Welcome to the AEI Blog

Hello, and welcome to the AEI blog. This blog will deal specifically with the police poetry project, directed by Marty Pottenger. This is a place for the participants in the project to post about their feelings on the work ahead of them: those things they are afraid of, or excited about, or looking forward to. Please feel free to share whatever you may think about the role of the police/the role of poetry/the places where these two seemingly disparate things can intersect. Best wishes, and onward!

35 Responses to “Welcome to the AEI Blog”

  1. 1 Gibson October 9, 2008 at 1:16 am

    I’m looking forward to getting started.

  2. 2 mpott October 16, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Just sending out contact info and matchups.

  3. 3 Betsy Sholl October 16, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I’m also looking forward to getting started.


  4. 4 mpott October 16, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Just sent you fabulous brave poets a briefing and your partners. I’m going to meet with your partners tonight, or the ones I can locate, and let them know we’re in motion.

    You must all be pretty nervous, I know I am, not about the work you are going to create, but about being around the police. Still gives me the heebie jeebies on regular occasion. If nothing else, that will be good to get over, even if it takes me a few more years.

    It will be so good to have this blog to swap info, tell stories and think together. I went to the City’s Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday night which was a report to teh community about crime by Chief Loughlin. The actual evening was quite different than what the media reported the next day. It seems that crime is evening out rather than ‘on the rise’ overall, but with some efforts on the part of organized drug cartels to get a foothold in Portland. More crack, cocaine, heroin, meth than ever before, but I know from experience, that so much of this stuff is also a PR effort to keep layoffs down and budget cuts smaller.

    I want to get you all some basic stuff from the police – a packet – with the dvd they created for the immigrant community, a couple of reports they’ve generated, stuff that you can read and get a sense of things from. I’ll start putting that together tomorrow and over the weekend.

    thanks, love and like the sergaent on Hill Street Blues said at the end of every rollcall “be careful out there”. That was my neighborhood precinct in NYC – #9.


  5. 5 Betsy October 17, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Hey poets–I wonder if it would be helpful for us to share ideas on how to help the police officers write. If you have any exercises you think you’ll try and want to share them, I’d love to hear. For my own, when the time comes, I thought I might see if we could generate some vocabulary that goes with the job and use that as a base, then maybe suggest a specific situation that occurred that would be discussed using those generated words. That sounds dorky. I’ll work it out more clearly. But creating a word list, working with some repetition, and a concrete incident are what I’ve been thinking about. I’d love to hear what others are thinking might help stimulate a poem. Thanks.

  6. 6 mpott October 17, 2008 at 3:16 am

    This was my original welcome to this blog – Welcome poets & photographers. This is a space where we can keep a record of our experiences over the next two months. An artists journal, a support group, a think tank to lay out concerns, fears, excitement, triumphs, questions, ideas, suggestions, a place to scribble a few sentences, try out a poem, upload some photos. We can decide to share and/or edit entries that we agree on in the future, but for now it’s private, only for us. I think it is fine to use people’s names, to talk about hard things if there are hard things to talk about. Just a few sentences after one of your contacts would be very welcome, as this will also serve as a record of this border crossing adventure. I’ll be writing and asking questions as well, along with Benjamin. I am honored to have you all a part of this project. Let’s roll.

  7. 7 Marty October 17, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Here’s Mike Sauschuck’s email to me and mine to the police poets earlier today.

    Hey Marty,

    Nice work as always! I’m hoping to have you a photographer within the next couple of days. Let me know if you need anything!! Mike

    >>> Marty Pottenger 10/16/2008 5:58:41 PM >>>
    Hi Officers & Detectives,

    Attached is the contact list for all the police, poets and photographers. Thank you Mike for making it happen. The poets are very nervous and very excited. I’ve encouraged them to contact their partners tomorrow or asap to schedule the four meetings asap so they can all be fit in what i know is a very busy calendar for all of you.

    If you have any questions, concerns, problems, please let me, Mike or Clarkson know so we can sort it out.You’ll see from the list that Karl’s son, Benjamin has decided to write a poem, but that Karl is not signed on at this point. If that remains the case, we’ll include Ben’s poem on it’s own. It will be great to have a poem about being a police officer/detective’s son. I know how much Benjamin respects the work you all do.

