The Green Knight's poetic beheading
From experience he knew
it's a hard thing to do
to cut off a head without hewing
There are poems like cats, a prof said,
that are pretty too look at, or read,
but more complex by far
when you take them apart -
but then cats, unlike poems, are dead.
This is cool. I could get used to this. Editor, Alex, is very nice and says I can continue to pitch articles to him even if I leave Canberra.
Things worth noting:
- I pitched the article because Alex ran an informal social media/publicity campaign asking for more female contributors to Fuse
- I've been reading Fuse for six months, knew about their website and the fact that they take public submissions. But I never even *thought* about submitting until this specific invitation came out. Since Fuse manages to fill up with articles, I assume that either the editor knows more men personally(he IS a gay man after all) or that more men are willing to send in pitches out of nowhere, or both.
- When I put the pitch to Alex, it took me ages to actually get up the courage to do it, because I felt like my topics of interest weren't *lesbian* enough (Sherlock Holmes: Least Lesbian Movie Ever). And obviously female contributors to a GBLTetc magazine should write on *lesbian* issues. Alex's call-out said he was particularly after lesbian-focused articles (which would be grand, Fuse has few of those), but it did have the side effect of making me dubious about whether or not I would be valuable as an author of general queer interest articles. Alex was very welcoming, over email, and assured me that he's happy to have more articles by women on ANY topic.
- putting call-outs for female contributors is a good idea, especially if your personal network is more likely to attract men.
- it's probably worth making it clear that you welcome women to write on *any* topic, as well as women's-interest topics.
Guess who's being published in Issue 20 of Lip Magazine?
Non-paying gig, but one I'm quite pleased with because the publication is AWESOME. Lip magazine are a Canberra-based feminist magazine for girls aged 14-25. I ordered a couple of their back issues in PDF from their online store, and they're Officially Very Cool. As well as the sorts of articles you'd expect for the age bracket (Love vs Infatuation, why take a Gap Year, etc) there were recipes, articles about philosophy, and decent intro-level feminist commentary. I'm stoked that they accepted my piece, and pleased to be associated with them in all their coolness.
The latest thing keeping me awake o' nights is character fragments. This is Hell.
Sorry the formatting's a bit screwey.
Canon notes: I read the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospel of Nichodemus. I can't tell you if Hell is a woman in the Latin verion, but she's definitely a female creature of some sort in the AS.
You can find a translation of both the AS version and its immediate Latin source in 'Two Old English Apocrypha' edited by J.E. Cross.
Anonymous' sparkling creative efforts have hitherto been sadly unappreciated by the community of Sydney. In this stunning comic fiction, Anonymous' biting satire will have you in fits. The bright, easy-to-read format of 'Timetable: 423' cleverly mocks the convoluted ways of the Kingsgrove route; the weather-beaten but ultimately competent figure of a bus driver belies the chaos of public transport.
From witty parody, we move to the surrealism of the timetable itself. Strings of numbers, bearing no relation to reality, beg the question: is there such a thing as reality at all? Are we not all lost, standing drenched at a bus-stop, in a universe of meaningless numbers?
This is a very rough story I wrote forgoblinpaladin tonight. He asked me what I would say to a person in crisis if I thought that evangelism would help them. How do you talk to someone who is at rock bottom? Can you promise them that God will make everything better? What do you tell them about a loving God when they are suffering?
I said that I didn't know, but that I have known several people who hit rock bottom and found God there.
( have some of the preceding conversation )
So then I told a stowy. I have trouble logic-ing God anymore. Critical analysis and deconstructing and writing essays, that's my work now. God is in the narratives.
( At camp once, they gave me playdough and asked me to make a picture of God. I wish they had given me pen and paper. )
that last line is a shout-out to a wordsketch he wrote at my request a while back, called Eternity. it was pretty. you should all read it.
lepsdavid, daiskmeliadorn, mangelbojangel, anyone else out there: what do you think, guys? what would you say to a hypothetical subject of evangelism in crisis? is there a code of ethics for these things? isn't it manipulative to take advantage of someone's vulnerable state? would you be afraid of manipulating them into faith?
