Apr 5, 2009

The Sunday Salon Meets Weekly Geeks

The Sunday Salon.com

Hello fellow readers. I thought it would make sense to combine The Sunday Salon and Weekly Geeks this week. This week's theme has to do with children's books and poetry. A lot of my fellow bloggers have written posts celebrating National Poetry Month. It's not National Poetry Month in my corner of the world, but that's no reason not to join the festivities, right? Plus I love this poster so much:

National Poetry MonthSo to celebrate, this week I bring you mythic, fairy tale and fantastical poetry from around the web. I should start by saying that I always feel horribly self-conscious when writing about poetry (which is silly, I know, and this whole idea that poetry has a special status and is above the reach of mere mortals is part of the reason why so many people don't really read it anymore, and that's a pity, but I just can't help myself), so apologies if this is short and awkward. Which it will be. But at least I'll link to the poems, so you can read them yourself.

I began by reading "Why she howls: A coyote love song" by Kij Johnson, a beautiful poem dealing with desire, impermanence, and of course, coyotes. I absolutely love the imagery:
It was cold
the stars sharp as ice shards
in the river-dark sky.
The ground glittered
hard with frost.
"For I Will Consider My Dog, Bertie", also by Kij Johnson, really made my smile. My favourite line is probably this:
For when he sleeps he does so with charm, a tidy hump upon his ordained pillow, else loose-boned and sprawled upon the forbidden couch.
If you're an animal lover, read it. If you're not, read it anyway.

After reading these two poems I spend some time exploring the poetry archive at Endicott Studio. There I found "Girl Without Hands" by Margaret Atwood, a poem based on the fairy tale "The Girl Without Hands". Margaret Atwood's writing often takes my breath away, and this was no exception. These two lines in particular seem so distinctively Atwood to me:
Then there's the girl, in the white dress,
meaning purity, or the failure
to be any colour.
I guess it's the irony, creeping up unexpectedly. She does that so well. Next I read "'Once Upon A Time,' She Said" by the wonderful Jane Yolen, a poem about fairy tales and storytelling and the unique, precious magic of the imagination. Just take a look at the final lines, and I dare you not to want to read it immediately:
If you ask me,
I would have to say
all the world's magic
comes directly from the mouth.

Next stop: Goblin Fruit, a quarterly online journal of fantastical poetry. There I read "The Ballad of All the Things I Might Have Written" by Catherynne M. Valente. I have to confess that I have spend the past few years a little afraid that I wouldn't like Catherynne M. Valente, even though I want to like her and her Orphan Tales sound just like my kind of thing. And this because I remember not liking a short story of hers a long time ago. But I can't even remember what short story it was anymore, and this poem I certainly do like. I love the way she words things, I love the imagery, and I love the irony:
she looked cat-shrewd at me through weedy strands
of mint-stitched hair, and said in a voice
like the wind through a lunar crater:

"Why do you write such long poems?"
"Donkeyskin" by Midori Snyder is based on the fairy tale of the same title, and like the fairy tale, it's raw and painful and beautiful. I cannot pick a favourite line, so I'll just urge you to read the whole thing.

Finally, Goblin Fruit inspired me to re-read what is perhaps the greatest fantastical poem of them all: "Goblin Market" by Christina Rossetti.

Goblin Market by Arthur Rackman Goblin Market by Warwick Goble
Illustrations by Arthur Rackman and Warwick Goble

I love it. I love the playfulness of the language, I love the sensuousness, I love how deep down it's serious and dark. I love the rhythm, the imagery, and the way it defies gender roles. I love how daring it was for its time. And I love this audio version, which really makes the language come to life.

Also, when looking for Arthur Rackman's illustrations of "Goblin Market", I came across this illusrated version by John Bolton. Wow. Simply wow.

Time to announce the winners of my blogging anniversary giveaway: Memory wins a book of her choice that I have posted about in the past two years. Memory is currently fighting an epic battle with her TBR pile, so I almost feel bad to be adding to it, but...free book! Those are welcome, right? As for the Mysterious Awesome Package, it goes to Kailana! Congratulations to you both. I'll get in touch with you via e-mail for the details.

And now for something completely awesome: Renay is organizing a YA Book tournament for less well-known books. This is the perfect way to discover great YA books we probably have never heard of before. To go through with it, Renay needs help: people willing to suggest books, to be judges, to help with organizational tasks, or to just spread the word. Interested in helping? Just click the link for details.


  1. I'm not a poetry person myself, but my husband is, and he loves Goblin Market. I'll have to take you guys' word for it.