    Don’t arrest any of the poets unless you absolutely have to. They are all published poets, many work at USM, all teach poetry writing. Please help get them on ride alongs with you asa and find times where you can both do your job effectively and help them see the world you live in, the work you do.

    The goal of the calendar is to a) raise money for Johnsey Foundation and AEI (the arts project I’m doing).
    b) make the real, daily work that the polilce do more evident to the public and other city workers
    c) let people get to know the actual officers who do that work

    Some questions you might ponder in your spare time 😉

    – why did you become a police officer?
    – what do you like/hate/love about it?
    – who is someone who has been a mentor/hero/role model to you?
    – what’s a day/incident/call you’ll never forget and why?
    – who is someone you dealt with that you’ll never forget and why?

    Just suggestions. You’ll decide what you want to focus on when the time comes. I’ll be comng by tomorrow to give you each 3 poems written by the poet you are partnering with. They are looking forward to meeting you.

    Stay in touch. thanks so much.


  8. 8 Martin October 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    There’s a conundrum here. One of my first principles—and
    I struggle to take the gift of it for myself—is that they (we) don’t have to write a poem. Otherwise, the demand (from myself even more than someone else) for one gets in the way. So, for me, we begin with a contradiction—we’re after something, a poem for the calendar by December (the end of November) I won’t insist on. It’s the process I commit to, for my student and, bless him, myself. I have to say this, because the desired end has a powerful voice, and there is something else here I have to counter it with. I wonder what that is. I don’t mean to be difficult or mysterious. This does, finally, feel like work of service. To what, or who? The Muse, through the Self, I suppose. I don’t mean the selfish me but the universal one, Whitman’s “I,” in “I sing the song of myself / and every atom belonging to me / as good belongs to you.”
    I do want a poem (almost always [what a dance this is]) and am excited, eager and a little anxious about meeting my student and to interest, inspire and empower her (and myself) to write one. (I’d like to go about this with the heart of a child.)
    I’m going to start simple (I hear you Betsy), with meeting my Warrior Poet and try to hear/see what I have fits her, or how to fit what I have to work for us. That’s probably going to be the
    senses and trust, how to note what we note, take it down, play with it, and listen for the voice that’s always running there, just underneath.
    And, I’ll be watching to disarm the judge in both of us. I like what William Stafford said about how he writes a poem every morning—“I lower my standards,” he said.
    Marty, Yes, and thank you for setting this up: I mean, both the spirit of it and the structure. I feel the feeling, thoughtful, loving work you’ve put into it. It helps me. I feel supported.
    And thank you for the gift of the work, which is one of the ways I hold myself to learning about what I try to teach.
    Ah! the moon is there this morning. I look up from writing through one of my skylights, and she’s there, lace white on the bright blue.

  9. 9 Martin October 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    The time on my comment is wrong: it’s 9:18 am. And I don’t know what the tag, “Martin said this on Your comment is awaiting moderation,” is. I didn’t write that.

  10. 10 mpott October 21, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Hey All, we move we move. Ben is going on his first (I think) ‘ride-along’ (not the same frame if a detective is involved0 with his Dad tomorrow/Wednesday. I dropped off folders for all the warrior poets over the weekend with your 3 poems in them. Will be going by tomorrow to see how they are all doing. Sounds like you all are setting up the dates to meet. I can’t imagine that won’t be a real adventure for everyone. Karl is a real treasure. He came by yesterday when I was checking in with Clarkson – who you all met at that police meeting, and shared several pretty grisly stories of recent (!) deaths and suicides that will never hit the papers. I was surprised by that – that such things happen regularly and never get reported. Don’t know if it’s useful for public overall to get those reports, but I didn’t realize how much gets left out. I mostly listened the whole time which seemed to be useful and appropriate, confirming my sense that if you all think of yourselves as listening poets – you’ll be repaid with an earful of reality about a Portland few of us know exists. And the pleasure of their company.

    Viva la blog.

  11. 11 mpott October 23, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Ah, Marty,
    About posting on the blog, time’s a big barrier for me.
    Not time for the program, thinking about it, planning, etcetera,
    but time online, which is already out of control in my life. But I’m
    fine with your posting these communiques on the blog, if you want.

