April 21st, 2005, 09:04 AM
Just Another Philistine
OTOH, there's poetry
Received Attempts at Being on Tuesday. Here, in a ramble of sorts, is my reaction/response to my first experience of your work. Am still waiting for the novel and more poetry to arrive.
There is much that I enjoyed, much that rang true for me. Still, those nuggets were dearly won from the unrelenting suffering, line after line. It was like driving in a steady rain, the wipers pounding out the same message over: bleak, black, bleak, black. Despite that, accept my appreciation and gratitude for:
“you have the right to remain silent.”
“a poem can either enter another present which differs from the present in which it is written or it cannot.”
“when we are touched by lyric we wake to the intolerable beauty of our world.”
What drew me to the book was an excerpt I saw somewhere on the web: “Does the cell grieve when it splits? Does the ovum wince at the sperm?” Out of context, I was enthralled at the imagery. In context, I kept posing counter questions: “Does the cell take pride in passing on its hard earned experience? Is there an ovum orgasm when accepting the sperm?
Reading this volume reminded me of driving on the old roads in the Southwestern U.S. deserts crossing the stretch from Albuquerque to Socorro late on a summer night in 1963 before I-25 had been constructed. My friend and I had been driving 38 hours, alternating between us. The road was ruler straight. Ahead we picked up headlights on high beam, lights that nearly blinded us. The road so straight, the air so clear, we stared at those headlights for more than 30 minutes, in time cursing them and their owner to the deepest pits of hell. Traveling at speed required high beams; we had ours on. So, both cars must have felt the continuous, unrelenting torment, our retinas screaming at the abuse. All we could hope for was finally passing the other vehicle and returning to the pleasure of having the road to ourselves.
Before that happened, we were forced to gaze this at concentrated, obsessive light riveting our attention, not permitting escape from what it was the light wanted us to see, which was itself.
Attempts at Being is very much like that.
I wonder if your other volumes remember the intolerable beauty of our world.
April 22nd, 2005, 06:16 AM
Queen Lessien Ancalimë
yay! a new thread. but hmm were u putting this book down or complementing it?
April 22nd, 2005, 05:37 PM
Books of Pellinor
Hi HE - thanks for your comments, which are much appreciated - if surprising to find in this forum! it's fantastic to get a little cross over.
I will say that you got the most uncompromising book first! I'm rather fond of Attempts at Being, not least because of the plays in it (it was fun putting some other kinds of work in). I don't usually defend my poetry - it's usually a bit silly, not to say impertinent, since any reader has and must have the freedom to think and feel what they like about one's work. And whatever a writer says about his or her own work should be taken with a grain of salt anyway.
But having said that - I do think that AatB is about much more than bleakness; though you're not the first person to say that, and I doubt will be the last. And it's fair to say that many of them come out of a rather difficult period of my life, when among other things I was wondering if I would ever write poems again, and there's no doubt a relentless quality in it. (One magazine editor once told me that my poetry "bullied" him, which I found very taking aback). I guess they are very post romantic poems, poems which are all, in one way or another, about the self's shattering encounter with the world. The poems are all beginnings, thresholds, epiphanies, transformations. And there aren't many jokes in them (I have very seldom managed to be funny in poems).
I like to think that the beauty that I try to imbue the language with is its own answer to the resistant realities. I guess they're solipsistic, though I hope in the way that Wiitgenstein says everyone is; but surely there's a little possibility of that opening out on the world's intolerable beauty? That "yes" - which is at the end of one of the poems - the temporary release from the trammels of the self, which ends the collection? What releases from the self in this book is love, the possibility of a generous glimpse beyond - though admittedly, even in Amplitudes, this natural world, or this glimpse of my daughter, is fragile and threatened. But hey, it is threatened.
Now I'm very intrigued to see what you think of the other books!
May 17th, 2005, 08:09 PM
Just Another Philistine
Woo hoo! The Common Flesh arrived today as well as The Naming. Stand by.
