Today is READ ACROSS AMERICA DAY. Which is very important, because as everyone knows, people who don't like to read cannot be trusted.
poetic license revoked
Probably 80% of people who think they're poets aren't. I'm sorry to say this, but it's true, and came to my attention once more when Drew was showing me the lyrics from one of his favorite music groups, the lead singer of which purports to be some kind of poet.
Listen: just because it's written in verse form, it doesn't mean that it's a poem. Any yahoo can write something and arrange it into a set of separate lines, and anyone who's read Dr. Seuss can rhyme words like 'you', 'blue', and 'true' (with apologies to the late Mr. Geisel-- it's actually more inventive to rhyme 'sneetches' and 'breeches'). It doesn't make them a poet.
According to the Cambridge International Dictionary, a poem is "a piece of writing in which the words are chosen for their sound and the images and ideas they suggest, not just their obvious meaning". In other words, you don't just say exactly what you're feeling; folks, that's what the essay form is for. The point of poetry is to construct, if you will, a separate place in the mind where ideas, emotions, images are intuitively felt rather than logically comprehended. The art of poetry is the craft of elegance: expressing as much as possible as briefly and as beautifully as possible. A good poem should bypass the brain and strike straight for the gut... or the jugular, when appropriate.
If you can't do that (and not everyone can), stick to prose. Or write songs (which are not necessarily poems-- in fact, nowadays, they rarely are), but don't call yourself a poet.
in the news today
Turkmenistan's president Saparmurat Niyazov decreed last Sunday that long hair, beards, and moustaches will no longer be allowed in his country. The new law applies to foreigners as well as residents, and barbershops are currently being set up at airports and border crossings in order to enforce the ruling. This is only the latest in a long string of unusual decrees passed in the span of Niyazov's 19-year presidency, including a ban on ballet and a US$46,000 tax on foreigners wishing to marry women from Turkmenistan.
The 'no-beards' law was passed on the grounds that "unkempt hair" is "unhygienic" and gives outsiders the "wrong impression" of the country. Funny, but I seem to be getting a poor impression of Turkmenistan anyway...
Who or what is Ratatosk?
answer to Friday's question
Polar bears have black skin and fur that is composed of hollow, translucent follicles. The construction of these follicles is such that they (a) absorb as much heat as possible, and (b) tend to reflect light in a way that makes them appear white, regardless of their surroundings.
Clear winners for this question were: Marco, Alex, Katrina, Dean, and Vin. Smartypants winners were: Marco (for his Gummi Bear theory) and Gabby (for her gay purple polar bears).