The tunnel between 8th and 9th Ave at the Times Square Station has this lovely poem in it.
Dumb likes to play dumb. Warhol would often would say to people, “I’m so empty today. I can’t think of any ideas. Can you give me some?” He would then pretend to listen carefully, ultimately rejecting every idea that was given to him. That’s what made Warhol so great: he wouldn’t take other people’s dumb ideas. He had his own dumb ideas which were really much smarter. When dumb tries to be smart, you get Billy Idol. Or Rod Stewart. In order for dumb to work, it has to stay dumb. But staying dumb is hard work—even harder work than staying smart. With a bit of effort, anyone can get smarter; but few can consciously and continually stay dumb.
Now listen! Can’t you see that when the language was new — as it was with Chaucer and Homer — the poet could use the name of a thing and the thing was really there? He could say “O moon,” “O sea,” “O love” and the moon and the sea and love were really there. And can’t you see that after hundreds of years had gone by and thousands of poems had been written, he could call on those words and find that they were just worn-out literary words? The excitingness of pure being had withdrawn from them; they were just rather stale literary words. Now the poet has to work in the excitingness of pure being; he has to get back that intensity into the language. We all know that it’s hard to write poetry in a late age; and we know that you have to put some strangeness, something unexpected, into the structure of the sentence in order to bring back vitality to the noun. Now it’s not enough to be bizarre; the strangeness in the sentence structure has to come from the poetic gift, too. That’s why it’s doubly hard to be a poet in a late age.
Taken from a speech by Gertrude Stein at the University of Chicago. Recorded by Thornton Wilder in the introduction to Four in America
(1947). (via stilleatingoranges
When Collins first published the paradelle, it was with the footnote “The paradelle is one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d’oc love poetry of the eleventh century. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only these words.” Not all reviewers of Collins’ book recognized that the paradelle was a parody of formal poetry and of amateur poets who adhered to formalism at the expense of sense. Some reviews criticized “Paradelle for Susan” as an amateurish attempt at a difficult form without ever understanding that this was, indeed, the point.
We’ll begin with box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes;
The one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese;
You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice;
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But a bow, if repeated, is never called bine;
And the plural of vow is vows, never vine.
If I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular’s this and the plural is these,
Should be plural of kiss ever be keese?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose;
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren;
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his, and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim.
So the English, I think, you all will agree,
Is the greatest language you ever did see.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce Black Rabbit Magazine.
It’s a magazine, available right now for just seven dollars, that collects together 38 pages of content I have never made available online, including essays, fiction, poetry, and photography.
This is an experiment in self-publishing and a reminder to myself that I do indeed know how to lay out a magazine. (I learned in high school.)
Even if you can’t spare the money to buy and issue yourself (Only seven dollars for the print version! Only $1.50 for the digital PDF!), please pass along the link to everyone you know. I’m really proud of this, and want to make it a recurring publication, especially if there’s interest.
Again, that’s Black Rabbit Magazine. There’s even a full-text preview on the site! Go check it out!
Reposting for the afternoon crowd. Magazine! Buy it!