Poly-Olbion is a cycle of 30 poems describing England and Wales, county by county, composed by Michael Drayton in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries. It was published in two parts, 1612 and 1622, along with sumptuous black and white maps engraved by William Hole meant to be colored in by its buyers. Now Poly-Olbion will be republished as a coloring book entitled Albions Glorious Ile. The Poly-Olbion Project website is worth exploring, as well as its blog and tumblr.
It's spring in Wisconsin, and the rivers are running. Time to think of Lorine Niedecker, Wisconsin's austere laborer poet, who lived her whole life in modest circumstances on the shores of Lake Koshkonong, sometimes working as a janitor. From her small home came some of the greatest American poetry , as she lived her complex, but simple, "Life by Water."
"The Choking Victim" by MeFi's own Alexandra Kleeman is a short story that portrays one new mother's anxiety. The dream-like fiction linked at the author's web site offers a wider perspective on her work. [more inside]
Years With Yoko. For a long time Ono was basically despised, the inevitable lot of someone married to a person whose fame actually may have eclipsed Christ’s. Fools hate foreigners, and fools hate women, but a lot of people who ought to know better hate the avant-garde, and a lot of people who ought to know better hate the politically engaged, and a lot of people who ought to know better hate polymaths, and Ono is all those things. (SLTheMillions) [more inside]
Jennifer Tamayo describes the cost of confronting white supremacy in the U.S. poetry communities, pointing to the emotional, economic, and temporal wages it exacts: "The handling of this poison — the labour to spot and deconstruct instances of capitalist white supremacist cis-hetero-patriarchy at work — is particularly venomous because it performs both personally and systemically." [more inside]
“To Become Louder, Even Still”: Responses to Sexual Violence in Literary Spaces Apogee Journal has collected fourteen responses from writers to sexual violence perpetrated in the literary community. [more inside]
Encrypted is an essay by New Yorker critic Alex Ross about French 19th Century poet Stéphane Mallarmé, and the difficulties he poses for translators and scholars. Notoriously the most bourgeois of avant-garde poets, his life has proved difficult to write about. So perhaps it's best to just go straight for the poetry. The Electronic Poetry Center has a nice page on his late masterpiece, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard, with the original and several translations.
The Djinn of Aiman "IT WAS A DIM JANUARY AFTERNOON IN LAHORE, there was a power outage on Zahoor Elahi Road, and Farida Khanum had finally woken up. We were sitting among shadows on the floor of her living room: I on the carpet and she on a cushion that was at once a mark of her prestige (she is “The Queen of Ghazal,” the last of her generation’s iconic classically trained singers) and advanced age (she can no longer sit as she used to, like a mermaid, with her legs folded beguilingly beneath her). I had come to prepare Khanum for a concert she was to give in a week’s time in Calcutta, and was trying to engage her, in this fragile early phase of her day, with innocuous-sounding questions: which ghazals was she planning on singing there, and in what order?
“Treated right, poems don't just ‘work’ on radio, they can rock your world.” The Road Home, Bob Chelmick’s weekly broadcast of poetry and music, is perfect for winding down on Sunday night (and do male voices get more relaxing?). Each month the Road Home website cycles through 27 hours of past shows (playlist). Or listen to the live program on Sundays at 8-10 pm MST via the CKUA website. About Bob Chelmick.
“Déjeuner du Matin” (YouTube), a short film adaptation of Jacques Prévert's poem about the last moments of a relationship. [more inside]
In the Victorian Era, "the language of flowers" (floriography) was all the rage. According to The Smithsonian Gardens History in Bloom summary (and activities sheets) for The Language of Flowers (PDF), "Nearly all Victorian homes would own at least one of the guide books dedicated to the ‘language of flowers.’ The authors of these guidebooks used visual and verbal analogies, religious and literary sources, folkloric connections, and botanical attributes to derive the various associations for the flowers." But where did it come from? (Google books preview) Istanbul in the Tulip Age (PDF, first chapter of Crime and Punishment in Istanbul: 1700-1800), and Turkish love-letters and harems ... somewhat. [more inside]
Poems to Celebrate the National Pastime. Opening Day for Major League Baseball's 2016 season is just around the corner, and today begins National Poetry Month. Celebrate both with a selection of fine baseball verse from the Editors at poetry.org. [more inside]
"I talked to a woman who asked for anonymity because she’s still associated professionally with the University of Iowa. 'When I got to Iowa,' she told me, 'I was like, who the fuck are these people? And where are the adults?'" Jia Tolentino on Thomas Sayers Ellis, VIDA, and the "tradition" of bad behavior from powerful men in the creative fields.
