Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Front CoverNovel, movie, and Victorian-poet aficiandos––I recently had a weekend of gratifying Netflix movie watching. Included was a well-done movie titled "Possession." I've attached a few reviews of it, the novel, and the novel's author for your information. I encourage you to see the movie, which I've learned took several departure's from A. S. Byatt's intricate literary romance.

 Winner of England's Booker Prize (1990) and literary sensation of the year, Possession is an   exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire -- from spiritualist seances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany -- what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas. An exhilarating novel of wit and romance, an intellectual mystery, and a     triumphant love story. This tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets became a huge bookseller favorite, and rose to national bestsellerdom.  review by Goodreads.

Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. In 2003 the novel was listed on the BBC's survey The Big Read.

MOVIE: The movie adaptation (2002) stars Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was directed by Neil LaBute, with music by Loreen McKennett.

AUTHOR: There is far more to read about this British author. I leave you with a few sites that more  fully explore her person and talent.
A. S. Byatt     Poets Forum   

Friday, January 25, 2013

Roger Rosenblatt

Unless It Moves the Human Heart

Chapter Six: A Fine Frenzy
     "...poetry is also the music of the genres. No work of prose, no matter how beautiful, is aptly called a song.
     There is also something less threatening about poetry. It seems to be conjured up and conceived in a space so removed from the world that the world, however admiring of it, does not take it seriously. Thomas Hardy said that if Galileo had announced in a poem that the earth moved, the Inquisition might have let him be. And yet poems of the ages go on and on, differentiated from prose by an ethereal quality derived from elliptical thought and their deliberate avoidance of understanding. A poem should be at once clear and mystifying––in Shelley's terms, "the words which express what they understand not." Prose, on the other hand, strives to be understood, especially in its own time, which accounts for both its strength and its weakness."
Roger Rosenblatt autographing Unless It Moves the Human Heart
  at the 2011 Miami Book Fair
A few pages later:
     "Poets may not be formally religious themselves, but they are religious as writers and observers of the world. The disinterestedness by which the poem comes into being is like God's. And like God, who seems to be defined only by his own existence, the poet remains only himself, admiring the world of his subject matter––also fearing, loathing, and adoring it––standing back and "paring his fingernails."

Rosenblatt continues with:
     "A poet tries to identify a situation or an emotion as accurately as possible. To name it, nail it, so that the thing and his description of the thing are virtually the same. At the same time, the poet knows that perfect identification is impossible. I think that's where imperfection is the same thing as divine."

     There I leave you, but not before relating that Roger Rosenblatt is an American journalist, author, playwright and teacher. In 2009, he was one of three finalists for the Robert F. Cherry Award for Excellence in University Teaching.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mary Oliver, #1

      Mary Oliver––of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award merit.
      I don't know when my fascination with her writing began, but I have read and reread many of Ms. Oliver's poems for years. Her poetic magnets for me have been and still are: a sensitive simplicity, perceptive detail, wisdom, delicacy, grace, beauty and a fascination for the natural world. Her thoughts and words resonate with my own world, and perhaps that's justification enough for the draw to her writing. At times, her poetry reminds me of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's prose, but I might stand alone in that regard as I've not read a similar comment.
     If you are freshly introduced (or not) to Mary Oliver, perhaps one poem's rendering here might encourage you to seek out a volume or two of her writings.
     I chose this prose poem because it fits into the beginning of a new year.

                   Don't Hesitate
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that's often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

Friday, January 18, 2013

On The Art of Poetry

      Just how fortunate can I be! This week I received a gift from a dear and trusted friend––a soft-covered book from a personal library given to my friend by an aunt.
     The book, "On The Art of Poetry," is diminutive, almost pamphlet size, with ninety-five pages stapled on the spine, and published in Great Britain in 1929. Its frailty asks to be handled with cotton gloves, which I did not wear on my first fingertip turn of the pages.
     If being on the receiving end of this volume isn't thrill enough, imagine my pleasure to find marginal notes in scripted fountain-pen ink peppered throughout. Those who have read my past blogs know fountain pens and marginalia are sacred to me.
     I am 0-schooled in the Classics, so it will take quiet and meditative time to digest the pondering of Aristotle––ancient Greek philosopher, student of Plato, and teacher of Alexander the Great. I shall give it a try. I hope to be better for it even if I need an assist from Sparknotes. Thank you dear friend (you know who you are!), and Aunt Neva.

He defines poetry as the mimetic, or imitative, use of language, rhythm, and harmony, separately or in combination. Poetry is mimetic in that it creates a representation of objects and events in the world, unlike philosophy, for example, which presents ideas. Humans are naturally drawn to imitation, and so poetry has a strong pull on us. It can also be an excellent learning device, since we can coolly observe imitations of things.... Aristotle identifies tragedy as the most refined version of poetry dealing with lofty matters and comedy as the most refined version of poetry dealing with base matters. On The Art of Poetry

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Indie Bookstores, Part I

Independent Bookstore (aka Indies, Indie Bookstores): Bookstore not controlled by a larger bookseller chain; often a fixture in the community it serves.

Descriptive Words: diversity, entrepreneurial, inviting, linger, neighborhood, niches, peruse, personal, relaxing, resurgence, quirky, vital, whimsical

Descriptive Phrases: eclectic book selections, stay-awhile cushy chairs and couches near low, tall, and side tables, dedicated booksellers, nooks for browsing, author events, author events tied to community events, suspended lighting soft on the eyes and soft on the books

Sit back to view the following two clips on author, Ann Patchett, and her neighborhood bookstore.  

