kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
I'm bilingual in German and English, and I'm terrible at translation, and still I look at Der Vorleser being translated into English as The Reader and I cringe, because there probably isn't a way to do it better, but you're still losing important information: the German actually means The Reader-Out-Loud, and if you're familiar with the book or the film, well...

... and that's a two-word prose title. I also happen to live 30 minutes away from the Saison Poetry Library, and am working my way slowly through a subset of its contents. Most recently I acquired a volume of the selected works of Neruda, with choices and translations by Robert Bly, and I am now pretty certain I am never going to pick up anything he's translated ever again.

On the one hand is that he decided to make a selection of Neruda's early work that demonstrates that during his early twenties, the poet went through a phase of thinking that imagery like waterfalls of sperm and anemones were a good idea (from the complete absence of raining spermatozoa in his later output I deduce that he changed his mind on this subject).

On the other, which I consider far more damning, is the quality of translation. I don't speak Spanish; I have an A-level in Latin (with significant Latin-to-English poetry translation component), and I've just about got enough French to navigate public transport and buy vegetarian food. And yet.

There is the simple, the potentially arguable, as from Ode to Salt:

Y luego en cada mesa
de este mundo,
tu substancia
la luz vital
los alimentos.


Polvo del mar, la lengua
de ti recibe un beso
de la noche marina...
And then on every table
on this earth,
your nimble
pouring out
the vigorous light
our foods.


Dust of the sea, the tongue
receives a kiss
of the night sea from you...

"Polvo" I would be inclined to translate as "powder" rather than "dust"; it's the same root found in a wide variety of Indo-European languages (e.g. German Pulver), and "powder" for me keeps more of the mouth-shape, the taste, of the word than "dust"; and I prefer the connotations and nuance suggested by powder. But, hey, this I recognise as personal preference, rather than technique.

But to render sal,/tu substancia/ágil as salt,/your nimble/body? No. I'd argue very strongly that Neruda chose to place ágil (nimble, agile) on a line of its own, separate from and following "your body", for reasons to do with poetry; I don't see any reason that Bly couldn't have rendered the English salt,/your body--/nimble-- or similar: preservation (... ha) of both the poetic and the literal.

That's a long-standing argument, of course -- whether translations should be faithful to the letter or the spirit. This is some of why Simon Armitage's parallel translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (which he writes about in the Guardian; excerpts of praise are available on his website) is so highly regarded: he has attempted to preserve both in a new piece of poetry, recognising that poetry resides in alliteration and meter as much as in imagery.

I submit that Bly fails at both.

Read more... )

In sum: I have been reminded once again that I adore parallel translations for all sorts of reasons, even when I don't speak the source language; and I have convinced myself that Robert Bly is someone whose work I wish to actively avoid. And: for all the somewhat woeful and strident tone of this post, I would love for us to talk more about priorities in poetry translation - how we prioritise for ourselves, and how that shifts with context - and about favourite translators. Thoughts decidedly welcome!
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
The thing all things devours
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers
Gnaws iron, bites steel
Grinds hard stones to meal
Slays king, ruins town
And beats high mountain down!

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The answer to Gollum's riddle, of course, is Time. It's the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, the lane down which entropy rolls. It is crushing and inexorable.

Most time-travel literature deals in motion backwards, sideways, or even looping. But there's another branch of time travel which focuses on the direction we normally go: forward. Even a brief jump is disorienting, which causes problems in releasing convicts from prison as they struggle to adjust to a world that has moved on without them and sometimes changed quite a lot. There's a term for that, jail-lag. The longer the time, the worse the effects. In fantasy, we have the old story of Rip Van Winkle, the iconic figure of forward time-traveling, who slept for at least twenty years.

My January 8, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl spawned the poem "A One-Way Trip," about time travel deployed as a weapon. Then [personal profile] chordatesrock  wrote the haunting fanfic "After." In the future after a devastating war and a brutal victory, life ... somehow ... goes on.  There are currently seven poems in this series, plus the fanfic; you can find them via my Serial Poetry page.  

