All entries for October 2007
October 31, 2007
Giants, Dwarves and Haiku
So, it's been a week since my last entry. Fucking hate not having internet at home, it's such a nuisance. Anyway, this week we had to write A poem about something enormous, another about something tiny or very close up, and then a few haiku, as well as bringing in some metaphors. I've always preferred similes myself, but what the hey. So:
How the gargantuan came to be known, a Just So story
What would you call me?
I am the next step on from infinity
To whom your universe is but the tiniest quasar
In the wax that I flick from my ear
To whom time is but a distant rumble of thunder
Caused by insecurity in one’s place in the chain
I am the chain, or at least, proportionally
I am again the size of all else that is in the chain
Such that mathematically space and all that is in it is negligible
Whether it wishes to be negated or not
I am the gap between here and there,
Between is and ought, between life and death
And all that’s in-between
From the a child’s first word to the heartbeat of a sun
I do not translate into human tongue
So you would call me… God
How Low Can You Go?
Miniscule, I twist
Master of no fate
Destined to stay spinning here
Until such time as I adhere
To principles that make the world go round
Or so I hear, and so they say
Zipping here and there
Too small to be free
A billiard ball with no control
Bounced along from hole to hole
Or, as the case may be, from orbit to orbit
Altering, the sole purpose of me
Electron, I’m called
Weighing almost nowt
But every difference there can be
Is by and large a cause of me
Being catapulted out of one space to another
Any change you see means that I’m about
Why does my sword hang
Near, on the door? So I can
You are but sanitised wind
Called by a button.
Where once duly dwelt
We, waxing dark poetics,
Dwindles data’s dust
To smell and be warm,
Or leave the window open?
That is the question
One of the haiku (the data one) is old work, but other than that, I think they're alright. As for the metaphors, I challenged myself when i got home to throw myself into them, so I wrote a song full of them. Here is the relevant part (it's the sort of outro/chorus section)
You’re the first step across the threshold
You’re the scent of a lover’s arms
You’re the final exam before the summer began
And you’re the glimpse of a shooting star
You’re the sound of the rain on the pavement
You’re the joy of a baby’s first word
You’re an ice cold drink when the party’s in full swing
And you’re the freedom to fly like a bird
You’re a long flat highway to speed on
You’re an oh so fulfilling refrain
You’re an extra time goal in the cup final
And you’re a sip of vintage champagne
You’re the bacon when you’re hung overYou’re the 20 found in an old pair of jeans
I could never describe the feelings you stir inside
But it's the first note a songwriter sings
So yeah, that's that bit. Couple of other metaphors:
Jack Dee – Our water is so hard, it comes out of the tap wearing a tracksuit
Somehow (another song of mine) – When you first hung your tough guy mask up on the wall, I saw the levees break
Yeah, an interesting week, assignment-wise. Last night, the poetry slam, was very bittersweet. I got really low scores for my first two poems which, while they weren't amazing, I didn't think were 23/22 scores, though I did forget the words. But they weren't as personal to me as Three Years in the Desert, and I think that came across, because I knew it well, and I performed it well. people laughed at odd lines and hissed at the "Weak in the herd" line, which I didn't expect, and I ploughed on through when I maybe should have given them a little time to breathe. But 4 10s and a 9 was the highest score given (it was also given to Peter, the legend, who is my poetry tutor for ICW, for those of you who don't know, the random freaks out there reading this blog, yeah you!) Though his poem was about 4 and a bit minutes, but it was crazy, so imaginative. Anyhow, yeah, hopefully will have internet soon, and be able to spout bullshit on here a lot more often.
October 24, 2007
Why I hate ballads
Wordsworth, quite simply, ruined ballads for me. Certainly in their traditional form. I literally cannot think of a poet I hate more. I am quite indebted to Shelley, truth be told, because after a year studying Wordsworth, I was ready to give up on the Romantics, and indeed all poetry altogether. It fit so well with the stuffy image we're inundated with from a young age, that Neolithic constraint that poetry is the world of the scholar and the expert, which is exactly the opposite of what he was trying to achieve. But it doesn't stop him from being deadly dull.
