Poetry Is Weird
Great interview, Kathi. Thank you!!
read Kathi Wolfe's article
Great interview, Kathi. Thank you!!
read Kathi Wolfe's article
Delightful writing makes for delightful reading and that is what Kathi Wolfe does. It is too bad and too sad that reading, and writing for that matter, is disappearing in the blizzard of email and text messaging. Is anyone even talking to anyone anymore?
read Kathi Wolfe's article
Kathi is becoming a leading spokesperson for our time and why is this? Because she takes the taboo away from everything...she forgets what society does and does not want from the writer. She takes the world as an untold narrative and gives it the story it desperately needs. I love her
I am beginning to believe that Kathi Wolfe is the new Peter DeVries. Her brilliant humor surpasses anyone of her generation because it has CONTENT, FORM, and BEAUTY and from now on, my favorite color is corduroy.
read Kathi Wolfe's column
Although I am the proud owner of this red Ferrari of all reviews, I wish to comment on Kathi's writing. I have always read Kathi's work anywhere I could, including Scene4. She is the best reviewer, and the best kind of reviewer. She works with many qualities: blazing intelligence and spiritual power are the first that come to mind, but the humor laced with compassion is her keynote. I copied the article in Scene4 to distribute and I regret that.I should have allowed the 50 readers to make their comments in this box instead of personally to me...comments of praise for Kathi's generous hand. The fact that Kathi is a poet of distinction and originality makes her qualified to talk about poetry. Thank you Scene4. I will not preempt the system again!
read Kathi Wolfe's article
Kathi Wolfe's article about Grace Cavalieri's Anna Nicole poems is her best yet for this magazine, and that's saying something. Grace is one of our poetic national treasures, writing character poems as vivid and enthralling as the greatest fiction, and Kathi has captured masterfully both Grace's personality and her significance in the poetry world.
Miles David Moore
read Kathi Wolfe's article
Kathi, thank you for seeing clearly Anna and Grace. Your vision is keen and your heart is tender. Bless you.
read Kathi Wolfe's article
Brilliance that lights up the sky. And maybe prophetic as well.
Elucidates, as usual, the condition of the world and humankind!
As you know, the 20th anniversary edition of Andrea's Intercourse was recently published. It's still a vital and devastating work. So thank you for "revisiting" Andrea's legacy and reminding us of the poetical-political side of her writing in First Love. The memory of her and the on-going impact of her life's work is triumphant.
Letty Becker Adler
Kathi Wolfe, how do I love thee. You hit it out of the park with this one!
Yogi Berra isn't the usual poet, but you know what, his words stick in your mind. As a New Yorker, I claim him, and I'm delighted to see him celebrated by Kathi Wolfe.
Bobkoff, groping for the right handle into Plath's life and suicide, engages in a piercing conversation with Ms Plath: reality is not at all the "nebulous" thing she is quoted as saying. For Bobkoff, it is the piercing bullet, the lung-clutching gasp, that gives the truth to her life, and his words. What a powerful statement he gives, powerful and arrow-straight to the heart. Thanks, Ned, for this; it will live for a long time.
Kathi Wolfe's column on Yogi Berra presents the delightful spectacle of one American original paying tribute to another. In a perfect world, Kathi would be as famous as Yogi. But alas, in Yogi's words, "Even if this were a perfect world, it wouldn't be."
Miles David Moore
Ned Bobkoff has the rare quality of writing very much as he speaks. His is such a natural, easy-reading style, almost ingenuous. Ned's review of EDGE, the play about Sylvia Plath, makes me wish the production would come to Portland, Oregon where we have some good theater, but not enough experimental theater. Well done, Ned!
Thank you Ned for that article -- right on! And thanks for mentioning a new theater in Rochester I hadn't heard about as yet. I will definitely be checking it out.
SURELY one of the most important voices writing today. Humor and Intelligence. What a perfect marriage.
