Sort of a very short follow-up on the post on Jay O’Calahan. – The quality of the tape is pretty bad, but the lesson itself is fairly good. If you are new to narrative theory, and all related, this makes for an excellent start.
On a rational level, I dislike US-American literature.
On a less rational level, I’d like to be the next Terry Brooks. (Yes, there, I said it.)
The reason is quite simple – it’s not about the writers themselves, it’s about their writing contracts: If you want to make a decent living as a writer, you have to sell out, and that usually greatly affects the quality of people’s works.
Just to name a few current examples, George R. R. Martin, of A Game of Thrones fame would be guilty as charged. No, we couldn’t have the (supposedly) brilliant three-book version of A Song of Ice and Fire; no, let’s make a lavish seven novels, even if we have to stretch the action to the point where we run out of characters.
Or, T. C. Boyle. I loved When the Killing’s Done (we might hear more from it), but seriously, just how good would his stuff be if he took some more time to flesh his books out?
You can decide whether you want to have the nobel prize, or the yacht, but not both, I guess.
…Aaaaaaaaaaanyway, with US poets, it’s the same. I understand your reasons, but if you write fifty poems per year just so you can pump out one collection after another to keep your lifestyle, chances are, your poetry isn’t as good as it could be.
One of the rare contemporary exceptions that makes a poet that publishes a lot and still keeps a stellar level of quality would be John Ashbery, and he will be speaking on two ocasions next week, both of which can be viewed live on the web:
John Ashbery is a Kelly Writers House Fellow this season. Two events featuring him as a Fellow will be streamed live as webcasts.
1) On Monday, February 11, 2013, beginning at precisely 6:30 PM eastern time, J.A. will give a reading.
2) On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, beginning at precisely noon eastern time, I will interview J.A. and will moderate questions and comments from a live audience at the Kelly Writers House and a worldwide audience via webcast.
I will watch it.
I warmly recommend you consider watching it, too! 🙂
Here is also a link to a comprehensive, if dated, introduction to Ashbery and his work:
Phyllida Lloyd’s staging of Coleridge’s Gothic tale is a poetry recital with a differenceLAST UPDATED AT 07:36 ON Fri 11 Jan 2013
What you need to know
Actress Fiona Shaw is performing Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at the Old Vic Tunnels with dancer Daniel Hay-Gordon. The production is directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mama Mia, The Iron Lady) with choreography by Kim Brandstrup.
Coleridge’s eerie ballad of horror and redemption, written in 1798, tells the story of a sailor who suffers a terrible curse after killing an albatross at sea, and is condemned to relive the experience by recounting it to a stranger.
Until 13 January at the Old Vic Tunnels, near Waterloo Station.
What the critics like
Phyllida Lloyd’s production showcases the “strength, clarity, musicality, physicality and emotional commitment” of Fiona Shaw, says Donald Hutera in The Times. Shaw is not just telling the mariner’s tale, she lives it “with an incandescent intensity that approaches the heroic”.
This is a poetry recital with a difference, says Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times. Shaw is a compelling performer who buttonholes your attention with her evident relish for the text. It’s “a riveting, virtuoso performance”, at its eeriest and most powerful with just “a couple of props and the human voice to bring Coleridge’s poem alive”.
Here’s an elegant thing to do before eight o’clock dinner, says Ismene Brown on Artsdesk. “Stroll out for an hour’s recital of a rollicking story-poem done by a leading actress in a hip underground venue.”
What they don’t like
Shaw is rightly known for her “dazzling” ability to bring poetry to the stage, says Paul Taylor in The Independent. But this show seems more like an artful “demonstration” of the poem than a convincing journey to hell and back
Personally, I find this interesting because, Phyllida Loyd, that’s quite a name!
Maybe Mr Coleridge might get some cinematic treatment as well, sooner or later?
Now, I found this article quite a while ago, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to post about it, because it’s so artless copypasta.
However, for researchers of any kind, this might still be somewhat of an useful information, so, here I go:
British Library acquires ‘outstanding’ Coleridge family archive
So, the Coleridge family archive is in the possession of the British Library since 2006. Highlights include manuscripts and letters by Mr C himself.
– Or, better, the archive as collected by Sir John Coleridge’s family:
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was brother to James Taylor.
James Taylor was father to John Taylor.
John Taylor was father to John Duke, who became the 1st Baron Coleridge in 1874.
Why is this an important distinction? – Because Coleridge’s direct bloodline survived quite a long time (judging from what I found on Google alone), and as the last prominent members of the family, Ernest and Christabel Rose, apparently died without having any offsprings themselves, I wonder what became of their family’s archive, if such a thing ever existed.
