‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘poetry

More Roberto Bolano

with 3 comments

If you’ve been reading the blog the past few weeks, then you are aware of the fact that I have been battling with Roberto Bolano’s posthumously released epic novel 2666. An update, I’m on page 363 of this 898 beast. Still a ways to go but I shall persevere and I am enjoying it immensely.

o_roberto-bolanoI thought I would provide a nice introduction into his work, enjoy:

7 short stories by Roberto Bolaño Gómez Palacio, The Insufferable Gaucho, Álvaro Rousselot’s Journey, Phone Calls, Dance Card. From Nazi Literature in the Americas: Edelmira Thompson de Mendiluce, Luz Mendiluce Thompson & Ernesto Pérez Masón and The Fabulous Schiaffino Boys. If you know the fiction of Roberto Bolaño you know what you’re in for. If you don’t, any of these stories is a good place to start, though the first three are perhaps the most natural starting points.

Written by thebeliever07

January 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Slate: Poetry Discussion

with one comment

Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (re)posted Thomas Hardy‘s “The Darkling Thrush” to Slate. Discussion ensued, and became very lively when National Book Award winner Mark Doty observed that the poem contains an overt homage to an earlier poem by Keats. Guggenheim fellow Mark Halliday, MacArthur fellow Jim Powell and Annie Finch chime in. An opportunistic Billy Collins (also a former Poet Laureate & Guggenheim fellow) even showed up, attracted by the discussion of a “bird poem.” A fascinating look at some of the finest American poets geeking out over poems that were hits before your mother was born.


leave a comment »

The past few days have seen a resurgence of violence and death in the middle east. I was listening to two different perspectives on NPR last night and both offered up their views on the conflict. Both claimed peace and a desire for their children to grow up in a healthy and safe environment, yet both also stated that they would defend themselves by whatever means were necessary. It is a conflict that I do not see ever ending. So rather than go on an extended political rant of these issues and this side versus that side I will offer up another way to understand their points of view.

The two poems  below are from two poetry collections written by respective individuals from each culture: Jewish and Islamic. Yuhuda Amichai, one of Israel’s most popular literary figures & Mahmoud Darwish considered to be the Palestinian national poet. Incidentally, Mahmoud Darwish read Amichai in Hebrew growing up and also wanted to write a history and culture of his people into his own works of poetry. Even though both men are of different faith and have different politics it is fascinating to read their works and see that through their literature and poetry they wish to achieve and create the same things. One hopes that more people will read their works and see that it is possible for people of different faith and culture to co-exist peacefully and work towards a common goal.

I Belong There

I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is born.
I have a mother, a house with many windows, brothers, friends, and a prison cell
with a chilly window! I have a wave snatched by seagulls, a panorama of my own.
I have a saturated meadow. In the deep horizon of my word, I have a moon,
a bird's sustenance, and an immortal olive tree.
I have lived on the land long before swords turned man into prey.
I belong there. When heaven mourns for her mother, I return heaven to
   her mother.
And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears.
To break the rules, I have learned all the words needed for a trial by blood.
I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a
   single word: Home.
- I Belong There - Unfortunately, It was Paradise - Selected Poems - Mahmoud Darwish - 

A Quiet Joy

I'm standing in a place where I once loved.
The rain is falling. The rain is my home.

I think words of longing: a landscape
out to the very edge of what's possible.

I remember you waving your hand
as if wiping mist from the windowpane,

and your face, as if enlarged
from an old blurred photo.

Once I committed a terrible wrong
to myself and others.

But the world is beautifully made for doing good
and for resting, like a park bench.

And late in life I discovered
a quiet joy
like a serious disease that's discovered too late:

just a little time left now for quiet joy.
- A Quiet Joy - The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai - Yehuda Amichai -

Written by thebeliever07

December 30, 2008 at 12:56 pm


leave a comment »

Thursdays are usually Blog days. The first part of my week is filled with schoolwork, as well as hotel work and as a result I am either too tired or too busy to update. Quite a bit has happened this past week.

Let us start with the most obvious: Barack Obama: President Elect. While I am pleased to see that there is now a person of color in the Oval Office and that history has indeed been made, I am still wary of this so called “CHANGE!”.

