The best in poetry (and poetic things), this week with Seth Haines.
Oh, the debate. On Tuesday, the 449th birthday of William Shakespeare, I read approximately 127 articles about the famous bard. Did he exist? Was he a woman? Was he a man? Did he write the plays which we attribute to him? Seeking to settle the debate, I did a little of my own research, and thanks to the Atlantic wire, I think I’ve found the answer to the burning question–who was the real William Shakespeare?
William Shakespeare was a bandanna wearing, skateboard riding, superhero, who had a bill like a duck and a body of bronze.
Sound eccentric? Well check out the artists’ conceptions of Shakespeare collected on this Pinterest board. (Ah, Pinterest. You odd conglomeration of quinoa recipes, dream mansions, and awkward kitten memes. You never let me down.) Personally, I like the Warhol-esque rendering. What’s your favorite?
Speaking of Shakespeare’s birthday, the United Kingdom has announced that next year it will make much ado about… well… something. The year marking Shakespeare’s 450th birthday will mark the kingdom’s first inaugural “Shakespeare Week, “ in which school-aged children will learn all about the bard. Teachers will introduce their students to traditional Tudor activities, including Tudor tennis. (Sounds painful, huh?) In addition, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be releasing online materials to help guide the lessons.
And if they need any help gathering resources, might we suggest these 7 great Shakespeare resources? Also, might we kindly suggest the utilization of this marvelous Shakespearean soliloquy by Judi Dench?
What is your favorite book store? Mine, located on Dickson Street, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is the aptly-named Dickson Street Bookshop. It is a veritable gem mine, a place where treasures can be found in literally every nook and cranny. Treasure Island? Bought it there. East of Eden? There. St. Augustine’s Confessions? My first copy came from there. It’s hard for me to imagine a world without the Dickson Street Bookshop. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine a world without used books. But it looks like I’d better prepare myself.
This year, Amazon announced a plan to sell secondhand ebooks. Publishers were up in arms. Authors felt their livelihoods were threatened. And now, authors and publisher alike are asking the question, “is an electronic file exactly the same as a physical object?” Does the owner of an ebook have a tangible ownership interest, or merely a license to view content? E-publishers like Amazon may think so, but the questions are far from settled. Don’t miss this article at the Guardian about the ramifications of the current e-publishing revolution.
4 Poetry at Work
This week, the University of Iowa School of Social Work announced the winners of the first annual National Poetry Contest for Social Workers. The poems were submitted by both students and alumni, with the purpose being to “acknowledge the creative talent of social workers and to draw attention to social work as a profession.” The winners were awarded cash prizes, and had their works published on the school’s website.
Are you a social worker? Have you had your life touched by those in social work? You won’t want to miss these poems.
What are your creative habits? Do you have artistic routines? According to Maria Popova, “Hemingway wrote standing, Nabakov on index cards, Twain while puffing cigars, and Sitwell in an open coffin.” Perhaps none of your creative idiosyncrasies are quite as pronounced, but if you love reading about the creative process of great artists as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this piece at Brain Pickings. In it, you’ll get a behind the scenes look at the routines of Mark Twain, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, William Faulkner, and others. In addition, the article features one of my favorite images by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Do you know which one it is?
We all view the world through different lenses, don’t we? Some view the world through a particular cultural lens, some from a particular ideological lens. And some view the world through the black-rimmed lenses of Prada glasses.
Prada has recently announced that it is hosting a short story writing contest, in which submissions should explore the questions, “what are the realities that our eyes give back to us?” and “how are these realities filtered through lenses?” The contest will be judged by Prada and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, and the contest winner will receive $6, 500. It sounds like a good opportunity to me.
This month at Tweetspeak, we’re writing poems around the theme “Dragons and Creatures.” Every Day Poems is joining in the fun, offering poems connected to the theme. Consider Wendy Videlock’s poem “A Lizard in Spanish Valley”:
it has no song,
it does not share my love affairs
with flannel sheets,
bearded men, interlocking
silver rings, the moon,
the sea, or ink.
Read the rest of “A Lizard in Spanish Valley.”
I like this poem, the way the author seeks common ground with the seemingly small and insignificant. It’s a good and true gesture. And speaking of good, do you subscribe to Every Day Poems? For only $5.99 per year, you can receive daily poems in your inbox. I promise–it’s good.
If the Brain Pickings selection of the creative processes of great artists isn’t enough, don’t miss this documentary featuring the work of iconic photographer Ansel Adams. The film work is a bit unstable, and the footage is anything-but high definition. Still, this one is worth watching. It documents Adams use of the “great medium of revelation.” Thanks to Open Culture for drawing us to this piece.
Do you believe in Shakespeare, or are you a Shakespearean conspiracy theorist? (In the effort of full disclosure, I do love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next fella.)
Questions of identity and authorship abound, and as noted by Sean Coughlan for the BBC, “much of the endless debate about the identity of the author of Shakespeare’s plays is because so much of the presumed life story is educated guesswork.” But a new book–Shakespeare Beyond Doubt–seeks to end the debate. The book, compiled by Stanley Wells, honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, collects evidence submitted by academics in a defense of Shakespeare’s existence. For more on the book, and the debate underlying it, don’t miss this article at the BBC.
10 Sound n Motion
What do a dilapidated Alabama silo, a grain separator in Gould, Arkansas, and a structural photographer have in common? This video from the Oxford American makes the connection. And from this video, comes this gem of a quote regarding great art:
“…think of the photographers we admire. What makes them great? Obsession. What is the obsession? It’s returning to a few ideas or a few places… and mining the depths of those places….”