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Ah, Philip Larkin.  Being shown Larkin in college was revelatory for me.  I wrote my final paper on his poetry.  Looking at it now I can see both what appealed to me then, but I can also see how amazing his writing is, what depths can be discovered.  I think that I found him to be a bridge between the formal poetry of the past and the themes that would come to dominate poetry in the late 50's and 60's in free verse. 
Larkin was a bitter and cynical man and his poems reflect a very post-war, British sensibility of austerity and change (in my American eyes).  And while his poems reflect that cynicism, it is interesting to me that he was still able to produce this body of work--that nihilism and pessimism did not stop him from the need to write.  Like Dorothy Parker, he flirted with suicide, wrote of it as a desirable thing, and yet staggered on creating.

This is probably his most famous poem.

This Be the Verse
~Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, b…

Poems for National Poetry Month

Kid
~Simon Armitage
Batman, big shot, when you gave the order
to grow up, then let me loose to wander
leeward, freely through the wild blue yonder
as you liked to say, or ditched me rather,
in the gutter…well, I turned the corner.
Now I’ve scotched that ‘he was like a father
to me’ rumour, sacked it, blown the cover
on that ‘he was like an elder brother’
story, let the cat out on the caper
with the married woman, how you took her
downtown on expenses in the motor.
Holy robin-redbreast-nest-egg shocker!
Holy roll-me-over-in-the-clover,
I’m not playing ball boy any longer
Batman, now I’ve doffed that off-the-shoulder
Sherwood-Forest-green and scarlet number
for a pair of jeans and crew-neck jumper;
now I’m taller, harder, stronger, older.
Batman, it makes a marvelous picture:
you without a shadow, stewing over
chicken giblets in the pressure cooker,
next to nothing in the walk-in larder,
punching the palm of your hand all winter,
you baby, now I’m the real boy wonder.


On Being a Woman
~Do…

Review of the two versions of Frankenstein

Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature, Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein Alas, they put him in a loin cloth--probably to not have to rate it R over here. But the bum was still awesome and yes, I thought how uncomfortable those boys must be during--like puppetry of the penis. The play (IMHO): BC/Creature--11 (BC was perhaps a tad too funny--I'm dying now to see the reversal) JLM/Victor--10 (a little too one-note, but I think that was a fault of the script.) Karl Johnson/De Lacey--9 Rest of cast--5 (except the maid--she was cool) Text--8 Set--besides the big musical numbers (Steampunk Starlight Express and Brigadoon, the Zombie Version)--9 (the floor in particular was perfect) Music/sound (in our version)--too loud and inappropriate in some scenes Lighting--intriguing, prob. 8. I liked the use of lightbulbs--the subtle suggestion of industry and electricity--and there were enough of them to be very, very good. Some bursting flares that were a little odd. Reminded me of a recent produc…

Where do I look, where do I witness?

My thoughts are with friends and their families directly touched by the earthquake in Japan and by the resulting tsunami.

We run out of money and in many ways we run out of emotion as well.

Peru, Australia, New Zealand, now Japan…

In a different category, Wisconsin, Prop. 8…

Each new and immediate catastrophe pre-empts the one before. Our money and our focus are needed elsewhere. New Orleans is still rebuilding, Iraq is still in pieces, but we must parcel out our love and our money in triage.


I can't help anyone cause everyone's so cold
Everyone's so skeptical of
everything they're told
And even I get sick of needing to be sold

Though it's only half a month away, the media's gone
An entertaining
scandal broke today, but I can't move on
I'm haunted by a story and I do my
best to tell it
Can't even give this stuff away, why would I sell it?
Everybody's laughing, while at me they point a finger
A world that loves
its irony must hate the protest singer

So I'll be…

"...coming to terms with this permanent state of combat readiness..."

A remarkable article by an American Iraqi veteran on being home:

"Jumping back into civilian life headlong, like I'd originally attempted, proved
both disastrous and shortsighted. And coming to terms with this permanent state
of combat readiness has made me realize just how much I miss war (or parts of
it), and how lucky--and twisted--I am to be able to even write those words. I
miss the camaraderie. I miss the raw excitement."

"I miss that daily sense of purpose, survive or die, that simply can't be
replicated in everday existence. I miss standing for something more than myself,
even if I never figured out just what the hell that something was supposed to
be."

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/pilgrims-progress/?scp=3&sq=matt%20gallagher&st=cse

Le Carre - Our Kind of Traitor

I always feel despair when I finish a Le Carre. At the state of the world. At the bastard who profit in it.

All right, granted, the Service has a statutory interest in international
crookery and money-laundering. We fought for a piece of it when times were hard,
and now we’re landed with it. I refer to that unfortunate fallow period between
the Berlin Wall coming down and Osama bin Laden doing us the favor of 9/11. We
fought for a piece of the money-laundering market the same as we fought for a
larger slice of Northern Ireland, and whatever other modest pickings were
available to justify our existence. But that was then, Hector. And this is now,
and as of today, which is where we are living, like it or not, your Service and
mine has better things to do with its time and resources than get its knickers
caught in the highly complex wheels of City of London finance, thank you.

…furthermore, we also have, in this country, a very large, fully
incorporated, somewhat over-financed sister agency that dev…