Women make up roughly half of the 42 million Pashtun people in the borderland. The kind of hardship they know is rare. Some are bought and sold, others killed for perceived slights against family honor. But this doesn’t render them passive. Most of the Pashtun women I know possess a rebellious and caustic humor beneath their cerulean burkas, which have become symbols of submission. This finds expression in an ancient form of folk poetry called landay. Two lines and 22 syllables long, they can be rather startling to the uninitiated. War, drones, sex, a husband’s manhood—these poems are short and dangerous, like the poisonous snake for which they’re named.
Various news sources report
that Charles Wright will today be named the next Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry
of the United States Library of Congress.
An extensive biography
and 50 poems
are available from the Poetry Foundation. [more inside]
So it's Kentucky Derby time, once again
But I don't care much for horse racing. So I could say it's really just an excuse to post this wonderful video
of Chris McMillian on how to properly craft a Mint Julep.
But that would be a lie. I don't care much for Mint Juleps either. They're really just an excuse to post this heart-breakingly beautiful poem about Mint Juleps: [more inside]
"Dear Mr Gove"
- a poem by Jess Green.
Not got a way with words?
PayPal has made available a number of working poets to write custom poems for your love, just in time for Valentine's Day. [more inside]
Nearly 200 years after "A Visit from St. Nicholas
" was written, the authorship is still in dispute
. In the years since, there have been quite a few parodies and variants of the poem written, recorded and performed, including at least two different versions of a Cajun Night Before Christmas (a recording
of the version by Te-Jules
, and Trosclair's version
[Google books preview], read by Larry Ray
, recorded from WLOX
). Snopes tracked down the history of The Soldier's Night Before Christmas
, Fifties Web collected 21 tame versions
(with auto-playing music), and Dirty Xmas
has a number of "adult" versions. Yuks 'R' Us has a large collection
, including some dated computer-related stories. Speaking of dated, you can view a vintage '98 "enhanced" version of the original poem
plus more variations from Purple Lion
(a member of the Merry Christmas Webring from 1998
). But for the ultimate collection of variants and parodies, you might recall this thread from 2002
. The link is dead, but Archive.org caught the site
around that time, with 581 versions. That was over a decade ago, and now Alechemist Matt is up to 849 versions, parodies and variants of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Yule Cat
, called Jólakötturinn or Jólaköttur in its native Iceland, is something in the lines of a holiday threat
. Those who don't work hard and make, earn, or receive new clothes before Yule
will be devoured by Jólakötturinn, as told in the poem
by Jóhannes Bjarni Jónasson
(original poem with some illustrations
). Myths say that Jólakötturinn belongs to the ogress Grýla
, mother of the 13 "Yule Lad" trolls
. [more inside]
"Oh, show us the way, to the next whiskey-bar. Oh, don't ask why, oh, don't ask why." And so opens the Alabama Song
(Google books preview) by Bertholt Brecht and Brecht's close collaborator, Elisabeth Hauptmann
(Gbp), first published in 1927. Brecht set it to music and performed it on stages all over Berlin, but the better known version was scored by classical composer Kurt Weill, who was impressed with Brecht’s poetry and wanted to break away from the constraints of his previous work
. It was this version, first performed by Lotte Lenya
, that was made famous by The Doors
and their use of a Marxophone
). [more inside]
, a poem by Patricia Lockwood (previously
I and Pangur Bán, my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
, set to music) [more inside]
Jacket2 has digitzed all 10 editions of Roof
magazine, an important publication in the development of language poetry
Featured poets include (pulled from a quick glance): Robert Duncan, Michael McClure, John Ashbery, Michael Castro, Robert Creeley, Alan Ginsberg, Diane Wakoski, Peter Inman, Octavio Paz.
My 6,128 Favorite Books
- "Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder."
Eduardo Galeano reading The Right to Delirium
. Via PULSE
R.M. Berry on Samuel Beckett's peculiar writing style:
"It's as though the narrator's words were almost thoughtless, accidental, written by someone paying no attention to what he or she says." Beckett is best known for his play Waiting For Godot
, in which "nothing happens, twice", but he was also an accomplished writer of prose, ranging from the relatively simple Three Novels
to the extremely minimal Imagination Dead Imagine
. Some of Beckett's more challenging short plays are available on YouTube: Play
), Not I
(the famous "mouth" play), and Come and Go
, one of the shortest plays in the English language (ranging between 121 and 127 words, depending on translation). Once he interviewed John Lennon and found out who the eggman really was.
Beckett's final creative work was his poem What Is the Word
Between Page And Screen
is an augmented-reality book of poems (written by Amaranth Borsuk
) developed by Brad Bouse. Like a digital pop-up book
, you hold the words in your hands. Print a marker
and try it
. Requires Webcam. [more inside]
Poet Publishes 10,000-Page Poem.