Yes, it's the unfinished tale you've all been lamenting... the sequel you've been waiting for...
The Amourous Adventures of Abelard the Arrogant Academic are making a comeback! The team was devastated by internal betrayals- Uncle Fulbert simply walked off the set one day, bringing the whole series down around our ears. But, like Dr Who, we are back. New
We left off with Peter Abelard gloating over his seduction of Heloise, and over Fulbert's dimwitted obliviousness. This week, Uncle Fulbert describes his rude awakening:
Didn't I suspect anything? How can a man be expected to suspect such things? I hope you don't think the girl's lapse was my fault. Oh no.
I raised her well, gave her the best of everything. What is a cleric supposed to do, suddenly saddled with a girl-child? I sent her to Argentueil. She reminded me of her mother, you know. Always such a smart child. Although where she got that stubborn streak I cannot say. Argentueil is the best school around for girls, I wouldn't have given her less. But she was never satisfied. Their library wasn't big enough. Their teachers never good enough. I would visit her, take her books from the cathedral here, and whatever I could borrow from other places. But she was headstrong, never happy with her lot. The nuns there found her impossible to teach. In the end, I had no choice but to bring her here with me.
A foolish choice. I can see you thinking it. A foolish choice. Why should a woman-child be given her way? Why should a woman be in the house of the cathedral in the first place? Perhaps you're right. I could think of no other course, however.
She was biddable enough at first. Her days were spent in the library of the cathedral. I would not allow her to go out to hear the teachers, I was not that foolish. The university is no place for a young lady. What was to become of her, I couldn't say. She had not the temperament for the convent life, though with her education she could have risen to high rank. I tried taking her to the sorts of parties where she might meet young people of her age and rank. She was sarcastic to the young men of court, but doted on the minstrels. Any man of education she cornered, regardless of propriety, and harangued him for hours.
What was I to do with her? She would make no one a wife, but she would not submit to the convent discipline. What is a man to do?
This Abelard fellow seemed a godsend. A tutor, the best of the young academics in Paris. She was satisfied to learn from him, and I thought he might instill in her some wisdom, some more womanly behaviours.
How should I have seen it coming? You cannot accuse me of laxity there. I should have left her in Argentueil, yes. But once here, who better to teach her than Peter Abelard? He had a reputation for stubbornness, yes. Perhaps even arrogance- never content to learn, he rushed on to teach as soon as he might. But such a man would command my wayward niece well. These academics, they all prize chastity and austerity as appropriate for philosophy.
Of course the town gossiped. The town will gossip. I thought better of my neice, and I thought better of Peter Abelard.
So he wrote songs for her. That's not unremarkable for a teacher and student. You've read the letters of Baudri. He wrote panegrics left write and centre- to Adela of Blois, to the Duke of Normandy, to the bishop and to the little boys in the choir stall. Have you never heard of a rhetorical device?
Of course she had a crush on him. Young girls will. Her stubborn will had met its match, I was hardly surprised to see that. He ought not to have taken advantage. It is a shame on his name, as a man and a philosopher.
Inevitably, I came in upon them. I packed him off, of course. Perhaps I should have been more fierce. I am a bachelor. The clergy are not trained to raise young girls! Besides... By now, I had little hope of her making a good marriage. If separation from her inflamed his passion still more, Abelard might be compelled to marry her.
He took lodging nearby and we heard little of him. After some weeks, however, the maid who took care of the girl came to me in quite a rage. Abelard had approached her and offered her coin, if she might arrange for him to see Heloise. A tight watch we kept upon her after that- the maid slept at her window, that he might not approach her therefrom.
It was not enough. One morning she was gone, the devious she-wolf. Gone!
What will happen next? Tune into HighlyTV to find out!
I’m so glad Kate is my wife;
She put the poetry back in my life.
Although she often drives me cuckoo,
Truly, no-one else will do!
So for this her birthday time,
I celebrate by making rhyme.
