Monday, March 31, 2014

Mindful, Heartfelt Haiku of John Belchamber

Morning Mist
The First Touch

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jeremy Irons Recites `Daffodils, by W Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought: 
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Daffodils, by William Wordsworth

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Richard Burton Recites `Cynara, by Ernest Dowson

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 
All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 
I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion. 
I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.
Cynara, by Ernest Dowson.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Morgan Freeman Recites `Invictus, by WE Henley

Morgan Freeman explains what Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was like and how the Nobel Peace Prize winner relied on a poem by William Ernest Henley ("Invictus") for strength while imprisoned on Robben Island for 27 years (Charlie Rose, January 12, 2013). 
Morgan Freeman was playing the role of Mandela in the film "Invictus" (Director: Clint Eastwood, 2009). 
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. 
The poem's last stanza was quoted by US President Barack Obama at the end of Obama's speech ("Remembering Nelson Mandela") at Nelson Mandela's memorial service (10 December 2013) in South Africa.
Reference: Morgan Freeman on Nelson Mandela - "I am the master of my fate."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Reading `History, by Camille Rankine

‘Welcome to It’
Camille Rankine
Our stone wall was built by slaves and my bones, my bones
are paid for. We have two 
of everything, twice heavy
in our pockets, warming
our two big hands.

This is the story, as I know it. One morning:
the ships came, as foretold, and death
pearl-handled, almost 
and completely.
How cheap a date I turned out to be . . . . 
Reference: Welcome to It.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reality of Gender Disparity in Literary Journals

A women reads in a paris heatwave
(image credit)
Today, as they have every year since 2009, VIDA: Women in The Literary Arts, an organization dedicated to gender parity in the literary arts, released its annual count documenting the gaping divide between the number of men and women being published in literary magazines, journals and book reviews. Known as "The Count", this year's review of 39 organizations reveals the same imbalances as in prior years. To put that another way, there's been little progress in getting the voice of women and minorities in some of America and Britain's most influential publications.
It is absurd, that in 2014, prominent publications and media companies attempt to justify these imbalances when it is evident that diversity in media decision-making and content production is consequential. For these numbers to change requires active interest and deliberate policies – like those undertaken during the past year at The Paris Review and The New York Times Review of Books. But, primarily, it requires an acknowledgement that sexism is real and that bias is institutionalized in our culture. Editors have to ask themselves, "Am I editing works by equal number of men and women? Are we reviewing books female authors?" and publishers have to hold them accountable.
Reference: Surprise: men still greatly outnumber women in US and UK arts publications (emphasis, added).

The Poetry Foundation & Poetry Magazine page on Facebook was pleased to be among the exceptions in Soraya Chemaly's piece on gender disparity in literary journals.  On the subject of equality among men and women, the US is far more advanced than some of the countries I've been to, such as Saudi Arabia, but it definitely has a long way to go.  Chemaly is right: Remedying this complex, longstanding problem requires, first and foremost, that all of us see this as a reality and as a problem.

Monday, March 10, 2014

James Franco and Poetry Made Manifest

James Franco
He spoke in the back of his throat with none of the clarity and training one might expect from an actor. He sort of laid himself out on his chair. Spread his legs, put his hands on his knees, tucked his chin in and looked down when he spoke. It made it appear that his eyes were closed; sometimes they were, when he hummed after the word or turn of phrase he was looking for. He had on a plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up. He looked like a man searching for something comfortable to hang onto. 
It was clear by the sixth poem he read from "Directing Herbert White" that there is a great pressure to celebrity, and James Franco feels it. He writes often about the celebrities who didn't fit the system but who have somehow become its most capitalized icons - Marilyn Monroe, Sal Mineo, Lindsay Lohan, James Dean, Marlon Brando. 
In a tribute to Heath Ledger, he wonders whether we killed him, on top of drugs and the acting. 

He is an intentionally frank and unassuming wordsmith. He prefers long takes to quick ones, citing the "complacency" of audiences today who expect polished performances, clean resolution.
Reference: James Franco, Behind the Celluloid Curtain (emphasis, added).

This piece by Alex Thompson is observant yet meditative.  Outward and inward, at the same time.  He writes about a talk by actor James Franco and poet Frank Bidart, right in the downtown campus of my alma mater Northwestern University.  The piece is intimate, because of how Franco and Bidart were on stage and how Thompson soaked it all in.

To me, that is the essence of poetry, made manifest.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Water Doesn't Move, by Ian McMillan

I love this film-poem, a rendering that weaves film making and soundtrack into the most sacred for forms for words.  I love the irony in the title, as it's a clever way of looking at things.  It takes an American like me time to get used to Ian McMillan's accent, but it's good for my ears to extend their range and deepen their grasp. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Evaporations, by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski

A new film-poem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinksi, commissioned by the Poetry Society for National Poetry Day 2013.
Hmm, a film-poem, eh.  I love it.  The arts, because of their range and diversity, consist of multiple platforms and multiple slants.  That is the essence of Dr. Ron Art.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Protesilaus, from `Memorial, by Alice Oswald

Alice Oswald is the winner of the 2013 Popescu Prize for her poetry book Memorial, an excavation of Homer's Iliad published by Faber. Organised by the Poetry Society, the Corneliu M Popescu Prize is given biennially to a collection of poetry translated into English from another European language.

Judged in 2013 by Karen Leeder and David Wheatley, they said of the winning book: "Oswald has turned Homer into a contemporary war poet, taking an audacious concept -- the trimming down of the Iliad to its death scenes -- and imbuing the results with compelling formal necessity. Memorial answers to its Greek original yet stands as an autonomous and deeply moving work of art."
The first to die was PROTESILAUS
A focused man who hurried to darkness
With forty black ships leaving the land behind
Men sailed with him from those flower‐lit cliffs
Where the grass gives growth to everything
Pyrasus Iton Pteleus Antron
He died in mid‐air jumping to be first ashore
There was his house half‐built
His wife rushed out clawing her face
Podarcus his altogether less impressive brother
Took over command but that was long ago
He’s been in the black earth now for thousands of years

Like a wind‐murmur
Begins a rumour of waves
One long note getting louder
The water breathes a deep sigh
Like a land‐ripple
When the west wind runs through a field
Wishing and searching
Nothing to be found
The corn‐stalks shake their green heads

Like a wind‐murmur
Begins a rumour of waves
One long note getting louder
The water breathes a deep sigh
Like a land‐ripple
When the west wind runs through a field
Wishing and searching
Nothing to be found
The corn‐stalks shake their green heads
Protesilaus, translated and recited by Alice Oswald.