These days, it seems like so many arbitrary things now have their own “National Day” (or week, or month—National Candied Orange Peel Day*, anyone?), but Poetry Month is a celebration that has been going on for twenty years! Regardless of the duration of its appreciation month, it’s safe to say that poetry has been immeasurably influential throughout human history; even before the invention of writing, people told stories to one another in the form of long, epic poems. Now, candied oranges are pretty great, and chances are they’ve been around for a long time too, but we’re betting that they haven’t had quite the same societal and artistic impact. Continue Reading ›
Sure, everyone sympathizes with Odysseus, the man who got dragged off to fight a ten-year war and then had to face a journey home so filled with obstacles it took another ten years to make it back. That’s rough.
Except you know what’s rougher? Being one of Odysseus’s crewmen. If you’re a crewman in The Odyssey, you don’t get a book written about you, you probably don’t get a name, and you have an 81.2% chance of being eaten.
Check out how this epic poem’s men met their epic demises.
For National Poetry Month we were tempted to pay homage to classics like Poe, Whitman, Neruda, and all the other greats. But much of the buzz in the poetry world is not around words on a page, but rather the voice and performance of the poet. We’re talking about poetry slam, and it’s been growing in popularity thanks to the web and social media. You no longer have to head to a club to see a live performance – YouTube brings the hottest slam poets right to your screen. And if you’ve never heard of this art form, prepare to emote (hard). Continue Reading ›
Dusting off your Shakespeare for Valentine’s Day sounds like a great idea. The Bard’s famous words are tried and tested — they’ve been working for four hundred years. But are you sure you know what they mean? And are you sure that’s what you want to say? Continue Reading ›
Today is the anniversary of the Bard’s birth. Check out ways to commemorate the day below, complete with cakes, quizzes, quotes and more.
1. Bake a Shakespeare-inspired birthday cake
Introducing… Cakespeare! To celebrate Shakespeare’s b-day, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London invited bakers to design cakes inspired by the Bard’s prose. See a few below, or check out the full gallery here.
Love is dangerous—best to leave it to the experts.
Spend your Valentine’s Day living vicariously through these writers and their passionate love lives. Because let’s face it, you’d rather be draped in chocolate wrappers than a volatile amour, right? Just me?
The 6th Baron Byron was a Romantic with a capital ‘R,’ but that doesn’t mean he was particularly gentlemanly. His first partner in scandal, Lady Caroline Lamb, described him aptly when she professed he was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Indeed, she was just one of many public conquests that rocked British society, several of which produced children. Only one of these was legitimate, the Honorable Augusta Ada Byron, also known as the co-creator of the first computer, Ada Lovelace. Others, save for a daughter he had with Mary Shelley’s sister, were never proven or recognized by Byron. In essence, he was a cad with a weakness for women, or so we can assume from his poem “Don Juan.” I mean, not even his own half-sister was off-limits to him.
But still some come to his defense. Poet Katha Pollitt excused Byron’s bad boy behavior with an interesting take on his contribution to feminism: “Byron’s great insight, in an era where women were expected to be placid and insipid (not that they were!), was to see that women were much like men: They wanted sex and went after it eagerly, if secretly.”
Just for fun: we’re celebrating the lives of three poets that were changed this week in history, many years ago, and examining the curious ways one turn of events can change a legacy. Here are three world-altering events from three years in poetic history…
“The Raven” Is Born
On this day in 1845, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” one of the best-known poems in the English language, was first published. But it was no easy feat getting it into print. Poe first submitted the poem his friend and owner of Graham’s Magazine George Rex Graham, who declined. He did, however, give Poe $15 out of what could best be described as pity. The poem was eventually bought by The American Review, for $9. Still, Poe was not yet to become the household name he would shortly be; the magazine printed it under the pseudonym “Quarles.”
It was in the Evening Mirror that the poem first appeared with Poe’s name beneath it. Thanks to this publication, Edgar Allen Poe and his “Raven” achieved Continue Reading ›