This is very dark science fiction.  It deals in deep time, stellar time, as well as time on a human scale.  Billions of years pass within the span of that first poem.  The rest of the action then plays out in the far future.  Not much science fiction is written that far down the timestream, because it's so hard to predict or even imagine what it would be like.  I cheated a bit by taking characters from a much closer time, and wiping out everything else from their timeframe, thus creating a pretty clean slate to work from in the future.

As the storyline progresses, the protagonist finds a habitable planet and settles there, gradually learning about its plants and animals.  Depression is a constant threat due to survivor guilt and isolation.  But time flows only one way; there is no going back, only forward.  The poems are written in second person ("you) and present tense, both uncommon literary techniques which create a sense of immediacy and immersion.

What are your thoughts on forward time-travel and the deep future?
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
[personal profile] poetree_admin
somnolentblue (preamble) & jjhunter (curation), with grateful thanks to Hagar, kaberett, jelazakazone, and lauramcewan for their contributions

Hi! Welcome to day four of the [community profile] pt_lightning tie-in week at [community profile] poetree!

Today we wanted to give you a glimpse into the collaborative process. We invited fanwork creators who have participated in podficcer-writer collaborations before to reflect about their experiences by responding to the following questions. Below, in their own words, are their accounts of collaborating: why they chose to try it, what it was like to do, how they did it, and what advice they have for people venturing into a collaboration for the first time.

If you'd like to share your own experiences, please feel encouraged to speak up in the comments!

N.B. Emphasis added to a non-exhaustive sampling of awesome quotes throughout. —J.J.

1: Why do you collaborate with a writer or podficcer? What do you enjoy about the process? How do you find it different than your creative process when you're not collaborating? )

2: Could you share one or two of your favorite experiences while collaborating? )

3: In your experience, what's unique about a collaboration between a podficcer and a writer? What kinds of different (and overlapping!) expertise can they bring to the table, and how can they enrich each other's creative process? )

4: What tools or processes do you find useful for collaboration? Are there any in particular you would recommend to people collaborating in podficcer-writer partnerships? )

5: What one thing would you tell people embarking on a podficcer-writer collaborative project for the first time? )

You can explore more reflections on writer-podficcer collaborative processes in the comments of the pod_together 2011 wrap-up post and the pod-aware posts linked at the Author/Podficcer Relationship Round-Up (2011) and the Collaboration! Round-Up (2012).
kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
[personal profile] kaberett
It will probably come as no surprise to you that, being me, the thing I want to talk about is literally the body politic, and the body as political: the ways in which we have meanings ascribed to our existence.

Half-Caste, by John Agard. )

Words have cadence, assonance, resonance. Devices used in rhetoric are used in poetry, and vice versa; we construct our realities out of words; and labels, even when they're incorrect, are stars to steer by. Cicero wasn't a poet, but he talked like one; oral histories take, often, the form of epic poems or of songs; musical and linguistic memory interact in strange ways. Poetry has power.

Half-Caste is a poem I was introduced to during GCSE English Literature. Like a lot of them, it's stuck with me

Last week, I finished reading Derek Walcott's Omeros - and oh, but in addition to its lyricism and beauty, its portrait of life, it is bitingly political: from the slave trade, via nineteenth-century wars over the island and a retired British Major in the twentieth, to the ways in which tourism can act as colonialism; through its exploration of Walcott's complicated relationship and personal resonance with Homer; set against the resonances of history, and the claims that the Odyssey is a universal story.

There is Bao Phi's Yellow-Brown Babies For The Revolution. There are slogans to chant: nothing about us without us; we're here, we're queer, get over it. There is every punk song ever (and there's a reason we call them rock anthems).

Poetry has power.

This is in part because we let it. I am increasingly convinced that in poetry - and not quite, in any other medium, at least not to the same extent - it is permitted to be angry, to express hard emotions explicitly. Poems get described as evocative and, yes, powerful - rather than histrionic or overwrought.

So many of us are used to having meanings ascribed to us in ways that align neatly with censorship/dismissal: too loud, too angry, too emotional, too irrational; we take up too much space, we're inconvenient; or we're erased wholesale, because others' perceptions of us is given primacy over our own realities, and over listening to us.

