Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"I must down to the seas again..."

My sister has uploaded a few videos of my niece and nephew with my brother-in-law on the local beach near their house in Connecticut. I would have overdubbed it with some Pixies as a soundtrack but it is cute to hear them too. It makes me cringe to think of the hundreds of hours of film my Dad shot of our family and how easy it would be to torture all of us if he digitized them and uploaded them. My last apartment in CT was a leisurely ten minute stroll from the beach in the video. Good times.

I have been enjoying the PBS series "Carrier". The biggest achievement may be that the producers were allowed access by the Navy to film it in the first place. It's a little uneven so far still but very impressive especially with some of the high-definition shots.

David Sedaris has a piece in the New Yorker about smoking/not smoking.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

I lived between my heart and my head,
like a married couple who can't get along.

I lived between my left arm, which is swift
and sinister, and my right, which is righteous.

I lived between a laugh and a scowl,
and voted against myself, a two-party system.

My left leg dawdled or danced along,
my right cleaved to the straight and narrow.

My left shoulder was like a stripper on vacation,
my right stood upright as a Roman soldier.

Let's just say that my left side was the organ
donor and leave my private parts alone,

but as for my eyes, which are two shades
of brown, well, Dionysus, meet Apollo.

Look at Eve raising her left eyebrow
while Adam puts his right foot down.

No one expected it to survive,
but divorce seemed out of the question.

I suppose my left hand and my right hand
will be clasped over my chest in the coffin

and I'll be reconciled at last,
I'll be whole again.

Edward Hirsch
Special Orders

This from a daily E-Mail put out by Knopf Poetry from Random House. You can sign up for it at their website and peruse the archive of previous selections. Mr. Hirsch will be reading from his latest collection tonight in Iowa City at Prairie Lights Bookstore. Below is a clip for the author reading the poem. The Van Gogh self-portrait is from Wikipedia.

Self Portrait- Edward Hirsch

UPDATE: NPR has an interview with Hirsch.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kathleen Edwards - A Video Primer

"Juice Newton!?! Holy Shit, she's gorgeous."
Interview and some song snippets. Saw her recently on Austin City Limits show on PBS and was hooked. Darker humourous lyrics in her earlier songs. Below is a song off her latest record.

Kathleen Edwards-"The Cheapest Key"

"Art not asham’d to publish thy disease?"

Come, let me write. And to what end? To ease
A burthned heart. How can words ease, which are
The glasses of thy daily vexing care?
Oft cruel fights well pictured forth do please.
Art not asham’d to publish thy disease?
Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
But will not wise men think thy words fond ware?
Then be they close, and so none shall displease.
What idler thing then speak and not be hard?
What harder thing then smart and not to speak?
Peace, foolish wit! with wit my wit is marr’d.
Thus write I, while I doubt to write, and wreak
My harms on ink’s poor loss. Perhaps some find
Stellas great pow’rs, that so confuse my mind.

Sonnet 34 of "Astrophel and Stella"
by Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

To continue with my not-so-daily posting of poetry, this was taken from an E-mail sent each day by Poetry Daily during April celebrating National Poetry Month. A contemporary poet selects a poem and then waxes forth on why.

Margret Rabb chose the poem above and says this, "As a quick review of all the reasons not to write, I find sonnet 34 of Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella sequence nearly ideal. When Astrophel, the star lover, sets out to write – presumably of his love for Stella yet again – he begins instead to interrogate himself about the capacity of language to hold and convey his emotions – in effect, to question the whole enterprise. Ironically, as the doubts themselves are written and answered they become evidence of the power of words to create complex and double emotional states. Like love, then, language is shown to be mysteriously organic, its meaning not subject to strict control and lying outside the boundaries of one-to-one correspondences. This disease is published indeed."

She goes on. To get a poem complete with its' own exegesis in your email for the rest of April go here. There is also a daily prose feature.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"C'mon Everybody"

It's not poetry but it's fun. I found this on a music blog and then could not find my way back. I should always remember to leave a bread crumb trail while surfing the web.

"April is the cruelest month..."


Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow."
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.

The 1790's will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

--Billy Collins

I think I first heard the lines for the title of this post from the T.S. Eliot poem either from one of my Korean teachers while in the Army, or from a book passed on by my more literary brothers (and sisters) in arms, or I ran across it in a Peter DeVries novel. All of these are possibilities I am just not sure which occurred first.

I know for certain that I was not exposed to Eliot in high school. In fact for most of my life I had managed to avoid modern and contemporary poetry and it was only in my thirties that I began to fill that void. There is much to be wary of, especially in this town, but I won't mention any names. I wanted to start doing this a week ago but as the man says "...time enough and the world...". I chose Billy Collins because he is one of my favorites and I wanted to share audio of this poem to make a case for the importance of hearing poetry, whether it is by listening to or reading it aloud. It is also cool to hear the poem in the author's voice. I will continue to share poems and links to the best of my ability for the remainder of the month.

"Nostalgia" - Billy Collins

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another lame effort to keep my blog updated

The Tron video came from a link on Wired. Things are little slow today. So I took a trip back to '80s.