Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
every night you invent
new ways of snoring.
I wrote this haiku last night at around 2am! Then this morning I was reading through my review copy of Poetry Speaks Expanded (a thoroughly recommended book, I'll be posting the review as soon as I can!) and was struck by these lines at the beginning of Ogden Nash's entertaining poem The Trouble with Women is Men:
A husband is a man who two minutes after his head tounches the pillow is snoring like an overloaded omnibus,
Particularly on those occasions when between the humidity and the mosquitoes your own bed is no longer a bed but an insomnibus.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Grumpy note to cinema goers - it is not polite, when there are plenty of free seats in the cinema, to come in late, sit directly in front of someone else and then proceed to jump up and down gesticulating wildly.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The Spoken Word Revolution Redux edited by Mark Eleherd
Dead Redhead by Tracey Herd
I'm still reading it, but Poetry Speaks Expanded is also worth mentioning here
The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic
Maps by Nurrudin Farah
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
A Gift from Nessus - William McIllvaney
The Baron in the Trees - Italo Calvino
Desert Flower by Waris Dirie
Spoken Here by Mark Abley
Pazze per le Borse (Crazy for Handbags) Paola Jacobbi (Italian)
Die Männer und der Seejungfrau (The Men and the Mermaid) by Wolfgang Ott (German)
Comme un Roman (Like a Novel*) by Daniel Pennac (French)
* except the English translation of the book comes under a different title I think
La Moustache (The Moustache) by Emmanuel Carrere (French)
Two Days in Paris - Julie Delpy
I'm a Cyborg but That's Okay - Pan Chan-wook (Edinburgh International Film Festival)
Das Leben des Anderen (Lives of Others)
Inland Empire - David Lynch
I've posted a review of the environmentally related best of the year here on Crafty Green Poet.
Best of the Year for Booking through Thursday - with added films
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I also enjoy renga or renku poetry, a Japanese form, related to haiku, that is currently popular in Scotland, with people working together to produce linked verses.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Choose a book that calls to you.
Go to the end of several chapters, and find the final noun or verb.
Make a list of 10 or so words, and then write a 10- to 20-line poem using those words.
Maybe the feeling or tone of your poem will come from your emotional connection to the book you choose. Maybe not.
I thought it was a clever idea for an exercise but it didn't speak to me particularly. But anyway, I was choosing which novel to read next and thinking about this exercise drew my eye to Anne Michael's wonderful novel Fugitive Pieces (not that I'm going to re-read it just now but it spoke to me for the exercise). I cheated slightly with the words, there are two nouns from one chapter and the second to last verb from another chapter. So, this is the poem I came up with, the words from the novel are listed after the poem.
a radio crackles below deck
outside nothing but sea ............ waves
of nausea alternate with hunger
thirst to return to the world
that now only curls a memory
in my heartbeat the history
of my given name ............... there are too many
of us who need too much
waves, refugee, thirst, return, world, name, heartbeat, hunger, crackle, need
oh and for the record, it does work for me, and I may very well use this idea again! I may even find myself doing this exercise after every novel I enjoy reading!
A novel idea for Read Write Poem
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
I wrote a poem about dancing a while back, you can read it here.
Dance for Sunday Scribblings
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Although I don't like to get into a rut and am more likely to avoid reading back to back several books set in Spain say, I will often read books because there is a small connection between them, I'm too lazy to do research on this at the minute and name books but I once read two books back to back because they both had the same quote from Dante in the introduction, though they had nothing else in common. Over the past year I've read several books that have been partly set at sea, as is the current book I'm reading 'Do White Whales Sing at the End of the World' by Paul Wilson. This novel has nothing in common with the previous book I read which was the wonderful short novel set in a dying village in the Spanish Pyrenees - The Yellow Rain by Julio Llamazares. Yet on page 4 in Do White Whales Sing we find this passage:
From the village, the colony rises abruptly from its shoulder of land. At night it has the look of a castle - it is all dark stone and narrow lights and seems set to repel invaders. In daylight it seems more like a small medieval village, the kind you might stumble across unexpectedly in the Pyrenees of Spain.
These are the connections I most love to find between books, the unexpected serendipitious links that prove that everything is connected!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Rome Burns were the support band. Support band? You must be joking, they were way too good to be a support band, especially in a laid back venue known for shows starting late (they were on stage quite promptly and lots of people didn't get there before they'd finished their set). They sound great (goth rock), look great and gave a very professional performance.
