Tag Archives: Poetry

Review: Haiku Princess – Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity

Haiku Princess: Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity

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Writer – H. O. Tanager

This book of poems by H. O. Tanager delivers on its promise of ascending profanity, while doing little to prevent the dip in quality at each stage. The book is divided into five stages: Cradle, Maiden, Lady, Crone and Holy One, which seem to bare little relationship with the subject matter of the poems.

What makes the later sections boring is less the use of crass words for ejaculate, but the fact that several of the earlier Haiku’s in the cradle section are actually quite clever and evoke more of the imagery, mood and juxtaposition that good Haiku achieves.

Take this example from cradle:

Post big-bang,

did the infinitesimal point

sigh, wonder why we’d gone?

or this one:

How many times do I

have to tell you not to

lick people’s food?

Both are clever in their own way. The first is probably a more classic example of what everyone expects Haiku to be. The second is funny less because of the subject matter, and more because that phrase becomes a Haiku with a little rearranging.

And then we have this (probably one of the cleaner things I can share from crone):

What to say when she

catches you on a porn website.

You’re just in time.

I guess we do get a bit of a switch in the last line, so this is better than some. But I don’t know if it’s funny. Let me clear that I’m actually not against bawdy poetry (I am the owner of a book of 100 limericks by Isaac Asimov). But if it’s going to be Haiku, then it needs to surprise, and probably amuse. There are many examples in this book that fail to do either, and a few might even manage to offend.

The illustrations seem fairly disconnected from the subject matter, and are in different styles in each section. The author is talented at image manipulation, if not manipulating words into images.

Honestly, the best part of the book is the about the author. The author apparently has a background in engineering, technical writing, performance art, psychology, non-profit arts organizing and parenting. More overlap than I would have expected, though a bit of a hodge-podge.

You wanna read good Haiku? Check out Brian’s Haiku 365 project. It’s free and more likely to amuse or enlighten.

(2 stars | Maybe a couple of OK bits, but probably not worth reading the rest)

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Author Interview: Brian D. Buckley

Well it’s finally happened, Brian’s gone and published himself a book. To mark this august occasion we sat down and had a little tête-à-tête to discuss the new book and anything else that came to mind. Enjoy!

witchinghour

What led to the creation of this book?

Nothing too exciting. I am a guy with a lot of poems, and one thing led to another. Also, I like seeing my name on rectangles.

I know you’re a man who will create a poem on a dare, but what inspires you normally?

Philosophy and feelings, I guess. And I like the challenge of writing in a particular form, especially the sonnet.

How did you select which poems to include? Got a favorite?

Basically, I included all the poems I’ve ever written that I still like. My favorite of the serious poems is “The Sin of Icarus.” My favorite funny one is “A Literary Agent Rejects a Subpar Query Letter.”

Did you write any new material for the book? How about rewrites?

Nothing new, but plenty of revision. “Atlantis” was originally four stanzas, and I cut it to one. “Song of My World” also got a makeover. But some poems I didn’t change at all.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

Saying the market for poems is a little tight is like saying space is a bit dark. By self-publishing, I can at least get my book out there for anyone who wants it. I’m unlikely to sell mass volumes, and I’m fine with that.

What was your experience using CreateSpace?

Good! Slick interface, quick turnaround, no issues that I’ve discovered yet. And it’s an easy way to get a book listed on Amazon.

So “My Lady”…what’s the story behind that?

No real-life story behind “My Lady.” I just thought it would be fun to imagine a sorceress using her powers to mess with somebody.

Where did you get those great pictures?

All public domain. I discovered most through Google Image Search and Pixabay. The shuttle launch is a NASA photo that I doctored in Paint.NET, and the woman looking sad is actually an engraving by Albrecht Durer that I saw in Dublin, Ireland.

Ever thought about reading any of these out loud?

I hadn’t, but I could be persuaded. Think anyone would be interested in that?

I noticed you used some fractal imagery in your poems. Got any haikus about the Mandelbrot set?

All the plane’s a stage,

All these curves merely players.

Hehehehe, butt.

If you were a game for the Nintendo 64, which game would you be and why?

Rocket: Robot on Wheels. Because it’s like Mario 64 except the Italian plumber is a robot, the Wing Cap is a paint gun hovercraft, and the fire-breathing turtle is an evil raccoon. As you can plainly see, this describes me perfectly.

