Saturday, September 30, 2006
There was this time in my life when I believed that the only good poetry was free of constraints like meter and rhyme, but then I read John Donne and my mind was changed. I naively considered old poetry to be genteel and dated. Granted the language does sometimes require a little more work in terms of comprehension, but underneath the frilly surface of things the same basic drives influence human action and occupy the bulk of our art. I find Mr. Donne's argument quite persuasive myself. Enjoy.
- Chris Gothorpe
by John Donne
MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas ! is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.
John Donne was born in London in 1572 to Roman Catholic parents. His father died when he was four and he was raised with two other siblings by his mother Elizabeth. He attended both Oxford and Cambridge, but did receive a degree because he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy (which states the the King is the head of the church) He went on to study law at Lincoln's Inn and began a career in the law. As a young man he spent his inheritance loosely on entertainments and womanizing. However, he reexamined his faith and joined the Anglican Church and would later become a great preacher. His later poetry is highly religious, but maintains his elaborate metaphors and use of symbolism. He died in London March 31, 1631. A monument to him can still be seen at St Paul's Cathedral.
Tova Marin and Damian Patterson asked several students at Brooklyn College the following question: What did you think of President Ahmadinejad’s visit to the UN last week?
The guy wants “nuclear arms” for his country and he was found guilty of supporting terrorist factions. The UN is supposed to be a bastion of democracy and it sickens me that I live in a world so willing to destroy itself. Let’s not fool ourselves. Nuclear energy does have many great capabilities. However, it's clear to us by the way he has defied our country and other democratic powers that he wants nuclear energy for nuclear weapons which can be defined simply as the death of Israel, the one beacon of democracy that stands true in the middle east. How the UN can openly shame our president by allowing this man to make a parody of what this great country stands for, both left and right should agree--we stand for democracy. Ahmadinejad has made it clear that he does not. How do we trust great power to a man who puts his life and the life of others into equations he derives from archaic texts with little contemporary definition. The man denies the travesties that have occurred in our time (the Holocaust). This is obviously not a man with intelligence. We can scrutinize Mel Gibson, but we can’t scrutinize someone who is truly capable of harm. If the UN stands for anything it was created to stand for, now would be the time, to keep him locked in his land of self-absorption and forced military power. America is not the land of helpless ignorance. His hegemonic powers should be useless here.
-Anonymous, BC student
He’s just a crazy fanatic—everyone has a right to say his piece.
- Anonymous, BC student
First of all, the President Ahmadinejad’s visit to the US was a brave and bold move on his part. He is deemed an enemy of the U.S. and risked his life setting foot on U.S. soil. He could have been targeted for assassination, under the U.S.'s belief that if the head dies, the body will follow.
Second of all, he challenged President Bush to a public debate and the running of the country. Bush bowed out, calling this an attempt at a diversion, which is ironic, because he attempts to divert the American people's attention on its own problems by spinning Iran to be the ultimate evil. (What about Iraq, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc.)
And lastly, everything in his speech about the U.S. and Britain was true. Why are they allowed to enjoy the benefits of nuclear power and Iran is not? Is it because Iran refuses to "rub shoulders" with the US and its ilk? Also, the President has made it clear that Iran's intentions are peaceful in nature, and yet the U.S., with its ability to destroy the world several times over, is assuming a hypocritical stand by denying Iran its right to enrich uranium.
Eddie Ennab, BC Student
President Ahmadinejad sought to create dialogue, pointing to inconsistencies and instabilities in the UN Security Council that must be addressed, but that have not been. The U.S. is a permanent (and privileged) member of the UN, and oftentimes is not held accountable for its violations of international law. As President Ahmadinejad stated in his speech:
"When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfill its responsibilities?"
Who holds the U.S. accountable? On top of being privileged members of the UN, they are also the aggressor, occupier, and violator. America continues to violate domestic and international law, often rewriting the law books to do so. President Ahmadinejad described the US as assuming the role of prosecutor, judge, and executioner. Is that not what we see with the Patriot Act or at Guantanamo Bay?
