"Engage in the long, faithful work,” a beautiful graphic poem about learning anti-racism

This is a really powerful (and painfully relevant) poem by Morgan Harper Nichols. I think it works even more profoundly in the carousel of images, as embedded in the Instagram post below. I'll copy the full text (from her original post) below.

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Engage in the long, faithful work. Surrender the need of striving to be the best or always right and focus instead on leaning into Light, that reveals all things. All that is good and all that stands to be corrected, and redirected. And as you lean into Light, be gentle with the word “darkness.” For more than it merely means wrong or bad, it is also the color of a full, starless night sky, and actual bodies of human beings who have been overlooked too many times. Many, many words hold more than one meaning. Language on “light” and “dark” may have its place, and this is also true, this very language has been used to say, “You are a threat. I am not. I am worth more than you.” It takes kindness to understand this, for even though kindness is a beautiful word. it does not mean that nothing gets disrupted. Sometimes a way of thinking must be interrupted in order for kindness to truly thrive. For as sure as kindness leans into what is good, it also speaks about what isn’t right. It is compassionate and gentle when long histories are pulled from mourning into morning. Engage in the long, faithful work of awakening with your heart and mind open to the possibility that things are more complex than they once seemed.

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Beat poet Michael McClure, RIP

Esteemed Beat poet Michael McClure has died of complications from a stroke he suffered last year. He was 87 years old. A key figure in the 1950s San Francisco scene that formed around Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin's City Lights Bookstore, McClure was a contemporary of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Philip Lamantia. Along with his ecstatic, rhythmic poems, McClure also penned plays, songs, novels, and journalism for the likes of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. Above, McClure reads his poetry to lions in 1966 for the USA: Poetry television series. From the New York Times:

A then 22-year-old McClure helped organize the famous Six Gallery beat poetry reading on Oct. 7, 1955, and later read at the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park that launched the Summer of Love in 1967 and at The Band’s “Last Waltz” concert at Winterland in 1976[...]

In McClure’s 1982 nonfiction account of the Six Gallery reading, “Scratching the Surface of the Beats,” he set the stage for the revolution that was to follow in the mid-1950s:

“The world that we tremblingly stepped out into in that decade was a bitter, gray one," he wrote. “We saw that the art of poetry was essentially dead — killed by war, by academies, by neglect, by lack of love, and by disinterest. We knew we could bring it back to life.”

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And another surprise stunner from Bob Dylan!

"I sleep with life and death in the same bed." Two weeks ago, the great Bob Dylan released his first new song in eight years, "Murder Most Foul," a beautiful ballad about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Today, he surprised us with the stunning "I Contain Multitudes."

I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones And them British bad boys, the Rolling Stones I go right to the edge, I go right to the end I go right where all things lost are made good again I sing the songs of experience like William Blake I have no apologies to make Everything flowing all at the same time I live on a boulevard of crime I drive fast cars, and I eat fast foods I contain multitudes

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Someone made Found Poetry out of all the emails they've received about COVID-19

I know she doesn't specifically say that these are all emails from Brands™ or PR people — but I think we all know the truth. Either way, that's some beautiful god damn poetry.

Image: John Cummings / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0)

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The oldest written record of "fuck" has been discovered — and it comes from a plague quarantine

The new BBC documentary Scotland — Contains Strong Language explores the Bannatyne Manuscript from 1568. Written by Edinburgh Merchant George Bannatyne while he was quarantined during — appropriately enough — a plague, the collection includes a poem titled "The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy," an account of a duel between two poets said to have been conducted before the court of King James IV.

As Ars Technica explains:

Flyting is a poetic genre in Scotland—essentially a poetry slam or rap battle, in which participants exchange creative insults with as much verbal pyrotechnics (doubling and tripling of rhymes, lots of alliteration) as they can muster. (It's a safe bet Shakespeare excelled at this art form.)

And it is in that poem that these words were found, amidst the barbs shot back-and-forth between these poets: "wan fukkit funling."

According to Dr Joanna Kopaczyk, a historical linguistics expert from Glasgow University, that makes it the first recorded use of the word "fuck."

To me, that looks more like Scots than Middle English, although both languages were derived from Olde English. There are also some people who insist that Scots is merely a dialect of English, rather than its own language. Scots should also not be confused with Scottish Gaelic. That being said: is anyone surprised that Scotland would be home to the first "fuck?"

Scotland's claim to fame as birthplace of the F-word revealed [Brian Ferguson / The Scotsman]

500-year-old manuscript contains earliest known use of the “F-word” [Jennifer Ouelette / Ars Technica]

Image: Gareth E. Read the rest

Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read a Shakespeare sonnet every day

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#ASonnetADay

A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:06pm PDT

"Having spent so much of my life with Shakespeare’s world, passions and ideas in my head and in my mouth, he feels like a friend—someone who just went out of the room to get another bottle of wine," Patrick Stewart once said.

On Instagram, he's now delivering a daily fix of the Bard. See them all at @sirpatstew on Instagram.

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It has led me to undertake what follows. When I was a child in the 1940s, my mother would cut up slices of fruit for me (there wasn't much) and as she put it in front of me she would say: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." How about, “A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away”? So...here we go: Sonnet 1.

A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 22, 2020 at 4:28pm PDT

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#ASonnetADay

A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 28, 2020 at 12:35pm PDT

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"What is a robot?" Pioneering roboticist Rodney Brooks answers with a sonnet

IEEE Spectrum asked pioneering roboticist Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and former head of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the eternal engineering question: "What is a robot?" Inspired by computational neuroscientist Warren McCulloch who enjoyed writing sonnets, Brooks responded to the query in iambic pentameter. Here's the beginning:

What Is a Robot? By Rodney Brooks

Shall I compare thee to creatures of God? Thou art more simple and yet more remote. You move about, but still today, a clod, You sense and act but don’t see or emote.

