|The VIDA Count 2013|
Lie by Omission: The Rallying Few, The Rallying Masses
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First, the good news:
A couple of giants in the original VIDA Count have begun to move. While we can’t call it a trend or cause for partying just yet, it is certainly noteworthy that The Paris Review’s andNew York Times Book Review’s pies have significantly baked up tastier for 2013.
The Paris Review’s numbers, previously among the worst in our VIDA Count, have metamorphosed from deep, male-dominated lopsidedness into a picture more closely resembling gender parity. While such progress is remarkable in one year, we are likewise pleased to note that we haven’t heard anyone bemoan a drop in quality in The Paris Review’s pages. Turnarounds like the Paris Review’s make it clear that with the right editorial effort, putting more sustainable gender practices into action isn’t too difficult for these magazines at the top of the major market heap. Pamela Paul, editor of the New York Times Book Review, also demonstrates what good can come when top tier literary outlets recognize the importance of presenting a balanced mix of voices by significantly increasing the number of female reviewers in the NYTBR in 2013.
So the mountains begin to move.
|Amy King Considers What Unrest After Conceptualism’s Institutional Embrace|
Amy King Considers What Unrest After Conceptualism’s Institutional Embrace
BY HARRIET STAFF
At The Rumpus
the other day: Amy King
backs up and moves forward in her breakdown of community, capital, Conceptualism
, and poetry (specifically poetry as capital as seen in the “eyes” of the newVanessaPlace, Inc.
). King also invokes Dada
, and other schools/movements/descendents; and remarks on the deliberate lineage-creation via celebrity trajectory that Place
, among others, work toward/quickly inherit (i.e., Place’s self-alignment with Warhol). “As public knowledge, this intentionality is no revelation and can even be theorized away as an institutional embrace that they will use, as the argument goes, to change the definition of poetry from within.”
Read part 2 of “Beauty and the Beastly Po-Biz” here
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|38 Gifted Poets on Twitter|
Poetry Twitterati including Robert Lee Brewer, Cornelius Eady, Alex Dimitrov, Amy King, Robert Pinsky, and Ron Silliman. read more ...
|BLOOD LOTUS AUTHOR: Amy King |
Experts are servants
to those in power who return things to "normal." Riot on.
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If you don't know/adore the work of Amy King, we can't be friends. She's our poet in the spotlight for another week and a half, so be sure to check out two new poems by her. And leave her/us a comment telling us what you think, pretty please! Let's talk #poetry.
| INTERVIEW - Amy King & Vanessa Place|
48.3 coverVOLUME 48 NUMBER 3, YEAR 2014
INTERVIEW - Amy King & Vanessa Place read more ...
|POET ON PAINTING?|
Authors on Artists: Amy King on Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, and Frida Kahlo
Paint Is the Abyss’ Law, Living the Accent: Marginalia on Absorption
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Paint Is the Secretion of Scene on Leonor Fini’s Set
I now confer status on you. As in, everything is as
good as the next thing. Better yet, in this season,
I am implicitly requesting your death
on a platter. That said, should I begin without
great mystery that separates
dark matter from the everyday? Dive into beauty untinged by
the detritus of degenerative mechanics? But...
|WILL THE REAL WALT WHITMAN PROBLEM PLEASE STAND UP? TOUCHING PERFECT BODIES WITH HIS MIND |
I cannot fathom that Walt Whitman was the first to write on a variety of controversies typically attributed to “Song of Myself,” including the complexities of slavery, the overt hand of eroticism, and the soul beyond the confines of religion, atrocities of war, etc. In fact, a number of writers come easily to mind who preceded him on such matters (i.e. William Blake, Phillis Wheatley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe).
It is my estimation that readers took offense to a primary feature that taste alone, presumably, should have dictated as unpopular: his form. Whitman’s stylings were, of course, the undoing of form as tradition dictated. As Allen Ginsberg noted, he ‘broke open the line,’ writing into the frontier, where no precedent had been set. Whitman’s was Gertrude Stein’s notion of “contemporariness” – his form was “ugly” in its sprawling. His non-adherence to tradition is as palpable as his lines are long utterances of street cadence. Nothing contains them except the page’s physical limitations – and even then, they stretch over from margin to margin and margin again. Whitman embraced the anarchy and energy of an abstracted American spirit, one that knew roots but reveled in where it could grow and co-habit with instead (“The Dude abides.”).
Despite the critics’ disdain, his work was read by the many. Whitman is known for “cataloging” as form — the catalog that wraps arms around the crowd and enters it, gently and with force, shaking hands where they work, wiping death in soldiers’ tears and encouraging the child-like steps of people out of tune. He asked individuals to exist aloud — for a lifetime. His “Song” carried on for reasons beyond, but to focus on the “problem” of his lines would have been a legitimizing force…
Whitman touched the world in a fashion unsanctioned. Or as Leonard Cohen puts such reverential reach in “Suzanne,” “Cause you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.” For critics to make much over his blatant disregard for and implicit undoing of respected poets who laid the groundwork in “expert verse” for centuries would have appeared at once trivial as well as requiring the articulation of a vision that could inspire – ‘You mean, anyone can set off on their own without obedience to the motherland?’ — where fear still contained many. We were no longer Europeans, but what could we be without holding onto a history.
Thus, Whitman’s lines heralded a fantastic anarchy that was neither chaotic nor reactive – his form was simply unabashed and pressing and has since charged many with possibility where nothing has been outlined. I have quoted this sentiment elsewhere, but as it echoes in John Ashbery’s statement after reading Gertrude Stein, it is fitting again, “And if, on laying the book aside, we feel that it is still impossible to accomplish the impossible, we are also left with the conviction that it is the only thing worth trying to do.” Whitman, whether certain or unsure, continued publishing the catalog of as many Americans as he could fathom without respect for past guidelines — and in doing so, he articulated and determined a spirit that did not kowtow to the popularity of the day.
It is far easier to censor from moral grounds (i.e. sex and soul disrespected!) than it is to put work out of print that disobeys in a more oblique and revolutionary manner. In other words, one may remove or re-name pieces in the game at some risk, but to change the game entirely incurs greater efforts towards returning the offender to the original board. The critics would have none of this loose woman-man scrawling her lines in the name of America!
If Whitman had presented his catalog in rhymed couplets, his verse may have stood in line with the then-sanctioned poetry trajectory, appearing less remarkable and offensive. His would have been less dangerous, and who knows if we would know him now or not.
Of course, I am glossing over a host of other factoids that serve to enumerate accounts of why “Song of Myself” was so problematic and not ready to be consumed by the public-at-large: it has been debated that Whitman himself was homosexual. He wrote of slavery but was not an abolitionist. He self-published his now-famous “Leaves of Grass.” He published a letter from Emerson as his blurb without permission. Goddamn his lack of reverence! And thank the monkey-shining heavens for it.
Controversy over Whitman continues in almost-silly fashion these days, with folks like the Westboro Baptist Church protesting in his name. Perhaps they shudder that Whitman was so effortlessly feminine in contrast with how so many attempt to exhibit their masculine energy. The latter often flex for fear-inspired respect. Whitman’s muscular and emotional cataloging of people evokes a farther-reaching respect that holds both gendered energies in long embrace, an embrace that conflates and intensifies as the lines build and sing crudely and wax eloquent (Shakespeare was the soap opera lyricist of his day too, no?) – no wonder the church fidgets so loudly over his name: lines cross chasms that order the world and make sense to them.
What would happen if a conflating disorder descended and we were all suddenly able to dance across boundaries with our kilts in our hands and lady beards down to the soles of our boots – what if we entered churches, those public platforms, and criticized our leaders securing the natural order of inequality? Who could tell which power held then? How would essays and sense-making find their way back to security? My lines spilleth over; I am undone and undoing …
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of
his hips and wrists, read more ...
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist
and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more…
|Apostrophe, Odes, Ekphrasis, Oh My!|
Click for Poetry Workshop Info*
The Rooster Moans: Poetry Cooperative
Dates: July 8 – August 4, 2012
For as long as we can remember, poets have addressed the sun and moon, distant lovers and heroes, while also separately singing odes to the gods. The Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington once said, “We learn about the soul, and we have to listen to the soul.” Just as some poets use music for inspiration, ekphrasis is not simply a description of an art work, but influenced by the art work and, sometimes, the artist’s life. Carrington’s own paintings evidence her own efforts towards querying the world she inhabited beyond the limits of perception; her life also reveals many lively, unconventional turns that inspire and provide unexpected permissions, something poets often require — consciously or not.
In the course of this workshop, we will look at a the work and lives of a variety of artists, as well as poets, and consider how ekphrasis can extend beyond mere description of the visual arts but may also be combined with address (apostrophe) or incorporate the ode as a means to reflect appreciation, and content from, an artist’s work.
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|108 Beads per Rosary + 108 Poets per Esque!|
Harriet @ Poetry Foundation remarks, “you’ve got to check out Esque Mag Issue 3 … It’s beautiful.”
Announcing Esque - http://esquemag.org
For the third issue of esque, REVOLUTIONESQUE, we asked you to tell us about the revolution. We didn’t define what we mean by that. Whether it lives in your home, in the financial district, or the district of your heart, you defined your revolution and told us what it is. Here are y/our findings.
108 poets talk about the revolution:
Alex Dimitrov, Alex Rieser, Amanda Deutch, Amber West, Amish Trivedi, Amy Lawless, Anja Mutic, Anne Fisher-Wirth, Annie Finch, Becca Klaver, Betsy Wheeler, Bonnie MacAllister, Brad Liening, Brenda Iijima, Brian Howe, Cara Benson, Ching-In Chen, Chris Martin, Chris Pusateri, Christina Davis, Claudia Serea, Cynthia Arrieu-King, Dale Smith, Dan Hoy, Dana Teen Lomax, Danniel Schoonebeek, David Baratier, David Brazil, David Buuck, Diane di Prima, Donna Fleischer, Dot Devota, Dustin Luke Nelson, E.C. Messer, Elise Ficarra, Elizabeth Treadwell, Emily Kendal Frey, Erin Lyndal Martin, Evie Shockley, Filip Marinovich, Franklin Bruno, Gloria Frym, Hank Lazer, Harold Abramowitz, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, J/J Hastain, Jan Clausen, Jan Heller Levi, Jared White, Jeffrey Grunthaner, Jennifer Karmin, Jennifer Mackenzie, Jessica Reed, Jocelyn Lieu, John Ashbery, John Colburn, Jon Cotner, Joshua Ware, Kate Schapira, Kathleen Ossip, Kimberly Alidio, Kristin Prevallet, Krystal Languell, Larry Sawyer, Lars Palm, Laura Carter, Laura Hinton, Lauren DeGaine, Laynie Browne, Liesel Tarquini, Lily Brown, Lisa Samuels, M. G. Stephens, Magus Magnus, Maryam Alikhani, Matt Clifford, Maya Pindyck, Meena Alexander, Megan Volpert, Michelle Detorie, Mike Palmer, Nicholas DeBoer, Nikki Wallschlaeger, Noelle Kocot, Ossian Foley, Paige Taggart, Patricia Spears Jones, Paul Cunningham, Paula Cisewski, Peter Ciccariello, Phillip Griffith, Piotr Gwiazda, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Rachel Levitsky, Ray Gonzalez, Richard Loranger, Ricky Ray, Rita Stein, Rob MacDonald, Sara Jane Stoner, Sharon Mesmer, Sophie Podolski trans. Paul Legault, Stephanie Gray, Thom Donovan, Todd Colby, Tony Mancus, Vincent Katz, Zvonko Karanovic trans. Ana Bozicevic
With a special Naropa section featuring:
Allan Andre, Angela Stubbs, Ariella Ruth, Jessica Hagemann, Lauren Artiles, Lindsay Miller, Matthew Wedlock, Meryl DePasquale
Please share widely, with gratitude,
Amy King & Ana Bozicevic
http://www.esquemag.org/ read more ...
|I WANT TO MAKE YOU SAFE|
Amy King writes: A review once described my work as “moving between the registers of the fabulous and the mundane;” as I write, however, I don’t purposely aim to interlace tonalities – I amass, pile, and occasionally flatten as I beat my matter into text.
Poetry needs no one new party to lead it into the fraying future; if we’re to save the world, let’s raise a revolution as shapeshifters. In other words, this book is about metamorphosis through a radical cherishing. I am ravished by the world, aren’t you?
Please support Small Press Distribution - here.
Amy King’s poems seem to encompass all that we think of as the “natural” world, i.e. sex, sun, love, rotting, hatching, dreaming, especially in the wonderful long poem “This Opera of Peace.” She brings these abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living: “Let the walls bear up the angle of the floor,/Let the mice be tragic for all that is caged,/Let time’s contagion mar us/until spoken people lie as particles of wind.
— John Ashbery
"Rarely have the nude and the cooked been so neatly joined” as in Amy King’s I Want to Make You Safe. If “us,” “herons,” and “dust” rhyme, then these poems rhyme. If that makes you feel safe, it shouldn’t. Amy King’s poems are exuberant, strange, and a bit grotesque. They’re spring-loaded and ready for trouble. Categories collapse. These are the new “thunderstorms with Barbie roots."
— Rae Armantrout
Vulnerability, fragility, and anxiety are all flushed out into the open here and addressed with such strong sound and rhythm that we recognize a resilient, defiant strength within them. King puts relentless pressure on forces seemingly beyond our reach and, in bringing them closer, exposes their own vulnerable centers. This is a poetry equally committed to language as a tool with social obligations and language as an art material obligated to reveal its own beauty. King’s language does both magnificently.
— Cole Swensen
I love Amy King's smile in photos of Amy King, Amy King's exuberance and looping, bashing panache (flamboyant manner, reckless courage) in the poems of Amy King, I'm going to say Amy King every chance I get in this blurb to make you think "I gotta read me some Amy King," especially if you're "looking for anything/that will pull the cork, boil the blood/of displeasure," as only the poems of Amy King can in the world in which Amy King is King (and Queen).