Yes, Barack Obama has a positive message and has run an admirable campaign. But he is also a Harvard Law School Lawyer who has spent his entire life in Politics. Why should I trust this man because of the struggles he’s endured. Or, because of his professing “Yes, We can! Change!” which is a clever rhetorical strategy for any politician to employ, no clever that McCain tried to use this same rhetoric during his speech in the NRC.

I guess that we will all see the results of America’s choice in this President and whether or not he is capable of keeping his promises. Only time will tell. Until then, people will just have to content themselves with a Historical social barrier being broken and the inspiration that this act has engendered in so many people.

Michael Crighton passed away yesterday. And while many will scoff at his “literary” contributions it is still a tragedy when someone as influential as him in the publishing world passes away. I, like most everyone I know who reads on a regular basis, experienced a period where I enjoyed many “airport-books”: Crighton, Clancy, Grisham, etc. And while literary elites will sneer at this type of genre fiction, I would suggest that there is nothing wrong with this particular preference as long as one understands that this is a particular type of fiction and as such to expect Nobel like fiction is to engage in folly. I mean this man has brought us the joy of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Rising Sun, all books that have been adapted, some good and some not so much. Still his contributions will be missed.

I have yet to figure out what my major Theory paper will focus on. I must choose one particular “piece” and another specific theorists that we have covered in course. I have been considering Ezra Pound’s “The Cantos”, obviously not the entire work, but a few choice Canto and would use this piece in relation with Saussure’s theory on semiotics and language systems. Still not sure yet. We’ll have to see.

Not much else is going in life, just work and school and more work.

Oh and I did pick up the Third Volume of Neil Gaiman’s ABSOLUTE SANDMAN. Only one more to go and I’ll own the entire series in fancy leather-bound volumes. I’m uber excited. I already have the entire series in trade paperback graphic novel form, but this is something altogether different. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

November 6, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Digg this my man…Poetry you can digg my man.

leave a comment »

Here is a list of poetry collections and poets that I am currently enjoying. I urge you to check them out, and if you feel like you have a few minutes, feel free to share some poets you think I might enjoy, I’m always open to new suggestions.

Philip Larkin – Collected Poems

Adam Sol – Jeremiah, OHIO

Lawrence Ferlinghetti – A Coney Island of the Mind

Robert Pinsky – Gulf Music

Rainer Marie Rilke – Sonnets to Orpheus

And because I’m in a good mood, I’ll share some poetry with you, enjoy.

Obedient daily dress,
You cannot always keep
That unfakable young surface.
You must learn your lines - 
Anger, amusement, sleep;
Those few forbidding signs.

Of the continuous coarse
Sand-laden wind, time;
You must thicken, work loose
Into an old bag
Carrying a soiled name.
Parch then; be roughened; sag;

And pardon me, that I
Could find, when you were new,
No brash festivity
To wear you at, such as
Clothes are entitled to
Till the fashion changes.
- Philip Larkin -

Written by thebeliever07

November 2, 2008 at 9:17 am

Posted in poetry, reviews

Tagged with , ,

October, Etc.

leave a comment »

I am quite happy to say goodbye to October. While I managed to accomplish quite a bit of my first term assignments, it has been rough surviving all of the stress and trying to find a balance. 

Picked up a few more books this past week. I have found myself turning to a fair bit of poetry this past month as this generally happens when I become stressed. There is something calming and soothing about the nature of poetry. 

Canadian Adam Sol has a collection called: “Jeremiah, OHIO”.

In Jeremiah, Ohio, Adam Sol reinvents the Biblical prophet and doomsayer Jeremiah for the postmodern age, and sends him on a reeling road trip through the strip malls and back roads of the United States with an ordinary, everyman companion, Bruce. The mismatched pair are thrown together by accident, but come to value each other as they travel in early September toward the “promised city” of New York. 

The verse in this ambitious, politically charged, and beautiful book alternates between the two main characters — while Jeremiah delivers strange, super-charged “prophecies” full of incendiary language and deliberately mixed metaphors, Bruce offers down-to-earth catalogues of mundane details and daily struggles in the American empire. With these inspired creations, Adam Sol fully delivers the mastery of language and subtlety of insight promised in his earlier work. – Taken from Anansi Press

Adam Sol has managed to capture “voice” very well in this collection. At times this collection reads like prose, and yet it still has a musical quality. The best way I could describe this collection: as an Old Testament “On the Road” lyrical adventure. Definitely worth your time.

