Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Just realised that my posts for July and August have been sitting as drafts for ages without being published.  So, this is what I have been up to apart from going to visit my friends and family in the UK and Spain over the summer:

Books

Small Island & The Long Song (Andrea Levy) : the best kid of historical fiction as I learnt about Jamaica through great characters and storytelling

Let The Great World Spin (Colum McCann) : my favourite book so far this year which really captures New York

The Tiger’s Wife (Tea Obreht) : magical mix of superstition, tigers and civilian suffering during wars

Conversations with Myself (Nelson Mandela) : the great man in his own words

The Heart of Haiku (Jane Hirshfield) : everything I wanted to know about haiku and more

Cinema

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky) : who knew ballet could be so scary

The Fighter (David O’Russell) : ever since watching this film I have become much better at keeping my hands up and defending myself when boxing

Saw the two films above on my plane flights and the ballerinas turned out to be just as tough as the boxers

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (David Yates) : my favourite book in the series and the film lived up to my expectations

Another Earth (Mike Cahill) : interesting and original concept which stays in your mind – a duplicate Earth appears in the sky and scientists discover it is exactly the same as ours, even with the same people. Does this give you a second chance at life ?

Senna (Asif Kapadia) : best sports documentary I have seen. I idolised Ayrton Senna so the film made my cry all over again despite the fact I knew exactly what was going to happen

Read Full Post »

“The world spins. We stumble on. It is enough.

She lies on the bed beside Claire, above the sheets. The faint tang of the old woman’s breath on the air. The clock. The fan. The breeze.

The world spinning.”

These are the final words of Colum McCann’s fantastic novel, Let the Great World Spin, whose title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, Locksley Hall.

This made me turn to a Folio collection of Tennyson’s poetry I have been keeping on my bedside table since listening to a recent In Our Time podcast on In Memoriam, the poet’s famous elegy to his great friend Arthur Hallam, who died in 1833.

In my book Ruth Padel explains that Tennyson wrote “Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change” after taking the first train from Liverpool to Manchester in 1830: “ I thought that the wheels ran in a groove. It was a black night and there was such a vast crowd round the train at the station that we could not see the wheels. Then I made this line.”

My favourite passage from Locksley Hall is:

Love took up the glass of Time, and turned it in his glowing hands;

Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;

Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling passed in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring,

And her whisper thronged my pulses with the fulness of the Spring.

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,

And our spirits rushed together at the touching of the lips.

However this love proved to be “falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs have sung”:

As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with clown,

And the grossness of his nature, will have weight to drag you down.

He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,

Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.

Ouch !

Tennyson fared better in love in 1850 when he married Emily Selwood, whom he had first met 20 years before, and he published In Memorium that year. Padel writes: “The marriage lit up the inner darkness sealed when Hallam died, allowing Tennyson to let go of that grief, or at least go public about it. Now the pain was alchemised into an order bearable to him and shareable with others.”

Section L is my favourite example of the emotion that Tennyson shares so beautifully :

Be near me when my light is low,

When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick

And tingle, and the heart is sick,

And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame

Is racked with pangs that conquer trust;

And Time, a maniac scattering dust,

And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,

And men the flies of latter spring,

That lay their eggs, and sting and sing

And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,

To point the term of human strife,

And on the low dark verge of life

The twilight of eternal day.

Read Full Post »

One of my favourite things about the Kindle is being able to buy long essays or short stories in the form of Kindle singles such as The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield, an American author and poet.  I have always wanted to know more about haiku and was able to satisfy my curiosity for just 99 cents.

Hirshfield uses her own poetic skills to write beautifully about the poetry, life and journeys of Matsuo Bashō, who in the seventeenth century, “substantially remade the shape of Japanese literature, by taking a verse form of almost unfathomable brevity and transforming it into a near-weightless, durable instrument for exploring a single moment’s precise perception and resinous depths.”

