Sunday, 31 July 2011

Relaxed pronunciation

We don't always say all our words perfectly clearly. Per-fect-ly clear-ly. And yet when we count stresses writing poetry that is often just how we think. And count. Yet syllables of common words are slurred together. And this is almost always present in normal speech, in all natural languages.

Some styles of delivery, like auction chant, use this technique for effect.  Here the techniques of slurring filler words to make multiple filler word phrases is a key element. It appears that the auctioneer is talking fast, and this in turn generates excitement and anxiety (that their offer will be accepted or be in time) among the bidding crowd.

You can hear relaxed pronunciation in various singing styles too: current Vocoder use comes to mind. The effect of relaxed pronunciation countering a stressed line when reading is worth exploring too. A similar effect to an acoustic rendering of a line or two in the middle of a Led Zeppelin track.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


That Thoreau guy was lucky to live in a wood but have a bit of money put by.

Walden Thoreau.jpg

Green woodpeckers

I have been over in a wood in the west of the Borders. It is private. A private space in an otherwise land of open walking. In Scotland, you have the right of way. Unless specifically told not to. Here you are told not to.

I have been living in the wood for the past few weeks. They know me in the pub even. It has been relatively easy to keep clean and tidy. I have surprised myself.

I have been waiting for green woodpeckers.

They are a large bird. And they live in this wood in numbers. You can hear their cry going from tree to tree. And in quite open places, you think you must see them. But I haven't.

Just the laughing cry that gives their old name of yaffle.

What makes the wood so attractive to them (and me) is the leas within it. Open clearings, mown flat, and surrounded by wild geranium, foxgloves still out in shady places, shot dog's mercury and russian grass and ragwort that has stolen in from the surrounding fields. The deer, whom I encounter often, keep the centre of the clearings green and short like a lawn. It is like a garden.

And I expect the woodpeckers. They like to ground feed I know.

I have met people on the road who have seen them close by. But whatever glade I choose, the ash tree, the newty pond, the balsam. The laughing cry comes from elsewhere.

I have become light and clean waiting for them. I have surprised myself.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Wombats of Bundanon launch Sydney Australia 3rd August 2011

3 books to be launched at books to be held at the Friend in Hand pub, 58 Cowper St, Glebe, Sydney at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 3rd August

  1. Rae Desmond Jones' Decline and Fall
  2. Kit Kelen's China Years
  3. and a bilingual English-Chinese anthology of 20 Australian poets Wombats of Bundanon including Chinese poet translators Chris Song Zijiang, Iris Fan Xing and Debby Sou Vai Keng and work by Rae and Kit and Anna Couani, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Pam Brown, Adam Aitken, Andy Kissane, John Bennett, Martin Langford, Philip Salom, James Stewart, Myron Lysenko, Chris Mansell, John Tranter, Les Wicks, S.K.Kelen, Ron Pretty, Clive Ralfe, John Mateer, Beth Spencer and Carol Jenkins

You can eat at the pub eatery for $10 from 6pm onwards.

More on the Bundanon Trust here

The book was also launched in Macao, China where its editor Kit Kelen is based and you can contact him on Facebook if you want to buy a copy.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Poet and geek: Pooja Mittal

Pooja Mittal's book Subliminal dust (Odyssey books) explores layers of silence through accumulated semantic shifts and details. She was born in Nigeria in 1983, of Indian parents. Brought up there until the age of ten, she considers Nigeria her first country. After being sent to school briefly in India, she moved to New Zealand in 1995. She is now a postgraduate student at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, where she is completing a Masters degree in English Literature under an Australian Postgraduate Award.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Nabati poetry contest in UAE

The competition will exhibit artistic images in three categories:

  • the most beautiful Nabati poem in describing the bird (falcon),
  • the most beautiful Nabati poem in describing Mignas (hunting)
  • and the most beautiful Nabati poem which discusses loss of the bird.

