Archive for ‘poetry’

April 28, 2012

Ouch! Classic Works Scorched Back in the Day

If you’re a writer whose gotten lukewarm reviews for something you’ve penned or your rejection folder is disturbingly full, CHIN UP!  You’re in good company. Really good company. Over at Mental Floss, they have a post titled. 11 Early Scathing Reviews of Works Now Considered Masterpieces.

  • Among them is Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass review from The Atlantic in 1882:

“… the book cannot attain to any very wide influence.”

  • And there was this scathing review of Moby Dick:

“…Our author must be henceforth numbered in the company of the incorrigibles who occasionally tantalize us with indications of genius, while they constantly summon us to endure monstrosities, carelessnesses, and other such harassing manifestations of bad taste as daring or disordered ingenuity can devise…” -Henry F. Chorley, London Athenaeum, October 25, 1851

“How a human being could have attempted such a book as the present without committing suicide before he had finished a dozen chapters, is a mystery. It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.” –Graham’s Lady Magazine

  • Emily’s sister, Charlotte, was less than enthusiastic about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

“Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré or extravagant…”

  • Another instance of a writer who gave his two cents about another writer’s work was George Bernard Shaw letting the world know how he really felt about Ulysses penned by his fellow countryman James Joyce:

 “In Ireland they try to make a cat clean by rubbing its nose in its own filth. Mr. Joyce has tried the same treatment on the human subject.” 

  • They also included a couple rejections, one of which was Orwell’s Animal Farm, of which a publisher said:

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.” 

  • And then there was the presumably deaf and blind testing director at MGM who said about Fred Astaire:

“Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”

Read the whole list here.

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January 20, 2012

Happy Edgar Allan Poe Day

Today would have been Edgar Allan Poe’s 203rd birthday if he were still alive. One person who most likely won’t be toasting him is the “Poe Toaster” – a mysterious figure dressed in a wide-brimmed hat and white scarf, who for 60 years, left a half bottle of cognac and three roses at Poe’s Baltimore grave every year on his birthday.

The Poe Toaster hasn’t shown up for three years in a row now. The last time he was spotted was in 2009, which marked the 200th anniversary of Poe’s death. Poe House and Museum Curator Jeff Jerome declared the tradition officially nevermore.

Well, that rots. To fill the void, here’s Christopher Walken reading The Raven because even Poe would have wanted a little more cowbell.

December 1, 2011

Street Sign Haiku

NYC is using poetry by rewriting street signs in the form of haiku to remind pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists to use caution on the city streets. Artist John Morse who created the signs, also made some in Spanish. On Tuesday, City Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan said the project, known as the Curbside Haiku campaign, is using poetry and art “to make New York City’s streets safer.”

“Too averse to risk
To chance the lottery, yet
Steps into traffic.”

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