You make fast maps with laser light all spread, Then compare shapes to object libraries, And quickly plan a path, to move ahead, Then roll and touch and grasp so clumsily.

Read the rest: "What Is a Robot? Rodney Brooks Offers an Answer—in Sonnet Form" (IEEE Spectrum)

image: Brooks led development of the COG robot seen in this photo by Rama (CC BY-SA 3.0 FR) Read the rest

New video for Iggy Pop's spoken-song based on Lou Reed poem

Iggy Pop's "We Are the People" is based on a poem penned in 1970 by his old friend, the great Lou Reed. About the poem, Pop told the BBC back in September, "My God, this is the country today as I understand it, or at least one legitimate portrayal of the country today." Last week, Pop performed "We Are the People" with Reed's widow Laurie Anderson at Carnegie Hall for the Tibet House Benefit and now he's released this striking video performance. The song appears on Pop's latest album Free. From "We Are the People:"

We are the people without land / We are the people without tradition...

We are the people without sorrow who have moved beyond national pride and indifference to a parody of instinct / We are the people who are desperate beyond emotion because it defies thought / We are the people who conceive our destruction and carry it out lawfully

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Ferlinghetti's prescient poem, "Pity the Nation," describes actual SOTU, 2020

This Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem crossed my transom yesterday morning. I cannot think of a more fitting encapsulation of where we are, here in our post Rule of Law era.

"PITY THE NATION" (After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep And whose shepherds mislead them Pity the nation whose leaders are liars Whose sages are silenced And whose bigots haunt the airwaves Pity the nation that raises not its voice Except to praise conquerors And acclaim the bully as hero And aims to rule the world By force and by torture Pity the nation that knows No other language but its own And no other culture but its own Pity the nation whose breath is money And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed Pity the nation oh pity the people who allow their rights to erode and their freedoms to be washed away My country, tears of thee Sweet land of liberty!

[H/t Linda Lewitt]

Image: Lawrence Ferlinghetti at Caffe Trieste in 2012 by Christopher Michel. CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Watch Leonard Cohen read "The Only Tourist in Havana Turns His Thoughts Homeward" (1965)

“I was in Havana in 1961 during the Bay of Pigs invasion fighting on both sides,” said the great Leonard Cohen in 1965 before reading this fantastic satirical poem he wrote while in Cuba. It's called "The Only Tourist in Havana Turns His Thoughts Homeward."

Cohen's experiences in Havana, including being arrested during the revolution there, were documented in a 2018 episode of the animated series Drawn & Recorded, with art by Drew Christie and narration by T Bone Burnett. You can watch the episode's trailer below and read about it in this Billboard article.

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Woman discovers 'secret' coded message in John Milton poem 'Paradise Lost'

A young Massachusetts woman who recently graduated from Tufts University is convinced that she has found a 'secret' encoded message in “Paradise Lost,” the poem by John Milton. Read the rest

Millennials are killing Poe's Raven

From Ross Wolinsky's "The Millennial Raven" in McSweeney's: Once upon a midnight dreary, Tinder swiping, buzzed and weary/I asked Siri about my sushi ordered one hour before/ While I chewed some pretzels, snacking, suddenly there came a tapping/As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my apartment door/“’Tis my roommate,” I muttered, “walking ‘cross the hardwood floor/Only this and nothing more.” (via Kottke) Read the rest

Translating Homer's Odyssey into limericks

Emily Wilson is the author of a new "lean, fleet-footed translation" of Homer's Odyssey that "recaptures Homer's 'nimble gallop.'" Read the rest

Where would you put the word "fuck" in William Carlos Williams's "This is Just to Say"?

Your choices: Read the rest

Joy Harjo named 23rd Poet Laureate, first Native American to serve in U.S. position of honor

“Words are powerful and can make change when understanding appears impossible.”

David Silverberg's "Terms and Conditionals": the things you just agreed to

[David Silverberg's As Close to the Edge Without Going Over is a new book of genre poetry from Canadian speciality press ChiZine (previously). I was tickled by his poem "Terms and Conditionals" (for reasons that will be immediately obvious) and I asked him if we could reprint it here -- he graciously assented. -Cory] Read the rest

Video for Patti Smith's gorgeous tribute to avant-garde poet/dramatist Antonin Artaud

The great Patti Smith collaborated with New York City experimental audio artists Soundwalk Collective on the forthcoming LP "Peyote Dance," a celebration of French avant-garde dramatist and poet Antonin Artaud (1896-1948). I've been fascinated with Artaud's "Theater of Cruelty" since my first exposure to him in my friend Adam Parfrey (RIP) and Bob Black's seminal 1989 anthology Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illumination 1558–Present. Knowing Smith's admiration for French 19th century poets like Arthur Rimbaud, this glorious homage to Artaud makes perfect surrealist sense.

"The will of that man, the energy," Smith said. "If we, the living, send out radio and energy waves, the energy of those last poems is still reverberating."

Above, the track "Ivry." Background from the Bella Union record label:

The Peyote Dance focuses on a brief part of Artaud’s time, who travelled to Mexico City in early 1936 to deliver a series of lectures at the University of Mexico on topics including Surrealism, Marxism and theatre. In the summer, he travelled by train towards the Chihuahua region, and saddled by horse to the Tarahumara mountains with the help of a mestizo guide – which the album’s opening track, recited by Gael Garcia Bernal, evokes. Artaud was drawn to the story of the Rarámuri: Native Indian people who live in the Norogachi region of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, the Sierra Tarahumara. One of Artaud’s goals was to find a peyote shaman who could heal him; allowing him to recover from an opioid addiction.

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