and noise, recuperation of quiet, solitude to do is a matter of cannibalizing attitude making me indifferent to existence as it is though there might be some sentimental attachment to after-effects – if only because I can’t grasp a well-being sufficiently altered to express in my being a gratitude of joy I’ve known when a balance persisted due to my own efforts.

I do recall working and aiming for more than this; not settling, nor compromising. But not having complete enough control – i.e. enough cash – to weather imbalances meant it went sideways and down.
Not difficult to believe but to experience that without enough money you don’t get that sunny and smiling calm no matter what age even minus such extravagances such as choices in more than foods: there really are no extras without the moolah.

And if you reach this age absent friends and immediate relatives, you don’t even have the horizon any more.
Just a bunch of drooling, grey-headed, Alzheimered goobers more certain than ever of the righteousness of their opinions on everything. That’s where you’ve been relegated.
Shit, what’re you going to contribute? If anyone had been interested, this wouldn’t be occurring. And you don’t have the funds, the social grouping, nor the expectation you’ll dispense anything of value or interest.

No problem if you were always one of those who believed breathing was sufficient to occupy the earth and justify living – but if not, harder times without the hope of betterment in the face of a pervasive ignoramus standard of no one gives a shit, you’re not struggling against obvious dictators, you’ve had years… you’ve lived.

What’s truly odd though is: my thought that I once considered the fact that if you were intelligent enough to be aware of these things it meant you weren’t susceptible.
And that travelling to outer planets meant soul growth: that losing the life uncramped by lack of funds suggested there’d be other compensations.

That you’d remain whole, integral, and sufficient unto yourself.

And if not, you’d not experience such a protracted dying unattended by actual illnesses while supplying the impression of some quiet, and sometimes well-mannered, older person content enough to not have thoughts or feelings outside the realm of knowledge of those who merely live by illusions specific to themselves while enjoying every benefit cash conveys.

Where do you go after this? Cat food hors d’oeuvres?

Meow, motherfuckers.

©Dean Baker

 

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for National Poetry Month, April 2017 – Poetry & How It Gets That Way – Buy a Book

In the face of an ever diminishing interest in one of the oldest arts, poetry, this book serves as an introduction why that interest should be revived in schools and individuals: illustrating the loss that accrues by not doing so, and the benefits to society through a passionate involvement in the poetic arts. Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction. Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate, influence and in changing perspective alter those same events and deeds. Find out more in this treatise more sociologically descriptive than academically oriented.

“Invaluable teaching tool that makes poetry enjoyably accessible while making the art of poetry relevant to all our times and ages.”

Dean J. Baker is an author of more than 20 books. Composer, performer, and songwriter published in prestigious literary journals worldwide since 1973.

Born in Toronto, Canada, to a Ukrainian/Polish father and an Irish/Scottish mother. Attended the University of Guelph, and later won their book awards, along with several unsolicited Ontario Arts Council awards, best poems published in a year in literary journals, and The T.S. Eliot Society of Miami’s Calendar Poet award. Member of Socan (Society of Authors, Composers, Publishers) he has played guitar, bass, and piano in many bands and is writing more songs. Author of The Herald(2010), and Baker’s Bad Boys(2010), published by Mad Poet Press. His most recent works are Silence Louder Than A Train, The Mythologies Of Love, The Lost Neighborhood, an expanded and revised Baker’s Bad Boys(2014-satiric stories of childhood), Dark Earth, Of Flesh Sculptures And Abandoned Love, The Eschatological Dog, Measuring Gravity By Grace (Poems 1970-1980, Vol.1), Our Geographies (Poems 1970-1980, Vol.2), The Transits Of Revelation, Fat Albert’s Outpatient Folk Clinic, The Moon Worn Tides Vol. 1, Poetry & How It Gets That Way, In Riparian Fields, Tormenting The Monkey, Provenances And Paroles, Cousin Harold’s Adventures In The Real World, The Poetry Hotel, The Lost Canadian, Early Selected Poems, Vol. 1, The Lost Canadian, Poems Selected, Vol. 2., Blood Upon The Moon, Soliloquies Of The Horizons.

His awards include universities’ awards, along with several unsolicited Arts Council awards; best poems published in a year in literary journals, edited two books of Governor General’s Award winner Joe Rosenblatt, and The T.S. Eliot Society of Miami’s Calendar Poet award.

He has traveled solo through Canada, the USA, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece. Dean J. Baker’s works show a highly disciplined, passionate and informed uniqueness. He brings to his craft a very widely read mind, fully intimate with all the great literature of the past along with a similar awareness of today’s writers.

https://ohcanaduh.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/my-books-poetry-humor-social-commentaries-critique/

“Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a baker’s dozen of fine poems.. he might produce a collection that could astound us all.” – Irving Layton, (“Canada’s greatest poet”-Leonard Cohen), nominated twice for the Nobel Prize for Literature. http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/ https://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

104 pages, $15.99

My Books In Print

My Poetry Ebooks

©Dean J. Baker

http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

Poets & Poetry

Part One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It would help to know what poetry isn’t before any declaration is made regarding exactly what poetry is, has been, and may become.

Poetry is not attitude, nor advertisement. It is not the approximation of a recognizably magical moment captured in one frieze of a combination of attitude, a mythical fancy, nor an established attitude limning on the page what is apparently or realistically poetical.
The first is a pose, dangerous in that it represents itself as poetry whereas the real poetry is of a whole, not an imitation, derived from abused elements that have established themselves as tools of the trade of the art of poetry.
That of course is where the attitude has greatly substituted for the art.