— Bob Hicok
The first poem I read by Amy King was "MEN BY THE LIPS OF WOMEN" and it struck me with a force I had previously felt on encountering masterworks by Lorca and Dylan Thomas. I won't live long enough to see if her poetry will continue to equal the magnificence of theirs, but the fact that she achieved it once (at least) proves to me it could.
— Bill Knott
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|VIOLENT BLOSSOMING CITIES ASK HOW TO HEAR THE SONG|
Entire Poem up @ Gaga Stigmata
Infected in the language with feet on the flesh-
colored linoleum floor, white tulips growl to hold
our crisp momentous maker
fully cocked and loaded,
a crash-test monument to the lion’s handshake
that resembles people of a showcase persuasion:
any trauma is an order for us to come to terms with
immanence or some tuxedo of divorcing action
that can test the bound limbs of a diffuse-but-mercurial-present.
That is why death has been cancelled:
there is no legitimate innocent event. Hear,
her claw tooth vibrates off the dust of your wig
and voice bends into your ear.
–READ THE REST OF THE POEM @ GAGA STIGMATA (click here). read more ...
|SO THIS REVIEW SLITHERS IN…|
ORGANIZED INTO FIVE “ACTS,” SLAVES TO DO THESE THINGS IS, OSTENSIBLY, THEATRICAL IN TERMS OF ITS DEVELOPMENT—THOUGH THE DRAMATIC ACTION ISN’T ALWAYS QUITE CLEAR. THAT’S ALRIGHT. MYSTERY PLAYS ARE RARE AT PRESENT.
You might say that God is in her details—not that that means what you think it means.
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|ESQUE – A NEW ONLINE JOURNAL OF P/OETRY AND MAN/IFESTO!|
A new online journal of p/oetry and man/ifesto:
ESQUE http://www.esquemag.com & http://www.esque.eu
*note: esque is a flash site. wait a full minute while it loads. enjoy.*
In ISSUE 1:
OETRY is the kitchen sink.Charles Bernstein. Bei Dao. Tamiko Beyer. Jackie Clark. Amy De’Ath. Lidija Dimkovska. Kate Durbin. Steven Karl. Natalie Lyalin. Filip Marinovich. Sharon Mesmer. Miguel Murphy. Ariana Reines. Saeed Jones. Tomaz Salamun. Evie Shockley. Heidi Lynn Staples. Leigh Stein. Cole Swensen. John Tranter. Matvei Yankelevich.
IFESTO is everything but.Jennifer Bartlett. Jillian Brall. Ching-In Chen. Ken Chen. Rachel Blau DuPlessis. Jennifer H. Fortin. Molly Gaudry. Roxane Gay. Matt Hart. Brenda Hillman. Dan Hoy. Ron Padgett & Olivier Brossard. Lars Palm. Joan Retallack. Brandon Shimoda. Anne Waldman. Franz Wright. Carolyn Zaikowski.
visit ESQUE http://www.esquemag.com & http://www.esque.eu read more ...
|NOW THAT’S WAC!|
But if your contents, and the subject matter and styles they cover, feel lopsided or homogenous, they likely are. And that’s not to say that writers can’t write beyond or outside of their seeming outward identities, but let’s not cling too closely to the idea that we should only hire sighted and hearing actors…CON’T HERE.
Is raising a human not of *the* utmost import? Don’t the effects of nurturing and educating people ripple throughout society? How did we come to value stories of conquering over stories of nurturing? …CON’T HERE.
Far too often, Plath is victimized as the unhinged genius/woman scorned in that “coldest London winter on record,” while her extremely rigorous, ambitious, Thesaurus-wielding poet-self is underplayed. To boot, Sexton wasn’t just Plath’s friend; she was a fierce poet who wrote her own poetry. We need to ask…CON’T HERE.
I can’t tell you how many of my students have read F. Scott Fitzgerald but have never heard of the equally amazing writer Zora Neale Hurston. And the realities they represent in their work are worlds apart. You tell me when you open the current anthologies of American Literature…CON’T HERE.
You’ll see that count shortly on the VIDA website, not-so-incidentally (http://vidaweb.org/). Is it because men are writing about women’s experiences, in the voices of women, with the awareness of women better than women? …CON’T HERE.
As far as language creation, word- & syntax-tweaking is concerned, a lot of poets, “experimental” and otherwise, do this already – see books like Feminaissance and Infinite Difference for such women poets – and there’s no reason why every stripe of poet couldn’t mess around with their own conceptions of how a poem or a sentence should look and sound like and what meaning(s) it points to…CON’T HERE.
As far as language creation, word- & syntax-tweaking is concerned, a lot of poets, “experimental” and otherwise, do this already – see books like Feminaissance and Infinite Difference for such women poets – and there’s no reason why every stripe of poet couldn’t mess around with their own conceptions of how a poem or a sentence should look and sound like and what meaning(s) it points to; at the very least they’ll have some fun…CON’T HERE.
How long will we have to qualify these men as special instead of simply as fathers? The notion of a father who has never changed a diaper used to be bragging territory, but now it has become a flag of embarrassment…CON’T HERE.
WAC? THANKS, GENE KWAK!
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|FOR MY BIRTHDAY, I GOT YOU AN AUTOGEOGRAPHY…|
|THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE + TWITTER GROWS UP|
|THE POETRY FEMINAISSANCE INTERVIEW @ HUFFINGTON POST|
The Poetry Feminaissance by Travis Nichols
Are you a poet? Do you feel overwhelmed by negativity? Feel like there’s no hope for a poet in this world? Especially a female poet? Well don’t despair. Spend some time with Amy King. She’s the author of Slaves to Do These Things (Blazevox), and, with Ana Bozicevic, she co-curates the Brooklyn-based reading series, The Stain of Poetry, and, maybe most importantly, she has ideas. Over the past few weeks we’ve been emailing back and forth about her ideas of what it means to be a poet today. Here’s a few slices of the force for your perusal. Enjoy.
–CONTINUED AT THE HUFFINGTON POST read more ...
|LANGUAGE ARM OF BEHAVIOR|
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NEW REVIEW OF SLAVES TO DO THESE THINGS @ WET ASPHALT —
…while ultimately what I think King is concerned with here is the nature of becoming by moving against time as a sort of point of resistance, what she is not interested in is sustaining such artificial constructs as the Master Slave dialectic itself, or of the notion of dialectical development altogether. Rather, in reading this book, what I have the sense of is an attempt to collapse all such structures as inherently stultifying. King repeatedly invokes inversions of typical imagery that could be read in such a manner, for example making “gods from the dust.” And she is clearly aware as she works that there will be those readers who will try to fit her work into such a mode. Some of what she writes even seems like a direct challenge to such an attempt, at one point again returning to the notion of theft and calling “language the arm of behavior” again not so much collapsing thesis and antithesis, but denying that relationship from first principles. Instead, an almost Nietzschean demand for manumission is made…
CONTINUED @ WET ASPHALT
|10 QUESTIONS ON POETS & TECHNOLOGY: AMY KING|
Amy wrote: “If every poet were to record just one book of poems that they loved for the rest of us to listen to, and not just their own poems, how excellent would that be?” I’m picking up positive reactions to this idea in different online venues today. One representative observation:
Now that wouldn’t be so hard, would it? I mean, they don’t have to be famous poets who do the recordings, do they? It would be easy to get it disseminated on iTunes wouldn’t it? Just do it as a podcast? I’m tellin’ ya, if I were retired, I’d grab that ball and run with it. And I’d love to pick a book I love and record it — though there’d be the issue of permissions, I guess.
CONTINUED AT VERY LIKE A WHALE (click here). read more ...
|YOUR OWN REVOLUTION: POETRY, PUBLISHING & THE INTERNET|
WHAT WOULD WOOLF AND WHITMAN DO?
(A PRACTICAL PRIMER)
“This is the beauty of the new media. There is no way to control it.”
What would Woolf, Whitman, Stein, Eliot, Pound, and countless other self-published writers do in the face of the monolithic publishing industry today? Which new and contemporary writers should consider “alternative” means to get their books into the world?
Virginia Woolf and Walt Whitman published, stomped for, and distributed their own books when it was considered “vain” to do so. As technologies advance and access to book-making opens, that stigma is fading. Larger publishing houses may attempt to usurp the industry and dictate taste, but emerging small presses now support a range of non-traditional texts due to lower costs and less risk. Authors can also escape the burden of yearly submissions and long wait times by publishing their own books, thus maintaining control of their intellectual property.
Five years ago, armed with a disdain for submission fees, I jumped when a small press inquired about my work. The offer to publish my first full-length collection came when only a few of my poems had appeared online (another formerly disreputable practice). With book in hand a year later, I answered a review query with the caveat that my book was POD (print-on-demand). The reviewer replied that a book is a book is a book. It didn’t occur to me that my book should be judged on its merits, not by its means of production. What would have happened to Leaves of Grass or A Room of One’s Own if Whitman and Woolf caved to possible disapproval?
Your work is the main dish you’ve been preparing to serve. It’s finally time to summon up the courage to bring your feast to the table. But first, you’ve got to get the aroma across the airwaves to tempt your readers.
Whitman might agree: due to its reach and increasing ease of access, the internet may serve as the next democratizing force in the world. It provides a means for dissemination unlike any paper predecessor and should not be ignored by aspiring writers. I’m not encouraging book burning, but I wish to open others to newer means of publishing and understanding of how new literacies are built on, in relation to and as complements to those in play today. To ignore changing technologies and how we process literature is to be stuck, blind to the evolution from papyrus scrolls to mimeo to typeset to digital—regardless of anyone’s resistance or fondness for the good old days. That loyalty can inform your next step; let’s consider how a writer’s wares may adapt.
Not Your Grandma’s Recipe
Apologists and the internet-fearful, take heart: you’re not parting the seas to achieve your goal; you’re marketing your wares in a way that *is* precedented, and you’re not alone. Getting your work into readers’ hands is feasible for every writer now, without big brother’s approval and sometimes-very-costly “helping hand.”
Intentionally or not, the big business model aims to gobble up independent booksellers, marketers, and publishers, and they’re doing so with some success. Large online and bookstore franchises are beholden to profits. Publishers pay big bucks for front-table placements and website “features.” They market to sell in volume and are not concerned, ultimately, with content. A blatant example of corporate disinterest can be seen in the distribution of Michael Moore’s film, “Capitalism: a Love Story.” Wal Mart stocked it, though the film indicts its practices, because it sells (more here).
TENDER BUTTONS by Gertrude Stein (1914)
The end result of capitalist marketing, a model increasingly adopted by the literary world, is that safe tastes rule, and authors are tempted to “water down” for popular market mentality rather than create what their own consciences dictate. Old values are reinscribed and writing styles remain stagnant, despite writers’ efforts to present incisive views, to give voice to the ethical, and to explore atypical modes of thought and style. We all have freedom of speech, but who gets heard is quite limited, especially when it comes to publication.
Women, still viewed as the world’s primary caregivers, teachers, and masters of the domestic realm, should especially forego stereotypes that claim only men are invested in technology while women stick to old-fashioned methods of dissemination. These should be outmoded clichés, despite the fact that the recent cadre of iPad and e-reader reviewers has been almost exclusively male.
Consider the common trend that men typically read male authors, while women read all genders. Women read approximately 80% of the fiction published, while men primarily read nonfiction (Messud). If one considers the number imbalances of female and male authors on awards and “Best of” lists, what becomes obvious is that women’s views, styles, and values are not appreciated and rewarded proportionately to that of male authors (See “The Count”).
In “Do real men buy novels?” David Rothman suggests, “Perhaps the United States wouldn’t end up in wars so often if its policymakers showed a little more empathy with others and used diplomacy instead. Guess what can help build empathy. Yep: the F word [fiction].” I submit that women’s poetry offers similar potential. A focus on male-authored texts does a disservice to the literate world that no profit margin can remedy. Big business publishing gives primacy to male accounts of history, nonfiction depictions of notable lives, and masculine modes of art and creation, but that same model has not made significant room for the values, interests and work by women that break the standard. We need to radically change this model.
Publishing women’s words may be one of the first steps necessary to shift the current paradigm that disallows a *variety* of voices the visibility they’re due. Consider this matter in relation to economics. From “Letter from Zainab Salbi and Naila Kabeer,” “When we allow the traditionally male-dominated front-line discussions of war to be segregated from the back-line struggles of women working to ensure that there is food to eat, water to drink, and hope to spare, we only widen the chasm dividing the grassroots from the decision-making processes that affect all of society. In this way, women’s wellbeing is the bellwether of society, and how women fare correlates directly with how the society fares overall.” In a March 2010 report from the UN Economic and Social Council, Czeslaw Walek corroborates, “The greater the gender equality, the higher the satisfaction with life. States could not revert to ‘ancient’ behavior and customs that portrayed the obligatory private woman and public man.” These measures conjure a similar need for gender balance via the reading of both male and female visions and values in the literary world. As economists work to create measures reflective of the societal spectrum, writers must also work for a richer, more equitable literary landscape.
We need to make public the voices of the world’s caretakers, nurturers, and educators. Of course, not all women fulfill or write from these roles nor are these roles only held by women, but we cannot fail to note the absence of many who inhabit these roles from the larger chorus. Similarly, world business should not be limited to the lens of Gross Domestic Product, an inherently-flawed measure that lacks considerations necessary to fully assess well-being.
UNDER A GLASS BELL by Anais Nin (self published 1944 using a manual press)
This model, like the big business model for literature, is focused on exponential, unencumbered production growth, regardless of how wealth is distributed, how much unpaid work (domestic and volunteer) factors into community solidarity, how environmental health, sustainability, and a number of other factors feature when appraising society’s “wealth.” The big business model for publishing, like the GDP, is soulless, neutral to the particulars that make up the health and sustainability of any population, including the literary community. Literature can present a range of thoughts, philosophies, and lifestyles in symphonic cacophony, rather than only one homogenous segment of the population (& in only one traditionally masculine mode).
Wheels on the Meal
Various technologies can oust the books-for-profit model, providing opportunities to writers so that they need not be indebted to that model. It’s up to those willing to forego “waiting to be discovered” to become proactive writers who push their words into the world to see what they really can do.
