May 19, 2006

Never Know ~ Jack Johnson

Revising for a poetry exam, but the only poetry speaking to me right now is Johnson's lyrics...

I heard this old story before
Where the people keep on killing for their metaphors
But don't leave much up to the imagination,
So I, wanna give this imagery back
But I know it just ain’t so easy like that
So I turn the page and read the story again
and again and again
It sure seems the same, with a different name
We're breaking and rebuilding and we're growing always guessing

Never knowing
We're shocking but we're nothing
We're just moments, we're Clever but we're clueless
We're just human, amusing and confusing
Were trying but where is this all leading?
We'll Never Know

It all happened so much faster than you could say disaster
Wanna take a time lapse and look at it backwards
Find the last one and maybe that’s just the answer that we're after
But after all we're just a bubble in a boiling pot
Just one breath in a chain of thought
We're moments just combusting
We feel certain but we'll never, never know
It sure seems the same, give it a different name
We're begging and we're needing
and we're trying and we're breathing

Never knowing
We're shocking but we're nothing
We're just moments, we're Clever but we're clueless
We're just human, amusing and confusing
We're helping, rebuilding and we're growing
Never Know

Knock, knock coming door to door
To tell ya that their metaphor is better than yours
And you can either sink or swim things are looking pretty grim
If you don’t believe in what they're spoon feeding
Its got no feeling so I read it again and again and again

It sure seems the same so many different names
Our hearts are strong our heads are weak
We'll always be competing

Never knowing
We're shocking but we're nothing
We're just moments, we're Clever but we're clueless
We're just human, amusing and confusing
But the truth is all we got is questions
We'll Never Know
Never Know
Never Know

April 26, 2006


slipped slit split spilt
crass sounds born sharp and shattered
crack bracken underfoot and river
wide eyes ravage a bridle wild
scrape rack rude unwound unbound
and in dismay away away

go break her broken battered grate
swim in and out and fringe and fire
blush black a lilac cataract
see-see see-saw saw-she he
wish one and two and threeís for free

sheís free sheís free

globules drip role slide gloop gloop
a troop a trollop a whip a whoop

here shudders she his udders hung
strung up the window widow stung
swap smack this wrist my mouth and toe
and tigerís tongue a-licking liking locking

what fun

April 15, 2006

I am 20

It's been two days since I left the teens behind. And yes, in answer to that inevitable question, I do feel a little different. For the past few years I have known that the day will come when I have to clean up my act a little; clean my car, clear out the junk that I insist upon hoarding, start doing my work, read more, feel responsible for my life. And, for the past few years I've said to myself…pah! For now I'll get away with what I can and deal with the rest when I'm 20. Well, the time has come. Ive hoovered my car, made an effort to do an essay more that two days in advance and, to change this aridly boring subject, seen my first Surrealist exhibition.

I've finally found an art movement that I really enjoyed. Don't get me wrong, I like art and I appreciate most art on some level, although to be fair I've not seen that uch compared to many people I know. But a few of the surrealist paintings (see below for favourites) touched me deeply, or made me genuinely laugh, or profoundly disturbed me. I think could be partly to do this the fact that the poetry and some of the prose I write is similar to Surrelist art in its dream-like and incoherent narrative (see Dream Poetry.

Anyways, it was a fun way to spend a birthday and here are some fvourite works that I managed to find online:

Man Ray Pisces

Jackson Pollock Naked Man With Knife

Picasso Three Dancers

Francis Picabia Hera N.B. The painting I actually saw was called Otaiti but couldn't find it online. Ths one is in the same style as Otaiti.

Dali Mountain Lake

I also went to RSC Stratford to see Romeo and Juliet. If you get a chance go see it – I enjoyed it immensely. There was a fantastic arrangement of subtle live singing and accordion that accompanied the play , and the stylised fight scenes involved some aggressive stomping/tap dancing with wooden staffs. It was better than I'm making it sound! It was, on the whole, well acted, conjouring a nice tension between light-hearted comedy and heartbreak (although Romeo's sobbing did get a little to much…I wanted to strangle him at one point, he was a bit of a pussy-Romeo). This is the first modern-dress Shakespeare that worked for me, on the whole a great night out.