Poetry isn't a simple way to take power back - because after all it's art, and that is oh-so-readily reframed as frivolous; because in so many ways it's very much part of the Academy - but nonetheless it's a way we can tell our own stories.
this is the last song on earth,
this is the last song on earth
there is nothing else,
there is nothing else
so fill your lungs
and sing

-- Bao Phi

Listen & read
anonymous_sibyl: Close up of a pen tip surrounded by the words "write it down, make it real." (Write it Down Make It Real)
[personal profile] anonymous_sibyl

In the long history of this conflict each group has clung to its own narrative and attempted to make their voice heard throughout the world. Israel cries out “Holocaust” while Palestine cries out “al-nekba,” and neither entity will discard the remembrances of these horrors long enough to craft new narratives. But those are the entities—be they nation-states or occupied territories—and the individuals involved can and often have chosen another way.

In the case of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the quest for peace waged by its poets, identity-based resistance is, perhaps, the most common type of resistance. By writing poetry that can be read by everyone and that is changed by what each reader brings to it, the poets are waging a resistance concerning identity as laid out in the dominant—and divisive—narratives of the region.

Resistance is also commonly thought of as aimed at achieving change (Hollander & Einwohner, 2004). In a conflict so concerned with the validity of names—and naming as constructing memories and facts—something that uses (and changes) language the way poetry does is an ideal form of resistance. If the new narratives as put forth by certain poems become accepted, then they challenge the dominant narratives and through that challenge the balance of power in this conflict.

All the poets considered in this paper resist with their language. Many of them decry the label of political poet and merely remark that they are, in a sense, writing what they know. In a region of near-perpetual conflict these poets put words to paper with a goal of sharing their experiences and seeking common ground, and that is their resistance.

Poets Discussed
Agi Mishol
Her poem Woman Martyr

Eliaz Cohen
Snow and other poems

Aharon Shabtai
His poem Rosh HaShana

Samih al-Qasim
His poem Travel Tickets

Ghassan Zaqtan
His poem A Picture of the House at Beit Jala

Taha Muhammad Ali
His poem Revenge

Link to Full Paper Re-crafting Competing Narratives: Finding The Role of the Poet in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
raze: crowd with signs chanting rabble rabble rabble (rabble)
[personal profile] raze
In 1920's Harlem, a revolution had begun. Hoping to escape the institutionalized racism of the Jim Crow South, African Americans were migrating North and West seeking opportunity in parts of America where greater freedom permitted an unprecedented level of personal and financial growth. For the first time, a growing middle class of black Americans dared to be proud of who and what they were, holding their heads high in the face of race riots, lynchings, and segregation. In New York City, Harlem became a hub for a new movement among African Americans in response to the virulent racism and oppression of their past and present: celebration of black culture and identity by exploring its beauty through music, art, and literature.

More Than Entertainment
At the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance, African American creatives began taking agency over their culture by rejecting racist caricatures like minstrel shows and developing entertainment by blacks, for blacks. Read on below the cut )

Jazz Poetry & Langston Hughes
Jazz poetry, a type of writing and delivery intended to mimic the rhythm, style, and improvisation of jazz music, became popular during the Harlem Renaissance. Read on below the cut )

Reader Participation
After reading this post, here are a few possible topics of discussion:
Read on below the cut )
jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Where might we find elements of poetry in politics? For starters, no political speech seems complete without at least one metaphor, however well (or not so well) conceived.

Like some strange survival of the wittiest, some metaphors are so apt — or at least brain-snaggingly adaptive — that they seed entire families of related metaphors. 20th century US politics proffers, for example, a New Deal, a Square Deal, and a Fair Deal, followed by a War On Poverty, twin Wars on Cancer and Drugs respectively, and a War On Terror. When people call national efforts to recriminalize abortion in the USA part of a War On Women, they're drawing on decades of war-as-shorthand-for-national-mobilization metaphors, and also drawing attention to the violence 'War' never entirely escapes, metaphorical or otherwise.

What families of political metaphors or phrasings have you noticed? Do you have any thoughts about the ones mentioned so far, or metaphors you wish would catch on instead?
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Apologies for the delay on this last post — I've quite been under the weather the last few days.

Engineering "time & occasion to read, write, discuss, ferment poetry and poetic play into one's everyday life" doesn't have to take the form of a series of large and intimidating commitments. Ambitious projects can be useful to push oneself past plateaus, but unless you are making a living out of poetry, there will be times where periodic opportunities for poetry feel more sustaining & engaging than additional commitments to writing poetry.

