Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alice Turns 150! Public lecture on Alice and nonsense at San Diego State

Michael Heyman
Public Lecture
Alice in Wonderland One Hundred Fifty Years Later: A New Magic Lantern Phantasmämphigory
March 4, 2015
5:00PM- 5:50 (followed by questions and discussion until 6:30PM)

The National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, with support from the Instructionally Related Activities fund, the Departmentof English and Comparative Literature, and the SDSU Library, is happy to announce a lecture by Professor Michael Heyman, noted poet, scholar, and musician. Michael's lecture concerns Lewis Carroll’s Alice and his Alice books—the first of which, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is celebrating its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary this year!

Michael Heyman travels to sunny San Diego all the way from Boston, where he is a professor at Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, Michael teaches courses on Children’s Literature, Poetry, Arthropodiatry, and Nonsensical Nunchaku. When not teaching, he writes poetry, plays saxophone, and carries out scholarly investigations in various areas of esoterica—including the parararational, pataphysical, and nonsensical). 

Professor Heyman is a world-renowned scholar and writer of literary nonsense and children’s literature. He has edited The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Nonsense (2007), and his poems and stories for children can be found in The Puffin Book of Bedtime Stories (2005), The Moustache Maharishi and other unlikely stories (2007), and This Book Makes No Sense: Nonsense Poems andWorse (2012), which he also edited.

Of his talk, the good doctor writes: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland lives one hundred fifty years after its publication not because Alice is a princess in a literary fairy tale, not because of our own flirtation with Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell, and not because Alice has become embedded in our culture as innocent, vixen, or queen of psychedelia; rather, Alice in Wonderland lives because of its uneasy balance of all of these things and more. Its genius lies in what it does more than what it is. And what it does is nonsense. This talk, part magic lantern show and part paean to Lewis Carroll’s nonsense literature, does the unthinkable: it separates analysis from interpretation, it values the cart over the load. It offers the greatness of Alice as a teasing and tempting nonsense process, in its ability, like Humpty Dumpty, always to leave egg on our faces.”

The lecture is open to the public and we encourage students, community members, and faculty to join us!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Indian Nonsense Tour Ticking Away

My dear Jabberwokaboutnicks!

Just a note to let you knote that I'm blogging away at
I'm past the midpoint of my India tour promoting This Book Makes No Sense: Nonsense Poems and Worse (Scholastic 2012).  It's been a wunnerful whirlwind of school visits, a lecture, a book festival, and much nonsense being made.  See you over at tenthrasa...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Tour Makes No Sense: Indian Nonsense Tour!

I shall be off soon to Parts Semi-Known, Subcontinentally, to fling my nonsensical wares at all warewelcomers and wellwarecomers. In other words, I'm headed to India Friday to promote my new book. I'll be in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Calcutt
a, speaking/performing at the legendary Bookeroo book festival and at various schools in all of these cities.

I'll be blogging when I can from my olde standeby:

Head over there soon to follow me...


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The book just called you a grouch!
It stuck its toe in your ear!
It just waved its pants at you!
It threw a protopappadum at you!

Yes, it's here!  Or, well, it's there! It all depends on whether you're standing here or there, I suppose, but as long as you're on your feet, chances are you're one or the other.  After so much time, so many promises of bountiful baskets of bosh, after teasings and queasings, I give you:

This Book Makes No Sense: Nonsense Poems and Worse, edited by Michael Heyman, with Illustrations by Priya Kuriyan.

---Out from Scholastic (India) right... now!

It features a tumble of oddball superheroes (and their superdog), mudpie masters, tree-climbing buffalos, a galloping Wollop, and pesky disobedient pants.  The Old Masters are here, like Sukumar Ray, Rabindranath Tagore, and Mangesh Padgavkar, but also the shiny new voices of contemporary nonsense writers: Anushka Ravishankar (whose Just Like a Bug has also just arrived), Sampurna Chattarji, Samit Basu (he of the recent Turbulence fame! Swoon, ye flighty and Despair!), and even a special guest appearance of JonArno Lawson, the Canadian poet of extraordinary vim and vichtenstein (whose new Old MacDonald Had Her Farm continues in lipogrammatical lunacy).  Kaushik Viswanath adds a hilarious short story about disobedient pants, and I also hucked a few pieces in there, in addition to a brief introduction that defines nonsense by way of juggling--and an Appendix that teaches all the little peepers how to write nonsense (and you too!)--through a mash-up Alice in Wonder(out)landish tale that includes nonsense heroes from around the world.  Wrap that up in masterful illustrations by Priya Kuriyan, and you're got a real hum-dinger, bum-swinger, numb-finger-flipping book!

If all goes to plan, I'll be at Bookaroo in New Delhi in November, and then a tour of schools in a few other cities.  Details to follow...

