George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron ByronIn 1985, a British Romantic Period Literature class changed my life. The poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats wakened in me a passion for writing. I determined to somehow make a career of it—and somehow feed my children.

Since then I’ve worked exclusively in publishing, first for game companies, now in education. I also continue to write, study, and promote poetry. It’s my opinion that poetry used to belong to the people, until academics stole it. It’s high time to steal it back from them.

Why Sandpoint?

Lester : September 17, 2014 11:10 am : Announcements, Poetry

Yesterday, via social media and Kickstarter updates, I mentioned that daughter Kate and I are working up a “Blood Type” short story for this year’s Halloween celebration anthology, Halloween Haiku II and other hauntings.

Here’s the first line: “The day Sandpoint, Idaho, died, Garrett Cully left work early.”

One of our D6xD6 RPG backers asked, “Why Sandpoint?” (Turns out his wife’s family lives there.) As that setting chapter will soon show, Sandpoint is a perfect choice for the horror campaign my wife and daughter conceived of.

As luck would have it, the city also made an appearance in a poem I wrote back in 2006, an attempt at free verse:

It’s Happy Hour Somewhere

At 5:25 p.m. in Los Angeles,
the Trumpster (in town for an evening)
rises from a trim and invites
his busty stylist to drinks and lobster

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin,
I hold the phone, and a tequila,
while my mother’s voice cajoles
me to write something
(outside this east window,
snow dunes
glowing in moonlight).

And at a checkpoint east of Baghdad,
a boy from Sandpoint,
Idaho, coaxes five blood-spattered children
from the backseat
of a family
car that would not

While in Calcutta,
Mother Teresa’s ghost
rises with the sun, and walks
a flowerless path to the leprosarium.

—Lester Smith

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Kuto~urufu to Bejitarian Sushi

Lester : August 21, 2014 8:30 am : Announcements, Japanese, Poetry, Popcorn Press, Veganism

Jamie Chambers meets me for dinner to fulfill an old Cthulhu Haiku II Kickstarter promise. His performance really seals the deal.

Kuto~urufu to bejitarian sushi

CREDITS: Lester Smith as Cthulhu, Jamie Chambers as Jamie Chambers, Karalyn Smith as Voice of Server, Filmed by Karalyn Smith, Edited by Ralph Faraday, Music by Kevin MacLeod

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4 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Lester : May 14, 2014 5:41 pm : Announcements, Poetry, Review

If you’re reading this, chances are you know how much I love, and champion, poetry. You may also be aware of my quip that about a century ago, academics stole poetry from regular people, and ever since, some of us have been trying to steal it back.

Which is to say, as clever as academic poetry may sometimes be, it too often lacks any real heart or conviction. And too often, it seems, it chooses to be obscure for the same reason academics use unnecessarily obfuscatory terms in prose—to avoid appearing “common.”

For some time, then, I’ve cast disparaging glances at what to me seemed an unnecessarily difficult poem: Wallace Stevens‘ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Still, something about the poem continued calling to me, as if a blackbird were cawing to draw my attention, and I just couldn’t understand what it wanted.
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