Posts tagged with "poetry" - Faerye Net 2009-01-03T00:46:15+00:00 Felicity Shoulders My thesis as a cloud 2009-01-03T00:46:15+00:00 2009-01-03T10:11:36+00:00 <p>My friend <a href="" target="links">Robert Peake</a>, a thoughtful poet gifted in procrastination, recently turned in his <span class="caps">MFA</span> thesis and made <a href="" target="links">word clouds</a> of his critical essay and creative thesis (collection of poems, in his case), which you can see on his blog. (Clouds show each word at a size proportional to its number of uses in the text. Wordle defaults to removing dead-common words like &#8216;and&#8217;, and uses the 150 most used words unless you specify differently.) Of course I jumped at the chance to be the next to perform this act of procrastinatory genius, and plugged my opus into <a href="">Wordle</a>.</p> <p>Here is my nearly-complete story collection/complete creative thesis, <em>Sea Selves</em>, in cloud form:<br /> <a href="" title="Thesis Wordle by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="325" alt="Thesis Wordle" border="0"/></a></p> <p>I really liked the random font and other options Wordle chose, and the layout that came out first try, so this is exactly what Wordle pumped out, transformed only in color. I took all these shades from photos I&#8217;ve taken of the Pacific Ocean. (Pretentious? <em>Moi?</em>)</p> <p>Here is my critical essay, <em>Sea Change: Visions of the Ocean</em>, which I tweaked a little more:<br /> <a href="" title="Essay Wordle by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="303" alt="Essay Wordle" border="0"/></a></p> <p>If for some reason you want to look closer at either, you can click through to the Flickr page and press the &#8216;all sizes&#8217; button right above the image. My word clouds look very different from Robert&#8217;s, which is to be expected. Not only is my thesis prose, but mine is themed. I hope someone with a non-themed short story thesis tries it next to compare! There are a few words I&#8217;m slightly surprised by on my thesis word cloud, others I&#8217;m glad came through so strongly, and some which were a matter of course. And it&#8217;s interesting to see the names of characters from very different stories and worlds nestle so promiscuously together.</p> <p>For fun, here is a wordle of <em>Sea Selves</em> with 1500 words rather than 150. I think it makes clear why 150 is the default:<br /> <a href="" title="Thesis Wordle with 1500 words. by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="282" alt="Thesis Wordle with 1500 words." border="0" /></a></p> <p>In short, I hope Robert has started a fashion. This was fun, and I hope to see other MFAers follow suit.</p> Do you Duotrope? 2008-06-18T10:20:06+00:00 2009-08-04T17:28:12+00:00 <p>I&#8217;ve mentioned it before on this website, but it deserves a more prominent mention: <strong>I love <a href="" target="links">Duotrope&#8217;s Digest</a></strong>.</p> <p>It&#8217;s a free website that lists markets for short fiction and poetry (sorry, nonfictionists.) As well as listing and categorizing them, giving some indication of how much they pay (if at all), and providing links to their websites, collects information on acceptances and rejections. From writers&#8217; data, they compile really useful statistics on how long a magazine tends to keep your submissions, what percentage of submissions they accept, et cetera. You can make a free account to save favorite markets and contest deadlines, and most importantly, to track your submissions. You do the writing; they do the math.</p> <p>So if you&#8217;re a poet or a short story writer, sign up and explore the site. It&#8217;s easy to use, and the statistics and <a href="" target="links">Top 25</a> lists are interesting in and of themselves. It&#8217;s a remarkable resource, and it&#8217;s hard to believe it&#8217;s free. (Speaking of which, <a href="" target="links">they run on donations</a> and they need more this month. Whether you&#8217;re a writer or a reader, you might consider them in your charitable donations!)