Real poetry will result from the poet gorging on the classics; assume the essence of such as its own, and through a passionate breath of love for the rhythm and the intellect in such art allow for the true voice of the poet to be discoverable. The resultant poetry may arise as much as a surprise to the poet as to the reader, otherwise there’d always be the possibility of intellect overwhelming the creation of art.

Poetry is of course an art. Something often dismissed by the fact that at this time and for a long while now it has been assumed as a cloaked attitude by the same ‘writers’ who once stuck to the creation of what were referred to as ‘nurse novels.’
The problem with stating that poetry is an art is that you will confront the stuck-up moralizing fragments of dusty academics who are as far from the reality of poetry as a coroner is from life. They will confront you with lies about poets who lived ordinary lives, were accountants, etc., without also noting that these people were the exceptions.

There will even be ‘poets’ who have somehow – through connections of those wanting to build a sense of personal power – been granted status academically, or in a literary life, unassociated with a realistic assessment of their work.
These will be the neighborhood articulates about whom you will hear other ordinaries commenting that likely they’re merely educated idiots.

This alone can result in a ‘beat poet’ moment where you want to tear off the suit and tie and run away to who knows what, catching the rhythmic notion of Mexico City Blues like Kerouac. And many have done so.
However that place of the Mexico City Blues, celebrated by such music poets as Bob Dylan, and Allen Ginsberg, is not a destination (see ‘Ithaca’ by C.P. Cavafy), but a resultant melding of place and metaphor, from and to which the artist later known as Kerouac to the public arrived without a notion of such. His journey was honest.

The only way an attitude of taking the same journey – almost – can be honest is if the poet or writer is well aware of doing such a thing to contrive a similar sense of discovery, combined with the fact that if they will lose themselves in it what they will discover about it will be themselves, with far different results of the same ‘blues’ since time and its changes will have made it so.
Central to such a journey would be such a poet’s own passion and talent. Some will arise out of genuine being, some out of a mixture of authenticity, and artificiality or attitude.
Only the resultant work will prove what is true poetry, or not.

This is where the mythos of the poet, which can serve as a necessary impulse for the real poet, must be separated from the contemporary poetic attitude.

However, let’s not forget that poetry is ultimately about poetry, in a sense. First, it is about the life of the poet. It may be a rich life as Shelley briefly enjoyed, or a poor life as many minor and major poets have had since. Rich and poor financially, anyway. Poetry is untouched by such things, though the ease or impediment of producing poetry is heavily influenced.

Poetry is not what a contemporary and well known poet has said about producing poetry as a result of poetry. That may be the case for him in his portraitures, and stance as a poet. But his stating it to be so without making the effort of distinguishing how and why he says so is simply a lazy cynicism. And a self-justification for an awareness of a lack of greatness, and thus a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He writes as though poetry entered into existence and went out with both the beginning and end of his own work.

Poetry is an informed and learned enjoyment, an enlightenment, and a passion as discoverably brought into being by observation as it is a celebration of the most ordinary, the most different, and the forever unique where all boundaries of discipline and knowledge result in that art of poetry. I might label all of Jackson Pollock’s works as a statement of Poetry, to illustrate this.

This illustrates where poetry began, and how it continues.
With that open mouth of darkness closing in, that vision of beauty if nature, people, and a greater aspect of civilization.
And how it is learned – absorbed – through the passionate embrace of great poets’ works: more than willingly, since these are the real forbears and ancestors of the poet.

Poetry is freedom to create and recreate worlds, and the world.

It is the responsibility of the poet. Thus, the next question would be: what is the poet.

©Dean Baker

-excerpt from https://www.amazon.com/Poetry-How-Gets-That-Way/dp/1508737525

https://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

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Poetry & How It Gets That Way – Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction.
Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate, influence and in changing perspective alter those same events and deeds.
Find out more in this treatise more sociologically descriptive than academically oriented.

http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

 

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Sweetness – by Stephen Dun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ….

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care

where it’s been, or what bitter road
it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.
© 1989 by Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn, “Sweetness” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994. Copyright © 1989 by Stephen Dunn.

A truly great poet – with  any number of fine books to choose from.

©DeanJBaker

 

Fishnet by Robert Lowell

 

 

 

 

Any clear thing that blinds us with surprise,
your wandering silences and bright trouvailles,
dolphin let loose to catch the flashing fish. . . .
saying too little, then too much.
Poets die adolescents, their beat embalms them,
The archetypal voices sing offkey;
the old actor cannot read his friends,
and nevertheless he reads himself aloud,
genius hums the auditorium dead.
The line must terminate.
Yet my heart rises, I know I’ve gladdened a lifetime
knotting, undoing a fishnet of tarred rope;
the net will hang on the wall when the fish are eaten,
nailed like illegible bronze on the futureless future.

©Robert Lowell

-excerpt from The Dolphin

Just read the first two lines and know that is not only about poetry but also about how
poetry in the world is recognizable, and the contrary is true: what isn’t poetry is known as well.

The brilliant use of metaphor matched with the physical aligning into discovery: how important poetry is when with only a few lines
endless senses of intellect, art, and personal renewal can be seen and pursued in a manner that the world itself would never allow, and thus must be and remain an object of delight and study,
because in that moment of poetry where the lines resound the reader is forever altered.

For those interested in literary trivia, ‘Dolphin’ is the nickname by which Lowell would often refer to his wife.

Fitting then that I came across this volume and others I relate to it such as For Lizzie And Harriet,   Day By Day and History among others of Lowell’s great works.

©Dean J. Baker

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The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com