sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
At any rate the world doesn't stop having good books in it just because everything else is horrible.

Here's a collection of short book thoughts about some books I liked, that aren't substantive or spoilery enough thoughts to get their own posts.

The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex

A reread. Still an impressively successful and delightful book! A kid's book about alien invasion(s), told from the point of view of a young biracial girl, with the conceit that it was written by her for a school project with a goal of it ending up in a time capsule. Tip is a really engaging narrator, and the themes the book is addressing are all well handled, and it's just all SO GOOD. I have a lot of feelings.

Also is pretty much exactly right for what happens after the book imo. I love this fic. (though really I ought to read the ACTUAL Smek sequel at some point I think. There is one now!)

Quilting: Poems 1987-1990, by Lucille Clifton

An interesting collection of poems written by an African-American woman. Worth reading, though I have nothing to say about it because I'm not comfortable enough yet with poetry to have the words to describe it.

Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones

A well written and charming book, as is to be expected from DWJ. I'm not the right audience for it, since I don't particularly care one way or another about dogs, and our main character is fairly thoroughly a dog for much of the book. But DWJ is a good enough writer to keep me invested despite this, and I did care an awful lot about Kathleen!

The Emperor's Soul, by Brandon Sanderson

A reread. I still love this book. But do I have anything else to say about it that I didn't say last time? No.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now, by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson

A total delight, just like the last two Squirrel Girl tpbs! I love Ryan North's sense of humour, and Erica Henderson's art is perfect for the story. Doreen and her friends are all amazing, and I love just about everything about this book.

However. The last two issues in this collection are a two-part crossover with Howard Duck. The first part (done by the Squirrel Girl team) was just about as good as the rest of the series but the second part (done by the Howard Duck team) I just wasn't as into. It wasn't as funny or as charming, and I didn't like the art as much, and I just didn't care as much. It's too bad that this is the note the book ended on, because the rest of the book had me gleeful all the way through.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I haven't read a book for a month and a half (which is an ETERNITY for me) and this was just the right book to break me out of my weird bookless rut.

It's a book of - well, it does what it says in the title. A poetry collection, drawing on 12 different authors, all at least several centuries dead, who wrote about human relationships with God.

It's less a direct translation of the original works and more a loose paraphrase, which bugs the intellectual part of my brain because it just leaves me wondering what the originals actually said and how much Daniel Ladinsky is putting ideas into the original authors' mouths that weren't there to start with.

But the experience of reading this book was, dare I say, spiritual? It's the kind of talk about God and religion that I don't see enough of: irreverent and grounded and beautiful and full of love. It was a really meaningful read for me in a way I can't quite articulate.

Not all the poems in this book worked for me, of course, but enough of them did - and even the ones that didn't still helped contribute to the overall tone and feel of the book in a way that matters. Each one of the 12 authors had at least one poem that left me feeling all like, "yes. that."

Let me leave you with a poem from the book by Mira:

The earth looked at Him and began to dance.
Mira knows why, for her soul too
is in love.

If you cannot picture God
in a way that always

you need to read
more of my

Yeah, Mira. You're right. I do.

(in fact I plan to seek out more faithful translations of a number of these poets.)

EDIT: As [personal profile] rachelmanija kindly pointed out, these poems are in fact original works inspired by the historical poets, not translations at all. They read differently knowing that, I think, and I really wish the publishers had made that fact clearer. At any rate, now it's time to seek out actual translations of actual poems by the historic poets.
sophia_sol: Hamlet, as played by David Tennant, reading a book (Hamlet: Hamlet reading)
OH RIGHT I was going to do posts about other books I've read lately! Here, have my thoughts about Among Others, by Jo Walton! )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I have a thing about William Carlos Williams. That is to say, I have an issue with him and his poems. So much so that I, um, have one of them memorized. In my defense it's really short and I didn't mean to? *headdesk*

So yeah.

"So much depends upon the red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens." Whatever, William Squared.

As a result I have been working on a collection of fannish poetry that has been written as a pastiche of or reaction to him, usually of the one about the plums. They are AWESOME. And here they are, as recs. If you know of any others, PLEASE do share! They make me strangely joyful, despite my antipathy towards William Carlos Williams himself.