The President's speech was eloquent, and while it goes in direct opposition to much of the image we Americans have of Iranian culture and law, he spoke with passion regarding spirituality and politics, and emphasized the imbalance of power in the world. This isn't just about Iran having nuclear energy. As an aware and relatively liberal American, I feel it begs the question: who's watching the watcher? America is no superhero. Our motives are not just. Who can keep our corruption in check, so that we do not become the totalitarian force we have so long fought to destroy? Most importantly, in what venue can a dialogue be formed and action be taken, when the UN is so obviously tainted...
Katy Maslow, BC Student
For a transcript of President Ahmadinejad's speech, visit npr.org
Monday, September 25, 2006
Share your creative work in fiction, poetry, playwriting, etc. with your peers! Questions/comments? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Harvard Law J.D. Schneiderman Scholarship Writing Workshop will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2:00-3:00pm and 6:00-7:00pm in the Scholarship Office, 0416 James Hall.
Learn how to write a competitive personal statement for law school admission! You must RSVP by calling 718-951-4796 by September 28th.
The Open Meeting will be held next Thursday, October 5th, 1:30-3:30pm in 2315 Boylan.
For all current and prospective English majors: learn about major requirements, internships, Zine submission, and other events and activities! Meet your counseling advisors and peers.
The Open Mic is scheduled for Tuesday, November 7th, 1:30-3:30pm in the State Lounge (SUBO).
The sign-up sheet will be posted October 14th on the door of 3416 Boylan.
In this latest installment of At this Moment... your intrepid Boylan Bloggers Anthony Punt and Katy Maslow pose this intriguing question to their Brooklyn College peers:
If you could whisper something into the ear of every human being on the planet, what would you say?
"This is what I will whisper: I feel your afflictions. I cry your tears. I suffer your sadness. I walk under your shoes. I am your brother. Why can't you recognize me as such? There you are, dumfounded in the verge of chaos, about to lose your mind. I have arrived on time, although, I was always next to you. So, here I am! Get on my back, don't lose heart that I will carry you up the friendship hill. "
"If I get this opportunity one day in my life, I would say that everyone should support embryonic stem cell researches because these types of research promise to find a cure to diabetes and Alzheimers."
Italy Attempts to End Chinese Embargo
Since 1989, following China’s response to the pro-democracy student protests in Tiananmen Square, a ban on arms sales had been placed on China. Recently, there have been discussions regarding lifting the 17-year-old ban. China has been on the forefront, calling the ban a "relic of the cold war.” In Europe, other countries have been leaning towards a similar decision. During a visit to Beijing, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said that Italy wishes to lift the embargo in the near future. France has also made calls for a lifting of the ban. Other EU countries have been more divided on the issue. The US has been the most vocal in its opposition to a lifting of the ban, highlighting China's human rights record and concerns that arms sales to China may hurt relations between China and Taiwan. Italy is not as concerned as the US. The Italian Prime Minister said that he and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently had "constructive discussions" regarding human rights. Mr. Prodi’s remarks followed a six-day visit to China during which the two leaders signed 15 bilateral agreements on a number of issues, including trade and agriculture.
Free Speech Threatened in Turkey
In Turkey, writer Elif Shafak was acquitted on September 21st of charges that her novel insulted Turkishness under a controversial penal code that may threaten freedom of expression. The Bastard of Istanbul, a bestseller, contains passages that allegedly portray the massacre of over a million Armenians in 1915 as Turkish genocide. For a long time, Armenians have claimed that this tragedy was genocide by the Ottoman Turks, but Turkish leaders strongly deny it. Riot police outside the courthouse tried to hold back protesters on both sides of the issue. Such trials pit liberals against nationalists in a country still being considered for membership in the European Union. Other writers and journalists have also been prosecuted on the same penal code. Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s most famous author, faced trial last December. Before Pamuk’s trial was terminated on technical grounds, his car was damaged, and his supporters were attacked.Kemal Kerincsiz, a prominent nationalist lawyer involved in Pamuk’s and Shafak’s prosecutions, says that being part of the Union would “strip away our Muslim and Turkish identity." He views people like Shafak as "world citizens, half-Turks." Shafak supports Turkey’s integration in the West and does not believe Turkish society is so polarized. She says, “Too many people see the world in black and white, us and them. That’s wrong. Ambiguity, synthesis: these are the things that compose Turkish society, and that is not something to be ashamed of."
