Fire & Ice

Scoresby Sund, East Greenland, July, 1970
Scoresby Sund, East Greenland, July, 1970 from Wikipedia, J. Finkelstein

Fire and Ice  – a poem by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Still Popular

This little jingle penned back in the twenties by one of America’s favorite poets, still remains popular, even today. Perhaps with the ongoing debate about global warming and climate change,  this nine-letter stanza is seeing a rebirth of its own. Even so, the short poem has turned out to be one of the most popular of all of Robert’s Frost work. I guess this goes to show that bigger is not better.

Ice Age Now

Not to long ago, while researching an article on underwater volcanoes for the content mill, I came across a website called Ice Age Now. This is definitely one place, on the web that sing the accolades of “Global Warming”. Instead, they put forth the proposition that the planet is about to enter a Mini-Ice Age similar to what was experienced a 1,000 years ago. Furthermore, climate on earth is controlled much more by the sunspot activity and the resultant radiation (or lack thereof), rather than man’s activity on the planet. Evidence is cited from around the world to back up their claim. For example just this week they mentioned a three foot blizzard in southern Chile (its winter down there), a blizzard in the mountains of China (that’s definitely odd and unusual) and earthquakes at the Katla volcano in Iceland (they were very small, 3.8 was the biggest. Absent from this weeks news flashes was the heat wave in the Central U.S.

“It’s a cycle, it’s a cycle, it’s a cycle”

No, this is not a quote from somebody watching the Tour de France, but rather the slogan from some observers of  our global weather at Ice Age Now. Nonetheless, predictions about world weather patterns and not something to be put forth lightly. Case in point is the famous Krakatoa volcano, which put so much ash into the atmosphere that the weather patterns around the world were affected.  Could man be capable of the same thing today. I think so, but pinpointing cause and effect in such matters is not easily accomplished. Some days like today when temperatures are sky high, I ponder whether the earth is getting too warm. Maybe a chain of monster volcanoes going off will cool the planet down. But then who knows what next January will bring.

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Poor Poe

Statue of the Raven at the Poe House in Philadelphia, PA
Statue of the Raven at the Poe House in Philadelphia, PA

Twas A Hot and Humid Sunny Afternoon

Last Wednesday was a torridly hot day in Philly. The heat was oppressive and the humidity was just as bad. Somehow I negotiated the sizzling mid-afternoon walk from the Philadelphia Free Library to the historic literary site. Once I walked in the front door of the early 19th century brick rowhouse I was glad I did.  The main reason being the fully-functional air conditioning system and the ice-cold drinking water that came shooting out of the basement fountain. Oh, the joys of visiting a federally funded building. After attending the University of Virginia and West Point Military Academy (he had to withdraw from each due to lack of money), Poe set out on his own literary career as a writer, poet, editor and critic.

Modest Housing

Not only did Poe experience many tragedies during his lifetime( both his mother and wife died of tuberculosis), but  he also moved frequently. During his life time he dwelt in four cities, Boston, Baltimore, Richmond and Philadelphia, but during his six year stay in the City of Brotherly Love, he moved four times. One of these residences, located at the corners of 7th Street and Spring Garden Ave., is now a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service. Poe moved to Philadelphia to take on a job of editor of a prominent literary magazine. The attractive brick house sits on a quiet tree-lined in a working-class neighborhood, just a few blocks from the downtown high rises. A walk through the house is a step back in time and according to the historians, a trudge down the stairs into the basement, is like a glimpse into the creative mind that penned “The Black Cat”. Much can be learned about how people lived before the Civil War by walking through the various rooms of the Poe house. Most noticeable is the small-size of the rooms and especially the stairways.

The Case For Slam Poetry

Northern Lights Over Iceland, Credit: Stephane Vetter (Nuits sacrees)
Northern Lights Over Iceland, Credit: Stephane Vetter (Nuits sacrees)

Controversy At The White House

Just last week the White House invited a rapper, who goes by the name of Common Sense, to give a reading at a Wednesday Night poetry reading. Common Sense, whose real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., has been on the rap scene for many years now. He still manages to draw White House attention, even though he has not recorded anything substantial, since 2000. Nonetheless, “Common Sense” managed to draw some fire this time from Sarah Palin, among others, due to his pass support of Assata Shakur.It should be noted that Common Sense has appeared before (notably the Christmas season) without drawing any fire.

Further Developments

The debate did not stop there, for just last night Jon Stewart appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program, “The O’Reilly Factor”, just to exchange views with the host about Common Sense’s White House visit, rap music in general and the limits of free speech. It appears just by his appearance and ability to hold his own on the Fox News show, Jon have may benefitted more from the debate. Anyway the two pundits got to know each other much better, and left the show best of friends.

