felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I post this poem every year for Remembrance Day. But I think it's a more honest poem than "In Flanders Fields" - more reflective of what it felt like for a farmboy to be dragged by conscription from his home and everything he knew, and tossed into the meatgrinder of World War I.

I doubt many of them would have been urging from beyond the grave the farmboys who came after the not to "break faith" with the dead, and carry the torch. Certainly not Owen himself, who died in the last days of the war.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
My next item up for review is bill bisset's* volume of poetry narrativ enigma / rumours of hurricane. It will be my shortest review ever: It sucked.

Oh, I had high hopes. I actually like Canadian poetry. Back before Indigo eliminated it, I could often be found amidst the tumbleweeds and cobwebs in their Canadian poetry section, and spending more than I could afford on slender volumes of delicious verse. It's always been a joy to me: the rich rhythms of George Elliot Clarke, the bright playfulness of Irving Layton, the wry wisdom of Margaret Atwood, and the prophetic wisdom of Leonard Cohen.

(The novel is making a comeback. Why not poetry? Good poetry is condensed but powerful, so it should be the ideal literary form for a post-attention-span age.)

And I had high hopes for bisset. I've read some of his older stuff from the 1960s. It reads like gay porn in lolcat. Gay porn in lolcat - that's the internet right there, before the internet was. bill bisset invented the internet.

But if narrative enigma is any indication, I haven't been missing much all this time. It is awful. It is worse than awful, it is postmodern.

(See icon.)

It reads like something E.E.Cummings** gave birth to after a tawdry affair with William Carlos Williams in a seedy, bedbug-ridden motel than charged by the hour, after being told that the complete works of Michel Foucault were a reliable form of birth control. "So much depends on a goat-footed balloon man whose identity is socially determined," or something like that.***

There are occasionally pretty lucid moments, but its main redeeming feature is that some of the concrete poems look like Space Invaders.

So, yeah. Hopefully bisset lays off the poetry stuff for awhile, and goes back to his lab to invent the next internet. He'd better hurry, or Al Gore will beat him to it for reals this time.

* Yes, he does do his name like k.d. lang and bell hooks.
** However - contrary to popular belief, E.E. Cummings did not.
*** I loathe E.E. Cummings with a fiery passion. "Goat-footed balloon man" isn't bad, but I really despise "Buffalo Bill," which contains possibly the most insipid line in all of "great" English-language poetry: "how do you like your blue-eyed boy/Mister Death[?]" To which I feel the only good answer is "with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I've been trying to review some of the books that have been sitting on my to-review pile for ages.

review continues for La Nuit Des Princes Charmants by Michel Tremblay )

In short, it's a perfect little poem of a book. There's not a word here that doesn't need to be.

In other news, it's Victoria Day Eve here in Canada. Across the country, little ones are hanging up stockings and putting out cookies for when Queen Victoria glides over in her gilded carriage drawn by pomeranians. After that, we sing the Victoria Day carols, tell the kids about the true nature of Victoria Day, and then send them all out to manufacture snuff and clean chimneys for a night.

Canadian holidays are weird like that.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I made it in. On the trip from Calgary, I wasn't entirely sure. I suspect that plane was something the Red Baron shot down and Air Canada had refurbished, and that it gained the power of flight through happy thoughts.

I'm a slow reader, but I read all of a manga and two-fifths of Michel Tremblay's La Nuit des Prince Charmants. La Nuit is gorgeous so far, and I keep imagining it drawn by Fumi Yoshinaga. It's her style of story exactly.

(There's so much French in her manga I wonder if she reads in it? Maybe I should send her a copy?)

I'm in Victoria for two weeks. That includes New Year's Eve. Victoria doesn't have a nightlife. They used to say Victoria rolled up the streets at night. I suspect they also string up garlic, put up crucifixes, and bar their doors shut against the Nosferatu.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I came very close to simply giving up and stopping in the middle of David Nimmons' The Soul Beneath the Skin. I'm glad I kept with it, though. It got better after that chapter.

Some thoughts:

Review continues )

I'm now reading Gentleman of the Road by Michael Chabon. I'm only a tenth of the way through it, but it's already a brilliant novel. No one does historical fiction like Chabon.

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September 2011

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