Na asked in the comments on my recent post about how I didn't mis-spend my youth, what were my favourite bands to see live. So for Na, and anyone else who wants to know, here's the link that will tell you.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Things changed at University though I didn't mis-spend my time there I certainly had a good time. I joined lots of University societies, ones that were socially useful but also had a good social life (Student Community Action Group for example had me volunteering with dementia patients but also going to some brilliant parties, while Friends of the Earth were as famous for their pub nights as for their conservation work). I also worked hard but not too hard and passed the exams that mattered. I think I had the best possible time at University.
I only discovered live rock music in my 20s and clubbing in my 30s (thankfully a lot of people in the goth and alternative scene are older than the stereotypical clubber) though apart from the late nights and the sometimes controversial music, its not time mis-spent really, goths (in Edinburgh at least) are the nicest, most polite clubbers you can find and I can't drink alcohol when I'm dancing.
I'm glad I didn't 'mis-spend' my youth, though I do wish I had seen more films and listened to more music when I was a teenager, I feel I miss out on too many cultural references.
After his liberation from Auschwitz, Primo Levi was forced to travel, with other liberated camp inmates, through Europe - Ukraine, Belorus, Romania, Hungary, Germany before finally returning to his hometown of Turin. This film makes the same journey. It's interesting to see the new Europe, what has changed, what hasn't changed and to see the extent to which we don't learn from history. Scenes from a collective farm in Belorus are intercut with scenes from an old Soviet film about collective agriculture; neo Nazis gather in Germany.... The narrative for the film is inspired by Levi's book The Truce.
I saw the original Italian version of this film at the Italian Film Festival. Apparently there is another version with a twangy southern USA English language narrative.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The book is entertaining too though sometimes seems a bit contrived and the deliberately bad English can sometimes become irritating.
Xiaolu Guo is also a film director, her film How is Your Fish Today was one of the highlights for me of the 2006 Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Normalemente quando ho visto film di Cina, ho visto film di Cina storico o rurale. Ma la Cina industriale in questo film è molto deprimente. Anche il film, benché e interessante e qualche volta divertente.
Vicenzo is an engineer working in a steel mill near Naples. A Chinese broker buys machinery from the factory and returns to China. Vicenzo discovers defects in the machinery and goes to China to sort things out. However he doesn't speak Chinese and doesn't know where the steel mill is that has bought the machinery. He is poorly prepared for his journey! Luckily he meets a translator who can help him, though there are lots of cultural misunderstandings and problems.
Most Chinese films I've seen have been set in rural or historical China. The industrial China in this film is very depressing. As is the film, though it is also interesting and sometimes entertaining!
The Italian Film Festival is on at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh (and selected other venues in the UK) until 2 December.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
So what languages do you speak and how do you use them?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The fundraiser's sentence:
We are grateful for your previous donation, now please give us more!
You won't be wanting to do that again in a rush, ken, will you then?The stereotypical cosy Scots sentence:
Hey, Jimmy, what you doin' ower there wi' that bonnie wee lassie?
There's a wee chappie playing the bagpipes ower there in the heather.The stereotypical urban Scots sentence:
Ye wannae go down the chippy for Irn Bru and deep fried Mars Bars?
Aye and then we can go down the pub for the match and a wee bevvie
ken - you know
ower - over
bonnie - pretty, lovely
wee - small, short
chappie - man
ye - you
wannae - want to
chippy - chip shop
Irn Bru - soft drink, brewed in Scotland
deep fried Mars Bar - yes there is such a thing
the match - the football match on big screen tv
wee bevvie - a few drinks
on Crafty Green Poet, read American (Holiday) Sentences
American Sentences for Read Write Poem
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less?Why?
I read loads more than I used to when I was younger. I think the more I read the more I want to read. I also realise that if I want to be a good writer I need to read a lot so I can understand what works and what doesn't in the literature I enjoy. Also I like to read in foreign languages as a perfect way to improve my language skills, while reading about subjects I'm interested in (eg science, linguistics) is a great way to learn more about the world. I also know that the amount I read has increased greatly since I joined Bookcrossing - an international community of booklovers who like to share their books, either with other bookcrossers or by leaving them in public places for unsuspecting passers by to find. Like many other bookcrossers I had originally thought that this would be a good way of reducing the number of books on my shelves, but no it has had the opposite effect. Plus the fact that a few years ago charities in the UK introduced second hand shops that sell books and nothing but books. These shops have probably been my downfall! But I can't complain because the more good books I read the more I love reading and its been a really good year for books this year. (I may post more about that later in the year!).
