The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #7

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #7

Hello everyone! Have you all had a good Halloween weekend? I’ve been well and truly getting into the spirit of things, with lots of fancy dress all week. Therefore I thought it would be pretty apt to include one of my favourite Edgar Allen Poe poems – The Raven. I’m sure you all know this one, however if you haven’t come across it before I’ve included a couple of my favourite verses with a link to the full text online (purely because it is quite long!). This poem is  haunting  with the raven as the omen of death provoking fears and whispers of ghosts however because of the poem’s metre it is really enjoyable and easy to read. That’s an aspect I love about it, its great to read out loud. Do any of you do this? I just sit in my flat (often in bed when reading poetry) and recite poetry to myself because I like the sound of it! Call me crazy but it’s very good fun.

The Sunday Poet  #7

Edgar Allen Poe –The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
”Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.’

***

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,
fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, ‘Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, ‘Lenore!’-
Merely this, and nothing more.

***

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
‘Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, ‘art sure no
craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’

The Sunday Post #7

What I’ve been reading…

  • Transfixion by J.Giambrone: I have to confess, I was contacted asking if I would like to receive a free copy of this one in exchange for an honest review. I jumped at the chance, mainly because I was so excited that someone would like little old me to review their book. However I am not enjoying it as much as I hoped and am feeling a little anxious about writing the review.  Anyway, I guess I’ll have to finish it first!!

And the rest…

So as I mentioned previously this week was all about getting in the Halloween spirit! At work we dressed up every day and I had a little bit too much fun with the face paint.  Then on the Saturday night I went to a family party with my boyfriend’s family – Danny and I dressed up as Garth and Wayne from Wayne’s world! Something else that has made this week feel really autumnal is a Yankee candle that I’ve been coveting for a long time – it’s called ‘Fireside Treats’ and has the whole flat smelling like toasted marshmallows. I love buying scented candles to match the seasons, especially in autumn/winter – I think it’s because the scents I choose evoke so many memories! Have any of you been dressing up this week? I would love to see your costumes!

Becqui

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I started the week off quite tamely as a kitty-cat! As seen on my Instagram 🙂

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But by the end of the week I was getting a bit more adventurous!

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Favourite picture with family Allen.

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The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #6

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #6

Hello everyone! How has your week been? This week has been a week of though-provoking classes. In my Representing Contemporary Cultures module we have moved onto looking at 9/11 – how the way it was represented through the media and literature affects how people discuss and even perceive what happened. It got me thinking – how long a gap is necessary before literature can truly deal with such a world-changing event? This week’s poem is Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath which was published posthumously in 1965 in the collection Ariel. In it she connects holocaust imagery with the oppression she feels because she is not allowed to die – despite her multiple attempts. The gap between the events she draws upon and the poems publication is twenty years – yet we still feel the enormity of her meaning today. All the literature and even the films about 9/11 are still in their nascent stages compared to this, will it take a longer passage of time before language can truly express people’s feelings surrounding  9/11 and the events that happened as a result?

The Sunday Poet #6

Lady Lazarus – Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

The Sunday Post #6

What I’ve read…

  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath: I’ve loved this collection of poetry ever since I first encountered it. The poem I included above is really haunting, not just because of its references to the Holocaust but because I read it as a woman eating/removing the doctors that treat her as if she were something precious so that the next time she tries, she might finally die.
  • Black Dogs by Ian McEwan: this was recommended by a fellow student on my MA course when we were discussing books that defined an era. It follows the story of a once-married couple, how their different world views caused them to separate and how the terrifying vision that the wife had on their honeymoon caused this irreparable divide.
  • Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess: I’m sure hundreds of other people have bought this book for the very same reason that I have –the best first sentence ever. ‘It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.’ I’ve only just begun this very long novel but I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

And the rest…

Another fairly quiet week on the news front for me! I’ve been researching a lot, beginning to think of the essays that I will be handing in just after Christmas and what work needs doing before I crack on with the writing. However last night me and the boyfriend did end up going to an incredibly good night at one of our local bars – despite being billed to me by the boyfriend as ‘80’s goth’ when I got there I was pleasantly surprised to hear a lot of 80’s punk and alternative being played. It reminded me of being a teenager and listening to my dad’s CDs all over again. So yeah, if you are in Manchester and think that might be your jam – have a look at their webpage and head on over! You’ll see me there dancing like a loon in the corner 🙂

