Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Smoking the Bible

When Bobby Sands smokes a fag rolled in a page of Revelations in Steve McQueen's Camera d'Or-winning film Hunger, it's a profound and blackly humorous act, a gesture that compactly communicates a whole series of ideas about faith, religiosity, the Word, the body, hunger, narcosis, desire, addiction, pleasure... Such a telling gesture, original and pitch-perfect.

And then it cropped up again, in another film at the Toronto Film Festival: Maria Govan's Rain, a less austere film, but equally as much about bodies finding new configurations of pleasure and self-expression onscreen. Set and shot in Nassau, is no cultural tourist checklist of Bahamian culture - but the film wouldn't be complete without a sensi-smoking scene, here in the safe hands of Magdaline, who invites Rain to smoke up with her under an outrageous and beautiful painting of a black Jesus. Naturally, her skin of choice is Revelations.

Twice is a co-incidence. But thrice is a meme: today's Guardian Review helpfully (because the book sounds like laboured Fischer-by-numbers) reveals that a DJ-ing monkey with a sidearm rolls itself a Bible-skinned spliff.

Which makes me wonder, as Hickling writes of the monkey, is smoking the Bible now "a comic device that has so outlived its useful purpose you want to borrow [the monkey's] gun and shoot it"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Headline Poetry

I am loving this poetry blog from small and perfectly-formed poetry press Wave Books: check out PoetryPolitic, 50 American poets (showing how truly diverse an identity is encompassed by that national designation) offer thoughts, in poem form, through the 50 days leading up to the election. They are profound, personal, political, playful -- and available as downloadable MP3s, to be enjoyed and meditated on. Plato thought poets should stay out of his Republic (because they enchant readers/listeners with their attempts to encapsulate the ideal forms of things in words), while Shelley called poets "unacknowledged legislators." On this blog they are in neither camp (or both): deeply engaged with the intimate daily and earthy, and the myriad ways in which politics is interwoven into our dailiness and our dreams -- pointing up the ways that politics as practiced has come to neglect the personal (except where it interferes for religious reasons) and the real 'popular,' the concerns of the people. The same has been said of lyric poetry -- particularly the experimental stuff -- but these poems show different. More immediate than CNN's newstrack and more vibrant and resonant than the Huffington Post: these poems are news that stays news. Thanks to Susan Schultz for posting it on Facebook!