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Me piace molto questo libro! E facile a leggere, divertimento e interresante! Paola Jacobbi esplora la significata sociale delle borse, i tipi delle borse, anche le borse famose; quale borsa per quale evento? come donne differente usano le borse ecc. Anche e un libro bello con illustrazione amusante. Se questo libro sia in inglesa, non li avrei letto, perché avrei pensato sia troppo 'da ragazza' e frivolo. Ma è piu.
I really enjoyed this book! It's easy to read, entertaining and interesting! Paola Jacobbi explores the social significance of handbags, types of handbags (including famous handbags), vital questions such as 'which handbag for which occasion?' and how different women use handbags. It's also a beautiful hardback book full of amusing illustrations. If this book had been in English, I wouldn't have read it, I would have thought that it would be too girly and frivolous. But its a lot more than that. (Unfortunately I don't know whether it has been translated into English).
Monday, October 29, 2007
footpaths; gave advice to people in debt;
made art with disabled children.
One day I overheard my father say
how disappointed he was I was
wasting my time this way.
Years later, I sit in an office, shuffling
papers for an organisation that's lost
its way. One day I'll escape but for now
I'm stuck; work my biggest
disappointment; my only
waste of time.
Last week I posted Workplace Blues 1
Work for Totally Optional Prompts
Thursday, October 25, 2007
My great unread book is Ulysees by James Joyce, I got to page 5 i think the first time I read it but i loved The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man so will try again with Ulysees and may even get to page 10 next time!
I also have to admit to not finishing Kafka's The Castle. I read it in German and though I felt it was a worthwhile read and I loved a lot about it, it is just so long and I just couldn't face spending any more time stuck in Kafka's imagination in German, which is such hard work to read....
I remember when I left Primary School I felt sad that I hadn't been able to finish the Intriductory book to Greek Mythology that I had been reading.
There are others too, but those are the ones I most remember just now. As I get older I'm more likely to give up on a book, I don't see the point of continuing to read a book when I'm not enjoying it or getting anything out of it. Having said that I finish most books I read.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I would take with me a branded mug
for pride of place on the kitchen shelf
a pen for using at my writing desk
a t-shirt to wear to the beach sometimes
and a badge to have on my lapel
Now I sit at work and wait
for the day when I will
never need to look
at any of these things again
Monday, October 22, 2007
There are many other similar stories from past Olympics across the world. I'm getting so tired of reading these while other people are praising the games that I'll put a longer article together and post it sometime in the next month or so.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
posting pieces of time
in sea-views and lines -
rewording your life.
My only map
a patchwork of postcards
with scribbled notes.
Salt on my tongue,
I taste the tidemark
of your travels,
explore you back from absence.
First published in Envoi magazine.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Web sites are Going Pink during the month of October to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, get people talking about breast cancer, and raise money for research.
But to be clear, raising money isn’t the primary purpose of this web event.
The hope is that you turn your site pink (in whatever way works for your site), go out to that World Wide Web thing (in fact you’re on it right now! :) ) and educate yourself about the multiple issues related to Breast Cancer, then take that newfound knowledge and tell someone else what you’ve learned.
For obvious reasons, Crafty Green Poet will remain green during October, but I'm experimenting with a delightful green and pink combination at the moment and will hopefully post something about the environmental factors in breast cancer.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Thanks everyone for your interest and there will be more Giveaways in the future!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I read both these books while we were in Orkney. Both of them feature ordinary people living ordinary lives and in both novels, the main characters find themselves in effect in the same place as they were at the beginning.
Breathing Lessons won the Pullitzer Prize and Anne Tyler has been described as 'the greatest living writer in the English language" yet I found this book disappointing. Yes, she is a good writer with the ability to create believable characters and dialogue and she highlights the funny little details in people's personalities that make them unique and therefore not as ordinary as they may appear on the surface. However, I feel she doesn't really delve very deeply, I want more insight. I came to the end of the book and felt that none of the characters had learned anything or changed in any way and that they would remain forever in the same unsatisfying situations. Am I missing something here?
A Gift from Nessus is different, I loved it. The characters are again ordinary people, but they are truly three dimensional characters that felt much more self aware than Tyler's characters. I felt the writing was full of insight. The prose is beautiful and not afraid of metaphor and allusion though I didn't feel it was ever pretentious (apart possibly from the title). On the surface, again nothing has changed by the end of the book, however I felt that the characters had learnt a lot about themselves, enough to change their unsatisfactory lives round to become more fulfilling.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
adorable, ingenious, weird
German - there are lots of wonderful words in German that don't have an exact or good translation in English, my favourite today is Zeitgeist
French and Italian - well everything sounds so much nicer in those languages, it would be difficult to choose my favourite words!