Becqui

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #5

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #5

This week has passed by in a blur of work and studying; I was determined to knuckle down his week and I feel pretty happy with what I’ve got done. Thursday and Friday were spent watching films (for research obviously!) and reading copious amounts of books on New Queer Cinema for my independent study module. I was in that groove where things click together in your mind, was feeling really energised and excited about my work so when I was trying to think of a poem for this week, wanted to find something that captured that feeling for me. Now, the poem that I’ve chosen is nothing to do with studying – however it reminds me of hours spent researching and reading. The poet, John Berryman, was the subject of one of my undergrad final assignments and after initially finding his poems infuriating – critically analysing them resulted in one of my most highly marked pieces of work.

This poem comes from a collection named The Dream Songs, and each poem within provides a fragmented glimpse of the whole. They combine baby talk, a minstrel show and a whole host of disembodied voices to be amusing and tragic at the same time. It is impossible to read them without being reminded of the events that marked Berryman’s own life: his father’s suicide , Berryman’s alcohol abuse, battle with depression and own eventual suicide.

The Sunday Poet #5

John Berryman – Dreamsong #14

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored,
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as archilles,

who loves peoples and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sky or sea, leaving
behind: me, wag.

The Sunday Post #5

What I’ve read…

  • The Girl With all The Gifts by M.R.Carey: ok, so I might have been a bit keen with reading this one as it is for book-club which isn’t for over a week away! In TGWATG humanity has been almost wiped out by a parasitic fungal infection; those who are infected (‘hungries’) prey on the flesh of the remaining humans and are little more than walking mouths. However there seems to be a mid-way camp, infected children who retain all of their brain function and can talk and learn, yet still have the appetite for human flesh. It is up to a research team led by Caldwell to discover if these children are they key to a cure.

What I’ve watched…

  • My Own Private Idaho (1992) directed by Gus Van Sant: This film explores a friendship between Mike (River Pheonix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves) two young men who are living rough, and working as rent boys on the streets of Portland.
  • The Living End (1992) directed by Gregg Araki: I’m going to tentatively say that as part of my MA I am going to write about this one! It’s a brilliant pastiche of different styles of cinema, all delivered with a tongue in cheek attitude – that scarcely conceals the depths of meaning. Two HIV positive men go on a roadtrip, with a fuck the world attitude and a need to explore death.
  • Doomsday (2008) directed by Neil Marshall: Me and the boyfriend had a cosy Saturday night with a bottle of wine and this film – and it was bloody brilliant. Doomsday is like an apocalyptic sci-fi with a dose of grindhouse styling. Scotland gets hit with the ‘Reaper’ virus, aptly named because it cuts swathes through the population. In order to prevent the spread, the UK decides to wall off Scotland, and mine the coasts – effectively abandoning the people to the virus. Fast forward thirty years and the virus resurfaces in London. Meanwhile the government, who have been keeping an eye on Scotland, have seen evidence of survivors in Glasgow. They make the decision to send a team in, to try and find survivors and a cure.

And the rest…

To be perfectly honest, this has been a quiet week – apart from the reads and the films that I have seen listed above! One thing I have been enjoying is that autumn seems to have finally arrived here in Manchester and the leaves are turning to beautiful colours, meaning that it is soon to be Halloween and Bonfire Night – oh how I love autumn!

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All these autumnal photos I have unashamedly re-posted from my Instagram! 

Becqui

Book Review: Hater by David Moody

Book Review: Hater by David Moody

As those of you who follow me on Twitter will already know this week I went to my first ever book club. I was browsing this site – just really to see what was going on in Manchester really – but as soon as I saw “Post-apocalyptic book club” I was hooked. I absolutely loved the evening, discussing and debating literature with like-minded people is something I really enjoy – and of course, I came away from it with loads of book (and film) recommendations! The first book we discussed was Hater by David Moody, so today I am going to share my review of it; which has definitely been aided by the discussion in the book club. I will warn you that this review is full of spoilers, so if you don’t want to know what happens then stop reading now!!

