Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don't stop to think, don't interrupt the scream, exhale, release life's rapture. Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (RussianВлади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ковpronounced [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr nɐˈbokəf] ( listen); 22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1899c – 2 July 1977) was a multilingual Russian novelist, poet and short story writer. Nabokov's first nine novels were in Russian. He then rose to international prominence as a writer of English prose. He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer.
Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as among his most important novels and is his most widely known, exhibiting the love of intricate word play and synesthetic detail that characterised all his works. The novel was ranked at No. 4 in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels.[1] Pale Fire (1962) was ranked at No. 53 on the same list. His memoir, Speak, Memory, was listed No. 8 on the Modern Library nonfiction list.[2]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"No, I'm a REAL Christian!"

On "Real" Christians and Christian Privilege: I understand, really I do, why liberal Christians want to think of this as somehow "different" from other issues of privilege. I understand why they don't want to be associated with people with whom they share a label but little else. But requesting this exception, asking to receive the benefits of Christian privilege while accepting none of the responsibility of Christian supremacy, is not only unfair; it's flatly not progressive, because it ultimately serves to more deeply entrench Christian supremacy and privilege. Asking me to make distinctions about "real" Christians is asking me to participate in my own marginalization. That is a request I cannot accommodate.

The plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity. You just have to love someone. Nick Hornby

Monday, April 16, 2012

Drunken Poetry Tonight! 8:30 pm at Last Word Books

OWS is back, baby!

Reading up on some basic political philosophy has reminded me that the fundamental question of that discipline is, How should we choose to organize society? It's an obvious point, but easy to miss in the everyday specificity of political issues like Supreme Court rulings or party competition.

Which makes me think of the Occupy movement. This week the New York section of the movement returned to the streets: now they're literally on Wall Street. This is the first successful occupation from OWS since they were evicted from Zuccoti Park in November, following a three-month encampment.

Here's why the question of how to organize society makes me think of Occupy. Between September and November of last year, it seemed like everyone was criticizing the movement for lacking clear goals. Here's a particularly cantankerous bit of advice from someone's Dad:

I am unsympathetic. Blocking streets to prevent commuters from picking up their children and getting home to their families, shutting down banks so folks can't cash their paychecks and disabling ATM machines with super glue isn't sticking it to "the man." It simply does injury to the true 99 percent, the hardworking people trying to make a living, obeying the laws and paying taxes. 

While I still think it's just not true that the movement lacks goals--anti-plutocrat seems like a pretty specific agenda to me--there's an element of truth in these criticisms. OWS lacks conventional goals in the sense that it's about more than specific changes in policy. Simply, say, reversing the Citizen's United ruling, or prosecuting top players from the 2008 financial collapse, or even electing Ron Paul (or whoever) wouldn't fulfil Occupy's goals.

OWS is, even more than an expression of outrage at banksters and croney capitalism, an experiment in a different way of doing politics. A different way of being political. As Bernard Harcourt argues herehere, and here, stuff like consensus voting, call-and-repeat forums, and the absence of leaders are examples of how OWS functions according to a different format from conventional US politics. A different way of speaking and thinking about politics. A different (pardon the buzzword) discourse of how we can best organize our society. And it seems to me that this, this radical attempt to reinvent the way that we talk/think/do politics is more valuable than any conventional demand that the movement might make.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

HAppy National Poetry Month!

Join us on Monday at Last Word Books for another Drunken Poetry!

From Wikipedia:

National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. It is celebrated every April in the United States and (since 1999) in Canada as well. Since 2000 Great Britain has celebrated a National Poetry Month each October.


National Poetry Month was inspired by the success of Black History Month, held each February, and Women's History Month, held in March. In 1995, The Academy of American Poets convened a group of publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary organizations, poets, and teachers to discuss the need and usefulness of a similar month long holiday to celebrate poetry.[1] The first National Poetry Month was held in 1996.
In 1998, the Academy joined the American Poetry & Literacy Project to distribute 100,000 free books of poetry from New York to California during National Poetry Month. On April 22, President Clinton and the First Lady hosted a gala at the White House which featured Poets Laureate Robert PinskyRobert Hass, and Rita Dove.[2]
For National Poetry Month in 2001, the Academy invited people to "vote" for poets they most wanted to have a postage stamp. More than 10,000 people cast ballots, with Langston Hughes receiving the most votes. The vote tally was sent to the United States Postal Service, which issued a Langston Hughes stamp in January 2002.[2]
On April 5, 2005 the Empire State Building was illuminated with blue lights to mark the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month.[2]
Each year, a special poster is commissioned by the Academy of American Poets for National Poetry Month, with almost 200,000 copies distributed for free. In the past, posters have been designed by noted graphic designers such as Chip Kidd and Milton Glaser. The 2007 poster was designed by Christoph Niemann.[3]
This year, Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers, Kathi Appelt, and April Halprin Wayland are some of the writers that will participate in 30 Poets/30 Days, a celebration of children's poetry during the month of National Poetry Month. Everday of April, author Gregory K. Pincus's GottaBook Blog and Twitter site will feature an unpublished poem by different poets. This feature is free and open 24/7. Pincus said that 30 Poets/30 Days was very successful last year. Many people read the poetry and schools incorporated this even into their lesson plans.
Numerous books and poetry compilations have been published acknowledging National Poetry Month, such as The Knopf National Poetry Month Collection by Random House andCelebrating National Poetry Month by children's book author and poet Bruce Larkin.