The participating poems must be submitted via e-mail to . The total value of the prizes is 135,000 UAE dirhams. The winner in every category gets an AED of 20,000, while the runner up gets AED 15,000 and third place finalist receiving AED 10,000. The Exhibition's High Organizing Committee also grants the winners appreciation certificates. Deadline is September 7th 2011. The competition is meant for poets of Gulf Cooperation Council nations and Arab Nabati poets.

More on the poetry contest here:

Sunday, 17 July 2011

That pesty word

John Hollander talked of the narrow strip being a formatting choice for free verse but how much is our line length influenced by our choice of writing medium? The thin note pad, the mobile phone, the text editor that insists on capital letters: are they shaping our poetry more than our own choices.

  1. Try taking a piece of paper a really big one, lining paper for the wall is ideal
  2. But a wall itself is another solution
  3. Try writing and find out where you naturally stop
  4. Think Walt Whitman

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Cognitive maps

Cognitive maps are a way of remembering things that poets often find useful.In fact, it could be argued that the very act of being a poet is in some way underpinned by the ability to cognitively map. Poets (as Wordsworth pointed out) use the inner eye to build  and add spatial knowledge, in order to visualize images and reduce cognitive load. This  method adds to our ability to recall and learn information.

The oldest known formal method of using spatial locations to remember data is the "method of loci". Used once by Roman rhetoric students (using a Greek system) when memorizing speeches. You will have heard of this one - in some ways it is like a platform game. You memorize the appearance of a physical location (for example, the sequence of rooms in a building). When a list of words, for example, needs to be memorized, You just put an object representing that word in one of imagined locations. To recall the list, the learner mentally walks through the rooms, noticing the objects placed there in virtual imagination.

Poets can help themselves by learning this method because it enables them to write on the move in their head; and many other tasks beside. Not least declamation - something I have never been able to get my head round.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Contributor position available are seeking a new contributor to add to our existing team of bloggers.

Are you a poet and geek? Can you enhance our global poetry perspective? Do you share our sense of humour?

If the answer to these questions is yes, send us a sample blog post of 250 words or less. We will publish the best and pick our new contributor.

We look forward to hearing from you in the next couple of weeks or so. Deadline is 30th July 2011.

Big two-hearted river

The ground rose, wooded and sandy, to overlook the meadow, the stretch of river and the swamp. Nick dropped his pack and his rodcase and looked for a level piece of ground. He was very hungry and he wanted to make his camp before he cooked. Between two jackpines, the ground was quite level. He took the axe out of the pack and chopped out two projecting roots. That levelled a piece of ground large enough to sleep on. He smoothed out the sandy soil with his hand and pulled all the sweet fern bushes by their roots. His hand smelled good from the sweet fern. He smoothed the uprooted earth. He did not want anything making lumps under the blankets. When he had the ground smooth, he spread his three blankets. One he folded double, next to the ground. The other two he spread on top.

With the axe he slit off a bright slab of pine from one of the stumps and split it into pegs for the tent. He wanted them long and solid to hold in the ground. With the tent unpacked and spread on the ground, the pack, leaning against a jack-pine, looked much smaller. Nick tied the rope that served the tent for a ridge-pole to the trunk of one of the pine trees and pulled the tent up off the ground with the other end of the rope and tied it to the other pine. The tent hung on the rope like a canvas blanket on a clothes line. Nick poked a pole he had cut up under the back peak of the canvas and then made it a tent by pegging out the sides. He pegged the sides out taut and drove the pegs, hitting them down into the ground with the flat of the axe until the rope loops were buried and the canvas was drum tight.

Across the open mouth of the tent Nick fixed cheese cloth to keep out mosquitoes. He crawled inside under the mosquito bar with various things from the pack to put at the head of the bed under the slant of the canvas. Inside the tent the light came through the brown canvas. It smelled pleasantly of canvas. Already there was something mysterious and homelike. Nick was happy as he crawled inside the tent. He had not been unhappy all day. This was different though. Now things were done. He had made his camp.

When I first read this piece by Hemingway, I was a novice teacher. I always remembered the character Nick as a young boy but he seems much older now.