While there is still be debate over POD publishing, the concerns have shifted from questions of validity to the quality of publishing platforms; authors now question which company will provide the best services and end-products. (An aside: Issues of publication “saturation” in the marketplace hasn’t impeded a flood of well-known publishers from disseminating any number of vapid books, which nullifies the argument against “everyone getting to publish anything” — the marketplace would change in terms of how the “good stuff” rises and readers find it.) A number of companies offer a variety of options ranging from user-friendly platforms to packages tailored to authors’ extended goals. Services include the provision of ISBNs, barcodes, and distribution assistance right down to book specs like paper quality, size, color, etc. One should research, and assess her own needs before confirming any deal. Or try an online company like Lulu.com, which doesn’t require a package; you can simply try your hand at design and print as many copies as you wish.
The new crop of small press publishers use POD publishing too. A few include Blazevox, No Tell Books,Coconut, Word Tech, Bloof Books, Blanc Press, Salt Press, MiPOesias, Shearsman, and Otoliths. Others no longer qualify their printing means, rightfully so. As archival paper and ink have come into use, one can no longer distinguish between digital and large company print. Noteworthy benefits of working with a small press publisher include a close rapport with your editor, who often promotes and is willing to try new marketing strategies, unlike big industry professionals who may not focus on promotion at all. Instead of waiting years for the big fish to catch you, proliferate your work by available means now.
Poets may publish an e-chapbook with presses like Moria, Scantily Clad, Blue Hour, Duration, Dusie,Coconut, MiPOesias, H_NGM_N, and others. E-chaps offer ease of distribution, durability, versatility, and often feature audio, images, animation and other multimedia elements.
All writers should investigate e-books as more e-readers appear and draw interest. Major writers have begun to include “e-rights” in their contracts, and some libraries, like Cushing Academy in Boston, havegotten rid of book collections altogether, replacing them with e-readers and laptop carrels. While the arguments for hardcopies remain valid, don’t ignore the electronic realm to prove your loyalty to curling up with a good book. You won’t reach those who find it as comforting to turn on their iPads while sipping their cappuccinos or riding the train each morning.
"The Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago (Celebrating Literary Foremothers)
Setting the Places
The more the spider spins her web, the broader her reach. Many fear stepping into the metaphorical “web” where marketing wares online can feel overwhelming—if you let it. The web you initially weave can be quite manageable in the long run. I’m surprised when I hear, “I see your name everywhere! How do you do so much?” While the initial work of establishing an online presence took many hours, maintenance requires very few.
When moving into a new neighborhood, you establish a home, reach out and integrate through schools, local groceries and watering holes, neighborhood watch groups, YMCA, etc. People begin to know you. The same holds true online: you move to a “homepage” and then establish relationships.
Cultivating community should be one of your core foci; do so via blogs, listservs of topical interest, community sites, social networks, and through your own group of friends and associates. If you have time, run a reading series, attend conferences, post photos and videos from readings, do a road trip book tour with a friend. As with all content you post, always link back to your homepage. Connecting with others online is one of the most effective ways of getting your work into the world.
* Blogs – a two way street. Start your own and post content, but be sure to link to others that speak to your interests. Publish frequently and comment on others’ blogs to attract traffic to your own. Link to peripheral sites such as your photo page, videos of your public readings and wherever your poems or reviews appear. Maintain a schedule page to alert readers when you’re reading next.
* Join listservs whose subject matter is relevant to your genre. To keep email low, subscribe to the digest for one daily email that contains the day’s discussions. Participate in discussions! Women especially should forego “lurk” mode where our voices could stand to be heard. Use your email signature, which appears as a footer every time you participate. You might change it regularly to include a link to a recent interview, poem or article you wrote.
* Keep a writer’s profile at Red Room and She Writes, two major DIY sites. It’s very easy to cut and paste blog posts to the templates there. Readers may encounter your work though they’ve not visited your original blog. The internet is fragmented; re-post worthwhile content. Link back to your homepage whenever you can. Open a Goodreads account, locate writers who interest you, then add your own book and “recommend” it to your network of reader friends.
* On Facebook, stay focused and make “friends” – stats show that men reciprocate online “friendships” while women do not. This is networking at its most basic: connect with others who share an interest, such as your preferred genre, reading groups, academia or publishing. Also, Facebook can import your blog posts forever with one easy link submission.
Consider Facebook an informal water cooler. I post off-topic articles to shoot the breeze, inquire about the latest hot tunes, or ask who’s reading in the city soon. Avoid all zombie and solitaire games; they’re time munchers! The FB water cooler lets your personality shine through; enjoy it.
* Keep a list of emails for “real-life” friends, colleagues, and writers to announce your latest publications, upcoming conferences and reading appearances. Regularly remind your core group that you are still plugging away and hope to see or hear from them soon.
Again, women should finally embrace these communal technologies and practice the art of unabashed self-promotion, confident that your subject matter, content, style, and voice will edify the literary landscape. Your book creations are also children, labored over for weeks and years, to be sent into the world and fiercely promoted; we write to be read.
I’ve witnessed enough female students leave classes, recuse themselves from public debate, avoid reading invitations, and miss opportunities men actively seek, whether their work was ready or not. When I edited, male writers outnumbered women in submissions more than two to one. Editors and curators can solicit women whose work they admire, but more importantly, women should also finally throw off the mantle of modesty as we master new technologies to get our words heard.
What the body politic needs now is a balance of voices and literatures so that we might truly begin to integrate, and overlap, the practices and values both men and women employ. It may be simplistic to say the current model is not working well, but if we consider the growing gap between the world’s poor and wealthy, the continuous wars, the fact that the 20th century was one of the bloodiest in human history, then hearing a few more women’s voices in the literary realm surely can’t be any more shocking than our glaring absence on those “Best of” and notable prize lists. If that means women and sympathetic men are to emerge from “marginal” positions of publishing, then let’s set more places for the books forthcoming.
“We’ve always been talking about 50‐50.”
Abel, David. “Welcome to the Library. Say Goodbye to the Books. Cushing Academy Embraces a Digital Future.” The Boston Globe. 4 Sept. 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.boston.com/>.
Messud, Claire. “Guernica / Writers, Plain and Simple.” Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics. Feb. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.guernicamag.com/features/1528/seven_remarkable_women_claire/>
Rothman, David. “Do Real Men Buy Novels? And Could E-books Boost Male Readership?” TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home. 11 Sept. 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.teleread.org/2007/09/11/do-real-men-buy-novels-and-could-e-books-boost-male-readership/>.
Salbi, Zainab, and Naila Kabeer. “Letter from Zainab Salbi and Naila Kabeer”.” Stronger Women Stronger Nations: Report Series. Women for Women International, 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.womenforwomen.org/>.
Walek, Czeslaw. DECLARATION ADOPTED BY WOMEN’S COMMISSION REAFFIRMS BEIJING TEXTS, STRESSES NEED. Rep. no. Fifty-fourth Session 5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM). United Nations Economic and Social Council, 2 Mar. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. <http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/wom1777.doc.htm>.
* CWIP Self-Publishing Resources Guide
* Library Thing
* Red Room
* She Writes
* VIDA (Women in Letters and Literary Arts)
* WOMPO (Women’s Poetry Listserv)
Amy King is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently: Slaves to Do These Things(Blazevox) and the forthcoming I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press). She is also preparing a book of interviews with the poet Ron Padgett.
King authors VIDA’s (Women in Letters and Literary Arts) “The Count” and serves as a board member, her poems have been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, and she has been the recipient of a MacArthur Scholarship for Poetry. King also moderates the Poetics List (SUNY-Buffalo/University of Pennsylvania), the Women’s Poetry Listserv (WOMPO), and the Goodreads Poetry! Group. She teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.
She is also co-editing Poets for a Living Waters with Heidi Lynn Staples. With Ana Bozicevic, King co-curates the Brooklyn-based reading series, The Stain of Poetry. For more information, please visithttp://amyking.org.
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|NEW ORLEANS: POETRY REHAB|
Filmmaker, Ghen Dennis, has been to New Orleans a number of times since Hurricane Katrina destroyed many people’s homes and neighborhoods. She has worked on rebuilding projects, rescued a few dogs, and continues to document the remaining destruction. During her most recent visit, she wheat-pasted poems to buildings still in need of rehab.
A few photos document these efforts (click to enlarge), and her documentary film will screen on September 15th at Issue Project Space in Brooklyn, NY.
The locations are in Bywater neighborhood… aka Upper Ninth Ward. An area hit hard by Katrina, but recovering faster than the Lower Ninth and New Orleans East because of its proximity to the French Quarter and the now HBO famous Fauberg Marigny and Treme neighborhoods. It is on the Western side of the Industrial Canal from the Lower Ninth Ward.
"It's Hers, This Mine I Mine for Black Apple Butter"
Of note: I was careful to hang the posters on walls that still bear the original Katrina spray paint signs… “TFW” = Toxic Flood Water, for example.
FOR MORE POEMS RESPONDING TO HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE GULF REGION OIL SPILL, PLEASE VISIT POETS FOR LIVING WATERS (CLICK HERE).
Still from Ghen Dennis’ poem, “Oil”… an oily map of the waterways in New Orleans from Lake Ponchartrain to the Gulf
(Click to enlarge)
“F/W” indicates that pets on site were given Food and Water. The X’s indicate dates (9/10 or 9/20) that relief workers were in the area.
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|WHAT BP ISN’T DOING, BUT COULD|
May 13, 2010 at 6:46AM by Mark Warren
There’s a potential solution to the Gulf oil spill that neither BP, nor the federal government, nor anyone — save a couple intuitive engineers — seems willing to try. As The Politics Blog reported on Tuesday in an interview with former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, the untapped solution involves using empty supertankers to suck the spill off the surface, treat and discharge thecontaminated water, and either salvage or destroy the slick.
… The suck-and-salvage technique was developed in desperation across the Arabian Gulf following a spill of mammoth proportions — 700 million gallons — that has until now gone unreported, as Saudi Arabia is a closed society, and its oil company, Saudi Aramco, remains owned by the House of Saud. But in 1993 and into ’94, with four leaking tankers and two gushing wells, the royal family had an environmental disaster nearly sixty-five times the size of Exxon Valdez on its hands, and it desperately needed a solution. …
UPDATE (June 4): Nearly 50 Supertankers Are Waiting for BP (and On the Cheap)
UPDATE (June 1): BP Executives Skirt Around Supertanker Questions
UPDATE (May 27): Obama Glances Over Supertanker Question as BP, Coast Guard Fail to Respond
UPDATE (May 26): The Pragmatic Oil Spill Fix That BP’s Still Waiting On
UPDATE (May 24): Sources Say BP Looking Beyond ‘Top Kill’ with Supertanker Fix
UPDATE (May 21): Why the Supertanker Fix Works at Depth… but the Government Won’t Listen
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Read more at ESQUIRE. And please pass this story on!
|NOT YOUR USUAL MEDIA “COVERAGE”|
Poets for Living Waters – New Statements / Poems
I don’t have the answers. I barely have the questions. But I’m not egotistical enough to imagine I can come up with a solution or complete understanding on my own. I also don’t think sitting in front of the TV, feeling angry and impotent, is the answer. This is our Chernobyl. Our genocidal war with our own environment. We may implode with oil and shed a tear for the dead fishing industries. Swim among tar balls and swollen sea turtles. We’ve done it to ourselves, grown up obeying the homegrown U.S. ethos of “Progress. Increase your wealth. Produce, produce, produce!” We panic when the GDP wanes. If we don’t have full-time jobs we spend the bulk of days doing, we feel empty and worthless.
But what are we contributing to? Americans aren’t afraid to work, no question. But we don’t seem to have our eyes on the horizon—we don’t seem to know what all of our blood, sweat and tears are building. We mourn the men who died on that oil well platform; we applaud their determination to do their jobs. But the oil – why has this lust and greed and profit-for-oil dictated how we heat our homes, run our machinery, get us around? Why do our jobs rely and focus on getting and selling the black sludge?
Why do we live with this reliance? When I note that I don’t have the answer, I am simultaneously aware that the current ways we live are inherently, and traumatically flawed. We are co-dependent users, whether we realize and admit it or not. My children–and yours–will have to deal with the fallout of this legacy – the future? It’s finally time to change the view. Now we are forced to ask the questions in our own backyards: How else can we carry on? How can we replace our reliance on oil? What harm have we done? How can we slow down the pace, stop working for greedy oil profit margins and think more humanely about exactly what our jobs are?
These are just a few of the questions we’ve begun to ask. We now must get other Americans to ask these questions. The media isn’t going to pose them. Our media is owned and run by big business. They will not imagine better ways of life for us. America has done great things; we still have the power to do more. If we can just start envisioning a different future than the one on our horizon (and TVs) right now…
Please find a number of new statements and poems linked below from regular Americans, necessarily increasing in dialogue and scope, asking vital questions – please participate, think aloud, figure out what world you’d like to be borne into and what world you’d like to leave your children living in. Share with your friends, family, co-workers, and strangers alike. Let’s become our own “think tank” and stop giving big business the power to tell us how to live our lives. We’re still here – it’s not “too late” to respond, to change things in small ways at first — if the effects of this spill will be felt for decades, so should our actions in response to it! Thanks for joining this growing nationwide conversation…
Poets and Writers Magazine — “Poets Act on Oil Spill“
Poets and Writers Magazine — “Poets Take Action in Wake of Gulf Coast Disaster“ read more ...
|HOW ALLITERATION ENHANCES POETRY, PROSE, AND MEMORY|
But does it detract or distract from other poetic devices and effects? Is being memorable the beat-all, end-all of a poem’s intent? Not that this should be an either/or question. Sent via Jilly:
03 Aug 2008
From nursery rhymes to Shakespearian sonnets, alliterations have always been an important aspect of poetry whether as an interesting aesthetic touch or just as something fun to read. But a recent study suggests that this literary technique is useful not only for poetry but also for memory.
“In our experiments, concepts presented early in a poem (or prose passage) were more available when alliterative sounds overlapped between lines than when there was no overlap,” the researchers reported.
