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Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Marcy Jarvis (10/6/2005 8:46:00 AM) Post reply

    Does anyone know of a (preferably humorous) poem about the differences between British and American English? Or maybe feel moved to compose one?

  • Michael Shepherd (10/6/2005 7:14:00 AM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

    Those who see the same edition of the New York Times as I today Thursday, will see a front-page picture of Mary's inner self greeting the day...

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    • Michael Shepherd (10/6/2005 1:11:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      Sorry, folks - my edition has a colour photo of a joyful Buddhist figure from Bhutan I think (where the ruler counts happiness in with the Gross National Product...) throwing up his arms in delight.. ... more

    • Mary Nagy (10/6/2005 7:21:00 AM) Post reply

      Ok, I'm hoping it's online.......what edition are you looking at? I'm afraid to look (but you know I'm gonna!) Mary

  • Mary Nagy (10/5/2005 9:09:00 PM) Post reply | Read 9 replies

    I just thought I would ask has anyone had the experience of posting a couple poems fairly close together...........yet have them get totally different response? I always think it is so strange....for example, today I posted 2 very different poems....(honestly, not to 'plug' them) but, the first one I posted was a very serious poem about my mom and my gut feelings of torment where she is concerned...........No comments///one vote. The other poem I posted a few minutes late was just sort of an after-thought about poetry. Not serious at all and it has a few comments and votes. It is so weird to post a poem that you really feel your heart is placed out there for the world to see and have it get ignored and then put a poem out there that you almost hope the world don't see and it gets just goes to show that you really never know what people will find of interest from one day to the next. Interesting...... Mary

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    • Ernestine Northover Rookie - 1st Stage (10/6/2005 2:24:00 PM) Post reply

      Hi Mary, I find with my poetry, that my longer ones, or the ones I like best are not the ones that get read. I've got quite a few long ones, not that long, but not two or three verses, and there have ... more

    • Mary Nagy Rookie - 1st Stage (10/6/2005 5:46:00 AM) Post reply

      Thanks to all who commented. I'm glad I'm not alone on this one. I suppose it's true....the person's mood does determine which poems they'll select to read and enjoy. I'm sure some of my 'downer' p ... more

    • Gol Mcadam Rookie - 1st Stage (10/6/2005 5:31:00 AM) Post reply

      Mary, I also have had this experience. The poem concerned was written directly from a moment of emotion - it was not something that had happened previously and I had returned to. The thing is, I did g ... more

    • Michael Shepherd Rookie - 1st Stage (10/6/2005 4:56:00 AM) Post reply

      Mary, I think you have to allow for two ... more

    • Marcy Jarvis Rookie - 1st Stage (10/6/2005 3:09:00 AM) Post reply

      It's fascinating what will hit you one t ... more

    • Raynette Eitel Rookie - 1st Stage (10/5/2005 10:42:00 PM) Post reply

      It happens to me all the time, Mary. Th ... more

    • Allan James Saywell Rookie - 1st Stage (10/5/2005 9:41:00 PM) Post reply

      an example one of my most popular poems ... more

    • Lori Boulard Rookie - 1st Stage (10/5/2005 9:37:00 PM) Post reply

      Mary, I had the same experience when I s ... more

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  • Allan James Saywell (10/5/2005 7:59:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

    i have been corrosponding with a chinese fellow i sent him one of my early works of poetry, a poem called 'GENTLY' i sent him the poem because it was a descriptive poem on nature and he was impressed which is good in the fact that he is very well educated and the poem was read to him via a interpretor
    i would love to know how the poem was read to him in chinese or english
    he now has poem hunter as a means to poetry which is good imagine cracking the chinese market

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  • Michael Shepherd (10/5/2005 4:05:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    'Who Shakespeare? ' studies have never quite been the same since Caryl Brahms wrote her deliciously funny book 'No Bed for Bacon'. The pertinent question is whether WS was born an all-knowing genius, or whether he picked up knowledge at lightning speed from wise companions such as Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, down at Wilton House when the theatres were closed in a plague year; near Southampton with its regular galley trade with Venice...he must have been a wonderful listener to all sorts and condition of humankind.

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    • Linda Jenkinson Rookie - 1st Stage (10/5/2005 7:00:00 PM) Post reply

      it amazes me no-one had access to a dictionary...yet had so much beautiful language

  • Allan James Saywell (10/5/2005 5:43:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    just had a look at bukowski's photo in his profile, i thought i was looking in a mirror all except for the tea cosy on his head, when i saw the photo i said daddy it's me

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  • Herbert Nehrlich1 (10/4/2005 10:15:00 PM) Post reply

    Hi, all:
    Having a problem agai with either this site or my computer.Last time I deleted the cookies and the problem was fixed.This time it did not work.
    I can read forum, inbox but not poems as main page does not come up. Any ideas?

