Saturday, October 21, 2006

more stray strands of research     [Indian classical music notes]

Sitar Factory (a blog)

débloque-notes -- which is source of the astonishing chart of Indian classical musicians.

From A to Z, the chart appears to have 2,068 entries. The following are the musicians listed as vichitra vina players --

Also to note:

The website of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy (Kolkata) includes a good and extensive audio archive, called Raga Online.

Also note:

The MP3 Library lists a bunch of Indian classical music (though so far I've not succeeded in hearing any of it).

(Similarly), I'd like to hear the audio clips peppering pandit Parrikar's expositions, but so far haven't managed to do so.

A lot of Sikh singers here:
The Gurmat Sangeet Project. These, anyway, I'm succeeding in hearing (streaming audio).

Ah, now the DoveSong audio is working. Recommended: Elder Dagar Brothers' Darbari Kanada -- see the Kanada Ragas page.

/ / / / /

Also -- good news! in the Karnatic [or if you wish, Carnatic] music sphere: Carnatic Kritis Online. When I discovered the Anahata blog recently, I figured it might prove a trove of good things. So it's proving -- as for instance that Karnatic music link, thanks to a good discussion of Dikshitar's Kamalambam Navavarna krithis.

"Midnight's memorandum"     [boomerang triptych]

The best the poets could say   was "I cannot say"
yet they strove anyway   to define the precise unsayable
so they faded into a gloam   as does the day
ah isn't the dusk   a thing that's quite undayable?
should fringe of the afternoon   remain unfrayable
won't silhouettes of the trees   incline to sway?
what if midnight's memorandum   seems okayable?
the best the poets can say   is "I cannot say"

The best the poets could say   was "I cannot say"
the miasma of the morning   proved alayable
when we wandered into the foyer   what was the play?
why assume the wisest sayings   always are nayable?
for every joust or feint   that's half replayable
there's a babble rabbling   prepared to shout "touché!"
but maugre its waves   the main remains long-stayable
the best the poets can say   is "I cannot say"

The best the poets could say   was "I cannot say"
the bill   albeit exorbitant   became playable
if the jungle's fierce predations   prod the prey
was the Voyage of the Beagle   not pureeable?
well be as that may   the grins are often "hey-hey!"able?
did the grimace portend   a grouse that wanted to stay?
when at last the awning-with-owls   was twilight-arrayable
the best the poets could say   was "I cannot say"


This expands on the original (more modest) quatrain, Puriya Kalyan

Sanskrit et cetera     [Bhopal research]

The curious fact is that, in terms of internet research on various topics, a handy place to park the results is here on my blog. (Accessible, searchable, not lost on some or other storage device I might or might not have at hand . . .) Following this logic of handiness, here is some preliminary research into institutions of language instruction in Bhopal. As I'm contemplating making that city my basecamp -- perhaps for extended periods -- and as I'm eager to dive into study of several Indian languages (first being Sanskrit and Hindi, followed by Urdu and perhaps others), getting the possible lay of the academic land seems useful (though possible routes for such studies hardly need be restricted to academies per se, but it's one place to start). So --

Thumbnail sketch of Madhya Pradesh (various basic facts and statistics) here.

Main cities: Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Ujjain, Raipur [though the latter is technically no longer classed under M.P., being now a province all its own].

Ujjain (where the Gundecha Bros. were born) is of special interest due to its association with Kalidasa.

A Bhopal Tourism blurb.

This chart shows distances of various cities from Bhopal:
Indore -- 108 miles
Nagpur -- 183 miles
Jaipur -- 268 miles
Agra -- 268 miles
Lucknow -- 326 miles
Varanasi -- 376 miles
Pune -- 400 miles
Hyderabad -- 412 miles
Mumbai -- 420 miles
Delhi -- 370 miles
Kolkata -- 700 miles
Bangalore -- 700 miles
Chennai -- 726 miles
Kunming -- 1595 miles
Another, bigger distance chart (but in km units only).

And here's a more comprehensive (Indian cities) distance chart. It lists Ujjain as 188 km from Bhopal (~4 hours)

There was a Sanskrit Festival in Bhopal, Jan. 29-31 2005.

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This site lists several Madhya Pradesh academies (plus governmental cultural departments).
Among them, the Madhya Pradesh Sanskrit Academy is in Bhopal.

This site lists myriads of colleges in M.P.

Search tool for language schools, teachers, tutors in Bhopal (but with nothing relevant at present).

(Actually, my conclusion from this attempted research is -- internet research isn't very effective here. Direct local inquiry is what's needed.)

Ah, but the Wikipedia entry for Bhopal does have a decenet listing of colleges and universities.

\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

More Madhya Pradesh cultural stuff -- including Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. (Museum & performing arts.)

\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

The Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan has a Bhopal Campus. The library in Bhopal is said to have 10,000 books. Their campuses evidently also offer study of Sanskrit via extension courses.

This institution also offers a correspondence course (application due by end of December, for course beginning in January) employing written materials plus CDs (40 15-min lessons per term).

\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

Stumbled on in passing: the future of traditional Sanskrit learning (considered in a Western academic context) -- pdf document.

Also, unrelatedly (this about English rather than Sanskrit) -- How the Past Affects the Future: The Story of the Apostrophe (pdf document).

A tanpura program download.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Puriya Kalyan     [gnomic epigram]

The best the poets could say   was "I cannot say"
yet they strove anyway   to define the precise unsayable
so they faded into a gloam   as does the day
ah isn't the dusk   a thing that's quite undayable?

ragamala paintings     [music / art]

Raga Lalita
"The Kangra Miniatures of the Pahari School made a mark in the 18th century. Though influenced by the Mughals, the Kangra School retained its distinctiveness. The paintings were naturalistic and employed cool, fresh colors. The colors were extracted from minerals, vegetables and possessed enamel-like luster. Verdant greenery of the landscape, brooks, springs were the recurrent images on the miniatures. Texts of the Gita Govinda, Bhiari's Satsai, and the Baramasa of Keshavdas provided endless themes to the painters. Krishna and Radha as eternal lovers were portrayed rejoicing the moments of love. The Kangra miniatures are also noted for portraying the famine charm with a natural grace. The paintings based on Ragmalas (musical modes) also found patronage in Kangra."

Ragini Vasanti
"Here, celebration of spring is shown amidst the yellow and white blossoms of trees while a pair of belle charmed by the nature’s beauty are plucking flowers and rejoicing the season. The painting is based on Raga Vasanti. Ragini Vasanti represents advent of spring marked by new leaves, blossoming of flowers and songs of birds."

Raga Kalinga

"The painting personifies Raga Kalinga, one of the sons of Raga Dipaka. In the painting Raga Kalinga is visualized as Krishna resting on a lotus flower cushion spread on a serpent. The crown decorates the head while kundals (the rings) adorn the ears. His flute is potent enough to enchant the universe. His beautiful eyes, arched eyebrows and a garland of flowers around his neck enthrall the heart.
"Between 14th-16th centuries a wave of Krishna worship swept India. Hindu devotees could easily relate to Krishna who was one of like them. He was a loving god who moved among them and shared their pastoral and agricultural pursuits. Krishna worship inspired a cycle of poetry in the 16th century succeeded by a cycle of painting."

source of paintings and texts: Crafts in India

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My name is Gauhar Jan     [Indian classical music notes]

Of historical interest . . .

My name is Gauhar Jan

Ah, but a bit of GR [google research] reveals the author of the article about Gauhar Jan to be one Suresh Chandvankar. It earlier appeared here (in an online publication called The South Asian, Oct. 2003) and also here (in Musical Traditions).
Another article, by Pran Nevile (Sunday Tribune, 2002) is here: The importance of being Gauhar Jan. The two articles overlap somewhat, but each includes many details not mentioned by the other.

