One upon a time there were two brothers.
No, not Jacob and Esau. And for heaven’s sake not Abel and Cain!
And no, not the Wachowski Brothers.
No. These were two brothers living in late 18th Century Germany (well, not Germany yet, more like the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire).
No, not the Brothers Grimm.
The guys I am telling about are the Schlegel Brothers. August Wilhelm and Friedrich Karl. Super-smart, intellectual, translators of Shakespeare. Cool guys interested in supporting all kinds of artists. Guys who dreamt of literary art being really big and really important and really generous and really expansive.
Here’s what Friedrich Schlegel says about romantic poetry:
Romantic poetry is a progressive universal poetry. Its destiny is not merely to reunite all of the different genres and to put poetry in touch with philosophy and rhetoric. Romantic poetry wants to and should combine and fuse poetry and prose, genius and criticism, art poetry and nature poetry. It should make poetry lively and sociable, and make life and society poetic. It should poeticize wit and fill all of art’s forms with sound material of every kind to form the human soul, to animate it with flights of humor. Romantic poetry embraces everything that is purely poetic, from the greatest art systems, which contain within them still more systems, all the way down to the sigh, the kiss that a poeticizing child breathes out in an artless song.. . . . It alone is able to become a mirror of the entire surrounding world, an image of their age in the same manner as an epic. . . .Romantic poetry is to the arts what wit is to philosophy and what society, company, friendship, and love are in life. Other kinds of poetry are finished and can now be fully analyzed. The Romantic form of poetry is still in the process of becoming.Indeed, that is its true essence, that it is always in the process of becoming and can never be completed. It cannot be exhausted by any theory. . .
For, in a certain sense, all poetry is or should be Romantic. (Athenaeum Fragment, 1798 — read entire fragment here)
Poetry at large has been in action all this month thanks to NAPOWRIMO, national poetry writing month. Participants write a poem a day for 30 days.
Sometimes it’s been hard to write a poem a day. But maybe it’s not so hard, if we think about poetry the way the Schlegels do. If we think about it as protean.
We are living in a literary time of an awful lot of categories. Commercial, literary, CYA, erotic, humor, self-help, memoir, essay, biography, autobiography, true crime, mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, horror….. and on and on and on.
And then there’s all the new stuff: videogames, and hypertext, and youtube, and all the weird hybrid type thingies that people are making. Real and virtual. Big and small.
But maybe it’s all one big THING. And maybe that big thing is or ought to be called poetry.
I don’t know. I’m just wondering.
And wondering about this gives me hope. I’m not quite sure why.
Here’s wishing you a week of universal progressive poetry. Whatever the heck that means.
Whatever the heck it might mean.
Once upon a time there was a little poem.
It wasn’t a story and it wasn’t a song. But it could be. The poem thought and knew it could be both. It sat on a sofa of gerunds, awash in cushiony possibility. It sipped a hot tea of nouns and verbs, with a dash of adjectival. A plate of prepositions sat at its elbow. Just in case. In the event of. Objects. Place names. Time.
The poem frightened the neighbors who looked through the window of its house that wasn’t exactly a house and pointed at this unfamiliar inhabitant. They couldn’t identify the poem according to their usual parameters. Human/not human, masculine/feminine, fiction/nonfiction. So they called the police.
“What ARE you?” the police officer said to the poem as she leaned on the doorjamb and squinted at the gerunds. They looked flamey, so she phoned the fire department. The firefighters arrived with the big red truck, which is nice looking if you aren’t worrying about an emergency. They said right away that they understood the poem. They explained to the police officer that gerunds were just sort of verbs. The police officer put her hat back on, and went home to study Strunk and White. The firefighters came in and sat on the sofa and spoke with the poem about being on alert, and the poem listened. When the truck left, the poem went outside and stood at the intersection of Genre and Veracity. And sang a song of red and blue.
And spun a tale about you.
Why we need erotica — and NaPoWriMo Day #2: Write a poem based on the #1 hit single on the date of your birth
Happy Monday Magically Real enthusiasts –
Yesterday saw a couple of magical experiences. One being the Female Surrealists exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The other being a foray into e-book best seller 50 Shades of Grey. There’s a connection. Artists like the now famous Frida Kahlo and the lesser known Dorothea Tanning used their bodies and their dreams to articulate a new and still startling set of visions for what the feminine could be. The sexual for them is at once frightening, beautiful, mechanical, spiritual, political and always strange. In her own pop-culture, s/m for beginners way, EL James is trying to articulate new possibilities for women readers in her bondage-light trilogy, and although the sex so far is expected (“I never knew it could be like this”) sex, there are moments of DIY brilliance such as offering the reader an actual template of what a dom/sub contract might look like. If imagining is a pleasure,and for some of us, it certain IS that, then let us imagine weird and big. What follows is an attempt to make fun of the limits of 50 Shades but also perhaps acknowledge their cultural power and (possibly) look beyond them:
Sh-boom intercut with 50 shades of grey
Life could be a dream
If he was a dominant with a trillion dollars
If he had a sh-boom room like that man
And a ya la la la la la la like his, we wouldn’t
Need paradise, for we’d have our own kind of
Hard limits, hello hello hello again sweetheart
Of dreaming, we’d be so fine if we had that
Life of sh-boom and cash and freedom.
Dear Friends and Fans of the Unreal:
April is NOT the cruelest month, it’s the most poetic month!
Welcome to NaPoWriMo — and the month of April madness that writing a poem a day will surely engender.
Try it out and if you wish, post your poem here.
Poems, like stories, can be silly, and sometimes you can use what is right in front of you to play with words.
So party on!
Avoid trackpad and clickwheel:
Polish in vertical strokes beginning with a small section
On the left of your screen then move in small circles but
Avoid Trackpad and Clickwheel
(touched by so many treacherous digits, they can never be cleansed)
Support screen while cleaning polish until all residue disappears but at all costs
Avoid trackpad and clickwheel
Polish in vertical strokes beginning with a small section.