Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Ending a cycle only to start a cycle

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Simulations  by Jean Baudrillard

Classical English Rhetoric by Ward Farnsworth

Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Penguin Classics)

It’s not been a good reading time.  I’m going through things pretty slowly.  And I’ve given up trying to write during the day.  I’m too stressed out.  The writing bug stings at night.  After 8 p.m., a switch goes off in my head and I’m suddenly reading to the exclusion of all else or writing to the exclusion of all else.  I’m going to stop fighting it and arrange my priorities around the fact that night time is the write time.

There is a mildly Gallic flavor to my current crop of pulp.

Graduate school has really expanded my reading repertoire.  If you read my post on Barthes “The Pleasure of the Text”, then you will know my feelings on swampy translations of French philosophical prose.  However, Baudrillard’s collection of translated notes that make up Simulations has qualities that TPoTT does not, specifically, continuity, organization, essay format, and better sentence structure.  You get more out of each paragraph without a lot of apologizing about how no equivalent phrases exist in English that would do justice to French subtleties.  The down side is that the phrasing is often clunky.  The information is solid gold, but it’s raw, rough gold.

Object Lessons probably has the most subtitles of any book that I’ve ever seen. “Object Lessons” – The PARIS REVIEW Presents “The Art of The Short Story.”

Another gift from the Academia fairies is reading about rhetoric.  Those Greeks had a word for EVERYTHING!  When you overuse conjunctions, there’s a word for that.  When you leave out conjunctions, there’s a word for that.  When you repeat words, there’s a word for that.  When you repeat phrases, there’s a DIFFERENT word for that.  This pattern of repetition that I’m doing here – there’s a word for that!  So, so bitchin’ rhetoric!

I have high hopes for Stylish Academic Writing. Wisely, Sword points out in her book that “[a]ny of the ‘smart sentencing’ principles outlined in this chapter can, of course, be temporarily suspended for rhetorical effect.” (p. 59.)

My graduate thesis is on Thomas Hardy’s poetry, and I’ve been working with poems from the Penguin collection.  Hardy poetry is wonderfully easy to read, and has great depth in spite of the light lyric feel of his work.  No wonder T. S. Eliot was annoyed by him.  It was like Salieri and Mozart.

Bowerstock’s From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition.  The cover made me buy it.  Also, I like reading essays.  (…said no teacher ever! LOL!)  However, I feel like I’ve been played.  I should know better than to buy these professional collections.  I want to get published.  Maybe I should just gather a handful of essays, slap a cute title on it and declare myself a high-end scholar.  It’s such a racket.  It’s like when you buy those romance story omnibuses and one story is awesome.  One story is so-so.  The rest are crap.  But you paid for five stories and only one of them gives you your money’s worth.  I hope this book won’t be like that. 


Anthologies – A Good Way to Sell Crap Stories

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Excuses, Like Nooses

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Excuses, Like Nooses


Excuses like nooses are squeezing your neck

Choking off honesty ‘till there’s no speck

They squeeze while you wheeze, keeping truth in check

Excuses are nooses; they’re all spewing dreck.


Excuses are lies that swirl behind your eyes

Inhibiting honor with intel from spies

They prise reality’s impassioned cries

Excuses are lies that swirl behind your eyes.


Excuses induce this brackish green bile

Burning your throat, there’s no acid denial

They gargle and warble their ceaseless cruel guile

Excuses induce this enraging lie-style.

Read the Printed Word!

(An original poem by Blanca Donovan)

The Big Seethe

(An original poem by Blanca Donovan)

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The Big Seethe



Disaggregated detritus dusts

My desiccated spirit.

I choke on bile, while they

Exile my style.

Deluded displays of domination

Deal despair.

Smile with guile, for bile chokes denial.


You cater, you cajole

You respond, you reflect

You invest!  Man hours in ivory towers



Of the time that your style is viewed as worthwhile.


How do you suffocate a scorpion?

You stomach your pride and

Choke it down inside and

Language that’s snide hides the hurt you must abide.







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Grad Eng II: Hardy Hardly Heeds His Heart

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“Let each man exercise the art he knows.”

— Aristophanes, Wasps

My second semester of graduate school has come and gone.  It was a good one.  Lively, even.  One class was “Writers and Their Milieu: Thomas Hardy”.  Here are the books we had to read in order from early Hardy to later Hardy.  (All editions are Penguin Classics.)


