by Daniel A. Nicholls. Poetry, art, and related problems.
In my daydream College for Bards, the curriculum would be as follows:
(1) In addition to English, at least one ancient language, probably Greek or hebrew, and two modern languages would be required.
(2) Thousands of lines of poetry in these languages would be learned by heart.
(3) The library would contain no books of literary criticism, and the only critical exercise required of students would be the writing of parodies.
(4) Courses in prosody, rhetoric and comparative philology would be required of all students, and every student would have to select three courses out of courses in mathematics, natural history, geology, meteorology, archaeology, mythology, liturgics, cooking.
(5) every student would be required to look after a domestic animal and cultivate a garden plot.
A poet has not only to educate himself as a poet, he has also to consider how he is going to earn his living. Ideally, he should have a job which does not in any way involve the manipulation of words. At one time, children training to become rabbis were also taught some skilled manual trade, and if only they knew their child was going to become a poet, the best thing parents could do would be to get him at an early age into some Craft Trades Union. Unfortunately, they cannot know this in advance, and, except in very rare cases, by the time he is twenty-one, the only nonliterary job for which a poet-to-be is qualified is unskilled manual labor. In earning his living, the average poet has to choose between being a translator, a teacher, a literary journalist or a writer of advertising copy and, of these, all but the first can be directly detrimental to his poetry, and even translation does not free him from leading a too exclusively literary life.
W. H. Auden, from The Dyer’s Hand (via ayjay)
::I could’ve really used that school. ..
cache of calming
a room will settle quick enough
once the door is set against its jamb
once the red curtain drags against sun’s light wake
but better to leave it there
and let it gather
a tenth of light or less
a fraction of sound sun brings out
a woolly cache of calming
for brains that need shadow shush
for veins ticking behind the eye
for lungs that fill with muffled breath brushing out against muffled air
8th Day, Phoenix
one pays extra for pourovers
like one pays out compliments
to the mildly downtrodden
or like one taps up a cigarette
to stop a stranger’s mouth
pardon my everyday
for no good reason
for certainly stress reveals
as skin burst through by bone but
aloe vera cactuses wear their unbloomed flowers
and it’s so opposite of dithyrambic
a slow ode for twenty voices
that petaled up past each voice in the waking hour
and suspirated around numb lips
as sleepsight burned off of lighting eyes
anyway, one pays for pourovers
or tends to
an expense that rarely improves much
much less one’s half-stirred Haitian with cream and the
contents of a single packet itself brown into the froth
and onto the dark-marble counter dissolved
but how improved, the one and the other
who exchange “I see you own your own exertion”
and one goes on with the afternoon
or sits under the palo verde overgreen with city water
pouring through the sky it sits beneath
its minute confetti half-stirred with heavy power lines
nomopo’s napomo napowrimo reboot
last year i did a poem-a-day challenge for April (National Poetry Month) and it was … exhausting, terrifying, depressing, and rarely productive of work i could even continue working on, but also neat, periodically enriching (via others’ work), and periodically encouraging (via my own and the response to it).
let’s call this a start for this year. i will need to have a program and will probably need to alternate between poems and revisions, essays/long tweets, and explaining to you why i didn’t get anything done. so, tomorrow a poem. let’s say.
i know some people are not thrilled with this idea to begin with. (the most exquisite napomo hate i know of comes from rauan klassnik (example), whose twitter feed becomes a diary of captivity as the month goes on and his captor more and more, deliriously hateful.)
it’s a dodgy bet, and a lot of half-baked poetry will give you a tummy ache.
all the same, i’ve read a number of journals today, and i already have one.