National Poetry Month is a relatively recent invention. It was initiated in 1996 and has been celebrated in America every April since. Unlike most other national month-long holidays, there are few official celebrations—in American at least, Canada and the UK put on festivals—but it is a popular time to publish poetry books and collections.
Since the central purpose of National Poetry Month is to promote poetry, we at Greenleaf would like to share some of our favorite poems with you.
Fair warning: Many of the poems we picked are quite long, so I’m including excerpts here with a link to the full poem in case you can’t get enough.
Rachel Brandenburg suggests “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda:
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propogate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
(Read the rest here)
Jordan Heath suggests “The Hollow Men” by T. S. Elliot:
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
(Read the rest here)
Kristine Peyre-Ferry suggests “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Emily Dickinson:
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
(Read the rest here)
Sarah Ribar took it a step further by recommending everything Emily Dickinson has ever written which, sadly, is outside my word count. But a fair suggestion: she is famous for a reason.
Jessica Marpe suggests “Looking at Each Other” by Muriel Rukeyser:
Yes, we were looking at each other
Yes, we knew each other very well
(read the rest here)
Jessica first read “Looking at Each Other” in FlavoreWire’s Valentine’s Day collection: 14 Great Poets on Their Favorite Love Poems, all of which are quite good if you’re in need of something sweet to write inside a card or to tell a cute person you know.
Jessie Goff suggests Edgar Allan Poe. Since she recommends you read everything by him, and I’m suspicious you’ve already read “The Raven,” here I will include an excerpt from “Sonnet—To Science” because it has such an intriguing name:
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart
(Read the rest here)
Abby Kitten loves “Crush” by Richard Siken.
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.
(Read the rest here)
Steven Elizalde suggests “Forgotten Language” by Shel Silverstein:
Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings
(Read the rest here)
Steven also recommends “My True Love Hath My Heart, And I Have His” by Sir Philip Sidney:
By just exchange, one for the other giv’n
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driv’n
(Read the rest here)
I have two favorites as well, so first I will share an excerpt from Postcards by Margaret Atwood, who is not only a moving poet, but an amazing novelist as well:
Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on
(Read the rest here)
My final suggestion is “The Drover’s Wife” by Barbara Jefferis:
We used to laugh over something or nothing, it didn’t matter,
Just laughing because we felt good,
Because our skins liked each other, and our hair and teeth.
Laughter doesn’t last forever anymore than hair or teeth.
Happy Poetry Month!
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/3538
Do you know what your headstone is going to say? When you start to think about it—as many do on Plan Your Epitaph Day, celebrated on April 6 or November 2, depending on your preference—you realize what a daunting task this is. Fortunately, there are a plethora of interesting epitaphs to draw inspiration from. And I don’t think it’s just my personal bias speaking when I say that authors have come up with some of the best ones.
F. Scott Fitzgerald chose what is perhaps his best-known line—“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”—for the headstone he and his wife share in Maryland.
Robert Frost went with sad (and who could expect anything else) for his resting place in Vermont: “I had a lover's quarrel with the world.”
And let’s not forget old Shakespeare. He is menacing potential grave robbers in Warwickshire, England, to this very day:
“Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forebear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.”
Are there any epitaphs you always thought were great, clever, or indicative of a pretty weird person? Do you have any plans for yours?
If you’re stuck, maybe you could start thinking about your final words instead. Authors have been immensely clever at those as well—I’m lookin’ at you, Oscar Wilde.
"This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has to go."
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/3536
With all of the exciting advances in digital reading, publishing, and technology that have been made over the past year, it’s easy to forget just how truly magical a printed book can be. Luckily, we have this great video to remind us. Sean Ohlenkamp and his wife filmed this stop-motion animation at Type Books in Toronto.
Watch and be inspired by the beauty and livelihood of bookstores and books!
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/3042
Cover designers often work with stock photography for various reasons, but finding the perfect low- or no-royalty image that isn’t overused can be a major challenge.