What are your favourite words? Remember to share them at Education Action!
Friday, September 07, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Under the chestnut tree its already night
as I turn back towards the house
where lights are coming on
though some of the windows
are still dark as mouths.
Sometimes I felt there were too many ghosts and wanted more of her poems to have the substance and presence of those that deal with more concrete things, like Her Given Names:
At the word cat
she's down on all fours
performing her hunger,
warping and wefting through his legs,
arching her spine at his creamy voice.
I've registered this book with Bookcrossing and am happy to pass it on to someone who wants to read it. If you'd like it, just let me know in the comments. I'll put the names into a hat in a couple of weeks.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
A Festival of African films, Africa in Motion comes to the Filmhouse from 25 October to 4 November.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Abby, aka Abzdragon, from Geek Tragedy is a young rocking poet already getting published and performing her work - without stage fright she tells me! I wish I'd started out in poetry with so much confidence!
Michelle at GPP Street Team sets rocking Crusades - art journalling challenges on topics such as 'My Rockstar Moment', 'Tattoos' and 'Playlists'. Why not check them out!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
thieves, even small windows
upstairs. In summer
suburbia, we slept
with first floor bedroom windows closed
though any housebreaker would know
how to pick the lock
on the back kitchen door.
Open Window for Poetry Thursday
Another interpretation on the theme can be found at Crafty Green Poet
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I'm a Cyborg, but that's OK will be showing as part of the Best of the Film Festival on Sunday 26 August. The film will almost certainly get a good release in cinemas across the UK and elsewhere and all I can say is go and see it when you can!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
shatters quiet sleep -
For a quieter daybreak, please visit Crafty Green Poet.
Daybreak for One Deep Breath
PS - Haiku Scotland recently accepted five of my haiku to appear in their September and December 2007 issues.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The Legacy will show again at 16.45, Monday 20 August at the Filmhouse.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
It's a beautiful film, full of sadness and regret and offering interesting insight into the politics and labour relations of South Korea in 1980.
The Old Garden will show again 22.00, Sunday 19 August at Cineworld
Friday, August 17, 2007
Aria shows again tomorrow, Saturday, 18 August in Cineworld.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)
I'm very monogamous as far as novels go, I can only read one novel at a time. However at the same time I always have a book of poetry next to my armchair, and a book of short stories or essays too. Usually I only read short stories/essays between novels, though I dip into the poetry book regularly. I also have a book in my handbag, usually a slim volume of poetry, sometimes the novel I'm reading if its a small book (I don't like heavy books in my handbag!). I read a fair amount of non-fiction, sometimes I'll have a non-fiction book by my armchair to dip into as I read my novel, sometimes I'll read a non-fiction book as if it were a novel. I also read quite a lot in foreign languages. If I'm reading a novel in a foreign language, I'll probably read a light non fiction book in English at the same time, I get tired easily reading in foreign languages, especially German.
Novel: Dictionary of the Khazars - Milorad Pavic
Non-fiction - Linguistics for Students of Literature (yes this is recreational reading!)
Poetry - Staying Alive - edited Neil Astley
Foreign Language - In meinen Traumen lautet es Sturm - Mascha Kaleko (poetry)
In my handbag - Aboriginal Legends - Animal Tales - collected by A W Reed
How about you? Are you monogamous?
Booking through Thursday
Monday, August 13, 2007
'Le doute n'a pas place dans les legendes. Pour un conteur, la vérité est un support, elle ne doit pas être un fardeau.'
'On ne demande pas a un poète d'être historien.'
Cette citation deuxieme peut-être est un idee pour un poême!
Si tu veux lire cette livre, seulement dites moi!
I received this little book from another bookcrosser. It's the story of an old African griot who keeps telling the same stories, but embellishing them. For me the most interesting aspects of the book were the questions it asked about the role of the storyteller. I have taken two quotes:
'Doubt has no place in legends. For the storyteller, truth is a support, it does not need to be a burden'
'We do not demand our poets to be historians'.
This second quote could be a great starting point for a poem!
If you would like to read this book, please let me know!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
steal a boy from his village -
Through song, dance and drama, Flesh explores the personal stories of David an African slave in eighteenth century London, the people he meets and their opinions about slavery. The stories are powerfully moving, but ultimately hopeful. Parallels with current issues are clearly, but subtly drawn. It's a very energetic production with excellent performances, dancing, singing and drumming from the young cast and muscians, though the acoustics and straining spoken performances mean that some of the narrative is lost.