A fascinating, more scholarly article about the ganewalis ["singing ladies"] was written by Saleem Kidwai: "The singing ladies find a voice"
It includes a number of observations about Gauhar Jan. This little anecdote may serve to suggest the high regard she commanded from the musical cognoscenti:
<< She sang Tagore’s songs, with his permission, but set to her own tunes, a privilege not allowed to others till the recent ending of the copyright covering the Tagore compositions. >>


Here's her discography (or the beginning of one; a note indicates her full discography of known recordings runs to some 160 items), -- with three MP3 "excerpts" (1 min 5 sec each), including:
Bhairavi thumri
Khamaj jogia


More music of Gauhar Jan online!

This remarkable page -- on Patrick Moutal's blog -- features some 272 items of Indian classical music (as MP3 files), including the following:

1. Gauhar JAN, Desh (02:40) 2,4MB
2. Gauhar JAN, Gandhari (02:21) 420KB (24kbps)
3. Gauhar JAN, Gara thumri (02:26) 575KB
4. Gauhar JAN, Jogiya (Jo Piya Aaye Mose...) (02:39) 0,459MB (24kbps)*
5. Gauhar JAN, Pahari Jhinjhoti (Manwa Lubhao...) (03:29) 0,615MB (24kbps)*
6. Gauhar JAN, Sindh Kafi (Naino Se Naina Mila) (03:03) 0,540MB (24kbps)*
7. Gauhar JAN, Bhairavi (Rasili Matwaliyon...) (03:16) 0,576MB (24kbps)*
8. Gauhar JAN, Piloo (Savariyan Man Bayo...) (02:38) 0,465MB (24kbps)

Those are (moreover) evidently the full recordings (ranging from 2min 21sec to 3min 16sec), rather than 1-min excerpts.

= = = = = = = =

Also, a short recording of the legendary Allauddin Khan (sarod) playing Zila Kafi.

I was just yesterday watching his California grandson -- Alam Khan -- on YouTube; or, I mean, on Mehfil Tube. Allauddin Khan emerged from the 19th century; Alam Khan is moving into the 21st.

= = = = = = = =

Relatedly (vis-a-vis Gauhar Jan) and from the same source (I mean, the French blog linked-to at top of this item), see also:

Indian Gramophone Records

Also of note:

Raagabase and the Raaga Finder

Also of note:

Musical Articles Archive (from South Asian Women's Forum)
Our features on the ragas of Hindustani music are written by Rajan P. Parrikar. They contain his insightful analysis and commentary, fortified by around 2000 carefully prepared audio clips that illustrate and illuminate the nuances of raga structure. A large number of these adduced recordings are rare and hitherto unpublished. Rajan, as many of you know, has a penchant to understand not only the music of the masters, but their hearts and minds too.

= = = = = = = =

But every concert should end with Bhairavi.

So let me complete this little series with a 9-min Bhairavi by the late Lalmani Misra (vichitra vina).
Patrick Moutal's page (source of these various recordings) includes several other selections (some longer) by this notable artist, -- some of them (including this one)
from an old radio broadcast.

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Speaking of vichitra vina (and radio broadcasts), this morning I belatedly learned that Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish (originally from Lahore, where he was an All India Radio artist) and living in Santa Cruz, California for many decades) passed away in July of this year. He was one of the very few accomplished vichitra vina players this world has seen.
The instrument dates from the early 20th century, so far as I'm aware. S.D. Batish's son Ashwin (with whom I chatted on phone this morning) mentioned that his father had studied vichitra vina from a student of the originator of the instrument (whose name, alas, I failed to jot down). One little pop claim to fame of S.D. Batish's was his playing vichitra vina in the Beatles' film HELP. But as a singer-musician, composer, musicologist, and all-around scholar, his somewhat hidden legacy is likely
to continue sending late waves into the world. Ashwin anyway is minded to promulgate writings and recordings of his father in years to come . . .

Born in 1914, S.D. Batish lived into 90s.
I have happy recollections of meeting him in Santa Cruz about 20 years ago.

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Ashwin Batish's website includes a notable Indian classical music teachers list ("The Guru Shishya Database").

Alaka Nandy, exponent of Dagarbani Dhrupad and Damar (and having also a background in Rabindra Sangeet from VisvaBharati/Santaniketan), associated with the Ustad Nasir Moinuddin Dagar Dhrupad Sangeet Ashram in Calcutta, gives instruction on pakhawaj. But possibly it's a girls-only ashram?

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Music India Online has a lot of audio files.

For instance:

Rashid Khan's Mian ki Todi (brief alap / khayal)
Budhaditya Mukherjee's Mian ki Todi (sitar). He was born in 1956, like me.

= = = = = = = =

Also: some info on several annual classical music festivals in India.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Circular Fable     [blank verse]

The Cirque du Soleil has moved in next door!
                        who would believe it?
"My window overlooks the circus" said Ulrike
                        when I'd asked her location
so I could drop off the biochemical diagram
                        I'd constructed in chemdraw
is this how the cosmos is ushering me away
                        from my present position?
the circus is in residence for a month   and on Monday
                        I plan to submit
to human resources (before exiting stage left)
                        my letter of resignation

this reminds of the evening Bill Clinton paid a visit
                        to our building in the old days
we'd only just arrived in this fancy 12-story
                        a month or two earlier
it must have been summer   next door at the erstwhile
                        convention center (now parking lot)
the Prez (new-elected) was doing a big fundraiser
                        Whitney Houston was singing
while down in our inner courtyard the Saxophone Club
                        was fronted by Kenny G
"I taught him everything he knows" quipped William
                        in innocent comedy

just moments ago I was watching Alam Khan
                        on YouTube expounding
the rudiments of playing the sarod   Alam Khan!
                        the scion of Ali Akbar
I remember this lad as a 5-year-old tyke
                        his mother after all
went to high school together with my sister in Spokane
                        back in the '70s
time's flying in this Circus of the Sun   Lord knows
                        high time I repaired me
to India to study the melodious trapeze
                        for the circus has snared me

meanwhile today comes news Ravi Shankar's
                        in a San Diego hospital
the twentieth century is arriving at its close
                        at last   in this autumn
"those who are alone now will remain alone"
                        quoth Rilke rose-shadowed
I listen and listen to what's probably a thumri
                        a friend it sent by email
I recall neither the singer nor the raag   but the saranghi
                        and the bandish win me over
I'd regale you with the history of everything were I able
                        it's a circular fable


In case the physical lay of the land (alluded to in the first two stanzas) is unclear: the old Washington Convention Center was, a couple years ago, torn down and replaced by a (perhaps temporary) parking lot. On this parking lot (in the middle of downtown DC), the circus has now made its month-long camp. The President (in the anecdote of stanza 2) bopped between the larger gathering (at the Convention Center) and a smaller gathering (in the inner lobby of our office building); the latter was hosted by a group styling themselves the Saxophone Club, comprised of yuppies eager to support Clinton's bid for a second term. This saxophone theme (or schtick) was bolstered by the presence of the light-jazz/new-agey Kenny G. A big video monitor was also installed -- hence we listened to Whitney Houston (next door) while continuing to ply our trade as word processors (with a view of the inner courtyard from the word processing center).

Regarding Pandit Ravi Shankar, an report indicates his condition is stable.

"In the physical world"     [ghazal]

To walk down the highway in actual fact   is different
the verbal abode   from the road of the act   is different

the gestures of thought are like filligree traced in the air
when carving in marble   the total impact   is different

both living and dying are staged   in the physical world
a realm of ideas   from a city that's sacked   is different

the fruit of the vine is mundane   the vine is its servant
this sacrifice is   from a social contract   how different?

couldn't concepts suffice?   to act on them bristles with hazard!
but the measure of earth that this recipe lacked   was different

point A to point B   our trajectories need locomation!
a theory of movement when put into practice proves different

in pure speculation the journey is noiseless and dustless
in train and at station   the click and the clack   are different

although there was no one so eager for life as Ardeo
it's mordantly clear that his knapsack was packed   a bit different

when Ardeo popped out   he presumed he could loll in the clouds
but the stars that he saw   when a wall had been smacked   were different

"The felines in Zanzibar"     [gnomic rubai]

I was counting the felines in Zanzibar   in lieu of counting sheep
now that isn't to say I was struggling   to join the realm of sleep
like an elephant that isn't in the room   I sought for 5 blind men
like a rhino who's looking for Wittgenstein   I said "the road is steep"


responsive to Stephen Schroeder's "reconciling texts" -- including the epigraph from Thoreau ("It is not worthwhile to go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar").
The final line's rhinoceros allusion is handily explicated by a blogger here.

