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Accidental Beauty

February 5th, 2010

Some scoff at found art.  I have been known to revel in it.  It affirms my belief that sometimes the world is more beautiful and surprising than we realize.  And that if we stopped and looked, we just might see.  And so, I present to you: Bootleg Poetry.

Catch Me if You Can
By Anonymous

When she touched something
on the back of the youth..
She was surprised and asked he
with her beautiful eyes.

The man was very excited to show her figure
which was supported by the bamboo.
How surprised the girl was!  The figure
was the girl drawn
on the big paper.

And the paper was as
as herself.

Having seen that
the girl was so angry
blame the youth
why do it in this desperate

She was so ad to die.
While the man take a whisper on her ear,
Smile spread on the girl’s face.

The sun was rising the morning,
it was really a very nice day……

*I actually split up the lines rather arbitrarily.  The original, taken from the back of a bootlegged DVD, can be found here.

Poem of the Week

February 1st, 2010

The Knowlege of Good and Evil,
By Julia Kasdorf

When beautiful Snow White bit and swooned
on the dwarfs’ cottage stoop, pale bosom heaving,
and a chuckling crone scooted off with her basket
of ruby apples, I shrieked, kicking theater seats.
No hushing would stop me, so I was dragged across
strangers’ knees, up a dark, inclined aisle, over
the lobby’s red carpet, past ushers sharing smirks
with a candy case lady, out onto the sidewalk
which was just there on Clay Avenue in Jeannette,
Pennsylvania.  The glassworks was still going
and Gillespie’s still sent receipts in pneumatic tubes
when you bought a slip or a new pair of shoes.  Only then
I stopped screaming and grasped my shuddering breath,
blinking at parking meters, grateful it was still light
outside that story, which was worse than disobedience
or the snake I saw slithering beyond the frame
of my Bible story page.  I’d studied Adam’s face
and Eve, who tempted him, hair hiding her breasts
as they walked in that exotic garden, already bent
over with guilt, palm fronds at their waists.
Mom coaxed me back to the lobby, and I hovered
in buttery light by the popcorn machine.  The prince
returns! She comes back to life! Go in and see!
She crooned  with the ushers, but I refused.  Even when
they pushed me toward a crack in the dark double doors
and I glimpsed a prince and lavish wedding dress,
I could not believe she was alive and happy ever after.
I was a heretic too insulted by the cross
to accept resurrection.  I knew that marriage
is just a trick cooked up by the grownups
to keep me from screaming my head off.

Thanks to Prof. Beth Martin Birky for suggesting this poem.

Our Spam is Hilarious

February 1st, 2010

spamThis isn’t a particularly deep point, but I would like to highlight just how funny doing this blog can sometimes be.  I get too see all the trashy spam that we prevent from appearing.  But, considering that this is… well… an English blog, you might think that the spammers might try a little harder not to be such offensively poor writers.

We received a spam comment on a rather old post a bit ago that I would like to republish, though with the actual links taken out.  so here it goes.

That’s hot article about this topic. That is good to discover the essay writing service that can make the essay writing or custom essays. Moreover, people would like to search for essay writer.

Ahhh, I know I would trust them with my essays.  Looks like they have good, substantive and stylish writing down.  Also, considering that the comment was placed in a post about Goshen Adventure Comics I think it will be clear to any reader here that they also do incredible transitions and thorough Research.  Good job guys, keep up the good work.

Is Meaning Meaningful?

January 22nd, 2010

Sunset Boulevard

After watching an old, black and white movie with a friend, we got to talking.  Was it a good movie?  Was it good only by the standards of the time, or of today as well?  I said that the movie felt a little too slow-paced.  And further, I said that the meaning was a bit too straightforward, that I felt as though the movie could have been about half as long.  My friend?  He couldn’t have disagreed more.  And his reasoning, was that, yes, the pacing is different from what we are used to today, but that every scene was internally significant.  That, yes, the meaning would have been the same, but that the experience of watching the movie would have been different.

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Poem of the Week

January 11th, 2010


Black String of Days,
By Yusef Komunyakaa

Tonight I feel the stars are out
to use me for target practice.
I don’t know why
they zero in like old
business, each a moment of blood
unraveling forgotten names.
This world of dog-eat-dog
& anything goes.
On the black string of days
there’s an unlucky number
undeniably ours.
As the Milky Way
spreads out its map
of wounds, I feel
like a snail on a salt lick.
What can I say? Morning’s crow
poses on a few sticks, a cross
dressed in Daddy’s work shirt—
how its yellow eyes shine.
It knows I believe
in small things.
I dig my fingers into wet dirt
where each parachute seed pod
matters.  Some insect
a fleck of fool’s gold.
I touch it,
a man asking for help
as only he knows how.

