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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

“Crescendoed calamitously.

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

Unbearable uber-scent:

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?

Author’s note:

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.
I'm going to finalise it later (the x verse is impossible without the internet, which I haven't had at home), and then I'll post it up.

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

Spreadsheet gunnery

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.

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