Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Notes on Poetry, Poetry on Bank Notes: A Guest Posting by P&PC's Netherlands Correspondent, Kila van der Starre

Editor's Note: This past December, the P&PC Board of Directors sent a delegation to the Netherlands where, for twelve days, P&PC staff members traveled, took in the sights, mainlined museums (Rembrandt! Renoir! Van Gogh! Mondrian!) and found poetry just about everywhere we went. Poems accompanying St. Nicholas Day illustrations hung in the Rijksmuseum. Poets were on the cover of a recent magazine in Utrecht. And we took a long and winding walk through the magnificent streets of Leiden where more than 100 poems by international poets have been painted on the exterior walls of the city's buildings. (Note to Salem, Oregon: our city is perfect for this!)

A highlight of our visit to Utrecht was meeting longtime P&PC reader and fellow intellectual soul mate Kila van der Starre (pictured here) who, in pursuit of her PhD at the University of Utrecht, is studying and writing about the artistic, social, and cultural lives of poetry outside the book and magazine and off of the traditional page. As the wall poems in Leiden suggest, the Netherlands is rich with such material, but as is the case in the U.S., few poets, scholars, or critics have taken this ambient poetic landscape as the object of their attention. You can thus imagine how we and Kila jammed for several hours over beer (our first time having the hot mulled beer called glühkriek) and snackies at Cafe Olivier, and how touched we were when Kila presented us with the perfect souvenir—a shower-cap-like bike-seat cover printed with lines of poetry that poetry guerrillas secretly wrap over strangers' bike seats to keep them dry.

We are thrilled, therefore, to be bringing you the following guest posting from our new friend and P&PC Netherlands Correspondent—a posting that introduces and considers a Dutch poem that has a circulation of 325 ... million (yes you read that correctly) while gently chastising P&PC for its English language provincialism. Read on, dear readers, to learn more about Arie van den Berg's poem "IJsvogel" ("Kingfisher"), its appearance on the Netherlands' final 10 guilder bank note, and why the Guinness Book of Records has admitted but nonetheless refused to acknowledge the poem's record-setting circulation. Here's what Kila has to say:

P&PC is my all-time favorite poetry blog, as it is unique in writing about poetry off the page and outside the book—the topic of my PhD research at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. But, P&PC, you do realize that there's more than just English-language poetry, right?

P&PC once speculated that John McCrae's famous World War I poem "In Flanders Fields" may very well be "the most reprinted and most widely circulated poem, like, ever." Not only did the Canadian government make it the central piece of its World War I public relations campaign—printing it on billboards and posters to advertise the sale of the first Victory Loan Bonds—but then, from 2001-2013, English and French language versions of McCrae's first stanza appeared on the back of the Canadian $10 bank note (pictured here), giving it an enormous circulation.

As compelling as it is, this claim appears to have overlooked a poem that was printed 325 million times during the last decade of the twentieth century and passed on by nearly every adult in the Netherlands. This poem was written by a poet who never won a significant prize, who never published a famous book of poetry, who only has a small poetic oeuvre and fan base, and who is actually better known as a literary critic than as a poet: Arie van den Berg (pictured here). Van den Berg wrote the poem "IJsvogel" ("Kingfisher") especially for the last 10 guilder bank note which was introduced in 1997 in the Netherlands. (It was known that this would be the last bank note to be renewed before the euro replaced the guilder in 2002.)

Jaap Drupsteen, who designed the last batch of guilder notes and who's pictured here, regards "his tenner" as his most successful design. He chose "birds" as the theme for this last series and designed watermark illustrations of birds to serve as authenticity features. "The Dutch Bank wanted to add mini texts which would vanish after copying," Drupsteen explained in an interview, "'Let it be a fine text, I thought.'" He suggested using poems as additional markers of the note's authenticity. After consulting the Museum of Literature in The Hague—which couldn't find a Dutch poem about a kingfisher (the symbol and theme of the 10 guilder note)—the Dutch Bank decided to ask Van den Berg, who had previously written poems about the owl and the hill myna, to compose a poem especially for the bill. Van den Berg had three weeks to write the poem from scratch—a blink of an eye compared to the three years Drupsteen had to finish the note's design, and a challenging request for a poet who on average wrote one-and-a-half poems per year.

