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Leaves of Glass: Breaking Bad’s Walt Whitman fixation, and 'Ozymandias' deconstructed

At Poetry Magazine, TV critic Kera Bolonik answers the questions, "how does Walter White compare to Walt Whitman? And what cynical commentary on our times, on humanity, does series creator Vince Gilligan make with this subversive pairing?"

Some snippets from her answers:

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Lies I've Told My 3 Year Old Recently


If you want to have your guts ripped out through your eyeballs, have a look at "Lies I've Told My 3 Year Old Recently," a short, sweet poem by Raul Gutierrez (possibly this Raul Gutierrez, but I'd be grateful for correction if you know better) that has a barb buried in it. Here's how it starts:

Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.

My favorite line is: "If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky."

Update: That's the right Gutierrez; I've updated the link below to go to his site.

Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently

(Image: Clouds, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nirak's photostream)

Poe's The Raven as a studio exec's lament

Torgo's parody of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven is a particularly well-done example of the genre, which has many entrants (it's the Harlem Shake of poetry!):

Turning back, I saw them seated; feeling injured and defeated
I approached and wanly greeted them: "Sylvester! Ms. Lenore!
I sincerely hope you're thriving - had I known you were arriving
I'd have sent out for reviving frappuccinos from the store;
Frappuccinos, danish pastries, and spring water from the store -
Next time, why not call before?"

The actor sat there, massive, with his craggy face impassive,
And it seemed that I'd established neither good will nor rapport.
The signs were not propitious; I thought it certainly suspicious
That he came in train with vicious, feared and cynical Lenore -
Still I leaned across the table and began to speak - "Lenore-"
Quoth the agent: "Rambo IV!"

Coming soon: RIMBAUD - FIRST BLOOD (via Making Light)

Automated constrained poetry, made from Markov Chains and Project Gutenberg

A "Snowball" is a poem "in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer." Nossidge built an automated Snowball generator that uses Markov Chains, pulling text from Project Gutenberg. It's written in C++, with code on GitHub. The results are rather beautiful poems (these ones are "mostly Dickens"):

o
we
all
have
heard
people
believe
anything

i
am
the
dawn
light
before
anybody
expected
something
disorderly

i
am
the
very
great
change

Snowball (also called a Chaterism) (via Waxy)

Grendel as Grinch

Ross sez, "I was reading Thomas Meyer's great new translation of Beowulf when the annual showing of The Grinch came on. The potential for a mash-up overwhelmed me, and this is the result."

Every Scylding in Heorot liked mead a lot,
But Grendel the beast, roaring outside did not.

Grendel hated Scyldings, the whole Danish clan.,
Can I say why? I don’t think I can.

He spied on the Scyldings, he fumed and he wailed.,
He watched as in Heorot they drank mead and drank ale.

Grendel as Grinch

Lord Buckley meets Groucho Marx

Nothing says Christmas like jazz poetry, and nothing says jazz poetry like Lord Buckley's appearance on You Bet Your life. If you only watch one 10-minute video of a jazz poet trading quips with Groucho Marx this holiday season, make it this one. Bonus: a totally unsubstantiated comment on the YouTube page says that Buckley's partner is actor Amy Poehler's grandmother.

Lord Buckley / Groucho Marx

Lord Buckley recounts the life of Christ: The Nazz!

Boing Boing is committed to bringing you your annual portion of Lord Buckley's inspirational beat poetry. Earlier this month, I posted his version of "A Christmas Carol". Now, here's "The Nazz," Lord Buckley's indispensible biography of Jesus Christ. This is all the Christmas cheer anyone needs. With this alone, we could rebuild civilization from rubble.

Lord Buckley - The Nazz (Thanks, Iain!)

See also: Dig Infinity!, a biography of Lord Buckley

Lord Buckley's "Christmas Carol"

Patrick sez, "Lord Buckley was a comedian/storyteller who performed in the '50s. His version of A Christmas Carol is an utter delight."

Damned straight. Lord Buckley's a hero of mine, and this is him at his best. If this has you intrigued, try his version of The Raven, and Dig Infinity!, the indispensable biography of Lord Buckley.

William Shatner talks slam poetry app

It's almost 10 PM in London and William Shatner is on the phone, sing-speaking the word "algorithm" to me, trying out various cadences. It feels a bit surreal.Read the rest

An interpretation of "Fish's Night Song" poem from 1905


Above: Christian Morgenstern’s 1905 poem “Fish’s Night Song.”

Heinrich Plett in Literary Rhetoric, points out the obvious: “the referentiality of this isographemic configuration is polysemous.”

Fish's Night Song

Shakespearean Hokey Pokey


A bit of genius unsourced net.stuff: if Shakespeare wrote the Hokey Pokey. "The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt/Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about."

