Tuesday, March 17, 2015

20. My father in downtown red...

This is a chorus from Mexico City Blues. There's a point in this book where Kerouac hits his stride and can do no wrong.

My father in downtown red
walked around like a shadow
of ink black, in hat, nodding,
in the immemorial lights of my dreams.

One of the lines I like the most is "straw hat, newspaper in pocket, liquor on the breath, barbershop shine." It just defines an image through four associated facts.

Monday, March 16, 2015

19. Oh rose thou art sick

Oh rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the Howling storm...

I know that I've known this poem since high school. I may have had to rememorize it once, but that consisted of looking at it briefly.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

18. La encina

La encina, que conserva más un rayo
de sol que todo un mes de primavera,
no siente lo espontáneo de su sombra,
la sencillez del crecimiento, apenas
si conoce el terreno en que ha brotado.
Con ese viento que en sus ramas deja
lo que no tiene música, imagina
para sus sueños una gran meseta.
Y con qué rapidez se identifica

This 3rd section of Don de la ebriedad still blows my mind. I've re-learnt it many times since I first read it in the 80s to do my dissertation.


"García Lorca’s 1936 play appears in the collection Three Tragedies, making its genre explicit."

Well, no. Lorca's subtitle for this play is "Drama de mujeres en los pueblos de España." If after his death someone wants to put it in a collection called "Three Tragedies," that is fine, but that is an editorial decision made long after the author's death.

This is an article that points out that one of the similarities between Waiting for Godot and La casa de Bernarda Alba is they are both plays!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The MFA article that went viral on the internet


What are his main points:

Writers are born with talent.

If you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it.

If you complain about not having time to write, please do us both a favor and drop out.

If you aren't a serious reader, don't expect anyone to read what you write.

No one cares about your problems if you're a shitty writer.

You don't need my help to get published.

It's not important that people think you're smart.
We might consider a PhD version of this. It wouldn't be the same, because creative writing and critical scholarship in the humanities are not identical. Still, I honestly don't see the objections to this article, aside from a tasteless joke about child abuse.

My list would start like this:

You probably shouldn't get a PhD in literature (foreign language or English) if you only read the books assigned to you by your professors.

If you don't have serious interest both in literature of the past and in your own contemporaries...

From a follow up interview:
People think you're an asshole for saying some people have more talent than others.

In what part of life is this not true?

17. Caminante, son tus huellas

Here's another one I've known for a long time. "Caminante, son tus huellas / el camino, y nada más." A. Machado.

This poem is extraordinary because if its redundancy. It uses about 10 times more words than necessary to make its point, but this is actually a good thing here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

16. Flowers by the sea

Here's another poem I memorized when I wrote about it in graduate school. I also included it in my first published article. I still think that's a good article.