In her honour, we made a new verb-
A word more apt than ever heard-
When the hour is getting late,
You’ve much to do- ProcrastiKATE!
This is a poem I made on my own:
My rhyming is shaky yes yes I know,
My rhyming is shaky and my metre is worse-
And I’m unsure how to finish this verse!
So let this rhyme commemorate
The wonderous, splendiferous,
I gave a bible study the other day. Tried to tell them. Why should I care about the medieval?
Because someone has to
because all this human energy, this passion and doubt and strife and belief, should not go unmarked.
I read them some of The Dream of the Rood. They were nonplussed. Says one- apart from just being interested in them for themselves, is there something we can take from these Anglo-Saxons?
I, nonplussed. Why do we need to take something away? I don't want to take anything away. I want to sink in.
Because. All this energy. A poet creates something beautiful out of his words and his faith.
How often do we make beautiful things of our faith today, so busy changing the world?
Says another- we try to make something beautiful of our lives.
And now I realise, that's what it's about.
A life is something beautiful.
A life tangles many other lives. We call that a society.
The grit and the dirt of human society. The curves of language and the edges of weapons. Music and politics. Famine and flood. Fairs and warfare. These make up lives.
These are made of lives, and these are beautiful things.
Tonight the trees dwarf the sandstone. They cradle these monuments to human pride in their leafy fingers. The moon glimmers in the viscous blue and trails down onto the grass.
People are tucked away in the corners- fairy lights tangled around the ageless boughs, voices chattering. Somewhere, a drumming thrumming heartbeat throbs. The mown lawns might have grown that way. The veil tucks itself around the bright lights, the growing things shine brightly over the river of traffic. Salt is on the air, running through your hair. Somewhere is the sea and the horizon which never ends.
The few stars have gathered near to hear the bells. Notes cascade over cobbles and puddle in your ears. The wind dances intimately for you and the stars.
The sky is endless.
The sky is very near.
This is a poem of deepest spite-
unbridled hatred and bile-
specially written for you tonight,
it took me quite a while.
Robyn's thesis it is bland,
nutrional value aside-
the paper seems to taste like sand,
and that I can't abide!
Her companion of childhood, a fictional friend
grew with her every day:
Living on Facebook, the perfect boyfriend-
except that it turns out he's gay!
Incisive and witty and beautiful too,
or so she seems to think,
Robyn declared herself Miss CSU*-
Maybe she needs a shrink!
I really can't stand to write anymore,
so now this poem is through
and putting it frankly, the subject's a bore,
This poem's for you!
A. Brown & K. Calhau, 2007
*CSU- Christian Students Uniting.
This song is dedicated to the Weich sisters and their housemate Anne-Marie...
Your house is long and narrow
and your bookcases are thin
there's no room here for a sparrow
but i think I'll still come in.
And there's a scary room downstairs
Where I will never go!
You've even named your dining chairs
Though they're not names I know.
Oh! This house is my favourite place to go,
You're all here and you know I love you so!
Your house is warm and cosy
And there's always food for all.
The neighbours might be nosy,
And yet we have a ball.
You know if you should ever leave,
Then I'd just have to say
That my poor heart would always grieve;
I'd have nowhere to stay!
Kate is going home tomorrow. But when she gets back I will get her to sing it into Wavepad, and make an MP3 out of it. If she can give me chords, we might be able to get Dad to do us a backing track on mandolin. And then we would have musical evidence of our very evident fabulosity.
Last week: Peter Abelard, an up and coming scholar, desired a girlfriend. He became the tutor of Heloise, daughter of Fulbert (one of the canons of the cathedral) and moved into the cloister with Fulbert and Heloise. This week, he has agreed to tell us, in his own words, of their relationship.
... He gave me complete charge over the girl, so that I could devote all the leisure time left to me by my school to teaching her by day and night, and if I found her idle I was to punish her severely. I was amazed by his simplicity- if he had entrusted a tender lamb to a ravening wolf it would not have surprised me more. In handing her over to me to punish as well as to teach, what else was he doing but giving me complete freedom to realise my desires, and providing me an opportunity, even if I did not make use of it, for me to bend her to my will by threats and blows if persuasion failed?...
