The Monday Poem: Which is True?

Charles Baudelaire
WHICH IS TRUE?
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire

by Charles Baudelaire

I knew one Benedicta who filled earth and air with the ideal; and from whose eyes men learnt the desire of greatness, of beauty, of glory, and of all whereby we believe in immortality.

But this miraculous child was too beautiful to live long; and she died only a few days after I had come, to know her, and I buried her with my own hands, one day when Spring shook out her censer in the graveyards. I buried her with my own hands, shut down into a coffin of wood, perfumed and incorruptible like Indian caskets.

And as I still gazed at the place where I had laid away my treasure, I saw all at once a little person singularly like the deceased, who trampled on the fresh soil with a strange and hysterical violence, and said, shrieking with laughter: “Look at me! I am the real Benedicta! a pretty sort of baggage I am! And to punish you for your blindness and folly you shall love me just as I am!”

But I was furious, and I answered: “No! no! no!” And to add more emphasis to my refusal I stamped on the ground so violently with my foot that my leg sank up to the knee in the earth of the new grave; and now, like a wolf caught in a trap, I remain fastened, perhaps for ever, to the grave of the ideal.

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5 Quotes from the Gormenghast Trilogy

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Let’s have some quotes from Mervyn Peake’s beautifully disturbing Gormenghast trilogy. I love the books and, unlike many, I also really enjoyed the BBC adaptation, but there are rumors that Neil Gaiman is going to have a crack at his own TV version!

 

 

Lady Gertrude Groane, by Braen on DeviantArt
Lady Gertrude Groane, by Braen on DeviantArt

1. “He had no longer any need for home, for he carried his Gormenghast within him. All that he sought was jostling within himself. He had grown up. What a boy had set out to seek a man had found, found by the act of living.” Mervyn Peake.

Peake's notebook for Gormenghast, bearing his own illustrations
Peake’s notebook for Gormenghast, bearing his own illustrations

2. “Never having had either positive cruelty or kindness shown to her by her parents, but only an indifference, she was not conscious of what it was that she missed—affection.” Titus Groan, Chapter 37 “The Grotto”

3.

Mervyn Peake
Mervyn Peake

4. ““She thinks she’s a lady.” And then he grinned until the very lake seemed to be in danger of engulfment. “Oh, dear!” the poor thing. Tries so hard, and the more she tries, the less she is. Ha! ha! ha! Take it from me, Fuchsia dear, The only ladies are those to whom the idea of whether they are or not never occurs. Her blood’s all right—Irma’s—same as mine, ha, ha, ha! but it doesn’t go by blood. It’s equipoise, my Gipsy, equipoise that does it—with a bucketful of tolerance thrown in.” Titus Groan, Chapter 65 “By Gormenghast Lake”

5. “Countless candles dribbled with hot wax, and their flames, like little flags, fluttered in the unchartered currents of air. Thousands of lamps, naked, or shuttered behind coloured glass, burned with their glows of purple, amber, grass-green, blue, blood red and even grey. The walls of Gormenghast were like the walls of paradise or like the walls of an inferno. The colours were devilish or angelical according to the colour of the mind that watched them. They swam, those walls, with the hues of hell, with the tints of Zion. The breasts of the plumaged seraphim; the scales of Satan.” Mervyn Peake

 

The Monday Poem – A Straight Line Runs Through It All

A Straight Line Runs Through It All

by Israfel Sivad

 

When first I looked upon the morning in its light,
I noticed the sky lit bright with your solar flare –
All that remains of the passion you sacrificed.

When, at a later date, I once more looked again,
you transformed, transmogrified into the demon
waiting patiently in my corner as I slept
alone awakening only unto nightmares.

You are one and the same, no matter what your form –
a trick learned in the ethereal heights of hell.
As a devil yourself, you cast the demons out
with your words like angelic palms caressing my pain.
You have hurt. You have healed. You have killed. You have judged.
When I lay on my side beneath the Temple Mount,
I gazed beyond through a crack in the masonry
to see you revealed in your holy glory
and know in truth… We are forever only One.

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A Straight Line Runs Through It All is from Israfel Sivad’s upcoming collection We Are The Underground. This is the first publication of the poem, so thank you very much to Israfel for sharing with Examining the Odd readers!

Check out my reviews of Israfel Sivad’s poetry collections and of his novel, The Adversary’s Good News. He also took part in a great author interview!

The Friday Film: Wakefield

Wakefield

Wakefield is a film about a man (Bryan Cranston) who abandons his family. The protagonist explores the issues of abandonment as well as other social problems.

Most people know Cranston from Breaking Bad (and those of us of a certain age, Malcolm in the Middle) and his character here is similar in that he’s really very unlikable, yet still fascinating to watch.

Wakefield (Cranston’s character) moves into the upstairs of his huge garage without his family knowing, and begins to spy on them. He starts to enjoy his new lifestyle, foraging for food in the neighbors’ bins and getting back to basics.