How brilliant is this writer. I think the New Yorker is going to steal her away from Scene4 and put her in a penthouse if we are not very effing vigilant. I swear, she is the best commentator alive!
Kathi Wolfe is a cultural critic and poet extraordinaire. But most of all, she is sweet and funny and compassionate. I am so glad she speaks for our times. She humanizes poetry, and is as funny as Joan RIvers many many times.
Is there anyone wittier, funnier, more in touch than Kathi? She makes nostalgia and cultural criticism like truffles and champagne. Here is a journalist who uses her sensuality to comment on society's lack of it...and her authenticity to point out that which is not genuine. America's Treasure is published in Scene4.
What a delight this group of poems is, especially the title poem. It so captures the mood. I hope there will be more in coming months.
What a beautiful piece of prose this is. Or is it poetry? Or a song? How mysterious. One doesn't know whether it is a clip from a longer work or a lead-in to another one. Whatever it is, it evokes music in its words, emotional music. It's simply beautiful.
If there is anhyone who writes better than KATHI WOLFE, I do not know who that person might be.. Wit was revered by the metaphysical poets and it is renewed by this 21st century poet/pundit. Social Commentary and humor; wisdom and compassion; salt and hot pepper. It is all there. What others do you know who can boast such gifts? I love Kathi's work
Wonderful article, both erudite and personal, and how beautiful these luminous paintings look (at long-distance) on Scene4's excellent screen. Pictures and text brought back a whole European era for me, with the memory of exhibitions in Hamburg, Munich, Paris, and early Kandinsky paintings that inspired my first serious poems as a schoolgirl. A marvelous surprise to find Lissa Tyler Renaud here.
As usual, David Alpaugh articulates with absolutely unfailing accuracy the problems facing poetry in America. Someday, everyone writing PhDs about the history of American poetry will be referencing his beautifully-written essays.
Thanks, David, for your thoughtful article.
Loved this article. Thought provoking and vigorous in its bite! I love the idea of a poetry revolution. Perhaps it will be the poets who help us navigate the complicated world in which we find ourselves. This isn't the first time that the end of poetry has been announced. I'm writing a biography about Ina Coolbrith, California's first poet laureate (and America's first state laureate). In the book is a scene (built on a newspaper article) where a group of California poets are discussing the state of poetry at the end of the 19th century. Writer Adeline Knapp says that all the great poems have already been written. "Our poets strive after the weird, the grotesque, the uncouth in their agonies at what they are wont to call their self-revelations, but which are rarely more than painful exposures of their cranial caverns." The rest of the group branded her a heretic, but she continued anyway. Referring to the revolution of free verse, she said, "Look over the field of modern poetry and say what sane man can tell what our poets are driving at. They talk about 'lewd stars' and 'mounting waves.' They tear the language from limb to limb in their efforts to express what is inexpressible, unexistent. They give us words, words, words, wrenched from their natural meanings, and arranged in all sorts of unnatural forms." She believed that prose would better serve the new century. Poet Edwin Markham countered, ""Poetry will exist so long as the world exists. Prose cannot express all that there is to be expressed. We need poetry to express that fleeting, elusive song of life that is as real as anything in life." He also said something else that I love: "Like some airy and invisible architect, [poetry] shapes character. The poet in his highest aspect may be considered a seer." Could that be the face of a new revolution? According to Alpaugh, we may soon find out.
