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Posts tagged "poetry"

Sep 29, 2014
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Monty Python on novel writing

In this sketch from Monty Python’s 1973 album, “Matching Tie and Handkerchief,” a crowd gathers to watch Thomas Hardy begin his latest novel, The Return of the Native, while an announcer provides a running commentary.

Here’s poet Wislawa Szymborska in her Nobel Lecture, talking about how the lives of artists or scientists can make great films, but not poets:

But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens … Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?

(Source: youtube.com)

Sep 28, 2014
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#firstlinelastline: Mashup the first line of a novel with the last line of another

Yesterday Matt Thomas tweeted a mashup of the first line from The Old Man and the Sea and the last line of The Great Gatsby. Then he tweeted one with the first line of Moby-Dick and the last line of Gravity’s Rainbow. I thought this mashup needed to become a genre, so I gave it a hashtag: #firstlinelastline

Some of the results are really fun. An easy way to get started is to look at these lists of 100 Best First Lines and 100 Best Closing Lines.

Tweet out your own and use the hashtag! #firstlinelastline

UPDATE: Oh, what the heck, let’s make it a Tumblr, too.

Sep 16, 2014
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Clive James is dying and just published this lovely poem in The New Yorker. It reminds me of the practice of Japanese Death Poems.

On jisei:


  In the death poem or jisei, the essential idea was that at one’s final moment of life, one’s reflection on death (one’s own usually but also death in general) could be especially lucid and meaningful and therefore also constituted an important observation about life. The poem was considered a gift to one’s loved ones, students, and friends. The tradition began with zen monks, but was also popular with poets, whose poems were often just as solemn as those of monks, or entirely flippant and humorous. The poems are often full of symbols of death, such as the full moon, the western sky, the song of the cuckoo, and images of the season in which the writer died.


Here’s another poem by James.

Filed under: death, poetry

Clive James is dying and just published this lovely poem in The New Yorker. It reminds me of the practice of Japanese Death Poems.

On jisei:

In the death poem or jisei, the essential idea was that at one’s final moment of life, one’s reflection on death (one’s own usually but also death in general) could be especially lucid and meaningful and therefore also constituted an important observation about life. The poem was considered a gift to one’s loved ones, students, and friends. The tradition began with zen monks, but was also popular with poets, whose poems were often just as solemn as those of monks, or entirely flippant and humorous. The poems are often full of symbols of death, such as the full moon, the western sky, the song of the cuckoo, and images of the season in which the writer died.

Here’s another poem by James.

Filed under: death, poetry

Aug 17, 2014
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Child in the womb,
Or saint on a tomb —
Which way shall I lie
To fall asleep?
The keen moon stares
From the back of the sky,
The clouds are all home
Like driven sheep.

Bright drops of time,
One and two chime,
I turn and lie straight
With folded hands;
Convent-child, Pope,
They choose this state,
And their minds are wiped calm
As sea-leveled sands.

So my thoughts are:
But sleep stays as far,
Till I crouch on one side
Like a foetus again —
For sleeping, like death,
Must be won without pride,
With a nod from nature,
And a lack of strain,
And a loss of stature.

— Philip Larkin. Via Maud Newton. Filed under: sleep. (via mlarson)

(via mlarson)

Aug 05, 2014
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It’s really fun being married to me.

It’s really fun being married to me.

Jul 23, 2014
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He picked up a pebble
and threw it into the sea.

And another, and another.
He couldn’t stop.

He wasn’t trying to fill the sea.
He wasn’t trying to empty the beach.

He was just throwing…

Jul 18, 2014
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It seems like many people think that if you drive yourself crazy, then you can write. I’m absolutely not interested in that. It made sense to me to be as whole and well as I could be, and as happy. I wanted to see what a fortunate life would produce. What writing would come out of a mind that didn’t try to torment itself? What did I have to know? What did I have to do rather than what can I torment and bend myself into doing? What was the fruit on that tree?

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Everything has already been said and done. But, then, if this is so, why do we need more poems in the world? I once read a Jane Hirshfield interview where she said something quite wonderful. She essentially said we have to keep writing because it’s every generation’s job to put in the present vernacular poems that are called upon for rites of passage, such as poems read at weddings or funerals. I hadn’t thought of this before. Your ordinary citizen should be able to go to the library and find a poem written in the current vernacular, and the responsibility for every generation of writers is to make this possible. We must, then, rewrite everything that has ever been written in the current vernacular, which is really what the evolution of literature is all about. Nothing new gets said but the vernacular keeps changing.

Jun 11, 2014
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Frank O’Hara and Laurence Ferlinghetti’s Lunch Poems correspondence

From The Paris Review:

the two poets hash out the details of the book’s publication: which poems to consider, their order, the dedication, and even the title. “Do you still like the title Lunch Poems?” O’Hara asks Ferlinghetti. “I wonder if it doesn’t sound too much like an echo of Reality Sandwiches or Meat Science Essays.” “What the hell,” Ferlinghetti replies, “so we’ll have to change the name of City Lights to Lunch Counter Press.”

These are so much fun to read. I love how he’s suggesting additions to the manuscript, and casually describes one of my favorite poems: as “a little poem about Lana Turner collapsing at a party which I don’t have with me. I will ask a friend of mine to find and send [it to you]…”

Also the contract:

“I like the contract a lot and am very cheered by the movie clause — if Terry Southern gets interested tell him he doesn’t have to stick to the plot at all, just send green”

Link: Lunch Poems: The 50th Anniversary Edition

Jun 02, 2014
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unjustlyunread:

A woodcut by Russell Edson, from The Brain Kitchen (1965).
(It’s a shame that The Tunnel, the only readily available anthology of Edson’s oeuvre, doesn’t feature any of his woodcuts or drawings that appeared in the original collections; the visuals really do amplify the domestic nightmares and other absurdities found in his writings.)

I just learned of Edson’s work after reading Charles Simic’s remembrance. Here’s an appreciation in The Believer from 2004, and here’s one of his poems, “Let Us Consider.”.

unjustlyunread:

A woodcut by Russell Edson, from The Brain Kitchen (1965).

(It’s a shame that The Tunnel, the only readily available anthology of Edson’s oeuvre, doesn’t feature any of his woodcuts or drawings that appeared in the original collections; the visuals really do amplify the domestic nightmares and other absurdities found in his writings.)

I just learned of Edson’s work after reading Charles Simic’s remembrance. Here’s an appreciation in The Believer from 2004, and here’s one of his poems, “Let Us Consider.”.

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