Mehfil Tube     [music note]

Check it out   (seemingly a division of You Tube):

Mehfil Tube


Ram Narayan (sranghi), playing raag Mishra Piloo

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (excerpts -- evidently from an old film -- with raag Todi / thumri Bhairavi / thumri Pahadi / raag Yaman Kalyan / raag Marwa . . . )

Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa ("the Mount Everest of tabla") -- from a Films Division documentary, filmed when the maestro was 90 years old, but mighty quick still. (Clip ends abruptly after 10 minutes; -- hard to know how long the original runs.) A black & white film, made when?

raag Darbari, sung by Salamat and Sharafat Ali Khan

= = = = = = =

Hariprasad Chaurasia (bansuri) -- several brief "bootleg video" clips from a concert (the stage vaguely reminds me of Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley -- wonder if that's where it it?) The clips are too short to offer a sustained musical infusion; but this gives a glimpse and reminder of Hariprasad's playing. I think these must be rather recent (even with fuzzy videography, the guy looks older than I recall from gone years).

Zakir Hussein (tabla) -- The Speaking Hand (an excerpt from the documentary film by Sumantra Ghosal).

clips of Pandit Nikhil Banerjee (sitar -- from a nicely-done film).

Partha Bose (sitar) -- a newer sitarist; this is the first I've heard from him, a nice sound and obviously good hand. Objection: clips too short. Note mentions his being "of the Maihar gharana." Who's his music-guru I wonder? In clips with Samir Chatterjee (tabla), the video-guy (perhaps a tabla student) is focused just on the tabla.

Pandit Atmaram Sharma (sitar -- from Hyderabad); another unknown to me. A half-hour clip; gat begins about 16 minuntes into the raag. Too bad the clip ends abruptly (when the chap is just some ways into the vilambit gat).

Ustad Tejendra Narayan Majumdar (sarod) -- "of the Maihar gharana accompanied by Yogesh Samsi on tabla. Raag Jaijaivanti, gat in jhaptaal" (less than 3 min. clip, a brief glimpse)

Mustafa Bhagat (sitar), playing raag Charukeshi. ("This is a recital at a house concert in New Jersey USA. Mustafa Bhagat is a disciple of Prasanna of USA and Pandit Manilal Nag of India.") I like his playing (seems that of a promising student).

Prasad Bhandarkar (bansuri) playing raag Shivaranjani. I wasn't aware of this flautist, but he's quite good.

Among many clips of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, this (from 1989) is quite good

the Maihar Band (this one via Google video -- presumably You Tube competitor) -- an ensemble evidently playing a composition of Baba Allauddin Khan's.

Aziz Mian sings a Mira bhajan in Qawwali style. [one line: "Look, I've turnred both my eyes into burning lamps of worship for my love"]

A younger-generation Kolkata artist -- Rajrupa Sen [born 1982] (sarod) playing raag Malkauns. Also (a direct YouTube link), her raag Bageshree. Her website's here.

Speaking of youngsters, dig this: Alam Khan (son of Ali Akbar Khan) on sarod. I remember this kid when he was like 5 years old . . . -- time flies. (The lad talks and plays in this 2-min. clip.)

= = = = = = =

A song by Ghulam Ali (ni chambe diye band kaliye teinuun) -- light classical.

Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi (a cute old b&w filmsong, orchestrated) -- more interesting thanks to the visuals. Influenced by Busbee Berkeley?

Another dreamy Bollywood number, Saat suron ke tar of sangeet (by Madhuri Dixit) -- 6 min. (color) -- meta-framed as daydream.

and lots more . . .

Asian literary prize unveiled     [book notes]

October 18, 2006
New Prize for Asian Writers
By Lawrence Van Gelder
New York Times
The investment house that sponsors the Booker Prize has begun a new award intended to recognize Asian authors living in the region and writing in their own language, Agence France-Presse reported. The prize, an annual award of $10,000 to be known as the Man Asian Literary Prize, was announced yesterday in Hong Kong and is to be given next autumn for the first time by Man Investments. Robb Corrigan, a spokesman for the company, said, "There is a specific goal to bring Asian voices to the global stage." Peter Gordon, director of the Hong Kong Literary Festival, which took part in the announcement, said the prize would be open to writers in 24 countries in a "triangle defined by Japan, Indonesia and Afghanistan."

Here's the text of the official press release (13 March 2006)
Major New Literary Prize Established in Asia
Man Asian Literary Prize Will Recognise New Works By Regional Authors
HONG KONG - A major new literary prize was launched today to recognise the work of Asian writers and to bring them to the attention of the world literary community. The prize is a joint project of Man Group plc and the Hong Kong Literary Festival Ltd, which together announced the prize’s creation.
Called the Man Asian Literary Prize, the award will seek entries from Asian writers for works that are yet to be published in English. Entries will be submitted in English, and the prize is intended to provide a broader platform for the cream of new Asian literature to be brought to the attention of English-reading audiences around the world.
The Hong Kong International Literary Festival, sponsored by Man Investments, is the region’s most recognised festival highlighting the achievements of authors throughout greater Asia. Man Group plc (the parent company of Man Investments) is a leading London-based global provider of alternative investment products and solutions as well as one of the world’s largest futures brokers.
Matt Dillon, Regional Managing Director of Man Investments, Asia Pacific announced its establishment at the conclusion of the 2006 Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival. The first annual prize will be awarded in Autumn 2007.
“Through this new prize we aim to foster the publication of new Asian voices in English and to help make those voices more widely heard”, Mr Dillon said. “One of the most important tasks facing our world in recent times has been for the English-speaking peoples to have a better understanding of Asian society and culture. We very much hope this prize will encourage that activity”.
Peter Gordon, Director of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, said Asian writers were becoming increasingly significant on the world literary scene.
“Asia is becoming an important source for new writing for major international publishers and this award will help facilitate publishing and translating of Asian literature into English”, Mr Gordon said.
“Since the purpose of this prize is to facilitate publication and translation rather than to merely reward existing publication activity, the Prize will focus on ’new’ works, as yet unpublished in English”, he said.
The Man Asian Literary Prize will be administered by a new and independent not-for-profit entity. It is anticipated that the judging panel will be drawn from international literary and academic communities.
The Man Asian Literary Prize has a unique combination of features. It is explicitly focused on Asia, as distinct from, for example, the Asia-Pacific/Pacific Rim. It is based in Asia and it will be for currently unpublished works with the explicit objective of encouraging the publication of more works by Asian writers.
Further details including application procedures, eligibility and prize money will be finalised over the coming months and will be announced in Autumn 2006.
Man Group plc is also the sponsor of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker International Prize, two of the world’s premier literary prizes.

There was an advance article about this in The Standard (Hong Kong) way back in May. An article in Time Asia likewise made mention of it in May.

Dhrupad notes and research     [music notes]

This is an out-of-season note -- but I want to blog it simply for future reference. The goodly Google has belatedly apprised me of a first dhrupad festival held in Chennai last February. The report (from the English language newspaper The Hindu) reflects a fine gathering. Another report on the same event is found in the magazine Sruthi. The same is also described here. The Music Magazine describes the same (invoking the name Barsi for the festival) here.

The Hindu same also has a report from May of this year on a music festival in Delhi, again featuring dhrupad. (It notes Ustad Fariddudin Dagar held a 2-week workshop in Delhi, too, at the Habitat Centre.) Another shorter notice in the same paper is seen here.

