Friday, May 30, 2008

The Hydra

OK, Mike Keith likes a poetic challenge. But as he says here, he also offers a challenge for the reader: "The poem below is a transformation of William Blake’s "The Tyger" via an unusual linguistic constraint. Your challenge is to determine the constraint, given the hint that strict application of the rule will invariably result (as it does here) in a composition containing exactly 109 words."

The first stanza of The Hydra
By Mike Keith

Hydra, hydra, looming bright
(Be calm now, O forest night!),
No man’s art - so plainly, see -
Can ask, know, capture symmetry!


I admit, I did not figure out what he was doing. Don't continue reading if you want to figure it out on your own...

Hercules and the Hydra by John Singer Sargent

"In The Hydra, the first letter of successive words is required to be the same as the first letter of the chemical symbols (in order) in the Periodic Table, thus producing a constrained language that might be called Elemental English."
H H N B B C N O F N S M A S P: Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Neon, Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus, and so on...


Checking in on poetry in England:

  • Hear award-winning young slam poets from London.
  • Watch Poetry Slideshows on the BBC site. I really enjoyed Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi.

  • Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures

    The Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibit just arrived in D.C. at the National Gallery of Art. In its honor, here are two pieces from the exhibit. I don't have info about the top one, unfortunately, but isn't it gorgeous?

    One of a pair of pendants showing the Dragon Master, Tillya Tepe, Tomb II
    Second quarter of the 1st century AD
    Made of gold, turquoise, garnet, lapis lazuli, carnelian and pearls
    Photo © Thierry Ollivier/Musée Guimet

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    Cool, Cool Minutes

    Just Thinking
    By William Stafford

    Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
    No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
    for awhile. Some dove somewhere.
    Been on probation most of my life. And
    the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
    count for a lot--peace, you know.
    Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
    bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
    stirring, no plans. Just being there.
    This is what the whole thing is about.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Art by Elsa Mora

    Elsa Mora, who goes by Elsita, produces art with a variety of materials...

    Inner Landscape, a paper sculpture
    By Elsita

    Elsita says, "If we take care of our inner landscape, if we water our plants often and pay attention to what's going on inside we will always be ready and strong for anything negative coming from the outside world."

    Within Reach
    By Elsita

    Elsita has a link on her site to amazing papercut art by Peter Callesen

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Totally Like Whatever, You Know?

    A hat tip to Mademoiselle Felicite for letting me know about Taylor Mali, and to Mr. Mali for giving me permission to post this:

    Totally like whatever, you know?
    By Taylor Mali

    In case you hadn't noticed,
    it has somehow become uncool
    to sound like you know what you're talking about?
    Or believe strongly in what you're saying?
    Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s
    have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
    Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

    Declarative sentences - so-called
    because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
    as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
    have been infected by a totally hip
    and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
    Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this;
    this is just like the word on the street, you know?
    It's like what I've heard?
    I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
    I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

    What has happened to our conviction?
    Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
    Have they been, like, chopped down
    with the rest of the rain forest?
    Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
    Has society become so, like, totally . . .
    I mean absolutely . . . You know?
    That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . .

    And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
    is just a clever sort of . . . thing
    to disguise the fact that we've become
    the most aggressively inarticulate generation
    to come along since . . .
    you know, a long, long time ago!

    I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
    I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
    To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
    the determination with which you believe it.
    Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
    it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
    You have to speak with it, too.

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Mosaics by Norman Tellis

    Mosaics this week!

    King Arthur, a segment from Heraldry and the Knights of the Round Table
    By Norman Tellis

    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    By Norman Tellis

    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Poetry Videos

    Creating visual accompaniment for poems is popular. Here are a few poetry videos:

    Humpty Dumpty by Edgar Allan Poe (No, this wasn't really written by E.A. Poe. Someone re-wrote Humpty Dumpty in his style. Just see for yourself.)

    Forgetfulness by Billy Collins. This is a popular poem for Poetry Out Loud participants to perform and always a crowd-pleaser.

    Tuesday 9 a.m. by Denver Butson. I love this poem. This video was made by two 8th graders and won the Shanghai Student Film Festival.

    And lastly, here is a three-year-old reciting Billy Collins' Litany. Truly awesome!

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Roger Xavier

    Roger Xavier is a scratchboard illustrator. For a great scratchboard "how to" page, visit Russ McMullin's Scratchboard Tutorial.

    By Roger Xavier

    By Roger Xavier