Bashō taught his students “that if you see for yourself, hear for yourself, and enter deeply enough this seeing and hearing, all things will speak with and through you” and used this philosophy to master image-based poems of seventeen sound units, written in lines of five, seven, and then five units each.

They combine the concepts of  sabi which is “to feel keenly one’s own sharp and particular existence amid its own impermanence” and wabi, which is to appreciate the beauty of the most ordinary circumstances and objects.

Two of my favourite haikus in the book:

spring leaving –

birds cry,

fishes’ eyes filled with tears

yukuharu ya tori naki uo no me wa namida

a hangover ?

who cares,

while there are blossoms

futsukayoi monokawa hana no aru aida

Hirshfield shows that the form has been brought bang up to date in the 21st century with more than 19,000 haiku about Spam, “Spamku”, being posted online.

She provides proof that “even the briefest form of poetry can have a wing-span of immeasurable breadth.”

Read Full Post »

After feeling the tremors from the Virginia earthquake on Tuesday, New York is now preparing for Hurricane Irene – I never had this kind of weather in England.

NASA’s footage from  International Space Station, 230 miles above the Earth, captures Hurricane Irene over the Bahamas at 3:10 p.m. EDT on August 24, 2011.

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus says Irene may be similar to the 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane, the only hurricane in modern times to directly make landfall in the five boroughs.:

This time around could be worse. Astronomically speaking, we are nearing the new moon, and the time of the month when the highest tides usually occur. What’s more, Irene is currently forecast to affect the New York City area within an hour or so of high tide, the combination of which could add an additional six feet to the already incredible storm surge that Irene will bring. (MarketWatch)

The Book Bench has a selection of great writers describing hurricanes, which includes these lines from Rimbaud’s poem The Drunken Boat:

Now I, a boat lost in the hair of bays,
Hurled by the hurricane through bird-less ether,
I, whose carcass, sodden with salt-sea water,
No Monitor or Hanseatic vessel could recover:

Read Full Post »

I don’t expect to be introduced to new poetry when flicking through channels on my TV but that is what happened this weekend. I caught the end of In Her Shoes and it included a moving recital of I Carry Your Heart With Me by E E Cummings – I cried even though I hadn’t seen the beginning of the film.

So now, not only am I going to have to read more poems by E E Cummings, but I am also going to read Jennifer Weiner’s novel on which the film was based.

Read Full Post »

Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve

Love this poem by Pamela Garvey- Eve’s Fall Through Technology – in which each verse tells the story of Adam and Eve using a different method of communication.

It begins with the telegram:

“Ate the apple. Stop.
Serpent in love. Stop.
Leaves browning,
berries sprouting mold.
Everything dropping,
staining my feet. Stop.
Can you forgive me?”

and then moves on to the telephone, fax, email and text message.

Well worth a read. (3QuarksDaily)

Read Full Post »

My favourite story this week was in The Wall Street Journal on London  commuters protesting about the removal of a poem that had been painted in the tunnel to Waterloo Station as it is heartening to know that people still care about beauty and art.

Sue Hubbard‘s poem “Eurydice”- appropriately based on the Greek myth in which Orpheus tries to retrieve his dead lover Eurydice from the Underworld – was put on the walls 10 years but recently painted over. This led to a huge outcry and its eventual resurrection :

Hubbard tells the paper :

“One man e-mailed me to say that he had proposed to his girlfriend as a result of reading it; and another message came from a woman who had seen it on her way to the hospital, where her daughter was dying. She said the poem had given her solace.”

– film maker Jonas Grimas has posted a short film Painting Eurydice on its replacement;

More visual inspiration:

– amazing video of A Guy, A Football, A Pole (3quarksdaily) ;

Information is Beautiful on the books everyone should read (The Guardian) ;

– the 10 amateur photographers whose pictures were chosen from more than 50,000 entries in this year’s Sony World Photography Awards (BBC).

It’s my birthday today so I am going to have a good weekend – I hope you do too.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »