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Technical Vocabularies - Games for May, May 2004

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Nov. 4th, 2011 | 11:52 pm

Technical Vocabularies - Games for May
by Alan Moore and Steve Moore
Somnium Press
Mayday 2004

Technical Vocabularies - Games for May is a collection of poems created by Alan Moore and Steve Moore on the 1st of May 2004, and published by Steve Moore's Somnium Press on the same day. It contains four poems, two by each of the authors. In a forthcoming interview with Steve Moore, I asked him about how this came about:

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: Can you tell me something about how Technical Vocabularies came about?
 
Steve Moore: It was pretty much a spur of the moment thing. Alan was visiting me for the weekend and the Saturday was 1st May 2004, and we just decided we wanted to do something creative. So we decided to produce a booklet of poems in a single day. We decided to use four traditional verse forms ... Alan wrote a pantoum and a sestina, I did a sonnet and a villanelle … which explains the title, ‘Technical Vocabularies’. That’s actually a quotation from Théophile Gautier’s biography of Baudelaire, where he mentions this in a definition of the Decadent writing style. The sub-title ‘Games for May’ comes from a Syd Barrett song and was obviously applicable to the date we were doing this. So we wrote the poems and then I designed and typeset the pages while Alan drew the cover illustration, and we had the whole thing assembled by the evening. It took a bit longer to actually print, of course, and then we had to get together again to sign the copies. So we ended up with a ‘private edition’ of 26 copies to give to our friends, which had silver covers, and a ‘public edition’ of 75 copies with cream covers, which were then sent over to Chris Staros at Top Shelf to market, and they sold out in two hours. We used to do things a bit quicker in those days!
This is posted here with the full permission of both Alan Moore and Steve Moore, to whom I am enormously gratefully for allowing me to do so.













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Comments {18}

Prof. Jeremy M. R. F. Chesterfield-Pickles III

(no subject)

from: alfrecht
date: Nov. 5th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
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Interesting! Thanks for posting this!

Will you be putting a notification up here when the Steve Moore interview goes up? I'm eagerly awaiting my copy of Somnium in the meanwhile! :)

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Nov. 5th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
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I'm just waiting for Joe on the FPI blog to put up the interview, then I'll drop the link into the appropriate bit of this post. I'll put a link on this thread as well, so you get to see it. I'm also looking forward to getting my copy of the book. I believe they're now back from the printers, and the signed copies have actually been signed by Steve and Alan, so they should be going out very soon.

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Prof. Jeremy M. R. F. Chesterfield-Pickles III

(no subject)

from: alfrecht
date: Nov. 5th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
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Brilliant! Thank you for that, and for your continuing excellent work in this area! I am forever in your debt because of it!

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Murray Ewing

(no subject)

from: Murray Ewing
date: Nov. 5th, 2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
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That's a wonderful Aubrey Beardsley-style cover from Alan Moore, too.

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Nov. 5th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
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Yes, isn't it? I think it's fair to say that Alan is very much a fan of old AB.

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Gabriel McCann

(no subject)

from: Gabriel McCann
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
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I still remember posting about this when it first came out
http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/alanmoore/message/12483?var=1

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Gabriel McCann

(no subject)

from: Gabriel McCann
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
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Whoops link doesn't higlight. Here's what I wrote way back when

Just got mine in the post yesterday
PUBLIC EDITION
No. 70 of 75

As usual Alan signs himself A Moore but Steve signs his full name.

Games for May on the cover is probably a reference to Syd Barrett's
See Emily Play song
http://pinkfloydhyperbase.dk/albums/emily.htm
but might also have something to do with the fact that it's
copyrighted Mayday, 2004.
It came in a nice plastic cover along with TOP SHELF TALES Free Comic
Book Day 32 pgs dated July 3 2004
Aubrey Beardsley seems like the inspiration for Alan's drawing on the
cover.
8 pgs. of text with the back cover left blank. 3 nice identical flower
images at the ends of poems on pgs. 2, 6 & 8.
The first poem consists of 5 verses with each verse repeating 2 lines
from the previous one. If you assign a letter to each line then it
scans as follows

A
B
C
D
****
B
E
D
F
****
E
G
F
H
****
G
I
H
J
****
I
A
J
K

So that the 2nd line of verse 1 becomes the 1st line of verse 2 and
the 4th line of verse 1 becomes the 3 line of verse 2 and so on for
all 5 verses with the first line of verse 1 also being the 2nd line of
verse 5. Hope that makes sense to people who haven't read it.
Are there any poets or people who've studied poetry out there that
know if there's some sort of name for this type of poem?

