Here–Have A Haiga

Haiga is the combination of haiku and art.  An ancient Japanese artform, it’s enjoying renewed interest and innovative expansion in the digital age.

I won’t include any quotes of the work like I do in most of my other posts because I think that would rob you of the effect.  So instead, visit these links to see and experience some haiga for yourself:

Ray’s Web is an intriguing site which features haiku from famous Japanese poets of the past combined with Ray Rasmussen’s art of today.  Rasmussen compares their words to “messages sealed into bottles and cast into the seas of their times.”

An interview with haiga artist, Gary LeBel, along with some examples of his work can be found in the article titled  Unfathomable Mysteries.  The interview is found on the site, Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, an annual online anthology of past issues of this journal of fine art haiga, which you can purchase print copies of here.

Or view more contemporary haiga online from various artists at haigaonline.com.

Nonfiction Poem Recounts Tragic Deaths in Early America

The following is taken from an article called “Sixty Years Ago, Recollections of New England Country Life” from my copy of “New England Magazine” published in March 1892 and is a record, in poetry form, of a real event that took place in the mid 1800s.

“…the great cooperation work was the raising of buildings.  After the timbers were prepared, the number of men necessary were notified, and during the afternoon, under the direction of the carpenter, were put in place, and the skeleton prepared for its covering.  An especially appetizing supper was provided, and in some cases the too liberal distribution of liquor during the work endangered the building and the builders.  This was thought to be the cause of a tragedy in Wilton, which was duly recorded in the poetry of those days, and which exhibits a curious mingling of old-time theology and quaint lamentations:

‘All on a sudden, a beam broke,
And let down fifty-three;
Full twenty-seven feet they fell,
A mournful sight to see.

‘Some lay with broken shoulder bones,
And some with broken arms,
Others with broken legs and thighs
And divers other harms.

‘One instantaneously was killed;
His soul has taken flight
To mansions of eternal day
Or everlasting night.

‘Two more in a short time did pass
Thro’ death’s dark shady vale,
Which now are in the realms of joy
Or the infernal hell.

Two more in  a few minutes’ space
Did bid this world adieu,
Who are rejected of their God
Or with his chosen few.”

I was able to find one online source that lists the entire poem (42 stanzas) as it appeared in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register in 1868.  However, the introductory paragraph from the New England Magazine source shown here on the A Bunch of Wordz site is not published elsewhere on the internet as of the date of this posting (at least not that I could find). 

It’s interesting to note the mention of alcohol as a probable cause in the New England Magazine, whereas the cause is implied to be something more supernatural in the earlier publication. 

The author is not credited in my magazine that I can see but is sited in the Register as being Nathaniel Allen.

The Dead Boy at Your Window

Bruce Holland Rogers is a prolific, talented, and award-winning writer.  He has a unique setup on the web where, for a very small fee, you can get 3 of his short short stories a month sent to your email account.  There are different types of discounts available, including one for just plain being broke.

Many of the stories will eventually end up in various publications, but you will see them first.  This seems to me like a great bargain for fans, and once you’ve read his stories, you will be a fan.

Here is an excerpt from a piece called “The Dead Boy at Your Window”:

“His voice was like the rasping of dry leaves. Because it was so hard to hear him, the teacher made all the other students hold their breaths when he gave an answer.  She called on him often, and he was always right.”

You can read the full text of The Dead Boy at Your Window at a website called Tales of the Decongested (which features London-based authors) or on Bruce Holland Rogers’ website.  His site features free samples of his work and various links, including one to his blog.

Up and Coming Author, Tony D’Souza (Whiteman)

Here’s an author to keep your eye on:  Tony D’Souza.  His life appears to be as interesting as any colorful character’s you would find in a book. 

He lived in an African village for a few years while working for the Peace Corps, spent time in Nicaragua covering a famous murder trial, and is currently living on a Japanese island studying the local culture and language.

D’Souza’s first novel, “Whiteman,” is a fictional tale about a white man living in war-torn Africa.  One can imagine how his own experiences added to the depth and realism of the story. Here is an excerpt:

“I could not remember if this was the third coup or the fourth in the two months since I’d arrived up north, and anyway, talk of coups was a very complex thing because you had bloody coups and bloodless coups and attempted coups and aborted coups and averted coups and rumored coups and the coups that happen that nobody knows about except you go to the post office one day to mail a letter to your retired mother in Florida to say everything’s getting all blown out of proportion in the Western media and there’s a new general­ president smiling at you from the stamp like somebody who’s gotten away with something big, and also there were the couvre­feus, which is pronounced somewhat like ‘coup’ but means you can’t go out at night or you’ll be shot, which should not be confused with coups de grâce, which is how chickens were killed for dinner.”

