“Black Twitter Is The Internet At Its Best” (a villanelle)

“The following alert is not a test”,
The TV said–We knew that they were wrong:
(Black twitter is the Internet at its best.)

When ranks of cops, in riot gear were dressed,
They tried to quell the crowd with this strange song:
“The following alert is not a test!

We urge you to comply with our request!”
“Request”? A lie, but not for long:
Black twitter is the Internet at its best.

The propaganda leaves us unimpressed—
A fading view they’re trying to prolong–
“The following alert is not a test”

But… yes, it is; it measures the unrest,
The inability to “play along”…
Black twitter is the Internet at its best

Black twitter sees the marchers, ten abreast,
As canisters of tear gas hit the throng…
The following alert is not a test:
Black twitter is the Internet at its best [Read more...]

Repeat After Me:

So you’ve got a new ambition—it’s to write a gospel song—
They will play it on the radio, and maybe sing along
But your knowledge of the bible isn’t really all that strong
If you’re thinking that’s a problem, I can tell you that you’re wrong!
You can write it with a single verse—not even one that rhymes,
Cos the trick is, you’ll repeat it several times!
You can write it with a single verse—not even one that rhymes,
Cos the trick is, you’ll repeat it several times! [Read more...]

The Master And His Student

Ok… A bit of confession…

A dear friend of mine in meatspace gave me a couple of books of translated Bengali poetry, which is frankly stunning stuff–it reminds me that even translated poetry is–or can be–actually poetry, not mere verse (longtime readers both will remember that I am a huge fan of poetry but do not claim to be a poet–I am a proud versemonger, a wordsmith, a cuttlefish); I am a huge fan of verse, but also a huge fan of poetry, which is a different thing entirely. Some of my favorite poems I have only ever read in translation, which is shame, really–in real poetry, every element matters, from the sound to the meaning to the associations to the very breaths one takes in reciting–translated poems cannot be expected to perfectly replicate every element.

I have tried, and failed miserably, to translate poetry–I have actually tried in three languages (Spanish, German, and Greek), with no success in the slightest. I try too hard to fit meter and verse, and meaning necessarily slips away; the author’s “voice”, perhaps the most important element of all, I disregarded entirely… and as a result, my translation attempts have been pathetic failures.

What I am trying to say is… translation of poetry is not easy. But I love it. My favorite poems are actually translations of Greek (better in the original) or Turkish (my favorite, which I’ve never heard in Turkish) poems. The strength to be able to choose which elements to keep, which to sacrifice… I admire it, but have never had that talent…

Go. Read This. Kausik Datta has beautifully translated an Indian (Bengali) poem, The Master And His Student. And it works. Wonderfully. Yes, I wish I spoke Bengali, to see how it compares to the original, but the translation works. It is playful, it is sweet, it is… well, as far as I can tell, perfect.

And I cannot convey how honored I am that he dedicates his poem to me; his translation, even in translation, is far more poetry than the verses I write here (I say that as a fan of poetry and–separately–a fan of verse), and I clearly do not deserve it…but out of pure self-interest, will gladly put it up on the mantel!