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Friday Flashback: Read poetry September 3, 2010

Posted by kmcalear in Friday Flashback, Life, Poetry.
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Friday Flashback from April 25th, 2008 (Update: I’m almost DONE with my PHD now, I’ll have to update with my new favorite poems next week!)


I’m planning to get my PHD in Spanish poetry, which always stirs stares of shock, dismay and horror from listeners. Poetry is generally described as “emo depressed people” scribbling down angst in esoteric metaphors that don’t really make sense. Or, I regularly hear the complaint, “The author really didn’t mean all that we read into the poem” or, “Poetry is just so… flowery and unreal. No one really feels like that.” Or my favorite, “I just don’t like poetry.”

¡Au contraire, mes amies! Some of our most oft-quoted phrases come directly from the world’s poets. And frankly, if you like music… you like poetry. I think some of the ‘fear’ of poetry comes from the stereotyped idea that understanding the art is best left for the literature einsteins of the world, or that it’s for those weird artsy freaks and not for the normal person. Only “smart people” get poetry, I’ve heard. That’s such a shame. There’s so much of our daily lives that can be found in poetry, it just takes letting go of the fear you won’t understand and realizing that there isn’t a correct answer to what poetry means. The only answer is “What does it mean to you?”

Here are some of my favorite lines from poems, and I’d love to hear any more y’all can come up with. There’s so many, I just had to pick a few!:

  • Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye. could frame thy fearful symmetry (William Blake)
  • Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)
  • Their’s not to make reply, Their’s not to reason why, Their’s but to do and die: Into the valley of Death, Rode the six hundred. (Tennyson)
  • A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo for evermore! For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, Through all our history, to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear, The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere. (Longfellow)
  • Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky, With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high! Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat, When they shot him down on the highway, Down like a dog on the highway, And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat. (Noyes)
  • Que es mi barco mi tesoro, que es mi dios la libertad,  mi ley, la fuerza y el viento, mi única patria, la mar (Song of the Pirate, Espronceda). (And so my boat is my treasure, my only god liberty, my law, my strength is the wind, and my only allegience the sea)
  • Oh pequeño emperador sin orbe, conquistador sin patria, mínimo tigre de salón, nupcial sultán del cielo  (Neruda, Ode to the cat) (Oh tiny emperor without kingdom, minimal tiger of the parlor, sensual sultan of heaven…)
  • La princesa está triste.. Qué tendrá la princesa? Los suspiros se escapan de su boca de fresa, que ha perdido la risa, que ha perdido el color. La princesa está pálida en su silla de oro; (Dario) (The princess is sad, why is she sad? Her sighs escape from her young lips that have lost their laughter, have lost their color. The princess is pale, sitting on her golden throne)
  • Caronte, yo seré un escándolo en tu barco. Mientras las otras sombras recen, giman, o lloren… yo iré como una alondra cantando por el río (Ibarbourou, Rebel) (Charon, I’d be a scandal on your boat. While the other shades plead, moan or cry, I would go singing like a dove along your river).



Book Review: Palabras de mediodía (Noon Words) October 8, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Book Review, Poetry.
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Most folks know by now that I’m getting my PHD, with a concentration in 20th Century Latin American poetry (and sub specialties in other areas of poetry) , so I thought I’d start introducing people to some of my favorite books of poetry.

Palabras De Mediodia : Noon Words


Palabras de Mediodía by Lucha Corpi is a book of poetry following the mysticism in nature, the eternity of the seasons and the unique connection of woman and mother to nature. It has a very mystical and metaphysical tone, and a lovely musical aspect to it. You can find the book bilingually for those who are monolingual or in English or Spanish. The book also has a strong aspect of searching and seeking love and passion of all forms, from motherhood to romantic and sensual love.