Earlier this month (October 7), Ustad H. Sayeeduddin Dagar (who is based in Pune) held performances at an arts center in Brussels. Also mentioned are Nafeesuddin Dagar (vocal), Aneesuddin Dagar (vocal), and Pandit Mohan Shyam Sharma (pakhawaj). (I had heard of Ustad Sayeeduddin Dagar in past, but didn't realize -- as this notice mentions -- that he is a brother of the Ustads Zia Fariduddin and the late Zia Mohiuddin Dagar.) It also mentions the Gundecha Brothers will perform there next January. The succinct note about the origins of dhrupad is worth quoting:
The dhrupad (from dhruva, Pole Star, and pada, poetry) evokes the ascension of the spirit through poetry. This truly ancient style traces its origins to the samgana, the accompaniment of melody and rhythm to the ritual chanting of the Vedic texts that took place in Hindu temples. Towards the 11th century, the dhrupad attained a degree of perfection that that it has once again regained today under the auspices of the prestigious Dagar dynasty.

Also in music news, as of today (Oct.18) --
The renowned sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar has been admitted in a hospital in San Diego and California. His wife Sukanya is at his bedside. The ailment was not announced. He is 86.

I wasn't aware that this year, the dhrupad Barsi in Mumbai has already happened -- a couple weeks ago.
Annual Zia Mohiuddin Dagar memorial recitals:

BARSI 2006

29TH SEPTEMBER 2006, 6:30 PM

30TH SEPTEMBER 2006, 6:30 PM


Date: Friday, September 29, 2006
Time: 6:30 PM

(per Google Group --


This chart lists a lot of Hindustani musicians, with terse notes about their influences. It includes more vichitra vina players than I was aware of.


Gundecha Brothers -- music downloads

Noted in the margins     [gnomic rubai]

(on the non-universality of epidemic phenomena)

For the plaguophilic
            the worse things get   the better
for the life idyllic
            the plague is yet   a fetter
while plagues embitter
            both human and bird critter
there's none angelic
            nor plagues for the Irish setter


nonsense verse responsive to a passing remark by Vasudev Murthy (regarding a certain educational institution -- viz., he suggested, "Avoid this school like the plague. Unless you like plague.")

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"In Bhopal"     [ghazal]

What it means   to be an American
                        will I discover   in Bhopal?
the music   that time didn't quite forget
                        can I recover   in Bhopal?

on this rainy October morning my DC cabdriver
                          chats in Amharak
sargam pearled   out from the Sanskritic tongue
                        may I uncover   in Bhopal

it's not that   I'm generally depressive but
                    a malaise with autumn pulls in
I'll be to   spring's dark and to winter's light
                        a cheerful lover   in Bhopal

the Earth is   the same and yet different in every quarter
                            of the green globe
she presum-   ably sees the selfsame stars
                        pinioned above her   in Bhopal

Ardeo's   life wasn't an accident   but can he yet
                          reclaim the disaster?
this riddle's   so-intransigent answer   he
                        hopes to discover   in Bhopal


chats in Amharak: i.e., on his cellphone (of course); there are myriad Ethiopean cabdrivers in this city; I don't however speak Amharak.
(The poem concerns a contemplated move to a music school in the middle of India.)

initial draft jotted (while en route to office) in blank pages at end of a paperback poetry book at hand -- Agha Shahid Ali's Rooms Are Never Finished (2002)

Ad lib opportunities     [cuppa prose - 1]

He began by viewing life as an almost unlimited ad lib opportunity.
His sentence commenced on Monday, on Thursday he paused for breath and water, and Saturday was his day of rest. On Sunday, the weather being fine, he went for a stroll in the park. The rollerskaters were in fine fettle, and his ad lib entered high gear. Pigeons and policemen took him in stride, and all in all, it was a superior day.
On Monday, his wife phoned.
"How's it going?" she asked.
"It continues swimmingly," he ad libbed, surprisingly tersely.
"Any job prospects yet?"
"I'm considering astrology," he replied, always good for a notional career move.
"What sign are you?" she -- uncharacteristically forgetful -- inquired.
"Libra, darling," he allowed.
On Tuesday, he picked up several astrology volumes at the used bookstore. "It's never too late to learn a thing," he remarked to himself, smiling, ambling down the sun-dappled sidewalk.
Autumn, however, was on its way.

Monday, October 16, 2006

38 |   School of Quietude     [pantoum]

When I entered the school of deep quietude
the fish with the rudders were friendly
the village was mantled in solitude
the trees and the brides were like family

the fish with the rudders were friendly
the streets and the moons looked benign
the trees and the brides were like family
the human was all but divine

the streets and the moons looked benign
it seemed at the nadir of turpitude
milkmaids were attending the kine
when I entered the school of deep quietude


see also pantoum no. 2 in this autumn sequence, "In the school of disquietude"

"Too many poems"     [gnomic ditty / rubai]

There are too many poems on the writing of poems!
          a poet opined in a note
there are too many boats about riding in boats!
          I note that a boatman wrote
if a myriad words address speaking in words
          how prolix grow thoughts about thoughts!
what with so many "too many"s filling the tomes
          would you vote to recite them by rote?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Typed Memorium for Inkpen Poetry     [gnomic nostrum]

The computer keyboard helped kill shorthand, and now it's threatening to finish off longhand.
-- The Handwriting Is on the Wall: Researchers See a Downside as Keyboards Replace Pens in Schools (Washington Post, October 11, 2006)

Poets who wrote in ink   could also think in ink
(I type these words at 14 points   in a Georgia font)
O smears and jags of ink   if a pen were on the blink
whatever you wrote at least weren't lost   one could be spont
  on a mountain trail with a paper scrap in pocket
  you'd just have to plug into the cosmic socket

After the Georgetown Wedding     [solitude lyric]

When silence asked me where was I going
                what was I to say?
the autumn evening came to us
                          in pleasant ways
the fete unfolded memorably
                a rarely happy day
we measure out the unsure share
                          of passing days

When silence asked me where was I headed
                how could I reply?
the autumn evening humored us
                          with sparkling riches
the festival occasion flowed
                and drumming thrilled the sky
I measure out in solitude
                          the seven pitches

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"New information"     [ballade]

ballade borrowing lines from Mina Loy

Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes
  her elation
the casual eye could surmise
are clouds now principally sighs
congealled overhead the nation?
a wind might dispell tacit lies
according to new information

Cyclones of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
  in the margin
one lives on a gulp and a crust
while blooms of imagining burgeon
who'd hire an artist as surgeon
prove prone to outré reformation
entrée will be sorrow and sturgeon
according to new information

Somnambulists of adolescent thighs
draped in satirical draperies

recalling the puddles of paradise
while browsing quaint volumes at bakeries
grow silent a spell   lyric quakeries
could serve for a quietude ration
the trouble arises from flakeries
according to new information

Who'd think of the gardens as snakeries
are souls overdue for vacation
the ocean affords sandy nakeries
according to new information


Phrases that begin each of the poem's three main stanzas are borrowed from Loy's Lunar Baedeker (1923/1958); (see also Lunnar Baedecker)

The Mina Loy Feature in Jacket (Oct. 1998) is worth noting

The Three Poeias     [ballade]

Melopoeia was drawing a bath
phanopoeia was lacing his shoes
melopoeia was trilling a laugh
phanopoeia was milling the blues
logopoeia was ready for words
mounting the mountain and clambering to climb
phanopoeia was soaring with birds
melopoeia was dappled with rhyme

Melopoeia was feeling the beat
pulled by the pulse of the phrase as it came
phanopoeia was struck by the street
logopoeia was mulling the name
phanopoeia was topping his game
shooting a film with the face of a mime
logopoeia was burning with flame
melopoeia was dappled with rhyme

Melopoeia was dripping with honey
logopoeia was tripping on thought
phanopoeia was cloudy or sunny
lacking for money were poetry's lot
logopoeia was mining for meaning
melopoeia was musically fine
phanopoeia was golding or greening
melopoeia was dappled with rhyme

"Sight. Sound & Intellect." quoth Louis Z.
quaffing the Poundian lexicon's wine
phanopoeia was often at sea
melopoeia was dappled with rhyme


vide Logopoeia (Wikipedia)

Gene Fowler (who discusses the three terms interestingly, though neglecting to credit Ezra Pound as their originator) translates melopoeia as "melody-making," phanopoeia as "sense-making" (also noting the more literal "image-making" and "fantasy-making"), and logopoeia as "revelation-making" (while skipping over the literal "word-making").
47. "Phanopoeia, Melopoeia, Logopoeia." — Ezra Pound
48. "Sight. Sound & Intellect." — Louis Zukofsky
    -- Allen Ginsberg, Mind Writing Slogans

I got on this particular poetics-principles wavelength today thanks to a little argument in Silliman's blog comments stream about whether (and which of) these three poetry-qualities are found in a particular passage quoted from Robert Creeley.

