In the introductory statement the writers say this book is intended to answer those basic questions such as how does a sonnet work, what is a Sestina...moreIn the introductory statement the writers say this book is intended to answer those basic questions such as how does a sonnet work, what is a Sestina & what rules govern it, how many lines make up a Villanelle & what is it’s rhyme scheme? To do this they have traced the history of the various forms, in many cases back to the peasant origins and work songs of the countryside or the Balladeers who sung stories, spun the tales & spread the news through their communities and out to a wider audience. By answering these questions, by providing an overview of the major poetic forms, their history and the rules that they follow, bend or break, they hope to provide the reader with a key that will open the path to what will be a lifelong journey, with this book as a guide and map.
After the introduction, both editors state their case for poetry via their own personal experience, first as readers, discovering the art and on to the status they later achieved as poets in their own right, it’s this experience, insight and passion that stops this book being a dry academic exercise and makes it a suitable aid at what ever level you want to use it for, whether a university student or just someone wishing to understand more.
Crystal-clear water in a glistening vase. Yellow and Red roses. White light in the r...more The Poem of another Poetics
After Wallace Stevens
Crystal-clear water in a glistening vase. Yellow and Red roses. White light in the room, like snow. Fresh snow (it’s the end of winter) softly falling on the invented place. The afternoons are returning without sounds, without secrets, without impatient faces Round vase. Porcelain painted with roses. Yellow and red. The water – unruffled emptiness.
And still the water, the snow, once were enough to compose a new whiteness -- more necessary than the meaning of flowers blooming inside the cool memory of happiness. (Your ecstatic gaze confirms that imagination can lay bare the memory again and again).
The mind seeks to escape. This thought (the possibility of the specific metaphor) has been exhausted. The roses, the vase, did not exist. They do not exist. The words however keep falling – snowflakes of a real life in the margins of the poem.
In the foreword to this collection, Michael Longley discusses a recurring antithesis between presence and absence, that this collection “generates an obsessive imagery of whiteness and silence: the moon, snow, unmarked paper, bed sheets,” lines such as “ a white paradise / of all possibilities” and “white like snow in the room”. It is in this absence that the poet declares that “loves absence always wears the same face”, whether this refers to a lover, a beautiful women, the muse or poetry itself is not clear. Repeatedly, presence implies absence and vice versa.
By focussing and pinpointing the historical, political and cultural development that Japan went through in this period, (initially in response to its...moreBy focussing and pinpointing the historical, political and cultural development that Japan went through in this period, (initially in response to its sense of humiliation in the face of the so-called great powers of the western world), this book demonstrates how the nation freed itself from the unequal treaties imposed on it and how it successfully adopted the ideas and trappings of modernity and how with this success a new found national confidence soared. Whilst some sectors of society embraced the whole philosophy of modernity, that it came as a complete package, that in choosing the technical innovations that were abundant in the west, you also adopted the social manners and cultural practices, other sectors began to use this newfound confidence to challenge the notion that modernity and westernization had to mean the same thing. With this notion of Japan as a modern nation in its own right, the question shifted from what it meant to be “modern in a modern Japan” to what it meant to be Japanese. This question seem to take two paths, the first was something that could be identified as the romantic response – intellectuals, writers, artists looked to some past (imagined or otherwise) for some sense of what the “essence of Japaneseness” might be. Whether this was in some reinvention of bushido, or Shinto as a national religion and Emperor cult, or the rediscovery of a particular appreciation of a fragile shadowy beauty that characterised Japanese aesthetics. The second was how to confront this process of modernisation and asserted Japan’s superiority over western nations, which was in risk of being polluted and weakened under the guise of progress. This book takes these two standpoints and follows them into the twenty first century, through the historical figures, artists and writers, showing how this has affected Japans image in the rest of the world and its self image.
You are walking down a road, you take a turn, let’s say for examples sake, left, and carry on walking, gradually something, some feeling, starts to di...moreYou are walking down a road, you take a turn, let’s say for examples sake, left, and carry on walking, gradually something, some feeling, starts to disturb your equilibrium, you let it go, and continue walking but this feeling starts to grip, it’s as if something saurian is using your spine as a percussion instrument, there’s an eight millimetre drill bit slowly boring into the back of your skull turn by turn. You spin round tracing your route back with your eyes glancing off every surface, tracing every obstacle – it all looks the same, in the distance the traffic appears to flow as before, the sun is still shining, you about turn and face your intended route, willing whatever’s making you feel this way to show itself. Nothing does, to all intents and purpose this is just a route to your destination, it has the same cars, the same road furniture, the houses line up as regular as soldiers on parade, the same as elsewhere, the same curtain twitches as the same old lady turns from the window - and yet…….. . Somehow you’ve entered the universe of Alois Hotschnig, this is the rabbit hole and Alice is so far outside her comfort zone - it hurts. These nine tales have an interior logic of their own, like dreamscapes they inhabit that hinterland just outside our line of sight, just beyond our awakened selves and can easily trip over into a nightmare realm. Hotschnig comes over as a bored and decadent God playing a malevolent game of Sims*. .