Poetry: better than texting!
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: ‘Slimy things did crawl with legs, upon the slimy sea’.
It’s a strange thing, but in the current enthusiasm for creative writing courses in Australian universities, poetry – the oldest of the literary art forms – has been left out in the cold.
Peter Gizzi: For me film language is closer to lyric poetry than it is to fiction. Most likely because I’m interested in both modes of expression. Film language is unavoidable—it’s part of our unconscious, our desires, memories, etc., and is very captivating and powerful. I went to NYU in my twenties to study film but quickly changed my major to literature and then ancient literature. Maybe now looking back I can see that the connection to ancient language and film has to do with origins of expression. Film is a relatively new language technology of our recent human history (i.e., we are in its early phases), and if silent film is like cuneiform or hieroglyph, we might say classic film language of the thirties and forties is like Greek and Latin. I don’t know—it’s just something I can see now.
Like poetry, film tells a story by compressing time, and through an emotive, image-based structure. There is a syntax of images, a rhythm. And it works with light—a material light. Not a major observation, but still an endlessly fasinating medium—light I mean. It gives relief to a void or a darkness, opacity of being. In some way it makes a reality out of the darkness. I love the opening to Beckett’s late novel Company, too: “A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.” That the book is titled Company but the voice comes to “one.” It’s a wonderful description of how it is to be in a cinema, an inherently public experience—to be alone together connected by images and phantasms of light and shadow, dreams. But it’s also a wonderful correlative to being alone in one’s room, in one’s library, memory, alone together in one’s books, and a voice comes to one, and then a poem begins. A world comes to one. And for a moment you are your self and another becoming another thing, a poem.
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An excerpt from James Baldwin’s essay, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” (1979):
People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. …
What joins all languages, and all men, is the necessity to confront life, in order, not inconceivably, to outwit death: The price for this is the acceptance, and achievement, of one’s temporal identity. So that, for example, thought it is not taught in the schools (and this has the potential of becoming a political issue) the south of France still clings to its ancient and musical Provencal, which resists being described as a “dialect.” And much of the tension in the Basque countries, and in Wales, is due to the Basque and Welsh determination not to allow their languages to be destroyed. This determination also feeds the flames in Ireland for many indignities the Irish have been forced to undergo at English hands is the English contempt for their language.
It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal. Or, one may speak the same language, but in such a way that one’s antecedents are revealed, or (one hopes) hidden.
–from James Baldwin’s “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” (1979).
An excerpt from Paule Marshall’s essay, “The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen” (1983):
‘’If you say what’s on your mind in the language that comes to you from your parents and your street and friends you’ll probably say something beautiful.’’ Grace Paley tells this, she says, to her students at the beginning of every writing course. …
I grew up among poets. Now they didn’t look like poets – whatever that breed is supposed to look like. Nothing about them suggested that poetry was their calling. They were just a group of ordinary housewives and mothers, my mother included, who dressed in a way (shapeless housedresses, dowdy felt hats and long, dark, solemn coats) that made it impossible for me to imagine they had ever been young. …
Later, armed with the few dollars they had earned, which in their vocabulary became ‘’a few raw-mouth pennies,’’ they made their way back to our neighborhood, where they would sometimes stop off to have a cup of tea or cocoa together before going home to cook dinner for their husbands and children. …
The basement kitchen of the brownstone house where my family lived was the usual gathering place. Once inside the warm safety of its walls the women threw off the drab coats and hats, seated themselves at the large center table, drank their cups of tea or cocoa, and talked. While my sister and I sat at a smaller table over in a corner doing our homework, they talked – endlessly, passionately, poetically, and with impressive range. No subject was beyond them.
True, they would indulge in the usual gossip: whose husband was running with whom, whose daughter looked slightly ‘’in the way’’ (pregnant) under her bridal gown as she walked down the aisle. That sort of thing. But they also tackled the great issues of the time. They were always, for example, discussing the state of the economy. It was the mid and late 30’s then, and the aftershock of the Depression, with its soup lines and suicides on Wall Street, was still being felt.
Some people, they declared, didn’t know how to deal with adversity. They didn’t know that you had to ‘’tie up your belly’’ (hold in the pain, that is) when things got rough and go on with life. They took their image from the bellyband that is tied around the stomach of a newborn baby to keep the navel pressed in.
They talked politics. Roosevelt was their hero. He had come along and rescued the country with relief and jobs, and in gratitude they christened their sons Franklin and Delano and hoped they would live up to the names. …
THERE was no way for me to understand it at the time, but the talk that filled the kitchen those afternoons was highly functional. It served as therapy, the cheapest kind available to my mother and her friends. Not only did it help them recover from the long wait on the corner that morning and the bargaining over their labor, it restored them to a sense of themselves and reaffirmed their self-worth. Through language they were able to overcome the humiliations of the work-day. …
But more than therapy, that freewheeling, wide-ranging, exuberant talk functioned as an outlet for the tremendous creative energy they possessed. They were women in whom the need for self-expression was strong, and since language was the only vehicle readily available to them they made of it an art form that – in keeping with the African tradition in which art and life are one – was an integral part of their lives.
And their talk was a refuge. They never really ceased being baffled and overwhelmed by America – its vastness, complexity and power. Its strange customs and laws. At a level beyond words they remained fearful and in awe. Their uneasiness and fear were even reflected in their attitude toward the children they had given birth to in this country. They referred to those like myself, the little Brooklynborn Bajans (Barbadians), as ‘’these New York children’’ and complained that they couldn’t discipline us properly because of the laws here. ‘’You can’t beat these children as you would like, you know, because the authorities in this place will dash you in jail for them. After all, these is New York children.’’ Not only were we different, American, we had, as they saw it, escaped their ultimate authority.
Confronted therefore by a world they could not encompass, which even limited their rights as parents, and at the same time finding themselves permanently separated from the world they had known, they took refuge in language. ‘’Language is the only homeland,’’ Czeslaw Milosz, the emigre Polish writer and Nobel Laureate, has said. This is what it became for the women at the kitchen table.
It served another purpose also, I suspect. My mother and her friends were after all the female counterpart of Ralph Ellison’s invisible man. Indeed, you might say they suffered a triple invisibility, being black, female and foreigners. They really didn’t count in American society except as a source of cheap labor. But given the kind of women they were, they couldn’t tolerate the fact of their invisibility, their powerlessness. And they fought back, using the only weapon at their command: the spoken word.
Those late afternoon conversations on a wide range of topics were a way for them to feel they exercised some measure of control over their lives and the events that shaped them. ‘’Soully-gal, talk yuh talk!’’ they were always exhorting each other. ‘’In this man world you got to take yuh mouth and make a gun!’’ They were in control, if only verbally and if only for the two hours or so that they remained in our house.
–from Paule Marshall’s essay, “The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen” (1983).
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|HERE BE DRAGONS|
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A photo of James Baldwin graces the cover of Poets & Writers this month. Coincidentally enough, I was just revisiting his book of essays that I read as an undergrad, The Price of the Ticket. What an excellent book & man.
Here’s an excerpt from an essay, “Here Be Dragons,” that seems fitting for today:
“But this by no means sums up the state or the possibilities of the human being in whom the awakening of desire fuels imagination and in whom imagination fuels desire. In other words, it is not possible for the human being to be as simple as a stallion or a mare, because the human imagination is perpetually required to examine, control, and redefine reality, of which we must assume ourselves to be the center and the key. Nature and revelation are perpetually challenging each other; this relentless tension is one of the keys to human history and to what is known as the human condition.
… The American idea of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American idea of masculinity. Idea may not be the precise word, for the idea of one’s sexuality can only with great violence be divorced or distanced from the idea of the self. Yet something resembling this rupture has certainly occurred (and is occurring) in American life, and violence has been the American daily bread since we have heard of America. This violence, furthermore, is not merely literal and actual but appears to be admired and lusted after, and the key to the American imagination.
…The American ideal , then, of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American ideal of masculinity. This ideal has created cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys, punks and studs, tough guys and softies, butch and faggot, black and white. It is an ideal so paralytically infantile that it is virtually forbidden–as an unpatriotic act–that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.
The exigencies created by the triumph of the Industrial Revolution–or, in other terms, the rise of Europe to global dominance–had, among many mighty effects, that of commercializing the roles of men and women. Men became the propagators, or perpetrators, of property, and women became the means by which that property was protected and handed down. One may say that this was nothing more than the ancient and universal division of labor–women nurtured the tribe, men battled for it–but the concept of property had undergone a change. This change was vast and deep and sinister.
For the first time in human history, a man was reduced not merely to a thing but to a thing the value of which was determined, absolutely, by the thing’s commercial value. That this pragmatic principle dictated the slaughter of the native American, the enslavement of the black and the monumental rape of Africa–to say nothing of creating the wealth of the Western world–no one, I suppose, will now attempt to deny.
But this principle also raped and starved Ireland, for example, as well as Latin America, and it controlled the pens of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence–a document more clearly commercial than moral. This is how, and why, the American Constitution was able to define the slave as three-fifths a man, from which legal and commercial definition it legally followed that a black man ‘had no rights a white man was bound to respect.’”
Whew. If you haven’t read from this collection, there’s a copy in your local library or a used copy atAmazon (new copies aren’t sold anymore). Baldwin goes on to relate these ideas to his personal experiences growing up as a black man in New York City, specifically Harlem, who initially had sex and fell in love with men, white women, and a few black women. He was something of a self-declared “freak” because of the back-and-forth beatings and embracings by the same men struggling to assert their masculinity as well as find some relief from it. Baldwin’s considerations of race, gender, and sexuality are astute, personal, and applicable to all.
One of the topics I discuss with my expository writing classes is gender. Though there is an occasional snicker or sigh, there is more often a hunger to discuss issues of masculinity, and inevitably, homosexuality, that I can barely control at times. It’s as though these recent high school grads have finally been given permission to talk about such sordid topics as adults and are finding a way to articulate their thoughts without falling prey to the usual behavioral checks. No one has to call someone else a “fag” simply because he says he doesn’t have a problem with gays. This leads to a discussion about the limitations of living up to one’s masculine potential and how we learn to control (& threaten with misogynist or homophobic name calling) each other when a guy isn’t fulfulling his proper role. The best class I ever had where this particular discussion went full confession was a class made up of almost all young men. The first time I walked into this class, I was totally initimidated. And they turned out to be one of the most respectful and open groups I’ve ever had. But I’m waxing nostalgic here…
Get the book. Thank Baldwin later.
|On Greatness & Them That Do It|
On Orr Off
In a culture where “greatness” is measured by face time via t.v. shows such as “American Idol” and the growing trend of killing people to make your fifteen minutes on the evening news, it seems the factors for “greatness” have devolved into measures I’m not sure poets ought to be distracted by, or rather, remotely invested in. Nonetheless, David Orr in the NYT Sunday Book Review asks about the conditions by which poets might be “great” today and, indeed, if greatness is possible for poets, post-Ashbery, ever again.
A few notions impatiently gleaned from manly Orr’s efforts:
* People will play golf, even if they aren’t Tiger Woods, but longevity isn’t sustained in poetry. Poets won’t write for a lifetime if they can’t see themselves as the next Ashbery? Except, poets certainly do write for lifetimes, with or without Orr’s knowledge, and they do so without worrying about winning the gold cup or whatever prize golfers aim for. There is no set goal in the “game” of poetry, though Orr’s comparison sets the terms as such (i.e. John Ashbery’s Library of America collection). How do sports metaphors of the competitive masculine variety so often wiggle their way into measuring poetry and her cultural cache? What team am I playing for again? Where’s the goal line? Who do I have to smear to get there? Are my subjects suitably dainty as I take up the stick?
* Orr cites Samuel Johnson “exquisiteness in its kind” as a sign of greatness– pretty circular in kind.
* Orr notes, in lots of little ways, how the person’s lived life contributes to the aura of greatness the masses attribute. I.e. Biography is something of destiny in poetry. Such consideration is one distracting way of perhaps indirectly getting at just what the poet’s aims and her stamina/dedication/devotion to the craft are via the usual bio-mythology of just how much she’s willing to sacrifice, study, consider, risk, etc., to the point that alcoholism, who one hangs out with, suicidal tendencies, etc.–tend to overshadow and get conflated with her image as one of “greatness.” The quiet poet with a steady life is not typically so “great” (though there are exceptions, especially when mystique is placed upon them a la Emily Dickinson-style). Following this prescription, I might become a mystery or anomaly or develop a strange air about myself to pique attention and thus encourage my audience to project wild notions upon my persona if I were good at such drama and inclined towards sowing for greatness. Even poetry movements are doing it these days …
* Ultimately, I like the first bit of Hall’s statement, cited by Orr, “It seems to me that contemporary American poetry is afflicted by modesty of ambition …” [and just a few paragraphs further is where I lost patience with Orr's article -- apologies!]. Ambition in poetry? I’m all for it. But we should want to be Dante? Um, no. Just as the task of determining greatness should not be left up to one man in a NYTimes article. Not by a long shot. If poetry is great, and it certainly has been and can be, then poets should be the ones to set the stage and play the game of promoting greatness in all its technicolor shades and mediums. But is naming “who” really where greatness is? Must greatness be a signature assigned to one human? Ashbery is great because of every tenth worthwhile poem he wrote gets attention? Rimbaud is great because he wrote a few good ones and is followed by a crazy mythology that high school boys take to and movies are made from?
So let’s assume greatness exists. Because it is a concept and does exist. But it is not synonymous with “popularity,” though the standard miserably leans towards books sold and audience numbers. Greatness is entirely subjective, despite that conflation with the democratic principle of majority rules. Are those who don’t agree that Ashbery is great in the wrong? Does the majority really decide who is great? Does the majority pronounce what greatness is via the expression of their dollars? Why does Orr’s essay not question, “What are the duties and responsibilities of greatness? Who assigns it?”