Need I say more? We were united, first under one roof, then in heart; and so with our lessons as a pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love. Her studies allowed us to withdraw in private, as love desired, and then with our books open before us, more words of love than of reading passed between us, and more kissing than teaching. My hands strayed oftener to her bosom than to the pages; love drew our eyes to look on each other more than reading kept them on our texts. To avert suspicion I sometimes struck her, but these blows were prompted by love and tender feeling rather than anger and irritation, and were sweeter than any balm could be. In short, our desires left no stage of lovemaking untried, and if love desired something new, we welcomed it. We entered on each joy the more eagerly for our previous inexperience, and were the less easily sated.
Now the more I was taken up with these pleasures, the less time I could give to philosophy and the less attention I paid to my school. It was utterly boring for me to have to go to the school, and equally wearisome to remian there and to spend my days on study when my nights were sleepless with lovemaking... when inspiration did come to me, it was for writing love songs, not the secrets of philosophy...
Few could have failed to notice something so obvious, in fact no one, I fancy, except the man whose honour was most involved- Heloise's uncle.*
What will happen next? Tune into Highly TV next week for another special guest blog, starring Jenny Green as Uncle Fulbert!
*Peter Abelard, Historia Calamitatum (the history of my calamities); trans Betty Radice, in The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Penguin Books, London; revised edition 2003; pp 10-11
There once was an up-and-coming scholar named Peter Abelard. So smart was he, and so outrageously arrogant, that wherever he went he could not stand to learn from the masters of the universities of France, but instead set himself up across the road as their rival. The darling of the Paris intelligentsia, he thought he was. And then one day he woke up and it occured to him:
I, Peter Abelard, am a very chaste man. Which is the ideal thing in a cleric and philospher, even one who isn't a priest. Yes, I, Peter Abelard, am extraordinarily virtuous. I don't visit paid ladies. I don't even talk to women- I spend my time in philosophical contemplation, I don't go to the kind of social gatherings where you meet women.
However, it occurs to me that I would like a girlfriend. A little hanky-panky on the side. I'm so amazingly smart that it could hardly destroy my ability to teach or learn.
I wonder what kind of woman I could cavort with? She'd have to be smart, to keep up with me. But not too old- young enough to be impressed by my superior wisdom.
Heloise, the neice of Fulbert. She'd be perfect. I hear she exceeds all other women in Latin literacy- so naturally she'd exceed all other women in appreciating my philosophical discourse.
So having set his sights upon 'that child', Peter Abelard goes to pay a call upon Fulbert. He's sick of paying people to keep house for him, he tells Fulbert. And it's well known in Paris that Fulbert likes to make a little money here and there. And then there's Heloise- surely the girl could benefit from such an esteemed tutor.
Yes, indeed, thinks Fulbert. A little extra cash could always come in handy, and Heloise is getting to that age where she'll be starting to think of men and fripperies and how is a bachelor supposed to keep her under control? A serious tutor might be just the thing to keep her occupied. And this Abelard fellow is known to be extremely chaste, there should be no problem with trusting him. Absolutely, Mr Abelard. Heloise is a good girl, but you know how young people are. Don't be afraid to chastise her- she thinks she's the smartest girl around. Needs a firm masculine hand, someone who'll bend her to his will. When can you move in?
What will happen next? Tune in to Highly TV next week to find out!
Why do the daughters
Daughters of Sara, mothers
of daughters of suffering
Sons of Abraham.
of mothers so long without hope.
O my leader
my anointed king,
when you were fishing for men,
did the women fall through your net?
When you took our husbands
called our brothers
led our sons away,
let our sisters follow
at your heels,
did these women fall through your net?
Your manna will not feed us
when you are gone to
will not keep our children safe.
with home and hearth, what’s wrong
with ‘women’s work’?
It’s a fine revolution
a fine revolt you’ll have,
with none to keep the fires burning.
Miracle bread will not feed you all your days,
Fishers of Men.