Tag Archives: TS Eliot

To All You Haiku Masters (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 4)

(Episode 3 is here)

To All You Haiku Masters

it’s time to
discuss the
effable
in the room.

Back in the time before the time, the Poets’ Circle would hold a meeting every April to honor TS Eliot, the theme was always the same, “April just got crueler”. No alcohol was served.
The last meeting, before the pandemic, took place at the house of The Accomplished Poet in West Point Grey. His wife, Cheryl served her asparagus quiche, by far the highlight of the evening.
At the invitation of The Accomplished Poet, The Academic Poet read his 40 verse poem about the Canadian Constitution and afterwards spoke for an hour about the making of the poem and his creative process. He wore, as always, a Mountain Equipment Co-Op black fleece vest, a pale blue button down shirt, a pair of Khaki pants with more pockets than any normal human being could use, and a pair of Merrill hiking shoes.
His creative process? He, apparently, decided at the outset on a six line verse with an ABABCC rhyming scheme and added the restriction that he would only use rhymes that had never been used before in an English language poem, a daunting task, as you can imagine. However, being a professor of literature at a local university, he had his resources and with the help of a few grants, he had a group of his students devise a computer program that would check all his rhymes for originality. This involved compiling a data bank of all the rhymes in English Literature, a process that took ten years and an ever changing band of students. In the end meaning and clarity had to take a back seat and the resulting poem turned out to be a real head scratcher, a masterpiece of obfuscation delivered in a dry monotone.
Did I mention that there was no alcohol at the event?
Slim and I got out of there as fast as we could and headed for The Post-Coital Beetle. Being April, both the hockey season and the European soccer competitions were reaching their climax, so the Beetle was crowded and raucous. All the screens were on and everyone was eager to take in the final stretch before the boredom and blandness of summer sports.
Slim and I got a booth in the corner, ordered a plate of nachos and a pitcher of Blue Buck Ale and settled in. It was hot in the room, and Slim’s bald head was shining, he took off his jacket to reveal a white tee shirt with the following message on the front:
U is at?
Is u at?
At issue?
Is it u?

The third and fourth lines of the message were on a different plane because of Slim’s stomach which is about the size of a regulation soccer ball. So the effect was almost cubist, images stealthily approaching the eye.
“Slimverse at its minimalist best”, I say to Slim, “what a relief!”
We both grin smugly and wax snide at The Academic Poet’s expense. The evening stretches before us like a drunk laid out on a pavement. Two pitchers in, our syllable count rises and we compose this haiku about the real estate bubble in Vancouver. The bubble is always either forming or bursting.


white Lexus on lease
new suit, shoes, two day stubble
bubble? What bubble?

Then cut free from the 12 syllable bonds of slimverse we write another:

cherry blossoms bloom
well-dressed ladies from Beijing
pose with hand on hip

The bar erupts, a goal has been scored. Is it hockey? Is it soccer? Slim and I don’t care, we are gorging on syllables. We expectorate another haiku

cherry blossoms bloom
the air is sticky with greed
houses, for sale, sold.

We pause. The nachos are gone, except for a few crumbs. The remains of the guacamole are slowly oxidizing in the bowl. The second pitcher is all but drained. In the hockey game, the goalie has been pulled. We manage a final push and the last haiku comes out screaming.

cherry blossoms bloom
the wrecking ball’s lazy swing
petals, debris, spring.

Then nothing, a guilty silence, the feeling that we had betrayed our mission, that the future of slimverse was threatened, in doubt. We drain our glasses, get up and head out into the spring night. I walk to the bus stop for the 99 express heading west. Slim walks to the bus stop for the 99 express heading east. It will be a number of months before we meet again.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

April is the Cruelest Month (AprThCruMo)

The great TS Eliot once wrote:”April is the cruelest month”. I’m not one to make facile connections but April is also National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo which is about as un-poetic as an acronym can get and now….

poets are dutifully posting a poem a day
the blogosphere is loud with words
like babble, ripple, burble, unfurl
glow, glitter, shine, glisten
winds are blowing
suns are setting
dawns are breaking
waves are crashing
on every available shore
and birds, yes, birds
are chirping, trilling, twittering, even singing,
nature is under siege;
but I have to admit
I’m not up to it
I don’t have the diligence, the discipline
the creative bandwidth
besides it’s the second day of April
and I’m one day behind already
nothing constipates a poet
like a deadline.