This concept of greatness, as Orr speaks of it, is just too simple and conservative. “Poetry needs greatness,” yes, but not the kind Orr haphazardly defines, even that of the historical variety. We can use but are not stuck in the past. Great role models exist, but they need not be emulated in total. They are models, flawed and mostly gone. The world’s scene can no longer sustain such an atrophied vision of greatness as the one Orr investigates. We need new greatness that dismantles the status quo, opens up towards more kinds of inclusion (see Barbara Jane Reyes’ take), behaves beyond beautifying and heralding myths in the making. What a stupid old project this making of masculine heroes has become.
And then there’s this near-definition Orr presents, “When we lose sight of greatness … we stop assuming that poems should be interesting to other people and begin thinking of them as being obliged only to interest our friends –” I know I’m coming off as just blanketly contrary here, but what? We must seek Orr’s loose version of greatness or our poetry will only be reduced to dull insular verse written specifically for friends? I don’t get the presumption–at all. I think most people who put pen to paper are attempting to “interest people”, whether they are successful or not, regardless of whether they are motivated by the “greatness” Orr has outlined, which is misguided and outdated.
Of course, practically speaking, most poets don’t want to write away in obscurity, but how many of us truly require — as motivation — the masses to pat us on the back for our greatness? None of the poets I know expect a Tiger Woods’ trophy or his following, nor do they write while holding out for such nonsense. Poets who have something of the greatness factor in them exhibit a stick-to-it-ness over time, a curiosity for others’ poetics, attention to craft, deep concern with the world, serious engagement with that world in other non-poetic but typically political (small “p”) ways–sans Library of America tome or even the promise of one.
Orr’s essay doesn’t deserve but needs a response–many responses– for even as golfers are folowing their game’s rules, poets are making their own ways, similarly and separately, differently and communally, as multitudes and as individuals, sans a set standard of formulas and rules. Golf goes after stroke counts and a finish line. Poetry goes after life and everything the concept entails. Greatness certainly is not the little box declaring a winner vis a vis book publication or any golden laurel leaf. Poetry is not merely words on a screen/page or how dramaticaly the poet lived her life.
The Call to Greatness
My version of greatness –the subjective one I work to promote– (& in the abstract) is the poetry that strives to confound expectations and create new awareness, esp of the social and political–however strange or discomfiting–so that from seeming “ugliness,” beauty is fostered and permitted to renew. read more ...
|I’ve Loved You So Long|
Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, but when it comes to testing the acting chops of any thespian, I’d say French cinema is the primary place to go about such measures. No fancy props. No extreme special effects. A lot of close up, careful camera work that relies on the actors knowing how important executing pauses, facial and bodily expressions, and the delivery of their lines are. Of course, beautiful scenery is helpful, and is usually plentiful, whether filming in Paris or in the south of France.
Novelist-turned-director, Philippe Claudel, embraces this cost-efficient tradition in “I’ve Loved You So Long” in such a way that he damn-near executes a masterpiece. Foremost, he mines the talent of British actor, Kristin Scott Thomas, so thoroughly that one walks away understanding, beyond the scope of the story, how acting certainly does have its geniuses, and Scott Thomas is among the top. The premise of the film itself is quite simple: We meet Juliette, a sullen, chain-smoking woman, played by Scott Thomas, upon her release from prison, where she has spent the last fifteen years for murder. Her sister, Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), takes her into her home, enthusiastically and unwaveringly in the face of her husband’s initial resistance, to give her a place to re-enter society and renew their relationship, which was cut short when Lea was still a teenager.
Prison has done a number on Scott Thomas’s Juliette, a former doctor, as have the details of the murder, and so Scott Thomas presents us with a woman who is intelligent and sensitive, yet hardened and withdrawn. The balance Scott Thomas pulls off throughout the film is impeccable. Her disinterest in make-up and lack of concern for attire, and other niceties the world might provide, are mere superficial indicators of the struggles Juliette experiences even within the most uneventful situations. That Scott Thomas often allows us to see this tumultuousness solely through her facial expressions and body language is an art to behold. That Scott Thomas manipulates silence as a serious craft warrants the French equivalent of an Oscar and a note that this may be, so far, the best performance of her career.
While Claudel relies heavily on the talents of his cast, he also uses the traditional suspense tact of withholding exactly why Juliette killed as well as brilliantly building on numerous succinct scenes to fill out the progress made between the characters over weeks and months. He also has a keen eye for omitting unnecessary moments that may provide dramatic fodder (i.e. the melee that might follow the husband rushing home when he discovers Juliette has been left alone with the children) or build suspense, but instead expects the viewer to be sophisticated enough to fill in the gaps as he moves on to show us more productive key scenes.
The subtle, uneasy tone of the film propels this story’s development and our investment in it. Even as we are set up to settle in and sympathize with Juliette’s slow efforts to readjust to the world while our heart strings are simultaneously tugged by Lea, who desperately strives to love and help her sister, we are haunted by not knowing why Juliette was capable of the heinous murder she refuses to discuss, and so a question of motive unsettles the viewer until the very end. Juliette is at once a haunted Hamlet we suspect may be a little crazy and ill intentioned, and she is also the pained son who needs, but cannot find, alleviation in what’s left of the world. The only grace that may save her is Lea’s faith in their bond, a faith that surpasses the scope of expectation.
“I’ve Loved You So Long” deftly handles a range of emotions and characters, anchored by Scott Thomas’ seemingly “absent” Juliette. Despite her quiet resistance, many regularly come to seek Juliette out, including her parole officer, one of Lea’s university colleagues, and Lea’s older daughter, Lys. Though these relations do slowly draw her out, it is the primacy of the sisters’ relationship that makes this film special. One might expect, especially of a Hollywood-driven film, which this certainly is not, that Juliette’s redemption would come in the form of some romantic potential providing her with a clichéd reason to live and love again. But the love that is renewed and eventually finds Juliette is that of her sister’s, a love between siblings that surpasses the self-imposed desolation Juliette has inhabited and turned into a habit for so long. When Juliette utters the final words of the film, “I’m here,” the weight of that love is spoken, as is Juliette herself, and we are all left knowing her potential.
* Of special note to bibliophiles, Claudel subtly connects many characters through their relationships with books.
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|Poetry Is To Money As Ice Cream Is To Mud|
YOU CAN MIX & LICK ‘EM ALL, BUT ONLY TWO’LL BE SWEET
You will not have roses thrown at your feet. You will not make money. You will not become the celebrated guest poet at universities & bookstores coast-to-coast. You will not be invited to read your poetry all over the world. You will not have multiple book release parties. You will not be discovered and heralded as the next John Ashbery or Billy Collins or Elizabeth Bishop or Sylvia Plath or Ubermensch or Charles Bernstein or Susan Howe or Maya Angelou or John Cage or Lyn Hejinian or Rae Armantrout or Alice Notley. You simply will not.
If you still want to write poetry despite those warnings, spend as little as possible on getting it out there. I’ve wasted enough cash on contests “placing” but never “winning” — I finally wised up and recognized the role these dice throwing games play: NONE. Well, the contest-makers make money off of people’s hopes that they’ll hit hardways on the “come out” roll (some do noble things like run their presses with the proceeds; which presses would you like to make a donation to?). But ironically, that’s the ultimate beauty of Poetry — it’s the enemy of money.
Or more specifically, it’s the one art that no one truly banks on to hit the big time; you go at it for the love of other possibilities & outcomes. Painters may somewhat-feasibly hope the canvas will raise a dime; songsters can push for the my-demo-made-the-charts payload; & even videographers can hold out for minor-Tarantino status. But poets? Living poets, even those with lots of books, rarely–and only later in life–hit the payload. Your chances of riding the wave of poetry-paychecks-for-sustainable-living are akin to those of becoming a lotto millionaire, for real. And most lotto winners end up broke again, ever-more unhappy.
Within this privileged position of no-chance-for-payouts, poetry can do things like critique and raze the powers-that-be and stall the myriad ways they make us less human, turn us into automatons, and condition us against our soul-plucking consciousness. Poetry can strike weird & sometimes stupidly killer chords, turn an unheard phrase, raise an image and pique our slumbering wanderlusts in such a way that the cogs and wheels of the capitalist disease we sleep and breathe are slowed, even just a little, for just a minute or a second or an inkling of a breath. Who wants to breathe freely for the length of a song? The truth I know, over and over, is: Poetry is the stuff that makes light unfold.
Poetry doesn’t work in visible & immediate ways; rather, it takes its time and winds through those money-grinding machinations, hinting at what else may be, stirring dissension in ways we’ve labeled Surrealist, Situationist, Postmodern, Avant-garde, Artaudian, Battaileian, Lynchian, Subversive, Dada, Fluxus, Anti-Art, etc etc. Its power relies on its near-immunity from the motivations money inspires. So why feed the beast in its name by sending money to contests? Avoid it, if possible. Go small press. Go online. Don’t be prideful. Do your own promotion, get your friends and fellow poets involved in production and distribution. Check out the methods of DIYers. Kick some ass.
I know I’m simplifying and romanticizing the role of poetry here, but only in an effort to get those writers who don’t have expendable income (are there any that do?) to avoid prostituting your poetry in vain efforts. I mean, if there is a contest with a press that you are in love with or they’ve employed a “judge” whose work you call your heritage, then sure, pop that twenty dollar check in the mail. Hopefully, it will get through the interns’ and students’ first reading, then the professional staffs’ weeding, and make it into that judge’s lap. Fingers crossed!
But if you don’t have a free-flowing bankroll and you’ve got a killer manuscript-seeking-book form, check out these sites, stolen and credited, I gleaned from ye olde internet:
From Steven D. Schroeder –
OPEN READING PERIODS
List of presses with reading periods for poetry manuscripts, plus notes:
Open: BlazeVOX Books
Open: Persea Books
Open: Red Morning Press
Open: Eastern Washington University Press (query/sample)
Open: Counterpath Press (query/sample)
Open: Coffee House Press (sample, not first books)
Open: Mayapple Press ($10 fee)
Open: Etruscan Press ($20 fee)
January & June: Milkweed Editions
January-June: BkMk Press (sample)
January-July: Ghost Road Press (query/sample)
January-November: Graywolf Press (query/sample)
January-March: CavanKerry Press
January-? (not first books): BOA Editions
March 1-May 1: Ahsahta Press
Feb. 1 - June 1: Carolina Wren Press
April-September: Waywiser Press
May & June: Black Ocean
June: Four Way Books
June: Ausable Press (not reading 2008)
June: Steel Toe Books (you have to buy one of their previous books)
September: Sarabande Books (sample) (not reading 2008)
September-October: University of Pittsburgh Press (not first books)
October: Carnegie Mellon University Press ($10 fee)
October-November: C&R Press ($10 fee, $15 to received published book)
November-December: the various WordTech Communications imprints (not reading 2008)
POETRY PUBLISHERS: NON-CONTEST [from Rachel Dacus' site]
Hoping to reverse the trend of poets paying to have their books published – one poet I know reports having shelled out more than $1,000 in contest fees – I’m posting this list of small presses that publish poetry books outside of contests. Some of these presses also run book contests, but all consider books of poetry outside of contest parameters. If a small reading fee is charged, I’ve noted it. Feel free to email me presses to add.
Please support these presses by buying their poetry books. It’s the only alternative to paying contest fees. Each of their poetry books usually costs less and offers a better read than a form rejection letter!
Ahsahta Press http://ahsahtapress.boisestate.edu/
Alsop Review Press http://www.alsopreview.com/press.htm
Apogee Press http://www.apogeepress.com/
Ausable Press http://www.ausablepress.com/submissions.html
Carnegie Mellon University Press http://www.cmu.edu/universitypress (charges $15 reading fee)
CavanKerry Press http://www.cavankerrypress.org
City Lights Books http://www.citylights.com/CLpubmanu.html
Coffee House Press http://www.coffeehousepress.org/resources.asp
Eastern Washington University Press http://www.ewu.edu/dcesso/press/guideline.htm
Graywolf Press http://www.graywolfpress.org/Company_Info/Submission_Guidelines/Poetry_Submission_Guidelines/
High Plains Press http://www.highplainspress.com/guidelines.html
Litmus Press (July 1 - Sept. 1) http://www.litmuspress.org/sub_litmus.htm
Mayapple Press http://www.mayapplepress.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org ($10 reading fee for full-length book; no fee for chaplet book consideration)
Milkweed Editions http://www.milkweed.org/2_1_3.html
New Directions http://www.wwnorton.com/nd/contact.htm
O Books http://www.obooks.com/ (closed for submissions until 2005)
Ocean Publishing http://www.ocean-publishing.com/submission.html
Omnidawn (month of February) http://www.omnidawn.com/poetry_submissions.htm
Orchises Press http://mason.gmu.edu/~rlathbur/submissions.html
Pecan Grove Press http://library.stmarytx.edu/pgpress/submissions/index.html
Sarabande Books http://www.sarabandebooks.org/contest/contest.html (September only)
Sixteen Rivers Press http://www.sixteenrivers.com (San Francisco Bay Area collective press)
Soft Skull Press http://www.softskull.com/submission_guidelines.php
University of California http://www.ucpress.edu/books/NCP.ser.html
University of Illinois Press http://www.press.uillinois.edu/poetry/submit.html
Wesleyan University Press http://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/forAuthors.htm
WordTech Editions http://www.wordtechweb.com/
Quickly & in brief, a few other worthwhile publishers (not exhaustive!):
* Tarpaulin Sky [fee]
* Tilt Press (chapbook)
* Pudding House (chapbook) [fee]
But hey, don’t take my word for it:
* Laughing Bear
* Winning Writers’ Contest To Avoid
* Poet Beware by Victoria Strauss
* Interesting Debate @ Seth Abramson’s Blog
* Wha? An article on an online spot, Narrative, that charges for regular submissions!
PLEASE RECOMMEND OTHER PUBLISHERS, ARTICLES, OR ANYTHING YOU THINK BELONGS IN THIS POST — Thanks!
