A writer that uses the Toto Neorest Dual Flush toilet has one word for the experience, revolutionary. There are two popular types of the Toto Neorest Dual Flush Toilet, the 550H, and 700H. Both models are highly recommended by the people that use them. Therefore, a writer would be no different. He would be impressed by the features provided by Toto Neorest Dual Flush.
The writer would have to comprehensively write on features such as the seat heater, the remote control, the tornado flushing system and the automatic lid operation. Technology leads to the creation of products that improve the convenience and comfort of human beings. Any writer would not help but reflect on the impact of technology on different aspects of our lives over the years.
One would have thought that the discovery of the S-trap in the 1800s and the creation of ceramic bowl and toilet seats would be the end of the toilet evolution. It seemed like the toilet had attained the height of its comfort. However, technology, through toilets, such as the Toto Neorest Dual Flush Toilet(http://www.thebestflushingtoilet.com/toto-reviews), has proven the assumption wrong. A writer would need to describe in detail the features that make the toilet revolutionary, luxurious and comfortable.
- Adjustable heated seat: Imagine a toilet where the seat remains warm saving you from the discomfort of having to sit on a cold seat. Furthermore, the 700H has an energy saver timer that ensures that the heated seat goes off after a few minutes. Consequently, you do not have to worry about the power consumption. The toilet seat increases the comfort of the user by almost 100 percent.
- Automatic Lid: most times you ensure that the cleaning lady thoroughly cleans all parts of the toilet, including the lid. Yet, most times you feel disgusted about manually lifting and placing back the toilet lid. The Toto Neorest offers convenience and luxury because the toilet lid automatically opens as you come close to the toilet and closes once you leave.
- Air Deodorizer and automatic flush: the writer would also have to tell his readers about these two features in the Toto Neorest Dual Flush Toilet. On the top of the list of discomfort when it comes to the disposal of human waste is its terrible stench and appearance. People have tried to get rid of the stench by creating air fresheners, strong cleaning and bleaching products. However, none of these products can attain the efficiency of Toto Neorest. The toilet flushes automatically, saving you the trouble of any visual discomfort. The toilet also automatically releases the air freshener or deodorant the minute you sit on it. As a result, you do not have the trouble of any odor floating around the air.
- Extra cleanliness caution: The toilet has a Sana Gloss ceramic glaze which reduces the rate at which bacteria, mold, and debris stick on the ceramic surface. Consequently, cleaning and maintaining the toilet bowl is easy.
Poems use words and literary skills to describe different people, objects, subjects, and relationship. A poet writing poems regarding table saws would have a lot to discuss. Over the years, the table saw has evolved to fit the needs of the woodworker. Most people that work with wood are passionate about their work. They also consider it some form of art or a connection to something. A poet would have to source for information and inspiration from his experiences or from the experiences of other people. The following are possible insights that he would find important to include in his poems:
- Types of Table saws
The poet should consider providing informative information on the available types of table saws and where to purchase them. For instance, he or she can list models such as the Dewalt Flexvolt, Bosch, the Rockwell Blade runner and other models to illustrate the availability of variety. Woodworker always looked at different jig saws:http://www.bestcabinettablesaw.com/jigsaws-reviews in the market cause they are affordable. This is one of examples of the types of table saw: http://www.bestcabinettablesaw.com/miter-saws-reviews/. The poet should also give a brief history on the evolution of the table saw to make the poem informative and interesting.
Different woodworkers have different relationships with their table saws. A person may own an out of date table saw model that keeps breaking down because it has been handed down from generation to generation in his family. Therefore, the poet would not the sentimental value that different people attach to a machine such as a table saw in his poet.
As earlier mentioned most woodwork enthusiasts are passionate about their work and machinery. This might be attached to the work that the person has used the table saw to do or what he intends to do. He might prefer his table saw model because it easily cuts through the hard wood in a straight line, or because he used it to cut the wood to make his baby’s bed. Whichever the case, the poet must indicate the strength of the table saws that he has encountered, whether they were for domestic or commercial use.
- Thought Process
The poet can also mention the research and thought that goes into choosing which table saw to install in a workshop. There are many types of table saws. Some are portable while others are rigid. They have varying cutting power. Some have adjustable features while other features are permanent. Some are easy to use and install while other require professional help to learn how to use and install them.