He goes from big-shot city man to homeless (ish) down and out. Wakefield sees the appeal of being unreachable by anyone, yet he’s still able to check up on those he cares about.

The Monday Poem: dogs by Pablo Picasso

This week’s poem is Picasso’s dogs. I hope it inspires you 🙂

dogs

by Pablo Picasso

dogs eat at the night
buried in the yard
they chase the moon in a pack
the white of their teeth
compared to stars

the windows close against them
iron bars in transparency

life closes against them

the morning will crush them to dust
with only the wind left
to stir them up


Born: 25 October 1881, Málaga, Spain
Died: 8 April 1973, Mougins, France
On view: Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago
Full name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso
Everything you can imagine is real.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
-info from Wikipedia


Picasso is most well-known for his visual art, particularly The Weeping Woman, Guernica, The Old Guitarist and Chicago Picasso.

The Monday Poem – The Lords of Maussane

The Lords Of Maussane – Poem by René Char

One after the other, they wished to predict a happy future for us,
With an eclipse in their image and all the anguish befitting us!
We disdained this equality,
Answered no to their assiduous words.
We followed the stony way the heart traced for us
Up to the plains of the air and the unique silence.
We made our demanding love bleed,
Our happiness wrestle each pebble.

They say at this moment that, beyond their vision,
The hail terrifies them, more than the snow of the dead!

rene_char

 

Author Interview: Israfel Sivad

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What cultural value do you see in writing?

In my opinion, writing is the foundation of human culture. As one of the earliest means human beings created to launch their thoughts into the future, there would be no cultures on this planet today without writing. However, writing is no longer the sole means of spreading stories and knowledge. With the 20th century advent of film and television, the idea of telling stories through writing is perhaps even the most archaic form of writing today. However, there’s a magic that still exists, for me at least, in a written story. I remember as a younger man thinking that I wanted to develop a form of writing that couldn’t translate to film, that had to be read to be understood. I wanted to expose what language alone is capable of being. It’s an internal experience rather than an external experience. That’s what I want to capitalize on in the stories I tell: the fact that they exist solely in the space between my mind and the reader’s. And therein, for me, lies the current cultural value of writing—that space between the writer’s mind and the reader’s and how it allows one person to comprehend another’s unmediated, unadulterated thoughts. There’s no actor to interpret. There’s no vision to see. There’s only one mind reaching out to another.

Well said, Israfel. I love a good film, but nothing beats the connection we get to a book and its author.

 

What was the hardest part of writing your books?

The hardest part of writing my books has always been getting the words to form themselves right on the paper. Stories come to me quite often and quite easily and relatively fully-formed. The act of sitting down to write is something I enjoy. I often put on music to keep myself still and simply stare at a blank computer screen or piece of paper until the words come out. However, getting those words shaped into the vision I want others to see, that’s a painstaking process. As I wrote many years ago in my poem “Break Through” published in my collection At the Side of the Road—“Words come too hard to mean nothing.”

Quite. I get a little put off when I read that an author has released seven books in a year. I want to read a craft, not a formula.

 

What inspires you?

My greatest inspiration over the years has always been my own memories. My muse is an internal one. I look back over my life and wonder if all the twists and turns really lead back to here, to this theme that recurs, that creeps into my head, that plays its twisted chords of gunfights and shootouts, of falling, laughing back into bed with someone I love tight in my arms. That’s from a poem of mine as well, “Saint Annie” in The Tree Outside My Window. I never thought of it as being a simple synopsis of what inspires me, but as I contemplate this question, I’m coming to believe it is.

I loved The Tree Outside My Window. Read my review here.

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How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I prefer reading physical books. They’re comforting. They remind me of childhood and running away from my daily cares, hiding in my bedroom from the rain outside. For me, ebooks don’t carry that nostalgia, but I believe they very well could for future generations. I also prefer my books to be read in print form for two reasons. First, I love the new covers coming out for the second editions of my works (and future first editions)—I only have three second editions currently available: The Tree Outside My Window, Indigo Glow and The Adversary’s Good News. I want these books to exist physically for people to hold and see. Second, a physical copy of my book is launched into the world. Who knows where it will land. Who knows who will discover it. As far as alternative vs. conventional publishing. I’ve never gone the conventional route. I’ve always enjoyed the control I exert over my product as a self-publisher. Friends of mine who have entered the traditional publishing world have rapidly lost control of their words. I’m very afraid of that. However, I’m also aware certain avenues are closed to me for marketing as a result. Personally, I feel it’s the writer’s choice how she wishes to proceed. Neither seems to me to be inherently superior to the other.

I agree, Israfel. I think it’s the author’s choice to publish in their preferred format(s). But, I love that I can lend a finished paperback to someone. I can read it in the bath without fear of the financial consequences. I can donate it to a charity shop and wonder where it will end up and who it will influence.

