You Should Watch This Because it is Beautiful.

November 4, 2010

I came across this video a couple days ago, and thought it was super cool and appropriate to share. This is the official description of the video:

“Words have the power to shape the way we think and feel. In this stunning video, filmmakers Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante bandy visual wordplay into a moving exploration of how language connects our inner thoughts to the outside world.”

I thought this was an interesting interpretation of the concept of “poetry.” There are no actual words, only representations of them. Even in that, it’s not as if there is a storyline, or really something that the order of these concepts and words are trying to prove. Instead the meaning lies in the connection of the videos through the word they have in common.

There are actually two versions of this video. In the original one, the film and scenes were staged for the purpose of the film. In the second version, the directors recreated the video with found Youtube clips. I saw the Youtube one before the original, and I liked the Youtube version more. It seemed more powerful to me that they were using actual videos people had uploaded to the internet. The fact that they could find things that fit, especially the more mundane scenes, was really cool to me.

Original version:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Youtube remix:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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new sequence–Clifton and the Bible

November 3, 2010

I have posted a scanned copy of Clifton’s “island mary” sequence, of which I have spoken in class, on our Readings page.  I included one unnamed poem that immediately precedes the sequence because, as I looked at it this time, I feel like it is in conversation with the following poems.  fyi, Clifton also has a longish sequence called “some jesus” that includes poems on Biblical characters from Adam and Eve through Joseph (this latter is one of my favorites in it), as well as on events of Jesus’ life. It includes a BSE dialect at times or connects the events to African American experience.  Let me know if you’d like to see this also.

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Clifton: Questions of Sequence

November 3, 2010

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design
I’ve been looking at the Clifton sequences and the questions of sequencing and resequencing.  This goes back, I think to our discussions of the Plath resequencing and how it changed the tone of the volume.  Clifton’s “Blessing the Boats” feels like a volume that could easily lend itself to resequencing, without taking from the meanings.  In fact, I think that some rearranging might lead to a greater understanding. 

In it’s current form, poems are grouped according to surface topic, i.e.: dreams, leda, superman, fox, lucifer, etc, with each giving a different voice or treatment of the topic.  But I’ve noticed that there are recurring treatments of topics, voices and imagery that might be used as an alternative topic in sequences.  What, for instance, happens when we put: “quilting” (59), “eve thinking” (79), and “the message of thelma sayles” (50) together, and/or “a dream of foxes” (115) and “my dream about second coming” (45), in conversation with one another?  Do you think that this regrouping significantly changes meaning and understanding.  Does it take from or add to the meaning for you?

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November 3, 2010

While perusing the internet in the name of homework this week, I came across this awesome sight. It’s a literary journal, but one of it’s most interesting facets are its interviews. You can find Nobel prize winners, Pulitzer prize winners, artists, politicians, and of course writers.

A list of names you might find interesting to listen up on:

Alice Walker
Ted Kooser
Judith Butler
Noam Chomsky
Mia Farrow
John Ashbery
Ursula K. Le Guin

And so many more!

Hope ya’ll enjoy it.

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Microsoft Word to Your Mother

November 2, 2010

I came across this little poem while on my long and dangerous journey aboard the procrastination train. After our technology “discussion” (confusion) this afternoon, I dedicate this to Chelsie and Debbie.

Microsoft Word to Your Mother.


Page Setup a little bookshelf beside the crib and sighed contentedly.

Insert Table and chair into newly built tree house.

Project Gallery opens to reveal chilled food, and can make ice too.

View Markup all over the hall floor. “Wipe your boots when you come in!”

Borders and Shading began to appear under her eyes.

New Comment, of course. Always with the sarcasm these days!

Track Changes with floral-print photo albums and yearbooks.

Save As her contribution to the propagation of the species.

Accept Changes (or, alternatively, disown).

From: (but beware-this site is like the “white lady” for some. It’s never just one more click.)

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New Formalism Multimedia

November 2, 2010

New Formalism Wiki

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Clifton and Paradise Lost…ready, go!

November 2, 2010

I write a lot about the Bible, because I think of the Lucifer connection, and I was raised a good Baptist. People say that I am a religious person, and I’ve had people argue with me about it, and I think I’m a spiritual person. I don’t think I’m particularly religious, though I am interested in belief systems, and always have been. But I have some poems about Lucifer. And people say, “Oh, you’re writing about the devil.” No, I’m not. I’m writing about Lucifer who was, according to the Bible, the most beautiful star in the heavens, who was close to God, and who had a job to do and did it, it seems to me. My Lucifer and Milton’s Lucifer are not quite the same person. But I do believe that if what we say is so, about the All Powerful, then Lucifer must have also had a job to do, and did it. “Lucifer speaks in his own voice.”

I’ve said that I know there’s Lucifer in Lucille, because I know me—I can be so petty, it’s amazing! And there is therefore a possibility of Lucille in Lucifer. Lucifer was doing what he was supposed to do, too, you know? It’s too easy to see Lucifer as all bad. Suppose he were merely being human. That’s why the Bible people—it’s too easy to think of them all as mythological, saintly folk. It is much more interesting to me that these were humans—caught up in a divine plan, but human. That seems to me the miracle.

