Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" -Luke 2:11

I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas if you celebrate Christmas, and a Happy Holiday in any case.      

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Carols

Next week is Christmas, my very favorite holiday.  The house is clean, the lights are hung, there's a dusting of snow outside, making this a surprisingly white almost-Christmas.  (We usually don't get snow until after New Year.)  And I am thinking about cookies and Christmas Carols.  Now, cookies, while delicious, are not much of a subject for a writing and literature blog (two bites and they're over) but carols are worthy of a post.

The amazing thing about carols (and perhaps poetry in general) is how much meaning they pack in just a few verses.   We Three Kings manages to tell the whole life of Christ from birth to crucifixion and teach the symbolism of each Magi gift in just five verses.  That's pretty impressive.  O Come O Come Immanuel brings out a sense of the humanity of the Old Testement prophets, their longing as they looked forward to Christ's coming.  Then there's Joy to the World, which is just an outpouring of praise and thanksgiving.  

Christmas Carols get to be a tradition.  They're passed down as invisible gifts from parents who want to share something of their warm Christmas memories with their children.  Carols are sung in nursing homes to bring those memories back to lonely elders.  Music is powerful, so are words, and perhaps memories are most powerful of all.  The three are wrapped together in Christmas Carols, making for something that lasts. 

So how about you?  Do you have any favorite traditions for this time of year?  What do you think makes for memorable poetry?  Do you think carols would have lasted so long if they weren't set to music? 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ode to End Notes

Yesterday was my last final.  Wahoo!  In honor of another semester finished, I decided to do a post on end notes.  

I discovered end notes in second grade.  My parents had bought me an easy reading series, (the Exitorn Adventures by Peggy Downing) set in a semi-imaginary version of the Middle Ages.  The book had a glossary in the back for the less familiar words, like `portcullis' and when my mother got tired of me pestering her about what this or that meant, she taught me to use it.

When I hit high-school and discovered Dickens, the concept of notes in the back of the book was a familiar one.  I'd already discovered how frustrating it is to try to FIND the end notes while you're in the middle of a story, so I came up with the two-bookmark system.  One bookmark kept my place in the story, the other bookmark kept my place among the end-notes.  I spent many happy hours flipping back and fourth.  I learned all kinds of cool things about the Victorian Era, such as the fact that `Lucifer matches' are an early term for regular matches (and that they were invented early enough for Dickens to talk about.)  I also got to read the bits and snippets that Dickens cut out of his novels, and that later editors collected.  I learned to look for Penguin and Everyman editions of my lovely classics because their editors do such a good job giving `extras'.      

Lately I've been trying to branch out of European literature a little, and I find footnotes and end notes are vital because I don't have the cultural background to catch the significance of what's going on.  The copy of Popol Vuh that I've been slowly working my way through (the Allen J. Christenson translation) has almost as many footnotes as it has text.      

So what about you guys?  Do you enjoy pausing, as you read, to take in end-notes or footnotes, or would you rather ignore them and get on with the story?  Or do you like to read through classics and myths twice -once for the sheer joy of story, then a second, more leisurely time, taking in the editorial notes?   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An apology, and a really cool link

Today is the Saturday before finals week and I desperately need to study so today's topic is... nonexistent.  I am sorry.  I did find something really awesome I wanted to share with you, though.  It's a website run by Young Adult author, Katherine Langrish.  On Fridays she has guest authors post about how their favorite fairy-tales influenced their writing.  I've added a link to the interviews  here.  They are really worth checking out.  Have fun.