Sunday, April 26, 2009

Old vs. New (poetry)

The question has been posed do I prefer "old" poetry (before 1950).

Well, the answer to the question lies in what is being termed "poetry".

For most of what is studied or discussed, I prefer "old" poetry. Some of my favorite poets include Euripides, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. With all of these poets it is more their take on the absurdities of human behavior that draws me to their work.

Which brings me to my all-time favorite poet, OgdenNash, who himself was a master of the absurd. Of course, it can be argued that Dr. Seuss writes in a similar vein, so he is on my list as well.

Now, with that being said, should we include lyric as poetry, I would say that there are songs which speak to me across the eras. There is often a timelessness that can be found and applied to current points in our lives, no matter when the piece was written.

The uses of poetry

Without a doubt, there are times that using poetry to convey sentiment is much more effective than using prose.

Poetry allows more emphasis on the feelings and thoughts behind the words that could be lost if simply written out as prose. Poetry presents the emotions and speaks to the senses of the reader (or listener). By using poetry a writer can allow himself more freedom from the tight strictures of prose, even though both prose and poetry can portray the same message.

With prose, there seems to be a greater chance that the message that the writer is speaking of can get lost. Poetry stands out due to the style or format, allowing for emphasis if necessary. There are entire stories and books written in poetry format that allows the writer to tell a story in what is usually perceived as a prose format. The works of author Sonia Sones are good examples of how poetry can be juxtaposed into a traditional prose format.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"The time of my life..."

A lifetime ago, when I first fell in love with my "first love" we shared a love of music. The musical styles in the 1980's were quite eclectic, just as they are now I suppose, and we covered the gambit.
I think that was when I first learned that I fit music to my mood, since we were surrounded by music while at work and while just hanging out either by ourselves or with other friends.

When we first began dating the movie Dirty Dancing has just been released. Our song became the love theme from the movie, "I've Had the Time of My Life" sung by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes.

Even now, more than 20 years later, when I hear that song I think of that time in my life. And at that point in time, I was having the time of my life. We were teenagers thinking we were adults- and we were in a number of ways, but there was still so much we didn't know.

We spent about 2 and a half years together as a couple, then eventually grew apart and went on to date and marry other people. Ironically, or not, a couple of years ago we re-connected via some mutual friends and we are now once again friends. There is a sweetness to our friendship, which I think is only a product of all of the years between then and now. Since neither of us married people who "knew us then" it is a blessing (and occasionally a curse) to have someone who really does know a lot of your silly, teenage secrets & fears.

But no matter what, I know I have the love of a real friend (even after all this time) and I owe a lot to him and that time in my life.

Lyrics- "I've Had the Time of My Life"
composed by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, & Donald Markowitz
performed by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
from the movie, Dirty Dancing

Boy: Now I've had the time of my life
No I never felt like this before
Yes I swear it's the truth
and I owe it all to you

Girl: 'Cause I've had the time of my life
and I owe it all to you

Boy: I've been waiting for so long
Now I've finally found someone
To stand by me

Girl: We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasy

Both: Now with passion in our eyes
There's no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other's hand
'Cause we seem to understand the urgency

Boy: just remember

Girl: You're the one thing

Boy: I can't get enough of

Girl: So I'll tell you something

Both:This could be love because

Both: I've had the time of my life
No I never felt this way before
Yes I swear it's the truth
And I owe it all to you

Girl: With my body and soul
I want you more than you'll ever know

Boy: So we'll just let it go
Don't be afraid to lose control

Girl: Yes I know whats on your mind
When you say:
"Stay with me tonight."

Boy: Just remember
You're the one thing

Girl: I can't get enough of

Boy: So I'll tell you something

Both: This could be love because

Both: (CHORUS)

Both: 'Cause I had the time of my life
And I've searched through every open door
Till I've found the truth
and I owe it all to you


Boy: Now I've had the time of my life
No I never felt this way before

(Girl: Never Felt this way)

Boy: Yes I swear it's the truth
and I owe it all to you

Both: (CHORUS)

Both: 'Cause I had the time of my life
And I've searched through every open door
Till I've found the truth
and I owe it all to you

The poetry of memories

I can not recall the first poem I ever heard. This is especially true when you take into account that we are surrounded by poetry from birth forward.

I do have memories involving forms of poetry. One is singing the rhyme "Knick knack, paddywhack" with my father on the way to school when I was in kindergarten.

Another "poem", though it was actually a song, that I have memories of is the song "Delta Dawn" by Tanya Tucker. I knew all the words to the song and would sing it at the top of my lungs while swinging on the swing set in the backyard.

Overall, I while I do tend to mark moments with music, I've never really related the music to poetry per se. I do not feel a connection to most poetry- not all, just some. And with that being said two of my all-time favorite poets are Ogden Nash & Dr. Seuss.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Brave new world or hopelessness?

In Ayn Rand's novel Anthem a cataclysmic "war" occurred which allowed the Councils to then set up the new society and government in such a way as to eliminate individuality completely. The most prudent way to both isolate and integrate people was to guide them from birth with no emotional contact at all. By eliminating emotion first, they then moved on to keeping the sexes strictly divided and as men and women grew to adulthood their every thought and movement was constantly monitored.

For such a drastic shift to occur in modern America, it would again have to take place following an event just as the magnitude of whatever set the stage in Rand's Anthem. The main reason it would be most difficult to perpetrate such a change would be the sheer amount of information and people in the world today. It would be necessary for only a select few to "survive"- those chosen as leaders or worthy, so to speak. Just the magnitude of curbing free will and thought on that scale now is beyond comprehensible.

On the other hand, the scenario set up in the movie version of Allan Moore's V for Vendetta has a much more plausible outcome. This is because the fascist government does not care if the people remember a time prior to their iron-fisted control, they simply remove whatever obstacles are placed in their path. In the view of the government in V for Vendetta, the people, or society, have given them a mandate by willingly relinquish their rights in return for safety- or a presumed safety- in spite of the fact that the one the people need protecting from is the government itself.

Fascism in the Future?

Once upon a time, I would have never believed that the U.S. would succumb to the possibility of having a fascist government- particularly since we as a nation have been one of the main fighters against the spread of such evil and have supported countless countries overcome their own dark pasts.

However, events in recent months make me wary and afraid that we are on the cusp of just such a happening here in the United States- and it breaks my heart.

I can trace my ancestry back to 1540 when they first arrived in Virginia seeking a new life. A life free from oppression, a life of opportunity, and a life to pass along to future generations.

Since those first settlers, just on that branch of my family tree, I have had family members who fought in every major military (and plenty of non-wartime service as well) up to the present War on Terror. (And yes, I know that is no longer the official terminology, but that just goes further to support my fears).

The one's who came before me willingly sacrificed everything they had in the name of freedom, yet now people seem to be sacrificing freedom for things they are too lazy to provide for themselves. This is the same scenario as in the movie V for Vendetta, where the people are lulled into a nanny-state, that the government knows best.

I know there are many grassroots movements gaining momentum across the country- to which I exclaim, "Hallelujah!!!" Truly, all is not yet lost- and that gives me hope to keep my fears at bay for another day.

I fervently believe that in the end, should we slide into a fascist state, it will be short-lived, though sometimes you have to lose everything to truly appreciate what you have.

So, I pray.