Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sonnet Sunday: Spenser

A contemporary of Shakespeare, he also wrote in the Elizabethan form of sonnet.
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize!
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eek my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name;
Where, whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.

A always feel free to comment on this poem or share a favorite of your own.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sylvia Plath

This comes a bit late, but I'd also like to recognize Sylvia Plath, the 47th anniversary of her death was on February 11. She's one of my favorite American poets and The Bell Jar changed my life when I read it at age 15. Though I have a huge pile of books to be read, I've been wanting to reread it.
Two of my favorite Plath poems are "Mad Girl's Love Song" and "Death & Co." I highly recommend them. Her poetry in her final volume, Ariel, are disturbing but full of lush imagery. In spite of that, I find their rhythm strangely soothing...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Keats' Death Day

If my math is correct, John Keats, author of one of my favorite sonnets ("Ode to a Nightingale") and considered by many to be the foremost romantic poet, died today 189 years ago at the tender age of twenty one.
A new film called Bright Star chronicles the last few years of his life mingling poetry with the dialogue and artistry with the scenic elements. It's a beautiful love story with stellar performances. I wrote a review of it for the college paper, but I'm not sure if I can reproduce it here. I was reading some information about "self plagiarism" the other day, so I am trying to proceed with care.
Nonetheless, I've been thinking about the young poet today and wondering what poetic peaks he might have scaled had he lived a little longer.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sonnet Sunday: Rossetti

An experiemental sonnet. It starts out in the same form as last week's sonnet (a Petrarchan or Italian sonnet) but shifts out of scheme for the last few lines emphasizing them especially.
The curtains were half drawn, the floor was swept
And strewn with rushes, rosemary and may
Lay thick upon the bed on which I lay,
Where through the lattice ivy-shadows crept.
He leaned above me, thinking that I slept
And could not hear him; but I heard him say:
"Poor child, poor child:" and as he turned away
Came a deep silence, and I knew he wept.
He did not touch the shroud, or raise the fold
That hid my face, or take my hand in his,
Or ruffle the smooth pillows for my head:
He did not love me living; but once dead
He pitied me; and very sweet it is
To know he still is warm though I am cold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Literary Crushes: Shakespeare

I posed the very philosophical question: "What Shakespearean character would you choose as a life partner?" to some of my friends yesterday.
"McDuff, I'd help him get over the dead wife and children," one said.
"I don't know, that's really weird. Definitely not Romeo or Hamlet, they're too emo, maybe Benvolio, he has some sense and he doesn't give up on Romeo," said another.
In the end I couldn't choose between Prince Hal of Henry IV (1&2) and Henry V or Edgar of King Lear. Number one, they both have castles, and I love castles. Hal is a bit of a wild child that settles down and accepts responsibility when he needs to, but proves himself a strong warrior and a caring lover to the French Princess. Edgar is a good boy all around, intelligent, compassionate and forgiving, but also has the guts to challenge his half brother and the skill to emerge victorious.
Who would be your ideal Shakespearean mate?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: Lady Pyrate

Lady Pyrate by Amy Marcoski follows the story of a young woman named Morgan Black. She lost her parents at sea when she was eleven and has lived alone by the docks for many years enjoyng the stories of sailors. When a family friends suggests a trip abroad Morgan has no idea she will never make it to her destination. Her ship is beset upon by a crew of pirates captained by the mysterious Erek Roberts who discovers a secret about his captive's past that paves the way to his future.
This story is full of memorable characters and fun scenes. I believe every woman reading it can relate to Morgan and will long to set sail with Captain Roberts herself by the end of the book. The narrative is not very eloquent and holds alot of repition that would work better cinematically, but still, one finds that they can't wait to find out what happens next and when the characters will realize what the audience already knows (great use of dramatic irony).
So, no, perhaps it is not pulitzer prize material, but it is a great read for anyone that loves a good pirate adventure. It's plot has similiarities to films such as the first Pirates of the Carribean and Cutthroat Island. If you are a fan of those films you will probably find a lot to love in Lady Pyrate. As I said, the novel has elements that feel cinematic, so maybe a studio will pick it up someday, I would be interested in watching an adaptation. Visit the author's website to read excerpts of her writing and find the promise of sequels to this novel here.

This is my book with a title (lady) in the title for "What's in a Name? Challenge."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Apologies

I did not do Sonnet Sunday yesterday. No, this was not due to a lack of moral fiber, I did not allow myself to lose interest after only a few weeks. I just thought it would be a complete cliche to post a sonnet on Valentine's Day. True, I probably should have dropped by to remind everyone that an encore presentation of the adorable Northanger Abbey (2007) was on Masterpiece Classic last night, and The Jane Austen Book Club was on Lifetime. It was a night full of Austen.
In my defense, I have been a bit ill and this is the first time I've been on a computer in two days.
This coming week may prove to be quite busy and stressful, but I'll drop by again soon (I hope).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Literary Crush: Dead Edition

Sorry I've been neglectful most of the week. I thought it would be nice to post all of my dead and fictional literary crushes one at a time.
Today it's Geoffrey Chaucer. Sometimes called the Father of English Literature, he was anything but stuffy. His sense of humor and modern ideas of class and morality make him the kind of guy you would love whispering a running commentary in your ear at a cocktail party. The fact that Paul Bettany portrayed him in a fantastically charismatic way in A Knight's Tale back in 2001 helps add to his appeal as well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Conclusion of Emma: Part 3 review