May 18th, 2005, 12:51 AM
Books of Pellinor
May 18th, 2005, 01:38 AM
What do I type here??????
Woah. D&M there. Your comments are really interesting HE. Nice to see it here. And their reeeeeeeeeeeally long too. Well the first one of the thread was, anyway.
Nice response too, Ali. Can't wait to see where this thread's heading...
PS: HE- that is a LOT of posts! To a newbie like me, anyway
May 18th, 2005, 06:31 AM
im even more of a newbie compared to all of you!
ive been looking for some of your poetry over the weekend actually because the Pellinor books have drawn me in. do you recommend anything in particular to read first?
May 18th, 2005, 08:26 AM
Books of Pellinor
Hi Laurie - I'll give a consumer warning first, and say that the poetry is a different kettle of fish to the Pellinor novels. But if you are interested, the book I'd recommend is The Common Flesh, which is published by Arc Publications in the UK and has a fairly broad selection. Probably, like most contemporary poetry, almost impossible to find in shops, but you can buy it straight from Arc here
May 18th, 2005, 09:05 AM
thanks i was wondering why i was having so much trouble finding anything - but then the nearest bookshop is on the small side.
it wasnt so much wanting to find something in the same string as the pellinor books, but discovering how good your fantasy work is i was surprised i didnt already have any poetry of yours. im actually off to do some long-overdue book shopping in chester now so if i still have no luck ill be ordering some tonight!
May 27th, 2005, 10:05 PM
poems we like
Since there's a thread about other books we like, what about a thread on poems we like? I'll start....
Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish. The whole poem can be found here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15222
Here are my favorite lines though:
A poem should be equal to:
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea--
A poem should not mean
May 28th, 2005, 06:03 AM
Mine is 'The Raven' By Edgar Allen Poe
Its a bit long. I dont really have a favourite line, I think the whole thing ties in neatly with itself.
My favourite from the Pellinor Books is the one at the start of Part Three of the Riddle.
May 29th, 2005, 04:40 AM
Books of Pellinor
That MacLeish poem is a classic. Poe's great - I've been haunted by his poem Annabel Lee since I first read it!
I don't really have a favourite poem (or I have too many to list...)
I have always loved William Blake (check out this page)
And I am very fond of the German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke. I've translated his great poem sequence, The Duino Elegies - some are online here and here.
May 31st, 2005, 03:10 AM
omg Annabel Lee was really sad! I think that Poe had a very traumatic love life...poor man.
William Blake sounds familiar, im trying to figure out where ive heard him before. It might have been in english, it was a poem about two stones in the desert in the shape of a face that a wanderer came upon...something about a really evil king...*shakes head* I cant remember, its probably not even written by him.
May 31st, 2005, 11:51 AM
percy bysshe shelley
Netty, I think you are thinking of another poem I really like. It's a poem called Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and goes like this:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
I love the irony of the comparison between what's carved on the pedestal and the "lone and level sands" that stretches far away. It reminds of another line I really like, which goes something like, "What is a someone / what is a no one / Man is the dream of a shade."
I have to say that Blake is a poet I can never quite understand. Tyger has great imagery, but what does it mean?! (I know, I know, I am the person who just quoted "A poem should not mean, but be" as a favorite line. But still, the only Blake lines that ever gave me a chill is at the beginning of Auguries of Innocence (To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.) And I don't understand the rest of that poem either....
I'll have to check out Rilke. It's a sad commentary on the U.S. educational system that I am completely ignorant of non-English poems / poets. It must be hard to translate poems though. When I was in elementary school in Taiwan we used to study the great Tang Dynasty poetry. I have seen some of them translated into English, but I don't have nearly the same visceral reaction to the translations as I do to the originals.
May 31st, 2005, 02:10 PM
Hmmm...poems by William Blake my favourites are probably The Tiger and The Immortal and I like most poems by Robert Browning The Laboratory and My Last Duchess are two of my favourites
Tags for this Thread