“Just listen, let it wash over you…”: Jeremy Irons on Narrating the Poems of T.S. Eliot

On hearing Jeremy Irons recite her late husband’s poetry, Valerie Eliot called the actor “today’s voice of Eliot.”

Jeremy Irons who recently narrated an audio book  “The Poems of T.S Eliot” talks to Stephanie Bastek of The American Scholar about the project.

  • How is driving a Lamborghini similar to understanding poetry?
  • What’s the reason Jeremy Irons listened to T.S. Eliot reading his own poetry?
  • How do you achieve a recording that’s got tremendous energy to it?

Find out. Don’t miss, it’s a delight. 

And if you are into reading poetry, rather than listening to it, here’s a different perspective on reading poetry out loud.

Finally, do you want to win a $25,800 fellowship?

  • Are you between 21 and 31 years of age?
  • Are you a US citizen, or do you reside in the US?
  • Do you write poetry?

Try your luck at Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships. Submissions are accepted until April 30, 2018. Hurry.

Enjoyed the post? Share it, like it. Thank you.

image credit: T. S. Eliot in 1923, by Lady Ottoline Morrell, public domain

 

Advertisements

National Poetry Month: Stay Inspired

 

margaretcook_leavesofgrass22

“The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping, the face of the sea almost touching,
The boy ecstatic” — Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”

2018 National Poetry Month poster, designed by AIGA Medal and National Design Award-winning designer Paula Scher, celebrates typography and is suggestive of concrete poetry and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.”

How’s your poetry month going?

  • The Poem-A-Day challenge is in full swing over at Poetic Asides. Never too late to join the fun. Write to all the prompts or choose the ones that speak to you most, share your work with others or pigeonhole it for now. Up to you. Just write.

Need more inspiration?

How about even more inspiration?

How are you celebrating National Poetry Month? Share in the comments.

Enjoyed the post? Press “like” and share the post on social media — thank you.

Image: Margaret C. Cook via http://www.brainpickings.org

 

Me, Myself & I; or on Using First Person in Lyric Poetry & Novel Writing

Girls in the Grass Arranging a Bouquet (Fillette couchée sur l'herbe et jeune fille arrangeant un bouquet)

  • In response to an interview question “Is there a poem you are a little embarrassed to like?” Kathleen Flenniken, formerly Poet Laureate of Washington State, said:

“Not so much a particular poem, but I feel defensive about one genre of poems that still speaks to me—the first person lyric grounded in everyday experience. It’s unfashionable, but it’s what brought me to writing.”

Poet Judy Kronenfeld knows the feeling,

“I admit to a similar impulse, at times, to the instinctive or deliberate use of “you,” “she,” “they,” or even “we,” as opposed to “I,” or the avoidance of pronouns altogether. I also admit to related impulses such as connecting the personal to history and politics, or writing by means of the portrayal of objects, without persons at all—which can make a poem feel, well, more “objective.” These impulses stem—at least in part—from an unease similar to the one that seems to lie behind Kathleen Flenniken’s statement.”

“…when a gatekeeper encounters a first-person manuscript, it goes without saying that a little red light goes on (from his/her past experiences) that chances are pretty good this mss came from a… less seasoned writer. And, it’s just a fact of life and the business of writing that the newer the writer, the less likely the mss will be of publishable quality.”

However, the good news is that

“If it’s a book that should have been written in first rather than third, and it’s written well and is of publishable quality, no problem. Any good editor or agent will be able to tell within a couple of pages if it’s written well or not, no matter what POV stance the author has elected.”

  • Do you use first person in your writing? Do you opt for third person because of the notion that it makes your writing “more objective”? Are you fond of reading/writing lyric poetry “grounded in everyday experience”?

Share in the comments. And if you’ve enjoyed the post, press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Girls in the Grass Arranging a Bouquet (Fillette couchée sur l’herbe et jeune fille arrangeant un bouquet), c. 1890. Oil on canvas, Overall: 12 13/16 x 16 9/16 in. (32.5 x 42 cm). BF155. Public Domain.

 

The Voice of Silence vs. Performance Art, or Is Poetry Meant to Be Read Out Loud?

In Vaudeville: Acrobatic Male Dancer with Top Hat

Here’s what Philip Larkin said in his 1982 interview with The Paris Review (“Art of Poetry” series):

  • “Hearing a poem, as opposed to reading it on the page, means you miss so much—the shape, the punctuation, the italics, even knowing how far you are from the end. Reading it on the page means you can go your own pace, taking it in properly; hearing it means you’re dragged along at the speaker’s own rate, missing things, not taking it in, confusing “there” and “their” and things like that. And the speaker may interpose his own personality between you and the poem, for better or worse. For that matter, so may the audience. I don’t like hearing things in public, even music. In fact, I think poetry readings grew up on a false analogy with music: the text is the “score” that doesn’t “come to life” until it’s “performed.” It’s false because people can read words, whereas they can’t read music. When you write a poem, you put everything into it that’s needed: the reader should “hear” it just as clearly as if you were in the room saying it to him. And of course this fashion for poetry readings has led to a kind of poetry that you can understand first go: easy rhythms, easy emotions, easy syntax. I don’t think it stands up on the page.” 

