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LexiD523
27121.  Mon Oct 17, 2005 8:27 am Reply with quote

Here's a great site: Just enter in the make and model of your DVD player, and they'll tell you if there's a region-code hack for it.

http://www.videohelp.com/dvdhacks.php

 
Jenny
27129.  Mon Oct 17, 2005 9:09 am Reply with quote

If I had a separate DVD player rather than having it built in to the TV, that might work...

 
brackett
27455.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:54 pm Reply with quote

Released tomorrow, the 20th of October, is Stephen's new book.

He is doing a signing at the QI building on the 28th October if anyone can make it.

Just make sure you call up QI and let them know you are coming. I hear they are getting quite packed up for this event.

 
brackett
27456.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:56 pm Reply with quote

Modern verse/ just gets worse/ ... and worse

The actor and writer Stephen Fry has turned his considerable firepower on contemporary poetry. Now in his own 'how-to' guide he calls for a return to the traditional world of stanza and metre. David Smith reports


Sunday October 16, 2005
The Observer


Stephen Fry has launched a scathing attack on the 'arse-dribble' of modern poets and revealed a private passion for writing his own verse.

In his new book, The Ode Less Travelled, a guide to writing poetry, Fry argues in favour of traditional form and metre.

He expresses admiration for WH Auden, Robert Browning and other dead poets, but condemns 'the condition of English-language poetics' today as 'tattered and tired'.

He goes on: 'Add a feeble-minded political correctness to the mix and it is a wonder that any considerable poetry at all has been written over the last 50 years. It is as if we have all been encouraged to believe that form is a kind of fascism, and that to acquire knowledge is to drive a jackboot into the face of those poor souls who are too incurious, dull-witted or idle to find out what poetry can be.'

These candid comments come in the month that National Poetry Day failed to capture the public imagination and prompted calls for 'an ambassador' to help give poets the same star status as leading novelists.

Fry, who starred in the films Wilde and Gosford Park and directed Bright Young Things, describes the 'free-form meanderings' of modern poets as 'emotional masturbation' and illustrates the point by writing his own example:

cigaretted and drinked

loaded against yourself

you seem so yes bold

irreducible

but nuded and afterloved

you are not so strong

are you

after all

He then analyses the sample: 'The above is precisely the kind of worthless arse-dribble I am forced to read whenever I agree to judge a poetry competition. It took me under a minute and a half to write, and while I dare say you can see what utter wank it is, there are many who would accept it as poetry ...

'Like so much of what passes for poetry today it is also listless, utterly drained of energy and drive - a common problem with much contemporary art, but an especial problem with poetry that chooses to close itself off from all metrical pattern and form. It is like music without beat or shape or harmony: not music at all, in fact.'

Launching the book at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Fry insisted that he was not a 'hidebound old dinosaur' who loathed free verse.

'You can set yourself new rules or you can write with no structure for a particular poem and it can be very wonderful; I just think it's so much harder and so much less fun than using existing forms,' he said.

'In the same way if you want to go to the guitar and make a noise without using the chord structure, you're welcome to, but don't ask me to be in the room with you. The chances are that it will be horrible unless you happen to have extraordinary natural human gifts.'

He believes that a lot of 'modern poetry can be listless and, perhaps more unforgivably than anything, just simply lazy. It's not that it's naive or formless, just: "Go back and work harder at it before you show it to the public, it's not ready." It's not worth time. Poems are not like novels or speeches or emails or texts.

'I admire the popular poets of today - Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Patterson, Don Paterson, Wendy Cope. A lot of these poets write in forms. Carol Ann Duffy uses sonnets, Seamus Heaney has written some of the best sonnets of the past 100 years and also writes in villanelles. Wendy Cope writes in triolets.'

Fry wrote several poems for the book, published this week by Hutchinson at 10.99, but said these were merely to demonstrate the poetic forms.

His heartfelt works would remain secret, partly because of 'cowardice and embarrassment'.

