Tag Archives: Boston

Words of the Day: Edgar Allan Poe on poetical irritability

Edgar Allan Poe wrote about poetical irritability in his Fifty Suggestions, which was published in Graham’s Magazine in 1849, the year of Poe’s death:

hat poets (using the word comprehensively, as including artists in general) are a genus irritabile, is well understood; but the ruby, seems not to be commonly seen. An artist is an artist only by dint of his exquisite sense of Beauty — a sense affording him rapturous enjoyment, but at the same time implying, or involving, an equally exquisite sense of Deformity or disproportion. Thus a wrong — an injustice — done a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which, to ordinary apprehension, appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice — never where it does not exist — but very often where the unpoetical see no injustice whatever. Thus the poetical irritability has no reference to ” temper ” in the vulgar sense, but merely to a more than usual clear-sightedness in respect to Wrong: — this clear-sightedness being nothing more than a corollary from the vivid perception of Right — of justice — of proportion — in a word, of [beauty]. But one thing is clear — that the man who is not “irritable,” (to the ordinary apprehension, ) is no poet.

I gave this text to my students today — the first day of the new semester — in my Tortured Poet course, and I received some interesting responses. I love the emphasis on sensitivity to injustice… which lends itself, of course, to the Poet’s own feelings of victimization, sometimes self-inflicted.

And that’s what’s flitting through my mind right now, at 12:13AM.

More tomorrow.

Some links (hardly exhaustive, but a good little selection for you in case your Poe interest is piqued):

Poe Museum (Richmond, VA)
Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore
“The Raven in the Frog Pond: Edgar Allan Poe and the City of Boston” (an exhibition at the Boston Public Library)
“The Great Poe Debate” via wbur.org (Boston’s NPR affiliate)

{ Blog Note }

I decided to delete my other (older) blog earlier this evening. It was there that I would post literary/academic/political/pop-cultural items, commonly including excerpts from literature, essays, articles, etc.. Over the past several months (since last summer, really), I started neglecting that blog and focusing all my energy and passion on Words and Eggs, which I’ve loved. But I’m thinking that it has come time to do a bit of melding – or at least adding some adhesive to these two divisions of my Self (which, admittedly, stretch well beyond the blogging world: my artistic vs. my “academic” selves). So, I just wanted to let you all know that you can expect some more, well, WORDS. Whether literary or political or… whatever. And today’s words belong to Mr. Poe. And I hope you enjoyed listening to them.

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Vintage Japanese New Years postcards

t kills me that I live in Boston and haven’t been to the Museum of Fine Arts in, let’s see… three years, I think? Ridiculous. We have a new Institute of Contemporary Art as well, but I haven’t been there either. WTF? You’d think I have a dissertation and teaching and tutoring and Etsy and design blog stalking to do or something!

Anyway, so I was just checking out the MFA online, doing a virtual visit (since I’m pretty sure the physical building is closed at 10:59pm), and I came across their fabulous collection of New Year’s Japanese Postcards, some of which I absolutely must share with you:

New Year’s Card: Dog on a Blackboard Offers Congratulations
年賀状:黒板の犬
Japanese, Late Meiji era, 1910
Artist Unidentified, Japanese

New Year’s Card
年賀状;のむらや
Japanese, Showa era, 1930
Artist Unknown, Japanese
Publisher: Nomuraya

New Year’s Card: Goat in a Heart
年賀状:山羊
Japanese, Late Meiji era, 1907
Maruyama Banka, Japanese, 1867–1942

New Year’s Card: Penguins
年賀状:ペンギン
Japanese, Taishô era, 1921
Sugiura Hisui, Japanese, 1876–1965

New Year’s Card: Bull and a Woman
年賀状:牛
Japanese, Taisho era, 1925
Artist Unknown, Japanese

New Year’s Card: Going to Shimonoseki
Original Title: Shimonoseki yuki
年賀状:下関へ
Japanese, Taishô-early Shôwa era
S. Riyo, Japanese, dates unknown
Publisher: Tanaka & Co.