We've all seen the stock photos of serious business people gathered around a boardroom table or happy shoppers walking through a mall with their arms full of shopping bags, and while the images may be a bit overused, it's because they depict somewhat realistic situations.
And then there's some stock photos that make no sense. We don't think these images will be overused anytime soon.
At least we hope not.
Image courtesy of Getty.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2533
A fascinating and insightful video about the future of publishing. This video was created by the khaki group and presented by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books for an internal presentation, and has since spread throughout DK and Penguin Group.
Watch it through to the very end. Things are not always as they seem!
Read an interview with the creator of the video, Zoe Uffindell, on the Penguin Blog: http://bit.ly/futureofpublishing.
Pass it on.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2167
I like to Twitter. Really, I do. But sometimes I have these dark, nightmarish moments that the little Twitter bird is going to peck out my eyes and feed on my soul. And in these dark, nightmarish moments, the Twitter bird looks like this.
Literary agent Rachelle Gardner knows that selling your book is as much the challenge, pleasure, burden and fight of authors as of publishers. And this is why.
Titling is key for any book, but methinks these celebrity memoirs were much more focused on memorable kitch value then brilliant book names.
The Abbeville Manual of Style presents a wonderful interview with Ed Champion, host of The Bat Segundo Show and book blogger. And because he likes Victorian literature and mint juleps, I’m automatically a shameless fan.
Maybe Chris Anderson of Wired shouldn’t have named his new book FREE (subtitle: The Future of a Radical Price). He was certainly thinking ‘free’ when he cribbed several of his ideas from Wikipedia and then did not edit or change them, leaving word-for-word passages in the final copy of the book. Whoops.
With the recent debacle regarding J.D. Salinger’s attempted copyright of his character to prevent J.D. California’s publishing of a sequel at a standstill (a federal judge has placed a restraining order on publication of the sequel), people are asking… who cares? Apparently, Holden Caulfield is not quite as captivating to today’s teenagers as he was in yesteryears. Yes, I thought he was angst-filled, snobbish jerk too.
Just when you thought book censorship was becoming a pastiche, angry citizens demand books be pulled from a summer reading list… or burned at the stake. In Illinois, Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN is remaining on the summer reading list for freshman at Antioch Community High School despite protests from several parents, while in Wisconsin Francesca Lia Block’s BABY BE-BOP nearly got a library sued over its accessibility, which has LGBT groups and free speech committees fighting to keep it from being burned.
Erin Miller of About.com gives us the first half of her “Best Books for 2009.” Agree? Disagree? I’m happy, but that’s because Guillermo del Toro’s THE STRAIN is sitting happily on said list.
Dick Cheney has just signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to write his memoir, which is anticipated to be published in spring of 2011. One might be curious if certain news-making incidents involving hunting companions will be included, but that doesn’t exactly fall into the realm of Washington politics.
Please don’t talk about sex… write about it. Times Online asks us: Who writes best about sex? Discussed? Taboos, full-frontal, the Kama Sutra, fantasies, the erotic lexicon, and more.
And not only that, but provides some tailor-made articles:
My new favorite agent-blogger, Chip MacGregor (what a name!), gives us an overview of ten items detailing where the publishing industry will be in 5 years. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to put money on most of these.
The Royal Society is offering a £10,000 prize to writers of science books, proving that popular science is, well, popular. The shortlist is out, so if you haven’t started already, illuminate your mind.
A blog we recommend for all you comic, graphic novel and manga readers, one of the best resources out there is Publishers Weekly’s The Beat, the News Blog of Comics Culture by Heidi MacDonald. Chock full of news, links, YouTube videos, comic reviews and recommendations, this is an excellent resource for the casual reader and avid collector alike.