Product Details Product Details
Selected Poems Under The Greenwood Tree
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The Return of the Native The Woodlanders
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) Product Details
Tess of The D’Urbervilles Jude The Obscure
Product Details Caveat:
If you have to read Hardy for a class, make sure you get the teacher-recommended edition because Hardy made a lot of revisions to his novels between printings.
Far From The Madding Crowd  


My favorite thing out of the whole course was Hardy’s poetry.  He makes it look so easy, but you just know that means he was extra careful about every word.  It looks so, I want to say “comfortable”, in the sense that it seems to be what he preferred writing. The poems are witty, snide, sarcastic.  Their construction is so distinctive and even musical.  The themes were many of the same that you might find in the novels.  People with bad luck and and even worse relationships.  If you have to do Hardy, start with the poems.  They, at least, are genuinely enjoyable. 

Novels were not his favorite thing. He felt pressured personally and professionally to write them because they are easier to market, among other reasons.  Also, he wanted to prove to himself that he could master the art.  Even his weakest novel (according to many in the critic biz) Under The Greenwood Tree is quite palatable.  We didn’t do Mayor of Casterbridge.  That would have been too obvious.  Instead, we went with Woodlanders, which I liked a lot.  I liked it better than Tess and Jude.  I don’t need to be mowed down by the four horsemen of the literary apocalypse – death, depression, despair, and destitution to figure out what life is all about, that Divine Providence masquerades as bad luck, and self-determination only works if no one gets in your way.  I can figure that out by reading way, WAY more entertaining writers like Juvenal or Aristophanes or S. J. Perelman.  But, it was the done thing, and he did it well.   

I really loved the way Hardy described the scenery.  He didn’t just describe how things looked, but what the land meant to the people who have to live there.  How light and seasons affect the mood of the place.  If you’re ever looking for pictures painted with words, this is it!  His descriptions, more common in the early novels than in the later ones, are like looking at paintings of the English or German Romantic School – specifically, the Pre-Raphaelites or Caspar David Friedrich.  I’m sure there were critics out there who liked that sort of thing, but all you read about in the Forewords and Introductions is the bitching and moaning about scandals and how Hardy hated writing novels and how misogynistic he is towards women in his novels.  So typically academic.  There’s very little of praise about his considerable writing artistry. It’s usually an afterthought after the academicians get through tearing him a new one for victimizing women and being so depressing. 


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If you like English literature or writers who are not afraid to show the uncomfortable truths of their time, and have a healthy attention span, Hardy is really good. Don’t let the four horsemen of the literary apocalypse trample your appreciation of Hardy’s writing.

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Champion’s League Saturday & I’m A Believer

As I watch the Champion’s League final on Fox Deportes, I’m alternately crying and cheering. Crying because of the emotional overload of this tremendous event taking place in a tremendous venue – New Wembley – between two tremendous teams – ManYoo and Barcelona (not “Barca-lona, as their nickname suggests) – playing a tremendous game.  I’m cheering because, in spite of my love for Chicharito, I want Barcelona to win.  And at 64 minutes in, Barca is ahead 2-1.  VIVA BARCELONA!

But the game ain’t over yet.  The two teams are countering each other’s moves.  The Red Devils haven’t been able to score in about 15 minutes so they are getting desperate.  Angry Reds are a bad sign.  After a pristine first half, they already have two yellow cards for dirty tackles.  Poor Iniesta.  He’s been tumbled like  jumper in a dryer twice already.  All because he had possession of the ball.  Go fig…


If Manchester doesn’t score soon, someone may do something stupid and get sent off.

But I digress…

Went to Barnes & Noble in Edinburg, Texas. It’s like the Wal-Mart of bookstores.  They had a large children’s section, a whole big section for YA books which resembled the library of a psychiatric  hospital (most of the inventory was books about traumas and vampires. )

Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs reverting to form, i.e., when they are not winning, they turn into whinging brats who have to break what they cannot have.


They also had a nice DVD/CD shop. I wonder what’s better – lots of little mom and pop shops where you can find obscure books as well as popular titles or one big paperback-only mega-mart that specializes in the friggin’ obvious.  Take that home, chew it. Talk amongst yourself. [sic].





Scholes traded shirts with Iniesta. Cool.  Chicha looks on the verge of tears.  Everybody wants a piece of Messi.  Man of the Match is MESSI.  They won without their man mountain Carlos Puyol.  Pep is HOT HOT HOT! And a little bow-legged. Cute!

Barca honor guard for ManLoser.  I love all the ceremonies before and after a game. You never get those with American coverage.  You only get them on Latin American coverage. So here’s a plug for Fox Deportes. Ustedes chavos son lo maximo! As per usual, American Fox is on commercial.  All those multi-millionaires in suits pawing the players as they walk past would give up every Euro to be a Messi or Abidal or Villa right now!