'It gets locked away in a drawer and I occasionally take it out,' he said. 'I tend to go round with a notebook and I doodle lines and sometimes I hear things. I called up an American friend of mine, a writer, and his answerphone message gave me two perfect lines of 10 syllables: "Sorry I cannot take your call right now/ So leave a message when you hear the tone." That inspired me to think about metrical patterns in speech.

'It's one of the few things I can do that can be private. I can't get away with that in my private life, because who my partners might be, and my friends are, is something journalists can see in restaurants or whatever, or rumours get out. But my poetry, I think, can be very, very private. It's not that it's full of shameful confessions and embarrassing in that sense, but I think it is like some people must have watercolours which you're just not ready for anyone else to look at yet.'

Kitchen Villanelle

How rare it is when things go right
When days go by without a slip
And don't go wrong, as well they might.

The smallest triumphs cause delight -
The kitchen's clean, the taps don't drip,
How rare it is when things go right.

Your ice cream freezes overnight,
Your jellies set, your pancakes flip
And don't go wrong, as well they might ...

Extract of a poem by Stephen Fry in his new book, The Ode Less Travelled, published by Hutchinson

 
LexiD523
27459.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 3:49 pm Reply with quote

Oh, how much more do I love Stephen! I feel the exact same way. I remember when I was in high school, over one summer I took a writer's workshop at the local art museum. The poetry section was absolute torture, as people proudly read out their heartfelt dreck on a daily basis. And of course we'd have assignments practically every night, and no halfway decent poem can be written in one night. Oh, but the teacher's was the worst. She took an infinitely hilarious anecdote about a fat aunt who had to literally cut herself out of some pantyhose that was too small, and turned it into this lengthy dramatic "poem" that she read in a hushed, breathy voice, and that would have otherwise been called an essay if she hadn't cut up the sentences into lines of varying length.

Huzzah for rhyme and meter! Huzzah for Shakespeare and Wilde, Frost and Seuss!

 
brackett
27468.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:37 pm Reply with quote

My favourite part of the interview.

cigaretted and drinked

loaded against yourself

you seem so yes bold

irreducible

but nuded and afterloved

you are not so strong

are you

after all

He then analyses the sample: 'The above is precisely the kind of worthless arse-dribble I am forced to read whenever I agree to judge a poetry competition. It took me under a minute and a half to write, and while I dare say you can see what utter wank it is, there are many who would accept it as poetry ...

 
Anna
27471.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:08 pm Reply with quote

*wipes away tears*

That is one of the funniest things I've read recently, and definitely the most entertaining poetry analysis I've ever read. "Arse-dribble" is SO apt. I almost wish I was still at school - I'd love to wheel that quote out in a poetry essay. =D

 
naegling
46848.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:33 am Reply with quote

Sadly, all that people will take from this is the 'arse-dribble' comment, and not the good points he makes. Oh dear! What an indelibly illiterate thing for a literate man to say. An attention seeking publicity gag? I suspect he regrets saying it.

All this will achieve, I fear, is a round of rhyming doggerel, whacked out from people for whom any notion of originality and invention was discarded with their placentas.

The Kitchen Villanelle, as part-quoted, is unremarkable. It is a less memorable poem than the truly awful example of contemporary writing. It won't send me rushing to buy the book.

I agree with his choice of poets: Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Patterson, Don Paterson, Wendy Cope who write in formal paradigms as well as vers libre.

This irritated me: "Sorry I cannot take your call right now/ So leave a message when you hear the tone." That inspired me to think about metrical patterns in speech.

Bid deal. Spoken English approximates naturally to iambic rhythm, therefore it is pretty common in English poetry. Who used it mostly? Shake something or other?

I think Stephen should have taken the opportunity to use his eminent position to encourage good poetry regardless of formal models?

Ah well! I do like QI.

 
Gray
46863.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:47 pm Reply with quote

Actually reading the book reveals that he makes a clear argument very early on that imposed restriction and limitation, in the form of metre, are one of the main factors in good poetry. All art, in fact.

'Formal models' are simply the commonest instances of these restrictions. Without them, you're back in Anything Goes territory, which does not constitute good poetry.

He also makes the very sound point that if you want to break the rules, you do at least need to have a thorough understanding of what those rules are, and a great deal of the book is taken up with the history and development of the formal models.

 
naegling
46869.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:11 pm Reply with quote

Hi Gray

Thank you for your detailed reply.

Quote:
imposed restriction and limitation, in the form of metre, are one of the main factors in good poetry. All art, in fact.
Which is an argument that simply promotes opinion as fact.

In fact, the vers librist revolt against strict versification in France was preceded by Leaves of Grass and the prose poetry of Charles Baudelaire, as well as Gaspard De La Nuit, or does none of that fall under the definition of poetry (or art) because it does not conform to the traditional rules of prosody (defined by the OED as the Science of versification) - that is your imposed restriction and limitation.

In fact, it raises the issue that something which conforms to prosody is a work of science foremost. It also implies that free verse is not science.

Free Verse is, by definition, verse composed of variable, usually unrhymed lines having no fixed metrical pattern, which kind of falls into your anything goes classification. A style practiced by Rimbaud and Laforgue. Or, if they don't count, lets chuck Pound, Eliot and Lowell into the mix, or doesn't their work qualify as good because they abandoned restriction other than the rules of the language they wrote in.

The poets cited in Stephen's rant are sufficiently wise, as I hope am I, to embrace all forms of poetry as equally valid, and not to confuse form, or the lack of it, with quality, validity and art. If you are going to make a value judgement then seek out the trash in traditional verse as well as the dross (and there is plenty of it) in modern poetry. Point out the rubbish that drives a coach and horses through language to force a rhyme or metre, or paint a pretty picture. There is plenty of that too.

I actually agree that to understand the rules you are going to break before you break 'em is a good idea, but I would not be arrogant and prescribe it.

I cannot imagine that Stephen would discount the poets I mentioned above. However, my arguments were based on the comments in his article, not on the book. At some point I will read the book and deliberate accordingly. The history and development of formal models will interest me greatly. The books I have already are somewhat heavy and long winded.

 
Gray
46921.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:40 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Which is an argument that simply promotes opinion as fact.

Well, I think at best it promotes it to 'theory'. And not my theory, I hasten to add.

I wouldn't say Eliot's work is without its restrictions. They're not, for the most part, metrical, but I took care to say that metre was only one of the restrictions that makes poetry 'work'.

Quote:
Free Verse is, by definition, verse composed of variable, usually unrhymed lines having no fixed metrical pattern, which kind of falls into your anything goes classification.

Again, metre is just one of the restrictions. Not the whole thing.

I'm afraid I know nothing of the other poets you mention, but I feel sure you can give a concise introduction to them and their particular types of constraints.

I'm more interested, however, in why you think that swearing or amusingly constructed vulgarity is 'illiterate'. That seems to go against the 'libre' qualities of language that you're propounding.

 
samivel
46941.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 7:59 pm Reply with quote

I think the book is aimed at the general reader who may be interested in starting to write poetry for themselves, or for the beginner to develop their poetry. In which case, it's a fair point to start with the formal models, as it is better to know the rules that can be broken than to just write any old how and call it poetry. As for the free verse writers cited above (Laforgue, Baudelaire, Eliot, Pound and Lowell), I bet they knew the rules before they started writing free verse.

 
eggshaped
46955.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:20 am Reply with quote

Aynho - the ironic, childish and mildly irritating cheer made when someone drops a dray of drinks/food.

e.g. An Aynho is usually followed by some completely unfunny loser shouting "sack the juggler".

 
eggshaped
46956.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:23 am Reply with quote

Manby - the area near the changing rooms at a clothes shop, invariably inhabited by extremely bored boyfriends.

e.g. These days, most shops will maximise boyfireinds' embarrassment by placing their ligerie section as close to the manby as possible.

 
samivel
46957.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:29 am Reply with quote

I think you're on the wrong thread, eggshaped :)

 

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