Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poem of the Day- Vachel Lindsay (Audio)

This is a link to a site where you can download the recording of Vachel Lindsay reading his poem The Congo. Ever since my father told me that this recording existed, I've been looking for it online and I only found it today. Its one of the best sounding poems I've ever read and Lindsay really puts on a show; hollering, chanting, and singing. The quality is not great but Its a very old recording. It is one of the best examples of why poetry needs to be read aloud.

Ampersand sells out allready!

Please forgive the new ads but I gotsta get paid.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Poem of the Day; Muldoon and Zevon

My Ride's Here

by Warren Zevon and Paul Muldoon

I was staying at the Marriott

With Jesus and John Wayne

I was waiting for a chariot

They were waiting for a train

The sky was full of carrion

"I'll take the mazuma"

Said Jesus to Marion

"That's the 3:10 to Yuma

My ride's here..."

The Houston sky was changeless

We galloped through bluebonnets

I was wrestling with an angel

You were working on a sonnet

You said, "I believe the seraphim

Will gather up my pinto

And carry us away, Jim

Across the San Jacinto

My ride's here..."

Shelley and Keats were out in the street

And even Lord Byron was leaving for Greece

While back at the Hilton, last but not least

Milton was holding his sides

Saying, "You bravos had better be

ready to fight

Or we'll never get out of East Texas tonight

The trail is long and the river is wide

And my ride's here"

I was staying at the Westin

I was playing to a draw

When in walked Charlton Heston

With the Tablets of the Law

He said, "It's still the Greatest Story"

I said, "Man, I'd like to stay

But I'm bound for glory

I'm on my way

My ride's here..."

MacGillycuddy's Reeks

by Warren Zevon and Paul Muldoon

She stood beside my narrow bed

to check my E.K.G.

She shook her pretty little head

At what's become of me

I thought I glimpsed a path that led

Through rhododendron days

And fuchsia nights to the boatshed

In which we two once lay

But she gazed only at my chart

The valleys and the peaks

Brought back the time she broke my heart

In MacGillycuddy's Reeks

But she gazed only at my chart

The valleys and the peaks

Brought back the time she broke my heart

In MacGillycuddy's Reeks

I saw her on Killarney's shore

One morning in July

When I still thought I was a thorn

Trying to find a side

I met her in the little launch

That runs to Innisfallen

Hunched together, haunch to haunch

Trying to keep my balance

But she upset my applecart

She kissed me on the cheek

And I was struck by Cupid's dart

In MacGillycuddy's Reeks

MacGillycuddy's Reeks

MacGillycuddy's Reeks

I was struck by Cupid's dart

In MacGillycuddy's Reeks

She was a systems analyst

For a dot com company

She said, "You think because we've kissed

I'll be yours eternally

I'll sign another pre-nup

And we'll merge our P.L.C.s

That's why most girls go belly-up

In this economy

But when it comes to a jump start

Your forecast's pretty bleak

The NASDAQ goes by dips and starts

Like MacGillycuddy's Reeks

The NASDAQ goes by dips and starts

Like MacGillycuddy's Reeks

She looked only at my chart

The valleys and the peaks

Brought back the time she broke my heart

In MacGillycuddy's Reeks

MacGillycuddy's Reeks

MacGillycuddy's Reeks

That was the time she broke my heart

In MacGillycuddy's Reeks

I was going to post a poem by Paul Muldoon that mentions Warren Zevon but I couldn’t find its name. It was from Muldoon’s 1994 collection, Prince of the Quotidian. I recently got a copy of this poem from my sister but she didn’t have the title either. In the process of trying to find this elusive poem I found that Muldoon had co written two songs with Zevon, one of his (and my) favorite artists. The songs first appeared on Zevon’s 2002 album, My Ride’s Here. So, even though it’s ‘the poem of the day’ I’ve decided to include two pieces by two authors.

The keynote of both songs is humor, found readily in the rest of both Muldoon’s poems and Zevon’s songwriting. Muldoon is originally from Ireland and Zevon was, of course, American. Landscape figures very much into both of their national identities and into both songs. MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are an Irish mountain range in County Kerry. The song interrupts its ‘old-country’ backdrop by comparing the Reek’s peeks and troughs to an E.K.G. or the N.A.S.D.A.Q. In the same way, My Ride’s Here features the landscape of the American West in places like San Jacinto and Houston but, again, Muldoon and Zevon disrupt the setting. They introduce to the song characters like Shelly, Keats, and Byron who don’t really belong in a Hilton in East Texas. Both songs have a duplicitous nature most likely due to the fact that they have two authors but neither song ever suffers from the fact.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Features to come

-Poem of the Day
A featured poem with a brief commentary
Top ten lists featuring literature, music, and more
-News of the Week
Pretty self explanatory 
-Off the Menu
Cooking stuff

Why we write

When it was first suggested to me that I publish a blog, the inevitable question that came to mind was why. Why, with the thousands of Internet publications, should I pollute cyberspace with my own ramblings? Why do I write? Why does anyone write? Is it ‘art for art’s sake’? Do we write simply for the virtue of writing? Is there a more materialistic reason? Do we write to supply the demand for reading material or do we write out of a basic human need to write? The answer is an extremely vague, yes.

            The term ‘ars gratia artis’ is not one that I like to use. I’m far too utilitarian. I would rather consider ‘ars gratia sanctimonia’ or ‘art for the sake of virtue’; writing because it is good for the writer to write. We can’t write for the sake of writing because writing can’t benefit ‘writing’ writing can, however, benefit the writer. It behooves the writer to write just as it behooves the shoemaker to make shoes. If the shoemaker doesn’t make shoes then he ceases to be a shoemaker and if the writer doesn’t write he’s not a writer. There is a natural virtue in writing. It serves as a mental exercise, a verbalization and organization of thought. Take, for example, the poems of Emily Dickenson. In her lifetime few of her poems were published. If her relatives had never found and published her poems she would not be any less brilliant. The worst writer is the one who doesn’t write.

            In our non-utopian world writers must hawk their wares like anyone else in order to eat. This doesn’t necessarily debase writing as an art form. Who can say that writing that panders to the masses is any worse than writing that panders to some elite circle of critics? (Certainly not the masses). This is not to say that there is no bad writing. A well-written sleazy detective novel (to borrow a phrase) can be just as good, if not better than, 400 pages of eloquent, post-modernist drivel. I would argue that there is something wrong with that literature which feeds off of the baser human emotions to make a quick buck but there is also something wrong with literature that feeds off of those same emotions in order to be controversial and please the modern ‘art-world’.

            At the root of the desire to write (whether it be to please the writer or the reader) lies the urge to create. Man has it in his capacity to form his thoughts into words, to imagine strange and beautiful people and places, and to communicate that beauty through the beauty of language. To write is to love because to create is to love and to communicate is to love. The fiction writer loves his characters, no matter how flawed and ugly, because the mere act of bringing those characters into existence is an act of love. The non-fiction writer communicates with humanity and, in doing so, loves humanity.

            At that, before I wax too philosophical, I will begin this blog. I do so because a writer has to write, a writer has to eat, and a writer loves to write. Cheesy, I know, but the good news is that the predominant reason for this blog is practice.