Still, Van den Berg succeeded, and "IJsvogel" became the most reprinted poem in Dutch history—perhaps even "the most reprinted and most widely circulated poem, like, ever." A student of Van den Berg's contacted the Guinness Book of Records, which admitted the poem had a record circulation but determined that, because Van den Berg himself had not essentially contributed to the enormous spread, it unfortunately could not be included in their database.

A poem with a circulation of 325 million is impressive, and all the more so considering that the Netherlands only has 16 million inhabitants. I would dare say that roughly all Dutch adults handled a print of the poem between 1997 and 2002. Handling, however, is different than reading. "IJsvogel" was printed in a miniscule font, barely visible to the naked eye as you can see from the image here. An explanatory remark accompanying the poem stated: "The text next to the watermark is readable through a magnifying glass." Ironically enough, this information was printed in a type that was only slightly larger than the poem's font.

So perhaps not many people took the time to sit down with the bank note and magnifying glass to read the poem. But still, it did become Van den Berg's most famous work. He received unexpected responses from people who adored the poetic touch he'd given the bill and who had learned the poem by heart. Literary organizations would ask him to "come and read his tenner." "My next poem has a circulation of three hundred million," he would say before reciting the twelve lines. Afterwards, fans would always come up to him and ask him to autograph their 10 guilder notes, but he never signed his kingfishers. "I think that's inappropriate," he told the Dutch national newspaper de Volkskrant. "Every bank note is owned by the Dutch Bank. Only my children and a few friends own a tenner with my signature and a dedication. This way I'm sure the signed bills will never become a commodity."

Unlike "In Flanders Fields," "IJsvogel" was written especially for the 10 guilder note, which might make one wonder, what is the relationship between the poem and the bank note? And how does the poem relate to money and the financial market? Well, let's have a look. The poem has no title printed above it, but the author's name is printed at the bottom. (Can you imagine paying with an official bank note with your name on it?!) Since no English version exists, I've translated the poem myself, with the original Dutch below:

dagger on sails in a jacket of cobalt
orange belly...but the blink of the eye sees
only briefly a blue flame

for higher hunters as blue as the water
for who dwells underneath (the roach, the bream)
the dull orange of dry leaves

until the twig shortly bows, bounces back,
wings turn out to be fins and the dagger
slashes around the scales, which

will soon make the branch shine, after the slaughter when
the weapon is scrubbed dry, and the glutton sits and
shockingly brings colour to the winter


dolk op wieken in een jasje van kobalt
buik oranje...maar de oogwenk ziet
even maar een blauwe vlam

voor hogere jagers zo blauw als het water
voor wie daaronder huist (de voorn, de bliek)
het grauw oranje van dor blad

totdat de twijg kort neerbuigt, terugveert,
vleugels vinnen blijken en de dolk
zich om de schubben schaart, waarvan

de tak straks glinstert, na de slacht wanneer
het wapen drooggepoetst, de slokop zit en
schokkend kleur geeft aan de winter

The poem describes the kingfisher's physical characteristics—its colors, the shape of its beak, its speed, its food, and its habitat. But the particular feature that Van den Berg attempts to capture is the way the bird hunts its prey: the kingfisher dives into the water, snatches a fish, and kills it by hitting it on a branch.

So what's the relationship between the poem and its medium? First of all, the bill's design corresponds with the description of the kingfisher in the poem: its main colors are blue and orange—loud tones that allow someone to distinguish it from other bills in a split second. Designer Drupsteen said in an interview, "You only need to catch a glimpse of it to recognise it immediately." This is comparable to spotting a blue bird "in the wink of an eye" and immediately identifying it a kingfisher. Also, an image of a stickleback fish, the kingfisher's number-one prey, can be found at the top right corner of the note. This corresponds with the poem's hunting theme.