This is one of those books, that when you’re reading it, you stop, turn it over in your hand as though looking for the trick, like some magic act, you...moreThis is one of those books, that when you’re reading it, you stop, turn it over in your hand as though looking for the trick, like some magic act, you saw it happen, you were real close, but ……? This book is including notes and woodcuts (Stevenson’s own) only 105 pages long and yet Alberto Manguel manage to pack in so much as it focuses on Robert Louis Stevenson’s last days dying of consumption on a tropical island. It plays with the idea of moral duality as in Stevenson's own Novella (Jekyll and Hyde), is Baker real or some Edward Hyde persona of Stevenson's allowed free reign whilst he slept. Also the writers attitude to the indigenous population as childlike innocents whose amoral existence was counterpoint to his 18th century Scottish Calvinist upbringing. That Alberto Manguel has managed to conjure up through Stevenson’s own Tales (The Beach of Falesa), letters and biography a beautiful little book that plays with many ideas and questions concerning sensuality and repression, waking and dreaming, plus the whole craft of writing itself. Like his mentor Jorge Luis Borges, Manguel seems to place his own reading centre stage in his writing, by which I mean his dominant subject matter are books themselves, not as some influence on his writing but as the subject of it. If I played the game of who I would invite to some fictitious dinner party, Alberto Manguel’ s name would be high on that list, as he appears to be the epitome of a representative of the Reading Life.
Without giving too much away, this through a series of bizarre tales and adventures, develops into a full blown sexual fetish, which follows him and...more Without giving too much away, this through a series of bizarre tales and adventures, develops into a full blown sexual fetish, which follows him and comes to dominate his life and his view of it, regardless of his ability as a warrior, what he becomes is as a servant to his warped appetites, all he does is in homage to that desire. This was one strange and yet strangely enjoyable tale, Tanizaki’s take on the idea of Samurai legends & their histories, is as though through a fairground mirror, it twists and contorts the classic traditions and the ideals of nobility.The tale bowls you along with the narrator more an old gossip in some surreal drama than a historian of worth. But the end result is a sly clever tale that for all its deviant nature is wonderful.
In Praise of Shadows is an essay on aesthetics by one of my favourite Japanese writers, it was originally published in 1933, with the English translat...moreIn Praise of Shadows is an essay on aesthetics by one of my favourite Japanese writers, it was originally published in 1933, with the English translation coming out in 1977. This is a tiny book of less than fifty pages, containing a foreword and an afterword, making the essay itself only forty-two pages long, which means it can be read in one sitting, although that would be defeating the point of it, this should be savoured, this book should be read and re-read, should be immersed in. Jun’ichiro Tanizaki discusses traditional Japanese aesthetics in contrast to the changes occurring in his country, or to be more accurate the westernisation of it. Through this essay he compares light & dark, stating that the West with it’s fundamental quest for progress, can be represented as a continuous search for greater light and clarity, whilst in contrast the Japanese path is through shade, that to appreciate Japanese art and literature, you need to understand it’s shadows and the subtle nuances perceived within them. By this method he goes on to explain how this can reach into every part of our lives from what we eat out of, to what our toilets should look like and how they should be perceived. In the afterword it says that one of the oldest and most deeply ingrained of Japanese attitudes to literary style, is that anything with to obvious a structure is contrivance, that to orderly an exposition falsifies the ruminations of the heart, that the truest representation of the searching mind is just to “Follow the Brush” this gives “In Praise of Shadows” a conversational tone, and doesn’t come across as an essay, it is more haphazard, as though you were following the thought process of a gifted writer.
This book started as a serialization in the magazine Shincho (Shinchosha Publishing Co, Ltd) in January 1965. Masuji Ibuse used historical records and...moreThis book started as a serialization in the magazine Shincho (Shinchosha Publishing Co, Ltd) in January 1965. Masuji Ibuse used historical records and the diaries of survivors to reconstruct the experience of the devastation caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Black Rain switches between the time & immediate aftermath of the bombing, covering the timeframe August the 6th to the 15th (1945) via the main protagonist, Shigematsu Shizuma’ s diary entries and the present (several years after).The book opens with Shigematsu’s concerns with his niece, Yasuko and her three failed marriage matches, the reason for which seems to be due to rumours about her health and whether she was exposed to the “Black Rain” fallout from the atomic bomb. In fact Shigematsu compiles a journal with the express aim of proving that she couldn’t have been exposed and thus didn’t have radiation sickness. We soon learn she has. * Although the translator John Bester, posits this book firmly within the tradition of the I-Novel (私小説 Shishōsetsu, Watakushi shōsetsu), the narrator is not Masuji Ibuse, but the primary protagonist Shigematsu, through whom we follow a period of his life as though it were laid out for our inspection – Shigematsu’s original reasoning for his journal is to prove his niece hadn’t come into contact with the black rain. By having Shigematsu write out his journal, Ibuse in a clever move, has used the I- Novel tradition to portray a realistic view of the narrator’s world, allowing us to perceive his life during the moment of the blast and the consequences that followed in the days, months and years after. Ibuse also shows us other viewpoints, by weaving them through Shigematsu’s tale, we learn of other survivors, the hibakusha*, whether family members, neighbours or other characters he meets on his journey and via their tales we learn more about this point, this ground zero that will be forever rooted deep in this nations psyche.