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When I read the description of Hater posted on the book-club’s page it immediately stood out to me – the premise being that seemingly unmotivated individuals begin violently attacking other people, and this escalates throughout the entire population. These people are dubbed ‘Haters’ and the fear of them deepens as anyone could be the next to turn – your child, your husband, your best friend. As society breaks down one man and his family struggle to survive. To me it seemed like a twist on your typical zombie story, the spread of attacks isn’t described as a ‘virus’ and I always love a good survivor driven plot. However I felt let down with this novel as a whole, there were aspects that I enjoyed but at the same time there were elements which really spoilt it for me.

The novel begins with a random, aggressive attack orchestrated by ‘Simmons, regional manager for a chain of high street discount stores’ who – in the middle of a busy shopping street – suddenly feels an overwhelming sense of terror, and this threat makes him turn on his supposed aggressor an old lady ‘eighty if she was a day’. He bludgeons her to death with his own umbrella and then begins to attack the crowd around him. The narrative then switches to an observers point of view – Danny McCoyne – who becomes our protagonist. He proclaims to be sickened by the outburst but then switches to moaning about how the crowd have made him late for work.  This is a feature of Danny that we come to recognise. He represents the “every-man”, he hates his job with the council, hates his supervisor, struggles with money and when he gets home from work argues with his wife and is annoyed by his children.

The first three-quarters of this text follow roughly the same structure: vignettes of random violent attacks by these “Haters” break up the day to day life of Danny. At first these attacks seem like entirely unrelated incidents, Danny reports that the newscasters announce unusual amounts of violence in city-centres over one weekend. However as the text progresses it becomes clear that the attacks are escalating and he witnesses them happening himself, as well as being widely reported on the television.  An atmosphere of fear begins to pervade the general public; there was a scene I really thought worked at this point which highlighted the fear and tension that would arise in such a situation. Danny is at work on the reception desk when a man comes in to complain about his car being clamped. The man is in a high temper – but Danny and the other receptionist, instead of proceeding as normal, proceed to put as much space between themselves and the man as possible because they think he is a “Hater”. The moment of realisation when the man (who is not a “Hater”, just a man pissed off with the council) comprehends the fear in the pair’s eyes, and understands what they take him for was executed well. It made me think about the fear that would spread through the general population – and how it would break down normal interactions far quicker than the actual Haters.

However, for the most part – this section of the book was tedious. Danny is a character incapable of action; he constantly complains about his job yet carries on going to work after most of the city has been abandoned. When the family do decide to hole up, and stay in their house their lack of survival initiative irritated me. Danny has the chance to scope out houses and flats that have been abandoned yet he comes back empty handed. We see no evidence of the family working as a team, or of any love or connection between them.

I thought the text was going to redeem itself when Danny became a Hater – it started with him killing his father-in-law and then going after the rest of the family; and I was expecting some pretty gory scenes. The family escape and Danny finds himself in the company of some other Haters, who have wholed-up in a construction site and are trying to come to terms with what has happened. The concept of the Haters is explained a little bit more here, around 30% of the overall population have something in their genetics which has been triggered and makes them fearful of the other 70% who they know will kill them if they discover their identity. So from the Haters point of view its kill or be killed. Also they have some kind of innate connection to other Haters – Danny knows that his daughter is one and longs to have her with him. This explanation was unsatisfactory though, what triggered this change? And how do they recognise each other? The ending of the book was that the military had divided into these two factions, Haters and non-Haters, and the Haters from the military swooped in to rescue all the other Haters who had been rounded up into a death camp. The Haters then decide to band together, form a sort of resistance and the last scene is of them taking over a town.

To conclude, I loved the premise of this novel and there were scenes which were quite clever – particularly those depicting the media’s influence on the general public, and the Hater propaganda which was subtly spread. However, for me personally (and for the rest of the book-club!) there was no emotional investment in this, as the characters were unpleasant and irritating. I think I would still recommend reading it – it is quite an easy read and there are ideas in there that have stuck with me, and that I keep teasing out more in my head.

