Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Stevie Smith Edition (Plus Bonus Friday Morning Randomness)

Poetry:

This is the poem that first grabbed hold of my senses. Of course, the fact that I was 15 and prone to melancholy anyway helped. Still, it continues to resonate with most people who read it, I think. Especially the cranky literary types!

Not Waving But Drowning - Stevie Smith

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much farther out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

1957

Plea for Help:
Speaking of drowning, my writing ability is not growing at the pace I hoped for when I headed here to Microburg. My professors, as I have stated earlier, are an average of 112 years old. They are old-school, to say the very least, and consider professing quite a different thing from teaching. And I suppose it is. However, I am just the sort of intellectual midget who still requires guidance. So, is anybody aware of a book/article/pamphlet entitled something like "Seminar Papers For Dummies" or "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making an Idea an Article"?

Gripe:

!@#$%^&* Wheelock!


T-Shirt:

After patiently (but fruitlessly) waiting for someone to come up with a fun t-shirt for feminist medievalists, I created this one over at Zazzle. Chaucer says that Zazzle sells good stuff, and who am I to argue with Geoff? Anyway, as I did not create the concept of the t-shirt, the ironic use of the color pink, or the Anglo-Saxon phrase, please feel free to replicate this design with stuff you dig out of your basement or get at your local craft store, should you feel so inclined.







Flashback:
Way back in a time known as ago (In internet terms, anyway. It was January.), I wrote a post entitled "In Defense of Bitterness." Ancrene Wiseass' kind efforts brought this post to the attention of many others, and now it is getting new attention from a group of women in Australia. Sadly, these women have far more to embitter them than I do, as they are mothers, and their government has apparently been taken over by poop-throwing monkeys in suits. Standard MRA stuff: women shouldn't leave their husbands, and men shouldn't have to feed their children if the mothers do leave. It's infuriating to me, and I'm not even there.

A woman who signed herself "disgusted brokenbodied mum australia" left this in comments:

"We are currently being targeted by a federal government that decrees we must return to paid work and remain the primary carers of our children - necessitating child care workers take on a part-time role in raising OUR children.

The government maintains this charade is in the interest of promoting "family ideals" when in reality all it is doing is punishing women who have had the courage to remove themselves and their children from violent husbands.

These same men who have whinged long and loud to our politicians - only those with real legislative power are male - have now been granted the dubious honour of relinquishing much of their financial responsibility to their own children.

The men we have fled from have of course moved on and begun new families yet insisted on all the parental rights to their 'old' children and been given legislatively the right to minimise child support to their firstborn in favour of the new.

It appears that our federal government is finally achieving through Prime Minister Howard the legislated regression of every right we women fought so hard for in the 70's and placed us squarely back in the 'goods and chattel' chains of patriarchal slavery.

Would you or any women in the western world allow themselves to be forced back into work, raise a family, and be paid $1.67 an hour?


This federal govenment is not however hounding the male unemployed with the same vigour only solo mothers and the disabled with children
."


Full parental rights with limited parental responsibilities. Sounds like a certain group of men got precisely what they wanted there, and their children are ultimately the ones who pay for it.

10 comments:

medieval woman said...

Heo - I just read your original "In Defense of Bitterness" post and it was brilliant...absolutely brilliant!

magistra said...

What's the specific problem with the writing? Is the issue grammar, academic style or the structure of the paper?

If the problem is grammar, maybe something like Jan Venolia's 'Write Right' or Strunck and White's 'Elements of Style'. If it's the right register for academic writing then reading some articles by people you think write clear and intersting stuff might help.

The harder bit is the structure of the paper. The key thing here is that you need a logical argument. It can sometimes help to break a paper down into sections and just start with a sentence giving the point of each paragraph. Is it descriptive background or is it making an argument? Which bit of the argument should come next? Or think how you would explain your idea to an intelligent person who knew nothing about the field. Once you've got the skeleton of the article like that, it's then easier to fill it out with examples, nuances etc. Just writing all the ideas you have about a subject is OK as a way of starting, but it needs this kind of tightening up to work properly.

HeoCwaeth said...

Medieval Woman, thanks :-)

Magistra, thanks for the advice. I really have to look over my writing and compare it with successful (published) writers and see what preceisely I'm missing. At the moment, I just know I get a distinct "not good enough" feeling as I read it.

