how much I feel all this joy

Tonight we have a guest poet on Metaphor. It’s our dog, Brookie. I asked her to share a poem in honor or her one year anniversary with our family. She was adopted July 23, 2012. She’ll be two years old in October.

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Joyful Noise

I bark because of the birds
in the grass and above on the wires
and how they dance away
or fly and disappear
when I want to be close

I bark because of the people
and the dogs I can smell
going by on the street
and how they keep moving past
always do not stop and play

So I bark being so often
acquainted with disappointment
but also because of the sunshine
and my good food and my toys
and how much I feel all this joy

by Brookie

Brookie composes with a #2 pencil on a yellow legal pad. She blogs at
and she’s on Tumblr at

I’ve suggested she cut the cord with Blogger and go with Tumblr full time. It’s really more her style. I guess she’s thinking about it.

The names of her blog and tumblr site were inspired by the title of a book, Nop’s Trials by Donald McCaig, and by the lyrics of the old hymn What A Friend We Have in Jesus. The term trials, in dog circles, refers to competitions for herding dogs, obedience competitions, and similar events. Obviously, it’s a metaphor.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

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Joyful Noise by Kyle Kimberlin is licensed
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No Accounting For It

Ah, good taste, what a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.

– Pablo Picasso

Boy, that’s the truth, isn’t it? And who jumps to mind among the worthies of literature? I mean, you don’t even have to wander off toward Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson or William S. Burroughs.

We’re talkin’ D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Mark Twain. Among those three there are banning, prosecution, and attempts to expunge their work from from libraries.

How can it be? Well, in the words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”

that’s memory?

If you asked me what my novel is going to be about, I’d probably give you a synopsis of the plot. But if you responded, quite rightly, “No, that’s what seems to happen. What’s it really about?” I’d say it’s about memory.

For years, I’ve been mulling over the idea of what memory is and how we hold it, and what there is in our lives and families that is common to the experience of memory. It’s a little like trying to get a grip on a very annoyed trout in a bucket of baby oil.

Now comes the novelist Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, trying to get his own fists on the fish. In this brief and thoughtful video, he does it quite eloquently.


Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc., and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons.

– Douglas Adams

Adams was a writer and musician who lived from 1952-2001; a phenomenon which, if I live to be 100, I will never understand. I mean dying young. But I’m saying you should read his books, because they’re smart and funny. Maybe not great literature, not Faulkner’s Cow funny, but Oh so readable. The best laughs I ever got while reading anything not babbled forth by Bush-Cheney came while reading Douglas Adams.

Douglas Adams Web site, on which I found this:

How should prospective writers go about becoming an author?

First of all, realize that it’s very hard, and that writing is a grueling and lonely business and, unless you are extremely lucky, badly paid as well. You had better really, really, really want to do it. Next you have to write something.

But he did die much too young, didn’t he? Therefore, I think we need to see something funny.


click for full size

Digital Storytelling

“With digital storytelling, we have a much wider platform and a much better chance of being remembered. The number of people it’s possible to reach with digital storytelling is near-unlimited.”

Digital Storytelling and Collaborative Stories | Men With Pens

Now that’s what I’m talkin about. Great post.

Books don’t have to die, because we love them, and they nurture us. At the same time, it is time to move on, boldly go.

Judging By The Covers

Study Shows E-books the Greener Choice | Poets & Writers:

“Given that paper accounts for a quarter of all landfill volume, it should probably come as no surprise that a recent study touted e-books as more environmentally friendly than traditional publishing. A report released this month by the San Francisco-based Cleantech Group found that Amazon’s Kindle device could generate a net savings in carbon emissions—a savings that increases as print consumption is displaced.”

Now wait just a doggone minute. No one is going to believe that books account for a quarter of landfill volume, but as the article plays out, that’s what is implied. It implies that the printing of books is putting paper in landfills.  Baloney.

I have worked in corporate offices, and that’s where a lot of this comes from. Companies print vast tracts of documents – reports, spreadsheets, memos, e-mails – God only knows what – that is actually readable on computer screens. Then they throw it away. Seriously, people print out e-mails, then sit there, at the desk, and read them. This is analogous to packing your dinner in Styrofoam at home, then sitting down and eating it.

And how much of that paper in landfills is junk mail? The amount that I alone receive is enough to make me angry. I pull it out of the mailbox, and before I even climb the stairs, I walk down the alley and toss it in the recycle bin. How many millions of people are tossing it in the garbage instead, and sending it straight to the landfill?

Seriously, how much of the paper in the landfills is books, or even magazines that people paid hard cash for? And how much of what is could be reduced by pounding harder on people’s skulls to get them to recycle?

The article goes on to explore the benefits of using Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, including the carbon impacts of its manufacture, as compared to the environmental impacts of book and newspaper manufacture. And I’m sure that the Kindle is a nice toy. But as the article says, the study assumes that people who use the Kindle would otherwise be buying a lot more books than I do, or anyone I know. Add to this the fact that at least some people who buy books like to keep them, not throw them away, and that a book can be shared in ways that the content of a Kindle cannot, and we have a different conversation.

