Poetry

Songwriters vs. Poets: A Battle Royale (Or a Long-simmering Grievance Aired to No Good Effect)

Our lives would be so much better if everyone had their own horn sectionPetrarch and his Favorite Axe, after a fresco by Andrea del Castagno.
John Prine is a songwriter I admire a lot. I can’t listen to any of the many covers of “Angel from Montgomery” without getting all wistful and gooey inside.

Poetry, Politics and Principled Uncertainty

Typiewriter! by etharooni/ethan r"Have you ever heard of insect politics? Insects don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but..."
--Seth Brundle, The Fly (1986)

Last week's post got me thinking about poets as public voices, presuming to, or being presumed to, speak for those who can't or don't speak for themselves--in short, poets as political animals.

A Poet By Any Other Name Is Still Unknown and Broke

In 1961, Newton Minow called television “a vast wasteland.”
In 2009, it’s pretty safe to sayTV test pattern Indian Head image largest test pattern from 1960's by Wonderlane Ol' Newt's perception of scale was just a smidge off the mark. The brain fairly puckers to imagine the description he would cough up today.

On Odes, OCDs, and a Cat Named Jeoffry

It is an unfortunate reality of collective memory that Christopher Smart is remembered less for his poetry than for hisCat Jump 1 by Robbie Sproule cat, the admirable Jeoffry, and his habit (Smart’s, not Jeoffry’s) of throwing himself down to pray whenever and wherever he felt called to do so, including, according to Old Sam Johnson, the sewage and offal-strewn streets of London.

Notes on Notes from Underground, Punk and Russian Poetry

Photo Credit: Klaviatura by khanele / Hannah Born We all come out of Gogol's overcoat
                      --Fyodor Dostoevsky
When I read Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground for the first time, it screwed me to my chair for about a week. I was paralysed with a not completely unpleasant terror that when or if I finally pried myself loose, the world would no longer be the brick-and-mortar, what-you-see-is-what-you-get place I had always thought it was. And I was right; when I eventually stepped out into the sunshine, I saw cracks and seams everywhere. I knew for the first time that if I had the right kind of crowbar, I could finally get a good look at the springs and sprockets that made things go.

Elegies

Sometimes there are no words. 
But time, because it cannot know how fragile we are, will keep flowing.
We will eventually step back into its current. There will be solace.

"And Death Shall Have No Dominion" in The Collected Poems: 1934-1952 / Dylan Thomas
The Book of Psalms
 
Elegy: Poems / Mary Jo Bang
"Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard" / Thomas Gray
The Duino Elegies / Rainer Maria Rilke
"Kaddish" in The Collected Poems: 1947-1980 / Allen Ginsberg
"The Rain" in The Collected Poems 1956-1998 / Zbigniew Herbert

Two Portraits of the Poet as a Young Woman

Books by Poets

Mary Karr and Maya Angelou are talented authors of both poems and memoirs. With the remembered perceptions of a child and the skills of a mature artist these women recount the early years of their lives. These are honest stories about childhoods, not books written for children. The authors are plain spoken about the political and economic conditions they lived through, their sexuality and adolescence, so while they never lose the beauty and command of the language, the content of these memoirs is frank. This is to say that they are occasionally painful as well as joyful and celebratory. They are all well worth reading not only for their honesty, but also for their command of the language.

Syndicate content