Posted by: GravatarWon'tDeleteMyAccount | September 28, 2008

Francis Heaney: Holy Tango of Literature

Before I get started with this week’s selection, I’d like to post an addendum to my comments last week about The Banjo Players Must Die. It occurred to me, while going through to pick out some of those typos (adopt for adapt, it’s for its, etc.) that there’s been another work of comedy that fits the description I gave it last week, “very funny, no punchline:” Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Of course there are also no hamster-rapists in that film.

As for the typos, Mr. Assad assures me that, “Persian carpet artisans always worked imperceptible flaws into their works in acknowledgement that only God can be perfect.” It’s a creative excuse, I’ll admit.

Now on to today’s work: Holy Tango of Literature by Francis Heaney.

This is the first work of poetry and plays that I’ve reviewed here, and it certainly deserves the first spot. Heaney has taken an approach to poetry that, to be fair, I’d never considered: what, exactly, would the results have been if famous poets and playwrights from history had written poems and plays whose subject matter consisted of anagrams of their names? Heaney assures us that it is, in fact, an age-old question that people have been pondering for generations. I will take him at his word.

If the concept is a little tough to get at first, a simple demonstration elucidates things quite nicely:

The letters in the name of the poet “William Carlos Williams” can be rearranged to form the phrase “I Will Alarm Islamic Owls.” Heaney, through what must have been painstaking research, has extrapolated from the works of Williams an approximation of what such a poem would have been like, should Williams have written it himself. I have included it below:

I will be alarming
the Islamic owls
that are in
the barn

and which
you warned me
are very jittery
and susceptible to loud noises

Forgive me
they see so well in the dark
so feathery
and so dedicated to Allah

Other gems which can be found in this collection include the poem “Toilets,” as written by T. S. Eliot, the sonnet “Is a Sperm like a Whale?” as by William Shakespeare, and two poems entitled “nice smug me” as written by e. e. cummings.

I have turned the html into a pdf which can be downloaded here, but I strongly recommend you buy a physical copy this one, because books of great poetry are such lovely keepsakes, and as Heaney points out himself, it is “still the only book in the world that comes with collectible stamps that depict William Shakespeare trying to harpoon a sperm.”

Take care ’til next week 🙂


Francis Heaney’s Holy Tango of Literature is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Generic licence. It can be found online in html form here, downloaded from rapidshare in pdf form here, or bought in a physical copy from amazon here. Heaney’s website/blog is Heanyland! I recommend a visit.

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