Have any of you read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Becqui

The Monday Post // The Monday Poet #4

The Monday Post // The Monday Poet #4

Hello hello hello! So the eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that somehow my weekly round-up has slipped a day – from Sunday to Monday. It’s totally my own fault, I have had an incredibly hectic past few days consisting of the boyfriend’s birthday (and party with his family) then my own birthday followed by a trip up to Scotland for a friend’s wedding and then back again. By the time I got off the train at Piccadilly on Sunday I was too tired to do anything but curl up on the sofa in my brand new Snuggie (thanks Dan!). And I wasn’t organised enough to schedule a post either – therefore I am typing it up today!

Because it has been a week of celebrations I thought I would turn to a classic anthology I own – Penguin’s Poems for Life – which contains poems for all life’s events, from birth through to starting school, growing up, getting married, having a family of your own, and then eventually death. It is a great little volume; there are many well-known poems in there all of which suit life’s journey perfectly.  So today I turned to it, as I often do, in search of words to fit this week’s events.

The Monday Poet #4

Carmen BuganA house of stone

In the village where I was born, we wish
A house of stone to shelter the heart of the marriage

So here too, I wish you
Obstinate, strong love, unyielding and unending.

May you be in reach of each other when all seems lost,
May your tears and your smiles always happen face to face.

When you imagine that you have shared everything
May you know that you still have the rest of your lives
To do all of it again and again.

But now listen to the hurry of bells and
Look how petals of roses about the vineyard

Bring you the words, ‘husband’ and ‘wife’:
First words in your house of stone.

 The Monday Post #4

What I’ve read this week…

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: expect a review of this, one of my favourite books – soon!

Hater by David Moody: I read this as I am joining a post-apocalyptic books group and this is the first book they will be discussing.  Hater follows the dissolution of society as what starts off as an increased number of violent attacks on individuals begins to increase exponentially until these seemingly unmotivated attacks are happening all over the country. I’m excited to go to the first meet-up tomorrow, and just indulge in my love of post-apocalyptic fiction!

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald: this was another birthday present from my lovely boyfriend! The blurb informs me that it follows a young, extremely wealthy, couple – Patch and Gloria – as they try to navigate the heady lifestyle of 1920’s New York. I find F.Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda extremely interesting – and I feel like this novel might potentially reflect some of the experiences they had together, so I am looking forward to reading it.

And the rest…

As you already know it was a pretty busy week for me! On Thursday it was Danny’s birthday, and he requested I make a traditional kids birthday tea for his family that evening. I had so much fun baking for pretty much the whole day beforehand; I made a birthday cake which was lemon sponge topped with marshmallow frosting and Lucky Charms, Rice Krispie treats, and homemade sausage rolls which I served up with loads of mini sandwiches, pizza, party rings and crisps. I think it went down pretty well. It was definitely a silly but fun night!

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Danny’s cake was a little wonky but I was still pretty happy with my efforts!

The next day (Friday) was my birthday and I got spoilt rotten. Danny got me a new Kindle, and a loose-leaf teapot as well as my first Moleskine notebook! I was so excited over the teapot and the notebook he was really concerned that I didn’t like the Kindle haha! After spending a lovely lazy morning opening presents we packed for our weekend in Scotland then got on the train. It was a long journey but the scenery was so beautiful it went surprisingly quickly.

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Beautiful scenery on the way up, the colours were so vivid!

For the wedding weekend we stayed in the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, which was also where the wedding reception was held. It was an incredibly perfect place for the celebrations – not only did it look quirky with loads of taxidermy, tartan and antlers, but the staff were helpful and the overall atmosphere was cheerful and friendly. On the Friday night a large group of us had dinner in the hotel restaurant – I had scallops with pancetta and apple to start, followed by ‘Piggy Black’ sausages with crispy kale, creamy mash and red onion jus, and even managed a pecan pie dessert. I always say that in Manchester I miss amazing ‘pub’ food and that is exactly what this hotel delivered, which boded well for the wedding meal!

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Stuffed owls in the hotel restaurant, there was taxidermy everywhere.

