Charles Baudelaire and the Flowers of Evil

June 1, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Published today (1 June) in 1857, Les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire’s masterpiece was controversial, of course, but it went way beyond that – beyond the outrage aux bonnes mœurs, this big, bold collection of seething poetry was genuinely terrifying.  “Walking through the neighborhoods of Paris, he observed animals rotting in the street, the homeless alcoholics, drug users, or assassins loitering in the gutters. The beggars, the blind, the ragpickers, the skinny old ladies and the young famished prostitutes, all became mediums through which he could convey his changing moods. He turned abstractions like Beauty, Sorrow, Death, the Ideal into existential…

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Paradise on 10£ a Day

April 27, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, RELIGION, WRITING & LITERATURE |

April 27, 1667 – John Milton assigned the copyright to Paradise Lost for 10£.  Half then, half later: he should have made it 5£ plus a percentage. And did those pounds in ancient time make up for all of his striving, and his sight?  Speculation as to why Milton wrote Satan in such a sexy way – he is close to the star of the show – and yet convicted him of an impious war on heaven on the mother of all monarchs, God herself – Milton, a congenital republican – leads nowhere, and so we just take the time…

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Knifing the Dark With Deadly Photographs

March 27, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Kenneth Slessor (27 March 1901 to 30 June 1971) – He helped Australian poetry transcend its traditional town-and-country ballads and move into the 20th century. See how this distant memory, from Country Towns, perhaps a fragment of time from his birthplace of Orange, New South Wales, compares with, say, A. B. Paterson: “Verandas baked with musky sleep, Mulberry faces dozing deep, And dogs that lick the sunlight up Like paste of gold – or, roused in vain By far, mysterious buggy-wheels, Lower their ears, and drowse again….” Judith Wright wrote – “…the note of hollowness and hopelessness in Slessor’s work is inescapable…in…

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10 Birthdays and A Funeral

'We have to make a birthday tea for 10 and a funeral tea...'

20 March – a big day in cultural history: 43 BC – Ovid “Take your fill of amusement, but cast the veil of modesty over your peccadilloes. Never make a parade of your good fortune, and never give a woman a present that another woman will recognise.” [The Art of Love] “Death is not accustomed to injure genius, and greater fame arrives after we have become ashes…” [Epistle to an Envious Man]. 1828 – Henrik Ibsen “SOLNESS: Human beings haven’t any use for these homes of theirs. Not for being happy in. And I shouldn’t have had use for a…

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A Fatal Interview with Edna St. Vincent Millay

February 22, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Poetry, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Born 22 February 1892 (died 19 October 1950) TVC: Do you regret meeting George Dillon? E: He was such a gentleman.  He glowed and glowered, like a candle.  I blew him out but the moon lit up his face again. TVC: Er, ye-es.  I gather that throughout the affair, however, you never lost your love for your husband, Eugen? E: That’s right. But I was obsessed with St. George. I’m glad that most of our correspondence is lost.  There is nothing more tedious than curators poring over old love letters. TVC: Your long sequence of sonnets, Fatal Interview, sets out…

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