This Is Just To Say, by [personal profile] toft. A Mythbusters version!
(ETA: And in the comments of the LJ version of Toft's, as a sort of sequel, a Mythbusters version of the wheelbarrow poem too, by [ profile] shimere277!)

FORGIVE ME, WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS, by [ profile] asimaiyat. A series of White Collar versions, that together form a fic!

An experiment in translation, by [ profile] skalja. A lolcat translation!

With All Apologies To William Carlos Williams, by [ profile] lannamichaels. A fandom version! Of both the plum poem and the wheelbarrow poem!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Yeah, I know, it's been AGES since I last posted a poem to youtube.

Here. Have another.

This one's "The Day the Saucers Came" by Neil Gaiman.

(youtube embed removed because I've figured out just how closely my youtube account is linked to my rl name. Thanks, Google, because I really wanted G+ to be integrated with my youtube experience....)
sophia_sol: Hamlet, as played by David Tennant, reading a book (Hamlet: Hamlet reading)
I've spent...possibly rather too much time lately going through Jo Walton's LJ archive to read all of the poems that she posts there. I have discovered I really like her poetry! I still am not done reading through her archive, being in about 2007 thus far. I am afraid to check how many years it goes back. Um.

I have been trying to decide what I should memorize to recite for my faculty coffeehouse this semester. I've already memorized one short poem (Neil Gaiman's The Day the Saucers Came), so I've been trying to find another shortish one to pair with it. The good: I really love one of Jo Walton's poems (Eucatastrophe Poem) enough that I want to memorize it. The bad: it is long enough to warrant being recited all by itself. The also bad: it is freeform, which is the hardest thing to memorize, as I learned while memorizing The Day the Saucers Came".

Speaking of memorizing poetry, I really need to refresh myself on how Rudyard Kipling's Boots goes. I learned it last year and have since managed to entirely forget half of it. I'm pretty sure I'm still on top of all the other poems I've memorized, though. (Well. Three quarters of the time I can't remember the first line of Robert Service's Call of the Wild, but as soon as I manage to find the line in my head, the rest of the poem comes fine.)


Jan. 5th, 2011 11:52 pm
sophia_sol: Jack Aubrey lifting a glass, with text that says "I'll drink to that" (M&C: Jack: I'll drink to that)
Third post in my "but THIS should be my first post upon returning from vacation!" series: YULETIDE!

So I was lucky enough to two full-length stories AND a treat this Yuletide, for three different fandoms -- so basically I got fic for ALL of the reasonably-accessible fandoms I requested this Yuletide!

My assigned fic was The Redemption of Sam McGee, by [ profile] Isis, and it totally thrilled me. I'd managed to figure out before the 25th that my fic was going to be for Cremation of Sam McGee, given that when a "mystery work" appeared under my gifts there was exactly one fic each for two of the fandoms I'd requested, and I knew that the day before, there'd been exactly one fic for one of the fandoms I'd requested. But it was still a mystery to me just what would be done with it -- and I can say unequivocally that this was not what I expected, though I really should have expected to be surprised, given how open-ended my request for this fandom was! This fic is a lovely look at Robert Service the author, and the real-life dude from whom Service borrowed the name "Sam McGee", and the ways in which the poem haunted McGee.

It's clear from the fic that the author wrote with a strong knowledge of Service, and that made me happy. Because as much as I love Cremation of Sam McGee (AND I LOVE IT!), I also just plain love Service. Yay!

AND, as a bonus, the fic ended with an extra two stanzas to act as a coda to the original poem, and those stanzas are just PERFECT.

My surprise extra yuletide fic was Wedding Day, by [ profile] chiana606, for Little Women. And -- Little Women fic! About all sorts of favourite characters of mine from the sequels! Featuring an asexual Nan, who is a competent and awesome doctor! (NAN ILU) And female friendships! And Tommy/Dora! And hints at Bess/Dan (or at least Bess/Dan angst...!) Getting to wallow with joy in spending time with these characters is awesome. *happy sigh*

And then my treat was Long Distance, by [ profile] AriadnesThread, for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, just a short little look at Arabella and Jonathan's relationship after the novel: HE DOESN'T FORGET HER, despite wandering off to be all magicy and academicy with Norrell! YAY! (the only tragic thing is that it is so short, because now I want to know MORE. But it is a nicely self-contained ficlet, and that is just me being selfish.)