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Gabriel McCann

(no subject)

from: Gabriel McCann
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
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And a reply I got to my post

In both poems, Alan Moore is using traditional forms, but he is
varying them a bit. Perhaps that is why the booklet is called
Technical Variations.

Based on the pattern of the repetition of lines, the first poem is
close to a Pantoum. According to Lewis Turco's book The New Book of
Forms, it is a Malayan form. In English, it is usually accentual
syllabic. It can have any number of stanzas. However, Alan varies
the form. In a traditional Pantoum, every other line rhymes. Also,
a traditional Pantoum is ended by either repeating lines 1 and 3 in
the final quatrain in reversed order, or by forming a couplet with
lines 1 and 3 in reversed order.

The second poem is a very popular French form called a Sestina, but
Alan also varies that form. Below is the traditional order for the
repetition of words. The last triplet is called the envoy, and each
line should contain two of the repeated words in the order shown
with the first word inside the line, and the second word at the end
of the line. Also, the traditional English Sestina has an accentual
syllabic meter (usually iambic), and the lines can be any length,
but traditionally all the lines are the same length (for example,
iambic pentameter). According to Turco, the traditional form is
based on the numerological sequence 615243, the significance of
which has been lost since the Middle Ages. Perhaps Alan has a
mystical numerological reason for breaking with the traditional
order, or perhaps he just felt like it. ;-)

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Art Turner

(no subject)

from: Art Turner
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
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Agreed about the cover. I'm always amused by Alan's self-deprecating remaks regarding his draftmanship skills. I think he's actually quite a talented artist.

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Uh - there were 10 pages?

from: anonymous
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
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Thanks so much for posting this and thanks to Alan and Steve for creating it and giving permission to post it - I think the last time I saw it on eBay it went for 170USD.

And now for the stupid question - there were only 10 pages? I was expecting 12 as it looked like it was going to be 3 four page signatures. So, were there blank pages, or was it bound in some other method?

Raymond van der Geugten
godels_dead at the Yahoo! Alan Moore group.

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glycon

Re: Uh - there were 10 pages?

from: glycon
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
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Raymond:-
A good question! Yes, it's in 12 pages altogether, including the covers, but there's nothing on the back cover or inside back cover, so I didn't include them. I did include the front cover and inside front cover as they have useful and relevant information. I did wonder at the time if I should include the blank last two pages, but decided that would be a little over obsessive, even for me.

So, yes, three four-page signatures, as you say: the first one is thin cream-coloured card, comprising the covers, and the other two are standard white cartridge paper, comprising the inside, with the poems on.

In general, Alan's poems are longer that Steve's, but this should be no real surprise to anyone who's read any of his scripts...

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Re: Uh - there were 10 pages?

from: anonymous
date: Nov. 6th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
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Thanks again! You da' man!

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gwydion_writes

(no subject)

from: gwydion_writes
date: Nov. 7th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for making this available in this way and including publication page so it can be quoted properly! It's a lovely work all around.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Nov. 8th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
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Thanks a lot for this! I've been loving your blog.

I wonder, do you think you'll ever be able to post Alan Moore's scripts for Promethea? I've always been curious to know how he transmitted some of the more complex sequences to J.H. Williams III.

Anyway, keep up the great work!

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Nov. 9th, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
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The thing about the scripts is, unless they're already publicly available online, I wouldn't want to post anything without Alan's specific instruction and consent. Not that I'm in any way admitting to having any of the scripts, of course, unless I have already admitted to having some, in which case I obviously do! It is something I've been giving some though to, though, so something might be happening. The final word lies with Alan, though, not me. We shall see.

Who is this, by the way?

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(no subject)

from: migrosa
date: Nov. 9th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
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Hi, sorry, I'm Miguel. I'm not used to using Live Journal.

I understand you don't want to post scripts without Moore's blessing. I hope he gives his consent one day, though :-)

Keep up the great work!


My blog: http://comicswithoutfrontiers.blogspot.com/

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Nov. 9th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
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It's something I intend to ask him about the next time I'm talking to him. Of course, that might not be for several months, or longer.

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Red Tash

Beautiful

from: Red Tash
date: Nov. 17th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
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I've written a few sestinas, and only one of them was any good. Really hard to write something breathtaking in these forms. I love that first pantoum so much it hurts. Well done. Beautiful. Thank you.

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