Sunday, July 28, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

If you care about poetry, I suggest checking out Mark Edmundson's "Poetry Slam: Or, The Decline of American Verse" in the July issue of Harper's. While I find the article to be an academic version of a lit professor saying, "Back in the old days..." with occasional whining and pontificating, he does have some good points. Take these two examples: 
  • "What happens when poets at the height of ambition somehow feel the need to be programmatically obscure? The obvious result is that they shut out the common reader. But they also give critics far too much room to determine poetic meanings--and this may be why some critics so love Graham and Muldoon and Carson and Ashbery. Their poems are so underdetermined in their sense that the critic gets to collaborate on the verses, in effect becoming a co-creator. This is a boon to critics, but readers rightly look to poets to make sense of the world, even if it is a difficult sense--and not to pass half the job off to Ph.D.s"
  • "It is they [big-name poets] whom younger writers are to look up to, they who set the standard--and the standard is all for inwardness and evasion, hermeticism and self-regard: beautiful, accomplished, abstract poetry that refuses to be the poetry of our climate."
I wonder if the good Dr. Edmundson has read Sullivan's Every Seed of the Pomegranate, Vanderberg's The Alphabet Not Unlike the World, or Williams' The Road to Happiness? I also wonder if Edmundson writes his own poetry. 

Recently I became a subscriber to I don't know why it's taken me so long to do something like this. First, it's free, so that appeals to my frugal nature. Second, daily I get old strips and current ones. Every day I'm reading Doonsebury, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, F Minus, Candorville, Off the Mark, and Strange Brew along with editorial cartoons from Tom Toles, Mike Luckovich, and Michael Ramirez. Also, I'm getting recycled strips of Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes. Those are my top two comic strips of all time, and I read them when I was a kid.

Coincidentily, I looked at Utne's nominees for the its Media Awards, checked them out, and subscribed to various Web-based magazines like TomDispatch, Grist, and OnEarth. I'm also getting updates from The American Conservative for some variety in my political reading diet, and there's an article about Calvin & Hobbes by Gracy Howard that's worth a quick read: "Imagination and the Artistic Value of Calvin & Hobbes." I look forward to watching the documentary she writes about. The strips below showcase Watterson's artistry. 

Sorry for the bleeding into the right bar, but the only way to see them well is making them extra large. 

Last night Mrs. Nasty and I went out to supper and then watched The Wolverine, the latest Hollywood offering from the Marvel universe. As comic book-based movies go, it's a good one. From my perspective, Jackman seems to get the character of Logan/Wolverine, and this movie provides a good character study. I remember reading the Wolverine four-part series in the early 80s when he went to Japan, which I think the screenplay chose parts to use in the film. I remember the comic book differently though. The love interest angle was a bigger theme, and I vaguely remember him training as a samurai, but I could be wrong. Because I enjoyed that short series back then (1982), I bought the book (below) that collects the issues. I'm looking forward to this rediscovery. 

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