I love the trouble David Alpaugh is stirring up for the future of American poetry and how he frames this discussion with opera. I was pretty disturbed this past week when I started reading my copy of Poet & Writers magazine which is focused on MFA programs. And, yes, this is not a new subject about how too many people are being churned through these programs with degrees that for the most part are meaningless. Just for the record, the Steiny Road Poet does not have an MFA and has never seriously considered getting one. Supposedly these degrees are for people who want to teach or scale that rickety ladder of publishing success. This poet has done and led her share of poetry workshops on the inside and outside of universities to know they can be done anywhere and some have good value but at the end of a university program, what does the degree get -- a certified poet? What does this mean? However, what bothers me about Mr. Alpaugh's fine essay is what is missing. He has the older end of the poets' world covered but not the younger side which includes the controversial language poets led by such older poets as John Ashberry. Like the work of Gertrude Stein, too many people discount the work of language poets. Sure, there is a lot of so-called language poetry that is uninteresting, and this poet thinks that the MFA programs contribute to that, but just like any art form, the more you immerse yourself, the better you can judge the new stuff. So bring on the poetry theater -- there is no end of the world coming for poetry as long as we keep those sharp pencils moving.
This is a wonderful look BACK at poetry lane. And the points made on mass production of poets is a common one these days. What is not accounted for is the POETRY REVOLUTION from the CULTURAL REVOLUTION (STILL GOING ON) that not only gave us the BEATS but women, blacks, gays, minorities -- those whose voices had been oppressed for so long they were like diamonds coming from the earth. These voices still vitalize the American scene. We should check out the work of MFA poets and separate the good ones from the mediocre, for having gone to writing college does not necessarily make one an awful poet. Rita Dove came out of Iowa. Not mentioned also is the way publishers curried poets in the mid century. Not so much today. This is a very interesting article and read with respect. Grace Cavalieri: Producer "The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress." (check out the stunning poets on our website.) Thanks!
read David Alpaugh's article
A clarification: As I said above - "Going to a writing college does not
necessarily make one an awful poet."
QUITE THE OPPOSITE: "Rita Dove came out of Iowa." Some of our most important contributors to poetry have education from writing programs. In fairness, this should be said.
David Alpaugh's article sniffs at the heels of the Poetry Dilemma. Because the Poetry Machine in the United States has become so huge, it has become outrageously controlling. Only poets approved by the Poetry Machine receive any national coverage. The issue of actual quality in poetry is ignored or unknown.
Marvin R. Hiemstra
Kudos to you for publishing another commentary by David Alpaugh. I admire his insightful assessment of the situation of contemporary poetry, and his examples. His essay addresses young, current writers (even writing program survivors) as well as those unschooled who ply their art from a long love of the pleasure of sound put to meaning. His comments are not meant just for "old" writers. The point he makes is all inclusive: age-free, gender-free, race-free, class-free. Timeless. This morning I heard a bright & funny young woman on "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" (NPR) explain what it means to speak in "abreves", ie: abbreviations. Her phrase sounded close to code - a code dictated by the character LIMITATIONS of Twitter messaging and texting. (Ah corporate domination...!) I'm sure it gets the job done, like being able to decipher the dits and dahs of Morse code. It's functional, in a weirdly atavistic way. But does it sing? Inspire? Soothe. Teach? No. It abbreviates...sucks blood out of language, music out of winds, birds out of trees. How's that for corny... will there be a place for "corny" in "abreves"?
I'm not so sure of even this: And music is something poets do not have in their arsenal. Or do they? To be sure, poets cannot rely on actual musical tones. It may seem like musical tones are out of bounds, but this, I think, often has to do with the fact that many poets reading voices modulate between about four tones. Developing a wider away of notes, inflections, intonations can make a reading sound every bit as musical as the musical phrase in a song.
Wonderful article! I like how Mr. Alpaugh directs us to learn from lyrics as well. Although melodies can add to the meaning of songs, I love song-writers' lyrics that beg to be repeated in my memory. Likewise, poetry that calls for the same.
Right on, David! Well put. I heartily agree. However, Frost in introducing a book of New England ballads noted this difference between poems and songs: "The voice and ear are left at a loss what to do with the ballad till supplied with the tune it was written to go with. That might be the definition of a true ballad [or song?] to distinguish it from a true poem. A ballad does not or should not supply its own way of being uttered. For tune it depends on the music of music--a good set score. Unsung it stays half lacking..."