At first sight a kingfisher appears to have little or nothing to do with finance, currency, banks or economics, right? Well, let’s take a closer look at that as well. The main theme—the kingfisher hunting its prey—is on the one hand portrayed as natural and inevitable. "This is simply the way mother nature works," the poem seems to say. This is comparable to how economic liberalism tends to regard the financial market: the free market moves and develops in an organic, natural way and shouldn't be disturbed by government intervention. In other words, "this is simply the way the market works." On the other hand, there is an implicitly judging voice present in the poem. Even poems without an explicit "I" consist of a narrator—a voyeur who observes and describes—and here the implied narrator is made most present by a gaze in the second line ("but the wink of the eye sees") and a personal observation ("shockingly brings colour to the winter") in the closing line.

That narrator's relationship to the poem's subject is also conducted via the aggressive, violent, and predatory words ("dagger," "flame," "hunters," "slashes," "slaughter," "weapon," and "shockingly") used to describe the bird's actions. The most explicitly expressed opinion of the bird's deeds, however, is the word "glutton" in line eleven, where the implied narrator associates the bird with someone who eats or consumes immoderate amounts of food and drink. A characteristic of a capitalist society, greed marks the actions of individuals handling the note but also commercial companies and banks. (I must add that the Dutch word "slokop" additionally connotes "swallow" and "gulp," referring to how kingfishers swallow their fish whole.)

So in the little drama suggested by the relationship between the poem and the banknote, who would be the kingfisher in our economic world and who the fish? The poem shows that all is a matter of perspective. From the perspective of the "higher hunters" looking down, the bird is "as blue as the water." Yet from the fish's point of view, looking up, the bird is a "dull orange of dry leaves." Also, line eight shows that looks can be deceiving: "wings turn out to be fins." Thus, the opposition or binary between predator and prey is not as straightforward as it might seem. The predator turns out to have similar characteristics as the prey (fin-like limbs) and is apparently able to achieve similar goals (moving through water).

The design of the note itself only reenforces the subject of perspective. Only by holding the bill in a certain angle towards the light does the kingfisher watermark become visible and the fragmented image of the stickleback become a whole. Similar to the birds of prey above and the fish below, the background determines the view. The birds high in the sky see the kingfisher's blue back in front of the blue water surface, while the fish see the kingfisher's orange belly against a backdrop of orange tree leaves. Likewise, the "higher hunters" regard the kingfisher as their prey, while the fish view the same kingfisher as their predator. Note that just like the rhetoric of social class or the business or banking world, perspective also entails the "level" you're on (high or low).

Predator-prey metaphors and animal comparisons are common in discussions of economics. For example, "greedy wolves," "sly foxes," and, in Dutch, "gehaaide" businesspeople ("gehaaid" meaning "shrewd" and the embedded word "haai" meaning "shark"). A decade after the publication of "IJsvogel," the ambiguous relation between predator and prey with regard to the economic market became an even more widespread metaphor due to the great success of Jeroen Smit's Dutch "financial thriller" De prooi (2008). The bestseller was quickly translated into English as The Perfect Prey (2009) and turned into a Dutch theatre piece (2012) and television series (2013). The book, which is based on real events, describes the collapse of the banking system and the financial crises and credit crunch triggered by the downfall of The Dutch bank ABN Amro. While citizens and customers initially were regarded as the bank's prey, in the end the bank actually fell prey to its own system. The blurb of Smit's book reads: "In little more than a decade, one of Europe's largest, longest established banks went from powerful predator to the perfect prey."

The publication of Van den Berg's poem via bank note was criticized in different ways. Some people were of the opinion that the Dutch Bank should have issued an open call for poems. Others protested against the use of a poem as an authenticity feature; poetry, they argued, doesn't belong on banknotes. Poet and critic René Puthaar stated: "A poem on a bank note is like an oiled water bird."

Van den Berg himself has also criticized the course of events. His concern was—how very appropriate—the amount of money he was paid. "The bank's economists had decided that a poet requires thirty hours to write a poem," he explained. "I have no idea where they got that number from. They had formulated an hourly rate, and their opinion on what a poet should earn per hour was—to put it mildly—quite modest." Van den Berg remarked that a typical fee for contract work is one percent of a project's costs, which in this case would have amounted to about 1.8 million guilders. But the Dutch Bank refused to discuss royalties. "I considered hiring a detective to find out how often people borrow a tenner from friends," Van den Berg joked. "That way I could have asked the Ministry of Education for loan payments, just as writers get for the books people borrow from the library. I say this in jest, but it does point out I wasn't content. Eventually we reached an acceptable agreement."