    Yes, on the Monday, November 17. Delighted to have the opportunity.
    And, Yes, for our meeting on the 3rd, one o’clock at Police Headquarters.

    I had a second wonderful meeting with my police partner yesterday,
    the first the ride-along, this second a beginning at how we might relate
    the police life to poetry and possibly, hopefully, write something
    we feel good enough about to share. I am optimistic and feeling
    good and lucky meeting and learning through Alissa. Test of the blue
    pudding we begin to cook, of course, is not only what ends in being
    served up but the quality of the experience for both.

    Alissa took off for Washington today to run a marathon this Sunday.
    We’ve agreed to a second ride-along sometime next week.

    I look forward to sharing more at our meeting.

    I’m outa here right now for the first time today, into that gorgeous looking sunshine, hopefully not too cold.


  12. 12 Michael October 24, 2008 at 3:35 am

    Just a check in. I did get in touch with Dan and we will be on the street and riding on Wednesday. He seems very willing to do whatever I want to do. I guess it is just a case of asking for what you need. I hope things are moving along for everyone. I’m in Vermont til Monday, but will hit the blog when I get back. Ride on.

  13. 13 Betsy October 27, 2008 at 7:01 am


    We didn’t talk about poetry a lot. It was more me asking him questions. He showed me some reports, we talked a little about the importance of detail vs. abstract language, which he said he’s always telling his officers–give details, not summaries.

    I wasn’t sure how much to talk about poetry this first time. We didn’t talk about my poems at all. just when I said I’d try to copy a few poems that might serve as models, he mentioned that he had a few of mine.

    Mike seemed pretty relaxed. I don’t mean that we laughed and joked. Actually, I think I gold a few stories about the cops I’d worked with. And I asked him what he was looking for as we rode around. I asked him if he thought there was such a thing as evil–evil people as opposed to sick or troubled people. We talked about why people watch police programs–things like that. I don’t think it occurred to me to talk about poetry just yet. But maybe I could have taken a poem or two along to read him. Hum–or maybe the would be distracting when he’s actually working.

    i agree that I saw the world differently from the car–don’t know if i could say exactly how, maybe less “innocently,” less is that spacey mode of whatever’s interesting is cool, and more looking for trouble.

    I suspect it might have been good–since we know we’re going to be doing poems–to ask him what he thinks of when he thinks of a poem–rhyme? pretty language? detail, etc..

    Well, gotto shift heads now. But ask me again if I forgot anything.


  14. 14 Michael October 29, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Marty, went on my 1st ride-along with Dan. we seem to get on very well and spent 4 hours in the cruiser riding and talking-mainly letting each other know who we each are. Dan and I are each going to try to have something for our next meeting next Wednesday. I gave him my chapbook and a few poems by poets I like: Brian Turner’s “Here, Bullet; Philip Levine’s “What Work Is,” and a couple others. I took lots of notes about how he got where he is, what led him there, war stories from the street–some quotes: “In your first two years on the street, it’s guaranteed you be in the fight of your life, for your life.” “We have to win every fight.” “The whole goal is to go home.” Dan reminded me that this is a job for him the way my Waynflete gig is for me. He aspires to do it well, but the guys who see it as a “calling” and have no other life are missing out on a lot.

  15. 15 Gibson November 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I’m a little behind you all, just getting ready for my first mtg wtih Scott, hopefully on Wed. Reading over this is helpful. My impulse is to bring along a few poems by other folks (Turner and Levine were two I was thinking of as well, Micheal). I find most of the non-poetry reading public has a very narrow idea of what poetry is and what it does, so I’d like to bring some more contemporary models that are fairly accessible and that open up the possibilities. I imagine we’ll spend some time just trying to get to know each other and I’ll ask a lot of questions to try to get a sense of what he does.
    Betsy–I like your idea about vocabulary. Helping them (and ourselves) assemble some word matter that could go into a poem would be good. I’m sure the police have some great slang or shorthand that they use, for instance, which would be great. If there’s buy-in on their end, I can even imagine a poem that’s just a list of some of the things that get said while one is out driving around the city.

