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Discography Q: What are the difficulties of putting music into poetry? A: Someone said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. There have been many attempts, from the s until now, to describe or even represent jazz music in verse. There are some anthologies of those poems and some wonderful fiction where it occurs i. That was an implicit question I had when I began my project of Discography. The difficulties are: first, how much biographical, musical, or historical information about jazz is required for a reader to enter the poem?
If it's too much, I could alienate the reader. Second, what are the distinctions between describing music and actually representing it? What are the differences between creating the recollection of an emotion and creating, in real time on the page, the emotion itself?
Third, are traditional methods of prosody pacing, rhyme, meter, enjambment, accents, stresses, syllables, diction, etc. Fifth, can I adequately express my enthusiasm for jazz? Sixth, how many ways, in terms of form and sound, can I explore problems ? Seventh, what does jazz have to do with me, as the writer, and with the other elements I want to include? A: The relationship between politics and poetry is extremely important. The moment a person sits down to make a poem, he is making a political statement.
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The Bush government has arranged the war in order to get re-elected, and I believe it is poets' responsibility to do something about it. The danger to poetry from the Bush government is bad tangibly in the form of reductions in arts and education funding, and is bad for poetry intangibly as well in the form of the demoralization of humanity here and abroad. Poetry must counter the Bush administration's sustained assault upon civil liberties, environmental protections, and generally everything poetry values: freedom of thought.
Poetry is also an American cultural export that may convince Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia that we are not all going to roll them under the meat grinder. Poetry is a model of how to live by virtue of what it is: making choices of some words over other words and being responsible for those choices. Q: What's the most difficult poem you have written and why? A: Always the poem I'm writing now if the most difficult one because it's unstable material.
I became interested in writing poetry after I was interested writing journalism. But journalism's supposed objective camera eye has been an important quality I want to bring to my poems. I also generally find free verse more difficult than formal poems, and poems about my real life more difficult than poems through a mask. Q: I noticed that you taught high school, how did that influence your poetry? A: The only way teaching high school influenced my poetry was by providing a paycheck, so I was able to eat and pay rent.
I've done lots of different jobs to support my writing, and that one lasted two years. I sometimes was able to get kids interested in poetry, either writing it or reading it, but that was like a bonus.
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I taught at an expensive private school and I found it difficult to deal with the kids' parents, who usually treated me badly-- with scorn and disdain-- and expected perfect A grades for everything. Rich Minimal Serif.
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I think the hybrid form does enhance the performance, though that might have more to do with rhythm than with combining genres. Genre distinctions are intended to offer formal limitations for writers, not to liberate them. Probably all poems will benefit from being read aloud. The body is an amplifier and the ear is an editor. Singer takes as his subjects music, jazz figures, and historical events. Series judge W. How do you own and authenticize the jazz effects i. I think particularly in the black community, jazz has always been important.
It probably has a slightly higher number of listeners in the black community than in the white, although the musicians there might have a mostly local reputation.
This bridge connects the speaker of the poems to the subject matter. Energy, the rhythmic expectation, affects line length and line break, but it also applies a pressure on the line. This tension creates a jazz feeling, and does more than traditional iambic measure. Ellington said that jazz is about choosing to be joyful in spite of conditions. A poem can be the best possible arrangement of language to express a particular moment. Its improvisatory movement, perhaps like jazz itself, is a subterfuge. Is it a conscious or subconscious deliberation?
Language is a kind of illusion that intimately links the reader and the writer. As a writer, I develop strategies to somehow bridge fantasy and reality. Maybe that is the best function of a subterfuge in a poem. Temperament is crucial to any musicality not just jazz.
How do you explore this via the written word? Interesting question. I think maybe a temperament of being playful and serious at the same time might be a key. What propels speed and puissance in your poems? Speed, or how fast or slow the information is delivered, is primarily controlled by line length and by punctuation. Puissance implies a kind of potency, strength, or force that might have to do with expectation and surprise.
There probably is a sexual dynamic to that in poems, because some expectations vis-a-vis tension are fulfilled and others not fulfilled. Lately I have been interested in achieving musicality and rhythmic interest in a very long line; to see how long a line can maintain music before it collapses. Interestingly, the difference between poetry and prose is the line break.