  2. This is supposed to be a work, work, work weekend for me (shhhh...I'm not really here), but I fully intend to go read each one of those poems later this week. I've never read Goblin Market, but I adore Christina Rossetti, and with a recommendation from you, I'm absolutely positive that I'm in for a treat! You've really made me want to go read Annie's Starwalkers again too...but that's just a mom thing. :) Thank you for the lovely post and all the links!

  3. Oh, cool! I get a mystery package. :)

    I love Goblin Market, it is one of my favourite poems ever. :)

  4. I really struggle with poetry - I don't know why I just can't get into it. Though what I read was beautiful. I see your reading The Tygrine Cat now - hope you are enjoying it.

  5. I write poetry on my other blog,rooted almost daily. I interact with various networks, poetry networks, that is. And always on a look out for poetry books, and new poets. I post reviews of those books on both my blogs.

    I love Atwood's poetry. I like what you post here. I will check out all of those.

    Sunday Salon

    TSS: The Red Tent

  6. I love Goblin Market -- thanks for linking to that great illustrated version! And interesting to see that Kij Johnson has written a dog version of Christopher Smart's poem Jubilate Agno (or, My Cat Jeoffrey).

  7. Loren Eaton: It is!

    Amanda: One of the best things about Gobin Market is that it tells a story. You could give the audio version a try sometime!

    Christina: Isn't it?

    Debi: Thanks for visiting despite being busy :D Oh, you will love Goblin Market for sure. I recommend the multimedia experience: have the text in front of it, listen to it, and feast your eyes on the gorgeous illustrations :D And not just a mom thing...Starwalkers is a wonderful poem!

    Kailana: Indeed you do :D Congrats again!

    Scrap Girl: I'm really enjoying it so far!

    Guatami: That's great that you write poetry yourself. I should read more of Atwood's poetry, because I really love what I've read so far.

    Melanie: Thank you so much for the link! I had totally missed the reference.

  8. Oh, fabulous post, Nymeth! I love it! I've used your links to go read the poems, and I like the illustrated version very much. Thank you for making poetry fun and accessible - as you say, it's difficult to erase the idea that poetry is only for the elite, when it's written for everyone, anyone, to enjoy, and relate to. I like Jane Yolen's poetry, and I love combining poetry and fairy tales! Fabulous!

  9. What a wonderful post, Nymeth! I especially like the poem about Bertie. :-)

    I hope you have a great week!

  10. Nymeth, thank you for the links to these "fantastical" poets. Might I add Lewis Carroll? His poems are most absurd and quirky but very fantastical. :D

  11. I agree with Claire--Carroll's poems are a lot of fun, and I love his word play in everything he's done. I'm really bad about reading poetry. I have several volumes on my shelf, but I rarely pick them up. Love Goblin Market, though!

  12. Thanks for all the great links! I love "Once Upon a Time". What a great poem. Yolen nevr ceases to amaze me. Thanks for the link to Goblin Market. It's actually my assigned reading for this weekend from my professor.

    Have a great week!

  13. "For when he sleeps he does so with charm, a tidy hump upon his ordained pillow, else loose-boned and sprawled upon the forbidden couch." I love that! "A tidy hump"--wonderful!

  14. You do the best posts Nymeth! :D

  15. What a great post! I've really been in the mood to read some poetry lately which works out perfectly because it's national poetry month! I'm still waiting on the book you recommended to come in from Amazon :( Hopefully it gets here soon. I do have Embryoyo waiting for me though! And congrats to the winners! I can't wait to see what Kailana's mystery package has in it :)

  16. I am of the intimidated by poetry school but I must say I love the poem about Bertie. :-)

  17. Thank you for all of the great links. Poetry is very intimidating to me, but I read a few of the poems you mentioned and even enjoyed them.

    Then I had to look up the tale of the Girl With No Hands. I'll say this for the Grim Brothers, their stories were certainly a lot more dark than the Disney tales I grew up with!

  18. Wow, Nymeth. What can I say. You've done a brilliant job here.
    "...all the world's magic comes directly from the mouth."

  19. You've inspired me to read some poetry! I have a couple of books in mind. Thanks for a fantastic post and the links!!

  20. I love the illustrations... I'm tempted by the YA challenge but might be too busy right now to contribute much, but I would like to help with a challenge sometime...

  21. Thanks for the lovely post, Nymeth! I have to admit I'm not a poetry person but some of them are just so meaningful and beautiful! I guess I also must have the right mood to read them, hehe.

    Congrats to Memory and Kailana! I'm so envious!! :D

    I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

  22. I don't read much poetry, in fact I don't read poetry at all. The only poem I love is 'i carry your heart with me' by ee cummings. Cheesy, I know, but I can't help it :)

    I have to be in the right frame of mind for reading poetry. I'll come back to your post Nymeth, one first glance, the poems look like somethign I would enjoy.