This friendly atmosphere carried on into the wedding itself on the Saturday – even the priest at the church was extremely affable, making jokes and relaxing the guests. Erin (the bride) looked absolutely beautiful and the whole ceremony was lovely. Afterwards we went back to the hotel for the reception; and after another amazing meal it was time for some music from a live band. There was ceilidh dancing which despite being totally chaotic at times was the most fun I’ve ever had at a wedding reception. Even Danny loved it!! I know I have thrown a lot of adjectives at this paragraph but the wedding was spectacular, everything from the scenery (near the beautiful Loch Lomond) to the food to the friendly relaxed atmosphere that continued all though the night, was perfect. I’m sending all the best to Chris and Erin in their married life together, two lovely people who deserved such a beautiful day.

On the Sunday Danny and I spent a relaxing morning walking by the loch, before getting the train back. Phew! So after that incredible week I am ready to get my head down to some serious reading and studying. How was your week? Have any of you visited Loch Lomond before? I would love to go back, I would like to visit a lot more of Scotland if truth be told.

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One of my favourite photos from the loch, it was so peaceful and beautiful.

Becqui

Film Review – Taxi Zum Klo

Taxi Zum Klo – Directed by Frank Ripploh

Now I’m not going to pretend that I am incredibly knowledgeable about film or even particularly well-versed in gay culture, but at the moment I am really interested in Contemporary Queer Cultures and as such am researching the rise of gay pride, the backlash against it and this new term “queer”. As part of this I am watching films that may be categorised as ‘gay films’ and learning how they fit into the representation of gay identity in contemporary film and literature, as well as how indicative they are to the changing gay movements.

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Taxi Zum Klo is a German film directed by Frank Ripploh and released in 1980. The lifestyle it portrays is late 70’s however, when a promiscuous life-style was not yet under threat from the AIDS epidemic. Within the film Frank Ripploh plays the main character; the bearded teacher Frank – who is sometimes referred to as Peggy amongst his friends. We are introduced to two sides of Frank; there is the school teacher who doesn’t socialise much, making minimal contribution to the social activities amongst the other teachers. However as Frank himself tells us – this is because he prefers to separate his personal life from his professional one.

His personal life is an erotic feast of men; he often frequents public toilets and parks where he meets them for casual sex. Indeed we do see his professional life intrude into this as he marks school textbooks whilst waiting in the toilets to meet someone. Frank/Peggy’s life is then altered by the arrival of Bernd, and what starts as a one-night stand turns into a relationship. However the contrast between the two soon becomes apparent and this, for me, was the really interesting part of the film. Bernd wants them to be able to assimilate with heterosexual norms; he pictures a house for them in the country, some land and the even possibility of children is mentioned jokingly. This stands in stark contrast to Frank who thinks that monogamy is outdated; he beleives that the role of a relationship should be reconsidered as he loves Bernd but can’t stop seeing other men. These differences come to a head and (spoiler alert) the film ends with them arguing and walking in different directions.

I feel like for some people this film will be shocking as the sex scenes are graphic, and the film includes quite explicit scenes of S&M as well as Frank urinating over a man’s face. I wasn’t expecting it to be so graphic – but I think that it was suited to the mood of the film. You gain a sense of the casual, varied, sexual encounters that gay men enjoyed without the fear and stigma of disease that AIDS caused. The relationship between Frank and Bernd raised questions for me about the assumed ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ model of the heterosexual couple, which is the basis for so much culturally – and yet there is a great proportion of people for whom this model fails them. Not only gay or lesbian couples, but for those who are happy being alone – or those who have a need for multiple partners.

Overall I really enjoyed this film – a lot more than I expected to! I felt surprisingly engaged as a viewer considering the amount of sex scenes included – but I think this is because the film does question cultural norms and traditional values which I enjoyed thinking about and considering as I watched it. Perhaps not one for a lazy Sunday viewing though. Have any of you seen this film? What do you think of my review? Would you be interested in seeing more posts like this?

Becqui

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #3

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #3

The Sunday Poet #3

This poem comes from the same anthology as last week; Identity Parade New British & Irish Poets – and I just want to reiterate how much I am enjoying this collection. Every time I dip into it there is a poem that I enjoy, or one that I find interesting for whatever reason. This week’s poem is by Luke Kennard whose work is described as ‘a chimerical orchestra of fabulous characters and their put-upon sidekicks.’ The choir referenced in this poem, seem to me to be a way of describing mental illness – they make it impossible for the main character to work or hold down a relationship as they are persistently there. However the choir constantly serenading a unwilling victim (for some reason I imagine them appearing at the desk of an extremely perplexed businessman…) and following him around everywhere, being entirely over the top is a farcical image, which creates an intriguing contrast between concept and imagery. At the end, after his anger with the choir/mental illness the image of them gently serenading him to sleep and saying he may ‘become fond of them’, I find quite distressing. It is a poem that appeals to both the fantastical side of your imagination but also quite seriously addresses issues of mental health.

