Saturday, December 22, 2007

Literature is Useless?

Which is more useful and important to society: Shakespeare, or knowledge about the human anatomy?

You see, I've been writing earnestly since 8th grade, which made last August the 6th anniversary of when I wrote my first poem. I went to a performing arts high school where I majored in Creative Writing, and wanted to be better than Shakespeare and Hemingway. But I've recently come to doubt the practicality of literature. I've wondered if it's importance and allure is merely an illusion, and really a waste of time. Perhaps it is better to major in agriculture, or engineering. Better to read papers on psychology, and spend your time people-watching. You can learn more about people by people-watching than reading poetry by Keats.

I've pretty much made up my mind about these things. I may still write poetry and prose, but have really come to doubt its importance, and wonder if life would be better spend in some other activity.

Yet, what would be nice to know is what you think about literature.
Tell me why Shakespeare matters.
Tell me why the bottom floor of the Barnes and Noble should be comprised of paperback novels.
Tell me why we should be writing poetry and literary critiques rather than reading critiques
But what the hell do you think?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

--And so I said “Lemon bars? In your dreams!
--That’s rich, that’s really rich.
--I thought so. And then Susan—
--What the--? Wait. Look behind you.
--So anyway Susan comes over, and she’s all—
--Wait—are you not seeing this? There’s a—
-- She’s all, “Hey, what’s up?” And then she gives me a copy of her house keys.
--I really think we should do something.
--And I’m all like “Sweet!”
--Should we call animal control?
--And so I get to her house, right?
--I really don’t think this is safe. What if it—
--And guess who is there? Guess who is already freakin’ there?
--Look, I don’t—I’m not really—look, could we deal with this first?
--It’s Doug! Doug was already there.
--This is… oh goodness. It’s—oh no. Oh no!
--And I’m like, “Doug?!”
--That was my mom’s new carpet!
--And he’s like “Jeff?! What are you doing here?”
--It’s just sitting there.
--And it turns out we both got house keys.
--This is not good. How do we even--?
--And we just decided to go out and get some beers.
--What am I going to do?!
--I’ll tell ya… that guy is crazy.
--(Weeps softly)

Monday, December 17, 2007

This Week in Books

The New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller List, 12/23/07, with descriptions partially imported from the analogous entries in the Children’s Picture Book Bestseller List of the same week.

T IS FOR TRESPASS, by Sue Grafton. Luke Skywalker must contend with a woman who has stolen Lord Vader’s identity in order to take advantage of Luke’s elderly neighbor.

2 THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR, by Dean Koontz. Goldilocks, who rescues golden retrievers, and one special dog she takes in, are shadowed by three bears.

3 FOR ONE MORE DAY, by Mitch Albom. The entire universe gets a last chance to reconnect and restore its relationship with a baby.

4 DOUBLE CROSS, by James Patterson. Troy Bolton and his new girlfriend, a “freaky math girl,” confront a Washington killer who boasts of his killings in a scrapbook based on the movies.

5 A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, by Khaled Hosseini. A friendship between two mice in Afghanistan against the backdrop of 30 years of war.

6 WORLD WITHOUT END, by Ken Follett. Animals seem to move when you flip the page in Kingsbridge, the medieval English cathedral town at the center of Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth.”

7 STONE COLD, by David Baldacci. Members of Washington’s Camel Club are being stalked to prevent them from uncovering Narnia.

8 THE CHOICE, by Nicholas Sparks. How a North Carolina man stands up for his favorite color, which is purple.

9 PLAYING FOR PIZZA, by John Grisham. An American third-string quarterback joins the Alphabet.

10 HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS, by Jan Karon. The Mitford character Father Tim returns to his native town to reconnect with snowmen, snowflakes and other seasonal images.

Horrible Pun #157

I thought she was referencing the Bible, but it was just an allusion.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hey everybody. I hope you enjoy this poem from my sophomore year in high school.
On the upside, it was one i read on NPR!

Meditations on a Dying Woman

The streets are overcrowded with salable goods
and people too sick to move
and people too sick to live - without someone else
telling them how ...
In the midst of all the refuse, rotting fruits and animals,
struggling workers tearing at their bonds that they’ve been told
bind them.
Walking along on the street of metaphors,
between the beggars painted gold, dancing away their lives, for a buck
and all the almost corporeal odors, that have been here so long
they pay rent ... a woman dies.
On the corner of Society Avenue and Universe Drive,
In Symbolism, Illinois, someone falls and can’t get up.
A scream wriggles free from the claustrophobic crush
of the Communists and heterosexuals. Shop owners sweep their brooms.
Kids just out of school stand atop boxes preaching
to their congregation of the unfeeling masses about a Utopia.
And a cancer patient, female, age 32, slips on the sweetly disguised black ice,
feels her feet slide out from under her
feels gravity and other natural laws betray her and laugh cruelly.
Her head strikes the corner of a box containing oranges all the way from Flahrida.
Suddenly there is enough room for her to die.
Meanwhile, prophets preach, children complain, and children’s programming plays on.
A man who had been playing guitar and singing about freedom with responsibility
puts down his yogurt and rushes to the poor woman.
“Those poor people” grumble the suits as they step over around her and move on.
The guitar playing man lifts her head off the cold inhospitable sidewalk.
Her blood bids her body goodnight and abandons ship
her red blood pumps from the heart to the outside world
and her benefactor realizes he has her life in his hands
he resists the urge to rinse them off
but the blood won’t stop
bleeding unclotted and he’s scared
and prophets without a god preach about a perfect world
and a woman dies
and good Americans stand proudly with their country
and a woman lies bleeding on the unsympathetic concrete path.
Her life is in his hands and he can’t afford to wash it off.
He wants to comfort her and her breath comes belabored now.
He begins to sing softly to her
he’ll meet her in heaven, he swears up and down,
he’ll see her through thick and thin
this is nothing, he’ll see her next week right here, same time, same place
and she can help him sing of a world where
a man can find space to live without having to die.
She can help him, he promises, and she begins to relax ...
Slowly. Gently. Softly. Like satin sheets sliding off a pre-made bed.
She dies.
He wipes the tears from his eyes
and her life onto his denim pants. One more stain ...
And suddenly, he knows he will sing again
sing to all the self styled prophets, saviors, rioters, and protestors,
who didn’t know a woman can die.
He sings; and he accompanies himself with his old guitar.
And the body is beautiful and serene and is swept away into the sea of metaphors
and the shop owner comes out from his store
and wonders how those oranges will ever sell now
with the blood stains and all ...

by Joshua Schwartz,