Saturday, January 16, 2010

closed form

I find it a great (and fun) challenge and good way to incite creativity to write poetry in closed form. I also like to respond to poems written by others, to put my own spin on them or to take them in the opposite direction. I feel I'll be doing a lot of that for creative writing during this semester. It is almost like taking a study break, except I've taken much better study breaks in the past, in a more free-verse sort of way...

So today I'll be working on a villanelle. A villanelle is a nineteen line poem in which the first and third lines of the first tercet are repeated according to a certain pattern, and then placed next to one another in the last quatrain. The rhyme scheme is: A1bA2, abA1, abA2, abA1, abA2, abA1A2. Okay so now that I've gone all teacher on you, I'll continue on with it, and give two examples.

A nice example of a classic villanelle is Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A not so classic example is Elizabeth Bishop's One Art.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

— Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Friday, January 15, 2010

gourmet, really?

I completely enjoy my personalized google page and reader, but I noticed something today that has been bothering me.

Google now offers "gourmet" gadgets and themes. Seriously!? How obsessed is this nation with food? Who really needs to look at a plate of fucking cookies every time he or she logs onto google? I don't know why over-indulgence has become so common, but something's gotta give (excuse the cliche).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Today is a disastrous day in so many ways. The devastation in Haiti is, for the moment, over-shadowing all the other natural disasters of late. Soon it fall off the airwaves prematurely, just like so many other events. It will be pushed aside for something closer to home, some star will die or commit adultery.

This event has collided (in my world) with the death of a close friend. This loss serves to remind me that so many others are suffering so much more than me. One cannot fathom the impact of this loss of life, just like one cannot fathom the loss of one life, not from another's perspective.

When so many suffer and it is so far removed from society that we barely pause, barely recognize the number of lives, of souls that have just collapsed it pains me; it hurts me, sort of paralyzes my mind. To have this sort of loss of life coupled with the death of one of the kindest, most genuine men I've ever know, well it just overwhelms me, knocks me to the floor. How many others are mourning the loss of the kindest man that they ever knew in Haiti or in the rest of the world?

Yet at the same moment, how many are rejoicing to hear the cry of new life coming into this world? The amount of suffering and joy happening at any given moment is simply unfathomable. It leaves me wondering why I deserve to feel the many things that I feel, to experience this glorious and painful life. It leaves me baffled. It leaves me thankful to experience the varied moments of life.