"Something to dare"     [ballade]

Basic confusion is part of the deal
yet it astonishes even the wise
who can distinguish the false from the real?
who can unravel the truth from the lies?
Maya would bind with a bevy of ties
few are the birds who can exit the cage
desire's a cloud with a shadow of sighs
poetry's born with the turn of a page

Basic confusion is ancient and thick
eat it for breakfast and dream it at night
the rabbit is slow and the tortoise is quick
the bird is at sea and the fish is in flight
morning still dawns with its argot of light
paying its fare with a time-honored wage
evening still ushers in lyrical night
poetry's born with the turn of a page

Often the simplest things are confounding
rarely the subtlest thoughts are laid bare
often the difficulties are astounding
rarely the chains seem to vanish in air
was there a wall here we tried to repair?
was that a lion who roared with such rage?
kindness is premised on courage and care
poetry's born with the turn of a page

None are the days lacking something to dare
actors prepare as they pace on the stage
even the ushers are bowing with flair
poetry's born with the turn of a page

"Something ungrasped"     [ballade]

What was I born desiring to speak?
where bides the enexpressed poetry now?
must we cross mountains and oceans to seek
something ungrasped amid heart and brow?
seasons and times and regions allow
varying fauna and flora to grow
who what and where are essential to how
everything forms and when it may flow

What is the work I have yet to perform?
where is the quarry and which is the vein?
is the trail cold? or do I grow warm?
something may glimmer but nothing is plain
clouds are required if one would have rain
patience is needed through sunlight and snow
all to reliance on God may pertain
everything's forming when it may flow

Stopping and starting are part of the play
seeking direction is key to the game
when there is breeze the branches will sway
when there is form there's naturally name
every horizon remembers a flame
night becomes morning because of its glow
day after day things might seem the same
yet everything's forming when it may flow

Sometimes the canvas and sometimes the frame
ask the attention that art would bestow
isn't the river awash in this claim?
everything's forming when it may flow

Friday, October 13, 2006

lyricism defined     [quotation + rubai]

The nature of the lyric is that it is restless and questing. This is what "lyrical" means and produces in matters of sound and tone and closure. A lyrical line veers from side to side, pauses, looks around and up, and continues until it finds a very temporary spot to breathe. It bounces against space. Then it continues again and often finds its way through a number of words that might contradict the meaning of the first lyric. At this level it doesn't matter if one has belief in one set of laws or another. It is faith in the footstep that counts.

      -- Fanny Howe
as quoted on the Lyricism Blog


Riffing on same, a rubai:
restless and questing   possibly crazed
hosting or guesting   mostly amazed
any new vantage re-riddles the view
grieving or jesting   either way dazed


Next, I notice Andrea Baker's "Lr" graphic (same source), hence this:

If lyricism's an element
            on a strange periodic table
is it volatile?   does it oxidize?
            is it solid-state and stable?
O does it meander all waywardly
            in a myriad transient spasms
through a ghostly cycling labyrinth
            in a beaker of frothy babble?


And one more rubai (somewhat relatedly) --
The news that I seek seems not to be found
          who carries the news that I seek?
the sky whispers sky and the ground reports ground
          who carries the news that I seek?
each element mirrors a rumor it heard
      through the grapevine of life's causation
this circles and circles around and around
          but who's got the news that I seek?

"Earth's blear"     [ekphrasis / ballade]

Something like squares (if examined close)
but smoothed and waved in Peruvian ways
this faceted stone won't wax verbose
its silence sprawls for a slew of days
beyond its crusty fringe there plays
wide water's fluctuant narrative
low comely hills long bathed in haze
my sentence grows declarative

Where tones of water blend green and grise
the Pacific portrays a dark gestalt
earth's blear enjoys a near-timeless lease
our tears but fraction its sum of salt
here high is brought to low's default
this is not a thing so pejorative!
the gully's filled with brine not guilt
my sentence grows declarative

Do hints of trees drape yonder hills?
low-lying firs or ambitious scrub?
what plausible fish with vivid gills
must survive amid this outsized tub?
one drinks one's fill in such a pub
evolution is thus preparative!
the stones' array betrays no hub
my sentence grows declarative

With so much polishing where's the rub?
would I dub such shores despairative?
as a member of this pelagic club
my sentence grows declarative


Meditation on a photo of the Monterey Coast, thanks to Rachel Dacus's blogged display

1 | Cadmium Orange     [color poem / ballade]

Do I squander my last dollar
on Winton's phthalo blue cyan?
or do I rectify this squalor
maybe prove myself a man
who in artful manners can
afford a glimpse of beauty's range?
for my modest canvas span
Rembrandt's cadmium orange

On a ground of Naples yellow
figure limned in burnt Sienna
wooden floor without a pillow
in the model's hair is henna
says she hails from Vienna
she had hankered for a change
as my palette knife begins to
blend Sienna and the orange!

Is it true her eyes are green?
painting licenses imagination
and that little forest scene
through the window? a vacation
for the viewer   information
might amuse the scholar-fringe
but the painting's key narration
reads her tresses' sheer orange!

if you glimpse your heart's elation
in a face whose gaze is strange
do you note the integration
hinges on the tint of orange?


3rd orange poem in color sequence; also commencing a new ballade sequence

[Winton and Rembrandt are two popular brands for oil paints; Phthalo Blue, Naples Yellow (a light, whitish yellow), Burnt Sienna (a rich, dark brown) and Cadmium Orange are common colors used in this medium]

More Orange!     [color poem]

More orange!   I want more!
I am foraging   to be oranging
  it exceeds a canary challenge
  to write a poem very orange

More orange!   more yet!
some may pillage   others bet
  my vice is to tint the village
  (every hutment) pure orange

Lots of orange!   all the juice of it!
what a package!   to the caboose of it
  where's that red breasted finch?
  isn't the henna girl orange?


2nd orange

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Orange Bonanza     [color poem]

I saw a strange mirage
it looked like my garage
it seemed I would unhinge
its door was so orange!

I glimpsed a lovely palace
and felt no twinge of malice
one feeling did impinge
the feeling of orange!

I viewed a perfect city
its every part so pretty
above its mountain range
a sunset bloomed orange!

I pondered shining faces
they put me through my paces
but some of them grew strange
their eyeballs turned orange!

I watched a colorful poem
bloom up from turquoise loam
its petals seemed to singe
and soon they glowed orange!

some might deem me a mensch
for writing many a stanza
that blithely rhyme orange?
let's dub this Orange Bonanza

Bonanza ain't a banana
though orange may be naranja
tomorrow -- ah mañana
we'll meet an orange sangha


Peter Griffin at Caferati did me the kindness of launching a color poem exercise, based on my implied assertion (or semi-demonstration) such color words as orange, purple and silver can (contrary to popular belief) be rhymed (at least "sort of"). The above poem is an attempt to flesh out the idea with regard to orange.

the new Sony Reader     [techno note]

The reading experience is pleasant, natural and nothing like reading a computer screen.