DRC: Democracy in Practice
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prepares for the second round of the first free presidential elections it has held in 45 years. The second round of elections was preceded by the Congolese Supreme Court’s validation of the first round election results, which determined that President Joseph Kabila and Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba are candidates for the upcoming second round. Kabila is currently in the lead with 44.8% of the votes. The United Nations, led by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will help organize this event, which is the “largest and most complex” the organization has ever managed. The primary concern of the UN official and the DRC candidates is that the elections take place in a peaceful environment and deliver results untainted by unlawful interference.
With an electorate pool of 25.5 million voters and over 50,000 polling stations scattered across a territory approximately the size of Western Europe, security concerns are not unreasonable. The spokesman for Mr. Annan warned that “any incitement to hatred and violence during the electoral period is unacceptable, and anyone engaging in such activity [will] be held accountable.” It appears that the UN will play the role of international keeper of democracy in these elections, thus allowing the DRC to successfully practice its new democratic order. “This historic event is a milestone in the country's peace process,” said Annan in his praise of the first free Congolese elections.
There’s Censorship in China?
The control the Chinese government has exerted over its 11,000 periodicals and 600-plus radio and television stations has not decreased, but recently the public’s anger and response to this issue has dramatically increased. And the response is no longer from the journalistic community exclusively. Many people in the fields of business, government, and law have begun protesting and speaking out against the closure of newspapers and the firing of editors from independent periodicals across China. In an ironic twist, one such closure is the Bing Dian, published by the Communist Youth Party as a weekly supplement to their publication, China Youth Daily. The Chinese government no longer risks upsetting the subversive and progressive sector, but is in danger of alienating its own power base in the Communist Youth Party. The closure of Bing Dian is attributed to the controversial articles written by Lung Ying-tai, who wrote in an open letter of protest to the Chinese president that "Among 10,000 horses, there was only one left - and now its throat has been cut.” The Bing Dian newspaper will be reopened, but its two chief editors will conveniently be absent.
Too Much Pressure to Achieve
In the United Kingdom, Archbishop Dr Williams is concerned with the amount of pressure placed on children in school. He believes a ban on advertisements aimed at children should be considered since 1 in 10 children have mental health problems. The department, however, says the children are doing well with the tests. The archbishop also said that parents should be concerned with their children's work and mental health, and that commercial and educational pressures need to be challenged and changed for their influence on children. Dr Williams said a mother's return to work is not as much an issue as children dealing with pressure and developing mental health problems. A dozen teachers joined together along with writers and psychologists to write a letter about the escalation of childhood depression.
In this latest installment of PotW, our very own Yecheskel "Chesky" Schneider shares his thoughts on a deceptively simple poet whose work inspired him, and provides a sample of said poet's work. Take it away, Chesky...
“Field of Hope,” by Russ Butcher was the first poem I ever read that inspired me to write poetry. I came across it while flipping through books in my school library. It was in a poetry anthology, mostly by amateur poets. I was captivated by its brilliant simplicity; a simple baseball metaphor that contained layers of meaning. Until then, I thought only “real poets” could write poetry. That very day I wrote my first poem.
Field of Hope
By Russ Butcher
The ghetto street was the playing field, home plate was an old stop sign
A broomstick for a baseball bat, a ball of tape and twine
Each base was a piece of salvage trash held down by a broken brick
The homerun line was the sewer ditch with its rancid oil slick
But the games which played on this simple field were major-league in scope
For imagined dreams of a ghetto child, they represented hope
Much more important than the games was the magic they inspired
For on that field each child became the heroes he admired
With every kid who came to bat, with every pitch or play
Came visions of a chance to be the hero of the day
The subtle teaching of the games, of worth, of self, of team
Would be the spark to light the dark and free a child to dream
The field replaced the idle hours and the risk which boredom breeds
A flower garden in the street with the children as its seeds
And some would blossom on the field and learn to gauge life’s pitch
And some would come to set their sights beyond the sewer ditch
A few would bud then fade away as victims to the street
But some would swing and follow through to make their dreams complete.
To be a model to a child is more than it may seem
A hero and a place to play can free a child to dream
Russ Butcher; Carvings In Stone The National Library of Poetry Cynthia A. Stevens, Editor. Watermark Press (Owings Mills, MD), 1996.