Like Black History Month, the celebration of poetry each April has grown and established itself organically, in both official and unofficial ways. Each year, publishers, booksellers, educators and literary organizations use April to promote poetry: publishers often release and publicize their poetry titles in April, teachers and librarians focus on poetry units during the month; and bookstores and reading series frequently hold special readings. National Poetry Writing Month encourages writing a poem a day in celebration.


In a proclamation issued on April 1, 1996, President Bill Clinton declared: "National Poetry Month offers us a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today's American poetry….Their creativity and wealth of language enrich our culture and inspire a new generation of Americans to learn the power of reading and writing at its best."[4] In addition, similar official National Poetry Month proclamation have been issued by mayors from towns and cities across the country, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tucson, and Washington, D.C.[4]

[edit]Poetry & the Creative Mind

In 2002, the Academy organized the first Poetry & the Creative Mind gala to raise funds in support of National Poetry Month, and it has become an annual event. Each year the Academy invites some of America’s leading artists, scholars, and public figures to read favorite, canonical poems. Hosted each year by the two-time Academy Award winning actressMeryl Streep, the event has featured readings by Liam Neeson, Tony Kushner, Maya Lin, Sam Waterston, Suzan-Lori Parks, Minnie Driver, Dan Rather, Agnes Gund, Frank Rich, Diane von Furstenberg, Wynton Marsalis, Alan Alda, Wendy Whelan, Mike Wallace, Dianne Wiest, Oliver Sacks, Gloria Vanderbilt, William Wegman, and Christopher Durang, among others.[5]


National Poetry Month has also sparked some debate among writers, most notably from poets such as Charles Bernstein and Richard Howard.[6] Critics suggest that National Poetry Month trivializes the art form and floods the market with books in a matter of just a few weeks, overwhelming readers.

[edit]International recurring celebrations

Since 1999, National Poetry Month has been celebrated each April in Canada, where it is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and organized around a different annual theme.[7]
In the United Kingdom the festival “October is National Poetry Month” was founded in 2000 by Celtic bard Jim MacCool[8] and was adopted by the Birmingham-based Performance Poetry Society that same year. From makeshift beginnings, National Poetry Month has been exploited by primary and secondary schools, colleges of further education, public library services, the prison estate, and to a lesser extent, more localised festivals. Professional poets appear in all corners of the United Kingdom under the aegis of the Performance Poetry Society, which co-ordinates a proportion of their efforts and ensures that they are paid a normal rate for their appearances.
National Poetry Day, founded in 1994 by William Sieghart is celebrated on the first Thursday of October in the United Kingdom; this has become an established fixture in the cultural calendar. Events take place in schools, pubs, arts centres, bookshops, libraries, buses, trains and Women’s Institutes, and the day is the focus for media attention for poetry. The Forward Arts Foundation (a registered charity) was set up in 1995 to administer the Forward Prizes and National Poetry Day.
On October 8, 2009, the BBC announced on National Poetry Day the results of its poll to find the nations favourite poet. The winner was T. S. Eliot, followed by John DonneBenjamin ZephaniahWilfred Owen and Philip Larkin (in that order). It has been organized since 1994 by the Poetry Society in the United Kingdom, which chooses a different theme each year to highlight particular poets and styles of poetry.[9]
In 1999, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared March 21 to be World Poetry Day. The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to "give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements."


Thursday, April 12, 2012

There are no good girls gone wrong - just bad girls found out. - Mae West

Mae West (August 17, 1893[1] – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, playwright, screenwriter and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades.
Known for her bawdy double entendres, West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer in the motion picture industry. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute named West 15th among the greatest female stars of all time. One of the more controversial movie stars of her day, West encountered many problems including censorship. When her cinematic career ended, she continued to perform on stage, in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, on radio and television, and recorded rock and roll albums. She used the alias Jane Mast early in her career.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will. - Charles Baudelaire

We've got a nice old french collection of Baudelaire's poetry and prose available online, as well as several other titles down here at the shop.

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ]; April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867) was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire's highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul VerlaineArthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé among many others. He is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney

From NYT:
Before Mitt Romney, those seeking the presidency operated under the laws of so-called classical politics, laws still followed by traditional campaigners like Newt Gingrich. Under these Newtonian principles, a candidate’s position on an issue tends to stay at rest until an outside force — the Tea Party, say, or a six-figure credit line at Tiffany — compels him to alter his stance, at a speed commensurate with the size of the force (usually large) and in inverse proportion to the depth of his beliefs (invariably negligible). This alteration, framed as a positive by the candidate, then provokes an equal but opposite reaction among his rivals.
But the Romney candidacy represents literally a quantum leap forward. It is governed by rules that are bizarre and appear to go against everyday experience and common sense. To be honest, even people like Mr. Fehrnstrom who are experts in Mitt Romney’s reality, or “Romneality,” seem bewildered by its implications; and any person who tells you he or she truly “understands” Mitt Romney is either lying or a corporation.