This April is the 20th National Poetry Month in the United States and there are many ways to celebrate. Here is the 2016 Multimedia "Dear Poet" project call to students and teachers to learn more about poetry. Here are the 2015 instructions. [more inside]
Songs of the Victorians is a website about four songs composed in Victorian England. The history behind them reveals forgotten details of the era: Juanita was composed by Caroline Norton, a pioneering feminist; The Lost Chord was a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter first published in a feminist journal, then set to music by (yes that) Arthur Sullivan; a part of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Maud, which employs the cryptographical language of flowers, is set to music by Michael William Balfe and Sir Arthur Somervell, the former allowing performers to disguise or emphasize the disturbed emotions of the original, the latter makes the mental distress plain. The website was designed by digital humanities blogger and professor Joanna Swafford as a prototype for Augmented Notes, a system for highlighting sheet music visually while playing a sound file.
A mental coffee break, so to speak. I quite like Rimbshot and Dogs and Cats, among others. Oh, and Reasons, because he is describing our cat.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir May Be Iceland's Next Prime Minister - "Poetry told Birgitta that she is alive. The internet taught her that she belongs in this world. The crisis showed her that she has a role to play, and politics showed her that everything needs to change." (Jónsdóttir, WikiLeaks & Iceland, previously) [more inside]
I am a slut. SLYT A slam poem from Savannah Brown
No trolls allowed: Seattle advertises a writing residency … in a bridge. by Marta Bausells [The Guardian] The US city’s transport department offers $10,000 for a ‘unique’ residency in a bridge tower – in return for ‘an in-depth exploration’ of the space.
“The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) seeks a practicing, published poet, fiction, or creative non-fiction writer for a unique project-based artist residency in the northwest tower of the Fremont Bridge. The selected writer will undertake an in-depth exploration of the bridge and write a piece in response to the experience.”[more inside]
Douglas Hofstadter presents a proof Napoleon's theorem (on equilateral triangles constructed on the sides of another triangle), in the form of a sonnet. (Part of a longer talk; the link should take you to 34:18 in the video.)
"Being a fascist collaborator has never tasted so sweet.": Performance artist Penny Arcade on cupcakes and New York City at the Poetry Project's 2016 New Year's Day marathon benefit reading.
Chad W. Post at Three Percent recently linked to World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2015 and went on a list-making tear to provide more structure and commentary: 7 books by women, 6 water-cooler fiction books, 6 university press books, 3 'funny' books, 4 books from underrepresented countries, and the best poetry I should read. The commentary often leads to further matters of interest, e.g. the Women in Translation Tumblr or Marianne Fritz and the translation challenges (scroll down) in her work.
NSFW - Lucie Badoud, model and muse a well off orphan was inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire's novel La Femme Assise and went to Paris. In 1924 now known as Youki - snow rose, she received on her 21st birthday from Foujita, the japanese painter, a big, yellow Ballot with a Basque chauffeur.
