This section contains various descriptions and short pieces that are not substantive enough to include elsewhere but are worthy of attention.
Magnificent Libraries, A beautiful powerpoint show created by Dan Calistrat, with music by Fur Elise-Beethoven, 2009.
Slideshow: Bruno Torfs' Sculptures & Paintings:
"By making us stop for a moment, poetry gives us an opportunity to think about ourselves as human beings on this planet and what we mean to each other.
- by Rita Dove
“Slam Poetry” is connected to “hip hop” or “rap music” which like jazz, has its origins in black culture. This fascinating and dynamic new form introduced the term “wigger”---the white kid who wants to be black. It is interesting that 70 per cent of hip hop sells to the white audience.
With its close connections to hip hop, “slamming” is poetry and performance. Equal weight is given to the poetic lines and recitation (performance). The event is competitive. A mediocre poem performed passionately can beat out a superior poem read lifelessly.
There seems little question that slamming came along at the right time when oral tradition was being eradicated by too much abstraction and analysis. Slam events breathe new life and passion into poetic experience. Yet the grounding in hip hop (rap) sometimes undermines these values.
As one ciritic, John Sutherland, put it, “the ability to wrongfoot prejudice, shuffle images and make whitey look stupid is one of the most interesting features of rap.” Hip hop in wrong form magnifies the black/white divide in America and in its other demeaning references---women as bitches and ho’s---is a danger for the slam vitality and integrity.
EMILY DICKINSON’S “MENTOR’
Although identified as reclusive, Emily Dickinson had a literary friend and correspondent whom she thought could be her mentor: Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Dickinson followers will recognize his fame in association with the poet. In a recent review (Wall Street Journal, August 16-17, 2008), Bill Christopherson .adroitly gets the essence of their relationship:
“Though she addressed him as 'Preceptor' and countenanced with good grace his initial attempts to sand her raw prosodic edges, Higginson hadn’t much to teach her. He was, however, an appreciative reader. His spot-on characterization of Dickinson’s verse: 'poetry torn up by the roots' that 'takes one’s breath away.' ”
IRISH NOBEL LAUREATE SEAMUS HEANEY ON ROBERT BURNS
Vegetation to Flowers to Poems
Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise. The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet----if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it.
Much later, those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species. Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first ting they came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics.
Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature. The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness. The feelings of joy and love are intrinsically connected to that recognition.
From Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, 1995