Author Archives: Keith Lander

Website Changes

I have made some changes to the website. Members should have received an email from me.

1. I have moved the Members menu from the top of the page into the right hand column.

2. You no longer need to use the special password the-real-stanza to access the Members page. You need to be logged in to view the page – you will be directed to the login page if you aren’t.

3. I have added a StaPoWriMo menu below the Members menu. This will take you to a page containing a link for each day of the month. You need to be logged in to view the page – you will be directed to the login page if you aren’t.

4. When you login you will be taken to the home page, not the dashboard. You can access the dashboard from the black WordPress menu bar at the top of the page.

5. To add a poem to StaPoWriMo you should login and add your poem as normal. But instead of assigning category ‘workshop’ you should choose the category with the date where you want the poem to appear (there is one for each day oct 1, oct 2 etc).

Remember, if you forget your password you can request another from the login page. Your username is, with one or two exceptions, your first name followed by space followed by your last name.

Any problems contact me.

Happy StaPoWriMo. Do it, you know you can!

Remembering Passwords

These days there are so many websites that require you to logon that remembering passwords becomes a pain. Most people’s solution is to only use one or two different passwords. This is not a secure approach because if someone gets hold of one then they effectively have access to many sites. Fortunately these days there is a solution and that is to use software that will generate strong passwords, remember them on a per website basis and enter your login details for you when you want to login. The one I use is 1Password. You can find its details here.

A new poem form

Last night at the stanza meeting I mentioned that I have written (but am still editing) a sequence of 23 poems. Some of these have been around for a while. However, I am slowly converting the sequence to use a form that I have invented (though doubtless, unbeknown to me,  it has been invented many times before). The form is quite simple to explain, but a bit of a bugger to use. It is based on prime numbers.

For those who don’t know, or have forgotten, what a prime number is the explanation is simple: a prime number is a whole number that is only divisible by itself or 1. So for example 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19 are the first 9 prime numbers. Mathematicians have been in love with the primes since the time of the Greeks, and maybe longer. Euclid (he of the Elements) proved two of the most important facts about primes. First he proved that there are infinitely many of them. More importantly he proved what is now known as the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic. This states that if you take any number (100 say) then you can always break it down into a product of primes (so 100 = 2 x 2 x 5 x 5). What’s more this can only be done one way – there is no other way of breaking 100  into a product of primes. The prime numbers are the building blocks of the whole number system!

The way I use primes in the form is twofold. First the poem must contain a prime number of lines (excluding the title). Second, each line (including the title) must contain a prime number of syllables. That’s it.

Below, by way of example, is another poem from the sequence. This one mentions someone called Mr C who has appeared in my poems lately. The poem actually first saw the light of day in 2001 after an Arvon course (my first), though it was quite different to the one here. Indeed I think I brought a version to a recent stanza meeting.

[hozbreak]

Saturday Morning

Candle drool blears at Milo.
His stubbled chin scrapes the breeze.
He reaches out over the garden railings
until he touches the crags of Golden Clough.
He shakes the dew from the Scots pines silhouetted on the horizon.
Drifting wood smoke snags his throat
while he’s splashing his face in a gritstone trough.
Blackbirds chink chink chink at his rude intrusion.
Somewhere a toilet flushes.
Steam vents from a pipe.
Someone coughs and a door slams.
An urge moves Milo to leap
into the stream by Lumb Mill.

me got language now ~ me help that mr c
me master blaster milo

The week is over.
Things will never be the same.

Typing Poems

If you insert newline characters (return/enter ) when you type a poem you will end up with lines that look double spaced. To get single spaced lines just hold the shift key down when you press enter/return.

Profile Picture

You might like to have your photo displayed against any messages you post to the site. The way to do this is to create an avatar for yourself using a website called Gravatar. It’s a simple process. Once you have created your avatar it will appear on any avatar compliant blog where you post messages. Cross Border Poets is one such blog.

Sending eMail

You can send an email to selected members or to all members of the stanza. Simply login using your username and password and you will see an envelope icon on the left of the page. Click on it and choose one of the options. Then follow your nose. Get in touch if you have problems.

The Value Archetype

The buddhist poet Maitreybandhu has written a wonderful essay in the second issue of the poetry journal Poem titled The Value Archetype. It begins with a question: What is poetry for? And continues: Of course, the answer is: nothing—poetry is not for anything. Poetry has no instrumental purpose and therefore no price or function. He continues: I want to argue that poetry is for the discovery, creation and preservation of human value. By value I mean something that is valuable in and of itself and not as a means to an end. So kindness is a value. Money is not a value: its so-called value is dependant on what we do with it. Poetry is a value. All of the important values in human life are not for anything—they are ends in themselves.

The rest of the essay is devoted to relating the three jewels of Buddhism to poetry, poetic practice, and the community of poets. I am not a buddhist, but what he says resonates with how I think and feel about poetry.

Oblique Strategies

I’ve got this box of cards called Oblique Strategies assembled by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, neither of whom are poets, though both are creatives. Here are five that I’ve selected at random. I use them to break  through this or that brick wall, and sometimes find a way over it.

[list style=”orb” color=”blue”]

  • Be less critical more often
  • Is there something missing?
  • Trust in the you of now
  • Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them

[/list]