Tuesday, March 5, 2013

One of a million thank yous

Hello all! It's a big day here at Chateau Roskos and I'm glad so many of you have the book or will have it soon.

DR BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS is about tons of things, some small and funny, some big and serious. I've written elsewhere about what this book means to me and what it might mean to others. (Just yesterday, in fact, I got an email from a reader who felt a strong connection to some of James's familiar thoughts and emotions. The reader was thanking me, but I have to thank them just as much.)

I'll never be mad if what I write doesn't speak to you; still, I hope that even if you don't plan to read it, you share the book with someone who might find something important in the story.

Thanks to everyone!

Dr. Bird is full of big ideas about Walt Whitman.

it is time to explain myself: DR. BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS

It is time to explain myself. . . .Let us stand up. [Leaves of Grass, 1855]


So, I wrote a funny book about serious things.

Maybe it's a book you want to read or need to read; maybe it's a book you want to share or need to share.

I hope you'll give it a shot. The opening lines are infectious, I promise.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Whitman: there is no imperfection in the present (1 day to DR. BIRD)

When I began the draft for Dr. Bird, I specifically tried to emulate Whitman's long, meandering lines. Maintaining such a pace for the whole novel was not the goal, as James's moods and situations would of course change how he formed the sentences of his narrative. But I am very proud of the voice of the novel and how much it makes me feel like I'm reading a alternative Leaves of Grass.

"And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present, and can be none in the future,
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody it may be turn'd to beautiful results,
And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death,
And I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are compact,
And that all the things of the universe are pefect miracles, each as profound as any.

I will not make poems with reference to parts,
But I will make poems, songs, thoughts, with reference to ensemble,
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to all days,
And I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but has reference to the soul,
Because having look'd at the objects of the universe, I find there is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul."

"I will effuse egotism and show it underlying all, and I will be the bard of personality"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Whitman: Does the daylight astonish? (2 days to DR. BIRD)

One of the key quotes from Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets can be found in this passage.

"Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

This hour I tell things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Whitman: I know I am deathless (3 days to DR. BIRD)

Belief in immortality came easily to Whitman, who saw the biological processes of the natural world as carrying his remains forever onward.

"I know I am solid and sound,
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.

I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,
i know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
I know I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.)

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content."

"I exist as I am, that is enough"

Friday, March 1, 2013

Whitman: Through me forbidden voices (4 days to DR. BIRD)

This passage contains lines that always get my students to giggle or act uncomfortable, but it's an essential concept in Whitman's writing. Basically, he sees nothing distasteful or vulgar in the human body, and what better way to express this than to suggest he treats both his face and his bowels with respect (the interpretation here is either that he eats well or that he is physically gentle and respectful to his body -- either way, it leads to his claim that his arm pits smell divine!).

"Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds."

"If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it"