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“These days I write more than I code, but one of the things I miss about programming is the coder’s…”

These days I write more than I code, but one of the things I miss about programming is the coder’s high: those times when, for hours on end, I would lock my vision straight at the computer screen, trance out, and become a human-machine hybrid zipping through the virtual architecture that my co-workers and I were building. Hunger, thirst, sleepiness, and even pain all faded away while I was staring at the screen, thinking and typing, until I’d reach the point of exhaustion and it would come crashing down on me.

It was good for me, too. Coding had a smoothing, calming effect on my psyche, what I imagine meditation does to you if you master it. In his study Zen and the Brain, neuroscientist James H. Austin speaks of how one’s attention will shift into “a vacancy of utmost clarity, a space so devoid of the physical self.”



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Coder’s high: The intense feeling of absorption exclusive to programmers.

Ah. Coding. *nostalgia

Jun 25

“Ending his talk, Cramer has an important question for the audience: why do publishers tend to stick…”

“Ending his talk, Cramer has an important question for the audience: why do publishers tend to stick to the traditional formats of publishing even when they move to e-publishing? He gave the example of poetry books. Traditionally, poetry is published as poetry volumes because it is the only economical way of printing, distributing and selling it. With e-publishing however, it is possible to sell single poems. The same is true for exhibition catalogues. He gave the recent example of Stedelijk Museum, the Dutch contemporary art museum. It would have made no sense to publish its 200-page collection highlights catalogue as one e-book. But e-publishing makes it possible to turn each monographic chapter on an individual artwork into a mini-epub of its own, and to allow readers to choose what they want to explore and read.”

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Florian Cramer: Electronic publishing in the arts – what works and what doesn’t | DIGITAL PUBLISHING TOOLKIT for the Arts and Culture

Yes to innovation and exploring the freedoms (or new limitations?) afforded by new formats. That said, as put forward earlier in the same article: “most publishers are small, have low budgets and could not maintain these standards on a continuous basis as software quickly needs upgrading.”

Jun 24

Two-Minute Personality Test by Jonathan Safran Foer

What’s the kindest thing you almost did? Is your fear of insomnia stronger than your fear of what awoke you? Are bonsai cruel? Do you love what you love, or just the feeling? Your earliest memories: do you look though your young eyes, or look at your young self? Which feels worse: to know that there are people who do more with less talent, or that there are people with more talent? Do you walk on moving walkways? Should it make any difference that you knew it was wrong as you were doing it? Would you trade actual intelligence for the perception of being smarter? Why does it bother you when someone at the next table is having a conversation on a cell phone? How many years of your life would you trade for the greatest month of your life? What would you tell your father, if it were possible? Which is changing faster, your body, or your mind? Is it cruel to tell an old person his prognosis? Are you in any way angry at your phone? When you pass a storefront, do you look at what’s inside, look at your reflection, or neither? Is there anything you would die for if no one could ever know you died for it? If you could be assured that money wouldn’t make you any small bit happier, would you still want more money? What has been irrevocably spoiled for you? If your deepest secret became public, would you be forgiven? Is your best friend your kindest friend? Is it any way cruel to give a dog a name? Is there anything you feel a need to confess? You know it’s a “murder of crows” and a “wake of buzzards” but it’s a what of ravens, again? What is it about death that you’re afraid of? How does it make you feel to know that it’s an “unkindness of ravens”?

Jun 23

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.”

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.”

- Paulo Coelho (via psychleanings)
Jun 15

“Art, be it poetry, music, sculpture, puppetry—the whole of it, inspires change on a personal level…”

“Art, be it poetry, music, sculpture, puppetry—the whole of it, inspires change on a personal level rather than a global one. This is important because the individual is the whole. The creation of art argues that people are connected, ideas are connected, the past and future are connected by this moment. Meanwhile, exploitation of the poor, drone strikes that kill hundreds of children, slavery, genocide, land theft—these are all acts that depend upon convincing large groups of usually well-meaning people that “they are not us.” Dean Young once said, “The highest accomplishment of the human consciousness is the imagination, and the highest accomplishment of the imagination is empathy.” Poetry, along with every other art, is a tool for teaching and expanding empathy. Violence and injustice cannot endure empathy.”

- A NORMAL INTERVIEW WITH JAMAAL MAY | The Normal School: A Literary Magazine
Jun 14

James Victore (by Like Knows Like) Lots of love for this…



James Victore (by Like Knows Like)

Lots of love for this series, but this particular feature on James Victore resonates. Maybe it’s the story of the artist-educator. Maybe it’s the James Joyce quote: “In the particular lies the universal”, with which I can push the poets I work with for more specificity (always more specificity…)

Or maybe it’s the acknowledgement of the need to connect with what your real drivers are and create the work that NEEDS to be created. I’ve said it to a couple of people already, but I’ve hit that five year bar. I’ve come upon a natural life cycle— every five years, I work through my project list and remove the things that are no longer in line with my current purpose. The last cull happened in 2009, so I’m about due. Make the work that NEEDS to be made. Sounds like a good driver to me…

Jun 13

“Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”

“Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”

- Jean Paul Sartre, from The Selected Essays (via killheji)
Jun 12

Q&A with Paul Muldoon

THE: You once said: “For whatever reason, people, including very well-educated people or people otherwise interested in reading, do not read poetry.” Is this still true?
PAUL MULDOON: I believe so. Poetry is still too often perceived as being too difficult for the common man. That’s partly because we expect to be able to read poetry without being educated in it. We don’t have the same expectations of astrophysics, aeronautical engineering, algebra or even making a passable avgolemono.