Versions of this poem appear every year around this time

Taking part in OpenLink over at dverse

April foregoes Cruelty for a Day/ The Lad Poetry Project Revival Part 1

 

The Lad Poetry Project Revival Part 1

The April meeting of the Poets’ Circle was a dry affair in more ways than one. The Serious Poet, at the invitation of The Accomplished Poet, read his 40 verse poem about the Canadian Constitution and afterwards spoke for an hour about the making of the poem and his creative process. The Serious Poet wore, as always, a Mountain Equipment Co-Op black fleece vest, a pale blue button down shirt, a pair of Khaki pants with more pockets than any normal human being could use, and a pair of Merrill hiking shoes. His creative process?  He apparently decided at the outset on a six line verse with an ABABCC rhyming scheme and added the restriction that he would only use rhymes that had never been used before in an English language poem; a daunting task, as you can imagine. However, being a professor of literature at a local university, he had his resources and with the help of a few grants, he had a group of his students devise a computer program that would check all his rhymes for originality. This involved compiling a data bank of all the rhymes in English Literature, a process that took ten years and an ever changing band of students. In the end meaning and clarity had to take a back seat and the resulting poem turned out to be a real head scratcher, a masterpiece of obfuscation delivered in a dry monotone. To make matters worse, there was no alcohol at the event; April, the cruellest month, being a dry month for some of the poets in the circle who try to prove once a year that they are not cravenly dependent on alcohol for enjoyment and invariably prove the opposite.

Slim and I got out of there as fast as we could and headed for The Post-Coital Beetle…..to be continued.

Coming Soon! April – Month Of Slim

The great TS Eliot once  wrote :”April is the cruelest month”, well it’s about to get crueler. In response to almost no demand at all, for the month of April this blog, as was it’s original intent, will be devoted to the writings of resident poet, Slim Volume. There will of course be slimverse, slimverse lite. a reboot of the Lad Poetry project and one or two guest appearances.

Also, I encourage all you poets out there to create your own slimverse. It’s the simplest of forms – 12 syllables, 4 lines, 3 syllables each line. Knock yourself out! And let me know about it!

 

 

The Twenty Second Read

The Twenty Second Read

A couple of days ago, I was looking at my WordPress reader and I came across a poem by Robert Okaji called “The Nightingale”. Robert is a fine poet, check out his blog at robertokaji.com. Anyway, the reader as per usual just showed the first few verses, and a word count, then as I looked down I noticed a message at the bottom saying”20 sec read”.

I got up and went into the next room where I have a ceiling high Ikea bookshelf packed with poetry books and novels that I can’t throw out because I intend to read most of them again at some point. I pulled out the first poetry book that I bought (sometime in the seventies), The Collected Poems of TS Eliot, Faber and Faber. I opened the book at “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock.”

“Let us go then, you and I

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table….”

That’s one of those images that snagged on my brain, the first time I read it, like windblown paper snagging on a bush. The poem was published in 1917, but to me it is a quintessentially modern poem with its antihero narrator, the outsider, the wry observer – “not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be”. My point is that I have read that poem many times since the seventies and will continue to read it because every time I do, I get something new out of it. So if today TS Eliot had a blog, although somehow I think he would prefer the relative permanence of paper, I hope WordPress reader would label his poem a “lifetime read”.

By the way, I tried reading Robert Okaji’s poem in twenty seconds, but all I could glean was that it was about a nightingale. So, I went back, a second, third, fourth time and each time I extracted more meaning from the poem. So, I would currently probably label this poem “20 seconds and counting”.