So when we were told to write a ballad for this week's assignment, I knew straight off the bat that I wanted to avoid Wordsworth and all his ken. So I needed an untraditional form that still addressed the fundamental essences of what makes a ballad (telling a story, caring about the characters). Then I thought "Why use a pre-existing form, when I can make my own"? Maybe the first week's assignment got into me a little too much, but I thought that I'd write a form to reflect the subject matter. Since we had to write about a pair of idiots questioning the world, showing wonder and rationalising things in bizarre ways, I'd go with a form to match. So we've got 4 line stanzas, each line generally increasing in length as a simple idea, initially broached, is expanded upon and rationalised and opened up to examination. So, here's my effort:
Time, Space and Gravity, Not Necessarily In That Order
“Why not walk on walls?” he said
“Why not step from one plane to another,
With the same ease that a fish can change course
Whiplashing against currents unseen but felt intimately…
“Step up and slide down,” she said
“Struggle with the same strong desires that
Every single thing, live or never so, has within them –
We stand this way up because that’s the way our bodies want to be.”
“To avoid confusion?” he said
“So that we don’t have to kiss sideways
Or fall down corridors, or walk up walls, or tumble through windows
The force of desire keeps this way up, and this way down?”
“As far as I understand,” she said
“Which is no great distance, being, as I am
As new to the world as you, when compared to many
Mountains and caves and places we shall never see, but can make with our minds”
“So we do make, then?” he said
“For I felt we just recalled, maybe,
Things from so long ago that we didn’t know we forgot that we knew them
But if we make, that makes sense, for I am sure I made time up in my head.”
“Yes, I feel that too,” she said
“Because we only ever have now,
So if I remember a yesterday, how do I know it’s not a tomorrow
Or that it ever really happened at all? All these lines and rules are not healthy.”
“Perhaps we made it all up,” he said
“Is it possible that fruit, and sleeping bags,
And stamps, and leather, and music, and anything we’re not feeling right now
Never was, is not, and never will be except for in our heads?”
“We are so clever, then,” she said
“To have made a world inside our heads.
Why, I am probably clever enough to have imagined you
And all your silly questions about why we can’t walk on walls.”
At this, he took offence, and left.
But afterwards, she often closed her eyes
Willed her body’s desires shut, and tried to step onto the wall.
When no-one was looking, of course.
October 23, 2007
Last week's assignment
Haven't had internet for a while, so here're last week's assignments.
The Juggernaut Sermon
What, then, I ask you people, is a juggernaut? What thing should exist in this world or the next such that this one word, and only this word, must exist to describe it? For words do not exist without a meaning to anchor them – we can have no word for something with no existence, even if that existence is only in the mind. Is it, then, a linguistic phantom, a butterfly indisposed to take its place under the glass? We might define it all day long, debate whether destruction is fundamental to its meaning, as certain dictionaries would have us believe. It is irrevocably an instrument of not inconsiderable proportions; of that much we can be sure.
How can we reduce such a thing, and come to understand it? What is the sum of its parts? J-U-G-G-E-R-N-A-U-T: Judgement under gawping greatness, eerily remembered nightly amid utter terror? Hardly – though the reality might, the word fails to inspire fear in even the feeblest of minds, though it is possible, if not probable, that once experience, it should be a recurring feature of one’s nightmares. But not this, then, for only a fraction of us can glimpse it and live, so those without experience would have no more comprehension of it than Ray Charles of the Louvre. Joke-worthy under gravity’s gaze except real, nail-bitingly and untamedly tank-like? Again, it is beyond the mind’s eye to conceive of something so big as to laugh off gravity, like the dinosaurs whose bones should surely have collapsed in on themselves, such was the weight involved. And tank-like does not satisfy my craving for spikes and vitriol and all manners of death and destruction. No, people, we shall have no comfort here.