The car's body was by Saoutchik and the radiator was capped with a bronze by Rodin; The Man With a Broken Nose. [more inside]
The car's body was by Saoutchik and the radiator was capped with a bronze by Rodin; The Man With a Broken Nose. [more inside]
the short answer is: every poet. but here’s a brief (ok, that’s a lie. this is really long) list i typed up during accounting instead of learning about accounting for inter-corporate investments
When the pet crematorium sends her poems purporting to be from her dead cat, Hannah Chutzpah responds in poetry. (And are you sure this is from her? / Only I think her scansion would be better)
“So at Christmas in this court I lay down a challenge: / If a person here present, within these premises, / Is big or bold or red-blooded enough / To strike me one stroke and be struck in return, / I shall give him a gift of this gigantic cleaver / and the axe shall be his to handle how he likes. / I'll kneel, bare my neck and take the first knock. / So who has the gall? The gumption? The guts? / Who’ll spring from his seat and snatch this weapon? / I offer the axe — who’ll have it as his own? / I’ll afford one free hit from which I won't flinch, / and promised that 12 months will pass in peace, / then claim / the duty I deserve in one year and one day. / Does no one have the nerve to wager in this way?” [more inside]
It's rare that a comments section is more entertaining than the post or article to which it is attached, but this post comes with a garden of delightful double dactyl verse dedicated to Benedict Cumberbatch. [more inside]
In 1739, an English washer-woman named Mary Collier published a long poem called "The Woman's Labour" about the difficulties faced by working women. Her poem was a response to The Thresher's Labour by Stephen Duck, which mocked the poetic conceit that agricultural workers spend a pleasant time in nature, and took a few pot shots at women along the way: "Ah! were their Hands so active as their Tongues/ How nimbly then would move the Rakes and Prongs?" Collier refutes Duck's criticisms and describes women's added labour: [more inside]
Three young women, part of a literacy project called Get Lit, drop a powerful message on Queen Latifah's talk show. (TW: mentions of sexual assault, racism, assault)
Chile admits Pablo Neruda might have been murdered by Pinochet regime. [The Guardian]
The interior ministry released a statement on Thursday amid press reports that Neruda might not have died of cancer as previously believed. The statement acknowledged a ministry document dated March of this year, which was published by the newspaper El Pais in Spain. “It’s clearly possible and highly probable that a third party” was responsible for Neruda’s death, the document said.[more inside]
Down Cemetery Road (1964), from the BBC Monitor series, in which Larkin was interviewed by John Betjeman. - A casual conversation that halts and resumes in Larkinland. [more inside]
The challenge: if people would only know, hear, and see what poets did, then at least some of them would realize too how cool literature can actually be. - Three projects which engage in popularizing, mediating, and digitally archiving contemporary Hungarian poetry. [more inside]
"I am somebody. I am God's child. I may not have a job, but I am somebody. I may be Black, but I am somebody. I may not have an education, but I am somebody. You may not respect me, but I am somebody. I may be a Puerto Rican, but I am somebody. I may be an Indian and my land was stolen, but I am somebody." The history of the chant. [more inside]
Vetch (dropbox PDF link) is the first known literary journal for transgender poets and prose writers.
"Desiderata" is a 1927 poem by Max Ehrmann. It's been subjected to misattribution and mutation (the second Google result is a typo-ridden version that's lurked on a .edu site since 1996 and substitutes "Neither be critical about love" for "Neither be cynical about love" and "Be careful" for "Be cheerful". Even Snopes prints a version with "careful" rather than "cheerful.) Daniel Nester digs into the history of the poem in a piece published on the website of the Poetry Foundation.
An untitled poem from NLU Delhi's student newspaper. Trigger warnings for rape, sexual abuse, and pedophilia.
I Sing for You an Apple is an account by writer and translator Eric Wilson of "escorting a Faroese poet-hero around the USA" in 1978. The poet-hero from the Faroe Islands was Steinbjørn Berghamar Jacobsen, who wrote fiction, poetry, plays and children's books in the language of his North-Atlantic archipelago. His works have not been translated into English, but they have been set to music. On Tinna og Tám he reads his own poems, accompanied by Kristian Blak and Heðin Ziska Davidsen (YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 ). And after his passing in 2012, two of his children, Kári and Eyð Jacobsen, made an album, Tungl, where they turned his poems into indie songs (YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
The Most Misread Poem in America by David Orr [The Paris Review]
“And almost everyone gets it wrong. This is the most remarkable thing about “The Road Not Taken”—not its immense popularity (which is remarkable enough), but the fact that it is popular for what seem to be the wrong reasons. [...] Frost’s poem turns this expectation on its head. Most readers consider “The Road Not Taken” to be a paean to triumphant self-assertion (“I took the one less traveled by”), but the literal meaning of the poem’s own lines seems completely at odds with this interpretation. The poem’s speaker tells us he “shall be telling,” at some point in the future, of how he took the road less traveled by, yet he has already admitted that the two paths “equally lay / In leaves” and “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same.” So the road he will later call less traveled is actually the road equally traveled. The two roads are interchangeable.”[more inside]
One of the poets appearing in the anthology Best American Poetry 2015 is Yi-Fen Chou. In the anthology, the poet's bio states baldly that he has found greater success in the publication of his poetry since he adopted his pseudonym rather than using his real name, which is Michael Derrick Hudson. Naturally, this has been poorly received. Sherman Alexie, guest editor of the anthology, explains his decision to keep the poem in the anthology anyway, despite his anger at having been deceived. [more inside]