Sometimes people say to me, “why should I read a poem?” There are plenty of answers, from the profound – a poem is such an ancient means of communication that it feels like an evolutionary necessity – to the practical; a poem is like a shot of espresso – the fastest way to get a hit of mental and spiritual energy.
We could talk about poetry as a rope in a storm. Poetry as one continuous mantra of mental health. Poetry as the world’s biggest, longest-running workshop on how to love. Poetry as a conversation across time. Poetry as the acid-scrub of cliche.
We could say that the poem is a lie detector. That the poem is a way of thinking without losing the feeling. That a poem is a way of feeling without being too overwhelmed by feeling to think straight. That the poem is “the best words in the best order” (Coleridge). That the poem “keeps the heart awake to truth and beauty” (Coleridge again – who can resist those Romantics?). That the poem is an intervention: “The capacity to make change in existing conditions” (Muriel Rukeyser). That poetry, said Seamus Heaney, is “strong enough to help”.
Carol Ann Duffy has often spoken about poetry as an everyday event and not as a special occasion. She wants us to enjoy poetry, to have as much as we like, to be able to help ourselves to a good, fresh supply, to let poetry be as daily as talking – because poetry is talking. Words begin in the mouth before they hit the page. Speech is older than writing, and poetry is as old as speech. Poems are best spoken to get the full weight and taste of the words and the run of the lines. Difficult poems become easier when spoken.
Just as the body is shaped for movement, the mind is shaped for poetry.
Rhythm and rhyme aid recall. Poems are always rhythmic but not always rhyming. In the same way that melody became rather suspect in 20th-century classical music – atonal fractures being the mark of seriousness – so modernism rebranded rhyme as pastoral, lovesick, feminine, superficial. Fine for kids and tea towels; not fine for the muscular combative voice of the urban poet.
It has taken a long time for rhyme to return to favour. Rap and the rise of performance poetry have played a part in that return.
Jeanette Winterson on the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy in The Guardian.
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I was very flattered to be a guest writer for Meanjin this week for their series on writers reading. I was told to be very reflective on my year and.. I was that. Eek.
There’s a small child in the bed with us. I hold the sheet over me and reach down blindly to find clothes on the floor. Under the sheet I slip my underwear and t-shirt back on. So, this is dating now.
Posted in arguments with your partner, book review, fatherhood, feminism, motherhood, motherhood bliss, motherhood sux, preschoolers, school kids, sex of the icky parental kind, single parenthood, thinking, this moment, writing | 7 Comments »
Apart from undermining the credibility of paternity leave what is the point of this?
And Kate Harding has written the most perfect reply over at Dame Magazine.
Posted in babies, fatherhood, feminism, maternity leave, motherhood, motherhood sux, work and family (im)balance | 6 Comments »
Some I’ve mentioned before but in case you missed them..
Minister for Women
minister for putting your knickers into soak
for washing your bra in a laundry bag
for the stains that never come out
for hanging those sheets out to dry anyway
because fuck you
Dear Amanda and Debbie
the cake tin I’m using is square
and it’s supposed to be round
I think I married the wrong man
I am trying to trace it back to
the first wrong decision I made
Letter for a friend
Did you ever stand
with your hands in the sink
up to your elbows in soapy water
staring out the window
listening to the voices?
Posted in arguments with your partner, babies, feminism, feminist motherhood, motherhood, motherhood sux, politics, pregnancy and birth | 3 Comments »
From Damon Young’s “Men just don’t trust women. And this is a problem” in Very Smart Brothas:
But you know what I don’t really trust? What I’ve never actually trusted with any women I’ve been with? Her feelings.
If she approaches me pissed about something, my first reaction is “What’s wrong?”
My typical second reaction? Before she even gets the opportunity to tell me what’s wrong? “She’s probably overreacting.”
My typical third reaction? After she expresses what’s wrong? “Ok. I hear what you’re saying, and I’ll help. But whatever you’re upset about probably really isn’t that serious.”