Here is the link to it on the Scholastic website.  You lucky Indian souls with soles and souls in India, you can order directly from Scholastic.  More sellers in India will join soon.  As for those outside of India, you're out of luck for the moment, but I'll let you know when it will be available.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Alleged second printing of The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Nonsense

It's 2011 and you're not sure where you left the can of whatsit. Don't worry, though, because World Nonsense will always be there for you--and now with added whatsit!

It has certainly been a long slime since my last update, and I regret to say that I didn't complete the Africa trip blog--though I was very close. I hope to get to that soon.  This entry is about the ur-Anthology of World Nonsense, The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Nonsense.   And while I won't bore you with pulling out every item stuck in my slime, I should inform you of two flings:

Fling One:

I am hoping to create a children's nonsense anthology that will include material from The Tenth Rasa but also (hopefully) a few new things (depending on whether the folks whom I've commissioned will actually write something--you know who you are!!), including a guide for children on how to write nonsense.  It will be fully illustrated and sanctified by the Nine Vestal Vultures.  I'm currently talking to the folks at Scholastic about this... and I shall certainly keep you informed on developments.

Fling Two:

I recently had to replenish my stock of The Tenth Rasa (aside from providing "pure reading pleasure,"™they also serve as analgesics, fodder, and bituminous bumf), and so yesterday I received a brimming boxfull.  When I inspected the included volumes, I immediately noticed a change on the back cover.  The ISBN patch is all tricked out now, and lo and behold, the price has gone up from Rs 295 to Rs 399! This in itself is not so extraordinary (for the volume is worth its weight in bumf), but what IS extraordinary is that it seems we are now into a second printing!

The new printing (left) and the old (right).  Also, for sake of scale, a ruler and a lollipop.

Upon closer inspection, I also discovered that the volume is now printed in Navi Mumbai, rather than Noida (where it was originally done)--also now noted on the page that notes such things.  Of course, you are witnessing my clever deduction from the presented evidence.  I have heard no word from Penguin about such printerly activities.  Regardless, though, I'd say it's high time that all of you fans out there order an edition from the alleged second printing, because even though the content is exactly the same, there is that highly collectible new ISBN patch on the back.  Also, when do you ever get a chance to buy an "alleged reprinting"?  It's worth every paise of that extra 104 rupees!  Don't miss out!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

21 July: Voi to Nakuru

We awoke in the morning, elephants sadly departed, and hit the road again, all the way back to Nakuru.  Not much to report, but I did manage to find a sort of nonsense reference in the following:

Groundnuts = peanuts
For any who don’t know, our own familiar “Yankee Doodle” is American Revolutionary nonsense and always delightful to encounter in the mom-and-pop shops of Kenya.  And in the same shop, this delightful parfum de l'homme:

Made with extract of ???
My only regret is that I didn’t purchase this, as I’m dying to find out more about Obama’s odiferous nature.  Many more hours on the dusty fusty rusty road brought us back to Merica Hotel, and looking forward to the next day, when we would do some field work at a local school…

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

20 July, 2010: Mombasa to Malindi to Voi

Adrian, Beatrice, and I left Mombasa early in order to make our appointment in Malindi, a few hours up the coast.  I felt as if I had made the best of the ISOLA conference, even though my time there was somewhat brief.  At least I hadn’t heaved my huts into the Indian ocean the day before, so all was not lost.  On the way out of the city, we happened to pass by a critical tourist shopping stop:

We are headed to a section of Malindi known as the first village in East Africa (so I’m told), and I politely decline seeing the coral pillar set by Vasco da Gama (a noble name referring to his mother’s varicose veins), to mark his “discovering” it.  We have come here to witness a traditional dance and to sit on the performers firmly until nonsense oozes out from their prepostulators.  As we wait for them to dry their drums (for the rains are coming and going), we visit the nearby butterfly farmers’ collective, a project that pays villagers in the local forest to farm butterflies rather than to cut down the trees and make charcoal, or some other less-than-lepidopterrific activity.

We return to the compound, where we suck down some coconut water and watch the show.  They begin with traditional dances, but once they are through, we ask about children’s games, trying to edge them ever onwards to nonsensical activities.

They demonstrate a few games, including the following one that seems fairly common throughout Kenya:


The leader of the group goes to great lengths to explain various games, songs, traditions, and old stories.

Because Adrian and Beatrice don’t speak the local language, much of the material has to be roughly translated on the spot into Kiswahili, making our selection process more difficult.  By the end of the afternoon, though, we have much footage and a lot of translation work ahead, to see what gems may be within.  

After giving us gifts of medicinal plants and flowers, the performers see us off, and we tootle our way (that’s about 6 hours of tootling, making my tootler a bit sore) back to Voi, our resting stop before going back to Nakuru.  We end up, after much driving around, getting rooms at the Red Elephant, a game park hotel.  In the darkness, about 30 yards from our hotel-hut doors, on the other side of a substantial fence, and standing placidly by a watering hole, a family of elephants slurps us to sleep.