If …and Invictus

Andre Porter's Blog

About a week ago I caught one of my favorite radio talk shows, Forum with Michael Krasny on KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. His guest was Mardy Grothe of DrMardy.com. They discussed Grothe’s book “Ifferisms.” Think aphorism, but using the word if. Fascinating stuff.

While listening to the radio program, I started thinking of my favorite poem, “If”, by Rudyard Kipling. Later in the show Grothe mentions “If” and how it is one of the two or three most recognized poems in the English-speaking world. I had no idea that many people recognize it. The appeal is obviously quite universal.

I learned “If” by rote when I pledged my fraternity back in 1985. While pledging my frat – Omega Psi Phi, Incorporated – I also learned the poem “Invictus” by William Earnest Henly. Listening to Krasny’s interview of Grothe also reminded me this powerful set of syllables…

View original post 468 more words


Redefining the Art of Response

jonathan lovell's blog

Redefining the Art of Response

“And thus do we, of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and essays of bias,
By indirections find directions out”

Hamlet, Act II, scene 1, lines 63-65

You know how it is with a class that’s gone unexpectedly well. Gone a lot better than you’d anticipated.

You’re convinced it was an accident. The gods were smiling on you.


The law of unintended consequences broke in your favor. It was a fluke. It will never happen again.

This is how it’s always been with me in my use of Peter Elbow’s prompts for responding to others’ writing (Writing Without Teachers, pp. 85-92).


I was fortunate enough to be introduced quite early in my career to the idea of giving “movies of one’s mind” in response to the writing of a fellow writing group member. It came at a point when I had, more…

View original post 13,349 more words

a poem by Lisa Alvarado

To the Elysian gardener, my Fidus Achates

Spectral Lyre

These days, I find myself preferring poems of a subtle metaphysical bent or cast. Like the poems of Adam Zagajewski. He has a way of turning phenomena into melancholy and whispered beauty. But sometimes, a poem infused with amorous tensions and shaded with romantic hues finds its way into my approving head. Like the poems of Robert Desnos. Like this poem by Lisa Alvarado.

Garden, dark

At midnight, wildflower,

(Yes, that is your true name)
before that blank page of sleep overtook me,
I saw you clearly — a free spirit
blossoming outside what I call garden,
rare, color-ripe,
but destined to be forever and irretrievably another’s.

Because the wild flowers inside you,
I dream your eyes bloom at the shabbos tish,
and I feel awe washing over me —
the breath of lost angels and lost family.
A prayer flowering inside you, despite you.
In the place where winds…

View original post 274 more words

Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’: That’s how the light gets in

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

That's How The Light Gets In

To kick off its relaunch on WordPress, I thought an entry on this blog’s signature song would be appropriate.

Leonard Cohen once explained the meaning of the song as follows:

That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not…

View original post 574 more words

So you wanna be a writer……

Street of Dreams

5 things I wished I’d known starting out as a writer………

5) Rejection will hurt a lot more than you think it will.

I always knew as a writer, as any artist, that rejection is just a fairly regular part of life…for every one publication comes rejection after rejection. But pouring your heart and soul into a project, until it’s your baby, and then having someone tell you that it isn’t good enough or right for their magazine, just flat out sucks.

It will hurt. Even after you get used to it, some days when you get that letter or email that says we don’t want you and it will still put you in a crappy mood.  There will be days you will want to give up.

Most people don’t make it right away. Most people spend years of getting rejected before they ever make it.  Oh and by make…

View original post 426 more words

Maalouf’s Samarkand: ‘words to scorn are scatter’d, and mouths stopt with dust.’

The Immortals

That's How The Light Gets In

Rubaiyat Folio edition 1955

Sometimes in Samarkand, in the evening of a slow and dreary day, city dwellers would come to while the time away at the dead-end Street of Two Taverns, near the pepper market. They came not to taste the musky wine of Soghdia but to watch the comings and goings or to waylay a carouser who would then be forced down into the dust, showered with insults, and cursed into a hell whose fire, until the end of all time, would recall the ruddiness of the wine’s enticements. Out of such an incident the manuscript of the Rubaiyaat was to be born in the summer of 1072.

These are the first sentences of Samarkand, an early novel by Amin Maalouf that I read recently, drawn to it because in it, Maalouf weaves together fact and fiction in a story that has at its heart the Rubaiyaat of Omar Khayyam, written…

View original post 2,089 more words

The Phoenix rising

And when they seek
to oppress you
and destroy you;
rise and rise again
and again
like The Phoenix
from the ashes;
until the lambs
have become lions
and the rule of Darkness
is no more.”

~ Maitreya The Friend of All Souls ~