Although I should be working on review of scholarship for a class Wednesday, I've taken a break to review the final part of the new miniseries adaptation of Emma.
Though, it was good to see everything summed up, my overall opinion of the finale was that it was a bit obviously done. It seemed that the BBC was afraid that viewers wouldn't be able to keep up with the ~incredible plot twists~ and ~character revelations~. So, they insisted on showing flash backs recounting every clue that lead to those realizations in the story. It feels like about a third of the last episode was flash back. The point of a surprise ending (which indeed it might have been for those unfamiliar with the story) is that all of a sudden everything comes together and the audience then thinks back to all the hints laced through the tale and it makes sense. In fact, the ability to have that remembrance on one's own can be the most satisfying part of watching a program. Thus, it pains me to have that taken away. If the plot is solid enough in the adaptation, there is no need for such a heavy handed conclusion.
On the bright side, Michael Gambon's portrayal of Mr. Woodhouse moves the character out of the realm of comic and makes him a sympatheitc old man very gracefully. Laura Pyper was also impressive as the long suffering Jane Fairfax. Though Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller find their chemistry eventually, they seem too close in age and Garai has moments of awkwardness in her physicality (intentional or not I can't be sure) that almost seem like she's uncomfortable in her costumes.
Still, it contains many solid performances and has incredible visual appeal. It may be a great way to draw people into the characters and encourage them to read the book. I would grade the production a B overall.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sonnet Sunday: Browning

Today a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a poet I should pay more attention to.
Can it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years
Re-sighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live
For all thy adjurations? O my fears,
That this can scarce be right! We are not peers,
So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,
That givers of such gifts as mine are, must
Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!
I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love--which were unjust.
Beloved, I only love thee! let it pass.

As always, feel free to contribute a sonnet you wrote or you love.
Also, I must note that many will see that this poem has a different rhyme scheme than the previous two sonnets posted. This is what is known as a Petrarchan sonnet as opposed to the classic Elizabethan sonnet that Shakespeare is famous for.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Here's where I whinge about how hard writing is...

I am having a terrible time right now. I finally started sketching out a new story, but don't think it has enough meat to actually go anywhere. Perhaps I've been reading too many 'advice to writers' things that make me question the style I've been using. There is also something very frustrating about realizing that there are certain patterns in all of your stories, so all the ideas you've been having are just variations on a theme. Maybe it seems like a dozen stories, but boils down to only one or two.
I need to reboot or something. The only story I have any good ideas for is my Script Frenzy contribution. Even so, I can't start that until April and am still figuring out the structure of it anyway.
Maybe it's time I finally revisit my NaNo? I dread that thought, there aren't enough Post-it notes in the world for me to mark all the changes that must be made.
Maybe novels are not my style. I always get caught up with more trouble in them than anything else I write.
Sorry for the self indulgence. I had nothing else to do today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Long for: Spring

I took a walk today beneath naked trees with shreddy bark and the sky was almost white. If it had been warmer and drier I would have laid beneath the trees for a bit and enjoyed the smell of a nearby cluster of evergreens. Alas, it was not warm and dry. For some reason I feel compelled to be in nature, but the weather doesn't quite jive with that impulse currently.
The photo is a few days old but the conditions haven't changed much.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

I almost forgot, Tuesdays are a bit crazy; work, newspaper nonsense, rehearsals. Even though I am in the midst of two novels, I have been mostly reading poems by Keats and short stories by Hemingway the past few days.

"Everything tastes of liorice. Especially all the things you've waited so long for, like absinthe."
-The girl, "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway

"...I have been half in love with easeful death,
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath...."
-Stanza VI of "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats

There will be a review of Bright Star as well as another novel for my What's in a Name? Challenge next week.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Continuing Adventures of Emma: Review Part 2

Only one part to go of the new Emma adaptation on PBS (though, I'm given to understand many have already watched it from various web sources- the first two sections are available for veiwing on The highlight of this part was the scene at the dance. It was probably the best rendering of that sequence I have ever seen- even including a parody I once wrote called "Dirty Dancing: 19th Century Nights". I digress. The music was fantastic and the interweaving plots all happening at the gathering were handled very well.
Finally, Knightley is starting to come alive in terms of his chemistry with Emma. Johnny Lee Miller is much better in the part than I had expected and Romola Garai brings a liveliness to Emma that reminds one just how young and inexperienced she is, in spite of her wit and pride. Louise Dylan is giving a very sympathetic portrayal of Harriet Smith, a girl always reminded of her inferior position, but truly one of the kindest souls one could meet.
The pacing of this section was superior to the previous parts shown last Sunday and it felt less Dickensian to me. I look forward to the conclusion next week.
Also, ironically, after Emma went off I flipped the channel and Lost in Austen was on Ovation (there is an actor in common: Christina Cole). It's terribly fluffy brain candy that ravages Jane Austen and gives her fans a bit of a bad name, but I couldn't sleep, so of course I watched an episode. Or two.