One of the ways I engineer such opportunities for myself is through hosting 'How Are You? (in Haiku)' days, Read more... )

More generally, I make time for poetry in my life even when I'm feeling busy bee busy by questioning prose as my automatic default. There are times when poetry is not appropriate — certain types of professional correspondence spring to mind, etc. — but poetry as a way to communicate emotion, insight, a sense of playful purpose or perspective can be not only appropriate in place of prose but fun more often than you might think.

I've written personal emails as poems ("I chose to write this email to you as a poem, just because"), fannish comments as poems ("Oh this is delight and sorrow keen-woven /with eye for Thorin's subtleties"), even science commentary as poems (see below). I don't have to, but sometimes I choose to — and there is much joy to be found in that, and sharing that with others.

I love spot-the-affected-tissues, here:
Read more... )
to happiness (warmth from head to hands to toes
the person entire full like embers
of a campfire rippling heat and contentment
out into the night, face a beacon of yes)

— re: graphic featured in 'People worldwide may feel mind-body connections in same way' @ medical xpress

As always, I welcome all and any thoughts you have to share, in whatever form you are moved to share them.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I'm a mockingbird poet. That is to say, I have my own style, but I also have a lot of fun imitating the styles of other poets, or combining elements of several styles into something new.

Why imitate? )

Today's featured project is a game that takes imitation one step further into remix, i.e. imitating some elements and transforming others of one or more pieces to create a new work. 'One Poem, Two Poem, Old Poem, New Poem':
Let's play an informal game today. Comment on this post with a favorite line or stanza [without telling me the source], and I will write you a minute remix poem or poem fragment in return. If you or someone else replies to that with another favorite line from a different source, I'll elaborate on the initial fill to incorporate the new reference, and so on and so forth.
And here's one of my favorite resulting poems:

they say your heart went fey to faeryland
where none can touch
or wound it wakeful

and down you went to goblintown... )
'Far and Fey' drew inspiration from five different sources — can you guess any of them off the bat? Try to work out what elements were imitated or transformed from each of the source prompts as the poem evolved, and then read the poem in its entirety again. Has your reading of the poem changed? Did any of the source prompts surprise you?

Bonus: I would be remiss if I failed to mention [personal profile] luzula set 'Far and Fey' to music and recorded it. Listen to luzula's fantastic performance here.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter
Some background reflections on what inspired this project )

'Poem For Your Thoughts?' Day has a simple premise: "Leave me a prompt or prompts of any kind today, [date], and I'll write you a free poem."

No promises of quality, or format, or time of arrival — I wrote a lot of haiku and haikai for this project! — but for several iterations, I opened up my inbox to seeds of possibility on a given day, and committed myself to writing a poem for every. single. one. as soon as I could.

As you might imagine, this is the kind of project where it helps to set limits time- and/or number-wise on just how many prompts you need to fill, and the kind of exercise too where because you are doing so many, because you're doing them all for free, eventually you learn as I learned to stop worrying quite so much about the quality of any one particular fill, and to embrace the opportunity to try new things with language and format just to vary up writing in such quantity.

On average, every time I offered some variation on 'Poem For Your Thoughts?', I wrote one or two poems I considered especially memorable within a day. The following, written for [personal profile] raze's prompt 'Muddy hooves', is one of them.


the matter of transportation
was solved by judicious application of coconuts

Read more... )

In honor of this post's subject, should you choose to comment here in any fashion (and I welcome your thoughts, reflections, associations, whatever you're move to share), I will — eventually — respond to your comment in poem form. (No promise of more than haiku, though!)
cadenzamuse: Cross-legged girl literally drawing the world around her into being (Default)
[personal profile] cadenzamuse
When I was a kid, holy cards felt like the boring religious version of baseball cards. If you answered a question particularly well in Sunday school, you would win one as a prize. They depicted saccharine images, sometimes promised indulgences in exchange for reciting dull prayers, and were universally made of the flimsiest cardstock in existence.


Somewhere in the stacks of paper memorials I keep—letters, certificates, ticket stubs, interesting receipts—there are in memoriam holy cards for the funerals I have attended.