I also wrote a fic this yuletide (obviously), and now I can reveal it! My fic was As The Sea Will Allow, written for [ profile] echoinautumn, for Fairy Tales, and it's a modern day Canadian femslash adaption of the story of the selkie. (I know -- I said after my last fic that I would never again title a fic after a song. I lied.)

It was SO WONDERFUL to get to spend all this time in a fandom in which I last wrote anything probably at LEAST five years ago, a fandom that was my FIRST EVER FANNISH LOVE (Oh fairy tales how I love you!). It's nice to write for it with a bit of actual, you know, writing skill. I was pleased with how it came out! Though mildly distressed the whole time at how long the thing insisted on being. I started writing it and knew almost immediately that it would end up longer than my then-longest fic (my 5000ish word long Inception fic), and I was a bit worried it would end up being more in the range of 10,000 words. Thankfully the latter didn't happen, but I was right about it becoming my longest fic.

I found this fic really hard and really easy to write in multiple ways. cut for minor spoilers for the fic )

It helped that my recipient was really easygoing, and basically wanted ANYTHING about one of the four fairytales they'd requested. That might have been intimidatingly open-ended to me in another fandom, but the idea for this fic just dropped into my mind (because: FAIRY TALES! YAY!) and OFF I WENT.

In conclusion: Yuletide is awesome, both in the giving and the receiving. AS ADVERTISED!
sophia_sol: Text saying "fascinating" with the Star Trek logo beneath it (ST: fascinating)
There’s a couple of people on my flist posting a daily poem for advent, which I’ve been really enjoying reading. I don’t get exposed to poetry often enough in my life, and it’s good to expand my horizons beyond the small number of poets I DO know enough to appreciate.

And so because of this unprecedented exposure, all of a sudden I have managed to change my mind about freeform poetry. I’ve never liked it and now I have managed to change the way I look at it just enough that I like it now. I still don’t know that I’d call it poetry – it feels more like it ought to go into a different category of thing – but at least I’m now capable of liking it.

What it is, is a way for people to write extremely short works, in a way that’s socially acceptable. Super-short fiction is mostly looked down on; stories, and essays, and personal reflections, and so forth are all supposed to have some weight to them. Freeform poetry allows you to condense your form into something much smaller, where you try to talk about something with limited space, and getting maximum possible use out of your words.

And because the form is so short, the sometimes arbitrary-feeling line breaks are about the poet giving the poem the right pacing, the same way longer works use paragraph breaks to control pacing.


I feel much better about this.

This might be an oversimplification, I might be misrepresenting the point of freeform poetry, I don’t know. But looking at it like this makes me able to like it, so I’m happy.

Anyways, O flist/rlist, what is your opinion of freeform poetry? Of poetry in general? Inquiring minds want to know!
sophia_sol: From Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Joseph looking happy with his coat spread out behind him (JatATD: Joseph's happiness plus coat)
Dear Yuletide Writer:

I am so thrilled and happy and excited to know that you are going to be writing me a shiny fic in one of my fandoms. I already know you have excellent taste, since you love one of my beloved fandoms as well, so have no fear that I will adore whatever it is you write for me. If you are the sort of person whose inspiration gets stifled when given an overload of information, then stop reading right now and run faaaaaaar away, because I tend to get very long-winded when I am excited about something. I am sorry!

But if you want further details about what I am especially jonesing for, well, I am happy to share! Also feel free to stalk the rest of my LJ for further details about me if you feel so inclined; none of it is flocked!

The rest of my letter is split into two sections: the first section is Things Which Apply To All Fandoms, and the second section is Things About Each Specific Fandom.



And that is all, O Wondrous Author! I look forward with great anticipation to see what you will come up with for me! I hope you have fun with this.