Pushing The Envelope

But why should the WH appreciation be limited to listening to one Chicago over-the-hill rapper. Why not sponsor a genuine Poetry Slam with numerous contestants, a panel of judges and a lively audience cheering on their favorite contender. Slam Poetry fests are a lively form of literary entertainment that could  use some more exposure. Although they display a verbal influence from Rap, they are very much different to sitting in a bar or state occasion getting bombarded with the latest lyrics du jour.

Super Bowl Haiku

Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige
Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige

Applying poetry to sports is not an unheard of event, but it is a literary activity that is not usually applied to football. However, an opportunity recently arose to write a piece of Haiku about the upcoming Super Bowl, which features a contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. The popular sporting event is scheduled on Sunday and will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas barring any unusual weather events or meteorites dropping out of the sky.

Haiku is an interesting form of short poetry, originally associated with Japan, but now popular in the English-speaking world as well. In this type of writing a short poem is created using just three lines of text. Each line has a designated number of syllables and rhyming isn’t necessary. The first and last lines each contain five syllables, while the middle phrase bears seven. Traditionally, Haiku portrays two juxtaposing images, which when combined, should reveal irony, humor and awareness.

In Japan, Haiku was often used to express some of the tenets of  Zen awareness, along with detached observations and comments on everyday life. In America, Haiku has become a popular method of reflecting our national past time, baseball, but associating this poetic structure with football is much less common. Perhaps this will change in the future.

Recently, I wrote several Haiku in honor of Super Bowl LXV, which is due to be played early on Sunday evening. One was published at Associated Content and the other two I have included with this post. Hope you enjoy.

Poem  #1

As the pack returns

Strong resistance heeds their path

The trophy is theirs

Poem #2

Heads clash in Dallas

The sound echoes everywhere

Then there is silence

A Plea For Whirled Peas

Whirled Peas
Whirled Peas

Soon the New Year will arrive to the East Coast of America. Already it has already passed through many nations from Japan to Ireland. As the East Coast of America gathers to ring in the New Year, I would like to put out a plea for Whirled Peas.

With warfare all too common  in many places across the globe, including Afghanistan and Iraq, I suggest to all parties that there is no time like the present to cease hostilities.

And there is no better time than now to enjoy Whirled Peas. Whirled Peas can make everybody appreciate how dear our human existence really is. Whirled peas can also help to appreciate the other species of life than share the planet with us and see how precious our existence really is.

Peace, joy and happiness to everyone.

Help Yeyeright Achieve Whirled Peas

Can Self-publishing Get You A Book Contract?

Cat's Eye Nebula:  Credit; J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA
Cat's Eye Nebula: Credit; J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA

Walt Whitman self published his first book of poetry. So did Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. And you can add Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau to this list of self-published authors also.

And the 20th century saw many self-published writers turnout successful titles. Some of the more noteworthy are Ulysses by James Joyce, Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust,  The Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Peter Beatrix Potter, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Robert’s Rules of Order and the  Joy of Cooking.

So how do things shape up for the 21st century. Ten years into the new century and it appears that self-published authors are doing well with obtaining book contracts.

“A successfully self-published book can propel you down the road to a book contract at a commercial publishing house.” At least that’s how Alan Rinzler, a consulting editor, describes the situation over at his blog, the Book Deal. On his most recent post he goes on to list two self-published authors, who have recently received book deals and then goes to list some reasons why self-publishing is a good prelude to a book contract. Reasons include proof that a writer can market the title and a signal that the author has the confidence and courage that is needed in today’s literary market.

So for all those writers who feel obligated to finding a literary agent(that includes yours truly), maybe there are other ways to go.

Mispelled Wurds and Why Your Cat Might Want To Kill You

Cat's Eye
Cat's Eye by Guylaine Brunet courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

There was a great post today over at BookEnd’s concerning ten words to stop misspelling. I even think misspelling was one of the mispelled words. But the best thing about the 10 misspelled wurds is that they were part of a poster published by the Oatmeal Company. You can see the poster here,; its very funny.

Now for those of you who constantly search the web, you might have encountered the Oatmeal Company, for many places have posted guidelines for submitting ideas to this company. I think they are looking specifically for writers, who could come up with good material for greeting cards, but they have great titles for their posters as well. I visited them today, and my favorite was one entitled, How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You. This web page is definately worth a visit.

And the really funny thing about the whole poster is that it is all absolutely true. Anyone who has either owned a cat or just lived under the same roof with one, will quickly understand that all the examples are truly based on a deep understanding of animal behavior, especially cat psychology.

So, for all your writers, especially those that can handle comedy, and have not fared so well in the slush pile, there is the greeting card market eagerly waiting with outstretched arms. Sounds like fun, think I’ll try writing some jingles tomorrow.

In the meantime godd luck and don’t despair Ground Hog’s Day is just around the corner.

E. Autumn

P.S. Here is a picture of a Galician cat from Spain and a look inside it’s diabolical mind, coutesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Gato_en_Marin
Gato en Marin (Galiza) by Beninho