Flesh is on at St John's Church, Lothian Road, 7.30pm, 7-11 August. £7/£5.
Evening for One Deep Breath.
I've posted another evening haiku on Crafty Green Poet.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Abby of A G33k Tragedy is interviewing me sometime during her Blogathon. You can read my interview and any of her other interesting posts (one post every 24 hours and we're promised poetry and art as well as a variety of other blog posts!) on her Blogathon blog.
Her interview with me can be read here.
Friday, July 27, 2007
You can find out more on Crafty Green Poet.
There are many things I loved about this book, the descriptions of Jersey (a place I love, evocatively re-recreated in the early part of this book) the occasional hilarious scenes, such as the Pork Club party and the huge tortoises stuck on the Opera House roof, even though they're not visible to anyone, the sense of adventure and the overall quality of the writing. The characters are vivid and well drawn and atmosphere is expertly conveyed, whether in underground passages or in the foggy streets of London.
However I found it tedious that so many scenes were presented from a variety of viewpoints without this adding anything substantial to the reader's understanding of the scene. I also got lost in some of the more convoluted detailings of the conspiracies. That's my fault rather than the books. My mind just doesn't work like that!
Overall, definitely a book I'm glad to have read, but I wouldn't read it again.
Submitted for the Hidden Treasure's Review Competition. It's open until 15 August, why not enter a review yourself?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Grenouille is the villain in Patrick Suskind's novel Perfume. He has no personal odour and a very well refined sense of smell. He naturally becomes a perfumier and then ventures into bottling the scents of beautiful women, murdering the women on the way. I really enjoyed the book in a creepy sort of way, I felt that Grenouille is a very well realised villain, the details make him a very distinctive character and the evil aspects of his nature are built up very effectively.
The central character in John Burnside's novel The Dumb House, is rarely referred to by name, but I think he may be called Luke? He is a nasty piece of work and his story is told in a chillingly rational style that I found so disturbing that I could barely read the book. This is effectiveness writ large but to detrimental effect for those of us of a sensitive disposition. Burnside is one of my favourite poets, he is a brilliant writer but this novel just gave me insights into a sick and twisted soul that i don't think I wanted to see.
Villains for Booking Through Thursday.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Okay, love him or loathe him, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, comes out on Saturday… Are you going to read it? NO. NEVER
Are you attending any of the midnight parties? NO.
If you’re not going to read it, why not?
It isn't my thing. Plus the more popular a book or film becomes the less likely I am to read /watch it, unless it is totally my thing anyway. I don't follow the crowd.
And, for the record… what do you think? Will Harry survive the series? I think he won't, otherwise there's too much pressure for JK to write more books in the series.
What are you most looking forward to? The end of the hype!
I will just add that I admire JK Rowling for the way she approached the Harry Potter series, her own story is truly inspiring.
Edited also to add: I think Harry Potter has been great for getting children and young people interested in reading again and can bring families together over books that appeal to all family members.
the air shimmers with their lost wor(l)ds
full of unlearnt wisdom
that we waft away like smoke.
While we struggle to understanding
speaking in our second language -
haunting the table.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
Shawshank Redemption and La Moustache.
2. The worst?
I usually think that the film is inferior to the book. If I love the book, I'll probably not go to see the film adaptation. There are some disappointing films that I've seen, that I know were made from films, but if I've not read the book I can't say whether it was a bad adaptation or just plain bad.
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?
I generally don't go to see films made from books I've already read. If I'm going to experience both, I'd rather see the film first. I always feel that the film paints the story with broader brushstrokes and then the book allows me to delve deeper. With both Shawshank Redemption and La Moustache, I saw the film before reading the book. Having seen La Moustache before reading it helped me a lot with getting through the book (I read it in French).
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
For fullest enjoyment, read while drinking Green and Black's fairtrade, organic Maya Gold hot chocolate.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
It's an interesting novel to read, but in future I'll stick to her poetry!
Friday, July 06, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Deepa Mehta is Indian born, though now lives in Canada. Her beautifully made and heartbreakingly sad film Water focuses on one of the issues touched on in Dalrymple's book. That is the status of widows in India. The film is set in 1938, just around the time when it became legal for widows to remarry, though it was still considered culturally unacceptable.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thus with insatiate thirst we supped
from one another's gaping cuts,
then kissed with lips that dripped
our bittersweet commingled blood.