Ross Butcher was born April 4th, 1941 in
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
We hope everyone had a splendiferous summer (they always seem to end much too quickly, don’t they?). Well, never fear, for the Blog is here to brighten and enlighten your lives!
Check out some of our creative, informative weekly features such as At This Moment and Poem of the Week, not to mention our International Newsletter, The Boylan Brief (for print versions, please stop by theEnglish Majors’ Counseling Office located in 3416 Boylan).
This semester, we’ve assembled a crackerjack team of recruits that will be bringing you exciting content for the Blog — and other fun surprises to come.
The Fall 2006 staff of the Boylan Blog are:
Yevgeniya“Lady Red” Drobitskaya, Chris “Dead Letters” Gothorpe, Maryana “Sylvan” Isakova, Tova “The Destroya” Marin,“Kooky” Katy Maslow, “Dashing” Damian Patterson, Anthony “Babyface” Punt, Yecheskel “Scribbler”Schneider, and Jade “Don’t Call Me Cubic” Zirino.
Looking forward to a groovy semester!
–The Boylan Brief Team
Monday, September 18, 2006
The Poetry Club meets this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006, 1:30-3:30 pm, in Room 2307 B. We will hold elections, discuss ideas for upcoming meetings, and schmooze about writing and reading. Join us!
The Open Meeting for all English Majors will be held on Thursday, October 5, 2006, in the Barker Room (2315 Boylan) from 1:30-3:30 pm. This is where you can get information and ask questions about major requirements, course offerings, internship opportunities, and other events. Also, meet the wonderful English Major's Counselor, Dr. Roni Natov, and chat with her interns and other students.
Open Mic is coming up on November 7, 2006. It will be held in the beautiful and cozy State Lounge, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. Prepare your poems, stories, songs, rants, laundry lists, etc. Just make sure to keep it under five minutes, and sign up soon in the English Majors Counseling Office, Room 3416 Boylan. Can't wait to see you there!
September's Hero of the Month
Keith Olbermann, by Anthony Punt
In a cable news universe where vitriolic shouting matches pass for reasoned debate, and where the rantings of media demagogues is considered news, MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann is an oasis of rational and honest reportage. The anchor of the program, the eponymous Keith Olbermann, comes straight from the Edward R. Murrow school of broadcast journalism: an urbane reporter whose sonorous, sobering voice commands the listener’s attention without demanding it. Olbermann even borrows from Murrow’s closing tag line, “Good night, and good luck,” and it’s an appropriate appropriation; for if there ever was an heir to Murrow’s eloquent and uncompromising brand of journalism, few news-men today are as qualified to take on that role as Olbermann. The format of Countdown, in which Olbermann tackles the top five news stories of the day in reverse numerical order, is in itself a sly commentary on today’s entertainment-focused media. In inverse proportion to other news shows, Olbermann leads his broadcasts with important national and international news and closes with celebrity gossip and assorted weirdness. So, for example, a story about the war in Iraq may in the context of the show’s format be given chronological preeminence, but a report about Baby Suri, even though it is (rightly) buried at the end of the show, will be designated the Number One story—in this way, Olbermann deftly exposes the shallow and transient priorities of the cable news universe. And while he toils for a media conglomerate in NBC, Olbermann makes it clear through his broadcasts that he isn’t beholden to corporate or political interests, and is unafraid to question conventional wisdom and the official party line.
Unfortunately, if empirical evidence is to be believed, such unvarnished truth telling is in danger of becoming extinct, to be viewed as a quaint artifact from a bygone era. The impact of a loss such as this would be incalculable, for it would leave the news in the soiled hands of self-serving pundits and politicians who find no profit in telling the truth and informing the people. Below you will find two “Special Comment” transcripts from recent episodes of Countdown: the first, originally broadcast on August 30th, takes Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to task for referring to dissenters of the Bush administration’s military strategy as “confused,” while the second, delivered on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, castigates the administration for its lack of reconstruction in Ground Zero. For those who have not yet watched the episodes that these transcripts reference, viewing the links below is an opportunity to become acquainted with one of the most courageous journalists alive today. It is the trenchant words contained within these two particular essays that compels me to designate Keith Olbermann my Hero of the Month.
This hole in the ground: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6210240/
Feeling morally, intellectually confused?: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12131617/#060830b