Genre: Poetry

Age: 14+

Content: Sensualism

Overall: 5 paws

Dialect vs Language September 29, 2009

Posted by kmcalear in Musings, Poetry, Writing Craft.
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I’ve been reading a lot of books written in a mix of Spanish and English, or even in an English-influenced local Spanish dialect. I’ve been studying Spanish since Junior High but I find myself struggling to understand a lot of the language used in some of these works, given it’s such a specific regional or class dialect. This frustrated me at first, until I realized I used to run into the same problems with a lot of thick southern regionalisms. It did get me thinking though as to how we should classify “regional” speech, particularly considering to understand many of these Spanglish works you have to be truly bilingual to truly appreciate them, which, by it’s nature is exclusionary. I enjoy the mix, particularly in poetry, but I still wonder if by it’s nature it will exclude many of these works from ever really joining the universal body of canonical works, because it requires a unique group of bilingual, culturally aware, readers. “Translating” a work that is specifically written bilingually always loses something. This also leads me to wonder about the place of writing an accent in your dialogue. Most conventional editors say you should keep accent out of the narration, leave it for dialogue. Others say you shouldn’t do it at all because of alienating a subset of your readers. Those who are proponents of regionalisms, bilingualism and such in literature, on the other hand, suggest that it will encourage people to try to learn the languages or regionalismis in order to understand the works, and thus should be included in the canon of works.

Just some musings…

It’s been a very very long semester already.

Irish Faery: The Wee Folk March 14, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Fantasy, Inspiration, Poetry.

“…when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” J. M Barrie

The Irish Pantheon is very rich with faeries, monsters, demons and other denizens of the imagination. When I was little I remember going on Leprechaun hunts when my friends and I would see a rainbow, although I haven’t found that pot of gold yet!

My first faerie, of course, was Tinker Bell who was a benign sort of sprite. It wasn’t until later when I learned more about the fair-folk and how some are good and others are dark and dangerous.

A few of the faeries, and I’d love for readers to add their own descriptions or describe their favorite faeries:

Changeling: The child of a Faery, usually left in the bed of a human baby when the human baby is taken away to live in the land of faerie.

Brownie: Helpful house hold spirit, who fixes things. (Think of the shoemaker’s elves)

Boggart: A brownie who has gone to The Dark Side. He breaks things and causes mischief. (Mugwai after the water drops on them!)

Banshee – Sometimes considered ghosts, these are the harbingers of the dead and often appear to people just before they die. They have a scream that when heard lets the village known that someone died.

Leprechaun – Traditionally they used to wear red, not green. They were also known as cobblers (shoe makers) and were said to hide their pots of gold from their earnings, because they are very hard working spirits. The Leprechaun would reveal where his gold is, if you hold his gaze without blinking. If you look away, the Leprechaun can escape.

Sidhe/Esidhe: These are the Queens and Kings of Faeryland, or Elfland, usually the most beautiful and bewitching creatures that mortal man can behold. Many of the dark sidhe use this beauty to bewitch and entrap men for nefarious purposes.

“True Thomas lay oer yond grassy bank,
And he beheld a ladie gay,
A ladie that was brisk and bold,
Come riding oer the fernie brae.

Her skirt was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantel of the velvet fine,
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine.

True Thomas he took off his hat,
And bowed him low down till his knee:
‘All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For your peer on earth I never did see.’

‘O no, O no, True Thomas,’ she says,
‘That name does not belong to me;
I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
And I’m come here for to visit thee.”

From FAERIES By Brian Froud and Alan Lee 


Irish Blessings March 12, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Inspiration, Life, Poetry.
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So… when it comes to wordsmiths in the English language very few cultures compare to the wit, humor and whimsy of the Irish poets, novelists and playwrights. But the Irish Aphorism is one of the jewels of literature that has entered into “world literature”. I wanted to list a few Irish Blessings today to give you some fun reading, and perhaps a few ideas when you’re looking for a good house warming gift or the perfect thing to say at the next toast:
Or they make for good characterization moments or inspiration if you need a witty saying for your character when he stops for dinner”

“May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!”

“May you be in Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead!”
“May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.”

May those who love us, love us
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if he can’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!

May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.

Here’s to a long life and a merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold beer and another one!


“May your home always be too small to hold all your friends”

“God is good, but never dance in a small boat.”

“Tis better to buy a small bouquet
And give to your friend this very day,
Than a bushel of roses white and red
To lay on his coffin after he’s dead.”

May God give you…
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.


So does anyone have other favorite phrases, or Irish blessings? Post and tell me your favorite and why, or tell me which one you find the most witty.

Kristen McAlear