Brian’s book is The Witching Hour. You can download a PDF for free or purchase a physical copy through Amazon (Kindle version is in the works and will be released soon).

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Writing Within Limits

All of last week’s posts were written on my Kindle Touch. I was riding in the back seat of a car with little else to do but read and write. The text editor I use is limited to 3099 characters or maybe around 500 words. I am a “prolific” writer usually, churning out 1-2K without much trouble.

On the Touch it’s different story. Between hunting and pecking and the need to correct mistakes as I go, I find that I write not only slower but more succinctly. And, strange to relate, I think this is actually a good exercise, one that more of us should try.

I’m constantly analyzing my stats, as most bloggers are prone to do, and shorter posts seem to generate more views. I don’t know if this is because they are tighter and more polished, or if people just don’t have time to look at a more drawn out argument.

I like doing projects like NaNoWriMo, or the 3 day novel labor day challenge (maybe next year). Still, my first draft of my latest novel is almost 200K long and I’d like to cut it down to 125K. That’s like cutting a novel out of a novel.

Poetry is all about writing within constraints, whether it be sonnets or haiku. But prose, fictional or otherwise also benefits from deliberate word choice, structure and brevity.

What ways have you tried to tighten your prose?

PS: This post was also written on the Touch. Longer car ride than I thought!

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3 Ways To Say I Love You (In Code)

Example 1:

#include <iostream>
#include <cstdlib>

using namespace std;

int main() {
  int two;
  two = 1;
  while(two == 1) {
    cout << "I love you little red haired girl\n";
  }
}

Example 2:

#include <iostream>
#include <cstdlib>

using namespace std;

void myLoveGrowsDeeper(int lvl);

int main() {
  int lvl = 1;
  cout << "My love grows deeper";
  myLoveGrowsDeeper(lvl);
  cout << " every day." << endl;
}

void myLoveGrowsDeeper(int lvl) {
  if(lvl == 99) {
    return;
  }
  myLoveGrowsDeeper(lvl+1);
  cout << " and deeper ";
}

Example 3 (Turtle Commands, Pixels, Degrees):

LEFT 45
FORWARD 100
REPEAT 180
  FORWARD PI/2
  LEFT 1
RIGHT 90
REPEAT 180
  FORWARD PI/2
  LEFT 1
FORWARD 100





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Scripture In Music (Part 3) – Contrasting Reactions to the Greatness of God

This is the third and final week of my Scripture in Music series, a brief class for Sunday School. You can read the previous two weeks here and here. This week’s handout can be downloaded here.

One of the most traditional ways people encounter scriptural music is through Hymns. As in, let’s all turn to number 32 and sing “How Great Thou Art”, ladies take verse two, guys on verse three, altogether on the final verse. These are often thick bound books (usually red or blue) and containing a wide spectrum of quality, origin and scriptural relevance. Whether or not hymns are a way that you personally like to worship, they have been part of the tradition of the church for centuries (and some of those hymns are still sung today)! They are in many ways as much a part of the life of a service as scripture itself. Today we’re going to make use of the back of the hymnal to find some of the scripture these songs are based on, and explore the history of two Hymns centering around the awesomeness of God; “How Great Thou Art” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”

Hymn 101 (in my church Hymnal) – Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

This Hymn dates back to one of the oldest liturgies, the liturgy of St. James back in the 4-5th century. The medley is French, from the 17th century Picardy and the arrangement in most Hymnals is from the early 20th century. Picardy is sung in a minor key, with an 8:7:8:7 Trochaic meter, which means that the first syllable is stressed and the second is not. The title and opening verse are a combination of Habbakuk 2:20 and Psalm 2:11, and the last verse is derived almost verbatim from Isaiah 6:1-3.

The song is often sung at Christmas as it speaks of Christ’s coming, though the tone is tone is reverent and deferential more than happier tunes likes “Joy To the World”. I’ve personally always found the tune to be haunting, and a little difficult to stay on key when singing, especially in the jumps.

Let’s take a moment to listen to the Hymn sung in a mixed choral arrangement. Pay attention to the phrasing and emphasis of each verse, tempo, and crescendos versus decrescendos.

Most hymns have a tune that is repeated a number of times. What are the ways in which this choir and the text itself invite emphasis on certain verses or phrases?