Luke Kennard Chorus

The choir hadn’t left him alone since the first day of summer;
He awoke to find them stationed around his bed.

One day the choir arrived without warning or explanation,
Sang the choir in four-part harmony, handing him his toast.

On his first day back at work, the choir stood at his desk,
Singing, The choir are making his professional life impossible.
 
Two weeks later his partner left him for an osteopath.
Hannah cannot stand the choir any longer, they sang.

That night he pummelled the choristers with his fists;
He beats the choir in frustration, but though they are bruised
 
And bleeding at the lip, they sing with redoubled vigour, sang the choir.
Then they sang, He cannot get to sleep, he cannot get to sleep,
 
He cannot get to sleep, in perfect fifths, until he fell asleep.
In time you may even grow fond of us , they sang, quietly.

The Sunday Post #3

What I’ve read this week…

  •  The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is another re-read, because I absolutely love Atwood’s books, but I think I will post a review of it next week. It is dystopian novel set in a future where fertile women are kept as servants in richer households – as due to rising pollution levels and disease fertility levels are at an all-time low. Written from the perspective of one of these ‘handmaids’ it explores how the relationships between her and the couple for whom she works for change in an ever more desperate attempt to conceive a child.
  • Identity Parade New British & Irish Poets edited by Roddy Lumsden: Sorry to bring this up AGAIN but it really is great. If you fancy a big whack of top-notch modern poetry then buy it, buy it, buy it!
  • Gender Trouble by Judith Butler: this is a text I am reading as some research, and within it Butler questions that there is a natural or essential notion of the female, thus questioning the supposedly innate notions of gender. Butler conceives of gender as being a performative action, it is reinscribed through its repetition within an accepted and established social matrix. Some of the ideas explored within this text I have read about before, but I am looking forward to tackling the whole book!

And the rest…

 This week has actually been fairly stressful; to start with it was supposed to be the first week of actual teaching on my course however one module ended up being cancelled as not enough people had signed up for it. I was pretty upset by this, as it was the module Contemporary Queer Cultures which is an area I am interested in and was so so excited for it to start and to meet and study with like-minded people. Thankfully the tutor for the course has been incredible, and has arranged for me to do an Independent Study option where I have the freedom to focus on an area of my choice and write an essay on that. So at the moment I am doing a crash course through the material that was supposed to be taught on the CQC module, and hopefully will get some inspiration! Phew! Thankfully there was a gallery opening at the museum this weekend, and despite working it I got to go out with everyone from work afterwards and relax with my good friend Pinot Grigio.

wine

Thankyou internet, I think that sums up my week. But I had a great sleep last night, good day at work today and am feeling ready to tackle everything the coming week can throw at me!

How was your week? Did you fit in a lot of reading?

Becqui

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #2

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #2

The Sunday Poet #2

This week’s poem comes from Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets, which I bought for my course then slightly regretted when I could find all the material I needed on-line. However I haven’t even used it for studying yet and I’ve already fallen in love with it – great range and variety of poets included, and it is also a surprisingly purse-friendly size for an anthology! And that is important for someone who carries a tome of poetry at all times. Anyway this poem is a little bit of whimsy, because when don’t we need that?

PugNick Laird

i.

Bruiser, batface, baby bear,

bounce in your moon suit

of apricot fur with some fluff

in your mouth or a twig or a feather.

Emperors bored you.

You with the prize-winning ears,

who grew from a glove

to a moccasin slipper

and have taken to secrecy

recently, worming in

under the furniture.

To discover you here

Is to keep still and listen.

The settee begins wheezing.

                                                                          ii.

Hogarth loved the fact

that for your first half-year

you hardly differed from a rabbit.

When you’re over-excited

you tend to get hiccups.