  16. 16 Martin November 4, 2008 at 2:18 am

    Marty and all, I liked our meeting yesterday. It encourages and inspires me to hear your doubts, responses and successes. Betsy,
    that quick response of yours to Marty’s question about what’s changed us already seemed a poem. And thanks for the suggestion to take those few lines from my poem to use as repeating lines in another, which I’ve begun playing with. (What is the name of that form again, Annie, the one that repeats each line the same?) I’m revising my “Ride-Along” poem and will send it soon by email as an attachment for you to post, Marty, if you like. Also a draft of the repeating one.
    I’m looking forward to my second meeting with Alissa later this week, wanting to go back to two stories she told on our first ride and shaping how she tells them, fishing some for more details, spontaneous reflections, then giving them back to her to work on, or drafting a version with her right then if she doesn’t want to work on it herself. I also want to show her the fun and effects of playing with repetition and variation and introduce similes and metaphors as a way to grow a poem about some thing or subject of concern or interest, along the lines of Neruda’s odes to things. A simple model I like using is Mary Oliver’s “The Swan,” which also models the effectiveness of turning things into questions. (Alissa is a delight to work with, open and responsive.)
    I also enjoyed Mike’s openness and friendliness at the meeting yesterday. Easy to like him.
    That’s about it for me at the moment. I’m looking forward to my second ride-along with Alissa this Sunday. Good having all your voices joining in here.

  17. 17 Michael Macklin November 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Hey folks, I am sorry I missed the meeting yesterday. I was just un-plugged from my head. Dan stopped by school today and dropped off a couple of a new poem and copies of the PPD fvorites: “Blue Balls” and “Equestrian Love”. I think I should post them just so that you see who we are dealing with. (Joke) Dan and I are having lunch and some time to talk writing tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes. He also mentioned this website: WarriorSCI.com. I haven’t checked it oout but it belongs to a LT. Colonel Dave Groossman. Dan met him and the Col. mentiuoned that he wrote some poetry as well. It is worth checking out. Have a great night. Please vote. Michael

  18. 18 Annie Finch November 7, 2008 at 3:06 am

    Dear Marty,

    We had a very good ridealong yesterday. Fascinating stuff. He was interested in haiku so we went on an image hunt during the ridealong, found wonderful things and are each working on a sequence.

    thanks for setting up this program Marty–it is wonderful; I can see the implications even more clearly now that I know something more about the culture.

    we are planning another possible ridealong and a coffee date to try out some longer kinds of poems.


  19. 19 Annie Finch November 7, 2008 at 3:27 am

    Annie’s Draft

    Row of cars like elephants

    Waiting for the kin

    Testing the lights

    Blue, leather, darkness, evening, leaving

    Big brother

    Drugs, money, so steals

    This is discouraging work

    To give good people a sense of security

    That’s what we’re here for

    To deal with the stuff nobody wants to deal with

    It is dangerous

    Officers in hats in the dark

    Silhouettes at a doorway

    Knocking at a door

    Metal on caps,

    Red as the traffic metal cars

    Metal guns

  20. 20 Marty Pottenger November 7, 2008 at 3:30 am

    Hi Everybody,

    I’ve tried multiple times to get Annie’s Haikus to be separated by proper spacing, but the format of the blog doesn’t allow it to take as far as I can tell. So here they are – above – without any spaces between each haiku. Enjoy and hopefully part of the experience can be sifted out one from the other.

    thanks Annie.

  21. 21 Martin November 7, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Good evening, All~ Just left a meeting, at Police Headquarters, with Alissa. I read her a poem I’d composed using her words and phrases, and she liked it. I stay open to any response; so when she also liked the two sets of images best I was most concerned might displease her, I was ready to do cartwheels. We’re going
    to both sign that one as a collaborative poem. I gave her a copy to edit, delete, add to, question about or whatever, and will send on to you, Marty, when we finish going over it together and agree on a final draft. She’s also got a haiku now, too, and a new poem we worked on together. She also liked the poem I read at our meeting last week, which also relieves me, especially since I use her name in it. I join Alissa for a 2nd Ride-along Sunday afternoon/evening. I would like to meet with her at least one more time. I want to encourage her in reading the poems aloud, see how she feels about that, and agree on final drafts for her and our first poems. I had a strange day, that is, a light poem on blue balls, titled “To the Policeman Who Wrote Over and Over, ‘My Balls are Blue,'” which he might enjoy but which might be only for us,
    take possession of me, and which I’d like to share with you at our next meeting. And Marty, I forget, when do you want poems from us
    for the calendar?