If there's a lesson to draw from this poem's story, it might be "It's all about the money." But perhaps that too depends on one's perspective—and the medium in which the poem was published. By now you might be asking yourself if "IJsvogel" ever got published in a book. It did indeed. In 1998 Libris published an anthology with a selection of poems by Dutch and Flemish poets. The title of that book? Poëzie verkoopt niet. Or, in English, Poetry Doesn't Sell.


Postscript

"In Flanders Fields" and "IJsvogel" are not the only poems that found their way to bank notes. Below are some other examples. Perhaps there are P&PC readers out there who can expand the list?
  • A poem by Nezahualcóyoltl on the 100 pesos note in Mexico
  • A verse from Alykul Osmonov's poem "Jenishbek" on the 200 som bank note in the Kyrgyz Republic
  • The poem "To My Comrades" by Stefan Stambolov on the Bulgarian 20 Lev bank note, and Pencho Slaveykov's "Song of Blood" on the 50 Lev bill 
  • A line from Tchernichovsky's poem "Oh, My Land, My Homeland" on the front of the 50 shekel note in Israel, and a line from "I Believe" on the back
  • The Australian ten dollar note has two poems printed on it: excerpts from Andrew Barton Paterson's "The Man from Snowy River" on one side and lines from Dame Mary Gilmore's "No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest" on the other

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Poetry Out Loud 2015

On Saturday, March 14, Willamette University once again played host to the final round of Oregon's Poetry Out Loud state competition, and P&PC was there as usual. We just can't stay away. In 2013 and 2014, we judged at the regional and state levels, and this year we judged at the regional level and then helped to convene a pre-competition luncheon discussion at W.U. along with last year's state winner Rosie Reyes, who came back from Oregon State University (where she is now a student) to share some poetry and her experiences representing Oregon at the national level in D.C. the past two years. We swapped stories about reading, memorizing, and reciting poems. We recited some poems. And we nibbled at our sandwiches over the protests of the butterflies fluttering in all of our stomachs.

This year, nine students from around the state— Gypsy Prince, Mitchell Lenneville, Sarah Dom- browsky, Jessica Nguyen, Anna Smiley, Atya-Sha Van Ness, Serena Morgan, Allegra Thatcher, and Riley Knowles—represented their regions as winners at the classroom, school, and regional levels. While final numbers for 2015 aren't yet in, the numbers from 2014 suggest that those nine are the tip of a very big iceberg. In 2014, more than 365,000 students, 2,300 schools, and 8,800 teachers participated in Poetry Out Loud nationwide, making the contest—now celebrating its tenth year—one of the most successful poetry outreach programs we can think of. We're in awe at what the Poetry Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and state and local arts agencies like the Oregon Arts Commission have managed to make happen in the past decade. Tell your Congressional representatives to keep funding to the NEA flowing so that programs like this one keep going on!

This year, the Hatfield Room of W.U.'s Library was packed with families, teachers, students, and dignitaries and celebrities including the Oregon Arts Commission's executive director Brian Rogers, several OAC commissioners, Poetry Foundation ambassador Justine Haka, and Erika Lauren Aguillar, an international exchange student at the Oregon School for the Deaf who performed her American Sign Language version of Dorothy Parker's "Love Song" during intermission. We here at P&PC loved all the performances (especially Jessica Nguyen's rendition of Robert Creeley's "For Love"), and we've no doubt that judges Laurence Overmire, Ann Peck McBride, and Marty Hughley had a heck of a time coming to a decision. And it was close, coming down to a tie breaker mechanism between Gypsy Prince of the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield and Riley Knowles of West Linn High School.

