“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

 

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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

 

April Is Here — Are You Poeming?

2018-npm-poster-image

National Poetry Month is underway. How are you celebrating?

Are you participating in the Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day challenge? If not — catch up!

Remember: if you choose to post your work on PA blog, or your own website/blog — your work will be published. Is it a good thing, or a bad thing? It all depends.

Here’s an agent’s perspective on whether you should post your work online.

Consider the pros and cons of posting, but whatever you decide to do — keep on writing!

Do you post your work online? Has the practice ever affected you negatively? Share in the comments. Enjoyed the post? Press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

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.

 

On April Poem-A-Day Challenge & Free Speech for All, Including Poets

Poetic Asides Blog by Robert Lee Brewer

Got any plans for April?

2018  April Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge will be here before you know it.

Check out the guidelines,  and note the interaction that took place in the comments. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Kateland
March 6, 2018 at 12:47 pm
“Well, there are very wide interpretations of “hateful” nowadays. …
Perhaps a set of rules on what themes are considered “hateful” or “intolerable”…

Robert Lee Brewer Post author
March 7, 2018 at 12:50 pm
“I believe in diversity as far as the form and content of poems–expressing a wide range of opinions. As long as it is done respectfully.

I know for a fact that we have poets from around the world, of various faiths, of various political parties and slants, genders, ages, etc.”

Now, if you’re new to the challenge, Poetic Asides is not a political forum — it’s a poetry blog. However, it’s very refreshing to see its commitment to remain a place of free expression. We should not be afraid to voice our opinions.

Write poetry, be respectful while exercising free speech, don’t be a troll — that’s what PA is about. So, flex your poetry muscles!

Have you participated in PAD challenges? Are you in for the poem-a-day this April? Share in the comments.

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

 

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.

 

Poetry Business: Free Poetic Challenges & the Hidden Value of Comments

Autumn Landscape (Paysage d'automne)

In the Mind’s Eye

Sometimes we see
Things that will be —
A memory
Of tomorrow

Sometimes we find
It warm and kind
Sometimes our mind
Fills with sorrow

So some sweet day
In June or May
Bathed in sunrays
We remember

How you and I
Share burnt good-byes
Beneath the skies
Of November

Sasha A. Palmer

  • The above poem’s written in response to WD rhupunt challenge. There’s still time to enter: Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on February 28, 2018. WD Poetic Form challenges are free, and the winning poems (sometimes including a runner-up or two) are featured in Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.

It often pays off to read comments to posts. Thinking of submitting your poetry to journals? Not crazy about submission fees? Check out this list of “younger, hungrier” journals provided by Joe Cottonwood in a comment thread on The Passive Voice site:

  • “Allegro, Ink Sweat & Tears, Literary Nest, MOON magazine, Nature Writing, Peacock Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Poetry Breakfast, Rat’s A** Review, Red Eft Review, Roanoke Review, Snapdragon, Third Wednesday, Verse Virtual, San Pedro River Review, Pure Slush, Freshwater, Stoneboat, Muddy River Poetry Review, Red River Review, Gyroscope, Uppagus, Halfway Down the Stairs, Forage, Potomac Review, Slipstream, Picaroon… All these journals require no submission fee; all have some excellent undiscovered poets (and a few clunkers, but then so does the New Yorker).”

Got a name or two to add to this list? Share in the comments.

Happy writing, submitting, and getting published.

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

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Autumn Landscape (Paysage d’automne), c. 1884. Oil on canvas (later mounted to fiberboard), Painting: 25 9/16 x 21 1/4 in. (65 x 54 cm) Overall (with secondary support): 26 1/4 x 22 3/8 in. (66.7 x 56.8 cm). BF933. 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)