This is something I can chime in on wholeheartedly. I've written on the topic and try, as a teacher, to bring the tools of metrics, parallelism, repetition, enjambment, musicality in language itself to poetry learners. Most people are never taught these skills. To write music, one must learn the symbolic system of notes, rests, rhythm. Many poets neglect the analogous training for writing verse that "sings" and bears reading time and again. Free verse includes many musical attributes but so much of what I hear is musically numb. Thank you to Mr. Alpaugh for raising this topic. I like a lot of the points made.
Please lock every practicing poet in Solitary Confinement with a copy of What Poets Can Learn from Songwriters and a bottle of champagne. Alpaugh's resplendent perception shines again!
Marvin R. Hiemstra
Many thanks to Scene4 for bringing us the eminently sensible, wise and salutary poetry columns of David Alpaugh. I find myself in almost total agreement with everything he says about poetry and the current poetry scene. Above all I agree with what he says in his current column: that poetry is an art, not identical but closely allied to song, that is meant to enchant and enlighten us. It is not supposed to be a credit on a resume, or a sacred mystery to be guarded zealously by the few hundred keepers of the flame.
Alpaugh's latest column reminded me of an argument I had a few years ago with two poet friends. I argued that a poem should reveal something of itself, but not all, on first reading; they insisted that a poem must be absolutely opaque the first five or six times you read it, and that anything less was a sacrilege.
Needless to say, these same friends regard the name "Billy Collins" as being in the same class as "Paris Hilton." The real tragedy is that my friends--whatever our differences in esthetics--are no more of the academy than I am. How deeply the poets have drunk of the Kool-Aid!
Miles David Moore
As a poet attuned to the musical line, I want to say before the November issue of Scene4 hides the incredibly well thought out essay What Poets Can Learn from Songwriters by David Alpaugh that there are new ways to hear some of the poetic songwriters whose lyrics are surprising and get into your head when you least expect them to. For example, the Pandora app that brings tailored radio according to your favorite singer. I personally have tapped into Madeleine Peyroux radio which delivers to my ear Nellie McKay and other new songwriters as well as those from the past like Billie Holiday.
If you don't know the lyrics of Peyroux & McKay, see my review at
The Dressing titled Don't Pick Fights with Poets
A brightly glazed conceit! (And I don't mean hubris). Congratulations to David Alpaugh for having something new to say about this old chestnut of English classes. I myself have published a wheelbarrow poem in partial response to Williams':
THE LAZY MAN'S HAIKU
Out in the night
(The Lazy Man was too lazy to find the full complement of syllables--5,7,5--for his haiku.
David, I love William Carlos William's "Red Wheelbarrow". It doesn't need more than those few lines. What you did with your interpretation is brilliant. No more need be said.
Excellent explication, David. So much depends on setting and time. Perhaps if the object was glazed with the image of Michael Jackson or Steve Jobs, it might be worth more today.
More fine words from David Alpaugh that make me think...and the ebay rip at the end, outstanding!...(jeez, and all along I thought WCW described how much a kid depends on his wheelbarrow just to get by this youth thing).
Thank you for giving a whole new meaning to this poem and to writing the story behind the
Once again, Alpaugh fires his comedic genius across our bow to awaken creative insight into the cannon balls of his poetry and essays. A brave new look a poor Richard's legacy. (Although, it always seemed to me that Cory was a "wannabe" defensive coordinator for the Penn State football team.)
C. O. Mccauley
Great article. Poetry is not a dying art, but it does feel as though it's been pushed way off to the side. Audience sustains creation. The answer is not to just throw out a bunch of trivial repetitions or to totally reject them. Style is not the only issue, and bad poems in any style need to be called out. My idea is that the poem should give the reader an experience that is not available anywhere else, not even from another poem. That's like the great Dickinson saying that she knew it was poetry if it felt like the top of her head had been taken off. We practice an essential art, but our own weight condemns us to obscurity. Poets are not better people than non-poets. Our art is what it is. It'd be damn nice if people saw more of the heights and less of the flat plains of the "work". We, I, need/needs a true audience. Especially loved the idea of a good poem needing to be heard over and over. Hell yeah! It being in my blood/now yours.