The article continues:

As the figures suggest, the study relies on the theory that Kindle owners are reducing an already higher-than-average consumption of printed matter in favor of digital substitutes. “A user that purchasers fewer than 22.5 books per year would take longer to neutralize the emissions resulting from the e-reader,” Ritch wrote, “and even longer to help reduce emissions attributed to the publishing industry.” The report also rests on the probably unrealistic assumption that users will hang on to their Kindles for a full four years before adding them to the growing accumulation of technological waste.

Right. Only people who otherwise read and discard a lot of books could make a meaningful impact by switching to e-books, and they need to keep at it for a long time before throwing the device itself in the trash.

I think if we want to reduce the paper in the landfills, we should slash the amount of unmitigated crap that’s printed out, but which never needed to be stored on sheets of tree in the first place. And by raising public awareness of books as generally contributing positively to culture and personal quality of life. A book can be a worthy, illuminating thing, worth keeping and passing along. Or not.

Finally, it bears noting that if I have three books on my desk at a given moment, at least one very likely came from the local library, and chances are it’s going back. They may have to send someone to pry it from my obstinate clutches; especially since, right now, I’m reading this. Slowly.

my good luck book

I have a lot of books in my house. This is nothing special and neither am I. I’m just saying, I have some books. And then I have some special books, which have certain properties by means of which I might give my mind a jump start, on days when its energy is drained by life’s more pedestrian concerns. Books which impart creative inspiration, is my point.

Among these special books are any of several by William Faulkner, Plainsong by Kent Haruf, The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the somewhat more obscure Omensetter’s Luck by William H. Gass.

The latter is not well known, but I would contend that it is a work of sublime inventiveness. I mean this guy filled his writing table with helium and took off, and went strange places in his mind and mine, and did not give a damn – we can presume – for marketing.

The book came out in 1966, and I picked up my copy in Chico about 20 years later, and have kept it close to hand ever since. It reminds me that the rules of writing were – despite all contradictory evidence in my work – made to be bent by lesser writers than myself. I was born to shatter them. Someday.

Upon the beach Henry Pimber rested, passing five white carefully gathered stones from hand to hand. He could not see his face where it had fallen in the water. Omensetter’s darkened house stood in his head amid clipped grass. Cold dew struck him and the sound of water in the dusk, soft and distant, like slow steps that reach through sleep, possessed him. The man was more than a model. He was a dream you might enter. From the well, in such a dream, you could easily swing two brimming buckets. In such water an image of the strength of your arms would fly up like the lark to its singing. Such birds, in such a dream, would speed with the speed of your spirit through its body where, in imitation of the air, flesh has turned itself to meadow. The pebbles fell, one by one, to the sand. Henry struggled with the urge to turn his head. Instead he bent and picked the pebbles up. The moon appeared. The pebbles were the softest pearls — like sweetest teeth. And Lucy’s lamp went through his house and climbed the stairs. He flung the stones. They circled out, taking the light. One sank in the water’s edge; one clicked on a greater stone; one found the sand; another brushed the marsh weeds. The last lay at his feet like a dead moth. He drove home slowly for a clouding moon.

run for the borders

Struggling against both online and big-box retailers, the Borders Group, the bookseller, said Thursday that it had hired two investment banks to advise it on a potential sale and had turned to its largest shareholder for additional money. [NY Times]

It seems like just yesterday that we were grieving the loss of Earthling Books in SB, which went belly-up due to the encroachment of the new Borders store, and others, down the street. We didn’t – at least I didn’t – want the big stores moving in. I liked our comfy local bookstore, with the big fireplace in the middle. You could sit and read as long as you wanted, and there was a nice little cafe.

In reality, at least a decade has gone by. Earthling has been forgotten by most of us. And being fickle, we’re turning our backs on the chain stores that replaced so many independents, so that even the behemoths are staggering.

I was in a Borders last week, to hear a writer speak about her book and her career. It was a Thursday, early evening, and aside from the 20 or so of us who came for the presentation, there were only a few people in the store. It was a little bit pitiful.

It seems fair to note that one of the reasons Borders is struggling so is that they don’t sell books online. They have book and store searching, but no online sales. They have missed the party, and that’s no fault of yours or mine.

I guess if I have a point here at all, it’s that we, the consumers, are the force driving these changes. We are deciding what our commercial choices are going to be. I like using Amazon myself, but pretty soon there won’t be any place where I can do what I like even more: to stand and hold a book in my hands, feel the weight and texture of it, smell the paper, and carry it home in a sack. It’s one of life’s little blessings for the lover of books, and it is disappearing from our experience.

literary 2fer

Kiran Desai, who already snared the Man Booker Prize in October for her novel The Inheritance of Loss (Grove/Atlantic), last night added the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction …. [Link]

Whoa, must be some book. I’m going to put it on my wish list at Amazon.