Earlier this month Jim Moonan echoed Larkin on Eratosphere:

  • “…to my ears, poetry is the voice of silence speaking to me. To break the silence by hearing a poem recited out loud – especially if I’m not familiar with it beforehand – is inevitably underwhelming to my senses. At worst, it drowns out my own interior voice. It’s a fine line. On the one hand, the assonance and rhythms and rhymes of a piece of poetry are supremely important. And all auditory. On the other hand, the catch for me is that I have to discover those sounds inside my own head by reading it, sometimes out loud, most times silently, always repeatedly, sometimes stopping to dwell, then starting over… A sonnet can take me an hour to read from beginning to end.”

He drew the samealbeit not harsh analogy between performing music and reading poetry out loud, prompted by a poem that was written to reflect the characteristic style of Morton Feldman, composer:

  • “It is a poem I would love to hear read aloud in a way that echoes the music. Performance art. Is it fair to compare a poetry reading to a live performance of music?”

Here’s more on Poets as Performers and the art of performing a poem.

What say you? Do you enjoy hearing poetry read out loud, or do you prefer hearing it in your own head? Do you think SLAM poetry “stands up on the page”? Do you attend poetry readings?

Share in the comments.

If you’ve enjoyed the post, press the “like” and “share” buttons thank you.

Image: Charles Demuth. In Vaudeville: Acrobatic Male Dancer with Top Hat, 1920. Watercolor, graphite, and charcoal on wove paper, Overall: 13 x 8 in. (33 x 20.3 cm). BF1199. Public Domain.

 

The “Catcher Cult”, or the Ambiguity of a Familiar Quote

Children Playing Ball (Enfants jouant à la balle)

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

These great lines pull you in, and you cannot help thinking: Holden really knows something, maybe even the meaning of it all, and yes, wouldn’t it be nice to be like him, to be the catcher in the rye?

Perhaps, we already are like Holden, even if we don’t fully realize it.

“Brad Gooch, the author of Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor, argues that O’Connor’s issue with Holden Caulfield is “the naiveté of his savior complex.” … Holden is at the center of his own world, and everything revolves around him. … Under the edgy surface of his coolness, Holden is a selfish boy who can’t see himself as he really is.”

So, what is the iconic quote from “The Catcher” about?

  • A selfless desire to serve others?
  • Man’s selfish refusal to acknowledge his own brokenness?
  • The dangers of human beings positioning themselves as saviors?

All of the above?

What does Salinger say to you?

Share in the comments. And if you’ve enjoyed the post, do press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

 

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Children Playing Ball (Enfants jouant à la balle), c. 1900. Lithograph in color on laid paper, Overall: 28 7/8 x 24 in. (73.3 x 60.9 cm)Image: 23 5/8 x 20 1/16 in. (60 x 51 cm). BF493. Public Domain.

 

Does “Write What You Want to Read” Equal “Never Get Published”?

Cup of Chocolate (La Tasse de chocolat)

  • We’ve heard “Write what you know.” We’ve also heard: “Write what you want to read.” Whichever path you follow, the idea is that it will (may, might) lead you to publication. So, it’s publishing advice. Or is it?

“We need books we can sell, not just books we love.” — Janet Reid, NYC literary agent

  • Is it worth it to write something “not you” but sellable?

Sometimes it may be a long but successful road to publishing “the book of your heart.” Here’s what Janet Reid says about Jeff Somers and his book CHUM:

“What Jeff did was smart: he kept writing. He got published. He waited for his agent to get the book into the right hands, at the right time.”

  • You might choose to write “domestic suspense” (or whatever is the go-to category at the moment) for the sake of (some distant day) publishing your “not high-concept enough” novel. But will you have peace along the way?

“I always figured the ‘write what you want to read’ isn’t publishing advice, it was writing advice. Getting published would be a dream, but that’s not the reason I write. I write because I want to tell a story — a story that, yes, is one I would want to read,” says Bethany Elizabeth, technical writer/editor, blogger

What say you? Share in the comments.

If you enjoyed the post, press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Cup of Chocolate (La Tasse de chocolat), c. 1914. Oil on canvas, Overall: 22 15/16 x 19 7/16 in. (58.3 x 49.4 cm). BF40. Public Domain.

 

Instapoetry & Literary Criticism; or You’re Free to Express Your Opinion, unless You Aren’t

 

  • “PG doesn’t claim to be an expert on all 21st century poets and writers, but doubts any have written anything like the following excerpts…” — David Vandagriff (aka PG) states his personal point of view, then proceeds with this quote from The Solitary Reaper, 1807 by Wordsworth:

I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

It’s fair to assume PG is not Rupi Kaur’s fan. What if he decided to criticize her Instapoetry? He wouldn’t be ostracized because of his poetic preferences, would he?..