Maybe a different analysis will yield an answer. How else will it break down? Perhaps it is a ‘jug o’ naught’, for the word is but an empty container for us to fill with memory and experience, whenever we should happen upon it. Mayhap it is ‘jog or not’, for if one does not flee an engine of destruction, as our gigantic friend is purported to be, one’s existence would cease to be: one would become ‘not’. Perchance it is ‘jogger not’, for the rhino does not prance or canter, does not jog, but either charges or walks, or is at rest. What moderation should there be for such a creature, that it should jog; what reason behind anything but a full on approach – after all, moderation is a fatal thing, nothing succeeds like excess. Is there any life to be had in ‘jog an’ ought’? It seems not. Nor does it seem that we shall have any joy in such an analysis, except that perhaps, for the moment at least, a jug o’ naught is all that we shall have, a vessel for a memory as yet unexperienced, a half-imagined fragment of anamnesis we were born to live again. But the juggernaut, for all its size, eludes us with that butterfly’s grace.
The Rhythm of Liff
October 15, 2007
A bit downI've found myself a little lacklustre since last week's episodes. Maybe it's because I finally have the x-files to stem the flow of my creativity (watched the film and am now back into season 6). But I think it's mostly because there are certain bits of criticism that hit deeper. To paraphrase, last week Peter said my initial poem lacked in imagery, and that, as he had predicted before, I was quite concerned with linguistic content. I suppose it knocked the wind out of me a bit, even though he enjoyed the Midsummer Night's Massacre, as did George ("rollicking" was the word, I believe). Myabe it's just some mental block about poetry - I would like to think my songs have some great images (Worthwhile, for example), in addition to telling narratives. Or maybe I am too wrapped up in language and the tale it tells. I guess I'll just have to work on that. But with Shelley (my favourite poet), it's the language and narrative I revel in, like in Ozymandias "look upon my works, you mighty, and despair!" . I wonder if I'm alone in that...
October 11, 2007
The End Is Always There
Fly, fly, why don’t you die?
Oh wait, you shall, and so shall I
However much we multiply
The end is always there
Insect, why don’t you shush?
Your buzzing is the final push
That forces me to make you mush
The end is always there
Bug, bug, why don’t you bleed?
Oh, wait, you do – my wall was clean
But now it’s stained in shades of spleen
The End is always there
October 09, 2007
A Midsummer Night's Massacre
A Midsummer Night’s Massacre
“Again” Acorn asked “and avoid all allusions
And also ambiguity!
Truth must be located and disseminated
Throughout the constabulary!”
“But brother, believe,” bellowed Bramble and Briar
“Bereavement brings blood and brings bile.”
“He’ll be free to go as soon as we know
What happened in that leafy pile.”
“The chaotic cacophony,” Cinnamon cried
And besides collecting, disturbing, expecting,
Four giants horrifically
Decided to drop deciduous death
On daffodils and dandelions.
The pile grew higher, the funeral pyre
Of thousands of petals and scions.
Every expression of every ego,
Each exclamation of Earth,
Was roundly ignored by the gigantic horde
In their apocalyptical mirth.
Fiercely, the fatal flames finished their foes,
A fannable furnace of fear.
Infernal justice? Killing leaves musters
No obstacles. Palpably queer
Grew the gargantuan guffawing gits,
Gleeful and ghastly and gay.
Maybe the dance or the fatal parlance
Of the fire pleased ‘em, who can say?
Hellishly howling at their hateful holocaust,
Hideously heaping on hurt,
They regretted the plight, once they caught sight, of
A hedgehog alight in the dirt.
Insensitive ignorance, I’ll illustrate,
Immolation indecent and ill –
Rescued summarily, this urchin verily
Wailed a xenophobe’s yell,
Jittery, jeered at, just jeopardised.
My jealousy jabbered and jumped –
Why should this urchin deserve such attention
While all of we flora are dumped,
Kept for kaput, KO-ed and kowtowed,
Kicked by these keen kings of karma?
Between blood and sap, what difference is that
That they watch us burn, and stay calmer?
Left in the lurch, leached of liaisons,
Laboured a little lone leaf,
Zounds, and besides, continental divides of
Entirely fiery grief
Masterfully menaced the muddled up mite
Meticulous in their malaise.
They burned him to bits, the venomous shits
Caught up in a blistering craze.