Encouraging to read the poet's 'many dreams' adding human clout to change world. Very glad at thirty the poet was in downtown NYC in 1973 deciding to persist at his poetry.
I don't know if this is drama or poetry or as Kopal calls it: a self-dispossessed illusion (great phrase!). What I do know is it kept me up last night!
What a noisy and exciting eight-ring circus your time in Chicago must have been! Delightful write-up.
David Alpaugh's poem, Death of Aeschylus, is super and so well written! I am so pleased I continue to see his work in Scene 4.
Words that break into puzzle pieces. Assemble and reassmble in your mind. Longing for more thought. Lonely and lovely. I would have liked his mother I think. Just a guess.
A man's sex is not the man. It is whomever or whatever he is involved with, woman or man or whatever. Vexing as it is, I love your poem.
This is a little gem, this poem. Between tubular protuberance and rift she says it all in so few words.
Another writer who uses language like paint, and music. Beautiful words beautifully played.
I call myself a writer/poet. I think I may have to take the poet section off after reading the fantastic poetry of Heather Arneson. I have only been writing poetry for 4 years, but it would take a lifetime to even see her tail lights. Congrats on a job well done.
Heather Arneson's poetry is incredible fodder for creative inspiration. Each poem presents an ocean of heartfelt expression, and I have truly cherished each moment of immersion.
Karren Alenier's review of ModPo is great and important support for important work. What an opportunity to immerse oneself, to learn and grow. I love the photo of Gertrude. She made a beautiful Gibson Girl.
I've known Dave 65+ years, and in addition to all that was said in the excellent article in your December issue (the poetry and paintings speak for themselves), he is an astoundingly wonderful human being. I have never heard him complain or criticize another person. He is a joy to know.
I too have had conversations with Mr. Grim Reaper. I've spoken to the old guy in almost every novel, play, screenplay, or short story I've written. I rant, flail, castigate, and even sometimes cajole, but never does he acknowledge me. But you're right. Because he's on my shoulder almost every moment, I do continue to attempt to leave something, not only on pages, paper or virtual, performances, and my over-burdened hard drive, but to my family and friends. So I say here's to you, G.R.. Thank you for your continual poking and prodding. I don't look forward to the day we finally shake hands, but I'm grateful for the interim reminders.
Always a pleasure, always a joy. Bravo, David.
Wonderful explication. Should be in the back of every Stein book for the classroom.
This is more than a poem, it's a dream bordering on a nightmare with hope at its edges. Thanks to Kathi Wolfe for a unique and disturbing presence at a disaster that won't go away.
Funny and sad at the same time. The cat, domestic or otherwise, is a historical creature of such mystery and intelligence. They will survive long beyond earthly people including the Vietnamese.
Though I'm not a fan of metre-less free verse, Alenier draws a telling parallel between Stein and Bashaw. Worthy of operatic treatment? I don't think so. Bashaw's language is rather unlyrical but so is a lot of libretto being written today. Thanks for the insight into her work.
I cannot agree with the prior comment respective to Molly Bashaw's verse. I find her verse quite lyrical, quite musical. I don't know about its application to opera, still it works with my sensibility and ears.
A. S. Waterson
Thank you to Griselda Steiner for her tribute to 9-11. It is a "day of Infamy" that must never be forgotten.
The MFA-ridden pobiz scene will eventually collapse under its own weight. I wouldn't be surprized if MFA-wielding poets already out-number their audience. What can be done to help bleed this monster white? I'd like to suggest a network of poet cooperatives made up of independents and presses willing to publish them. Otherwise, prepare for the Twilight of the Gods to usher in a new Dark Age where pale monks scribble for no one but each other. Excuse me if I seem to be predicting the present?
