The best in poetry (and poetic things), this week with Seth Haines
If I say, “Keanu Reeves, ” what image comes to mind? Is it the adrenaline junkie cop of Point Break? Perhaps you see the head-bobbing, dim-witted friend of Bee-tho-ven from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Maybe your mind’s eye conjures images of the bullet-dodging chosen one from The Matrix? While each of these images might be accurate, none is quite as fascinating as the image I see—Reeves in Victorian drag, oil on canvas. That’s right, this absurdist image is just one of many featured in Co.CREATE’s slide show, in which modern celebrities are recast as renaissance masterpieces. Leonardo DiCaprio, Zach Galifianakis, Adele—they are all featured. And though this might not be high art, it sure is fun.
If you could recast a modern celebrity in oil on canvas, who would it be?
There are various degrees of writing sins (some might say venial and mortal) and many of those tend to be highly subjective. My friend Tim, for instance, might suggest I engage in a bit of penance for using an “ly” word in the preceding sentence. (He is a lover of Stephen King, you see.) I might suggest that combining zombies and any manner of historical setting (especially the Victorian era) requires good use of a confessional. However, there’s one sin which nearly every writer deems unpardonable—plagiarism.
In this world of easy access to information, one might think that writers would exercise abundant caution to avoid even a whiff of plagiarism. After all, a quick Google search can reveal whether a work bears striking similarity to that of another. Evidently, David R. Morgan didn’t get the memo. It was recently discovered that some of Morgan’s poems were nearly identical to the works of other poets. In fact, Morgan even won awards for some of his hijacked verse! How did Morgan make amends? An apology, of course.
“[W]e actually formed a team to focus on books that were complicated to make into e-books, like poetry and illustrated nonfiction, ” says Liisa McCloy-Kelley, a vice-president for Random House. This is good news.
I enjoy my Kindle as much as the next person, but am I the only one who is driven completely and utterly nuts by the grossly misplaced line breaks that litter the electronic screens of e-poetry? Evidently not. It appears that some publishers are wising up to the fact that line breaks are actually part of the poetic art form, that the breaks help maintain the rhythm of the work. If you’ve found yourself hot and bothered by misplaced poetic line breaks, check out this piece at the Washington Post that details what some publishers are doing to help maintain the integrity of e-poetry.
4 Poetry at Work
I keep a poetry journal in my top desk drawer at the office. On occasion, when a good line hits, I’ll pull out the journal and scrawl the beginnings of a poem. Sometimes, on my lunch break, I’ll join that opening line with other lines. Then, I’ll work them over into something resembling a poem. It is a release of sorts, a way to escape my day-to-day pressures.
Thomas Turner used poetry in a similar way. In this piece for Curator, Turner discusses how he once used poetry as a type of therapy, how he’d known it to be a “grasping response to the drudgery of [his] desk job.” But what happens when a career move takes away the need for that kind of therapy? Does the poetry dry up? Read Turner’s piece for more on the interplay between poetry, work, and poetry at work.
“We call it an anti-vocational school. …school’s not about finding a job, it’s to convince you that you don’t need a job.” That’s the mantra of the School for Poetic Computation, a school designed to “utilize new media to form compelling messages.” Compelling messages indeed! Check out this video highlighting the work of Zach Lieberman. In it, he shares examples of the creative projects that arose from his open source platform. Pay particular attention to the video starting at the 1:43 time stamp. It’s a collage of creativity, and I’m quite certain it will get your juices flowing. Likely, it will drive you to pursue higher (and more creative) education.
Are you addicted to your… oh wait… pardon me a moment.
Apologies for that brief interruption. I was eating a particularly good sandwich and needed to post a picture of it to Facebook for all the world to see.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Are you addicted to digital media? Did you know know constant contact with digital media can strip you of creativity and hamper your writing process? For those of you who feel the constant tug toward the closest digital screen, Ploughshares gives some good advice “For Those About to Write.” Carry a small notebook and pen everywhere you go, Jordan Kushins says. And when you feel the urge to reach for your iPhone? Reach for your writing implements instead.
Now, pardon me as I check my Instagram feed.
This month at Tweetspeak, we’re writing poems around the theme “Swans, Swallow, Phoenix.” Every Day Poems is jumping into the fray, sending daily poems centering around the theme. This poem comes from one my favorite Tweetspeak contributors, Lyla Willingham Lindquist:
It’s short and sweet, but there is so much packed into this poem.
Do you subscribe to Every Day Poems? For only $5.99 per year, you can have a poem delivered to you inbox daily.
I remember the first time I heard Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool.” I was in the eleventh grade, and my junior literature class had adopted a somewhat laissez faire attitude toward school work. My teacher, the inimitable Ms. Hosford, stood before the class and quoted the poem as a sort of indictment. (Read the entirety of Brooks’ poem.) Her reading, and the silence she let hang after finishing the poem, did the trick. From that moment on, we were a hard working bunch.
This week, the Wichita Eagle offered this profile on the Kansas poet. From her humble beginnings as a secretary, to being named the first African-American woman to become a poetry consultant for the Library of Congress, Brooks lived an extraordinary life. After reading the piece in the Eagle, make sure to view her profile at the Poetry Foundation. Then, tell us in the comments—what do you find most inspirational about Ms. Brooks’ life?
Did you know that Stephen King—that master of frightful fiction—is also a poet? I must admit to ignorance of this fact until I stumbled across USA Today’s Book Buzz. In 1969, King wrote a book-length poem entitled The Dark Man which was “something of a prequel to his apocalyptic epic, The Stand.” And for those of you who are Stephen King fans, you’ll be glad to know that The Dark Man, featuring art work by Glenn Chadbourne, will be available for purchase in July. Pre-apocalyptic poetry? Sounds like a niche genre to me. But just in case you’re wondering—yes, I will be pre-ordering a copy of this one. What about you?
10 Sound n Motion
I came of age on the Arkansas River, that grand tributary of the Mighty Mississippi. So, when I heard about Jeff Nichols’ film Mud, you can only imagine how thrilled I was. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s on my short list. For now, enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the movie, and enjoy the scenery of my home state.
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99. Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In April we’re exploring the theme Swans, Swallows, Phoenix.