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What is your role in the writing community?

That’s an interesting question. As a young man, I would have said my role was to be the greatest writer in the English language of this day and age (laughs). However, today, I believe my role in the writing community is simply to expand genres, to push others to see that there is more we can do as authors. We don’t have to follow existing conventions. We can create new ones, new stories, new languages. To quote myself yet again, from the story “Catatonia” in Psychedelicizations, I want to write stories that a giant can fit in, to challenge artistic barriers and reveal how they can be overcome.

I’m surprised by this answer! I know that Israfel is active in the poetry community and works hard to promote/work with others, so I thought this would be his answer. I’m inspired by his big dreams though.

 

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

I think the most interesting book I’ve ever read is Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. It tells a powerful story in a fascinating manner. It’s thoroughly intriguing to me. I don’t understand it, and I don’t want to. I simply want to experience it again and again. I love the ideas of this book, the tone of this book and the language of this book.

Oo, I will look out for this.

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Where can we learn more about you?

The easiest place to learn more about me is by reading the books I’ve written. It’s the only place I’m truly comfortable revealing myself. And in reality, my books reveal more about me than I ever intended.

 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

The shortest amount of time I’ve ever worked on a book was a year. The longest was ten years. I don’t know if there’s an average amount of time. Different projects require different investments.

I think this comes across in the author‘s writing. It’s honed, it’s considered. It changes as a person changes over a period of years.

 

If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?

Well, since I’ve never made a living as an author, I’ve done a number of things to make money, everything from construction to copywriting. I think if I could choose any one thing to do for a living other than writing, it would be teaching philosophy, which I was setting myself up to do at one point in time. However, life didn’t unfold in that direction for me.

I hope that life allows Israfel to dedicate more time to his writing. The world needs authors like this!

 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like writing with the lights off.

Enough said.


I have reviewed Israfel Sivad‘s poetry books and his excellent novel, The Adversary’s Good News. View all of his books here.

The Monday Poem – An American to Mother England by H. P. Lovecraft

This week’s poem is H. P. Lovecraft’s An American to Mother England. I hope you enjoy it!

h-p-lovecraft-40102-1-402

An American to Mother England
By H. P. Lovecraft

England! My England! Can the surging sea
That lies between us tear my heart from thee?
Can distant birth and distant dwelling drain
Th’ ancestral blood that warms the loyal vein?
Isle of my Fathers! hear the filial song
Of him whose sources but to thee belong!
World-conquering Mother! by thy mighty hand
Was carv’d from savage wilds my native land:
Thy matchless sons the firm foundation laid;
Thy matchless arts the nascent nation made:
By thy just laws the young republic grew,
And thro’ thy greatness, kindred greatness knew:
What man that springs from thy untainted line
But sees Columbia’s virtues all as thine?
Whilst nameless multitudes upon our shore
From the dim corners of creation pour,
Whilst mongrel slaves crawl hither to partake
Of Saxon liberty they could not make,
From such an alien crew in grief I turn,
And for the mother’s voice of Britain burn.
England! Can aught remove the cherish’d chain
That binds my spirit to thy blest domain?
Can Revolution’s bitter precepts sway
The soul that must the ties of race obey?
Create a new Columbia if ye will;
The flesh that forms me is Britannic still!
Hail! oaken shades, and meads of dewy green,
So oft in sleep, yet ne’er in waking seen.
Peal out, ye ancient chimes, from vine-clad tow’r
Where pray’d my fathers in a vanish’d hour:
What countless years of rev’rence can ye claim
From bygone worshippers that bore my name!
Their forms are crumbling in the vaults around,
Whilst I, across the sea, but dream the sound.
Return, Sweet Vision! Let me glimpse again
The stone-built abbey, rising o’er the plain;
The neighb’ring village with its sun-show’r’d square;
The shaded mill-stream, and the forest fair,
The hedge-lin’d lane, that leads to rustic cot
Where sweet contentment is the peasant’s lot;
The mystic grove, by Druid wraiths possess’d,
The flow’ring fields, with fairy-castles blest:
And the old manor-house, sedate and dark,
Set in the shadows of the wooded park.
Can this be dreaming? Must my eyelids close
That I may catch the fragrance of the rose?
Is it in fancy that the midnight vale
Thrills with the warblings of the nightingale?
A golden moon bewitching radiance yields,
And England’s fairies trip o’er England’s fields.
England! Old England! in my love for thee
No dream is mine, but blessed memory;
Such haunting images and hidden fires
Course with the bounding blood of British sires:
From British bodies, minds, and souls I come,
And from them draw the vision of their home.
Awake, Columbia! scorn the vulgar age
That bids thee slight thy lordly heritage.
Let not the wide Atlantic’s wildest wave
Burst the blest bonds that fav’ring Nature gave:
Connecting surges ’twixt the nations run,
Our Saxon souls dissolving into one!