Near to this nasty, non-natural negator,
I needed a nearby niche,
For I stood in the way of this murderous flame
And I burn as one bruises a peach.
One opportunity offered oasis,
Obstinate to be obliged.
How I just kept living, myths now omitting,
Promises quail regicide!
Pilching peripherally from the perimeter
Prior to perching, the pest!
The head of the clique snatched leaves with her beak
To line her palatial nest.
Quaking and quivering, quashed by this quandary,
Queasy and quelled by this Queen,
I hoped beyond hope that she’d pick this poor dope
To anoint her newborns’ nursery.
Rejoice, oh rejoice, I rebutted the razing
To relate this rebellion real!
Simplicity tickles, unbearable victuals
Wasted that xenophobe’s yield.
Salvation sensed, I submitted a signal,
A scent of such seductive strength
That in a few seconds, my soon-to-be weapon
Had lured her to snatch up my length.
Tucked away tightly, transported from threatening
Titans, though terrified,
I resolved swiftly that I did not wish me
Wallpaper, no matter how fine.
Using my utmost, I unleashed an update of
Zounds, atishoo, banished Cinnamon drew
Exhalation from good herbalment.
Vicious velocity veered the victim
To vex and vandalise,
For the sneeze’s own torrent was so abhorrent
It blew her nest into the skies.
Wailing and wittering, they wobbled world-wards
Weak of wing, woefully so,
The plummeting progeny of royal homogeny
Splattered like eggs on the road.
Xenogenous, oh xerotripsis xylophagous
No xenial xenagogues here
Impishly jettisoned – kindred, listen!
My narrative’s o’er, persevere.
Yanked o’er the yawning yield of yester-yipping,
The yolk of the young o’er a yard,
I soared on the wind from the site of such sin
And landed here, safe from harm.
Zipped like a zephyr, zig-zagged and zoomed
I was no zealot of zen,
But though I panicked, I could not have planned it
My escape was Mother-Earth’s ken.
I’ve answered your questions, I’ve told you my story.
We’ve all learned our lessons. Acorn, I implore thee
For now my bed beckons, for, no doubt, before me
Are days of impressions that I’ll fill with glory
When telling the tale, the incredible tale,
To every seedling and every snail,
To every forest, and mountain and dale,
The legend of how I defeated the Quail,
And from the inferno did flee, yes me, and
From the inferno did flee.
Ah behold, could death ever force Gaia’s hand
If judicious karma loves me?
Xenagogue – a guide, someone who conducts strangers
Xenial – of or concerning hospitality towards guests
Xenogenous – due to an outside cause
Xerotripsis – dry friction
Xylophagous - wood-eating
I'm pretty happy with it, over all. There are some jumps in the meter, and a few slightly stretched rhymes I might come back to (jettisoned/listen in stanza 24 being the obvious one), and I did invent the word herbalment, whatever that means, but Shakespeare invented a load of words, and everyone thinks he's a genius. Which he is. And I'm not. But fuck it, I discovered some amazing words along the way - did you know that ultramontane means either south of the Alps or being an extreme supporter of the Pope?
Anyhoo, I'm not funny like Tim or Johnny, so I'm not going to try to be. That said, if I were going to write a historical context, it would look something like this:
"The Triumverate of Alphabetical Discourse is a relatively fresh style of poetry. It's origins lie in the early 1900s, when the popularity of the world's best nonsense poet Edward lear, responsible for such magnum opi as the Owl and the Pussycat. Lewis Carroll was perhaps the originator of the movement, paying beautiful homage to Lear's work with the unforgettable Jabberwocky, though he did not invent the form. Where exactly the TAD began is lost in the mists of time, but what is known is that by the middle of the 20th century, interest in the form had been almost lost. Despite rampaging its way across poetry bars and readings from new York to New Orleans, and currying particular favour with the beatniks, who were drawn like flies to the horse by the captivating meter, the form never made its way to the dizzying heights of, say, the limerick, or the ballad. Nonetheless, it has found new popularity in the new century, and, with the rules finally formalised in all the major languages, disagreements about what exactly constitutes a TAD have boiled down from an inferno to a simmer."