  22. 22 Martin November 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Actual posting time is 10:22 pm.

  23. 23 Martin November 10, 2008 at 3:53 am

    Marty, this is being a very rich experience for me, working and sharing with Alissa. We did our second ride-along last night,
    which has left me humming with possibilities I have to leave for the moment. Birds in hand (or almost), though, you can count on are two poems from Alissa, one being haiku, the other—oh, a substantial poem I like so much; one written by both of us, and one by me. (If I get lucky, maybe a second from me.) Alissa’s poem seems really solid. She’s considering a number of suggestions at the moment, and I hope we can send you the whole gaggle of them by the end of the week, or early next. I’d like one more get-together with her to tie up loose ends, find agreement on the poems, and create a sense of resolution about them and the work together. Are we having another meeting together? I’d like one. Also, I’m teaching Monday, the 17th, 3:30 to 5, and don’t want to miss that Police Stress Training session you’d planned. What can we do about that?

  24. 24 Betsy Sholl November 11, 2008 at 12:25 pm


    Hopefully you can add the email I wrote you, so i don’t have to repeat it here. Don’t know why I didn’t write it here.

    Anyway, I too want to thank you for setting this up. It certainly has changed my responses when I see a uniformed officer. Not I think first of all. “person,” not “law.” I’m going to email Mike to see when we can set up a next meeting. Don’t want him to be second guessing himself. So far we just wrote together on the spot at a coffee shop. Now we each have to do something on our own. I hope I didn’t barrage him with stuff–an extra anthology, a sheet of possible exercises…

    Anyway, we both have a little work to do, and I hope setting a meeting date will help us do it.


  25. 25 Betsy Sholl November 11, 2008 at 12:27 pm


    I should have said more in my thanks to you. Your spirit, your warmth and down-to-earth acceptance of where each of us is at, and your excitement about the project, your generosity–all those things and probably more are what I meant when I said Thanks.

  26. 26 Betsy Sholl November 11, 2008 at 6:21 pm


    Shall I wander over to your office around 1:30? It’s on the second floor of City Hall, right?

    About my meeting with Mike, if I tell you here, can you post it on the blog?

    I did a second ride-along with Mike last Wednesday, then we met Friday for 2 hours at Portland Coffee Roasters. I thought I was getting there a little early, but Mike was already there. I had an extra Contemp. Am Poetry anthology, so I gave it to him. We looked at a couple of poems–James Wright’s “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio,” which Mike liked. Then we looked at Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died,” which he couldn’t quite see as a poem. I had xeroxed a few too, a Neruda poem about horses, a Szymborska poem because it’s less emotional than a lot of poetry. I talked a little about poetry, free verse, as consisting of a balance between pattern and surprise, repetition and variation. Then we wrote.

    I asked him to make a list of 10 words associated with police work. The rules were simple: we had to use all the words and repeat one. I think his poem was good enough to be used in the calendar. I’m not sure he was convinced of that.

    The second exercise we did was a 4 part one, where first we write about what we hear around us in the moment, then we describe our lives as sound, then talk about our favorite sound, and then some larger question like where does all the sound go–what does the outer cosmos sound like? (No fair, saying it doesn’t because there’s no air…)

    The third exercise didn’t work so well, but it was one where you complete the sentence: “I wanted ____ (noun), and it____ (verb)…” Then (1) you say what you’d do if what you wanted is denied you, (2) you describe what denial feels like, looks like, sounds like, etc, (3) you talk about the object of your desire in equally sensual terms, (4) you repudiate your desire, and (5) asked your desired object a question. That one didn’t work so well–i think I didn’t explain it well, or something.