You squeak when you yawn

and your tongue is unfurled

in a semi-circle, salmon-pink

on coastal rock, that trilobite

embedded in the slate

roof of your open mouth,

perfect for the mascot

of the House of Orange.

Your weapon of choice is the sneeze.

iii.

Above the winter garden

a hair-thin moon, reflecting.

You are as open as a haiku,

All karumi, hint and sigh.

The Buddha would’ve liked you.

Watch us from your separate dream

then pad across to clamber through

the plastic flap and plant your paws

four-square again on grass, like this.

Your hackles bristle and you ridge

your back and bark and bark and bark,

at shadows and the fence,

at everything behind the fence,

the cuttings and the railway foxes.

pugs

I couldn’t resist including a picture of these cheeky critters! Thanks Google for providing me with hours of entertainment searching “pugs in costumes”!

The Sunday Post #2

What I’ve read…

And the rest…

This week actually involved another trip to Manchester Food and Drink Festival, to see a friend of ours and his band play. Naturally this involved another round of yummy food – this time from Viet Shack. I’ve been meaning to try their food for absolutely ages now, and it was well worth the wait! I plumped for lemongrass chicken, which was deliciously smoky, served over noodles and a lovely fresh carrot salad with chilli, mint and basil. For a naughty evening out I was impressed with how restrained I was food wise! This week also heralded the official start of my MA – with an induction meet and greet over all the English courses. It was really lovely to meet people before actually starting the course, and to also get a glimpse into what other people will be studying over the year. Next week the teaching starts properly and I am so so excited! How was everyone else’s week? What have you been reading?

Becqui

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #1.

Happy weekend everyone! I’m still new to this whole blogging malarkey and posting regularly hasn’t been my strong point. I noticed lots of people have a certain post or theme that they run with every week, so I thought if I do that it might make me post more consistently.  I also wanted to be posting more than just book reviews on here, as I read a lot more widely then the fiction I’ve been sharing. So every Sunday I will be sharing a poem that encapsulates my week along with a little update of what I’ve been up to and what I’ve been reading. I hope you like these posts; do let me know either way!

The Sunday Poet #1

Demi-Jour en Creuse – René Char

Un couple de renards bouleversait la neige,
Piétinant l’orée du terrier nuptial:
Au soir le dur amour révèle à leurs parages
La soif cuisante de miettes de sang.

Translation by Nancy Naomi Carlson

A pair of foxes, disrupting the snow,
Were trampling the edge of the nuptial den:
At dusk, their hard love reveals to surrounding brush
Their burning thirst in crumbs of blood.

René Char is a French surrealist poet, whom I greatly admire. I became interested in his work through the philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault who cites him in several of his texts. The poem I’ve included above was included in Foucault’s funeral – I’m not sure if it was read out or just as a memorial, but I really love it – and enjoy the connection between two writers that I admire. I’ve been thinking about René Char this week as I am currently preparing for starting my MA and sorting through all my notes from my degree found several lines from this scribbled down. If you like it then definitely look up some more of his poems, they are so haunting and interesting to read.

The Sunday Post #1.

What I’ve read…

  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory by Nikki Sullivan : again preparing to return to university expect to see a lot of this theoretical stuff cropping up. I think this is a great introduction to anyone studying or just interested in queer theory as it breaks the topic down into easily digestible chapters.
  • Modern Nature by Derek Jarman: I’ve nearly finished reading these haunting journals which are written after he discovers he is HIV positive and decides to make a garden for his cottage upon the coast of Dungeness. Expect a review shortly!

And everything else…

I’ve been working loads at the café this week, trying to cram in as many hours as possible before returning to uni – need those pennies for the millions of books I’m going to buy! However we had some friends staying with us so on Saturday night took a little wander to Manchester Food and Drink Festival. There was a great atmosphere and it was so much busier than I expected it to be – also the weather perked up whilst we were there so we caught some lovely evening sunshine. I had a “Festival Dog” from The Splendid Sausage Company which was possibly the most incredible thing I have ever eaten – a locally produced sausage topped with bacon, black pudding and Lancashire cheese and then onions in Vimto chutney. Truly decadent, but as a lass who hates hotdogs – I have to say they have converted me.