- Shortcomings of table saws
Are there any anomalies that arise from the interaction between humans and table saws? What kinds of accidents could happen? In this case, the poet could explore the safety features that one could find in a table saw. For instance, most modern table saws have easily accessible power buttons that can shut down the table saw instantly in case of any emergencies. The poet might also include information of anti- kick pawls that prevent the user from getting hit.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is the best technology for writers who wish to travel. A writer is a researcher and his curiosity will drive him to want to visit dreamland areas he may have just written on books. Before he makes the trip, he uses his research skills to learn more about the area, the culture, religion, hospitality among other necessary information he may require. With advanced technology, information is at the tips of his hand.
He uses gadgets at his disposal to ensure he has all the details of the areas he intends to visit to avoid any last minute rushes and hassles.
How is it essential for a writer?
Travelling is navigation, he uses the GPS to track his movement whether he is using a private car or a motorcycle. They have GPS systems mounted on the motorcycles to get the mapping and location of the area he intends to visit. With the internet connection at his disposal, he gets to learn of spectacular areas of that location and use GPS tools to get all other relevant information. GPS is also essential for water, air and road transport to ensure he is able to track his movement for adventure.
Naturally, a writer is adventurous in nature. Once he gets information about an area, he may want to answer questions of why, where, what and how. This will lead him to use GPS systems to answer questions on other sectors like the type of animal and their behaviors, the botanical structure of the plants and the social interaction of the people of the area.
- Mapping and surveying
The essence of GPS is surveying and mapping essential for traveling. The writer will get a topographical map of the area available online or from local immigration offices. He will study the relief, weather and drainage features in relation to features on the ground to equip himself with knowledge on how to set off the adventurous trip to the area.
A writer knows best specially we know that they also love searching for the right products. They know that one important thing about travelling is preparing your gear. Selected a full-face motorcycling helmet and checking sites like this for other important gear: http://mybestmotorcyclegps.com/jackets-reviews/mybestmotorcyclegps.com/battery-reviews
- Financial implications
Travelling requires money for food, accommodation, shopping and emergencies. The GPS tools will guide the writer on currency and have an estimated budget since he will know the hotels around the area and the cost as well as access to medical healthcare in case he gets sick. GPS allows him not to go for a blind travel but confident that he will not have the financial burden.
- Fun and entertainment
After a tiresome writing project, it is time for him to have fun and entertain himself. GPS has social tools, which allows sharing of information on location, time and even name of the place through various social media platforms integrated into the system. He can also engage in different social activities like cycling, diving, skating as these are recorded using the gadgets for future reference.
GPS technology has changed the world for the better. You do not have to worry of uncertainties ahead of your travel but all information is at your fingertips.
If you are a writer and you work from home, the furthest you probably go is the nearby coffee shop. Writers are busy people. They are easily carried away by work and easily forget that the rest of the world exists. However, most writers that work from home have flexible schedules. They might be free in the morning or midday and very busy at night. Therefore, scheduling for ping pong practice with a friend or a friendly game might be difficult. You start working when other people are clocking out of their 8 to 5 jobs. Nonetheless, you do not have to worry about your ping pong playing skills[http://www.bestpingpongtables.review].
It is very easy to keep your skills sharp with the Newgy Robo-Pong. The Newgy Robo-pong is a ping pong robot used by enthusiasts and professional ping pong players to practice. The robot automatically throws balls at the player with varying and adjustable spin, frequency and speed.
The robot is not only appropriate for writers who enjoy ping pong, but also, for writers that want to work out because they hardly have time to visit the gym. The Newgy Robo-Pong costs around 700- 800 US dollars. While it is one of the most affordable ping pong robots, it is appropriate for beginning, as well as, advanced players.
The following are advantages of purchasing the Newgy Robo-Pong:
Ease of Setup:
while writers have flexible schedules, they are also very busy. Consequently, a Newgy Robo-Pong is an amazing workout equipment because it takes up to twenty or thirty minutes to set up. It comes with a setup DVD with clear and precise instructions on setting it up, therefore, you can set it up without professional help.
as mentioned, writers are busy. Therefore, they have little patience with irrelevant issues that take up their time. The Newgy Robo- Pong is can play for hours before it gets stuck or faulty. Hence, it is a reliable partner for the writer who works from home. The machine also comes with a warranty for one year.