    Anyway, I left feeling like Mike was incredibly open and brave to just sit down and do this. He seems to have something specific he wants to write about, rather than actually using the exercises. So, we’ll have to see what that is.

    Oh–I also tried Martin’s idea of taking notes while he describes a particular case. I’m not sure how that will work–haven’t written it up. I’m not sure whether I got him to say enough. Though there were some great lines, if I can figure out how to fit them in.

    Marty, when you work this way, taking dictation, how much can you rearrange, fill in? What are the boundaries?

    Of course, Mike was going to email me Friday night about a next meeting, and he hasn’t. Hopefully, it’s not because there was a huge gap between my sense of the session and his.

    I’d love to hear what other folks are doing.


  27. 27 mpott November 13, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Hey Citizen Photographers Rose, Rachel, Sean, Dave and Jeff –

    I’ve heard from all of you as of yesterday – sounds like it’s going good from your view, Rose asked good question re: what to shoot so I’ll talk about that here. Sean is just getting underway tomorrow with Karl Geib.

    Lt. Mike Sauschuck reported this morning that your photography partners are all pleased and nervous and that it’s going ‘great’ from his perspective. That includes the poetry part so double “yay”.

    Rachel emailed me some great images – especially loved the portrait of Victor & close up of gun/etc – yesterday. If any of you can do the same, that’d give me a boost plus some info on how to direct our remaining times with them, in terms of project concept and goals. I’ll need your images & your partners on cd by November 30th – best to have as many ahead of time of course, as I’ll be matching with poems, seeing what images might be missing that would be best to include, etc;

    Want to make sure that everyone knows (and can make) this next Monday’s meeting at Police Headquarters Auditorium (second floor) on Middle Street and Franklin.

    Chief Joe Loughlin is giving us his talk which he gives to police recruits – gory images etc – from 2 to 3:30PM. I’m meeting with the poets from 3:30 to 5:30pm. I’m hoping to meet with you all from noon to 2pm at that same place.

    So much has been happening, I don’t remember whether I already let you know about my hope we can meet from noon to 2pm, I don’t think so. Can you each email me whether you can make it or not? I know I told you about the 2 to 3.30pm one when we scheduled it.

    Back to photography stuff – Rose asked what am I hoping you all shoot? here’s a sum-up.

    1. Hoping you shoot lots of different things – some abstract, some artsy, some realistic, that you play with the possibilties as well as document what a day/job looks like from your partner’s perspective.

    2. Each of you/and your partner should take a few portrait shots of each other – for calendar and for experience. set up as you both choose.

    3. lots of shots of physical spaces – locker rooms, sinks, bulletin boards, cruisers, computers, roll call room and roll call – if they are ok with that, desks, posters, buildings, street corners, traffic stops, guns, boots, vests, have fun.

    4. I don’t think any of you have written about your experiences yet, some of you have sketched some good stuff, but could you each take some time to write about what it’s been like for you so far? I realize you are doing a lot already, so I’ll live, but if you can, the project is so unique, so radical, and holds such promise for expansion, future artists/photographers will be eager to read what it was like for those of us who went first. Doesn’t have to be all finished, notes, outlines, journal, email style fine.

    I think this is where I say a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUU. Can’t wait to see you in person – with some photos if you have them so we can all see what we’re all doing (yes me too) – and swap updates, questions and stories. I’ll put this email on blog as well.

  28. 28 Rachel November 13, 2008 at 5:39 am

    Am thinking everyday about this project and glad to have a small part in it. I have been to the police station twice, meeting with Officer Victor Cote (great guy, by the way) and being in the building — the various rooms — seeing the equipment used to handle evidence — is so amazing. Feeling some pressure on getting photos that express what I am really seeing…but I will work on that. Am hoping to do a ride-along this week. thanks, Marty, for the most recent email, as I have a bit more direction.

  29. 29 Annie Finch November 13, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Ma rty asked me to post some of the thoughts I’m having. Lots of them! My first rdiealong was thought-provoking; I realized that I have thought of police as somehow separate from the rest of our culture, but in fact they suffer from the same kinds of issues that all of us do (of course). Sprawl, for instance: riding alone in a car for so many hours is a task that bears the brunt of the alienation our urban/suburban architecture creates. It’s a shame that the people on the street don’t get the benefit of interacting with the police as part of the community, on an ongong basis, due to this physical situation–instead they tend to come in only during crises.