Perhaps it is not quite literary, but in an age of democracy, there are still kings. And when those kings pass, the elegant ways in which we remember them are worthy of any book. The King of Pop is dead, and TIME presents a beautiful article on the glory, the revulsion, the sadness and the eccentricity surrounding the rise and fall of Michael Jackson by means of a literary reference—the endearing but heartrending man-child, Peter Pan.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2108
amateur trailer for THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
The means of advertising books and movies are many: posters in trendy locales, website ads, reviews in papers or blogs, displays at stores, entertainment segments or interviews on popular news and talk shows, and word-of-mouth that becomes increasingly easy to pass along through digital means. There are avenues, no doubt, and lots of them.
But the most ubiquitous is the movie trailer. It is the a popular and effective method of reaching people because we are an extremely visual culture. We want to see. And trailers indulge us in this craving. We are tantalized by the thirty-second or one- or two-minute glimpse a trailer offers us of the movie to come. They can be clever, dark, funny, mysterious, odd. They plant in our minds an excitement, an anticipation of something that might not be available to watch for over a year. And yet we love the trailers and their shorter brethren, the aptly-named teasers.
In recent years the publishing industry has capitalized on this success by producing their own counterpart: the book trailer. The challenges for the book trailer are unique. Those producing book trailers must start from scratch, gathering relevant words and phrases and key ideas and then translating them into images. The trailers come in multiple forms: still images with words, words by themselves, clever image-collages, flash movies, the rare animation, and on rarer-still occasions, live-action actors on sets.
It is the latter ones that I find the most intriguing.
Because they are the most cinematic, they are the most familiar to the widest audience. They could easily be mixed with their movie counterparts on websites, television commercials, even movie theatres. By pursuing cinematic techniques in book trailers and placing them in new promotional avenues, can we generate more audience interest and thus more book readers?
Cinematic book trailers can be a gamble, to be sure. The more elaborate a trailer, the more resources that have to be purchased. You risk alienating certain members of your audience who might see the shift in advertising to more resemble movies as pandering to a dumbed-down, mass-media culture. Readers and authors alike might be upset that your actors or sets don’t conform to their view of what the characters and the locations “should” look like. Many of these are the same issues encountered in book-to-film adaptations (which I wrote a post about a few weeks ago).
But “cinematic” doesn’t necessarily mean just like a movie trailer. What should be encouraged is taking what audiences know and like and finding unique ways to translate this to a book trailer. If more companies and authors see trailers as being a widespread, viable method of advertising their books, the demand for trailer creation will grow, promoting competition, increasing the quality and quantity of the product. And the more of a quality product, the more the prospective audience will see it, and thus the more people will hopefully pick up the book.
Check out the links below for some examples of book trailers who take their cues from their cinematic counterparts:
- The Indigo King by James A. Owen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nte13CIUAqw
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: http://digitalbooktalk.com/?p=19
- A Great and Terrible Beauty by Gemma Doyle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L93HOOy-lSc&feature=related
What is the current effectiveness of the book trailer and how can we improve it? Let us know your thoughts.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2105
When I was in elementary school, I experienced the advent of a life-changing new media as it became widely used by the public for the first time. That phenomenon was the Internet, and at twelve years old I was at an ideal age to become absorbed in this novel method of connecting with the world around me. I was impressed, but believed that this was merely a doorway to the virtual reality full-body immersive video game technology that they swore was just around the corner.
Needless to say, on this front I remain disappointed.
As a fervent book-reader, much of my time spent browsing was on the website of publishers and booksellers, authors and fansites as they sprang up all around me. For the first time there were easily accessible forums to learn about books and authors and connect with other fans. And I loved it.
(A few short anecdotes in no particular order: (a) I was an enthusiastic member of an extremely active website/e-mail fan club for YA author Christopher Pike based on his book The Midnight Club; (b) I played the Animorphs video game on my old-school PC; (c) I browsed the PBS website in search of trivia on my childhood television/book series, like Arthur and The Magic School Bus.)
Digital interconnectedness for today’s twelve-year-olds is as commonplace as any other marvel of the modern world, and today publishers and authors are scrambling to entice the ever-more technologically savvy youth to read an ordinary, paper book. Especially with the advent of electronic book-reading devices, including the Kindle and Sony E-reader, and the increasing popularity of video and computer games, kids and teens today are coming to expect their entertainment on a digital platform.