  • Poetry Hound (10/4/2005 8:49:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

    Here are some recent lines from you folks that I enjoyed.

    The river moves and almost never moves
    as if breathing and holding its breath
    while we listen to its heartbeat.
    -Merciful Moon by John Kay

    Castor and Pollux
    as one, mirrored in a pitched sky with
    fretting guitar and shaking legs,
    -Graceland by Gol McAdam

    all the darkness seeps into the sand
    like long-awaited rain.
    -Night Flight by Raynette Eitel

    his stone face
    crumpled like a wet rag
    i think i had only seen him
    cry once before:
    -Princeton by a. jacob hassler

    And then there’s this:

    conquer its treacherously lackadaisical gallows of stagnation
    -Don’t Kill. But forever conquer.. by Nikhil Parekh

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    • Michael Gessner Rookie - 1st Stage (10/4/2005 11:08:00 PM) Post reply

      Your selections-beyond a contribution to the site, and having their own excellence-reveal an ability to read with a rare sense that is both informed and intuitive. Certainly one cannot be this close ... more

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  • Allan James Saywell (10/4/2005 4:26:00 PM) Post reply | Read 7 replies


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    • Mary Nagy Rookie - 1st Stage (10/4/2005 6:00:00 PM) Post reply

      Well, I guess it's true.......HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERBERT. I hope you're celebrating with family! Sincerely, Mary

    • Herbert Nehrlich1 Rookie - 1st Stage (10/4/2005 5:28:00 PM) Post reply

      Many thanks, guys. Much appreciated. And to Sherrie, a question: Can you sing the Happy Birthday in such a way that the individual syllables are accentuated, as in a march? That way, the true meaning ... more

    • Pradeep Dhavakumar Rookie - 1st Stage (10/4/2005 5:08:00 PM) Post reply

      Yen(My) Iniya(dearest/closest) Piranda-naal(Birth-day) valthugal(wishes) ..That was in Tamil! Have a great day! BEST WISHES, Pradeep.D

    • sheila knowles Rookie - 1st Stage (10/4/2005 4:35:00 PM) Post reply

      alles gute zum Geburtstag Herbert :) Th ... more

    • Max Reif Rookie - 1st Stage (10/4/2005 4:31:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

      hear, hear! (where is he?)

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  • Max Reif (10/4/2005 3:27:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    from today's SF CHRONICLE
    (Oct.7 is the 50th anniversary of the 1st reading of 'Howl')

    When Allen Ginsberg hurled his shattering poem at a San Francisco audience in 1955, it proved to be the depth charge that started the Beat movement
    - Heidi Benson, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Practically the first thing Allen Ginsberg did when he hit San Francisco was to seek out poet Kenneth Rexroth, whose Friday night literary salons were legendary.

    'What's happening? Who's interesting? What's going on? ' asked Ginsberg,29, fresh out of Columbia University in black horn-rim glasses and a sack suit.

    It was 1955. The San Francisco Poetry Renaissance was in full swing, with the erudite Rexroth and poet Robert Duncan of San Francisco State at the white-hot center.

    Rexroth suggested Ginsberg meet Gary Snyder,25, who was enrolled in graduate studies in classical Chinese at UC Berkeley and living in a hut behind a house on Hillegass Avenue.

    'Allen turned up at my little cabin, ' Snyder recalls, 'and we immediately began exchanging poems.'

    That year, W.H. Auden gave a poetry reading to benefit the Poetry Center at S.F. State. Ginsberg was there, standing in back next to Michael McClure,23, a student of Duncan's and a regular at Rexroth's salons.

    'Allen and I were wallflowers among the lordly and academic figures, ' McClure says.

    'I don't know who mentioned William Blake first, but Allen talked about his visions of Blake and I told him about my dreams of being Blake.'

    After that, they met often (sometimes Ginsberg brought along his Columbia classmate Jack Kerouac) to talk about poetry and the meaning of life over coffee. 'We couldn't afford lunch.'

    They shared a conviction that poetry was dead, killed by the academy, McClure says.

    'We could not contain the urge to speak out about what was oppressing us, ' including 'the stifling conformity and fear that came out of the Cold War.'

    Fueled by various stimulants, fellowship and a near-mystical belief that the world must change and poetry was the way to do it, this group coalesced and staged a reading on Oct.7,1955 - at the Six Gallery on Fillmore Street - that has gone down in history as the moment of conception of the Beat movement.

    No photographs of the evening have turned up, but by all accounts, when 150 to 200 people showed up at this low-ceilinged former auto-body shop in response to hastily printed postcards, the size of the crowd astonished everybody.