Apropos - Walter Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz."
Kathi is a national treasure and one of the best American Analyst/Poet/Commentators we have.
I wonder what the great poet would make of Ireland's condition and politics today? No doubt he would be amazed. Would he be dismayed?
Thank you Karren for breathing life into an important literary occasion in American Letters which may have gone unnoticed and certainly benefited from your verve and passion for the arts.
David Wiley's piece Aux Barricades! (January 2014) is but another example of his outstanding and continuing genius. I am privileged to be his friend and to have shared the adventure with him of my own writing and art. Bravo!
Wilfred Owen is not forgotten but sadly unknown to so many of the rising generations. His was a powerful voice: "I feel my own life all the more precious and more dear in the presence of this deflowering of Europe." This should be a banner flying over the whole world - Europe, America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa - the whole world. His life and words are remembered. Thanks to Patrick Walsh for that.
Kathi is the Queen of Pop Culture Poetry, moving pop culture to the highest artform.
It is a pleasure to find David Wiley's poetry and paintings in Scene4 Magazine. I look forward to the publication of " Poetry of Color".
Thanks to David Wiley for his sensitive and perceptive piece on Bob Stock. I knew Bob in San Francisco, 1966 through 1968, approximately, before he moved to New York. He held weekly poetry nights -- Thursdays, if memory serves -- in his family's Mission district flat. I was a regular. I remember Bob first for his perseverance, second for his erudition. Thanks again. Robert Stock will be remembered. I hope his poetry will get the recognition it deserves.
I read, with interest, Arthur Meiselman's piece on copyright. My response to the writer, since I am cited by him as a spur to his article is this:
I am not against copyright, that is, not against having some form of protection for created work, for the "property" of the creator. I would just dial back the protections to the original terms of the Copyright Act of 1790, which gave a creator 14 years of protection, with an additional term of 14 years if he or she was alive at the time of the renewal. (The original law only protected books, maps, and charts; other items, like music and paintings, were added later.)
I also don't have a problem with copyrights being treated as commodities and passed along/sold to other parties, as long as the time limits don't reset during the exchange: If my father in his will passes along to me the copyright to his wildly successful book, and thus its profits, in the 27th year of its copyright (renewed after 14 years), I get the profits for one more year only, and that's it. Then the book goes into the public domain. (Whatever publishing rights companies have do not trump the copyright term limit -- once the property passed into the public domain, they no longer have exclusive access to it.)
I would also support a provision that doesn't make copyright automatic once a work is created. Copyrights would have to registered, with a small fee to do this, in order to start the clock ticking on the first 14 years. If a copyright is not registered, then that work does not have copyright protection and is automatically added to the public domain. (We'd have to work out some window during which a creator can register so that the created work has a provisional or contingent protection, a "pre-copyright" protection, in case they're on walkabout in Australia when the inspiration comes.) This would also allow people to forego copyright if they didn't want it (today known as "copyleft") without having to go through the hoops of the Creative Commons licensing procedures (but this would also mean that the creator would have no say in how the work gets used in the public domain).
The logistics of this are too complicated for this limited space, but they are mostly legalistic in nature once the umbrella concept of a time-limit for a registered copyright is established (e.g., can someone "own" something in the public domain, such as a Picasso painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum, or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in its new Japanese manga version?). This doesn't make them easy but it does make them doable and possible.
My desire is to get as much material, actual and virtual, into the public domain as possible as quickly as possible without too much interference from the dead hand of the past or the greed of corporations and creators -- as the original act said, in order "to encourage learning." Twenty-eight years seems enough time for a creator to make his or her money. My desire is to cut back all the kudzu that has smothered copyright to the point where, now, anything after 1923 is out of bounds, with absurd restrictions like a book not going into the public domain until 70 years after the death of its author. To me, that's racketeering.
Of course I will not win this argument -- there is too much money at stake. But it's an argument that still needs to be made.