</p> Overquotage 2008-06-03T12:13:14+00:00 2008-06-03T12:16:48+00:00 <p>It&#8217;s been said to me (to my shame, I forget where or by whom) that great works of art &mdash; say, Hokusai&#8217;s wave painting, or &#8220;Starry Night&#8221; &mdash; have been diminished by their popularity. They are pictured over and over, often in trivial form: tote bag, mousepad, dorm room posters. Through this repetition and even the contemptible familiarity of adorning mugs, placemats and magnets, they lose their original impact. They become symbols rather than art objects: in some cases, their meaning is as simple as &#8220;Mona Lisa = culture.&#8221;</p> <p>I think the same thing can occur with literature. There is a passage I love in T.S. Eliot&#8217;s <em>Four Quartets</em> which is quoted often. I&#8217;ve almost not written this blog post because I don&#8217;t want to be part of the over-repetition problem. But let&#8217;s just say that the quote is about returning home and recognition. I&#8217;m sure you&#8217;ve heard it. It&#8217;s printed on posters of pretty landscapes, and on artsy greeting cards. It has probably appeared on quote-of-the-day calendars. If you need any more clues, it is usually quoted from &#8220;We shall not cease from exploration&#8221;.</p> <p>This quote begin the first stanza of &#8220;Little Gidding&#8221; V, on the very last page of the long, beautiful, interwoven <em>Quartets</em>. Reading these poems is rigorous but rewarding intellectual and, for me, emotional work, and that quote is and was an arrival, a culmination. It isn&#8217;t merely &#8216;true&#8217; or &#8216;inspiring&#8217;, in context it is a revelation, itself the recognition and the return it describes. I think I may have cried when I reached it in my first perusal.</p> <p>But even then, enjoying the passage in context and as it was meant, I knew it was coming. The blow of realization was softened by the recognition of that quote, the memories of all the glurgy confections in which I&#8217;ve seen those words quoted. A host of associations alien to the poetry at hand crowded in, and while the thought of that reading, that moment, still gives me a shiver, it also carries a hint of annoyance at the companies and people that overused that quote and tarnished a little of its brilliance. It&#8217;s like playing two bars of the Moonlight Sonata in a music box. It&#8217;s bite-sizing and mass-marketing our cultural treasures. It&#8217;s tawdry and sad.</p> Poets buy poetry 2007-07-24T12:11:11+00:00 2008-07-24T22:08:43+00:00 <p>So as I stir my morning oatmeal, the local hour of <a href="" target="links"><span class="caps">KQED</span></a>&#8217;s Forum plays. It&#8217;s about the upcoming <a href="" target="links">San Francisco International Poetry Festival</a>. The host starts taking listener calls, asking that they share poets, especially little-known ones, whose work they love, or talk about poetry and its significance in general.</p> <p>The <em>second</em> caller wants to know how to get his sonnets published.</p> <p>For Muse&#8217;s sake here, people. I&#8217;m well aware of the Magic Cover Letter Effect&#8212;the irrational belief among unpublished writers that there is one thing they could do that would get them published, and the resulting tendency to ask embarrassing questions at panels and readings. However, for poetry it&#8217;s worse.</p> <p>I&#8217;ve written some poetry in my day. And I never, ever try to get it published. Why? Some of it isn&#8217;t awful, but over the years, I haven&#8217;t been a consumer of poetry. Until I entered the <span class="caps">MFA</span> program, I had never bought a literary journal or a book of poetry that wasn&#8217;t an anthology for class. I reasoned that I had no right to ask anyone to publish my poetry if I wasn&#8217;t consuming other people&#8217;s.</p> <p>And this is one of those times when I break my own rules and say, &#8220;My way is Right.&#8221; If you are a poet, if you feel in your heart that you&#8217;re a poet, that someday people will be reading your poems in journals and chapbooks&#8212;walk down to Powell&#8217;s, or your local independent bookstore, or, if all else fails, Borders (they have a decent number of litmags). Buy some poetry journals. Mark the poems in the journals you really love, and look up the authors. Buy a book of poetry. I love <a href="" target="links">Jeannine Hall Gailey&#8217;s first book, <em>Becoming the Villainess</em></a>. You could also pick up <a href="" target="links">Dorianne Laux&#8217;s <em>Facts About the Moon</em></a>, or <a href="" target="links">Joe Millar&#8217;s latest, <em>Fortune</em></a>, or a book by someone I&#8217;ve never heard of, someone you&#8217;ll discover for yourself in the musty rows at Powell&#8217;s, someone whose poetry you will hide on the way to the register, unsure they&#8217;ll really let you buy this for only X dollars, feeling like a thief.