Collaboration with Jesse Vanden Eynde (guitar) to translate the rhythm of a poem into sound.
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
David Wagoner, Traveling Light Collected and New Poems. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.
Stephen Fry at the 2014 Hay Festival, speaking about Shakespeare’s sexuality, sonnets and the disputed authorship of his works.
I live here in a village house without
all that racket horses and carts stir up,
and you wonder how that could ever be.
Wherever the mind dwells apart is itself
a distant place. Picking chrysanthemums
at my east fence, I see South Mountain
far off: air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
returning home. All this means something,
something absolute: whenever I start
to explain it, I forget words altogether.
No. 5 from Drinking Wine; T’ao Ch’ien (365-427 CE)
Translation: David Hinton
AIR AND LIGHT AND TIME AND SPACE
”– you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems
It’s an old tradition in the West among great poets that poetry is rarely thought of as ‘just poetry.’ Real poetry practitioners are practitioners of mind awareness, or practitioners of reality, expressing their fascination with a phenomenal universe and trying to penetrate to the heart of it. Poetics isn’t mere picturesque dilettantism or egotistical expressionism for craven motives grasping for sensation and flattery. Classical poetry is a ‘process,’ or experiment—a probe into the nature of reality and the nature of the mind …
Real poetry isn’t consciously composed as ‘poetry,’ as if one sat down to compose a poem or a novel for publication. Some people do work that way: artists whose motivations are less interesting than those of Shakespeare, Dante, Rimbaud, and Gertrude Stein, or of certain surrealist verbal alchemists—or of the elders Pound and William Carlos Williams, or, specifically in our own time, of William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. For most of ‘The Moderns,’ as with the Imagists of the twenties and thirties in our [last] century, the motive has been purification of mind and speech.
—Allen Ginsberg, from ‘Meditation and Poetics’, in Going on Faith: Writing as a Spiritual Quest, edited by William Zinser (Marlowe & Co., 1999).
A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
I drink alone, for no friend is near.
Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
For he, with my shadow, will make three men.
The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
While we were sober, three shared the fun;
Now we are drunk, each goes his way.
May we long share our odd, inanimate feast,
And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.
— Li Bai, Drinking Alone by Moonlight 月下獨酌. Translated by Arthur Waley, 1919.
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises …
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
— Jorge Luis Borges, from ‘You Learn’, translated by Veronica A. Shoffstall.
How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird which flies out of its ashes,
that for a man
as he goes up in flames, his one work
to open himself, to be
— Galway Kinnell, section 7 of ‘Another Night in the Ruins’ from Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin 1982).
Beauty is an intangible thing; can not be fixed on the surface, and the wear and tear of old age on the body cannot defeat it. Nor will a ‘pretty’ face make it, for ‘pretty’ faces are often dull and empty, and beauty is never dull and it fills all spaces.
— Robert Henri, from The Art Spirit (J. B. Lippincott Co., 1923)
What the world spoke today
was not the world
but what I thought of it.
Six days of rain.
Through my blurred slice of window
I saw a fragment of what
there is to see.
How small I am.
How large to notice
that space among spaces.
— Chris Kennedy, from ‘Occlusion in Long Rain’ in Ploughshares (Winter 1986)
O swallows, swallows, poems are not
The point. Finding again the world,
That is the point, where loveliness
Adorns intelligible things
Because the mind’s eye lit the sun.
— Howard Nemerov, closing strophe to ‘The Blue Swallows’ from The Blue Swallows (University of Chicago Press, 1967)
A grab of poetry found at the excellent blog apoetreflects.
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.
Graphic designer Konstantinos Mouzakis has created a representation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in coloured liquid. An Arduino processor operates a series of syringes containing coloured, emulsified water representing each character in the play.
Each character has a unique color that is poured in a tank according to the act, scene and time spent on speaking. The relations of the colors in the tanks represent the relations of the characters in the play. The 5 acts are demonstrated simultaneously in order to offer an overview of the play. The spread, the amount and the speed of every color is based on the emotional axis and the whole process can be controlled by the liquids’ chemical composition.
Regarding the technical part of the installation, there is a system of motorized syringes, controlled by a processor, so colors can be released with high precision. The transparent liquid in the tanks is consisted of water, alcohol and emulsifiers. Colors are a combination of acrylics, water and gelatine.
Richard Burton reading Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The Leaden Echo And The Golden Echo
(Maidens’ song from St. Winefred’s Well)_
THE LEADEN ECHO
How to keep–is there any any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, lace, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, . . . from vanishing away?
O is there no frowning of these wrinkles, ranked wrinkles deep,
Down? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?
No there’s none, there’s none, O no there’s none,
Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,
Do what you may do, what, do what you may,
And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay
Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,
Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there’s none; no no no there’s none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair,
Despair, despair, despair, despair.
THE GOLDEN ECHO
There is one, yes I have one (Hush there!);
Only not within seeing of the sun,
Not within the singeing of the strong sun,
Tall sun’s tingeing, or treacherous the tainting of the earth’s air.
Somewhere elsewhere there is ah well where! one,
One. Yes I can tell such a key, I do know such a place,
Where whatever’s prized and passes of us, everything that’s fresh and fast flying of us, seems to us sweet of us and swiftly away with, done away with, undone,
Undone, done with, soon done with, and yet dearly and dangerously sweet
Of us, the wimpled-water-dimpled, not-by-morning-matched face,
The flower of beauty, fleece of beauty, too too apt to, ah! to fleet,
Never fleets more, fastened with the tenderest truth
To its own best being and its loveliness of youth: it is an ever-lastingness of, O it is an all youth!
