Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Road

Cormac McCarthy's The Road: a disturbing, harrowing, haunting, wonderful masterpiece and essential reading. Here's Alan Warner's review of the book in The Guardian.

Helen Heath's Show your Workings has a YouTube clip of rest home inmates singing I Want to be Sedated.

And I would really like to know if there's a word for the little icon or logo that appears in the location bar of your just before the URL of the website you're visiting. How do you code for that?

Jack Ross on teaching creative writing.

Ron Silliman on 1968.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two poems in Jaam 26

My poems 'A walk on the moor' and 'Dream after Remedios Varo's Metamorphosis' will appear in the next issue of Jaam. I'm very grateful to the editor, Tim Jones, for selecting the poems. I wonder what else will be in the issue.

Romana Fotiade in the Times Literary Supplement on Jacques Derrida's last published interview, 'Learning to live finally.' Derrida's language always appeals to my imagination rather than my common sense.

Doom, gloom, rising oil prices, riots in Africa, a race without end for the Democrats. It all looks so bleak. But the good news is that Phoenix has landed on the Martian northern plains and is sending stunning new pictures of a quite different Marscape. Look at that quilted surface! I love this photo I saw this evening over at New Scientist of Phoenix's descent, snapped from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Some interesting classroom activities for teaching/exploring poetry at the Poetry Archive.

by J.C. Runolfson.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Alchemist & Control

Originally published in 1988, The Alchemist has been translated into 56 languages, and has sold more than 65 million copies in more than 150 countries, and is one of the best selling books in history. The first half of the novel does remind me a little of Saint Exupéry but without Saint Exupéry's ability to paint vivid images with a few well-chosen words. The second half of the novel is a little more heavy-handed, as if Coelho was writing allegory with a mallet. Still, at least Coelho's a concise writer and one strength here is that whilst the latter sections are bogged down with rather wet and long-winded 'follow your dream' philosophy (which spoil the rather simple though effective earlier idea of listening to the 'spirit of the world' which I like) Coelho tries hard to keep it brief. This isn't a bad book; it does raise questions that all adolescents (including middle-aged ones) should consider, but it ain't great literature either.

This week I've had a lot of pleasure listening to the Soundtrack to the Iain Curtis bio movie Control. I'd forgotten just how totally brilliant The Velvet Underground's 'What goes on' sounds. It's a great song for the film with it's wickedly clever and possibly quite unanswerable question: 'What goes on in your mind?'; a question that sent me in a reverie far faster than any thoughts spurned from Coelho's words. As well as good live versions of The Buzzcocks' 'Boredom' ("Well I'm living in a movie/but it just doesn't move me!") & along with a fresh-sounding and proficient live performance by the sex Pistols of 'Problems,' there's a song I'd never heard before 'She was Naked' by Supersister:

She looked like instant pudding
It was the cream of the commercial increase

She tore her wardrobe wondering what
What kind of freedom was this sudden release

She was naked

We dream of pin-up purchase
Reveal philosophies like instant pudding

We need her on the blue screen
She, she gives us soul to keep our minds clean, oho

We are naked

Dona Nobi's Pacem
From beginning 'till the end
Dona Nobi's Pacem

Dona Nobi's Pacem
From beginning 'till the end
Dona Nobi's Pacem


Instant pudding! Woah!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Persuasion, etc

I've just finished listening to Juliet Stevenson (the lead actress in Truly Madly Deeply) read Jane Austin's Persuasion. She really makes the novel come alive and the short musical interludes between chapters are delightful.

Doug Poole: one poem.

I'm already not sure if I'll be at Lyndsay's reading tomorrow: two members of my family need to go to the hospital. Nothing horribly serious but I might needed to help out. I sometimes wonder if I have a personal poetry demon whose mission is to thwart my attempts to get to readings.

I often read Jack Ross's blog. Jack recently put up a list of his favourite 20th Century novels. I enjoy these sorts of lists and Jack's selection prompted me to reflect on which novels I love and which have had some sort of impact on my life. I've ordered my selection sort of chronologically with Alan Garner's Redshift hitting me over the head when I was thirteen. (Alan was a local writer for me as I lived in Oldham then).

Take a deep breath…here we go. Nothing here is representative. I've chosen books that have made me think. Redshift, The Lord of the Rings, Dhalgren, Naked Lunch, Concrete Island and Gravity's Rainbow; all basically re-wired my brain in very disturbing, dangerous and enjoyable ways.

  1. Redshift. Alan Garner.
  2. Stand on Zanzibar. John Brunner.
  3. The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien.
  4. The Dispossessed. Ursula K. Le Guin.
  5. 334. Thomas Disch.
  6. 1984. George Orwell.
  7. Breakfast in the Ruins. Michael Moorcock.
  8. The Naked Lunch. William Burroughs.
  9. Nova Express. William Burroughs.
  10. Dhalgren. Samuel Delany.
  11. The Man in the High Castle. Philip K Dick.
  12. Concrete Island. J.G. Ballard.
  13. Catch-22. Joseph Heller.
  14. Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut.
  15. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. James Joyce.
  16. A Clockwork Orange. Anthony Burgess.
  17. A Passage to India. E.M. Foster.
  18. The Dharma Bums. Jack Kerouac.
  19. The Trial. Franz Kafka.
  20. Midnight's Children. Salman Rushdie.
  21. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Yukio Mishima.
  22. The Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon.
  23. If On A Winter's Night a Traveller. Calvino.
  24. Gravity's Rainbow. Thomas Pynchon.
  25. A Fringe of Leaves. Patrick White.
  26. Lucky Jim. Kingsley Amis.
  27. The Great Gatsby. F. Scot. Fitzgerald.
  28. The Magus. John Fowles.
  29. The Color Purple. Alice Walker.
  30. The Bone People. Keri Hulme
  31. In Our Time. Hemingway.
  32. Under the Net. Iris Murdoch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lindsay Rabbit

Lyndsay Rabbit

NZPS Monthly Poetry reading, Wellington

Monday 19 May, 7.30pm
The Greta Fernie Room, Leuven Belgian Beer Cafe, cnr Featherston and Johnston Sts, CBD

Open mic and guest poet: Lindsay Rabbitt, Kapiti poet and multi-media artist. You can read some of his poems here. I'm definitely going to this reading . . . good on Laurice for organising this reading.

Congratulations to Tim Jones, whose short Story collection Transported is up for the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Go Tim! A full list of all nominees is over at The Guardian.

Mary McCallum has a new attractive blog O Audacious Book.

Rob Woodard on Gary Snyder.

Neil Furby has started blogging again.

I'm a little bogged down with teaching and with a freelance information architecture/writing job for an autism website (more on this when it goes live).

I'm just getting over the first nasty virus of the year . . . an occupational hazard of teaching high school. Moonshot's coming along well. I think that the cover's sorted out now. I've added a couple of more notes and tweaked a couple of poems so it's all done.

Image: Lyndsay Rabbit

Friday, May 02, 2008

Albatross #19

Albatross #19 arrived in the post yesterday. I'm intrigued by the very simple A5 format of the magazine. It's an inexpensive, accessible journal that works very well. I wonder if there's anything quite like it in NZ?

Mark Pirie's Private Detective published by Kilmog Press is a lovely thin volume to hold and read. The cover's wonderful but who drew and designed this marvelous work?

The Locus Award finalists have been announced.

Michael Chabon has won this year's Nebula Award for best novel.

Eat this grenade: Simon Armitage loves The Fall.

Siobhan Harvey: Three poems.

I've added a To Do list and NASA picture of the day on my i-Google. Imagine if I could add a 'read an NZ poem' application. . .