With much love,

PS: There is a good chance that I will not have the ability to read my gift until a number of days after Christmas, so do not feel bad if I do not comment on your story for several days after it's posted -- it simply means I haven't had the chance to read it it yet!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (TS: Blair: just one of those days)
GodDAMNit. Apparently podficcing hates me. Today I tried to work on a podfic again. First time really using Audacity in, um, MONTHS. I have used my microphone in the interim, for my youtube poetry, and that was totally fine. And when I did the podficcing thing way back when, the microphone was just fine. So I blithely began working, and proceeded to record the rough draft of the podfic all in one go, sat back, clicked stop with satisfaction, and went back to the beginning to begin editing. And the entire thing was far to quiet. AUGH! Apparently Audacity has decided that it can't get good volume for me out of my mic unless my mouth is approximately a centimetre away from it (which makes for really bad sound quality). So I had to get rid of the whole recording and start fresh. The problem was, how to make my microphone have louder input? I went running all over the internet reading various tutorials for audacity trying to figure it out, and played around with various settings both in audacity and on my computer, and FINALLY I think I've got the problem worked out. *whew* But what this means is that I'm no longer in the mood for a happyfuntimes recording-of-podfic session, because I feel like I ALREADY DID THAT. Yet again, I'll have to return to the podfic later. It WILL get done!

Speaking of my youtube poetry, though, I don't have access to my friend's webcam anymore, which means no more youtube poetry for a while. BUT I just found out from my parents that they have an extra webcam lying around, which they will let me have next time we see each other, in less than a month! Yay, having a webcam of my very own!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I finally got around to re-downloading Audacity and Lame so that I could go over what I'd recorded of the podfic I'd been working on way back when, from before my computer problems. I'd been almost done, had recorded the entire thing and made most of the necessary edits, and all that was really needed anymore was to go through it one last time to look for any minor things that needed fixing and it would have been ready to go up. In other words, maybe half an hour's worth of work, which I'd been putting off for months because I'm lazy like that.

But when I went to go open the file today, it was all screwy and messed up and wouldn't work properly and the only bit of it that would even play was approximately half a sentence! AUGH AUGH AUGH AUGH AUGH. I hate what those computer problems have done to me. Now I have to do it allllll over again. AUGH.

Did I mention I'm annoyed?

I think I'm going to go record some more poetry for youtube to make myself feel better. At least that's easy. And I'll come back to the podfic when I'm feeling less angry at the world.

ETA: okay, poetry is live! This one is The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes. To be found here. (Link to youtube removed because I've figured out just how closely my youtube account is linked to my rl name. Thanks, Google, because I really wanted G+ to be integrated with my youtube experience....)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
So I posted me reciting poetry on youtube. It's The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert Service. One of my favourite poems ever! I love reciting it. But it's strange to do it to the sterile audience of a camera eye; it was a lot harder to be dynamic. When I'm reciting it in person I tend to do a lot more hand motions, too, but that was hampered by having to hold the microphone up to my mouth, and that also constrained my ability to be dramatic. Oh well.

You can watch it here, if you're interested. (Link to youtube removed because I've figured out just how closely my youtube account is linked to my rl name. Thanks, Google, because I really wanted G+ to be integrated with my youtube experience....)

PS: Thanks, Dinah, for the loan of your webcam!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (O'Neill's Dark and Stormy Mission)
I was reading some meta the other day -- what it was about is not important -- but an offhand and unrelated comment in it set me thinking. And now I've decided to embark on my most audacious poetry-memorizing scheme yet. I'm going to try to memorize the whole of Beowulf (no, don't worry, in translation.). Ahahahaha.... This will take me so long.

But I've always joked about memorizing epic poetry, and I figured it was time I actually did so! And I found Beowulf to be a genuinely enjoyable epic poem, and I think it would be a really fun one to recite, and -- well, I don't really have a good reason for it. But I want to, and that's reason enough. I'm probably slightly insane for wanting to do this.... I mean, people are surprised enough when I memorize a poem that's just a couple pages long! But I don't care. I'm going to do this, even if it takes me years. (...unless I get distracted halfway through. And it wouldn't entirely surprise me if I did. But I want to anyways!)