I’ll leave you with a snap of the Town Hall from that evening, hope you enjoyed catching up with my week.

Becqui

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Studying an MA

Studying an MA

So this post is a little bit different and I guess it’s a bit more personal as well. Over the next twelve months I will be undertaking an MA in English Studies, and as its going to inevitably crop up quite a lot on the blog I thought I would explain my motivation for continuing with education as well as what I will be doing on the course. Let me know what you think of this post – if you find it interesting then I will potentially keep the blog updated with how my studies are going.

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Just a few of the books/films I’ve bought from my reading list so far.

 I graduated this summer and since then the question that everyone asks is, ‘So have you found a job yet?’ When I say that I miss university, and intend to study further most of them think that I’m joking. It seems that after three years of studying many people have had enough of it, or are just tired of being poor and are ready to take on a full-time job. However I’ve worked throughout my degree, and I think that as the three years of English and Philosophy progressed I felt increasingly more fulfilled by my studies but also by balancing them with a job. I’ve always enjoyed writing and researching but it is only in my third year that I realised just how much pleasure I took in doing so, my dissertation was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done (is that really lame?) which made me think it was feasible that academia could be a career path. So that is what this year is all about, furthering my enjoyment of studying and hopefully discovering if academia is the place for me!

For the MA that I chose to take, as it is a taught course it offers the option to specialise in one of two pathways these being The Gothic or Contemporary Literature and Film.  Initially I didn’t think I was going to specialise in either, and instead take a more general pathway – however after looking at the various modules I have opted to take the Contemporary Literature and Film pathway. Therefore this autumn the two modules I will be studying are:

Representing Contemporary Cultures 1:

This unit begins with the sense of how difficult it is to define the ‘contemporary’ and does through by exploring which events have shaped our perception and definition of the contemporary. Postmodernism is explored, and then post-postmodernism leading up to the events of 9/11 and the dramatic affect that they have had upon literature and film. I’ve studied the postmodern already on my undergrad course, but really didn’t get on with it – however I think that it will be really interesting to see how it changes and develops through world events. The film that is going to be used for this first unit is Pulp Fiction, one of my favourite films so I think that studying that will be particularly interesting.

Contemporary Queer Cultures:

This unit analyses the ways in which same-sex desire is expressed, represented and received in contemporary cultures. The last two decades saw a shift away from the recently consolidated concept of gay ‘identity politics’ to a more material concept of ‘queerness’, and ‘queerly negotiated’ reading practices gained academic respectability. The politics of same-sex desires stretched to include transsexuality, bisexuality, and a range of other non-normative activities. A politics of assimilation was, in part, replaced by a politics of the margins. The ‘gay movement’ was also radicalised through the recognition of AIDS. Arguably we are now entering the era of the ‘post-gay’. This unit addresses these issues, and texts may be selected from film, television, literature or culture more broadly. Areas for study include: the impact and representation of AIDS; Queer politics vs Gay Identity politics; the development of New Queer Cinema; ‘queer spectatorship’; the commodification of same-sex desire; the concept of the ‘Post-Gay’.

I have to admit to copying and pasting that last section from the unit handbook, I think that this module is going to be extremely challenging – I wrote about the aesthetics of gay identity in my dissertation, however this is an ever-growing area of study and there is so much information to take in. It’s the module I am most excited to get underway, and I have loads of films to watch for it!

Alongside these there are research modules and literature reviews to be cracking on with and  the year concludes with original research dissertation which you present to the rest of the the MA students. As you might have gathered from my descriptions of the modules, I am challenging myself with what I am studying this year, some of it is relatively new territory and I know that my work is going to have to be of an extremely high standard. But like I said, I love studying and I think that this year is going to be great fun. My main challenge is going to be organisation, my notes for the whole three years of university were basically a box stuffed full of paper – but I don’t think that’s going to cut it somehow. So I plan to have a Dictaphone and type up lecture notes after each session, thus going over it all twice effectively. Hopefully that will help me keep on top of things!!

Do let me know if any of you are planning to do an MA, I’d love to meet some people in the same boat as me. And chuck any study/organisation tips my way; god knows it’s going to be a struggle! Hope you enjoyed this little post; I will keep you up to date with how everything is going.

Becqui