Come then, your ways and airs and looks, locks, maiden gear, gallantry and gaiety and grace,
Winning ways, airs innocent, maiden manners, sweet looks, loose locks, long locks, lovelocks, gaygear, going gallant, girlgrace–
Resign them, sign them, seal them, send them, motion them with breath,
And with sighs soaring, soaring sighs deliver
Them; beauty-in-the-ghost, deliver it, early now, long before death
Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.
See; not a hair is, not an eyelash, not the least lash lost; every hair
Is, hair of the head, numbered.
Nay, what we had lighthanded left in surly the mere mould
Will have waked and have waxed and have walked with the wind what while we slept,
This side, that side hurling a heavyheaded hundredfold
What while we, while we slumbered.
O then, weary then why should we tread? O why are we so haggard at the heart, so care-coiled, care-killed, so fagged, so fashed, so cogged, so cumbered,
When the thing we freely forfeit is kept with fonder a care,
Fonder a care kept than we could have kept it, kept
Far with fonder a care (and we, we should have lost it) finer, fonder
A care kept. Where kept? Do but tell us where kept, where.–
Yonder.–What high as that! We follow, now we follow.–
Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,
I’ve only just acquainted myself with this website and already I am somewhere between impressed and in love… Two titles I’ve discovered via the site so far include Het Eerste Kabinet der Dieren and the Natural History of Shakespeare, and they are available online via archive.org
Here is something I know: I feel better when I read — not just good, but better. Anxieties are assuaged, burdens lightened, relationships enriched. I feel part of something hopeful, a connection to the writer, the characters, other readers. I feel smart, if it is okay to say that. I am moved to act after reading — to write, to talk. I have new questions and fresh answers. And I am hardly alone. Anne Lamott knows that “when writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with the absurdity of life instead of being squashed by it over and over again.” After sharing stories, writer Barry Lopez feels exhilarated: “The mundane tasks which awaited me, I anticipated now with pleasure. The stories had renewed in me a sense of the purpose of my life.”
Here is something else I know: the power of literature to “renew a sense of purpose in our lives” gets killed in literature classrooms — unintentionally, no doubt, but killed nonetheless.
This isn’t an indictment. Writer Richard Ford found himself teaching literature as a graduate assistant in 1969 and realized, “What seemed worthwhile to teach was what I felt about literature . . . [literature] had mystery, denseness, authority, connectedness, closure, resolution, perception, variety, magnitude — value in other words . . . Literature appealed to me. But I had no idea how to teach its appealing qualities, how to find and impart the origins of what I felt.” This is a difficult question.
My Fancy by Lewis Caroll.
I painted her a gushing thing,
With years about a score;
I little thought to find they were
A least a dozen more;
My fancy gave her eyes of blue,
A curly auburn head:
I came to find the blue a green,
The auburn turned to red.
She boxed my ears this morning,
They tingled very much;
I own that I could wish her
A somewhat lighter touch;
And if you ask me how
Her charms might be improved,
I would not have them added to,
But just a few removed!
She has the bear’s ethereal grace,
The bland hyaena’s laugh,
The footstep of the elephant,
The neck of a giraffe;
I love her still, believe me,
Though my heart its passion hides;
“She’s all my fancy painted her,”
But oh! how much besides.
D.H. Lawrence trying for the world’s driest poem:
The English are so nice
so awfully nice
they are the nicest people in the world.
And what’s more, they’re very nice about being nice
about your being nice as well!
If you’re not nice they soon make you feel it.
Americans and French and Germans and so on
they’re all very well
but they’re not really nice, you know.
They’re not nice in our sense of the word, are they now?
That’s why one doesn’t have to take them seriously.
We must be nice to them, of course,
of course, naturally—
But it doesn’t really matter what you say to them,
they don’t really understand—
you can just say anything to them:
be nice, you know, just be nice
but you must never take them seriously,
they wouldn’t understand.
Just be nice, you know! Oh, fairly nice,
not too nice of course, they take advantage—
but nice enough, just nice enough
to let them feel they’re not quite
as nice as they might be.
Via the reading by spokenverse on youtube.
A translation (by whom?) of Pablo Neruda’s “If You Forget Me”.
If you forget me
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
I heard the expression “lower than a snake in a wagon track” on the Big Joe Williams rendition of “Rocks in my bed”, and I googled it. Which led me to this page of colourful expressions…
I grew up in the country, on Boggs Run, in Marshall County, West Virginia. My dad, Jack Cunningham, was born and raised there and he helped me with this project in the year preceding his death on May 7, 2000.
The following expressions were used in everyday conversation by my dad, uncles and grandfathers and were a part of our culture. While crude, vulgar and possibly offensive to some, I believe they should somehow be memorialized. I have heard variations of some these old sayings and I fear the originals are being lost…
While these “sayings” are said in all parts of the country, I believe they originated in the populations of the early pioneers…the country people. (Any other facts or theories regarding the origin will be appreciated!)
Some choice examples:
“Handy as a pocketful of paper assholes”
“As full of shit as a cat is frollicks”
“Workin harder than a funeral home fan in July”
“Ugly enough to scare buzzards off a gut wagon”