The features found in the Newgy Robo –Pong are above average. The robot is appropriate for both professional player and enthusiasts. Features such as the ball catching net, adjustable spin, programmability, and power make you get your money’s worth. For instance, the ball catching net is able to catch tennis balls of varying sizes. Therefore, you do not have to be tied down to playing with a single type or size of tennis ball. The adjustable spin and throw rate also ensure that you feel like you are playing with a real life partner. The Newgy Robo-Pong can be programmed to spit up to 90 balls in a minute. This ensures that the writer keeps his energy up and his skills sharp. Additionally, the writer can adjust the spin to back spin, right side spin, top spin or others. The robot ensures that the writer has a good ping pong game even without a partner.
The collection is a unique glimpse at a diversity of poets, from Ottawa’s David O’Meara to Margaret Atwood to the revered P.K. Page.Cormac Rae, Ottawa Xpress
Alright, let me take a step back. I’m not against originality per se, as manifested in such boldly unique talents as Hopkins, Whitman and Dickinson. No, what I oppose is originality as a goal of writing. I’m with Auden:
A poet has to woo, not only his own Muse but also Dame Philology, and, for the beginner, the latter is the more important. As a rule, the sign that a beginner has a genuinely original talent is that he is more interested in playing with words than in saying something original; his attitude is that of the old lady, quoted by E.M. ForsterHow can I know what I think till I see what I say? It is only later when he has wooed and won Dame Philology, that he can give his entire devotion to his Muse.
I agree with this almost completely but would modify the final sentence because a poet’s relationship with Dame Philology needs constant attention if it’s to stay healthy.
The truth of Auden’s remarks was borne home to me recently. Thanks to a prolonged bout of semi-unemployment, I’m in the midst of finishing an MA in English and Writing  at UNB. At 34, with over a decade’s worth of publishing history, I’m in the odd position, despite lack of academic accreditation, of being more a peer of the faculty than of the students, most of whom are taking the same tentative water-testing steps into the world of writing that I was venturing at their age. In October, I took part in UNB’s annual Poetry Weekend, a marathon session of readings that was inaugurated, almost by accident, in 2004. Also reading at Poetry Weekend 2010 were the students in Ross Leckie’s graduate poetry workshop. As usual, the student readings were a mixed bag : glimmers of promise showing through writing that was for the most part derivative and strained. One student stood out, however, with a verse that was confident, sure-footed in its sound play and strikingly mature. Anne Compton, seated beside me, half-turned and said, She’s good. I heard this student read again a few weeks later and was equally impressed. In conversation with her afterward, she told me that, not knowing where or how to start learning poetry, she just picked up The Exeter Book one day and started working forward.
Originality is a red herring. Let’s consult Dame Philology. The word suggests a beginning, a rise, a source, but nothing, as Lear said, will come from nothing, notwithstanding biblical rumors of ex nihilo creation. What most people striving to be radical poets ignore in their rejections of the old is that radical is derived from radix, or root, (hence radish) and we all got here from somewhere and need a surface on which to stand. I mentioned a few bold innovators above. Hopkins read and wrote Latin. He also recognized that the principles of his sprung rhythm were not novel, but were evident, for example, in the alliterative accentual verse of the medieval poet William Langland. Hopkins also drew on the old Welsh verse forms of cynghanedd and mind the dialect of Lancashire for much of his diction; he was a genius of fusion. Whitman’s incantatory long lines and syntactic parallelism have their source in the Old Testament. Almost everything Emily Dickinson wrote is in the form of a hymn. And Ezra Pound, the 20th Century prophet of making it new, sent taproots back to the troubadours, in much the same way that Lisa Robertson has recently revisited Petrarch and Erin Moure has communed with old Portuguese minstrels.