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- Date : 17 September 2008
- Tags : ADVICE, Be Famous, Blazevox, CONTEST, DEADLINE, Get Published, Godard, GUIDELINES, MAILING ADDRESS, Make Money, Manuscript, No Fee Contest, Open Reading Period, Poem, Poet, Poetry Contest, Poetry Publisher, Publisher, READING FEE, Rolling Stones, SEND TO, Sexy, Small Press, Submission Guidelines, Submissions, Submit Poetry, The Enemy of Money
- Categories : Poetics, Poetry, Publishing, Sexy
|When Lightning Bolts From My Chest …|
15 04 2008
A Few Random Poets Speak on National Poetry Month -
And We Eat …
“God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer.” —Anne Sexton
“As for poetry ‘belonging’ in the classroom, it’s like the way they taught us sex in those old hygiene classes: not performance but semiotics. If it I had taken Hygiene 71 seriously, I would have become a monk; & if I had taken college English seriously, I would have become an accountant.” —Jerome Rothenberg
On Clouds – “…what primitive tastes the ancients must have had if their poets were inspired by those absurd, untidy clumps of mist, idiotically jostling one another about…” —Yevgeny Zamyatin
“Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” —Carl Sandburg
“For each letter received from a creditor, write fifty lines on an extraterrestrial subject and you will be saved.” —Charles Baudelaire
“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.” —Zora Neale Hurston
“The purpose of art, including literature, is not to reflect life but to organize it, to build it.” —Yevgeny Zamyatin (The Goal, ca. 1926)
“One can smell it turning to gas; if one were Baudelaire one could probably hear it turning to marimba music.” —Elizabeth Bishop
“If the poet wants to be a poet, the poet must force the poet to revise. If the poet doesn’t wish to revise, let the poet abandon poetry and take up stamp-collecting or real estate.” —Donald Hall
“Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person. That is natural.” —Zora Neale Hurston
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” —Sylvia Plath
“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.” —Paul Dirac
“Heaven is not like flying or swimming, but has something to do with blackness and a strong glare.” —Elizabeth Bishop
“Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle, cracked ice crunching in pails, the night that numbs the leaf, the duel of two nightingales, the sweet pea that has run wild, Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.” —Boris Pasternak
“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.” —Anne Sexton
“Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.” —Charles Simic
“The composition is the thing seen by everyone living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living.” —Gertrude Stein
“Apparently, the most difficult feat for a Cambridge male is to accept a woman not merely as feeling, not merely as thinking, but as managing a complex, vital interweaving of both.” —Sylvia Plath
“There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man’s spice-box seasons his own food.” —Zora Neale Hurston
“She even had a kind of special position among men: she was an exception, she fitted none of the categories they commonly used when talking about girls; she wasn’t a cock-teaser, a cold fish, an easy lay or a snarky bitch; she was an honorary person. She had grown to share their contempt for most women.” —Margaret Atwood
“Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.” —Gustave Flaubert
“Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.” —Allen Ginsberg
“I did not believe political directives could be successfully applied to creative writing . . . not to poetry or fiction, which to be valid had to express as truthfully as possible the individual emotions and reactions of the writer.” —Langston Hughes
“A diary means yes indeed.” —Gertrude Stein
“I think one of poetry’s functions is not to give us what we want… [T]he poet isn’t always of use to the tribe. The tribe thrives on the consensual. The tribe is pulling together to face the intruder who threatens it. Meanwhile, the poet is sitting by himself in the graveyard talking to a skull.” —Heather McHugh
“Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” —Carl Sandburg
“When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet. . . indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” —Virginia Woolf
“This cop told me, furthermore, that it had been difficult for him to follow me because I had signaled too soon. I told him that, because I didn’t know there was anyone else in the world, any signaling was an act of faith.” —Kathy Acker
“Even in the centuries which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.” —Charles Baudelaire
“I am ashamed of my century, but I have to smile” —Frank O’Hara
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|Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises|
2 04 2008
Daisy Fried on Poetry:
* I’ve never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself.
* But poetry’s the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. So maybe it’s good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But this doesn’t explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Why should we make them of poetry in general?
* Words matter. Use is not function. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I’ve used it that way myself, after reading it. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. So too poetry. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do “sniff the air.” There are good 9/11 poems. The degraded Romanticism of the mass of bad ones often amounts to decorative displays of the poet’s own sensibility. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? They seem to claim authenticity for individual experiences derived from watching TV—and fail to ask the question, why do these people want to kill us? Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Sex pornography has its uses, even positive ones, but nobody confuses it with serious art about love. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they’re making pornography. Shame on them.* Poetry matters. Great poems don’t always fit categories of usage: Martial’s hilariously filthy invectives, Dickinson’s apolitical lyrics, and, despite their stupid fascism, Pound’s Cantos, all function as great poetry. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. That’s the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? Why exclude ourselves from our own readership?
* Enjoyment matters. Poetry is fun! I mean this seriously. In “Lapis Lazuli,” Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Yes, there is terrible suffering; we are all going to die. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man “asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/…their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.” The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. That’s personal—and therefore social. Forget that, and we forget poetry’s true function.
–from “Does Poetry Have a Social Function” @ The Poetry Foundation
ALSO, listen in on a conversation I had with Daisy Fried HERE: powered by ODEO
A POEM A DAY BY DAISY FRIED
1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.
2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.
3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.
4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.
5. Write a poem without adjectives.
6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.
7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.
8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.
9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”
11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best
friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.
12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.
13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”
14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn
leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.
15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists,
lists of events, lists of names…
16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.
17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.
18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.
19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.
20. Write a poem about falling out of love.
21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.
22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.
23. Write a hate poem.
24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the
kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with-”In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”
25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.
26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.
27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.
28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.
30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.
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- Date : 2 April 2008
- Categories : Ars Poetica, Artifice, Celebration, Education, Entertainment, Interview, Poetics, Poetry, Politics, Pop Culture, Readings, Tribute
|Movies With Poetry|
11 08 2008
I’m looking for a few good films that offer up poetic content, to put it vaguely, or a representation of a poet that doesn’t completely romanticize the poet, disintegrating the person in the process… films with a poetry angle, please!
Gysin’s “The Cut-ups” of course trumps
Cronenberg’s take of “Naked Lunch”
“Sleep” featuring John Girono!
Mary Ellen Bute’s “Finnegan’s Wake”
Abigail Child’s films
–From Danny S.
“Pandaemoniu” — really good movie about Wordsworth and Coleridge
Chaucer in “A Knight’s Tale”.
“Gothic” about Shelley and Byron
“Tom & Viv”
–From Jason Q.
“Charge of the Light Brigade”
”The Barretts of Wimpole Street”
Christina Rossetti in “Kiss Me Deadly”
Ken Russell, Dante’s Inferno
Parker’s “Smash Up”
“A Star Is Born”
HD’s film criticism, too
–From Catherine D.
“Stevie” about Stevie Smith, starring Glenda Jackson
Away from biographical representation, for pure film as poetry, look for any of the films by Maya Deren.
“Borderline,” 1930 silent experimental film, with H.D. and Paul Robeson, is available as DVD. The film was made by HD’s then companion Kenneth Macpherson, and also features Bryher in an interesting role.
–From Charlotte M.
“The Business of Fancy Dancing” Sherman Alexie.
–From Patricia F.
“The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca”
”The History Boys”
–From Beverly R.
“A Month in the Country” based on the novella by J. L. Carr
–From Ellen M.
Maya Angelou’s TV movie, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”. And what about “Looking for Langston” by Isaac Julien
–From Mendi O.
“An Angel at My Table” — the life story of Janet Frame
–From Diane L.
Errol Morris film, “Fast Cheap and Out of Control“
–From Connie V.
“Eternity and a Day” (Mia aioniotita kai mia mera,1998) is a hauntingly beautiful film about a fictional ageing poet by Theo Angelopoulos, for whom poetry is “a creative medium that he still considers to be the most important artistic influence in his life.”
–From Ann L.
Altman’s “Short Cuts” is based on Raymond Carver stories.
“Cooley High” — one of the characters is a poet/writer, who’s writing gets stolen and mocked.
If it’s literature in film, “Finding Forrester”, based loosely on JD Salinger. And isn’t that our Charles Bernstein’s big screen debut?
–From Eric D.
“The River Niger” starring Louis Gossett Jr., James Earl Jones, and Cicely Tyson. All’s framed by James Earl’s character composing a single poem, which he finally reads. If I’m remembering right the poet’s a commercial painter.
–From Jared S.
Sergei Paradjanov’s “Color of Pomegranates”
–From Alex D.
Knut Hamsun’s “Hunger”.
“The Kiss of the Spider Woman”. At first blush, this is not be about writing or a writer at all. But one of the inmates in jail in that movie spins a fascinating Nazi love story (a gay sado-masochistic fantasy) to pass time. To me, “The Curse” is one of the best films about the process of writing, how writing is associated with creating a style and how writing’s relationship with political and personal events is often tangential. It is a great movie about the fusion of politics with art.
“Under the Volcano”
–From Murat N.
Favorite topic for me. I can suggest a few, you could check’em out to see if they suit your need. Are you seeking films on poets or films with poetic content ? Or both?
I worked on an article in the recent past discussing certain poems of John Ashbery comparing them with films or sections of certain films or simply scenes that came reeling back to me while I read those poems. Discussed some of them with Ashbery. Quite an intriguing conversation. You could try “Run Lola Run” (by Tom Twyker) if you have not seen it already. JA liked that one the most - in the metaphorical context of his work. He said that the structure reminded him some of his early pantoums and centos.
I thought some of Theo Angelopoulos’ films are intensely poetic -
a. Landscape in the Mist
b. Eternity and a Day
c. Ulysses’ Gaze
d. Wild Strawberries
and the above all the master of film poetry, as Scorcese calls him, Satyajit Ray
f. The Apu Trilogy - 3 films, Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu
g. Days and Nights in the Forest
h. The Lonely Wife
John Ashbery and Peter Gizzi told me about filmmakers Jorgen Leth and Guy Maddin. Haven’t had a chance to try them. Check them out. They might spell wonders.
i. Kaveh Zavedi’s “In the Bathtub of the World” - a film titled after JA’s poem - you might know this one.
Films on poets -
j. Tom & Viv (T S Elliot & his wife)
k. The Color of Pomegranate (Parajanov’s classic film on Armenian poet Sayat Nova)
l. In Custody - a brilliant film on the life of an ageing fictitious poet.
m. Attenborough’s Shadowland - a film on the love affair between C S Lewis and Joy Gresham.
Hope this helps.
“The Last Clean Shirt,” which is a collaboration between the filmmaker Alfred Leslie & Frank O’Hara, from 1964.
–From Charles A.
Diane Middlebrook’s interpretation in her fine biogrtaphy of their marriage, “Her Husband”
“Four Weddings and a Funeral”
–From Alicia O.
“Mrs. Parker and Her Vicious Circle,” 1994
“Rowing with the Wind” (Remando con el viento)
–From Diane K.
Before Night Falls (2000) by Julian Schnabel, the life of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas;
Basquiat by Julian Schnabel, is worth a vision
Talking of poetic films, what about Jules et Jim by Truffault
–From Anny B.
There was a Norwegian film a few years ago (2001? 2003?) called “Elling.” It’s the story of a man who lived with his mother all his life; when she died he was moved to a home for the insane where he has a roommate who becomes his family. When Norway closes their institutions, the two men are placed in an apartment with a social worker who is to help them live in society. One day Elling wanders into a bar and there’s a poetry slam or reading going on….and he discoverers that he is a poet! It’s a delightful movie, both about social issues and about poetry, and the need poets have to get their words out to the public. It’s funny and touching and could be a great movie to watch and discuss with students.
–From Priscilla H.
There is a wonderful film about a variety of responses to art, called Le Gou’t des autres. Specifically it has a scene from Racine’s play Be’re’nice–but done in “modern way” that has satirical overtones. It might cause some argument about how people “should” behave.
–From William S.
Amy, the recent film “Reprise” from Norway is about writers–painful to watch in many ways/ lots of it felt stolen from Jules et Jim–but it certainly does focus on writers–in a pretty horrible way but it’s playing now so…thought I’d suggest it though don’t recommend in sense of “good film” since it’s not since there was no viewing “pleasure” on my part–but students might relate—
–From Bobbi L.
There’s a short film (less than 10 minutes) by the Kumeyaay filmmaker Cedar Sherbert based on James Welch’s poem “Gesture Down to Guatemala,” which I’ve taught in both Native lit classes and in an advanced workshop. In the workshop, it was linked to an assignment for students to script one of their own poems. It’s easiest to buy the film directly from Cedar. Here’s his website: http://www.nativenetworks.si.edu/Eng/rose/sherbert_c.htm
–From Janet M.
The Great McGonagall, with Peter Sellars as Queen Victoria
–From Sam G.
“Possession” another Paltrow film — At the heart of the story are two Victorian poets and their writings, and their story is told through two modern academics. It’s a good tale of “reading into” and interpreting meanings.
–From Maria D.
Beautiful Dreamers (1990)
In an insane asylum, Dr. Maurice Bucke, meets poet Walt Whitman, his life and that of his…
Before Night Falls (2000)
Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas…
Based on the gay poetry of R. Raj Rao…
1938… In that year, Alfred, worker and poet, is politically active in a Parisian …
En compagnie d’Antonin Artaud (1994)
May, 1946, in Paris young poet Jacques Prevel meets Antonin Artaud…
Fat Man on a Beach (1973) (TV)
A poet of forty wanders about the beach, changes his clothes when he feels like it, reads his poetry, reminisces engagingly, and reflects…
Falsk som vatten (1985)
John and Carl have a small publishing company. One day John meets the poet Clara who recently made her debut …
Fine Madness, A (1966)
Samson Shillitoe, a frustrated poet and a magnet for women, is behind in his alimony payments, and lives with Rhoda, a waitress who stands by him through all his troubles. Samson becomes belligerent when he cannot find the inspiration to finish his big poem so Rhoda tries to get him to see the psychiatrist Dr. West, who claims to be able to cure writer’s block….
Freddy & Victor blind date (1997)
… in Rome and London. He is an actor and poet, lives in Rome and gets by “doing the….
Great McGonagall, The (1974)
The tale of an unemployed Scotsman, William McGonagall whose ambition was to become England’s Poet Laureate. One minor drawback is that his poetry is terrible.