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THE: What advice would you give to your younger self?
PAUL MULDOON: Don’t give up the piano lessons.

THE: What are the best and worst things about your job?
PAUL MULDOON: I have several jobs but, in terms of the teaching, I consider it a privilege to work with students. I can’t bear teachers who complain about their jobs. More often than not, they’ve no idea how lucky they are. I know it’s a truism, but I definitely learn from my students. I sometimes teach translation, for example, and I have been introduced by my students to whole swathes of literature I simply wouldn’t have known about.
Jun 11

“I want my poetry to work like things that aren’t poetry while inhabiting poetry’s precinct of…”

“I want my poetry to work like things that aren’t poetry while inhabiting poetry’s precinct of language.”

- MESS : Douglas Kearney : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation
Jun 9

“The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life…the more we involve ourselves in…”

“"The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life…the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds, and join in the general dance."”

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Thomas Merton, from New Seeds of Contemplation

(via beingblog)

Dear Self: so yeah, today’s a birthday. You’re doing the smart thing, paying down on the sleep debt you’ve accrued for the past week or so (20 hours of shut-eye over six nights? Seriously?), reflecting on the time that’s passed since the last time you were here, thinking on how you might invest the next 365 days. Time to remember all the steps you take towards your better self. Today’s theme is rededication. But don’t spend all afternoon. The sun’s shining, and the skies are blue— invitation to get outside and soak it all in. Or, as Merton says, join the general dance.

Jun 8

creativemornings: “The best way for a troublemaker, or creative…



creativemornings:

"The best way for a troublemaker, or creative person, to survive and thrive in a career that you love is to focus on doing your best work and learning something new every single day. "

— Chris Coleman, speaking at CreativeMornings/Atlanta.

Watch the talk.

Jun 8

“The challenge is to revise and rewrite long after the original excitement over the piece has faded,…”

“The challenge is to revise and rewrite long after the original excitement over the piece has faded, and to create a finished product that—in spite of all the tinkering—evokes that same sense of excitement and discovery in the reader. To accomplish this magic feat takes determination that borders on the pathological, like some guy in Moose Udder, Maine who builds a fifty-foot Elvis sculpture with empty Red Bull cans.

If you’re holed up in your room, staring at your computer screen, resolutely building an Elvis of your own, I salute you. If you’ve ever gotten so sick of working on a particular project you couldn’t bear to even look at it for a week, or a month or a year, but one day you sighed, cracked your knuckles and hauled yourself off the sofa to start that fourth draft, I salute you.”

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Charles Coe, “But I MEANT to Write it that Way!,” published on Best American Poetry’s blog (via bostonpoetryslam)

Salute…

Jun 7

“I would not call poetry’s present marketplace position a “failure,” since no contemporary poet…”

“I would not call poetry’s present marketplace position a “failure,” since no contemporary poet expects to make a living by it. He or she teaches, rather, or has an independent income. While making my living elsewhere, I have never stopped writing and reading poetry, as the exercise of language at its highest pitch.”

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Inside Game by The Editors

In the same paragraph, Updike also says “Had poetry paid as well as fiction, I would have written more of it.”

Jun 4

“”I think poetry has really rather connived at its own irrelevance and that shouldn’t happen,…”

"I think poetry has really rather connived at its own irrelevance and that shouldn’t happen, because it’s the most delightful thing," said Paxman. "It seems to me very often that poets now seem to be talking to other poets and that is not talking to people as a whole."

His words come as official figures show a decline in poetry sales. Five years ago, in 2009, sales of poetry stood at £8.4m. By 2013, they had fallen to £7.8m, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Michael Symmons Roberts, a poet who has both won and judged the Forward prize, said that Paxman’s proclamation was “not without foundation in terms of the symptoms – it would be stupid for poets to say poetry is as dominant as the novel” – but he disagreed with Paxman’s diagnosis.

"Poetry doesn’t have the currency in our culture that novels and films have – people who would be embarrassed not to have read the latest Julian Barnes or Martin Amis are not the slightest bit embarrassed not to have read the latest John Burnside or Carol Ann Duffy. But I don’t believe it’s quite good enough to say this is a problem of poets and poetry – it’s far more complex," said Roberts.



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Jeremy Paxman says poets must start engaging with ordinary people | Books | The Guardian

Paxman is also quoted as saying that poetry should “aim to engage with ordinary people much more”. Surely, the notion of whether poetry engages adequately with “ordinary people” depends on the poetry you’re actually considering? Maybe what’s required here is a spotlight on engaging, challenging work that engages with the kind of ordinary people Paxman is referring to? That such work exists is not the question, rather where it can be found, and how it is celebrated/valued, particularly in relation to other works. Which essentially reduces to the question: who determines what “poetry” is, or more accurately, who determines which (of the various different forms of) poetry receives accolades and prestige?

