May 29, 2009
There are a number of stories and blog posts about Shakespeare's sonnets lately. It's good if it bring attention to the poems, but a lot of it is scandal and entertainment news writing.
NPR did a story "Did Shakespeare Want To Suppress His Sonnets?"
They based the piece on a new book, So Long as Men Can Breathe: The Untold Story of Shakespeare's Sonnets.
The sonnets are dedicated to a “Mr. W.H.”, a person whose identity is still not known for sure - the most popular guess is William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke.
Herbert was a patron of Shakespeare. He was also probably bisexual. That leads some critics to think that the sonnets addressed to the “fair youth” might be Shakespeare’s expression of love for Herbert.
Of course, we are not sure if the author even wrote the dedication page. And there are also the sonnets lusting for a married woman - the dark-complexioned "dark Lady."
I wrote a post on another blog about using some video as a pre-writing activity and suggested one from UC Berkeley about Shakespeare and the Spanish Connection. That led to Hugh Richmond from Berkeley emailing me. He pointed me to other videos on their website and on Google from ShakespeareStaging.Berkeley.edu.
I found a page there of sonnets about the sonnets which makes a good extra writing prompt if you're interested.
Here are two examples that address issues with the way we read the sonnets.
Against Mr. A. L. Rowse's Naming of the Dark Lady
My dark, false love thou boldly claim'st to know,
And would'st discover her with eager pen,
Though I, much wiser, chose no name to show,
Preferring seasoned silence even then.
But thou, untempered by discretion's grace,
In thought most rude, in action rash, unfair,
Would'st raise thy upstart will to chiefest place,
Pressing thy point when wiser would forbear.
Thus thou, aroused by passion for a name,
Hast set thy pen to willful arguments
Which gull the innocent to fix thy claim,
Unwittingly, in willful ignorance.
Yet simple truth and tale in part agree,
Proving that both our ladies false may be.
-- Patricia White
In Praise of the Literal
Above my mistress' nose, on either side,
Her eyes are firmly fixéd in her face;
Her lips, which smile when pleased or satisfied,
Beneath this self-same nose hold to their place.
This sonnet may, at this point, be attacked
For lack of simile and metaphor;
For dealing slavishly with concrete fact;
But since I'm neither bard nor troubador,
Poetic standards don't apply to me.
I won't say: "It's like that," or "It's like this."
I'll see a thing and tell you what I see,
Refusing to indulge in artifice.
So here's the truth, no versifier's lies:
My mistress' eyes are - like my mistress' eyes.
-- George Wallace
May 12, 2009
This will be the sixth year of this showcase event created by poet Diane Lockward.
Twelve journals will be displayed and available for purchase and each journal will be represented by two poets reading who have published in the journal.
Readings will be held throughout the event and poets' books will be available for sale and signing.
- Journals will be available along with subscription and submission information.
- Editors will answer questions about publishing.
- 24 poets will read throughout the afternoon.
- Books will be available for sale and signing.
30 Clinton Rd.
West Caldwell, NJ
directions via GoogleMaps
schedule of readers
JOURNALS & EDITORS
Gene Myers and Don Zirilli
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
May 6, 2009
"Among men, there were no significant differences between ratings of poems and aphasic speech, whereas women rated poems slightly but significantly higher than aphasic transcripts. Poems and aphasic transcripts may be indistinguishable, especially for men."If you read the list below of symptoms of aphasia with poetry in mind, they do seem connected. What poet has not suffered some of these symptoms when writing or reading poetry?
- inability to comprehend language
- inability to pronounce, not due to muscle paralysis or weakness
- inability to speak spontaneously
- inability to form words
- inability to name objects
- excessive creation and use of personal neologisms
- inability to repeat a phrase or the persistent repetition of phrases
- paraphasia (substituting letters, syllables or words)
- agrammatism (inability to speak in a grammatically correct fashion)
- dysprosody (alterations in inflexion, stress, and rhythm)
- incompleted sentences
- inability to read
- inability to write
May 1, 2009
Duffy, 53, is known for writing accessible, often witty poems on a wide range of topics, many of them to do with the minutiae of everyday life.
She succeeds Andrew Motion who held the post for ten years. Duffy was considered a favorite for the post before Motion was named in 1999, but it is thought that then prime minister Tony Blair felt her sexuality made her too controversial for the royal appointment.
by Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
More about Carol Ann Duffy
5/1/09 Four of Duffy's books are on the Amazon Poetry Bestsellers list today.