I’m both smart and sane, so I don’t actually say any of this aloud. But I am often thinking it. Until she convinces me otherwise, I assume that her emotional reaction to a situation is disproportionate to my opinion of what level of emotional reaction the situation calls for. Basically, if she’s on eight, I assume the situation is really a six.
I’m speaking of my own relationship, but I know I’m not alone. The theme that women’s feelings aren’t really to be trusted by men drives (an estimated) 72.81% of the sitcoms we watch, 31.2% of the books we read, and 98.9% of the conversations men have with other men about the women in their lives. Basically, women are crazy, and we are not. Although many women seem to be very annoyed by it, it’s generally depicted as one of those cute and innocuous differences between the sexes.
Posted in arguments with your partner, feminism, pop culture, rape/sexual abuse, sex of the icky parental kind | 9 Comments »
This whole article, “A meditation on the art of not trying” in The New York Times is great but the bit about the significance of getting drunk together really stood out for me… what does this say about the massive drinking culture in Australia?
However wu wei is attained, there’s no debate about the charismatic effect it creates. It conveys an authenticity that makes you attractive, whether you’re addressing a crowd or talking to one person. The way to impress someone on a first date is to not seem too desperate to impress.
Some people, like politicians and salespeople, can get pretty good at faking spontaneity, but we’re constantly looking for ways to expose them. We put presidential candidates through marathon campaigns looking for that one spontaneous moment that reveals their “true” character.
Before signing a big deal, businesspeople often insist on getting to know potential partners at a boozy meal because alcohol makes it difficult to fake feelings. Neuroscientists have achieved the same effect in brain scanners by applying magnetic fields that suppress cognitive-control ability and in this way make it harder for people to tell convincing lies.
“Getting drunk is essentially an act of mental disarmament,” Dr. Slingerland writes. “In the same way that shaking right hands with someone assures them that you’re not holding a weapon, downing a few tequila shots is like checking your prefrontal cortex at the door. ‘See? No cognitive control. You can trust me.’ ”
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That skepticism reflects a widely held, deeply ingrained attitude reinforced by decades of warnings about poisoned Halloween candy and drink-spiking pickup artists. No wonder some of the loftier sharing-economy executives see their mission as not just building a business but fundamentally rewiring our relationships with one another. Much as the traditional Internet helped strangers meet and communicate online, they say, the modern Internet can link individuals and communities in the physical world. “The extent to which people are connected to each other is lower than what humans need,” NYU professor Arun Sundararajan says. “Part of the appeal of the sharing economy is helping to bridge that gap.” Lyft cofounder John Zimmer goes so far as to liken it to time he spent on the Oglala Sioux reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “Their sense of community, of connection to each other and to their land, made me feel more happy and alive than I’ve ever felt before,” he says. “I think people are craving real human interaction—it’s like an instinct. We now have the opportunity to use technology to help us get there.”
From “How Airbnb and Lyft finally got Americans to trust each other” in Wired.
Share represented the full gamut of a true sharing economy, from the controversial Lyfts and Airbnbs to the individuals who run home businesses knitting scarves and baking pies without traditional employment safety nets or the corporate muscle of Big Sharing. While the former wields the power to get its way, defining “the sharing economy” at the expense of workers and consumers, sole proprietors and nonprofit collectives are often the ones facing real legal problems that they can’t afford to solve. The benefits big disruptive “sharing economy” players might be making for themselves are not exactly trickling down.
From “The case against sharing” in Medium.
There is no denying the seductive nature of convenience—or the cold logic of businesses that create new jobs, whatever quality they may be. But the notion that brilliant young programmers are forging a newfangled “instant gratification” economy is a falsehood. Instead, it is a rerun of the oldest sort of business: middlemen insinuating themselves between buyers and sellers.
From “The secret to the Uber economy is inequality” in Quartz.
Posted in classism, downsized living, economics, politics, thinking | 3 Comments »