Tag Archives: Poetry

Posturing

“…we’re especially interested in poems, short stories, or essays that throw shade at the institutions that have whitewashed our literature and history, be they laws or events or texts authored by dead old cisgender white supremacist misogynistic homophobes.”

“The death of the author, proclaimed by Foucault, Barthes, and many clones after them, is another anticanonical myth, similar to the battle cry of resentment that would dismiss ‘all of the dead, white European males’—that is to say, for a baker’s dozen, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Montaigne, Milton, Goethe, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Kafka, and Proust. Livelier than you are, whoever you are, these authors were indubitably male, and I suppose ‘white.’ But they are not dead, compared to any living author whomsoever.” (Harold Bloom)

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What passes?

Never were days yet called two,

But one night went betwixt.

                 –Thomas Campion

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Enter Title Here

“Prose is the written form of deliberate expression, a medium that can become an art. Whereas speech is halting, comes in fragments, repeats, puts qualifiers after the idea, and often leaves it half expressed, prose aims at organized thought in complete units. The qualifiers of each idea often come before or during its exposition, as required by clarity, the sound of the words, or their rhythm.”

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“Good prose means hard work; as a modern practitioner put it, it is ‘heavy lifting from a sitting position.'”

                                                                                                  –Jacques Barzun

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What day is it? Not Adam’s.

“The sensibility of man to trifles, and his insensibility to great things, indicates a strange inversion.”

                                                                                                    –Pascal

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Simon Says

“Don’t think any intelligent person is going to be deceived when you try to shirk all the difficulties of the unspeakably difficult art of good prose by chopping your composition into line lengths.”

                                                                                                –Ezra Pound

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Minor Loss of Fidelity

“Life used exactly as it is, is never good enough for fiction.”

                                                        –Charles Jackson

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I.M. Geoffrey HIll

“So it is required; so we bear witness…”

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Objection

The idols are down. I don’t despair. “Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement…” Run, tumble, swim, ride a bicycle. Few qualify as athletes. Fewer as Olympians.

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Novel-as-a-Tool-for/235565

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Confessional

I don’t write to be liked, I don’t write for acceptance. Countering a steady diet of rejection, I remind myself of this:

“It is not surprising therefore that the most representative literature of our times is light, easy literature, which, without any sense of shame, sets out to be—as its primary and almost exclusive objective—entertaining. But let’s be clear: I am not in any way condemning the authors of this entertainment literature because, notwithstanding the levity of their texts, they include some really talented writers. If today it is rare to see literary adventures as daring as those of Joyce, Woolf, Rilke or Borges, it is not just down to the writers. For the culture in which we live does not favour, but rather discourages, the indefatigable efforts that produce works that require of the readers an intellectual concentration almost as great as that of their writers. Today’s readers require easy books that entertain them and this demand creates a pressure that becomes a powerful incentive to writers.”

This, from Mario Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture, a highly sobering, indispensable discourse on the current state of arts and letters.

Though why not aim high? And especially having read Joyce, Woolf, Rilke, Borges—why not aspire to join their ranks? To match what you admire?

So much talent today, effectively homogeneous: “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”

Believe. Go alone. They’re hardly critics, if all they express is opinion. A critical response must, at the least, situate the work in question. Reviewers—but who cares, except the vastly impressionable consumer?

Last word, Truman Capote: “…I’ll give you fifty dollars if you produced a writer who can honestly say he was ever helped by the prissy carpings and condescensions of reviewers.”

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