New Year’s Card: Goat
年賀状:羊-1931
Japanese, Early Shôwa era, 1931
Takahashi Haruka, Japanese, dates unknown
Publisher: Seikyokudô

New Year’s Card with Airplane
年賀状:空中旋回
Japanese, Taisho- early Showa era
Takahashi Haruka, Japanese, dates unknown
Publisher: Seikyokudô

New Year’s Card: The Monkey Celebrating with Ozoni (from an unidentified series) of New Year’s cards
Original Title: Ozoni iwau osaru
「おぞうに祝ふ猿」
Japanese, Showa era, 1932
Artist Unidentified, Japanese
Publisher: Tanaka & Co.

New Year’s Card: Dragon
年賀状:龍
Japanese, Early Shôwa era, 1928
Takahashi Haruka, Japanese, dates unknown
Publisher: Yamaguchi Seikyokudô

New Year’s Card: Mouse at the Piano
年賀状:ねずみのピアノ
Japanese, Taisho era, 1912
Artist Unknown, Japanese
Publisher: Naniwaya
Printed by: Tokyo Design Printing Company (Tokyo zuan insatsu sha)

New Year’s Card: Seahorses
年賀状:龍の落とし子
Japanese, Early Shôwa era, 1928
Takahashi Haruka, Japanese, dates unknown
Publisher: Yamaguchi Seikyokudô

{ All images above borrowed from the MFA’s online New Year’s Japanese Postcard collection,
which you should visit HERE. }

Aren’t they great? Yeah, I thought so, too. Japan’s pretty awesome.

I really need to get back to that museum.


(Initial “I” found HERE)

Throwback Thursday: Boston matchbook covers

A couple of months ago, I posted some gorgeous images of vintage cover designs from Boston Public Library‘s rare books collection, made available on their beautifully extensive Flickr stream. Now it’s my pleasure to introduce you to some more great finds in the BPL’s Flickr collections: vintage Boston matchbook covers from their Matchcover Collection set:

I’ve lived in Boston for over seven years now, and I have yet to set foot in the BPL. What the hell am I waiting for?!

P.S.: For those of you in/around Boston, on the evening of the 17th, the BPL is presenting “The Great Poe Debate” (re: Edgar Allan Poe’s Boston connections). More info HERE.

The beautiful bindings of Sarah Wyman Whitman

These amazing book cover and binding designs are included in The Boston Public Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, which is made electronically available to the viewing public via their INSANELY GORGEOUS Flickr set (of over 350 images, by the way). You just won’t even believe how beautiful these are: the lettering, the illustrative quality, the ornamentation, the golf leaf… and how sickly pathetic modern hard covers are in comparison.

Information on the revolutionary Sarah Wyman Whitman, as featured on the BPL’s Flickr set:

Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904) pioneered the role of artist-designer in the book industry and in the process revolutionized trade bookbinding. A highly-regarded Boston artist and socialite who gathered around herself a salon comprised of many of the city and region’s best-known writers, she adopted the role of mediator between her author friends and the publisher George Mifflin, whom she knew socially. Her work echoed the Arts and Crafts Movement that viewed art and life as inseparable; she wrote that “all forms of labor are beautiful and sacred because…it all has the stamp of nobility, being essential to the world’s need.” As Betty Smith has noted, Whitman became “the first professional woman artist regularly employed by a Boston publisher to give their mass-produced book covers a sense of simple elegance through line, color, and lettering.”

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Wordshop Wednesday (on Thursday): Hudson Boston!

Thanks to Holly’s Twitter updates over at the always inspiring Decor8, I’ve been introduced to this little slice of design fabulousness called Hudson, right here in my Boston backyard!

Each of the following images is taken from Hudson’s website, which I strongly encourage you to visit. Like, now.

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