Quote a day keeps the doctor away…

This quote will update itself every day to say something different…keep checking it out! Quotes

April 12, 2006

THOM HUTCHINSON – have you seen him?

Writing about web page

Thom Hutchinson is the latest gossip in the world of celebrity-to-be. If you don't know about him already – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!!??

Become a fan today by visiting his website and educating yourself about this witty, mysterious, sexy and FAMOUS man!

April 06, 2006

Derek Walcott

I cam across this poem of Walcott's and was compelled to share it:

Love After Love

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 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.

March 26, 2006

W.B. Yeats

The poor fellow looks a little gormless in most of the photos I've found of him, but that's by no means a judgement of character!

from A General Introduction for my Work

This essay is personal compared to Pound's objective essay outlining his fundemental principles for anyone writing poetry. Nonetheless, there are moments which I thought worth relaying to you.

A poet writes always of his personal life, in his finest work out of its tragedy, whatever it be, remorse, lost love, or mere loneliness; he never speaks directly as to someone at the breakfast table, there is always phantasmagoria…He is part of his own phantasmagoria.

Yeats steeped himself in classical literature and was of the belief that literature should show the mark of the traditions that came before it. He was also a spiritual man and pursude various branches of mysticism throughout his life. This inevitable affected his writing and the following quote is an example of hoe he uses mystical influence to express his beliefs about the tradition of literature:

'When mind is lost in the light of the Self,' says the Prashna Upanishad, 'it dreams no more; still in the body it is lost in happiness.' 'A wise man seek in Self,' says the Chandogya Upanishad, 'those that are alive and those that are dead and gets what the world cannot give.' The world knows nothing because it has made nothing, we know everything because we have made everything.


I am a crowd. I am a lonely man. I am nothing.

The second quote is particularly resonant of mysticism. I recall a Sufi saying: 'One should be alone in the crowd.' It means to live a life of devotion to God among society, not in seclusion. Similarly, Yeats says that one should write new poetry in the context of literary tradition, not by introducing "originality" that is not connected to anything that has come before.

…romantic literature…had one quality I admired and admire: they were not separated or individual men; they spoke or tried to speak out of a people to a people; behind them stretched the generations.
I hated and still hate with an every drowing hatred the literature of the point of view. I wanted…to get back to Homer…I wanted to cry and all men cried, to laugh as all men laughed…
Style is almost unconscious. I know what I have tred to do, little what I have done.

This quote makes me hark back to my previous argument about criticism – how reliable is it that we take the words of critics for granted when even the author himself did not know exactly what it was that he had written? Sometimes critics seem to me to be more like psychoanalysts than literary analysts, deducing what the authors subconscious wrote rather than what the author was conscious of writing. Just a thought.

I tried to make the language of poetry coincide with that of passionate, normal speech. I wanted to write in whatever language comes most naturally when we soliloquise, as I do all day long, upon the events of our own lives or of any life where we can see ourselves for the moment…It was a long time before I had made a language to my liking.

With regards to the importance of form:

…all that is personal soon rots; it must be packed in ice or salt.
'Tragedy must be a joy to the man who dies.' …neither scholars nor the populace have sung or read anything generation after generation because of its pain. The maid of honour whose tragedy they sing must be lifted out of history with timeless pattern…imagination must dance, must be carried befond feeling into the aboriginal ice.
When I speak blank verse and analyse my feelings, I stand at a moment of history when instinct, its traditional songs and dances, its general agreement, is of the past. I have been cast up out of the whale's belly though I still remember the sound and sway that came from beyond its ribs…The contrapuntal structure of the verse combines the past and present.
What moves me and my hearer is a vivid speech that had no laws except that it must not exorcise the ghostly voice. I am awake and asleep, at my moment of revelation, self-possessed in self-surrender; there is no rhyme, no echo of the beaten drum, the dancing foot, that would overset my balance.

March 25, 2006


Writing about web page

A cool animation. Check it out.

Strong Words

I've started to read Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry for my Practice of Poetry exam, and I'm enjoying it. It instructs wisely, confirms and questions much of what I believe/think about poetry and the practice of writing it, and I've decided to blog up extracts of the essays that particularly speak to me.

So, I'll begin with Ezra Pound.
from A Retrospect

In this essay, Pound lays down his fundemental 'rules' for writing poetry. His definitive metaphor for the practice of poetry is music:

Don't imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as the average piano teacher spends on the art of music.