Geez, I hope I inspire some treasure hunter. No, no Final Fantasy VI joke incoming. But you dodged it only barely. 😉
Well, it’s probably not really “news” any more, given that the fundraising ended ten months ago already, but London-based band The Tiger Lillies did a ‘Kickstarter’ (crowd-funding campaign) to finance their musical adaptation of The Rime.
(I don’t want to take away any money from the artists: This video seems to be a live recording, and to be distributed legally. Otherwise, I would not post it here.)
Now, on the risk of sounding mean-spirited, or unsophisticated, or primitive, or dull, but I have listened to the result of the funding so far, and, let’s put it like this:
It will have to grow on me yet. First, in the immortal words of Patrick Jane, I fully recognize that there are things beyond my understanding; that would be golf and the musical theater of the ’30s and ’40s. And so far, I have concluded that The Tiger Lillies are not ‘golf’.
Seriously, I simply don’t like Dark Cabaret, or whatever that style is called. That’s my mistake. And The Tiger Lillies don’t make a strong case to convince me, either. Not that they would be obliged to do so, though, and probably somebody more invested in this musical genre can enjoy this more than I did.
I will say one good thing about them, though: The performance is very rad. It speaks for my ignorance of the genre that the only direct association I have is The Smashing Pumpkins, and their classic Tonight, which was one of my favorite music videos back when I was, uhm, a baby.
Anyway, this was an interesting experience for me, to say, at least.
Well, it has been vandalized over the weekend. News via The Huffington Post.
Hey, yanks, you need to watch your cultural goods better!
Like, Edgar Allan Poe’s remembrance.
Or, “The Learning Channel”.
Oh, you think you do that already?!
Now, write your angry answer.
Edgar Allan Poe House Vandalized While Closed During Transition
The historic Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum in Baltimore, which lost its longtime curator and was shuttered in September amid an operational reorganization, has in the last month been defaced by graffiti and robbed of its wooden front steps, according to those involved in the museum’s revitalization.
City officials said they are aware of the damage and recently repainted the museum door, which had been scrawled with mostly illegible writings in marker. They also said they regularly check on the museum and respond to any complaints about its condition.
Still, the recent damage has raised concerns that the 19th-century author’s former home, which is nearly 200 years old, has been neglected — and is vulnerable to increased vandalism without its regular visitors and the supervision of Jeff Jerome, its longtime curator who lost his job when the museum closed.
“There is this thing that nobody in the city really thought about when they closed the thing down, which is who minds the store? Who’s taking care of this thing during the transition?” asked Mark Redfield, a board member of Poe Baltimore, the fledgling nonprofit set to assume responsibility of the museum when it reopens next year. “The more damage and the more atrophy that happens to the house, the more it’s going to cost for Poe Baltimore or the city to repair.”
Redfield said Poe Baltimore is set to meet soon to elect officers and move forward with building a fundraising strategy. And he’s optimistic about the museum’s future and its ability to draw fans of the 19th-century author, who lived there for a few years in the 1830s.
Still, he said he believes the plan failed to properly account for oversight of the historic building during the initial transition period, leaving it in the hands of the Department of General Services, which handles building maintenance generally, instead of carving out a specific oversight role for the city’s Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation.
“Things are falling through the cracks,” he said.
Steve Sharkey, acting director of the the Department of General Services, refutes Redfield’s claims. He said crews regularly check on the building — including, but not limited to, each time a complaint is received.
“We have people going out there semi-frequently to check,” he said. “It’s not like we’re absent from the property. We don’t have a full-time person there, but whenever we hear complaints, we go out.”
The stairs disappeared days after the museum was closed, and a decision was made to wait until the building is ready for its reopening to replace them, Sharkey said. The graffiti occurred more recently, and was painted over within a week, he said.
Current plans call for the city to pay the nearby B&O Railroad Museum $180,000 to renovate the Poe House within the next year so it can begin drawing more fans of the author than the 3,000 to 5,000 who visited in recent years.
After that transition, Poe Baltimore is scheduled to take over the museum’s daily operations and the responsibility of raising its estimated annual operating budget of between $200,000 and $300,000. The city would continue to own the building.
The plans were created after city officials announced two years ago that, after more than 30 years, they were no longer interested in operating the Poe House or in continuing to fund it with $85,000 a year, removing the operating costs from the city budget. In April, a consultant hired by the city to assess the museum’s future raised the possibility of a partnership with the B&O Museum, and the plan was adopted.
One day last week, four women from Minnesota, cameras in hand, arrived at the museum just as Redfield was taking pictures of the graffiti on the door and the cracked, exposed brick below it, where the steps once stood, he said.
Embarrased, he filled the women in on the status of the museum — a sign explaining the details has also gone missing — and bemoaned the vandalism, he said. They said it was “a shame,” then walked off, he said.
“If that doesn’t look bad on Baltimore, I don’t know what does,” Redfield said. “I just wish there was a plan in place for the transition period, to protect Baltimore’s image on this.”