-- from State of the Art: Trying Again to Make Books Obsolete

Also to note:
[O]nce those microspheres have formed the image of a page, they stay put without consuming any power. Amazingly enough, that means that you don’t have to turn the Reader off, ever. When you’re done for the night, just lay it on your bedside table; the current page remains on the screen without draining any battery power. (According to Sony, one prototype Reader in Japan has been displaying the same page for three years on a single charge.)
But you've gotta have a lamp (or other source of ambient light) to read the thing.

note to self: may be worth exploring for period of winter travels

Blurb blurb     [commentative epigram]

If you can read this book and not shriek with delight   your soul is dead
if you can stroll this street amid droll moonlight   your wit is living
the soul of the soul is consoled   in its lonesome cowboy head
if the sole of the foot is defeated yet   the toe is forgiving

toward the end of my days I composed a blurb   for my epitaph
if they publish my poetry posthumously   will they use it?
it would fit I suppose not unsuitably   in an epigraph
"his every note was banal except   if you blues it"

“The trouble is that the novel is being shouted out of existence. Question any thinking person as to why he ‘never reads novels’, and you will usually find that, at bottom, it is because of the disgusting tripe that is written by the blurb-reviewers. There is no need to multiply examples. Here is just one specimen, from last week’s Sunday Times: ‘If you can read this book and not shriek with delight, your soul is dead.’ That or something like it is now being written about every novel published, as you can see by studying the quotes on the blurbs. For anyone who takes the Sunday Times seriously, life must be one long struggle to catch up. Novels are being shot at you at the rate of fifteen a day, and every one of them an unforgettable masterpiece which you imperil your soul by missing. It must make it so difficult to choose a book at the library, and you must feel so guilty when you fail to shriek with delight. Actually, however, no one who matters is deceived by this kind of thing, and the contempt into which novel reviewing has fallen is extended to novels themselves. When all novels are thrust upon you as words of genius, it is quite natural to assume that all of them are tripe.”

    -- George Orwell
as quoted by Ian Keennan (in comment no. 55 here) on Silliman's blog

"At the parade"     [ghazal]

When an Englishy ghazal was garbed in a muzzle   at the parade
its discursive barkle made a beeline buzzle   at the parade

studious palempsests rife with inscription were pondering the shadows
on vacuous canvases eager to nuzzle   at the parade

an astute connoisseur had stooped to inquire   what was the racket?
a tennis-court volley had grown to a tussle   at the parade

a dairyland merchant was hawking his dreams   "sweet and nutritious!"
a sculptured ascetic showed scrupulous muscle   at the parade

old Odin was present and crooning an ode!   who would have thunk it?
was a sloe-eyed gazelle making fast with a ghazal   at the parade?

"Farsi Urdu only!" a purist was preaching   children peeled laughter
the pucca reproval provoked no reprisal   at the parade

a blithe Orientalist brandished a garland   in lieu of a lariat
he lasso'd a lass by a threshold of miseltoe   at the parade

a Victorian princess was swooning on schedule   the poets applauded
one wag dubbed her costume more bustle than hustle   at the parade

a taciturn monk was cooing a mantram   in lotus position
proponents of doodle met dweebs of discussle   at the parade

a zealot of limericks was poised to deliver his grand manifesto
the haiku practitioners put mortar to pestle   at the parade

the is and the will-be were lost in the has-been   nostalgia ran rampant
an Island of Is-le in an Ocean of Was-le   at the parade

I couldn't determine what virgule or vermin his booth was purveying
but that boy Raphael was enjoying a guzzle   at the parade

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Beethoven tells me"     [gnomic verse]

The romantic era hasn't ended!
          Beethoven tells me as much
the notes he wrote remain extant
          and speak of current things
ah we who live this dreamy life
          you say are out of touch?
there's still a sky!   there's still a sea!
          and birds are born with wings

The haughty muse     [rubai]

They say that the trove of poetry
          resembles a sweetheart's kiss
whoever presumes its mastery
              a sorry imposter is
what she of her own desire bestows
            is pleasure beyond compare
while swaggering of a braggart goes
            how far with a haughty miss?

A river     [half-carafe sonnet]

An unpunctuatable river flows
beyond the villa of commas and colons
past virgule and ampersand it goes
unstopped by period or semicolon

does its whisper elude all exclamation
(though earth & sky offer parentheses)
what question mark arrests information
it brings   what need for dashing emphases

  it dare not halt till it espies the ocean
  of silence wide and pure like its devotion

37 |   "Prayer is mainly feeling"     [pantoum]

Small defeats are needful
large delights are strange
devotees are heedful
situations change
large delights are strange
problems loom like storms
situations change
sirens sound alarms

problems loom like storms
clearing brings relief
sirens sound alarms
sagas can't be brief
clearing brings relief
prayer is mainly feeling
sagas can't be brief
language is revealing

prayer is mainly feeling
love involves acceptance
language is revealing
everything needs patience
love involves acceptance
summer's fruit is seedful
everything needs patience
small defeats are needful


This is no. 37 in a sequence, Early Autumn Pantoums

36 |   "What can be shown"     [pantoum]

What can be shown cannot be said
what can be felt exceeds the thought
the first is something I just read
the second I've this moment wraught
what can be felt exceeds the thought
the thought yet seeks the feeling's form
the second I've this moment wraught
the minute flies before the storm

the thought yet seeks the feeling's form
the form but shows the thought's design
the minute flies before the storm
when hours turn the seconds rhyme
the form but shows the thought's design
the thought enjoys the form's delight
when hours turn the seconds rhyme
the shore is washed by day and night

the thought enjoys the form's delight
the music lives by melody
the shore is washed by day and night
the comic springs from tragedy
the music lives by melody
is rhythm born? or is it bred?
the comic springs from tragedy
what can be shown cannot be said


Pantoum beginning with a sentence borrowed from Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 4.1212).

This is no. 36 in a sequence, Early Autumn Pantoums

35 |   "All that is the case"     [pantoum]

The world is all that is the case
a proposition is a picture of reality
do two eyes alone depict a face?
every argument requires keen duality
a proposition is a picture of reality
an inquisition is a darkening of dream
every argument requires keen duality
every unity's a clearing of the screen

an inquisition is a darkening of dream
an inquiry is an opening of a window
every unity's a clearing of the screen
are timid deer gamboling in the meadow?
an inquiry is an opening of a window
the ear desires babble of the brook
are timid deer gamboling in the meadow?
are dank alleys redolent of the crook?

the ear desires babble of the brook
the culture of the ocean brings us fish
are dank alleys redolent of the crook?
Chicago's pizza's famous for deep dish
the culture of the ocean brings us fish
the culture of the voice occasions grace
Chicago's pizza's famous for deep dish
the world is all that is the case


Pantoum beginning with two sentences borrowed from Ludwig Wittgenstein.

This is no. 35 in a sequence, Early Autumn Pantoums

In two cups         [mini-fabulism]

the tempest in its teacup had grown cozy
while regret sought a home for its alas
  "are the teacups all taken? I'll not be nosy
  let me settle in an espresso demitasse"

the tempest in its teacup was storming
while regret had learned civil deportment
  "the cofee-drinker imbibes me while warming
  singing 'regrets, I've had a few' -- an assortment!"

the tempest in its teacup had simmered down
and regret likewise seemed much allayed
  spake regret   "would you like to go to town?"
  quoth the tempest   "not tonight I'm afraid"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dogwood in autumn           [neo-symbolist lyric?]