The perfect model for bona fide originalityas opposed to ersatz noveltyis in our genes. DNA is made up of a four-letter alphabet and yet is the language in which all the diverse life forms of the world are written. We famously share 99% of our genetic material with chimps but look at how different we are. The creative potential of DNA, like that of any language, inheres in its combinatorial arrangements of a finite number of particles. Our imaginations work the same way: nothing we can think of, however fantastic, is constructed from scratch. (Dame P. has just reminded me that construct comes from the Latin phrase meaning to heap together.) A unicorn is a horse crossed with a narwhal; creation and combination are one and the process is synthetic, but also organic. The more complex the soil and the deeper the root system, the more vital the vine and the more layered the grape’s flavor.
So this is another thing I love about the lyrebird. He gets his name from the resemblance his tail feathers bear to a lyre, but it might as well spring from his poet’s instinct for gathering shiny trouvailles and ambient sounds as the expression of his haecceity. He doesn’t concern himself with being original, he just does originality. He embodies Frost’s maxim, which chimes nicely with Auden’s observation above: Beware of the sound, let sense take care of itself. Because it will. Language signifies. It can’t help but do so. If you’re intelligent, thoughtful, talented, have made poetry your constant companion and taken Dame P. on plenty of dates, there’s a decent chance you’ll create something resembling original art, even if you don’t have it in you to match Shakespeare or Yeats.
One of the reasons I think the sonnet was the right form for my lyrebird poem, and not just a cage in which to cram it, is the form’s place at the junction of tradition and innovation, the way a good sonnet shares something generic with all other sonnets but is also sui generis. In the same way, each of us is at once a member of a species exhibiting statistically predictable behavior and, in our unreplicable combinations of genes and experience, a quicksilver individual. At the Ottawa launch of my sonnet anthology (Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets), Stephen Brockwell said something sage about this, to the effect that using a form like the sonnet allows us to express what we are capable of saying, as opposed to what we would like to say, which latter is rarely as beautiful or bright.
I started with Auden and I’d like to let him have the last word. Against originality, Auden emphasises the primacy of authenticity:
Sincerity in the proper sense of the word, meaning authenticity, is … or ought to be, a writer’s chief preoccupation. No writer can ever judge exactly how good or bad a work of his may be, but he can always know, not immediately perhaps, but certainly in a short while, whether something he has written is authenticin his handwritingor a forgery.
 My antipathy to redundancy won’t allow me to use the term Creative Writing, which makes poetry sound more like a twee hobby than the chronic mental illness it is.
 In fairness, so were the readings by more established writers.
 Stephen, who is a mathematician as well as a poet, also likes to point out that the theoretical number of possible sonnets exceeds the number of known particles in the universe, putting the lie to claims that the possibilities of the form have been, or can be, exhausted.
Me, Me, Me: Stray Thoughts on Selfdom
The collection is a unique glimpse at a diversity of poets, from Ottawa’s David O’Meara to Margaret Atwood to the revered P.K. Page.Cormac Rae, Ottawa Xpress
Poets will do just about anything to sell their books. Okay, I’ll do just about anything to sell my books; many others seem content to crank out tome after tome and pretend like it never happened. In 2006 I took my first book, Unsettled which is available from all major online retailers *cough, cough*) on a seven-week, 22-reading cross-country tour, during which I managed to hand-sell some 110 copies. But besides concerted efforts at self-promotion, one of the most effective ways of getting my books in readers’ hands has been my mother’s booth at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market. My mom is a designer, spinner, knitter and weaver, so my books are the only printed matter, besides knitting patterns, she sells. This is much better than a bookstore, where one’s little spine-out collection is surrounded by dozens of others AND it’s in the poetry section, where no one goes by accident.
The other benefit is that I get a report every time a book is sold. Or not. The other day I got an email from my mother. This is it:
At the market yesterday, someone picked up Track and Trace and asked, “Is Zachariah Wells a real person, or one of Seth’s characters?” I thought you might be amused. Maybe. —YLM
For anyone scratching their head over this, let me explain. My publisher is also interested in selling my books and one of the ways he attempts this improbable goal is by making them pleasant things to hold and behold. When it came to designing my second collection, Track & Trace (*cough, cough*), he hired renowned graphic artist Seth (who had previously designed the press’s runaway hit, The Idler’s Glossary) to do art and design work for the book’s cover and interior.