It is good to hold something in your hands when you remember the dead.


Words )


Pomegranates )


Conclusion )
raze: a grinning dog (smile)
[personal profile] raze
In many cultures, the animals we share our homes and lives with have transcended their original roles of utility and become part of our families. Dogs and cats have moved from field and farm to our couches, beds, and hearts. In some cultures, property status is being replaced by guardianship, and even where pets are not recognized by the law as part of the family, their merit as something more than chattel is seen in everything from doggy daycares and kitty Christmas presents to the overwhelming public response to high-profile cruelty cases like that of "Puppy Doe" in Boston.

Consequently, the loss of companion animals has become increasingly significant. Psychologists research and recognize pet loss as significant and on par with the bereavement experienced when human companions perish. Many veterinary colleges require student learning on grief counseling for future dealings with heartbroken pet owners. Pet cemeteries, crematory services, and memorial fabrication are growing industries. In short: we love our pets, and we seek to memorialize them.

The Rainbow Bridge )

Memorial and Healing )

Remembering and Sharing )

Additional Reading )
bookblather: A picture of Laura Roslin looking up. Text is "still standing." (still standing)
[personal profile] bookblather
I've heard it said that funerals, and the rites of death, are more for the living than for the dead. The dead don't care. They aren't present here anymore, no matter where we think they've gone in the end. The structured rituals of mourning--like wakes and funerals, obituaries and memorials-- are for the living to enact their grief.

That's what I find in these poems: the enactment of grief and the attempt to process it. It's not at all easy to deal with grief, whether for a child, a parent, a friend, a lover, distant family, a pet, someone you never met but felt deeply about. In some cases we grieve people who never existed, as in On The Death of Beth Meacham's Father. However, I think the poem most evocative of grief is Journey.

Journey reposted with permission )

The entire sonnet cycle can be found here. I highly recommend it.

Poll #14571 Kudos?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 5

I would like to leave kudos on this post

View Answers

5 (100.0%)

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Veterans include military, police, and other service members. Sometimes that service leaves them with mental or physical disabilities. There are many ways to support veterans and thank them for their service. One thing people do is build memorials.

Read more... )

On motion

Oct. 3rd, 2013 08:28 pm
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
[personal profile] kaberett

Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsicord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.

The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.

So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.

If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsicordists prove

Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

-- Michael Donaghy

I used to be a pianist and a hiker, and these days I typically use a wheelchair when I leave the house, and my RSI means the most music I usually do is singing. It's been an... interesting transition to make, to say the least; and speaking of interesting transitions, to this day if I am walking late at night I will shift my gait from masculine-typical to feminine-typical and back again depending on what I think's warranted by my surroundings.

This all ties in with bodies, of course: the body as vehicle; motion between places, between states. Here is a thing I love: the way that we can suggest motion through structure, through rhythm, through assonance and onomatopoeia.

And we can also suggest stillness or constraint: I mentioned, yesterday, the strictures of poetry and how they relate to bodies; but I will also never forget the unseen poem in my GCSE English Literature exam, which was about being imprisoned - and was in sonnet form.

Robert Frost, of course, manages motion and stillness all at once.

And so: this is a way for us to talk about tension, about change of state, about - again - loss, but also about not having to be good, and it's not in the words, or at least not quite or not only in them.

Let's be clear: the poems I link to are not required reading for engaging in comments. They're just things I think you might be interested in, at least some of them.

And so, predictably, I am going to ask you to add to my own hoard of poems: what are your favourite examples of poetry in motion?

I apologise that I have not, anywhere in this post, included any trains - but what I will leave you with (and oh, but this leads in to my next post for you) is a tightrope.


This is the word tightrope. Now imagine
a man, inching across it in the space
between our thoughts. He holds our breath.

There is no word net.

You want him to fall, don't you?
I guessed as much; he teeters but succeeds.
The word applause is written all over him.