    Rexroth served as master of ceremonies that Friday night. Kerouac, who had declined to read, brought jugs of burgundy to share.

    First to take the orange-crate podium was San Francisco-born Surrealist poet Philip Lamantia, who read poems by John Hoffman, a friend who had just died.

    Next up was McClure, reading 'Point Lobos: Animism' and 'For the Death of 100 Whales, ' both presaging the animal-rights movement.

    Then came Philip Whalen, a friend of Snyder's from Reed College and later a Zen monk, reading his poem 'Plus Ca Change.'

    (On this night, McClure first met Whalen and Snyder.)

    Then Ginsberg took the stage, drunk, some say, and visibly nervous. Kerouac urged him on, hollering 'Go! Go! Go! ' as the poem gained momentum:

    'I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

    angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...'

    The poem brought down the house. Ginsberg and Rexroth were in tears.

    'By the time Allen read 'Howl' - and when Snyder then read 'The Berry Feast, ' the first deep-ecology poem - we felt that a body had been thrown against the barricades, ' says McClure.

    Whalen, who died in 2002, saw Ginsberg's reading of 'Howl' as a breakthrough for everybody.

    In an essay by Steve Silberman called 'How Beat Happened, ' Whalen said: 'The mixture of terrifically inventive and wild language, with what had hitherto been forbidden subject matter, and just general power, was quite impressive.'

    The elated poets decamped to a nearby Chinese restaurant; their names were on everyone's lips the next morning. That's when poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, co-founder of City Lights Books and, now, a fledgling publisher, shot Ginsberg a telegram. Borrowing language from Emerson's famous 1855 letter to Whitman regarding 'Leaves of Grass, ' he wrote: 'I greet you at the beginning of a great career.'

    Ferlinghetti published 'Howl and Other Poems' in 1956. The fourth book in City Lights' Pocket Poets Series, it featured an introduction by William Carlos Williams, who had been a mentor to the younger Ginsberg in his home state of New Jersey.

    ' 'Howl' brought together the East Coast and West Coast poetry movements, ' says John Leland, author of 'Hip: A History.' 'It was more than just a poem, but a performance and an act of will. Ginsberg flayed himself for his audience, ' Leland says. 'That was as pure a rock 'n' roll show as anything that followed.'

    Where did 'Howl' come from?

    'It didn't come from nowhere, ' says Silberman, who knew Ginsberg for more than 20 years. 'What nurtured 'Howl' into being was the community of painters, musicians and poets who were very active before it was written.'

    Among Ginsberg's inspirations: the long poetic lines of Walt Whitman and the melodic improvisation of saxophonist Charlie Parker; Kerouac's 'Essentials of Spontaneous Prose' and Duncan's essay 'The Homosexual in Society, ' which inspired open dialogue on that subject.

    Another powerful influence was Rexroth's 'Thou Shalt Not Kill, ' a poem dedicated to Dylan Thomas. Like 'Howl, ' it invokes Moloch, an ancient deity to whom children were sacrificed.

    'Rexroth's anger toward the soul-destroying force of capitalism was a huge inspiration to Allen, ' says Silberman.

    As Ginsberg gave further readings, 'Howl' captured the attention of would-be censors alarmed by its frank portrayals of drug use and sex.

    In 1957,520 copies were seized by U.S. Customs officials, and Ferlinghetti was charged with obscenity. The ensuing trial, which ran through the summer, made the pages of Time and Life magazines, ensuring the notoriety of everyone involved. Ferlinghetti won that year, with support from the ACLU and testimony from many literary experts, when the judge decided that the poem had 'redeeming social importance.'

    According to Silberman, Ginsberg, who died in 1997, saw the trial as an important victory. 'Allen felt it was a huge breakthrough for honesty, for candor, for accuracy, ' says Silberman. 'Whatever was true was poetry.'

    Half a century later, the Six Gallery reading stands as a galvanizing event.

    'It gave a sense of the possibilities of an alternative culture, ' says Snyder, now 75, by phone from his home in the Sierra foothills, where he has just finished cutting firewood. 'And it wasn't just poetry that moved people. It was the sense of a community, of people with a vision.'

    As McClure, now 73 and living in the Oakland hills, says, 'We all had our foot on the line. We all believed in that line and none of us have gone back.'

    E-mail Heidi Benson at

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    • Michael Shepherd Rookie - 1st Stage (10/5/2005 6:55:00 AM) Post reply

      Thanks for that, Max. I remember the moment the ripples of that event hit the shores of Britain, and Snyder's remarks are spot on. It wasn't just the poetry, but what came from a new generation or a n ... more

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