From here, you can purchase “Whiteman” at amazon.com (which earned a rating of 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars); read a review of “Whiteman” at the book review site called Curled Up with a Good Book; read about his forthcoming book, The Konkans, on the Critical Mass blog (a blog written by book critics); or visit D’Souza’s homepage.

Green Spectacles are an Abomination

We all know that Edgar Allan Poe wrote wonderful stories and poems, but did you know he also wrote articles for the magazines of the time?  One such piece, widely believed to have been written by Poe, was published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1846.  It’s entitled “A Few Words on Etiquette” and, although appearing in a women’s publication, looks to be more along the lines of advice to young men of the time.

Some of the information could be relevant even today, as exampled in this somewhat comical section on how to conduct yourself when seated at the table next to a lady, who perhaps is not as familiar with etiquette as the reader of the article:

“If the lady be something of a gourmande, and in over-zealous pursuit of the aroma of the wind of a pigeon should raise an unmanageable portion to her mouth, you should cease all conversation with her and look steadfastly into the opposite part of the room.”

Other advice is somewhat harsh:

“Familiarity of manner is the greatest vice of society, and when our acquaintance finds himself entitled to say, ‘Allow me, my dear fellow,’ or any such phrase, cut him directly.”

“Dance quietly but gracefully, moving only your legs and feet, not your body to and fro like a pendulum. If you have no ear for music, or a false ear, never dance at all.”

Much of his advice reflects the age in which it was written:

“If you have remarkably fine teeth, you may smile affectionately upon the bowee without speaking.”

“Never enter your own house without bowing to any one you may meet there…”

Can you imagine entering your house today and bowing to your spouse or sibling?  They would think you were off your rocker.

Poe certainly does not express any hesitance in offering his very definite opinions:

“Punning is now decidedly out of date. It is a silly and displeasing thing…”

“Green spectacles are an abomination, fitted only for students of divinity; blue ones are respectable and even distingué.”

You can read the entire article at the wonderful Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore site.

Poetry in “The O.C.”

The website, Poetix, describes itself as “Southern California’s poetry and spoken word gateway.”  For an insider’s look into Orange County, California, in general (a.k.a. “The O.C.”) and the Orange County poetry scene in particular, read M.C. Bruce’s farewell to his birthplace…

“’Hot enough for you?’ I’ve been asked about six thousand seven hundred forty-two times this week. I respond, ‘No, I’d like it a little hotter so that people collapse and melt into the sidewalk. Then we’d be living in the dream of Salvador Dali.’ But they merely look at me with the expression of a dog who watched you throw the ball but can’t find it because you’ve hidden it behind your back.”

Bruce goes on to quote snippets of poems from various O.C. authors.  Check out the entire piece here or visit the Poetix main page.

Attention Writers and Photographers

A Bunch of Wordz now has a sister site:  A Bunch of Wordz 2 (original, I know).  I’m looking for original poetry, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and photos to publish on this new blog-style literary ezine.  You can view the submission guidelines here.

Over Main Street

Style.  It’s something every writer strives for but not all achieve.  To understand style, you need to look at the work of other writers.  But to find your own style, you need to not do what those other writers did.  It’s elusive.

But not for Conan Stuart, apparently.  In what he describes as his first major publication, “Over Main Street” is a story overflowing with uniqueness and style.  The story begins:

“For my girlfriend’s twenty-fourth birthday, I got her a flower. She was my wife actually, and instead of a flower I got her a cactus, and it was her nineteenth birthday.”

I was impressed with the way this story was worded – I’ve never read anything quite like it before.  If this well crafted and entertaining piece is his first major publication, I can’t wait to see what Conan Stuart puts out when he’s as a seasoned writer.  I’ll be keeping my eye out for more of his work because I’m now officially a fan.

Read the entire story of Over Main Street or visit the main page of Word Riot, the online literary magazine where this story is published.

College Application Causes Bomb Scare

Sloppily wrapped, stained, and poorly addressed with misspellings, one college hopeful’s application package was so badly put together, office staff thought it might be bomb.  You can read the full article at the International Herald Tribune.  The article states that the university’s spokesperson “would not comment on whether the bomb scare would affect the prospective student’s chances of admission,” but I’m thinking you won’t be seeing that guy walking around campus anytime soon.

Watermark, A Poet’s Notebook

“Watermark” has something which thousands of of online diaries don’t.  It’s interesting.  This blog is sometimes serious, as seen in this quote from Milton Glaser: 

“I think that being sceptical and questioning all deeply held beliefs is essential. Of course we must know the difference between scepticism and cynicism because cynicism is as much a restriction of one’s openness to the world as passionate belief is. They are sort of twins.”

Sometimes poetic:

“Even in dreams I am
insubstantial. Flimsy. Ghosting
through a history of rooms.”

And sometimes artsy with various snapshots of the author’s world.  Go here to read the post from which the first quote was taken, here to read the poem from which the second quote was taken, or here for the main page.