-- Carol Ann Duffy

On bodies

Oct. 3rd, 2013 12:17 am
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
[personal profile] kaberett
The Cinnamon Peeler, Michael Ondaatje )

In much of my own work this year (seek & ye shall find; [a scribble]; writing my wrongs) I play with the idea of the body as palimpsest: of our histories being written on our skins, metaphorically but also literally (laughter and frown lines, and of course scars, for those of us who have laid our bodies on altars of surgical steel). But it's not just that: it's about struggling with being queer, and genderqueer, and making that legible: the idea of "legible" identities, of being correctly "read". And it's the assumptions that other people make about my queer disabled body (and my queer disabled self) and my capabilities, and how oppressive that can be and can feel.

But more than that, for me it is about coming to terms and, yes, my word for the year, reclamation. Through the constraints of poetical forms I explore (at least in theory!) the constraints of my body: I've not yet written the sonnet about the pillars of my ribcage, but it is mulling, gently.

But it's not just about constraint, about strictures: my words have also been about body-as-poetry, poetry-as-body, encircling and enfolding and making safe. Among others, I think that I am here drawing on Ani DiFranco: your bones will be my bedframe and your flesh will be my pillow. And then, of course, there is Neruda, who is close to my heart because he makes bodies into the Earth into poems.

So: one of the things that poetry helps me with, helps me relate to, is my changing body and my changing relationship to it and why scent is so important to me; and poetry helps me better understand the bodies of others, and the embodiment of others.

And it all circles back, over and over, to my feeling that our histories are (being) written on our bodies, and simultaneously we write them in poetry, and both are cryptic and both are layered, and there is the tension between the action of the world on our selves and of our selves on the world; of the concept of the death of the author and how it applies to spinning our own lives into narratives, and weaving ourselves into the stories of others, and how we are seen by others. (And the shifts of perspective, of course: in Ovid's Heroides, in Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife, who take people whose value was in part determined by their bodies and give them voice, make them into something else.)

As you've probably gathered by now, one of my absolute favourite things about poetry is resonance - how we can communicate via the echoes of poems we love in poems that are new to us (and this is going to be the subject of my next post for you). It makes space for us to talk: and so. If you are comfortable, I would love for you to tell me about your experiences and your favourites, and -- in advance, I thank you, because I am keenly aware of how intimate a request this is.

On loss

Oct. 1st, 2013 08:06 pm
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
Hey. I'm Alex; you might have seen me around here before. I'm hosting this week, and I'm going to be focusing on change: all else aside, this weekend I moved cities and started a new job. So. I'm going to start by introducing you to a poem about loss.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

—-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

-- Elizabeth Bishop

Loss is not, of course, the only form of change, and I'll be talking more about several of the others over the course of this week. I'm sorry that all I have to offer you today is this poem, but I'd love for you to talk about your own favourites on this topic, or to talk about this poem. (I love, too, the odd constraints of the villanelle, and how they always feel slightly uncomfortable to me. This is reflected, I think, in my favourite villanelles, which are all, yes, about uncomfortable topics.)
highlyeccentric: A green wing (wing)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
I considered many topics for this last post.

What can you tell about a person from the poetry she selects?: I like poems about sex, about God (especially if bitter or twisted or odd in some way), about writing, about language, about memory and about history. I like poems that use and reuse mythological motifs, especially Icarus. I like poems with a strong sense of place, and interesting takes on mental illness. I like poems about bodies and about loneliness and about the intangible things which pass down through families. And I like silly wordplay.

Would I recommend the practice of daily poetry posting?: That depends. Do you like lists, and repetitious behaviour? Are you plagued by the feeling that mere reading is meaningless without some output? Are you willing to be bored by poetry?

Would I do it again? Certainly not next year!

Am I Well Read yet? No, no I am not.

Any new favourite poets? Lesbia Harford, I suppose, although my fondness for her is as much historical as it is related to the quality of her work. I don't think I've found a cache of work by a hitherto unknown-to-me author, not yet. I have expanded my familiarity with some - especially Jack Gilbert, Billy Collins, Audre Lorde and Margaret Atwood - but the authors I keep drifting back to (aside from medieval lit) remain Yeats, Banjo Patterson, Jack Gilbert and Adrienne J. Odasso.
highlyeccentric: Sir Not apearing-in-this-film (sir not appearing)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
Having to select, copy and/or type up, and post a poem every day is boring. It's boring, mechanical, and feeds my inclinations to turn everything into a routine and a to-do list. I'm more likely to share something I found online, or which I can find by googling, because that saves me typing it up. Some days I pull poems out of my bookmarks file which don't really do much for me, it's just that they're all I have left. Often my chief motivation to keep reading whatever anthology I'm on at the moment is to leaven the steady diet of [community profile] poetry and [livejournal.com profile] exceptindreams.