    Another thing I noticed is how the cycle of emotional and financial abuse in some people’s lives stops momentarily with the police. Idealistically, I imagine that how an officer acts at such moments can help to make people feel less alone or even enocurage them to grow and change; but I also recognize the powerflessness and frustration that our culture asks police to bear on a regular basis, dealing with people who are caught in a cycle that has no simple solution.

    The 80/20 rule clearly applies to police jobs as to everything else: 80% of the job is caused by 20% of the people.

  30. 30 Martin November 13, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Oh, dear, how to write you all, which is what I’m supposed to know how to do. I got started on a poem early, back on November 2nd. It’s difficult to describe: it is about the first ride-along, about meeting my police partner, about me and ways the three began to intersect and connect. The poem keeps feeling like it wants to open to something else, and I’m not sure what that is. Maybe it’s finished. At the same time, holes keep opening in it, like, I don’t trust the ending. Sometimes I feel like I’m filling potholes with macadam, but then the ride seems to get better on subsequent readings. I worry and work on it. I’m hoping we have some time to share Monday for feedback and to hear how the rest of you are doing. My second ride-along Sunday afternoon and night was mostly quiet. I’m trying to write a poem about that, about some of the slow, long hours when not much happens. I’m also frustrated with this poem, because I’d like to experience and write a little more of what does go on out there. But then, when something more did look about to happen Sunday night, and might have been dangerous, I was told to stay in the car, which I didn’t do but was still unable to witness what transpired.
    On another poem, I took several lines from that first one, which my police partner had said, and played with them in a repeating pattern inspired by the Paradelle, the form Annie suggested I look at, which, by the way, is supposedly invented by Billy Collins as a spoof on forms.
    I’d love to hear some of what the rest of you are doing/writing.

  31. 31 Dave Wade November 14, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Well, after a first meeting and a several phone calls trying to schedule something, I got my first chance to work with my police photo partner and I found it to be an eye opening and educational experience. Police work is not as the TV version of it would have you think, all adrenaline pumping action. There’s a great deal of slow, tedious and methodical office work on the telephone and in the files, and a lot of time is spent in the station where you can sense the bonding and team work that is the backbone of the force. And while there’s a fair amount of boredom checking files and records, there’s also a lot of bantering and a good sense of humor among the officers that make the office work less dull. Before we even got into the street, there was a lot more prep work than I had ever imagined. Once we did, it was still step by step and very methodical work, and I got a chance to see how my partner approached a situation, very politely and professionally. During the driving time, and an officer spends a lot of time behind the wheel, I got a chance to learn more about my partner personally, to find out more about their background and motivation for going into criminal justice, and how we shared a lot of interests in common, including dogs, art, and anthropology, for just an example. And I saw how police or detective work is not just re-active but often pro-active, requiring psychology as well as physical readiness and bravery. The most mundane call could turn horribly wrong, and they have to be able to predict or expect it. Experience counts for a lot.

    Rode around for a few hours. I was hoping for some hight tech cruiser but we were in a Ford compact without a lot of dashboard gear or space to photograph. Went to answer a follow-up to a non-emergency call involving a certain “gentlemen’s club” where bikers had insisted on wearing their colors a few days earlier. The manager wanted to know how to deal with it in the future, and we went out to have a talk with him, but not before my police partner visited a few Old Port clubs that had posted dress codes and copied them down as an example for the guy we were going to visit.
    Stopped to get a coffee and a donut on the way, and I failed to photograph what is probably a signature kind of moment in police work, eating on the go. Hit the club,
    got the cold eye from the girl at the front desk when the officer identified herself, then lead past a nearly empty dark room with a half dressed entertainer and a lone customer where of course photography was strictly forbidden and no cameras were allowed, into a back room office where the officer explains how to best handle such situations, warning the manager that gang rivalries that are heating up in the mid-west could flare up here and that it was a dangerous situation. No photos, but I’m impressed with the professionalism exhibited, and realize police work is not all apprehending culprits but also crime prevention. Outside the club, the officer notes a guy she identifies as a sex offender and takes note.
    We stop in a park where kids have held after hours beer parties, take a few shots, move on and look for the presence of certain license plates in a low income immigrant project where there are Asian gang rivalries and drug dealing. A couple pictures from inside the car, and back to police headquarters. We talk about our next meeting and our photography for this project.
    I realize that photography and police work have something in common, they both produce a kind of evidence. And require patience! More later….