-“Lucifer six finger” immediately turns Lucifer into Lucille, who almost shares his name anyway. Milton uses Satan to express his own doubts and ideas throughout Paradise Lost. (And he aligned himself with Jesus in Paradise Regained…yeah, he liked to be the hero.) Lucifer also breaks from the “littlest finger” of God…
-“Eve’s version” is Paradise Lost exactly. In PL, Satan whispers a dream to Eve about the apple, and here too “smooth talker/slides into my dreams/and fills them with apple.” Clifton has Satan try to convince Eve that she really lusts after her own self. In PL Eve is, right after being created, almost in love with her own reflection, finding herself much more beautiful than Adam when she meets him.
-Clifton’s Lucifer swoops down to Eden because he thinks Eve’s hot (Milton’s Satan is momentarily mesmerized by Eve’s beauty, but snaps out of it – he’s just come to steal more of God’s creations for his anti-Heaven team)…and even has sex with her? “phallus and father/doing holy work/oh sweet delight/oh eden/if the angels/hear of this/there will be no peace/in heaven.” Satan gets it on with Eve in the Zohar (and I guess in other holy texts) but not in the Bible, and in any sacred work it’s…not so much a happy event, but Lucille treats Satan as the one who “illuminates” Adam and Eve. (We don’t get any baby giants, though.)
-“it was/to be/i who was called son.” Milton does this, makes Satan wildly jealous of Jesus, and that’s what causes him to fall.

Safe to say there’s a lot of Paradise Lost in these few Lucifer poems, and I think Clifton’s Lucifer is Milton’s Satan. She just sides with him much more willingly/openly… Milton is more openly pro-Fall in Areopagitica.

In something non-Miltonic…
I love the thought: “this creation is so fierce/i would rather have been born.”

Sheesh, three of my lit classes are all over Milton right now, and I’m in the Milton seminar… Does anyone else ever feel like they’re double-majoring in religion?

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White Lady

November 2, 2010

Clifton’s poem “White Lady” contains only one punctuation mark, a period at the end of the first stanza. The rest of the poem contains no lines that are end stopped. As a reader I feel the poem is not simply about drug use, but rather about ownership and control. In a way the lack of punctuation and capitalization functions not only as a hallmark of some of Clifton’s writing, but also as the embodiment of the lack of control that the speaker of the poem feels. This lack of control is particularly evident in the second stanza where the white lady speaks. Clifton writes,


let me be your lover


run me through your


feel me smell me taste me

This second stanza is the only place in the poem where the author utilizes imperative sentences, yet the author is quoting the white lady. The lack of punctuation only highlights the intensity of the demands, the words seem to trip over one another, especially in the last line that is quoted. Those three sentences bleed into each other, reflecting the constant need of the white lady. The rest of the poem is comprised of either declarative sentences or interrogative ones. The declarative sentences function on a passive level, but when the narrator shifts to asking, “white lady/what do we have to pay/ to repossess our children”(29-31) the narrator surrenders control to the white lady. The white lady is then given the chance to issue more demands.

Yet in the final lines of the poem, the narrator seems to surrender to the idea of possession and ownership. It is as though if the white lady does not own the children of the poem then someone else will, in the last line the wordplay between “own” the verb and “own” the noun reflects the narrators feeling that ownership will be cyclical.

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Foxes and Song of Solomon

October 31, 2010

When I was reading the Fox sequence, certain pieces reminded me very much of passages in the Song of Solomon in the Bible.  In ‘fox,’ Clifton writes, “Master Of The Hunt, why am i / not feeding, not being fed?”.  In Song of Solomon (SOS?) the woman says to the king, “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” (SOS 1:7)–asking that he tend to her himself and replenish her.  In “leaving fox” the speaker isolates herself from the fox, locking the door.  This resonates with the end of SOS 2, where the woman also isolates herself from her lover who wants her to come with him, but she replies, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes…Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” (15 & 17)–in SOS the woman does not want to deal with the foxes (symbolic for any small obstacle that they might face) and sends her lover off by himself, waiting for him to return.  It also resonates with chapter five of SOS when he wants to come in to her house, but she’s tired and does not want to get out of bed to open the door for him…he puts his hand over the lock of the door (SOS5:4).  The verses following these scenes show her seeking “him whom her soul loveth” and unable to find him, while Clifton’s next poem, “one year later,” is her imagining what it would have been like and how good it could have been had she “reared up baying, / and followed her off into vixen country”.  Following, in “a dream of foxes” Clifton references “a procession of women / clean as good children,” which falls closely in line with the Daughters of Jerusalem as well as the transformed woman in SOS.

When I read this sequence, I feel like the fox is the individual inside that must be neglected for society, maternity, etc., as well as poetic inspiration.  The speaker wants to fall in love with it but cannot, or will not, allow complete abandonment for it, so she settles for the dreams of what it would have been like.  This connection to SOS shows the connection of the speaker to herself, and poetry, as a love story–but one that she does not see as realistic or possible.  The relation to the Bible makes it a divine relationship, but also an imaginary or out of reach one–beautiful, wild supernatural that cannot fit with this world.

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I’m related to the Gwendolyn

October 29, 2010

All of you failed to notice that Gwendolyn Brooks married Henry Blakely II. I’m very surprised nobody caught this noteworthy connection. I was sure someone would recognize it, which is why I switched the 5th and 6th letters of my last name to protect my identity. . .

Not buyin’ it? Dammit, okay. But wouldn’t it be awesome?

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