We began April with a quotation from T S Eliot; one of the great modernist poets, he wrote some of the most original and striking poetry of the 20th century. To get a feel for more of his work, try these suggestions:
- Read the Preludes. ( This is where the wonderful phrase in the title of this post comes from.)
- Watch and listen to The Waste Land, his greatest poem.
- Read Australian author Stephen Carroll’s brilliant novel, The Lost Life, for an interpretation of the private life behind Eliot’s poetry.
- Have a look at the biography Painted Shadow: the life of Vivienne Eliot for the story of the scandals in Eliot’s first marriage. Eliot’s first wife is said to have influenced his poetry as both his ‘muse’ and his ‘torment’.
- Read this annotated version of the famous poem The Hollow Men (This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper)
Advertised as ‘Poetry in your hand’, the Poem Flow app from the Academy of American Poets (at poets.org) is a new and unusual way of enjoying poetry. I really like it, while being quite happy to admit that it’s not for everyone. Let me explain how it works.
‘A whitely wanton with a velvet brow’ and ‘raven black’ eyes, Shakespeare’s Dark Lady is shrouded in mystery. She appears towards the end of the sequence of Shakespeare’s sonnets (from Number 127); her identity is still unknown in spite of years of research, speculation and wild guesses. As the World Shakespeare Festival (and Shakespeare’s birthday) is upon us, let’s have a look at some of these conjectures and at some of the sonnets.
This wonderful library has been on my radar since I first visited New York, a city well-known for its beautiful buildings, famous museums and great libraries (think of the New York Public Library and the special collections in the Pierpont Morgan Museum.) The Reed Foundation Library in Poets House is in Lower Manhattan, near Battery Park. I love it because of its atmosphere: warm, welcoming, spacious. There are leather couches, big windows with views over the Hudson River and shelves and shelves of poetry books. An independent, not-for-profit organization, it’s open to the public and it’s free. Continue reading
Why the Titanic? As we embark on Titanic 100, the centenary commemoration of the famous ship’s disaster, it’s interesting to speculate why this story has such a strong hold on the public imagination. Why, for instance, are we having a Titanic concert here in Adelaide this week? Why are people queuing to have their wedding photographs taken in a replica of the Titantic’s stateroom? And why on earth would anyone want to buy their daughter a special edition Titanic Barbie doll?
Robert Sullivan wrote a moving article, ‘Why the Titanic still matters’ in a recent issue of the Huffington Post. I found this quite convincing until I read Catherine Bennett’s blistering counter-argument, ‘Can we please just sink the Titanic once and for all?’ in The Observer. Both articles are well worth reading.
I am not going to see the 3D version of the movie, or bake a Titanic cake . But I do like the idea of re-reading some of my favourite Edwardian fiction, particularly the novels that portray the slice of wealthy, aristocratic society whose members would have had the leisure and the money to board a world-class cruise ship. And for that I can’t go past Edith Wharton’s superb novel of manners The House of Mirth (1905) nor Henry James’ beautiful but sinister Golden Bowl (1904).
Last month I posted a description of a Writers Week event called The Away Bound Train : writers on place. This month Kylie Jarrett, a Reading Woman from Flinders University, shares her thoughts on a book that is very much about place – mountains in Nepal and Peru: