Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

Location: North Carolina, United States

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Zanetti's Façade

Recently, Anthony Zanetti (y'know, the one I've mentioned about a dozen times) from very nice, very nice has begun featuring poetry by other poets. He is quite the poet himself, and, as I have never enjoyed the privilege of posting his poetry on my blog, I shall now bestow myself with the opportunity to do so (how remarkably convenient is that?). Behold:


Façade of a Montreal God
photograph of Fascist HQ, Rome

I’ve stabbed a flag into the Fascist
March eye. You make the bullet
cry, you make the nation
sing. A sovereigned head on a coin,
the shallow inks of wings—align
to remind me: I’ve chosen again. In the city,
at the rally, they shout: he is strong,
il est fort. I find myself chanting along;
I can’t abort. Gods trapped
in a head—we are everything except free:
the azurite Italian, the glittering Mussolini—
orating and exhorting—mathematically
operatic—your head suspended
against the word repeating: si si si si

By Anthony Zanetti


I regret that his dashes do not retain their original length in Blogger format; however, this is currently my favorite of Anthony's poems, so I had to choose it. Note how cleverly the lines are broken. The first three lines are prime examples of great enjambment (the end words in particular consistently have double meaning, depending on whether you read the line or the phrase). The internal rhyme is also fantastic; it's very prominent, but it doesn't come off as forced. Finally, the connection between the poem and the picture is excellent. I'm in full support of art forms and media merging and feeding off of each other, and this poem is a good example of this (can you make a more direct reference to the picture than the one made in the last line?).

Oh, and I just have to link this recent post by Anthony. It, um, inspires many emotions. Yes, that's it.

(I know I should have done this awhile ago, but it's July.)

Take Care,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Performance vs. Composition

LAEvaside: Before I begin, note this: this essay is not about which form of expression is better, more difficult, deeper, rarer, more synonymous with cookies, etc. It is about the differences between two main types of art. [/laevaside]


Performance: dancing, playing an instrument, singing, acting, giving a speech, etc.

Composition: writing poetry or prose, painting, choreographing, composing music, designing buildings, etc.


Having recently spent the majority of my time in these past few weeks focusing on vocal and violin performance, with very little attention to writing, I found that my break from composition was very relieving. In this time, I also starting picking out distinct differences between my two separate artistic pursuits. Certainly, they are both fine and full of joy, but the contrast in the sort of joy provided by each is immense; the comparison is akin to that of, say, pickles and pies. Both are pleasurable if they suit you. They are also quite different, and, when choosing to take up one, the other, or neither at any given moment, the choice largely depends on your current, shall we say, appetite.

Although my main line of work is poetry (having done only a smattering of musical arrangements), I am going to use music composition as the primary example of composition in this piece, as the performances of notes is much more involved than the performance of text. I will, however, try to shape my analogies so that they are applicable to all types of composition.


The composer begins without any particular direction; his progress starts with a seed, an idea. A seed requires various elements if it hopes to flourish; likewise, composing a great piece involves different aspects. All technical excellence is no good, for the music lacks a soul. Similarly, an emotional outpouring is useless without structure. It's as simple as water and sunlight.

Even when a composer is at his best, fleshing out a major work is an arduous task. Whether he is working with assonance and alliteration or melodies and harmonies, the composer's joy is generally at a trickle during his work. Occasionally, a particularly clever turn of phrase or transition might cause a temporary surge of contentment, but composition isn't all smiles, and can be quite frustrating. Trashing entire passages of work is, to put it mildly, not pleasurable.

One of the things composition lacks is pressure. There is no audience scrutinizing your every action. It is hermetic work, generally speaking; when striving to improve, having a mentor definitely helps, but if a composer puts together any defining work, it will be his and his alone (with the exception of lyricist/composer partnerships). The intricacies involved in the creation of a piece are not openly accessible, and having more than one person work on a complex composition usually ends in a dissonant manner, as if the two are trying to play the same piece, but in different key signatures.

The completion of a poem, novel, or musical score breaks a dam open on the inside; all the excitement that has been subdued to maintain concentration floods the body, and a real sense of achievement takes rise. Then your little internal salmon run everywhere, and...

Actually, that's a (salmon?) wrap for composition. Onto performance:


The performer has an immediate sense of direction; her map (I'm going to forego typical gender rules and make the performer a female in the interest of novelty and variety, as our composer was a male) gives her a basic idea of the technical and emotional layout of a piece. However, following the composer's instructions is by no means an easy task. And, even, when this has been accomplished, a great performance requires the performer to inject her own personality into her work- in short, a detour.

Like composition, technique and emotion are both necessary for performance. Personality can sometimes push you a bit further in performance, but again, without a mixture of the two main elements, the results will be mediocre at best.

If composers experience enjoyment in a trickle until the finish line, then performers (with the exception of, perhaps, daredevils) experience a continual flow of joy. There's a certain spontaneity in the happiness performance provides. A performer actually has the action going on around them, indulging the senses, instead of merely writing something abstract that has to be brought to life in some way. Performance is immediately and continually gratifying.

The aspect of pressure accompanies the sensory nature of performance. Performance draws crowds, and the nature of performance makes it possible for those present to pick out every error the performer makes. She carries out her duty with the knowledge that, should she mess up, it will likely be noticed and criticized by someone, either by an audience member or, even worse, by a fellow performer, for, unlike composition, performance is usually cooperative.

There's still a surge of excitement at the end of a musical performance, but it's not quite the same as the satisfaction of finishing a composition. Where the latter is a feeling of deep contentment, the former is more of a joyful giddiness. Both are fantastic, in their own way.


As men and women are very little without each other (ah, the female performer *did* come in handy!), composers and performers need each other to give rise to the great art of this world, which tingles the body and soul as nothing else on this earth can. And then, there is the audience- what good is art without an audience? Naught, and, if I may- what good are men and women without children? In every audience, there is a fledgling artist eager to flee the crowd for another place, whether it be the writing desk or the limelit stage.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

MSS, Take Three

The above acronym does not take on its typical meaning in this case; it stands for MySpace Survey. Posts that contain these surveys are among the most shallow and aimless this blog contains; however, there is nothing wrong with occasional light-hearted fun (particularly when I am busy/lazy and wish to employ a filler; I was supposed to have a guest feature for this purpose, but alas, a lad very dear to me has failed to provide this material). And now, onward:


If you could become famous by a single act, what act would it be?
- Playing the main role in a famous Broadway production! ...Wait, most of those have two acts. Rats!

Do you know approximately how long the dashed lines in the road are?
- Well, considering that the dashed lines keep going and going (the lines that make up the dashed lines aren’t dashed themselves), I suppose it depends on the length of the road. Ha- betcha didn’t think I’d catch your error, Mr. or Ms. Survey Person!

If you could choose your birth month, which month would you prefer?
- December, so that my birthday would coincide with Christmas, resulting in less presents for me on a yearly basis, and, by extension, a more humble Neil.

Actually, August is fine.

What is the difference between "going on dates" and "dating"?
- I go on dates with friends, male or female. I date a significant other, female. Mine is an old-fashioned viewpoint, but that’s how I like to look at it.

Do you have a tendency to put your significant other before your friends?
- What significant other? Oh, the one from the last question? She doesn’t actually exist. If I did have one, though, I probably would, without meaning to. Not too much, though.

What types of situations make you nervous?
- Surgeries, seizures, and heart attacks.

What is something that has recently made you laugh so hard you cried?
- Onions are so funny.

That makes very little sense. Oh well.

Do you honestly rank your friends on MySpace by their importance to you?
- Vaguely. Sure, my #1 is more significant than my #18. Actually, my #1 is in my #18 with my #0 (namely, me), so my #18 is more significant than my #1. Bad example. My #2 (a previous poster of this survey) is definitely more significant than my #902, though. I don’t have that many friends, but you get my drift.

Do you personally know a person who can write elegantly; who?
- Neil Hester writes beautifully. (Corinna wrote this, and I agree wholeheartedly. Not halfheartedly, not three-quartersheartedly- wholeheartedly. ‘Cause I’m a narcissist~)

Spell your crush's name with no vowels.

Wow, Ai Eau (Love Water in some bizarre Japanese-French cross-language) doesn’t have much presence without her vowels.

Okay, dumb joke. At least I didn’t just do this, though: yr crsh’s nm

Have you ever been purposely hit by someone of the opposite sex?
- Sure. Girls occasionally hit me when I make dumb jokes or say silly puns or something else of the like.

Can you bend backward into a bridge and touch your toes?
- Yes, if there’s a bridge on hand. (In all seriousness, yes, I can).

What is the best (and worst) dare you have ever gone through with?
- I dunno~ I’m more of a truth person.

Do you admit to your mistakes?
- Nver! And I definitely spelt every word in the previous sentence correctly!

How would you make a difference in the world if nothing could stop you?
- First, I’d defeat Godzilla. Then...

Have you ever played the "penis game"?
- That question doesn’t dignify a response. (Good answer, Corinna)

Is your best friend single or taken?
- Now is not an appropriate time to answer this question, on several fronts.

Who is one person who could never gain your trust?
- Ai Eau. That’s partly due to her nonexistence (but who’s keeping score?).

What is a secret you knew when you were younger that you thought was HUGE?
- Godzilla used to live in my backyard (boy, he *was* huge), until I owned him with my “nothing can stop me” powers that made a difference in the world.

Wow, what a convoluted thought.

Have you ever physically hugged a tree?
- Yes, actually. I wouldn’t recommend it. They don’t hug back. Not very affectionate at all. (Another fantastic CMB answer that I will keep)

When was the last time you ate an M&M?
- A couple days ago in Dalhart. (Elaborate, Corinna- not only did you tell everyone *when* you ate it, but you told them *where*! Bravo!)

As for Neil, he ate his last M&M sometime in the last year.

Have you told someone you had a crush on them to make them feel better?
- Nope. Better to maintain honesty, even if doing so crushes them. Get it? “Crushes” them! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-


If you could produce your own film, what genre would it be?
- Drama.

Any particular actors/actresses you would choose for scripting?
- Keanu Reeves! With his one emotion and one voice inflection, surely he can display the plethora of emotions my masterpiece would shift seamlessly throughout!

Would you go back in time to relive moments (not change them) if you could?
- Yes. I’d pick some good moments, and some bad moments.

If you got a hold of a celebrity’s phone number, what would you do?
- Ask myself why I took the trouble to get a hold of it in the first place.

Do you have to know people before you become a couple?
- Yes. How awkward it would be to ask someone out otherwise: “Random person, will you go out with me?”

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. But my answer stands.

How long is your longest relationship?
- I’ve no romantic relationships to speak or type of.

How long is your current relationship?
- Again, I’ve... oh, forget it~ Darn you, persistent Mr. or Ms. Survey Person that insists on asking a slanted question that serves to remind people without romantic ties that they are, as a matter of fact (not to mention immense disfortune and potential sadness), without a significant other!

*ahem* Actually, it’s not really bothering me that much. I bet someone out there feels that way, though. *runs away to sob in solitude*

...Wow, I am a bit strange- my friends weren’t lying to me, were they?

What is your favorite board game?
- Scrabble, without a doubt.

If you could get any plastic surgery for free, what would you alter?
- My dignity.

Do you believe in ghosts?
- Yes and no.

If you had your own show about your life, what would the title be?
- Qeqp;a;sdfklj (Stop Watching Now, Nosy Individua... Wait, I’m The One Airing This!)

It would be abbreviated in commercials as (QSWNNIWITOAT). Say that five times fast!

...Heck, say that one time slow.

What holiday would you erase if given the chance?
- Star Wars Day. “May the 4th be with you!” Seriously? Seriously, people?

You stumble upon a wallet with loads of cash; name your next move.
- Donate it to charity (if that person has loads of cash, surely it will help poor people more!)

Actually, I’d try to get it back to its rightful owner.

What has been your most painful experience in your life so far?
- Wow, you caught me at a great moment! I happen to feel like telling everyone about the darkest moment of my being over a MySpace bulletin at this very moment!

...Oh darn, the moment passed.

Do you flirt with people you aren't the least bit attracted to?
- No.

Do you consider yourself tolerant of others?
- Yes.

Who is the last person you tried to impress?
- No. Er, I’m not sure. Probably you, with my silly answers.

Do you use air fresheners; what scent?
- No; sasparella.

Are you envious toward anyone at the moment?
- Mm, not really. I have bouts of envy toward some people sometimes, but no continuing jealously lives in me. (I’ll leave this one; good show, Corinna)

How do you feel about the person you copied this survey from?
- She’s lovely, and gives some answers that I can leave untouched, bless her.

If you could have any three items in the world, what would they be?
- A lion, a witch, and a wardrobe. Or something like that.

What talent would you like to possess?
- Oh, something useful.

Do you have a hobby that is not known by many people; what would that be?
- Filling out surveys!

What is the worst thing you have ever said and to whom?
- I dunno~

That person really hates indecision, so saying that at that precise moment really broiled her turnip.

Are you currently facing a dilemma?
- Sort of, but I’ll live.

Would you ever consider having an open relationship with someone?
- Wow, what an open question. Lessee... I believe in open communication in relationships. Beyond that, I’m going to leave this one alone.

What is one thing you have an obsession for?
- Poetry, Singing, Cute Things/Girls, Uncalled For Capitalization, And Breaking Survey Rules!

What type of surprises are your favorites?
- My favorite type is the kind that doesn’t kill me. Also, your grammar bites.

What two super powers would you choose to have?
- Flight and the ability to shoot spaghetti out of my fingers for indefinite periods of time (with this combination, I could solve world hunger pretty quickly!).

Have you ever been kicked out or banned from Wal*Mart?
- No.

If you could dine with one celebrity once a week for a year, who'd it be?
- Frank Sinatra.

Who is the last person you were in contact with?
- I can’t remember who I physically touched last.

Are you superstitious; name a few examples.
- Nope; if I had a few examples, I’d name them Lucy, Parallelism, Alexanderotus, and Flamingo.

Ah, it’s been awhile since I last filled out a survey! *flexes survey muscle*


There you have it, folks! Mostly a waste of time, but if my answers managed to extract a laugh, a chuckle, or even a reluctant grin from any of your simply delightful faces (well, they are full of delight now, right? Right?), then I believe this post was worthwhile. That said, take care 'til next time (which will hopefully be soon),