No lavish fluff of dream is seen
this tree is but a scrawl of wood
spare leafage yet in gold or green
some folk profess to hold this good

but I recall more vernal days
how twig on twig were flush with light
however much I pine and gaze
save yonder cloud no sign of white

if still I stand when spring returns
no leaf this branch will obfuscate
while in array again will burn
pellucid lamps of limpid white

I now the wintry dream await
when boughs all naked   shorn and stark
in mocking play anticipate
the bright array on branches dark


Initially conceived (for an exercise) as a poem "in the style of Robert Frost" (on the premise: what if another lost poem were found?), I think this specimen lands wide of that mark. But I've grown happy with the poem in its own right and terms (and, here, have, among other revisions, dropped Frost-style punctuation & capitalization & indentations -- poetry-typography of a bygone era).

There's also this accoutrement:
publisher's note: typical of some Dogwoods is a phenomenon where the blossoms (in some varieties, a striking white) are seen in full vernal bloom, while the leaves have yet to appear. Later, the leaves grow, and the blossoms disappear. Evidently this is the characteristic Mr. Frost had in mind.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"But now a days"         [pantoum]

pantoum with found language

But now a days, students are not aware of their future life

formerly they were good with crystal balls
Is your parents blaming at you, regarding studies?

the wind can be a whopper with its squalls

formerly they were good with crystal balls
is the big fire burning inside your mind?

the wind can be a whopper with its squalls
Are you suffering from love disappointment?

is the big fire burning inside your mind?

is the small water flowing under your toes?
Are you suffering from love disappointment?

are you giggling amid relentless woes?

is the small water flowing under your toes?
Are you always hanging with friends?
(heaven forefend)
are you giggling amid relentless woes?
Is Your innermind is tensed during study
, friend?

Are you always hanging with friends?
(heaven forefend)
Are you suffering from Bad dreams at night sleep?
Is Your innermind is tensed during study, friend?

do you emulate the willow when you weep?

Are you suffering from Bad dreams at night sleep?
Are you inferior to ask teacher about subject doubt?

do you emulate the willow when you weep?
do you fail to touch the heavens when you shout?

Are you inferior to ask teacher about subject doubt?
Are you much watching the T.V. do you want to avoid it?

do you fail to touch the heavens when you shout?
is the topography of your psyche not reconnoitered?

Are you much watching the T.V. do you want to avoid it?
Is your mind thinks bad thinkings while studying?

is the topography of your psyche not reconnoitered?
is the geography of your estuary too much muddying?

Is your mind thinks bad thinkings while studying?

do you seek more ishtyle, more hair, more yoga butt?

is the geography of your estuary too much muddying?
is the phonology of your cacophany in a real rut?

do you seek more ishtyle, more hair, more yoga butt?

it's challenging in modern times to wisely nurture life
is the phonology of your cacophany in a real rut?
But now a days, students are not aware of their future life


The italicized lines are borrowed from an anonymous source described by Ratna Rajaiah in her light satirical item, The Blossoming of a Genius. Or how I was saved... (excepting the one blue italicized line, borrowed from the author in said item)

34 |   "A novel occasion"       [pantoum]

The world is a novel occasion of the possible
the life one leads is a line inscribed in an ink
of striving for the tentatively impossible
the paper bares our vain attempt I think
the life one leads is a line inscribed in an ink
blood-red alike the berries on the thin vine
the paper bares our vain attempt I think
the halting hand maybe managing a fine line

blood-red alike the berries on the thin vine
or green betimes   akin to the vernal leaf
the halting hand maybe managing a fine line
it hints at a sea-like saga   sketched in brief
or green betimes   akin to the vernal leaf
whatever the hue   the cry emerges fresh
it hints at a sea-like saga   sketched in brief
its instrument being voice and breath and flesh

whatever the hue   the cry emerges fresh
whatever the day   its picture frames a question
its instrument being voice and breath and flesh
the aim of shadow is variable like suggestion
whatever the day   its picture frames a question
the question rolls as a ball   it's lightly tossable
the aim of shadow is variable like suggestion
the world is a novel occasion of the possible


This is no. 34 in a sequence, Early Autumn Pantoums

Imaginary landscape       [sort-of shi]


I came to the table and found a peculiar puzzle
I browsed the puzzle and soon discovered a street

I paced the street   anon I arrived at a jumble
I peered in the jumble until I descried a moat

I crossed the moat on a leaf and entered a castle
I ascended its silent tower and admired the view

no bell was tolling   they said it was such a hassle
but I could see all the way to Timbuktu


In Timbuktu I lived for a hundred years
then I shipped out on a freighter heading for Lisbon

I wangled a job at an inn dispensing beers
the habitues included many a has-been

one summer I took a stroll thru an art exhibit
installed in the basement of a crumbling castle

drawn to the lode no diffidence could inhibit
I came to the table and found a peculiar puzzle

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rhymed verse       [gnomic nostrum]

...and we should all try to avoid it, along with gluttony, avarice, the rest of the deadlies, and rhymed verse (just joking about the latter).
    -- Steven Fama (in comment on Silliman's blog)

What bane could be more worse
than rhyming in a verse?
if meter's bad behavior
to rhyme is plain perverse
a central desideratum
in today's new universe
eschew the urge to rhyme
that atavistic curse

quoth Swift one cannot sew
from sows' ears a silk purse
which dictum goes to show
(to state it clear & terse)
when rhymes lie in a row
like branches strewn with snow
it's time to call the Hearse
that tree will grow no Poe

"One by gentle one"       [rubai]

One by gentle one the world is peopled
one by gentle one are churches steepled
the Milky Way exhibits myriad droplets
one by gentle one from Night dark-nippled


The repeating phrase is borrowed from Ratna Rajaiah's "Flowers Underfoot"


Day by sorry day the week continued
drop by tiny drop the cup was filled
table by charming table the place was menued
degree by cold degree the winter chilled

leaf by amber leaf the autumn mellowed
dream by vapid dream the sleeper slept
page by ancient page the diary yellowed
tear by lucent tear the heavens wept


(a further riff on the "one by gentle one" phrasing)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

modern culture

It’s hard to believe milk comes out of a cow.
There’s so much milk around & so few cows.

It's hard to believe wonder is sourced in a wow.
There are myriad wonders & so few wows.

And what about silk & the unseen silkworm?
Where are the fields producing this cotton?
Still I agree   how milk is astounding
There's cheese in from Denmark   cultured not rotton

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A crushed elation   a cycle of ballades     [index]

for W.S. Merwin

1 |   "Ensconced in tangles"

2 |   "Gypsy plunder"

3 |   "Tappings of the blind"

4 |   "One motif"

For relevant background, see also: W.S. Merwin's Search Party
(as well as notes following the first of these ballades)


The above small cycle comprised my first experiment with the ballade form.

Here is a new ballade sequence (perhaps still in progress) --

1 |   Cadmium Orange [color poem / ballade]   10/12/06

2 |   "Earth's blear" [ekphrasis / ballade]   10/13/06

3 |   "Something ungrasped"    10/14/06

4 |   "Something to dare"    10/14/06

5 |   The Three Poeias    10/14/06

6 |   "New information"    10/14/06

4 | "One motif"       [ballade]

I've savored the lull of hours
that subside before they leave
I've witnessed the wane of powers
that discover no voice to grieve
I've beheld the swirling sleeve
in wake of the dancer's flow
from this weave there's no reprieve
myself   I do not know

I've listened to speech's lie
where masks portray the sincere
I've noticed the beggars shy
and yearning to just disappear
I've sensed the ring of fear
offstage from a jolly show
one thing anyway is clear
myself   I do not know

I've looked to the face of joy
from out of the frame of thought
been prey to illusion's ploy
seen how house-mice are caught
I've strolled for miles down streets
that array both sun and snow
every block one motif repeats
myself   I do not know

William the world competes
would each dog nab best-of-show?
I'm a wag with a heart that beats
myself   I do not know


This is the fourth ballade in a sequence dedicated to W.S. Merwin

3 | "Tappings of the blind"       [ballade]

I've known the autumnal light
as it insinuates sweetness
caught sight of the sparrow's flight
felt its particular fleetness
I've studied leafless neatness
in the bare wintering tree
but I in my incompleteness
mine own self cannot see