I really like memorizing things. It brings you really close to the text; you pick up on so many more nuances and interesting things about it, because you spend so much time with each and every line.* It's like the way that, when podficcing, I notice so much more about a fic than I would otherwise, except with ten times the effect. I love having that sort of really deep knowledge of a text -- I have, for instance, analyzed The Highwayman in my head backwards and forwards, and thought really hard about the stylistic choices, and worked out whether or not I think particular bits are effective, and wondered about why the author chose to do certain things, and basically I know that poem far better than I know anything I've written. I've spent more time deciding why it's written the way it's written than I spend deciding how to write the things I write.

And I think it would be really cool to have that sort of deep knowledge of a longer text. The Highwayman is probably the longest thing I have memorized, and it's only a tiny fraction the length of Beowulf. I look forward to seeing what sorts of things I learn about Beowulf as I memorize it!

I predict further thinky posts on the subject as I get farther into it, though that'll be a while in coming. So far I'm five lines in, which is not exactly enough to get thinky over! Except to say that in lieu of a rhyme and rhythm scheme like most poems I memorize, the translation I'm using does its best to incorporate alliteration like the original does. And the bits of alliteration in Beowulf actually DO help with memorization. This is the second time I've memorized something that doesn't have rhyme and meter, and the first time I've memorized something with that type of alliteration. It's a very different feel from memorizing something with a specified number of beats per line, but it's interesting. I like it!

*Oh hey! I bet this is why old-school education had its students do so much memorization!
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
[When you see this, post a poem in your journal]

This is the most recent poem I have memorized; I love it for the wonderful atmospheric mood it sets, even though it DOES use some dated language, especially as regards native people....

The Call of the Wild, by Robert Service

Have you gazed on naked grandeur when there's nothing else to gaze on
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore
Big mountains heaved to heaven which the blinding sunsets blazon
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it
Searched the vastness for a something you have lost
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sage-brush desolation
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze
Have you whistled bits of ragtime at the end of all creation
And learned to know the desert's little ways
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o'er the ranges
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through
Have you chummed up with the mesa, do you know its moods and changes
Then listen to the wild, it's calling you

Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig a-quiver
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes, mushed your huskies up a river
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses
Then hearken to the wild, it's wanting you

Have you suffered, starved, and triumphed, grovelled down yet grasped at glory
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole
Done things just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul
Have you seen God in his splendors, heard the text that nature renders
You'll never hear it in the family pew
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things
Then listen to the wild, it's calling you

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching
They have soaked you in convention through and through
They have put you in a showcase, you're a credit to their teaching
But can't you hear the wild? It's calling you
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us
Let us journey to a lonely land I know
There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star a-gleam to guide us
And the wild is calling, calling -- let us go
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Thing One: There is a poem by Robert W Service that I really want to find again (I want to memorize it! I like memorizing poetry). The problem: I can't remember what its title was, nor any of the lines within it. This makes it emininently not an internet-searchable thing. I went through lists of all his poem titles, but none of them jumped out at me as being the right one. And it is definitely not one of his more famous ones, which makes it harder to just happen to accidentally stumble across it.

So it seems the only thing left to do is to laboriously go through every single poem he ever wrote (and he wrote a LOT) in order to find this one. *sigh* Library time it is; I think it'll be easier to go through them all on paper. At least I already know it's not in Songs of a Sourdough or Ballads of a Bohemian (since I own those two).

Thing Two: I finally got around to watching White Collar 1.10. It was very good! Except I'm realizing more and more how much this show gets my squick of "oh no something terrible is going to happen any second now". I don't deal well with that sort of tension.... But the episode was still really good! )

Thing Three: There's all that Slings & Arrows fic out there about college-age Geoffrey and Darren putting on Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, of which I highly approve. But you know what there also needs to be? A whole lotta fic about middle- or old-aged Geoffrey and Darren putting on Waiting For Godot. *nods head* Because it would be awesome.

It would be all thematically relevant! And academic and intelligent while still getting to the emotional heart of the characters! And somehow there would be found a way to make the fic have a happy ending despite it being about a play that doesn't really even have an ending at all! And Darren would be ridiculous and Geoffrey would be crazy and they'd be all messed up but still awesome, and it would end up being Geoffrey/Darren slash because that is secretly my FAVOURITE PAIRING EVER from S&A! *wants*

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