In the end, Prince (pictured here) took first place on the strength of her final poem, Gregory Djanikian's "Mrs. Caldera's House of Things," and she will represent the Beaver State at the national competition taking place April 27-29 in Washington, D.C. (Let's give a big P&PC shout-out to Prince's teacher Scott Crowell!) Prince is a three-time school champion and was one of last year's state finalists as well. She performed William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" in round one, Margaret Atwood's "Backdrop Addresses Cowboy," in round two, and then Djanikian's poem in round three. Knowles (no relation to Bey and pictured on the right in the photo accompanying the second paragraph above) performed Gwendolyn Brooks's "A Song in the Front Yard," Sylvia Plath's "Blackberrying," and Ernest Dowson's "April Love." As runner-up, she will represent Oregon in the event that Prince cannot.

Congratulations to all of this year's competitors, and thank you to all of the students, teachers, administrators, judges, and sponsors who keep this event on our Spring calendar. We are inspired by your dedication, your abilities, and your energy—and we'll see you next year. We'll leave you with the following video in which Prince recites Djanikian's poem and in which Deborah Vaughn, the Arts Education/Poetry Out Loud Coordinator of the Oregon Arts Commission, announces the judge's final results. Happy viewing—and good luck in D.C., Gypsy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Daring Greatly: The Poetry of Cadillac and Teddy Roosevelt

Imagine our surprise to find a poem (pictured here) as the primary text in a full-page ad for Cadillac gracing the back cover of the the February 20 issue of Entertainment Weekly. ("Neil Patrick Harris Goes Full Oscar" is the lead cover story, btw, and Annie Lennox's Grammy performance is at the center of "The Bullseye.") Part of Cadillac's "Dare Greatly" campaign, the ten-stanza poem floating mid-air between two buildings adapts a passage from Teddy Roosevelt's speech "Citizenship In a Republic," which the Bull Moose delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. Here's that passage:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
This ad raises a number of interesting questions, no? Are the "writers" at Cadillac pulling a Kenneth Goldsmith who, in his book Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age, argues that contemporary writers "confronted with an unprecedented amount of texts and language" in databases and other electronic and digital forms now "have the opportunity to move beyond the creation of new texts and manage, parse, appropriate, and reconstruct those that already exist"? Perhaps someone (or a team of someones) from Goldsmith's famous class on the topic of uncreative writing at the University of Pennsylvania has found gainful employment at the advertising agency working for Cadillac and is trying to "reconceive creativity, authorship, and their relationship to language" via General Motors and not from the innovative artistic fringe? Are these writers daring greatly? And how, exactly, are they managing, parsing, appropriating, and reconstructing previously existing texts for the commercial marketplace?

We here at the P&PC Office can't help but also think of Virginia Jackson's Dickinson's Misery: A Theory of Lyric Reading, where, in a compelling little anecdote, Jackson presents something of a similar situation. On October 17, 1851, Jackson explains, Dickinson wrote a letter to her brother Austin that ended with a "poem" that Dickinson did not cut into standard poetic lines but that she presented, instead, as rhyming prose. So far as Poetry & Popular Culture can discern from the facsimile in Jackson's book, that poem read:
There is another sky, Ever serene and fair, and there is another sun-shine, tho it be darkness there—Never mind faded forests, Austin, never mind silent fields—Here is a little forest, whose leaf is ever green; here is a brighter garden, where not a frost has been; in its unfading flowers I hear the bright bee hum; prithee, my brother, into my garden come!
Editors of Dickinson's work, Jackson goes on to note, published "There is another sky" as prose in 1894, 1924, and 1931, but beginning with Thomas H. Johnson's The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Including variant readings critically compared with all known manuscripts (1955) it began to be printed in conventional lines:

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields—
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,

Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum;
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

The history of "There is another sky" prompts a number of questions from Jackson about when the poem in fact became a poem. "Was it never ... a poem," she wonders at one point, "since it was never written as verse? Was it always ... a poem, because it could always have been read as verse? Or was it only ... a poem after it was printed as verse?" Later on, she continues with related questions: "In view of what definition of poetry would Dickinson's brother have understood the end of his sister's letter to him as a poem? Did it only become a poem once it left his hands as a letter? According to what definition of lyric poetry did Dickinson's editor ... understand a lyric poem to be if it was not the passage at the end of the 1851 letter? Can a text not intended as a lyric become one? Can a text once read as a lyric be unread? If so, then what is—or what was—a lyric?"