David Morice wrote one 100-page poem every day for 100 days–producing a 10,000-page poem. How the book was bound and printed.
Opening lines of the epic poem: "Today the sky above Iowa City / is cloudy with tiny droplets / gently blowing in the wind / and tapping my laptop with dots. / In front of the University/ Main Library, Gordon sits / on a marble wall, camera / posed to video the beginning / of this poetry marathon." Image of the massive book.
Out on bail, fresh outta jail, California dreamin’
Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearin’ hoochies screamin’
What a surprise to read that couplet on "The New Yorker's" website
, in an article about Jay-Z
's new book
. It also discusses Adam Bradley's "Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop
," an academic study that respects rap lyrics
as serious poetry. [more inside]
Though never a competition
, the Def Poetry Jam
is a rhyming spin off from its comidic uncle
that plays host
to some of the most fantastic spoken word from a wonderful breadth of poets and people. The fun
, the declaration of love
, your cause
and the famouser
, the needs of a single woman
, the manifest
, the virus
and one written and delivered with such emotion and power that it left me speachless, "Knock Knock
" by Daniel Beaty
"A moment, a moment long, it sail’d its balls of unearthly light over our heads,
Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone
" Walt Whitman wrote these words in the poem Year of Meteors, 1859 ’60
. Not until this year did a team of forensic astronomers at Texas State University, with the assistance of a painting
from the Hudson River School, figure out what he was really talking about
. [more inside]
Should you find yourself wandering around the city of Leiden, the Netherlands sometime, you may notice some curious markings
on the city's walls.
("Wall Poems") adorn many of the town's streets (clickable map)
, and many English-language poets are represented: one John Keats
, for instance, inside a bookshop; Dylan Thomas
, E. E. Cummings
, W.B. Yeats
, some guy called William Shakespeare
, or this ode to Charlie Parker
by American William Waring Cuney
. [more inside]
Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky
)posted Thomas Hardy
's "The Darkling Thrush" to Slate. Discussion
ensued, and became very lively when
National Book Award winner Mark Doty
observed that the poem contains an overt homage to an earlier poem by Keats
. Guggenheim fellow Mark Halliday
, MacArthur fellow Jim Powell
and Annie Finch
chime in. An opportunistic Billy Collins
(also a former Poet Laureate & Guggenheim fellow) even showed up
, attracted by the discussion of a "bird poem." A fascinating look at some of the finest American poets geeking out over poems that were hits before your mother was born.
Poetry's turn to go graphic.
The Poetry Foundation has invited a few graphic novelists to illustrate poems from its archive. Via
Too Hot To Hear
. Fifty years ago today, a San Francisco Municipal Court judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg's Beat-era poem "Howl" was not obscene. Yet today, a New York public broadcasting station decided not to air the poem, fearing that the Federal Communications Commission will find it indecent and crush the network with crippling fines.
More on Allen Ginsberg here
The Story of the Fountain
, poem by William Cullen Bryant
(1794-1878), with 42 woodcut illustrations.
Why Do You Stay Up So Late?
An interactive, illustrated poem. [note: sound and flash animation]
... From the wonderful Born Magazine
, "an experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media." A previous project from Born Magazine was featured on Metafilter in 2004.
"I am still / The black swan of trespass on alien waters." Ernest Lalor Malley
(1918-1943). With the posthumous publication of such poems
as "Dürer: Innsbruck, 1495
" and "Petit Testament
" in the journal Angry Penguins
, Ern Malley
was championed as the new voice of modern Australian poetry. The resulting scandal
and obscenity trial
would change poetry and literary theory forever. Plus, the ABC
's documentary, The Ern Malley Story
The time for more public poetry
is at hand with the soon-to-arrive National Poetry Month. Perhaps you favor love poems? Poets and Writers
listed the 25 best (among those online: #1
). Or perhaps ballads with a beat? This
was once considered the best example, but this offensive poem
is even more famous. Of course, nonsense
, as is alliteration
. Eager to take your own turn? Try some complex forms
. Double sestina
What is the current state of American poetry?
Hank Lazer: Perhaps, contrary to the laments, we are now living through a particularly rich time in American poetry—an era of radically democratized poetry...In its anarchic democratic disorganized decentralization, poetry culture has developed in a manner parallel to the computer: the decentralized PC has beaten the main-frame. No one can pretend to know what is out there, or what is next. Who are some of the most notable American poets active in the beginning of the 21st century?
Onesixty: The SMS Poetry Magazine.
Mobile phone poetry, as Andrew Wilson
describes it "Text messages are short, so the subject has to be tackled in a way that will fit into 160 characters. A text message poem has to find one truthful moment and describe it.
" Write your own with this handy abbreviation guide
and intro from the Guardian
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden imbeciles
[via Follow me Here]