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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jonathon Williams' Questionable Quiz

In Palm Sunday 2008, Jonathon Williams - poet, publisher, teacher - died. Recently on one of his hyperlink lists, Ron Silliman at posted a link to a site which republished Williams' April'Fool's Day list of questions for his students. Some are too esoteric, some are out of date, so I shall give you just a selection which I think may amuse you.

(1) In tracing the background of Ragtime, I stressed two composers with French backgrounds (one frog, one cajun), and one black pianist from Texarkana, Arkansas. Who are they? Please spell them correctly.

(2) Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky concur that the pleasures of poetry are three. I.e., they are the supreme qualities of what three faculties brought to bear upon the words?

(4) What Japanese haiku-master wrote a travel journal which can be considered indispensable to all poets, particularly those studying with Jonathan Williams this very month?

(5) What are your five favorite architectural structures, or landscapes, or wilderness areas?

(7) List 10 poems that stick in your head. From Homer on down. If you can’t remember the names of 10 favorite poems, then we are wasting our time...

(9) What spring flowers (or birds or flowering trees) have given you pleasure recently? Name at least ten. Use local names, not scientific ones, when you can.

(11) I have said on many occasions that a course in reading and writing could perhaps be better taught as manners or decorum. I.e., that craft, in large part, consists of being receptive, democratic, ecological and in not thinking that the world rises and sets in our own private anal orifice. Do you agree? More particularly, do you see that poetry can sometimes be the making of refined art objects, not simply forms of therapy, self-expression and gunning for people?

(12) Bucky Fuller says: “The possibility of the good life for any man depends on the possibility of realizing it for all men. And this is a function of society’s ability to turn the energies of the universe to human advantage.” Buck Johnson says: “Music is to make people happy!” Francis Bacon says he wants: “ make the mind of men, by the help of art, a match for the nature of things.” Comment, very briefly, on one of these three; or, give us your own basic definition of why poetry is worth writing and reading.

(13) Baker’s-Dozen Question: Just what does Mae West mean when she says: “Use what’s lyin’ around the house!”?

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