Rachel Deahl of Publisher’s Weekly discusses the publishing industry’s response to this trend in her article “The New Storytelling: Multimedia Children's Publishing,” which examines the multimedia platforms being developed to add multidimensional layers to the book reading experience. In short, books are developed that have several interlinking elements outside of the paper copy, including websites, forums, media content, cards, and even handheld games. Fourth Story Media’s The Amanda Project is one such example. The company, which focuses on new media content, describes The Amanda Project as an “interactive, collaborative mystery series” targeting teen girls. The intrigue of title alone would certainly have grabbed my attention when I was twelve.
But the challenge of any book that seeks to extend itself beyond its traditional form is in maintaining the integrity of the storytelling. Scholastic’s The 39 Clues, a collaborative book project utilizing a card set and website tie-in, marketed itself as a “built-in bestseller” meant to follow the success of Scholastic’s flagship title, the Harry Potter series, but has so far seen little of the media and public attention that its traditional predecessor received. Reviews of the series have been generally positive, though not enthusiastic, and make frequent reference to the “gimmick” behind the books. Such is my personal fear and trepidation about many of these projects—that story will play a secondary role to technological entertainment.
Rick Joyce of Perseus Book Group, which in 2006 published the highly unique Cathy’s Book, a predecessor of young adult interactive fiction, acknowledges the difficulty of keeping a story focused and characters interesting by asking the essential question: “Do I want to spend time with these characters?”
But publishers and authors alike seem to realize that whether or not they choose to embrace it, the future is already here. While multimedia and multiplatform young adult (and perhaps even adult) fiction are still at an experimental level and do not seem poised to replace the book-reading experience as we know it now, it certainly offers this newest generation a chance to shape for themselves how they choose to consume a story.
Tell us your thoughts on digital content and multimedia in young adult fiction. Intriguing new element to books or publicity stunt that detracts from them?
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2084
For just a moment, let’s take our eyes away from the books and up toward the silver screen (if you will please indulge my cinephoile rhetoric). Films such as Watchmen, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Inkheart, Harry Potter and Where the Wild Things Are* share a significant commonality: adaptation from a literary work. (And yes, for the umpteenth time, a comic book is a literary work. Just ask TIME Magazine.) Books have long been the fodder of screenwriters, directors and actors hungry to render favorite stories, bestsellers or classic tales as moving pictures. Nowadays it seems almost a prerequisite for certain genres—YA fiction, graphic novels, popular literary fiction among them—to have highly filmable elements.
My background is in screenplay writing, so it’s no surprise that I approach my writing, both scripts and prose, in much the same way—how to translate my story into a visual blueprint? The process is a delicate and rather complicated one. For those who believe that adaptation is simply a matter of filming the book, page-for-page (or as many complain, page-skip several paragraphs-page), you are gravely mistaken. Adaptation has long been considered as difficult as, if not more difficult than, writing an original screenplay. You are confronted with the rigid limitations of form and length, the expectations of an audience, and trying to reconcile your vision with both the reality of what you can film and what others want to see.
That being said, an author should by no means feel that they are obligated to the adapters of their work. That is the beauty of prose: your own imagination and writing skill are the only true limits to what you can create. The toolset of those who adapt the work varies greatly, but offers a chance to create your story in a totally new arena. While some authors are less than enthused about books-to-films (notably comic writer Alan Moore, who can be somewhat venomous toward adaptations), there are those who love the idea of seeing their story in a different medium that can then reach a different audience, which in turn can create a whole new audience for their book. (For instance, I never read the Harry Potter books until I saw the first film.) Films can even uniquely create a storyline from works of nonfiction, such as the box-office hit Mean Girls, based on Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes.