I agree with most of Michael Bettencourt's arguments. But the implication of his strong desire toward "public domain" is what concerns me. I don't care about the financial provisos of copyright: protect the creator and the creator's heirs, all for a reasonable time, and then the hell with it... let the bucks be made by the buck-makers. What I do care about is the content, the creation as the creator conceived it. Within most current copyright protection, while the creator is alive, his/her permission is required to change one comma, one note, one choreographic movement, one anything. Once the creator has been de-created, my admonition is that the permission is no longer available. Nothing should be changed. If a creation is to be adapted, write a new version based on the original, but do not, do not use the original words or notes or strokes. If you want to do "Rome&Juliet" Mr. Luhrman (after you find actors who can speak English), write your own. I cite George Bernard Shaw who sent a sheriff with a cease&desist court order at the Broadway opening of one of his plays: do it the way he wrote it or don't do it. If you want to do a Balanchine ballet, do it as he conceived it, or choreograph your own. The argument against my argument is: hey, that's not the way show business works. My answer: Tough shite! Shaw understood the business of show better than almost anyone alive today. Of course, he's dead and his creations? Unprotected.
As I calm down here, I'm fully aware that it is the Internet which has unleashed an irrevocable shattering of copyright protection. The "mashup" is the worse thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball. And, as Rebecca Solnit noted in Harper's: The Internet will also "create elaborate justifications for never paying artists or writers." She also notes: "...2014 has turned out quite a bit like [Orwell's] 1984."
Response to Arthur's Response
Citing the "mashup" as "the worst thing that has happened to artistic creation since the invention of television and free agency in baseball" is to forget that the "mashup" is how any art gets made. No inventor creates something in the way that Athena burst forth from the head of Zeus when Hephaestus cracked open his skull, that is, something without antecedent, without an origin story, without some debt to (dare I say it?) to the "public domain."
This is precisely the point Nina Paley made in stripping her wonderful work, Sita Sings The Blues, of all copyright restrictions: "From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes."
For me, the more things there are to mash up into new forms, the better off everyone will be, not just in the arts but in all aspects of intellectual study -- "mashup" is just a synonym for "the free market of ideas," and the public domain, where everybody has a library card to borrow the materials, is where this market can play out the trading that results in new ideas, new practices, new directions.
This fertility -- its power to nourish and propel -- is why we can't follow my colleague's advice and do only "archival performances" (my term, not his) of past work. Shaw had every right to issue his cease-and-desist then, but I don't think anyone can make a defensible aesthetic argument that his work is well-served by issuing one now on his behalf, and there's certainly no legal basis for it either.
Perhaps Shakespeare is more to the point here, since competing versions of some of his plays defy citing any one manuscript as definitive, Arthur's "the original words." (Kenneth Branagh, for his film version of Hamlet, simply mashed together every version he could find into one script, which is why the film runs for four hours with an intermission.) There is no ur-Shakespeare text, and certainly no ur-Shakespeare performance (we have no settled picture of what happened on an Elizabethan stage), and thus no ur-Shakespeare to which we must always remain faithful.
And even if such a thing did exist, doing R&J in 2014, even following every jot and tittle, will not be the same as a production done in 1614: we can mimic the practice but we can't access the spirit and mind-set of that time. We are different people living in a different world, and our R&J will be an automatic betrayal of the original.
Rebecca Solnit's point about "the Internet" is a good one in terms of its effects on artists' livelihoods. However, it's not "the Internet's" fault but the way people use and abuse this vast infrastructure for sharing information -- a subject too large to parse here but one which touches upon the ethic of the public domain and a regulated commons.
But it certainly has thrown into disarray old notions of ownership and control and property and contract, which, to me, is a very good thing since many of these notions were restrictive, exploitative, and rent-seeking, and needed to be challenged. Going back to a situation where "the permission [to change things] is no longer available" is to go back to the very practices that "the Internet" has up-ended.