October 08, 2007
How I shot myself in the foot
So, having nothing to do last Friday, I settled down to create my new verse form, as instructed. And in the long-standing Kent-family tradition of making things hard for yourself (or so I thought at the time), I thought I'd set myself a little challenge. The verse form is known as the "Triumverate of Alphabetical Discourse" or a TAD for short. The rules are as follows:
- There must be 27 stanzas, or verses, of four lines
- Each of the first 26 stanzas (or verses) must start with the corresponding letter of the alphabet
- For the first two lines of each stanza, every verb, noun, or other major, non-connective word (excluding pronouns) must start with the same letter as the first word.
- The second couplet/pair of lines is free except for every third verse, where the second couplet must be alphabetically sequential. That is to say, the first verb, noun, or other major non-connective (excluding pronouns) word must start with some letter (for the 3rd verse, always an 'a'), the next with a 'b', the next a 'c' and so on and so forth. The next verse (e.g. the 6th) must pick up where the previous one left off (e.g. if verse 3 ended with a word beginning with f, then verse 6's second couplet must begin with a g, or the first relevant word must).
- The first line of the second couplet (that is to say the 3rd line) must contain an internal rhyme, in the style of a limerick.
- The poem is to be written with a triplet rhythm, in homage to/the style of Edward Lear's "the Owl and the Pussycat", with the first and third lines each having 11 syllables (with potential for a grace syllable beforehand), and the second and fourth lines each having 7 syllables (again with potential for a grace syllable either beforehand or afterwards).
- The final verse must have 12 lines, the first 9 having 11 syllables, the 10th having 7 syllables, and the last two lines following the previously established pattern for the final couplet of a verse that is a multiple of 3.
October 03, 2007
This could be the start of a beautiful friendship
So, for ICW (Introduction to Creative Writing), we're supposed to start up a blog, to record our thoughts, processes and work over the course. Well, here are my thoughts. At the risk of running away with myself, I think it's gonna be awesome. Both Peter and George seem great (Peter has this legendary sort of chocolate-fluid, listen-to-it-all-day kinda voice), and there's this awesome 'recreational' 'not for credit' 2 hour course run by Peter and Adriano Shaplin (sp?) happening somewhere at some time that sounds amazing. I already promised to 'move hell and earth' to make it, a promise I intend to keep, though it might keep my MTW involvement down, if it's in the evening.
I am slightly worried that I'm a little too 'pop, as George put it. I mean, at the moment I'm reading Orcs, and rcently I've read Terry Pratchett and Stephen King. The thing is, when I want a break from philosophy, it's so much more comforting and enjoyable to snuggle up with a good sci-fi or fantasy or comedy or whatever. I suppose I'm going to have to work a little more at reading for enrichment, rather than just fun. That said, it should only help with Quest (the musical I'm writing), and my songs. But this sort of thing, ICw and Aesthetics, is what I came to uni for. Well, that and the girls. And the music. But as far as actual study and work goes, this is it. So this year, I'm gonna get off my arse, because I don't have to wade through shit like logic and Mackie. Thought there's still stuff like Thought and Language, which I can't see myself enjoying.
Anyway, getting sidetracked. I need to read more 'literature', it would seem. More cutting edge authors. Though I think I'll make Stephen King one of my essay figures, because of his "On Writing" (which I assume he is parodying through the "On Being 18 and Other Things" that you get at the start of every Dark Tower book), and because the Dark Tower is just such an awesome series. I might take Douglas Adams instead, or Terry Pratchett. Or two of the three - I doubt I'd get away with all three, I imagine they are too pop, which, now I think about it, is probably fair enough. What will I learn by just reading stuff I am so familiar or comfortable with?
Peter pointed out, when we were taking an interesting phrase from the Caucasian Refurbishment (the poem made from spam email) poem, and doing our 'constellations' or 'spider diagrams' (mine was set out in bullet points, due to the joys of Microsoft Word), that, when I read out my offering, I was already becoming concerned (I caught the hint of too concerned) with the language.
