alee_grrl: White swan silhouette over stylized rainbow heart with Love Justice, Love Equality beneath (pride)
Today was the last day of our QUILTBAG poetry celebration week over at [community profile] poetree, and I was happy to share some of my own experiences and favorite poems. You can read the entry here.

That post describes how my introduction to Catullus, an ancient Roman poet, and Sappho, an ancient Greek poet, broadened my horizons as a freshman in college. The experience of studying the poems of Catullus also had one additional side effect: unintentionally scaring the crap out of my roommate.

As part of our final we had to actually declaim one of the poems in proper meter and style (as the poems were often publicly declaimed as a form of publication during the days of the Roman Republic). The style of reading was very different from reading a modern poem, which often leaves the emphasis and speed up to the reader. Instead there was a very specific speed and rhythm to be used. The effect is almost song like (think Gregorian chants), and requires a lot of practice to get right. We had to recite the poem from memory to a tape recorder as part of the final, so there was some serious worry involved alongside all the prep. I was even dreaming about it. I was self-conscious enough that I wasn't practicing around others, so my roommate had no idea that I was working on this.

Early one morning my roommate woke me up. She was rather freaked out. Apparently I woke her up when I set up in bed, chanted a long bit of Latin, and fell back in bed. She must have seen the Exorcist recently as she said she had been waiting for my head to start spinning around. It took a bit to reassure her that no, I wasn't possessed merely worried about my upcoming final. Though I do have to admit that if my roommate woke me up by sitting up in bed and spouting Latin, I'd probably scream too. We had a good laugh over the whole incident.
alee_grrl: Four pictures of Jackie "Moms" Mabley with different expressions (moms mabley)
Growing up I was madly in love with archives, libraries and PBS because they allowed me access to history and media I couldn't find anywhere else. If I had only had current magazines and modern for-profit broadcast media it might have taken me a lot longer to figure out that beauty is more than surface perfection. As it is, it still took me a long time (and like most other people I still struggle with the concept) to figure it out. I was recently reminded of the power of archives and PBS to show us things as they are in other places, or as they were in our country. I was watching a comedy special on PBS a while back and they showed a clip of Jackie "Moms" Mabley, a brilliantly funny woman who wore her age with sass and flare. In between guffaws I noticed that she had no teeth. I was a surprised, since I can't imagine television would show anyone without their dentures, unless they were playing up a certain stereotype. In the clip I saw her lack of teeth wasn't exaggerated, I could only tell because I have a lot of experience in seeing people without their teeth. Considering my dad's had dentures my whole life (he's had them since he was 18), and I've personally had dentures since I was 25 (I inherited the no enamel gene apparently). I have a hard time just wandering around my house without my teeth in (gods, what if someone stops by). Here was a woman who had no problem being on screen without her teeth--a hint of embarrassment and a whole lot of sass. It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. I suddenly had a new hero, and a reminder that laughter and humor brings out the beauty in us all. Thanks to the internet (where we can all be archivists!) I was able to find some priceless clips (first one is full video, the others are audio over still images) of Ms. Mabley. What better way to start out the new year than with a good laugh?




More videos under the cut. )

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