30 SECONDS INSIDE PEP’S HEAD: “note to self: do NOT let Piquet carry the trophy on the parade bus.

Wales just beat Northern Ireland in a Euro-prep friendly.  Too bad it all means nothing.

RainbowOkay, half an hour of on-pitch celebrations is winding down. I can’t get enough of that stuff. But back to the issues at hand.  Those issues being:

  1. 442 #203 with the droolicious Andy Carroll on the cover and the cute but slightly dim Uruguayan weasel Luis Suarez. um…oh, and a couple of freeloaders in the back. (What! I can’t have an opinion!)
  2. CHAMPIONS #46 with (My Name Is) Luka Modric on the cover, looking very Kate Moss-y.
  3. POETS  & WRITERS May/June.  Theme: Writing Contests.  JACKPOT!
  4. PARABOLA “Giving and Receiving”
  5. THE BELIEVER #80 Celebratory issue. My idol Nick Hornby’s column.  He changed my reading life for the better!
  6. A FROZEN FIRE by Charlotte Lamb
  7. PORTRAIT OF BETHANY by Anne Weale
  8. And a book from my wish list – AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE.


  2. NAUTI AND WILD (“Nauti Kisses”)

AIL is wonderful!  It’s a bit cofffee table-ish, but truly amazing in its scope. The variety of art that you see, the innumerable design and comp0sition concepts are inspiring.  Some are even a little scary – like the artist that covers his pages in writing. OCD much? It breaks my heart that I am not an artist when I see how much more interesting their journals look than mine. Disappointed smileComputer

ND and NK are Lora Leigh’s stories about “Rogue Walker” and her brother “John, Jr.” from Boston. Hmmm…

This is my fourth reading of ND and my second or third of NK.  What has brought me back to ND is that it’s the most romantic book since HARMONY’S WAY.  It still has a lot of sturm und drang, but it has those quiet moments where it’s just the two of them finding ways to connect without a lot of shouting. Rogue makes Zeke laugh. I think that’s what draws me to this story.  And that thing where she would call him for rides was too adorable!

It has way way WAY too much swearing.  That does get in the way sometimes.  The brother’s book, too. John, for all his polished ways, swears like a stevedore. It sounds gratuitous more often than not. His story I do not like as much. He’s an asshole.  “Sierra”, who is often described as “tiny” to the point that I think  she’s actually a toddler, is bruised and sore and traumatized. What’s John’s answer? Arouse her and have sex with her. Oh yeah, that’s JUST what she needs when she’s sleep-deprived and in pain after a near-fatal assault.  That is some messed-up logic right there.  Why not make her do dishes and vacuum while you’re at it.

A FROZEN FIRE is a Harlequin Presents from 1980.  I remember it being a particular favorite.  It made me want to go to York in England.  Gist: a nice woman and her husband’s boss fall in love.  The husband, who’s a scum-on-scum, figures it out and makes trouble.  You really believe the love in this story.  The anger doesn’t smother everything.

A WRINKLE IN TIME should be read by everybody.  It’s a masterpiece of communication and imagination.  Plus, it’s a super sci-fi book, if you need a more earth-bound reason to justify it.

So far I have only read Nick Hornby’s column.  It’s funny and self-deprecating in that charming way that Hornby is. I hope his missus thinks so, too. Winking smile


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(Sample cover/this is not the one I bought)
luka modric thumbnail
this is a crop of the issue I bought.  UEFA CL page





clip_image002  Heraclitus §  FRAGMENTS


This is an edition well-named.  In fact, when I saw how sketchy the fragments were, I was ready to send this book back.  They look more like marginalia than a work of philosophy.  Like Heraclitus was hanging out at the lyceum one day and was bored and doodling on his papyrus or whatever. 


Then…THEN, I started reading.  It was like…like…going backwards in time, shuffling my mental rolodex through poets, essayists, novelists, philosophers, teachers that I had met in my past lives.  So powerful was the familiarity of the ideas presented in this svelte, chic volume. 


Some of it sounds like it came from the Bible.  Some of it sounds like it came from “The Epic of Gilgamesh”.  The rhythm (as much as it can be rhythmic) feels like “The Hollow Men” by Eliot.  The moments of transmutation mimic Ovid.  Or did Ovid mimic Heraclitus?  If the tidbits are this good, the complete works must probably constitute the Atlantis of ancient literature.


Between FRAGMENTS, and “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, the Bible – as a work of literature – sounds modern.  I can appreciate even more, what a stupendous collection of genres it constitutes now that I have seen what came before.