The "mashup" is how stuff gets made. The source material for the mashup is both the universe of all created artifacts and the cultural "air" we all breathe as citizens of some collective. Given the capitalistic way we have chosen to arrange our current collective, it makes sense to define creation as "property" and afford it some of its protections.
The debate is over the extent and power of those protections, and my contention is to give them a statute of limitations that balances inventors' abilities to make some money off their efforts and the public domain's need for new stuff to mash up. I believe this is a fair trade, given how the public domain seeds everything of value created by anyone who lives in its midst.
I love Lake Merced. It is one of the most beautiful in-city lakes in the world. It offers a mood both serene and enigmatic in the ever-changing, disturbing changes of San Francisco. Jon Rendell's photographs capture this. They are beautiful. Thank you.
Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold's perceptively written article on the "Romantics and Italy" is a testament to what digital has done to the existentz of art. Though Scene4's graphic display is excellent, one cannot truly experience the painting of an artist such as Turner in a photo on a monitor. To experience painting, one must "experience" painting in the presence of the work itself. The same is true of literature. How does one read Shelley or Byron on a computer monitor? The poets wrote with pen and ink on paper and their poetry was printed with ink on paper. And to hold that printed paper in one's hand is the same as standing in the same air of a Turner painting. There is no classical art on the internet, there are only gateways, beckonings to experience the real thing. Thankfully, Ms Verdino-Süllwold and her magazine beautifully provides one of those beckonings.
Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold's article: Siren Songs of the South: The Romantics and Italy
I loved Stan Freberg (R.I.P.). He was an 'original' and paved the way for a lot of today's comedy. Kathi Wolfe, in her usual offbeat-upbeat way, honors him nicely and places him just where we should see him. She's an original too.
Kathi Wolfe's column: I'll Be Back...After These Messages
It is truly wonderful to know that there is still a place for the wonder of Keats' poetry in our society, a society that so many evil people want to tear down and destroy. Thank you to Ms Verdino-Sullwold's passion and touching writing about John Keats and the love he created.
Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold's article: In Search of John Keats
Ms Verdino-Süllwold once again gives us a touching, personal portrait of a man, a poet, and a time when romantic peace thrived surrounded by the time's misery and anguish. So today we have misery and anguish inundating the world, where is our Keats?
Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold's article: "In Search of John Keats"
I love this line....Women walk with the sound of their children's lives....
Lois Michal Unger
Griselda Steiner's poem: "Vermont"
It is always good to hear Karren Alenier's intelligent elucidating
comments on any subject. The racism Stein/Trump piece is especially thoughtful.
Karren Alenier's column: The N-Word: Trump Versus Stein
I found this article absolutely fascinating! Thank you for writing it.
Karren Alenier's column: The N-Word: Trump Versus Stein
A beautiful poem which has heart and lasting messages. Ms. Steiner creates poetry which is professional, worthy of your publishing and look forward to more.
Griselda Steiner's poem: The Charioteer
David Wiley never ceases to amaze me. Fauvist, impressionist, expressionist, a sense enhancing display of styles and effects and passionate content. And then there's his poetry, words that are images and images that are words. He's all of the above and he is above all an artist. He's David Wiley! The magazine captures him beautifully. Thanks for doing that.
David Wiley's art:
At the Start of the Grand Canal and Bridges to the Arsenal
This is a rare thing. A love letter to a wife of 16 years. Beautifully written and beautifully felt. The truth is in the adoration.
Touching, revealing but not saccharin in any way. Mr. Bettencourt writes so privately in so public a way in a revelation to those who go crazy struggling with relationships.
Mr. Bettencourt has the uncommon skill to turn an essay into poetry, an ode to be read often down through the years.
Michael Bettencourt's column: Why I love My Wife
Snow night and Her beauty. I love all the poems but these two are my favourites.
Alan S. Kleiman's poetry: Five Poems