We often don’t think much about angels in terms of day to day Christianity. What do you think about their inclusion at the end of the Hymn and in the passage from Isaiah?

How does the hymn speak of the various levels of the world, heaven, earth, hell? How is this point emphasized in the melody?

Why does the composed of this piece combine the Psalm and Habbakuk in the initial verse?

Hymn 32 – How Great Thou Art

This hymn was originally a poem by Carl Gustav Boberg, a Swedish poet who reportedly wrote it after witness a great storm appear and disappear suddenly. The Hymn is in many ways a paraphrasing of Psalm 8, though there are a number of other scriptural allusions as you’ll see from the handout. The version sung in most churches (including ours) is a translation by Stuart K. Hine done in 1949. He added verses 3 and 4, so half the song we are singing is not the original! These verses were inspired by the missionary Hine’s time with the exiled Polish community during and after World War 2. The song was popularized in the Christian community by Billy Graham’s crusades and has been performed countless times by singers of all stripes. There are 1700 recordings in existence to date of this song.

Let’s read Psalm 8 and then listen to the Mormon Tabernacle choir’s version of the song. Again listen for the ways certain phrases are emphasized.

How do you react to this Hymn in contrast to the previous one?

Do verses 3 and 4 feel like part of another song?

Which Hymn (sections of scripture) relate most to your feelings about God and your relationship to him?

How can we think more about the words we are singing and the scriptural basis for them?

How has listening to both these hymns changed your perspective on the scripture they are based on> How about the hymns themselves?

You can read more about this hymn and its various translations here.

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DTD: New Blog Round-Up

Thanks to all of you who have been following and stopping by. We just crossed 3000 overall site views and are on our way to our 100th post, and 50th follower (one of us, one of us). I try to read other blogs whenever I can, and I thought I’d feature some links from blogs I discovered just last week (plus a couple of old favorites):

  • So You Want To Be A Writer Eh? – A great post from “An Author’s Life” on the ups and downs of trying to do this writing thing full time, and some good tips on both the creative and re-visionary stages. I particularly like her “ride low” thought.
  • Confessions of a struggling blogger – Blogging every day can be tough, especially after the first few months, and it takes courage to admit our struggles and to try to turn them around.
  • A letter to Facebook – And also from Afrozy Ara, an open letter to Facebook, trying to cheer it up after last week’s IPO.
  • The Uprising Of Punctuation – If it ever came to war, my manuscripts have a lot to be angry about.
  • The Sentry – A great pic of the supernatural creatures guarding Mr. Buckley’s house.

Have a good Memorial Day. See you tomorrow!

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Creative Spaces

I can’t write program code in a Panera.

At least I can’t write it with the same efficiency that I can write 1700 words of a novel. It’s not that the environment is distracting, if anything it’s less so with the new headphones I’m using. It just isn’t the right place to think logically about a problem, research and debug code.

How much does environment factor into what we do?

I’ve talked before about my usual haunts, the places where I like to revise and write. My netbook offers the same flexibility for programming, I can write code anywhere I want. And yet, it just doesn’t “feel” right, I’m not having the same insights, making the same associations I would in my home office.

I believe in different places for different activities. I’m not a fan of my commute, but I do like that my work universe is fairly separate from my home universe. I’ve tried to write creatively at work and have found it to be a little stifling, either from distractions or just how it feels to write at this desk instead of my own. Weirdly enough the blog feels natural here, and unnatural at home, but again that might be because I first started writing the blog on my lunch break. There is a conscious or unconscious association in my head that this place and this time are the correct places to write a blog post.

Writing code takes a different kind of mindset. It’s still creative, but within a much more constrained set of rules, kind of like poetry. I’m writing in C++ and there’s an incredible amount of power in relatively few words, as well as unspeakable frustration when searching for type-casting errors, missing semi-colons and parenthesis. It’s different than the programming I do for work, which is mostly web and Javascript, because C++ is more deliberate. Javascript is free-form beatnik poetry or prose, C++ is a sonnet (Perl and LISP are Haiku). I listen to different music when I program too (heavy on electronic and weirdly enough certain Christian albums).

The upside of all this is that while I work more heavily on program code I will be spending more time at home, which is never a bad thing. Maybe I will find other places where programming feels comfortable, but for the time being there’s no place like 127.0.0.1.

Does where you are affect what you are able to create (writing, art, programming)? How about music/white noise/silence?

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