A friend of mine is spending the year in Paris, and so, has been stoking my jealousy by reminding me how much literature and how many literary landmarks abound across the European continent. Most recently, she told me about Selexyz Dominicanen, a 13th century gothic church that has been converted into a bookstore, located in Maastricht, Netherlands. The store opened in 2006. Designed by architects Merkx + Girod, the converted Dominican church received the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize 2007.
While always a monument in its own right, this building is now a monument to literature. The entire conversion and restoration process is reflective of what writers do every day: we see the old things, old stories, forgotten buildings, and broken pieces. We dust them off, clean them up with language, and give them back to the world as something new, hopefully while maintaining their integrity.
This building has a structure and a past. It tells a story in the restored frescos on the ceiling, and the tombs beneath patrons’ feet. The building itself does what great literature should do, and what all writers should hope to do – tell a story that lasts through the ages. I take comfort in this type of change, when I know that so much of my own life is bound to change forever within a few months. For a writer, it is comforting to see a place where parishioners have been replaced by patrons, and one book has been replaced by many, but this is still a place where the written word is being celebrated and worshiped. I cannot think of a more perfect, beautiful repurposing for a church.
(Photos courtesy of Crossroads Magazine)
Poetry is wonderful.
There is just something about having a limited amount of space and slaving over lines and diction to make sure absolutely every line-break and word is meaningful and poignant to the overall poem.
That being said, a lot of poets seem to think in order to write a good poem they must call upon the styles of famous poets like Shakespeare and Milton. This results in work that sounds like it could belong in an 15th or 16th century anthology of poetry. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! However part of what made Shakespeare and Milton so great were their abilities to take the dialect and style of speaking in their time and turn it into something beautiful. Did you know Shakespeare’s comedies are filled with puns and slang? 16th century slang, of course!
Professor Pelizzon made this valid point in my poetry class last week; this is a wonderful time and culture we’re living in right now!
There are all sorts of things unique to our time. Before the popularity of Twitter, the number sign (#) was used as an abbreviation for the word “number,” just something that needed to be pressed after you entered your 4-digit code to get your voice mail. It is now called a “hashtag,” and used to categorize tweets, statements of 140 characters or less. These hashtags link your comments to others’, in every category from the #superbowl to #RulesInARelationship. Both of which are trending now on Twitter!
This is such an exciting time we’re living in right now – and there’s no reason why poets of this generation shouldn’t write about it!
The rise of social networking, smart phones that you can talk to (and talk back!), going green and paperless, there’s an app for that; These concepts are all a part of the culture we’re living in right now. Its wonderful to pay tribute to classics, but why not let the present be your inspiration, and become a classic yourself?