William Wordsworth - The World Is Too Much With Us
Hmm, neither of today's Wordsworth entries really did all that much for me. In this entry, Wordsworth's isolation while looking out at the sea makes him question the society in which he lives, which is common enough. But I don't know ... nothing here really moved or intrigued me. His desire to live in a pre-Christian Britian, as Paglia deciphers, is something that should interest me, since I tend to be excited by something that questions organized religion in any way, but, it just didn't happen.
Some of the wordplay revealed by Paglia, such as "spending" being a term for ejaculation is informative, but I guess having not had much of a reaction to the poem already, it's too little too late.
William Blake - The Chimney Sweeper
I don't know what it is, but I've always been a sucker for this particular rhyming scheme, a simple AABB throughout. In the hands of Blake, though, it is interesting to contrast the lilt and playful way the words bounce out with what is being said, for this is a poem of young boys forced into endentured service, their small bodies able to get inside old chimneys and clear out the soot.
Paglia pointed out the narrator's lisp, which I missed, probably forgetting the time in which the poem is set and such a world where people would be out shouting about their work offerings. The doublespeak of his inability say sweep all the more tragic when his cries of weep tell society what their proper response to his condition ought to be.
Andrew Marvell - To His Coy Mistress
Nothing like a good "carpe diem" booty call. Obviously the carpe diem "seize the day" stuff is well-known to anyone who, like me, fell in love with Dead Poet's Society and the like, which heaviy leaned on the carpe diem notion.
In this poem, Marvell slowly builds his case for sex. At first, he reinforces how long he would, given an unlimited amount of time, spend discovering the intricacies of his mistress. But, he is quick to point out in the second part, time is limited. Their youth will wither, and death awaits.
Finally, having set his argument up like a finely-tuned legal debate, they should embrace the quick beat of life, the forgone conclusion of time, and consummate their relationship.
Aside from a brief hint of anti-Semitism, this is a lovely poem, on a theme that I've always embraced. There is only now. Tomorrow is not a guarantee, and eventually everyone hits a point of no more tomorrows.
Good stuff, and so nice to finally hit a one-poem day.
George Herbert: Church-monuments
This poem reminds me of the punk-rock band The Pixies. I was never a fan of theirs, but I was a huge fan of many bands that were huge fans of The Pixies. I listened to them, but never really got too into them. When they recently reunited, I went with some friends who were about to have a religious experience, seeing them perform these amazing songs live. I enjoyed it, but to me they sounded derivative.
As you might expect, the ardent Pixies fans were quick to point out that I had it backward. I was a fan of bands who had stolen from The Pixies, so I liked the derivative bands, the Pixies originated this stuff. I don't disagree with that statement, but I still think that whatever you hear later is going to seem derivative to what you heard earlier. So, to me, The Pixies will always sound like they're trying to be Nirvana, even though I've read quotes where Kurt said Nirvana was trying to sound like The Pixies.
So, how does George Herbert fit into all of this?
A regular feature that wraps up news items found elsewhere on the web about LGBTQ youth (and some additional randomness):
William Shakespeare: The Ghost's Speech
While undeniably poetic, with an amazing use of language, symbolism, and all, I guess this didn't have the same oomph to me as a standalone poem. It feels like part of something larger in a way the other works didn't. But I guess that could be a case of what the definition of a poem is, really.
Even in the description, Paglia refers to how certain lines fit into and fulfill ongoing themes within the play as a whole. But, moving past that point, it is very reminiscent of the last work we reviewed by Shakespeare, whereby you can read it through once and immediately understand everything being said. It's probably been so long since I've read Shakespeare, going back to my abandonment of higher education in my teens, that I've carried around ever since the false baggage of its dense wordplay and hard to decipher imagery.
Stray, by Sheri Joseph, chronicles the story of Paul Foster, a talented young acting student still in love with his older ex-boyfriend despite the man being married; Kent McKutcheon, a talented musician, who must choose between his wife Maggie and his old flame Paul; and Maggie, Kent's wife and a devoted Mennonite, who must deal with her own feelings for Paul. This occurs as an investigation of the murder of Paul's much older lover goes on.
The book, if left to its own devices, could have been a touching story of three people trying to discover what love is, and how you can love someone and not know anything about them.
This was not that book.
Had some family drama/tragedy this afternoon, so will do The Ghost's Speech as part of tomorrow's batch.