If you have followed this blog over the last couple of years, you know how I feel about introductory elements.  Introductions, forewords, afterwords, tables of content, etc.  Most of the time, they are just there to make the page count.  Very few have I considered useful.  The Foreword by James Hillman is outstanding.  It states its points clearly with out any Harold Bloom-style posturing from a LazyBoy up on Mt. Parnassus.  Succinct, Spartan prose combined with luminous and illuminating perception. It was a pleasure to read, and it was interesting. 


Hillman pretty much had me at “archetypal”.  That’s from the first sentence.  And thanks to his Foreword, I understand what “deconstructivist” means.  Paragraph two contains a handy summing up of the pre-Socratics:


“Early Greek thinkers sought the stuff of which the world was made.  For Thales it was water; for Anaximenes, air; for Anaximander, a combination of hot and cold.  Empedocles expanded the stuff to four indestructible elemental principles, while Anaxagoras is said to have proposed innumerable generative seeds composing the nature of things.”


As a lover of words, I’m fascinated by the prefix “Anax-”.  A prefix like that with its accompanying variations naturally leads me to wonder what it means.  Is that a Hellenic prefix?


“Heraclitus took a different tack.  His method is more psychological.”


Thank you. Seriously.  Because of that introduction, everything that came after made sense and was easy to understand.


The first part of FRAGMENTS resonates with history and poetry – I am overwhelmed by a sense of familiarity, like that feeling you get when you walk in your front door after days away, except intensified because I did not expect to find something like this here.  The same thing happened when I first read the beginning of Ovid’s METAMORPHOSES.  (I found out from my English prof that the transmutation style was popular at the time and it was really no big deal that it sounded just like the Bible.  It was like “duh!”  Sigh…)


The word “fire” appears a lot in the frags.  Hillman explains that it was, quite possibly, Heraclitus’s way of expressing “flux” – “a metaphor for the shifting meanings of all truth.”  The idea of flux is the firing synapse that sparks memories of other writers, other literatures, other philosophies.  For example, H. wrote “Just as the river where I step/is not the same, and is,/so I am as I am not.” (81)  (See also frag 41.)  Translation: you can’t go home again.  (Thomas Wolfe).  Someone else, I don’t remember, also said something along the lines of “you can’t step in the same river twice.”


Fragment #4:  “People dull their wits with gibberish,/and cannot use their ears and eyes.”

Fragment #5:  “Many fail to grasp what they have seen,/ and cannot judge what they have learned,/although they tell themselves they know.”


Eminem and Dr. Dre: in modern parlance…


Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say
But nothin comes out when they move they lips
Just a buncha gibberish
And muthafuckas act like they forgot about Dre.


Yeah, I know. But why not???


“What was scattered/gathers./what was gathered /blows apart.


A good visualization of this idea is the Tao.  One color is eternally in the process of becoming the other. The book’s most consistent theme is that of the convergence of opposites.  They exist together, change together, not necessarily causing the other, but each creating space for the other to exist.  Almost baroque in the way each force plays out its own melody in harmony with other forces, all going in the same direction, but in their own way.


Ø  “Harmony needs low and high/as progeny needs/ man and woman.”


Ø  “From the strain/ of binding opposites/ Comes harmony.”


Ø  “The cosmos works/ by harmony and tensions/ like the lyre and bow.”


After the Bible, and alongside Gilgamesh, this is one of the most resonant works I’ve ever read.  Even more so than “Prometheus Bound”.  It’s magic!



The Epic of Gilgamesh at


Perseus Digital Library – awesome site for ancient documents including Greek, Latin and Germanic


Fun map of philosophical relations of the pre-socratics



Wind Me Up–Run Me Down

Your clock –
Tick tocks;
My clock –
Mock mocks.
Your time –
Gold plate;
My time –
Must wait.


Quick talk
Quick talk
Tick tock
Mock Mock…


Your job –
Thin beer;
My job –
Thick fear.
Your work –
First place;
My work –
No space.


Fake talk
Fake talk
Tick tock
Mock mock
Your type –
Talk tripe;
My type –
Ban hype.
Your gab –
Top speak;
My gab –
Pips squeak.


Bleak talk
Bleak talk
Tick tock
Mock Mock


Your deal –
Clique life;
My deal –
Sharp knife.
Your scene –
Fake shit;
My scene –
Shield split.


Sneak talk
Sneak talk
Tick Tock
Mock Mock


Your way –
My way –
Shut door.


5-Nov-10 21:25
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