So those are the drugery aspects. One pleasant outcome is that now I read every poem twice - often more. I seem to be likely to skim something which comes up on my reading lists, and quickly decide whether to save it or not. I really read it when deciding what to post - and if it's not a stand-out MUST REBLOG AT ONCE situation, the poem may be considered several times before it ends up in my daily post. If I type it up, I find I'm likely to develop a deeper appreciation of the rhyme and rhythm aspects than I did when reading through and tagging interesting work in the anthology of the week.

I don't offer commentary on every poem I post. I seem particularly likely to comment on poems which are a step out of sync with the current posting pattern - some comment on why, for instance, I liked this particular 19th century Canadian sentimental poem about the wilderness. The rare selections from my 'work' material - snatches of Middle English, or, this semester, Prof. Early Modern's idea of teachable modern poetry - I usually post with a context note explaining their presence. If a poem is of interest to me because I'm linking it to some OTHER poem, I might note that. But I don't dissect or close-read the content I'm posting: I might have signed up for an onerous routine, but I'm not trying to make it actual WORK.
highlyeccentric: (Sydney Bridge)
[personal profile] highlyeccentric
1. Borrow liberally from other people who post a poem a day. I follow [community profile] poetry and [livejournal.com profile] exceptindreams, and have recently added poetrysince1912.tumblr.com. Probably 2/3 of the poems I post come from those three sources! Aside from laziness, following a small handful of blogs actually ensures a greater variety of styles and authors than I would necessarily find on my own.

Since one of my aims here is academic snobbery, (and conscious that when I produced a major work in poetry in senior high I was let down in marks by my limited access to or interested in professionally published poetry, relying instead on amateur peers), I limit my reading to poems which have at some point been Professionally Published. I do acknowledge that isn't the gold standard of worth, though, and there are some straight-to-online poems out there I really enjoy but don't post (for instance, the work of Clementine von Radics).

2. Read anthologies. I've tried both single-author and country/period anthologies, and liked the latter better. Thus far this year I've read cover-to-cover the Oxford Book of Australian Women's Verse, and Victorian Women Poet's: An Annotated Anthology (both plucked on a whim from the shelves at the University of Sydney main library), and have started on The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse (on a whim from the University of Geneva English Library). I also read the complete (barring one or two poems, the homoerotic ones, which I found in the Oxford Book of Australian Women's Verse) works of Lesbia Harford, and Jack Gilbert's Monolithos. Both of these I liked tremendously. On the other hand, I found the complete works of Audre Lourde too much to wade through - I would have enjoyed them more as single chapbooks, I think.

My preference for multi-author anthologies suits my inner historian, my tendency to interact with literature as a primary source. If find the editorial choices as interesting as the individual poems, and my goodreads review of The Oxford Book of Australian Women's Verse offers some thoughts on the relationship between poetry and history, especially when it comes to racist poetry.

3. Read poetry journals. I'm trying to resurrect the online poetry journal reading habit I had a few years ago. I typically gravitate to fantasy/speculative poetry and short freeverse forms. Lately I've been enjoying Goblin Fruit and Inkscrawl, but I suspect there are more out there I'd enjoy. (Back in '09, Goblin Fruit executed an editor-swap with another journal... anyone remember what it was called?)

And lastly, especially when running short of interesting new poems,

4. Revisit Childhood. For the most part, that means the works of Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson, which were standard reading in my house when growing up. Occasional attacks of Ogden Nash have also broken out. And Yeats, who was the poet I studied in the last year of high school (and my angsty, hyper-intellectual poetic boyfriend. You can keep your Lord Byron, my inner sixteen year old is sailing to Byzantium with W.B. Yeats). My intention in including these poems among my current reading isn't just a stopgap, ran-out-of-poems measure: it's partly a counter to the intellectual snobbery impulse. Bballads may not be high literary style, but damn, Mulga Bill's Bicycle is FUN.


poetree: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)

February 2017



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