Bill Winkelman 
Member since May 19, 2015


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Re: “Best Musical Instrument Store

I have always loved the Chicago Store. I do miss the old, much bigger location, though. It was a real Tucson institution. Phil and Joe Levkowitz started my loyalty 'way back in time and my loyalty continues with Mark. The eastside store has many large photographs from the old days that really make me nostalgic and remind me that this is still the Chicago Store. Long live the Chicago Store!

Posted by Bill Winkelman on 05/22/2017 at 11:59 AM

Re: “Listen Up!

When I read about the Poetry Slam, I got the uncomfortable feeling that the discipline part of writing poetry was being bypassed. Poetry Slam sounded like some “feel good” sort of thing, where kids could throw some lines together, be praised as creative geniuses, and get called poets.
I have attended occasional poetry recitations where not a single verb appeared in any of the recitations. The poetry neither rhymed nor scanned. It was stuffed with far too many adjectives and adverbs, and it did nothing for me.
Such diletantism doesn’t pass in music. If a kid aspires to become a lead guitar player in a rock band, he knows that buying an electric guitar and amplifier isn’t enough. He’s going to spend countless hours of practice, listen to lots of recordings and learn something about music, observe masters and, with luck, get them to give tips. Only then can he stand before a crowd and convince them he’s got the goods. Likewise with any other musical instrument (yes, including the drums).
I had the good fortune at 15 to have long conversations with 83-year-old John G. Neihardt, Poet Laureate of Nebraska. He told me that he began his quest for the mastery of poetry before 12 by learning to read and absorb the Roman and Greek masters of poetry in their original languages, reading and absorbing all the English and American masters of poetry, absorbing the Upanishads and American Indian spirituality, and devouring whatever books he could find about poetry appreciation. At 12 he began writing poetry every day. Each day’s output fed the stove. At 16 he published his first volume of poetry, but then he looked at it and recalled all the books and burned them.
To write his epic poem, A Cycle of the West, which begins with the opening of the frontier with the mountain men and ends with the massacre at Wounded Knee. he traveled thousands of miles, rafting down the Missouri River from its headwaters to its confluence with the Mississippi and over the Plains at a time when a rutted dirt road counted as a highway, and he interviewed men who knew someone who knew Jed Smith, Hugh Glass, etc., and others who had witnessed the Indian wars. Then he devoted twenty-nine years to write his 656-page magnum opus, which was in iambic pentameter and rhymed couplets from start to finish. Some days he could write only 5 lines, because the creative process wasn’t working for him. But he spent time with that work every single day until its completion, rewriting multiple times, after countless false starts, and burning far more than got published.
The result of all that discipline is great poetry that is a joy to read and an even greater joy to either recite or to hear recited, every bit of it beautiful writing.
The same can be said for all his short poems, too.
I wish these kids would be made to understand that writing is a craft, that multiple rewritings are necessary and normal, that false starts are normal. that it requires great literacy, and requires great amounts of practice. Poems require structure. At the least, give me verbs and direct objects; put me on scene; don’t hesitate to use other tenses than the present; don’t put in useless adjectives and adverbs; make every word work hard; show, don’t tell; and pull me in and don’t leave me out. Make me experience something. If you’re writing something about being Mexican, make me feel Mexican (or Chicano). Write your poetry for me, not yourselves.

0 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Bill Winkelman on 05/19/2015 at 5:27 PM

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