Monday, November 18, 2013

Quote of the...month: Mark Twain on Jane Austen

There are several anti-Austen quotations attributed to Mark Twain. Seems he hated her work with a rather violent passion. Here is my favorite; it always makes me smile:

I haven't any right to criticise books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
 - Mark Twain, in a letter to Joseph Twitchell, 1898

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Poems: "At the Musee des Beaux-Arts" and "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus"

See? Two canonical poets followed my advice, which was to write about a piece of visual art, in this case, Brueghel's The Fall of Icarus.  Two poems about one piece of art. I love all three.

The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Brueghel

At the Musee des Beaux-Arts
W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

HuffPo: 6 Ways that Writing Can Improve Your Health

As if it weren't already a good thing.

Three More Ideas about How to Combine Visual Art and Writing

  • Write what would be in the imaginary speech bubbles coming out of people’s mouths. Would it be different from thought bubbles?
  • Choose one person in the piece and write from his or her perspective--what or whom is he looking at? what does he appear to be saying, thinking or feeling? what is he wearing or doing? What is his or her place in life? This could be a poem, a story, a diary entry...
  • Make or find a 1-inch picture frame, place it on the picture and describe only what can be seen through the frame. You can do this in writing or orally, or both. See if others can place the frame in the right position after describing your part, or reading your list/paragraph. Oooh--for an extra super hard challenge, try a Jackson Pollock painting!

Coming soon: Some poetry about art.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Poem: Homage to My Hips by Lucille Clifton

Homage to My Hips
Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,   
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

I don't think this poem really needs any comment, do you? I just love it.