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

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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

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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What’s on my to-read list?

My to-read list.

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I don’t know about you but I love any kind of blog post that is a little bit nosey. Have you seen those ones where people post what is in their handbag? Or answer twenty questions? I love them. So it’s no surprise that I also love seeing what other people are reading. As my to-read shelf was looking pretty plump I thought I would share what I am planning on reading in the next couple of weeks!

Fiction

Brian Jacques: Mariel of Redwall / Salamandastron

These books made up so much of my childhood and I think are probably where my interest in fantasy fiction stems from.  They are set in an animal kingdom and follow the tale of Redwall Abbey, fore founder of which is the mouse warrior Martin. The woodland creatures in the Abbey and its surroundings strive for a peaceful existence; however this is constantly threatened by armies of rats weasels and ferrets – as well as sinister double-headed snakes which stalk the woods. Whilst battling these enemies, riddles must be deciphered and legends of times past consulted in order for the mice of Redwall to win the day. These are great books for children, the animals all speak in various British dialects which are hilarious and the descriptive passages of the feasts in the Abbey appeal to young and old. Re-reading them (I finished the first in the series, Redwall recently) was something I was tentative about, but they stand up to the test. Easy reads, but enthralling.

George R.R. Martin – A Dance with Dragons 2: After the Feast

I suppose this is technically another re-read – but I’m trying to finish the series off. If you want to see reviews of the other books in the series (and a comparison to the television show) then here’s the link to one of my previous posts. I don’t want to post any spoilers but I will say this, I LOVE Arya’s story in this book. It’s so strange and different from what is happening to every other character – you definitely get the feeling that she is going to blossom and be pretty spectacular in the books to come. I’m excited to finish this book, but also impatient for the next one to be published!

Justin Cronin – The Passage

Do any of you go on reddit a lot? There is a great subreddit which is all about books and I have to confess that quite often when looking for a recommendation I have a browse on there. If you have never been on reddit before then where have you been?! Go go go!! The Passage was recommended as a good post-apocalyptic read, something that I am really interested in. It details the collapsing of the world due to a highly contagious virus which turns its victims into vampirical beings. I’m really looking forward to reading this; expect a review of it soon.

Poetry

René Char – Furor and Mystery & Other Writings

René Char is a French surrealist poet that I became interested in due to Foucault citing him, something I discovered whilst researching for my dissertation. I bought a couple of volumes of his poetry and apart from the occasional dip into them haven’t really worked my way through them. This is a great volume as it contains the original French alongside the English translations.

Historical

David Starkey – Elizabeth

Peter Ackroyd – The History of England: Volume II Tudors

My wonderful boyfriend is to thank for these two! Recently I was saying that I would be interested in reading some more historical books, and he asked what time period I wanted to read about. The Tudors – particularly Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth the 1st – have always fascinated me so I thought that would be a good place to start. Being the sweetie he is, he treated me to not one but two books on the Tudors! I think I will see how these go and potentially you could see more historical books cropping up on this page.

Non-Fiction

Naomi Wolf – Vagina A New Biography

Well, I really wasn’t sure what to categorise this one as! I’ve had this sitting on my bookshelf for a while, and started reading it a while ago but gave it up quite quickly. That’s not because it wasn’t interesting, but I think you need to be prepared to really think about this book and be engaged with the discussion it provokes. Naomi Wolf begins by talking about her own experiences, how despite being happy and sexually fulfilled one day she noticed that her orgasms were no longer taking her to that ‘other’ place. This was directly related to a mild form of spinal bifida that was causing the pelvis nerves to become compressed, thus affecting her orgasm. After successful surgery Wolf began to investigate further into the pelvic nerve and how because the nerve wiring varied from woman to woman it could affect their ability to experience orgasm. Sexuality is another of my areas of interest and I think that this book is going to be eye opening, provided I stick it out this time!

I’m extremely keen to get started on this list, there’s a good varied selection in there and I am quite happy to be tackling different areas in my reading. Have any of you read these books? Were they any good? If you have anything to recommend to me please do!

Becqui