Saturday, April 10, 2021



Simon's amusing graphic

Monday is start of Kaggsy and Simon's biannual year reading project; this year it's 1936 we'll be time-traveling to. Immediately after they announced the upcoming year, I created a gigantic list of books I had read, could read, might conceivably read. I've pared down, but still have more candidates than I actually will read:

That's (from top to bottom):

Graham Greene's Journey Without Maps

John P. Marquand's Thank You, Mr. Moto

Noel Coward's Tonight at 8:30 (in a collection with other plays)

Stevie Smith's Novel on Yellow Paper

James T. Farrell's A World I Never Made

Karel Čapek's War With The Newts

The bottom two would be rereads. In fact it would be the fourth (fifth?) time I've read War With The Newts, but that would be OK, it's worth it. I read Čapek's R.U.R. for the 1920 club a year ago, and I've been thinking about rereading War With The Newts since then. I'm unlikely to read them all, but I might! I'm better than halfway through the Stevie Smith currently. There are a few other things that might slip in in their place.

James T. Farrell is likely the obscure one, which makes that particularly tempting. He should be better known. He's a Irish Catholic Chicago novelist (though he later moved to New York in a fit of pique with Chicago.) He died in 1979. A World I Never Made is the first of his Danny O'Neill series, though Farrell is more famous, as much as he is, for his Studs Lonigan novels, which got the Library of America treatment a few years back. They're very good and he really oughtn't be so little-known.

I've read one 1936 novel since I started blogging: Graham Greene's A Gun For Sale. It's reviewed here.

But I definitely will *not* be reading John Maynard Keynes' General Theory, despite having read some Keynes and Keynes-related things recently and the temptation to do so...

Have you read any of these? Which look good to you? Do you have plans for the 1936 club?

What I actually did read (most likely different from above):


Thursday, April 8, 2021

George Starbuck (#NationalPoetryMonth)


Last Straw


-George Starbuck

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: the condensed version.

I'm showing it in Courier, a monospace font, to emphasize the lines. Starbuck wrote a series of poems like this, called SLABS, Standard Length And Breadth Sonnets. He wrote a number of other shaped poems ("Sonnet In The Shape of A Potted Christmas Tree") and light verse. And maybe some serious poems, too...

Annoyingly the editors did not actually include this in my selected Starbuck shown above; I have no idea where I first came across it; it's written in an old commonplace book of mine. In googling to check the text, I found it difficult to come by on-line. (Googling "Starbuck Last Straw" turns up worthwhile initiatives about plastic. I had to include a line to get anywhere. And the last few lines I couldn't find at all.) But it seems it appeared in his final collection, Visible Ink, 2002, after his death in 1996.

Bonus Poem: this *is* from The Works and is one of my favorite double dactyls:

High Renaissance

"Nomine Domini,
None of these prelates can
Manage your name.

Change it. Appeal to their
Sign it 'El Greco.' I'll
Slap on a frame."

It's National Poetry Month in the Canada and the U.S.!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Sexta Aprilis: Day Fatality, or Some Observations of Days Lucky and Unlucky

From John Aubrey's Miscellanies Upon Various Subjects

"Upon the sixth of April, Alexander the Great was born. Upon the same day he conquered Darius, won a great victory at sea, and died the same day.

Neither was this day less fortunate to his father Philip; for on the same day he took Potidea; Parmenio, his general, gave a great overthrow to the Illyrians; and his horse was victor at the Olympic games. Therefore, his prophets foretold to him, 'Filium cujus natalis,' &c. That a son whose birthday was accompanied with three victories, should prove invincible.

At the hour of prime, April 6, 1327, Petrarch first saw his mistress Laura in the church of Saint Clara in Avignon. In the same city, same month, same hour, 1348, she died."