"Diabetic dress rehearsal:
- Insulin injections on standby
- No sugary foods
- A few well-concealed extra pounds that pick the exact wrong moment (a twist, a turn, a bending down) to reveal themselves
- A room of people used to living with a greater constraint than most, forced to recognise that they will never live as ‘full’ a life as someone else."
I suppose that's just part of my way. Songwriting, especially pop, is probably more concerned with form and style than content - how words sound, how they collide or merge, how they can be said or annunciated. I always try to say something with my songs, even shoe-gazers and stream of thoughts. But it's hard not to be influenced - logic tells us that coherence is an important facet of any argument, and that without coherence, an argument loses impact. I suppose that rings true with my grammatical uptightnes - I winced several times today when Peter and George said 'quote' rather than quotation. I don't care if it's right now, it should never have come about, just like 'invite'. grammar matters. Even if language does define usage, that's not a normative claim, one shouldn't succumb to the naturalistic fallacy. There ought to be some rules, otherwise language becomes just about communication, whether people understand what's being said, and then form and style become irrelevant. And how woud art suffer that? Yes, art can be about communicating concepts, but it's also about inciting emotion. Good art should do both, good music (which is an art in itself) should make you feel and make you think. Concepts make you think, they don't usually make you feel. It's pathos, the beauty of delivery, simplicity and exactness of expression that make you feel, not some standardised mimesis of concept.
I'm ranting now. Oh well. Anyway, the point is that i'm looking forward to the course. Speaking to Tim afterwards, it seems our on the spot poems shared subject matter - we had to write
a poem based on our own free-writing (mine was pretty much just a stream of words) and Caucausian Refurbishment. The best stuff from the free-writing that I had:
"She had a gorgeous underbelly
The Gallant Wordsmith
Bitchslap the snide retard
The assuaging lebensraum
Tarted Up Bohemian
The summer vacation left every stone unturned
Prissy little molecule
What a burnt out git wizard Slobberdam Milosevic is
I’m missing the other half of my double act
A man of untold infamy"
Pretty random, but not quite as random as the spam poem. Anyway, with the following rules:
"Using at least one of the phrases above
- Lines of 10 syllables
- Each line should have an unadulterated word from Caucasian Refurbishment
- The first word of every line must be I, you, he she, they or we, except for the last line, which should start with none of them"
I came up with this, in the 20 minutes we had in class:
"She had a gorgeous underbelly, dress,
I presume, removed during rehearsal.
She beams like a saucy rapscallion,
I boost the tarted up bohemian.
She, the Caucasian girl of infamy;
I, the convex agent of destiny;
We cuddle, she leaves, now I’m missing the
Other half of my altar double act."
I think if I write any more, it'll be stretched, as there's a limited number of words in the poem that are contextually relevant to the subject matter (although we did agree today that poetry has a habit of putting unfamiliar bedfellows together to make us see things in a new light). The poem has a nice symmetry to it as it stands, She, I, She, I, She I, We, Other. Almost like a rhythm, sexual perhaps, which is merged in the we, after the back and forth. The other half of my altar double act - why do I keep writing about marriage? I don't want to be married yet, though I admit I definitely woud liek to be. Tim said he wrote about a romance too, but a holiday one, rather than a theatrical one. He said "what else is there?" when I remarked that it was strange that we wrote about similar things. I wonder if his is quite as sordid as mine - the convex agent of destiny might be slightly personal, I'm not sure it doesn't lower the tone a little. He is right though, whether you're in a relationship, seeking one or getting over one, it does seem to be such an overwhelming drive. I'll never understand those asexual people who just aren't interested or excited at all.
We're supposed to invent a new poetic form this week. Nice easy start then ;). I think I'll do something with meter and stress, probably rhyme too. We'll see.
Anyway, that's enough for today, I think. I hope we get internet in the flat soon, or I'm gonna have to open up a tab with Quench. I can often be found there, in the corner at the end of the bar next to the entrance to Union North, because there's a place I can plug in my laptop, and sit back and enjoy the wifi. I miss the internet.
Anyway, Jimmy, signing off.