November 2009

Arseny Tarkovsky: 20th Century Russian Poet

Some of the greatest poets of 20th century came out of what was then the Soviet Union. Names like Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova are highly celebrated in modern academic circles, and their words are held up as some of the most inspiring in any language. The days of communism were both a boon and a hurdle to Russian-language writers. The Soviet Union was known for its tendency to strongly censor creative individuals, but it also strongly supported a few who were in the Party's favor. The poet Arseny Tarkovsky, who studied under and among many of the greats of his time, owed much of his career as a professional writer, though he struggled as an artist in a time of oppression.

Open Mic Etiquette

Since time immemorial people have gathered to listen to others recite poetry. These days, open mic nights are the preferred setting, so readings don't really have the awe and gravitas of the Greek lyricists or the guest poets of Renaissance courts. But just because the circumstances have grown less formal over the years doesn't mean that there aren't still proper manners for attending and reading poetry in public. Follow these simple courtesies to have the best open mic experience wherever you go.

The Sonnet

The "standard" definition of a sonnet

is fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, but such was not always the case. The most frequent departures from the standard, especially in the very early Italian sonnets involves a number of lines other than fourteen, or, especially in sonnets after the Elizabethan era, all sorts of metrical differences. The sonnet was an Italian poetic form that entered English literature by way of two sixteenth century English poets, Thomas Wyatt and Sir Henry Surrey. The two translated the sonnets of the medieval Italian poet Petrarch, their sonnets were printed in Tottle's Miscellany, and from there, the form became increasingly popular with court poets and musicians alike.

There are three principal sonnet styles or forms, with a number of minor variations and hybrid forms.