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September 24, 2009

"Why I quit being a New York poet"

Goodbye to All Them by Daniel Nester - The Morning News
My life as a New York Poet begins at age 26, in seminar rooms near Washington Square, reciting first drafts with sober incantation. Star Teacher #1 orders us to read Poet in New York. I do. “New York has given me the knock-out punch,” Federico Garc�a Lorca writes back to his family in Spain in 1929. I share classes with a Troubled South African Poet of Indian Descent, who ululates and laments the absence of servants in her West Village apartment. She brings in handwritten poems, calls her classmates racists. Finally, one night, Star Teacher #1 tells her this is all inappropriate, calls her into her office. We never see her again. Two years later, another student asks Star Teacher #2 what to do when we get out of grad school: Should we apply for teaching jobs, send poems to journals? Her tone is desperate; she really wants to know. Star Teacher #2 pauses, looks at the ceiling—dreaming of his summer house in Vermont, no doubt. “Try just being a poet,” he says. People write this down. My life as New York Poet ends 12 years later, on March 12, 2005, when I announce my intention to move out of town—upstate to a teaching job, the coveted prize for poets—to 312 people on my personal email list. No one responds to this email. From then, it takes all of six months to lose almost 100 poet friends. “Before the late 1960s,” Norman Podhoretz writes in his book Ex-Friends, “I was much better at making friends of strangers than of making enemies of friends.” Podhoretz’s ex-friends—Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, the Trillings—were part of his Family of New York, fellow travelers in the writing scenes of his time. Some of my ex-friends are now successful, some may become famous. By March 2005, after 12 years in New York, it seemed I was much better at making enemies of friends than friends of enemies. . . .

September 19, 2009

Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences

ohnotheydidnt: Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences
5. Angels and Demons, chapter 4: learning the ropes in the trenches Learning the ropes (of a naval ship) while in the trenches (with the army in the First World War). It’s a military education, certainly. 4, 3, and 2. The Da Vinci Code, opening sentence: Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery. Angels and Demons, opening sentence: Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own. Deception Point, opening sentences: Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him. Professor Pullum: "Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence".

September 17, 2009

Dan Brown's 20 worst sentences

The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's 20 worst sentences - Telegraph
Below we have selected 20 phrases that may grate on the ear. It’s not a definitive list. It couldn’t be: he has published five novels, each around 500 pages long, and the arguments over which are the worst bits will go on for a while. But it’s our list. Add your own in the comment box below. 20. Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘erudite’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete. They say the first rule of fiction is “show, don’t tell”. This fails that rule. 17. Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes. It’s not clear what Brown thinks ‘precarious’ means here. 14. Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers glorified the four major rivers of the Old World - The Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio Plata. The Rio de la Plata. Between Argentina and Paraguay. One of the major rivers of the Old World. Apparently. 9. The vehicle was easily the smallest car Langdon had ever seen. "SmartCar," she said. "A hundred kilometers to the liter." Pro tip: when fleeing from the police, take a moment to boast about your getaway vehicle’s fuel efficiency. And get it wrong by a factor of five. SmartCars do about 20km (12 miles) to the litre. 1. The Da Vinci Code. Leonardo’s surname was not Da Vinci. He was from Vinci, or of Vinci. As many critics have pointed out, calling it The Da Vinci Code is like saying Mr Of Arabia or asking What Would Of Nazareth Do?

September 16, 2009

Tweet Lit

Mojonaut Katie pointed us to this Twitter-based poetry project, Follow...