  32. 32 Jeff November 15, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Hello everyone,
    Last night I had my second ride along with my photo partner Officer Chris Mitchell. He is an extremely nice human being and a very accommodating officer. I found myself a little more relaxed and comfortable asking him to help me set up some shots.
    Most of Chris’s shifts start at 6 PM and he usually gets on the road between 6:15 and 6:30. The night before last he volunteered and worked a 12+ hour double shift, which is not uncommon with EDP officers. During my 2 ride alongs, the weather was foggy and rainy, so It’s been a challenge not shoot anything too dismal. I’m looking forward to joining him again and hoping for a change in the weather conditions.
    See you on Monday…

  33. 33 Annie Finch November 18, 2008 at 10:26 am

    HI, report of my second poet-officer meeting, Nov 18, 2008

    We had a really wonderful meeting today, our second meeting (the first one was the ridealong). He brought his 5-month old baby who charmed me completely. We worked together revising the haiku I had written, and adding some of his own haiku into it. I was very impressed with his excellent suggestions and insight about revising my haiku, which ones should stay and which ones should be dropped, and the order they should be in. (And I had thought my haiku were finished!) Starting with 10 of my haiku and 9 of his, we ended up with a sequence of six joint-authored haiku that we are both very happy with.

    Then we tackled a sonnet. I was not hopeful that we could finish it in an hour, but guess what, it worked great. First I sketched out the shape of a sonnet and explained the basic idea of two attitudes revolving around one thought. I thought it would work well to express the conflicting feelings about the value of his work that we had discussed on the ridealong. He decided to make the octave be the jaded feelings and the sestet be the idealistic feelings.

    To write, he held the baby and dictated lines to me, mostly in rhymed couplets. Luckily he could read my handwriting. The second part of the sonnet turned into a narrative, and we briefly considered turning the poem into a ballad instead, but he still wanted to go with the sonnet, and I agreed it would be a richer poem, so I just wrote down what he said and occasionally reminded him of the rhyme scheme. Then we went through and picked out lines that would work within the shape of the sonnet. It turned out great. We turned the lines into a first draft of a sonnet in about a half hour. I was extremely impressed with his immediate grasp of the shape of the sonnet and his ability to generate lines and rhymes, and the ease with which he turned to more concrete images as soon as I reminded him of it. Here is the first draft:

    I’m overtired, why am I here?
    I think I care about the crime,
    and protecting the citizens in fear,
    but I just worry about the dime.
    Turn on the loud siren and bright lights
    to clear the ugliness out of my way;
    just another one of those cold lonely nights;
    can’t wait till my shift is over so I can sleep the next day.
    I hear a scream, then I hear broken plates.
    I push open the gate and knock on the door.
    I’m prepared to deal with the danger that awaits.
    A crying female answers, she’s bleeding on the floor.
    I secure his deadly hands to stop the fight,
    knowing he will be punished for this night.

    Marty, I have been very busy and sometimes had trouble finding time for this project, but thanks to your steadfast belief and good energy I have stuck with it, and I have to say I am extremely grateful to you. This sonnet is one of my most beautiful and satisfying achievements in 15 years of poetry teaching.


  34. 34 Jeff November 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Thank you for inviting me to be part of this amazing project of yours.

  35. 35 Betsy Sholl December 23, 2008 at 3:48 am


    I’m thrilled with the responses the calendar’s getting. I’ve been telling everybody and they all say they’re going to buy one. I’m giving it as gifts. You’ve worked so hard–I’m glad it’s come to such good fruition.


    PS–should we give a few to Joey to sell–on consignment. Or is that a little too risky? When I took the poster over the other day a guy was there who said his brother was in the procession for Rob. He said he’d buy one for sure. He’d have done it on the spot if I had some to sell.

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