Parnassus Books
3900 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215
                                                       Ann Patchett - The Colbert Report - 2012-20-02 - Video Clip ...
Feb 21, 2012
Novelist Ann Patchett discusses the importance of brick-and-mortar bookstores and explains what prompted ...

    Watch Ann talk about independent bookstores.

Flying Pages will feature a second part to Indie Bookstores. In the meantime, do you have a neighborhood bookstore, or have you visited one during the holidays, or while travelling? Let me know within the next week, and I'll be sure to mention it. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Poems: Revision

     I own Robert Wallace's second edition (1987) of Writing Poems––a book on writing poetry that reflects loving use with marginal notes, highlighted passages, and sticky flags. One day I'll update this classic volume now in its eighth edition to my poetry shelves. One day.
     For today's Post, I've selected a small portion that Mr. Wallace wrote on revising (page 325) to share with you.
     The secret of writing is rewriting. As W. H. Auden notes, "Literary composition in the twentieth century A.D. is pretty much what it was in the twentieth century B.C.: nearly everything has still to be done by hand." Rewriting is exploring, trying out. The poet uses both ends of the pencil. Luckily, unlike the sculptor or the painter, the poet can go back to earlier versions if he or she makes a mistake. A typical way is to scratch out and add, scratch out and add, scribbling alternatives in the margin, until the sheet is embroidered with corrections––and then to recopy the best version that can be sorted out of it. Then the poet goes on scratching out and adding on that draft. There are 175 work-sheets for a poem by E. E. Cummings ("rosetree, rosetree"), and Donald Hall reports that "The Town of Hill" (page 348) went through fifty or sixty drafts; "three years of intensive work, with lots and lots of changes." The poem's deceptive simplicity is a result of labor, fusing Hall's boyhood memories of the town that was later abandoned and flooded to make a lake, with his present vision of the underwater town. Like simplicity, spontaneity and naturalness are usually the result of hard work. Easy writing tends to produce hard reading; hard writing, to produce easy reading.  
     Wallace's observation on revising rings true to my ears. It, like the rest of the book, is clearly written with lively presentations on the form, content, and process of poem writing. It provides excellent examples of classic and contemporary poems, and warm guidance to help writers improve their craft. 
     Robert Wallace was born in 1932 At the time of his death in 1999, he was working on a fifth edition of Writing Poems.

Front Cover
     To poets reading this Post, please check out the more recent edition by Michelle Boisseau. Also, read about the Robert Wallace Collection held by the Missouri State University Library http://library.missouristate.edu/archives/speccoll/m001.htm.
     Do you own any edition of this outstanding book? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hint Fiction

hint fiction (n): A story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more 
                        complex story.     

    Rather than re-invent the wheel, I'll take you to the source of a writing style that had come to my attention through book browsing. I sample read a few pages, and bought and brought the diminutive book home to my library. While digesting Robert Swartwood's take on this short fiction type (I knew of flash fiction, sudden fiction, postcard fiction), I made marginal notes, and attempted a few writes. It didn't come as easily as I thought it would, because "each story had to something special." In the book's Introduction, he adds "that a story of twenty-five words or fewer can have as much impact as a story of twenty-five hundred words or longer."
Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or FewerIn an essay, Hint Fiction: When Flash Fiction Becomes Just Too Flashy that he submitted to the blog Flash Fiction Chronicles, 
(http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/) Swartwood "proposed that the very best storytelling was the kind where the writer and reader meet halfway, the writer only painting fifty percent of the picture and forcing the reader to fill in the rest. That way, the reader truly becomes engaged in the process."What an intriguing concept! 
      Here are a few samples:

Tara Deal      "Engagement"          
          The dry cleaner offers me a discount on the wedding dress that's          
          been hanging in his window for six months.
William J. Brazill     "Art Alone Endures"
          The Art League had a competition for artists to depict the future. By                 accident Bogdan included a blank canvas among his submissions.                   It won.
Ken Bruen     "Noir Surprise"
          He took her by surprise and she, she took him for all he was worth.

Check out How To Create Hint Fiction for writing tips on this short fiction style. I hope I've intrigued you to take on the challenge, and the chance to enter hint fiction writing contests.
      Let me know how you fare.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Intriguing Resources

Because I have known the agonies of thirst, I would dig a well so that others might drink.   
                                                                                       Ernest Thompson Seton

     I don't know anything about everything. I do know I need big-time help along the way. Along that way is personal power and growth that comes from the hunt, search, and exploration for nuggets of information. Why? Because curiosity can uncover nuggets of uncommon knowledge that when sewn into the fabric of many writing genres could be enough to encourage a reader to read for more juicy morsels, to finish a book or poem to its end, and then want more.
     My library shelves are peppered with books containing unexpected pleasures and wonderful stuff––tips, insights, do's, don'ts; tidbits of history, intrigue, geography, culture, reference, compassion; and, above all they delight, inspire, and prove themselves useful in many ways if even for just a casual read.
     Following Mr. Seton's words, I share some books from my well so that [you, too,] might drink:

11,002 Things To Be Miserable About        Stories in Stone           
A Dictionary of Catch Phrases                     Straight From the Fridge, Dad
Best Book of Useless Information Ever
Book of Numbers                                         The Art of the Bookplate
Book of Poisons                                           The Pop Vocabulary Book
Dictionary of Idioms                                     The Quotable Writer
Dictionary of Theories                                  Watkins Dictionary of Saints
Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary        Think You're the Only One?
"Don't Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats"         Watching Baseball Smarter
Dream Dictionary From A to Z                     What's the Difference?
Iverne's Stage & Screen Trivia                     Who's Who In Rock & Roll
Metaphors Dictionary                                    Word Histories
Nom de Plume                                            
In the spirt of sharing at the beginning of this new year, do you have any book with intriguing and fun information?