Update: And we have a source! It's from a "Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything), but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was The Hokey Pokey (as written by William Shakespeare)", "Written by Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls, Maryland, and submitted by Katherine St. John." - Thanks, princessalex!

Shakespeare Teaches the Hokey Pokey

Poem which uses all 100 Scrabble tiles


From the year 2000, Ben Engelsberg sez, "Mike Keith forumlated this brilliant poem using all 100 scrabble tiles for each of 6 verses in iambic pentameter."

A Scrabble-Tile Poem (Thanks, Ben!)

Robert Browning's "Sordello" was not received well

Please read Robert Browning's Sordello and let us know if you agree with the sentiments expressed below.

Screen Shot 2012 06 15 at 9 25 14 AMRobert Browning spent seven years composing Sordello, a 40,000-word narrative poem about strife between Guelphs and Ghibellines in 13th-century Italy. It was not received well.

Tennyson said, “There were only two lines in it that I understood, and they were both lies: ‘Who will may hear Sordello’s story told’ and ‘Who would has heard Sordello’s story told.’”

Thomas Carlyle wrote, “My wife has read through ‘Sordello’ without being able to make out whether ‘Sordello’ was a man, or a city, or a book.”

Douglas Jerrold opened the book while convalescing from an illness and began to fear that his mind had been destroyed. “O God, I AM an idiot!” he cried, sinking back onto the sofa. He pressed the book on his wife and sister; when Mrs. Jerrold said, “I don’t understand what this man means; it is gibberish,” her husband exclaimed, “Thank God, I am NOT an idiot!”


Futility Closet: A Glass Darkly

Step Gently Out: kid's poem illustrated with gorgeous macro-photo portraits of backyard bugs

Step Gently Out is children's picture book in which poet Helen Frost's verse accompanies the incredible garden insect photographs of artist/photographer Rick Lieder. I've written here many times about Rick's Bugdreams photos, and they never fail to impress and move me. Lieder's photographic portraits of bugs are all the sweeter for his method, which is to patiently crouch in his Michigan back-yard for hours and hours, waiting for the shot; it's a wonderful alternative to the traditional dead-bug-on-a-pin photos I grew up with.

Frost's poem is a sweet accompaniment to Lieder's pictures, a very light narration for photos that really speak for themselves. We got this book this week, and it's a real favorite with me and my four-year-old, and has sparked many conversations and bug-watching expeditions on the way home from day-care. To this end, there's a nice entomological appendix with interesting facts about all the bugs featured in the book.

Stunning close-up photography and a lyrical text invite us to look more closely at the world and prepare to be amazed.

What would happen if you walked very, very quietly and looked ever so carefully at the natural world outside? You might see a cricket leap, a moth spread her wings, or a spider step across a silken web.

In simple, evocative language, Helen Frost offers a hint at the many tiny creatures around us.

And in astonishing photographs, Rick Lieder captures the glint of a katydid’s eye, the glow of a firefly, and many more living wonders just awaiting discovery.

For our Michigander readers, Rick and Helen will have a gallery show at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art featuring the photos, and including a signing on April 6.

Step Gently Out

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Pentametron

"With algorithms subtle and discrete, I seek iambic writings to retweet."

Nursery Rhyme Comics: Great comic illustrators do Mother Goose

FirstSecond's new Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists is one of those rare parental treasures: a picture book that kids and parents can really enjoy together. Editor Chris Duffy invited some of the greatest names in comic illustration to choose their favorite Mother Goose classics and illustrate them to their taste.

The result is an absolute delight from the first page to the last. How can you not love a book that includes Jules Feiffer's "Girls and Boys Come Out to Play"; Lucy Knisley's "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" (a fantastic rock-n-roll reinterpretation of the original); Richard Thompson's "There Was An Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket"; Gahan Wilson's (!) "Itsy-Bitsy Spider"; Mike Mignola's "Solomon Grundy"; Jaime Hernandez's "Jack and Jill"; Jordan Crane's "Old Mother Hubbard"; Vera Bosgol's "There Was a Little Girl"; Gilbert Hernandez's "Humpty Dumpty" and Gene Yang's "Pat-a-Cake"?

That's nothing like a comprehensive list, by the way -- the table of contents for this set my mouth watering as soon as I saw it, and the live-fire bedtime exercise has been an unqualified success. My three year old is all over this like fudge on sundaes.

FirstSecond were kind enough to let me include a selection of opening pages from the book -- click through below to get a preview!

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists

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GOPokemon: an odd poetic quotation from Herman Cain

GOP candidate Herman Cain at last night's debate: ""A poet once said, 'life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it's never easy when there's so much on the line.'" That poet? The lyricist for the themesong to Pokémon: The Movie 2000, recorded by Ms Donna Summer. Who knew retrogamer chic was a Republican value?

The Mystery of Herman Cain and the Donna Summer Lyrics (via Reddit)