I bring this topic to your attention as the influx of adapted works continues to inundate the big screen, in hopes of helping authors and viewers alike to understand the complex, sometimes rewarding, and oftentimes terrible trials and tribulations of words-to-pictures. The key in viewing these films is to understand that the word “adaptation” does not mean “re-creation” or “direct translation”; the word itself means to “alter or modify.” And that is exactly what these films do. Most attempt to remain true not to the exact details of the plot and nuances of the prose, but rather to the essential nature of the story. Not that all adaptations do this successfully, but the stickler for an exact rendition of any book is bound to be disappointed. Rather, try to look at the film as an extension or new level of a book—not only will it increase your enjoyment in something that may on the surface seem completely different from your beloved story, but it may give you more insight into the role of those who adapt the work.
A wonderful article that does just this is from Twitchfilm, written by Kurt Halfyard: “Twitch-O-Meter: Adapt That! Five Grossly Unfaithful Book to Film Adaptations…That Worked.” Check it out, and maybe you’ll see what I mean.
What are your thoughts on adaptations from literary works to film? Give us some examples of your favorites, least favorites, why they worked and why they didn’t.
[* A note: The highly anticipated adaptation by Spike Jonze of Maurice Sendak’s 1963 classic Where the Wild Things Are should provide our best example in the upcoming months. Considering that Jonze was the director of the acclaimed (and highly appropriately-named) Adaptation, we can expect things to be interesting, to say the least.]
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2081
Bad news for those of you who lament theater marquees glutted with remakes, sequels, and cinematic versions of preexisting media: On October 19th, the partnership announced nearly two years ago between Random House and Focus Features will come to fruition with the release of Reservation Road. Based on the novel by John Burnham Schwartz, Random House is assuredly hoping the film will be an auspicious beginning to a new model that–if successful–guarantees large-scale book sales. Not to be left out, HarperCollins announced a deal of its own this week; the publisher will enter into a similar "strategic partnership" with Sharp Independent, giving the New York studio access to material in HarperCollins' heavyweight-laden roster.
From a marketing standpoint: genius.
A trade paperback edition of Reservation Road will coincide with the film's release date later this month, and a mass market paperback is also newly available. There’s no question that the increased visibility afforded to Schwartz’s work by the big screen will help move books. And for better or worse, the Hollywood touch appeals to many browsers who want Cusack on their High Fidelity, Witherspoon on their Vanity Fair. Although the trade paperback of Reservation Road is mercifully restrained, the mass market paperback’s cover gives the lead actors from the film that big-dramatic-face treatment employed by so many DVD covers.
One of the obstacles to the arrangement is that an experienced literary agent often holds film rights and sells them off separately, which may exclude some of Random House’s backlist, according to Stephen Zeitchik of Variety. There is also the issue of creative control: In the deal struck between Focus and Random House, the two entities would collaborate on the film from start to finish, jointly obtaining rights, overseeing production, selecting the director, and handling marketing and publicity, which may render the movies Random House Films produces an over-cooked broth. And where does the author fit in to all this? "[I]f writers are selling their work to be made into a film, they must be willing to relinquish artistic control of every aspect of their work," said Julian Friedman of Blake Friedman Literary and Script agents in a talk at the London Book Fair last year.
There’s also no way to tell how the agreement will affect acquisition of new titles by Random House—will a new component of manuscript evaluation be megaplex viability? Will the very personal act of writing a novel be compromised by the ultracollaborative movie-making process? Fortunately, Random House exercised good taste in choosing a partner for this venture; Focus Features has an impressive literary track record that includes film versions of The Pianist, The Constant Gardener, and Brokeback Mountain. Here’s hoping for continued output of creative, thoughtful adaptations. If handled well, this situation could provide helpful business symbiosis for both industries as well as quality artistic output.
As Variety's Stephen Zeitchik also points out, books and film have long coexisted within the same conglomerate, but never before have in-house deals of this scope been struck. And if you'll excuse a dated buzzword, the synergy doesn’t end with movies of Random House books; the publisher would also get dibs on novelizations of original screenplays.
Upcoming projects from Random House Films include Dean Koontz's The Husband, Yasmina Khadra's The Attack, and Bob Drogin's Curveball.