Which is awesome; I have been very lucky. My mom’s email made me realize for the first time that there might be a wee downside to having one’s book designed by someone more well-known than oneself. Have other people bought the book thinking I was a figment of Seth’s prolific imagination? Existential crises! As it happens, I did find it amusing and forwarded the email to Seth, who also got a kick out of it.
It’s actually not such a crazy question. See, my name’s not Zachariah. Not exactly. A few people have called me that over the years, but what appears on my birth certificate is Andrew Zachary Wells. Andrew’s my dad’s name, and it would have been my middle name, but my folks didn’t like the way Zachary Andrew Wells sounds. When I first started publishing poems, about twelve years ago, it was under A.Z. Wells. Perhaps I instinctively knew how bad those poems were and would eventually not want my name associated with them… At any rate, I eventually stopped using the initials, probably for the same reason Al Purdy ceased being A.W.: it was really friggin pretentious.
For a few years, I published nothing at all, but then in 2003 my manuscript was accepted by Insomniac Press, and I realized I had to decide what version of my name to use. Zachary? Hardly anyone calls me that. My mother, and usually only when exasperated. Zach? Too casual and I don’t like the spondaic bluntness of its combination with my surname. Besides, I knew how popular a name Zach had become and with a dirt-common family name like mine, I’d be sure to get lost in the crowd. A.Z.? Cringe. Besides the pretentiousness factor, if you speak Canadian English, the consonantal elision of d and w makes my last name sound like dwells. If you speak American English, it just makes me sound easy. I settled on Zachariah because I liked how it scanned (natch) and because it was closer to the Hebrew root of my name.
But besides that, it gave this dimension of methe sliver of my prismatic self that reads poetry and tries to write its own identity. So Zachariah Wells isn’t a character of Seth’s invention, but he is indeed a persona of sorts.
Questions of identity can’t help but obsess people who write lyric poems. (Cart? Horse? Yeah, yeah.) I was at an Erin Mouré reading in Vancouver a few years ago. After the reading, Mouré was talking about how the troubadour poets she was reading understood that the lyric I was a construct. At which I turned to my friend and said, Um, yeah, who doesn’t? Avant-garde devotees of such postmodern philosophers as Barthes and Foucault seem to think they’ve got the market cornered when it comes to ironic self-consciousness, but no (sane) lyricist actually worth reading has ever believed that the person speaking their poems was them, even in explicitly autobiographical poems.
Some are more explicit about this than others, like Fernando Pessoa, the 20th Century Portuguese poet who wrote under several distinct heteronyms. In Canada, David Solway published his own heteronymous collection, Saracen Island, under the name of Andreas Karavis, going so far as having his dentist, wearing a Greek sailor’s cap, pose for an author photo. Solway has gone on to publish three more persona-authored collections. And speaking of Erin Mouré, she published her Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person, a transelationTM of Fernando Pessoa/Alberto Caeiro’s O Guardador de Rebanhos, under the name Eirin Moure. Holy layered subjectivity, Batwoman!
The dislocation of subjectivity has never been a particular project of mine, but the subject’s essential shiftiness is or should be, unavoidable for anyone writing lyric verse these days. It’s certainly at play none too subtly in my lyrebird sonnet, but the less said about that the better, he said, ducking out dodgily. I’m in the midst of an MA thesis which deals in varying degrees of obliquity with these questions of selfhood. I don’t think anyone can properly address them in 2011 without some familiarity with work going on at the frontiers of neuroscience. Sadly, English departments seem more intent on rehashing The Death of the Author than on swimming into the hostile waters of hard science, but I don’t think one can write meaningfully about self and soul without learning something about, e.g., neuroplasticity, temporal lobe trauma or the brain stem’s function in the formation of the core self.
Most of the scientists I’m reading on these subjects are very literate folks. I’m reading a fascinating book right now, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, by American neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. One of his epigraphs comes from guess who?Fernando Pessoa!
My soul is like a hidden orchestra; I do not know which instruments grind and play away inside of me, strings and harps, timbales and drums. I can only recognize myself as a symphony.
Any self is a multitude. Just ask Whitman. Oh and Seth? Not his real name.
 This is the retail equivalent of trying to live exclusively off celery, by the way.
