… how you can lose so much in life

and walk upon the earth …
wearing all the shrouds of mourning like a skin
and memory like a stone …
alone for all the rituals of yielding, giving up
and still walk home
finding your way among strewn ashes in the dark.

Brenda Marie Osbey, closing lines to “Another Time and Farther South,” from All Saints: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1997)

(Source: apoetreflects)

Small is the size of a seed — wet, and hard, and ready all at once. Small is a violet diamond. Sometimes, small is all you have. The response to feeling small in the face of something big can be an invitation to your purity — your pure, honest truth.
When you’re not feeling big enough, just be the size that you are — with no judgement and all truth. You may not feel tall, but you will feel your depths. And from there, your power can only grow.
danielle laporte

"Mr. Thompson said he prized “the actor’s ability to make antique language sound contemporary, just like they are speaking to us right now in an everyday conversation. It still contains meaning and urgency, but it’s delivered in such a way that our contemporary ears say, ‘Oh, he’s speaking to me.’

This is achieved, Mr. Thompson said, when actors bring “a certain amount of irreverence to the text.” He doesn’t mean improvising, of course, but that actors can stiffen up when they “follow the iambic pentameter religiously. When you follow rules like that rigidly, you can become a rigid performer.”

Thoughts on Matthew Brown's bird metaphor/speech? It doesn't work for me; it feels awkward and vague. Why a hawk and not something larger? Who are the little birds? What is the irl parallel to hawks getting beaten away by little birds?? The metaphor just doesn't pan out for me. Is that more the point of it, perhaps? That Brown isn't a poet of the same caliber as those he writes to?

"In this scene, it’s as though Brown’s trying to mimic Will mimicking Hannibal. And this metaphor—it’s another way to imply that Matthew Brown isn’t a sophisticated mind like Will and Hannibal; the construction of his poetry, like his work, is muddled and inelegant and derivative.

To many of the killers in Hannibal, humanity exists in a Hobbesian state of nature, “the war of all against all”, where nothing is just or unjust; where all operate according to anarchic desires, “continual fear and danger of violent death; and where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. 

In this murderous human bestiary, Garrett Jacob Hobbs was the “Minnesota Shrike”. Hannibal is corvine, an unkindness of ravens or a murder of crows, symbolised by the birds which attended the impaled corpses of girls in season one [and later the Ravenstag]. The fact that crows move in packs seems apt for Hannibal, who contains many personae and whose influence seems to multiply. Matthew Brown declares himself and Will to be “hawks”, intelligent birds with sharp vision, birds of prey who feed on smaller birds. 

WILL: Why are you trying to help me?

BROWN: […] You and me, we are hawks, Mr. Graham.

Brown’s “smaller birds” are anyone who isn’t a hawk, a predator: that includes victims and minor killers. 

BROWN: Have you seen the way that smaller birds will mob a hawk on a wire? […] Enough of those smaller birds get together, and they chase hawks away. 

Crows and hawks are often antagonistic in nature: crows rarely coexist with birds of prey, and many crows will group together to “mob” a hawk and drive it from their territory. 


In Hannibal murder is the performance of self. It’s the imposition of an image of self upon a chosen flesh-canvas. Killers verbally enact the same qualities exhibited in their murders, e.g. Abel Gideon speaks in repetitive structures, prone to digression, often mimicking or distorting his interlocutor’s words.

Hannibal speaks in elaborate and figurative language which is incarnational—it “embodies” the abstract and intangible [e.g. telling Bella that Jack will “feel your silence like a draught”]. There’s an internal coherence to the “body” of his speech: he favours chiastic and mirroring structures, and ideas & constructions uttered in early episodes often return later, transformed. Will’s speech tends in the other direction—concrete to abstract—but in conversation he perfectly mimics Hannibal’s elaborate diction and metaphorical turns of phrase.  

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WILL: Hawks are solitary.

BROWN: And that’s their weakness. […] Imagine if the hawks started working together.

Will’s argument—killing’s solitary work and killers are isolated and anomalous and atypical in ways that ordinary people aren’t—is a recurring theme. Each of the murderers hunted by the FBI has a clear and distinct “design”, a forceful and uncompromising vision incompatible with the laws of civilisation and humanism. Killers can’t work in tandem: most of Hannibal's killers behave like lone birds of prey, which makes them obvious targets. Two hawks are simply a larger target; Brown's proposition would be absurd even if Will were a serial killer. 

Hannibal, however, doesn’t behave like a lone bird of prey. That’s how he’s eluded capture for so long: he’s subtle and insidious and cunning, with many faces. Sometimes he’s a mimic, sometimes he’s a scavenger, sometimes he’s a predatory hunter. The diverse methods and targets of his murders, their geographical dispersion, and the vast reach of his influence over the FBI makes it seem as though he’s a pack of intelligent and opportunistic creatures.

Brown’s mistake is underestimating the web—the mural—of people that Hannibal has stitched around himself. In this instance, Brown’s bold brazen “hawk” is defeated by Hannibal’s subtle and pervasive “murder of crows”.  ”

Hi! I love your blog. Today I was invited to an interview for English Language and Literature at Regents Park College, Oxford :) I was wondering if you have any interview advice? Anything you wish you would have known going in? xx thanks so much


Thank you! And I hope you don’t mind my publishing this—I get a lot of Oxford-related questions, and it will save me writing this out again & again. Cut for length…

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A moment of complete happiness never occurs in the creation of a work of art. The promise of it is felt in the act of creation but disappears towards the completion of the work. For it is then that the painter realises that it is only a picture he is painting. Until then he had almost dared to hope that the picture might spring to life. Were it not for this, the perfect painting might be painted, on the completion of which the painter could retire. It is this great insufficiency that drives him on. Thus the process of creation becomes necessary to the painter perhaps more than it is in the picture. The process in fact is habit forming.
-Lucian Freud