Many of the poems set love firmly within the natural environment as in GENEVIEVE:
You are fallen yellow leaves
carried on quiet streams of tears
You are an evening breeze
whispering disconsolate dreams.
You are the ebbing ocean
washing over a naked beach
Continue reading my review here. If you would like this book, please leave a comment below. Names will be drawn out of a hat in about two weeks and the winner will receive this book along with a copy of my own miniscule haiku collection. The book is quite thin and I'm happy to post it anywhere! It's also registered with Bookcrossing and it would be great if whoever wins the giveaway could leave their thoughts about it on the Bookcrossing site (this is not compulsory though!).
Even the white packed sands
darkened by the shadows
of their dance
is rinsed in blue.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I can all too readily relate to.
I think of the near collisions
of your life with mine
the labyrinthine possibilities
never explored, the fact that
put us in any two squares of a chessboard
and we would recognise each other
But the world outside is so big and bad
it is selfish to obsess on the very small
so let the Technicolor wide-screen of dreams
collapse in on itself to a mobile phone
that one day I can carelessly lose.
previously published in Iota
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sharon Olds for me is famous for her straightforward approach to sex: 'after we had made love for the third day' for example.
Rebecca Elson explored sex through mathematics: 'the body aches/.... (to) Express in its own algebra' (from Carnal Knowledge) and astronomy: 'dancers/practising their slow seductions on the manifolds of space' (from Constellations) always searching for the ultimate black hole experience.
Ruth Padel is all passion, tight reined most of the time, but you get the feeling that it would be all fireworks when it happens, if only the two would be lovers could allow their magnetism to draw them to each other. This is the ending of her long poem Casablanca and the Children of Storm from her collection Voodoo Shop:
But somewhere in another galaxy,
Some parallel universe,
We'll still be what we were,
St Peter's birds,
Doing the impossible, walking on sea,
The outriders of storm.
Off course maybe, blown,
fragile but together. Drawn
To their one and only mate
by magnetism, a cry
You recognise in the dark above all others,
And by faith.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Questions, asked by Ted Kooser in his introduction to the book, about whether performance poetry will endure as literature, are in my mind irrelevant. Each performance is unique and will live on in the mind of the audience who may well memorise the words (as proven by the audience participation in the recording of David Lerner's Mein Kampf!). Dare I ask the question: is literary poetry in fact the sign of a failure in poetics? That it needs to be written down because no one can remember it otherwise? The first poets performed their work, they didn't write it down. Performance poetry today continues this tradition, Kevin Coval in his article Towards a hip hop poetica describes hip hop poets as 'modern griots, indigenous keepers and tellers of his/her/stories.' Hip Hop poetry revels in rhyme and rhythm, as demonstrated here by Invincible, in this excerpt from Detroit Winter:
The city streets are bitter sweet
I pound pavement
While I'm kicking litter at my feet
Under the snow, the ground's blanket
These heavy hitter beats.
Dana Gioia in his article The New Oral Poetry notes that "(t)he nearly universal critical bias against rhyme and meter as recently as ten years ago, especially in University writing programmes, indicates how distant the poets in a print culture have become from the orality of verse''.
Many literary poets also seem to be afraid of emotion and humour and often appear to be engaging with a select gathering of fellow literary poets, rather than reaching out to a wider audience. Performance poets however are not afraid of emotion, whether raw anger in Mayda del Valle's poem about Puerto Rican Spanish speakers Tongue Tactics or more controlled as in Patricia Smith's rambling poem of love for her father When the Burning Begins:
....... I'm telling you it's the first thing
I ever cooked, that my daddy was laughing
and breathing and no bullet in his head.
Nor are performance poets afraid to connect with the audience's points of reference, as in this line from Lebron James, by Nate Marshall one of the many young poets featured in this book:
I'll be the first spoken word brotha with a shoe
Performance poetry also is unafraid to engage with politics, which can seem confrontational, but it is hard not to at least see where Nikki Giovanni is coming from in his angry poem All Eyez on U:
if those who lived by the sword died by the sword there would be no
white men on earth.
There are some performance poets who I find too confrontational as much as there are some literary poets who bore me; at the same time there are literary poets who stun me with their distillations of powerful emotion and there are performance poets who move me with their subtlety. Both sides can learn from each other. This book is a perfect starting point for literary minded poets (or anyone else) to start learning from performance poets.
Spoken Word Revolution Redux can be ordered from Source Books.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
City's bronze pigeons are novel attraction