Written by thebeliever07

November 1, 2008 at 9:16 am

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

leave a comment »

I have been on a poetic kick lately. Something about fall puts me in the mood for verse. I gave myself a treat yesterday and picked up Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind” 50th Anniversary Edition. Creator of City Lights Publishing, noted for having put Allen Ginsberg on the map as well as having been tried on obscenity charges for attempting to do such a thing, Ferlinghetti helped usher in the Beat Poet movement. I do not have too much exposure with Ferlinghetti. I’ve read Ginsburg’s “Howl”, and Frank O’Hara is also a favorite of mine, but up until this point Ferlinghetti has been a bit of a mystery to me. I can safely say that I’m impressed. There is this brilliant Can-Do-FUCK-YOU attitude to his poems, his raging against the established order and his delight at all things poetic and song.

The verse sprawls across the page as if to say….”yes, I remember you Walt Whitman” and his subject matter is so large and encompassing, no one is safe from his tongue: Christ hanging on the cross, the loss of one’s virginity, riding on a subway car. It makes me smile to just read his poems.

Worth checking out if you have a library card or some spending cash for books.

Because WordPress sucks at formatting, I cannot properly space out the text of the verse in the way that Ferlinghetti has arranged it, as such I’ve cut an image from this collection that I’m pasting below, it’s zoomed out a bit, but you can click on the image to allow for an easier read, cheers and enjoy some fine verse on this autumunal morn.

Written by thebeliever07

October 16, 2008 at 9:33 am

Vis a Vis

leave a comment »

There is a Canadian Poet/Writer/Theorist that we just read in our Environmental Writing course. Erin and I just presented on him last week, also wrote our term papers on him. Don McKay is a poet, writer that everyone should check out. We wrote and presented on “Vis a Vis”, a selection of essays on nature and poetry as well as his theory about our relationship to the environment. I’ll briefly explain some of his thoughts, keep in mind I’ve been writing and talking about him for two weeks now and I’m a bit tired of him, not to say I dislike him, just exhausted on the “materiel”, so what follows is pretty basic and reductive. If you do like what I’ve written below and have some interest, please check him out, he’s a fascinating writer. Koop, I’m talking to you brother…I know you’ll love him.

He has this rather interesting idea. What he defines as “Materiel” (notice the spelling, not to be confused with material). Essentially it is any “thing” that we use up, use up in the extent that we as humans go so far as to even deny “it” the possibility of death. For example, consider an island that has been used to experiment upon for nuclear testing. After we have used this island, what is left? We have denied it the possibility of it naturally eroding, it’s social use and utility have been taken from it, it can no longer even return to nature or the environment from which it came, it has lost its “wilderness/wildness”.

The example he uses in a very figurative and literal way is this bird that he finds dangling from a fence wrapped in baler twine. McKay was taking a walk one day and then found himself confronted with this dead raven wrapped in twine hanging on a fence. The raven he sees has clearly been shot, not for any hunting purpose or ecological study, just shot, and to make it worse it has then been displayed as this symbol, but for what? The human that did this has denied death to this raven.

Kinda depressing eh… Well he resolves his essay by asking us to pay attention, “poetic attetentiveness” is what he wants, for us to understand our place in the world, to understand that language is a system we create in order to understand an “other” nature that is in essence written in its own language system.

There is nothing wrong in going out and finding inspiration while walking in the woods, but to turn that inspiration inwards, like Romantic poets such as: Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, etc… the poetry ends up becoming about the man, about the poet, this is not what we want. Let nature inspire you, be aware that any environment in which you find yourself in has a sense of “wilderness/wildness” in it.

As I said, I’m reducing much of his theory, mostly because I’m exhausted on the theory itself, but I do love his work enough to want to share it with you, my friends. (Fuck, now I sound like John McCain. Anyways, go out and find a copy of this or any of his other work for that matter. He’s an interesting ecologist/writer/poet. Very concerned with our connections to nature and the implications of this relationship.


Written by thebeliever07

October 9, 2008 at 8:54 am


with 4 comments

I don’t know about you, but I find it particularlly sad that in a fourth year honours English level course, that out of the eleven students in my seminar, I am the only one who knows that Virgil wrote The Aeneid.


Written by thebeliever07

September 9, 2008 at 9:46 am