I am a literary historian.
I tend to idealize the topics and the people I work about.
I should not read the news.
So, you might know that the descendants of John Taylor Coleridge, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s brother James’ son (still following?) are, as members of the English nobility, still quite present in English society and politics.
Perhaps I should dwell a little bit further into this, because I am not quite sure, but, quite unfortunately, it seems they like to make, uuuhm, unfortunate decisions.
Now, I am nobody to judge those people, given how little I in the end know about them, but the image I get from is not a very flattering one.
So, Sir Paul Coleridge, Senior High Court Judge, descendant of John Taylor Coleridge, son of Major James Bernard Coleridge, and grandson of Paul Humphrey Coleridge, has recently launched The Marriage Foundation, which, at first glance, at least, seems to resemble one of those reactionary think tanks that one well knows from the media already – you know, the people that lobby politician’s backrooms with their anti-women, anti-gay agenda.
While I don’t want to make this blog about politics, and don’t have the time nor the inclination to investigate this matter further than on a very superficial level, but let it be known that I don’t appreciate people who discriminate against others. Personally, I think, this Marriage Foundation is a travesty. It’s so hard for British upper class not to appear like characters from a Michael Innes novel anyway. I read crap like that, I think, Lord Mullion’s Secret.
Here are some sources about The Marriage Foundation. Form your own opinion if Sir Coleridge was, uuuh, just shot by an albatross, or something:
Not directly related to Coleridge, but still worth a note, given how close those two poets are, thematically.
Been a bit busy last week; more, and more relevant content coming next week.
“Poe House gets new lease on life”
BALTIMORE — The city of Baltimore has turned over control of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum to a nearby railroad museum as part of a plan to make the attraction self-sufficient.
Over the next year, the B&O Railroad Museum will work with a newly established nonprofit on the plan to make it happen. After that, the nonprofit will take over operation.
The city had been spending $85,000 a year to keep the house open but cut off funding in 2010. The house is closed and is expected to reopen next year.
The city’s spending panel approved the deal last month and will pay the railroad museum $180,000. The new nonprofit envisions an annual budget between $200,000 and $300,000.
Poe lived in the tiny west Baltimore row house from 1832 to 1835.
I’m one of those closeted museum goers – think, Ted Mosby, and how he nerdily happy he gets that one time he can recite Dante’s Inferno – and I like stuff like this.
Now, I might be wrong, but is it that the cultivation of Edgar Allan Poe’s remembrance is sort of neglected by the New England authorities? This is not the first time I read something about the Maryland government cutting back on cultural expenses. Now, I am European, and I’ve never been there, but should people worry about Poe’s heritage? He’s certainly one of the writers that deserve to be well remembered.
…Actually, he’s the guy that convinced me to pick up English. My one favorite author of all time in this language, perhaps even before Shakespeare… And that darn Mr C.
The conference is, among other things, notable to people interested in Coleridge because of the assistance of Mr Hunnekuhl, who wrote a very intriguing master thesis about Coleridge’s and Wordsworth’s visits to Germany under the title Imagination and Growth for the University of Edinborough back in 2007, and was so generous as to make the document publicly available, at least for some time.
(I didn’t find a source for download on a quick visit to Google today, so it might not be available any more. I think I found the file researching for my own thesis a few years back, and I do not consciously pirate data, let alone, other fellow researchers. I’m a lover, not a hacker.)
18th century contexts, 19th century contexts, Aimé Bonpland, Alexander von Humboldt, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Daniel Kehlmann, Die Vermessung der Welt, Measuring the World, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The focus on texts alone, at least for studentic research, is obviously very convenient, but I have to confess that I have grown to deeply dislike that practice, because it tends to blend out historical contexts almost completely. Probably, one will get a glimpse of the author’s life and living environment, but the bigger picture gets lost:
What was the sea to Coleridge, for example? – Well, first off, it was uncharted and the big Unknown. Or so will many teachers tell you, in an instant reflex. But what did that REALLY mean for Coleridge and his contemporaries?
In a world where maritime terror has been redefined by movies like Open Water, or that classic Jaws, it seems extraordinarily difficult to develop an idea for how naval travel and, the world in general, without satellites, radar, Google Maps, and a modern scientific understanding.
Long story short, I think the book, and now the movie, make for a good, if goofy introduction to the overall topic of 19th century cultural anthropology, by retelling a, from what I understand, largely ficticious account of the lifes and times of the three 19th century luminaries Alexander von Humboldt, Carl Friedrich Gauss, and Aimé Bonpland, and, as the title of the novel suggests, their efforts to measure the size of the world.
Now, don’t be mistaken – the aim of this product is to entertain, not to teach. But as entertainment, it delivers.