Showing posts from October, 2013

Set Honor in One Eye and Death i' th' Other

Saw the Donmar Julius Caesar at St. Ann's Warehouse last night. I liked the concept very much. The play-within-a-play was set in a women's prison. Two levels of meaning ran simultaneously through the play. Shakespeare's Roman world of ambition and betrayal. Also, the modern prison system, with its goal of reform and lust for spectacle. The women were Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Portia, Calpurnia and so on, but they were also tough broads, rightly or wrongly incarcerated.

In that criminal world, Harriet Walter playing Brutus seemed to come from a different sphere, or from a different play. Her noble poise and her classical training fitted awkwardly with the rest of the cast. Jenny Jules as Cassius took some warming to, but was the most sympathetic figure by the end of the play. I loved the originality of having Mark Anthony (Cush Jumbo) sprawling on the floor, surrounded by a gun-toting mob as he started on his famous funeral oration, but the speech quickly became predictable …

Three Meta-meta Questions

TLS September 27, 2013

from Kevin Mulligan's review of A. W. Moore’s The Evolution of Modern Metaphysics:

Moore asks three central meta-metaphysical questions. There is the Transcendence Question: can we make sense of “transcendent” things? Then there is the Novelty Question: can we make sense of things in radically new ways? Finally there is the Creativity Question: can we be creative in our sense-making, perhaps in a way that admits of no distinction between being right or wrong, or are we limited to looking for the sense that things already make? Moore’s own view of metaphysics is that it is a “fundamentally creative exercise.” This is partly explained by distinguishing between “propositional” and “non-propositional” knowledge and understanding. Propositional knowledge is knowledge of truths or facts; non-propositional knowledge includes practical knowledge, and the kind of understanding provided by art which shows things it does not say. Metaphysics, he also thinks, should put…

After three weeks of fussing with WordPress, getting stuff together and asking people for permissions, today I launched Singapore Poetry, an e-gallery of all things poetic about Singapore, including poetry! Three people are following the website, after the first day. I am designing an email newsletter using MailChimp to reach out to my sign-up list.

The inaugural page of SP consists of 12 posts:

(1) Singapore Writers Festival
(2) Featured Image: Jason Wee's "Vanishing Distance 5"
(3) Featured Poem: Alvin Pang's "What It Means To Be Landless"
(4) Tan Pin Pin's new documentary To Singapore, with Love, about political exiles
(5) DesignTaxi
(6) Joshua Ip's new book of poems Making Love with Scrabble Tiles
(7) Loh Kah Seng's history book Squatters into Citizens
(8) Singapore's Favorite Poem: a student nominates Cyril Wong's "A Kind of Hush"
(9) new books from Math Paper Press
(10) a newish on-line paper, The Independent, Singapore

Macedonia Brook State Park

Saturday was a glorious day for hiking. P and J rented a zipcar and drove us to Macedonia Brook State Park, near Kent and the village of Macedonia in Connecticut. We took the Blue Trail, which crossed Cobble Mountain and gave us beautiful views of the Catskills and Taconics. Halfway through the trail, we changed to the Green Trail, and walked back to the car along the eponymous brook. There was a bit of rock scrambling in the first half of the hike, but the second half was a leisurely walk on an old pebbled road, under the cathedral ceiling of pines. Yellow leaves floated down in front of us in slow motion. Our feet crunched the dry leaves below.

Then, to celebrate, we made our way to Millbrook Vineyards and Winery for wine-tasting. The winery was in the Hudson Valley region, but it was not too difficult to drive there from Macedonia. We walked about the vineyards--Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, and the vineyard specialty, Tocai Friulano--and picnicked by the small man-made lake…

New Edition of "Payday Loans"

The cover for the new edition of my first book of poetry, Payday Loans. The design is by by Shellen Teh. It was a real pleasure working with Shellen and with Jocelyn, the editor. They are so professional, and so willing to listen and make adjustments. And of course Kenny Leck makes it all happen. Big thank-you to the Math Paper Press team.

If you magnify the image, you can read my synopsis on the back cover.

Leslie Chamberlain on Roman Jakobson

TLS September 20, 2013

from "Dreams of displaced men" by Leslie Chamberlain:

The flexible way with truth and personal identity that Jakobson learnt seemed to have entered his work both indrectly, in his treatment of encoded meanings in poetry, and indirectly, in his praise for the poetic lie. His essays of the 1920s and 30s celebrated the emotional lie that sustained the hear, and the literary forgery that sustained the nation. Poets, he felt, lived in their personal myth, which was a special kind of truth. . . . In his poetics he cherished the freedom of the word always to mean something else. As he puts it in "What is Poetry" (1933), "Poeticity is present when the word is felt as a word and not as a mere representation of the object being named or an outburst of emotion, when words and their composition, their meaning, their external and inner form, acquire a weight and value of their own instead of referring indifferently to reality".  ...  If Mayakovs…