Harms Case, The (1988)
Based upon the life and writing of literary visionary Danil Harms, a Russian avant-garde poet of the 1920s who was persecuted and ultimately silenced by the Soviet authorities.
Hedd Wyn (1992)
A young poet living in the North Wales countryside competes for the most coveted prize of all in Welsh Poetry - that of the chair of the National …
Hoggs’ Heaven (1994) (TV)
Having won a small poetry competition, William Hogg invites his parents to his apartment for a simple, celebratory dinner. Clearly, he’s forgotten his family’s penchant for drunken, kleptomaniacal lunacy. A high-spirited comic nightmare.
Iddy Biddy Beat Boy (1993)
A parable about art, propriety, and politics. A hip beat poet, who looks a lot like a child, reads poetry at the Ad Hoc Cafe; he’s a success and Mr. Hipster, a powerful promoter, gets Iddy Biddy Beat’s career moving with TV appearances, where the poet is a sensation.However, his poetry scandalizes Dr. Proper and his uptight wife, who arrange for Beat’s arrest and imprisonment.
Joe Gould’s Secret (2000)
Around 1940, New Yorker staff writer Joe Mitchell meets Joe Gould, a Greenwich Village character who cadges meals, drinks, and contributions to the Joe Gould Fund and who is writing a voluminous Oral History of the World, a record of 20,000 conversations he’s overheard. Mitchell is fascinated with this Harvard grad and writes a 1942 piece about him, “Professor Seagull,” bringing Gould some celebrity and an invitation to join the Greenwich Village Ravens, a poetry club he’s often crashed.
Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1997)
Gordon Comstock is a copywriter at an ad agency, and his girlfriend Rosemary is a designer. Gordon believes he is a genius, a marvelous poet and quits the ad agency, trying to live on his poems, but poverty soon comes to him.
Kleine blonde dood, De (1993)
The poet Valentijn Boecke meets his former teacher Mieke. They have a short relation. After a while Mieke appears to be pregnant.
Lado oscuro del corazón, El (1992)
Oliveiro is a young poet living in Buenos Aires where sometimes he has to sale his ideas to an advertising agencie to make a living or exchange his poems for a steak. In Montevideo, he met a prostitute, Ana, with whom he fell in love. Back in Buenos Aires, he accept a contract with a publicity agencie to get the money for three days of love with her.
Leonard Cohen, Spring 1996 (1997)
The film shows the daily life of the poet and singer Leonard Cohen at the Mount …
Lichnoye delo Anny Akhmatovoy (1989)
look at the life of Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, 1889-1966. It begins and ends with footage from her funeral, and includes readings from her diaries and of her poems. Also included are passages of official Soviet criticism. She was born near Odessa, married and published her first volume of poetry in 1912, was a friend of Blok…
Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, The (1993)
the life and work of the greatest poet of the Beat Generation. Along with the usual biographical details, we also get to experience the poet’s readings of his work such as his…
Looking for Langston (1988)
…are framed by voices reading from the poetry and essays of Hughes and others.
Los Enchiladas! (1999)
…… and the “Chef” has jumped ship to join a beatnik poet’s group which specializes in exotic menu-writing….
Love Jones (1997)
Darius Lovehall is a young black poet in Chicago who starts dating Nina Moseley, a beautiful and talented photographer. While trying to figure out if they’ve got a “love thing” or are just “kicking it,” they hang out with their friend, talking about love and sex.
Love Lesson, The (1995)
Seventeen years ago Camille, a gallery owner, and Grace, a civil servant, made a verbal adoption agreement: Grace would raise Camille’s son Christopher with the provision that all three live in close proximity, and that the existence of the arrangement be kept from the child forever. This triangle changes drastically when Christopher, now a heterosexual teenager, becomes HIV-positive through sex and drugs and is thrown into maturity much too early. Camille lives her life in the New York art world, and poets and writers regularly gather at her apartment to read their work. The poets’ voices echoing across the common courtyard to Chris become the continuous physical bridge between
their lives. Via courtyard windows and the resonance of sound, a mystical link forms as Camille steps into a role in his life that she never really wanted nor would have imagined.
Luces de bohemia (1985)
In the empty house of his family, Ramon, a poet, remembers the last day of the life of his master: the last time he went out with his friend don Latino de Hispalis…
Lunatics: A Love Story (1991)
A delusional and paranoid poet hallucinates and almost becomes a serial killer, but saves a beautiful girl from street-gang members and becomes a hero.
Mail Bonding (1995)
“Mail Bonding” is a romantic comedy about a struggling poet who takes a humorous but dangerous route by falling in love with his mail carrier, a woman with a troubled past. Told in the silent film style with digital effects.
Middle of the Moment (1995)
The film is a documentary or even a cinepoem which follows the life of nowadays nomads: The Tuareg in North Africa, a circus company and the American philosopher and poet ‘Robert Lax’.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Deeds a simple-hearted greeting card poet…
North of Vortex (1991)
A gay poet heads west from New York City in his convertible. He picks up a muscular sailor ….
The Russian poet Gortchakov, accompanied by guide and translator Eugenia, is traveling through Italy researching the life of an 18th century Russian composer. In a ancient spa town, he meets the lunatic Domenico….
An influential Serbian poet decides to leave Nazi-occupied Belgrade and join partisans in the country. A young resistance activist, however, is not so thrilled with the idea because the old and womanizing intellectual doesn’t fit in with his strict moralistic standards.
“Piñero” tells the story of the explosive life of a Latino icon, the poet-playwright-actor Miguel Piñero, whose urban poetry is recognized as a pre-cursor to rap and hip-hop.
Poetry in Motion (1982)(1998)
…20 contemporary North American poets recite, sing, and perform their work. Several also comment.
The poet Prasad (K. Date) lives far from the city in a forest, enjoying only the company of his wife Pratibha (Khote). The court poet Kaveeshwar (Phatak) of a neighbouring kingdom discovers Prasad’s poetry and….
Puisi tak terkuburkan (2000)
Tells the true story of the didong (a style of ballad) poet Ibrahim Kadir. He was in prison and was present during the mass killings of an estimated 500,000 suspected communists when Indonesian President Suharto came to power in 1965. His humanistic poems recreate that era.
Sånger från andra våningen (2000)
A film poem inspired by the poet Caesar Vallejo….
…agrees to marry the divorced American poet Joy Davidman Gresham, to allow her and…
A young, idealistic poet, turns his back on civilization and goes to small, backwood village, rents a bed in the house of an old woman, and decides to make his living as a lumberjack.
This movie portrays British poet/author Stevie Smith (Glenda Jackson)
Student Nurses, The (1970)
…One falls for a poet…
…life of Mary Swann, an obscure Canadian poet who was brutally murdered by her lover…
Tongues Untied (1991)
from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry…
…Dedalus, who fancies himself as a poet, embarks on a day of wandering about …
…century, the story concerns a Polish poet living in Cracow who has decided to…
The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man.
Winter Meeting (1948)
Spinster poetess Susan Grieve lives in a Manahattan …
…choreographer, multi-media artist, and poet who died of AIDS in 1994…
The director mixes flashbacks, historical footage and original poetry to illustrate the reminiscences of a dying man about his childhood during World War II, adolescence, and a painful divorce in his family. The story interweaves reflections about Russian history and society.
–From Maria D.
–From J for James
”Eternity and A Day” with Bruno Ganz as a Greek poet whose life is in a drainswirl. He meets a young Albanian street urchin and they go on a journey. About a 1/3 too long for its own good; but some beautiful, evocative and existential scenes.
Based on Pat Barker’s novel of the same name, ‘Regeneration’ tells the story of soldiers of World War One sent to an asylum for emotional troubles. Two of the soldiers meeting there are Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, two of England’s most important WW1 poets.
Lonely island postman develops friendship with exiled Pablo Neruda, and learns how to live.
“Before Night Falls”
This powerful glimpse into the life of famed Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem) spans several decades in his eventful life. Although vilified for his homosexuality in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Arenas finds success as a writer but must eventually emigrate to New York City to enjoy unfettered creative freedom. Johnny Depp appears twice: as a transvestite inmate and as a warden.
Starring: Andrea Di Stefano, Javier Bardem Director: Julian Schnabel
The self-destructive relationship between 19th-century teenage French poet Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his older mentor Paul Verlaine (Alan Thewlis).
The Leslie Howard character a despondent poet who rises to the occasion and faces down the snarling gangster Duke Mantee (Bogie)
“A Man in Love” Peter Coyote, playing an actor, finds a new romance in the Italian countryside while on location shooting a movie about the life of Cesare Pavese.
“A Merry War” Richard E Grant as adman who quits his good job
to become a poet (not a good career choice); Helena Bonham Carter co-stars.
Deborah Winger and Anthony Hopkins star in this emotionally moving romantic drama adapted by William Nicholson from his own acclaimed play, based upon the real-life romance (during the 1950s) between the British writer C.S. Lewis and a divorced American poet named Joy Gresham.
“Tom & Viv”
TS Eliot and troubled relationship with first wife (?).
“HeartBeat” (with Notle & Spacek as the squablling Cassadys; John Heard plays
Kerouac; the Ginsberg part was minor, as I recall)
“Belle of Amherst” (Julia Harris as ED)
“Stevie” (Glenda Jackson as Stevie Smith)
“Beautiful Dreamer” (Rip Torn as Walt Whitman, but more about a doctor trying to reform an asylum in Canada and trying hold onto the his wife’s love.)
“The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca” (Andy Garcia as Lorca; Lorca portrayed in flashbacks that try to tell the story of Spain in the time leading up to his death.)
“MindWalk” (John Heard, as a poet, Liv Ulmann, a scientist w/ a humanist streak and Sam Waterson, as a jaded politician, make conversation as they walk along the sandflats at low tide toward to Mt.-St.-Michel.)
“A Fine Madness” (Sean Connery as hard drinking/womanizing poet at odds with the social milieu of the literary life he finds himself in.)
“Ruben, Ruben” (Tom Conte as a poet who is loosing his teeth)
“Tales of Ordinary Madness” (Ben Gazzara as Charles Bukowski, lots of hard drinking and tough talk)
“Poetic Justice” (Janet Jackson & Tupac Shakar star)
“Haunted Summer” — The plot summary from IMBD: In 1815, authors Lord Byron, Mary Shelley and Percy Shelley get together for some philosophical discussions, but the situation soon deteriorates into mind games, drugs and sex. Why would this be considered a deterioration?
“The Barretts of Wimpole Street” — charting the courtship of Elizabeth Barrett by Robert Browning.
“Dead Poets Society” — Robin Williams stars
–From J for James
Oddly no one seems to have noted Cocteau’s “ORPHEE,” which inspired Jack Spicer’s receiving poetry from the radio, or Cocteau’s “Le Sang du poete” (Blood of a Poet) probably the first film to take place entirely between an opening of a building collapsing and a final “scene” of the conclusion of the building’s collapse—-a play on the “film within a film” and also an expression of the speed of poetic thought traveling faster than a building collapsing, the “film of the imagination” NOT shown in the “documentary”–yet existing simultaneously–”mental trajectories” within a “jump cut”–
a lot of films made beginning with Feuillades’ serials (“Les Vampyrs,” etc)– France culminating in the work of Jean Vigo, “L’atalante” esp and the Dali/Bunuel “l’Age d’or” & Chien Andalu–(one could add Buneul’s “Los Olvidados” also)
Pier Paulo Pasolini -a great poet who made many superb films–including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales-
Robert Frank’s “Pull My Daisy” with spontaneous prosody voice over narration by Kerouac and “starring” Ginsberg, Corso & Larry Rivers-
The Howard Hawks western “El Dorado” which includes recitation of lines from the Poe poem of that name–
Samuel Beckett films done with Buster Keaton
Antonin Artaud’s astonishing screen appearances and film writing–
Eisenstein wrote essays detailing the influences of Chinese calligraphic poetry and influences of literature in his works
Dziga Vertov’s films influenced by the art and poetry of Russian Futurism and Constructivism and also Mayakovsky’s starring roles in some films–
the poems and prose of Poe inspired lot of avant-garde French cinema of the Twenties and of course the Roger Corman cult classics of early 1960’s–
there’s even a pretty silly Hollywood “bio-pic” of Villon–
Bertolucci’s early film “The Spider Strategem” is from a great Borges story–
Susan Howe in Writing 19 wrote a really interesting essay on Olson’s “seeing in a poem” and cinema of Pudovkin and others–
Stan Brakhage influenced by many of the poets he encountered-for example, -in Film Culture’s Brakhage issue of Fall 1963 , Brakhage writes long letter to his wife Jane re his first encounter with Olson–
there must be thousands more considering how many films in so many languages from so many cultures there are! many come to mind but at moment can’t recall the tiles clearly enough–from, Japan and India alone—
–From David Chirot
And I might add the poetics of Chris Marker’s “La Jetee” — a film Susan Howe shared with us, along with the Vertov, in one of her poetics classes.
Which leads me to the Clarice Lispector novel-turned-film, Hour of the Star — a film I can add since Lispector’s fiction was poetry.
A Few Quickie Last Minute Additions
Japanese films from the quartet - Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu, Toru. Its worthwhile to check out the much forgotten Ritwik Ghatak and Buddhadeb Dasgupta, an acclaimed poet himself.
–From Aryanil Mukherjee
Also Andrei Tarkovsky, to me an arch poet of film, especially in Stalker. He quotes poems in most (if not all) of his film, mostly those of his father, Arsey Tarkovsky. I wrote an essay on Stalker – “Tarkovsky’s Stalker: A poet in a destitute time” - last year, if anyone is interested.
–From Alison Croggon
To the “Canterbury Tales” you should add “Decameron” (taken from Giovanni Boccaccio’s homonymous work) in which the same Pasolini appears with Giuseppe Zigaina (painter and most important friend of the poet), the movie was also shot in this town at the Civic Museum defined by Pasolini “the most beautiful museum he has ever seen”, and “A Thousand and One Nights” (the original title is “The Flower of the One Thousand and One Nights”) a sublime poem by itself.
