Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Grammar Geekfest

A couple of interesting sites for grammar geeks (and let's face it, if you're a poet, you should be a grammar geek--even, and perhaps especially, if you like to break the rules, you should know what they are first).

Anyway, the first is from the Language Log, an interesting site I recently stumbled upon. Lots of interesting posts in the archives, including a statistical look at one of those silly rules of the English language: "i" before "e" except after "c". Don't let the statistics scare you off; it's surprisingly readable (and actually kind of funny, in a grammar-geek sort of way).

The other is yet another podcast and website (lately I've been thinking I should change the name of this blog to Poetry and Poets in Podcasts): Grammar Girl. Much of what you hear in the podcast is transcribed on the website, but the podcast is quick and painless (or, as Grammar Girl likes to say, "quick and dirty"). The podcasts usually run four to five minutes, so they don't tire your patience, and Grammar Girl has a nice, laid back attitude towards grammar, a refreshing change for a subject that tends to have almost as polarizing an effect as religion. She also talks about both British and American usage, which is refreshing too. I must say that she has cleared up a couple of nagging questions for me (quick, what's the difference between "toward" and "towards"?). Plus there are lots of links and references at the end of each transcript on the site. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Roald Hoffmann

I have just discovered a marvelous poet named Roald Hoffmann. I learned of him this morning while listening to the Scientific American podcast (go here to listen or subscribe to the podcast; the part about Hoffmann starts at 10:58 into the program for November 15, 2006).

So why was a poet featured on a science podcast? Well, because Hoffmann just happens to be a Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry (1981). His site contains a wealth of his poems that you can browse through. I really enjoyed my reading at his site. His poetry has a simplicity and innocence to it that conveys his obvious wonder in the face of nature. I doubt he'll win the Nobel for literature, but for me, as someone who feels a great sense of wonder in the universe as science describes it, he's worth reading.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Podcast on Alexander Pope

This week's BBC Radio 4 program In Our Time is on the 18th century English poet Alexander Pope. You can listen to the program from the website or download the audio file. You can subscribe to In Our Time (a really excellent program that discusses a different historical figure or event each week) on the In Our Time home page, or search for it in iTunes.

Get it while it's hot. The BBC only keeps its programs up for a week. If you miss it, drop me an e-mail. I might still have it. ;-)

[update:] In the comments on Frank Wilson's link to this post, Ed over at The Bibliothecary pointed out that while the podcast is only available for download for a week, In Our Time keeps an archive of all past programs, where you can listen to a streamed version. I stand corrected, but let's face it, streaming audio is sooooo 2004.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fantastic machine

I first saw this video when friend emailed it to me with the question, I know its mechanically possible, but is it musically possible?

To me, the question should be the other way around. Musically, the piece is possible, but mechanically, I doubt we have the technology to do this.

But what a feat of animation it is. I'm in awe. If anyone knows where this comes from and/or where I can see the whole thing, please let me know.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fall Geometry

Like a plaid shirt in a pumpkin field,
autumn juxtaposes spheres and cubes.

You are the small box of thoughts
in a crop circle extending out to the horizon.

October sun, box and harvest moon are three
points connecting a line across your world:
the base of a triangle pointing to zenith.

Walk the line carefully to the earthbound
anchor of a white rainbow, grasp the tangible
corners of this moment. From there

you will see the crisscrossing scars
of reapings past and yes, glimpse the gaudy
crosshatching of glory yet to come.