(Poem from his 1994 Pulitzer prize winning book of poetry, Neon Vernacular.)

Poem of the Week

November 14th, 2009


Jukebox Love Song
By Langston Hughes

I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue Busses,
Taxis, Subways,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem’s heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat
Put on a Record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play
Dance with you till day-
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.

(Thanks to Patrick Ressler for introducing me to that Langston Hughes poem in a spectacularly musical fashion.)

The Role of Uglyness

November 4th, 2009

One thing that I always find challenging is artistic ugliness.  For example, I hesitated, if only for a moment, before publishing “You Who Wronged“  The last stanza made me uncomfortable.  “And you’d have done better with a winter dawn/ A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.”  Now, certainly within the context of the poem this stanza is warranted, and not only that, not nearly as harsh as it might seem.  It is given as a warning to tyrants being judged by history, rather than a declaration that anyone should kill themselves.  But somehow, the starkness of those last two lines, published in this piece in the sunny context of Goshen, in which much ugliness is either denied, removed or ignored, just felt… wrong.  Somehow, in a place where I don’t see people smoking cigarettes, I don’t expect to read a poem that seems to be threatening suicide.

But I think ignoring these things, the ugly and the sinister and the wrong, wouldn’t be doing the world justice.  Sometimes, to give the good, the pure and the holy the reverence that they are due, one must necessarily contrast it to things which are not.  Conflicts give art their driving force.  Music without any dissonance cannot resolve or progress.  A pretty painting is usually boring.  And a novel without a tension, conflict or a villain is nigh unreadable.  I just think that in order to make the world a better place, it must be acknowledged for all its ugliness.  Phil Stoesz’s perspective in the Record concluded with a sentence I think sums up my feelings on the issue pretty well.  “In my opinion, art is great, but art that makes you cringe is awesome.”

That said, I don’t think that this is the only opinion possible about this.  Since Plato wrote The Republic (and perhaps before) there have been people arguing that in order to make society and culture better, we need to promote the good, and let the bad go unacknowledged.  I guess I just come out on the side of thinking that even if this might be correct, it might also be rather boring.

The From the Trenches: Teaching English

October 29th, 2009
Elizabeth Beachy (noticeably absent in this picture: teaching or children)

Elizabeth Beachy (noticeably absent in this picture: teaching or children)

Elizabeth Beachy, a Senior English Ed. major, has been working long and hard teaching English to those little snot-nosed (adorable) punks (children) at school.  I asked her to relate some of her experience.  This is what she wrote:

I am currently student-teaching at Goshen Middle School with the incredible Ann Carboneau (GC English alumna 2003) as my cooperating teacher.  I have two sections of 7th grade High Ability English and two sections of 8th grade Honors English.  It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career.

This past summer, I attempted to mentally prepare for my semester at GMS. However, after a few moments of processing, I typically came to the conclusion that I was extremely nervous. As it turns out, I’ve been less nervous throughout my student-teaching experience than most of my semesters taking regular courses at Goshen College.  My field placements in local schools and classes prepared me very well for this.  To say the least, I have been having a blast!

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Poem of the Week

October 21st, 2009


By Marianne Moore

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
…………….this fiddle.
….Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
…………….discovers in

….it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
……..that can dilate, hair that can rise
…………if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
…………….they are
….useful.  When they become so derivative as to become

….the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
……..do not admire what
……..we cannot understand: the bat
…………holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
…………….wolf under a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin
…………….like a horse that feels a flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician

….nor is it valid
……..to discriminate against ‘business documents and

school-books’; All these phenomena are important.  One must
…………….make a distinction
….however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
…………….result is not poetry,
….nor till the poets among us can be
……..‘literalists of
……..the imagination’ —above
…………insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall
…………….we have
….it.  In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
….the raw material of poetry in
……..all its rawness and
……..that which is on the other hand
…………genuine, then you are interested in poetry.

Book Suggestions

October 17th, 2009

This is an area to discuss and suggest books to other avid readers.  Please comment adding your book suggestions with a brief description.  I’ll start with a few of my favorites, including a few that I’ve read recently.  The last three listed here are favorites that I found through guidance of great English teachers and professors.

5178PSZYN6L._SS500_The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – Probably doesn’t need much of an introduction, but this book series set the bar (really, really high) for modern fantasy.  Anyone who has seen the hobbits, orcs, elves and others on the silver screen owes it to themselves to experience the magic where it began.



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