Things burn: Our environments, resources, and all forms of monument to self. And since the beginning, so too has our imagination. The inspiration humans have drawn from fire throughout the millennia is as impressive as it is immeasurable. Why fire occupies such an elemental place in the creative wellsprings of our consciousness is certainly a debate to had.
Okay, I'm warning you. You're going to have to adjust the band on your thinking cap. Christian Bok, our first guest, is an experimental poet with some fascinating ideas, some of which will strike you as unfamiliar and maybe dissimilar to any other ideas you ever heard. In a nutshell, Bok is part of a small movement of thinkers and writers who want to revolutionize the way literature is produced, stored and consumed. For example, Bok has spent years trying to encode a poem into the DNA of a bacterium able to survive extreme conditions, like vacuums.
Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 2:48 pm
For centuries, poets were the mouthpieces railing loudly against injustice. They gave voice to the hardships and evils facing people everywhere. From Langston Hughes to Jack Kerouac and Federico García Lorca — so many — verse once served as a vehicle for expressing social and political dissent. There was fervor, there was anger. And it was embraced: See, there was a time when the poetry of the day carried with it the power of newspapers and radio programs. It was effective, even as it was overtly political. What has happened?
This saber was forged in the town of New Britain to end you! Put down your pistol and draw your sword. Any man can shoot but do you have skill? Do you not have the will to clash such fine steel? Put down your pistol coward! I will make you kneel before me... Have you no honor? Valor? You'd rather flick a finger than allow your blade to linger in the heart chambers of your rivals?
It's senior privilege, we get to sit on the rickety bridge by the football field and smoke Viceroys after lunch. It's fun bein' queenie and all; Dad always said I had the prettiest peepers from here to Harrison.
Cue tumbleweed. Dust kicked up from his snakeskin boots catches to the northbound gale He straddles the barren road; a stance ready to draw He practices 1, 2, 3 gunshots just because he can The sheriffs peer tentatively behind blinds He holsters his Peacemaker, a Colt .45
When I see starlight I marvel the thousands of years it traveled to meet me, before I was even conceived, and think myself a sort of time vector—a very short one—in the midst of lines that stretch along farther than I can imagine. Behind me are things evolving which that star’s light is on its way toward, and each will know itself the final destination— though the light threads itself through them like a needlepoint: stitches them and me together in contemplation of an image of the past. Tell me, human,
I didn’t always wander. Once, I had a small home with a garden. A planet dweller lived there, and we had the local equivalent of a dog. It’s hard to say what happened, but at some point I found myself converting parts of our bungalow into a ship. First appliances: fridge, stove, electric tooth brush and water pick. Then larger pieces. Siding for the rocket body; chimney for part of the nose cone. Right now, I’m entering coordinates into a combination of water heater and wet bar. Both of us knew
In ancient Ireland, bogs were sacred areas; a cool wetland mirage meters deep of peat during demoralizing drought. Greenish-brown landscape of mystery, insufferably slow plant growth. What must a farmer have thought as his wife offered a vessel of golden butter to appease a merciless deity? He plunges his hand deep into the bog, brings a handful of drenched soil to his eyes, squeezes and watches as his hairy forearms stain a deep rust.
Richard Blanco broke a lot of barriers in one gust of cold air this month. As the poet at the second Obama inauguration, he became the first openly gay, first immigrant, first Latino and youngest ever inaugural poet. Blanco was born in Spain to Cuban exiles.