  23. Susan: Thank you, my friend :D Those illustrations are stunning, aren't they? I wish I could find that edition to buy, but sadly I can find no info about it. And yes, Jane Yolen's poetry, as her prose, is wonderful. That notion of poetry is indeed hard to get rid of, but I try to make an effort, and it's worth it.

    Literary Feline: It's such a nice poem :D I hope you have a great week yourself!

    Claire: Yes! I love Carroll! He's so much fun.

    Trish: I forgot about him, but I definitely agree. I tend to ignore my poetry books as well. But when I devote time to them, I find it so rewarding.

    Vasilly: Is that the professor who recommended East, The Book of Lost Things, etc? That sounds like such a neat class! Sadly most of my professors are firmly on the snobbish side when it comes to anything remotely related to fantasy :(

    Priscilla: Isn't it? :D

    Eva: You do! :D

    Chris: That's too bad that Atlas is taking so long :( I got it via BookDepository and it only took about a week or so. But you'll see...it will be worth the wait.

    Kristen, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

    Kim L: I'm glad to hear it! And yep, definitely no Disney story. The original Grimm stories have some seriously messed up stuff going on :P

    Gavin: I couldn't love that line more :)

    Staci, I look forward to hearing about what you read!

    Miss D: You can help but by being a judge, which involves committing to reading a least two books, or simply by suggesting titles for the judges to read, which is less time consuming.

    Melody: Yes, my reading mood definitely helps me appreciate poetry more. Most important of all, I can't be in a rush.

    Violet: Not cheesy! cummings is one of my absolute favourites. I love love love his stuff.

  24. I will definitely check out the poems you listed. The ones by Atwood and Yolen particularly got my interest. I also need to check out the YA Tournament, thanks for sharing.

  25. "whole idea that poetry has a special status and is above the reach of mere mortals is part of the reason why so many people don't really read it anymore"

    This is a statement that I think a number of poets and readers of poetry will disagree with. I, for one, do not believe poetry is above mere mortals. I think there is some poetry that appeals to certain readers more than others.

    I really do try to bring more poetry to my readers and I hope that this will help dispel this myth that poetry is above mere mortals. I hope that I can show people that is more than that...that it can appeal to everyone.

    I really enjoyed those poems that you posted and I love the imagery in them as well. Thanks for participating even if it is not National Poetry Month where you are.

  26. And, that's why book blogging is wonderful - because you can celebrate events wherever you are :)

    I love National Poetry Month because it generates excitement about poetry. I think you are right and a lot of people shy away from it but there is more to poetry than just rhymed stanzas and strict rules. There are fun poems, love poems and poems that make you think. All is great. So thank you for joining in the celebration and I love the link to the Endicott Studio. I hadn't seen that before and will definitely be visiting it to discover more poetry :)

  27. Ha, I just got that the poster is an allusion to Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Gold!

  28. Rhinoa: It'd be awesome if you could join!

    Serena: You're absolutely right, of course. Which is why I said it's a silly idea :) It's just so hard not to let it intimidate me sometimes!

    Iliana: Indeed! I love that about the blogging world. You're right that there are poems for every taste out there...it's what I always say about comics, but it goes for poetry too :P

    Loren Eaton: It is! I like that poem a lot :)

  29. great post, thanks for sharing the poetry.
    shame on me, I'd never heard of Goblin Market. I just read it! You are right, it is beautiful. thanks :O)


  30. I also love that poster! I'm excited to immerse myself in poetry (at least a little bit) this month.

  31. Nymeth... there is so much contained within this post, I'm bookmarking it for further perusal. Excellent links on some of my favorite subjects (myths & fairy tales). Thank you!

  32. Nymeth, these are great. I love the line you quoted from "For I will Consider My Dog, Bertie."

    I prefer the first line of "'Once Upon A Time,' She Said" although I think I like it for much the same reason you like the last.

    "'Once upon a time,' she said,
    and the world began anew:"

    I love the lines you quoted from "The Ballad of All the Things I Might Have Written," but these lines made me giggle a little bit:

    "and no one wants to read six pages
    of elegiac examinations of folklore.
    Have you considered haiku?"

    What creepy/beautiful imagery in the "Goblin Market!"

    Thanks for putting all these together for us!

  33. Naida, glad you enjoyed it :)

    Rebecca: It's such a great poster! I'll definitely make an effort to immerse myself in poetry this month. I tend to forget how much I actually like it.

    Tasse, you're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed the post :)

    Dreambee: You know, actually I hesitated between posting the first or the last few lines from the Jane Yolen poem. I really love both :)

  34. My daughters' school does this fun thing for poetry month called "a poem in your pocket." Everyone gets a little poem to fold up and keep in their pocket, even the teachers and the principal. All day they can ask to hear each other's poems. By the time they got home, they had them memorized!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.