</p> <p>&#8220;Everyone&#8217;s a poet,&#8221; Jack Hirschman, San Francisco&#8217;s Poet Laureate said on Forum today. But it takes more than that, I think. In order to really be a poet, you have to realize you&#8217;re taking part in an ancient art that has fallen on hard times, that is sustained by love, and by the generosity of those who have little. Who is going to spend ten, fifteen, twenty dollars on a book of poems? On a thin book with much blank space, on a genre even public radio callers distance with a &#8220;I don&#8217;t read poetry, really, but&#8230;&#8221;? Who is going to do that? Maybe you. And maybe then you&#8217;ll see which markets your work would be good in, maybe you&#8217;ll see opportunities for your own work to improve, maybe you&#8217;ll find inspiration and strength. Maybe you will become a part of a community of writers. Maybe you&#8217;re a poet. Go and see.</p> Small joys 2007-06-24T15:33:41+00:00 2008-06-08T11:56:41+00:00 <p>A small joy from my grad school Residency, rife with joys of all sizes: sitting in front of a notoriously enthusiastic poetry professor at a poetry reading. His good-poem exhale (you know this exists, right? Go to a poetry reading, a good one, if you don&#8217;t. Synchronized exhales when the poem ends) is louder than average, and if someone&#8217;s poem is <em>really</em> good, he&#8217;ll say, almost subconsciously, &#8220;Geez!&#8221; I used to fear mentioning it to him. I thought maybe he&#8217;d suppress it if he knew he did it. But I am sure now that he knows, and knows we love it, and knows that when he lets out, as he did two nights ago at one of Joe Millar&#8217;s poems, the entire name-in-vain, &#8220;Jesus Christ!&#8221; it is the best and most sincere compliment.</p> A poem 2007-04-19T22:52:51+00:00 2008-06-08T12:10:06+00:00 <p>A silver cat paws the edge of my mirror<br /> waiting to be let in.</p> Fiction student incited to poetry; Film at 11 2006-06-15T00:40:00+00:00 2008-11-06T22:50:02+00:00 <p>It&#8217;s hard not to write poetry when your brain is seething and bubbling with words, ideas, and craft. I thought I&#8217;d check in with this one, a first draft. The line breaks are definitely in progress. I think my inspiration was the rhythms of a talk from poet <a href="" target="links">Dorianne Laux</a> about music and meaning in poetry. She advised us to store poetry we loved in our bodies by memorizing it, so that we can come unconsciously to know its rhythms. Listening to her recite from memory helps, too!</p> <p><b>Uncondensed</b><br /><br /> I heard on the news this morning<br /><br /> that a woman stole all twenty volumes<br /><br /> of the Oxford English Dictionary.</p> <p>She drove a pickup through the store window<br /><br /> and pulled each thick book from the shelf<br /><br /> letting it fall<br /><br /> into the impatient tailgate.</p> <p>She was apprehended<br /><br /> <spacer type=horizontal width=30 />later that evening<br /><br /> in a disused warehouse by the Sound.<br /><br /> &#8220;You can&#8217;t take it back,&#8221; she told them.<br /><br /> &quot;You<br /><br /> can&#8217;t.</p> <p>&#8220;In all my life<br /><br /> it is the only thing I have ever<br /><br /> inherited.&#8221;</p> Black study 2006-04-19T23:16:18+00:00 2008-06-08T14:17:42+00:00 <p>Night flows &#8211; windows onto pages<br /> Surrounds space without noise<br /> small as a hunting-black cat-eye</p> <p>My sounds a small silence<br /> my pen shaping the time<br /> Slipping more readily<br /> through these hours of dream</p> An Epic Lament in an Unknown Tongue 2004-01-09T13:56:33+00:00 2010-08-03T11:25:54+00:00 <p>Ip trinlet finswickle paliwap zu;<br /> Iffel tin if twadi tri kippen tefru.</p> <p>Ka rem, swa kibitril baket imla.<br /> Ka tsu im twibi kaln neti widiba.</p> <p>Farul, kwi tabi likatep ifit wimtok!<br /> Farul im chabit, kilfeltwim ik pibit ekvok!</p> <p>Ek witi eftwil karasad, lin twigil baki ti &#8212;<br /> Kel viti kabat Farul twass, wintipi kibech ri.</p>