  • “Most often, it seems, when the poet in question is a young woman of color, critics will be particularly intent on proving by a+b why her brand of poetry is blandly generic, consumerist in nature, trite and predictable. This is also often the opportunity for critics to dish out their definitions of what characterizes “good” or “bad” poetry—and those definitions are often shaped by voices from past centuries. Those voices most often happen to be older, if not dead, straight white males, and the critics justify their choice by highlighting the supposed impermanence and universality of their criticism. … Hailing Wordsworth as the end-all in terms of how we must consider poetry implies we’re erasing so much context—political, social, economic, cultural—from the equation. (How could you possibly use Harold Bloom to talk about gender, outside of a narrow, hypermasculine view?) ” — argues A.K. Afferez.

She condemns the practice of placing moral labels “good/bad” on texts. By analogy, placing a label “bad” on human beings, and marginalizing them because of their sexuality, race, and genderstraight, white malesseems “at best misguided”, doesn’t it?

Do you question “the profound instability, the slipperiness of any (italics mine) written text”? Do you always feel free to voice your opinion?

Share in the comments.

  • The notorious “toxic masculinity” may have a profound effect on a female writer:

“I had a really good father, and two really good grandfathers, and three really good brothers—far more men in my life than women, in fact. Probably that’s why I don’t think of male characters as being all that foreign to me. The biggest stretch I’ve had to make is reminding myself that men need to shave in the morning.” — Anne Tyler.

If you enjoyed the post, press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

 

Image: Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

 

 

 

 

Ouch! The Real Cost of Poetry Book Contests

Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort)

“Everyone, including aspiring poets, including even those stuck in the MFA system, would be better off if the contest system were abolished, and publishers once again took responsibility for promoting individual strong aesthetics, rather than outsourcing the decision at every stage, and supporting safe conformist meeting-room-style outcomes.”

“Numerous contest finals and wins validated my work. Indeed, I ultimately found my agent and publisher through contests.” — Kristin Bartley Lenz

So, how do you feel about contests? Share in the comments.

  • In case you feel like entering a free poetry contest, try the rhupunt challenge for a chance to get published in Writer’s Digest.

If you like this post, press the “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

 

Image credit: Paul Cézanne. Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort), 1896–1898. Oil on canvas, Overall: 51 3/16 x 38 3/8 in. (130 x 97.5 cm). BF929. Public Domain.

 

 

 

 

 

“Curious Wonder” vs. “Critical Judgement”, or Ways to Read Poetry

Reading (La Lecture)

  • Emily Dickinson is nobody’s business but my own. I will not share her with anyone. I would no more tell you about my relationship with her poems than I would tell you about a love affair. If she is yours, I hope you feel the same way.” —  from Mary Ruefle’s essay “My Emily Dickinson” quoted in The Paris Review
  • “Some are surprised that the rigorous analytical approach PG learned to apply to poetry has served him quite well in analyzing contracts and other legal documents.” — from the Passive Guy’s post on The Passive Voice blog

How do you read poetry? Do you as a reader note, for instance, prosody — the patterns of rhythm and sound? In your opinion, should poetry be analyzed? Simply enjoyed? Both? Do share in the comments.

  • Just one more thing (as Columbo would say): head over to Indies Unlimited to vote for your favorite flash fiction entry (will it be mine?). Hurry: the voting closes at 5 pm Pacific time today. Thank you.
  • For some strange technical reason when I post the link to the voting page, it doesn’t open properly: it shows the results, and doesn’t give you an option to vote. So, if you really really want to vote for your favorite entry, please go to Indies Unlimited, open the post ‘Which “Ocean of Sand” Flash Fiction Story Gets Your Vote?’, and vote from there. This should work. Thank you.

And if you enjoyed this post, press those “like” and “share” buttons. Thank you again.

Image credit: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Reading (La Lecture), c. 1891. Oil on canvas, Overall: 18 1/8 x 22 1/16 in. (46 x 56 cm). BF107. Public Domain.

 

Men & Women of Letters vs. Content Providers, or Writing in The Age of Computers

On the Beach

“The virtues of the ­computer—faster, easier, simpler—are vices when it comes to writing. The pen personalizes the labor of writing, reminding us that we are responsible for what we write.” — from PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE HAND by Mark Bauerlein

Anne Tyler writes in longhand, then revises in sections in “quite small and distinct handwriting – it is almost like knitting a novel”. When the “knitting” is done, she types up the manuscript, then writes it out in longhand — again. The whole thing.

Anne Tyler is not alone in her love for the old-fashioned tools of the trade (in particular, white paper with no lines, and a Pilot P500 gel pen), but some writers take it to the extreme:

“A blank computer screen makes me want to throw up,” says Niven Govinden. “It’s not conducive to good writing.” Or is it? What do you think?

Are you drawn to the old-fashioned? Do you write longhand? Do you find the soft glow of a computer screen exciting and inspiring? Share in the comments.

If you’ve enjoyed the post, do press those “like” and “share” buttons. Thank you.

Image credit: Maurice Brazil Prendergast. On the Beach, 1896–1897. Watercolor with graphite underdrawing on wove paper, Overall: 13 3/4 x 10 in. (34.9 x 25.4 cm). BF695. Public Domain.