Jun 2

“The written word is weak. Many people prefer life to it. Life gets your blood going, and it smells…”

“The written word is weak. Many people prefer life to it. Life gets your blood going, and it smells good. Writing is mere writing, literature is mere. It appeals only to the subtlest senses—the imagination’s vision, and the imagination’s hearing—and the moral sense, and the intellect. This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else. The reader’s ear must adjust down from loud life to the subtle, imaginary sounds of the written word. An ordinary reader picking up a book can’t yet hear a thing; it will take half an hour to pick up the writing’s modulations, its ups and downs and louds and softs.”

- Annie Dillard (via John Estes)
May 31

“Nature is full of branches because if you want to be close to a lot of space with minimal increase…”

Nature is full of branches because if you want to be close to a lot of space with minimal increase in your own volume, your best bet is a structure that forks and sub-forks. This is how birds make wings: they send out a bone with a little quick tissue and feather roots, and from them grow rachis, and from them grow barbs, and from them grow barbules, and from them grow barbicels, between which the gaps are so small that air doesn’t bother trying to get through, and the bird has made something the shape of an airfoil without having to fill it with heavy meat. Branching is also how plants fill out their space in the air to collect sunlight and CO2, and underground to find solid nutrients. The structures of your nervous, respiratory, and circulatory systems are similarly manifold.

But the principle is deeper than life itself. It’s how rivers work: though we don’t ascribe intent, a river needs to approach every part of its basin in the sense that erosion will make it grow streams and rivulets until it does. It doesn’t even have to be water. Fluid dynamicists use the phrase viscous fingering to describe this kind of structure in their domain.

In fact, apparently in some sense it might be deeper than physics, because – assuming MLC is true – the Mandelbrot, a piece of abstract math, has some desire-less need to connect its infinite brood.



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Fractals and Stories via Charlie Lloyd aka @vruba

This isn’t “poetry”. And yet it is. New definition: poetry = an indeterminable number of ways to pay attention to and fall in love with the world and all it’s truths, half-truths and lies.

May 26

My Poems Avoid Higher Math: A Short Interview with Bob Hicok (via the Merrimack Review)

RC: What role should poetry play in everyday life?

BH: None. Should sounds like eating vegetables. I'm sorry— I sort of criticised your question there. But I don't like should. I'm guessing that your question has to do, in part, with poetry's diminished status in our culture. I certainly wish poetry still didn't seem so strange to people. Which is weird, given that, if people write, they're more likely to write poetry than anything else, in my experience. With that in mind, I think poetry is an every-day thing for many.
May 25

The winner of last night’s ZAP! Slam, São Paulo, as part…



The winner of last night’s ZAP! Slam, São Paulo, as part of the FLUPP literary festival. In the third and final round, he performed a piece that consisted of two and a half minutes of silence, and a line that said something about how we are all mute in some way or another. I didn’t get a precise translation. Take note: there’s an art to holding your ground against expectation for two and a half minutes when every other piece before yours has put forward some kind of passionate exclamation. He approached the mic and backed away, toyed with us just enough so we didn’t question that it was all leading to something, and finally delivered. In conversation after the set, he called it a Kamikaze slam poem. For sure… but what a way to kill a slam, to subvert the form… #vscocam

May 24

“The world of the interrupt and the distraction keep us busy. That of course does not mean we are…”

“The world of the interrupt and the distraction keep us busy. That of course does not mean we are productive. The basics are common sense but in a seductive trivia-driven world rarely common practise. Re-boot these practices: (1) Be proactive; choose what you are going to do against your true priorities (2) set your priorities against your personal compass of the key areas of your life: career/health/finance/relationships/fun and contribution.”

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Deep Dive Productivity 12: Brilliant at the Basics - Nicholas Bate

Nicholas Bate consistently brings the good. If I had a fantasy faculty for a professional development programme for creatives, he’d be a first draft pick every time.

May 24

“I contribute in a variety of ways (if we must derive value from the idea of contributions): I have a…”

“I contribute in a variety of ways (if we must derive value from the idea of contributions): I have a day job and I also write, edit and publish work as a poet. I do not moonlight as a poet. Poetry is a job like many others. In some ways, it is more difficult; it is self-created. I believe that a Poet is not merely one who writes poetry but one whose dedication to poetry fits into their private or public lifestyle, and one who advocates for poetry in a way they believe to be valuable and meaningful.”

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Dispelling the Myth of the Poet: Why All Writers Should Defend Their Craft | Lisa Marie Basile

Dear poet: read the linked article immediately. Dear people who aren’t poets: please do the same. It certainly reminds me of a few too many conversations I’ve experienced. “So you’re a poet, eh?” they say with the kind of casual sneer reserved for someone who’s said they’ve just seen a unicorn…

May 23