Hemingway wrote the story in 1925 after he had experienced the First World War in Europe and to me it reads as a story of recovery. But above all it is the best description of setting a camp up right. If only I could emulate that.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Aktuelle Architektur der Kultur Berlin 14th July 2011

AADK (AADK Berlin Gbr) presents AADKunexpected: varied projects (performance, music, live- sound and visual-installations, exhibition, poetry) around Berlin. Something for the holidays...

More information here on AADK and Jochen Arbeit:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Salvador Novo tweet poetry

Salvador Novo was born in Mexico City in 1904, and died in 1974. He was the founder, together with Xavier Villaurrutia, of the magazines Ulises (1927) y Contemporáneos (1928), and actively participated in the early twentieth century revival of Mexican literature. 

Tema de Amor

Dentro de estos cuatro muros
pretendí ocultar mi dicha:
Pero el fruto, pero el aire
¿cómo me los guardaría?

Hora mejor que pospuse,
voces que eran para mí,
camino que no elegí
destino que no dispuse;
¡cómo os volvisteis oscuros!
¡qué amargo vuestro sabor
cuando nos encerró mi amor
dentro de estos cuatro muros!

Entre tu aurora y mi ocaso
el Tiempo desaparecía
y era nuestra y era mía
sangre, labio, vino y vaso.

En perdurar se encapricha
mi sombra junto a tu luz
y bajo negro capuz
pretendí ocultar mi dicha.
Pero el fruto, pero el aire,
pero el Tiempo que no fluya,
pero la presencia tuya
fuerte, joven, dulce, grande;
sangre tuya en vena mía,
lazos a instantes maduros,
dentro de estos cuatro muros
cómo me los guardaría?

Theme of love

Within these four walls
I tried to hide my happiness:
But the fruit, but the air
how could I keep them?

The better hour postponed,
voices that were for me, 
the path I did not choose
destiny that I did not fix;
how dark you turned!
how hard to swallow
when my love locked us
within four walls!

Between your dawn and my death
time disappeared
and she was ours and she was mine
blood, lip, wine and glass. 

In lasting glamour
my shade next to your light
and under your black hood
I tried to hide my happiness.
But the fruit, but the air,
but time does not flow,
but your presence
hard, young, sweet, immense;
your blood in my vein,
bends to consider,
within these four walls
how could I keep them?

More information on Salvador Novo can be found here:

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Super highway sound art Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik was a sound and video artist born in Korea in 1932 who worked in America and Germany. A global artist, he is often said to be the first video artist. He also coined the term super highway in 1974; one of the first to do so. His last works centred on our fragmentary response to the internet. He died in 2006.

He said that life is half natural and half technological. "Half-and-half is good. You cannot deny that high-tech is progress. We need it for jobs. Yet if you make only high-tech, you make war. So we must have a strong human element to keep modesty and natural life". His works TV garden and Video fish seem to exemplify this feeling. You can view the latter here (It is labelled as the former btw.)

Samples of his work can be found here: and

More on Nam June Paik at

Friday, 1 July 2011

John Clare tweet poetry 02

From 1837 until 1841, Clare spent his first years in the Dr Matthew Allen's private asylum High Beech. He didn't stop his creative work. He re-wrote famous poems and sonnets by Lord Byron but skewed. A version of Child Harold became a lament for lost love, and Don Juan, A Poem a rant redolent of an ageing misogynistic dandy. 

"I'm John Clare now," the poet claimed to a newspaper editor, "I was Byron and Shakespeare formerly." 

The full poem:

In Hilly-wood

How sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs,
Upon an ashen stoven pillowing me;
Faintly are heard the ploughmen at their ploughs,
But not an eye can find its way to see.
The sunbeams scarce molest me with a smile,
So thick the leafy armies gather round;
And where they do, the breeze blows cool the while,
Their leafy shadows dancing on the ground.
Full many a flower, too, wishing to be seen,
Perks up its head the hiding grass between.-
In mid-wood silence, thus, how sweet to be;
Where all the noises, that on peace intrude,
Come from the chittering cricket, bird, and bee,
Whose songs have charms to sweeten solitude.

More John Clare tweet poetry: