February 9th, 2010


Miriam Makeba in a Brief Xhosa Lesson

Miriam Makeba is one of my all-time favorite singers.  She sings in Xhosa, a beautiful African language with click phonemes.  She often performs a wedding song called in English "The Click Song," because non-Xhosa speakers usually cannot pronounce the real name.  So here is a video of her introducing that song with a brief lesson in Xhosa ... with subtitles that look like Afrikaans Dutch. The written lyrics for the song appear here.  Links courtesy of my partner Doug, who knows well my love for languages.

Is there a Dutch speaker in the house who can give a yea or nay on the subtitles?

If you want to read my hardcopy poems...

... all three will appear in the Rhysling Award voting anthology.  This is printed every year and mailed to all members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  (Members also get the Dwarf Stars Award voting anthology, and a subscription to the magazine Star*Line, for a steady supply of good speculative poetry.  I have several more poems slated for Star*Line this year.)  The Rhysling Anthology is often available separately, though I don't see a price on the Dwarf Stars. 

Several folks have asked about reading my Rhysling nominated poems, and I appreciate your attention.  So to find those, and more of my hardcopy poetry, look here.

Workshopping "Boundaries and Determinations" Part 1

Okay, I've had some interest in workshopping the other epic from the February 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  "Boundaries and Determinations" is huge (currently 234 lines) and I think it would benefit from revision.   I know that the tense changes partway through; that definitely needs to be fixed.  I'm less certain about length: sometimes when I look at this, I think it might be too long, but other times I wonder if I left out stuff that should've been included.  (The red numbers are line counters and not part of the poem, left in because they might be useful for navigation.)  Therefore, instead of selling it at the full price, I'm posting it here for discussion and putting out a virtual tip jar.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read both parts (I'm breaking this across two posts so that it won't hangfire) and discuss what you think works or doesn't work, and why, and possible improvements if you can think of some.  I'm setting this up now to take advantage of Tuesday's relatively high traffic; I'm also going to be doing the Torn World Muse Fusion today, so if you take a while to think about this, that's okay.  Workshopping poetry, by the way, is a combination of critique and revision, in which the poet and some other folks discuss options and move stuff around to see what works best.  If you're new to the idea of workshopping poetry, consider:
"How to Workshop a Poem" (process description & tips)
"How to Critique Poetry" (tips)
"How to Critique Poetry" (a checklist)
"Checklist for Revising Poetry"

"Boundaries and Determinations" is set in my science fantasy universe.  It is a sequel to "The Transformations of Terror" and "What the Starships Do Not Know" (unpublished).  It includes elements of horror and science fiction, plus a lot of stuff that is not exactly copulation but has a very sexual flavor and sometimes high tension, with a rich mix of bitter and sweet notes. (Not recommended for underage readers; may not be suitable for survivors of sexual violence.)  In the Feb. 2 fishbowl, it was inspired by prompts from xjenavivex and janetmiles, plus some previous discussion about "The Transformations of Terror" and what might come next from siege

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Workshopping "Boundaries and Determinations" Part 2

Below is the second part of the poem "Boundaries and Determinations."  You should read Part 1 of this poem (and preferably the prequel "The Transformations of Terror") first, or this will not not make a lick of sense.  Feedback is encouraged, per discussion of workshopping poetry in the post about Part 1.

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Muses, Start Your Engines!

The Torn World Muse Fusion is now open over on torn_world.  You can read more about Torn World on the main site.  Today we are seeking prompts to inspire art, fiction, poetry -- whatever you would like to see.  Everyone is eligible to make prompts.  Please leave your prompts as comments to the Muse Fusion post.

I plan to write poetry; I'm open to the possibility of flash fiction if a prompt inspires me in that direction.  So far I own the characters Fala (Northern), Rai (Southern), and Alko (Southern) and I can write about others if I get permission.  Today is for brainstorming and creativity; materials will be reviewed for canon consideration, and possibly revised, after the Muse Fusion. 

I plan to make at least one piece visible to the public on the Torn World site.  The rest will be visible only to Torn World supporters unless they get sponsored.  You have THREE options for sponsoring my work and revealing it to the public:

1) If you are not a registered Torn World member, you can pay in cash via check or PayPal button.

2) If you are a registered Torn World member, you can give me Karma points.

3) If you are a Torn World supporter, you can give me Credits.

Since Torn World publications are open to crowdfunding at any time, they may continue to earn me money.  Therefore I'm setting my Muse Fusion prices somewhat lower than for my Poetry Fishbowl prices.  For poetry:
0-10 lines: $3 OR 3 Torn World Credits OR 10 Torn World Karma
11-25 lines: $6 OR 6 Torn World Credits OR 20 Torn World Karma
26-40 lines: $9 OR 9 Torn World Credits OR 30 Torn World Karma
41-60 lines: $12 OR 12 Torn World Credits OR 40 Torn World Karma
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing. 
If I write any flash fiction, I'll figure out its pricing then.

EDIT 2/9/10: So far I have...
"The Brightest Star in the Sky" flash fiction 863 words, a Northern myth, $25 or 25 TW Credits
"Blink birds" Southern poem about wildlife, 10 lines, intended to be publicly visible
"Pickled" flash fiction 872 words, a Southern story about licenses, $10 or 10 TW Credits sponsored by ellenmillion
"The Cost of Tears" Southern poem about betrayal, 16 lines, $6 or 6 TW Credits or 20 TW Karma sponsored by tonithegreat
"Odds and Ends" flash fiction 870 words, Northern story about belonging, $10 or 10 TW Credits sponsored by tonithegreat

The story prices are different because I set the first one before I saw other people's prices. I was estimating $.03/word and they were mostly going for $.01/word, so I dropped down a bit for the later stories.

Poem: "Our Dreams Take Flight"

This poem came out of the February 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from wcg and sponsored by xjenavivex.  When xjenavivex asked me what poems I wished had been sponsored and why, I thought of this quote:

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I want to build spaceships. I want to teach people to yearn for the vasty deeps of space.  I'm a poet, not an engineer ... so I wrote this.

Our Dreams Take Flight

Our dreams take flight this morning, and bear a crew of seven;
In shell of sleek ceramic, they launch themselves toward heaven
Where distant stars are shining and wait for our arrival.
Their making is a legend; their beauty knows no rival.
The future is arising, with hope inside for leaven.

This flight is nothing novel; we'll rise again tomorrow
And back before our blackboards, a new design we'll borrow
To fling our dreams yet higher and farther toward forever.
Today we watch the liftoff, and see the Earth's bonds sever,
And vow that we'll continue, whatever cost in sorrow:
Our dreams take flight.

With hands of white-hot metal, they tear the air asunder
They blow past waves of barley, and thresh the fields with thunder
Our bones are racked with shivers, our souls are winged with fire,
Our ears are filled with roaring, and stricken with desire
We turn our eyes toward heaven, and gaze on them in wonder:
Our dreams take flight.


Poem: "The Bonecage"

This poem came out of the February 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ladyqkat and sponsored by xjenavivex.  The villanelle form is one of my favorites.  This poem is for all the folks living in a body with aggravating limitations.

The Bonecage
-- a villanelle

I dream to slip the cage I can't disown:
The prison of my body holds me close,
A jail with walls of flesh and bars of bone.

The tyrant of my time is overthrown
And mutters in its bedclothes, comatose.
I dream to slip the cage I can't disown.

My life enfolds a soul that's overgrown
With keratin and nerve and adipose
A jail with walls of flesh and bars of bone. 

Yet still I fly by night; my wings intone
A song of skies flung wide and grandiose. 
I dream to slip the cage I can't disown.

My days are bound by obligations grown
Of loves and hates that make me bellicose,
A jail with walls of flesh and bars of bone.

Still, every night the chains of day are thrown
Beneath me as I rise, refreshed, jocose.
I dream, and slip the cage that is my own:
No jail can hold me with mere flesh and bone.


Poem: "To Have a Dream"

This poem came from the February 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from jenny_evergreen and janet_miles.  It was sponsored by xjenavivex.  February is Black History Month.  This poem tells a story of what it means to be human, and how history repeats itself so that we can keep learning from it.

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