So, let's go ahead and rephrase Jackson's set of questions with the Cadillac ad and Teddy Roosevelt's words in mind. Was the Rough Rider's speech never a poem since it was never written as verse? Was it always a poem, because it could always have been read as verse? Or was it only a poem after it was printed as verse on the back of Entertainment Weekly in 2015? In view of what definition of poetry would Roosevelt's listeners have understood his speech at the Sorbonne as a poem? Did it only become a poem once it was delivered? According to what definition of poetry did Roosevelt's editor (here Cadillac) understand a lyric poem to be if it was not the passage in Roosevelt's Sorbonne speech? Can a text not intended as a lyric become one? Can a text once read as a lyric be unread? If so, then what is—or what was—a lyric?

Your five page paper on how to best read Cadillac's poem (or is it Roosevelt's poem?) "It Is Not the Critic" is due on Monday. Dare greatly—and make your criticism count!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why Audiences Matter: Lorelai's Version of "I Will Always Love You" (Season 7, Episode 20 [May 1, 2007])

In the final season of the Gilmore Girls, Lorelai sets out to sing Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" to her daughter Rory, who is on the verge of graduating from college. Then Luke walks in. Grab a hankie and watch this unexpectedly touching illustration of P&PC's poetics at work.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"I don't know why a cow goes moo": The Love Poetry of "Silver Spoons"

Check out the following episode of Silver Spoons (Season 1, Episode 5 [October 23, 1982], "Takin' a Chance on Love") in which Ricky's love for a new girl at school goes unrequited. From about 13:00-16:45, you'll find a scene in which Ricky is writing a (bad) love poem, followed by a scene in which Ricky's father recalls the (bad) love poem that he once wrote.

Once you've enjoyed those verses, then recall the (bad) love poem written by banker Dale Haywood in Season 4, Episode 6 of Justified (see the screen-shot shown below the video). All three are rhyming quatrains written by white American males in love. But what else do they have in common? How do they motivate and interrupt cliche? What type of poetics starts to come into view as a result of this comparison? Your five-page paper on the subject is due Monday!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

"A Glee for Mixed Voices": W.K. Kellogg's "Funny Jungleland Moving-Pictures" and the Poetry of Corn Flakes

If you're a regular P&PC reader, then you know that we and the office interns have been thinking a lot lately not just about poetry and popular culture in general but about how poetry fares and has fared more specifically in relation to popular non-print media, especially film and television. We've been mulling over the odd ways in which Edwin S. Porter's short 1905 Edison Studios film The Night Before Christmas quotes sections of Clement Clark Moore's 1823 poem on intertitles (like the one shown here). We've been collecting examples of poems as they've been presented in various ways for audiences to read in films like Citizen Kane, G.I. Jane and The Grey and in TV episodes of Justified, Criminal Minds, and even the goofball crime-solving comedy Psych. Some of this is just our curiosity. Some of it is an extension of our interest in how poems and hymns around the turn into the twentieth century—like Oliver Wendell Holmes's "A Sun-Day Hymn" and Reginald Heber's "From Greenland's Icy Mountains"—were projected by magic lanterns to give audiences the then-new thrill of reading via a medium other than the material page. And some of it's a longer, more concerted effort to think toward a couple of new projects including (eventually) a new book as well as an article that we've been asked to write about the transitions in the culture of popular poetry between 1910 and 1920.

Imagine our surprise and joy, then, to come across the promotional item pictured here—an eight-and-a-half by eleven-inch "Funny Jungleland Moving-Pictures" poem booklet copyrighted by Kellogg's in 1909, four years after Porter's moving-pictures adaptation of Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas." If movies were trying to figure out how they related and might respond to poetry and print culture, then print culture and poetry were also trying to figure out how they related and might respond to the advent of film. And leave it to advertising to lead the way.

Building on the tradition of the small folding or meta- morphic trade card that was a common form of advertising in the nineteenth century (see one here), Kellogg's takes things several astonishing steps farther, constructing a trifold booklet with two sets of six panels inside that, when flipped back and forth on their stapled hinges, allows a reader or user to superimpose the body parts and verse captions of one set of animals onto another. In other words, it's a game of inter-species cross-dressing—animals who are doubly in drag, since they are first dressed up like humans ("we're dressed like men, you see," one verse points out) and then, thanks to the booklet's innovative architecture, re-dressed to "wear" the clothes and body parts of other animals.

