Sunday, July 31, 2011

Enjoyed this article over at PoFo. Who knew Elizabethan sonnets could be so fun, and modern?

An Elizabethan plays a Modernist language game

Sir Philip Sidney is a key figure of the Elizabethan era, the fountainhead of the modern poetic tradition. He was born in 1554 in Kent, England, around the same time that the first sonnets in English (by Sir Thomas Wyatt) were posthumously published. Sidney was the contemporary of Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spenser, Fulke Greville, and William Shakespeare, among others: poets who occupied the vanguard of Tudor society as courtiers, soldiers, diplomats, and explorers. Poetry was almost inextricable from song—most gentlemen-poets could play a passable lute, much the way learning guitar is a rite of passage today—and the language itself was still young: unstandardized, mongrelized, and versatile. It lent itself readily to creative uses, and the challenge was met by poets who lived in a sparkling societal milieu where games—tournaments, sports, theater, dance—flourished.

That is to say, the Renaissance poets played games with language. They did so from the baseline of the Petrarchan sonnet, and Sir Philip Sidney stands out because he both played and commented on the playing—imitated Petrarch and criticized Petrarch—while mastering the form. His prose treatise, A Defence of Poesy, still influences what we perceive as the finest poetry, that which Wallace Stevens called the supreme fiction. This alone justifies Sidney’s claim as the first major poet-critic in English; but what makes him particularly modern—or perhaps what makes us particularly Sidneyan—is that his landmark sonnet sequence, Astrophil and Stella, incorporates the conflict between the poet and the critic, the stylist and the chastiser of style, in the sequence itself. Detractors of the self-reflexive tendencies of contemporary poetry (epitomized by, say, John Ashbery) call it postmodernist, or deconstructive, and it has become common to deplore the artifice and playfulness of a poetry born from the premise that language is "slippery"—as likely to elude our meanings as give meaning to experience. But Sidney was one of our predecessors, and this is nowhere more evident than in Sonnet 63 of Astrophil and Stella.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The entire country is under a heat wave. But what do we have in Seattle? Cool, with showers. In July? Arrrrghhhh.

Here is what they say we have coming the next few days, read it and weep . . .

Tonight...Cloudy with light rain or drizzle at times...mainly north part. Lows in the 50s. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph except becoming northwest 5 to 15 mph in the north part.

Wednesday...Cloudy with a chance of light rain or drizzle. Highs in the 60s. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Wednesday Night...Cloudy with an increasing chance of showers...becoming likely after midnight. Lows in the 50s. Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph.

Thursday...Showers likely in the morning. Partly sunny with a chance of showers in the afternoon. Highs in the 60s. Southwest wind to 10 mph becoming northwest.

Thursday Night...Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Lows in the upper 40s to mid 50s. Northwest wind to 10 mph.

Friday...Partly cloudy. Highs 65 to 70.

Friday Night Through Sunday...Mostly clear. Lows in the lower to mid 50s. Highs in the lower to mid 70s.

Sunday Night Through Monday...Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Highs in the lower 70s.

Monday Night And Tuesday...Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Lows in the 50s. Highs near 70.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Funny, dark poem from today's Poem a Day. It would do Brian Turner proud, I think:

Trip Hop
by Geoffrey Brock

I'll pack my toothbrush
and my cyanide molar
the iPhone the car-seats
and a tactical stroller

I'll pack a snack-bag
with the Kraft food groups
and white flags for me
and black for my troops

I'll pack a fresh pack
of Shark double-edge blades
my boy's Razr scooter
and my girl's blue shades

I'll pack doses of patience
and some Kevlar smiles
check our air and our fluids
our gauges and dials

and we'll hit I-40
in our old green Accord
there'll be collateral damage
and we might get bored

but we won't need TomTom
to know where we're headed
a theme park they dream of
a theme park I've dreaded

and if we ever get home
and if our home still stands
I'll unpack my dark heart
and Purell my hands.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I really enjoyed this poem from today's RealPoetik. For the ongoing "mid-life" crisis in all of us.

or Dawn of the Dead and Zombies—I don’t care.
“Department of Redundancy Department,”
I say in my most cheerful bitter phone voice,
though I’m not at work and my Blackberry’s off.
I lie—and it lays—on the couch, both of us
oddly perfect, like a pinball and a cloud.
I find I’m to bed on the late side these days
(television test patterns having vanished)
but I could always get there earlier
were there reason enough—say, one—to do so.
You say “tomato”; I say “Don’t tase me, bro!”
Have I got an obituary for me:
b. 1970; d. 19-something;
lives in California with his family.

Graham Foust lives in Oakland and works at Saint Mary's College of California.  His most recent book is A Mouth in California (Flood Editions, 2009).

RealPoetik mailing list

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Wine, Poetry, Virtue

Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
translated by Louis Simpson

You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it—it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."


Monday, July 04, 2011

Gaga Taratata

Wow -- another amazing pared-down, voice-and-piano-only version of this great song, from the Taratata show in France.

EOG is, I hear, on its way to becoming a country hit as well.
Listen here to a few of the many country cover versions on you tube.