I acknowledge the purr of cars
all revved up for destination
I discern the delight of jars
so brimming with information
I recognize rich narration
in summertime's symphony
but mine is a crushed elation
for my self I cannot see

I've trained my eye on the manners
of both the stingy and the kind
descried hope's fluttering banners
counted tappings of the blind
yes fathomed the flow of mind
in dainty volumes of poetry
one bobbin I can't unwind
my self I cannot see

William   I pine to find
my right work eventually
through dark while light has shined
my self I cannot see


This is the third ballade in a sequence: A crushed elation

The poems are dedicated (and thus, per an adapted convention, their final stanzas are addressed) to W.S. Merwin.

a meme-poem challenge       [sonnet]

Every word of the poem could be a meme!
particularly its multisyllabic expressions
you could make a meme out of saying "hey you seem..."
and might it be memish to wallow in weird digressions?

if the definition is just an infectious phrase
is the poem that features memes conceived as source
or repository? I'll admit I'm still in a haze
of course there's the fine adverbial meme "of course"

an urban legend is thought of as quintessentially
a meme that runs around with virulent zeal
a sheepish meme might sniffle penitentially
its teardrop-memes informing us how it feels

"I had a dream" is a meme from M.L. King
"Irene goodnight" is a folkmeme one might sing


so, um, here's your assignment -- if you should choose to accept it: write a poem that includes the following memes (or, in older argot, phrases):

1) "I had a dream" (which might or might not involve "I had a dream")
2) "Irene goodnight" -- or if you prefer, "Goodnight, Irene"
3) "hey you seem"
4) "of course"
5) some or other multisyllabic expression(s)
6) [optional]: wallow in weird digressions

note: your poem does NOT have to be a sonnet (but that's an option)

Anybody disposed to play (or that is, accept this 'umbly proffered poem-writing-exercise opportunity/challenge) is requested to let me know (& see results) via a link in comments hereto.



But what exactly (one might ask) is a meme? The Wikipedia comes to our rescue:
The term "meme" (IPA: [miːm], not [mɛm], or [mimi]), coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a unit of cultural information transferrable from one mind to another. Dawkins said, Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. A meme propagates itself as a unit of cultural evolution analogous in many ways to the gene (the unit of genetic information). Often memes propagate as more-or-less integrated cooperative sets or groups, referred to as memeplexes or meme-complexes.

The idea of memes has proved a successful meme in its own right, achieving a degree of penetration into popular culture rare for a scientific theory....
I would add: the meme of the "meme poem challenge" is probably more a meme than are the particular (alleged) itemized "meme"s prescribed above as recipe-items for inclusion in a poem-to-be-generated by the gentle reader hereof.

Anyway, meme poems are (or the meme of the meme poem is) a growth industry. But is the meme of the growth industry a growing meme? In recent centuries and into the present, it seems so. Is the rhetorical question also a meme? Indubitably.


"I reme goodnight" as a Mondegreen

Funny about "Irene goodnight" vs. "Goodnight, Irene." The former is how I recall the beginning of the refrain -- which certainly I enjoyed as a child, but I always heard it as "I reme goodnight" -- and I assumed that "reme" (or perhaps "ream") was a verb. What might it signify? I was never certain, but it seemed -- in context -- to suggest the idea of "bid": I reme goodnight would mean (according to this childhood interpretation) "I bid [thee] goodnight."

This misapprehension of the lyric is an example of what Jon Carroll (among others) has popularized as a meme (he started doing so long before the meme was a very popular meme, I'd hazard) -- a meme known as the Mondegreen.

2 | "Gypsy plunder"       [ballade]

I know a few petty skills
that suffice to ward off hunger
I've been privy to sylvan rills
that grow lyric in wake of thunder
waited through predawn's chill wonder
noted who uncarts the horse
I review such gypsy plunder
but I don't perceive my source

I've watched how promise founders
knowing what time's game portends
I've appraised the batter's grounders
looked at how the goalie fends
I've sustained the loss of friends
muddled through its mute remorse
while afar my footstep wends
I do not perceive my source

I've shuffled through dreams askew
I've marveled how patience gentles
I've steeped medicinal brew
and boiled my share of lentles
I've kenned abject repentance
distinguished fine from coarse
I live out still this sentence
I do not perceive my source

William   what is the distance
that describes the river's course?
though I wade through wide existence
I do not perceive my source


This is no. 2 in a sequence of ballades. The sequence is dedicated to W.S. Merwin, who is (perhaps presumptuously) the addressee of the "envoy" (final short stanza).

For ballade no. 1, see: "Ensconsed in tangles"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

North and South   [gnomic song]

Life is a hassle
life is a struggle
it's flaunting its tassle
is it seeking to snuggle?

  life hit the road southward
  I was wandering due north
  will I reach its bodega
  if I alter my course?

Life is a trouble
life is an effort
it's bouncing its bubble
all unmindful of profit

  life took the road southward
  I was trekking far north
  will I find its cabana
  if I alter my course?

Shashi bows out  a quatrain for what was not to be   [rubai]

Tuesday, October 3, 2006 (New York):
India's nominee Shashi Tharoor has pulled out of the race for the post of the next UN Secretary General.
The decision came after the South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon emerged a clear winner in the fourth straw polls. . . .
"It is a great honour and a huge responsibility to be Secretary-General, and I wish Mr Ban every success in that task," Shashi Tharoor said.
"I entered the race because of my devotion to the United Nations, and for the same reason I will strongly support him as the next Secretary-General. The UN, and the world, has a stake in his success". . . .
Shashi Tharoor only managed 10 encouragements, and 3 against. but he most importantly received a discouragement from a permanent member, effectively a veto.
Although its unclear who the veto came from for Mr Tharoor, sources in the UN have speculated it was from the US. . . .
        -- Shashi Tharoor pulls out of UN race

Whereas Shashi was shushed it's a shame
worldly facts have their wax and their wane
thus Ki-Moon gets the chair while Tharoor
wanders freely in fiction again


Shashi Tharoor being known firstly as an Indian novelist, and more lately as India's nominee for the noted 5-year post.

Monday, October 02, 2006

By the willow   a sequence of poems       [index]

8 | "Cinéma vérité"

I'd been planning to be an acupuncturist
and Chinese herbalist a fact that
comes to mind as mildly relevant
as I'm rereading poem no. 5 in this
verse-libre sequence I thought
I was done with but no there's still

some more where that came from
a supply potentially inexhaustible
but exhaustive excavation could
exhaust the patience of poet and
reader so one grows chary of words
a little spare although not fore

swearing the casual pleasures
of insouciant utterance here

here where there's such liberty
to speak on point or at random
the random that isn't necessarily
so random as all that for doesn't
the instinct that shapes the poem
have its simulacrum-of-an-agendum?

but souls or poems like dreams or
daydreams have rules that differ
from the powerpoint manner of
commanding points so in the soul's
powerpoint show there might be
no words   a beak of a bird

followed by a snapshot of a cellphone
or a taxicab an old shoe et cetera
cinéma vérité at some remove
from the rumbling world   motionless
pictures from an exhibition & in
another room?   ballet pathetique

7 | "Muted imaginations"       [nonce form]

Possibly the poem lives
where life that we call real
is barely able to follow
the poem lets one feel
the heartbeat of the swallow
the mind of mauve and teal

possibly the poem finds
a route amid the clamor
soft silence settles there
in a near-familiar manner
when the soul is laying bare
(it's not a practical planner)

its pell-mell observations
and its muted imaginations

it's rather like a museum yes?
it exhibits dreams and notions
and naturally it takes its cue
from mountains clouds and oceans
a thing the soul is apt to do
performing its devotions

the museum of the poem-dream
displays a range of objects
when you place beneath its glass
its quaintly favored subjects
it lets the particular pass
into flowerings of concepts

no thoughts but in things a poet
allowed -- but here the things
once spoken suffer translation
its caterpillar dies into wings
as drawn into strange elation
dim paupers stride as kings