This sums up the undercurrent of this essay which is that, at the end of the day, writing a poem is hard work and should not be taken lightly; everyone knows that to play music like a virtuoso one must practice hard, learn the musical directions so that one can play the music at the right pace, at the right dynamic, and create suitable musical mood. To write well requires the same amount of dedication and rehearsal:

Let the neophyte know assonance and alliteration, rhyme immediate and delayed, simple and polyphonic, as a musician would expect to know harmony and counterpoint and all the minutiae of his craft.

His three main principles for writing the poetry of vers libre are outlined at the beginning of the essay:

1. Direct treatment of the "thing" whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.

On criticism:

Criticism is not a circumscription or a set of prohibitions. It provides fixed points of departure. It may startle a dull reader into alertness.

I do not agree with a tradition of criticism that defines the interpretation of a particular poem, that sets in stone the poem's meaning and nuances, that seems to be an 'effort to explain away ambiguity, to reduce the poem to statement like any other' (SW, 12). However, the purpose of criticism as outlined by Pound above justifies its necessity for me. He also warns: 'Pay no attention to the criticism of men who have never themselves written a notable work.' How many of the critics we read and whose words we take for granted have ever written a significant work which is not the criticism of someone else's work?

I was struck by his wonderfully succinct description of what 'an image' is:

An 'Image' is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time…It is the presentation of such a 'complex' instantaneously which gives the sens of sudden liberation; that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits; that sense of sudden growth, which we experience in the presence of the greatest works of art.

These are the statements of his that I though particularly resonant:

Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good prose.
What the expert is tired of today the public will be tired of tomorrow.
Use either no ornament or good ornament.
When Shakespeare talk of the 'Dawn in russet mantle clad' he presents something which the painter does not present. There is in this line of his nothing that one can call description; he presents.
The scientist does not expect to be acclaimed as a great scientist until he had discovered something. He begins by learning what has been discovered already. He goes from this point onward.
A rhyme must have in it some slight element of surprise if it is to give pleasure.
That part of your poetry which strikes upon the imaginitive eye of the reader will lose nothing by translation into a foreign tongue; that which appeals to the ear can reach only those who take it in the orginal.

This is why I'm finding translating Persian poetry hard. A lot of the beauty is in the way the words sound, and also the word play which can hardly ever be translated with the same nuances.

If you are using a symmetrical form, don't put in what you want to say and then fill up the remaining vacuums with slush…Don't mess up the perception of one sense by trying to define it in terms of another. This is usually only the result of begin too lazy to find the exact word.
I believe that the proper and perfect symbol is the natural object, that if a man use "symbols" he must so use them that their symbolic function does not obtrude; so that a sense, and the poetic quality of a passage, is not lost to those who do not understand the symbol as such, to whom, for instance, a hawk is a hawk.
I think there is a "fluid" and well as a "solid" content, that some poems may have form as a tree has form, some as water poured into a vase.
It is tremendously important that great poetry be written, it makes not a jot of difference who writes it.
No good poetry is ever written in a manner 20 years old, for to write in such a manner shows conclusively that the writer thinks from book, convention and cliche, and not from life.

Yeats' influence on poetry has been to make it a 'speech without inversions'.

20th century poetry…will, I think, move against poppycock, it will be harder and saner…'nearer the bone'...its force will lie in its truth, its interpretive power…At least for myself, I want it so, austere, direct, free from emotional slither.

And finally a little comic relief:

I believe in everyone writing poetry who wants to; most do. I believe in every man knowing enough music to play 'God bless our home' on the harmonium, but I do not believe in every man giving concerts and printing his sin.

March 22, 2006

Idealism and honesty

And so it is with these idealists – it is always the case. Up to the last they adorn the man with peacock-feathers, to the last they hold to the good, and, although they have a forboding of the reverse of the medal, they put away their thoughts, and will shut out the reality with both hands, until in the end the idealised man mocks and laughs at them and shows himself as her really is.

~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky Crime and Punishment

Honesty, especially with yourself as well as others, is harder to live by than most think. Don't put away your forboding thoughts, deal with them as they arrive. Otherwise you'll end up like this:

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