Later on these three movies will be defined “The Trilogy of Life”. Moreover, Pasolini chose his actors from the paintings of the masters and reproduced the same scenes directly from the paintings. He preferred Mannerism to all other styles, and his favorite painter was (if I am not wrong) Andrea del Sarto. He studied at the University of Bologna, one of his professors was Roberto Longhi (main Italian art critic, no wonder he started out from Art).
–From Anny Ballardini
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- Date : 11 August 2008
- Tags : Films, Movies, Poem, Poetic Angle, Poetry
- Categories : Film, Movies, Poetics, Poetry, Reviews, Sexy, Video
|Poetry Exercises Wanted!|
12 06 2008
I am teaching a Writing Poetry course this July, and while I have a curriculum in place, I’d like to change things up a bit and try out some exercises that have worked well for others, which is where you come in. Plus, there are PRIZES!
* My students will range in age from 18 - 84 (it’s true!). The average age is about 20.
* The students have taken a basic Creative Writing course in the past, so they have a working knowledge of the basic elements of poetry.
* The two standard texts I use for reference are Ron Padgett’s Handbook of Poetic Forms and Sleeping on the Wing by Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell.
* I always bring in supplemental material and am easily able to photocopy materials suggested.
* This course will result in the production of a chapbook for each student, so exercises that are geared towards that feat are helpful.
That’s the gist of it. I’d love to hear about exercises that worked well for you! Additionally, I am aware of Charles Bernstein’s list of experiments, Bernadette Mayer’s Writing Experiments, and Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises, so no need to point me in those directions. I want your personal successes!
Please add your poetry exercise suggestion(s) as a comment on this post. I have a few rewards to send out if I end up using your exercise. Gifts to choose from:
* Rod Smith’s audio CD, “fear the sky“, compliments of Narrow House Records.
* Anselm Berrigan’s audio CD, “pictures for private devotion“, compliments of Narrow House Records.
* Matthew Rotando’s “The Comeback’s Exoskeleton“, compliments of UpSet Press, Inc.
* Amy King’s “I’m the Man Who Loves You“, compliments of moi.
* Kate Greenstreet’s “case sensitive“, compliments of moi.
Thank you in advance!
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|The Fluff That Fills Our Heads|
While the elites are focused on their own fluff stories like “The World’s Most Secretive Billionaires,” the rest of us might watch a little t.v. I do. I wish I could have a full time critical mind. I don’t. I engage in “mindless” activities that often include sitting in front of an electrified box that shows me a story, and I take it in. Try to guess what will happen next due to overused plot formulas. Note inconsistencies. Being slightly OCD has always meant a possible future job as a continuity director. Alternately, I sip on a nice red wine in the backyard and imagine the birds that will flock to my yard, once I find the most lovely of seed mixes. We’ve had quite a bountiful populace over the last few months, though despite our sugary gifts, the illusive hummingbirds never made it to our sandy side of the island.
When I am “disengaged” in my frivolous American way, I like to be comforted and see some hint of my life reflected, in an optimistic light, through these boob tube stories. Who doesn’t? So why am I, like so many others, drawn to the popular detective/cop show genre? “Law and Order” is an easy scene because it’s always on. I took in the Baltimore show, “The Wire,” for its entire run. “The Shield” dominates the screen if I can find it. And oh, “Dexter,” with its lovely criminal twists wins every time.
So not so long ago, a male friend laughed when he heard I had turned Ana on to “The Closer” and now thinks of us when those Kyra Sedgwick “confessional” commercials cross his screen. I wonder if he’ll ever watch it. Today, I graduated to wondering how many men go beyond “JAG” and watch “The Closer.” I’m optimistic in thinking that, likely, quite a few do. Why? Because the times, they are a changin’. I mean, I mean it. I’m sure we’ll get our backlash, and may even be in it as evidenced by the recent woman hating crap seen through generic Hillary-bashing, but still, I think there are a lot of men who really want something more egalitarian, or to put it in a less p.c. way, relationships that allow them to appreciate aspects of womanhood that have traditionally been denigrated in the not-so-distant past. And to be risque about it, I think some of these men are grateful that they can even embrace and enact a few of these feminine behaviors, thanks to one of the most important movements in America, the multi-cultural women’s movement, and assume some of those nurturing responsibilities, whether in relation to raising their children or simply as a means to supporting and encouraging their lovers through real tangible and emotional help.
Two nights ago, I decided to give that stupid-looking show, “Saving Grace,” a whirl. I knew the premise had something to do with a female cop and a lurking angel who was trying to help her with her fiery temper, or a variation on Grace’s lack of tameness. It just seemed dumb. But TNT has been promoting the hell out of that show and simultaneously my favorite show, “The Closer,” which I love, primarily because Sedgwick’s character, Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson, is a good old southern girl raised in the conventional ways of Southern Belle-dom. Her family’s notions of respectability smack a little of my own, though the racist threads within the spoken culture are tidily excised for TV. Sedgwick’s character, however, doesn’t comply with the push: she hasn’t had a child and likely won’t, is unmarried at the ripe old age of late thirty-something, doesn’t adhere to familial obligation (my mother would have me nursing her pre-elder years if she could), and above all, she’s used her mind to get to one of the highest positions the L.A.P.D. force can offer. She’s in command of a group of mostly men and has the respect (and oft times reluctant compliance) of her commanding officer. She doesn’t “do things by the book” or, as the south would have her behave, with grace and demureness.
In fact, she mocks these conventions by giving them lip service, “Thank ya’ll VERY MUCH!”, but when something needs to get done, Sedgwick delivers a command and commands her will be done with the earnestness of a … of a mother who runs the home with a firm and happy hand. I was going to say like a “general,” but that seems too much like she’s adopted a man’s style of power. She hasn’t. If anything, the writers, director, and producers of this show want you to recognize that Sedgwick’s character has her “weak” or flawed human side. She gets sick (early onset menopause has wreaked all kinds of havoc), makes big P.R. errors, makes mistakes in her personal life (esp with her fiance), and oh, deals with all sorts of other “female” issues and challenges. But. None of the men, except one typical guy who is part-time out to get her job (he alternately can’t resist supporting her as one of the team for he does follow the male competitive model), see these flaws as the sum total of her character. They allow her to make mistakes and be human without rubbing her nose in it. In fact, they often take up the slack. They help her when she most needs it (and will allow it). They respect and admire her talent and see her as a — for lack of a better word — good person. She’s not someone to defeat. She’s to be supported, and she provides support. It’s an interesting model, this cooperative model, that doesn’t often find women in the leading role on a major network. Instead, we usually find the competitive ethos that makes women prove “they are as good as men,” or usually more aggressive, if they want to be successful on that channel for any period of time.
Which leads me full circle back to “Saving Grace.” Granted, I’ve only seen one episode, so bear with me. Like “The Closer,” Grace enjoys the room allowed her to be irrational at times and also to feel in charge of herself and her decisions as a woman and as a cop. She acts impulsively and struggles with “doing what’s right.” She gets mostly-unconditional support (O Ideal World!), though her honey gets frustrated as does Sedgwick’s fiance, but ultimately, patience wins out, and her beau can be seen backing off when she needs room and doing things to help her out of whatever literal or emotional hole Grace struggles within. These characters’ primary men are unusual in that they are paired with women who seem to have more power than them and command a greater presence (and have more people under their command), and yet, they are not threatened. They do their own jobs and have momentarily separate lives (one is an FBI agent; Grace’s is also a detective) and enjoy watching their lovers do theirs, helping, as noted, when they can offer assistance without the help seeming to be a comment on these women’s capabilities. Call me simple, but I am hopeful as I watch these men, who are masculine and feminine, strong and flawed, just as their partners are — and they recognize these conditions and respond humanly.
This morning I got to wondering about why these two shows get the most commercial push on TNT. I don’t have the true answer nor do I really want to spend time researching Ted Turner’s mystique. But Ted Turner it is who makes the final decisions for TNT’s programming. And he is known to have been with at least one very notably strong woman for some period of time. Remember Jane Fonda? That vocal anti-Vietnam spokesperson who was arrested and took a lot of flak for posing with an NVA crew to make a statement? Did she make mistakes? Likely (& is still dubbed a “traitor” by many), but I’m not debating that point at the moment. I will note that Fonda could be commended for taking a public stand when it wasn’t the “safe” thing to do and to note that she might be characterized as a woman who isn’t afraid to take risks and has been active beyond her acting career for a good while. Moreover, Turner didn’t marry pretty arm candy; he married a woman who has been celebrated for promoting feminist causes, speaks out often, and was profiled in ABC’s A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women. Turner might be divorced now, but his selection of, at least this partner, leads me to wonder how this southern man was fine for many years being married to such a woman. And then I have to ask, if pop culture reflects the conversations we’re having with society, what’s Ted Turner trying to tell us? Detective Grace Hanadarko and Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, and their creators, might have a clue or two. Stay tuned.
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|YE OLDE “BOYS WILL BE BOYS” PLEA|
I was reading an article in The Week debating the pros & cons of Dove’s new ad campaign. The ads depict women who are not models and wear the dress sizes of average American women. The Week is pretty good about offering up a few different perspectives on each issue they decide to cover. One of the remarks struck a chord, especially today. Here is the excerpt:
In the long run, when people thumb through Glamour or Vogue, or glance up at a billboard, they don’t want “to feel as though they’ve stumbled into the ladies’ locker room, or caught their neighbors in their skivvies.” Hear, hear, said Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times. If I want to see plump posteriors and lardy legs, I can always visit my local shopping mall. “If that makes me sound superficial, shallow, and sexist–well, yes. I’m a man.”
Lovely. Richard Roeper’s snide response is naturalized in our culture, along with countless other similarly degrading comments on a daily basis. If I challenge his sweeping disdain for the female form in any way, I risk becoming the prude and proverbial bitch. This is not a question of first amendment rights. Of course Roeper has the right to make his statement, but if I exercise the same first amendment rights and question his statement, an anger flares that is quite revealing about the hierarchical pyramid of society today. No one likes authority to be challenged, and men and women alike will let me know I’m out of line. After all, good girls should be seen and not heard…
Which brings me to the seemingly harmless cousin of this kind of male commentary, “cat calling,” as it is so cutely dubbed. When I worked in Manhattan, I was the recipient of some form of cat calling on a daily basis, simply by walking from the subway to my midtown building. If I challenged the calls of “Hey sweetheart” or the “Give me a smile” commands in any fashion beyond the prescribed return smile, the tone changed from pseudo-friendly to one of anger (”Don’t be such a bitch” or “Suck my dick”) that was meant to punish me for not playing along.
This abuse of the first amendment carries with it a very real imminent, albeit mostly undiscussed, threat that, I fear, only some men are able to imagine and sense. It is this kind of free speech that collects payment from women. I mean, how many women typically cat call? How many women physically threaten men? I’m certain there are exceptions, but overall, it is women who learn to put on a street face if they don’t want to be bothered. It is women who learn not to respond to the baiting that happens every few blocks. It is women who will walk a block out of the way if they know there is a construction site nearby. It is women who are conditioned to restrict their own mobility on the streets.
I know I am not alone in such behavior. And yes, after growing up in Georgia, roaming the woods and neighborhood freely under the guise of boyhood (I was a tomboy), I admit, I resent not being able to set out in the name of adventure down certain streets. I don’t like that travelling alone on a train or bus marks me as a target for strange men to approach me with seedy or not-so-seedy-but-unwelcomed requests. And here’s a second yes: I do have male friends. I’m not a man-hater. I hate specific, costly behaviors.
Unfortunately, I believe it is the innocent-enough perpetuation of the mentality that “boys will be boys” that Roeper exercises above that leads to more dangerous behaviors. To be “superficial, shallow, and sexist,” as Roeper touts, means he has the license to ignore the possible implications of his statement, he can forgo empathy, and he can gleefully ride the wave of his unexamined designs for the world-as-he-desires-it — because, as he boasts, “I’m a man.”
And who am I to challenge that? read more ...
|Not Thinking Alike|
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“It is not best that we all should think alike, it is differences of opinion that make horse races.”
A few new poems written by my non-pseudonym in Jacket Magazine:
* The Arm of Eden
* Where Bullfinches Go to Defy
* Two if by Land, I Do
* A Martyrdom Should Behave Us All
This is an early appearance as Jacket #35 is still under construction though you’ll find a little action there already.
|Poet’s Bookshelf II |
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101 poets list books that have been especially important in their artistic development, and offer commentary.
Sandra Alcosser * Jack Anderson * Philip Appleman * Ivan Argüelles * Mary Jo Bang * Luis Benítez * Robert Bly * Amy King * Daniel Bourne * Andrea Hollander Budy * Mairéad Byrne * Nick Carbó * Maxine Chernoff * Tom Clark * Joshua Clover * Andrei Codrescu * Shanna Compton * Stephen Corey * Alfred Corn * Barbara Crooker * Catherine Daly * Linh Dinh * Edward Field * Forrest Gander * Sandra Gilbert * Diane Glancy * Kenneth Goldsmith * Noah Eli Gordon * Stephen Herz * H. L. Hix * Anselm Hollo * Janet Holmes * Kent Johnson * Marilyn Kallet * Ilya Kaminsky * Robert Kelly * Jennifer L.
|KISS ME WITH THE MOUTH OF YOUR COUNTRY|
Two years ago, Susana Gardner tirelessly invited and organized poets from all over the world to join the * a dusi/e-chap kollektiv. Those chapbooks were also made available online here: [ http://www.dusie.org/contribpage.html ]
THIS YEAR’S efforts multiplied and are now available here [ http://www.dusie.org/ ], including chapbooks by:
Hugh & Mary Behm-Steinberg
Dana W read more ...
Well, Rob McLennan asked me some fun questions, so I had to think about me, me, me. I think I had fun with me. Visit me here.
Or go to the complete archive and have fun with lots of other poets like Juliana Spahr, Adeena Karasick, William Allegrezza, Matthew Zapruder, Rosmarie Waldrop, Maxine Chernoff, Cole Swensen, Mairéad Byrne, and about a hundred others!
Industrious much? Thanks lots, Rob! read more ...