February 2009 Newsletter
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William Joins AI Theater
William Roetzheim has joined American International Theater, Inc. (AI Theater) as their Producing Director. As an IRS approved 501(c)3 charitable organization, AI Theater will greatly facilitate raising the donations necessary to support developmental productions of his plays. Plays have been accepted into several festivals in New York this spring and summer, and showcase productions are planned in New York for the Fall, so the funding need is urgent. To support these productions, visit www.aitheater.org.
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Fundraising Progress
We have just completed revamping the American International Theater, Inc. website to better accept donations. Electronic copies of our IRS status letter are now available on-line, and we can accept donations using Paypal, credit card, or check. In addition, you can donate to support all of our productions, or donate for a specific organization that is of interest to you. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Our goal is to raise $50,000 during 2009 to support developmental actitivities for three plays: Pound, Eliot, and Dickinson.
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Calendar
May 2009 (date TBD)
TADA Theatre
15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY
"Pound"

May 29, 2009, 7:00 PM
Location TBD in New York, NY
Reading of "Dickinson"

June, 2009, dates TBD
440 Studios
440 Lafayette Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY
Performance of "Dickinson

June 2009
TBD location in New York, NY
Showcase production of "Pound"

July 10 - August 2, 2009,
Fri/Sat at 8PM, Sun at 2 PM
North Park Vaudeville Theatre
2031 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104
619 220 8663 for box office
Performance of "Dickinson"

September 2009
TBD location in New York, NY
Showcase production of "Dickinson"

October 2009
TBD location in New York, NY
Showcase production of "Eliot"
Poetry Corner
by William Roetzheim
Set Poetry Free!

Poetry has been hijacked by the literati in this country in an attempt to keep it for themselves. Every one of us was born loving poetry, and we expressed that love with our nursery rhymes, jump rope songs, Doctor Seuss books, and so on. Somewhere along the way we were indoctrinated to believe that poetry is hard to understand and read—it isn’t. We were told that if we don’t like a poem or a style of poetry there is something wrong with us—there isn’t. We were told that in order to enjoy poetry we needed to take classes and study poetry—we don’t. I’m here to expose the fraud and set people free to enjoy poetry.

Billy Collins, a former poet laureate of the United States, expressed a similar frustration in his poem “Introduction to Poetry.” Let’s listen to him through this little free verse poem taken from his book The Apple That Astonished Paris (University of Arkansas Press, 1988):

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls
for a light switch.

I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.


They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

So who’s torturing that poor poem? Well, I’m pretty sure he was talking about the students in his college level poetry class. But who are they but the next generation of literati? And what does the poetry community think of Billy Collins, one of the most popular poets of our time and someone who
consistently writes verse that you or I can understand? They turn up their collective noses because his poetry is not difficult enough, that’s what they think of Billy Collins. In the 1,200 page academic text The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, 3rd edition there is not a single poem by Billy Collins. As the editor of The Giant Book of Poetry I’ve been told by numerous University Professors that my book will never be taken seriously because it includes Billy Collins and, heaven forbid, Wordsworth!

So how should we read poetry? I think Mark Strand gets it. Let’s look at just the first stanza of a poem taken from his book Selected Poems (Knopf, 1990).

extract from Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners
of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
. . .

If we’re born loving poetry, when and where do we stop loving poetry? For most of us the answer is—in school. Our schools are so intent on teaching us how difficult poetry is that they forget to teach us how enjoyable poetry is. In some ways, the situation is analogous to what we often see with churches teaching religion. You can have a relationship with God that’s full of respect and fear and obedience, or God can be your best friend. Let’s see what kind of relationship Kaylin Haught has with her God:

God Says Yes to Me

I asked God if it was okay
to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay
to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her
if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where
she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

We deserve to have this kind of relationship with God, and with poetry. I say that when it comes to God or poetry, the answer is Yes . . . Yes . . . Yes!
This Issue

About William Roetzheim
William Roetzheim is an award winning poet, playwright, and
writer. He began his career in the fine arts in 2001 after retiring from the technology industry. Since that time he has founded a highly aclaimed small press, written or edited several award winning books, directed and produced fifteen spoken word audio CDs, and with his wife Marianne, started an art focused Bed and Breakfast outside of San Diego.
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