 As it turns out, one of my namesakes is a former professional soccer goalie with DC United. I got an email one day from a young woman in Washington inviting me out for a drink. Another namesake appears to be a parent in Texas, as I’ve received several emails from a schoolteacher in that state about my child’s behavioral issues.
 Saying which allows me to write blank cheques for all manner of assholery…
 Mouré’s Griffin-nominated book was a cagey subversion. At the time, the Canada Council did not fund literary translation, but by pretending that her book was something other than a straight translation, Mouré cleverly subverted the rules. When I read her book next to a straight translation of Caeiro, what struck me was not the eccentricity of Mouré’s take, but its orthodoxy.
The Process of Translation
“The wide range of writers, forms, and themes represented here make it a great jumping-off point for readers who might be interested in Canadian poetry but are unsure about where to start.”The Globe and Mail”
I consider the poem Interbellum to be an example of the lovely sparseness that can work so well in Dutch writing. It was written by Jules Deelder, a well-known Rotterdam poet, and performer who was born in 1944. The whole of it goes like this:
We lopen langs het stille strand
De lucht staat strak
Scheve bunkers in het zand
De oorlog zwijgt
Mn moeder pakt me bij mn hand
Ik ben niet bang
In a poem as concise as this one, every word carries significant weight, and I think it makes sense to translate it close to literally. But there are moments when the shift from one language to another gets tricky. The opening line reads We walk along the quiet beach. The word beach could be replaced with the strand, which would go on to rhyme conveniently with sand and hand, as in the original Dutch, but strand sounds outmoded and therefore conspicuous in English.
|The sky stands taut.|
Then the expression De lucht staat strak, which means The sky stands taut. A taut sky refers to a cloudless sky, and the expression is ordinary in Dutch, but the literal meaning of stands taut also introduces an element of tension. For me, the phrase the image conjures in the context of the poem is military soldiers standing at attention. The sky stands taut preserves that element, but because the wording is unusual in English, the line becomes less clear and conversational. Those qualities can be maintained by translating to the sky is clear or the sky is blue and letting the tension go. There is a middle ground in something like the blue sky is taut, but then the original rhythm of four syllables is compromised. With every option, an element of the original poem evaporates.
The final troublesome line is De oorlog zwijgt. De oorlog is the war. Zwijgt is a verb that means to not speak, and as far as I know, there is no English equivalent (less pressingly, but relevant to the translating, I think the sound of zwijgt resembles a wave crashing onto a beach). I get distracted here from the poem itself because untranslatable words preoccupy me as an immigrant as much as a writer. What is it they represent? They are things left behind, in the sense that they are nameless in the new language, and therefore lack significance in the culture. But they’re also carried over, remaining a part of the speakers perspective even if they aren’t used again.
|The war is mute
My mother takes me by the hand
Returning to the poem, if zwijgt is replaced with the idea of muteness (which is imperfect zwijgt implies a pause in the war, while with mute the war can be paused or soundlessly continuing), then the remainder translates approximately like this: Crooked bunkers in the sand / The war is mute / Rising tide / My mother takes me by the hand / I’m not scared / But small.
This poem has eight lines, and its translation here is between two languages that have a relatively recent common root, in the context of similar cultures and histories the translation difficulties that arise even under those favorable circumstances really underscore the compromises inherent in all translations. It seems to me that translators have to identify what is essential to the original poem in this case, for example, it might be the conversational tone, or particular images, or the rhythm really it’s probably never one thing, but a series of elements that recur as priorities throughout the poem. Then, knowing that aspects of the original will be lost, the aim is to retain what is unmissable.
1. Deelder, Jules. Interbellum. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1987.
Sadiqa de Meijer’s poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, Geist, CV2 and other journals. Her writing won This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt and was shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and Arc’s Poem of the Year Contest. Her poem “There, there” was included in The Best of Canadian Poetry in English 2008.
Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry (Poem out of Childhood, Muriel Ruykeyser)
I’ve recently been asked to take part in the Toronto Art Bar Reading Series 8th Annual Dead Poets Society Reading, organized and hosted by David Clink. Along with the honor of his invitation, David included a list of 109 dead poets (yes, I counted them ) who were on his no list, i.e., they’ve been read in previous Dead Poets Society readings, so they can’t be read again. A lot of wonderful poets, who would have been on my A list had, therefore, to be excluded: Elizabeth Bishop, Tu Fu, Allen Ginsburg, Jane Kenyon, Gabriella Mistral and Pablo Neruda, Bronwen Wallace oh, you get the idea.
The poet I finally decided to return to was Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) because this event seemed a great opportunity to get to know better the person and the work. Rukeyser wrote about 18 collections of poetry and half-dozen books of prose. A mid-20th-century American poet and feminist, she lived a politically engaged life, deeply concerned about issues of gender, race, class. She wrote about U.S. miners dying of silicosis, was in Spain as the Spanish Civil War began, traveled to Hanoi during the Vietnam War, and was investigated by the FBI for working with some mighty suspicious organizations, like the Daily Worker.
Rukeysers 1949 book, The Life of Poetry, grapples with the place of poetry in the modern world, and the general fear of poetry she perceives. She begins:
In this moment when we face horizons and conflicts wider than ever before, we want our resources, the ways of strength. We look again to the human wish, its faiths, the means by which the imagination leads us to surpass ourselves
Dont those conditions feel awfully familiar?
Just to give you a sense of her work and her poetics, a poem that has a little resonance with current political issues in Canada (but with my wishes she hadnt referred to the child as it):
|A line of birds. A line of gods. Of bells.|
Fourth Elegy. The Refugees
A line of birds. A line of gods. Of bells.
And all the birds have settled on their shadows.
And down the shadowed street a line of children.
You can make out the child ahead of you.
It turns with a gesture that asks for a soft answer.
It sees the smaller child ahead of it.
The child ahead of it turns. Now in the close-up
faces throw shadows off. It is yourself
walks down this street at five-year intervals,
seeing yourself diminishing ahead,
five years younger, and five years younger and young,
until the farthest infant has a face
ready to grow into any child in the world.
I think what has always drawn me about good political poetry is its level gaze: that frank seriousness, no fooling ourselves, no pulling the wool over our eyes, a poetry that takes a stand and enlarges our understanding of the world. But also a poetry that doesnt sacrifice the compression, metaphor, musicality and subtlety that are the hallmarks of good poetry. In some ways, to be excellent, I think a political poem has to be intensely personal; has to be, in fact, a kind of love poem.
Of course, the risks of political poetry are well known: the lack of poetic tension between the emotions and the intellect; the falling into sermon or exhortation; the temptation to rail, to show indignation; a sense of superiority over the (ignorant) reader. Ooogh! I readily acknowledge that there is a lot of bad political poetry.
Despite my admiration, I dont often write poems that take a political stance: its hard! I have written some about the environment, the Gulf War, the use of torture in Iraq, and the failed state of Zimbabwe:
Nonetheless, I feel inspired by women like Rukeyser who lived a life equally committed to poetry and to political action. Of course, we have a host of similarly brilliant and committed Canadian poets: Dionne Brand, Gary Geddes, George Elliott Clarke, Sina Queryas, Phil Hall, Sachiko Murikami, Liba (Libby) Scheier, Richard Lemm, and so many more past and present. I was interested to read in this blog about the reaction of Canadas National Citizens Coalition (our PM a former head of this organization) to Allan Coopers politically engaged collection, Poems Released on a Nuclear Wind.
Oh, and by the way, dear blog readers, as Poetry Editor for Our Times, Canadas Independent Labour Magazine www.ourtimes.ca, I am always looking for good political poetry, poems about work and social justice.
For a fuller bio of Muriel Rukeyser and some poems, see http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/100.
Maureen Hynes first book of poetry, Rough Skin (Wolsak and Wynn), won the League of Canadian Poets Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry by a Canadian. Her second collection, Harms Way, was published by Brick Books, and third, Marrow, Willow, is forthcoming in 2011 from Pedlar Press in Toronto. She is a winner of the Petra Kenny Poetry Prize (London, England), and her poem, The Last Cigarette was chosen as one of 50 poems for Best Canadian Poems 2010, edited by Lorna Crozier. Maureen is poetry editor for Our Times magazine (ourtimes.ca).