John, err, Eleanor said...

Anyone who can see poodles in a smudge is born to be a creative writing genius! When I write for work I just add huge, meaningless quotes and excessive adjectives. And big, fat margins.

Chris said...

Heo, you're such a terrible judge of your own work! You always underestimate its quality. Are others giving you "not good enough" comments?

Whatever you do, don't go anywhere near Strunck and White. It's a disasterous little book that, in my experience (and if that's not good enough, talk to the linguists over at Language Log) does more harm than good. The best way to learn how to write in any genre is to a.) read good writing and b.) write a lot. Again, in my experience (and as you know, I've taught writing), giving people books to read about writing causes them to think about stuff they read, and that distracts them from actually writing well. And Strunck and White are just evil.

Chris said...

Heo, you're such a terrible judge of your own work! You always underestimate its quality. Are others giving you "not good enough" comments?

Whatever you do, don't go anywhere near Strunck and White. It's a disasterous little book that, in my experience (and if that's not good enough, talk to the linguists over at Language Log) does more harm than good. The best way to learn how to write in any genre is to a.) read good writing and b.) write a lot. Again, in my experience (and as you know, I've taught writing), giving people books to read about writing causes them to think about stuff they read, and that distracts them from actually writing well. And Strunck and White are just evil.

Bardiac said...

Heo, I'm a bit late on this, but about the writing...

Is there a group of grad folks, NOT necessarily directly in your field, that you could work on peer editing stuffs with? I find that incredibly helpful.

Do you see your problem as more one of getting ideas for good papers, or executing the good ideas?

If the former, I think it helps to figure out what questions people are asking in your field, and in related fields (not necessarily lit, but anthro, say, or sociology).

The things you probably teach in comp classes, brainstorming and stuff, actually work! When you read a text, do all the things you tell your own students to do.

I hope that sort of helps.

clanger said...

Seeing an inspirational sixth form performance of Hugh Whitemore's Stevie introduced me to Stevie Smith. Her Collected Poems (1975 HBk; 1985 PBk) is a wonderful book, as are her three novels [The Holiday (1936, 1979); Novel on Yellow Paper (1936, 1980); Over the Frontier (1938, 1980)] and 'Me Again' (1981), a selection of uncollected works. Virago got Stevie's prose back into the public and scholarly eye, and a good thing too. The film version of 'Stevie' (1978) with Glenda Jackson and Trevor Howard is also worth seeing. Try ebay for the video as I don't think it is available on DVD (which is scandalous).

clanger said...

Ahem. Completely sidetracked by the poetry. Basically there is research and there is teaching. Teaching is part performance, seeking to inspire as well as educate and open minds; good research is scholarship, devoid of show-boating, initially a steep learning curve but one that will lead you to make a long-lasting contribution to the sum total of human knowledge, for the public good.

Make your article clear, concise, impersonal and whatever length it needs to be-no longer or shorter. Word lengths are for school children.

Above all don't waffle. Its not fiction, poetry or drama. People read a paper because they want to, to be informed, not to be entertained or for narrative cliff-hangers. Include good and thorough end-notes or footnotes as required, and a bibliography.

State your thesis, explain it logically step by step with clear evidence, and tie it up in a conclusion. Never use a jargon term you don't have to. Unless you are writing literary theory, your intention is to get across your ideas as clearly and as accurately as you can. Be clinical. Most articles are partially rewritten, so don't rush to complete and submit.

Make sure your research is up to date, checking books, articles, and relevant theses. Don't be afraid to e-mail people working on the subject of your article. Cite such correspondence. Cite everything.

Proof read it twice. Nothing undermines a paper like a spelling mistake. Don't trust a spell checker, they are all crap.

Don't be hurt if someone challenges it, be prepared to defend it, but open-minded, and be prepared to admit you missed something. It takes a few years of research to really get your teeth into any field and speak with authority on it, but that doesn't mean your elders are ever automatically right.

Hope that helps.

Bardiac said...

Quod She recently talked about a book called *They say, I say* by Graff and someone else. I'm just reading it, and I sure wish I'd read it years ago.

Maybe you'd find it useful, too?

(And I love that Smith poem, too!)