It's pretty awesome, isn't it? An alligator can wear a plaid jacket, wear glasses, and then wear the head of a monkey. A tiger can wear a frilly pink blouse and skirt, then wear the roller skates of an ostrich. Or, as in the image pictured here, a singing horse (we like to think he's singing something by Cher or maybe Dusty Springfield) can wear a little chapeau and then the blue overalls and yellow body parts of a pig. As one set of verses puts it:

"Let's change about," the Lion said.
Suppose we take the feet and heads

Of the Camel, Donkey and Kangaroo.
Our friends won't know us then, would you?

Not surprisingly, perhaps, all of this non-normative reading, viewing, cross-dressing and mixing is identified in one panel of the pamphlet's poetry (the "Queer Fellows" pictured here) as "queer":

If you wish to see something queer,
Put other heads on the Cow, Horse and Deer.

Change their feet, too, try it and see
How very funny they all will be.

As the metrical variation that "too" in line three above might suggest—it changes up the metrical "foot" at the precise moment when readers are invited to "change [the animals'] feet," troping the motif of change in the pamphlet writ large—this is a pretty self-reflexive and (dare we say it?) unified aesthetic project from the vantage point of media. Even the seemingly incidental subject matter of the other verses—the refraction of light through water that produces rainbows in bubbles, the singing of songs, the "tortoise-mobiling" in the horse/pig panel pictured earlier, roller skating, and so on—keeps coming back to the topic of transmission and the tools by which various things (light, sound, bodies) get conveyed.

All of this no doubt feeds (pun intended) into the claim that Kellogg's makes on the pamphlet's back cover for its cereal as a new, improved, and modern nutritional medium. Updating the "Old Rhyme" of the woman who lived in a shoe—a moment that for us recalls the poetic "foot" mentioned in the  paragraph above and lets us indulge the fantasy that the old woman and her children are living in the genre of poetry itself—the pamphlet's new old woman does know what to do:

There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe,
She had lots of children
But knew what to do.

She gave them Kellogg's Corn Flakes
Three times a day,
And they thrived and grew
In a marvelous way.

If you look closely, you'll see a little American flag flying from the shoe's toe, and if you look even more closely, you'll notice that while almost all of the children are white, one is clearly not. Sitting to the right of the flag is a girl who reads as indigenous Central or South American; not only is her skin darker, but she's got that ridiculously large hat to code her as ethnic in the event there was any doubt she's not. It's kind of hard not to wonder what sort of bookend she makes when paired with the grey-skinned elephant, so often symbolic of Africa's "Jungleland," who appears on the booklet's front cover. The subjects of race, romance, and the transmission and mediation of genetic stuff do not come up in the poetry, but the robust, darker-skinned male elephant, the single old white woman in the shoe, all of the assorted children including the girl with the hat, and that American flag kind of beg the issue, no? Where did the children come from? What America is being envisioned here? What "moving-picture" of a nation is being processed via this hands-on, media-rich, hybrid poem-film, exercise in queerness, drag, and cross dressing?

As we know, the decade in which Kellogg's was designing, copy- righting, and circulating "Funny Jungleland Moving-Pictures" was the historical high point in immigration to the U.S. (the decade from 1901-1910 saw nearly nine million people immigrate, double the previous decade), so it would be crazy to think that everything going on in the booklet is not in some way related to social anxieties regarding the moving picture of race and ethnicity in the U.S. While we're not going to say that Kellogg's is being entirely progressive in relation to this history, it certainly does not look like an exercise in purity—a discourse that was commonly racialized in American advertising and especially, as we've discussed before, in soap ads. Instead, as the sheet music being held by the horse and cow in the panel pictured here appears to spell out, "Funny Jungleland Moving-Pictures" pitches itself—and Corn Flakes—as "A glee for mixed voices." Indeed, breakfast might be the most important meal of the day after all.