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This is quite a relief. Slate is a great publication that just happens to have sprung up online first, in the dotcom bubble-building late 90s. The Washington Post is a great media company. May Slate live long and stimulate.
This also gives me more chances to be rejected as a poet. Robert Pinsky (former US poet laureate and prof at Boston University) is Slate’s poetry editor. I’ve sent many poems to him over the years, and all have been returned without comment. The most epic rejection was the first submission to Slate/Pinsky, in August 1997. One evening, I found his e-mail address (at BU) and e-mailed him the then-current version of my book “Pieces of Fate.” The next evening, while the wife and I were drinking beer at home, I got a phone call. A man with a deep NewYork-ish voice asked “Is this James Ko-bee-lee-us?” “Yes,” sez I. “This is Robert Pinsky…” My jaw dropped. My genius finally acknowledged? “Do you realize you sent me the Word Concept Virus.” Oh…sh*t. Yeah, he recognized me, all right, but for the wrong thing. No, it wasn’t deliberate. I was unaware that my home computer had the damn virus. Anyway, I apologized, explained the accidental nature of the infection, advised the (then) US poet laureate not to save changes to “normal.dot,” etc. Then I asked a quick question: “What did you think of the poems?” It was clear to me that he had barely looked at them. All he commented on was the fact that I had alphabetized the running order of the poems. It wasn’t a long call—no more than 3-4 minutes. But that just goes to show how totally pathetic I am at marketing my poems. Which I’m still writing: have more than 500 of them now in “Pieces of Fate,” and have been composing the book continually since August 5, 1995 (arbitrary start date).
A few months ago, I read a new poem that Pinsky had published in “Wired” magazine. The poem was called “Pixel.” I liked it, as I do all his stuff, but I felt that I could do better. So I composed a Kobielus take on the same topic. Gave it the same title. Sent it (via paper mail) to Slate (Pinsky’s still the poetry editor). Same results. Anyway, here it is, Kobielus’ “Pixel” for the pleasure of you my blogreaders:
One ought to thank Planck for the thought
the infinitesimal's not
a fathomless bottomless well
but a plot of versatile dots.
One ought to toast Hearst for the screen
that lays down the points in a clean
mist of crisp pixie light and strips
by the millions milled by machine.
And nod to Turing for blurring
the point where the strip takes sense and
base elements assemble the
cells and scenes and trick behind
the calculated picture of mind.
Send me an e-mail if you’re interested in getting the full “Pieces of Fate” (I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org). I'll send it to you at no charge. And free of viruses and other wee beasties. I promise (or, more to the point, my anti-virus vendor, in whose tool I trust, says it's clean).
OK, now, about the poems. I'm an IT industry analyst/consultant/pundit. Why do I also write poetry? Same reason I write this blog. For me. It's sort of like a diary, but not really. It's a big ol' ball of yarn that I continue to wind from found (in my head) materials; if you derive some value from it all, that’s gravy.
Or is that mixing metaphors?