Shakespeare: Sonnet 73
Off to a good start. I'd probably read this before at some point in my life, but it's been way too long to remember when. So I read the sonnet a few times before delving into Paglia's analysis, although it seemed pretty straightforward. Three metaphors for man's life (as a year, a day, and a fire) and then a tag, basically.
Things to note, though. For as much as I recognized when the metaphors switched, as well as knowing the structure of the Shakespearean sonnet, I don't know that I specifically picked up on the "in me" that started each quatrain. Rather, I don't know that I used that phrase to signify the switch to a new metaphor, or whether I used the structure itself to trigger the beats. Something to watch in my close reading, as it is clearly evident upon re-reading.
Although I was trying to get a Michelle Tea interview done for Oasis before this tour starts, (based on me finishing her latest novel and our schedules aligning) you should still know either way that there is an amazing group of queer girl performers coming through the US soon.
The lineup includes the ever-amazing Michelle Tea; Ali Liebegott, author of the IHOP Papers; Eileen Myles; as well as five writers featured in the collection: Baby Remember My Name: An Anthology of New Queer Girl Writing. For complete bios and such go to: http://sisterspitnextgen.com/whosinthevan.html
For a list of their tour dates, go to http://sisterspitnextgen.com/schedule.html. Still a lot of tentative dates in there, so rather link you to something that will be updated more often.
And, if you don't see them coming to your town, but you see an opening in the schedule where your town is between two others, help make it happen. It's grassroots, baby.
By Jeff Walsh
"3 Needles" tells three stories across three continents, all about HIV. The film, which comes out on DVD today, has an impressive all-star cast (Lucy Liu, Chloe Sevigny, Olympia Dukakis, Stockard Channing, Sandra Oh, and Shawn Ashmore) and a sprawling story about how HIV affects so many lives in so many different ways.
When I learned it was had three different stories, my assumption was they would be intertwined into some jigsaw that all came together toward the end. But, in large part is it just three linear stories told in sequence.
While I appreciated the message of the movie, and found each segment interesting, the movie overall didn't seem to provide me with enough of a hook to recommend it strongly to anyone. The film looks great, really taking advantage of its settings in China and Africa especially, and it is all acted well. But for whatever reason, the whole seemed less than the sum of its parts.
But is there any chance this won't be awful? Thoughts?
Filled with mystery and drama, the book "DRAMA! The Four Dorothys" by Paul Rudis is a decent book.
Orion Academy, a high school for rich kids in Malibu, is putting on its annual spring play. Normally, everything goes off without a hitch but this year's spring musical is different. For starters, it's the Wizard of Oz, a play usual done in middle or grade school. Forced to perform the play for only one night and having to combine four grade levels, each with their own stars, makes for a whole lot of drama when they decided to have four Dorothys.
Strange events occur, and the Dorothys begin to drop like flies. The mystery begins after the second Dorothy drops out of the play. The question "Who or what is behind the disappearing Dorothys?" is solved and wrapped up within the last three chapters. Although the ending is pretty predictable, the plot makes for a great story that is very well written. The plot is not so off-the-wall wacky that you believe it could never happen. With references to the musical Wicked, and shows like Project Runway, Gilmore Girls and CSI, it's up to date with today's teens.
I don't know if I was ever in love with poetry but, if I had been, the feeling disappeared a long time ago. I remember way back in high school or even college, that I had some slight attraction to the "Romantic" poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley. Keats being my favorite, although I'd be hard-pressed to recite a single line of "Ode on a Grecian Urn," or come up with a second title of anything he's written.
The last poem I recall reading was probably a few years back, when I was greatly interested in the life and work of Oscar Wilde, and read his Ballad of Reading Gaol.
But there has always been some spark that draws me to poetry, just to tune my nature to the power and beauty that can exist when two words combine to create resonance. I fear, as I work on my novel, that there is a feeling that if you shovel enough prose into a book, your point will definitely find its way in there. And, admittedly, there is more opportunity within the long expanse of a novel to get away with such transgressions. Although my preference is to tighten the book and trust that fewer, more carefully chosen words will always serve me better.
So, my interest in becoming a better student of poetry is to serve my desire to write novels and reinforce the notion that less is almost always better.
Starting Sunday, I'll be posting a daily essay regarding Camille Paglia's "Break, Burn, Blow" and that insanity will continue for the entire month of April. So, if you want to join in, get a copy of the book this weekend.
As I will be talking about Camille's commentary as though you read it, it won't make much sense if you haven't. After all, my goal isn't to paraphrase her book here.